Last year my friends and I decided to have a low-key New Year's Eve. We enjoyed a wonderful French dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Anis. Afterward, instead of going to the bars to watch the ball drop, we decided to go back to my house. I had prepared some snacks ahead of time that we could snack on while sipping champagne. It was such a fun night, and we were merrier at home than we would have felt in a crowded bar. Today I'm sharing the cocktail and appetizers I served post-dinner.
Buy and arrange flowers.
Buy olives and nuts.
Lay out serveware.
Make simple syrup.
Make savory and sweet palmiers.
Once guests arrive, pop popcorn.
Obviously, you could just serve champagne, but I think it's fun to also offer a cocktail. A French 75, named after a French cannon used in World War 1, is a delectable concoction of gin, lemon juice, sugar, and champagne. My friend Laura first introduced me to this drink (we now refer to this cocktail as "the Laura".) I've seen some recipes that use Cognac instead of gin, which sounds fabulous. Make the simple syrup and juice the lemons the day before so all you'll have to do after dinner is shake the mixture and serve. Warning: these will give you a wicked hangover if you're not careful.
Makes 1 drink.
1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (recipe follows)
Long strip of lemon zest, for garnish
Pour the gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously. Pour the mixture into a champagne flute and top with champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. This will keep in the refrigerator for weeks.
I usually plan on 3-4 appetizers per person. When I made these pesto, goat cheese, and pignoli palmiers last year they all disappeared off the platter. This year, I'm making a double recipe. These pastries look impressive but are a cinch to make. Use store-bought frozen puff pastry and jarred pesto to make things easy on yourself. I leave out the sundried tomatoes as I feel that they overpower the other flavors.
Get the Recipe: Barefoot Contessa Savory Palmiers
Serve sweet palmiers in addition to the savory. These elegant cookies are only three ingredients. They look impressive, but a simple folding method gives them their distinct shape. Store-bought puff pastry typically comes in two sheets. You could halve the two palmier recipes and use one sheet for savory, one for sweet. You want to make sure the sugar is starting to melt and caramelize before flipping. I have a very temperamental oven, and these cookies always need an extra 5 minutes on the first side.
Get the Recipe: Barefoot Contessa Palmiers
Hot take: I'm not the biggest popcorn fan. I tend to think it's a little boring, but Ina Garten's parmesan and chipotle popcorn is anything but. This is best served hot, so pop the corn after guests arrive. Toss in melted butter, parmesan, and chipotle chile powder for an appetizer that is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Grate the parmesan ahead of time to save time.
Get the Recipe: Barefoot Contessa Parmesan & Chipotle Popcorn
To keep things simple, buy the rest of your appetizers. I picked up a mixture of dolce olives, cranberries, raisins, and almonds that are marinated with orange and lemon rinds. If you have access to Whole Foods their olive bar is perfect for entertaining.
I also picked up some truffle Marcona almonds which are superb. These are my go-to cocktail nuts when entertaining.
Get the Look:
Set everything up before dinner. I leave a post-it note on each dish so I know what goes where without having to think. Once you get home from dinner all you'll need to do is plate the food, pull the lemon juice, simple syrup, and champagne out of the fridge, and fill the ice buckets.
This post marks nine months of blog posts! Thanks for following along, I appreciate everyone's support. I'll be taking a few weeks off, then will be back with more posts in 2022! Happy New Year!