Category Archives: entertaining

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

This Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit is the Perfect Holiday Appetizer (or Easy Dinner Idea!)

With five minutes of prep time, this incredibly easy appetizer is a favourite around the holidays — or any day for that matter. You don’t even need to splurge on a fancy brie, a budget choice is just as delicious with every sweet and savoury bite. And while this holiday recipe calls for walnuts or hazelnuts, as well as cranberries or cherries, feel free to add in whatever nuts and dried fruit you prefer. Almond and pecans are always tasty, alongside apricots or figs. You can also swap out the herbs for a strip of orange or lemon zest too.

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

200 g double cream brie
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
2 sprigs thyme or rosemary
½ cup toasted walnuts or hazelnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit ingredients on table

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the brie in a small oven-safe skillet or a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Score the top with a paring knife for the cheese to quickly warm. Bake until softened and slightly puffed all around about 15 minutes.

Related: Best Edible Gifts Under $20 That’ll Make Anyone’s Holiday Sweeter

2. While the brie is in the oven, make the topping: combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil; cook, stirring until brown sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in nuts and dried cranberries.

Making baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

3. Immediately top warm brie with hot pecan cranberry mixture and serve with crackers and fresh fruit if desired.

Tip: If using a heat-safe small skillet or ceramic dish, the brie will stay warm for up to 15 minutes. It can also be reheated in the microwave until warm, about 30 seconds. If you’re a fan of toasted nuts, feel free to toast them before adding to the brown sugar mixture. Do so over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

Serving of baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

Like Soo’s baked brie recipe? Try her Chinese scallion pancakes or pan-fried pork chops with roast cabbage wedges.

How to Make Bruschetta in 15 Minutes (Plus the Best Bruschetta Bar for Nights Inside)

Nothing says staying indoors quite like a delightful seasonal spread bursting with fresh ingredients. We absolutely love to use the best of the season, and one summer and early fall favourite is tomatoes. Fresh, juicy and perfectly ripe at the end of summer, we’re always looking for ways to make them a star. Our new favourite is to assemble a quick and easy bruschetta bar when spending time inside with loved ones (because we’re desperate to switch things up these days!).  With a few simple ingredients, you can showcase the bright, herbaceous flavours of this beloved app and present an impressive spread in just a few minutes.

How to Make Bruschetta (And the Best Bruschetta Bar!)

bruschetta-bar-spread

Related: From Homemade Bread to Pickles, 20 Recipes to Master While Indoors

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
4 tomatoes, seeded and diced or 12 cocktail tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup Vidalia onion, minced
1 clove garlic, grated
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3/4 cup labneh or Greek yogurt
3/4 cup ricotta
3/4 cup hummus
1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1 Tbsp za’atar
1 baguette, cut into 1/2-inch slices
Olive oil

bruschetta bar assembled

Related: Ranking Canadian Retailers Offering Grocery Delivery Right Now, by Price

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Place labneh, ricotta, hummus, walnuts, parsley, basil, parmesan and pine nuts into small bowls and place on platter.
3. Sprinkle labneh with za’atar and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle ricotta with herbs, if desired.
4. Assemble all items on a platter and serve with plates for guests to assemble their appetizers.

Looking for more easy peasy recipes? Trust us: these snack plates are the easy dinner option you need this week!

Celebrate Mom With This Epic Mother’s Day Brunch Waffle Platter

Your Mother’s Day plans may look a little different this year: whether you’re celebrating in person or virtually, we have an epic, inspiring, gorgeous spread that screams “we love you, mom!” It’s a beautiful brunch platter, similar to how you would construct a cheese or charcuterie board, but this time, it’s centred around waffles. The batter in this recipe calls for gluten-free buckwheat flour (one of our favourites) but you can easily swap it for spelt, whole wheat or all-purpose if that’s what you prefer or have on hand. Now, it’s time to learn how to make the sweetest morning spread for that special lady in your life. (Don’t forget the card!).

Gluten-Free Buckwheat Power Waffles

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes per waffle
Total Time: 14 minutes
Servings: 3 waffles

Ingredients:

1 cup buckwheat flour
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch sea salt
1 egg
¼ cup melted coconut oil
1 cup dairy-free milk (or milk or water)

Related: These Waffle Recipes Will Make You Jump Right Out of Bed

Directions:

1. Plug in your waffle iron.

2. Mix the dry ingredients into a bowl.

3. Mix the wet ingredients in a separate bowl.

4. Pour the dry into the wet and whisk until a batter comes together.

5. Once the waffle iron is hot, scoop about ⅓ cup batter onto the iron, close it and let it cook for about 3 minutes. Or whenever your waffle maker tells you it’s ready! Ours has a handy green light that lets us know the waffle is cooked.

Select Your Toppings

This is where you can let your creativity shine, adding your favourite toppings and bringing as much colour and texture onto the board as possible. If you have little ones, include them in the process too, let them pick their favourite ingredients to cascade around the board.

Remember to include both sweet and savoury toppings and to cut everything into bite-sized pieces (or put out knives so they can be sliced!). You want this to be captivating for the eye but you also want everything to be edible. We once went to a party where they placed whole apples on their charcuterie board — who was going to chomp on a whole apple at a party?! Be realistic and mindful of portion size.

Related: 20 Simple Make-Ahead Brunch Recipes That’ll Still Impress

Here are examples of toppings we think would be amazing, but just choose a few, there’s no need to go overboard.

Fresh Fruit and Veg: Apples, pears, mango, pineapple, bananas, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, purple and green grapes, oranges, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, capers, olives, cherry tomatoes with feta, fresh basil or mint leaves.

Protein: Hardboiled eggs or soft-boiled eggs in cups, sausage or bacon, lox or smoked salmon, cheese (like gouda, goat, crumbled feta).

Pantry Items: Dried fruit (like mango, dates, raisins, craisins), chocolate chips or cacao nibs, coconut chips, roughly chopped nuts (like pecans, almonds, cashews, walnuts), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, granola.

Spreads/Syrups: Maple syrup, honey, peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, jams, chocolate spread, yogurt.

