Root Vegetable Soup (A Guide To)

Root Vegetable Soup || An easy to follow recipe guide on how to make an amazing soup with any root vegetables. Use any of the following: potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes or squash. Cozy and perfect for Fall or Winter. Very healthy, great for a detox. Dairy free, gluten free, plant based, vegan. || creamandhoney.ca
Root Vegetable Soup || An easy to follow recipe guide on how to make an amazing soup with any root vegetables. Use any of the following: potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes or squash. Cozy and perfect for Fall or Winter. Very healthy, great for a detox. Dairy free, gluten free, plant based, vegan. || creamandhoney.ca

Hi. I've been gone awhile and I've missed you. It was nothing you did, I promise. I went on vacation to Mexico where I spent my 33rd birthday and it was exactly what I needed. I stepped off my hamster wheel of spinning thoughts and routines and settled into daily nothingness with loose plans of what food to eat and which beach to go to. I took the time I needed to breathe and be in my body and sigh out loud while watching the waves roll in and out. I did nothing and everything. I asked myself what truly feels good for me lately. What makes me feel inspired? What feels stuck? How can I move forward while keeping aligned and not overwhelmed?

I debated if I want to continue creating this blog. I love it and it's been one of the best learning experiences about myself and my capabilities, but I was feeling unsure if this is still where I want to be putting my free time and energy. It can feel lonely and disconnected writing into an abyss of space that hangs in the air and on screens. It's easy to fall into a comparison trap on social media where you're left feeling like you don't have enough or you're not where you want to be while seeing your dream life lived by other people. These incomplete feelings aren't real though, they're made up by my mind. By all of our minds. I recently had someone send me a message on Instagram that said, “do you do food blogging full-time? Because your life looks like a dream". This astounded me and I actually laughed out loud at how anyone could think that was my life. The funniest part was I felt the exact same way about her– that she had a dreamy life I coveted. I realized I assume that about a lot of people online. I find there's not a ton of transparency with online presences on how they got to where they are. I always read  interviews that mention “a lot of hard work" and  “I kept believing in myself". Although I'm sure these are true, the rest of us want to know how. Like actually how– the details, the steps, the mistakes, the times you were about to give up, what made you keep going. I want to hear about the human stuff, the relatable stuff. A lot of hard work and believing in myself are sentences I've heard my entire life and aren't new information. Without the details, it feels like there are secrets to success that no one is revealing. And guys, I love secrets. And I love details. Or maybe these details are so irrelevant to successful people because they've already made it and don't need that information anymore. Who knows? Do you? If you do– tell me?

I've been craving doing creative things with my hands and less online.  I wish the days were longer so I could experience and create more. My serving job is essential right now to pay my bills but it takes a lot out of me. It's a much faster pace than I prefer to live my life at. And this life really is short– I can feel it in the quickness of the days, the anxious feeling that comes with dusk, the moments I wake unexpectedly at 5 am and debate getting up to see the sun rise but then tell myself “another day" and fall back asleep. How can I create a life with more time and slowness? I'm forever working on it. I'd love to hear your suggestions. 

A friend and I read tarot card last night. Mine urged to me continue moving forward with current projects and that was the small sway I needed to rededicate myself to working in this space. My goal is to maintain the blog and make time for other creative activities that give me a sense of relief and disconnection from my day-to-day. For me, this will mean less scrolling social media, less tv, and more action-to-begin rather than procrastination. I am excited about this renewed feeling and sense of self. It will be a loving self that moves slowly even when there's a lot going on. I've also been re-evaluating this blog in terms of what I can offer you. I want to hear you, to help you, to know what you like or find interesting. What are your favourite parts about these posts? What do you want more of? Comment or send me a message and let me know, I would love to produce more content you want to see. That's where this soup comes in. I posed these questions to a friend. She said she loves when I make recipes approachable and the tips, tricks and whys on making food.

I wanted to create a guide where you can learn to follow your cooking intuition and create a soup out of almost any vegetables you have laying around. Soups are easy, they don't take a lot of effort and are  nourishing and delicious. One of the skills that is the most valuable in cooking is to understand the basics of a recipe so you can create one your own. I have a recipe at the bottom which you can follow directly, but this post is to act as a manual to help you feel confident in your technique and the steps of making a soup.

