The season of get togethers, social events, and holiday parties is here, but lets face it, we either aren’t the best cooks, don’t have time to spend an entire day in the kitchen, or simply just don’t know what to make. Instead of spending a ton of money on catering, or picking up pre-made foods from your local grocery store, here are a few quick and easy recipes that pretty much anyone can make.
Perfect for a pre-dinner snack, a Charcuterie board is easy to prepare and completely customizable.
- Cured meats
- Cheese selection
- Mission dried figs
- Chili or chutney jam
- Assorted Olives
- Grainy mustard
- Red seedless grapes
- A selection of crackers, toasted baguette slices or Melba roast
- Baked brie
- Cranberry sauce
- Head to your favourite local butcher or grocery store for a selection of cured meats. Popular options include: prosciutto, salami speck, bresaola, spicy sopressata, or smoky chorizo. Lay out or roll slices and neatly place them on a platter.
- Add a selection of cheeses to pair with meats, they can be pre-cut or bought in bulk to cube yourself. Remember to include a selection of hard, soft, and veined cheese.
- Including a baked brie will help to elevate your Charcuterie board. Take it to the next level by stewing cranberries with a Cabernet Sauvignon to serve over the brie.
- Fill the rest of your Charcuterie board with the crackers, olives, figs and grapes. Serve chili or chutney jam and mustard on the side for added flavour.
Parmesan Asparagus Pastry Puff
A fresh spin on a classic appetizer, the Parmesan Asparagus Pastry Puff is not only easy to prepare, but this dish will leave your guests drooling for more.
- 2 tbsp of all-purpose flour
- 1 sheet of Puff Pastry
- ¼ cup of Dijon Mustard
- 18 thin spears of fresh asparagus
- ¾ cup of shredded Gruyere cheese
- A handful of Arugula
- ¼ lemon
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sprinkle flour onto your work space and cut the pastry into 3 strips.
- Brush the pastry strips with Dijon mustard leaving a ½ inch margin along the edges. Fold over the edges of each strip and press with a fork.
- Arrange 3 asparagus spears on each pastry strip and sprinkle strips with 2 tbsp of Gruyere cheese each.
- Whisk the egg with a splash of water and use mixture to brush the edges of the pastries.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until pastry is golden brown.
- In a separate bowl, mix the arugula with lemon juice, olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Arrange the arugula atop each pastry and garnish with shaved Parmesan cheese.
Holiday Prime Rib
Make a change this year from the usual turkey dinner and serve a melt in your mouth Prime Rib roast with dry rub, cranberry pecan roasted vegetables, and baby potatoes.
Prime Rib – Ingredients:
- 2-6 Bone Prime Rib (Boned and Tied)
- 3 tbsp of Olive Oil
- 3-4 cloves of garlic (sliced or minced)
- 1 tbsp of dried thyme
- 1 tbsp of dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp of black pepper
- 1 tbsp of onion powder
- 1 tbsp of garlic powder
- 3 tbsp of Kosher salt
- Cut ½ inch slits on the top of the roast and insert garlic.
- Bone and tie the meat.
- Rub the outside of the roast with high quality olive oil.
- Combine the rosemary, thyme, kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder and spread evenly over the roast. Let marinate overnight in the fridge or a minimum of 4 hours.
- Remove the prime rib from the refrigerator 4 hours before cooking
- Let meat rest and pre-heat the oven to 500 degree F (260 degree C)
- Transfer the roast to a roasting pan, bone side down. Cook at 500 degree F for 25 minutes
- Turn the oven down to 220 degrees F and cook the roast to desired doneness. When testing roast with a thermometer, medium-rare will read 135 degrees F; medium will read 150 degrees F.
- Note: Calculate your initial cooking time by allowing 5 minutes per pound of meat (a 9 lb roast would cook for 45 minutes while a 6 lb roast would cook for 30).
- This will provide a nice crunch on the exterior. The seasoning rub will get charred but that’s what creates the deeply savory crust.
- Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes
Cranberry Pecan Roasted Vegetables – Ingredients:
- 1 ½ lbs of brussel sprouts (trim the ends and remove any yellow leaves)
- 1 Butternut Squash (peeled, seeded, and cubed)
- 1 large red onion (cut in ½ inch chunks)
- ½ cup of dried cranberries
- ½ cup of pecans
- 4 tbsp of melted butter
- 3 tbsp of maple syrup
- ½ tsp of cinnamon
- ½ tsp of salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Lightly grease a large baking sheet with olive oil.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt.
- Place the prepared vegetables in an even layer on prepared baking sheet.
- Drizzle vegetables with the butter mixture, toss or stir gently to coat.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, until lightly brown.