Assemble Your Board

1. To assemble the board, get all of your ingredients ready first, including waffles, toppings and the dishes you want to place ingredients in, like small bowls, cups and spoons.

2. Find a big board and start with the waffles, place them in different areas around the board and stack a few to create levels.

3. Next, add the fresh fruit in small piles around the board. You can also mix some of the fruit together.

4. Then, add in the protein, if you’re using any. Find open spaces and add some cheese over here and a few eggs there. If you’re using lox or something that’s very overpowering and you don’t want it to touch the other ingredients, place it in a bowl or on a plate and then onto or next to the board.

5. Fill the gaps with the pantry items like dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

6. Finally, add the little cups or bowls of syrups and spreads. These can be on the board or beside the board depending on how much space you have. Remember to include appropriate knives or spoons with the dishes.

7. If you still feel like it’s not complete, add a bit more colourful fruit, which will most definitely seal the deal.

Want more recipes that’ll impress mom? Whip up a batch of fudgy sweet potato brownies or lemon meringue cupcakes.

5 Delicious Ways to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Home (Including a Taco Bar!)

While you could say the star of a Cinco de Mayo party is the margarita, the celebration wouldn’t be anywhere near complete without a rainbow-bright spread starring all of our favourite Mexican dishes, spices and fixings. And just because we’re stuck at home this year doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate in style just the same (bring on the virtual dinner parties!). We’ve even created a taco-themed Zoom background to get the party started.

It’s time to bring on the guac and tacos (okay, and churros for dessert) with this tasty, sweet and savoury Mexican-inspired menu for a successful Cinco de Mayo fiesta at home this Tuesday, May 5th.

Fresh Salsa Verde

When it comes to classic party dishes, you can’t go wrong with a hefty platter of chips and salsa. And this vibrant version, featuring fresh green tomatoes, mint leaves, garlic and lime juice, is guaranteed to satisfy taste buds everywhere. Don’t have mint? Swap for fresh or dried basil, or any other herbs you have on hand!

Get the recipe for Fresh and Minty Salsa Verde

Classic Guacamole

Where there’s chips and salsa, there should also be an (extra-large) offering of guacamole. Try this super simple five-ingredient recipe and serve with these non-traditional — but incredibly delicious — homemade wonton chips. Cue the drools.

guacamole-with-crispy-chips
Get the recipe for Classic Guacamole and Chips

Related: Creative Ways to Eat Avocados (That Don’t Involve Toast)

The Most Epic Stay-at-Home Taco Bar

Now that you and your household have dipped into the homemade salsa and guac, it’s time for the main attraction. And by that we mean the most eye-catching, drool-worthy taco bar that’ll brighten your menu… and entire week, let’s be honest.

Even better? It’s a cinch to assemble: begin by stocking up on Old El Paso hard shells and soft tortillas. Then opt for protein like grilled flank steak, shredded chicken and refried beans. Next come all your favourite fixings: pickled jalapeños, corn, avocado (or the guac you made!), shredded lettuce, sliced peppers, fresh cilantro and lime wedges. Last but certainly not least: shredded cheddar, sour cream and a whole lot more salsa for good measure. Voila!

Related: Tasty Taco Recipes You’ll Crave Every Day of the Week

Bean Salad

This colourful side dish features a medley of refreshing flavours — corn kernels, bell peppers, red onion, cherry tomatoes, avocado, pinto beans and fresh cilantro — then it’s tossed in a light, garlicky lime dressing before serving.

pinto-bean-salsa-saladGet the recipe for Pinto Bean Salsa Salad

Related: These Delicious Recipes Will Make You Rethink Canned Beans

Classic Churros with Caramel Sauce

Anyone with a sweet tooth will absolutely devour these doughy deep-fried, cinnamon-sugar treats. The best part? They only take 15 minutes to make thanks to using store-bought puff pastry.

cinco-de-mayo-churro-recipe
Get the recipe for 15-Minute Churros with Caramel Sauce

Wash down these eats with a refreshing drink to sip and celebrate. Here are our very best Cinco de Mayo cocktails.

This Jalapeño Popper Dip Will Be Your New Favourite Super Bowl Appetizer

Everything you love in a jalapeño popper is whirred into a cheesy, party-perfect dip. Spicy jalapeños, crispy bacon, cream cheese and a crunchy topping come together for a delicious, ultra-indulgent dip. Serve this up with veggies and tortilla chips at your next party for a crowd-pleasing riff on the new-classic appetizer.

Related: Score a Touchdown with These Vegetarian Finger Foods

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:
6 strips bacon
2 (250 g) pkgs cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
4 jalapeños, seeded and finely diced
3 green onions, minced
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Sliced veggies or tortilla chips for serving

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook bacon, turning occasionally, until crispy, about 10 min. Remove bacon to a paper-towel lined plate and reserve 2 Tbsp bacon grease in a medium heat-safe bowl. Once bacon is cool, chop or crumble into pieces.
3. In a large bowl, mix cream cheese until smooth. Gradually mix in mayonnaise until fully combined. To cream cheese and mayonnaise, add Cheddar, jalapenos, green onions and bacon pieces and mix to combine. Spread cream cheese mixture evenly into a 9-inch round ovenproof dish.
4. Stir panko into reserved bacon grease and sprinkle over cream cheese mixture. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until bubbling at the sides. Serve warm with tortilla chips or veggies for dipping.

Make-Ahead: You can make this dip ahead of time (without the panko topping, and prior to baking) and store covered in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Warm refrigerated bacon renderings in the microwave until liquefied and stir in panko. Sprinkle cream cheese mixture with panko mixture and bake, adding 5 minutes to the cooking time (40 to 45 minutes instead of 35 to 40 minutes).

Nothing gets a crowd going like a good app, so here are 35 last-minute party appetizers that are beyond easy.

cheeseball bites

Cheese Ball Bites Are the Ultimate Make-Ahead Party Appetizer

Your favourite party-perfect appetizer made mini! A simply adorable starter for the holiday season, these mini cheese balls are easy to put together and can be rolled in a variety of delicious ingredients. Serve with fresh bread for spreading, and you’re set for festive entertaining. No time? Make your gathering even easier by preparing and rolling the cheese ball bites (without coatings) up to two days ahead (wrap and refrigerate). When guests arrive, roll in your desired coatings, then dive right in.

