You brave soul, you’re hosting a New Year’s Eve party for your nearest and dearest — and you have no idea what to serve everyone. Think beyond the frozen packs of hors d’oeuvres and try making your own. Below, chefs from Kings Cooking Studio in Short Hills offer finger-food suggestions for all sorts of eaters, while the folks at Brinker International – who own Maggiano’s Little Italy and Chili’s Grill & Bar – share a recipe for Chili’s Presidente Margarita.
The signature drink just turned 21 years old, making it old enough to… well, you know. But whether or not your guests are of-age, we’ve got your New Year’s Eve entertaining menu covered.
Chef Marla Mendelsohn of Cook Ease Catering created these recipes, which come from her teen cooking class at Kings Cooking Studio, “Sweet and Savory Baking for the Holidays” (in session now). Mendelsohn hosts kids’ cooking parties in addition to the classes she teaches for would-be chefs of all ages.
MUSTARD AND GRUYERE BATONS
Flour for dusting work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, defrosted and very cold
3 Tbsp. Honeycup mustard
1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. water, for egg wash
3 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Flaked sea salt (Maldon) for sprinkling
- Roll puff pastry to 11-by-13-inch rectangle on a well-floured work surface with a floured rolling pin. (Diagonal strokes keep the pastry rectangular.) With the shorter end nearest you, spread the mustard on the lower half of the pastry, leaving a ½-inch border along the edges. Brush the border with the egg wash and fold the top half of the pastry over the lower half, lining up the edges. Place the pastry on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and chill for 15 minutes.
- Place the pastry on a board and trim the irregular edges from the three sides with a sharp knife. With the folded edge away from you, cut the pastry into 1-by-6-inch strips. You will have 10-12 batons. Spread the batons out on the sheet pan lined with parchment paper so they are not touching. Brush the tops lightly with the egg wash (do not allow the egg wash to drip down the sides) and sprinkle evenly with the Gruyère and Parmesan cheeses. Sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons flaked salt. Chill for 15 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Bake batons for 15-18 minutes, until golden brown and puffed. Allow to cool on pan for 3 minutes and serve warm.
½ cup salted butter
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups sifted confectioners sugar
¼ cup butter, softened
2 Tbsp. milk
½ tsp. mint extract
Green food coloring (as much as you want)
2 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. light corn syrup
- Melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan. Beat the eggs and add the sugar. Sift in the flour and mix well. Add the chocolate and butter mixture and blend. Add the vanilla and mix well.
- Bake at 350° in an 8-by-8-inch pan for 25 to 30 minutes. Then cool.
- Combine all of the ingredients for mint frosting, mixing thoroughly. Spread frosting over the cooled pastry. Place it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes to harden it. Cut the pastry bars, but do not remove it from the pan.
- Heat the chocolate, butter and corn syrup, blending thoroughly. When it is softened, brush it evenly on top of the mint frosting, using a pastry brush if you want to. Allow chocolate to harden (putting in the refrigerator will speed up the process). Recut the bars. Remove them from the pan.
Chef Blake Swihart also shared some recipes from his class, “Holiday Hors D’oeuvres,” from Kings Cooking Studio. Swihart says when he selects party-centered recipes for a class, he aims for a mix of hot and cold dishes, though everything can be prepared ahead of time. “I will purposely serve dishes at room temperature, rather than heating things up or keeping them chilled,” he says via email. “Your mouth and palate tastes flavors better when the temperatures aren’t extreme — ice cream notwithstanding. That makes it easier for a host.” The selections include a variety of meat, fish and vegetarian options, and Swihart says any accompanying sauces should be prepared in advance.
CREAMY CELERY ROOT BISQUE
Yield: 6-10 servings
Portion: 1 cup
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups chopped sweet onions
1½ qt. diced celery root, 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
2 qt. reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1½ cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp. honey
1-2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground white pepper
White truffle oil, for garnish
- In a large, heavy soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat; add onion and sauté3 minutes, until softened but not browned. Stir in garlic and continue to cook 1 minute. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Add celery root and return to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 35-40 minutes or until celery root is very tender. Remove pot from heat and cool slightly.
- Using a food processor or immersion blender stick, purée mixture until very smooth. Strain through a medium-fine strainer back into a heavy pot.
- Return mixture to a low simmer and stir in cream, honey, salt and pepper and cook on low for 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings. Keep warm to serve.
- Serve each serving of soup drizzled with truffle oil.
