Category Archives: entertaining

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

If you live in Toronto, you know that grabbing brunch can sometimes be a three-hour endeavour 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. Those are the times when I concoct my one-pot breakfast skillet. It’s always a mashup of what I’ve got in the fridge or pantry, with the addition of some eggs.

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.

Breakfast skilled served onto two plates

Breakfast Skillet With Spinach, Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

350 g cremini 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

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.

Related: The Best Ways to Prepare Eggs Around the World, From France to Japan

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.

Breakfast skillet in pan

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.

Winning Recipes for Your Academy Awards Party

Celebrate the Academy Awards with Oscar-worthy spread that is sure to impress even the toughest critic. Hollywood’s biggest night deserves your best kitchen performance and these recipes are sure to earn you at least a ‘Best Host’ nomination.

Whether you’re channeling old-Hollywood elegance or have a casual evening in mind, we have a slew Oscar party ideas for easy appetizers and cocktails that will keep you well fed from the red carpet through to the credits.

Oscar Party Menu

Champagne Cocktail

Champagne Cocktails

Greet your guests with a celebratory champagne cocktail. Crème de cassis, a dark red liqueur made from blackcurrants gives these bubbly sippers their bright red-carpet shade.

Oysters with Caviar

Oysters, Caviar and Bubbles

Your movie-buff guests may shy away from spoilers, but they won’t mind you spoiling them with these indulgent appetizers that are packed with old Hollywood glamour. Reserve a little champagne from your cocktails for the mignonette sauce, which is seasoned with fresh shallots and bright pink peppercorns.

White Bean Puree on Endive

White Bean Puree on Endive

We’d like to thank Patricia Heaton for this delicious and simple bean dip that gets a fancy flourish when served on individual Belgian endive leaves. Place these apps on a gold tray for an elegant cocktail-party feel. Not a fan of endives? Serve this light dip in a dish with toasted pita points or chips.

Deviled Eggs with Caviar

Devilled Eggs

Party like the stars with these lavish appetizers. The ordinary snack gets a lavish twist with a dollop of salty Sturgeon roe. For a paired-down version, omit the caviar and season each egg with a sprinkle of smoked paprika.

Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets

Cheese and Spinach Puff Pastry Pockets

Puff pastry is your best friend when it comes to whipping up a tray full of appetizers in no time at all. These spinach bites are everything you want in an appetizer: golden flaky crust paired with a warm, cheesy filling you can enjoy in two delicious bites.

Maple Sriracha Popcorn

Maple Sriracha Popcorn

No Academy Awards party is complete without popcorn! When those acceptance speeches go on and on, you’ll be happy to have this sweet and spicy popcorn to snack on. Leave out the peanuts and cashews if you want to keep it nut-free.

Caramel Popcorn

While not everyone can go home with a golden statue, your guests can each enjoy their own golden caramel popcorn treat. For added fun, shape each popcorn ball into your own version of the iconic statue and ceremoniously hand them out to your special guests.

Rumarita Cocktail

Rumarita Cocktail

As soon as the credits start to roll, that’s when the real party starts. Kick off your after-party with a rumarita, made with gold rum and fresh citrus.

Looking for more ideas? Try our 20 Best Recipes for an Awards Show Party.

Great “Game Night” Finger Foods

If staying in sounds like a perfect Friday evening, we’ve got your winning night right here. Hosting a classic game night is one of the easiest parties you can throw at a moment’s notice and is always a blast. Whether you opt for a classic card game, an eerie murder mystery or a rousing game of charades, you can’t go wrong, especially when combined with good friends and seriously good snacks.

Skip the formal dinner party menu – this casual, laid-back affair is all about relaxing and letting loose. Opt for easy yet impressive dishes that players can load onto their plates and enjoy with their hands, no utensils required. These delicious recipes deliver game-friendly finger foods that are sure to fuel the fun.

chicken-nachos-sour-cream

Chicken Nachos

The ideal game night dish if ever there was one. The key to winning nachos is your layering strategy. Chips, cheese, chicken, repeat, will ensure maximum crunch and melty cheese on every single chip. Pop in the oven as guests arrive for a perfectly timed snack.

 

bubbling-sangria

Blushing Bubbly Sangria

Fresh or frozen fruit works perfectly well for this crowd-pleasing batch cocktail that you can make before guests arrive.

 

jalapeno-dip-recipe

Jalapeno Popper Dip

Everyone’s favourite freezer snack is reinvented and served as a delectable dip. Creamy, cheesy and spicy, the cherry on top of this indulgent dip is the crunchy breadcrumb crust. Pass the chips!

 

caulflower-wings-3-ways

Cauliflower Wings

You may have to roll the dice to see who gets the last of these highly addictive vegetarian wings. Humble cauliflower becomes a sensational snack when battered and baked in finger-licking flavours like Maple Chipotle BBQ, Crunchy Thai Peanut and mouthwatering Honey, Garlic and Sesame.

 

Bite-Sized Blooming Onions

Bring the pub menu to your party with a miniature version of everyone’s deep-fried favourite.

 

Chicken and Waffle Sliders

For an appetizer so good you’ll forget whose turn it is, look no further. Break out the batter for fresh waffles or opt for frozen –either way, it’s the spice-filled fried chicken that stars in this easy homemade dish.

 

Party Totchos

With all the dice shaking and charades, your guests will need serious snacks to keep them fueled for a fun-filled night of competition. As the game night gets going, it’s time to raid your freezer for a mindblowing midnight snack. Frozen potato tots become the base for your favourite nacho toppings. Don’t forget the sour cream and guac!