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 24

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Ingredients:

Cheese Ball Bites
1-½ cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 brick (250g) cream cheese, softened
2 green onions, minced
1 tsp paprika
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper

Coating
3 Tbsp chopped, toasted walnuts
3 Tbsp chopped dried cranberries
3 Tbsp chopped crispy fried onions
3 Tbsp minced chives
3 Tbsp (3 strips) cooked, crumbled bacon
3 Tbsp roasted sunflower seeds

Serving
Sliced fresh baguette
Crostini
Crackers

Directions:

Cheese Ball Bites
In a large bowl, stir together cheddar cheese, cream cheese, green onions, paprika and cayenne pepper. Form mixture into 24, 1 Tbsp balls (tip: dampen hands with a little water if mixture is sticking).

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Coating
Roll 4 balls into walnuts, pressing lightly to adhere, and place on a serving platter. Repeat with remaining balls and coatings (4 balls per 3 Tbsp of topping).

Mini Cheese Ball Bites

Serving
Serve finished cheese ball bites with fresh baguette, crostini or crackers.

Add these mini cheese ball bites to an epic Canadian cheese platter at your next holiday gathering. You can also try these 25-minute everything bagel smoked sausage rolls, along with our best last-minute party appetizers that are beyond easy.

25-Minute Everything Bagel Smoked Sausage Rolls with Puff Pastry

These are hands down one of my favourite appetizers to serve at any social gathering. With the help of the smoked sausage, the rolls come together within 25 minutes! You can prepare them ahead of time and simply pop them in the oven to bake as guests begin to arrive. If Dijon mustard isn’t your jam, sub with equal parts cream cheese for a tangy filling.

Everything Bagel Smoked Sausage Rolls

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12 rolls

Ingredients:

1 sheet frozen all-butter puff pastry, thawed
6 smoked pork sausages, halved
¼ cup whole grain or Dijon mustard, plus more for serving
1 large whisked egg, for egg wash
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 Tbsp dried minced garlic
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
½ Tbsp white sesame seeds
½ Tbsp black sesame seeds
½ Tbsp flaked sea salt

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF . Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Roll out the prepared puff pastry and slice into 12 evenly sized squares.

3. Brush the centre of each square with mustard. Place the sausage on the mustard and trim the ends of the pastry to ensure the edges of the sausage will be showing.

4. Brush the left side of the square with egg wash and gently roll. Press the ends to seal. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining squares for a total of 12 sausage rolls.

5. In a small mixing bowl, toss together the garlic, onion, sesame seeds and salt.

6. Brush the top of each sausage roll with the remaining egg wash, and sprinkle generously with everything-bagel seasoning.

7. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with additional mustard for dipping!

We’ve also rounded up 35 Last-Minute Party Appetizers That Are Beyond Easy and 20 Un-Brie-lievably Good Baked Brie Recipes.

Vegan Antipasto Skewers Are the Creative Plant-Based Appetizer to Beat

Let’s be real: the heart of any party is the food. To keep your crowd happy, make sure the apps are flowing, which as it turns out, is a bit of an art form. For instance: appetizers should look “appetizing”, they should be finger-friendly, mess-free (preferably to avoid tzatziki stains on new holiday outfits) and should only require a few bites to consume.

That’s why vegan antipasto skewers make for the best holiday appetizer. They’re user-friendly, not to mention a beautiful addition to your holiday table. Plus, they’re a cinch to make. And since dietary restrictions are commonplace these days, it’s important to accommodate. These two dairy-free plant-based beauties are the perfect place to start.

Olive, Artichoke, Tomato & Balsamic Skewers

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:
Small wooden skewers (or toothpicks)
Artichokes, from a jar
Kalamata olives, pitted
Cherry tomatoes (extra points for multi-colour!)
Basil leaves
1-2 Tbsp balsamic reduction or syrup

Directions:
1. Remove the artichokes from the jar and cut them slightly so they’ll fit onto the skewers and are manageable to eat.

2. In any order, thread the ingredients above through the wooden skewers. We like to ribbon basil leaves between the ingredients to create more vibrant colour throughout and to get that punchy taste of raw basil with every bite.

3. Once all ingredients are on the skewers, take your balsamic reduction and lightly drizzle it over top. You can pour the balsamic on a spoon, hover about 10 inches above the skewers and drizzle away.

Eggplant, Tofu, Zucchini & Pesto Skewers

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 3-4

Ingredients:
1 eggplant, chopped into 1 ½ inch cubes
1 brick tofu, patted dry and chopped into 1 ½ inch cubes
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
1 zucchini, peeled into ribbons
8 sundried tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
Small wooden skewers (or toothpicks)
2-3 Tbsp pesto

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Chop the eggplant and tofu into cubes, they should be around the same size.

3. Season both with oil, salt and pepper. Place them on separate baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

4. Roast the tofu for 15 minutes and the eggplant for 20-25 minutes. Both should be lightly crisp.

5. While the eggplant and tofu are roasting, peel the zucchini into thin ribbons and make your pesto, if you’re not buying it pre-made.

6. Once all veggies are prepped, begin threading them through the skewer in any order you desire.

7. Place them on a tray or plate and lightly dollop a few spoonfuls of pesto over areas of the skewers.

For more plant-based bites, try these five other creative meatless skewers and 20 party-perfect vegan appetizers.

A Fondue Board is the Easy, Cheesy Way to Entertain for the Holidays

A new take on the holiday cheese board, but with fondue at the centre, this entertaining spread is surrounded by delicious dippers waiting to be dunked and devoured – all of which are customizable. Festive, warming and perfect for that après ski vibe we all strive for (even if you’ve been inside by the fire all day).

If you don’t have fondue forks, just cut your dippers a little larger so guests have an easier time dunking by hand or spooning the molten cheese onto their item (no one wants to be fishing out a tiny piece of bread from the fondue pot). Tip: to keep your fondue sans alcohol, replace the traditional white wine with stock or whole milk (directions for this below). 