COCONUT SHRIMP PATTIES WITH APRICOT-MUSTARD SAUCE
Yield: 10 servings
Portion: 2 mini patties
1½ lb. shelled, deveined, tailless shrimp, thawed and drained
1 Tbsp. chopped ginger root
1½ tsp. chopped garlic
1 cup cilantro leaves
½ cup chopped scallions
1 large egg, beaten
1½ cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut, divided
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. Sriracha sauce
Apricot-Mustard Sauce (recipe below)
- In the bowl of a food processor equipped with a blade, pulse half of the shrimp with ginger and garlic until chopped.
- Add cilantro, scallions and ½ cup coconut and pulse to incorporate.
- Add remaining shrimp, egg, salt and Sriracha sauce and pulse off and on just to incorporate. Mixture should have chunks of shrimp in it and not be smooth. Place mixture in a covered container and chill at least 1 hour before using.
- Form 1½ to 2-inch patties, coat evenly in remaining coconut and place on a parchment-covered baking sheet evenly spaced.
- Bake in a 325°F convection oven for 15 minutes or until firm and lightly golden. Serve with Apricot-Mustard Sauce.
Yield: 1½ cups sauce
1 cup apricot jam
½ cup coarse mustard
2 Tbsp. prepared horseradish
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 Tbsp. orange zest
In a bowl, whisk together all ingredients. Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving as directed.
SPICY LAMB & MUSHROOM CROSTINI WITH GINGER CREME
Yield: 8 servings
Portion: 3 slices
1 lb. ground lamb
1 cup minced sweet onion
4 oz. stemmed shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1/3 cup golden raisins
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp. lamb seasoning blend (turmeric, cumin, mustard, coriander, salt, smoked
paprika and ground red pepper)
¼ cup ginger preserves
¼ cup minced fresh mint leaves
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
24 thin slices baguette, fresh
Ginger Crème (recipe below)
- In a skillet, cook lamb over medium heat until thoroughly browned and broken apart into small pieces. Remove lamb from skillet with a slotted spoon and drain well. Discard all but 2 Tbsp. remaining lamb fat.
- Over medium-high heat, add onions to skillet with remaining fat and cook 3-4 minutes, stirring often, until golden and caramelized.
- Stir in chopped mushrooms and continue cooking, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until mushrooms are dry and slightly browned.
- Mix in raisins, soy sauce and lamb seasoning and continue to cook 1 minute until raisins are softened and soy sauce is reduced. Remove skillet from heat.
- Return drained, cooked lamb to skillet and mix well. Stir in preserves and mint to combine. Cool to room temperature. When cooled, mix in cheese. Use as directed or place in covered container (approx. 3 cups mixture) and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Mold 2 Tbsp. cooled lamb mixture onto top of each slice of baguette and spread to cover entire surface. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes in a 325°F convection oven or until heated through and cheese is melted. Serve while hot drizzled with Ginger Crème.
Yield: Approx. ½ cup
½ cup crème fraîche
¼ cup ginger preserves, minced
1 Tbsp. reduced sodium soy sauce
In a bowl, whisk together ingredients. Place in a squirt bottle and refrigerate.
CURRIED BEETS & APPLES IN ENDIVE SPOONS
Yield: 10-12 servings
Portion: 3 filled endive spears
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/3 cup minced shallots
1/3 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
3 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1/3 cup prepared horseradish
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
2 cups finely diced roasted beets
2 cups finely diced skinned and cored Granny Smith apples
Belgian endive leaves
- In a non-stick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; add shallots and sautéuntil caramelized but tender. Remove from heat and cool to room temp. Hold.
- In a bowl, mix mayonnaise, horseradish, tarragon, salt and pepper. Mix in cooled sautéed shallots. Stir in diced beets and apples. Place in a covered container and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.
- Spoon 1 Tbsp. beet-apple filling into the stem-end of each endive leaf and place on a serving platter. Garnish with fresh tarragon sprigs and serve chilled.
BRIE & CHUTNEY TARTS
1/3 cup prepared chutney or preserve
15-20 mini Phyllo tart shells
4 oz. brie, cut into cubes
Spoon 1 tsp. preserves/chutney mixture into each Phyllo shell. Top with a cube of brie. Bake in 400ºF. oven 10-12 minutes.
For the Thirsty Grown-Ups
According to Brinker International, the crucial parts of this cocktail are using white oak-aged brandy, and making sure to shake it 25 times before serving. So count very carefully.
1¼ oz. Sauza Conmemorativo Anejo Tequila
½ oz. Presidente Brandy
½ oz. Patrón Citrónge Orange liqueur
3 oz. sweet and sour mix
1 lime wedge (squeezed)
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker.
- Salt rim of glass.
- Garnish with a lime wedge and sip straw.
- Add ice to shaker and glass at time of service.
- Shake margarita 25 times before serving.
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