Thursday, December 28, 2017

Host a New Year's Day Brunch

Courtesy of HGTV

Happy New Year Friends,

This tasty brunch is a cinch to prepare so you can ring in the new year without knocking yourself out. Its a Fresh Start; January 1st is all about making resolutions and starting the year off on the right foot. Invite family and friends over for a tasty brunch to celebrate new beginnings. To inspire feelings of rejuvenation, choose simple decor and a colorful menu.

Easy Arrangements

The talented team at The Byrd Collective created these eye-catching centerpieces that couldn't be easier — just buy a dozen tulips or carnations in bright colors to match your party's decor. Group the flowers together in monochromatic bunches, then place in stemless wine glasses and arrange in a line down the center of the table.

Keep It Casual

Sometimes the simpler a place setting, the better. For this party, keep the place settings casual, using only the essentials: knife, fork, napkin and plate. Two small disco ball ornaments tied around a folded napkin add a touch of glitz.

Do-It-Yourself Cocktails

Here's a fun way to encourage guest interaction at the party: Set up a build-your-own-mimosa bar to let guests get creative with their drinks and free up the hostess from playing bartender during the party. Small recipe cards set in front of the ingredients provide fun ideas for mixing up specialty cocktails.

  • Set Up a Make-Your-Own Mimosa Bar

    Kick off your brunch get-together on a festive note by letting guests be their own mixologists at a self-serve mimosa bar.

  • Bring On the Bubbly

    Mimosas traditionally call for Champagne, but any good-quality sparkling wine works equally well. Italian Prosecco and Spanish Cava are two affordable and equally delicious bubbly options.

  • Self-Serve Station

    Design mini recipe cards to spark guests' cocktail creativity. At our New Year's Day brunch, the following combinations were featured concoctions: For a Raspberry-Ginger Mimosa: Add a shot of Chambord to a flute. Drop in a raspberry, candied ginger, and top with sparkling wine. For a Grapefruit-Mint Mimosa: Add a shot of grapefruit juice to a flute. Drop in a sprig of mint and top with sparkling wine. For a Strawberry-Peach Bellini: Add a shot of peach purée to a flute. Drop in a fresh strawberry and top with sparkling wine.

  • Opt for Vintage Glassware

    Try mixing and matching a variety of champagne flutes to add interest to the table. Flea markets and thrift stores are great places to find unique glassware options on the cheap. Place them all on the bar and let guests choose their favorite.

  • Great Garnishes

    Set out garnishes like candied ginger, fresh berries, sugar cubes and mint in small, see-through bowls that allow their colors to add visual appeal to the bar. Pitchers holding fruit purées and fresh juices should be kept chilling in the refrigerator until just before guests arrive.

  • Chill, Then Serve
    An hour before party time, place one bottle of sparkling wine in a champagne bucket filled with half water and half ice. For backup bottles, fill another container with ice (a bathtub is perfect for this!) If there's room, chill champagne flutes in the freezer. When it's party time, pop the cork and prepare to toast the new year.

Simple Seating

Formal place cards would have felt too stiff, so in keeping with the party's relaxed, casual vibe, just write guests' names on card stock then cut a slit in the paper's top and bottom and slide a wide grosgrain ribbon through so you can tie it to the back of the chair.

Sharing Resolutions

Jump start the table talk by asking each guest to anonymously write down their New Year's resolution and drop it into a jar. When everyone's seated, bring the collection to the table and take turns reading resolutions aloud, allowing guests to jump in and guess who wrote each one.

Incorporate Bright Flavors

In addition to being delicious, bright, seasonal food can be a beautiful addition to a party's decor. My friends at Any Style Catering created a buffet boasting clean, colorful and fuss-free dishes. Poached pears perfectly lined up on a tart add a gorgeous splash of bold color. Here's the recipe for this Poached Pear Galette.

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 2 large beets, quartered
  • 4 bartlett pears, peeled
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 16 oz tub mascarpone
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
special equipment: 8x8 removable bottom tart pan, pie weights

Yield: Serves 12

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Place beets and pears in a pot just large enough to allow them to lay in a single layer. Add allspice, sugar and wine and simmer uncovered over low heat until easily pierced with a paring knife, about 60 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, roll out puff pastry into a 9x9 square and place in tart pan, gently pressing the dough into the sides of the pan. Trim excess dough from the sides of the pan and pierce with a fork to prevent rising.
  4. Place the dough in the freezer for at least 15 minutes. Remove from freezer and weight the dough and bake it for 20 minutes. Remove weights and bake for another 10 minutes, or until golden brown.
  5. Set the tart shell aside to cool, and combine the mascarpone and powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  6. When the pears are tender, remove them from the cooking liquid to cool. Discard beets and boil the cooking liquid over medium-high heat until reduced to a half cup.
  7. Once the pears cool, cut them in half lengthwise and core them with a small measuring spoon. Slice pears lengthwise 1/8-inch thick, keeping the slices in neat stacks.
  8. Once the tart shell is completely cooled, fill it with the mascarpone mixture, making a level base for the pears. Fan the sliced pears out over the mascarpone, trying to space them as evenly as possible.
  9. Finally, brush the cooled wine reduction over tart and serve at room temperature or cooled.
Food in a Flash

Brunch is, without a doubt, one of my favorite times of day to have a party. Fortunately, many brunch items are also a cinch to prepare, like these mini bagels with cream cheese and smoked salmon that you can assemble in a jiffy. Here's the Mini Bagels With Lox recipe.

Easily turn grocery store items into tasty brunch mini mouthfuls that you can assemble in just minutes before guests arrive.

  • 12 store-bought mini bagels
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for garnish
  • 1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
  • 1/2 pound thinly-sliced lox

Yield: 24 servings

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Halve bagels, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until toasted, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir chopped dill into the cream cheese. Spread cut sides of bagels with cream cheese, and top with a small slice of lox. Garnish with a sprig of dill.

For this party, I focused less on the glitz of New Years Eve, and more on the idea of a fresh start and clean slate. White and lucite create a minimalist backdrop for decor, while bold saturated colors popped up in the details as crisp accents. For an added burst of energy, bring in the celebratory mood of the previous night with touches of metallic and colorful confetti.

Bon Appétit...

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Live well,

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