by Jolene Lamb, coordinator, LLCC Culinary Institute
This year my husband and I decided to host a New Year’s Eve party for our friends.
We typically host all of the family dinners for the holidays; however, this year my sister-in-law is hosting the official large family dinner. Hosting is quite a bit of work, especially when our blended families come together, which results in 40-45 guests! Since she tackled that large headcount at her house, we are able to host a smaller gathering at our house with friends.
I’m used to cooking for a crowd, which dictates what recipes I use since some are more easily adaptable to a large amount of guests. For our smaller party, there is more freedom in choosing recipes and of course more time to focus on the drinks to be served.
I want the smashing hit of our small New Year’s Eve party to be the cocktails! For a small group of 15-20 friends I recommend making and serving large batch cocktails instead of mixing individual drinks. As the hostess, I want to enjoy the party, instead of playing bartender.
I also take a more simple approach to the appetizers, some are even store bought, already prepared items. Buying ready-made desserts such as mini eclairs, mini cheese cakes, macarons and chocolate covered pretzels saves time and allows me to prepare the savory apps and cocktails. I usually include a couple of hot items, a cheeseball or spread and a few dips.
Keeping the menu simple yet tasty, and easy to prepare with some of the items made the day ahead, allows me to enjoy the party without having to work hard.
Here are a few of my favorite party appetizers and cocktails, perfect for a New Year’s Party. Enjoy and Happy New Year!
New England-Style Crab Dip with Brown-Butter Crumbs
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup minced celery
1/4 cup minced green bell pepper
2 tablespoons finely grated sweet onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 pound jumbo lump crabmeat, picked over
Kosher salt Pepper
4 ounces day-old rustic white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces (4 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Crostini, chips or radicchio leaves, for serving
In a large bowl, blend the mayonnaise with the celery, green pepper, onion, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, hot sauce and cayenne. Fold in the crab and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400°. In a food processor, pulse the bread until fine crumbs form. Spread the breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until crisp.
In a large skillet, cook the butter over moderate heat until the milk solids turn dark golden, about 4 minutes. Stir in the toasted breadcrumbs and season with salt.
Scrape the crab mixture into a 10-inch round baking dish or skillet. Sprinkle the brown-butter crumbs evenly on top. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden on top and bubbling at the edge. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving with crostini, chips or radicchio leaves.
The crab dip can be prepared through Step 3 and refrigerated overnight.
Red Wine Bagna Cauda with Crudités
Makes about 3 cups
One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine, such as Nebbiolo
1/4 cup marinated white anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
4 oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Assorted crudités, such as baby carrots, radishes, fennel and bell peppers, for serving
In a large saucepan, boil the wine over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
In a blender, combine the reduced wine with the anchovies, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice and blend until smooth. With the machine on, add the olive oil in a thin stream. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer the bagna cauda to a medium saucepan and rewarm over low heat. Pour into a serving bowl and serve with the crudités alongside.
The bagna cauda can be prepared through Step 2 and refrigerated overnight. Reheat gently.
1/3 cup chopped dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 wheel (8-ounce) Brie
1 egg white
Preheat oven to 400°F. Combine cranberries, apricots, almonds, honey, thyme, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Roll puff pastry to 12-inch square. Trim top rind off Brie and center cheese on pastry. Top with fruit mixture.
Beat egg white and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a small bowl and brush some egg wash along pastry edges. Gather dough up around Brie, twisting into a topknot. Chill in freezer for 15 minutes.
Brush pastry lightly with egg wash and place on a parchment-lined baking pan. Bake for 35 minutes.
Instead of just chilling in the freezer for 15 minutes, cover with plastic wrap and freeze overnight or up to one week. Bake on day of serving.
Boiled Shrimp with Spicy Mayonnaise
Yield: 50 piece
2 pasteurized egg yolks
1 tablespoons hot mustard powder
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup canola oil
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 tablespoon water
2 pounds medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, mustard powder and lemon juice. Whisking constantly, slowly add in the canola oil. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Whisk in the 1 tablespoon of water to thin out the mayonnaise if necessary.
Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Add the shrimp and boil until pink, about 3 minutes. Drain and let cool. Serve the shrimp with the spicy mayonnaise
Yield: 8 servings
4 cups apple cider
1 (750-ml) bottle red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
1 orange, zested and juiced
4 whole cloves
3 star anise
4 oranges, peeled, for garnish
Combine the cider, wine, honey, cinnamon sticks, zest, juice, cloves and star anise in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Pour into mugs, add an orange peel to each and serve.
White Winter Sangria
2 granny smith apple
1 heaping cup fresh cranberries
1 large sprig rosemary
1 bottle pinot grigio
½ cup white grape juice
¼ cup sugar (more, for garnish)
1 can club soda
Chop apples to a medium dice. Combine wine, grape juice and sugar (or honey) in pitcher. Stir to dissolve sugar. Add fruit and herbs, refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Add club soda before serving.
Garnish with some of the fruit from the sangria and a sprigs of sugared rosemary – Rinse rosemary sprigs and shake to remove excess water. While still damp, roll sprigs in a plate of granulated sugar. They are meant to look like festive pine sprigs covered in snow.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Education Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu.
Cooking or food questions? Email email@example.com.