A smaller New Year’s Eve celebration this year doesn’t have to be any less fabulous! If you’re ringing in the start of a fresh year from the comfort of your own kitchen and living room, we have two curated three-course menu ideas and two deliciously festive cocktails from celebrated chefs and mixologists from across the South. Some of these dishes are truly special-occasion-only, but many you’ll want to add to your year-round cooking rotation. Enjoy, and happy new year!
Chef Chad Stahl
Café Intermezzo, Nashville, Tennessee
With a newly revamped flagship in Nashville and three outposts in Georgia, Café Intermezzo has been a European-style coffeehouse/cafe-bakery mainstay in the South since 1971. Inspired by travels to his heritage homeland of Germany and throughout Austria, owner Brian Olson seeks to be the antithesis of food and drink in a hurry. It’s about slowing down and enjoying the aromas, the music, the art, and the sense of community that food evokes in us. With the help of Brand Executive Chef Chad Stahl, we think this curated three-course menu will do just that for your at-home celebration.
TO START: French Onion Tart with Gorgonzola, Tarragon & Brie
We are all about some bite-sized savory apps on a night of cheery mingling. “This decadent dish is definitely New Year’s Eve-worthy! The flavors and texture are rich, with a mix of onion, tarragon and two fantastic cheeses — brie and gorgonzola,” Chef Chad remarks.
French Onion Tart with Gorgonzola, Tarragon & Brie
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups yellow onions sliced julienne
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 8 oz puff pastry frozen, defrosted in the fridge for a few hours
- 2 oz brie chilled, rind removed, diced
- 2 oz gorgonzola diced
- 2 tbsp fresh tarragon chopped
Caramelize the Onions
- Heat oil in a pan at medium-high heat, add onions and cook for 10 minutes until wilted and starting to brown.
- Add brown sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat and cook gently for 20 minutes until richly caramelized. (If onions appear dry, add a splash of water.)
- Roll pastry into a 10-by-14-inch dish as a rectangle or shape of your choosing.
- Place pastry on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Prick the pastry with a fork in inch increments to prevent bubble formation while cooking.
- Spread onions over the pastry, all the way to the edges.
- Dot with cheese.
- Sprinkle with tarragon.
- If not baking immediately, refrigerate.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry is crisp.
- Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve in cut wedges or squares.
FOR THE MAIN: Seared Parmesan Chicken with Red Peppers & Basil
As for the main course, Parmesan chicken is a comforting, well-loved option, and this elevated version will wow everyone at your table. “I have always been a fan of the mix of flavors in this dish. The basil and red peppers pair nicely. It can also be served over pasta or rice. No one wants to spend their New Year’s Eve in the kitchen, so this dish is a nice, simple option,” Chef Chad adds.
Seared Parmesan Chicken with Red Peppers & Basil
- 1 ½ lbs chicken breasts
- 3 tbsp butter
- 4 cloves garlic large, minced
- ½ yellow onion finely minced
- 6 oz red pepper thinly sliced
- ¼ tsp paprika
- 1 ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves and extra for garnish
- 1 cup freshly grated parmesan and extra for garnish
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- ½ cup white wine
- ½ cup chicken stock
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cut breasts in half, lengthwise, and pound to even thickness.
- In a large, non-stick pan, melt 1 tbsp butter over medium heat.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Sear chicken in the pan, 4-5 minutes per side.
- Remove from pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, add 2 tbsp butter, onions, garlic, peppers, paprika, red chili flakes, salt and pepper.
- Sauté for 5 minutes until onions and peppers are softened.
- After onions and peppers are softened, add the chicken back to the pan and add the white wine and chicken stock, let reduce for 2 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium-low. Add cream to the skillet and stir until a creamy sauce forms.
- Taste and adjust with salt and pepper as needed.
- Add parmesan, stirring into the sauce.
- Stir in the basil, simmering until wilted.
- Add the chicken back into the pan and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
- Serve on a platter, spooning the sauce over the top.
- Garnish with more chopped fresh basil and parmesan, as desired.
SWEET ENDING: Bananas Foster Crêpes
For the pièce de résistance, Chef Chad has unveiled a very special dessert recipe that includes, fittingly, a flambé! Due to the complex nature of making crêpes, he does recommend buying pre-made ones for ease, such as Melissa’s brand. “This delicious dish packs a flavor punch and is surprisingly easy to make. It also tones down the flavors of the garlic in the chicken, making it a perfect finisher,” Chef Chad adds.
Bananas Foster Crêpes
- ⅓ cup butter
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp corn syrup
- 6 large, ripe bananas peeled and sliced
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 pinch each ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt
- ⅓ cup dark rum
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp chopped pecans
- vanilla bean ice cream or whipped cream as desired
- pack of premade crêpes chef recommends Melissa's (available at Publix)
- Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Add brown sugar and corn syrup.
- Increase heat to medium-high and cook for 3-5 minutes or until sugar dissolves and starts to caramelize.
- Add bananas, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and salt.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes or until bananas begin to soften.
- Remove pan from heat and add rum, return pan to heat.
- To flambé, ignite with long match or barbecue lighter. (The alcohol will burn off in a few seconds and flame will go out.)
- Stir in vanilla.
- Remove the number of room temp crêpes you are serving.
- Fill each crêpe with some bananas, reserve sauce in pan.
- Arrange the crêpes on each plate, drizzling with sauce and topping with whipped cream or ice cream.
- Sprinkle with pecans and serve immediately.
