Entertaining | An alternative New Year's Eve menu for four


An alternative New Year's Eve menu for four

Tired of turkey? Bored with goose? Try Signe Johansen's fresh-tasting suggestions for a simple New Year's supper with friends.

There's nothing like fresh, Mediterranean flavours to revive the tastebuds after the rich eating of the Christmas period. so here is a simple Lebanese-inspired New Year's Eve menu to kickstart 2013. These dishes are all easy to prepare, allowing the hostess (or host) to join in the festivities rather than slaving in the kitchen.

The recipes here make enough for four people - simply multiply for larger numbers.You could either serve the tabbouleh and baba ganoush with drinks as mezze which would be traditional or with the shish taouk. (In the former case you could serve a mixed salad and pitta bread or other flatbread with the meat)

Make this one hour before serving to allow the parsley to soften, but resist the temptation to prepare it several hours in advance as the parsley will oxidise and turn black.
2 tbsp bulgur wheat
1/2 onion
1 tomato
1 bunch parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
Sprinkle of chilli flakes, salt and pepper
Soak the bulgur wheat in double the quantity of boiling water and allow the water to absorb. Finely chop the onion, dice the tomato and then chop the parsley. Place all of this in a bowl and stir in the olive oil, lemon rind and juice and seasoning. Set aside for 45mins-1 hour before eating

Baba Ganoush
1 large aubergine
75ml tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 garlic clove, crushed
salt & pepper
Pierce the aubergine like you would for a baking potato. Grill the aubergine for 20- 25 minutes until the skin is charred and the aubergine is shrivelled. If you want an extra smoky flavour, sear the skin over a gas flame, but it's not strictly necessary. When the aubergine's cooked, peel it and scoop out the flesh, place this in a sieve and press the liquid out - this gets rid of any bitter flavours. Then place the flesh in a bowl, mix in the tahini, lemon juice, garlic and season to taste. If the mixture is very thick, add a bit of water to make a more dippable consistency.

Shish Taouk with Garlic Toum
This is based on a dish I had at Fahlkredine. Note the chicken must be marinaded a day in advance to allow the flavours to develop
3 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp lemon
1/2 tsp salt
4 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

Chop the garlic and onion, place in a bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight. When you're ready to serve, preheat the grill, soak the skewers in water and then put 5-6 pieces of chicken on each skewer. Place on a rack or a roasting tin and grill under a high heat for 5-8 minutes (depending how hot your oven is and how big the chicken pieces are). Turn them once so they colour evenly and serve with the garlic toum dip. Be warned, this is not a dish for garlic-phobes!

Garlic Toum:
2 cloves garlic
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
150ml olive oil
salt & pepper
Crush the garlic, place in a bowl with the lemon juice and whisk in the olive oil as you would if you were making a mayonnaise. (Or do this in a food processor). For a fine textured sauce sieve the toum before serving, but it's delicious with the garlic pieces.

Pomegranate & Orange dessert with Cinnamon and Walnuts
1 pomegranate
1 orange for each person
1 tsp cinnamon
handful toasted walnuts
honey or orange blossom water if you have some
Score through the peel of each orange vertically as if you were cutting it into quarters. Place in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave for a couple of minutes then drain the water and remove the peel which should come away cleanly removing the pith. Slice the oranges horizontally 'across the grain', place them on a plate and add the pomegranate seeds, the walnuts and finally drizzle with the honey or orange blossom water, followed by a sprinkle of cinnamon. Chill until ready to serve.

What to drink: Given you're introducing a breath of summer into your New Year's Eve festivities why not serve a dry rosé? Provençal rosés, being rather more expensive than those from the southern Rhone or Languedoc would create a suitable sense of occasion. You could also serve a sweet wine with the dessert like the delectable Vin de Constance.

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