Heading out for a special evening can be more of a hassle than it’s worth. Hard to find babysitters, expensive drinks, no cabs and overcrowded venues can turn a special night out into a bore. A smaller gathering at home can be a fun, stress free evening on your own terms. A great way to do it is with a
fondue party. Fondue has that fun retro appeal that is perfect for a party atmosphere; and having your guest participate in the cooking makes things easy on the host.
How to set up your fondue table If you are entertaining more than six people, set up a couple of pots so no one has to reach too far. At each place setting include plates to set hot food on and forks for eating, keep fondue forks that are going into the communal pot for dipping only! Set out small vessels for dipping sauces to complete the place setting.
What stock for which meats and veggies Try a few different fondues varieties for fun; red wine and beef stock are great for thinly sliced beef tenderloin and button mushrooms; chicken stock works for chicken, shrimp, or thinly sliced fillets of salmon and for vegetarians try a mushroom stock with tofu and broccoli, and of course there is the
classic cheese fondue that appeals to just about everyone! Use your imagination when picking items for dipping, include a good selection and make your tray bright and colourful with vegetables. Since all of the food is cooked together, make sure you ask your guest about any food allergies, you can always have two types of fondue to accommodate everyone.
Assembly is everything A fondue party is more about assembling ingredients than it is about cooking. Make sure the meat and vegetables you choose are fresh for great visual appeal and food safety. To keep things really easy, entertaining guru Ryan Jennings (www.cookingwithbooze.com) suggests buying good quality pre-made sauces to cut down on work the day of your party. He recommends cocktail sauce, béarnaise and Dijonnaise for wide appeal.
Drinks: Champagne of course! For a night like New Year's Eve, and with a smaller crowd you can afford to drink the good stuff all night. Champagne is actually an excellent choice for a cheese fondue; the acidity will cut the richness of the cheese. If you are going with a beef fondue you may want to offer a medium-bodied red wine. If you have an
Asian-themed fondue, try serving cold sake.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find great starters, sides and desserts for your fondue party, plus downloadable party invites on page 2 Starters and sides: Oysters and pickles Have a starter of fresh shucked oyster, make it easy on yourself and have a platter prepared by your local fishmonger, nothing for you to do but pour the champagne and slurp them back. Accompany your fondues with an assortment of pickles: gherkins, pearl onions and pickled beets are traditional Swiss fare. .
Dessert: Sunken Chocolate Raspberry Cakes with Raspberry Sauce A dramatic dessert that no one would guess you made the day before. Pop the cakes in the oven while you are eating for a warm sumptuous ending to a special night. Or if you want to keep it really simple, a bowl of bright orange persimmons and the best quality chocolate truffles are an elegant way to ring in the New Year.
Printable fondue party invites Click on the images below to download a pdf of these fabulous fondue party invites. They'll print perfectly on your computer - just fold and send!
Sarah Gunn, our home and garden director, shares her picks for the hottest looks you'll want to try in your home in 2017.
1. Wonder wall
The new breed of adhesive wall art (think colourful abstract patterns, gorgeous watercolours and large-scale moody florals) is sophisticated, is super easy to apply and makes a serious design statement.
2. Shape up
We've seen geometric home accessories in gold and other metallics, but now this silhouette can be found in light fixtures, decor and even furniture in a matte ceramiclike finish. This approach hitches onto the still-hot handcrafted trend and elevates mere home accents to objet-d'art status.
3. Purple reign
With some major paint companies choosing purple as their paint chip of the year—Benjamin Moore has selected Shadow, a rich amethyst shade, while CIL calls out Antique Violet, a soft greyish lavender—the time has come for this underused hue to hit its stride. While pastels are still holding on, this daring palette reflects a move toward intense, striking paint colours. If purple walls are too dramatic a change, try adding a smaller hit to your home by painting a console table or a desk in this royal hue.
4. Green crush
Following fashion's lead in textile and colour (Pantone has placed two verdant hues, Greenery and Kale, on its Spring 2017 Fashion Color Report), home decor has brought back luxe bottle-green velvet in a big way. While this incarnation calls to mind a posh library or a private club, its sleek lines and brass accents give a modern effect. A jewel tone might feel like a bold choice for such a big piece of furniture, but in an otherwise neutral room, it's a more approachable way to add colour.
Avec apartment sofa with brass legs, $2,199, cb2.com.
5. Swan dive
Move over, owls, foxes and flamingos. We predict that swans will make a graceful appearance as the animal motif of the year. Look for them in everything from fabrics to artwork.
Artwork has the power to transform the look of any room in your home, but it can be hard to find a perfect piece that fits your space and your budget. Our favourite online destinations for affordable art will help you decorate your walls without emptying your wallet.