Swiss Fondue Board

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8 

Ingredients:

Serving Suggestions
Seedless grapes
Sliced apples or ripe pears
Sliced baguette (or cubed if you have fondue forks)
Crackers
Steamed potatoes
Raw or steamed broccoli florets
Sliced raw carrots
Cherry tomatoes
Cured or roasted cooked meats
Dried or fresh apricots, plums and figs 

Swiss Fondue
1 garlic clove, halved
1¼ cup dry white wine, stock or whole milk
1 tsp white wine vinegar (only add if using stock or whole milk)
14 oz (400g) Gruyere cheese, grated
7 oz (200g) Emmentaler cheese, grated
3.5 oz (100g) Gouda cheese, grated
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour or 1½ Tbsp cornstarch
Pinch, freshly grated nutmeg
Ground black pepper, to taste 

Directions:

1. Arrange all of the items you’ll be serving with your fondue on a wooden board, platter or on individual plates, leaving space in the centre for your fondue pot or serving bowl.

2. For the fondue, rub the bottom and sides of a medium saucepan with the halved garlic clove; save the remaining garlic for another recipe. Add wine, stock or milk and vinegar (if using stock or milk) to the saucepan and heat over medium until steaming. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss all three cheeses with flour or cornstarch, nutmeg and pepper, and add cheese mixture to the warmed liquid. Stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, cook until the cheese is melted and smooth, allowing to gently bubble for 30 seconds, which will cook the flour or cornstarch fully and thicken everything to the proper consistency. Remove from heat.

3. Transfer cheese fondue to a warmed fondue pot and holder with a tea light underneath to keep it warm, or a heat-proof ceramic serving bowl, and serve alongside your preferred dippers. If using a ceramic bowl without a tealight, warm briefly in a low oven to loosen again if the fondue has gotten too thick (this doesn’t happen too quickly, but will occur about 30 minutes after it’s off the stovetop), or transfer back to a pot and reheat for a minute or so on the stovetop.

For more holiday inspiration, whip up a few of these crowd-pleasing holiday potluck recipes, and trust us when we say: you’ll devour these eye-catching cheese ball bites (the ultimate make-ahead app!).

Jillian Harris Opens Up About Her Granny’s Legacy in the Kitchen (Plus Holiday Tips & Recipes)

Jillian Harris knows a thing or two about crafting a well-balanced meal, which might come as somewhat of a surprise to devoted fans of HGTV Canada’s Love it or List it Vancouver star.  Although the vast majority of the pink-hued photos on the social media influencer’s Instagram account are dedicated to decor and design pieces (and her adorable kids!), Jillian also reveals that food has played a significant role in her life since childhood — thanks, in large part, to her beloved Granny and her family’s Ukrainian heritage.

“I really love wholesome, rich comfort food — the food that makes you want to have a glass of wine and curl up and go to sleep,” she says. “We grew up with meals full of pierogis and cabbage rolls.”

Jillian, who has since switched gears to a mostly plant-based diet in her adult years, recently joined forces with her cousin, dietitian Tori Wesszer, for their first cookbook that was released just in time for the holidays, Fraiche Food, Full Hearts: A Collection of Recipes for Every Day and Casual Celebrations. Given that this time of year is all about spending time with family, it’s fitting that their Granny’s passion for food and loved ones is all over this book.

“She was literally our best friend,” Jillian says of her grandmother, who was bestowed with the nickname Beet Roll Queen, and who passed away this July. Adds Tori, “We were just so sad that she didn’t see this [cookbook] come to fruition. She would have been thrilled to see her legacy and her love for connecting people and family.”

Fraiche Food, Full Hearts takes those same hearty, soothing recipes the cousins grew up with and gives them a healthier, more plant-based spin — although it warmly embraces all dietary needs. “It’s approachable for every family,” Jillian says of the cookbook. “[It gives you the chance] to lean into the whole plant-based diet, but we’ve made it flexible and convertible for everyone.”

So whether you’re expecting a handful of out-of-towners or a slew of extended family this holiday season, there are a few simple hosting hacks that Jillian and Tori suggest you try in order to have a stress-free, dietary-friendly holiday. (Don’t worry — you’ve got this!)

Related: 14 Things You Didn’t Know About Jillian Harris


Get the recipe for Jillian’s Almost Famous Stuffing

Plan Ahead

“Plan out your menu ahead of time, and buy our cookbook!” Jillian says with a laugh. Although this might seem a little obvious, it’s easy to lose track of our schedules during the chaotic holiday season. We always think we have more time than we actually do, but between work, family obligations and shopping for gifts, we’re suddenly left wondering what to whip up in the kitchen for the big day.

Jillian suggests planning early — as in, right now. Be sure to inquire about dietary requirements in advance. No one wants a “food surprise” after you’ve spent the better part of your day cooking the meal. Where possible, make some freezer-friendly recipes in advance for a stress-free holiday.

Related: 20 Holiday Staples You Should Make Ahead This Year


Get the recipe for Jillian and Tori’s Sunshine Muffins

Stay on Top of Dietary Needs

This one is a biggie for both Jillian and Tori — and it’s something that is easy to overlook. “You really want people to feel like [their dietary needs] are as important to you as it is to them,” Jillian says. “They want to know that you’re hearing them. I think it makes people feel really good.”

By way of example, Jillian shares her own awkward, albeit hilarious, common situation. “My parents still don’t quite get [why it’s important],” she says with a laugh. “If I go over and they have hamburger soup, then that’s what you’re getting. But there have been times when they’ll make an extra plate for me and I’m like, ‘thank you for that slice of toast and piece of orange.’ Basically, my dad just thinks my taste buds are messed up.”

Related: 15 Vegan Roast Alternatives for Meat-Free Guests


Get the recipe for Jillian and Tori’s Mushroom Wellington

Stay Calm, Be Flexible

Before your head starts swimming at the thought of creating multiple menus to satisfy those with gluten intolerance or a vegan diet, fear not! “Having recipes that can be flexed either way is important, and it doesn’t mean you have to make an entirely separate menu for people with special dietary needs,” says Tori.

