Cheers! Host an elegant cocktail party with ease

Want to throw an elegant cocktail party on New Year’s Eve that won’t be too complicated or angst-inducing for you? Then you’ve come to the right place. Claire Robinson, star of the Food Network series “5 Ingredient Fix,” spells out how to make yummy hors d’oeuvres and memorable drinks with minimal hassle.

Mini beef Wellingtons
Servings:

Yield: 24 pieces

Ingredients

    • 2 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into 24 one-inch cubes
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
    • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
    • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, such as Dufour, thawed

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Pat the beef dry with a paper towel and season all sides with salt and pepper. Quickly sear the beef on two sides only until deep golden brown, about 4 minutes total; do not overcook. Transfer to a plate to cool. Add the mushrooms and cook until beginning to brown and release liquid, about 5 minutes. Add the shallots and continue cooking until mushroom mixture dries out, is golden brown and shallots are soft, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Preheat to the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. On a work surface, roll one sheet of puff pastry to a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Put teaspoon-sized mounds of mushroom mixture on the pastry, evenly spacing them in 4 rows of 3. Top the mushroom mound with a piece of beef, seared side up. With a sharp knife, cut the pastry into even squares around the meat and mushrooms. Working one at a time, pull two opposite sides of pastry up over each beef piece then fold the ends over the top to make a packet. Invert and place the packets seam-side down on the baking sheet and press them lightly to seal the pastry. Repeat with the remaining beef, mushrooms and pastry. Bake the Wellingtons until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

Rosemary Parmesan shortbread
Servings:

Yield: About 2½ dozen

Ingredients

    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
    • 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
    • 1 cup, 2 sticks, unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 1 teaspoon water, if needed

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Put the flour, sugar, rosemary, salt and Parmesan into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until combined. Add the butter and pulse just until a soft dough forms; the dough should hold together when squeezed with your hands. If not, add the water and pulse until combined. Spread a large sheet of plastic wrap on a work surface and transfer the dough onto it. Using the plastic wrap as a guide, form the dough into a loose log along one edge of the long side of the sheet. Roll the dough log, twisting the plastic gathered at the ends in opposite directions until the log is tight and compact, about 2½ inches in diameter. Chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 1 hour.Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment sheets or silicone baking mats. Slice the dough log into 1/3-inch-thick slices and place on the lined sheets, about one inch apart. Bake until the edges are just beginning to brown, 12-14 minutes.Cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store the shortbread in an airtight container at room temperature until ready to serve.

Spiced candied cashews
Servings:

Yield: About 4 cups

Ingredients

    • 2 cups raw unsalted cashews
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 1/2 cups water
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Preparation

Baking Directions:

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.Put the nuts, sugar, water and salt into a large skillet over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently, and cook until water is nearly evaporated and liquid gets syrupy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the spices together in a small bowl. After 10 minutes, sprinkle the spices over the nuts and stir well. Continue stirring constantly while the water evaporates completely, about 5 minutes. When there is no longer any sugar syrup left in the bottom of the pan, turn off the heat and stir the nuts vigorously but carefully in the pan until the sugar seizes and the nuts are evenly coated with crystallized sugar.Turn the nuts out onto the lined baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Cool completely before sifting the excess sugar from the coated nuts and storing in an airtight container.

Tips:

DO NOT touch the nuts at any time while cooking or just afterward. Cooked sugar is extremely hot and can burn instantly when touched.

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