Yearly Archives

2012

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe

dukkah

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe

I continue my series on easy holiday entertaining ideas with a Canadian twist on a popular Egyptian spice blend. This dukkah recipe replaces the traditional hazelnuts, pistachios and sesame seeds with pumpkin seeds and almonds or pine nuts.

When people asked me what they should keep in their pantry to be ready to entertain, dukkah naturally comes in mind. While your guests are enjoying a glass of wine or your welcome cocktail, cut a baguette, pour some olive oil in a large plate or an oil serving bowl, and serve dukkah in a low bowl. You dip bread into olive oil, then into the nut mixture. I have to warn you to make plenty since dukkah can become addictive. Leftovers can be stored into a airtight container for a month. Another easy to make appetizer is to cover goat cheese balls with dukkah.

Pumpkin & Fennel Dukkah recipe by Josee Robitaille

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) almonds or pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) sesame seeds
  • 4 teaspoons (20 ml) fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) sea salt

How to make it

dukkah preparation

  • Preheat your oven at 350 °F (180°C)
  • Grill the pumpkin seeds and almonds on a cookie sheet for 4 to 6 minutes (until they are lightly golden)
  • Deposit the sesame seeds into another cookie sheet and grill for 3 to 4 minutes (until they are lightly golden)
  • Remove the cookie sheets from the oven and let cool completely
  • Deposit the fennel seeds into a pan and roast them 3 to 4 minutes at a medium heat. Then, remove from oven and let cool completely.
  • Pulse the pumpkin seeds and the pine nuts in the small bowl of a food processor to a coarse consistency. Be careful, it should not become a paste. Another option is to chop them with a knife.
  • Grind or place in a mortar and pestle the fennel seeds and pound until the mixture is crushed
  • Mix all the ingredients in a bowl

Voilà! Put another batch into a Mason jar, attach a gift tag and you will have a tasty hostess gift ready to bring during the holiday season.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY decorations

At the Launch of a 2.0 Christmas Tree

christmas tree video games played on tablets at place montreal trust

christmas tree 2.0 at place montreal trust

Last night, my son and I attended a Christmas tree reveal party. The Christmas tree at Place Montreal Trust is 2.0; it is social and playful. The 75 feet high tree is decorated with big screens that display Christmas themed video games that are currently played by visitors. You can play at one of the 9 electronic tablets located at the food court level. Every Thursday between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., visitors are invited to tweet their Holiday wishes at #sapinpmt. The tweets will be displayed on the giant screen at the base of the tree.

christmas tree video games played on tablets at place montreal trust

Finishing the games could make a difference in the life of many sick kids. From November 15 to December 4, Place Montréal Trust will donate $1 per completed game to the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, up to $1,000 per day. Make sure to stop by and play for a while. The games are designed to be easily played by young kids. So if you are in Montreal, have a look at this new concept of Christmas trees.

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

On my Wish List: The Sticks Silicone Moulds by Lekue

make your own bread sticks

make your own bread sticks
photo: Lekue World page on Facebook

Sticks is a silicone mould that let you greet your guests this holiday season with 30 delicious, crunchy homemade bread sticks. Cooking time is 15 minutes on the oven, or 5 minutes on the microwave. I see it as a perfect bakeware tool for the hostess.

What I like about the Lekue Sticks mold is that the stocks are the right size to be served as appetizers.

lekue sticks
sourcing: Lekue Sticks

They are not just for appetizers. You can serve bread sticks, instead of crackers, with a warm soup at lunch time or you can include them in your dessert table. On Lekue Web site, I found two basic savoury bread stick recipes  (parmesan and orange sticks, black olive sticks) and three basic sweet bread stick recipes (spice sticks, cacao sticks, citrus sticks).

bread sticks with a soup for lunch

I already own the Decomax. Since I really want them, I ask a local shop to investigate if they could order them for me. I have my doubts since Sticks is a new product that seems to be available only the European site. Fingers crossed!

