31 December 2009

New Year's Eve Dinner

I am cheesed out! I have been offered (and I unhesitatingly accepted) six or seven different fantastic cheeses with crackers pretty much all week. My favorite are the creamy blue cheeses like the blue goat cheese Humboldt Fog or Saga blue brie. I also like me some English Cotswold cheese—I feel like getting out my hunting horn, hound, and horse every time I see its glowing orange goodness. Just kidding—pleasure hunting is totally evil.

Anyway, the point of my cheese story was that usually I make a cheese-tastic New Year's Eve dinner for me and my victims, er, friends. But this year I nixed that and made Kasha Varnishkes. Nobody else ever gets excited about Kasha Varnishkes, and I already wrote an entire ode-post to it, so I'm going to write about my usual New Year's Eve fare: Grilled French Toast Cheese Sandwich and Cold Tomato Soup. I like to accompany it with bubbly champagne. Bring on the decadence, baby.

Grilled French Toast Cheese Sandwich

I think I got this recipe from Nigella Lawson, who is an engaging writer and also does an excellent job modelling the cramming of food into face.

1 loaf low-quality white sliced bread, crusts removed (GF bread won't do--sorry!)
several large balls of fresh or buffalo mozzarella

1. Mix egg in one wide bowl. Pour milk into another wide bowl.
2. Make sandwiches: Stuff several thick slices mozzarella between two slices of the bread. Then pinch the edges of the bread together so that the cheese is entirely enclosed by bread. Repeat. (You could also stuff in optional flavorings, like sun-dried tomatoes or basil.)
3. Dip sandwich in milk. Then in egg.
4. In a buttered fry pan, grill those there sandwiches until golden and good on each side. The goal is for the mozzarella to get all gooey and hot, so take your sweet time cooking it. Cut in half on the diagonal. Eat hot.

Cold Tomato Soup

This is the easiest tomato soup of all time. My Japanese homestay "mother" Kazue Nishino taught it to me, along with all my other favorite recipes.

low-sodium tomato juice, chilled
fresh tomatoes (on the vine is usually best), chopped
fresh cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
fresh basil, washed and torn up

Combine all to taste. Chill in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes and serve immediately.

A note about good champagne: They do not serve good champagne New Year's Eve on the Carnival cruise ships. Just sayin', BYOB.

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