Do we ‘Ring in the New Year’ or ‘Bring in the New Year’? Well, despite the debate at the dinner table last night, we were all correct. Ringing in the New Year refers to the old tradition of bell ringing to announce the end of the old year and herald the start of the new one. Bringing in the New Year refers to ushering in a new beginning.
And as we all join hands on the dot of midnight and mumble Auld Lang Syne — even if we don't know more than the first few words — does anyone know the song’s origin? In 1788 it was adapted by poet Robert Burns from a Scottish folk song he heard sung by an old Scotsman. It reminisces about the good old days and friendships. A timely reminder to send a friend or family member a friendly text or better still invite them for a drink.
Of course, with those celebratory drinks, a nibble of something delicious to cement the friendship should be served — just in case more than one sip is savoured. As a guide, a selection of four to five canapés or nibbles should be served during the first hour of your gathering plus four pieces per person each hour after that. Happy New Year!
I served these nibbles with the sticks inserted into a cucumber. Many guests thought they were scallops! The centres could, alternatively, be filled with crystallised ginger. The drained lychee juice is excellent in cocktails.
560g can lychees, drained well
200g streaky bacon, rashers halved lengthwise
3-4 tablespoons cream cheese
Fill the lychees with about a teaspoon of cream cheese. Wrap securely in a strip of bacon and secure with a long cocktail stick. Pan-fry or grill for about 2-3 minutes each side.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 16.
Extremely moreish, these olives also make delicious gifts.
470g jar (2 cups) super colossal pitted green olives
2 cloves garlic, sliced
4 x 4cm thin strips each: lemon peel, orange peel
freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for storing
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
Preheat the oven to 190°C.
Place the olives, garlic, citrus peel and black pepper in a single layer in a roasting pan. Drizzle with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a roasting pan. Stir to mix well.
Roast for 15 minutes stirring once or twice. Divide the olive mixture between 2-3 small jars. Add fennel seeds to each. Add the vinegar and cover with olive oil. Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks. Makes 2 cups.
SHALLOT & EGGPLANT TART
400g eggplant, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon flaky sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons plain yoghurt
1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
23cm uncooked, thin pizza base
50g smoked cheese, grated
Place the eggplant on paper towels. Sprinkle with the salt to soften. Stand for 20 minutes. Pat dry.
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Place a baking tray in the oven to heat.
Heat half the oil in a large frying pan and add the shallots. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and light brown.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in another pan. Add the eggplant and stir over low heat, until soft and cooked. Combine with the shallots. Cool slightly. Add the egg, yoghurt and walnuts.
Spread over the pizza base right to the edge. Sprinkle with the cheese. Place on the hot oven tray and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Great garnished with fresh thyme sprigs. Serves 8 as a nibble.