 

Apple Cinnamon Roll Slab Pie

No forks needed for this handheld pie that packs all the flavours of two of your favourite desserts into one. Store-bought cinnamon roll dough becomes a cinnamon-filled base, but wait – it gets better: Save the cream cheese icing to drizzle over top your finished pie for sugary-sweet perfection.

Deep Fried Pickles

Snacking can’t get more dill-icious than these crispy, golden, beer-battered pickles! Serve with a creamy vegan dill dipping sauce for the ultimate party snack everyone can enjoy.

Giant Jenga Party Sandwich

Serve up the fun and food together with this two-in-one recipe that is guaranteed to be a blast. The best part is eating your way through the tasty tower to try each of the three delicious sandwich combos. You don’t want to miss that bacon jam and Brie!

And don’t miss Game Night, in theatres February 23.

 

Jalapeno Popper Dip Recipe copy

Jalapeño Popper Dip is Your Favourite New Make-Ahead 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.

Jalapeno Popper Dip

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

Dip prechop

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.

Jalapeno Popper Dip Recipe

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 dip, so here are over 25 party-perfect options to dive into.

Lambrusco Sangria

Giada De Laurentiis’ Go-To Menu for Entertaining at Home

Why go out to a fancy restaurant to eat with friends when you can stay home, cook a quality meal and share a long and leisurely dinner party with your pals, instead? If you love to cook the way Giada De Laurentiis does, entertaining friends and family at home seems like a no-brainer. Unlike Giada, though, most of us scour the web for top-notch recipes and ideas in advance, stressing over how to make the perfect appetizer, main or themed cocktail.

Here, Giada shares her top tips, tricks and recipes for effortlessly elegant entertaining.

giada's holiday handbook

Before you head into the kitchen, consider the simple-is-best approach to entertaining. At least, that’s the philosophy the pros, including Giada, subscribe to. Rather than whipping out a bunch of fancy appetizers to put out for guests to munch on while she makes dinner, the chef tries to keep the number down to one or two items.

“I’m not big on making tons of appetizers, especially if I’m making dinner,” Giada says. “So I kind of vacillate between a few things. I do crostini with various toppings. [Or] I put lemon juice, a little bit of salt and some lemon zest in store-bought ricotta cheese and I top it with a variety of things such as pink peppercorns and peaches and then drizzle a bit of honey on top to finish it off.”

Simple and easy, right? Giada has a few other suggestions, like her go-to White Bean Dip with Pita Chips  or a Basic Parmesan Pomodoro Sauce served with crostini.

white-bean-dip-with-pita-chips-giada
Get the recipe for Giada’s white bean dip with pita chips. 

“I put my [Basic Parmesan Pomodoro Sauce] in ice cube trays in the freezer. Sometimes I just pop a couple of ice cubes, I let them defrost and then I heat up that sauce. I make some crostini and everybody dips it,” she explains. “I keep it super-duper simple… simplicity is the best way to go. People appreciate it.”

As for the main event, Giada is all about quality ingredients that speak to a variety of palates, like her Pan-Seared Salmon topped with a freshly prepared grainy mustard sauce, or grilled steak.

“I like to do a protein, a carbohydrate and a salad or some kind of greens. I’ll take a big rib eye and then I’ll grill it very simply with Herbes de Provence, salt and sometimes smoked paprika, put it on the grill, grill it up and then slice it over a bed of arugula and tomatoes and radishes,” she says. “For carbs I’ll make either an orzo salad or my lemon spaghetti – whatever goes better with the protein of choice.”

pan-seared-salmon-with-summer-succotash
Get the recipe for Giada’s pan-seared salmon with summer succotash. 

And what about those must-have greens?

“Sometimes I will do butter poached asparagus in a chili-lime vinaigrette,” Giada explains.

Of course, as any good host knows, a signature cocktail is always in fashion – but it doesn’t need to be complicated. In the summer months, Giada opts for an Aperol Spritz, a refreshing combination of bitter, sweet and effervescent. And in the winter, it’s a good old-fashioned sangria for her.

“I like to make a red wine sangria – I usually put berries in it, along with a little nutmeg and a cinnamon stick,” she says of her wintertime beverage of choice.

Lambrusco Sangria
Get the recipe for Giada’s lambrusco sangria. 

Sounds pretty festive to us.

“In sum, I keep it simple but very flavourful with different textures and flavours in every dish,” the host with the most says.

See more recipes from Giada’s Holiday Handbook that are perfect for entertaining.

semifreddo

How to Make Semifreddo, Italy’s Dreamy No-Churn Ice Cream

If you’ve yet to make ice cream’s cooler Italian cousin, semifreddo (roughly translated from Italian to mean “half cold”), before, now is the time to whip up a batch. Not only is this dessert delicious with its dreamy, frozen mousse-like texture, it’s easy to make (no ice cream maker required!) and even easier to customize.

Traditionally poured into a loaf pan, frozen and then served sliced like an ice cream cake all grown up, you can also portion the semifreddo mixture into individual bowls, or even simply freeze a batch in a large container and scoop it out, ice cream-style. Starting with a simple vanilla base, the world is your oyster when it comes to flavours you can swirl into the mix.

semifreddo_freshfruit_complete01

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
5 large eggs, yolks and whites separated
1¼ cups granulated sugar, divided
2¼ cups heavy cream (35%), divided
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

semifreddo_01

1. In a large heat-safe bowl, whisk to combine egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar,  ¼ cup of cream and vanilla.

