New Year’s Day & Chocolate Cake

Happy New Year from LBDelicious! I hope all y’all got to eat as much delicious, traditional New Year’s Day food as we did this weekend. We had a pretty low-key New Year’s Eve so that I could run a 10K as fast as I possibly could the next morning. I used this fast run as an excuse to eat as much as possible the rest of the day, where we had about 3 different invitations to hang out with 3 different groups of people in 3 different parts of town! I felt super popular, but I felt really bad that we had to miss my friend Whitney’s “stop in and eat” party, because she can also cook like a mad woman and her friends are cool. So Whitney: if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry we missed out on your fun party! Next year, we’re in.

After the race, we went to Shaun & Jenn’s house for a small “recovery” gathering where we ate our black eyed peas, delicious little cornbread bites, and tasty snacks. I’ve decided I love New Year’s Day food – everyone does it differently but it’s all delicious!

Our friends Laura & Heyward then cooked us a traditional New Year’s Day dinner feast that rivaled any New Year’s Day feast I’ve ever had.

Some backstory: I’ve been friends with Laura since 1999, when we both ended up in ADPi at UNA and subsequently got 4 jam-packed years of fun memories involving all sorts of random sorority- and college-related activities. Which old school picture should I choose to represent us here on my publicly viewable blog? The one of us dressed up for sorority recruitment as Peter Pan and Tinkerbell (“come join us in search of the ADPi treasure!”)? Or just one from a sorority formal, where we looked slightly prettier and less like we needed to be committed?

Since I want to keep Laura as a friend, I think I’ll go with one from a formal. Ah, memories.

Somehow, after college(s),we both ended up married to super cool people and living in the Atlanta area. And we all love delicious food, and try to enjoy it together often. Thanks to Laura & H, we’ve ventured out and tried restaurants we never would have gone to on our own. They’ve introduced us to some favorites, like Bone Garden Cantina, Varasano’s Pizza, Double Zero Napolitano, Ormsby’s, Muss & Turner’s, and, the place that ruined “regular ham” for us forever: Iberian Pig.

They graciously invited us over on Sunday night for a traditional New Year’s Day dinner feast. You think you know someone, since they’ve been in your life in some form for the past 13 years, and then they cook you dinner and you realize that you had NO. IDEA. just how incredible their kitchen skills are.

 They went all out for this one. We know that black eyed peas are traditional New Year’s Day fare, but since H doesn’t prefer them, we did lima beans instead. I’m not kidding you: they were the most fantastic lima beans I’ve ever had. There they are, front and center in the table. Behind them is the pan of cornbread I made from Cat Cora’s recipe, which is my new favorite recipe and was one of my small contributions to the meal.

Laura also whipped up some collard greens, which she explained was a complicated process that resulted in the most delicious, sublime, buttery greens ever. Notice the little ramekin with the pot liquor for cornbread dipping. Mmmmm. When we walked in their house, this was what I smelled first.

That delicious smell was quickly followed by my favorite smell next to freshly cut grass: barbecued porky goodness.

No, you know what? Barbecued pork IS my favorite smell ever. Forget the freshly cut grass thing.Pork reigns supreme.

H was in charge of the BBQ pork shoulder. It was above and beyond restaurant quality. He also made his own sauces – two of them – one from his homeland of Greenville, another Lexington style. I, unashamedly, doused my mound(s) of roasted porky goodness with a little of both. I can’t tell you which I liked more, because they were both that awesome.

We basically pigged out once we sat down to eat. There was a lot of food, and we put a really good dent in it. To make things even better, they sent us home with leftovers! They aren’t in the restaurant business yet, but when they decide to start up their food truck, go ahead & plan to enjoy several good meals with them.

No meal is complete without dessert, even if that meal resulted in your being so stuffed you just have to lay on a couch watching NFL for a few hours to let things digest. Laura also happens to be a fantastic baker, and one of her specialities is cooking with beer and liquor. I wish I’d taken a picture of her beer & plum tart that we somehow made room for after a couple hours. It was a gorgeous, perfect little holiday cake that tasted a lot like gingerbread and did not taste anything like beer. Tasty and awesome!

I knew Laura was making dessert, but the night before, I made Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake in both bundt cake and cupcake form to have as the dessert for our super low-key New Year’s Eve. The cupcakes were basically gone thanks mostly to my being a stress eater and worrying that Auburn was going to lose, but the cake didn’t get touched – so it got brought to the party on Sunday.

Let me tell you: I love that chocolate cake. It’s been my favorite chocolate cake that I’ve made, ever. I didn’t make her icing, and instead made up a vanilla buttercream with a secret superstar ingredient: mascarpone cheese!

So, in this blog devoted to how amazing my friends can cook, here’s the one little original recipe I have to share with you:

Vanilla Buttercream Mascarpone Frosting

Let a stick of butter come to room temperature. With an electric mixer, whip the butter, and gradually add about 1 cup powdered sugar. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 4-6 ounces of mascarpone cheese. Taste, and add more powdered sugar for sweetness and to make the icing harden slightly.

End of recipe.

That icing is good, but it pales in comparison to what our fantastic foodie friends made for us on New Year’s Day this year. If the quality or quantity of the food I ate was any indication for what 2012 will be like, I’ll have plenty of cash (because I ate a ton of greens), be super lucky (thanks to the variety of beans I ate) and have lots of forward progress (because I ate lots of pig).