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New Year’s Eve Eve dinner

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For the past few years, our New Year’s Eve activity has been to prepare a gourmet dinner for two. This year, however, Jean was interested in going to Verses for their New Year’s Eve dinner. So, we decided to do our gourmet dinner the day before—on New Year’s Eve Eve. Time will tell how wise it was to plan on two multi-course meals in a row.

In the meantime, this year we remembered the request to post descriptions and pictures of what we made for dinner. 

Appetizer: Dried Cranberry Scones with Stilton

Source: LCBO Food and Drink Magazine, Holiday 2005

Matching “wine”: Fonseca vintage 1988 port

Dried Cranberry Scones with Stilton

Description: Baked scones with dried cranberries, cut in half and filled with cranberry-orange marmalade, topped with Stilton cheese, more dried cranberries, and chives.

Assessment: The Stilton really “pops”, but is nicely contrasted with the cranberry and the touch of chives. The scones turned out really well—fluffy and tasty. Both scones and marmalade were made the day before, which meant only assembly was required.

The port was amazing—complex flavours, smooth going down but a little bite afterward. And a good match for the cheese.

Salad: Apple and oyster mushroom salad

Source: Cooking with Foods That Fight Cancer (cheery, huh)

Matching wine: NZ Kim Crawford Pinot Noir (Vintages)

Apple and oyster mushroom salad with Pinot Noir

Description: Apples and oyster mushrooms cooked in a little butter and placed over arugula coated with olive oil and cider vinegar. Topped with walnuts.

Assessment: The mushrooms, in particular, tasted quite nice, and went well with the apples, arugula, and walnuts. The Pinot Noir smoke was a good match for the mushrooms, as hoped.

Fish course: Lemon-Shallot Scallops with Sugar Snap Peas

Source: Cooking Light Magazine, June 2002

Matching Wine: NZ Whitecliff Sauvignon Blanc

Scallops, snow peas, Sauvignon Blanc

Description: Scallops are first pan-seared in a little olive oil, then shallots and garlic are cooked in a little butter, and simmered in white wine. Scallops are then tossed with the sauce and topped with fresh parsley.

Sugar snap peas are simply steamed.

Assessment: Simple but effective. The key is to not overcook anything. The Sauvignon Blanc is a typical NZ type, with a nice bite to it.

Meat course: Loin of lamb with fresh herbs, served with oven fries and cinnamon sweet potatoes

Source: A Taste of Quebec Cookbook (lamb), The Best Light Recipe Cookbook (oven fries), LCBO Food and Drink Magazine, Holiday 2002 (sweet potatoes)

Accompanying wine: Spanish Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon blend (not available in Canada; we brought it back from Spain)

Lamb, potatoes, sweet potatoes, red wine

Description: The boneless lamb is pan-seared, then baked at 450. Meanwhile, a red wine, beef stock, and fresh herb sauce is prepared for it. The oven fries basically involve soaking the cut potatoes, then mixing them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, and baking them. The sweet potatoes are cut into disks and baked. They get topped with a mix of brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt for the last 10 minutes or so.

Assessment: I’d never cooked lamb before, but this turned out quite well—nice flavour, not overdone, good sauce. I had done the two potato recipes before, and they both turned out fine, even though we had to compromise on cooking times and temperatures in order to get everything done together.

The wine was really fantastic. Big and fruity but not overwhelming.

Dessert: Chocolate Torte with Dried-Cherry Port Sauce

Source: LCBO Food and Wine Magazine, Holiday 2004

Accompanying “wine”: We went back to the port!

Chocolate torte, cherries, vanilla ice cream, port

Description: A totally decadent mixture of quality chocolate, butter, and eggs, topped with a port sauce mixed with dried cherries. Not too hard to make, and all doable the day before. Served with vanilla ice cream as well.

Assessment: We had to wait a bit before digging into this, but it was certainly good. And a small piece is perfectly satisfying.

Full gallery at

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