WRITTEN BY RALPH VINCENT


New Year’s Eve will soon be here so let’s get ready to welcome 2022! As far as I am concerned New Year’s Eve is always an occasion to celebrate with friends, and family, delicious food, drinks, and of course champagne! 

Here is a party menu perfect for a New Year’s Eve celebration. I have included new recipes for some delicious cocktail bites and as expected… a signature cocktail too!  

But wait there’s more! A New Year’s Eve celebration is not complete without the bubbly, so I have included a list of sparkling wine selections from wine consultant Paul Parker at Purdy’s Discount Wine and Liquors. The selections vary in style and price, and each is from a different country. Thank You, Paul!

Let’s get started... My latest cocktail creation was inspired by my long-time hair stylist extraordinaire Heather Hamilton. We frequently talk about food and cocktails while she works her magic on my hair. During one of our conversations, she suggested the delicious creamy chocolate milk from the Battenkill Valley Creamery Dairy might make for a killer cocktail. I took her idea and ran with it and the result is a heavenly drink I call “Heather’s Holiday Buzz.” You and your guests will love this yummy chocolate and orange flavored cocktail.

Now onto cocktail party nibbles. We will start with Tikka Masala Cocktail “Meatballs.” My Tikka Masala sauce recipe is close to the traditional version, but the addition of coconut milk gives it a velvety mouth feel. An interesting twist is that I use a meatless plant-based ground mixture instead of beef and flaxseed and water as a binder instead of eggs. The result is a lighter texture and tender “meatball” that I think tastes like the real thing. Next is my recipe for a delicious sweet and savory bite, Crostini with Feta Cheese, Honey and Toasted Walnuts. Finally, my Marinated Cocktail Olives are not only salty deliciousness but are so easy to prepare too. Serve them alongside purchased marinated mushrooms and giardiniera for an appetizing olive tray. The only thing left to do is add some more “store bought” items to round out and complete your menu. How about a tray with a variety of cheeses from mild brie to full flavored gorgonzola? Add some salted almonds and fresh grapes and you are done.

Happy Holidays! I hope 2022 will be a happy and healthy year for all. Until next time have fun in your kitchen, enjoy cooking for the people you love, and don’t stress yourself out.  

Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to taste good!

HEATHER'S HOLIDAY BUZZ

Ingredients:

  • 1-ounce vanilla infused vodka
  • ½ ounce Grand Marnier
  • 1½ ounces Battenkill Dairy chocolate milk
  • Thin strip of orange zest to garnish

Directions:

Place all ingredients except the orange zest in an ice filled cocktail shaker, secure the lid and shake for about 30 seconds. Strain into a coupe or martini glass and float the orange zest on top.

MARINATED COCKTAIL OLIVES

Marinated Cocktail Olives

Ingredients:

  • One 6 ounce can of small black pitted olives drained
  • One 10 ounce jar of small pimento stuffed green olives drained (save the brine for dirty martinis!)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • 2 tablespoons of capers drained
  • 2 tablespoons of grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning
  • 1 pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours stirring the mixture 4 or 5 times. Remove from the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving and stir again.

Serve these yummy olives along with purchased marinated mushrooms and drained Italian giardiniera for an impressive olive platter. Giardiniera is a blend of pickled vegetables you can find in most supermarkets – my fave is Mezzetta brand.

TIKKA MASALA COCKTAIL MEATBALLS

This recipe will yield about 20 to 24 meatballs, but you can easily double the ingredients if you want more!

Ingredients:

Meatball Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of flax seed
  • 5 tablespoons of water
  • 12 ounces plant based meatless ground. I prefer to use Impossible Plant Based Burger Ground in this recipe
  • ½ cup plain whole wheat dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice
  • 2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Tikka Masala Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • One 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • One 13.5 ounce can of coconut milk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 & ½ teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 & ½ teaspoons of garam masala seasoning
  • 1 & ½ teaspoons of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon of coriander
  • 1 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

For the Meatballs: Mix the flaxseed and water together in a small bowl and set aside for a few minutes to thicken. Place the plant-based ground mix and the bread crumbs in a large bowl and mix with scrupulously clean hands. Add the flax seed and water mixture, garlic, salt, and lemon juice and continue to mix until well blended. Shape the mixture into 1-inch round balls. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and cook the meatballs in batches moving them about in the oil to brown as much surface as possible. When cooked through remove from the skillet and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Tikka Masala Sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes or till soft. Stir in the spices and salt and cook for another minute. Add the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the coconut milk and agave nectar and simmer for another 5 minutes. Adjust the seasoning with more salt if needed and add the meatballs and simmer for a few minutes until heated through. Remove from the heat and transfer to a heat proof serving dish or chafing dish and serve.

CROSTINI WITH FETA CHEESE,
HONEY AND TOASTED WALNUTS

Ingredients:

  • 1 baguette cut into ¼ inch thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 ounces cream cheese softened
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ¾ cup chopped walnuts
  • Honey to drizzle

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Brush the baguette slices lightly with olive oil and place in a single layer on a large cookie sheet. Bake for about 5 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. 

Toast the walnuts by placing them in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Watch carefully and gently shake the skillet frequently for 3-4 minutes or until the walnuts are just becoming fragrant. Remove from the heat and pour onto a plate to cool. 

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, place the cream cheese, mayonnaise, feta cheese and black pepper. Mix on high speed until combined into a creamy consistency.

To assemble, spread the cheese mixture on each baguette slice, drizzle each with honey and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts. Refrigerate until about 15 minutes before serving.

LOOKING FOR CHAMPAGNE?


Paul Parker, Wine Consultant and Cellar Strategist from Purdy’s Discount Wines and Liquors suggests…

  • Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvée NV (France), $64.99
    Rich, full-bodied champagne from the house favored by James Bond.
  • Schramsberg Brut Rosé 2017(California), $39.99
    A great and delightful wine from one of the best makers of sparkling wine in California.
  • Segura Viudas Brut Reserva NV (Spain), $29.99
    Lean & mineral, the wine is mostly Maccabeo. Delicious with hard cheeses.
  • Graham Beck Brut (South Africa), $29.99
    Beautifully balanced wine that far over delivers for its price.
  • Jeio Prosecco Rosé (Italy), $16.99
    Good, well-made and refreshing prosecco.

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