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food presentation

HOME + GARDEN HOME decor

New Uses for Old Things: Wooden Boxes …and Tips for a Rustic Meal

storage made of wooden boxes

storage made of wooden boxes
Photo: Wooden Box Service Stations at Clyde Common via Remodelista

Each fall, I crave for cosy space and comfort food. There is a design lesson to take home from the service stations at Clyde Common, a Portland restaurant located at the Ace Hotel. You could replicate their design to organize your pantry, your linen closet, or to create storage in your craft room or your kids’ playroom.

Laid-Back Food Presentation

serving steaks on a wood cutting boards
all food photos by David Reamer for Clyde Common

After reading their story on Remodelista, I was curious to see how Clyde Common interprets the European style tavern. I wanted to see how it differs from what is happening here in Montreal. This led me to food presentation that you can steal for your next fall or winter dinner party.

family style at the table

Even though I am a stylish girl, I appreciate the laid-back feeling of food being served on cocottes, cast-iron pans and wooden cutting boards. When I host an everyday dinner party at home, I leave the fancy food presentation to the professional chefs and concentrate my energy on cooking delicious food. Through simple tricks, I add flair to my meal.

charcuterie tray
A crowd-pleaser: the charcuterie tray

Finally, a cute way to serve crudités with their vinaigrette. Even if people don’t eat it, they pleasantly decorate your table.

veggies in a mason jar

What is your favorite way to serve food in fall or winter?

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Garnish a Spinach and Lettuce Soup with Greek Yogurt

garnish a soup with greek yogurt video

garnish a soup with greek yogurt video

If you think that serving a soup is boring, you will change your mind after watching this video. What I like about serving a soup at a party is that you can cook a day or two in advance. In summer, there are tons of tasty cold soup recipes that you can choose from.

If you are convinced after you learned how to give panache and to enhance the plain taste of a spanish and lettuce soup with sliced chilis, minced cilantro, pickled daikon and two small scoops of Greek Yogurt,  then — as they say — it would be your lost. Personally, I want a bowl.

Video by Randy Risling staring Corey Mintz for The Toronto Star

FOOD + DRINK RECIPES + menus

Summer Entertaining: Five Crowd-Pleaser Watermelon Recipes

Watermelon recipes for summer entertaining

Watermelon recipes for summer entertaining
Photos: National Watermelon Promotion Board except for number 4: The Party Dress magazine

I was happy to share my summer entertaining tips for the 2012 awareness campaign of the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Canada. Since the refreshing watermelons are available all summer long, I feel that watermelon is the fruit of summer.

If you are looking for more ways to serve watermelon to your guests this summer, you will find many more recipes at the National Watermelon Promotion Board Website. I compiled my top 5.

  • My number 1. Another way to serve the Spiked Melon Balls would be on a lollipop.  Serve the lollipops speared into a wheatgrass bed or onto a watermelon.
  • My number 2. If you host a brunch on a hot summer day, replace the classic by the more refreshing Watermelon Mimosa. To make watermelon juice, you simply need to blend cubed watermelon and strain it through a sieve. Try it with a light Champagne.
  • My number 3.  Finish a grown up dinner with this lovely Watermelon Lavender Granita that contains a hint of vodka. Use watermelon or citrus flavoured vodka to enhance the flavour.
  • My number 4. I found my fourth choice on The Party Dress magazine. They got me with the stylish food presentation of their watermelon appetizer with feta and basil. The recipe is a mix between a caprese salad and a Mediterranean Watermelon Salad.

My last recipe idea is a twist on the tacos.

Jamaican Rock Lobster Tacos

  • My number 5.  For a summer picnic with family and friends, impress the crowd with some delicious Jamaican Rock Lobster Tacos wrapped in parchment paper and tied with twine. I would probably prepare my tacos with seasonal clawed lobsters since they are a local product for me.

Writing this post made me hungry. I will pour myself a glass of my watermelon and mint spa water while I cook dinner.

