New Year’s Eve parties, especially the big ones, used to make me feel as if I’d blundered onto a Hollywood film set where everybody but me had been given a script to follow. There was always a coyly tipsy woman, a red-nosed guy playing the role of a drunken jerk, and a bunch of romantics mooning into their partners’ eyes waiting for the ball to drop so they could passionately kiss while the band played “Auld Lang Syne.” And then there was me, wishing I had stayed home.
I don’t torture myself with those big blow-outs any more. I’d rather sit in front of a fire, either alone or with someone special, and contemplate what I’ve learned over the past year. A little wine, a little laughter, some nice jazz playing in the background, and I don’t need anything else to feel that it’s a special evening. Well, that’s not totally true. I do like to have a special New Year’s Eve supper. Nothing elaborate, nothing to get tense about, but something a little bit extra-nice. If you feel that way too, and would like to try a new recipe, here’s my favorite New Year’s Eve dish.
Gorgonzola Shells and Pears
1 lb. shell pasta
2/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts
3 cup heavy cream
3 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried red pepper flakes
3 large red pears, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
2/3 lb. gorgonzola cheese, cubed
1-1/2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/4 tsp. dried)
The trick to making this exceptional is to use really good gorgonzola. Not the awful stuff in the supermarket cheese section, but the kind cut to order from a big wheel in an authentic Italian market. Trust me, it makes all the difference in the world.
In a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the cream, garlic, and pepper flakes to a boil over high heat. Boil for seven minutes, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium, and cook another ten or fifteen minutes to thicken. It should coat the back of a spoon. When the sauce is thick, gently fold in the pears and gorgonzola. Remove from heat and set aside.
Cook the shells al dente, drain, and put in very large bowl. Put the gorgonzola cream mixture back on high heat and stir until cheese melts and the sauce is thick and bubbly. Add to the shells along with the toasted nuts, thyme, and rosemary.
Taste, add salt and pepper if you wish, and serve to four people. Or two with leftovers to freeze and heat up on some cold night when you feel like indulging yourself.
Happy New Year!!!!