The perfect New Years dinner

Each year, when we approach December, most people start planning how they are going to celebrate the end of the year and the beginning of another. Some are obsessed with what to wear and where to go, but for a true foodie like me, and probably many of you, the only really important question is what to eat! Because how do we come up with a dinner that will turn the evening into the magical night it is supposed to be? Preferably while limiting the hours spent in the kitchen, so we are able to enjoy the party as well. For quite some years, I have been responsible for our New Years dinner, so I have gathered my best tips and ideas for planning the perfect menu.

Welcome snacks

As people start arriving, it is always nice to offer a glass of bubbles along with a little snack. I prefer classic finger-food that people can easily snack on. Go for little bite-sized snacks of the sweet, savory or mixed kind, depending on what drink you’re serving!
I normally go with some classic bubbles à la Crémant and therefore a sweet-savory snack is the perfect match. Bacon-wrapped dates has been a favourite for years. Add a little stick so you can easily grab it. Homemade crisps like beetroot-, kale- and parsnip crisps are delicious as well, especially served with different dips. Sushi - homemade or store bought - is great too, or you can even make your own small rolls out of seaweed, cabbage or rice paper and stuff them with your desired filling. Only your imagination sets the limits, but keep it light for the welcome snacks, as you have a whole night ahead of you!

Starters

For the starter, go for something delicious, yet light and fresh. With plenty more to come, you just want to awaken the taste buds and leave them craving for more.
I normally go with fish for the starter. Last year, I made a cold avocado and cucumber soup served with lobster and rye bread crisps. The recipe for the avocado soup can be found on my blog.
In general, both hot and cold soups are a wonderful idea. To keep it light, serve a small portion along with little homemade crisps instead of a big loaf of bread. To make these thinly slice bread of your choice, brush with a generous amount of oil or melted butter, sprinkle with sea salt and bake in the oven until golden and crispy, around 10 min.

A simple plate of fried or raw, marinated fish served with some quick sautéed or fresh crispy vegetables, can be a perfect starter too. Or you can opt for a vegetarian starter such as a delicious salad with a flavour packed dressing and some toasted nuts, or maybe fry up some cheese fritters and serve with a green side.
Mini pies with your favourite filling is another good choice. I have a recipe on the blog for portion-sized galettes with caramelized fennel and white cheese, which would make a great New Years appetizer. In general, portion-sized dishes are always stunning and give that little extra; so consider making soufflés, mousses, pies etc.

Main dish

The main is really a matter of taste and personal preferences, and I don’t think there are any wrong or right choices. We usually go for a simple, yet hearty main course built around a delicious piece of meat. The men often buy a piece of game, and I then take on a rather classic approach, picking the sides based on whatever meat we are having. I find that making two different sides is great; one crisp and light, and one hearty and warm which can soak up a little of the sauce.

A modern take on Pommes Anna is always a hit. Simply layer different thinly sliced root veggies such as potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke, parsnip or celeriac, brushing each layer with oil or butter and seasoning with garlic, herbs and spices, then bake in the oven. A crispy salad is a nice second side. I like to include a little fruit in my salads such as berries or thinly sliced apples to make sure the meal has both sweet and sour taste notes.

Dessert

To me, the dessert is quite important, and I often make a big deal out of making it as pretty as possible. The last couple of years, I have gone with a large cake such as cheese cake, ice cream layered cake and a lemon mousse cake (all three recipes can be found on my blog). They can all be prepared a few days in advance, so on the night you simply need to slice and decorate it with fresh berries, fruit and other lovely toppings. This year however, I am thinking of doing a portion-sized dessert. Possibly small dense chocolate squares or bleeding chocolate soufflés. On a night like New Years, which usually contains a lot of food, there is no need to overdo the dessert. Make a fairly small but flavourful portion to leave a little room for the midnight celebration.

12 o’clock toast

In Denmark, we have a tradition of toasting in champagne at midnight, at which point we typically also serve a traditional baked marzipan cake.
At our party however, we normally stick to small petit fours in different variations, since it is a little bit easier and less time consuming. Sometimes it is the classic marzipan cakes often twisted with a little pistachio or chocolate. Other years it is filled chocolates, nut butter cups or fruit dipped in dark chocolate. The purpose is simply to have a little sweet bite to go with the bubble. As people are usually pretty full at this time, my favourite snack is strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.

So here you have it – my own little guide for making a memorable, yet easy New Years dinner with a personal twist.

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