ENTERTAINING: New Year's Eve Fondue Night, with oysters and crab legs (menu, recipes and how-to's)


We started having a fondue night for New Year's Eve after our daughter was born. When you have a small child, you don't really want to go gallivanting around the city to giant New Year's Eve parties, getting tipsy and coming home at 2 a.m. just to be woken up by your bundle of joy a few hours later. It just wasn't in the cards for us any more. But after our daughter turned 2, we wanted her to take part in the fun night. So we had the idea of trying out some fondue courses accompanied by King crab legs. It was easy as well as fun finger food that she could get into-literally.

I mean, what's not fun about lancing and dipping pieces of pound cake in a giant vat of melted chocolate? Right?

She loved it. So did we. So began our tradition. Now she is 12 and we wouldn't have it any other way. Through the years we have perfected our fondue recipes and decided to share them with you here. Also, we have opened up our evening to friends and family that don't have the heart or energy to be at giant parties anymore either. So to kick up the entertaining level of play, we have added oysters, vegetarian entrees and cocktails to the night.

I mentioned this tradition to a few young moms and they were all over it. They were drawing a blank on what to do for New Years Eve with young kids. I hope they went ahead and tried it. I hope you do too. 

I am going to give you the menu, recipes and even a how to video to help you out as well as some simple decorating ideas. And don't save this for just New Year's Eve, this could be fun for Valentine's Day or any special night.

OUR MENU:

NOSH-
Various cheese, crackers and nuts

Pomegranate Grapefruit Gin Fizz cocktails

Chilled Prosecco

Blue Point Oysters with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce

1st COURSE-
"Our Urban Kitchen" Cheese Fondue with vegetable tray and sourdough bread cubes

2nd COURSE-
King Crab Legs with drawn butter and minced chives

Vegetarian Potstickers with sweet and spicy drizzle sauce

DESSERTS-
Dark Chocolate & Coconut Fondue with strawberries, cubed pineapple and cubed pound cake (and Oreos on some years!)

Christmas cookie plate  


THE DECOR:

Centerpiece:
Use gold and silver Christmas ornaments in various sized vases and apothecary jars. Place on a gold trimmed runner or napkin. Add some glitter confetti around the centerpiece. Cut out the last number of the new year, such as "5" for 2015 out of black paper. Place the 5s in the jars with the ornaments. Mingle various sized candle sticks around the jars and voila! A shimmery centerpiece.




Ceiling:
Out of black, gold and white paper, make white pinwheels or tissue pom poms. Hold them and hang them off of your chandelier or ceiling with gold string or ribbon above the dinner table to create a festive look to the room. For a how-to on pom poms, read my Easter post here. For pom poms shown here, go here. 

 


Table Setting:
If you are serving crab legs, place a few large bowls for shells around the table. Place crackers at every setting and a small cloth napkin to help hold the legs in guests' hands while they crack the shells. They will still need a normal napkin, too, so don't forget those! Place your fondue forks in a pretty vase where guests can reach, as well as have your fondue pots ready and in a central place in the table.

RECIPES AND HOW-TO's:


NOSH-

Various cheese, crackers and nuts




Pomegranate Grapefruit Gin Fizz cocktails





Chilled Prosecco

Blue Point Oysters with lemon wedges and cocktail sauce





1st COURSE-


"Our Urban Kitchen" Cheese Fondue with vegetable tray and sourdough bread cubes







Ingredients:
Various chopped vegetables for dipping, like broccoli and cauliflower spears, tomatoes, mushrooms, peppers, asparagus spears, carrot sticks, etc. Blanche the broccoli, cauliflower, mushrooms and asparagus for 5 minutes in hot water and drain, then cool. Place the vegetables in a veggie tray for serving. Cover until ready to serve.

Cubed artisan bread such as sourdough. (You need a hearty crumb to the bread so that the bread stays on the forks when being dipped. Keep that in mind.)

Cheese Sauce
2 tsp. corn starch
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup dry sherry
1 medium shallot, chopped
1 1/2 cups shredded Asiago cheese
1 cup White Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Manchengo cheese, shredded
1/2 -3/4 cup rindless, cubed Brie
1 cup milk
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
pinch of ground white pepper
1/4 cup flour (add only if the cheese is too runny)

Directions:



Stir cornstarch and lemon juice in a small bowl until the cornstarch is dissolved. Set aside. 


Combine sherry and shallots in a medium sauce pan, simmer over medium heat for 2 minutes. 

 

Add all the cheeses and stir to combine. Heat gently over low heat until cheese is beginning to melt. Stir in the cornstarch mixture, and combine well. The cheese sauce will begin to thicken. 

 

Take off the heat and transfer the sauce to a fondue pot. Set the pot heat to a medium low flame or setting. Add the nutmeg and pepper, and mix. Serve hot with all the vegetables and bread for dipping.

(if the cheese sauce is too runny, add the 1/4 cup of flour before transferring it over.)

2nd COURSE-
King Crab Legs with drawn butter and minced chives


Ingredients:

Alaskan King Crab Legs
About 3 sticks of butter (enough for 5-6 people)
1/8 cup finely chopped chives

Directions:


 Make the drawn butter a few hours ahead of time. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Once melted, begin skimming the top with a small spoon. You are taking the foam off the top and discarding it in small bowl. Keep doing this while simmering over low heat, until there is no more white foam on the top. Take the pan off the heat, and pour the melted butter into a bowl, but be careful to leave the milk solids on the bottom of the pan in the pan. If it travels with it, remove it. All you want to pour out is what we call "the liquid gold".



Now in a fresh pan, pour in that liquid gold and add the chives. When ready to serve the crab legs, heat the drawn butter gently and pour the drawn butter in small ramekins for each guest. They can dip their crab meat in the butter for a happy happy dinner.

Now the crab legs. The best prices and quality we have found for such a decadent and expensive treat is CostCo. If any of you have other advice for my readers as to where to get affordable crab legs please share. We only do this once a year, and believe me, I understand it still is an expensive endeavor!

Preheat oven to 350˚. Place the crab legs on a foil lined baking sheet. Bake them for about 15-20 minutes. They steam within their shells in the oven. Take them out and let them sit for a few minutes until you can serve them where guests can handle them with their hands without burning themselves. Eat up! 


DESSERTS-
A plate of Christmas cookies

Dark Chocolate and Coconut Fondue with strawberries, cubed pineapple and cubed pound cake (and Oreos on some years!)



Ingredients:

Cubed pound cake (store bought is fine)
Chopped pineapple
Halved and whole strawberries
(Other ideas? Biscotti, Oreos, bite sized brownies, kiwis, Mandarin oranges, bananas, pretzels)
1 15 oz. can sweetened cream of coconut
12 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 tsp. coconut extract

Directions:
In a large saucepan, combine the cream of coconut with the chocolate. Over medium low heat, stir and combine until everything is melted and smooth. Add the whipping cream and coconut extract, and combine well. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep on a medium low flame or setting.  Serve with all yummy things you can dip in, including your fingers when no one is looking. {kidding, I'm kidding...}

You can prepare the fondue 8 hours prior. Just cover and store at room temp until ready. Stir over low heat until warm and smooth, then serve in the fondue pot.

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