Stuffed Grape Tomatoes

Every New Year’s Eve I invite the same people — my brother Jeff and sister-in-law Eileen and my cousins, Leslie and Neil. This has been our tradition for so many years that none of us can remember (or care to remember) what we did before. Our kids used to be part of our celebration but they’re all adults now and the six of us have grown older together. The photos are telling. We spend the afternoon together, nibbling the hors d’oeuvre. Dinner is hours later and then we wait a few more hours for dessert. There’s no need to rush or to stuff ourselves all at once! We put on silly hats, watch the ball in Times Square come down, toot some cardboard horns, hug each other and, to paraphrase the Haggadah, we say “Next Year in Stamford!” I can’t imagine a better way to spend the evening. I feel so lucky, lucky, lucky to have these people in my life. I cook the same dinner every year: rib roast, roasted potatoes and a vegetable that we all eat, like carrots or green string beans. Except Eileen doesn’t eat meat so I cook a separate chicken breast (well-done to her tastes — she calls it “dead”) for her. Dessert? Always an apple pie and a fruit crisp of one kind or another. Nothing fancy and it’s what we all like. Hors d’oeuvres too. They’re mostly the same every year, but here’s where I try to experiment a bit on willing victims. So in addition to the smoked fish and gougeres and maybe some stuffed dates, I might make these Stuffed Grape Tomatoes. Next Year in Stamford! Stuffed Grape Tomatoes* 4 ounces ricotta cheese 4 ounces cream cheese 2 scallions, chopped 1 clove garlic, cut into quarters 1/4 cup halved, pitted black olives 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil 1 teaspoon thyme leaves 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 2 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup plain yogurt salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 18 grape tomatoes Place the ricotta cheese and cream cheese together in a food processor and process until creamy and well blended. Add the scallions, garlic, olives, parsley, basil, thyme, mustard and lemon juice and process until well blended. Add about 2 tablespoons yogurt and process, adding more yogurt if necessary, depending on what you will use the mixture for. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. Scoop out the insides and spoon the cheese mixture into the tomato hollows. Makes about 36 *You can use this as a dip instead of filling tomatoes: add more yogurt to give the mixture a softer, more dip-like consistency.

Every New Year’s Eve I invite the same people — my brother Jeff and sister-in-law Eileen and my cousins, Leslie and Neil. This has been our tradition for so many years that none of us can remember (or care to remember) what we did before.

Our kids used to be part of our celebration but they’re all adults now and the six of us have grown older together.

The photos are telling.

We spend the afternoon together, nibbling the hors d’oeuvre. Dinner is hours later and then we wait a few more hours for dessert. There’s no need to rush or to stuff ourselves all at once!

We put on silly hats, watch the ball in Times Square come down, toot some cardboard horns, hug each other and, to paraphrase the Haggadah, we say “Next Year in Stamford!”

I can’t imagine a better way to spend the evening. I feel so lucky, lucky, lucky to have these people in my life.

I cook the same dinner every year: rib roast, roasted potatoes and a vegetable that we all eat, like carrots or green string beans.

Except Eileen doesn’t eat meat so I cook a separate chicken breast (well-done to her tastes — she calls it “dead”) for her.

Dessert? Always an apple pie and a fruit crisp of one kind or another. Nothing fancy and it’s what we all like.

Hors d’oeuvres too. They’re mostly the same every year, but here’s where I try to experiment a bit on willing victims. So in addition to the smoked fish and gougeres and maybe some stuffed dates, I might make these Stuffed Grape Tomatoes.

Next Year in Stamford!

Stuffed Grape Tomatoes*

4 ounces ricotta cheese

4 ounces cream cheese

2 scallions, chopped

1 clove garlic, cut into quarters

1/4 cup halved, pitted black olives

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon thyme leaves

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons to 1/2 cup plain yogurt

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

18 grape tomatoes

Place the ricotta cheese and cream cheese together in a food processor and process until creamy and well blended. Add the scallions, garlic, olives, parsley, basil, thyme, mustard and lemon juice and process until well blended. Add about 2 tablespoons yogurt and process, adding more yogurt if necessary, depending on what you will use the mixture for. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Wash the tomatoes and cut them in half. Scoop out the insides and spoon the cheese mixture into the tomato hollows. Makes about 36

*You can use this as a dip instead of filling tomatoes: add more yogurt to give the mixture a softer, more dip-like consistency.