a cup of kindnesS

(number 64. new year's eve.)


When i was a kid, up through sometime in high school, every New Year's Eve was spent with my folks and our family friends, The Morgans. Dave and Susan and Dan (who is my age) would come down from Portland, and between the two families we'd produce some sort of surf n' turf dinner. Dan and I would drink endless, endless bottles of sparkling apple cider. My family would always go to Jiffy Market, a local treasure, for our bubbly beverages. I know it sounds like any other convenience store, but really it was the most marvelous deli/wine shop, open since the 70s, with homemade donuts at the counter and 6 choices of coffee all day and the best egg salad sandwiches known to man…I could go on! A mere week after this dinner it was tragically sold, thought to become a marijuana dispensary (one did open in the space behind it), then reincarnated as a hyper modern confused version of its former self (now called "The Jiffy." The Jiffy?!). Anyway, there, one year, we found this French stuff– Duche de Longueville – which was nonalcoholic, yet crisp and dry. I remember this discovery as being one of my first discerning food/drink moments. I was like 7! Every year it took forethought and planning to secure the quantity of Duche de Longueville that Dan I would drink. Since they only carried it at this one store, it meant multiple trips throughout December. A totally absurd process, but remembering it fills my heart with joy. 

This year, my folks and the Morgans had their New Year's dinner per usual, with Dave and Susan wearing the gag-gift aprons my father had bestowed upon them. Dan was with his young family in Indiana, and I was cooking the same ingredients in my home in Portland, surrounded by friends, for the 7th time in a row. 

NOTE: Lucas's best friend was visiting from France, so they did their own thing this year. Sofie and I were joined by Holly Meyers (frequent collaborator, as you may have noticed) and Will Boal. Will still holds the record for attending the most New Year's Secret Restaurant dinners (5 of 7), and was our 3rd cook for a good part of 2010/11. He now lives, farms, and builds stuff in Nebraska. Having him in town was a real delight! 

As usual, here is a quick link trajectory to revisit our past New Year's dinners, starting with last year: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 & 1

Brazilian Cheese Puffs, Dressed Citrus

Sofie made these brilliant puffs, using sharp cheddar and parmesan reggiano. Imagine a gougere, the french popover thing usually made with gruyere, but tangier and lighter, because of the tapioca flour used in the dough! 

Holly had the idea of just getting a bunch of beautiful citrus and carefully prepping and dressing it, a little luxurious vitamin C intake with the first glasses of champagne. They were dressed with drizzled honey, lime juice/zest, Maldon, and cracked pink peppercorns.


Champagne Cocktails

Sofie's mother, Mary Sherman, is an amazing home artisanal-booze maker. She does it all, short of distilling. Last year for my birthday she gave me a whole beautiful selection of her work– Rhubarb vodka, Quince liqueur, Vin De Noix (black walnut liqueur), Rose vodka, and Grapefruit vodka. 

We had some instructions and marked shot glasses out for people to use to create their own bubbly cocktails. Some people reported dropping their dressed citrus into their glasses too!

Sofie brought some giant bottles Magic Kombucha, from Olympia, the "Champagne of Kombucha." These proved to be the perfect nonalcoholic alternative and also a really fun mixer. (Note: Long after the dinner, a horrific, arson-related disaster destroyed the Magic Kombucha warehouse and all of their inventory. They remain in the rebuilding process. Consider visiting their fundraising site and donating. These are good people who run a good, good business and need some help!)


Chard Fritter and Gnocchi

Stemming from the original antipasti plate of our very first New Year's dinner, this plate included both someone else's recipe and a maybe entirely new thing.  We used Yotom Ottolenghi's "Chard Fritters" recipe from Jerusalem, though the result is less like a fritter and more like a lovely pancake-ish thing. They were a beautiful green from the vast quantity of chard leaves, and topped with a salad of chard stems dressed in grassy olive oil, salt, muscatel vinegar, and pepper. 

