Small Celebrations: 22 Recipes to Make Intimate New Years Meetings Like a Party | New Year

The Omicron variant may have torpedoed any hope of a return to normal until 2022, but it’s still possible to throw a party to remember, if a little more intimate.

If there’s anything the past two years have taught us, it’s that food is balm. Whether it’s a heartwarming cook of fun appetizers, an elaborate spread, or classic canapes, changing social circumstances don’t need to eliminate fun from the menu. And neither does the need for a minimum of fuss.

Less complicated options

Pastry mills

Felicity Cloake’s Easy Windmills can be prepared ahead of time. Photograph: Dan Matthews / The Guardian. Food styling: Jack Sargeson.

As Felicity Cloake says, “pretty much anything is best wrapped in baking.” Its little windmills are a party classic and a snack to make all over the place if you’re using store-bought puff pastry. When crafting from scratch, they can be prepped, customized for the size of the crowd, and left frozen until you need them. Once cooked, serve hot.

Glazed Chicken Wings
A sticky marinade coated with a thick layer of hot, roasted chicken wings does a lot of good. Angela Hartnett’s recipe requires 30 minutes of marinating and 30 minutes of cooking, but the prep time is virtually zero. Perhaps offer hand sanitizer on a nearby table, as the fingers will be to be licked.


Nigel Slater's pizette can be garnished with everything from peppers to pork
Nigel Slater’s pizette can be garnished with anything from peppers to pork. Photography: Jonathan Lovekin / The Observer

These are small discs of dough, cooked until golden brown and topped with everything from peppers and pesto to pork. As long as you have a stand mixer and half an hour to let the dough rise, making the base for Nigel Slater’s mini pizzas is easy. Changing your topping combinations is even easier: with a cooking time of less than 10 minutes, you can even let your guests do it themselves once the dough is ready.

Rice paper rolls
This fresh and tangy option is ideal for a lunchtime spread, especially if one or more of your guests can’t eat gluten. In Yotam Ottolenghi’s version, the protein filling – whether it’s tofu, chicken, beef or shrimp – can be made a day in advance. So when the day of the party arrives, all you have to do is fill, roll and serve. And if you do it all of a sudden, it will take even less than an hour.

Vegetarian sausage rolls
The usual meat base can be easily swapped out with any of Felicity Cloake’s umami-first alternatives and always ready in just over an hour. The recipe is even simpler if you choose to collect pre-made pastries from the store.

Felicity Cloake's vegetarian sausage rolls favor umami flavors.
Felicity Cloake’s vegetarian sausage rolls favor umami flavors. Photograph: Dan Matthews / The Guardian. Food styling: Loïc Parisot.

Spicy nuts
Healthy, addictive and quick to cook, Thomasina Miers Spicy Nuts are the perfect companion to accompany drinks when the afternoon continues into the evening, or just before the fireworks start.

Figs with bacon and chili
Stacking bacon, red pepper, and syrup on a base of caramelized figs makes for a sticky, sweet, and salty bite. This Alex Lau canape recipe from Bon Appetite is surprisingly simple considering how beautiful the finished product is, and makes a perfect addition to a brunch or afternoon.

Grilled Corn and Bean Tostadas with Jalapeño Aioli
A rich bean salad on a crispy tortilla base balances the fresh, tangy flavors with a satisfying crunch. All the ingredients for the Thomasina Miers recipe can be prepared ahead of time, in less than an hour. Then the assembly is easy.

Thomasina Miers Grilled Corn and Bean Tostadas with Jalapeño Aioli balances fresh, tangy and crunchy in one bite
Thomasina Miers corn and grilled bean tostadas with jalapeño aioli balance freshness, tanginess and crunch in one bite. Photography: Yuki Sugiura / The Guardian. Food styling: Aya Nishimura. Accessories styling: Songsoo Kim.

Party projects

If a reduced guest list isn’t going to hamper the black tie dress code, then you might as well add martinis and blinis. The base of this classic sofa can be made ahead of time, for easy assembly of toppings – from classic sour cream and salmon to mashed beetroot – once the revelers arrive. Catering for fewer people means you can spend a little more on more sophisticated fish roe, anyway.

Blinis by Felicity Cloake
Splurge on fancy fish roe to garnish Felicity Cloake’s blinis. Photograph: Dan Matthews / The Guardian

Fried garlic and sweet pepper sauce
Stripping your garlic can be a delicate (and fragrant) process, but Yotam Ottolenghi suggests preparing the cloves ahead of time will fry them quickly once guests arrive. With a mild, peppery sauce to accompany that can be kept in the fridge, it’s a showy snack to whip up any recipe.

thai fish cakes
The red curry flavored fish cakes, accompanied by a sweet homemade dipping sauce, serve wonderfully on a warmer night out with a side of fresh cucumber, or can at least evoke a summery feel if the weather is fine. does not allow it. While it can be a bit tricky, with the right fish, Chef Pailin Chongchitnant of Hot Thai Kitchen says the preparation isn’t too difficult.