Chef Hunter Evans
Elvie’s, Jackson, Mississippi
Elvie’s is a unique all-day café in Jackson, MS, that unites French flair and Southern hospitality. Helmed by Chef Hunter Evans, a CIA grad, Elvie’s serves up seasonal fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every dish is filled with ethically sourced ingredients — from fresh fish and oysters from the Gulf to heirloom seeds passed down through generations. Inspired by French cafes and memories with his New Orleans grandmother, Elvaretta May Good (the restaurant’s namesake), Chef Hunter’s curated New Year’s Eve menu has sweet and savory options and is both elegant and shareable. Enjoy!
TO START: Cajun Caviar
The most splurge-worthy menu addition on New Year’s Eve? Caviar! And how about some locally sourced caviar from a Southern small business?! “Serve this Cajun Caviar with chives, shallots, and crème fraîche for an elegant but not-too-difficult dish,” Chef Hunter says. “This Southern-based brand, which sources Mississippi River Bowfin Caviar, is high quality and run by great people — including Emeril‘s wife, Alden Lagasse. Love their stuff!” Chef Hunter says.
If you can’t get your hands on some Cajun Caviar from these Southern retailers before New Year’s Eve, Chef Hunter says any caviar from your local gourmet shop or Whole Foods will do. There’s truly no better time for this decadent dish than the ushering out of 2020.
FOR THE MAIN: Cacio y Pepe
After you and your guests hit the flavor-packed caviar station, it’s time to move on to a beloved, warm-you-right-up entrée: Cacio y Pepe. “This is an elevated take on a crowd-pleasing classic,” Chef Hunter says.
Cacio Y Pepe
- 6 oz parmesan cheese good quality, freshly grated
- 1 tbsp black pepper freshly ground
- 1 lb pasta spaghetti, fresh or dry, homemade or locally made
- 4 tbsp butter
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put enough salt in the water so that it tastes salty.
- When the water comes to a boil, drop in the pasta and stir. If it is fresh pasta, let cook for 2-3 minutes. If it’s dried, let it cook for about 10 minutes.
- Before the pasta is done take about 1/2 of the pasta water out and put it into another pan. You will use this make the sauce.
- Drain your pasta when it is finished cooking and hold.
- Bring your reserved pasta water to a simmer, add the pepper and butter. Cook until butter is melted.
- Add your noodles to your sauce and stir really well, then add your cheese. Turn the heat on low and stir until all incorporated.
- If the sauce is too loose and you want it thicker, simmer until sauce thickens. Serve.
- Optional garnishes: sprinkle a little cheese on top, crack some fresh pepper.
SWEET ENDING: Citron Fromage
And to wrap up his festive menu, Chef Hunter offers up another special occasion favorite. “Citron Fromage is a special dessert for a special night,” Hunter says.
- 1½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 5 egg yolks
- 1¼ cups sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2½ tsp gelatin
- ¼ cup cold water
- 6 egg whites
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- In a mixing bowl, beat whipping cream until stiff. Cover and refrigerate.
- In another bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar at high speed until thick and lemon-colored.
- Add lemon zest and juice, beat until smooth and glossy.
- Soften gelatin in the water warmed up, and cool.
- Beat gelatin mixture into egg yolk mix.
- Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff.
- When egg yolk mixture looks like egg whites, fold the egg whites and whipped cream into it.
- Spoon mixture into containers (individual dessert or one large bowl to share), and refrigerate for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
TWO FESTIVE COCKTAILS
But what to DRINK?! If you’re more of a wine person, we invite you to revisit this article on our favorite Trader Joe’s wines. And, of course, flowing champagne is also appropriate. But, if you’re more spirit-forward in your imbibing, we have elicited the help of Erin Scala, Beverage Director, sommelier, and mixologist extraordinaire for the string of social-club-meets-bar-and-restaurant concepts, Common House. With locations in Charlottesville, VA; Richmond, VA; and Chattanooga, TN (coming 2021!), you will be hearing this name a lot in the coming months.
Peppermint Milk Punch
“This drink can be served hot or cold for a cozy New Year’s Eve,” Erin tells us. “To serve hot, warm the cocktail until it begins to steam in a pot. To serve cold, shake it with ice and strain [it] into a teacup.”
Peppermint Milk Punch Cocktail
- 1½ oz oat milk
- 1 oz coconut milk
- Dash peppermint oil
- 1½ oz rum
- ½ oz demerara
- frothy milk for garnish
- peppermint candy for garnish
- To serve hot: combine ingredients, warm the cocktail until it begins to steam in a pot.
- To serve cold: combine ingredients, shake it with ice, and strain into a teacup.
- Garnish with frothy milk foam and a peppermint candy!
Spiced Bourbon Ginger
“This cocktail is as easy as grabbing your favorite bottle of bourbon and using the spices in your cabinet!” Erin says. If you do make a batch of these (SB TIP: quadruple the recipe for easy combining and serving!), make sure you get everything steeping together the night before for the fullest spiced flavor!
Spiced Bourbon Ginger Cocktail
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10 cloves
- dash nutmeg
- 2-3 cardamom pods
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 knob fresh ginger
- 1½ oz bourbon
- ½ oz maple syrup
- splash ginger ale
- pear slices for garnish
- Add ingredients through the bourbon and let sit for 24-48 hours.
- Add the maple syrup and shake over ice.
- Top with ginger ale and garnish with a pear slice.
Thanks to these fabulous Southern food and beverage wizards for helping us create our satisfying, intimate New Year’s Eve spread. Let us know what you make!
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