Celebrating festivals, get-togethers and small victories are still ongoing. Welcoming and feasting in the new year with those special few, in a stylish, beautiful, intimate manner is the way forward!

The time to celebrate, giving an ode to good times with good food and marking a triumphant day isn’t over yet! If you are planning a more intimate evening with some delicious mains, some tasty side dishes, a few appetizers and desserts, I have put together this list of both elegant and easy dishes.

The spread includes appetizers and mains that will kick the night off right, like colourful cheese balls and bruschetta. It’s never too late to wow your guests with holiday desserts and makes sure everyone has a bubbly good time.

Never Too Old:

New Year 2021 - Celebrations At Home Are Here To Stay!

Shakshuka is a classic Israeli dish made with basic ingredients but the finished product is very impressive. A great recipe which works well for brunch or dinner. The basic recipe needs onions, tomatoes, garlic, eggs, fresh herbs and seasonings. Based on the ingredients you have on hand, you can play around with the other optional stuff. I like to add sundried tomatoes for added saltiness and omit the feta. If you want an extra nutrition boost, add a handful of kale, spinach or rainbow chard. You can enjoy this with some crusty bread, pita or just by itself.

What You NeedPutting It All Together
 2 tbsp olive oil
 1 onion, thinly sliced
 1 red pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
 2 garlic cloves, minced
 1/4th tsp cumin powder
 2 tbsp tomato puree
 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
 A handful of fresh coriander & parsley
 2 eggs
 A sprinkle of feta or 5-6 sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped (optional)
1.Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan, if you are making a larger quantity, use a larger frying pan.
2.Add the onions and red pepper, salt & pepper. Cook till just softened.
3. Add the garlic, cook for a further 2 mins. Sprinkle the cumin powder, tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes.
4. Add the fresh tomatoes with a splash of water and simmer uncovered until reduced and thick.
5. Taste & adjust the salt. Add a splash of water if the mix gets too dry. 6. Add in the fresh coriander & parsley.
6. Make two wells in the thick sauce & break an egg into each. Cover and cook on low heat until the whites are just set.
7. Serve with the feta or sundried tomatoes, along with some bread.

Cosy Bites:

New Year 2021 - Celebrations At Home Are Here To Stay!

Baked Eggplant Rolls are the perfect dish to cosy up on the couch with. Ensconced between layers of homemade tomato sauce, the eggplant rolls are filled with a classic Italian combination of ricotta (cottage cheese/paneer) and lightly cooked spinach.

What You NeedPutting It All Together
 2 medium eggplants
 Olive oil, for brushing
 200 gms paneer
 1 bundle spinach, finely chopped
 1 cup Italian tomato sauce (click here for the recipe)
 3 tbsp Parmesan or cheddar cheese, grated
 Salt, pepper, chilli flakes to taste
 Fresh basil leaves, to garnish
1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into strips approx ¼ inch. Discard the slices from the edges.
2. Brush both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake at 200 C for 25 mins. Put the baked eggplants aside.
3. To make ricotta, blend the paneer with 1 tbsp water, till creamy.
4. In a bowl, combine the ricotta or fresh paneer, spinach and season with salt, pepper and chilli
5. To make the rolls, place about ½ tbsp of the spinach ricotta mixture on one end of an eggplant strip and spread slightly.
6. Roll tightly, beginning from the end which has the cheese.
7. In a baking tray, spread the tomato sauce. Place the rolled eggplants and top it with more
tomato sauce. Sprinkle parmesan or cheddar on top.
8. Bake covered with foil at 200 C for 20 mins and open for another 10 mins. Garnish with fresh basil.

Gold Classics:

New Year 2021 - Celebrations At Home Are Here To Stay!

Spaghetti Al Pomodoro is perhaps the most famous Italian recipe. While the recipe itself is simple, the ingredients are the star of this dish.

