A classy welcome for 2020: Ring in the new year with this festive and easy holiday menu

This menu assembled by Jeb Aldrich, executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, would be perfect for a New Year’s Eve dinner: Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème with Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries (left), New England Shellfish Chowder (front center), Cranberry Countdown Punch (rear center) and Crab Beignets (right). STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

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This menu assembled by Jeb Aldrich, executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, would be perfect for a New Year’s Eve dinner: Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème with Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries (left), New England Shellfish Chowder (front center), Cranberry Countdown Punch (rear center) and Crab Beignets (right). STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Learn to make crab beignets, New England shellfish chowder, Cranberry Countdown Punch from Tiny Lou’s Jeb Aldrich

For many, ringing in the new year surrounded by strangers wearing silly hats and getting tipsy on cheap bubbly seems more like a Fellini-esque nightmare than a celebration.

But if eschewing the crowds means staying at home, why not do it with friends? And why not cook up a New Year’s Eve dinner for them?

We asked Jeb Aldrich, the veteran executive chef at Tiny Lou's, to help us come up with a menu that would be fittingly fun, but easy for home cooks to make ahead.

If you’re not familiar with Tiny Lou’s, it opened in Atlanta’s boutique Hotel Clermont in 2018, as part of a project that included the complete renovation of the landmark Clermont Motor Hotel on Ponce de Leon Avenue, and the preservation of the world-famous Clermont Lounge in the basement.

The “swinging French-American brasserie” is named for Tiny Lou, a famed dancer of yesteryear, who performed in the old hotel’s Gypsy Room.

Aldrich sports a tattoo of Tiny Lou on his left forearm. And employing the philosophy of the French kitchen, his menu presents classics with plenty of style and playful elements.

With all that, we knew Aldrich was the man for the job. And he responded by putting together a festive meal with a starter, a main course, a dessert and a special punch.

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Jeb Aldrich, executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, shared some recipes for a New Year’s Eve dinner: Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème with Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries (left), New England Shellfish Chowder (front center), Cranberry Countdown Punch (rear center) and Crab Beignets (right). STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Jeb Aldrich, executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, shared some recipes for a New Year’s Eve dinner: Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème with Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries (left), New England Shellfish Chowder (front center), Cranberry Countdown Punch (rear center) and Crab Beignets (right). STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

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Jeb Aldrich, executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, shared some recipes for a New Year’s Eve dinner: Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème with Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries (left), New England Shellfish Chowder (front center), Cranberry Countdown Punch (rear center) and Crab Beignets (right). STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Suitable for a plated first course or passed hors d’oeuvres, Crab Beignets are basically lump crabmeat mixed with brioche bread, Duke’s mayonnaise and seasonings, and fried to a delicate crisp.

“It’s a fritter, if you will, without the pate choux to make it easier for the home cook,” Aldrich said. “But the biggest thing about that recipe is not breaking up the crab. And you need to let it sit for at least 30 minutes, before frying the beignets in a shallow pan or a FryDaddy.”

Recently, Aldrich’s New England Shellfish Chowder was on the menu at Tiny Lou’s, warming a winter evening with the flavors and aromas of clams, heavy cream, Noilly Prat dry Vermouth and nutmeg.

“This New England-style chowder is a little lighter than the typical chowder, but it still has that hearty warm feeling to it,” Aldrich said. “It’s thickened with grated potatoes, which gives it a natural starch, and makes it gluten-free. The nutmeg is a bit holiday, and a little bit French, too.”

For dessert, Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème With Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries is both elegant and surprisingly easy, though it needs to be made a day ahead.

“It’s a real classic,” Aldrich said. “It sounds harder than it actually is. It’s delicious, and oh, it’s easy to make, as well.”

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Jeb Aldrich is the executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, a “swinging French-American brasserie” in Atlanta’s boutique Hotel Clermont. CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Jeb Aldrich is the executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, a “swinging French-American brasserie” in Atlanta’s boutique Hotel Clermont. CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

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Jeb Aldrich is the executive chef at Tiny Lou’s, a “swinging French-American brasserie” in Atlanta’s boutique Hotel Clermont. CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Cranberry Countdown Punch is a food-friendly wine-based punch that can be consumed before, during or after dinner. And you could easily spike it with a little Champagne for a sparkling New Year’s toast.

“I didn’t want to do something too heavy or too boozy, because you’re pairing it with food,” Aldrich said. “It’s light. It goes with the crab. It goes with the chowder. And it all works together.

“This dinner is fun. It’s shareable. It’s sort of come as you are. Everything holds well. And later, you can flash the beignets in the oven, reheat the chowder on the stove, and serve it again.”

RECIPES

These festive New Year’s Eve dishes from executive chef Jeb Aldrich of Tiny Lou’s in Atlanta can be served as a buffet or a sit-down dinner.

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Crab Beignets can be served as a sit-down course or passed hors d’oeuvres. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Crab Beignets can be served as a sit-down course or passed hors d’oeuvres. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

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Crab Beignets can be served as a sit-down course or passed hors d’oeuvres. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Crab Beignets

Simple and savory, these lightly fried crab fritters can be formed into any shape you like, hold surprising well, and can be reheated in a warm oven.

Recipe: Crab Beignets

  • 1 pound lump crabmeat
  • 1/2 loaf brioche bread cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup Duke's mayonnaise
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • Place crabmeat and bread cubes in a large bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together mayonnaise, eggs, Dijon mustard, salt, Old Bay and Worcestershire and pour mixture over crabmeat and bread.
  • Lightly mix by hand, making sure you don't break up the crabmeat too much.
  • Rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  • Using 2 spoons, form mixture into beignets and fry in batches with vegetable oil heated to 325 degrees in a shallow pan or FryDaddy until golden brown on the outside. Serves 12.

