As featured in DailyCandy.
Have you made a New Year’s resolution that you’ve actually kept? When I was younger, I always had high expectations not only for the night, but the whole year. I’d make lists of resolutions: work out more, learn to surf, travel more, become a published writer. Some were clearly more in my control than others and some were a little too general to keep track of. The problem with making resolutions around New Year’s is that everyone else makes them, too. That first Monday at the gym feels like Black Friday at the mall. Leading up to New Year’s, everyone is buying new dresses, getting their hair cut and their nails done as if entering the New Year is simply unacceptable as your last year’s self.
In some ways, this ritual makes sense: being a better you is partly about looking the part and then re-arranging yourself to actually act a certain way the rest of the year. Unfortunately, resolutions, like diets, rarely last. At some point, we all fall off the wagon and wait for the next year to try again. That’s the beauty of the human spirit: we keep trying and trying. We fail and we try again. We fall and we get back up. New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to try again; give yourself another chance. New Year’s Day is the first day of the year when you can officially start fresh- whether it be with a new job, new relationship, new hobby or new attitude.
I have two requirements for New Year’s Eve: eat well and manage your expectations. The best way to ring in the New Year is with good company and good food. My Russian name, Ksenya, means hospitality and perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I love to throw a good party. I’m not a professional party thrower by any stretch, but I know that the elements of a good party are simple: feed people, give them something good to listen to in the background (cue: Matt), and make sure that their glasses are always full (and that everyone always has someone to talk with).
When I throw a party, I like to place platters of food on various flat surfaces around the party area so that everyone always has access to something yummy (and a place to put down their glass). Festive napkins are a necessity, as are trash bags/cans. I like to cut things up into 2-bite pieces for easy access and shareability. And I like to satisfy everyone’s sweet and savory cravings, which makes this holiday-inspired appetizer a hit. Little disks of puff pastry are topped with savory caramelized onions and blue cheese and sweet, caramelized apples with a dollop of crème fraiche. These were a popular (and pretty-looking) attraction at our holiday party. We paired them with homemade cocktails including the Maple Leaf and the Manhattan, and they’d be perfect to pass out with a glass of champagne for your midnight toast.
Here’s the thing about New Year’s: it might be the beginning of something great, or just another day, but what’s not to celebrate about just another day?
Caramelized Canape Duo
Makes about 30 canapes
For the caramelized apples:
4 apples, peeled, cored and diced into small cubes
2 tablespoons of butter
2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of whiskey (optional)
1/2 cup of brown sugar
For the caramelized onions:
3 large onions
3 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
For the shells and toppings:
3 sheets of store-bought puff pastry
5 ounces of crumbled blue cheese or goat cheese
crème fraiche, for topping (optional)
1. Swirl the butter in large nonstick pan and heat over medium heat until it becomes fragrant and begins to brown.
2. Add the brown sugar, then the diced apples. Cook, stirring over medium heat, for a few minutes.
4. Add in the cinnamon, vanilla extract, and whiskey. Cook, continuing to stir, for a few more minutes.
5. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook for about 5 minutes, until the sauce bubbles and begins to thicken (and the apples have softened). Remove from the heat and set aside.
Make the caramelized onion topping:
1. Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2. Stir in the onion, coating it well with the butter. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, and continue stirring for about 10 minutes.
3. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 30- 35 minutes, until the onions have evenly browned.
4. Raise the heat to high and add in the sugar. Stir and cook for another couple of minutes before removing from the heat and setting aside.
2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
3. Cut the puff pastry into small circles using a 2 inch cookie or biscuit cutter and place the circles on a lined baking sheet, about an inch apart. Bake the puff pastries for about 15 minutes, until puffed and golden. Repeat with 2 more sheets of dough.
4. Let the puff pastries cool, and press down gently to flatten their surface if it is uneven.
5. Top half of the circles with about two teaspoons of crumbled blue cheese and a tablespoon of caramelized onion.
6. Top the other half with about a tablespoon of caramelized apples. Drizzle with crème fraiche. Serve at room temperature.
Musical Pairings: We Are Trees – Boyfriend EP + Caramelized Canape Duo
Get your New Year’s party started with today’s Pairing over on the Turntable and let us know how your guests enjoyed it!