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Tips and Tricks
This year, the holiday gatherings will take another form but the magic and the pleasure of sharing beautiful moments will always be there.

5 tips for a successful virtual Christmas

This year, holiday gatherings are sure to be a little different, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be magical and fun!

Discover five tips for organizing a memorable holiday meal . . . virtually!

1. Electronic devices

– Use a computer, tablet or smartphone, equipped with a camera and microphone.

– Place the device in a secure fashion, making sure it has an optimal view of the table.

2. The number of people

– For interesting conversations, without having to deal with too much cacophony, limit the number of guests; anywhere between 4 and 6 is ideal.

– Send evites to your guests, making sure to include the following information: the date, time, theme, as well as the link to join the virtual event. There exists a ton of free online templates to choose from.

3. The concept

– Choose a theme for the evening and build your menu around it. Here are a few ideas: cocktail dinner, traditional Christmas, vegetarian Christmas, flavours of the world, or fondue fun.

– Get everyone involved by inviting them to share a recipe related to the chosen theme.

– Once all the recipes have been submitted, present the final menu to your guests, from appetizer to dessert.

4. A festive décor

– Even though the event is taking place virtually, you can still encourage participants to get dressed up and add a festive touch to their tables.

– Just a few elements suffice to infuse some holiday magic into your home: fir branches, Christmas baubles, gold ribbon, candles, pinecones, cinnamon sticks, star anise.

5. Music

–  Do any of your guests play a musical instrument? Before serving dessert, plan a short jam session.

–  Prepare a classic Christmas playlist to help create a festive ambience.

– Before the virtual gathering begins, send a list of traditional Christmas carols to your guests. That way everyone can practice beforehand and you can all sing together the night of the party.

– Organize a karaoke night.

4 original ideas for decorating your holiday cocktails

1. Coloured ice cubes

Place red and green items in your ice cube trays. Think rosemary sprigs, raspberries, fir branches, fresh cranberries, pomegranate arils, or fresh basil. Fill with water and freeze.

2. Frozen fruit

For added flavour, swap traditional ice cubes for frozen fruit. For a 100% Christmas theme, use green and red frozen grapes. Melon balls, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries are also great in cocktails.

3. Gourmet decorative skewers

Both stunning and succulent, cocktail skewers are a must! Plus they’re so simple to make: simply choose a few ingredients that pair nicely with your drink’s flavour profile and assemble them on a cocktail pick or sprig of rosemary. In the mood for an Aperol spritz? Serve it with a green olive, cheese cube, prosciutto slice, and a small hot pepper skewer!

4. Holiday-flavoured rims

The idea is simple: rub the rim of your glass with a lemon slice or apply a thin coat of honey (this will help the garnishes to stick). Next, pour a sufficient amount of your chosen garnish into a small bowl or plate (think crushed candy canes, crushed gingerbread cookies, green and red sprinkles, or shredded coconut), and gently dip the rim of your glass into the mixture.

Fare la scarpetta with Stefano’s meatballs

“Fare la scarpetta,” or soaking up the rest of the sauce on your plate with bread, is a dining ritual that is very dear to Italians. In honour of this tradition and to enjoy every last bite of Stefano’s delicious polpettes in tomato sauce, serve this appetizer with a loaf of fresh bread. Choose your favourite loaf among the excellent organic products offered by À Chacun Son Pain bakery.

Feel like exploring other ways of serving bread at happy hour or as an appetizer? Reinvent the bread bar with our yummy flavoured butter and oil suggestions!

Flavoured butter

Arrange a few slices of freshly toasted bread on a platter and add a variety of flavoured butter. Then let everyone at the table choose the butter they want. If you want, you can also add toppings, such as charcuterie, smoked salmon, or thinly sliced cucumbers.

Oil and balsamic vinegar

Opt for a typical Italian blend, pouring quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar in small shallow plates. Give one to each guest and let them dip their fresh bread in the delicious mix. For even more flavour, add some herbes de Provence or grated Parmesan.

Put together a one-of-a-kind bread bar, complete with flavoured butter and oils. Let the festivities begin!

Mediterranean butter

60 ml (1/4 cup) Laiterie Chagnon salted churned butter, softened
15 ml (1 tbsp.) basil or sundried tomato pesto

  1. Combine the butter and pesto.
  2. If you want, roll the flavoured butter in plastic wrap to form a log. Store in the fridge
    until the butter has hardened or freeze for later use.

 

Chipotle butter

60 ml (1/4 cup) Laiterie Chagnon salted cultured butter, softened
15 ml (1 tbsp.) grilled peppers, minced
1 ml (1/4 tsp.) chipotle sauce

  1. Combine all the ingredients.
  2. If you want, roll the flavoured butter in plastic wrap to form a log. Store in the fridge until the butter has hardened or freeze for later use.

