classy yet understated food for NYE
December 21, 2010 12:44 PM   Subscribe

Looking for simple but interesting food ideas for a casual New Years evening at home with the new guy in my life.

I generally hate New Years Eve, but this year I'm planning to spend the holiday with a new dude I kind of like, and I'm really looking forward to it. We're currently just friends, but it seems like it could could potentially turn out to be more, and I really hope it goes well. We're going to meet up at an event in the afternoon with some mutual friends, and then back to my place alone to hang out and drink some wine, maybe watch some movies, etc.

I don't want to make a full meal, but would like to serve some food, and since I'm not really a great cook it's kind of stressing me out! I want to make something that will be yummy and interesting (not chips/salsa or hummus/pita), but also nothing too elaborate that will take hours to prepare or scream "trying to hard". It would have to be something I could prepare in advance and then serve when we get home. A quick reheat would be fine, but I don't want to have to do any major prep work while he's there. Can you help me with recipe ideas, hive mind? What is the food equivalent of "classy yet understated"?
posted by bobafet to Food & Drink (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Sauteed mushrooms and caramelized onions. Super easy (Recipe: put onions and mushrooms in pan with olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Sautee, starting at medium and dropping to low, until delicious looking. Adding some wine midway through is a bonus). They taste great warm or lukewarm, served along with cheese and bread.

Bruscetta or homemade tappenade is also easy and can be done ahead. Baked brie springs to mind as well.

I'm starving now.
posted by Aizkolari at 12:59 PM on December 21, 2010

Spaghetti and meat sauce.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:01 PM on December 21, 2010

How about crab dip? It's so easy to make and works well for doing ahead and reheating. Slice up and toast a nice baguette to go with it.
posted by spinto at 1:05 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Grapes, baked brie, warm a baguette. If you want the crust to be extra crispy, lightly dampen the crust and then bake it. (Lightly - did you hear lightly? Just get your hands wet and the brush your hands over the outside of the baguette.)

Later serve a box of chocolates and good coffee.
posted by 26.2 at 1:07 PM on December 21, 2010 [4 favorites]

Roasted Garlic - take a big bulb of garlic, slice off the top to expose the tops of the cloves, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tinfoil and bake at 350 F for something like an hour, until the cloves are completely softened. Can be made ahead, just nuke it to warm it up a bit. To eat - you should be able to extract cloves from the bulb by squeezing them out or fishing them out with a butter knife (or just remove them all and put them in a dish). Eat with (baked) brie on crusts of bread.
posted by lizbunny at 1:08 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: What about ceviche? Make early in the day and it will be ready by the time you come home. Don't make it the night before, the fish will become rubbery.

Bruschetta is a good idea- tomatoes/mozz/basil

The mushroom bruschetta above sounds good, but you have to use high heat for mushrooms or else they will get rubbery and soggy. Also, don't add salt until the end or else they will leech their liquid and they will steam. Lots of olive oil. I would use portabellas if you can't get wild mushrooms.

Kind of bordering on too far, but I'd do it if I were in your situation- beef carpaccio.
posted by TheBones at 1:09 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: Along Aizkolari's lines:

Classy yet understated: a baguette or some fancy crackers, a couple of types of cheese, some fruit (fresh and/or dried and/or in jam or preserves format). You could also grab a few jars/tubs of interesting dips and spreads to round this out.

One step up in terms of impressiveness would be cheese that requires some prep work: baked Brie with mushrooms, blue cheese with rosemary honey, and Asiago cheese with glazed cipolline onions are a few places you could start.

Another half step up would be almost any of these appetizers from Mark Bittman.
posted by rebekah at 1:09 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Speedy no-knead bread, fruit, and brie? (Or baked brie as 26.2 suggests.)
posted by theredpen at 1:10 PM on December 21, 2010

Homemade French Onion Soup is delicious and hearty, and you can make it ahead. Total prep time about 15 minutes to re-heat the soup, toast the French bread slices and melt the cheese under the broiler.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 1:14 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: My favorite New Year's tradition is fondue! It's really fun and participatory. Either chocolate (musts: pound cake and bananas) or cheese (must: apples and crusty bread) will fit the bill. You can do most of the prep beforehand. Requires a fondue pot, which are relatively cheap and always good to have.
posted by funkiwan at 1:21 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd only add a sliced apple to 26.2's first course.
posted by carsonb at 1:21 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: Dessert: poached pears.
Peel two pears (leave the stem for presentation if you like) and put them into a pot with enough apple cider to cover them. Add about a teaspoon of vanilla. Add anywhere from none to a cup of sugar to take this from naturally sweet to very sweet depending upon your preference. (I would probably skip the sugar for myself or at most use 1/3 cup). Simmer for about twenty minutes or so until the pears are soft all the way through. Put the pears standing up (trim the base if needed to make them stable) on individual plates. Boil down the remaining liquid to make a thick syrup and pour that over the pears and onto the plates. These can be served warm, or if made ahead, chilled.
posted by caddis at 1:23 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Gravlax. You can skip the tealeaves and just put half a bunch of Dill on the bottom and the other half on top. Here's another one that included the mustar sauce.
posted by Ferrari328 at 1:28 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: Put together a bunch of finger foods .. you could buy all of this at the grocery store and just put it out to nibble on.

shrimp & cocktail sauce
plate of cheese and crackers
sliced pepperoni
mixed olives
marinated vegetables

buy a tube of crescent rolls and some mini hot dogs and make pigs in blankets, serve with mustard dipping sauce

caramel corn for eating while you watch the movies
really good chocolate and some raspberries

This way you've got lots of great stuff to eat but you're not cooking exactly .. you just picked up some provisions for a NYE indoor picnic.

