Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

A tradition over many years, dinner with dear friends and their lovely girls on New Year's Day. With football the background din, the conversation wanders through many of life's joys and heartaches. It's almost like a year in reflection, even as we consider the new year to come with much anticipation and hope for something better, and something just as good. Games played, dinner served (an Italian feast this year...although I really do think that someone ended up heating some corn dogs up for the children-ugh!), wine poured, and voices rang out. An annual celebration of the good life that we have; our beautiful families, our beautiful friends.

This year I prepared a few of the dishes in this months Gourmet Magazine; chicken roasted with olives and pancetta, broccoli raab with spicy sausage, and a salad with radicchio, fennel, and oranges with a pomegranate dressing (well that was a recipe of my own creation). But the absolute, hands-down, stand out dish was dessert brought by my friend.

Earlier in the week she called and demanded to know what she could bring, and don't make it something lame like bread, she said. So I suggested dessert (not being one to argue...). They arrived armed with brownies, ice cream, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, nuts and sprinkles (and that was just for the kids), and balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and strawberries (to be served over vanilla ice cream) for us.

Wow! The dish is so simple and yet so complex, a study in contrasts; dark and light, sweet and sour, tangy and creamy....and it's absolutely divine. I had to have a second helping, which I never do (with desserts). She was kind enough to share her recipe.

Balsamic Strawberries

Place equal parts good quality balsamic vinegar and brown sugar (1/2 C each) in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 1 minute or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and stir in hulled and quartered strawberries (about a pint). Serve warm over scoops of vanilla ice cream.

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