Video: How to create a chic and unique Easter basket
Video: How to create a chic and unique Easter basket
Celebrity chef Mark McEwan is no stranger to dinner parties - both hosting and attending them. Here, he shares his secrets to serving in style.
1 Wine pairings
People get so intimidated when it comes to wine pairings. I'm more liberal. I like a bright white wine like Stoneleigh's Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Noir is my go-to red. It pairs well with anything: duck, beef, pork - even halibut! My friend put it best: "Do you like the wine? That's great! Drink it!"
2 Hors d'oeuvres
When it comes to hors d'oeuvres, plan for 10 pieces per person for a cocktail party. For a dinner, four will work - you want people to be hungry when they sit down to eat.
3 The main meal
Don't over-complicate the meal. Just pick your main protein - whether it's brined ham or a prime rib roast - and choose a few seasonal sides. Having four items on a plate is plenty.
4 Go stress-free
Don't try to achieve too much, make the menu too elaborate or cook too many dishes. It will get you flustered, and a stressed-out host is fun for no one.
5 Preparation is key
Prepare a menu that can have 90 percent done ahead of time with 10 percent to finish when guests arrive. I think of everything I need and lay it out - serving platters and utensils in the exact places I'll need them, condiments on the table - so I'm not hurriedly searching through drawers when company's over. I prep everything in advance but save one item to finish in front of people. It could be fresh gnocchi (from dough I've already prepared) or a beautiful layered salad.
MARK MCEWAN'S TRUSTY DINNER MENU
Salad: Layer your elements in advance and make a show of tossing them together at the dinner table.
Prime rib: Prep it and all its elements - the side vegetables, the au jus - ahead of time and leave the Yorkshire pudding for last.
Yorkshire pudding: It's a great last-minute dish to make in front of guests.
A kitchen boasting restaurant-design pedigree
Trendy meets traditional in this family home built from scratch.
Homeowner Tanya Krpan (pictured here) saved on accessories by loading the family room sectional with an assortment of ready-made toss cushions.
Tanya isn’t afraid to play with negative space, as seen in the home’s grand entryway. “Normally, you’d expect a mirror or big piece of art hanging above the wainscotting,” she says. Leaving the wall blank and layering small pieces on the console allows the millwork to shine.
Black casement windows and decorative accents create contrast in the neutral space. Tanya scored the vintage coffee table when her office was being redecorated.
The family room’s classic-cool mix feels right for a young family.
The kitchen, of course, is the true star of the show. Tanya’s restaurant-design pedigree shines through in the room’s floor-to-ceiling tiles, mix of open and closed storage and high-end appliances. She opted for white Shaker-style cabinetry and warmed up the space with a walnut island and brass hardware statement lighting and fixtures.
Another bistro-inspired touch was her choice of dark honed-limestone tiles for most of the main floor. “The tile grounds the space since there’s an abundance of white everywhere,” Tanya explains. “And it’s proven great for hiding dirt.”
Everything in the Krpans’ home is designed for everyday life and entertaining, from the large sectional in the family room to the round tables in the dining room and the kitchen’s eat-in area. “It’s more social to sit at a round table,” says Tanya. “You see everyone’s faces.”
Cabinets with glass doors allow Tanya to display her favourite serving pieces and special glassware. She had the back of the kitchen cabinets tiled to highlight this focal point of the kitchen.
Tanya and Jure – with their sons, Ivan, 3, and Cruz, 2 – have recently welcomed a baby girl named Belle.
The living room’s crisp white, grey and black scheme gets an energy boost from fresh greenery, pops of pink and plenty of pattern – check out the Moroccan-style rug, the ikat-print and chevron-patterned toss cushions and the graphic stool fabric.
To offset the costs of the more expensive permanent elements, Tanya was meticulous with her decorating budget. She incorporated secondhand pieces, such as the family room coffee table, and sourced inexpensive art for the living room mantel. Affordable colourful accessories add youthful edginess to the living spaces. “I love the femininity that the splashes of pink add to the living room and family room,” she says. “Plus, by the time I got to the decorating, I was living with three boys!”
In the dining room, Tanya likes the juxtaposition of the modern Sputnik-inspired chandelier with the traditional coffered ceiling. The artwork was a DIY project Tanya and Jure painted together on her 30th birthday.
Though this house has been well loved for years, there’s a sequel in the works: Tanya and Jure are in the process of building a new home. “We’ll keep some of the same elements but go a little more modern in the kitchen,” says Tanya. We’ll definitely stay tuned.
Purchase pre-made pizza dough to make this appetizer even easier!
Be the host with the most by making these delicious appetizers at your next party.
1 Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2 On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pizza dough into a thin 12" circle.
3 Transfer the dough to a rimmed baking sheet, pulling and stretching with your hands to maintain the circular shape.
4 Top the dough with the squash slices. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the dough is crisp and lightly browned.
5 Meanwhile, heat the honey and chili slices in a small saucepan over medium heat until the honey is thickened and syrupy, about 2 minutes.
