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New Year nibbles and sips

Chance Agrella,

Cocktails, with or without alcohol, are a festive way of celebrating the New Year.


I have been to large New Year’s Eve parties and small ones, and I think my favorites are the small ones, where I have an easier time talking to everyone.

Most of the time I don’t go to any NYE parties, as I am partial to staying home. Even when I stay home, though, I still like to stay up until midnight, and watch that ball drop. I also like to go outside and make a lot of noise. That’s probably the only night of the entire year when you can create a racket and not have someone call law enforcement.

In the future I will avoid banging wooden spoons against my metal baking pans, as they are so beaten up by now they are barely usable for baking bread.

I hope 2022 is kind to all of you. Stay healthy and stay warm.

Crab and cream cheese wontons

4 ounces crab meat

2 ounces cream cheese

1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons snipped chives

18 wonton wrappers

Vegetable oil for deep frying

Egg wash:

1 large egg whisked with 2 T. water

1. The filling: Pick through the crab to remove any remaining bits of cartilage and shell. Mix the crab, cream cheese, lemon zest and juice, salt, pepper and chives together. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

2. Folding the wonton: Place a heaping half-teaspoon of filling on one corner of the wonton skin, leaving the edges clean. Moisten the edges with egg wash. Bring one set of opposite corners together and seal all the edges, making a triangle. Next, bring the long ends of the triangle together, overlapping the corners slightly and sealing with more egg wash. Turn the third corner up if it isn’t already, forming a small tortellini or hat-shape.

3. Alternate folding method: Cut the wonton skins in half, diagonally. Brush one side with egg wash then place a small dollop of filling a bit off the middle of the triangle. Bring the open edges together and seal, forming a small triangle.

4. Meanwhile, heat the oil to about 350 degrees. Fry the wontons until they are golden brown, about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Drain well on a rack lined with paper towels. Makes about 1 1/2 dozen.

Artichoke French bread

1 loaf (about 1 pound) unsliced French bread

1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) sour cream

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 jar (6 1/2-oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 teaspoons lemon-pepper seasoning (I don’t care for this, so I leave it out)

1. Cut bread in half lengthwise; hollow out, leaving 1/2-inch shells. Set aside. Place removed bread in a food processor; cover and process until crumbly.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bread crumbs, sour cream, butter and sesame seeds; spread onto a baking sheet. Broil 4 inches from the heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once. Turn oven temperature down to 350.

3. In a large bowl, combine the crumb mixture, cheeses, artichokes, garlic, parsley and lemon-pepper, if using. Spoon into bread shells.

4. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and serve warm. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Orange eggnog punch

1 quart chilled commercial eggnog or reduced-fat eggnog

1 can (12-oz.) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1 can (12-oz.) ginger ale, chilled

1. In a punch bowl or large pitcher, stir eggnog and orange juice concentrate until well mixed.

2. Pour in ginger ale and stir gently to mix. Makes eight 7-ounce servings.

Raspberry pomegranate champagne cocktail

Sort of like a drink and dessert in one. This is even more special if you can serve it in glasses that can be frozen. Also, you can substitute sparkling apple cider if you don’t want any alcohol in the drink.

8 tablespoons pomegranate juice

1 pint raspberry sorbet

4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

Chilled champagne

1. Add 2 tablespoons of pomegranate juice to the bottom of each glass.

2. Add a few small scoops of the raspberry sorbet and 1 tablespoon of pomegranate seeds to each glass.

3. Top with chilled champagne. (You can continue to top off the glass with more champagne as you sip, because there is more than enough sorbet to flavor several glasses full if you wish.) Makes 4 servings.

Pineapple party punch

4 cups chilled pineapple juice

1/2 cup white rum or coconut rum

1 bottle (750mL) prosecco, chilled

About 2 cups frozen pineapple chunks

1. Pour pineapple juice, rum, and prosecco into a pitcher. Add frozen pineapple to keep it chilled. Serve the same day it is made. Makes 10 servings.

2. Non-alcoholic version: skip the rum and prosecco. Use lemon-lime soda or club soda instead.


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