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EVERYDAY entertaining


Staging your Kitchen for Entertaining

staging your kitchen for entertaining

staging your kitchen for entertaining

One booth that I noticed at the SIDIM was the kitchen by Fellini Designs in collaboration with Thermador home appliances. Interior architect Rosanna Cotunni selected all the surfaces and came out with the kitchen layout. The main reason that Italian kitchen caught my attention was how they staged their booth. It illustrated a few techniques that you can use to prepare an open-plan kitchen when you have guests over for dinner.

Three Simple Entertaining Tips

Look at how inviting their pasta tower is. Think about how you can use food to decorate your space.

textured slate tiles as a chalkboard wall

Write down the menu on the wall. Textured slate tiles replace the traditional chalkboard wall in Chef Normand Laprise’s dream kitchen.

design your kitchen for easy entertaining

A raised bar coupled with a spacious deep sink hide the cooking mess. Think about that feature when you renovate your kitchen.


The First Issue of Sweet Paul Magazine

easy entertaining food and drink presentation :: photos by frances janisch

easy entertaining food and drink presentation :: photos by frances janisch

The good news from all of us who enjoy Paul Lowe of Sweet Paul is the launch of his digital magazine. The first issue is awesome. I browsed the issue and compiled a list of 4 easy entertaining ideas that you could recycle for your next party.

First, Paul shared a simple way to create an adorable drink station and a unique way to serve cheese.

pastry bites :: photos by sabra krock

Because we always need time-saving ideas to serve home made bites for a before dinner cocktail, look no further them store-bought puff pastry or phyllo dough to come to your rescue. No cooking skill is necessary to make these classic puff pastry hors d’oeuvre pillows.

apple and chevre salad with honey vinaigrette styled by paul lowe

Then, continue to impress your guess by serving them for the first course this stylish apple and chevre salad with honey vinaigrette. Again, you put your efforts on the food presentation. The recipe itself is pretty straight forward to execute.

Kids Party

circus-themed birthday party for kids

If you are looking for relatively simple ideas to decorate food for a circus-themed party, check out these circus animal silhouette cookies. They look sophisticated! If you get a cookie cutter or make a template, it should not be too hard to fashion your own seal or chocolate elephant cookies. Adding a few props creates the WOW factor. The magazine contains more food and drink recipes to host a memorable circus-themed birthday party.

+ First Issue, Spring 2010 of Sweet Paul magazine


Plating Ideas from a Spring Luncheon

spring luncheon by beauty everyday with five & ten

spring luncheon by beauty everyday with five & ten

To the best of my understanding, Beauty Everyday is a blog of Kristen Bach that she launched with the help of two friends: the ceramic dinnerware artist Rebecca Wood and the photographer Rinne Allen. In collaboration with Five & Ten, the three women organized a superb Spring luncheon. I love what they did.

plating ideas from a spring luncheon

The beautiful green dinnerware is naturally from R.Wood studio. The wooden vessels and old cuts of wood from Rinne’s studio. Look at how a simple row of bowls is transformed when you create a layout on a long wooden tray. If fact, you simply have to cut a wide piece of wood that you buy at the lumber store and apply a few coats of stain to make your one. Cut an handle for a more refined look. I love it! I will ask my husband to build me two.

+ Get the menu on Hugh Cooks Food (the chef at Five & Ten)
+ Beauty Everyday – photography by Rinne Allen


Family Dinner Menu

family meal menu :: lemon and thyme chicken and lime pie on sweet paul

roasted carrot and fennel soup on sweet amandine

I usually serve uncomplicated, tasty meals when I have friends over. I believe it is best to cook dishes that everyone will enjoy. A simple recipe can look very appealing. A simple look at the photos on Sweet Paul will convince you, if you are not sure.

family meal menu :: lemon and thyme chicken and lime pie on sweet paul

The next time you host a casual dinner, invite old friends to kitchen like:

+ a light puree soup. Jess of Sweet Amandine told us that the fine taste of the Roasted Carrot and Fennel Soup comes from the flavors and textures of its starring ingredients.

+ a rustic chicken recipe that you cook in one dish. You cannot go wrong with a Lemon and Thyme Roast Chicken. Paul of Sweet Paul suggest to serve it with your favorite green salad.