6 Slice the flatbread into squares. Drizzle each with a bit of the spiced honey; serve warm.
Prep & cook time: 45 minutes
Michael Buble's holiday home
Canadian icon Michael Bublé invites us into his Vancouver home as he gets ready to celebrate the season in style.
If it were up to Michael Buble’s mom, her son’s music – and only her son’s music – would accompany their family Christmases. But since the Juno and Grammy award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter does, indeed, get a say, Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley are afforded lots of airtime, too. “We listen to everything from Mariah Carey to Boney M,” says Michael, explaining the obvious: Music plays a huge part in his holidays.
Once a year, this fabulous foursome – Christmas, music, family and food – comes together in a Buble bash that lasts a couple of days and sees a flood of loved ones visiting from all over the world, including South Africa, Argentina, London and L.A. Upstairs, his music room plays host to a sweet piano-accompanied singalong. And downstairs? “Our basement turns into a sort of salsa club,” says Michael. They move aside the arcade basketball, dome hockey and foosball games (“It’s my 12-year-old-boy-style man cave,” he says with a laugh) to accommodate the DJ and dance floor. “We eat too much, we drink too much – it’s like an old-school Hollywood party.”
Although he admits it may sound cliche, Michael likes giving more than he does getting. “Whether it’s compliments or gifts, receiving them can make me feel a bit embarrassed and shy,” he says. So, in terms of showering his wife with presents, he’s a pro romantic. “But I have a poor sense of occasion. I don’t save gifts for Christmas or Valentine’s Day,” he explains. Case in point: When he’s going to be out of town for a while, Michael will hide little notes around the house, tucking them in shoes, toiletries, drawers, even the diaper bag – “I want to remind her that I’m thinking of her,” he says.
The house’s elegant black, white and gold palette has a sophisticated charm that suits this debonair songster’s vocal style. Above the tray table in the hallway is another piece from Michael’s collection of artwork – a beautiful collage of broken records created by his brother-in-law.
You’d be surprised to know that singer-songwriter Michael Buble has only one of his awards on display at his house – and even that’s a fluke. He brought it home from the office to show a friend and has yet to return it. What he takes more pride in is his meaningful collection of artwork, which includes a cartoon by Jann Arden and a painting by Tony Bennett. But one of his favourite pieces is a photograph of Chet Baker (hanging above the fireplace in his living room) by the great William Claxton, who shot the cover for one of Michael’s albums.
A voluminous cedar garland is filled out with eucalyptus leaves and geometric silver ornaments.
Layers of neutrals are grounded with graphic hits of black and punched up with fresh greenery in the living room.
A simple mirror stylishly frames a leafy green wreath.
Presents are personalized with a band of sheet music secured with a delicate satin bow. Then the presents are nestled in a bowl of ball ornaments for the perfect way to add some flair under the tree.
The couple, who has a two-year-old son named Noah, announced earlier this year that they’re expecting another child, and Michael can’t wait to share the holiday traditions that he enjoyed when he was young. “My dad and I would get the lights out of the attic and string them up outside, while my mom and sisters would decorate the inside. Then we’d gather around the Christmas tree and put the star topper on together: very Norman Rockwell,” he says. “Of course that’s the way I remember it – I’m sure I’ve forgotten the fighting and hair-pulling with my sisters.”
With bold black and white striped gift wrap, sometimes a touch of cedar is all you need as a topper.
The party is set to sound even better this holiday, thanks to last year’s gift from Michael’s wife, actor Luisana Lopilato: “When it was time to open my present, I could hear her telling me that she loved me very much, adored having a child with me and was thrilled to be spending another Christmas with me...but I didn’t understand why her voice was audible throughout the whole house,” he says. “She’d had a Sonos sound system installed – and I had no idea. It was really special.”
And then there’s the food. Michael has an Italian extended family and an Argentinian wife, so the smorgasbord often stretches from the traditional turkey and mashed potatoes to risotto and empanadas. “The whole house smells amazing,” says Michael, who’s always thrilled to host his family and friends under his Vancouver roof.
Delicate white peonies arranged in a dome shape look like a bowl of little white snowballs.
Black table linens paired with gold-toned flatware and subtly gold-edged dishware, topped with a simple handwritten place card and sprig of eucalyptus.
Black and white sugar cookies echo the graphic palette throughout the house, becoming the most stylish (and delicious) desserts around.
Bow-tied gingerbread Bubles by Butter Baked Goods are a classy take on the traditional cookies
Icing sugar-dusted chocolate cookies served up on a white star plate are festive yet understated, while underscoring the black and white scheme.
Instead of some classic jingle bells on display, you’ll find pieces like this harmonica from Michael’s music room, where he spends lots of time jamming with friends and writing songs.
While on set, Michael was singing classic Christmas carols and keeping spirits bright for our team. And what winter wonderland Christmas shoot would be complete without his signature bowties?