‘Tis the season. You know, the one that contains a non-stop parade of cookie exchanges, potlucks, open houses, family dinners, and big celebratory meals.
It’s enough to make a girl want to crawl under the bed with a carton of eggnog and a mickey of spiced rum until the new year comes around.
I’m not kidding. This book literally arrived as I was trying to figure out what to bring to a cozy holiday potluck slash ugly sweater party at a friend’s house, and seriously considering the benefits of taking a month-long nap instead.
The book provides menus and ideas for organizing all kinds of gatherings, from the big to the small. There’s a little bit of everything – a children’s birthday party, a very grownup cocktail soiree, a casual pizza party, and (my personal fave) a coffee and doughnuts party, all of which are designed to be totally doable even for a relatively inexperienced hostess. Forget the picture-perfect Pinterest-worthy themed parties. These are parties for real life, where the napkins might not colour-coordinate with the paper straws, but no one notices because they’re too busy chowing down.
I debated making the New Orleans-Style Beignets or the Prosciutto Prawns with Pesto, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to make the samosa-inspired Nenshi Pie, which has been on my to-make list ever since I spotted it on Julie’s blog last year. (I mean, anything named after legendary Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi can’t possibly be bad… amirite?)
No surprise, this one’s a winner. I opted for the laziest variation possible, folding up the spiced beef filling in a pre-rolled sheet of buttery puff pastry to make a rustic sort of galette, though there’s also the option to go all fancy-like with a standard double-crust pie pastry.
What you get is basically the oh-so-delicious lovechild of a French-Canadian tourtiere and a gently spiced beef samosa. It’s lovely eaten piping hot right out of the oven, but the leftovers are plenty delicious eaten cold, especially if topped off with a dollop of sweet-and-sour homemade ketchup.
And best of all, it’s dead easy to make. Exactly the kind of recipe I needed, so that I could focus my efforts on more important things. Like, y’know, finding the perfect ugly Christmas sweater or coming up with excuses for why we’re out of eggnog… again.
You’ll find the recipe on page 62 of the book, or you can follow the link above to Julie’s blog. To make the version you see photographed here, simply stir 1 cup of frozen peas and carrots into the filling and use a double-dose of garam masala. A dash of cayenne for extra spice wouldn’t hurt, if you’re thusly inclined, though I rather liked the mild spice of this version.
Disclosure: The kind folks at Whitecap Books provided me with a complimentary copy of Gatherings for review purposes. And while I’ve had the pleasure of meeting both Jan and Julie in person (and I think they’re both awesome), I’d have happily recommended this cookbook even if that wasn’t the case. Seriously. It’s wonderful.
#GatheringsBook – the blog tour!
I’m one of several bloggers writing about Gatherings this week. Check out all of the other posts! (I’ll be updating the list with direct links as the week goes on.)
Mardi at eat.live.travel.write shared her favourite entertaining tips and a recipe for Spiced Mulled Wine.
Mairlyn Smith chose Gatherings as one of her top new Canadian cookbook picks.
Charmian from The Messy Baker made Pecan Bourbon Blondies.
Amy from Family Feedbag is giving away a copy of the book!
Jennifer from Seasons and Suppers made Pork Tenderloin with Maple Balsamic and Cranberry Sauce.
Heather from The Tasty Gardener made Parmesan Thyme Puffs (aka gougeres, aka my favouritest thing ever.)