Offer a small variety of side dishes — no one is expecting an entirely separate menu just for them. “Usually people who have special requests don’t expect to be able to eat everything,” Jillian says. “They just want one or two options.”

Another alternative? Host a potluck where guests can bring a wealth of food options that will keep everyone satisfied, and perhaps introduce others to new dietary options.

Related: Our Top 100 Holiday Cookie and Square Recipes

Excerpted from Fraiche Food, Full Hearts: A Collection of Recipes for Every Day and Casual Celebrations by Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer. Copyright © 2019 by Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer. Photography copyright © 2019by Janis Nicolay. Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

8 Cooking Tips to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes Every Time

The perfect mashed potatoes should be creamy, fluffy, decadently buttery and so good it requires little to no gravy if made right. Why then have we grumbled over gluey, lumpy and sloppy interpretations of what is a simple staple on every holiday menu? You need only follow 8 incredibly easy tips for the lightest and most sublime mashed potatoes. This spuds for you.

1. Mix it Up

We like Yukon gold potatoes for their buttery texture and golden hue, and Russet potatoes for their starchy, dry quality, making for a lighter mash. Choose one or mix the two for the best of both worlds.

2. Size Matters

Peel and cut the potatoes the same size and add to a large pot of cold water. Both measures will ensure even cooking to prevent the outer layer from breaking down, avoiding lumps.

3. Seasoning is Everything

Add enough kosher salt or sea salt to boiling water until salty to the tongue, about 1 Tbsp salt to 6 cups water. Two cloves of garlic will flavour the cooking liquid and the potatoes when you mash together.

4. Shake the Pot

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Set over medium heat, shaking the pot, uncovered until all moisture has evaporated, about 1 minute.

5. Hot Liquid Equals Smooth Mash

Heat butter and cream or milk in a saucepan until steaming, and keep warm. A hot mixture is easily and quickly absorbed into the mashed potatoes. Starch requires full-fat dairy for a creamy texture, so don’t skimp out during the holiday.

6. A Ricer is Nicer

A ricer or food mill is a professional cook’s tool to push the spuds through small holes to get that restaurant-quality texture every time.

7. Fresh is Best

Reheated mashed potatoes are never as good as freshly made. To prep ahead: peel, cut and soak your potatoes in cold water, and combine the butter and cream or milk in a saucepan, covered. Stir in the seasoned cream mixture into the potatoes and taste for seasoning. You may need to sprinkle more salt, and remember, reserve any remaining cream mixture, as the potatoes will continue to absorb the liquid.

8. Dress for Success

Perfect in its natural state, don’t forgo a simple garnish like a square of butter, and or chopped chives, green onions or parsley. You can also stir in a spoonful of sour cream for a tangy finish.

Classic Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

1.5 kg russet and Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
3 cloves garlic, smashed
¾ cup 35% cream
¼ cup milk
½ cup butter
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 green onions, chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp butter (optional)

Directions:

1. Fill a large pot of cold salted water; add potatoes and garlic. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are falling apart, about 15 minutes.
2. Drain potato mixture and return to pot over medium heat; shake pot, uncovered until potatoes are dry, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl.
3. Using a ricer or food mill, press potatoes and garlic through ricer back into pot.

4. Heat cream, milk, butter, salt and pepper in saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted, and mixture is hot. Stir into potato mixture and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
5. Transfer to serving dish and top with butter and green onions (if using).

See here for the ultimate guide to turkey cooking times, a reliable Thanksgiving checklist to stay ahead of the stress, and the best make-ahead baked stuffing.

Why Custom Catering is Becoming the Next Best Dining Experience

When it comes to food trends, 2019 has been all about consumers dictating which ingredients wind up on their plates – not to mention the cultivation of Instagram-worthy experiences. We’re demanding more healthy, sustainable farm-to-table options of our own choosing while also being given the opportunity to flaunt our food photography skills by capturing the latest crazes to emerge from the culinary world.

That’s where custom catering and grazing tables come in – merging big, diverse and beautiful displays that showcase our love of food with unique experiences you can enjoy with family and friends. From spectacular styling to high-quality ingredients (wave goodbye to processed meats!), these tables and platters make for a showstopping bespoke dining experience.

Aliza Devenyi, who co-owns Toronto’s cured.catering with Zoë Wisenberg, can attest to the high demand for photo-ready displays. “Most clients are concerned about the ‘wow’ factor,” she says, referring to the stunning table-sized charcuterie boards (pictured) she and Zoë specialize in. “Clients want an impressive, beautiful and, most importantly, delicious spread.”

According to a recent survey on millennial spending habits, more than 3 in 4 (78 per cent) said they would choose to spend their hard-earned cash on desirable experiences over material things. This pattern in spending habits is what economists are referring to as the “experience economy”, and its influence on food culture is undeniable – foodies need only look to the growing trends in farm-to-table options, custom catering and grazing tables for evidence.

“[They’re] not only a beautiful focal point for any party, but they provide a fun, interactive and customizable experience for guests,” Devenyi adds. “Gone are the days of stuffy dinner parties with complicated cuisines.”

A Visual Feast

For the uninitiated, a grazing table or supersized charcuterie board may resemble a traditional buffet at first – but instead of stacking a plate high with a limited selection of food, they instead allow guests to walk by, pop a bite-sized item into their mouths and keep mingling with the crowd. After all, nothing brings a group of people together quite like a table gorgeously styled with a rainbow assortment of drool-worthy foods to choose from.

And, as companies like cured.catering have proven, grazing tables or super-sized charcuterie boards are also genuine works of art. Even Pinterest is reporting that searches for grazing tables have skyrocketed by more than 163 per cent in the last year – and you can credit that surge in popularity to its Instagram-ready displays and communal experiences.

It also allows for customizing to suit a variety of dietary needs as people become more vocal about taking ownership of what’s on their plates.

With the growing number of dietary requirements, Devenyi and her business partner Wisenberg have had to get creative, sometimes crafting tables with a 50/50 balance of meat and vegetarian options. Think: prosciutto and honey paired with blue cheese (a personal favourite of hers) or something like vegan cashew “cheese” balls and thinly sliced veggies with nuts.

