Tag 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.

Ina Garten's Red Wine Braised Short Ribs served with a crusty baguette

Ina Garten’s Braised Short Ribs Have a Boozy Secret Ingredient

The Barefoot Contessa’s hearty stew may be time-consuming, but it will be well worth the hours of braising when you taste the rich flavours. Perfect for a special-occasion supper or to make-ahead for a week’s worth of dinners, Ina’s braised short ribs are full of secret ingredients and absolutely bursting with flavour.

Related: Ina Garten’s Classic Cocktail Recipes, From Margaritas to Mojitos

Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) holding a bowl of her red wine-braised short ribs served with a crusty baguette

Ina starts this rich main by braising short ribs on a sheet pan instead of a stovetop. No need for a messy oil splatter sear with this method that cooks up her four pounds of short ribs without the time or mess. Ina then starts with a mirepoix of celery, carrots and onions before adding her secret weapon to the dish – an entire bottle of red wine (Ina’s pick is a Cotes du Rhone which she likes for the full-bodied flavour).  After adding in beef stock, crushed tomatoes and thyme, Ina finishes the stew with a bottle of Irish stout beer. The yeasty, hoppy flavour complements the red wine to add incredible depth.

See More: Dinner Etiquette Tips That Would Make Ina Garten Proud

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Total Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Ina Garten Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients:

5 lbs very meaty bone-in beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch chunks
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
3 cups chopped celery (5 to 6 ribs)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped unpeeled carrots (6 carrots)
1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (5 cloves)
1 (750-milliliter) bottle Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone, Chianti, or other dry red wine
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, such as San Marzano
1 (11.2-oz) bottle Guinness draught stout
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
Toasted baguette, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, brush the tops with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Roast for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Reduce the temperature to 325°F.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large (12-inch) Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, onions, and carrots and cook over medium to medium-high heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced. Add the stock, tomatoes, Guinness, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.

Overhead shot of bowl of Ina Garten's red wine braised short rib stew

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Soup and Stew Recipes

3. Place the ribs in the pot, along with the juices and seasonings from the sheet pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook in the oven for one hour. Uncover and cook for one more hour, until the meat is very tender.

4. Remove the short ribs to a plate with a slotted spoon and discard the thyme bundle and any bones that have separated from the meat. Simmer the sauce on the stove for 20 minutes, until reduced. Skim some of the fat off the top and discard. Return the ribs to the pot, heat for 5 minutes, and taste for seasonings. Serve hot in shallow bowls, with a toasted baguette and extra sauce on the side.

Watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

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.

An Overnight Gingerbread French Toast Bake for the Perfect Winter Morning

This comforting, fragrant French toast bake is the best way to wake up on Christmas morning. It can be prepared the night before and baked fresh the next day. Just a little bit easier than standing over a griddle and individually frying each slice of French toast! The egg mixture features traditional gingerbread spices (which scents the whole house as it bakes) and the cranberry adds a hint of tartness. For best results, use a day old loaf of bread as it soaks up the liquid better.

Overnight Gingerbread French Toast Bake

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Serves: 8

Ingredients:

1 loaf country bread, cut into 1/2 thick slices
8 large eggs, whisked
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 pinch black pepper
1 pinch fine salt
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped (optional)
1/2 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen
Powdered sugar, for serving
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

1. Grease a 9×12 baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in two rows, overlapping each other.

2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper and salt.

3. Pour mixture evenly over the bread, gently pressing the slices down to soak up the liquid. Sprinkle with pecans and cranberries. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake.

4. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. If bread begins to brown too quickly, cover the top with foil and continue baking.

5. Serve warm with a dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of maple syrup.

We’ve got more easy, ultra-appetizing holiday brunch recipes to bookmark this year, from these 25 standout dishes that’ll feed a crowd to healthier recipes guests will still devour (especially after a night of indulging).

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.

Antoni Porowski Dishes on Being Canadian in the Kitchen (And What He Always Cooks on a First Date)

Antoni Porowski. You likely know him as the affable “food and wine” guy on the reality series Queer Eye, who lights up screens everywhere with his puckish smile and easy-to-prepare recipes (he practically invented guacamole). But the Montreal native is no kitchen novice. In fact, it’s his ability to elevate ordinary dishes in a way that’s still achievable for the average home cook that makes his recipes so appealing (and has us lusting after every dish he posts on Instagram). His newly-released first cookbook, Antoni In The Kitchen,  serves as further, drool-worthy proof.

Born and raised in Montreal with Polish roots, Antoni’s culinary creations are a nod to the food traditions of his past, from the perfect French omelette to “Polish Hangover Soup” (Zurek). He also speaks fondly of growing up to his mom’s Saturday platters spilling with kielbasa slices, sauerkraut and Polish mustard, coupled with his dad’s famous cheese boards.

“Every weekend I’m home, I make the obligatory cheese and charcuterie board, whether I’m solo or have guests coming,” he says. “It’s a tradition I plan to keep for as long as I can make it.”