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2. Fill a medium saucepan with approximately 2-inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place bowl containing yolk mixture on top and whisk regularly for 6 to 7 minutes, until thickened. Check consistency by dipping the back of a spoon in mixture and run your finger through it; the mixture should form a clean line. If it’s still too runny, continue to cook for another minute or so. Once thickened, remove from heat and let cool, about 1 hour.

semifreddo_05

3. Line a standard loaf tin or small baking pan with plastic wrap, leaving overhang.
4. Using a stand mixer, whip egg whites on high speed until frothy. Continue to whip on high speed while slowly adding ¼ cup remaining sugar. Stop whipping once stiff, glossy peaks form. Transfer whipped egg white mixture to a large mixing bowl.

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5. In the same stand mixer bowl, whip remaining 2 cups cream to stiff peaks. Transfer whipped cream to whipped egg white mixture.

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6. Pour cooked and cooled egg yolk mixture into the bowl of the egg white mixture and whipped cream, and fold with a spatula until all three components are combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan, cover top with overhanging plastic wrap and place in the freezer to set, about 4 hours.

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7. To serve, remove from pan, unwrap plastic and slice into thick slabs. Or use a scoop and serve mounded in bowls.

Peanut Butter and Banana Semifreddo

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Chill Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
1 recipe plain semifreddo, prepared prior to freezing (steps 1 through 6, above)
1 cup chunky natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
¼ cup heavy cream (35%)
2 bananas, peeled and thinly sliced or mashed

Directions:
1. In a small saucepan over low heat, melt peanut butter. Transfer peanut butter to a small bowl and stir to combine with cream and bananas.

semifreddo_13

3. Line a standard loaf tin or small baking pan with plastic wrap, leaving overhang. Working in alternating layers, pouring one-third of the semifreddo followed by dollops of one-third of the peanut butter mixture; repeat with remaining semifreddo and peanut butter mixture. Cover top with plastic wrap and place in the freezer to set, about 4 hours.
4. To serve, remove from pan, unwrap plastic and slice into thick slabs. Or use a scoop and serve mounded in bowls.

More Semifreddo Flavour Options:

– Salted caramel and diced green apple
– Honey-roasted apricots and dark chocolate shavings
– Macerated berries and mint
– Sautéed plums and crushed hazelnuts
– Lemon zest and crumbled shortbread
– Cocoa powder and chopped roasted almonds

semifreddo_peanutbanana_complete02

Don’t touch that oven! Here are even more no-bake desserts to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Summer Berry Sangria

1 Bottle of Wine, 3 Sangrias to Sip All Summer

Nothing says summer quite like sipping some sangria on a patio. It’s cool and refreshing, and eating the fruit that’s been soaking up the wine means it’s a drink with a snack included.

Summer Berry Sangria

While we tend to think of sangria in its most traditional form – red wine and brandy with orange juice, apples and wheels of lemon and lime – any bottle of wine can be transformed with a little fruit and liqueur.

One bottle of Sauvignon Blanc can be transformed into a hundred variations of sangria, from the sweet and sparkly to a deeply cooling version that refreshes with cucumber instead of fruit. Here are three new and tasty ways to kick off your summer with sangria.

Summer Berry Sangria

Summer Berry Sparkling Sangria
Brightly coloured berries really pop against the background of a white wine, so this sangria is perfect when the summer heat sends raspberries, strawberries and blackberries to the farmers’ markets. Tumble any combination you like of the berries into a pitcher, add a bit of simple syrup – depending on how sweet you like your sangria – and then let it all sit in the fridge to infuse those flavours. When ready to serve, pour in a bottle of sparkling wine for some bubbles and top with fresh mint leaves.

Tropical Sangria

Tropical Fiesta Sangria
Give your sangria a tropical twist by using fruits that are a little more exotic. Tangy pineapple and sweet mango are excellent; papaya is also great. You can also thinly slice some kiwis for a little pop of green colour and some lemon for a hit of citrus. Adding in Cointreau – or another brand of orange-flavoured liqueur – will give a nice undertone and plays well with the tropical fruit.

Cucumber Gin Sangria

Gin-Cucumber Sangria
For something completely different and incredibly refreshing, taking a page from another summer classic, the gin and tonic, and make a Gin-Cucumber Sangria. This one starts with Sauvignon Blanc and then gets a botanical and floral infusion by swishing in elderflower liqueur and gin – go for one with a particularly botanical or floral bend for full flavour, like Hendrick’s. Slices of lime add some tang, while mint makes it suitably refreshing. Finally, thin slices of cucumber bring some coolness to the mix.

Looking for more delicious summer cocktails? Learn how to make Ina Garten’s Rose Sangria.

Chef’s Secret to Making the Fluffiest Pancakes Ever

A weekend breakfast staple, pancakes — hotcakes, flapjacks or whatever you like to call them — just might be the ultimate morning comfort food. As simple as they can be, it’s always refreshing to get some ideas from an expert on how to make them even better.

Yellow Door Bistro is a chef-driven European restaurant located inside Calgary’s Hotel Arts. There they cook up delicious fare from morning to night, but the restaurant is most renowned for its imaginative brunch creations. The most famous are the gourmet pancakes that start with the same base recipe, but change each month to incorporate new flavours and garnishes.

souffle-pancakes-plain

The secret to their perfectly light and fluffy pancakes, you ask? Executive chef, Quinn Staple takes a very unique approach to the batter preparation that’s similar to how one would prepare a soufflé. Eggs are an integral part of a classic pancake recipe, but Staple’s version separates the yolks and the whites. The simple act of whipping the whites on their own before being folded into the batter, makes for lighter, fluffier pancakes. Genius!