“We’ve noticed an increased demand in requests for offerings that cater to specific dietary needs, like gluten sensitivity, dairy-free and vegan,” she says. “We also have people asking for lighter options, such as more fruit and crudités.”

All of cured.catering’s creations are made up of locally-sourced produce, meats and specialty cheeses – something more foodies are taking note of when choosing where to spend their money.  As the business has developed, so too has its offerings, including all fruit or dessert tables – and candy tables for those with a major sweet tooth.

It’s apparent from rainbow bagels to epic spreads that people are eating with their eyes now more than ever before, with no signs of the trend abating anytime soon, including the ability to pick and choose how and what food you consume.

“Every bite has the power to be a different, transformative taste, which is why I think it’s so popular,” Devenyi says. “It’s not a plated meal, but rather … a way for guests to get creative and indulge in their hearts’ desires.”

All photos courtesy of cured.catering 

Conquer Brunch With This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata and Sourdough Bread

You can never go wrong when serving your guests a hearty, veggie-packed breakfast casserole topped with melted, gooey goat cheese. Stratas are usually reserved for birthdays, Mother’s Day or Easter brunches, simply because they easily feed a crowd and can be fully prepped ahead of time; so no fuss, no muss when entertaining guests. Make this the day before and pop it into the oven when it’s go-time. What makes this strata even more special is that it’s made with sourdough bread, an artisan-style loaf that is easy to digest and adds incredible texture and bite.

Make-Ahead Vegetable Strata With Sourdough Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 zucchini, sliced into thin circles
1 ½ cups chopped kale or baby kale
1 ½ tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
6 eggs
1 ½ cups dairy-free milk
4 cups sourdough loaf cut into 1 inch cubes
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1. Place a skillet on medium heat, coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil and add the onions. Stir occasionally and allow them to cook for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
2. Add the cherry tomatoes and zucchini and let them cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add the kale, thyme, sea salt and pepper. Stir until the kale begins to wilt.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and dairy-free milk.
5. In a large casserole dish (9×13), coat the bottom with a little olive oil, spread ½ the bread on the bottom, top with ½ of the veggies, then layer the rest of the bread and veggies on top.

6. Pour the egg and milk mixture over and crumble the goat cheese on top, nestling some pieces underneath the bread cubes.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. It can be left in the fridge for up to one day.
8. When you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 350°F, place the uncovered strata in the oven for 45-50 minutes until it starts to bubble up and crisp.

This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata & Sourdough Bread

Still salivating? Here are 25 more crowd-pleasing brunch recipes and 15 sheet pan breakfast bakes that promise to please!

baked-brie-rolls

Baked Brie Becomes a Show-Stopping Appetizer with Pull-Apart Bread Rolls

Store-bought pizza dough makes this show-stopping appetizer come together in a matter of minutes. A wheel of Brie is already a crowd-pleaser, but it is transformed into a truly sensational holiday dish when baked with fresh buns and served warm from the oven. Serve in the cast iron pan at the table so guests can tear off pieces of bread and dig in to the gooey, melty cheese.

BakedBrie3

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:
600g pizza dough
170g Brie wheel
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
Pinch each salt and pepper
Jam (cranberry, fig or lingonberry)
Fresh figs and rosemary sprig (to garnish)

BakeBrie1

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Divide dough into 75g pieces. Roll each into a tight ball; set aside.
2. Using sharp knife, remove top rind of Brie. Place Brie, cut side-up, in centre of cast iron pan. Arrange pizza dough rolls around cheese.
3. In small bowl, combine melted butter, rosemary, salt and pepper. Brush butter mixture over pizza rolls.

BakedBrie2
4. Bake in 400°F oven until top of pizza rolls start to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Reduce temperature to 375°F; bake until pizza rolls are golden, hard on the outside and sound hollow when tapped, about 15 minutes.
5. Spoon a little jam over Brie; top with fresh figs and garnish with rosemary sprig.

Looking for more inspiration?  Try Our Cheesiest Appetizers Ever.

antipasto-cups-on-cutting-board

Salami Antipasto Cups are Your New Favourite Make-Ahead Appetizers

Parties, parties and more parties rule this time of year. From ugly sweater get-togethers to cookie swaps to annual potlucks, your calendar seems to fill up quickly in this season of celebration. With party-going comes the need for fun and flavourful appetizers you can toss together with ease, no matter the occasion.

These cute little salami antipasto cups are a perfect holiday party date. Each savoury cup is packed with delicious and fresh flavours that are guaranteed to make you a favoured guest. The best part? You can use virtually any and all kinds of salami, fresh herbs, cheese and veggies you have on hand for a delicious array of flavour combinations. Plus, you can make these bites in advance, and use a muffin tin to safely transport to your party.

stuffed-salami-antipasto-cups

Salami Antipasto Cups Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 24 cups

Ingredients:
24 slices round salami
½ cup  mozzarella cheese, torn or cubed
½ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
⅓ cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
10 basil leaves, torn
2 Tbsp roasted red peppers, chopped
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

salami-cup-ingredients

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375F. Line 24 mini muffin tins with salami. Fill each cup with a 1-inch loose tinfoil ball. Bake 12 to 15 minutes until crispy. Let cool completely.

2. Toss together remaining ingredients. Spoon into cooled cups.

Looking for more tasty ideas? Try these Holiday Party Appetizers Your Guests Will Love.

Apple and brie roses holiday appetizer

Make These Beautiful Brie and Apple Cinnamon Rose Appetizers

These pretty little appetizers are as easy on the eyes as they are to eat. Tender apple and creamy Brie all wrapped up in a delectable crispy, buttery puff pastry cup with a cinnamon sugar swirl. These are sure to be a hit with your guests – and will make it onto your roster of simple and delicious appetizers for the holidays!