The gnocchi was made entirely from: canned chickpeas, chickpea flour, butterball potatoes, and potato flour. Sofie had heard somewhere that you can make a sort of vegan meringue by beating the shit out of garbanzo bean water. I didn't know what to think, but thought "why the heck not?" The resulting meringue was likely key to the success of the dish. We were worried that without regular all purpose flour and with the addition of garbanzo beans, that they would be too dense, like pellets. And yet, when we folded the chickpea "meringue" into the chickpeas themselves, in the food processor, we created this extremely smooth, fluffy, light mixture, which blended brilliantly with the chickpea flour. Having processed peeled potatoes through a potato ricer and combined them with potato flour, we simply took care to affectively combine the two starchy, delicious doughs into one gnocchi dough. Seasoning as we went, we then rolled individual gnocchi with our hands, and dusted them with more potato flour. Cooked for one minute in boiling, salted water, and pan fried in olive oil, they were very very delicious. 

We served this with a roasted garlic and cambozola cheese cream sauce. 


Salad of the future II

Celeriac (I pulled up a couple from Secret Garden, my first and only home grown celeriac– we'd actually bough enough from the co-op, but I grew celeriac!), celery (some from S.G.!), radicchio, savoy cabbage, frisée, arugula, parsley (S.G.) with beautiful green d'anjou hood river pears (expertly, extremely thinly sliced by Will), dressed in a leek/lime vinaigrette. 

Crunchy, zingy, the future. 


Whole salt baked Chinook salmon, with crispy potato skins

We had a fish delivered to my house (thanks Newman's!), and it was a 9 pound beauty! Dressed with slices of grapefruit and all the remaining lemon verbena (S.G.) from the garden, then packed in 6 lbs of wet California sea salt, baked at 400º so the salt became an insulated baking jacket. Earlier in the day, Holly and Will sliced a million red potatoes, which we baked like almost-chips. After peeling away the salt crust and his salty skin, leaving the grapefruit and lemon verbena brilliantly colored and so fragrant, we cut the fish in half, moved him onto two platters, atop a crumbled salt landscape, and dressed him up with potato "scales." Sofie then took the blowtorch to him to extra crisp the skins. 

At each table, we took a "fish team leader" volunteer, armed them with the proper tools, gave them a brief tutorial, and had them serve up the fish to everyone around them. 

The salmon was served with little dishes of roasted garlic butter and parsley pistou to spread onto the hot, pink flesh. 


Cardamom rice pudding "brulée" + Graham/golden raisin biscotti

This was our expansion of Yotom Ottolenghi's cardamom rice pudding, from Jerusalem. We had several dairy free guests, so we remixed it to use coconut milk and coconut cream rather than cream and half & half. We used a lot more cardamom (always our preference). 

The pudding sat in little ramekins, topped with rose syrup, then sprinklings of these amazing cardamom candies Lucas had bought for me for Christmas. They were smashed with a hammer, and sprinkled on top, then bruléed. This was topped with pistachios and rose petals. 

Lastly, I had made some biscotti (a classic "to be remixed" SR New Year's ingredient) the day before, which was nearly forgotten about. Originally we thought it would be like a dip, or sidecar for the pudding. But everyone was halfway through their puddings when we remembered it, waiting patiently in the wintry Courier & Ives cookie tin! The late arrival turned out to be a good thing– a nice, not very sweet, lovely basic cookie before several more glasses of sparkling wine. 

The dough was primarily blitzed Midel honey grahams, a NOT very good replacement to mass produced graham crackers, but a PERFECT biscotti ingredient! Also almond meal, almond extract for that hint of booziness, pumpkin seeds, ground ginger, and golden raisins. 

At midnight, we'd put on the record of Fleetwood Mac's Rumors. The jangly third song started right after the cheering and the kissing. We danced. 

Auld Lang Syne, adapted from the poem by Robert Burns


Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear,

for auld lang syne,

we'll take a cup of kindness yet,

for auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!
and surely I’ll buy mine!
And we'll take a cup o’ kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.


We two have run about the slopes,
and picked the daisies fine;
But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,
since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till we dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!
And give me a hand o’ thine!
And we’ll take a right good-will draught,
for auld lang syne.

Here's a video of the skeleton crew at 2 a.m. doing dishes!