December 29, 2009


Large gatherings or small dinner parties are both great options for New Year's Eve. But either way, it's the perfect occasion for all things jazzy — great music, a superb cocktail and other delicate delights. Here are a few suggestions:

Happy Hemingway Cocktail

A great way to start the evening is this refreshing little champagne cocktail that's a take on the Hemingway Daiquiri and is featured in the book 101 Champagne Cocktails.
2 oz grapefruit juice • 1 oz light rum • ½ oz maraschino liqueur • ½ oz simple syrup • dash Angostura bitters • 1½ oz champagne | Shake all but champagne vigorously with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with champagne and garnish with a grapefruit or lemon twist. Of course, have plenty of champagne on hand {NYTimes picks under $40}.

Kick off cocktails with the soundtrack from the movie An Education including 60s pop songs performed by Mel Tormé, Juliette Gréco, Duffy, Percy Faith, and many others.

photo courtesy of Marin magazine

I love oysters and shrimp for any party especially New Year's Eve. For fresh, cold oysters [have your fishmonger shuck], serve with a traditional Mignonette [House & Garden recipe 1964].

Antique Oyster Plates are elegant to use for parties. This early 20th-century oyster plate can be found at Linda Horn and there are always hundreds available on ebay.

For shrimp, I pick the Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Shrimp with traditional cocktail sauce. I also love cold shrimp with a spicy Shrimp Remoulade from Peter Feibleman [Eating Together with Lillian Hellman]:

Shrimp Remoulade
Serves 6

1/4 cup strong mustard [Maille dijon]
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup tarragon vinegar
1 and 1/4 cups olive oil
1 and 1/2 cups finely chopped scallions
1/2 cup parsley
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
3 lbs of shrimp, cleaned

Combine the mustard, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt. Beat in the tarragon vinegar. Add the olive oil and whisk until thick. Add the scallions, parsley and celery. Cover and let it rest for 4 hours. Boil shrimp and cool. Serve the shrimp cold on lettuce with the sauce on top.

And of course, some Blini with Caviar and Crème Fraîche. You can find a good blini recipe on the William Sonoma website (make a day ahead). Caviar also available from William Sonoma and so is this recipe if you prefer New Potatoes with Caviar.

Soufflé photo courtesy of World on a Plate

For a smaller dinner party, follow appetizers with a perfect Soufflé Au Roquefort from The French Market cookbook. If you are hiring help for your party, this would be a great time to use them. Otherwise, grab an apron and take a kitchen break with some friends.

Roquefort Soufflé
Serves 6

4 Tablespoons of unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons milk
5 ounces of Roquefort, mashed
4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
Freshly grated nutmeg

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 6 to 7 cup soufflé dish. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, remove from the heat, and whisk in the flour. Gradually whisk in the milk. Return to the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce comes to a boil and thickens. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the Roquefort, then the egg yolks and nutmeg. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir one-quarter of the whites into the Roquefort mixture, then add to the remaining whites and fold together. Pour into the soufflé dish. Bake in the center of the oven until puffed and golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve at once.

NOTE: My cheese shop did not like the looks of their Roquefort. I used 3/4 Great Hill Blue and 1/4 Gorgonzola... sublime!

Serve soufflé with a salad of organic greens and My Dog-Eared Pages Vinaigrette:

2/3 cup of the best quality Extra Virgin [first cold-pressed] Organic Olive Oil
1/4 cup or less of rice wine vinegar [Marukan Lite] the lite tastes much better, or red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove smashed
1/2 a fork of Maille dijon
sea salt to taste (be generous)
small squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Put in jar and shake. Serve mildly chilled over fresh greens. Don't drown the greens!

For dessert, serve a mix of sorbets or ice cream from Jeni's with Lark Fine Foods Salted Rosemary Shortbread.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!


  1. Barbara what a joy this New Years Eve party post is. The recipes are superb and would really love to try the Roquefort Souffle', if not them all. I love Oysters and the Grapefruit cocktail appeals to me more than any pomegranate variety. I think to be at a party with you would be well..just outstanding! Thank you incredibly for being so kind with your comments. They mean the world. Happy New Year and ring in 2010 with great abandon and joy x

  2. Thank you DT, I'm going to make the Roquefort Soufflé for a lunch on Saturday! Maybe we'll meet for a good cocktail one day. Keep up the good spirits & enjoy each moment. ox

  3. Barbara-
    oh how I long to be well enough to enjoy those luxurious tasty treats.
    I am on clear liquids to give my system a rest to get better, Doctors orders.
    Happy 2010 to you!

  4. Oh my Patricia... it seems like we are ALL under our blankets! Today, I push onward and head to Ogunquit Maine to make the Roquefort Soufflé for a friend in need of some cheering-up. Then I'll head back down the coast and collapse in bed. Get well soon! And, cheers to 2010. ;) Barbara

  5. A note: My cheese shop did not like the looks of their Roquefort. I used 3/4 Great Hill Blue and 1/4 Gorgonzola... sublime!

  6. 2 of my very favourite things - Roquefort & Oysters! As it's mid-Summer here & blazing hot, our oysters are not at their best. Hurry up Winter & the oyster Season. Thanks for your lovely message Barbara, glad to welcome you as a Follower of all the antics at The Hedge!
    Millie ^_^

  7. timelessly, classic and chic - thank you so much!


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