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.
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!
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?
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.
+ photo by Pierre Bellerose via Twitter – thanks Pierre for this find.
This article from Town & Country is the proof that you do not need to spend a fortune to entertain in style 20 guests. Event planner David Monn bought at Costco the food he needed to make stylish canapés.
David Monn spent $10.40 per guest. His cocktail party menu was comprehensive with 8 savoury hors d’oeuvres and 2 sweet treats. You get a nice mix of meat and seafood for that price. I’m impressed!
I plan to make his Norwegian Smoked Salmon filled with scallion cream cheese and tied with a string of chive. Who will not love a Brie and apple on bruschetta topped with caramelized walnuts?
Get the details on the April 2012 issue of Town & Country magazine. Go to Zinio for a digital version delivered to the device of your choice.
At last, you can get a finger-sized hors d’oeuvres cookbook that will not require you to stay up all night or cook all day. Why do I say that? It is not obvious when you look at the stunning food presentation but the recipes proposed by Peter Callahan have shortcuts. For example, his peace of pizza contains only 4 ingredients, which includes store-bought pizza dough and marinara sauce.
Who knew that spaghetti and meatballs could become so stylish? You can save time when hosting a dinner party by preparing one type of hors d’oeuvres. You can stretch it to two hors d’oeuvre types, if they are simple to make. Select one bite as your show-stopper element, plus prepare a batch of simply tasty canapes.
It is really simple to serve personal vodka with caviar blinis. Individual alcohol bottles add panache to a common drink. As a bonus, you do not have to clean the glasses after the party. I love this idea!
This stylish entertaining cookbook can also help you organize your next kids party. All kids will be in awe when they see the cute doggy canapes or the tiny fudge pops.
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.
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.
The Bombay Sapphire media event gave us the occasion to learn new cocktail recipes. They collaborated with a local chef to pair each cocktail with an appetizer. This year, Eric Gonzales of Auberge Saint-Gabriel was the invited chef in Montreal. I learned several cooking tips from Eric. His food was delicious. I shared his recipes so you can try it at home while sipping your drink.
Merlin Griffiths showed us how to make his modern take on the classic French 75 cocktail. The addition of pear nectar adds a rich, fresh flavor that helps to combat the acidity of the lemon and champagne. I helped Merlin prepared the Sapphire French Highball at the Bombay Sapphire media event. We put it on tape. The images aren’t great due to the lights from the windows but Merlin gives good insights.
Sapphire French Highball Recipe
1 oz Bombay Sapphire
0.5 oz Lemon juice
0.5 oz Simple syrup – 2 parts sugar & 1 part boiling water; stir until dissolved and chill
1 oz Pear nectar/juice
Top with Champagne or Sparkling Wine
Garnish: lemon twist and edible gold flakes
Add the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and pear nectar to a highball glass. Stir. Fill the glass with cracked ice (lightly smash some ice cubes). Top slowly with champagne and stir once more. Garnish with a long “shoestring” lemon twist and edible gold flakes for pizzazz.
If you do not find it at your local grocery store, know that edible gold flakes are available at Indian food stores.
Cooking with Gin
If you wish to cook with the Bombay Sapphire gin, Chef Eric Gonzales thinks that it seafood and gin are a perfect combination. You can go with scallops, urchin or mussels. For the event, Eric cooked us a tasty clam recipe.
Speakeasy Clam Recipe
Serves 1 dozen clams
Canned clams were a favorite during the prohibition era. You have to remember that there were no fridge at the time; so canned food was more popular. This recipe is a spin on “Classic Clams Casino”, a dish that was served in the popular restaurants and supper clubs in the 1920’s. The use of toasted crushed almonds in this recipe highlights the almond botanicals featured in Bombay Sapphire gin.
50 cl Olive oil
60 g Shallots, finely chopped
1 Clove garlic
10 cl Bombay Sapphire gin
2 small sticks of Liquorice (or fennel) – Liquorice sticks can be bought at the drugstore.
2 springs of Fresh thyme
Zest of one lemon
Sea salt, freshly ground pepper
Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Add pepper (to taste), clams and deglaze with a drizzle of gin. Add lemon zest, thyme, liquorice, salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, remove the clams and leave to cool. Remove clams from their shells. Reduce the juices by half.
