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easy entertaining

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.

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!

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

FOOD + DRINK TABLEWARE

My Must-Haves at Fish Eddy for Spring and Summer Entertaining

sunday brunch

party glasses like1959

Shown here: Party Glass $5 USD

Fish Eddy introduced a new line of party glasses that are simply too adorable to ignore. I imagine myself drinking juice or iced tea in any one of the 4 cheerful mod tumblers this summer.

I compiled the things I like for a cozy brunch at home from a metropolitan look to the girl ion the garden. I love the golden yellow of the egg tray holder.

sunday brunch

Shown here: Take 5 Dishtowel Pair $14.95 USD | Golden Egg Holder Tray $9.95 USD |  Milk Bottle Robin Egg 8 oz $6.95 USD | From the Charley Harper Collection designed by Todd Oldham for Fish Eddy School of Fish Tray $32.95 USD, Sunset Glass $5 USD Charley Harper Orange Fish Coupe Plate $14.95 USD |  Take 5 Mug $10.95 USD and plate

Shopping at Fish Eddy is definitively on my to-do list for my next trip to New York City. They are located on Broadway at 19th Street. If you do not live in New York, you can always shop at their online store.

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Pretty Appetizers

scallop ceviche

scallop ceviche

See how one utensil makes all the difference. Take clues from these superbly done scallop ceviche for serving any appetizers on a seashell. I am inspired by the stylish way they display the seashells on a fork. This method is also practical since your guests will grab their fork at the same time.

grilled vegetable skewers

Cut your zucchini or cucumber lengthwise to achieve a more sophisticated look. This is a simple trick to enhance how you serve your vegetable skewers. And if you lack the time to make your own, you can always buy them at Cool & Simple (or Gastronomia).

SOURCING:
+ Cévichés de pétoncles au gingembre $8.95 CAD at Cool & Simple
+ Mini-brochettes de légumes grillés $6.95 CAD for 8

ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR entertaining

Simple and Delightful Ideas for Entertaining at the Cottage

outdoor movie :: pillows on the dock

outdoor movie :: pillows on the dock

Entertaining at a cottage by the lake must leave you time to enjoy the view and all the outdoor activities. A few simple steps is often enough to make your guests feel welcome.

You could start with these three ideas from a Montauk Surf Shack that was featured on The New York Times. What I like about these ideas is that you can reuse them over and over. The key component is to provide comfort in a fun and stylish way.

canvas teepees

  • Create your own outdoor theater with vintage webbed lawn chairs and a canvas screen. Ask your guests to bring the sangria, beer, popcorn and their favorite movie.
  • Spread a large collection of comfy pillows on the dock. Pillows are easy to make with outdoor fabrics and use less place than lounge chairs.
  • If you often invite a large group of people, why not build your own canvas teepees? This way, your guests will not have to bring their tent. Better yet, you will be ready for impromptu guests. Building the teepees could be a fun group activity one weekend.

SOURCING:
+ Webbed Lawn Chairs at Lawn Chairs USA $29.99 USD
+ photos: Randy Harris for The New York Times

COCKTAILS + wine FOOD + DRINK

Refreshing Summer Cocktails with 3 Ingredients

summer cocktails with 3 ingredients or less

I am always on the look out for tasty summer drinks. The New Times asked mixologists to share a summer cocktail with 3 ingredients or less. Garnishes, sugar, seltzer and simple syrup do not count. Merlin Griffiths, the global ambassador for Bombay Sapphire, told me at a media event that it is best to make a sweeter simple syrup (meaning 2 parts sugar per part of water). You simply put less into your drinks.

I am looking forward to try the Sumo Collins, the Campari Collins, and Guadalajara Sour. Go to The New Times to get 12 easy to make summer cocktails.

In Search for the Perfect Campari Sour

Campari is synonym with summer for me. Therefore, I was sad that The New York Times did not published their version of the Campari Sour. I browsed across the Internet and I found several versions. I even found on the Web site of Campari two recipes. I decided to try my own. Once I mastered it, I will share it with you.

SOURCING:
+ Summer Cocktails Made Simpler from The New York Times – photos: Andrew Scrivani
+ Campari sour photo: Yana Paskova for The New York Times

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

Indoor S’more Maker from Plow Hearth

indoor smore maker kitchen tool

indoor smore maker kitchen tool

The first long weekend of summer – Victoria Day in Canada and Memorial Day in the U.S. – doesn’t just kick off the sunshine season, but camping season too.

Unfortunately for campers, at least those of us in Canada, Victoria Day weekend weather is notoriously unreliable. In my experience, thunderstorms, howling wind and even (shiver!) a dusting of snow have made an appearance (just thankfully not all at once).

