Impromptu New Year’s Eve Party

This year in lieu of going to a large party, we invited a small group of friends to our house for New Year’s Eve. I wanted to create a menu that was elegant enough for a holiday, but simple to put together. I used the Barefoot Contessa approach and took a lot of help from the store. I think the result was quite pretty, but still very accessible. To the left is a picture of some tulips, I arranged. They make me itch for spring.

Here’s the menu I settled on:

  • Fancy meat and cheese tray
  • Roasted shrimp with dipping sauces
  • Olives
  • Gougeres (I used the recipe from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, but I’ve linked to another one from her team. )
  • Store-bought cupcakes

Sounds pretty complicated, right? It’s not. Most of the items I included were store-bought. I made the gougeres and roasted the shrimp.  Here’s how it turned out.

For the cheeses, I bought a 1/2 lb. of each of these: manchego, pecorino and Humboldt Fog (a goat cheese). I also chose a 1/4 lb. each of rosemary and serrano ham. You could use this combination or choose favorites of your own. Baguette and crackers were added to the board, along with grapes. Sliced pears or apples would also be really nice.

The white serving dish on the right has honey, ground mustard and chutney in it. Sun-dried tomatoes or roasted red peppers are also lovely. Having a combination of condiments allows your guest to try different combinations, like baguette+rosemary ham+pecorino+ mustard or cracker+goat cheese+honey.

The bowl at the top has pitted Kalamata olives in it. Those are my favorites, so that’s what I got, but feel free to get whatever kind you like. Nuts are a good substitute if you don’t like olives. Just make sure none of your guests have nut allergies before serving them.

When making shrimp, I use the Barefoot Contessa method. It works every time. One sauce is a chipotle and cheddar dressing I bought. The other is a Nigella Lawson sauce.

Last, but not least, I made gougeres and bought the prettiest mini cupcakes from Dolce in Prairie Village (red velvet and chocolate). Gougeres are best straight out of the oven, and I am sad to report I made mine way too early. But, you can’t tell that from this picture. Can you?

As far as drinks, our friends each brought something, but as a hostess, I think it’s always important to provide beverages. For a small group like ours, it’s nice to tailor the drinks to those who are coming. For this group, we had a few kinds of beer, a red wine, a white wine, two bottles of Prosecco (Italian champagne), vodka and scotch.


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