Clam and crab topping
125 g Snow crab meat
35 g chopped Italian parsley
20 g finely chopped fresh basil
35 g melted Butter
50 g shredded Parmesan
60 g Breadcrumbs
40 g crushed, roasted almonds
Zest and juice of one lemon to taste
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Sauté the shallots until soft, deglaze with the gin, reduce by half. Add the clams after cutting them in half, the crab meat, herbs, parmesan and season with lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
Mix the almonds, breadcrumbs and melted butter together. Preheat the oven to 375º F, place the clam shelves on a cookie sheet, garnish with the clam and crab mixture, top with breadcrumbs and bake for 5 minutes.
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.
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.
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.
Cool & Simple is a fabulous boutique in Montreal that will answer many of your entertaining dreams. They sell upscale frozen food that are perfect for entertaining at home. I served several times their products at my parties. I like the fact that you can buy it in advance.
Ready-to-fill Cones and Tartlet Shells
I am sure that many of you will welcome a little help with the basics. Take for instance, these ready-to-fill tartlet shells and cones. You simply reheat the shells, if necessary, and prepare your own fillings to create awesome canapes.
Introduced in Hong Kong by avant-garde pastry chef Gérard Dubois, the cones from La Rose Noire collection come in 7 flavors: black sesame, spinach black sesame, green tea, tomato, curry, chocolate, and plain white. You can fill them with hot, cold, salty or sweet fillings.
You are probably wondering how you will serve the cones at your buffet table. Do not worry since Cool & Simple carries several cone stands. You will find one that fits your party size.
The tartlet shells are shaped as a square, a circle, a triangle and a rectangle. The tartlet shells are available in several dimensions. Some are savory while the sweet shells are made with a vanilla or a chocolate shell.
With those, you do not need to hire a caterer to get a professional look that your guests will remember. Beware that these more fancy products are not available online. In that case, you must shop at the Cool & Simple boutique or get it through one of Gastronomia’s distributors.
Breakfast is one of favorite meals. This is why I selected a breakfast in bed as my ultimate Valentine’s Day gift. If you are celebrating Valentine’s Day this weekend, you will have the time to do it. To help you plan a romantic Valentine’s Day, I scoured more recipes online.
+ The talented team at Sunday Suppers made those baked eggs with cream and truffle salt. The side is sauteed kale with olive oil, sea salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon. And what not to love about these adorable heart butter patties. To realize those, you will need a heart-shaped ice tray. Then, you simply added chopped cherries (or any fruit that you like) to soft butter and scoop them inside the ice tray. It is that easy to make. Get the full recipes at Sunday Suppers.
+ My second suggestion are those adorable Blackberry “Cheesecake” Yogurt Pops prepared by Citrus and Candy. The color of those pops looks amazing. And it is more stylish way to eat your daily yogurt. I feel that it is worth to pass mixture through a fine sieve to remove the berry bits. Karen of Citrus and Candy suggests that you push through to extract as much syrup as you can. It is best to start the recipe one day in advance if you wish to serve it in the morning.
I visited “Saveurs & Tentations” trade-show recently in Montreal and I was mesmerized by Mia Bureau’s food carving creations. She really brings table decoration to a brand new level. Mia’s business, Éphémère is specialized in food carving installations for events, but she also gives workshops at her studio and at other venues.
I was so enthralled by what I saw that I started gathering information about this traditional Asian skill. Did you know that fruit and vegetable carving originated in Thailand during the floating lantern festival about 700 years ago? During that festival which happens every year during the full moon of December they thank the soul of water by decorating floating lanterns. The fruits and vegetable carved lanterns were so popular that it started a trend in the country.
We now find stunning fruits and vegetable carvings at high end hotels throughout Asia. You can even hire a fruit carver, like Mia, to create unique table ornaments for special events or weddings, even in North America, but be prepared to splurge because carving takes a lot of time. For example, to carve a watermelon, it can take up to 80 hours of work. You can see Mia in action by watching a few videos (the CTV interview is in English and the other ones are in French). Mia’s skills are recognized around the world as she won some international awards.
If you are into craft and would like to learn fruit carving, some cooking schools and some carving artists are giving classes. You can also learn by watching videos on You Tube or by buying books specialized in Fruit and vegetables carvings starting with these two books: