Tasting Table's January 2012 Menu

A year of dinner parties starts now

Here at Tasting Table, flavor comes first, whether we're snacking by the light of the fridge or indulging in a multicourse feast in our Test Kitchen & Dining Room.

Still, the most successful meals are more than the sum of their parts. Atmosphere, wine, cocktails and music, for example, all play roles in crafting an unforgettable meal. With that in mind, we would like to introduce Tasting Table's Year of the Dinner Party.

This month, we begin with a casual gathering of friends. The menu is a collection of three recipes ideal for an easygoing meal: glogg (a soul-warming spiced wine), fortifying lamb daube and an intense chocolate mousse topped with elderflower whipped cream. (Check out a bonus recipe for feta dip here.)

All the dishes can be made in advance and served family style. Because, after all, it's better to spend time at a low-key party with friends than standing at the stove. To round out the meal, we've also included tabletop inspiration, plus a few of our preferred winter wines.

Utilize a few–or all–of these components to throw a dinner party of your own. We'll be back with more takes on the dinner party until we've completed a year of well-rounded entertaining.

Until the next menu, here's to happy eating and cheers to a year of celebrating the world of dining in.

Glogg, a richly spiced mulled wine from Scandinavia.

Dried cherries, raisins and sliced almonds garnish the Glogg.

Digging in to the daube.