Back to the Kitchen: New Years Eve Cocktail Party

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gwen-headshot-110x110BY GWEN KENNEALLY

It is hard to believe that we are ringing in 2010! What happened? It seems like just yesterday we were worrying if our computers would survive the new millennium. I think going out for New Years Eve is really over rated, so I have done everything at home — from an intimate dinner party to pajama and movie night sleepover with the girls  to hosting a bunch of children so my friends could go out!


Wouldn’t it be fun to celebrate with a cocktail party? You can keep the old traditions like 12 grapes at midnight for good health, kissing your lover at midnight for a year of romance and eating black-eyed peas for prosperity.The stationary table is created with risers and fabrics to allow lots of interesting nooks to place food.

I make all of my own sauces and dip, but there are many great pre-made ones available. Great crusty bread and a fun assortment of cheese and fresh fruit and veggies are all great items. As for the bar,  caterers use a formula that roughly estimates 10 people will consume 20 drinks at the average cocktail party. I would add 1 drink per person, as it is a holiday. If you pour 1.5-ounce shots you will get 16 cocktails from a 750 ml bottle while a liter bottle will yield 22. The average bottle of wine will get roughly five glasses. Most people don’t have a full bar, but serve beer, wine, sodas and a “featured drink.” You could do vodka martinis and also with a few additions add festive flair with cosmos, apple martinis, chocolate martinis and lemon drops. Be creative, have fun and have a happy and healthy New Year.

Black-eyed Pea Hummus

1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

1 small red onion

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano

1/2-pound feta, crumbled (1 cup), divided

In the bowl of a food processor put in all ingredients except the divided half of olive oil and feta. Puree until smooth. Pour out onto a plate and drizzle with olive oil and feta. Serve with pita chips and veggies.

Zely’s Famous Hot Artichoke Dip

8 ounces cream cheese

1 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1 1/2 cup sour cream

1/2-cup mayo

1 can non-marinated artichokes (coarsely chopped)

4 Cloves garlic

6 sprigs chopped dill (1 tablespoon)



Few dashes Worchester sauce

Throw it all in a bowl mix it up. Put in baking dish and cook uncovered at 350 until it is bubbly and brown (about 35 minutes.) Serve with crackers, crusty bread or crudity. I must admit my favorite way to serve it is using a small round loaf of bread and turn it in to a bread bowl by cutting off the top of the loaf and scooping out the bread (save it for dipping.) Just pour the dip into the bread bowl and again bake until bubbly and golden brown. For larger gatherings (This is such a hit that I would do this for anything over 4!!!!!) double the recipe and use a large round loaf. I also buy a little extra bread and slice it as it goes fast.

Noni’s Olive Tapenade

4 Large Garlic Cloves

2 Cups pitted Kalamata olives or other brine-cured olives

4 anchovy fillets

2 tablespoons drained capers

1teaspoon each fresh chopped rosemary, thyme

3 tablespoons lemon juice

5 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse the olives in cold water. (this makes the tapenade less salty) Finely chop garlic cloves in food processor. Add 1/2 the olives, anchovies, capers, thyme and rosemary. Process until almost smooth. Add the lemon juice. With machine running gradually add olive oil. Blend mixture until smooth. Then coarsely chop the remaining cup of olives and mix in. Season tapenade to taste with pepper. Transfer to small bowl.

Serve with toasted French bread.

Roasted Eggplant and Garlic dip

4 small heads of garlic

1 large eggplant

1/4-cup olive oil

1-teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450

Separate garlic cloves without peeling and tightly wrap together in foil. Prick eggplant with a fork. In a shallow baking dish, roast garlic and eggplant in middle of oven until very tender. About 45 minutes.

Unwrap the garlic and peel, transferring to a food processor. Scrape the flesh from eggplant into the food processor, discarding the skin. Purée mixture until smooth and with motor running, add oil and vinegar until combined. Season dip with salt and pepper and serve with pita bread.

Shrimp with Coconut

3 Pounds Shrimp

3 cups shredded coconut (on a plate)

2 cups pancake mix

1 cup orange juice

1/2-cup coconut milk (more to thin the batter)

2 eggs

1-teaspoon cayenne pepper

Peanut oil for frying

Set deep fryer or wok for 375. In a bowl mix pancake mix, eggs O.J. coconut milk and cayenne pepper. Holding by the tail dip each shrimp into the batter, roll in the coconut and drop into bubbling oil. Do not over crowd the fryer; cooking several batches as necessary. Fry until shrimp are golden brown; about 3 minutes. (Don’t over cook, as the shrimp gets tough). Drain on a brown bag. Let cool a bit then serve.

Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce

1 pound lump crabmeat, picked over

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 small red onion, minced

1 red bell pepper, minced

1 green bell pepper, minced

3/4-cup fine breadcrumbs

1/2-teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon dried mustard

1/4-teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

Mix all above ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Shape the crab mixture into 24 small cakes. In a heavy skillet, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Sauté the crab cakes for 5 minutes per side until golden brown.

Remoulade Sauce

1 egg

2 egg yolks

2 dill pickles, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon dried thyme

3 tablespoons balsamic

3-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 cups olive oil

1/2 cup minced parsley

Fresh pepper

Place all ingredients in a food processor fitted with a steel blade except the oil. Process for 15 seconds. With it still running, pour the oil through the feed tube in a steady stream to make a thick sauce. Dollop over crab cakes.

