Food & Drink

Three easy, cheesy New Year’s Eve recipes

Fried artichoke hearts are a big hit at holiday parties.
Fried artichoke hearts are a big hit at holiday parties. Special to the Star-Telegram

Ahhh. New Year’s Eve. Time to ring out the old, and ring in the new (an original quote by Alfred Tennyson, in case you didn’t know):

“Ring out the old, ring in the new,

Ring, happy bells, across the snow:

The year is going, let him go;

Ring out the false, ring in the true.”

I’ve always loved ringing in the New Year. Sometimes getting all dressed up and going out to a fancy party with hats and horns and balloons and confetti and high heels and black ties … and sometimes staying home to enjoy the night with a few close friends or family.

If your plan is to stay at home this year, you’ve just got to try one of my easy, cheesy New Year’s Eve recipes.

My fried artichokes are warm, moist and savory, and have Parmesan cheese whisked right into the egg mixture. The warm goat cheese dish gets its flavor from sweet Medjool dates and crispy hazelnuts, all covered with a drizzle of Texas honey.

And the cheese fondue? Well, it’s just all cheese. And wine. And how bad can that be?

And what you dip into all that cheesy goodness is what makes it extra special. Get away from the same old boring bread cubes for dipping, and try some savory roasted rosemary potatoes (made fresh or store-bought — wink, wink); some crisp, colorful garden peppers; sweet apple slices, which go amazingly well with cheese; or tiny little cocktail weenies, which are always a favorite at any party.

Be sure to stir your fondue often and cut it with extra white wine when it gets a bit thick.

Wishing you and yours a safe and very happy new year!

New Year’s resolutions for cooks

Since New Year’s Eve is a time to make New Year’s resolution, here are a few for home cooks to consider:

  • Cook and eat dinner at home at least 3-4 days a week. It’s healthier, you eat less and it’s a lot less expensive than dining out.
  • Use a filtered pitcher for cold water. Where do all those plastic bottles wind up?
  • Keep a well-stocked pantry so you’re ready to cook basic recipes anytime.
  • Season your food throughout the cooking process. Layering the spices adds depth of flavor.
  • Use fresh vegetables straight out of the earth. Roast or steam. No more canned.

Nancy Farrar

Fried artichoke hearts with Parmesan cheese

Fried artichoke hearts are a big hit at holiday parties. Nancy Farrar Special to the Star-Telegram

Makes about 18 pieces

  • 1 12-ounce jar quartered, marinated artichoke hearts, drained and patted dry
  •  1/3 cup flour
  •  1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  •  1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 4 cups oil for deep frying
  • Dijon aioli (recipe follows)

1. Drain the artichokes and pat dry without smashing.

2. Prepare breading: Place flour and thyme onto a piece of waxed paper or parchment and mix together. Place egg, Parmesan, salt and pepper in a separate bowl and beat with a fork to mix. Place breadcrumbs onto a separate sheet of waxed paper or parchment.

3. Dip artichokes one at a time into flour to cover. Remove and roll in egg mixture to cover. Remove and roll into breadcrumbs to cover, and set onto a plate. (Hint: Use one hand in wet ingredients and the other hand in the dry ingredients.)

4. Place oil into a deep sauce pan or deep fryer and heat oil to high temperature. Add artichokes to the oil in batches, being sure not to overload the pan. Too many in the oil will cause them to boil instead of fry. Deep fry for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Don’t turn or touch the artichokes in the oil until they float to the top. Then roll them over for even browning.

5. Remove and drain on paper towel. Serve with Dijon aioli.

Nutritional analysis per piece: 196 calories, 19 grams fat, 6 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams protein, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 60 milligrams sodium, 1 gram dietary fiber, 84 percent of calories from fat.

Dijon aioli

  •  1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of  1/2 a lemon
  • Pinch of paprika
  •  1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1. Mix all ingredients together and place into dipping bowl. Serve with fried artichokes.

Nutritional analysis per 1-tablespoon serving: 56 calories, 6 grams fat, trace carbohydrates, trace protein, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 43 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 96 percent of calories from fat.

Baked goat cheese with Medjool dates and hazelnuts

Serve this hot goat cheese with toasted French bread or your favorite cracker. Nancy Farrar Special to the Star-Telegram

Serves 6

  • 2 8-ounce packages goat cheese, softened at room temperature
  •  1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 12 pitted Medjool dates, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons honey, for drizzling
  • 1 French baguette, sliced and toasted, or crackers for serving

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix goat cheese,  1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts and about 10 of the chopped dates in a mixing bowl. Mix well and place into ovenproof dish. Top with additional chopped dates and hazelnuts.

2. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until bubbly and browning on the edges. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey and serve with toasted baguette slices or your favorite crackers.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 475 calories, 34 grams fat, 19 grams carbohydrates, 25 grams protein, 79 milligrams cholesterol, 263 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber, 64 percent of calories from fat.

Easy, cheesy New Year’s Eve fondue

Veggies, roasted potatoes and cocktail weenies are the perfect dippers for a New Year’s Eve fondue. Nancy Farrar Special to the Star-Telegram

Serves 6

For the fondue:

  •  1/2 pound shredded Gruyere cheese
  •  1/2 pound shredded Emmentaler or Swiss cheese
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and slice in half
  • 1 cup dry white wine (like sauvignon blanc)
  • 1 tablespoon kirsch, (a sweet brandy) if desired
  •  1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Suggested dippers:

  • Sliced red, orange, yellow or green peppers
  • Roasted rosemary potatoes
  • Cubes of French bread
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sliced Granny Smith apples
  • Cocktail sausages
  • Lightly steamed asparagus or broccoli spears

1. Combine the cheeses and cornstarch in a bowl. Toss until well mixed and cheese is coated with cornstarch.

2. Rub entire inside of fondue pot with the open end of the cut garlic and discard. Add wine to the pot and bring to a boil and slowly add the grated cheeses a little at a time, stirring constantly, until very smooth. Add kirsch and nutmeg.

3. Reduce heat and serve immediately, stirring often to prevent sticking. Add small amounts of wine throughout your party to thin out the cheese as needed. Serve with any of the suggested dippers and enjoy. (Hint: If the cheese sticks on the bottom of the pot throughout the night, leave it there. Don’t scrape the bottom. It only will add the browned chunks to your fondue.)

Nutritional analysis per serving: 339 calories, 23 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 22 grams protein, 76 milligrams cholesterol, 228 milligrams sodium, trace dietary fiber, 67 percent of calories from fat.