New Year’s Eve is a special night and you should plan sophisticated food and drinks for your party guests. The cocktail I chose is a Kir Royale; classic French mixology at its finest! The predecessor to the Kir Royale was the Kir, invented by Frenchman Felix Kir in the 1940s. Kir, who lived in the Dijon region of France, was looking for ways to promote various products produced in Dijon. He took a local, sweet liqueur made from currants called Crème de Cassis and mixed it with the local, dry, white wine. By mixing the sweet liqueur with the highly acidic wine, the cocktail was a perfect balance of “sweet and sour”. The drink became wildly popular all over France and when the French upper crust tasted it, they used a more noble wine, that is, champagne to make the cocktail. The “Kir Royale” was born! My recipe uses fresh raspberries and lemon as garnish giving the cocktail a very fresh, sophisticated look. To make mixing and serving faster, you can pre-fill the champagne flutes with the Cassis and drop a lemon twist and a raspberry in each glass. When your guests arrive, simply fill glass the rest of the way with champagne.
For the food portion of the evening, the first dish is a variation of a classic smoked salmon appetizer. The crispy potato pancakes give this dish a crunchy texture and are a perfect pairing for the tangy salmon. The desserts are homemade marshmallows dipped in chocolate. Need I say more?
- ½ cup fresh raspberries
- 6 lemon twists
- 3 oz. Crème de Cassis
- 1 bottle champagne or sparkling wine – very well chilled
Place a lemon twist and one or two fresh raspberries in each champagne flute. Pour a ½ ounce of liqueur in each flute. Top with the champagne or sparkling wine.
Smoked Salmon on Crispy Potato Pancakes
Serves 4, makes 12 to 14
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
- 1 small onion, peeled
- 1 cage-free egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Cooking oil, such as canola, peanut or safflower
- ½ cup sour cream
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh dill
- Lemon juice
- ½ pound smoked salmon
Using the large holes of a box grater/shredder or the grating disk on a food processor, shred the potatoes into a mixing bowl. Grate in the onion.
Line a large bowl with a clean kitchen towel. Transfer the mixture to the towel-lined bowl, twist the towel around it and squeeze out as much liquid as you can (alternatively, you can pick the mixture up by handfuls and squeeze dry). Transfer to another bowl. Add the egg, flour, baking powder, salt and pepper. Stir with a fork until well blended.
Heat about ¼-inch of oil in a large, heavy skillet or in an electric fryer set at 350°F until it ripples and feels quite hot when you hold your hand over it. With a metal tablespoon, carefully place a spoonful of the mixture into the hot oil. Press down on the mixture with an offset spatula to form an evenly thick pancake about 3 inches in diameter. Add more spoonfuls, taking care not to overcrowd the skillet. Cook the pancakes until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes per side, turning them over carefully with a slotted metal spatula. Transfer to a tray or platter lined with paper towels to drain. Continue with the remaining mixture. If not serving right away, allow to cool completely. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and heat in the oven until crisp, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the dill and the sour cream. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
To serve, transfer the hot potato pancakes to a platter. Spoon a small dollop of the crème fraîche mixture onto each pancake and top with flakes of sturgeon. Serve immediately.
- 3 packets unflavored powdered gelatin
- ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- ¾ cup sugar
- ½ cup corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 8 oz. 60% or 70% Columbian Chocolate*
- Lightly coat an 8 x 8 baking pan with cooking spray. Whisk together gelatin and ½ cup cold water in a small bowl and set aside 5 minutes.
- To make coating: Sift together confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch or potato starch in a bowl and stir to combine. Set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, corn syrup, ¼ cup water, salt, and lemon juice. Bring sugar mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. As it’s coming to a boil, dip a pastry brush in water and brush down sides of pot to remove any sugar residue. This action, coupled with the addition of the lemon juice will ensure your sugar doesn’t crystalize. Cook until temperature reaches 240°F (check with a candy thermometer).
- Microwave gelatin on high until melted, 20 to 30 seconds. Pour into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, set mixer speed to low, and keep it running.
- Slowly pour sugar syrup into mixer bowl. Increase speed to medium and beat 5 minutes. Increase to medium-high and beat 5 more minutes. Beat on the highest setting 1 to 2 minutes more, then beat in vanilla. The finished marshmallow should now be opaque white, fluffy, and tripled in volume. Pour into prepared pan, using a rubber spatula to smooth into the corners. Sift ¼ cup coating evenly and generously over top. Let set, uncovered, at least 6 hours or overnight in a cool, dry place.
- Use a knife to loosen marshmallow from edges of pan. Invert slab onto a coating-dusted work surface and dust it with more coating. Cut into one round pieces and place on skewers or lollipop sticks. Dip sticky edges of marshmallows in more coating, patting off excess. Place marshmallow sticks on greased wax paper and set aside.
- Melt chocolate over double boiler. Place chocolate in a squirt bottle and drizzle fine lines of chocolate over marshmallow sticks. Turn sticks over and repeat on other side. Allow chocolate to harden. Serve.