To get that soufflé-like height for your pancakes at home, Staple recommends using metal ring molds and brushing the inside with butter or oil. This will help the pancakes rise high. This step may take a few extra minutes, but trust the chef; it’s well worth it in the long run. Try it out for yourselves this weekend!

souffle-pancakes-ingredients

Soufflé Coconut Pancakes with Pineapple and Caramel Sauce

Ingredients:

Pancake Batter:
1/2 cup egg yolks
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup egg whites

Caramel Sauce:
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 lb. butter, cubed
1/4 cup 35 % cream

Directions:

Pancake Batter:
1. Mix egg yolk, butter and coconut milk together. In a separate bowl mix sugar, flour, baking powder and salt together. Mix wet ingredients into dry.

souffle-pancakes-steps2

2. Use a whisk to whip egg whites until they turn white and form soft peaks (you can use a stand mixer for this stage as well).
3. Once the egg whites are incorporated, gently fold into batter.

souffle-pancakes-steps3

Note: Batter will keep in the fridge overnight, but for best results (i.e. for the fluffiest pancakes) use right away.

To Cook:
1. Grease ring molds and large pan with canola oil. Heat pan on medium-high heat.

souffle-pancakes-steps5

2. Place molds into pan, add two healthy spoonfuls of batter into each and allow to cook until batter has risen noticeably and bubbles have formed around its edges, approximately 3-4 minutes.

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3. Carefully remove the mold using tongs and gently flip pancakes over, reduce to medium heat and allow to cook for another 4 minutes.
Note: If not using ring molds, just portion batter into pan and once bubbles appear on the edges of the pancakes flip them and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Caramel Sauce:
1. Melt brown sugar and cream together and simmer for 5 minutes.
2. Remove from the heat and carefully and slowly whisk in the diced butter until emulsified.
3. Allow to cool before serving.

To Serve:
Once the pancakes are cooked stack as many pancakes are desired on a plate, top with caramel sauce, chopped pineapple, whipped cream and toasted coconut. Enjoy!

pancakes-pineapple-coconut-final

Optional Garnishes:

Coconut Chantilly:
2 cups 35% cream
1/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup icing sugar

1. Whisk all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer until soft peaks are formed.

Semi Dried Vanilla Pineapple:
1/4 pineapple cut into small wedges
1/2 scraped vanilla bean

1. Toss pineapple wedges with vanilla seeds and spread evenly on a parchment lined tray. Dry overnight in an oven with no heat. Next day reserve in an airtight container.

Watch this video to learn all about the delicious history of pancakes

Mom Deserves This Waffle Cake With Maple Whipped Cream

This dessert comes together with much less effort than a traditional layer cake, but is every bit as impressive. Maple-cinnamon syrup is brushed onto multigrain waffles that are layered with maple-sweetened whipped cream. A swirl of maple butter and a cinnamon drizzle provides the finishing touch to this sweet treat.

Make this maplelicious cake for your Mother’s Day brunch or lunch, or just to celebrate sugaring-off season in Eastern Canada. To save time, prepare the waffles up to a month in advance, then cool, place in re-sealable plastic bags and freeze.

Waffle-Cake-final-1

Ingredients:
1 recipe Multigrain Waffle batter
Vegetable oil
6 Tbsp pure maple syrup, divided
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp salted butter
2 1/2 cups 35% whipping cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup spreadable maple butter

Waffle-Cake-top-down-1

Directions:
1. Heat a round Belgian waffle maker and lightly brush with oil (I use a KitchenAid Waffle Baker). Place the bowl and whisk attachment of a stand mixer in the freezer to chill.

2. Measure 1 1/2 cups of waffle batter into the centre of the waffle iron, close the top and cook for nearly 4 minutes, or until the waffle is golden. Remove the waffle and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter until you have three large waffles. You should have just enough batter. Cool the waffles completely while you prepare the cinnamon syrup.

cinnamon syrup soak layer 1-1

3. In a small pot, combine 4 Tbsp of maple syrup and the cinnamon over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring slowly. Remove from heat and whisk in the salted butter until it is melted and the syrup is smooth and a little creamy. Cool to room temperature.

4. In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the cream to soft peaks. Turn off the mixer and add the remaining 2 Tbsp of maple syrup and the vanilla. Beat again until very stiff. You are now ready to assemble your cake.

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5. Place a waffle on a cake stand or platter and brush with about 1 Tbsp of the cinnamon syrup, letting it pool slightly in the pockets. Dollop about 1/3 of the whipped cream on and spread it around evenly. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of maple butter over the whipped cream. (If it is not runny enough, simply warm it slightly in the microwave.)

6. Place a second waffle on top of the decorated first and repeat the layers; syrup, whipped cream, maple butter. Place the final waffle on the cake. Brush lightly with cinnamon syrup and heap all the remaining whipped cream on top, piling it up at least 4-5 inches high. Drizzle the remainder of the maple butter on top of the whipped cream. At this point the cake can hold, refrigerated, for several hours before serving.

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7. Generously drizzle the remainder of the cinnamon syrup all over the cake, letting it drip down the sides, then serve at once. To plate, use a bread knife cut the cake into wedges and serve.

Waffle-Cake-slice-served-1

Looking for more maple madness? Watch these videos for Maple-Nut Wafflewiches, Maple Cinnamon Rolls and Canadian Maple Pie Parfaits.

spring galette

Say ‘Goodbye’ to Winter with These 5 Springtime Galettes

After a long winter of root veggies, we can’t help but get excited over the beautiful bounty of spring produce nature brings. Asparagus, rhubarb and fresh peas are among the first delights of the season, and that’s a delicious reason to celebrate!

You don’t need to make an elaborate meal to harness the goodness of these spring flavours. A simple galette is an easy and excellent way to make the most of spring. These five, no-fuss recipes will have you and your guests overjoyed to officially say ‘goodbye’ to winter.

