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Video: New Year’s Eve cocktails, snacks

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    2010 with a holiday bush, stay right where you are.

    >> former top chef finalest carla hall has suggestions.

    >> hello, carla .

    >> hi.

    >> we are running out of time , aren't we?

    >> we have to be quick.

    >> this is about cheap and cheerful for the holiday.

    >> she's cheerful all the time.

    >> stop it.

    >> regular picture frames. we put fabric or --

    >> that's pretty.

    >> wallpaper in there.

    >> yes. make the tray. you can make coasters.

    >> great idea.

    >> look at the coasters.

    >> darling.

    >> exactly.

    >> smart. impre impressed.

    >> these are things that you can do with things that are already in your house.

    >> you picked great paper, too.

    >> that's part of it.

    >> beautiful.

    >> look at this. we have different vases and put colored water in them. what will you do with the color water from easter?

    >> i thought we could drink that but apparently not.

    >> you put these out like a centerpiece.

    >> exactly. centerpiece. it is perfect.

    >> very festive. candles.

    >> candles, take the glasses, flip them upside down. whatever glasses you have to use as pillars.

    >> carla , stop it!

    >> we do a lot of these segments and rarely are the things we haven't seen before. so far, one, two and three new things. getting to food now.

    >> getting to the food. what i want to do, we have a broccoli pesto here.

    >> broccoli pesto?

    >> broccoli and cheese.

    >> wait.

    >> how do you get brkly pesto? make it yourself?

    >> velveta?

    >> no. instead of basil use broccoli. have you cheddar cheese . you put that all together.

    >> take your time, honey.

    >> oh, good.

    >> thank you.

    >> look, this brick as a weight, you don't have to go out and buy anything. just go outside. put the brick on to weigh the sandwich down and let it siz.

    >> one of may favorite things is the sandwich maker. have you ever tried that?

    >> smashes it down.

    >> how much was that?

    >> $25.

    >> more than a brick?

    >> no, but not that much. not that much.

    >> it was fun. challenge.

    >> brutally.

    >> it got brutally.

    >> you were always very zen or tried to be.

    >> i tried to be.

    >> you cooked these up.

    >> exact these up.

    >> cut off the crust.

    >> cut off the crust. look at this. how pretty is that?

    >> presentation.

    >> presentation is everything.

    >> absolutely --

    >> hold on.

    >> i'm going to have that on new year's day.

    >> looks delicious. i will have it.

    >> twist on the grilled cheese . is that nice? you can get your broccoli in there. the kids.

    >> must be delicious.

    >> the best i ever had.

    >> i get to have the next thing.

    >> wait.

    >> soup. tomato soup with the standard cheese.

    >> i like the idea of the soup in the little -- in the glasses. just -- you just drink it.

    >> it will take a while.

    >> you can make it thinner. the perfect thing. is that yummy?

    >> let me try this, too.

    >> try that, too.

    >> i'm having cheese down here.

    >> this is a parmesan cheese and walnut crisp. it is so easy. you grate the cheese. you bake it until it is crispy.

    >> oh, my gosh.

    >> no!

    >> carla , go back over that again.

    >> what is this?

    >> parmesan cheese and walnuts on a pan.

    >> unbelievable.

    >> until it gets crispy. you break it up. that's it.

    >> oh, my gosh.

    >> that's one of the best things i ever tasted in my life. you are batting a thousand.

    >> you don't miss the bread. you make the promise and you can keep it with these.

    >> it is maze.

    >> try that.

    >> no, you can't.

    >> here's the thing, ek try all things.

    >> bass you are just fabulous.

    >> amazing.

    >> that's a great, great --

    >> it does make you thirsty, carla .

    >> well, here we have champagne.

    >> really?

    >> yes.

    >> okay.

    >> i know. that's so easy. this is a way to take an average tea and champagne and just change your toast. we can make a toast now.

    >> okay.

    >> let's do it.

