New Year's Eve Dinner
These are not your abuela’s nachos. OK—it’s likely no nachos are from your Mexican grandmother because this popular dish has its roots in Tex-Mex cuisine. The first nachos were reportedly created by a maître d’ in Texas named Ignacio whose nickname was “Nacho.” But don’t focus on who lays claim to having invented them; instead revel in our iteration laden with lobster; avocado; a rich yet amazingly low-fat cheese sauce; and a heap of crunchy, piquant tomato-radish salad on top that takes this dish to a completely new level. You can substitute cooked crabmeat for the lobster, if you are looking for a more budget-friendly choice.
Port of Call Punch
The muddling technique draws complex flavors from the lemon, making the beverage floral, bracing, and irresistible. A sprinkling of grated nutmeg on top adds a warm, soothing, fragrant layer to the punch, which is remarkably complex-flavored despite having only 6 ingredients. Ruby port has spent less time cask-aging than tawny port, and so is a little sweeter and fruitier, perfect in this recipe. This drink has a lower alcohol content than standard cocktails, a great quality in a punch that's meant to refresh as much as relax.
Beet Hummus with Blue Cheese and Walnuts
We love creating innovative hummus recipes, and Beet Hummus with Blue Cheese and Walnuts is no exception. This beautiful, crimson-colored dip is made with chickpeas, tahini, beets and garlic.
Blood Orange and Radicchio Salad
This salad is a beautiful addition to any table spread with its vibrant orange and deep magenta hues. Hearty radicchio and fennel have real staying power—even after they've been tossed with dressing—which makes this ideal for times when you need a make-ahead salad for a buffet or to take to a potluck. We love the color of blood oranges, but you can use all naval or Cara Cara oranges.
• • Gluten-Free Tip: Although agave doesn't contain gluten, it's a highly-processed sugar alternative that's considerably sweeter than sugar. Sub with raw honey if this bothers you and check for potential gluten-containing additives.
Perfect Beef Tenderloin
Inspired by J. Kenji López-Alt, author of The Food Lab and managing culinary director of Serious Eats, we take a 3-step, 5-ingredient approach to the best holiday roast: First, season, chill, and air-dry the beef overnight to create a flavorful crust; second, slow roast in a low oven to keep it extra juicy; and third, broil a few minutes to brown it. Serve with Board Dressing, Classic Horseradish Cream Sauce, or both. You can build the sauce on the cutting board where you'll carve your roast. Chop, stir, and mound the ingredients. Then rest the cooked roast on the dressing, roll it, and carve it so the roast's juices and the dressing marry.
• • Gluten-Free Tip: Like other dairy products, be sure your butter doesn't contain additives with gluten.
Baby Carrots with Herb Dressing and Olives
Look for baby carrots with some of the green tops attached; reserve and chop for tossing with the steamed carrots. Carrots should be about the width of your thumb; halve larger ones so they cook evenly. Steaming is gentler than boiling and faster than roasting. And, because the carrots are less caramelized, the fresh herbs stand out more.
Hasseltots with Crème Fraîche and Caviar
This two-bite, no-fork-required appetizer is perfect for parties where guests will be juggling drinks and nibbles. Choose a sustainable, budget-friendly roe. Depending on what kind you choose, it can be affordable or break the bank. Make note of the origin to be sure you aren't buying caviar or roe from endangered fishing areas or species. We suggest Classic American White Sturgeon Caviar ($85/oz.), Paddlefish Caviar ($44/oz.), Salmon Roe ($8/oz.), and Masago ($5/oz.). Store opened caviar on ice, and use within one to two days. In a pinch, sour cream can stand in for the crème fraîche.
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad
Chef Jonathan Waxman taught Cooking Light Editor Hunter Lewis how to make this fall salad many years ago. Riff with the ingredients to find the flavor balance you prefer. For a vegan version, omit the Parmesan cheese.
You might have to marry the miller if you want to grind a large batch of nuts into a pure powdery flour. Commercial producers have equipment designed to finely mill nuts without adding extra ingredients. In smaller quantities, though, you can make flours from less-oily nuts (pecans, hazelnuts, almonds, and pistachios) with a small electric coffee grinder. Work in 1/4-cup increments, and add 1 teaspoon flour with each 1/4 cup of nuts to prevent clumping; pulse to prevent making nut butter. For oilier nuts like macadamias (used in the cake below), you can process whole nuts with purchased almond flour. Nut flours work well in cakes and cookies, as sauce thickeners, and as binders for meatballs or crab cakes. There's no difference between nut meals, nut flours, and nut powders. Some people say meal contains the skins of nuts or the grind is finer or coarser depending on the name. But the names are used interchangeably, and they all mean the same thing: pure milled or pulverized nuts.
Mini Raspberry Cheesecakes
We had the greatest success using a pan with 2 1/2-ounce cups, such as Chicago Metallic's 12-Well Mini Cheesecake Pan ($25). This pan has removable bottoms (similar to a tart pan) so that you simply push each cheesecake up to remove it. You can also bake them in a standard muffin tin; line it with foil liners for easier removal.
Spiked Hot Chocolate
This warming treat is the perfect accompaniment for a walk through the snow: A hint of peppermint schnapps will give everyone a little pep in their step. Think of it as more of a dessert than a beverage, as this hot chocolate is a bit of a splurge. Canned coconut milk gives it full-bodied richness and makes it an indulgence. Blogger and cookbook author Molly Yeh explains that "coconut goes well with chocolate and mint, so it really brings this hot chocolate together nicely."