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

The Best Pineapple Marmelade Recipe

pineapple marmelade with croissant

josee robitaille et kim vallee
photo of Josee Robitaille and Kim Vallee

Yesterday I attended a Proctor & Gamble media event where the star was Josee Robitaille, a consulting chef. I enjoyed so much her recipes that I translated them especially for you. The first recipe is a pineapple marmelade that will become the talk at your next brunch.

pineapple marmelade with croissant

It is simple to make. No special skills are required. All you need are 4 ingredients (pineapple, sugar, lime and fresh vanilla), a heavy-bottomed pot, a Microplane grater, and a food processor. I ate some this morning with a warm French croissant. Delicious! You could serve the pineapple marmelade with crepes, French toasts or on a plain yogourt.

What I like about this marmelade recipe is that it is not too sweet. If you decide to serve at a brunch, I suggest that you make a bigger batch. Your guests will be delighted to take home a small jar.

Pineapple Marmelade Recipe by Josee Robitaille

marmelade cooking
on the left side: see what is look like once it is fully cooked, on the right: get an idea of the cube size

  • After you removed the skin, split the pineapple in two lengthwise. Further divide each half lengthways and remove the heart. Then, cut into 1-inch cubes.
  • Put the pineapple cubes inside a heavy-bottomed pot.
  • Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of raw sugar and the zest of one lime to the pot.
  • Cut the pod of your vanilla bean in halve, lengthwise with a paring knife. With the sharp edge of the paring knife, remove the seeds from the pods. Add the seeds to the pot. Then, cut the pod in half. Add the empty pods to the pot.
  • Bring to boiling and cook without a cover at medium temperature for 25 to 30 minutes. It will be ready when the water from the pineapple is almost all evaporated. Mix a few times during cooking.

pineapple marmelade
you aim for a puree with some textures.

  • Remove the vanilla pods and put the rest in a food processor.
  • Pulse until you obtain a coarse puree.
  • Transfer into a glass container and put it in the fridge. You can keep it for 2 weeks in your fridge.

With pineapples and citrus fruits becoming seasonal, I think that I will make my own marmelade more often.

ENTERTAINING HOLIDAY entertaining

Holiday Cards for Modern Design Lovers

modern holiday cards

modern holiday cards
sourcing: Hip X-mas greeting cards | Mod Homestead gift tags (mini-notes) | Biltzen (deck the antler) At Fabulous Stationery

Personalized holiday cards usually say something about you. I like it when people can guess that it is for me. This is why I adore the cool illustrations at Fabulous Stationery. Their collection would appeal to an interior design, a decor store or a design-savvy family. A nice feature is that any of the patterns can be used for gift tags. It would be more original to select illustrations that share the same theme instead of picking exactly the same.

The last two models (see bottom montage) would make party invites that people will not want to miss.

modern holiday greeting cards
sourcing: Tweet | Goody GumdropsGlam Greetings

Do you still order personalized holiday cards?

SPONSORED POST

9 Ways to Decorate and Entertain with Chocolate this Holiday Season

lindt lindor chocolate box and holiday gift display

lindt lindor chocolate box and holiday gift display

The delicious Lindt Lindor balls have always been part of my family’s Christmas tradition. Over the years, I’ve used them for decorating my home, for entertaining and naturally, for gifts. So, I was thrilled when I was asked to share how I incorporate Lindor chocolates into my holiday celebrations and entertaining routine.

Let’s start with holiday décor; why not create a festive gift display on a shelf or side table? While most of your gifts will stay under the tree, Lindor’s nested gift boxes bring a sense of order and height to the composition. Adding a few festive decorations will complete the look.

Mini Christmas trees are ideal for small spaces. Try hanging Lindt’s snowman and snowflake balls on a bouquet of white branches with snowflake ornaments and tiny blue baubles. You could also tie the chocolate balls together with fishing line to make a garland for your mini tree.

Creating a wreath with unusual materials adds je ne sais quoi flair to your holiday décor. In the past, I made wreaths with a rustic bird nest, baubles and Tiffany-style boxes. This year, I will transform the red-wrapped milk chocolate balls into a Christmas candy wonderland wreath.

Making your own advent calendar will put many smiles on your child’s face. Between the tree ornaments, the craft supplies, and the little toys, you could reward your kids for their good deeds with a few chocolate treats.

If you are hosting a party or dinner, Lindor balls can garnish a martini (click here for the Chocolate Raspberry Lindtini recipe and for more Lindt chocolate recipes). After dinner, keep your mignardises (tiny, bite-sized desserts) simple by serving an assortment of Lindor chocolates on a platter.