One needs to be prepared for any kind of weather, even if it means keeping a cozy indoor spot on standby. But you don’t have to throw out your camping traditions with your soggy sleeping bag.

This indoor s’more maker is designed to be used any time, anywhere: no open flame required. Build your s’mores in the baskets and slide the wire rack into your oven, toaster oven or barbecue. And unless you want oven-cleaning to be a part of your  long weekend plans, be sure to stack the rack on a cookie sheet to catch, ooey-gooey marshmallow drips.

SOURCING:
+ Indoor S’more Maker from Plow Hearth, $24.95 USD

COOKBOOKS FOOD + DRINK

On A Stick! by Matt Armendariz | Book Preview

matt bites on a stick book cover

matt bites on a stick book cover

I love spending time in the cookbook section of the bookstore, ogling creative food styling and searching for dinner inspiration – but it takes some serious salivating to get me to actually purchase a cookbook to take home. I’ve often judged a cookbook by it’s photography, only to discover same-old recipes that fall flat on the plate and the palate.

Something tells me that won’t be the case with On A Stick!, the first book by Matt Armendariz of Matt Bites, a fave foodie blog of both Kim and I.

matt bites book panzanella salad on a stick

For some reason, food just seems to taste better when it’s on a stick (cake pops, anyone?). Matt’s book goes beyond popsicles and kebabs, skewering culinary classics like spaghetti and meatballs, mac and cheese, and fish and chips. Don’t worry, sweet tooths: the book isn’t without its share of desserts. Smores, chocolate-dipped waffles, caramel popcorn balls and plenty of others make an appearance.

matt bites book shrimp on a stick

matt bites book spaghetti on a stick

And, since food on a stick is just asking to be dipped and dunked in a sauce, the book includes recipes for a few of those too, as well as an overview of skewer suggestions. I, for one, can’t wait create to create an entire skewer-based meal: no cutlery required!

SOURCING:

+ For Americans: On A Stick! from $10.93 USD at Amazon.com [affiliate link]
+ For Canadians: On A Stick! from $13.68 CAD at Amazon.ca [affiliate link]
+ All photos by Matt Armendariz

BEVERAGE FOOD + DRINK

Hot Chocolate Products at the Ticket Kitchen

ticket kitchen chocolate spoon

ticket kitchen entertaining pack

Tea and coffee connoisseurs don’t usually have to look too far to find a gourmet fix. But for those of us who prefer a cup of something sweeter, San Francisco-based Ticket Kitchen has elevated hot chocolate with refined ingredients and party-perfect packaging – and you don’t have to travel all the way to California to get it.

Handmade with fine French chocolate, their Ticket Sticks are cleverly designed as individual indulgences:  just swirl a block into 6-8 ounces of steaming milk and start sipping. In addition to a signature French dark chocolate, be sure to try the Three-Chili Ticket Stick, which features a three-pepper blend of chipotle, ancho and cayenne California chili peppers for a sweet and spicy flavour.

ticket kitchen chili hot chocolate

Both varieties are available in “entertaining packs” (shown at top) with enough chocolate blocks for twelve servings. This is a perfect dessert alternative for winter parties or afternoon get-togethers. Check out their Parties & Printables section for adorable labels you can customize for your gathering and creative party ideas.

ticket kitchen baby shower

ticket kitchen chocolate spoon

If you’re planning a slightly smaller gathering, the personalized silverplate spoon is a thoughtful gesture. The spoon can be stamped with a special message that reveals itself when the chocolate melts. You could also personalize the spoons as a thoughtful bridal shower or wedding gift.

SOURCING:
+ Three-Chili Hot Chocolate on a Stick, Service for 4$15 USD at Ticket Kitchen
+ French Dark Hot Chocolate on a Stick, Entertaining 12 Pack $43 USD
+ French Dark Hot Chocolate on a Stick, Service for 2$7.50 USD
+ Personalized Hot Chocolate Silverplate Spoon $37 USD
+ via Creature Comforts

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

The Easiest Mini Apple Pie Recipe

no baking skills mini apple pie recipe

the easiest mini apple pie recipe :: no baking skills necessary

Here is a recipe that can be handy for the upcoming Thanksgiving. Imagine that your friends and family are scheduled to to dinner in two hours and you wish to serve them a homemade dessert. Look no further than your pantry and fridge to solve your problem. As long as you stock frozen pie shells and fresh apples, you will be able to make these mini apple pies in no time. The best part is that no baking skills are necessary.

You can bake those in any individual tart pans or bakeware that go into the oven. You can use low ramekins. If you have more time, you could slice the apples instead of dicing them. The idea would be to neatly place the apple slices and make stylish open mini pies.

SOURCING:
+ Get the Cheats’ Mini Apple Pies Recipe on Canadian House & Home
+ photo by Angus Fergusson for Canadian House & Home