Brie and Apple Cinnamon Roses

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
Makes: 16

Ingredients:
½ cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
4 sheets (two 450 g packages) frozen puff pastry, thawed in refrigerator
1 egg, beaten
1 Granny Smith apple, very thinly sliced
400 g Brie cheese, thinly sliced

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 375°F. Spray two muffin tins with cooking spray (you’ll need 16 cups total).
2. Stir together brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
3. On a lightly floured surface, unroll one sheet of puff pastry (keep the other chilled). Cut into four 2½-inch wide strips. Egg wash ½-inch of one long end and one short end of each strip.
4. Place apple slices along the opposite long edge from the egg wash, extending slightly over the edge. Top with slices of Brie cheese. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar.
5. Starting at unwashed short side, roll dough, upwards. Press lightly to seal edge. Pinch bottom to seal and place into prepared tin. Egg wash the exposed pastry lightly. Repeat with remaining strips, sheets of pastry and ingredients.
6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until pastry is golden. Carefully remove pastries from tins immediately and place on wire cooking rack to cool 10 minutes before serving.

Love this recipe? Check out 10 more puff pastry holiday appetizer recipes.

17 Hot & Cold Appetizer Recipes for Easy Entertaining

Winter is in the air, which means that holiday party season is nearly here.  Every good host knows that a stellar appetizer spread should ideally include an equal number of hot and cold hors-d’oeuvres. If you’re hosting a Christmas bash, an ugly sweater party or a potluck, we’ve got a mix of sizzling and cool recipes that will get your party started.

swedish-meatballs-slow-cooker-recipe

Hot Appetizer Recipes

Slow Cooker Swedish Meatballs

Gougeres (Gruyere Cheese Puffs)

Crispy Crab Cakes with Mustard Artichoke Aioli

Duck Pot Stickers with Plum Sauce

Lemon Chicken Lollipops

Pear and Gorgonzola Mini Pizzas

Sausage Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Shrimp Chips with Spicy Peanut Sauce

The Pioneer Woman’s Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Ina Garten’s Baked Brie

wreath-cheese-ball-recipe

Cold Appetizer Recipes

Holiday Cheeseball Wreath

The Pioneer Woman’s Salami Roll-Ups

Smoked Salmon on Corn Blini with Wasabi Cream

Middle Eastern Bean Dip

Chunky Summer Gazpacho

Prosciutto Wrapped Melon

Tortellini Skewers

Looking for more party ideas? Try these Holiday Party Appetizers That Your Guests Will Love.

Chicken tortilla casserole

How to Host a Successful Freezer Meal Swap

From must-make recipes to time-saving tips, we’ve got everything you need to know about hosting the ultimate meal swap party . What’s a meal swap party? It’s a chance to meal prep with your friends and family, so you can all stock your freezers with a dinner stash that will last for months. So call up your friends and get ready for one great afternoon of cooking together.

Start with Freezer-Friendly Recipes

Deciding on recipes that freeze like a dream is the key to any successful meal swap party. While we love casseroles, soups and stews for freezing, this is the time to pull out all the stops. If you’ve been dying to try that recipe for cheesy lasagna made with slow-braised beef short ribs and pork belly, instead of regular ground beef, go for it. Everyone will appreciate the extra effort when they finally dig in to their freezer supply.

If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, start with these 12 Make-Ahead Meals You Can Freeze.

Beef stew and chicken tortilla casserole

Try Ree Drummond’s Chicken Tortilla Casserole or this Stew-Pendous Beef Stew with Biscuits.

Clear Out Space in the Fridge

Before your guests arrive, do an intense fridge and freezer clear out to ensure you’ve got enough space to accommodate all those meals you’re about to whip up. Take the opportunity to use up items you already have on hand, like frozen peas and corn for casseroles, fresh herbs and vegetables and even eggs, cheese and cream.

Have One Person Buy All The Food

Orchestrating a freezer meal swap party takes some next-level organization skills. Keep it as streamlined as possible by having one person do all the grocery shopping. This will minimize
waste and any chance of forgotten ingredients.

Make Work Stations

To run your cooking party with military precision, every recruit will need their own set of tools at their station — think chopping boards, a sharp knife (emphasis on ‘sharp’) and bowls to keep all those pre-chopped ingredients together. It’s also a good idea to ask guests to bring extra cooking vessels like pots and pans, to limit intermittent dishwashing and make the most out of your time.

Strategically Chop Your Veggies

Before you start, comb through each recipe to see how much chopped garlic, onions and fresh herbs you’ll need, and then designate a member of the group to tackle it all at once, making use of appliances like food processors and mandolins. Prepping all the ingredients ahead of time makes cooking and assembly that much faster.

Greta's-Shepherds-Pie

Another scrumptious recipe option is Shepherd’s Pie with “Squashed” Potatoes.

Make Sure You Have Enough Storage Containers

All those meals need to be portable, so ensuring there are sufficient food storage containers is key, especially if you want to maximize the number of meals each person gets to take home. One bonus to meal prep parties is that you often come out with more food than you bargained for, so plan accordingly. If your aim is to cook enough food to stretch into 15 take-home meals per person, it’s a good idea to budget enough containers so that everyone has 20. Also, don’t forget to label your meals clearly and include a simple ingredient list, the date it was made and cooking instructions.

Have Easy Snacks at the Ready

To have a marathon cooking day, you’re going to need sustenance. Ideally, things that don’t need to be cooked and don’t take too much time to prepare. We like the idea of a simple charcuterie board that guests can munch on throughout the afternoon or this idea for a DIY bruschetta bar.

Looking for more kitchen tips? Try our 20 Life-Changing Freezer Hacks.

Breakfast Skillet with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

It’s Saturday morning in Toronto and the first thing that comes to mind as I open my eyes is, “Wow. I’m hungover.” The second thing is, “I want brunch… STAT.” If you live in Toronto, you know that grabbing brunch can sometimes be a three-hour endeavor, and it’s nearly impossible to go anywhere with more than four people. If you do, you know you’ll be waiting. And after a full night of drinks, you’re body does not want to wait to be nourished. Hanger kicks in.

Through my frustration, I decided that I should be making more brunches at home. That being said, cooking with a hangover isn’t always the most pleasant experience. Those are the times when I concoct my one-pot breakfast… skillet. It’s always a mish mash of what I’ve got in the fridge or pantry, with the addition of some eggs.