Our best cooking tips for making dough and so much more!
When prepping grains (think quinoa, bulgur or rice), enhance their flavour with tea rather than the usual broth or water. Cook with your favourite brew: I prefer a full-bodied tea, such as smoky lapsang souchong, fragrant Earl Grey or aromatic chai, but you can also choose a milder green tea or herbal blend. Before adding the liquid to grains, steep black teas for three to five minutes, green for two to three minutes, and herbal for five to seven minutes—tisanes don't become bitter, so they can take a longer brewing time.
Here's a foolproof way to remove a lingering garlic scent from your hands: Rub your fingers against a stainless-steel object, like your kitchen sink or a spoon, then rinse under cool water. Garlic is packed with sulphur molecules (that's what gives it a lovely taste and a not-so-lovely smell), which scientists say can form a chemical bond with stainless steel.
Out of vanilla? Head to your liquor cabinet—Kahlúa makes the perfect replacement.
Save your parmesan rinds! Store them in the freezer (they'll keep for months), then drop them into simmering soups or sauces for an amazing flavour boost.
The next time you're making dough, instead of using a pastry blender or the two-knife method to cut in cold butter, try grating it over the flour mixture, then tossing to coat. The butter will be more evenly distributed in the flour mixture, resulting in a light, flaky crust.
Tools of the trade
Three must-have items for a well-stocked kitchen.
1. Y-peeler: The wide grip makes peeling easy, plus the blade creates perfect Parmesan shavings and vegetable ribbons.
2. Large canning jar: This kitchen MacGyver doubles as a cocktail shaker and storage for dry goods. It's also a great place to keep fresh herbs—stand your mint or basil leaves in about two inches of water and change the water daily.
3. Kitchen scissors: This gadget is a huge time-saver when it comes to chopping herbs, segmenting a whole chicken or trimming veggies.
We asked some of Canada's top celebrity designers to spill the beans on their best-kept design secrets—and did they ever! Read on for expert advice on everything from space planning and choosing paint colours to styling shelves and how to create a foolproof gallery wall.
The inside scoop on space planning
How much space do you need around your dining room table? Can you really make a room feel larger? Our experts weigh in.
Tip 1: Sofas should be two-thirds the length of the longest wall, and seating is placed close enough around so no person is more than eight feet from another to allow for easy conversation. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 2: One easy rule to figure out what size dining table you need: allow for a minimum of 30 inches walking clearance on all sides. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Space planning is critical. For a kitchen island, for example, leave three feet of space between the island and surrounding counters. Ensure that appliances (like the fridge or dishwasher) can open without blocking traffic flow or hitting neighbouring walls or cabinets. Not leaving enough room is a mistake people make all the time, before they call a designer in a panic to help fix it! — Lisa Canning
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 4: Use mirrors strategically to expand space and increase the amount of natural light reflected in the room. Framing a wall with floor-to-ceiling mirrors adds a dramatic effect to the feeling and scale of the room. — Brian Gluckstein
Photography by Arnal Photography
Tip 5: Allow for 18 inches between the sofa and the coffee table so people have enough room to pass by and to make it easy to reach for drinks or food. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 6: Want to make sure furniture fits before it arrives at your door? There are a host of free sites (like planyourroom.com) that allow you to put furniture onto a scaled floor plan. Another option? Many furniture and decor stores offer free design services, and they'll do the calculating for you. — Janette Ewen
Light it up
Follow these five rules and your lights will shine in all the right ways.
Tip 2: Install dimmer switches; they're a practical way to control light and energy consumption. — Amanda Forrest
Tip 3: The bottom of the shade of your bedside reading lamp should be at shoulder height when sitting in bed. Do the math! — Karl Lohnes
Tip 4: Choose a pendant or chandelier that's one-third the size of the table or kitchen island. Hang it approximately 30 to 36 inches above the table or island; if there are more than one, place them 12 to 18 inches apart. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Incandescent bulbs are great for atmosphere lighting, but LED bulbs are more suited to task lighting, when you really need to see what you're working on. — Janette Ewen
The inside scoop on paint and palette
Did you know that paint selection should be one of the last decisions you make when decorating a room?