Get the recipe for Antoni’s French Omelette with Cheese and Chives 

At 14, the Canadian food guru began hosting dinner parties for friends, slathering baguette pieces with fragrant, roasted garlic and Parmesan, eventually graduating to the likes of grilled chicken with raspberry BBQ sauce.

“I tried the sauce at a country club once. I think it was served over spareribs, and I wanted to have it at home, so I took a classic barbecue sauce recipe and added raspberries and peppercorns,” says Antoni. “There’s a lot I don’t remember that I probably should, but dishes I’ve loved stick with me for some reason.”

Whether it’s the influences of his heritage or a new food pairing that sets off his taste buds, Antoni has an intrepid curiosity that he brings to every dish he consumes and creates, modifying what’s known into something even better.


Get the recipe for Antoni’s Polish Hangover Soup

But it’s also about balance, a delicate cuisine equilibrium of sorts. His fast-casual Manhattan eatery, The Village Den, where he is part owner, focuses on more wholesome fare, free from gluten, soy, red meat and processed sugars. “Bourdain said it best with ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’,” quotes Antoni. “I eat pretty healthy during the week, but on the weekend, I tend to go nuts. That said, on a rainy Wednesday night, it’s grilled cheese for sure.”

And when it comes to arming the everyday cook with confidence, Antoni says it all boils down to finding joy in the process. “Maybe it’s a chance for solo time and self-care, or maybe it’s an opportunity for you to invite a friend or two and create together,” he says. “Don’t stress about the finished product as much. This is not unlike general life advice I’ve heard from a mentor or two.” Wise words worth pocketing away for a rainy day spent in the kitchen.

Recipes excerpted from Antoni In The Kitchen © 2019 by Antoni Porowski. Photography © 2019 by Paul Brissman. Reproduced by permission of Rux Martin Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

These Comforting Fried Mashed Potato Balls Make Leftovers the Star

Who doesn’t love creamy mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving? A classic favourite, this delicious side dish is usually one that leaves you with leftovers to repurpose. Instead of simply reheating them (not recommended), get creative in the kitchen with this ultra-tasty and easy appetizer idea that’s great for entertaining. Use whatever cheese and fun add-ins you have in your fridge to change up the flavours and suit your mood!

Mashed Potato Croquettes

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 18 balls (approx.)

Ingredients:

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
¾ cup shredded old cheddar cheese
3 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
½ tsp salt, divided
½ cup sour cream
2 Tbsp chopped chives
¼ tsp pepper
Oil, for frying

Directions:

1. Stir together mashed potatoes, cheese and bacon in a medium bowl. Portion into 1-inch balls.
2. Mix panko with ¼ tsp salt in a small bowl. Roll potato balls in panko mixture, pressing lightly to adhere.

3. Heat 1-1/2 -inches oil in a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a cooling rack. Fry potato balls in batches of 4 or 5 until golden. Set aside, and continue frying remaining batches.
4. Stir sour cream with chives, remaining salt and pepper in a small bowl. Serve with warm croquettes.

Don’t stop reimagining your leftovers there! Here are 12 turkey soup and stew recipes, plus tips on how long you can actually eat your Thanksgiving leftovers. Also, this braised turkey sandwich is worthy of becoming a new holiday tradition.

Eddie Jackson's Pineapple Gochujang Short Ribs

Eddie Jackson’s Gochujang Short Ribs Are Your New All-Star Dish

Eddie Jackson’s sweet short ribs made with gochujang sauce and fresh pineapple make for easy entertaining, leaving you with more time to enjoy with your guests (and the big game!). Inspired by Koreatown tableside grilling, they are ready in a flash — and will be gone even faster!

Serve at your next gathering with other crowd-pleasing favourites from Game-Day Eats: 100 Recipes for Homegating Like a Pro.

Eddie Jackson's Pineapple Gochujang Short Ribs from Game Day Eats

Pineapple-Gochujang Short Ribs

Prep time: 5 minutes (plus 5 hours marinating and resting time)
Cook time: 5 minutes
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients: 

1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
4 oz (about 115 g) fresh pineapple, roughly chopped
½ cup turbinado sugar
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 kiwi, peeled and roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 (1-inch/2.5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 lbs flanken-style short ribs
Thinly sliced scallion, for serving

Directions: 

1. In a food processor, combine the soy sauce, pineapple, sugar, shallot, kiwi, garlic, ginger, gochujang, sesame oil, and black pepper. Pulse until the ingredients are combined and no large chunks remain.
2. Put the ribs into a large resealable plastic bag or large nonre­active bowl with an airtight lid. Pour the marinade over the ribs and massage it into the meat. Seal (or cover) and refrig­erate for at least 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature about 1 hour before grilling.
3. When ready to grill, prepare a grill for direct cooking (or set a grill pan over medium-high heat).
4. Grill the ribs until the meat is browned through, 2 to 3 min­utes per side, turning frequently. Top with the scallions and serve immediately.

Tip: Shake off any excess marinade before you grill the meat to prevent any flare-ups. Any leftover marinade can be brought to a boil until it reduces slightly and used as extra sauce for the ribs, if desired.

