A colorful fruit salad served alongside creamy quiche rings in the new year. Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

I think it’s very important to start out the new decade with favorite foods and favorite activities shared with our favorite people. My most-loved tradition is to ring in the New Year with a brisk walk at Popham Beach. In previous years, there have also been extremely competitive board games, read-a-thons, and group yoga classes. We’ve even participated in a Polar Dash or two (not my idea). Of course, no matter what we do, there must be brunch.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

I always feel fancy when I have a warm wedge of Quiche Lorraine in front of me. It’s a favorite of mine because there is buttery crust, creamy cheese, and bacon all in one mouthful. I mean, what’s not to like?

Just be sure to splurge on the best Gruyère and get real nutmeg to grate. (I pick it up at Morning Glory in Brunswick.)

Below is the recipe I use for all my pie crusts. I stopped using shortening long ago, but once in a while I use lard instead of butter. This can also be made in a food processor quite handily.

The salad side dishes are both easy and versatile. If you have kiddos sharing the meal with you, you can have a separate batch of fruit salad minus the alcohol.

For dessert, we make hot chocolate from scratch and fashion s’mores with leftover Christmas cookies and roasted marshmallows. It’s divine.

With a new decade upon us, may you have good health, good friends by your side, and enough bounty to share with others. Happy New Year, dear ones!

Quiche Lorraine

Crust

1 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) frozen butter

1 tablespoon vinegar

2-3 tablespoons ice water

In a large chilled bowl, whisk together flour, sugar and salt. Grate the butter with a box grater into the bowl then use your hands to work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles pea-size crumbs. Add ice water by the tablespoon, gently kneading until a dough is formed. Add more water a teaspoon at a time if needed. Press the dough into a disc, wrap in cling wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until firm.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out crust to 1/4-inch thick. Place in a 9-inch pie plate and crimp edges. Return to refrigerator to chill again for another 30 minutes.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prick pie crust about seven times with a fork and cover it with a square of parchment paper then weight it with a cup of dried beans or pie weights, enough to keep the crust from puffing up during baking. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the crust is just beginning to become tan in color. Remove paper and weights and cool completely.

Filling

8 slices thick-cut bacon

1 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese, divided

1 shallot, minced

6 large eggs

1 1/2 cup heavy cream

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon until crispy, 8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Scatter bacon, 1 cup cheese, and shallot in cooled crust. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, and nutmeg and season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over bacon and cheese. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake until crust is golden and eggs are cooked through, about 40 minutes. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing. Yield: 6 servings

January Salad

2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets

4 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

12 ounces baby spinach

1 1/2 cups blue cheese crumbles

1 1/2 cups dried cherries

1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, chopped

Olive oil and white wine vinegar for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower with oil and place on large parchment-lined baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 30 minutes or until cauliflower is browned with crisp edges. Allow the cauliflower to cool a bit. Place spinach in a large salad bowl. Add the cauliflower, cheese, cherries, and walnuts. Add a drizzle of oil and vinegar and toss. Yield: 4 servings

Let in the Light Salad

1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into bite-size chunks

6-8 clementines, peeled and sectioned

1 cup pomegranate arils (seeds from half a large fruit)

5 kiwis, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

2 starfruit, sliced, for garnish

1/4 cup juice from 1 navel orange

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup champagne or Prosecco (optional)

Combine all fruit except starfruit in a large glass bowl. Combine orange juice, honey and champagne and stir into fruit. Allow to chill for at least 1 hour or as long as overnight. Garnish with starfruit. Yield: 6 servings

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