Tip 1: I'm a firm believer in mood boards. They're not just for designers! Gather together fabrics, paint samples and inspiration images for a room before starting. It will create a picture and a trajectory that you may not have thought of. — Steven Sabados
Tip 2: When you design a room, pull your palette from one inspiration fabric. Whether you use a whimsical print or a more traditional pattern, take all the colours present in that material and allow those to guide fabric selection for pillows, throws, drapery and upholstery in the room. Take that same fabric to the paint store and have a custom colour mixed that matches one of the hues exactly. — Lisa Canning
Tip 4: Fine finish Choose a fresh trim colour in a semigloss, such as Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace OC-65. It creates a subtle separation from a matte wall, and it's a much more durable finish, which comes in handy since trims are usually the most touched, bumped and scuffed parts of our homes. — Mia Parres
Tip 5: Colour pop If you buy that cool orange statement chair, give it a buddy. When you're adding a colourful piece to a space, always have at least one other subtle hit of that colour elsewhere in the room to create a cohesive feel. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 6: Want to make a room feel taller? Paint baseboards and crown moulding the same colour as the walls. Want it to feel huge? mix one-third of the wall colour into the ceiling paint. — Karl Lohnes
The inside scoop on styling
You've bought the sofa and painted the walls. Now what? Our experts show you how to style a room like a pro.
Tip 1: Shop at stores that have liberal return policies and buy three times as much as you think you need. This gives you plenty of merchandise to play with to see what works and what does not. Mix in unique family heirlooms and vintage finds with the new pieces you purchase to create a naturally curated look. — Janette Ewen
Photography by Magdalena M
Tip 2: For a no-fail pillow combination, you need only three: one 20- by 20-inch, one 16- by 16-inch and one 12- by 16-inch. Those sizes look good together no matter how you arrange them! — Jo Alcorn
Tip 3: Beauty is in the details When styling a console, include framed art on easels or leaning against the wall; it's a great way to display smaller pieces. Create a dynamic vignette by mixing in boxes, vases and vintage pieces in differing heights and dimensions. — Brian Gluckenstein
Tip 4: Mix and match Use these common elements when styling shelves: stacks of books, gorgeous flowers and at least one accessory that has a lot of shimmer and shine. Varying heights and textures is also really important for visual interest. — Lisa Canning
The inside scoop on art
Take the mystery out of hanging art.
Tip 1: Make your own art! Buy a canvas in a size you're looking for, then grab some paint in the colours you're decorating with, and see what happens. Great masterpieces are born of happy accidents or beautiful mistakes. — Tiffany Pratt
Tip 2: When hanging art on an empty wall, the middle of the art should to be hung 66 to 72 inches off the floor. — Karl Lohnes
Tip 3: Art relates to furniture, not the ceiling: Keep art about six to eight inches above the sofa, or any piece of furniture, when hanging it. — Glen Peloso and Jamie Alexander
Tip 4: For a gallery wall, use different-size frames in one single finish and select artwork with a consistent theme in colour or subject matter to keep the display cohesive. — Brian Gluckenstein
Each year, top designers and brands showcase the best in innovative and inspiring design from around the world at The Interior Design Show in Toronto. We’ve picked our top Canadian designers that you may not have heard of yet, but should.
Dainty and flavourful, everyone loves to indulge in tiny bites of traditional tea sandwiches. Though they appear finicky to make, these tea sandwiches are easy to assemble and entirely make-ahead.
Pinwheel Sandwiches Trim crusts from 5 slices white or whole wheat sandwich loaf, cut Pullman-style. (Ask bakery to cut sandwich loaf horizontally, or Pullman style.) Using rolling pin, flatten slices slightly. Spread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread with filling.
Place 1 asparagus spear (or 2 baby gherkins) along 1 short end of each. Starting at asparagus, roll up tightly without squeezing. Wrap each roll tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 hour. With serrated knife, trim ends; cut each roll into 6 slices.
Makes 30 pieces. Pinwheel Sandwich recipe: Curried Egg Salad Triangle Sandwiches Spread 16 thin slices whole wheat or white sandwich bread with 1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened; spread filling evenly over 8 of the slices. Top with remaining slices, pressing lightly. Place on rimmed baking sheet and cover with damp tea towel; cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Trim off crusts. Cut each sandwich into 4 pieces.
Makes 32 pieces. Triangle Sandwich recipe: Ham Pickle Spread Square Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above except use 8 thin slices white and 8 thin slices whole wheat sandwich bread. Cut each sandwich into quarters.
Makes 32 pieces.Square Sandwich recipe: Pimiento Cheese Spread Finger Sandwiches Make sandwiches as in Triangle Sandwiches above. Cut each sandwich lengthwise into 4 fingers.
Makes 32 pieces. Finger Sandwich recipe: Tuna Olive Salad
Choose the best-quality bread. Never serve end slices. Freezing bread before cutting and then spreading makes for easier handling.
Bread should be lightly buttered no matter what the filling. Butter should be at room temperature before spreading. Sandwiches will not become limp and soggy as readily if you spread butter right to edge of bread.
Cut crusts off bread with long, sharp knife after (not before) assembling sandwiches. This keeps everything neater.
Since tea sandwiches should be delicate, cut each sandwich into thirds or quarters or in half diagonally. Or use cookie cutters to cut into decorative shapes.