- Add the cranberries and pecans to the baking sheet with the vegetables.
- Return to the oven for 5 more minutes. Serve immediately.
Garlic Baby Potatoes – Ingredients:
- 2 lbs of fingerling potatoes
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 1 tbsp of italian seasonings
- 1 tbsp of salt
- 1 tbsp of garlic powder
- 1 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Cut your potatoes into 1 inch thick wedges.
- Add butter to an oven-proof pan and melt on medium-high heat.
- Add potatoes to the pan, heat for 5 minutes tossing frequently, until slightly browned.
- Sprinkle with herbs, salt, and pepper.
- Continue to pan fry until crispy and golden brown – approximately 10 minutes.
- Remove pan from stove and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until crunchy on the outside and soft inside.
- Set broiler to high, and broil for 3 minutes to give potatoes a bit of extra crunch – be sure to watch carefully to prevent burning!
- Bake at 425 F for 10 minutes, stir, and then bake for another 10 minutes, or until all sides are crisped.
- Serve hot.
Give your guests a perfect ending to your ultimate holiday dinner or cocktail party and bake up some easy, yet richly delicious desserts. It’s the Holidays, and cold outside, we could all use something warm and sweet before heading out to brave the cold — so indulge yourself, and do so without feeling incredibly guilty, just blame it on the Holiday season. Besides, hectic holiday shopping counts as exercise right?
Nespresso Mocha Explosion Brownie
For the chocolate lovers out there, what is more decadent than chocolate, espresso and caramel? Sounds like heaven to me!
- 2 cups of granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup of cocoa powder
- 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tsps of kosher salt
- 1 tsps of baking powder
- 1 cups of canola oil
- 4 eggs
- ⅛ cup of whole milk
- 1 Nespresso Ristretto Espresso short
- 2 cups of semi-sweet chocolate, chunks
- 26 ounces of Chocolate covered Caramel
- 1 can of Condensed Milk
- Combine sugar, cocoa, flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl, mix together well.
- In a separate bowl combine oil, eggs, milk and cold espresso. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.
- Fold in chocolate chunks.
- Line a 2″ deep metal hotel pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking release pan spray.
- Pour 2/3 of batter into the pan and disperse evenly.
- Bake at 350°F for 16 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a double boiler melt the chocolate covered caramels and condensed milk until smooth.
- Take brownies out of the oven and spread caramel mixture over the top.
- Take the remaining batter and spoon small chunks all over the top of the caramel. Using a butter knife, smooth over the top and gently in with the caramel.
- Bake at 350°F for 35 minutes.
- Serve warm, with a scoop of low-fat ice cream on top.
Cognac Sous Vide peach & berries Panna cotta
If your taste prefers creamy and sweet over chocolate, this is the dessert for you. The grande finale that your guests will never forget.
- 4 peaches, halved and pitted
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 maple syrup
- 1/3 cup Hennessy VSOP cognac, or similar
- 2 1/2 tsp. (1 package) unflavored gelatin
- 1/4 cup milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 12 pieces of peach (Sous Vide cooked)
- 4 cups berries such as blackberries, sliced strawberries, blueberries and/or raspberries, in any combination
- Prep the Sous Vide Peaches
- Set sous vide water bath to 180F.
- Place peach halves in a food safe vacuum bag.
- Pour in the water, syrup and cognac . Vacuum seal, being careful the syrup does not get sucked out with the vacuum sealer. Alternatively, use a Ziploc freezer bag, remove the air and seal it.
- Place the peaches in the water bath and cook for 30-40 minutes.
- Remove from the water bath and immediately place in an ice bath to stop the peaches from continuing to cook.
- Peel the skin off the peaches.
- In a large bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the milk. Let stand for about 2 minutes to soften the gelatin.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the cream and sugar.
- Using a small, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Using the tip of the knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the cream.
- Add the vanilla bean pod to the cream. Heat, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appear around the edges of the pan. Remove from the heat and let cool briefly.
- Remove the vanilla bean pod. Slowly add the warm cream to the gelatin mixture, stirring constantly until completely dissolved.
- Place the peaches in the the custard cups, slowly pour the mixture into four custard cups, dividing it evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight.
- When ready to serve, run a small knife blade around the inside of each ramekin to loosen the panna cotta, then invert each ramekin onto a dessert plate.
- Arrange the berries around the panna cotta and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Making your Holiday dinner doesn’t have to be difficult. Serving Prime Rib will give your guests a refreshing Holiday menu while still keeping in the festive spirit. You can’t go wrong with a well curated Charcuterie, and these desserts will end the night on a high note. Trust me, these easy recipes are going to make your friends think you are a professional; so go ahead and show them your skills to end the year.
Happy Hosting gents!