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New Year’s Eve

My friends EE and BR had a New Year’s Eve gathering this year and it was a great way to ring in the new year!  Having been instructed to each bring a tapas-style dish and if possible to plan to do the preparation at their house, six of us gathered on the night of the 31st to bring in the new year.  The cooking and prep would provide a little break between courses and our entertainment for the evening. 
Their kitchen is big and beautiful.  With loads of counter space and a large center island it’s easy to have several people working at once, although we did spread out all over the place and manage to cover nearly every horizontal surface.  At the beginning of the evening EE assigned us each a slot on the agenda so we’d know when we needed to start preparing our dish.  Other than that the whole evening was pretty free-flowing.  We managed to stretch the whole thing out so that we were still eating after midnight – not intentionally but when you are relaxed and enjoying each course on it’s own, it’s easy for time to slip by. 
This post is not really about recipes but more about inspiring you and your friends to do something similar.  You could set a theme or leave it wide open.  It helps to let people know who’s bringing what prior to the party to avoid duplications, but it’s not necessary.  The main thing is that everyone should remember to make their offering something small – after six or more courses even small bites can fill you past the point of comfort!  And even though I say that, and we knew it, we still managed to bring more than we should have.  Luckily I was staying at their place overnight so when we were done I could just drag myself up the stairs and let it all settle overnight. 
Our menu started with some small bites while we waited for all to arrive.  There was a cheese plate and I brought some leftovers from Sunday’s party.  Then we opened with oven-roasted shrimp; moved onto flatbreads topped with brie, sauteed onions, mushrooms and rosemary; shared a big bowl of steamed mussels; and finished with crab cakes and mini macaroni and cheese bites. 
Oh, and I almost forgot the chocolate bark and holiday cookies! 
I encourage you to plan a party of your own like this.  If your kitchen is smaller (as mine is) you can have guests do most of the preparation at home and just finish the final cooking or plating at your home.  The important thing is to let each course stand on its own and to enjoy it fully and completely before moving to the next course. 
There are more photos from the night here

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