Nutritional information

Per serving:

Per serving: 238 calories (percent of calories from fat, 69), 9 grams protein, 9 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 19 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 68 milligrams cholesterol, 838 milligrams sodium.

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New England Shellfish Chowder includes nutmeg, which “is a bit holiday, and a little bit French, too,” says chef Jeb Aldrich. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

New England Shellfish Chowder includes nutmeg, which “is a bit holiday, and a little bit French, too,” says chef Jeb Aldrich. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

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New England Shellfish Chowder includes nutmeg, which “is a bit holiday, and a little bit French, too,” says chef Jeb Aldrich. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

New England Shellfish Chowder

Both heartier and lighter than you might expect, this chowder can be made with clams, shrimp, a combo of the two, or just potatoes for those who don’t eat shellfish. Add a bit of crispy bacon for even more flavor and texture.

Recipe: New England Shellfish Chowder

  • 1 1/4 cups onion, small dice
  • 1/4 cup celery, small dice
  • 1 1/4 cups leeks, sliced
  • 1/2 branch rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 branch thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • Fleur de Sel and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup Noilly Prat dry Vermouth
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 1/4 quarts clam juice
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 1/4 quarts chicken stock
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/4 pounds potatoes, medium dice
  • 2 1/2 pounds cleaned shrimp or chopped clams
  • Nutmeg, to taste
  • 2 potatoes, peeled, grated into chowder at end
  • Chervil and/or crispy bacon bits for garnish
  • Heat large soup pot over medium low heat until hot, add a small amount of oil and sweat the onions, celery, leeks, herbs (tied into a bouquet garni), garlic, and fennel seeds with salt and pepper until the vegetables are translucent.
  • Deglaze the pot with Noilly Prat and white wine and reduce by 80%.
  • Add the clam juice, butter, stock, cream and sugar and bring to a light simmer.
  • Add diced potatoes and shellfish.
  • Adjust salt and pepper and add nutmeg to taste.
  • Grate the potatoes directly into the soup and simmer 10-15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and serve garnished with chervil and/or crispy bacon.Serves 12.

Nutritional information

Per serving:

Per serving (without bacon): 584 calories (percent of calories from fat, 52), 24 grams protein, 41 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 32 grams fat (19 grams saturated), 246 milligrams cholesterol, 1,320 milligrams sodium.

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Before January’s diets begin, enjoy the end of 2019 with Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème with Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Before January’s diets begin, enjoy the end of 2019 with Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème with Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

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Before January’s diets begin, enjoy the end of 2019 with Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème with Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Dark Chocolate Champagne Pot de Crème With Vanilla Chantilly and Macerated Blackberries

Elegant and surprisingly easy, allow 24 hours for the pot de crème to set. You can use ramekins or fancy glassware, but depending on the size, the recipe will yield more or fewer servings.

For the Pot de Crème

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup Champagne
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 3/4 cup dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup milk chocolate
  • Vanilla Chantilly (see recipe below)
  • Macerated Blackberries (see recipe below)
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and egg yolks until thick and very light yellow color. Whisk in heavy cream, Champagne and salt.
  • Pour mixture into a medium-sized saucepan and place on medium low heat. Stir continually as mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spatula. Remove from heat immediately. Add in vanilla and dark and milk chocolate. Blend together and strain if needed.
  • Divide chocolate custard evenly between desired serving cups. Allow custards to cool to room temperature. Then tightly cover custards with plastic wrap and allow to set for 24 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

For the Vanilla Chantilly

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Whisk all ingredients together to stiff peaks.

For the Macerated Blackberries

  • 1/2 cup cut blackberries
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon squeezed
  • Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  • To serve, top each pot de crème with a scoop of Vanilla Chantilly and garnish with Macerated Blackberries.Makes 12.

Per serving: 437 calories (percent of calories from fat, 64), 4 grams protein, 36 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 31 grams fat (16 grams saturated), 195 milligrams cholesterol, 236 milligrams sodium.

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Cranberry Countdown Punch is a food-friendly wine-based punch, but feel free to add some Champagne for that midnight toast. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Cranberry Countdown Punch is a food-friendly wine-based punch, but feel free to add some Champagne for that midnight toast. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

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Cranberry Countdown Punch is a food-friendly wine-based punch, but feel free to add some Champagne for that midnight toast. STYLING BY JEB ALDRICH / CONTRIBUTED BY CHRIS HUNT PHOTOGRAPHY

Cranberry Countdown Punch

A pretty, refreshing holiday punch that plays well with food and can be served up for a midnight toast.

Recipe: Cranberry Countdown Punch

  • 18 ounces gin
  • 18 ounces Lillet Rose
  • 18 ounces sauvignon blanc
  • 6 ounces Aperol
  • 12 ounces cranberry juice
  • 6 ounces lemon juice
  • 12 ounces Rosemary Simple Syrup (see recipe)
  • 24 ounces ginger ale
  • 1 block or small bag of ice
  • 2 lemons, cut into wheels and twists
  • 1 bunch rosemary sprigs
  • 1 bag of cranberries
  • Pour all liquid ingredients into a punch bowl, add ice, and garnish bowl with lemon wheels, lemon twists, rosemary sprigs and cranberries. Makes 24 servings.

Nutritional information

Per serving:

Per serving: 117 calories (percent of calories from fat, 1), trace protein, 8 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 4 milligrams sodium.

Recipe: Rosemary Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and rosemary sprig. Warm over low heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and let stand for 30 minutes. Discard the rosemary and refrigerate in an airtight container. Makes 16 ounces.

Nutritional information

Per serving:

Per 1-ounce (2-tablespoon) serving: 24 calories (percent of calories from fat, 0), trace protein, 6 grams carbohydrates, no fiber, no fat, no cholesterol, trace sodium.

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