new year's eve

Beet Tarte Tatin

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Every New Year’s Eve my brother and sister-in-law come over for the day, my cousins sleep over for a couple of days. We start our celebration early with a round of drinks and hors d’oeuvre. A few hours later we have another round of drinks and hors d’oeuvre.

No dinner.

We have dessert much later, near midnight. The anticipation of something sweet helps keep us up so we can watch the ball drop and then go to bed.

Some of the hors d’oeuvre I serve are fancy, some plain; some homemade, some from a package (like the Spring Valley or Hebrew National franks-in-blankets that everyone loves).

A while ago I read a blog post about Beet tarte tatins and was inspired to make some because they looked and sounded so appealing. I made up my own recipe, tried it a few times and decided that they would be perfect as one of the fancies at this year’s New Year get-together.

I wrote down whose blog it was, so I could credit her with the inspiration, but I can’t find the paper and forgot the name.

But — to that wonderfully creative person who alerted me to beet tarte tatin —- thank you.

Here’s my recipe.

Beet Tarte Tatins

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large beet (8-10 ounces)

  • 2 small chopped shallots or 1/3 cup chopped red onion

  • 1 teaspoon Mirin (rice vinegar)

  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar

  • 1 teaspoon crushed, dried rosemary (or 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary)

  • salt to taste

  • 1/2 pound puff pastry

  • 2 teaspoons grated fresh orange peel

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use a small amount of the olive oil to brush the insides of 6 muffin tins. Peel the beet and cut it into thin slices, then cut the slice to make them small enough to fit inside the muffin tins. Place the cut beet slices in a bowl. Add the shallots and toss the ingredients. In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, Mirin and brown sugar and pour the dressing over the beet mixture. Sprinkle with the rosemary and salt and spoon equal amounts of the beet mixture inside the muffin tins. Cover the filled tins with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven. Raise the oven heat to 400 degrees. Cut out 6 circles from the puff pastry to cover the top of the muffin tins. Place over the beets. Bake for another 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden brown. Carefully spoon each beet mixture from the bottom and turn it over onto a dish so that the pastry is at the bottom. Spoon any remaining beets that do not come up and place them on the tarte tatins. Garnish with the orange peel and serve (may be served hot or at room temperature).

Makes 6

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.