Root Vegetable Soup || An easy to follow recipe guide on how to make an amazing soup with any root vegetables. Use any of the following: potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes or squash. Cozy and perfect for Fall or Winter. Very healthy, great for a detox. Dairy free, gluten free, plant based, vegan. || creamandhoney.ca

After basking in sunlight and sea for ten days, it can feel pretty miserable returning to feet of snow and -20 °C weather. Some things that help me are:

  • making hot and nutritious food and drinks like this soup
  • practicing self care (yoga, a good skin care routine, home spa nights)
  • the strikingly beautiful winter sunsets

Because the air is less hazy and more crisp and clear in cold weather, it creates brightly coloured skies upon sunrise and sunset. Every night brings fiery oranges and reds, cotton candy pinks and blues, or a rainbow gradient as the sun dips below the horizon. Our world is what we focus on. Right now, I choose beauty and slowness to centre my attention on. 

Ontario Place. Sunset in Toronto over Lake Ontario.
Toronto sunset
Root Vegetable Soup || An easy to follow recipe guide on how to make an amazing soup with any root vegetables. Use any of the following: potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes or squash. Cozy and perfect for Fall or Winter. Very healthy, great for a detox. Dairy free, gluten free, plant based, vegan. || creamandhoney.ca
Root Vegetable Soup || An easy to follow recipe guide on how to make an amazing soup with any root vegetables. Use any of the following: potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes or squash. Cozy and perfect for Fall or Winter. Very healthy, great for a detox. Dairy free, gluten free, plant based, vegan. || creamandhoney.ca
Root Vegetable Soup || An easy to follow recipe guide on how to make an amazing soup with any root vegetables. Use any of the following: potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes or squash. Cozy and perfect for Fall or Winter. Very healthy, great for a detox. Dairy free, gluten free, plant based, vegan. || creamandhoney.ca

Vegetables                                                                                   

What kinds? Almost any vegetable will work for a soup! Make sure to pick vegetables you enjoy. For extra easiness and minimal thought, use vegetables that are all similar in physical structure (eg. all root vegetables, broccoli + cauliflower, etc). If you want to blend an array of vegetables with structural ranges, stagger your cooking times. Firm vegetables all go in together and any type of green (kale, collard greens, spinach) are added at the end with 5 minutes or less left on cooking time.      

Consider balancing flavours with vegetables (eg. don't use all bitter vegetables like turnip, kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts etc). Use a few but balance them out with a sweet vegetable (sweet potato) or neutral vegetable (cauliflower, potato).

Tip: You can balance extra bitterness with a creamy component like yogurt, cheese, cream, or coconut milk. Or a salty component like bacon. You can balance stinky notes from cabbage with some lemon juice and/or white beans.

Broth                                                                                  

Use whatever broth you like! For pureed vegetable soups I prefer organic chicken or vegetable broth. If you have a limited amount of broth on hand, make up the rest of the liquid with water (plus extra salt). I do this all the time if I'm missing a cup or two of broth and it still always tastes amazing but you must remember the extra salt or it may end up a bit flat or bland since the salty umami flavour is a major component of broth flavour. I salt to taste. To do this, taste the broth on its own. Now add the water and taste again. It will taste flatter and watered down. Now add a good pinch of kosher salt, mix and taste. Continue adding a little more and tasting each time until it tastes like full flavour broth again but not “salty". 

Aromatics   

This is the first (and most important flavouring step) of the soup. Cooking aromatics in some fat to begin a soup is very important. It releases flavours and is the main component of what will give your soup depth and deep delicious flavours. To begin, heat your heavy bottomed soup pot on medium-high. Add a tablespoon of preferred fat. How to know when your pan is hot enough: add a single drop of water after your fat and if it sizzles, your pan is ready for the aromatics. Add onion and a pinch of salt. Stir often while they cook until translucent. Add other aromatics once the onions are cooked.

Try: fresh ginger, herbs (dried or fresh), spices, chilis, curry paste and garlic.

Tip: Garlic burns easily so add it last of all aromatics and reduce your temperature while constantly stirring for a minute or two before moving on to the next step.

Fats

Olive oil, coconut oil, butter, ghee, avocado oil, animal fat, etc. 

Deglaze

Deglazing the bottom of a pot is important to scrape all those flavourful brown bits off the bottom. By adding a splash of white wine or vinegar, it creates immediate steam that releases these bits and adds a hint of acid to help balance the base of the soup. You can substitute with a splash a broth to do the same thing if you don't have wine or vinegar.

Building the Soup

Add all your vegetables (except greens) and broth to a large pot. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Leave the lid off while you let your soup simmer for 30 minutes of so. Leaving the lid off lets steam release which allows the liquid to cook down and concentrates the flavours. I taste the soup after 15 minutes or so and add more salt if needed. I find by 30 minutes the flavours are well developed but you can leave it for longer if you want it more concentrated in flavour, just keep in mind that it will yield less soup since the liquid decreases with the lid off. 

