New Years Eve Party
|January 7, 2013||Posted by jcogswell1 under Parties|
This year, my sister Kate and I threw a NYE party for our friends in our new condo. It was a fun get together with 30-40 of our friends!
Because of the sheer number of people invited, it was impossible to have a sit down dinner party, so we opted for lots of drinks and appetizers instead. We started the party at 9PM and our friends grazed on the food all night!
I took inspiration from the Barefoot Contessa and served a mixture of homemade (but easy!) and store bought appetizers. I think its good to have a decent variety of food options that offer different tastes and textures, but I also don’t want to be slaving away in the kitchen the entire day before my party. Luckily, I also had a special helper (Tommy) assisting me with party prep and Kate and our friend Zoe made a couple of dishes as well.
The dishes we made were a big hit and I thought were the perfect quantity. The menu included: roasted shrimp cocktail, blue cheese and walnut crackers, salami and cucumber slices, a fig spread, prosciutto and gorgonzola crostini (compliments of Tommy), Gluten free black been dip (compliments of Zoe and Kate), cheese platters, and puff pastry filled with gruyere cheese and black forest ham. Finally my girlfriend Laura brought over some beautiful and delicious cupcakes that were devoured during the late night hours of the party!
The thing I enjoyed so much about the menu is that it involved minimal cooking but was still a really impressive spread.
For the roasted shrimp with cocktail sauce, I used this recipe, but doubled the quantity. I ended up having about 1 lb of leftover shrimp, so next time I might make 1.5 times what the recipe called for.
I think that roasting the shrimp is so much easier and tastier than boiling it, like you typically do with cocktail shrimp. By roasting the shrimp, I was able to season them with olive oil, salt and pepper which added flavor. Plus I didn’t have to worry about having huge pots of boiling water going. Buy shrimp that have been previously de-veined and peeled and your job gets even easier.
The blue cheese and walnut crackers are another Ina Garten recipe. I didn’t exactly make these crackers, because Tommy took over, but I definitely supervised and can attest to how easy they are to make.
Using the word cracker to describe this recipe is actually a little deceiving. These aren’t your typical Carr’s or Wheat Thin crackers that you would use as a base for cheese. Instead these are sort of a hybrid for what you would find on a cheese platter a mixture of cheese and cracker. Plus, with the amount of butter in these babies, you might as well just call them blue cheese flavored short breads. No matter what you call them, know that they are delicious and work great for a party. (Also, how beautifully did tommy make these guys look? Better than the Barefoot Contessa herself I think?)
You can’t get more simple or tasty with the next dish that I served: cucumber slices with salami.
Not only is this a beautiful presentation and adds some color to your appetizer arrangement, but it also is tasty with nearly zero assembly. I choose a milk soppressata as the accompaniment to the cucumber slices and I thought it worked well. You could also choose something more bold like a spicy salami. Whether your guest eat just the cucumbers, just the salami or combine the two, if they are anything like mine, these guys will be gone in no time.
For the next appetizer, Tommy offered to make a dish that his cousin Dawn served over Christmas: crostini with fig jam, melted gorgonzola cheese and prosciutto.
This picture is actually one that I snapped a couple of days after NYE because I failed to photograph it during the party itself. The crostini were just coming out of the oven when my guests started to arrive and I got so caught up in entertaining, that I completely forgot to take a picture.
To make these, Tommy simply sliced a fresh French banquette on a bias (which simply means cutting them on a slight diagonal thereby increasing the surface area), toasted the bread slices in the oven, spread some fig preserves on the toasted bread, added some crumbled gorgonzola cheese and topped with 1/3 of a slice of prosciutto. He then put the crostini in a 350 degree oven for about 3 minutes until the cheese was just barely melted (but not completely). These were probably the biggest hit of the party and were quickly gobbled up. Kate and I weren’t too upset when we just had to recreate these for a picture a few nights later!
As I mention, Kate and her friend Zoe also made a Gluten Free Black Bean dip that they served alongside some tortilla chips.
I am not sure what exactly went into this dip, but know that there was lots of black beans, scallions, cilantro and lime juice. Perhaps Zoe or Kate could link to the recipe or describe it in the comments section!
For another appetizer that required no cooking and only minimal assembly, I opted to have a couple of cheese platters.
I think that when assembling a cheese platter, it is important to have one blue cheese (in this case I used Roquefort), one creamy cheese (think brie, goat, or something similar) and one harder cheese (cheddar, manchego, etc.). I think having a variety of cheese means that there will be something for everyone!
For the last dish of the night, I opted to serve a beautiful ham and cheese puff pasty appetizer using this recipe. Unfortunately, the puff pasty fell victim to a similar fate that the crostini did, and I failed to snap a picture. Luckily I was able to find a couple of pictures that looked very similar to the dish I made.
This puff pastry dish tastes really similar to a croque monsieur thanks to the ham, gruyere cheese and Dijon mustard. Not only was the baked puff pasty beautiful to look at and a great addition to the appetizer spread, but it also tasted delicious and was a big it at the party.
Overall the party was a big success thanks in part to lots of drinks and plenty of good food. I would recreate this exact menu for another cocktail party any time of year as this was not NYE specific as well. Whatever you did on NYE, I hope you were surrounded by people you love!