Vegetarian Moonrolls

Similar to egg rolls but fresher with more veggies, a ton of flavor!

1-tablespoon olive oil

1-teaspoon sesame oil

Pinch of sea salt

1-cup carrots

1 each red and yellow bell peppers,

Halved and sliced

1 1/2 cups snow peas, thinly sliced

1 cup green or red cabbage, thinly chopped

2 cloves garlic

1-teaspoon fresh ginger

1/4-cup fresh cilantro

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

1/4-cup hosin sauce

1-tablespoon chili sauce

40 pot sticker wrappers

1 egg, beaten

3 cups canola or peanut oil for frying

In a wok or fry pan heat olive and sesame oil. Add garlic and ginger. Cook for a minute and then add the rest of the veggies and cook about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and add vinegar, hosin sauce, chili sauce and cilantro.

To make moonrolls, moisten edge of wrapper with the egg then add 2-3 tablespoons filling in the center. 2 to 3 tablespoons of filling in the center. Fold in half and seal completely. They will look like half moons! Heat 3 cups of canola or peanut oil on high heat. Drop moo rolls in batches of 3 and cook for 1-2 minutes until golden. When cooled down a bit serve with sauce.

Dipping Sauce

3 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 inch fresh ginger, finely minced

1cup apricot preserves

4 ounces Chinese mustard

4 Tablespoon rice vinegar (or sake)

Mix all ingredients together.

Fresh Mozzarella Balls

24 iny Mozzarella balls (baconcini)

1/2-cup flour seasoned with dried thyme

1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

1 egg

Canola or peanut oil for frying

Heat 2 inches of oil in deep fry pan or electric wok to 375. Dry off Mozzarella balls thoroughly using paper towels. Dip in the flour then the egg and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Deep-fry the balls for 1 minute or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve immediately with spicy Marinara sauce.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce

I created this sauce to go with chicken satay for cocktail parties. I am pretty adventurous when it comes to creating menus for parties. If a client says that they want something or if a certain combination of food sounds good to me, I’m always up for trying it. Most caterers would never sell something that they have never made before, but I so love the process of creating new things. It also keeps me on my toes! This sauce evolved through many parties. The thing was that people loved it, but it wasn’t quite right to me. There was even one party in Malibu (about one hour from my kitchen) Where I realized that I left the sauce in my fridge. On a wing and a prayer and a client’s well-stocked kitchen I whipped up a replacement sauce. It was a huge hit and to my surprise the hostess asked me to make it again for another event! Because I added a little of this and a little of that I knew that I could not replicate it! I was a little nervous considering I had never been completely happy with my sauce. I voiced my concern to my sous chef and she said not to worry that they would say, “I can’t believe that this sauce is even better than the wonderful last one.” It was in that moment that the thought of doing it a saucepan and not in the food processor was born. I realized that it was not the flavor of the sauce that I was not happy with, but the consistency. I thought that warming the peanut butter would open it up enough to meld with the rest of he flavors and be the perfect texture. The guests and the hostess flipped at the party and it has been loved by many ever since.

Makes 48 Skewers

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2-teaspoon curry powder

1/2-teaspoon salt

1-teaspoon cumin

1-teaspoon pepper

1/4-cup olive oil

Soak 48 6-inch bamboo skewers s in cold water for one hour. In a small bowl combine curry, salt cumin, pepper and olive oil. Place each breast in between plastic wrap and pound to 1/2 inch thick. Cut breasts into 48 3×1 inch strips. Thread one skewer into each chicken strip and place in a jellyroll pan. Spoon marinade over each skewer, turning to coat well. Place in the refrigerator for one hour. (You can do this the day ahead and cover with plastic. Using a stovetop grill, arrange skewers along each side of the grill making sure that the bare ends of the skewers do not get burnt by the flame. Grill on Medium-high heat until golden brown about 3 minutes per side.

Peanut sauce

2 cups peanut butter

1/2-cup fresh limejuice

1/2-cup fresh orange juice

1/4-cup soy sauce

1/4-cup rice vinegar

1/2-cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons crushed pepper

2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

5 cloves garlic

1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts

1/2cup fresh cilantro

Mince the garlic and ginger. Coarsely chop the peanuts. In a medium sauce pan over low heat add the peanut butter, limejuice, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, peanuts and red pepper. (You can add half first if you are shy about the kick.) Taste the sauce and add more soy and peppers to your taste. Remove from heat. Add the fresh cilantro just before serving.

Beef Sate with Horseradish Sauce

Makes 48 skewers

2 pounds New York or flatiron steak, trimmed

3/4cup olive oil

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon dried rosemary

Salt and pepper to taste

Soak 48 6-inch bamboo skewers in water for one hour. Cut the steak into 48 3inch x 1-inch strips. Stick a skewer into each strip lengthwise and arrange on a baking pan. Whisk together oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the meat and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. Heat the grill or stovetop grill to medium high. Arrange the skewer of steak on the grill so that the sticks do not touch the flame. Grill until medium rare about one minute per side.

Horseradish Dipping Sauce

1 16-ounce tub sour cream

6 tablespoon prepared horseradish (or to taste)

3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Whisk together in a small bowl. Add pepper to taste.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.