    >> because i don't drink, i'm going to do the mocktail.

    >> it is so much fun.

    >> you don't drink.

    >> i don't.

    >> that's a new experience for us cheers.

    >> thank you, carla . wow. carla , happy new year. thank you so much.

    >> for all of us. this is great stuff.

TODAY recipes
updated 12/30/2009 11:32:06 AM ET 2009-12-30T16:32:06

Recipe: Grilled broccoli pesto and cheese fingers

  • For cheese fingers:
  • 8 slices white bread
  • 6 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 4 slices extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
  • For broccoli pesto:
  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 1/4 cup fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 2-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste

For pesto:
Blanch the broccoli florets in salted water until crisp-tender. Drain and immediately immerse the broccoli in ice-cold water to retain the bright green color.

Drain again, and transfer the broccoli to the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Add parsley, garlic, pine nuts and Parmigiano. Pulse 7 or 8 times until a chunky paste forms.

Pulse again while drizzling in the olive oil. When the mixture reaches the desired consistency, stop and season to taste with salt. Store pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one week.

For cheese fingers:
Spread 2 tablespoons of pesto on 1 slice of bread. Top with a slice of cheese, then another piece of bread. Repeat with pesto and remaining cheese and bread.

Preheat skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in skillet, and add a sandwich. Place a weight, like a foil-wrapped brick, on the sandwich to press it down during the grilling. When the one side is golden, add another tablespoon of butter, turn the sandwich over, and brown. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Let the sandwiches cool for a bit and then trim the edges. Cut the trimmed sandwiches into 4 fingers/rectangles. The sandwiches may be made a few hours ahead and reheated before serving.

Serving Size

Makes 16 fingers

Recipe: Tomato soup shooters with bite-size grilled cheese

  • For soup:
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 stalk celery, roughly chopped
  • 1 small carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, optional
  • For grilled cheese
  • 4 slices Cheddar or Swiss cheese
  • 4 slices of country white bread
  • 4 tablespoons butter

For soup:
Strain tomatoes and reserve juices. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped celery, carrots, onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the strained tomatoes, season again and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Add the reserved tomato juices, broth, sweet potato, bay leaf and butter. Simmer until vegetables are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Add basil and cream, if using. Puree until silky smooth in blender.

Serve in a demitasse cup or a shot glass with grilled cheese sidecar.

For grilled cheese:
Put 2 slices of cheese between 2 slices of bread. 

Preheat skillet over medium heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in skillet, and add a sandwich.  Place a weight, like a foil-wrapped brick, on the sandwich to press it down during the grilling.  When the one side is golden, add another tablespoon of butter, turn the sandwich over, replace brick, and brown. Repeat with remaining sandwiches.

Let the sandwiches cool for a bit, then trim the edges. Cut the trimmed sandwiches into 2 squares. The sandwiches may be made a few hours ahead and reheated before serving. 

Recipe: Grits or polenta on a spoon with shrimp ragout

  • For grits:
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • For shrimp ragout:
  • 6 slices bacon, chopped finely
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 2 dozen Chinese spoons

In a 5-quart pot, combine milk and stock. Generously season the mixture with salt. Pour grits into the cold liquid and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Immediate reduce heat to a simmer and continue to stir until grits are soft and creamy — at least 25 minutes. If necessary, add more stock to continue cooking grits. Stir in butter and adjust seasoning if necessary.

While the grits are simmering, prepare the shrimp ragout. Fry the bacon in a large skillet until browned. Remove bacon from skillet and drain well. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat. Cook the shrimp until it turns pink. Add lemon juice, bacon, parsley, scallions and garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes.

Spoon hot grits onto Chinese spoons and top with a teaspoon of shrimp ragout.

Recipe: Parmesan and walnut cheese crisps

  • 2 cups grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, toss Parmesan and walnuts together. Spread mixture evenly on a parchment paper-lined sheetpan. Bake until bubbly and golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Break into random pieces.


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