Elegant, easy, make-ahead food to make your New Years Eve even better

A universe of food to amuse your palate and delight your guests

You want your New Years Eve to be effortless. But you also want it to be beautiful and delicious -- and memorable, of course.

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How do you do that without work? 

Spread it out. Do it ahead. Go for variety. 

Come the day, you'll have it mostly or completely done already. Just re-purpose some holiday trimmings around your table and beverage trolley, assemble your punch, light some candles.

But ... what food? In the spirit of making things effortless, we've crafted our suggestions from a few hits pulled from our Instagram feed (you've followed us, right?). We made them ahead. Now you can, too. 

And you'll find a few bonuses below you'll find nowhere else but here. 

And perhaps soon you'll see them here, at our Instagram feed (click the button and follow us!). 

Have fun at your year-end celebration, be safe, and if you're getting your drink on, get a designated! All of you are expected back for next week's menu missive from your favorite cookware company. 

White bean and mashed potato hummus

Click for the recipe on IG.

Click for the recipe on IG.

We posted this on Instagram as a trick for using left-over mashed potatoes from the holidays. But making mashed potatoes anew is a breeze. This recipe adds in white beans and garlic to bring it hard towards hummus texture, and has all the flavor of hummus. With a few toppings, it looks terrifically enticing. 

We used red onion, ground pistachios, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted grape tomatoes (yellow and red because), fried garlic, and shishito peppers.

Perfect roasted Brussels sprouts

Click for the recipe on IG.

Click for the recipe on IG.

A Thursday tradition on our Instagram feed (ahem, you have followed us, yes?) is "One Perfect Vegetable."

Nothing is better for your nutrition, heart, soul, and planet than great vegetables.

This recipe uses onion, red pepper flakes and pancetta to round out the already-awesome flavor of pan-roasted Brussels sprouts. You've had them at the great restaurants. Now have them for New Years Eve. 

 

Pea pods with fried garlic and dipping sauce

Click for the recipe on IG.

Click for the recipe on IG.

This will be your new favorite companion to your favorite aperitif. Crunch, creamy, spicy ... and it counts towards your recommended daily allowance of vegetables. 

The trick is not to burn the garlic, cooking it in the EuroCAST skillet and some olive oil until the edge is off but the round, warm flavors and aromas develop. 

Or the trick is the horseradish. 

Or that it's gorgeous. 

I don't know. Just eat it.

Simple roasted cauliflower

Click the pic for all the tips. Cauliflower pieces in a good bath of olive oil with kosher salt. Roast for fifteen minutes then turn pieces over for another ten minutes. My version here with a dipping sauce of 1/4 cup tahini and 2T pomegranate molasses with red pepper flakes.

Click the pic for all the tips. Cauliflower pieces in a good bath of olive oil with kosher salt. Roast for fifteen minutes then turn pieces over for another ten minutes. My version here with a dipping sauce of 1/4 cup tahini and 2T pomegranate molasses with red pepper flakes.

Tomato bacon jam that you can put on ... anything, really

Pairs well with penne regate, grilled cheese, or -- my personal favorite -- by the spoonful over the skillet in my bed (after the pan has cooled a bit, of course). Click for the recipe on IG.

Pairs well with penne regate, grilled cheese, or -- my personal favorite -- by the spoonful over the skillet in my bed (after the pan has cooled a bit, of course). Click for the recipe on IG.

Hero dip, the party trick of the year

We do this for Labor Day, or other special days, or other not-otherwise-special days. Now, it's time to deploy it for the New Year's Eve shin-dig. 

Click on the pic for the recipe. It's on our Instagram feed. Hint. 

Click on the pic for the recipe. It's on our Instagram feed. Hint. 

Ye olde piggy in a blanket

Click for the recipe on IG.

Click for the recipe on IG.

Sometimes you have to take a favorite dish and roll it back through the years. Some recipes you find today are like "recipe photocopies of photocopies" where the original concept has gotten so fuzzy you forget where it came from. 

That's easy to fix. Just pick the very best "old school" ingredients and re-do. Like this Pigs in a Blanket with puff pastry and the very best sausage you can find -- spicy, mild, smokey, your pick. 

But speaking of spice.  My ketchup gets a little Chita Rivera. Click on the pic for the details.

 

Ding ding ding goes the trolley

A well-stocked drink trolley is an opportunity to be festive. Any leftover boughs or branches get a last gasp making the drinks look holiday-worthy. Use your tree ornaments, your Channukah candles, a stack of Michener novels, whatever mirrors your joy and inspires whimsy, a giggle, or a bit of romance.

A well-stocked drink trolley is an opportunity to be festive. Any leftover boughs or branches get a last gasp making the drinks look holiday-worthy. Use your tree ornaments, your Channukah candles, a stack of Michener novels, whatever mirrors your joy and inspires whimsy, a giggle, or a bit of romance.

Some people keep it quiet at home, some people get rowdy out, and in both choices you'll also have options to drink not at all, a little, or a lot. But whether you've got vodka in your punch, or just punch in your punch, find a notch to take it up.

Because, after all, it is the last night of the year, the last day you'll have to date your checks 2017, and a time to celebrate memories made and memories to make. 

Punch like our friends make it

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At my house we’ve had our share of punch -- and in general we don't drink the punch, as it were -- but our friends at Food52 do and know how to kick it hard in the punch department. Here’s a swift take on their punch.

  • 2 parts bourbon 
  • 2 parts cranberry/pomegranate juice 
  • 1/2 part ginger liqueur
  • 2 parts champagne (save this for the very last step!)

Combine all but the champs in the bowl, add Ice cubes as shown at the last minute, and champs poured right over. Voila.

And, while you're at it, a fruit and raspberry ice cube program in the punch reminds people to drink with nutrition in mind. Right. 

The raspberries are ready to be soaked in something. Don't make it alcoholic - it won't freeze. But sparkling water, or sparkling grape juice ... those are dandy. Freeze and drop them into the punch. Keep a couple of trays at the ready to add mid-evening. 

The raspberries are ready to be soaked in something. Don't make it alcoholic - it won't freeze. But sparkling water, or sparkling grape juice ... those are dandy. Freeze and drop them into the punch. Keep a couple of trays at the ready to add mid-evening. 

A beautiful table ... from greens and stars and candles you might have on hand. 

A beautiful table ... from greens and stars and candles you might have on hand. 

Ice your vodka in style

In our pic above you see a bottle (think, vodka) all encased in something magically crafty.

The caption below tells the potion that makes the fruit blanket possible.

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Place vodka bottle in an empty, washed clean juice or milk box. Fill with whole raw cranberries, a little bit of crushed peppermint and a few mint leaves near the top. You’ll have to jostle the bottle in that box cause it’ll be snug up in there. Slowly add water you warmed to 110 degrees or so to keep it from getting too cloudy, up to the top of the carton.

Freeze 24 hours standing upright in your freezer. 

To serve: 

Let it sit on your counter for five minutes to loosen the box from the ice. The bottle with its shroud of deliciousness should slide out, or -- careful now! -- you can cut one side of the box and unwrap it.

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Be jolly. Eat well. Be safe.

We are thrilled you spent all or part of your year with us. You are our EuroCAST family.

To your health, and to a remarkable 2018.

 

 

Paul WardComment