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Originally published Tuesday, December 25, 2012 at 5:00 AM

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A New Year’s Eve feast on a budget

Ina Garten and Tanya Steel offer expert advice on how to create a celebratory meal that only looks expensive.

Chicago Tribune

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This is a tale of two terrific New Year’s Eve dinners. One’s pricey, one’s economical. Both are delicious.

Before you blow your bank account, consider this coaching from two culinary pros: Ina Garten and Tanya Steel.

“When people come for dinner and you make a great roast chicken, they’re just delighted. I don’t think people really like feeling that you’ve shot the moon, that you’ve just tried desperately to impress them,” says “Barefoot Contessa” Garten. “They just want a really good home-cooked meal and great conversation and to spend time with friends. Frankly, I don’t think there’s any reason to make something incredibly expensive for dinner.”

“Roasted sausage and grapes is just a wonderful thing to serve. It’s surprising, it’s delicious, it’s very reasonable. You can serve it with polenta. And you’ve got a wonderful dinner,” says Garten, whose latest book, “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” (Clarkson Potter, $35), celebrates both simple and classy and includes that recipe. “What about jambalaya. It’s a great party dish. ... It’s a very reasonably priced thing to make for a large group. And it’s great because you make the whole thing in the oven and you put the pot on the table and everybody helps themselves.”

Mention the holiday dinner conundrum to Epicurious editor-in-chief Tanya Steel and her first thought: “It’s all in the sides.”

“You can make a dinner seem more glamorous and fancy by pairing it with more sides and appetizers. Something like a miniature gougere, which is really just making cheese puffs, is so, so delicious,” adds Steel, who teamed with the website’s editors to produce “The Epicurious Cookbook” (Clarkson Potter, $27.99), which is peppered with cost-cutting tips. “You can serve those with a Prosecco, and it seems so elegant. And we have a shrimp cocktail (that) if you’re trying to shave money you could use frozen shrimp.”

When it comes to dessert, think about presentation, Steel says. A New Year’s Eve menu in the cookbook suggests a simple chocolate cake frosted with a glossy ganache. “Put it on a cake plate or a cake stand and that pumps up the vibe. It’s like putting black high heels on — it instantly makes you look elegant.”

Consider these menu options, for budgets both high and low. Add your own ideas, invite friends over and celebrate.

NEW YEAR’S EVE MENU

High: Jumbo shrimp cocktail

Low: Shrimp spread on crackers

High: Rib-eye steaks with porcini sauce

Low: Grilled flank or hanger steak with a mushroom sauce

High: Steamed asparagus with marcona almonds

Low: Roasted broccoli with lemon butter

High: Roasted heirloom potatoes tossed with black truffle salt

Low: Roasted Yukon gold quarters dusted with garlic pepper

High: Bakery flourless chocolate cake with whipped cream and fresh raspberries

Low: Ice cream sandwiches, using homemade chocolate chip cookies and high-quality ice cream

High: Champagne

Low: Spanish cava or Italian Prosecco

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