Bless Your Spoon: A traditional menu for the new year

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 30, 2021

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By Stephanie Williams Dean

Featured recipes for the New Year follow a traditional theme. Even though I don’t put faith in good luck or chance — I did have the good fortune of taking a few short trips out of state over the holidays — where I tasted some of the most delicious pork I’d ever eaten.

There’s a little Italian restaurant, Tony’s Di Napoli, located near Times Square in New York City, that serves a tender, savory yet sweet, pork chop. The experience is rare — when you discover food that stands out as the best you’ve ever tasted. Tony’s entrée is one of the best and most reasonable dishes on their menu; an apricot glazed, twin, double cut, pork chop that was simply out of this world. All the meat platters serve two to three persons, so you either share with a friend or go hungry.

But as it turned out, I didn’t have to fly as far as New York to find some great pork. Shortly thereafter, on a trip to the beach — I ordered a chop that ran a close second at Joe’s Bar and Grill, a reader’s choice, award-winning restaurant in Myrtle Beach. Joe’s menu offers two delicious pork selections listed as Joe’s favorites. One is a center-cut pork ribeye chargrilled with a honey molasses BBQ glaze. The second feature is a tomahawk pork chop — two 9-ounce bone-in chops marinated and chargrilled with an apple mango chutney. Both were served over a garlic, sweet potato mash. Of added value is Joe’s real wood-burning fireplace. You can cozy up on the leather sofa to a roaring fire with hot toddy in hand — while contemplating all the new foods you’re going to cook in the New Year.

I love pork, and just about any other meat, either marinated or served with a fruity glaze or sauce — again, it’s that sweet and savory combo. There’s an art to matching up food flavors — right down to dessert. And let’s not forget about all the great sides that get along so well with pork. With it, I adore sweet potatoes — along with mac and cheese. For vegetables, I choose the hot and spicy mixed greens, lima beans or Brussel sprouts as they go well with the meat. And I can’t leave out corn or apples — both flavors pair well with pork. Any fruit dish — even stewed prunes — naturally complement both — meat and most vegetable side dishes.    

For a New Year’s meal, I don’t propose that you prepare and eat all these side dishes at once, but you have options to choose from. Just pick your favorites. And if you’re really into it, prepare more than two. I’m a meat and three kind of girl. Not a single recipe is difficult to assemble.

This year, don’t leave anything to good luck. Be intentional — make it your best year, ever. And may God’s love, peace, hope, and joy be with you in the year ahead.

Cherry Glazed Pork Loin

3 lb. boneless pork loin roast

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 oz. cherry preserves

2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. ground nutmeg

¼ tsp. ground cloves

¼ cup toasted slivered almonds

In a saucepan, combine preserves and corn syrup. Mix well. Add red wine vinegar, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Mix well. Bring to a boil while stirring. Reduce heat to a simmer for 2 minutes while occasionally stirring. Stir in the toasted almonds. Set aside. Rub the pork with salt and pepper. Place on rack in shallow roasting pan. Spoon some of the sauce over pork. Roast in a 325-degree oven for 1¼ to 1½ hour or 30-45 minutes per pound. While cooking, baste frequently with sauce. Roast for 30 additional minutes or until thermometer registers 170 degrees. Remove pork to a serving platter. Allow to rest before slicing. Bring sauce to a boil again. Serve slices of pork topped with sauce.

Roasted Pork Rib Roast

3 lbs. pork rib roast

1½ tsp. powdered ginger

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. dried sage

In a bowl, combine ginger, salt, pepper and sage. Rub into pork. In a shallow roasting pan, bake in a 350-degree oven for 1½ hour or until meat is tender. Serve with pineapple sauce.

Pineapple And Pine Nut Sauce

1½ cups fresh/canned pineapple juice

2 Tbsp. peeled, julienned ginger root

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. salted butter

1 tsp. sweet orange marmalade

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper

½ cup toasted pine nuts

In a saucepan, combine pineapple juice and ginger root. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes and reduce by half while occasionally stirring. Stir in lemon juice, butter, marmalade, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper. Add toasted pine nuts and mix well. Serve at room temperature.