Spring pea and leek galette

For The Pastry:

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup cold butter, cut into chunks
1 Tbsp white vinegar
2 tsp or more cold water

Directions:
1. In a food processor, mix flours, salt and sugar. Add in butter and pulse until butter is evenly dispersed into pea-size pieces. Add vinegar and pulse. Run the food processor as you add water 1 tsp at a time through the spout on the top. Dough will come together into a smooth ball.
2. Roll out on a floured surface until dough is between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick. Refer to recipes below for shape.

Leek, Pea and Egg Galette:
Chop 3 leeks into 1/2-inch rounds. Heat 2 Tbsp butter in a large pan. Cook leeks in pan with 1/2 tsp of salt until fragrant but not soft, about 2 minutes. Let cool. Roll out dough into a 12 inch circle. Toss leeks with 1/2 cup freshly shucked peas. Place mixture in the centre of dough leaving a 3-inch border from the edge. Create a 3 inch divot in the center of the mixture. Crack an egg inside the divot. Fold the edges over mixture and brush pastry with heavy cream. Sprinkle fresh thyme and ground pepper over pastry, egg and leeks. Bake on a lined sheet tray in a 400°F oven until pastry is golden brown, about 35 minutes.

spring--asparagus-tart

Asparagus and Lemony Ricotta Galette
Trim 1lb of asparagus and blanch. Roll dough into a 12×8-inch oval. Mix 1 cup of extra smooth ricotta with 1 tsp of lemon zest. Spread mixture into centre of dough leaving a 3-inch border around the edge. Toss blanched asparagus with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange asparagus spears side by side over ricotta. Fold over edges of dough and brush with heavy cream. Sprinkle 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese over pastry and asparagus. Season with salt and pepper. Bake on a lined sheet tray in a 400°F oven until asparagus is bright green and pastry is golden, about 35 minutes.

Fig and orange galette

Fig and Orange Marmalade Galette
Roll dough into a 12-inch circle. Quarter 3 cups of black mission figs. Microwave 1/4 cup of orange marmalade for 20 seconds. Gently toss figs in marmalade to coat and place in the centre of the circle, 3 inches from the edge. Fold over edges of dough onto figs. Brush dough with heavy cream and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp of turbinado sugar. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake in a 400°F until pastry is golden, about 35 minutes.

strawberry rhubarb galette

Strawberry Rhubarb Almond Galette
Roll out dough into a 12-inch circle. Mix 1 cup of quartered strawberries with 2 cups of sliced rhubarb, 3 Tbsp granulated sugar, 1/4 cup almond flour, 1 Tbsp of corn starch, and 1/2 tsp salt. Place mixture in the centre of dough leaving a 3-inch border around the edge. Fold over edges and brush with heavy cream. Sprinkle 3 Tbsp sliced hazelnuts over pastry and filling. Bake in a 400°F oven on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment until pastry is golden, about 35 minutes.

pear-galette

Pear, Lavender and Black Pepper Galette
Slice 3 small ripe pears in half. Remove core with a spoon then place pears cut side down on surface. Slice the pear halves vertically being careful to leave the top 1 inch uncut. Roll out pastry into a 12-inch circle. Place pear halves cut side down in the centre of the dough.
Press on pear halves gently until they fan out. Brush 1 Tbsp of melted butter over pears then drizzle 2 Tbsp of honey. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp of lavender and season with black pepper. Fold over edges of dough and brush with heavy cream. Bake in a 400°F oven until pastry is golden, about 35 minutes.

Looking for more spring dishes? Try our 40 Fantastic Spring Cake Recipes.

Pineapple-Salsa

How to Make Easy Blender Salsa, 3 Ways

If you’ve only ever made tomato salsa, you’re in for a treat. This quick and easy blender salsa is made using tomatillos; a crisp, slightly sweet fruit long considered a staple of Mexican cuisine. Closely related to ground cherries, the tomatillo requires a few extra steps compared to your basic tomato. Simply peel back their husks and give them a good rinse before proceeding with the recipe. We’ve also included two bonus recipes (one sweet and one spicy) to help you step up your salsa game, no dicing required.

Blender Salsa Verde

Classic Salsa Verde

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 2 cups

Ingredients:
1 lb tomatillos, husked, rinsed and roughly chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 small onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup cilantro
3 Tbsp lime juice
2 tsp kosher salt

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Salsa will thicken as it sits.
2. Serve with tortillas chips or use as a garnish for your favourite taco.

Variations:

Blender Chipotle Salsa

Spicy Tomatillo-Chipolte Salsa
Omit jalapeño and add 2 canned chipotles to blender. Proceed with recipe. Heat a medium saucepan over medium, add 1 Tbsp canola oil, then salsa. Bring to a simmer, and cook until raw taste is gone, about 5 minutes. Let cool before serving. Makes 2 cups.

Blender Pineapple Salsa

Tomatillo-Pineapple
Blend tomatillos, garlic, onion 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (preferably Mexican canela) and 1/2 cup roughly chopped pineapple until smooth. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, 1 finely chopped jalapeño and 1 1/2 cups finely diced pineapple. Makes 2 1/2 cups.

Looking for more delicious recipes? Try our 12 Fresh Salsas for a Party.

How to Host a Successful Chili Cook-Off

Gather your most competitive, food savvy crew, and host a chili cook-off this Family Day. A kind of choose-your-own-adventure style of dining, this cook-off runs on the dishes your family and friends provide, so the more the merrier.

As the host, here are some simple ways to streamline your chili cook-off, including a handful of chili and side dish recipes, along with flexible cook-off guidelines. So roll up your sleeves and put your best chili forward this Family Day. May the best pot win!

chipotle-chicken-chili

1. Choose a theme and a recipe

We’ve chosen to focus on chili — a one-pot wonder that’s easily transported from slow-cooker or pot, to table. And chili is highly adaptable, with variations like chicken, beef, turkey, veggies, triple-bean and more. Every guest will likely have his or her favourite, something they’re keen to share with the group.