Hope you have a great evening and a happy and healthy 2011!
posted by Kangaroo at 1:29 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

What about a beef stew in a crockpot? It's easy, doesn't take tons of work, and can either be a snack or a full meal, depending on how hungry you are. Besides, I can't think of anything better than a warm bowl of stew with a glass of red wine after being out in the cold.
posted by LittleKnitting at 1:33 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: You can avoid cooking but still offer nice food by just buying a few fancy things and cutting them up and presenting them nicely. You could buy a piece of some interesting kind of cheese, a few fresh bread rolls of different kinds, a box of cherry tomatoes, a jar of capers, some imported crackers...just a few things that are high-quality that catch your eye. You could present them on a cutting board or something like that. The wine and the bread pulls it all together.
posted by Paquda at 1:42 PM on December 21, 2010

2nding cheese plate / crackers. Some pate, cornichons, and mustard. Find some inexpensive but decent caviar. We did this last new years, and basically just grazed all day. It was fancy and required absolutely no cooking.
posted by Gilbert at 1:50 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: Just threw a party for a friend and made an antipasto tray that was a pretty big hit. a specialty market is your friend - the one i went to was mediterreanean. some marinated mozzarella, good olives, a couple of really yummy cured meats, maybe another kind of good cheese. i also made the barefoot contessas marinated artichokes from her latest cookbook although i can't seem to find the recipe on line. Add a baguette and wine and you are good to go.

get some popcorn and some of those giant boxes of whopper, hot tamales or good n plenty for your movies watching.
posted by domino at 1:55 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: You MUST have Pomegranate Sparklers. So easy! So New Yearsy! So festive!
posted by ocherdraco at 2:20 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: Champagne granite is a champagne sorbet and should retain some bubbly goodness.
Candied bacon is delish, but a pain to make.
I once got a (not serious) proposal of marriage from a very single guy when I brought hot spinach-artichoke dip to a party. Serve with a baguette that can be torn off to dip with.
Shrimp cocktail (big shrimps & cocktail sauce) - definitely
Strawberries or raspberries, pears to slice, fresh pineapple and grapes.
Good bread, sliced salami, a couple of cheeses, some good mustard.
posted by theora55 at 2:46 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: I basically haven't shut up about these Garlic Butter Roasted Mushrooms since I had them last weekend. You could easily throw everything together, stick it in the fridge and then roast when you get to your place.
posted by grapesaresour at 3:47 PM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

"Buy a tube of crescent rolls and some mini hot dogs and make pigs in blankets, serve with mustard dipping sauce."

If you'd like something a bit different from this but still tasty, wrap up two asparagus spears in the crescent rolls instead of the hot dogs. Looks impressive/unique but still simple as can be!
posted by keribear at 9:57 PM on December 21, 2010

Best answer: Hmmm... I'd just like to point out that if the goal is to get a bit frisky, serving up food consisting of fish, garlic, or loads of cheese (that is, fondue-quantities) is possibly not a great idea for later kissing.

If you both eat meat, some well-cooked (not well-done) burgers (use freshly ground beef seasoned with salt and pepper, tomatoes, good lettuce, nice rolls, etc) make a tasty, date-friendly meal. You can have everything pre-prepped -- the tomatoes can be sliced and kept in tupperware. The burgers can be pre-formed. They will only need a couple of minutes on each side on a hot cast-iron pan.

Other options include oven roasted vegetables served cold, lukewarm, or heated on crusty white bread freshly toasted and then brushed with a little olive oil.

For dessert, homemade caramel popcorn, made fancy with a dusting of cocoa powder. What could be a better accompaniment to movie watching?
posted by Deathalicious at 10:36 PM on December 21, 2010

If you're really not a great cook, why put yourself out? The point is to enjoy yourself and not be stressed. What Paquda and Gilbert said is right on - nice stuff you don't have to cook, and if you don't eat it all, will keep until another time. And since it's your place and presumably your movies, how about if he brings something?
posted by Cuppatea at 4:25 AM on December 22, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas everyone! And, yes, as much as I love garlic, I should probably avoid that if I'm hoping for some smoochin'!
posted by bobafet at 8:25 AM on December 23, 2010

Seconding gravlax with mustard sauce. Instead of crackers, use thinly-sliced toasted baguettes. *swoon*
posted by KathyK at 8:50 AM on December 23, 2010

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