Every holiday season presents the same challenges. How to get through a typically very busy time of year with school, work, extracarricular activities, while at the same time preparing for the holidays which undoubtedly will involve entertaining friends, family & loved ones. Depending on your approach to the season, your schedule may also include a healthy dose of gift shopping and wrapping.
If you are looking for some creative entertaining ideas, consider the following;
Order a smoked fish or shucked oyster platter from one of our wonderful fishmongers in the region. Pelican Seafood Market & Grill, and the Whalesbone on Kent assemble a smoked fish platter that will impress your guests. Paired with a bag of fresh bagels from Kettlemans, or some assorted artisanal breads from True Loaf Bakery, and you are ready to face any holiday brunch or cocktail.
Get out your slow cooker! You can load it up in the morning and come home to a meal that is ready to serve. We have included an easy slow cooker recipe that will feed a small crowd or would be great to bring to a pot luck.
Mix up a batch of scones and freeze them unbaked for later use. (See recipe below). They are excellent for Christmas morning when you are opening presents and don’t want to cook breakfast. Smear on some lovely spreadable goat cheese and your favourite jam. We sell both in our retail store!
Many of our local grocery stores will make up a fruit platter, cheese platter or vegetable platter for you on relatively short notice. This provides easy ‘fillers’ for your appetizer or buffet table and a healthy, kid-friendly options.
Host a pot luck. If you pick a theme and guide your guests towards solutions that are going to work well together, then your event/party will be that much more cohesive. For example, maybe you tackle the roast beef with gravy, and ask one person to bring a simple appetizer, one to bring the mashed potatoes, one to bring a vegetable medley and one to bring dessert.
Visit our retail store and stock up on our selection of Red Apron Holiday Appetizers, which included our delicious flatbreads, dips, spreads, selection of cheeses & charcuterie, pretzel bites with beer cheese, potato cheese poppers, sweet & sour meatballs, and so much more!
Remember to take some time out of your busy December schedule to take a walk to Parliament Hill to enjoy the lights. Each year, Canada’s Capital Region glows with thousands of holiday lights during Christmas Lights Across Canada. Each night from dusk you can enjoy a beautiful show projected on to the Parliament buildings. Remember to bundle up!
Dried Fruit Scones
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 lb dried figs, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups) – you can substitute dried cranberries, currants or any dried fruit combination.
2 large egg yolks
Put oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat oven to 400°F.
Whisk together buttermilk, syrup, and 1/2 cup cream in a small bowl. Mix together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment at low speed, (or whisk in a large bowl) until combined. Add butter and mix (or blend with your fingertips or in a pastry blender) until mixture resembles coarse meal with some small (roughly pea-size) butter lumps. Mix in the dried fruit, then add buttermilk mixture and mix until just combined. (Do not over-mix.)
Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper and drop 10 (1/4-cup) mounds of batter onto each sheet, leaving 1 inch between mounds. Scones can be made larger or smaller and I like to use my ice-cream scoop to measure and drop the dough.
Whisk together yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons cream, then brush over tops of scones. Bake, switching position of baking sheets halfway through baking, until scones are puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes total. Transfer to a baking rack and cool enough to handle. Scone batter can be mixed a few hours ahead of time or frozen on a baking sheet and then bagged in an airtight bag. They can be baked from frozen but will take a bit more time. Use a toothpick to test for doneness
White Bean Cassoulet
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 chicken thighs, bone in
2 pork sausages, cut in half or thirds
4 oz double smoked bacon, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, peeled & diced
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups chicken stock or water
1 1/2 cups white (great northern) beans, soaked overnight and drained
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onion to hot oil; cook and stir until onion is tender, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and thyme, salt & pepper. Remove from pan. Brown the chicken on both sides. Remove. Brown Sausage on all sides. Remove. Sauté diced bacon. Transfer all ingredients to the slow cooker and add tomato paste, chicken stock or water and beans. Make sure the beans are completely covered with the liquid. Stir until combined. Cover and cook on LOW 7 to 8 hours. Test beans for doneness. Before serving, garnish with chopped parsley and home made croutons.