Chili recipes to whet your guests’ appetites:
The Pioneer Woman’s Chipotle Chicken Chili
Slow Cooker Turkey Chili
Spicy Black Bean and Raisin Chili with Fresh Pineapple and Tortillas
Rachael Ray’s Zucchini Chili
Chili Con Carne
Hearty Vegetarian Chili with Butternut Squash

2. Invite your family, friends and neighbours
Create an event via Facebook. Even guests who don’t have a Facebook account can be invited by email this way, so no one is left out. Make sure to clearly state what you’re providing (see below) and what they’re providing; a pot of their best chili and a mug.

Since this is Family Day, invite your nearest and dearest to participate, including the kids.

zucchini chili

3. Serving vessels and cutlery
For judging, consider the humble coffee mug when sampling each chili. A mug is easily held (no spills and you can stand comfortably with it), retains heat, and guests can dip and dive into small bites of each chili. Depending on the size of the party, you may want to consider plastic cutlery — here, it’s all about the spoons — and small plastic or Styrofoam sampling mugs.

Encourage guests to bring their own mug to the party (BYOM), or provide a cheap and cheerful option from IKEA or second hand store or simply what you have in your kitchen. Like the menu, the dinner ware doesn’t need to match.

Once the chili judging has ended, provide bowls (ceramic or plastic) for larger servings of favourites. Toppings and sides can more easily be added this way (see below).

4. Keep score
In true sportsperson competitive nature, provide a handmade score sheet to guests.

1. Place sticky note numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) on each pot of chili for easy scoring.
2. One score sheet per pot judging taste (score: 1 to 5, 1 to 10, etc.) plus a written note on what made this chili better/different.
3. Keep each pot’s score sheets in front of the said pot-on-trial for easy tallying post-game.

5. Super sides
Bring these out after judging. Sides are the host’s job — cornbread, salad and, if you have the time, a layered dip, are our chili cook-off top picks. Get the recipe for Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread.

cast-iron-skillet-cornbread

6. Toppings bar essentials
The host should provide the sides, in this case, a topping bar for chili. Guacamole or diced avocado, grated cheese, chopped cilantro, green onion, sour cream or Greek yogurt, pickled jalapeños and corn tortilla chips can be easily assembled and put into small bowls for guests to adorn to their taste. Get the recipe for Guacamole with a Kick.

guacamole-with-a-kick

7. Beverages
This is up to you: BYOB or host-provided. If you’re providing, chili bar must-haves include margaritas, beer, wine (red and white), sparkling water and still water. For those who love cocktails, consider the spicy, truly Canadian classic, the Caesar, or chili and taco partner extraordinaire, the Moscow Mule. For kids and teens, create a specialty mocktail.

the-perfect-caesar

8. Declare the winner, provide a prize
With judgement sampling and post-judgement feasting now over, it’s time to declare a winner. And, while the winner will receive bragging rights among friends, a small prize completes the competition.

Prize ideas: a new wooden spoon, new mug, a second-hand trophy or, for non-material goods, the winner gets to take home the leftovers.

9. Extras to consider
If it’s a one-pot, slow cooker cook-off like this chili feast, you’ll require an extension cord to keep food hot and safe, as well as heat pads as to not scorch your table.

And, though you’ll all likely be too full, dessert is always nice to have on hand for guests with a serious sweet tooth. For the chili cook-off, a Tres Leche Cake keeps the tablescape on-theme and feeds a crowd. Get the recipe for Alton Brown’s Tres Leche Cake.

tres-leche-cake

10. More cook-off theme ideas
Chili isn’t the only dish that works cook-off-style. Adaptable, family-style and build-you-own dishes work best for cook-offs. Here’s a handful of both savoury and sweet ideas to get you started.

Savoury:
Pizza cook-off: You provide the dough, guests bring their best pizza toppings.
Meatball cook-off: You provide the cooked spaghetti, guests bring a pot of their perfect sauce and meatballs.
Soup cook-off: You provide the toppings (baby saltine crackers, toasted seeds, croutons, herbs, pesto, etc.), guests bring a pot of soup.
Taco cook-off: You provide the toppings and taco shells, guests bring a taco filling of their choosing (roasted vegetables, pulled pork, spiced ground beef, grilled onions, etc.)
Grain bowl cook-off: You provide the rice and sauce, guests bring their go-to grain bowl edition.

Sweet:
Cupcake cook-off: You provide the coffee, tea and a cupcake of your own creation (and maybe some sprinkles), guests bring a cupcake of their choosing.
Ice cream sandwich cook-off: You provide a few pints of vanilla ice cream, guests bring their best chocolate chip cookie.

super bowl menu roger mooking

Roger Mooking’s Ultimate Super Bowl Menu

Maybe you like football, maybe you don’t. But if a snack-centred event featuring classic comfort foods sounds like your idea of fun, then it’s time to add Super Bowl Sunday to your annual calendar of delicious events. Here, chef and Chopped Canada judge Roger Mooking shares his tips for hosting a superb Super Bowl Party.

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Pass the snacks
One of Chef Roger’s favourite Super Bowl memories was watching the 2016 game at his cousin’s place, while his cousin screamed and jumped around the TV. “The whole family knows he is a Broncos fanatic so we all went there to watch him,” he says. “It was one of the most hilarious things I did last year and will never forget it.” That energy is what makes the day, so don’t quash it by asking fanatics to sit down for dinner. “Finger foods and hand-held foods are always good because people tend to get excited, and want to nibble through the stress and excitement throughout the game,” says Roger.

