Make your New Year's sparkle with these delicious drinks and nibbles
New Year’s Eve parties are tricky, aren’t they? Done well, it can be a great evening, but it has to be done well—there’s no sneaking away early before midnight from a boring party!
Whether you’re starting early with a sumptuous dinner, or inviting friends to a buffet, here are nine easy to prepare ahead ideas to wow your guests on New Year’s Eve and make it an evening to remember for all the right reasons.
A wonderful champagne cocktail, the Kir Royale is made with crème de cassis—blackcurrant liqueur diluted with sparkling wine. For variety, you could also make this classic French drink with blackberry, peach or raspberry liqueurs. Whichever you use, I love the idea of offering a house cocktail at the start of your party.
As I said earlier, I love the idea of a “house cocktail”, something unique to you that has been carefully perfected over the years; this blueberry, basil, lemon juice and ginger beer cocktail might be the perfect recipe for yours, or the starting point for one. The secret to serving cocktails like this at a party is to mix everything except any fizzy mixer beforehand in a jug. Then just add ice and ginger beer and serve.
Here’s a festive-looking drink to offer those who prefer not to drink alcohol; something other than yet another elderflower and soda. I would think about adjusting the mixture to my taste with some soda water as well as ginger ale to make it not too sweet.
This seriously easy hot cheese dip recipe is the ultimate cheesy, gooey comfort food, made with tasty strong cheddar. Dip vegetable crudités, tortilla and other crisps, or chunky chips!
Padron pepper roulette—one in ten of the little nuggets of flavour are hot and spicy—the reason I love these little mouthfuls. Here’s a superb looking plate of Padron peppers served with dried ham and burrata cheese. A dish to serve with a finger bowl and napkins!
If you’re lucky enough to have blood oranges available on New Year’s Eve, here’s a great way of enjoying this delicious citrus fruit; it’s also a nice lighter side dish. I love putting fruit in salads, and the red blood orange show up so well against green salad leaves.
I love the idea of sweet water chestnuts contrasting with savoury, salty, umami bacon. Water chestnuts are a vegetable grown predominantly in Asian countries, found in most supermarkets and most easily bought canned. This recipe adds layers of flavour by adding a soy sauce based marinade, and then cooking the canapes in a sugar, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce mixture.
A traditional French chicken chasseur—chicken in a mushroom and white wine sauce. The great advantage of a dish like this is that you can prepare it a little ahead of time, and then just heat it up just before serving. By using individual-sized pieces of chicken, serving is much simpler for a large group.
Peposo is a traditional Tuscan Beef Stew originating from Florence; this recipe has only three main ingredients: stewing beef, garlic and red wine.
Lots of red wine—a whole bottle for 2lbs of beef. However, the real secret to this dish is a long, slow cooking time, with a three-hour simmer resulting in tender, succulent meat, ready to serve with polenta or crusty bread.
This easy lemon posset recipe is unbelievably simple and uses just three ingredients; it’s an impressive, delicious and elegant make-ahead dessert. Serving individual portions is the ultimate no-hassle solution for catering for larger numbers of people, and these little pots look so elegant.
This cake is a Bailey’s Irish cream liqueur double threat. Three layers of rich, tender, Baileys-spiked chocolate sponge are sandwiched and topped with creamy, smooth Baileys buttercream making it an absolute knockout. This easy recipe includes full step-by step photos to guarantee success.
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Helen Best-Shaw, is a freelance food & travel writer, recipe developer & photographer. She has been blogging at Fuss Free Flavours for over ten years
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