What You NeedPutting It All Together
 1/2 kg tomatoes
 2 tbsp olive oil
 4 garlic cloves
 1 onion, finely chopped
 1 rosemary sprig
 300 – 400 g spaghetti
 Crushed Black Pepper
 Parmesan cheese, grated
 Chilli flakes
 A handful of fresh basil
 Salt
1. In a pot, cook tomatoes with 1 tsp of salt, cover and cook on low heat for 20 mins or so. The tomatoes will cook in their own water.
2. Heat a pan and add a drizzle of olive oil.
3.Add the onion and garlic and cook on medium heat for a minute or so, being careful not to burn the garlic.
4. Add chilli flakes, cooked tomatoes, a sprig of rosemary and season lightly with salt and pepper.
4. Cook for 20 – 25 minutes low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.
5. Cool completely and blend lightly.
6. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
7. In the same pan in which you cooked the tomatoes, transfer the blended sauce and heat lightly.
8. Add some pasta water to adjust consistency. Toss in the pasta.
9. Remove the pan from the heat, add grated parmesan, shredded basil leaves and crushed black
10. Toss once again and serve.

Compulsory Desserts:

If you’re looking for a fun activity with your kids, this is the perfect one. The recipe is super easy and kid- friendly. It takes hardly any time to put together and the kids will love mashing the banana and mixing the ingredients together. They also make a good evening snack.

These muffins are soft, moist and full of flavour! The bananas add a lot of flavours so make sure to use ripe ones (they should have some black spots). You can replace the chocolate chips with nuts instead. Walnuts or almonds would go really well.

New Year 2021 - Celebrations At Home Are Here To Stay!
What You NeedPutting it all together-
 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
 1 tsp baking powder
 1 tsp baking soda
 1/2 tsp salt
 1 tsp cinnamon powder
 3 large ripe bananas (about 1 and 1/2
cups mashed)
 6 tbsp butter, melted
 2/3 cup brown sugar
 1 egg, at room temperature (substitute with 1 flax egg)
 1 tsp vanilla extract
 3 tbsp milk
 1/4 cup chocolate chips
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and brush your muffin tin with butter.
2. Whisk the dry ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, mash the bananas till they’re completely mushy.
4. Then, in the same bowl, beat
the melted butter, brown sugar, egg (or flax egg), vanilla extract and milk for a minute until combined.
5.Pour the dry ingredients into the bowl and beat until combined.
6.Gently fold in the chocolate chips. The batter will be thick.
7.Use a spoon to put the batter into the muffin tin. Fill the tins till 3/4th of the height.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.
9. Cool them for 5 minutes in the tin before removing and cooling completely on a wire rack.

Making a cheesecake into a tart is a fun way of reinventing the dessert. Top with any other fruit like mangoes, peaches etc.

What You NeedPutting It All Together
· 250 g digestive biscuits
· 100 g butter, melted
· 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
· 300g cream cheese
· 50 g icing sugar
· 140 ml double cream (whipping variety)
· 1 tsp lime juice (adjust tartness to taste)
· Zest of ½ a lime
· 1 cup strawberries
1. Crush the biscuits in a food processor or blender
Combine with melted butter in a bowl.
2.Tip the mixture in a push bottom tart tin and press firmly down and around the sides into the base to create an even layer.
3.Chill in the freezer for ½ hr.
4.Combine the cream cheese, icing sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl and beat well till smooth. Add the
lime juice and zest.
5.Whip the cream in another bowl till light and fluffy. Add the cream cheese mixture and combine gently
with a spatula.
6.Adjust the tartness to your taste. Pour the filling neatly over the set biscuit base and even out the top as much as possible.
7. Refrigerate for ½ hr.
8. Blend strawberries for a fresh strawberry sauce, add some icing sugar if too sour.
9. Pour the sauce over the set base and garnish the entire surface with thinly sliced strawberries.

Banner Image: Quick Strawberry Tart By Natasha Celmi

Natasha Celmi is a chef, food stylist and now the author of the new bestseller cookbook, ‘Fast Fresh Flavourful’. She started her career as a gelato chef trained in Italy and came back to start the brand, Mama Mia! Gelato.

Natasha has lived in various parts of the world and trained in culinary schools in Italy and Singapore. Through her online culinary platform, Cucina Mia by Natasha, she now shares her passion for cooking modern cuisine in a practical and simplified manner. Her food philosophy revolves around the concept of “smart cooking” where cooking is not a chore but something that can be enjoyed even in today’s fast life!

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