Being creative with your hostess gift presentations doesn’t require being crafty. For example, you can simply fill a ceramic egg crate with delicious chocolate pieces.

Finally, I keep a supply of quality milk chocolate on hand for all my holiday baking needs. Whether it’s homemade brownies for a potluck or a holiday cookie exchange, it’s one less trip to the grocery store. And considering how hectic the holiday season is, that may just be the best treat of all.

sponsored by LindtFor your chance to instantly win one of their Daily Dream Prizes, make sure to enter the Dream with Lindor this holiday season contest on Facebook.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Lindt Lindor via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Lindt Lindor.

HOME + GARDEN HOME office

Five Fun Home Office Accessories

feminine desk accessories

I want my small home office to feel prettier. My quest for modern home office continues with five desk accessories that have nothing in common with what you see in a corporate office. I will start by replacing my old and bulky desk phone by a nice desk tidy. The retro camera sharpener could be the start of a collection of items that I would display on a picture rail over my desk.

feminine desk accessories
sourcing: Porcelain desk organizer $29.90 USD by Black+Blum | Retro Camera Pencil Sharpener $16.50 CAD at Indigo | Gus Modern Picture rails $115-$165 at Bobby Berk Home

This sculptural desk organizer reminds me of a model totem. As long as you limit the number of paper pieces in it, it would look amazing.

dark oak desk tidy
sourcing: Dark Oak Desk Tidy £44.90 at Cow & Co

I present the next set as a gift idea for a man. The square trays could be used to organize a drawer.

desk blocks
sourcing: Desk Blocks £52 at Cow & Co

I would probably use the Jonathan Alder’s bright pens more as a decorative element than for writing.

jonathan alder ink pen
sourcing: Jonathan Alder Ink Pen on sale at $8.90 USD at Horchow

SPONSORED POST

My Guide to Stress-Free Impromptu Holiday Entertaining

charcuterie platter

charcuterie platter for easy entertaining

Everyone is so busy during the holiday season that the only way to see old friends may be to host an impromptu event. It is possible to minimize your effort and create a memorable cocktail party or dinner party. You can pull off any improvised get-together by following a few simple steps.

1. Keep a Well-Stocked Kitchen

Easy entertaining starts with being prepared. During the holiday season, I take no chances. I pack my pantry and fridge with entertaining essentials. Nuts, olives, chips, nachos and dips are lifesavers.

Other must have condiments are jars of mini gherkins and pickled onions. They can garnish your martinis or complement a charcuterie platter. If I entertain more than 6 persons, I usually split my charcuterie platter into two trays.

2. Serve Familiar Dishes

Don’t try any new culinary experience. Instead, cook a delicious, easy to make dish from your repertoire. To cut your shopping time, select recipes with ingredients available at your local grocer.

There is nothing wrong with buying a savory pie from a local shop or serving a stew that was in your freezer.

3. Dress the Table

Even if your meal is not ready, as long as the table is set, your guests will know that you were expected them. Create an instant centerpiece by placing baubles, lemons or vegetables in a clear vase.

If you are running late on cooking, invite your guests to the kitchen, relax and chat with them as they sip their welcome cocktail and you cook dinner. And if someone offers to help, gladly accept the offer.

4. Keep your Bar List to the Minimum

Unless you hired a bartender for your party, opt for one or two cocktails that can be prepared in a pitcher. And it is OK to stick to wine and beers.

If you don’t have a wine fridge, keep a few bottles of white wine bottle in your refrigerator. Get it out minutes before your guests arrive to have it at the right temperature. Did you know that LG Blast Chiller could chill a room temperature bottle of wine in just eight minutes?

5. Quick Cleaning around the House

As long as you pick up the clutter, clean the powder room, and make room in the entryway for coats and boots, you will be all right. If possible, start the party with an empty dishwasher.

My Last Advice

Great conversations in a fun ambiance will go a long way. Whatever you do, remember that your friends come to see you. Pass time with them.

sponsored by LGAbout our Sponsor

The LG Blast Chiller, available in the 3-Door Super Capacity French-Door refrigerator (LFX31935), can chill a room temperature, 12oz beverage in five minutes or a bottle of wine in just eight minutes. By comparison, a typical refrigerator takes about 40 minutes to accomplish this task – even in the freezer. This refrigerator is also among the largest capacity 36-inch refrigerators currently on the market, offering almost 20 percent more space and the ability to store over 50 gallons of milk.

