Kick it up a notch on New Year’s Eve |

Kick it up a notch on New Year’s Eve

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Summit Daily/Julie Sutor

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Few dates on the American calendar rival New Year’s Eve in its embrace of

razzle-dazzle. Most other holidays, even amidst their fun, call on us to ponder important yet sober themes like patriotism, faith, history or family.

New Year’s Eve, on the other hand, is all about the party. And two of Summit County’s culinary masters have a few hints on helping your hors d’oeuvre offerings rise to the occasion.

“The whole key to it is having fun ” it’s New Year’s,” said Dave Scott, executive chef of Keystone’s Outpost, which houses the Alpenglow Stube and Der Fondue Chessel.

And part of the key to having fun is knowing your crowd and planning accordingly.

“If I’m cooking for the fire department, I’m not going to serve foie gras. But if it’s chips and salsa, I can still have homemade chips and homemade salsa,” Scott said.

If you want to be able to boogie down when the party begins, get all your shopping and chopping done well in advance, advised Dave Welch, owner of Food Hedz in Frisco and former executive chef at the Keystone Ranch.

“What you’ve got to do is make sure you have all your ingredients and start work early,” Welch said. “A lot of folks underestimate how much time it takes to put a lot of little canapes together.”

Both chefs emphasized that a host can keep snacks simple, while still getting away from hackneyed stand-bys like crudite and ranch dip.

“I’m a big fan of comfort food done right,” Scott said. “If you’re going to serve spring rolls or chicken wings, do it yourself and personalize things ” make your own sauces. People appreciate that a lot more than you pulling out a tray from City Market.

“You’re giving your heart, your home and your talents, and people can taste that, even when you do it very simply,” Scott added.

One of Welch’s favorite finger foods is a lamb and goat cheese taquito: Roll a corn tortilla around some roasted or grilled lamb, some goat cheese and cilantro. Spear it with a toothpick, fry it and serve it with fresh salsa.

Bruschetta also lands near the top of Welch’s list. The home cook can quickly and easily toast slices of French or Italian bread, top each with a Roma tomato slice, some buffalo mozzarella, a basil leaf, cracked pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.

“It’s real simple, and it’s vegetarian, which a lot of people like,” Welch said.

Most grocery stores now carry high-quality seafoods, cheeses and meats, making classy favorites like shrimp cocktail and prosciutto-wrapped melon a breeze.

Scott said canapes ” bite-sized pieces of bread with savory toppings ” are always a hit.

“You can make it with bread you have in your house, do a mayonnaise-based or cheese-based spread and top it off with some seafood or even a chilled ratatouille,” Scott said.

Sliced cucumbers are also a good base upon which to serve tasty morsels.

“Take some raw tuna mixed with a little ginger and soy, some lemon juice and diced red onions. Do that on a cucumber circle with some wasabi creme fraiche or sour cream,” Scott suggested.

Raw fish can double as party game and appetizer when the cook opens up his or her kitchen for sushi-rolling.

“Get everybody in the kitchen with some rice, veggies and bamboo rollers. I don’t come across too many people that don’t like sushi,” Welch said.

Scott agreed that recruiting guests to participate in the food preparations can be a winning strategy for a host.

“I think having people interact with the food is always fun. It’s a great way to start up conversations. People always gather in the kitchen anyway ” you might as well put them to work,” Scott said.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or

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