The swan-like Mrs. E. and I will be celebrating our tenth year of marriage on New Year’s Eve. We’re returning to the scene of the crime for dinner and evening drinks with our closest friends at The Jefferson Hotel. Black tie and a decadent dinner. Just the way we started things off when we first met a dozen years ago (Thank you JBT!)
Just because you’ve elected to avoid the madness of a night on the town this New Year’s Eve and stay in with a significant other doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice an elegant meal together. In fact, with a bit of foresight, you’ve already laid in a stock of bubbly and are contemplating the joys of the evening to come. But what will you serve?
As long as I’m sharing all of my secrets for leading an easy and elegant life, I might as well let you in on my sure-fire dish. This was my standby for “first dates in” through college and for about a decade following. It has stood the test of time well and makes a fine impression. A word of warning, it will quickly become “that meal that you cooked on New Year’s, remember?” In short, a favourite memory and often requested repeat performance. Fortunately, it is as easy as it is elegant.
Easy and Elegant Life’s Shrimp in Champagne Sauce
1 Cup of sliced mushrooms
1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil
1 lb. of medium fresh shrimp shelled *
1 1/2 cups of champagne
2 tablespoons of minced shallots (scallions are OK, too)
2 roma or plum tomatoes, diced
1 cup of heavy cream
1 box of angle hair pasta
(* if you’re using frozen shrimp, opt for about half as much and “give them a bath” in lukewarm salted water to thaw them out and rehydrate them a bit.)
Start a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
Sauté the mushrooms in the olive oil over medium-high heat. As soon as the mushroom juices evaporate, remove the mushrooms and set aside.
Prepare the pasta.
Next combine the shrimp, champagne and salt in the pan and heat on high until they simmer. When the liquid begins to boil, the shrimp are done. Remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the chopped shallots and tomatoes to the liquid in the pan. Boil until the liquid is reduced to 1/2 cup or so.
Add 3/4 of the cup of heavy cream and boil a couple of minutes until the cream begins to thicken and reduce. Add the shrimp and mushrooms back in and heat through. Salt and pepper to taste.
Drain the pasta and return it to the pot. Toss with the rest of the cream and the parsley. Divide the pasta onto plates (this will serve four with a salad and french bread.) Spoon shrimp and sauce over pasta.
Pour bubbles and toast your success. Follow dinner with store-bought truffles and more champagne. Or peel some clementines, toss in some Grand Marnier and some superfine sugar, mix well and chill. Serve with the truffles and champagne.
Happy New Year.