I make traditional italian...but would like to do different...
what is your tradition and what is your menu this year?
Ours - a big buffet not a real sit down
Assorted wines to meet the need
Hot cider and for the kids - shakes (may make peppermint for them this year - need a recipe for that)
pea soup or bean soup - undecided
Mussels in wine/garlic
Some kind of baked pasta (sigh) probably mannicotti
mushrooms stuffed with (this is my son's request) the TURKEY stuffing recipe (it is mostly egg/cheese, sweet onions, bread and ground veal or pork and fruit cocktail and no joke --that disappears into it and makes it taste reallllllllllly good. ---sounds disgusting tho...) When we carry this out -- I have to carry recipe cards..
baby green salad with m. oranges, rolls, deviled eggs
garbonzo beans with oil and lemon, garlic dressing
a spiral ham (sigh)
baked beans with sweet onions/dark molasses (sigh)
eggplant parm (sigh)
cheese cake, struffoli, some kind of sugar cookie
it is a real mish mosh of stuff --- and so tired of the... (sighs)
I switch it up each year but stick to a theme. Sometimes it consists of small plates starting with light bites, such as spiced nuts, a cheese board with at least three cheeses, a homemade giardiniera (with cauliflower, broccoli, olives, peppers, cucumber, etc.), stuffed grape leaves, assorted olives, antipasti, mini grilled shrimp skewers (consisting of two or three large shrimp with garlic pesto and Parmesan) and a couple of spreads like feta and olive or hummus or goat cheese with grilled/fire roasted peppers. Really good breads and crostini. No crackers. All of this is advance work. We then bring out the big guns...a hickory home smoked side of salmon topped with smoked tomato cream and gremolata run down the center or a simple homemade honey mustard. This is also done in advance and the salmon is served the room temp version. You can get some smoke flavor by grilling with soaked chips in foil packets. We have a smoker and outdoor oven. One side of salmon will feed twelve to sixteen adults. Meat eaters get slow roasted top sirloin, also advance cooked, and thinly sliced for open faced sandwiches. Mushroom gravy if you want to serve it warm or a good grain mustard for room temp. I also serve a grain or bean salad such as mixed wild rice or couscous or cannellini. Dessert is always simple and might be assorted cookie bars (made in advance) and chocolates provided by guests. We like cheeses with digestifs for dessert too. This usually works best with a mature audience. Children get mocktails with fresh fruit juices and spritzers. I have done a mocktail bar where kids create their own. Heads up: kids like mini marshmallows and lots of cherries in their drinks!
This year we are doing a down home NY's eve with pickled shrimp, homemade pimento cheese, Brunswick stew (made in advance and kept warm in a crockpot), collards from our garden, slaw, blackeyed peas, corn pudding and a smoked turkey. Peach trifle with homemade whipped cream for dessert. I bought a case of Georgia peaches this past summer and made a peach compote for the trifle, then froze it. Might also use some strawberry jam made this past year.
I like to kick back and enjoy the occasion so whatever the menu you will not find me catering to a crowd or hunkered over the sink that night.