Falafel bites
Georgina al Bayeh shares her father’s falafel recipe, which takes a lot of work when made from scratch, but also a great reward. Made with dried chickpeas, it requires soaking, draining, and refrigeration, but the end product is a colorful celebration of traditional spices, all in one bite. Delicious with tahini, pickled vegetables and a flatbread of your choice.

Georgina al Bayeh shares her father's falafel recipe from northern Lebanon
Georgina al Bayeh shares her father’s falafel recipe from northern Lebanon. Photograph: Martin Poole / The Observer

It takes a few hours to create the light batter and the goodness of the Hindu-style spicy potatoes and peas in Aktar Islam’s recipe, but the end result is a joy to be passed around the room.

Homemade party pies
If tiny meat pies – an Australian holiday classic – were simple to make, they probably wouldn’t dominate as much space in the freezer aisle. This Recipe Tin Eats Nagi Maehashi recipe will take some time and patience, but once you bite into the homemade pastry flakes and see the hot and tender beef and gravy inside, the pre version. -done can be ruined forever.

This classic sofa is making a comeback, and that’s understandable. What’s not to love about a light, flaky, golden pastry case filled with savory goodness? While the pastry making process is laborious, you can save yourself the hassle and collect some pre-made crates from the store, all that’s left to do is choose which of the 17 filling options listed above to put in it.

Fried snapper with a green mango salad
Chef and farmer Palisa Anderson says there is “no better party dish” than her fried snapper, served with a tangy green mango salad. Slightly tangy, slightly sweet, and mixed with creamy mango, it’s made for small gatherings that share big feelings.

Hasselback fondant potatoes

Yotam Ottolenghi's Melted Potatoes balance crispy and creamy in a pot of goodness.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Melted Potatoes balance crispy and creamy in a pot of goodness. Photography: Johanna Parkin / Johanna Parkin (commission)

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Fondant Potatoes are sure to be a crowd-pleaser, even if it’s a crowd of one. The frying process will take time and attention, the chef warns. But when cooked, the thinly sliced ​​tops will unfold beautifully.

Egg, shrimp and caper buns
This sophisticated sandwich replaces sliced ​​bread with soft, homemade buns, then adds shrimp and capers to the egg-mayonnaise mixture. Add this leveled egg salad sandwich to give a great sense of occasion to a backyard breakfast.


Alex Jackson's Baked Ricotta-Stuffed Pancakes with Sweet and Sour Cherry Sauce brings sweetness and tanginess in a mouth-watering bite.
Alex Jackson’s Ricotta and Sour Cherry Sauce Pancakes bring sweetness and heat in a mouth-watering mouthful of flavor. Photograph: Ola O Smit / The Guardian. Food styling: Esther Clark. Accessories styling: Hannah Wilkinson. Food assistants: Caitlin Macdonald and Troy Willis.

Alex Jackson’s party pancakes are filled, folded and baked. While the total cooking time is just under two hours, very little of it requires active preparation.

Mini pavlovas
Pavlovas are a traditional way of seeing the year in Australia, finished with everything from fresh fruit to store-bought lollipops. For a small gathering, you can just collapse the dish. Maggie Beer’s Crisp and Light Merengue is made from scratch and topped with thickened cream. For an effortless version, taking a cookie cutter out of a store-bought full-size pavlova base and garnishing it with the best fresh fruit you can find will always give a pretty satisfying result.

Paris Brest
If you’re looking for a mind-blowing dessert, you can’t beat a choux pastry and custard sandwich. Benjamina Ebuehi’s version swaps the traditional praline flavor for vanilla cream and orange liqueur, then adds a stealthy layer of hazelnut ganache.

The highlight of the show: the orange and hazelnut Paris-Brest by Benjamina Ebuehi.
The highlight of the show: the orange and hazelnut Paris-Brest by Benjamina Ebuehi. Photograph: Ola O Smit / The Guardian. Food styling: Benjamina Ebuehi. Accessories styling: Aya Nishimura.

It is the festive dessert enjoyed throughout the Middle East. Thin sheets of cheese puff pastry – traditionally nabulsi, but replaced by mozarella and ricotta in this recipe by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley, are dipped in butter, nuts and cinnamon. One last drizzle of sugar syrup, and this dish will be a sweet and satisfying end to your New Year’s Eve party.

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