Pureeing

Once you are happy with the flavour, ladle the soup in to a blender and puree until smooth (or use a hand blender). Sometimes I serve it right away after blending. You can also pour it back into the pot and cook over low for 5 to 10 minutes to develop more flavours. Add a bit of acidity if it tastes too rich– a splash of white wine vinegar or a good squeeze of lemon will add a brightness to the soup without making it taste too acidic. Start with a little bit, it goes a long way. You can also add a creamy element at this point if you like (coconut milk or cream). If you do, keep the temperature on low to mix the creamy component so it does not curdle. 

Toppings

 For me, a pureed soup needs a topping. It feels more complete and adds texture. I use a few things of whatever I have on hand.

Try:  fresh herbs, toasted nuts or seeds, croutons, crushed Mary's crackers, parsnip (or other vegetable) crisps, herb oil, sliced green onions, roasted vegetables, roasted chickpeas, poached egg, sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese.

Root Vegetable Soup || An easy to follow recipe guide on how to make an amazing soup with any root vegetables. Use any of the following: potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes or squash. Cozy and perfect for Fall or Winter. Very healthy, great for a detox. Dairy free, gluten free, plant based, vegan. || creamandhoney.ca
Root Vegetable Soup || An easy to follow recipe guide on how to make an amazing soup with any root vegetables. Use any of the following: potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celeriac, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes or squash. Cozy and perfect for Fall or Winter. Very healthy, great for a detox. Dairy free, gluten free, plant based, vegan. || creamandhoney.ca
Winter sunset on the Lakeshore, Toronto.

Let's all do things that make us feel good, okay? 

Love,

 Megan

xx


ROOT VEGETABLE SOUP WITH PARSNIP CRISPS

the magic

inspiration:                cold winter days and nights

the feels:                    warm, creamy, smooth, earthy

eat with:                     crusty bread, Mary's crackers, fresh herbs,                                        herb oil, poached egg, sliced sausage,                                                bacon, grated cheese, ground meat. 

might like if you're into:       cozy cottages, self care, detoxing,                                                      food in bowls, historical fiction                                                        books or tv, cellars, log cabins, one                                                  pot meals, watching the fire. 

 

the science

makes 8 cups of soup (4 to 6 servings) || time: 45 minutes

ingredients:

  • 8 cups of peeled and chopped root vegetables                                                                                                (this particular soup contained the following)
    • 3 parsnips (for soup) + 1 for crisps
    • 3 carrots
    • 2 yellow potatoes
    • 1 turnip
    • 1 celeriac 
  • 5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)
  • 1 onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled + grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or diced
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • splash of white wine vinegar or white wine (for deglazing)
  • optional: squeeze of lemon for each bowl before serving to brighten
  • topping suggestions: parsnip crisps, fresh parsley, herb oil,  sliced green onions, crushed Mary's Crackers, croutons, toasted nuts or seeds, roasted vegetables, roasted chickpeas, poached egg, sausage, bacon, cheddar cheese.

method:                                                                                            

soup

  1. Heat large pot over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil. Once hot, add onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté until translucent (5 to 8 minutes). Add any other aromatics you are using (this recipe is ginger) and cook for another 2 minutes. Add garlic (and another tablespoon of oil if needed) and sauté for one more minute. The bottom of your pot may be brownish and a bit sticky. Pour a splash of white wine vinegar and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add herbs (thyme and rosemary) and mix.  
  2. Add root vegetables and stir to coat. Pour in broth and turn to high heat. Bring to a boil and reduce temperature to a simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Taste and add up to a teaspoon of kosher salt. When using vegetable broth I usually prefer the whole teaspoon. Chicken broth may need less. If your broth tastes slightly bland, it needs salt.
  3. Ladle soup into blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into pot and simmer for another 5 minutes or so and add anything else (more salt or ground pepper) you may like.
  4. Ladle into bowls. Add any toppings you like and add a squeeze of lemon to brighten the soup.  

parsnip crisps

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Using a thin setting on a mandolin, shave a pre-peeled parsnip into very thin slices. Lay on baking sheet and brush with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 3 to 8 minutes depending on thickness (check them at three and then every minute following). Be careful not to burn them. Let cool. 

 

Amaro Spritz Punch

Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca

Hello holiday people!