+ For dessert, I selected the Lime Pie, also from Sweet Paul. Both photos are by Ellen Silverman


Five Light Desserts to Serve at a Brunch or a Picnic

coconut and lime macaroons by la tartine gourmande

light dessert :: quinoa poudding by cannelle et vanille :: lemon cookies

Many occasions call for a light dessert instead of a piece of cake. This is particularly true at Easter, at a picnic, a walk at the beach or at a family brunch. Here are recipes that you will be proud to serve to your guests.

coconut and lime macaroons by la tartine gourmande

+ Coconut and Lime Macaroons by La Tartine Gourmande
+ the Quinoa pudding with strawberries and pistachios recipe from Cannelle et Vanille
+ a gluten-free lemon cookie recipe: Lemon meltaways on Style at home

Two Cold Desserts

Those will be tricky to bring at a picnic but they taste so good on a summer day that I had to include them on my list.

gelato affogato recipe by david rocco

+ a classic Italian recipe, the Gelato Affogato by David Rocco
+ the Strawberry granita recipe of David Lebovitz that you top with lemon zest or macerated berries


Surprise Bread with Swedish Bread

surprise bread made with round swedish bread

surprise bread made with round swedish bread

Many parties call for serving sandwiches. Then, the question becomes how can you do it in style. A popular plating technique in casual parties in France is the Surprise bread. You can even buy Surprise breads in many stores in France, especially during the Holidays. You can serve a Surprise bread if you are invite your friends to take the apéro at your place (that is, you invite them for a drink), at a picnic or a casual party.

If you use the round Swedish bread, a cooked unrisen dough bread, making your own is quick and easy. The Swedish bread (called “pain polaire” in France) is characterized by its moistness and slightly sweet taste.

What is a Surprise Bread?

Imagine a tower that stands 4 to 5 sandwich tall and cut in 6 to 8 pieces. The thrill is that you take the piece of sandwich on top, without knowing what is inside. The Swedish bread is ideal for that since it is thin, it is easy to grab without being messy. And it does not dry out as ordinary bread would.

Select complementary recipes for the fillings.  Since the tower cannot be too high, keep the fillings fairly thin for each sandwich.

Step by step instructions:

  1. Prepare 4 or 5 sandwiches as usual; each one has a different filling.
  2. On a serving platter, put the sandwiches one over the other. Try to create a striking color palette when it is assembled.
  3. Once, you assembled the column, you cut the bread in 6 or 8 pieces

Typically fillings included cheese cream and salmon, hummus, guacamole, pesto and prosciutto, brie or goat cheese with sun-dried tomatoes, ham and cheese or egg mimosa and chives. For a family event, you can create a second tower with an assortment of children’s favorite recipes.

Make it Stylish

I spoke this afternoon with Sophie Rayes at Gastronomia to know more about the surprise bread. You do not have to stop there. You can decorate further the surprise bread. For example, create a cylinder to wrap all or part of the surprise bread. You could add ribbons or affix decorative elements for a baby shower, a tea party or a big family picnic.

In Montreal, you can buy round Swedish bread at the warehouse store of Gastronomia. For the rest of my Canadian readers, Gastronomia sells online and ships across Canada. To get the free shipping, you could stock on frozen appetizers and get a pack of Gratin Dauphinois.

+ Swedish breads at Gastronomia $3.35 CAD for a bag of 5 units
+ photos: Pain surprise recipe at Pain Concept


3 Must-Have Details for your Next Milestone Party

wonderful props at a eunice and daniel's wedding

wonderful props at a eunice and daniel\'s wedding

Weddings become more and more amazing every year. That formal event seems more fun than in the past. Couples these days want a memorable wedding that fits within their personality. For these reasons, they are always an incredible source of inspirations for any big party.

You probably have seen the wedding of the creative director of Hello!Lucky, Eunice with Daniel. It is featured on The Spring 2010 edition of Martha Stewart weddings and many on the blogosphere have praised it this month. This remarkable wedding illustrates so well key components that can make any party one that your guests will remember for many years.

1. Set the Tone with Stages, Props and Custom Signage

custom signage contributes to a party decor

If you wish to make a statement, you need to invest in out of the ordinary party decor elements. They use the service of Because We Can to build a portable flat-pack grand stage, various signs, and fun props. Look for local people with a background in theater set, or even an excellent store window designer. They know how to create make believe props and stages.

And do not underestimate the power of custom signage. It does not give directions to your guests. It look should reinforce your party theme.

2. Parades and Costumes

party activity: get props for a festive parade

The idea of a parade to bring the guests from point A to point B is a great and fun idea. It sends the message that it is time to celebrate. People of all ages love parades. Anyone with an artistic flair coupled with some building experience can made their own version of hand-painted silhouettes, if you have time on your hand. At a kid party, the kid can decorate their own silhouettes. When selecting the materials, make sure the silhouettes once attached to the stick will still be lightweight.

3. Attention to the Comfort of Your Guests

details to assure the comfort of your guests

Assuring the well-being of your guests is the number #1 rule of entertaining. Every party has their high and low moments. Make sure that your guests always find something to do. It is not just about paying attention to food and drinks. It is also making sure that nobody is too hot, or too cold. It is about self-servicing snacks all day long, just in case someone is really hungry. All these little details translate into fun and happiness for your guests.

The last point applies to everyday entertaining. If those are planned ahead, the host and hostess will be free to enjoy the company of their guests. It does not always work that way in real life. But as long as you aim for more work before and less work during the party, you should be OK.

