Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Home: A Chic Cocktail Party for Friends and Family
Spending the evening out on New Year’s can either be magical or miserable, depending on your mood and factors outside of your control, like bumper-to-bumper traffic, freezing temps, and whether the restaurant/bar you’ve chosen has its act together. Hosting a spirited cocktail party with upscale hors d’oeuvres and perfectly poured drinks in the comfort of your own home combines the best of both worlds. Tempted? You’ll quickly make it an annual event, especially if you follow our menu, which can be prepped in advance so you can sip cocktails and enjoy the night as much as your friends.
It wouldn’t be a proper New Year’s Eve celebration without a few shots – but you’ll feel a whole lot better the next morning after indulging in these. They’re a rich, soothing treat on a cold evening and easy to whisk out of the kitchen when your guests arrive.
Yield: 25 shooters
Add butter to a sauté pan on medium heat. When foam subsides, add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks are very soft but not browned, about 8–10 minutes. Place leeks in a food processor with a 1/2 cup of water and purée until smooth. Place mixture in saucepan.
Place potatoes in a stockpot and cover with cold water by 2’’. Bring to a boil and cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife. Drain and pass through a potato ricer. Add potatoes to leek mixture and heat on low. Gradually add milk until you reach desired consistency. Adjust seasoning. Soup can be wrapped and refrigerated overnight. Before serving, bring to a simmer and add additional milk, if necessary. Add truffle oil. Pour soup into shooters and garnish with chives.
These tartlets are one of the easiest and most popular hors d’oeuvres in our arsenal. If you’re not a huge fan of brie or can’t find any asparagus that looks good, use the puff pastry as a blank canvas and substitute ingredients you prefer, like mushrooms, gorgonzola, peppers, or even a bit of shaved steak and onions.
Yield: 20 pieces
In a sauté pan, heat oil on medium. Add asparagus, thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Sauté until just tender, about 5 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375˚F. Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Place pastry shells on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add 1 wedge of brie to each shell. Top with several pieces of asparagus and place tomato slice on top. (Shells can be wrapped and refrigerated for several hours if not serving immediately.) Bake until cheese has melted and pastry is crisp and golden, about 10 minutes.
Crab cakes appear on menus everywhere for good reason: When done right, they’re delicious, addictive, and completely satisfying. We love the classic flavors of Old Bay, lemon, and red peppers for the base of the crab cake but we add a spicy touch with a homemade chipotle aioli to jazz up the flavors and transform an old reliable into something special.
Yield: 15 pieces
In a large sauté pan on medium-high, add 2 tablespoons oil. Add onions, season with salt and pepper, and sauté for 4–5 minutes. Add red peppers and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. In a large bowl, add crab, Old Bay, mustard, lemon juice, and hot sauce. Add onions and peppers and mix well. Taste mixture and adjust seasoning. Add 1/2-cup breadcrumbs to bind mixture. Using your fingers, roll crab cakes into 1’’-wide cylinders with flat tops and bottoms. Roll cakes through remaining breadcrumbs to coat all sides evenly.
Preheat oven to 375˚F. In a large sauté pan, heat remaining oil on medium. Add cakes, being careful not to overcrowd pan, and sauté until light golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer cakes to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. If serving immediately, bake for 10 minutes until hot inside. If not, wrap baking sheet with Saran Wrap and refrigerate and then bake for 15–18 minutes.
In a medium bowl, add yolks, garlic, mustard, paprika, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking constantly, until mixture has emulsified. When all oil has been added, whisk an additional 15 seconds. Add chipotles and mix well. Refrigerate until serving.
These are a lighter take on the deep fried version – just as tasty and a whole lot easier. By using puff pastry, you can achieve a rich quality without the splattering oil and the need to serve immediately that comes with frying. If you’re catering to a vegetarian crowd, substitute cheese, diced onions, and mushrooms instead of the beef.
Yield: 20 pieces
In a large sauté pan on medium heat, add oil. Add garlic and sauté until lightly brown, about 30 seconds. Add beef, chili powder, and paprika and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until beef is just cooked through with some pink remaining, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add peppers and mix well.
Preheat oven to 425˚F. Using a 2 1/2’’ cookie cutter, cut as many rounds as possible from pastry sheets. Stuff each round with a heaping tablespoon of meat and fold dough in half. Crimp edges with your fingers and seal across entire edge with the back of a fork. Put empanadas on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly brush top side with egg. If serving immediately, bake until empanadas are light golden brown and fluffy, about 10 minutes. If not, wrap and refrigerate, then bake for 12–15 minutes.
In the bowl of a food processor, add cilantro, lime juice, and mayonnaise. Season with salt. Pulse until well-combined, about 1 minute. Wrap and refrigerate sauce until serving.
Pretty and petite, these bite-sized desserts are almost as irresistible as a perfectly chilled glass of champagne. The frosting’s cream cheese base provides a nice alternative to the sometimes-too-sweet tang of butter cream. If you’re not a fan of coconut, then feel free to omit it and add caramel instead.
Yield: 30 mini cupcakes
Preheat oven to 325˚F. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add butter and sugar. On high speed, cream until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. On low speed, add eggs one at a time. Add lemon zest, juice, and extract.
In a separate bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and mix until just combined.
Line mini muffin tins with liners. Using a tablespoon, add batter to liners so they are 3/4 full. Bake in oven for 10–15 minutes, until tops are golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool.
Place cream cheese and butter in bowl of cleaned stand mixer. Mix on high speed until well-combined, light, and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add confectioners’ sugar and mix until no lumps remain.
Ice cupcakes and sprinkle with hazelnuts and coconut. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.