02 January 2011

Where does the time go?

I love New Year's Eve.  It represents the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another.  It's the promise of a fresh start, a new beginning.  2010 was a year of high highs and low lows, both personally and professionally.  While I so enjoyed the bright spots in the year and will treasure those moments, I am ready to move on.  My last post made me really think about taking time to enjoy the little things in life that bring me pleasure, so I decided to make that my New Year's Resolution for 2011.
A gift from our guests, a champagne-like beer.  Delicious!

Two of the things that bring me pleasure are good food and time spent with dear friends, so that's how we began 2011.  I also really like pretty things, so using our china and crystal was a must!  (I think I have only used it two other times since we got married back in 2005.)  This dinner was going to serve as a "Last Supper" of sorts before we began our attempt to shed some of our winter weight, so it needed to be decadent.  The Hubs was kind enough to chronicle the evening through the eye of his lens for me. 

Beautiful dishes, glasses and cutlery always make food taste better

The evening began with cocktails and finger foods (garlic and jalapeno stuffed olives, gouda and extra mature white cheddar cheese and bagel chips).  Our friends brought their one year old daughter and it was so much fun watching the faces she made as she tried all of these new foods!  At first she wasn't sure what to think about the strong cheese, but she ended up loving it.  A girl after my own heart. 

Ahhh!  So many calories!

After a salad of baby greens and toasted pine nuts (the one 'healthy' course of the evening), it was on to the main course: beef tenderloin with a horseradish sauce of sorts, gratin dauphinois and some roasted green beans. 

The beef tenderloin was seasoned and cooked perfectly, thanks to a rub based on the Pioneer Woman's and my new (and fancier) probe thermometer.  It practically melted in your mouth. 

Please excuse my poor butchering skills

To continue the theme of decadent, calorie-laden dishes some type of creamy potatoes were a no-brainer.  And who does over-the-top rich food better than the French?  Thanks to Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook and my brand new mandoline we enjoyed some of the richest, creamiest potatoes I have ever had.  I'm not sure which part I loved more - the subtle garlic, rosemary and thyme flavor that infused the heavy cream or the cheesey crust that formed when the gruyere and mature white cheddar were melted on top. 

Anything with this much cream and cheese automatically becomes a favorite of mine.

And so that our arteries wouldn't harden as we were sitting right there at the table I threw in some roasted green beans.  The Hubs had gotten me a couple of restaurant half-sheet pans for Christmas and I have used them several times with fabulous results.  Super simple - green bean tossed in some olive oil and seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of truffle salt (thanks, HEB Andy!). 

A nice change of pace

The little one played Santa after the meal and kept us all entertained as we talked about the past year and then our hopes and plans for 2011. 

She truly is a gift to her parents!

After she crashed we played a few silly games, had some frozen berry souffle for dessert and rang in the new year with a champagne prosecco toast.  A great evening, certainly one full of fun memories to treasure.


Sara said...

Sounds like a FABULOUS evening!! Sid is precious - she really can't get much cuter (although I know I'll be proven wrong in that statement soon, I'm sure!).
Your meal looked absolutely perfect and over-the-top decadent! I groaned out loud when I read about and saw the potatoes... geez, Ella. Those looked amazing, as did everything else.
May your 2011 be full of blessings, and may you celebrate many more highs than lows in the coming year! I'm blessed to call you 'friend'. :)

CPGM said...

Yummy! Happy 2011!

Anonymous said...

What a great night! Awesome food, great drinks, challenging games, and bringing in the New Year with our best friends! Is there any other way to start a brand new year?

By the way I loved the silverware, it may sound funny but I absolutely love eating on/with fine china, crystal, and silverware. It reminds me of special dinners we had growing up with my Grandmother (Aka Mi Mi).

My newly added 2011 resolution, thanks to "E"....break out the china, crystal, and the family silverware more often. It makes a great night even better.

Thanks for sharing....it's our turn now!!