For my final post of the Holiday Blognanza with Olaiya from Milly's Kitchen, I've made you this delicious punch that will charm the pants off you and your guests. That could be a good or bad thing depending who your guests are, so invite cool and attractive people to come drink with you just to be safe. Olaiya has a recipe for toasted buckwheat granola with tahini and dark chocolate up on her blog for you to indulge in and feel good about it. This punch is perfect for pre-dinner drinks, alongside food or after food. It's versatile because it's light and contains amari that help you digest. Amari are lovely to sip on before or after a meal, particularly with some ice and a citrus peel. The fresh and bubbly flavour of this punch is reminiscent of orange crush but a very adult version being less sweet and added notes of bitterness. It even tastes amazing flat if you don't drink it all in one night. Pour it into a sealable bottle or mason jar and keep in the fridge for tomorrow's Christmas movie or a night cap. I brought a leftover bottle of this flat punch to a friend's place last night and it was a huge hit. Such a hit that as I write this, my mind is foggy from the evening's holiday cheer and lack of sleep so forgive my briefness. It was totally worth it. Now go whip up a batch of this delicious stuff (it only takes a couple minutes) and you'll be feeling extra warm and cheery in no time. 

Here are the previous holiday posts from this month if you need some food and gift ideas!

Pine Shortbread Cookies

Hazelnut Amaretti With Orange + Vanilla

Stilton Pear Cheese Ball With Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns

Small Is Beautiful: Holiday Gift Guide

Potato Cheddar + Onion Focaccia

Alison Roman's Slow Roasted Pork With Garlic, Citrus + Cilantro

 

Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca

Holiday Party Tips (section four)

 

Setting The Tone

Setting the tone of a gathering is so important. For a visceral experience, I consider what people's the senses will encounter when arriving. What will they experience in terms of their sense of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch. 

Sight

How do I make everyone look as attractive as possible? Lighting! And booze. But mostly lighting. Overhead lights can be unflattering so unless it's your only option, side lighting with lamps and candles are a better option. If overhead lighting must be used then offset with candles and lamps or dim down if possible. Twinkly lights, a himalayan salt lamp and candles are my favourite light accents. 

Smell

Lots of delicious food aromas wafting through your home before people arrive may be all you need. I turn on my essential oil diffuser while I get ready because it's relaxes me as I ease into the evening. For a bright and uplifting scent try lemon or orange oil (you can add a little peppermint if you like which goes with both nicely). For something earthy and relaxing, lavender, rosemary and conifer work well. If you're stuffed up from winter colds or want a clean smell, half eucalyptus and half lavender is my favourite. 

Hearing

Music is key at a gathering and one of the biggest tone setters. Construct your own playlist or pick on out on Spotify or 8tracks. A classic jazz soul playlist is perfect for a winter gathering. This In The Kitchen playlist goes well with cooking, preparing and for when guests arrive. I have a few playlists with different vibes saved on my computer for when the energy changes. Maybe it evolves into a dance party (the best kind of party).  The volume level is important as well. If the music is too quiet it can feel awkward but if it's too loud, people can't hear or focus on conversations. 

TV. Yes or no?

Unless the gathering is centred around a tv show, movie or sports games I would avoid turning on the tv. I find this is a quick party killer and people end up zoned out on the screen. 

Bathroom Etiquette

I love when people have a candle already lit in the bathroom. It makes it feel cozy and like they care about every room in their home. I keep a stick a palo santo and a lighter in a small glass above the toilet for people to light. Ensure there is ample soap, toilet paper, and a clean hand towel.

When guests arrive

 Greet them with enthusiasm and a hug (this is part of the touch sense and hugs are important, okay?). If you are enthusiastic to see someone, they will feel the same. Often we mirror other people's feelings, so be the feeling-guru and have everyone else mirror your excited and cheerful vibe. Show them where they can put their coats so they don't take up room in the common area. Offer a drink by telling them exactly what the options are. Offering homemade punch to start is always a welcomed sight. 

Be aware of the vibe

Once everyone has arrived, the tone of the gathering will be set. It may need some help by initiating conversations between people and topping up drinks (which always gets the conversation flowing). If it's feeling too sleepy, consider turning up the lights a little or changing the playlist to something more upbeat. Now just let it be and enjoy! I find the more I focus on enjoying myself, the more others enjoy themselves. Happiness is contagious, guys.

 

Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca

Recipe Notes:

bay leaf gin

Pour one cup of gin into a mason jar. Take 15 fresh bay leaves and rip in half. Place into jar of gin and seal. Leave for at least six hours. I left mine overnight. Remove bay leaves or strain if needed. 

