Cheers to a New Year

Cocktail Party


Photos by DAVID DE STEFANO ACCESSORIES STYLIST CAROLINE NAULT FOOD STYLIST NATALY SIMARD

There’s more than one way to feed a crowd during the holidays. A plump bird, rivers of gravy and a parade of pies are all well and good, but a simple, partly do-ahead cocktail party is an easy way to gather friends and family. Anchored by a cheery drink—the key, we think, to every successful shindig—this no-sweat menu is ideal for New Year’s Eve.

CURRY FAVOUR

Every cocktail party needs a standout, outré dish to rouse the taste buds. Enter these chic shrimps, skewered and lacquered in a spicy-syrupy blend of honey, curry and sambal. A splash of fish sauce adds unexpected depth in the form of mouthpuckering umami (more like “ooh, mommy!”). After these flavour bombs crash the party, your guests will be ready to celebrate from prawn till dawn.

Honey-Glazed Curry Shrimp

preparation 15 minutes cooking 10 minutes makes 16


  • 1 lb (455 g) large shrimp (16-20), peeled and deveined, with the tail
  • 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) honey
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) fish sauce (nuoc-nam)
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) sambal oelek
  • Wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes

  • With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 450°F (225°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Thread the shrimp onto the skewers, straightening them. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until cooked through.
  • Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, brown the sesame seeds in the oil. Add the honey, fish sauce, curry powder and sambal oelek. Bring to a boil and reduce the glaze for 5 minutes or until syrupy. Keep warm.
  • Brush the glaze on the shrimp while still hot and serve immediately.

UBER TUBER

Scaled-down riffs on common comfort foods make for fun conversationstarters. Take these baby potatoes, studded with bacon and dollops of sour cream. They’re basically our version of loaded baked potatoes, only in itty-bitty, snackable form. Lightly smashed to better soak up flavours of garlic, thyme and bacon fat, the taters are sure to be scooped up and scarfed down in no time.

Loaded Baby Potatoes

preparation 20 minutes cooking 30 minutes makes 2 dozen


  • 1 lb (455 g) small baby potatoes, 1 inch (3 cm) or smaller (see note)
  • 3 slices bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • Sour cream, to taste
  • Salt and pepper

  • With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 450°F (225°C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  • In a pot of salted boiling water, cook the potatoes for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Set the rendered bacon fat aside.
  • Place the potatoes on the prepared baking sheet. With the palm of your hand, lightly crush the potatoes. Drizzle with the bacon fat and add the garlic and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Place on a serving platter. Top with sour cream and bacon, to taste.

NOTE: For this recipe, we preferred yellow-flesh potatoes to varieties that tend to break down after cooking, like red-skinned baby potatoes.

DEVILLED ADVOCATE

As finger food fare, devilled eggs have never gone out of style. We’ve seen high-low twists pop up on bar and restaurant menus from Vancouver to Miami. Our fancyish reboot, with a simple garnish of microgreens or wafer-thin radish slices, proves that it doesn’t take much to refresh a classic. Get ready to reload that serving platter..

Devilled Eggs

preparation 25 minutes cooking 15 minutes makes 12


  • 6 eggs
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) mayonnaise
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh chives
  • Paprika, to taste
  • Microgreens or thinly sliced radish, for garnish
  • Salt

  • Place the eggs in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil. When the water begins to boil, cover the saucepan and remove from the heat. Let rest off the heat for 10 minutes.
  • Remove the eggs and cool in an ice bath. Peel the eggshells. Cut the eggs in half lengthwise and remove the yolks. Set aside.
  • In a bowl, using a fork, purée the yolks with the mayonnaise. Season with salt. Add the chives and combine gently.
  • With two small spoons, fill each egg half with the yolk mixture. Place on a serving platter. Sprinkle with paprika and top with microgreens or radish.

DAIRY CHARMER

We flip for a killer cheese board, especially during the holidays (who doesn’t, frankly?), but the dependable cocktail-party staple can get tired and repetitive. Our solution? Focus on the accompaniments. Homemade crackers and a tangy condiment—chutney crammed with grapes, currants and ginger, in this case—will give your platter of curated cheeses a welcome curveball. Incidentally, the easy-to-make savoury jam is delicious with leftover turkey. Why not make a little extra and send your guests home with a care package (with some of those crackers, too)?

Ginger Grape Chutney

preparation 10 minutes cooking 25 minutes makes 1 ½ cups (375 ml)


  • 3/4 lb (340 g) seedless red grapes, halved
  • 1/4 cup (30 g) dried currants
  • 2 tbsp diced candied ginger
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) water
  • Salt and pepper

  • In a saucepan, combine the grapes, currants, ginger, vinegar, shallot and spices. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring until the grapes wilt and release their juice.
  • In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the water. Add to the grapes and continue cooking over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the mixture thickens. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool completely. The chutney will keep for 1 week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  • 3 Delicious served with cheese and charcuteries.

Mixed-Seed Crackers

preparation 35 minutes cooking 16 minutes per batch makes 4 large crackers


  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) water
  • 2 tsp white sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp chia seeds
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp flaxseeds
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (75 g) whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • cup (60 ml) water
  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
  • 2 tsp (10 ml) molasses

  • With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 325°F (165°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, combine the egg yolk and water. Set the egg wash aside.
  • In another bowl, combine the seeds. Set aside.
  • In a food processor, combine the flours, baking powder, salt and spices. Add the water, oil and molasses. Pulse until the dough begins to form.
  • On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for 1 minute or until smooth. Shape into 4 discs. Roll out 1 disc at a time, as thinly as possible, into 12 x 8-inch (30 x 20 cm) irregular rectangles. Place 2 rolled-out dough pieces onto each prepared baking sheet.
  • Brush the dough with the egg wash. Sprinkle each with 2 tsp of the seeds, pressing lightly.
  • Bake one sheet at a time for 16 to 18 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. Let the crackers cool completely on the baking sheet.
  • 8 Break into pieces before serving.

PLUM JOB

The secret to a swingin’ cocktail party? A large-batch libation fit to please a crowd. Plums feel appropriately symbolic come holiday time: Plunged and macerated in vodka, white wine and sugar (pits and all!), the stone fruit gives this spin on mistelle (a type of fortified wine) a lot of punch. Pro tip: Up the ante with your favourite bottle of bubbly.

Plum Mistelle

preparation 15 minutes macerating 7 days makes 3 cups (750 ml)


  • 1 1/2 lb (675 g) plums, scrubbed clean
  • 1 cup (210 g) sugar
  • 1 bottle (750 ml) white wine
  • 1 cup (250 ml) vodka
  • Ice cubes, for serving

  • On a work surface, coarsely chop the plums, keeping the pits. Place the plums and pits in a bowl. Sprinkle with the sugar and combine. Let macerate for 30 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Spoon the plum mixture into a large 10-cup (2.5 litre) minimum airtight glass or plastic container. Stir in the wine and vodka. Cover and let macerate for 7 days in the refrigerator. Strain the mistelle.
  • Serve in glasses on ice or as a cocktail (shown here) by mixing 1 part mistelle with 2 parts cava, Prosecco or other bubbly wine. The mistelle will keep for 7 days in the refrigerator.