+ Eunice and Daniel feature on Martha Stewart Weddings
+ Portable stands, props and signage by Because We Can
+ Behind the scenes coverage on the blog of Hello!Lucky
+ Get the vendor list on Hello!Lucky
+ via 100 Layer Cake


Infuse a Burst of Flavor in Ice Cubes and Water

adding a burst of flavor to ice cubes and water

adding a burst of flavor to ice cubes and water

Today, it feels like Spring in Montreal. I am thinking about summer drinks to serve on a terrace. Here are a few tips to cheer up water and cocktails. Drop berries, herbs, strips of citrus zest and ginger bits before you add water to your ice cube trays. It cannot be simpler than that.

Adding Tonic Water to your Ice Cubes

I like to serve for the aperitif a glass of Portonic. It is a refreshing long drink made with dry white Port, tonic water, ice, garnished with either a slice of lemon or lime. A modern variation is to replace the slice of lemon by a slice of cucumber and 2 green grapes. In this case, you could pour some tonic water before adding the tab water to make your ice cubes. You could make 100% tonic water ice cubes but they will melt at a faster rate.

Flavored waters

Let the ingredients infuse the water on the fridge for at least an hour before serving. Try the mix of sliced ginger, cucumber ribbons, and mint sprigs. Martha also suggested to add lime slices, large strips of orange zest, and gently crushed rosemary sprigs to your water pitcher.

+ photo: Flavored Ice Cubes on Martha Stewart
+ photo: Inviting waters on Martha Stewart


Oscar Party Ideas

oscar night party kit :: oscar statuette cookies and academy awards printable ballots

oscar night party kit :: oscar statuette cookies and academy awards printable ballots

You have less than a week to prepare for the Academy Awards 2010. I scoured the Web to integrate the best party ideas into a cohesive party theme. You could easily merge the do it yourself candy bags from Twig & Thistle with Bakerella’s oscar statuette cookies.

Print Your Own Candy Bags, Invites and Ballots

print your own invites and candy bags for an oscar party

For a theatrical effect, make your own tray held by a neck strap. You can use it to serve candy or popcorn. Kathleen of Twig and Thistle made invites, ballots, popcorn bags, and party favors all available as downloadable PDF’s.

Invite your friends one to two hours before the Awards show starts. It will give you the chances to chat, eat the canapes, discuss the dresses on the red carpet and will leave enough time to fill the ballots. Ask people to dress up so they can pose at a movie star photo booth.

movie star cupcakes and academy awards ballots

Oscar Night Cupcakes and Cookies

Since everyone will want to watch the show, including you, forget the formal dinner and serve tapas instead. Ideally, opt for recipes that can be eaten at room temperature.  For dessert, get inspired by the star cupcakes from Sprinkles cupcakes.

oscar night cookies by bakerella

Leave the Oscar statuette cookies to be the star of the night.  I like how Bakerella displayed the cookies on the red carpet with cute small signs. This baker is amazing. If you plan to serve the cupcakes for dessert, everyone could get back home with their tasty Oscar statuette.

+ Awards Night Sugar Cookies by Bakerella
+ Statue Cookie Cutter $12.95
+ Ballot template, DIY candy bags and print your own invites by Twig & Thistle
+ kid picture from J. Crew
+ Gold star decorated cupcakes by Sprinkles cupcakes


Make Your Own Blini Bar

blini bar styled by Sunday Suppers

blini bar styled by Sunday Suppers

I keep on my fridge a pack of mini blinis. These Russian mini crepes come handy whenever I host an impromptu cocktail.

Sunday Suppers talked about the blini bar. Their concept is even simpler since they suggest that your guests make their own canapés. You can even add a friendly competition on whom made the best canapé. If you keep a jar of caviar on your pantry, you need 15 minutes to go at the grocery to grab the fresh ingredients. Then, add a few more minutes to style your blini bar and your drink bar. Voilà!

more easy blini canape recipes

Get inspired by these classic recipes:

Providing one or two options to your guests is enough. You can serve it with Champagne, a glass of cold Vodka or white wine.

photo credits:
+  Sunday Suppers
+ Marie-Claire UK
+ Food Network Canada


Stylish Sunday Brunch with Baked Eggs Florentine

stylish sunday brunch tabletop on canadian house and home January 2010

stylish sunday brunch tabletop on canadian house and home January 2010

I love these pictures of a Sunday brunch that was featured on Canadian House and Home. You will not have to wake up at 5 in the morning to set up this stylish tabletop. Whether you have a brunch with friends or family and kids, everyone will feel welcome with a navy and white tabletop.

food for a stylish sunday brunch- canadian house and home January 2010

The egg recipe is perfect since it enables the host to cook them in one shot. I typically make eggs in ramekins but the baked eggs florentine are as easy to make. Plus who can resist a sunny and tasty citrus fruit salad.

+ photos by Michael Graydon for Canadian House and Home – January 2010 edition