Menus can start the new year on high or low notes

The alcohol-steeped New Year’s Eve cocktail party obviously isn’t for everyone. Ringing in the new year can be just as enjoyable for some at a low-key dinner party.

Of course, there can be a bit more pressure to serve an elegant feast with just a few people to indulge. If your pocketbook is a bit slim following Christmas, there are ways to evoke high-end fare for a fraction of the cost. Below are two menu concepts — high-end and low-end — from the Chicago Tribune, plus a recipe that meets somewhere in the middle, stretching shrimp with some other ingredients for ceviche, which seems a bit exotic.

For bubbly, a new story on our Holiday 101 page suggests the best labels to swap for expensive — or cheap, but bad — Champagne.

If your plans don’t include entertaining, consider serving your family some simple, traditional dishes that pay homage to the new year. A story with comfort-food recipes from the American South, Pennsylvania Dutch country, Italy and northern Europe also is online.

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: Or ice-cream sandwiches, using homemade chocolate-chip cookies and good-quality ice creams

High: Champagne

Low: Spanish cava or Italian prosecco


Shrimp Ceviche

3 pounds medium tail-on shrimp (16 to 20 per pound), shelled and deveined (not frozen)

8 ribs celery, strings removed and julienned

12 green onions, julienned

1 carrot, peeled and julienned

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and julienned

1⁄2 cup lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)

1⁄2 cup lime juice (from about 4 limes)

2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons coarse salt

1⁄2 teaspoon dried fennel (ground) or tarragon

2 jalapeno or serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

1⁄4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro or dill

Fill a large pot or Dutch oven with water and bring to a rapid boil. Drop in the shrimp and blanch for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and cool.

Place the celery, green onions, carrot and bell pepper in a bowl with ice water until very crisp, up to 1 hour.

In a nonreactive bowl, combine the lemon and lime juices, garlic, salt, fennel or tarragon and hot peppers. Add the olive oil and mix well. Drain julienned vegetables thoroughly and add to citrus mixture, along with cooled shrimp. Marinate for 10 to 15 minutes. Do not allow to marinate longer as shrimp flesh may begin to break down in citrus juices.

Sprinkle with the chopped cilantro or dill and serve. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

— Recipe adapted from “The Art of South American Cooking,” by Peruvian chef Felipe Rojas-Lombardi.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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