Holiday Celebration Trends
This is the season many of us wait for all year long. It’s an opportunity to be more creative, adding animation and glitter to everything, more than the rest of the year… to think more outside the box!
I encourage this way of being for December not only in decor but also in your celebratory festive meal offerings. Add a little more sparkle to your classic dishes which stand the test of time by enhancing your presentation or enriching flavours with a gourmet twist.
By adding contrary flavours with spices or herbs or combining what we traditionally think is an opposite, could truly surprise you. I created a home made ice cream by adding crushed SaltWest Smoked Peppercorns with maple syrup, additionally I made one with the same peppercorns and used red wine. Both were a huge hit with many requests for the recipe!
Combining Ethnic flavours from Global influences can create award winning dishes, even if it is only within our families and community! The amount of global travel and sharing of these experiences through social media and photographs lends way to deeper creativity and meaningful unconventional flavour combinations, enriching our lives in ways we would normally not think of.
May I suggest a few culinary ideas to experiment with this Holiday season:
- Cumin and Caramelized Almond Creme Brûlée – an Indian and French Cultural inspiration
- Salted Caramel and Chili Chocolate on a Coconut crust tart or square – opposing flavour combinations
- Christmas Goose Rillette with a Mulled Wine Jelly crostini
- Duck Confit with Cherry Port glazed Candied Onions crostini
- Salmon roasted with Chili Chocolate crostini
Small bites of spicy warm foods punched with extraordinary flavours such as:
- Moroccan Rice balls infused with Moroccan spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cumin), dried fruits like apricots, cherries or cranberries with toasted nuts such as almonds. It’s a pop of warm yet spicy and flavourful soul nourishing delight!
- Create sweet and savoury dishes such as a Moroccan Tagine or Argentinian Empanadas infused with brilliant warm and sweet flavours. These creations are always a satisfying healthy treat with fragrant warming spices like cinnamon, allspice, cumin and nutmeg… reminiscent of childhood excitedly waiting for Grandmas cookies to be baked! Oh such comfort!
Game meats are very trendy this year and will be in 2016 as well. My belief is they need to be humanely treated and cared for from birth to sacrifice. So I advise to look locally for responsible caring farmers raising these wonderful animals. Game meats can be expensive to use for a main entree so I advise that at this time of year, create hors d’oeuvres for your guests. You can be more creative and everyone will have the opportunity to taste something magnificently new for the first time. I often make a course earthy pate with Elk or Venison from farms in Alberta. I add blueberries and juniper berry along with nutmeg and allspice including a special port to elevate the flavour. Delicious on a cracker or toasted bread.
Wishing you an exciting culinary journey! Don’t be afraid to try new and exciting flavour combinations. You will be surprised at how delicious they can be! Here is a website that allows you to explore your creative side with flavour combinations. Contact me if I can be of service in any way, firstname.lastname@example.org 250-858-7777
Happy Holiday Entertaining! Chef Shirley Lang, Culinary Explorer & Experience Designer
“We recently enjoyed an amazing “Clandestine Dinner” hosted and prepared by Shirley. We’ve been fortunate enough to have attended several meals that she has prepared, all of which offered incredible food. Shirley’s cuisine offers a unique blend of food and tastes from her native Metis culture combined with cuisines from cultures around the world. We definitely recommend Shirley’s delicious meals! They are a taste sensation not to be missed and offer a variety that you won’t find elsewhere.” Sherri and Dan Williams
With Christmas fast approaching, we are often asked what to pair with a traditional turkey dinner. While many of us live hard and fast by the rule “whatever is on the table”, with so many side dishes and condiments – there are some guidelines that will help you choose a wine that will stand out amongst some strong flavours.
Tysan Pierce, sommelier at the HerbFarm in Woodinville, outside Seattle, lives by the high-acid rule on Thanksgiving or Christmas: “You want a wine with a decent whack of acidity, to cleanse your mouth from that battery of flavors.” A touch of sweetness is a good thing in her book too. So, we chose 3 varieties to fit every fancy. For the white wine lover; Traminer – Reisling, off-dry, medium bodied and unoaked. Pairing a red wine with turkey is an adventurous choice, so we kept the selection light – with a Pinot Nior. Lastly, we selected a Rose – the White Merlot is sure to please those who enjoy the best of both worlds.
Dalinda & Tony Stark, Black Tie Wines
“What an amazing time Peter and I had at the Tugwell Mead Fest. When I was handed my glass I was so excited, I turned to Peter and said “This is a beer glass!!! It’s going to be a beer style mead!!!” I was giddy with excitement and he was giddy after a couple of samples. A generous 13% in this beautiful Ale style mead. The nose had just a touch of floral and the flavours were amazing. You knew you were drinking a honey mead yet it wasn’t super sweet or overpowering like some flavoured honey ales on the market. Three magical ingredients makes the “Kilt Twister” a delight that definitely has the ability to sneak up and twist your kilt when you’re not looking. Hops, heather and of course honey make it gluten free too! Not that gluten has ever stopped me.” Fran Nemeth, Wine & Spirits Expert (Fran’s Facebook)
Holiday Decor: Holiday Decorating Tip:
“The first step to deciding your holiday décor this season is your color scheme. This scheme should be consistent throughout your home. This could be monochrome scheme or a few colors. Christmas tree ornaments are a great item to use to add to your table or mantel décor. They do not need to be used just for the tree. Your gifts wrapped under your tree can tie into your color scheme. I dare ya to be creative this holiday season.” Daria Bunting, Principal Designer & Stager with I Dare-ya Designs
Floral Design Ideas:
This is a great piece for the holidays as it can be used in many placed during the home as the holiday season evolve with various parties and dinners. Presented in a low ceramic cube and filled with long lasting flowers, bells of Ireland, pussy willow, cymbidium orchids, mums and various greens this piece will last for a good few weeks if properly cared for. One of the ways to do this is to ensure that your arrangement is always watered everyday (specially if you have a warm house), secondly if you can at night put the arrangement in a cooler environment for example a kitchen window sill.
This is our version of a Bento Box. Presented in a 4 high wooden box it creates a great talking piece for your guests. With the flowers cut low in the box the flowers (yes even the roses) will last at least 10 days – providing you remember to water your arrangement on a regular basis. This arrangement can be made in many colour formats to enhance your holiday decor.
Have some fun this holiday season with a Figgie Pudding, the type that puts smiles onto your holiday guests faces. Done all in carnations and presented on a ceramic plate topped with holly this would make a great gift to send to someone special for the holidays. Beautifully long lasting.
A traditional centerpiece is never out of place on the Christmas dinner table. Done up in roses and carnations simple reds, with a touch of silver against the lush of winter greens adds a beautiful accent to your holiday table.