Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year's Day Fresh Start

It's New Year's Day today and every show on TV is now telling you how to lose weight, save money, have better relationships and do more.  If you are hungover you may be sleeping today off and you aren't reading this right now.  But if you didn't get drunk last night you could be either a non -drinker, you stayed in like I did or you have house guests staying over and you had to wake up to take care of them.  A lot of people think they need to start their Food and diet resolutions on January 1st.  I say start on the day you go back to a routine or better yet just eat real food and forget deprivation.  Deprivation only lasts so long and a few days later you give up.  If you just resolve to eat better quality food you will be better off in the long run.  Michael Pollan says in his book "Cooked" that you should just cook your own food at home and skip the diets because you are less likely to eat burgers and fries if you make them at home.  Nobody deep fry's everyday and if they do they got a whole other problem.

Last night I  stayed in and was prepared in case anyone wanted to come over and watch the ball drop on TV with me.  Sadly everyone had other plans so I stayed home alone and watched all the shows while munching on things I didn't plan on eating.   So today I decided to make a couple of things I was going to make for snacks in case anyone dropped by.  These are things you can make for a New Year's Eve cocktail snack or for a New Year's Day Brunch.   For me it was my lunch.

I had a package of already rolled puff pastry that just needed to be defrosted in the fridge and unrolled onto a cookie sheet.  So far easy.  I used to buy the packages you have to roll but this stuff is so easy and a lot less messy.   It even comes rolled in parchment paper that I used to cook the whole thing on in the oven.   I made it really simply two different ways.   A savoury Leek Tart and a Sweet  Fig and Goat Cheese Tart.

The Leek Tart

Cut leeks into 1/4 inch rings and wash in a bowl of water separating the rings and letting the dirt float to the bottom.

I cooked bacon in a pan just before and had the bacon fat to cook the leek in.  Butter or oil works fine if you don't have bacon fat.  

Saute the leeks on medium heat until they have softened and become translucent.  

Add Thyme, Parsley, salt and pepper to the leek mixture.   Set aside to cool.

Grate about 1/3 of a cup of gruyere cheese or you could use Fontina, feta or goat cheese even.

Roll out your puff pastry and place it on a cookie sheet and if it comes with parchment paper use that between the cookie sheet and dough to make it easy to take out and clean up.

I added a bit of the gruyere on top of the dough and then just spread the leek mixture lightly all over the puff pastry and left a tiny edge without leek around the tart.   Sprinkle the rest of the gruyere on top or whatever cheese you decide to use.

Bake in a hot oven as per Puff pastry directions but probably about 450F.   Bake for 10-15 minutes making sure the dough puffs up and is golden brown underneath.  Cut into slices with a pizza cutter to make it easier to serve.

Sweet Fig and Goat Cheese Tart

This is the easiest recipe ever.  All you need is a jar of Fig Jam and a package of soft goat cheese.

Roll out the puff pastry dough and then spread the fig jam over it and crumble the goat cheese on top.

Bake the same directions as above or per package directions for 10-15 min.  This one is great to assembly for a quick sweet dessert even.   You don't have to prep anything ahead.. Just assemble and bake.  It looks like you are fancy when you make this.  

I have also made these as turnovers or in muffin cups if you want them individual but if you are tired and you have to feed a lot of guests then this is the easiest way possible.   I was just lazy because it was just for me so I did it this way.

I also had a package of cheese fondue that I was going to heat up and eat with some crusty baguette and I also had some grapes and grape tomatoes to go with it.   You could still have this for brunch and just set it out and let people plunk what they want into the gooey cheese or you can melt up some good chocolate and have some fruits like grapes, apples, pineapple, bananas or clementines for a quick pick me up fruity dip.

Have things in your fridge and pantry that you can just take out and place on a platter and they are ready to eat.   Like cheese, charcuterie, olives, pickles etc.   Cut up veggies like celery, carrots and celery the day before even so you have them ready to go with a hummus dip or something for a healthy and quick and easy snack.   If you have some great breads and spreads you can set up a sandwich station where people can just make their own sandwiches.  

Sandwich options:

Sliced cheeses
Sliced tomatoes
Washed lettuce
Smoked Salmon
Cream Cheese
Egg or Tuna Salad
Deli meats
Even the leftover sauteed leeks and bacon can be added to a sandwich.

Set yourself up for an effortless or little effort and lazy New Year's Day while still fuelling up on some tasty food.

Having a bowl of fruit with Clementines, Apples and Bananas will allow guests to just grab a fruit if it's first thing in the morning.   Just try and keep the bananas separate from the apples because they release gases that will over ripen other fruits.

If you need to DETOX after the wild New Year's Eve that you had you might want to set up a jug of water with lemons in your fridge.

You can add things like fresh mint or sliced cucumbers or pomegranate seeds if you want to jazz it up.    Even just citrus slices of lemon and lime or orange and clementine.   Pick things that will flavour your water and add some anti oxidants and vitamins and help flush out some of the toxins from the night before.

You can always make a Mimosa cocktail if you like with leftover champagne and orange juice if you have any left.

A great Green Tea is also a great idea to detox and boost your metabolism.

The most important thing is to forget the pressure to start your resolution or diet and think about refuelling for a fresh start to the New Year and rest and recharge for a big year ahead.

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