Ice

Make extra ice ahead of time or buy a bag at the store. If you have a punch bowl, there are some pretty awesome ice rings you can make the day before like this one

Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca
Amaro Spritz Punch || A delicious Christmas punch perfect for the holidays! This batch cocktail is made with sparkling wine, aperol, amaro montenegro, orange juice and gin. Fresh and light! || creamandhoney.ca

Wishing you a happy holidays with lots of lovely food, family, friends and punch!

Meg

xx


AMARO SPRITZ PUNCH

the magic

inspiration:                     Aperol Spritz

the feels:                         fresh, light, slightly sweet + bitter    

eat with:                          cocktail snacks, antipasto, cheese ball

might like if you're into:      apertivos, digestivos, dance parties,                                                   fancy parties, san pellegrino aranciata,                                             negronis, aperol spritz, amaro, campari                                             + soda

the science

makes 12 cups (one large bowl or jug of punch) || time: 5 minutes

ingredients:

  • 1 cup aperol
  • 1 cup amaro montenegro
  • 1 cup gin (for bay infused gin, read the recipe notes above)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 4 cups cava (prosecco, champagne or sparkling wine)
  • 4 cups sparkling water
  • ice for serving
  • 2 oranges, sliced into wheels (optional)
  • handful of fresh bay leaves (optional)

method:

  1. Add aperol, amaro montenegro, gin, and orange juice to a jug or punch bowl. Just before serving, add cava and sparkling water. Stir to mix. Top with sliced oranges and bay leaves if desired. Add lots of ice to punch (the more the better because it will melt slower with more and keep the punch cold for longer. Or you can add ice to each glass as you serve it. 

Pour leftovers into a sealable bottle or jar and keep in the fridge for up to five days. It's delicious flat or you can brighten it back up with a splash of sparkling water or sparkling wine. 

Potato Cheddar + Onion Focaccia

Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca

Here we are in the third chapter of the Holiblogs (holiday blogs) with Olaiya from Milly's Kitchen. Originally I had a completely different idea for this post. But then– bread happened. Okay wait, first my period happened and then bread happened. Because I want one hundred slices of bread, then chocolate (and repeat for five days) during my period. And just like that, the universe demanded it from me. And when the universe (or your period, is it the same thing?) requests bread so intensely, you do not refuse. Olaiya has brought us a slow roasted pork this week, but more importantly some pertinent questions to ponder over the holidays regarding what truly feels good and what we do out of habit or obligation. If you are feeling stressed and running on autopilot, take five minutes and give it a full-attention read. In the same vein, I've got some more holiday party tips in this post that help you plan a menu with the goal of ease. Let's remove the stress around entertaining and bring it back to some good old fashioned fun and wearing lamp shades on our heads. 

This week I'm bringing you an easy-to-make potato cheddar focaccia. Bread is more than a food. To me, it's the most human of all foods because of the history, love and comfort that radiate from every loaf.  We share more than food with people when we “break bread"– we share time, an experience and thoughts or ideas. Someone's “bread and butter" is their livelihood or sustenance. “A crust of bread" has sustained countless people throughout human existence. There is nothing more I love than a warm slice bread with a pad of butter and sprinkle of salt. It never gets dull because it's simple in the most delicious way. Imagine a world without sandwiches, pizza, bagels, or cake. And what would we do without avocado toast?! I mean, I don't even want to think about it.

Bread is a perfect addition to any holiday feast, a snack between meals or a gift for a gathering. This is a no nonsense bread. It's uncomplicated and a success every time. You can change up the toppings with whatever you like. It's dairy free with removal of the cheese, bacon is always welcome or a simple herb/spice mixture on top will do fine. 

Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca

Holiday Party Tips (section three)

 

Planning The Menu

The most important thing about creating a menu is to plan ahead. This results in less stress, more time and energy to enjoy yourself with loved ones. I say less is more at a dinner party. Keep it simple and consider the following when planning your menu.

Will the menu be seasonal or is there a theme?

Are you going for your traditional holiday foods? Or from somewhere else? How about Swedish Christmas? Smorgasbords, baked goods with cardamom, glogg, meatballs, pickled herring and gravlax. Or if you're feeling those English vibes– yorkshire puddings, a turkey (or roast) + gravy, pigs in a blanket and a classic Christmas pudding for dessert. One year my family did a Seafood Christmas. We shucked oysters, seared scallops and shrimp with lots of sauces and fresh salads. It was a nice change from turkey dinner and took very little time to prepare. Plus we didn't end up in a turkey-potato-wine induced coma. A theme is a good place to start if you're feeling lost.

