New Year's Nibbles

Only five days to New Year's Eve and you are, no doubt, thinking about how to celebrate.  For those who are entertaining at home (a very strategic thing to do), here are 25 ideas for radically simple things to serve.   My good friend, Claudia Omsky, roasted some chestnuts for us the other day as a treat in the middle of the afternoon.  She is from Vienna and told us about the street vendors roasting chestnuts and how she loved them as a child.  She often prepares them for her kids as a healthy snack.  Great idea.  Claudia buys them at Whole Foods and simply roasts them on a sheet pan.  Make a criss-cross slit at the top of each chestnut and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.  I thought about how festive they would be with a glass of champagne and so....Idea #1:  Warm roasted chestnuts.  The day after, our cousin Mary Ann Kurasz (Seidman) served us a bowl of huge roasted black grapes that looked like big fleshy olives.  She said she got the idea from my Chicken with Roasted Grapes from Radically Simple and decided they would be great with cocktails!  They were!  A brilliant idea I never thought of.  Here are 23 more: Thinly sliced smoked salmon strewn with edible flowers cut up like confetti Large black olives baked in red wine and olive oil Wrap thin grissini (breadsticks) with good prosciutto Scoop out cherry tomatoes, fill with whitefish salad and chopped chives (serve in fluted candy papers) Coat green grapes with goat cheese and roll in crushed pistachios Toss mixed nuts with rosemary oil and warm on a sheet pan Large moist Medjool dates with chunks of aged Gouda Throw a smoked ham in the oven, slice and serve on biscuits with honey mustard and chutney Thinly slice super-rare roast beef from the supermarket, serve with horseradish creme fraiche and black bread Slather a side of fresh salmon with wasabi mayonnaise, roast at 450 degrees for 20 minutes, sprinkle with black sesame seeds Make a large Caesar salad and serve with garlic-rubbed skirt steaks Buy super-large cooked shrimp and serve with green goddess dressing Serve your favorite smooth soup in demitasse cups, add a few drops of truffle oil Serve a platter of roasted vegetables, cut into 1-inch pieces, sprinkle with sea salt Prepare a large chafing dish of tortellini alla panna (cream, butter and parmigiano-reggiano) Make or buy gravlax and serve with 1-minute mustard sauce (2 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon, 1/4 cup olive oil) Buy rotisserie chickens, hack them up and serve with hoisin sauce and scallions Thinly slice big sea scallops and serve atop seaweed salad, drizzle with lemon oil Top herring in wine sauce with buttery-toasted panko, creme fraiche and dill Make smoked salmon, basil and goat cheese quesadillas Make beef or turkey sliders, serve on toasted dinner rolls with pesto or curry mayonnaise Buy great fried chicken and serve with black-eyed peas Boil a whole cotechino, slice and serve on lentils

Start chilling the bubbly!