Mushroom_Spinach_Skillet-6

This recipe is one of my favourites. Sautéed mushrooms and wilted, garlicky spinach are the perfect (and quickest) accompaniments to eggs with a runny yolk. Yes, there are a ton of other great ingredients that can be used as well, like potatoes, corn, beans, zucchini, chorizo… The list goes on. But this is what I just happened to have in my fridge one day and now I continue to go back to this combination.

Mushroom_Spinach_Skillet-7

Breakfast Skillet with Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
350 g crimini and/or baby bella mushrooms, sliced 1/3” thick
3-4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
2-3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
100 g baby spinach
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
6-8 eggs
1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and fresh black pepper to taste
Toasted sourdough grain bread or bread of choice

888_spinach-mushroom-skillet-directions

Directions:
1. Over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet with a tight fitting lid.
2. In batches, sauté the mushrooms. Make sure not to crowd the pan so the mushrooms crisp up evenly.
3. Sauté for 4 minutes, flipping the mushrooms halfway through and seasoning with salt and fresh black pepper, to taste.
4. Add more butter and olive oil as needed for the second batch of mushrooms. Remove from the pan as well after seasoning.
5. Add a bit more olive oil and butter to the pan and toss in the spinach and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute.
6. Add the mushrooms back into the pan and create pockets for the eggs. Crack an egg into each pocket and cover immediately with the lid.
7. Let the eggs cook for 2 1/2 – 3 minutes. Do not lift that lid! This ensures the egg whites cook from the top as well as the bottom. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.
8. Crumble goat cheese over top and serve with toasted bread.

Mushroom_Spinach_Skillet-4

A Royal Wedding Inspired Tea Party Menu

Take a cue from the House of Windsor and hail Britannia with this very proper wedding inspired royal tea. Steeped in tradition with a hint of a modern twist, our afternoon tea for eight is fit for both the Queen Mum and the next-gen royals in line for the crown. We’ll walk you through the perfectly-mannered steps of serving a bountiful feast of sandwiches, biscuits, desserts and, of course, tea, that will delight any anglophile in your life.

Despite seeming decidedly lowbrow next to high tea, its imperial sounding cousin, afternoon tea, stems from the habits of the Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century. Small sandwiches, scones and other bite-sized treats became popular amongst the rich and famous, while high tea remained a substantial meal meant to sustain the working class at the end of the day.

Brioche-Tea-Sandwiches

Tea Sandwiches

Traditional tea sandwiches are dainty delicacies, made with thinly sliced bread and vegetables and meant to be consumed in one or two bites. In your own kitchen, a mandoline or vegetable peeler can be used to make almost translucent shavings for fillings, while a rolling pin helps to flatten the bread. When it comes to fillings, think beyond plain cucumber and try to offer a variety of savoury and sweet to suit all tastes. Simplify your life by pressing a versatile bread such as brioche into double duty for both types of fillings — the slight sweetness will make a good pairing for most teatime toppings. For a playful take on tea sandwiches, transform the flavours of Bloody Mary cocktails such as pimento olives and anchovy paste into a small snack, or take tuna salad from the lunchbox to the parlour with fancy open-faced tuna and white bean treats.

Get the recipe for: Brioche Tea Sandwiches,  Bloody Mary Tea Sandwiches,  Open-faced Tuna Tea Sandwiches.

Lemon-Cranberry-Scones

Scones with Jam, Cream and More 

Given the brouhaha over the correct order of cream and jam layering, Brits take their scones seriously. Avoid controversy by letting guests slather their own scone with Devonshire cream, lemon herb chèvre or a honey and orange flavoured homemade butter. Offering gluten-free and vegetarian versions is a nice touch for dietary-restricted guests. When baking scones, use a light touch to avoid overworking the dough and ending up with tough scones.

Get the recipe for: Lemon Berry Scones With Lemon Glaze and Devonshire Cream,  Gluten-free Sweet Potato Scones, Lemon Cranberry Scones

Watch Anna Olson teach you how to make flavoured homemade butter and other homemade treats, then get a step-by-step recipe for Honey and Orange Butter and Herb Butter.

Battenberg-Cake-recipe

Biscuits and Cakes 

Dust off your tiered cake stands and silver trays — or fashion a sleeker version with plates balanced on overturned bowls — to serve these prettily portioned treats. Think small and bite-sized to keep a sense of modest British restraint, but offer a variety so you and your guests don’t feel deprived. Our menu contrasts the checkerboard pattern of a traditional Battenberg cake with the gooey lusciousness of savoury cream cheese profiteroles and Southern charm of a butter pecan crumpets.

Get the recipe for: Battenberg Cake, Savoury Cream Cheese Profiteroles, Butter Pecan Crumpets

Tea

A comforting pot of tea is often filled with a well-known blend such as Earl Grey, and steeped in ritual. Niceties such as warming the teapot first with boiling water, swaddling the teapot in a cozy and debating the milk in first or last question are all traditions you can bring across the pond for your afternoon tea. For variety, why not take it a step further by offering your guests some different flavours and temperatures in their cuppa? Mint tea is a soothing herbal digestif with a beautiful aroma and colour, while lemon lavender iced tea offers a refreshing floral note for your senses. For those who want to be a bit naughty like Winston Churchill, who reportedly used to hide strong spirits in his teapot during Prohibition, a white tea and rum cocktail with honey lime syrup will fit the bill. Serve up your tea in your best china, or for a more modern take, mix and match in Chinese, Japanese, Russian or Moroccan teacups for a splash of colour and pattern. Be sure to select china or glassware that can withstand hot liquid, and place saucers or doilies strategically to avoid spillage.

Get the recipe for: Moroccan Mint Tea, Lemon Lavender Iced Tea, White Tea and Rum Cocktail With Honey Lime Syrup

So this season, whether you are hosting William, Kate, Harry or Meghan (or a party of aristocratically-minded friends and family), raise a cup to celebrate the ritual of afternoon tea. Just remember to keep those pinkie fingers down — Miss Manners dispelled the habit as a needless affectation once the cup handle was invented.