Note: I wrote this post on my free will; it is a not part of the program that I did for the National Watermelon Promotion Board in Canada. 

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake in a Mason Jar

molten chocolate cake in a mason jar

hot cakes in a mason jar

I am surprised that it took me so long to discover this fabulous ready to bake cake by chocolatier Autumn Martin of Hot Cakes. She started making them in 2008. Since then, the dessert served in a Mason jar has exploded. If a molten chocolate cake is not a novelty, why do I write about it? In a word: convenience!

molten chocolate cake in a mason jar

What I like most about her product is that you buy it ready to bake. Others will appreciate that it is organic. Personally, I simply imagine the smell in my house before serving dessert to my guests. Many people prefer to buy desserts when they have friends for dinner. I do! The reason that I buy the dessert is to have more time to cook the rest of the meal. Once in a while, I will make my own dessert.

Until now,  Hot Cakes did not have a brick and mortar shop.  They sold at farmers’ markets, at their online store and through indie shops in the state of Washington. Last weekend, they opened their first brick and mortar shop called Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery with a partial funding round on Kickstarter.

Since I doubt that Hot Cakes are shipping to Montreal, I will have to experience with my own molten chocolate recipe. Did you ever bake your own molten chocolate cake in a Mason jar? Do you have any advice for beginner bakers?

SOURCING:
Dark Decadence Take-n-Bake Molten Chocolate Cake in a Mason Jar $8 USD at Hot Cakes

 

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Ideas to Steal: Carpaccio Served on a Clothesline

Food plating on a table clothesline

Food plating on a table clothesline

I always keep an eye open for easy show stopper food plating that I could use at a party. The carpaccio served on a clothesline today at restaurant Europea in Montreal tops my list this summer.

If you build your own table clothesline ahead of time, you could reuse the concept many times. They did it with big nails and a piece of 2×4 lumber. For an outdoor party, you could assemble a taller and longer clothesline by planting two poles on the ground. A strong fishing line could be used instead of the standard clothesline. With the bigger clothesline version, you could not only hang carpaccio but also small plastic containers or chinese take out boxes.

SOURCING:
+ photo by Pierre Bellerose via Twitter – thanks Pierre for this find.

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

5-Minute Martha: Greet Your Guests with Tasty Grazing Boards

grazing board pate de foie

grazing board pate de foie

There is no need to rush or to prepare several types of appetizers when you are having guests over at the cocktail hour or for dinner. Instead go with a crowd-pleaser and put on your coffee table a grazing board. Since you are certain to find all the ingredients that you need at a good delicatessen near you, you can pull it off even at the last minute. You save more time since no individual bite assembly is required. When you shop, assume that one board will feed 4 to 6 persons as appetizers.

Chantelle Grady of the blog Little Things proposed in the Montreal issue of Relish three killer compositions. Relish is her food digital magazine.

The first option is a classic. You can serve pâté de foie with caramelized onions and toasted bread. For a non-fuss version, check out the caramelized onions recipe by Chuck Hughes that he puts in his grilled cheese sandwich.

grazing board baked camembert

You can’t go wrong with serving baked Camembert or Brie. It is so good that I suggest that you keep one ready to bake in your freezer all the time. Jamie Oliver bakes his directly on the wooden cheese box. Other chefs line a baking dish with parchment paper. I use a Brie baker because it is easier to serve the warm wheel of Camembert or Brie in a dish. Chantelle served her version with Serrano ham and toasted bread.

grazing board pork terrine

The third board displays pork terrine, mustard (you can serve a few), gherkins again on toasted bread. You can go a step further by offering a mustard selection. For the cornichons, I adore the Maille Tarragon & Vinegar gherkins. If you prefer sweet cornichons to the sour ones, try Maille Mini & Crunchy gherkins.