Lime Rice

2 Tbsp. Wesson vegetable oil

1 chopped small onion

4 chopped cloves garlic

1 cup long-grain rice

2 cups chicken broth

Juice of 1 lime

In a heavy pan, heat oil. Add chopped onion and garlic and cook 2 minutes while stirring until tender. Add rice and cook for 1 minute while stirring. Add chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Cover and cook 10 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice. Serve while hot.

Black-Eyed Peas

2 lb. dried black-eyed peas

1 ham hock with bone

2 whole med. onions

3 whole cloves garlic

2 whole pods red pepper

Salt to taste

In a large pot, place peas and add enough water to cover, and allow to sit overnight. The next morning, drain. Add cold water to cover the peas. Add ham hock, onions, garlic, pepper pods and salt to taste. Bring to a boil and cover. Reduce heat to a simmer at the lowest heat for 3 hours or longer. Check from time to time for seasoning and doneness. If beans begin to get dry, add more water. Before serving, remove onions, garlic and pepper pods.

Hoppin’ John Casserole

30 oz. canned or 1 cup dried, black-eyed peas

1 tsp. salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

3 cups cold water

1 cup uncooked, long-grain rice

2 cups cold water

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. bacon drippings

4 slices, 1-inch cut, bacon

½ cup chopped onion

12 cup reserved pea liquid

In a saucepan, combine dried, washed peas with salt and pepper. Add water, heat and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer for 2 hours or until peas are soft but not mushy. Drain and reserve liquid. If using canned peas, drain and reserve liquid. In another saucepan, combine uncooked rice and cold water. Heat and boil for 5 minutes. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender and most water is absorbed. Set aside. In a skillet, cut bacon and fry with onion until bacon is done. Set skillet aside. Add the cooked, drained peas, ½ cup pea liquid, to the rice. Add the bacon pieces, onion, and drippings to the rice and peas. Mix well. Pour into a butter-greased 1½ quart baking dish. Cover tightly. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20-30 minutes.

Black-Eyed Pea Soup

2 cups pureed peas

1 cup whole peas

2 cans chicken broth

Ham hock with ham left on

Grated boiled eggs

In a food processor, puree the peas. In a saucepan, add pureed peas and whole peas. Add chicken broth and heat thoroughly. In the bottom of each soup bowl, place a few chunks of cooked ham. Fill with soup. Garnish top with chopped hard-boiled egg. Serves 6.

Three Cheese Macaroni

2 beaten, large eggs

2- 12 oz. cans evaporated milk

1/3 cup whole milk

1 tsp. kosher salt

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

¼ tsp. nutmeg

8 oz. grated sharp cheddar cheese

8 oz. grated Gruyere cheese

8 oz. torn, processed American cheese

3 cups short macaroni pasta

½ stick softened, salted butter

In a bowl, beat eggs. Whisk in evaporated and whole milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. If you like a little kick, add a pinch of cayenne pepper. Mix well. Set aside. In another bowl, combine and mix all three cheeses. In a pot, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain well and return hot pasta to the pot. Add butter and toss until melted. In the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish, spread 1/3 of pasta in the bottom. Top with 1/3 of the mixed cheese. Repeat with remaining pasta and cheese. Pour the egg mixture over the top. Bake in a 375-degree oven for 20-30 minutes until golden.

Buttermilk Sweet Potatoes

2 beaten eggs

1 stick softened, salted butter

1½ cups sugar

¾ cup buttermilk

1 tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground cloves

3 cups grated, raw sweet potatoes

1 cup chopped pecans

In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add butter and sugar and cream well. Add buttermilk, cinnamon and cloves. Mix well. Fold in sweet potatoes and pecans. Mix well. Bake in a buttered casserole in a 300-degree oven for 1 ¼ hour. Serves 6-8.


