Coming down after Christmas, only to turn around and begin preparations for New Year’s Eve celebrations can make for a fun yet overwhelming week.
As a mother of two, it can be a challenge to keep pace with the tidying of one’s house and entertaining friends and family as out-of-school youngsters tear through a multitude of new toys, leaving trails of little twisty-ties, plastic and partially eaten candy canes in their wake. Then, there’s the ubiquitous piles of unwrapped gifts that tend to sit in stacks for days or weeks near the tree - which by the 26th, is dropping needles like nobody’s business.
The refrigerator is a whole other story. It’s typically bursting with leftovers; some usable (turkey), some not so much (1L of cranberry sauce; overcooked Brussels sprouts), odds and ends of cheeses and whatnot, and an alarmingly low wine supply.
Of course, it’s all in the name of fun and family. I actually love this time of year and relish almost every minute of it. By the time New Years Eve rolls around, I’m ready to party all over again…but I must confess, I do like to keep things simple after the hustle and bustle of the 25th.
Because we have very young children, we’re not donning our glam attire and heading out for a champagne-soaked night on the town. Usually we find some low-key friends who would rather bust out the bubbly in a shoes-optional environment. If I am cooking on New Year’s Eve, I am going easy breezy. Baked Brie with baguette - a good way to use up that leftover cranberry sauce. Fondue is another fun and relaxed option. Oysters on the half shell, hand shucked by yours truly, now that I know how (see my previous blog). A simple arugula salad, maybe with some marinated leftover cold roasted veggies thrown in for good measure.
Dessert can be just as informal without being boring - why not spare myself the effort and host a chocolate tasting? I’ll invite guests to bring over their favourite bean-to-bar, then arrange them on a large serving plate or board, sitting on top of their wrappers for handy reference (put out sparkling water and some apple slices out to cleanse the palate).
For drinks, I’ll make my own spin on the French 75. Add a few noisemakers and I’m ready to ring in the New Year with kith and kin. Cin, cin!
Rosemary Botanist French 75
- 1oz Botanist Gin (I like mine chilled in the freezer beforehand)
- 1/2oz Rosemary Simple Syrup*
- 1/2oz Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 3oz (ish) Brut, Cava or Prosecco
- Fresh rosemary sprigs
Pour gin, syrup and lemon juice into a champagne flute or coupe and give a gentle swish/stir (don’t muddle). Top with Prosecco. Garnish with a small sprig of rosemary. Drink merrily and repeat if necessary!
*Prepare rosemary syrup ahead of time by combining 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water and 4 fresh rosemary sprigs (or 2-3 drops oil of rosemary) in a pot. Bring to a boil for a minute until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes before putting in a bottle or jar. - Dee