SOURCING:
+ Montreal issue of Relish produced and photographed by Chantelle Grady from the blog Little Things
+ Beautiful baked Camembert recipe by Jamie Oliver
+ Baked Camembert and Herb Oil by Roger Mooking

CAKES + desserts ENTERTAINING

Cooking with Kids: Pear Galette

pear galette

pear galette

Galettes, which are freeform rustic pies, are not meant to look perfect. This makes galettes the ideal tarts to bake with your kids. I even prefer their rustic look to the more polished pies; this is probably due to the cozy warm feeling that I get at their sight.

The best thing about the Pear Galette of Lisa Homa is that you won’t need pie plates, just parchment paper. Once it is cooked, serve the galette on a wooden cutting. Depending on how it looks when it is out of oven, you may wish to replace the parchment paper with a fresher sheet. No one can refuse a stylish food presentation that cut on cleaning at a party.

Why not introduce your kids to the joy of baking while you are cooking for your Thanksgiving or Christmas party? They will be proud to share that they did the fruit or savory galettes themselves.

You will find Lisa Homa’s Pear Galette in the Fall 2011 issue of Sweet Paul magazine on pages 40 and 41.

SOURCING:
+  photos: Alexandra Grablewski – Fall 2011 issue of Sweet Paul magazine

ENTERTAINING EVERYDAY entertaining

Ideas to Steal: Baby Potatoes in a Mason Jar

baby potatoes in a mason jar

baby potatoes in a mason jar

We have seen tons of use for the Mason jar, and this one is a keeper. Next time that you are having friends over for diner or to eat a raclette, be ready to serve your baby potatoes in a Mason jar. Go either for individual portions or for a few communal jars.

I spot that idea on Apartment Therapy from Amy Rosen’s trip to Copenhagen. She saw it at the famous Restaurant Jacobsen.

SOURCING:
+  photo: Amy Rosen for Apartment Therapy

ENTERTAINING OUTDOOR entertaining

New Heights for a Picnic in the Park

picnic in the park

picnic in the park

Planning a picnic in the middle of a bike ride is a great way to spend an afternoon. This was the idea behind this picnic in the park. The remarkable Carrie bicycle basket by Design House Stockholm, used as a picnic basket, set the tone.

ice cream sandwiches for a stylish picnic

Other ideas to steal is how you can assemble on site your ice cream sandwiches. Keep your ice cream carton in ice bucket and make sure to secure the lid. You can bake your own cookies or buy some at a local shop. Bring a signature drink marks that this is a special occasion. I collect these glass bottles for occasions like this. You will find all the recipes in the magazine.

SOURCING:
+ Style at Home (Sept. 2011)  – photos by Edward Pond
+ Carrie bicycle basket $83 CAD at Designhouse
Carrie bicycle basket $79 USD at Design House Stockholm

COOKING tools FOOD + DRINK

New Uses for Old Things: Muffin Tins

muffin tin ice cube tray cookie bowl

muffin tin ice cube tray cookie bowl

There seems to be no end to the versatility of baking tins: from container gardens to home office organizing stations. Though as useful as they may be elsewhere in your home, turns out they can be put to creative use in the kitchen too.

With its inverted moulds, Wilton’s Non-Stick Ice Cream Cookie Bowl tray makes a simple scoop of ice cream practically gourmet. The fluted edges of each “bowl” mimic vintage ice cream sundae dishes, but you can create the look (and the taste) for less by flipping over a regular muffin tin, adding a generous coat of cooking spray and forming your cookie dough around the mounds.

Lest you work up a sweat baking these sweet treats in the summer heat, keep cool by adding oversized ice cubes to your drink. Place slices of lemon and lime in muffin tins, fill with water and freeze! Try freezing cucumbers and pairing them with this recipe for Spa Cucumber Water, or use berries and plop the ice cubes in a punchbowl. If you don’t have a large freezer, remember to make room to balance the muffin tin.

We want to know: have you re-purposed kitchen tools or utensils in creative ways? Share your tip in the comments!

SOURCING:
+ Wilton Non-Stick Ice Cream Cookie Bowl, $11.99 USD
+ Lemon-Lime Ice Cubes from Industrious Justice

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