From the book GAME-DAY EATS: 100 Recipes for Homegating Like a Pro by Eddie Jackson. Copyright © 2019 by Eddie Jackson. Published on September 24, 2019 by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

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.

Tasty Thai “Fall” Rolls with Pumpkin-Coconut Sauce (That You Can Make Ahead!)

A Thai-style appetizer with a Thanksgiving twist, these “fall” rolls offer a light bite before the main event. Inspired by the fresh summer rolls enjoyed at Thai restaurants, this autumnal version with roasted sweet potato and cabbage, soba noodles and peanuts is paired with a savoury coconut milk and pumpkin sauce spiced up with sriracha and juicy lime. They’re healthy, easy to prepare and can be made ahead up to one day – a bonus when holiday entertaining

Create your own filling to use up leftovers like roasted Brussels sprouts and squash, or add a bit of protein with shredded roasted turkey. You can even wrap up a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. There are no rules to roll.

Fresh Thai “Fall” Rolls with Pumpkin-Coconut Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Cool Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Makes: 15 to 20 rolls

Ingredients: 

Filling
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch sticks
5 cups shredded green cabbage or quartered Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, plus more for noodles
2 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more for noodles
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
½ (363g) pkg (2 bundles) buckwheat soba noodles 

Coconut-Pumpkin Dipping Sauce
1 (160mL) small can coconut milk
⅓ cup pumpkin purée
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Sriracha, to taste 

Assembly
15 to 20 rice paper wrappers
3 green onions, sliced into matchsticks
1 cup fresh basil leaves or cilantro leaves
¼ cup roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted), roughly chopped
Black or white sesame seeds

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add squash, cabbage, olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar, and then toss to combine and spread into a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, toss and roast for a further 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are very tender and beginning to caramelize. Set aside to cool to room temperature, or store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain well again. Transfer to a medium bowl and toss with a splash of additional sesame oil and soy sauce to coat and prevent the noodles from clumping. 

3. For the sauce, in a medium bowl whisk all ingredients well to combine so no lumps remain. If the coconut milk is cold, there will be lumps that refuse to whisk; if this happens, heat mixture in a pot over low heat, whisking constantly, until they melt. Pour into a serving bowl, or store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The sauce will firm as it cools, which tastes great, too – bring to room temperature for a looser dipping sauce consistency. 

4. To assemble, fill a large pie plate or rimmed baking sheet with warm tap water. Have all the filling and assembly ingredients chopped and within arm’s reach. Line a baking sheet or plate with parchment paper and have a few damp paper towels handy. Working one rice paper wrapper at a time, re-hydrate for 20 to 30 seconds in warm water until pliable, and place on a clean service.

5. To the wrappers, in the bottom third leaving a portion of rice paper wrapper exposed at the bottom, add a small amount (about ⅓ cup total) of roasted vegetables, noodles, green onions, basil and peanuts. Tuck in the bottom, then the sides and continue to roll away from you to seal. Place on prepared baking sheet and cover with a damp paper towel to avoid drying out. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. If making ahead, wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap and transfer to an airtight container for up to one day; unwrap before serving.

6. Add rolls to plate next to dipping sauce, sprinkle the rolls and sauce with sesame seeds, and then serve. 

With an appetizer covered, it’s time to figure out the main course – here are some hacks to keep stress down in the kitchen.

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!

Vegan Shortbread Cookies That Party Goers Will Happily Devour

Rich and melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies are a holiday classic loved by all ages. Vegans and those who avoid dairy can still enjoy the butteriest time of year with this cookie recipe using store-bought vegan butter. Look for a variety with a touch of coconut oil in the mix for the richest flavour and most tender texture.

Vegan Shortbread Cookies

A dusting of icing sugar or drizzle of melted chocolate to finish will make these cookies pop on a platter, though for shortbread purists, they’re just as nice without the flourish. Whether you decorate or not, a pot of tea to pair alongside your vegan shortbreads is non-negotiable.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Makes: 12 cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (125 g) vegan stick butter (not spread or margarine), room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch, salt
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or light spelt flour

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (skip for non-stick baking sheets).
2. In a large bowl, cream vegan butter until smooth. Add sugars, vanilla and salt, and then continue to cream the mixture until fully combined, whipping a bit of air into the mix as you go. Slowly stir in flour until fully combined.

Vegan Shortbread Cookie Dough

3. Using your hands, gather dough into a ball and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Or, wrap dough tightly and freeze for up to 2 months; defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Vegan Shortbread Cookie Pressed Dough

4. Roll into 12 balls and place on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1- to 2-inches apart. Using the tines of a fork, gently flatten the top of each cookie. Alternatively, use a cookie press to make decorative spritz cookies.
5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until just beginning to brown on the bottom and puffed. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
6. Once cookies are cool, dust with icing sugar. Serve.

Baked Vegan Shortbread Cookies

Impress guests further with these 25 Decadent Vegan Holiday Desserts.

Just another msblogs site