Back to the Kitchen: Tips and Tricks for Hosting a New Years Eve Cocktail Party

Print This Post Print This Post


The cocktail parties that we throw are not like our mother’s (remember that somewhat goofy food?); instead we have  a cornucopia of amazing small plate taste treats. Plus, you can have a grand assortment to accommodate all types of diets.

When Back to the Kitchen  caters, we create a stationary table  with risers and fabrics to allow for lots of interesting nooks to place food. We make all of our own sauces and dip, but if you need, there are many great pre-made ones available. Warm, crusty bread and an eclectic assortment of cheese, fresh fruit and veggies are all wonderful accompaniments. Some of this year’s hot items include: deviled eggs, turkey meatballs and pigs in blanket using mini Aidell’s sausages with homemade pastry and mustard.

Our bar caterers use a formula that roughly estimates that 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 5 glasses. Most people don’t have a full bar, but serve beer, wine, sodas and a “featured drink.” You could make vodka martinis, and with a few additions, shake up festive flair with cosmos, apple martinis, chocolate martinis and lemon drops.

After the first midnight kiss I will often put out a fondue bar with all of the fun dipping and sprinkling options! Be creative and playful, have fun and mix these in with your family favorites! ! Have a happy, healthy and beautiful 2013.


Zely’s Hot Artichoke Dip

8 ounces cream cheese

1 1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 1/2 cup sour cream

1/2-cup mayonnaise

1 can non-marinated artichokes (coarsely chopped)

4 cloves garlic

1-tablespoon dill



Few dashes Worcester sauce

Throw all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.  Carefully pour into a baking dish and cook uncovered at 350 until it is bubbly and brown (about 35 minutes.) Serve with crackers, crusty bread or crudite. 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 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

1 teaspoon 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. (Costco has a large jar of pitted olives for $6!)

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.

Baked Brie with Mushrooms and Caramelized Onions and Garlic

4 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, sliced

1-tablespoon thyme, minced

4 garlic cloves, sliced

2 cups button or crimini, sliced

1 8-inch-diameter 32- to 36-ounce 
French Brie

French bread baguettes, sliced

Melt butter in heavy very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and sauté until just tender, about 6 minutes. Add minced thyme and mushrooms and stir until soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cool. Preheat oven to 350°F. Unwrap Brie, reserving bottom of wooden box. Cut away only top rind of cheese, leaving rind on sides and bottom intact. Return Brie to box, rind side down. Place box on baking sheet. Top Brie evenly with onion mixture. Bake until cheese just melts, about 30 minutes. Transfer Brie in box in platter. Surround with baguette slices.

Beef Satay with Horseradish Sauce

2 pounds New York or Filet 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

3 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Whisk together in a small bowl. Add pepper to taste

Fresh Mozzarella Balls

16-Tiny Mozzarella balls (baconcini)

1/2-cup flour seasoned with dried thyme

1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs

1 egg

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.

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.

Fondue Bar

The stunning conclusion for any New Years Eve party is a fondue bar. I have a couple of fondue pots from my grandmother, but you can order some nice pots online .

I make a pretty display using left over holiday cookies, biscotti, pound cake, angel food cake, brownies, pretzels, cream puffs, strawberries, bananas, pineapple, pears and apples, for dipping! I also have on hand shaved chocolate, chopped nuts, grated coconut and minced dried fruit, for sprinkling.

Chocolate Fondue

Combine in a medium, heavy saucepan:

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Stirring constantly bring to a rolling boil. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add:

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Let stand for one minute, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in:

2 teaspoons vanilla, or a splash of brandy or orange liqueur.

Pour into a fondue pot and serve!

Caramel Fondue

2 cups sugar

½ cup corn syrup

¼ cup water

1 ½ cup heavy cream

1 stick butter

2 teaspoons vanilla

In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the corn syrup and water. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, about 10 minutes. Increase the heat to moderately high and simmer, brushing down the sides of the saucepan occasionally with a wet brush, until the syrup starts to turn golden. Gently swirl the pan and continue to simmer until a deep amber caramel forms, about 40 minutes total from the time you started. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Carefully stir in the heavy cream, and then stir in the butter until melted. Return the saucepan to the heat and bring the caramel just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Let the caramel cool for 30 minutes, whisking occasionally. Pour the caramel into a heatproof serving bowl or fondue pot set over low heat and serve!

White Chocolate Fondue

12 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped

3/4-cup heavy cream

1/2-teaspoon vanilla

Combine chocolate and cream in a small, heavy saucepan. Warm over low heat, whisking, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a fondue pot, stir in vanilla, and serve!

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.