Every good party needs some good food. Here are our suggestions for keeping guests happy as they ring in the new year
Party food needs to be delicious, but it also needs to look great. And if you’re hosting a kid-and-parent party, it also needs to be fun. Here’s our proposed New Year’s Eve party menu:
How party-friendly is popcorn? Very. How easy is a popcorn bar? Way. To set up a popcorn bar, find 3-5 large bowls and place them together on a table. Find a popcorn scoop for each bowl. (We think measuring cups work well.)
We’re fond of popping popcorn on the stove in a large pot with some vegetable oil, but your favourite, plain microwave popcorn works just as well.
(To make popcorn on the stove: Take a large soup/stock pot and cover the bottom with oil. Set burner to high heat. Drop in one or two kernels. When that kernel pops, you know the oil is hot enough and pour in the rest of the kernels. For a large stock pop, probably a cup of kernels. Put a lid on the stock pot and shake it a little to ensure every kernel gets some of the oil. When the popping slows down, take it off the heat and pour into a bowl.)
For flavourings, you can find popcorn shakers at the grocery store, or make your own. We suggest Parmesan cheese, chili lime (cajun seasoning + lime zest), good hot chocolate mix and cinnamon & sugar.
Fill each bowl with a different flavour and make a label for each. Place some brown paper sandwich bags next to your popcorn bar so your guests can fill up and walk around with their popcorn of choice.
We think New Year’s Eve is a great opportunity to break out Debra Novack’s candy bar. Search out some interesting vessels around the house and get yourself to the dollar store to find boxes, tongs and scoops. If you can find some sweet offerings in the right colours, we think it’d be great if your candy bar stuck to your party palette.
With all the good and sweet and fattening items we’ve been munching on since mid-December, some vegetables are much needed. And really, who can resist grabbing a celery stick or two?
Pick a rainbow of your favourite vegetables. (Or, if you’re crunched for time, just pick up the ready-made vegetable platter from the grocery store) Slice them to party-size and arrange artfully on a tray. Place a bowl of dip nearby. Sun-dried tomato hummus went over pretty well at the Bunch holiday party, but a yogurt or sour cream-based dip is nice too. (Like this curry dip from Canadian Living)
For sun-dried tomato hummus, combine the following ingredients in a food processor or blender:
- One can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1-2 cloves garlic (We usually smash with a knife and coarsely chop, but you probably don’t need to if it’s going into a chopper anyway)
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup of chopped sundried tomatoes (If you get the kind already packed in oil, pour in the tomato oil for extra flavour)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon salt
These amounts are all approximate. Keep blending/chopping until you reach a good hummus consistency and add more ingredients to taste. (E.g. We like less garlic and more lemon) Traditional hummus contains a couple tablespoons of tahini, but we always forget to buy it so are more accustomed to tahini-free hummus.
You will be some kind of hero if you break out some hot food after people have been drinking and socializing for a couple hours. We like sliders because they’re party-sized and you can customize to have some fancier toppings for the sophisticated palettes out there as well as your basic Sauce Américaine (ketchup — thanks Alton Brown!)
- Buy or make tiny slider-sized burgers — Cook them just before party and then warm up in a low-heat oven
- Buy dedicated slider buns, or dinner rolls
- Sauté a couple sweet onions until they’re really brown and caramelized. Put aside in a bowl next to other slider toppings
- Have a plate of cheese slices: old cheddar, swiss, roquefort and brie (Guests may want their cheeseburgers to quickly go under the broiler again)
- Likewise bacon! (If you’re re-warming and melting things under the broiler)
- Put ketchup, mustard(s) and relish(es) into glass bowls and give each condiment a serving spoon
- Include some interesting condiments like spicy mayonnaise (Like this one from Jamie Oliver’s slider recipe)
- Have a plate of cold toppings like tomato slices, red onion rings, avocado slices, spinach leaves and basil leaves.
Alternatives to a hamburger slider: pulled pork, meatball sandwiches and sweet & sour meatballs. (These ones are easy to do ahead of time as make them in a slow cooker in the afternoon and just let them stay warm in there)
And while we’re believers in each party having a signature drink, for New Year’s Eve, it’s definitely champagne. (Or prosecco, or another sparkling wine) For the non-drinkers, we like the bubbles in sparkling water with a splash of orange juice or a squeeze of lime.
Or if you want to feel like Deborah Kerr in An Affair to Remember, offer your guests a classic champagne cocktail.