Honey-Glazed Ham

Roger recommends:
Sweet Potato Wedges with Chipotle Sauce
Honey-Glazed Ham
Red Cabbage and Green Apple Slaw
Mini Apple Pie Pockets

Prepare for a thirsty crowd
A mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic brews and caffeinated and non-caffeinated drinks, will allow guests of all ages to cater to their own energy and entertainment requirements. If you’re serving booze, Roger recommends taking everyone’s keys as they come in the door. “Call a cab if people get too tipsy or are too worked up to drive,” he says.

Ginger Beer

Roger recommends serving:
Chocolate Malted Milkshakes
Ice cold light beer with lime wedges
Ginger beer
Iced coffee with condensed milk

“Make a coffee, add ice and drizzle some sweetened condensed milk in it,” says Rogers. “Stir it all up just before you drink and there will be enough sugar and caffeine in there to turn the most docile sports fan into Mike Tyson backed into a corner.”

iced coffee

Game day plan
Stock up on side plates and serviettes, since guests will invariably go back for seconds (and thirds), and some of the tastiest game day treats the messiest. Avoid a post-season house slump by keeping a garbage nearby so it’s easy to tidy up during commercial breaks.

Looking for more Super Bowl ideas? Try Patricia Heaton’s Best Game Day Recipes.

Super Cheesy Pull-Apart Garlic Bread

Warm, toasty, buttery garlic bread is always welcome alongside a plate of pasta or a hearty bowl of soup. But what if we told you it could be made even better?

Enter: gooey, cheesy pull-apart garlic loaf. Consider it garlic bread’s wilder, much cooler cousin, this crowd-pleasing, pull-apart version only takes a few more minutes to prepare, and is infinitely more delicious.

finishedproduct

Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:
1 whole loaf French bread (or 6 large French bread rolls)
1 cup salted butter (cubed)
4 cloves garlic
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place butter in a small pan and melt on medium-heat. Once melted, reduce to low, add garlic cloves and herbs, and let sit for 10 minutes so flavours infuse.
3. Remove aromatics and transfer 3/4 cup to small bowl and 1/4 of a cup to another. Set aside.

step02

4. Using a bread knife, slice the loaf (or loaves) on the bias in approximately 1” slices, stopping just before the base of the loaf. Rotate the loaf 180 degrees and slice again on the bias. You should end up with small squares of bread that are all still attached to the base.
5. Take the 3/4 cup of garlic thyme butter and use a small spoon to drizzle into all of the crevices of the bread. If needed, use fingers to gently separate the squares before drizzling butter.

step04

6. Once everything is buttered, take the shredded mozzarella and tuck small portions of it into the spaces between the cubes of bread. (Note: you can use less cheese if you want, but the more cheese you use, the gooey it will be.)
7. Wrap loaf in the tinfoil and let bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and the garlic butter has become very fragrant, approximately 16-18 minutes.
8. Remove from oven, turn to low broil and unwrap loaf. Combine remaining melted butter with Parmesan cheese, stir to combine and then brush liberally all over the exterior of the loaf (or loaves).
9. Return to oven and bake until top is golden brown and crispy, about 5-7 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

finishedproduct02

Latkes

How to Throw a Crowd-Pleasing Latke Party

It’s time to celebrate the season, and what better way to gather friends and family than throwing a party dedicated to one of the most-loved Hanukkah snacks: latkes!

Like all great parties, a latke get-together takes a little planning ahead, and we’ve got five fantastic tips to make sure your party goes off without a hitch.

888_classic-potato-latkes

Make ’em Ahead of Time
As delicious as they are, latkes can be quite time consuming to make. You have to grate the potatoes and the onions, drain, add the flour or matzoh meal, and then fry them in small batches. You don’t want to be entertaining guests while sweating by your box grater. Unfortunately, you can’t make your potato mixture too far in advance or your spuds will oxidize, turning an unappetizing brown colour.

My advice is to make the majority of your latkes hours before your guests arrive and keep them warm in the oven. Place your fried latkes on baking trays in single layers in an oven set to 325° F. As your guests arrive, have enough potato mixture to fry up the last couple of batches. The kitchen is a great place to start the party. When guests come in, they will be welcomed by the delicious smell of crispy latkes being fried. Once you have finished frying the last few latkes, whip off your apron, grab a latke and a drink and settle into the party.

Spiced Apple-Pear Sauce

It is All About the Sauces
No one will argue that half the fun of eating latkes is loading them up with your favourite toppings. Classically paired with apple sauce and sour cream, latkes can really be served with lots of different dippers, so get creative! My bubbie served homemade strawberry apple sauce and now I can’t imagine eating my latkes without it. I recreate this sweet, chunky family tradition every holiday season to share with my friends. Passing on family secrets and stories is a special part of the season, but if you can always create your own traditions. Apple chutney is a great alternative to apple sauce. Think about switching out sour cream for thick Greek yogurt or tzatziki sauce. The possibilities are truly endless.

Don’t Forget the Sides
It’s a good idea to serve latkes with some fresh crudites or salads. Your guests will appreciate having something on the lighter side to eat alongside greasy latkes. Make a cucumber salad with lots of fresh dill and yogurt, or a roasted beet salad with mint. If you want to stick to finger foods, prepare some veggies and hummus or eggplant dip.