More exquisite recipes on IGA.net/en

Flavoured olive oil

250 ml (1 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
15 ml (1 tbsp.) grated Parmesan
1 ml (1/4 tsp.) dried basil or oregano
1 ml (1/4 tsp.) hot pepper flakes
1 ml (1/4 tsp.) fleur de sel
1 ml (1/4 tsp.) freshly ground pepper

  1. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients. Divide the flavoured oil among individual shallow plates (one for each guest).
  2. Dip your bread in the flavoured olive oil.

Three fabulous and festive DIY holiday decorations

It’s no secret that Marilou loves stylish table settings! If you too would like to create a chic and cheerful ambience this holiday season, here are a few easy (but elegant!) ideas to help get you started. The good news? You only need a few items from your fridge or pantry to create the most magical of settings! Rosemary sprigs and candy canes can easily be transformed into place cards, while clove-studded oranges and pomegranates make colourful decorative baubles.

1. Pretty holiday candles

A few weeks before the holidays, start saving small glass jars (yogurt, jam, or Mason jars), to transform them into decorative candles. All you need is some fir branches or sprigs of rosemary, fresh cranberries, pomegranate arils, an orange slice, and a small white floating candle. Place your chosen red and green items in the bottom of a glass jar, fill with water, and top with the candle. Magical effect guaranteed!

2. Festive place cards

Candy canes are pretty in the tree, yes, but they also make great place cards at the table. Plus they’re so easy to make! All you need to do is tie a red ribbon and a small card bearing each guest’s name around a candy cane. Then arrange a small fir branch in each plate, lay the candy canes over top, and enjoy!

3. Decorations using dried oranges or whole pomegranates

In addition to filling your home with inviting aromas, dried oranges make great decorations: add them to garlands or wreaths, or use them to decorate the tree or embellish your gift- wrapping. This year, opt for a more natural décor by setting the table with dried oranges, star anise, cinnamon sticks tied with twine, pomegranates, and clementines. Add a few fir branches and there you have it—a 100% natural, 100% jolly table setting!

Ice cream desserts for all!

Calling all dessert lovers! Treat yourself to a slice of Marilou’s or Ricardo’s Yule log, or Stefano’s panettone, and top it with a scoop of Laiterie Chagnon ice cream.

Ice cream is also a great option for when you want to put together a quick and delish dessert. All you need is your favourite flavour of ice cream, a bit of imagination, and you’ve got yourself a gourmet, signature dessert. For a chic look, opt for small, transparent bowls. Need some topping inspiration? How about fruit coulis, chocolate ganache, caramel sauce, candied fruit, toasted almonds, maple-glazed nuts, cookies, cream fudge, nougats, or candies?!

1. Chocolate ice cream with candied oranges and toasted almonds

Chocolate and oranges go hand-in-hand. For a more sophisticated dessert, stir candied orange pieces into your chocolate ice cream and top with a handful of toasted slivered almonds. You can make it even more gourmet by dipping your candied orange into quality dark chocolate.

2. Vanilla ice cream with pieces of pie

Everyone loves eating pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! Now you can enjoy both flavours in a single bowl, simply by stirring pie pieces into your ice cream. Here’s how: scoop your vanilla ice cream into a large bowl and let it soften slightly. Meanwhile, cut homemade or store-bought pie into small pieces. Finally, stir the pie into your softened ice cream, let chill in the freezer until hard, and enjoy!

3. Gingerbread ice cream with caramelized pecans

Holiday-flavoured ice cream? Yes, it actually exists! Discover Laiterie Chagnon’s new gingerbread ice cream, out just in time for the holidays. Every spoonful explodes with enveloping aromas the whole family will love. For a one-of-a-kind gourmet experience, top your gingerbread ice cream with caramelized pecans and, of course, a gingerbread cookie!

Whimsical hot chocolates!

While the grown-ups are enjoying Christian’s flavoured coffee recipe, the kids can sip on hot chocolate with fun, unique toppings!

The holidays are the perfect time to try different hot chocolate recipes and spend heart-warming moments with family. After taking a nice little stroll outside, warm up with a fun hot-chocolate-making activity. On the menu: red nosed reindeers, whipped cream, crumbled gingerbread, and roasted marshmallows. Fun guaranteed, right to the last drop!

1. Rudolph hot chocolate

Recreate popular Christmas figures—think Frosty, Rudolph, and Santa—to decorate your little ones’ drinks. All you need are a few items from the pantry and a touch of imagination. For Rudolph, you will need white marshmallows and black and red cookie icing for the eyes and nose, and pretzels for the antlers.

2. Avalanche hot chocolate

An absolutely decadent hot chocolate to sip while watching your favourite holiday movie. First, top the drink with a generous helping of whipped cream, and sprinkle crumbled gingerbread over top. The crushed cookie bits mixed with whipped cream makes for a most pleasant texture. Plus, it adds some delicious flavour to the chocolaty drink. And decorate with a small marshmallow polar bear, if you please!

3. Campfire hot chocolate

A simple topping that is sure to warm the hearts of your junior campers? Roasted marshmallows! And you don’t even need a real fire to get the taste down! The grill in your oven will do just fine. Place your marshmallows on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Roast in the oven for about 30 seconds, and slide the roasted marshmallows onto skewers. Place them over the mugs and enjoy!