4 cups cooked, mashed sweet potatoes

¾ cup light brown sugar

½ cup half and half

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup broken pecans

Caramel Sauce

1 stick softened, salted butter

1 cup sugar

½ cup half and half

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Cream the cooked potatoes. Add brown sugar, cream, and vanilla. Place potatoes in buttered casserole dish. Create a well in the center. Sprinkle pecans evenly over the top. Heat in a 350-degree oven until very hot. Before serving and while still hot, pour the caramel sauce over all and into the well. If all the potatoes are not going to be eaten in one sitting — use a small oven-proof dish in center of potatoes for the sauce. For the sauce, in an iron skillet, melt butter and sugar while constantly stirring until golden brown. Add cream and cook 2 minutes while stirring. Add vanilla and mix well. You can adjust the amount of sugar in the potatoes to allow for the sweetness of the sauce.

Cornmeal and Corn Pudding

2 Tbsp. melted butter

1 finely chopped small onion

4 beaten eggs

3 cups half and half

1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2- 15¼ oz. cans drained corn

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp. yellow cornmeal

¼ tsp. dry mustard powder

¾ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

2 Tbsp. chopped, fresh parsley

In a skillet, melt butter. Add onion, and cook 5 minutes or until softened. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, beat eggs. Add half and half and Worcestershire sauce. Mix well. Add corn, flour, cornmeal, mustard powder, salt, pepper and parsley to the egg mixture. Fold in onion mixture. Mix well. Pour into a 2 qt. butter-greased baking dish. Fill a roasting pan halfway up sides with water. Place the baking dish in a pan. Bake on center rack of 350-degree oven for 45-55 minutes or until center is set and golden. Remove from water and cool 10 minutes.

Fresh Cranberry Salad

2 cups water

¾ cup sugar

12 oz. (3 cups) fresh cranberries

6 oz. orange-flavor gelatin

8¼ oz. can, with syrup, crushed pineapple

½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Leafy lettuce

In a saucepan, add water and sugar. Bring to a boil for 1 minute. Add cranberries and bring to a boil again for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in gelatin until it dissolves. Stir in canned crushed pineapple including the syrup. Mix well. Fold in nuts, and mix well. Pour into a 6 cup Pyrex dish or mold. Refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight. I cut into individual squares and place on decorative lettuce on a serving platter. You can remove the entire mold and place on lettuce for serving.

Good Luck Greens

1 lb. fresh turnip greens

1 lb. fresh spinach

1 lb. fresh mustard greens

1 lb. smoked hog jowl

Water to boil

Grated onion

2 sliced hard-boiled eggs


Fresh lemon juice

Wash and remove stems from greens. Allow greens to soak for 1 hour in a sink filled with enough cold water to cover. In a Dutch oven, fill halfway up with water. Place scrubbed jowl meat in the water. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, drain greens and place in a large pan. In a separate pot, add fresh water and heat to boiling. Then, pour over greens to cover and steep 15 minutes. Transfer greens to the Dutch oven that has the jowl meat. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes. For serving, drain greens and chop. Garnish with hard-boiled eggs. Serve with fresh lemon juice, grated fresh onion and vinegar.

Coconut Cream Pie

2/3 cup sugar

¼ cup cornstarch

4 beaten egg yolks

3 cups whole milk

1 Tbsp. melted butter

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1 cup flaked coconut

1 pre-baked pie crust

¼ cup toasted coconut


4 egg whites

¼ tsp. cream of tartar

½ cup fine sugar

In a saucepan, add sugar and cornstarch. Add beaten egg yolks and mix well into the sugar mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat while continuously stirring. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Add coconut and stir well. Refrigerate mixture and occasionally stir until completely chilled. When chilled, add mixture to a pre-baked pie crust. For the meringue, beat egg whites and cream of tartar at high speed until foamy. Add sugar a little at a time, beating well between each addition. Continue beating until very stiff and flossy. Seal all edges first and cover pie with meringue. Swirl to decorate. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15 minutes or until browned.