Serve Sippers that Pair Well with Latkes
It isn’t a party without drinks. Wines with high acidity and tart drinks are perfect for cutting through greasy latkes. Serve them with a cool, dry Riesling or dry sparkling wine. Cold, crisp lagers are another great option. Have some iced tea or tart lemonade on hand for non-alcoholic options.

strawberry cheesecake Sufganiyots

Don’t Forget Dessert
Latkes are the hero of the party, so you don’t want to outshine them with any big extravagant desserts. Typically, jelly filled doughnuts called sufganiyot are served at Hanukkah, but any little sweets will do the trick. If you are sticking to a Hanukkah theme, make some rugelach or serve some Hanukkah gelt (chocolate coins).

Looking for more delicious recipes? Try our 15 Deep Fried Hanukkah Desserts.

Snowflake Cookie Cutter Devilled Eggs

Devilled eggs can be fussy, but with this bake-and-decorate method, they’re made party-friendly. Use whatever cookie cutter shape that you love, changing with the season.

In this festive version, we used snowflake cookie cutters to create the perfect party appetizer for any holiday celebration. Feel free to use other add-ins or toppings such as pickled beets, Sriracha, smoked salmon, olives… the options are endless!

snowflake-devilled-eggs

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 50 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
12 eggs
Oil, for greasing
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp fresh dill

Directions:
1. Preheat oven 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch glass baking dish with parchment paper, leaving some overhang on the sides. Lightly grease parchment.
2. Separate egg whites into a large bowl and beat until foamy. Pour into prepared dish, cover with foil and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until egg whites are set to the touch. Cool completely in pan. Remove from pan using parchment overhang or flip out; place on a cutting board.
3. Meanwhile, cook egg yolks in a large non-stick skillet over low heat until firm. Transfer to a food processor, pulse and cool for 5 minutes. To yolks, add mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, curry powder and salt. Puree until smooth and transfer yolk mixture to a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
4. Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes of egg whites and place on serving plate. Pipe egg yolk mixture on top of whites and garnish with a sprig of dill and/or egg white shape scraps. Serve immediately.

Note: Egg whites and yolks can be made-ahead, kept separately, well-covered in refrigerator for up to two days.

How to Make a Snowman Cheese Ball

Building a snowman cheese ball is a fun project for kids (and adults) of all ages, especially when you’re snowed in. This recipe is simple, relatively quick to prepare and can be made-ahead and frozen, which means you can get a jump-start on your holiday food prep.

Combining sharp cheddar, tangy feta and decadent cream cheese, it’s an adaptable recipe that you’ll have a hard time resisting with a few crunchy crackers. Flurries or clear skies, you can turn your stash of cheese into a charming, cultured (no pun intended) masterpiece that would make Frozen’s Olaf proud.

Snowman-Cheeseball1

Snowman Cheese Ball

Ingredients:
185 g feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
100 g aged white cheddar, crumbled
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp finely grated Parmesan cheese, more for serving
Whole black peppercorns (“eyes” and “buttons”)
Sliver of carrot (“eyes”)
Zucchini top (“hat”)
Shaved zucchini (“scarf”)

Snowman-Cheeseball5

Directions:
1. In a food processor, pulse feta, cream cheese, cheddar and garlic powder until combined; scrape down sides and pulse again. Blend for 10 seconds, scrape down sides and blend until creamy.

Snowman-Cheeseball4

2. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and dollop 3 rounds into small, medium and large sizes (about 1/4 cup, 1/2 cup and 1 cup portions of cheese). Roughly form into balls and dust with Parmesan. Freeze for 45 minutes until firm but still pliable.

Snowman-Cheeseball3

3. Remove from freezer. Add largest ball to serving plate; insert a toothpick in centre. Secure second (middle, medium) ball on top with toothpick. To the middle, add another toothpick in the centre and secure head (top, small) ball.

Snowman-Cheeseball2

4. Insert a toothpick in the centre of the head (top, small). Decorate snowman with peppercorn eyes and buttons, and carrot nose. Wrap zucchini around snowman’s “neck” and insert 1 to 2 toothpicks to secure. Dust with additional Parmesan for a snowed-in effect. Serve with crackers.

Snowman-Cheeseball6

Notes:
– Make the 3 cheese balls in advance (without decoration), and store wrapped in plastic wrap in an airtight container, up to 1 month. Defrost in refrigerator overnight before decorating and serving.
– To add texture but keep the snowy-white appearance, mix in 1/2 cup slivered blanched almonds after blending cheese. If you’re not concerned about the appearance, dried cranberries and walnuts, and/or fresh herbs work well here.

Easy, Cheesy Cherry-Pistachio Brie En Croute

Want to be a holiday party hero? Make this recipe that’s quick, easy and delivers huge in the yummy department. Impress your guests with beautifully decorated puff pastry, then shock them when you cut through and soft, gooey cheese oozes out. Finally, send them to heaven with this sweet and salty combination of tart cherry preserves, crunchy pistachios and rich double cream Brie.

cherry-pistachio-brie-en-croute2

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:
1 10-inch x 10-inch sheet puff pastry
1 200 g wheel double cream Brie
1/2 sour cherry preserves (or jam/jelly of your choice)
1/2 cup chopped pistachios (nut of your choice)
1 egg yolk

cherry-pistachio-brie-en-croute

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Roll out puff pastry on a floured surface. Place Brie in centre of pastry. Place preserves on brie and then place nuts over preserves. Bring the corners of the pastry into the centre of the Brie, then bring the side up to meet the corners. Trim excess pastry from the centre. Form decorative detailing with excess pastry to help seal the pastry. Chill in freezer for 30 minutes.
2. While chilling, preheat oven to 400°F.
3. Mix egg yolk with 1 Tbsp water and brush over pastry. Bake in centre of oven until pastry is golden, about 30 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Do not bake in advance.

Looking for more tasty hor d’ouvre inspiration? Try our 75 Holiday Party Appetizers Your Guests Will Love.