To view entertaining blast or chill content and share your own blast or chill moments, visit the LG USA Facebook page or website.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by LG via Glam Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of LG

FAMILY GAMES and Toys

Three DIY Toys that You Can Do with Your Kids

french postal truck toy

cupcake or ice cream truck
photo: cupcake or ice cream truck by Martine Camillieri

Crafting projects let you pass quality time with your kids. I wanted a project that I could do for my boy, who adore trucks. I found three project ideas fron France that repurpose things that you have at home.

french postal truck toy
photo: La Poste, French postal truck by Martine Camillieri

The first idea is from Martine Camillieri. This french woman has been transforming cleaning product containers into cars and trucks since 2007. Her upcycling creations appeared in a book and many exhibits over the years. Although she failed to provide tutorials to make your own, it seems that she affixed two caps to make wheels and used stickers and paint to decorate the vehicles. It is definitely a project that you can do with your kids.

diy pickup truck toy
photo: DIY pick-up truck toy by Martine Camillieri

The second idea is from a limited-print series called Bolides. I encourage you to explore your own boxy style. After a few trial and error, you could design your own templates. I would use mashi tape to create the various car or truck elements. Washi tapes come in a variety of colors and it is easy to reposition them. Cut a straw in two to support the wheels.

bolides

You could make your own paper tipi toy. Let your kids create their own patterns. Each tipi stands tall with 3 sticks.

make your own paper tipi toy
photo: Tipis by Morse

These are not toys that are designed to last. Nonetheless, they are fun to make. If you want to keep them longer, you could always tell your kids that they are making art pieces for their playroom.

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

How I Solved the What’s for Dinner Dilemma

weeknight dinner

weeknight dinner
photo: IKEA

In a few words, I gave me less time to think about what’s to eat for dinner. Since my toddler go to day care, the need to quickly prepare dinner has taken a new meaning. I remain impulsive when it comes to decide what to eat for dinner but I added more organisation than it used to. I factor in what my son ate for lunch, what I would like to eat and make sure that our diet provides a variety of meat, fish and poultry.

At couple weeks ago, I gave Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals a try. The recipes were delicious but I lost a lot of time by having to constantly read the instructions to find where I was. My guess is that if I redid the same recipes, it would fast.

I reserve 30 to 40 minutes before I pick him up at day care to shop for what I’ld need to cook dinner that night. It used that time as a transition between work and family time.  If the recipe is from a cookbook, I will take a picture of the ingredient list with my iPhone. This is quicker than to make a grocery list. I head to the stores with a “plan B” recipe, in case that they don’t have in stock an essential ingredient.

Our main courses for a week might look like that:

  • Casserole of grilled Italian sausage and vegetables on rice – Like father, like son, since both adore this recipe.
  • Dijon mustard trout served with grilled asparagus and rice – another winner
  • A pasta dish made with a home made sauce
  • Colombine potatoes (slices of potatoes with red peppers, french shallot and parsley), boiled green beans served with a T-bone steak
  • Thai shrimp noodles
  • Veal al limone with rice and broccoli – I used to serve Brussels sprouts with that recipe. Since my son has not yet developed a taste for them, I cooked broccoli instead.
  • Tender and crisp chicken legs with sweet tomatoes – a recipe from Jamie Oliver

Over the week, I might grab a home made dish from the freezer. But tonight, I want to try a new recipe. I will quickly browse Donna Hay cookbooks for a change. I only have five minutes left to decide.

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

Verso Shelf by One Nordic Furniture

verso ladder style shelf

verso shelf
photo: Verso Shelf 34 and 56 by One Nordic Furniture

With a depth of only 16 cm (6 inches), Verso fits into narrow spaces. What I like about ladder style shelving unit is their versatility. They can serve so many purposes that you never get tired of them. You could use it for hanging scarfs, umbrellas and a couple of hangers in an entrance without a closet. Or to provide extra throws in a guest room. During the holiday season, Verso can become your ladder Christmas card holder.

verso ladder style shelf

With two sizes and additional magazine stands, it’s easy to create your own version of the Verso shelf. The available widths are 34 and 56 cm. Verso was created by Finnish furniture designer Mikko Halonen for One Nordic Furniture. For now, they only ship within Europe.