What is your budget?

This feels like a hinderance when I'm initially dreaming up my diamond crusted lobsters with caviar served in a shark's mouth (for effect!). But deciding on a budget can be fun because you have a chance to be creative within a limit. Many low cost dishes can be impressive without being labour intensive. You can opt for cheaper cuts of meat and stew them down for hours so they melt in your mouth. Add small amounts of high flavour ingredients like capers, bacon, infused oils, etc. Although these things can be a little more expensive, small amounts go a long way.

Are there any dietary restrictions of guests?

(More mentioned in section one of Holiday Party Tips). Making dietary adjustments to dishes can be easy and a good learning experience. Many dishes can easily become dairy free, gluten free, nut free etc.

Number of guests

This will help you decide what style of food to serve. Any more than four people and I opt with serve-yourself-style meals. Almost all the prep and cooking is done before the arrival of guests. Food can be dished on to plates in the kitchen if space is tight. More than six people and I like paper plates and platter style foods with simple drinks (wine/beer or punchbowl) opposed to making cocktails. All the food can be laid out before everyone arrives and at most heat up a dish or two when ready to eat. This cheeseball from the previous post is perfect for any size gathering and works as an appetizer or part of the spread.

What can be prepared before the gathering?

A good goal is to spread out the work so you don't become overwhelmed or too tired to enjoy yourself. Plan a meal where all the shopping is done at once, prepare a few dishes (or at least parts of them) before the day of the party. It is best to plan for dishes that are easy to cook or assemble the day of. Then you can focus on other things like cleaning up, adding decorations or picking a great playlist.

How many dishes to serve

This all depends on what kind of food you serve. If choosing platter foods you can have as many items as you like as they're served cold or at room temperature. Make sure the flavours match well as people will put a little of everything on their plates. If making a full dinner, I suggest one main and two sides. People always prefer a few delicious dishes, opposed to an array of mediocre ones. You can have small plates such as olives, pickles, bread or cheese to start. All can be arranged before guests arrives. Consider buying one element of the meal locally (eg. a dessert from the great bakery down the road) to save yourself some time and energy.

How to create contrast in meals

Contrast is key. Always consider your colours and textures throughout the meal planning. Most brown foods are delicious, but nothing looks more frumpy than a plate of soft beige and brown foods. Choose foods with an array of colours. Suggestions:

  • Add chopped green herbs or green onions to a bland coloured dish.

  • Slices or wheels of citrus can brighten a plate.

  • Radish in a salad makes for complimentary colours while also adding a crisp texture.

  • Top meats with a sauce for flavour and colour.

Texture + Flavour

Think about having a variety of textures like soft, crunchy, silky, chewy, crispy. You do not need them all, just avoid the same texture throughout all your dishes.

  • Refrain from using the same cooking method for each (eg. everything fried).

  • Avoid too many intensely flavoured dishes or it will overwhelm the palate.

  • Balance a heavy or spicy dish with a bright and light side. (eg. the reason a crisp vinegar slaw works with rich barbecue meats).

A few recipes to consider for your holiday meals

(all can be made the day before)

Blueberry Tarragon Gravlax– very easy and impresses guests. 

Stilton Pear Cheeseball with Pistachios + Pink Peppercorns– who doesn't love a cheese ball!?

Beet Pickled Eggs– ideal for a platter style feast or an appetizer. 

Pumpkin Chocolate Bread Pudding(dairy free)– one of the most delicious desserts I've made. If making in advance, reheat before serving for 10 minutes. Top with ice cream or whipped cream.

Ginger Hibiscus Switchel– this beverage is a beautiful bright red. Perfect for people who aren't drinking (or on a detox) but you can also add vodka to if you fancy a cocktail. 

Tangerine Olive Oil Cake– I've made this cake many times and it's always a hit. Also it's the easiest cake; one bowl, one whisk, and a few ingredients. It lasts for days and is great with coffee or wine. or both.

Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca
Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca

Recipe Notes:

On measuring flour

I highly recommend to use a kitchen scale when baking. Measuring by the cupful is inaccurate and will leave you with a lot more flour than needed which makes your baked goods dry and doughy. If you do not have a kitchen scale use the following method to measure flour and it will yield you better results. 

  1. Fluff up flour in bag/container with a spoon for a few seconds.
  2. Using the spoon, scoop flour by the spoonful into your measuring cup.
  3. Level the top of the measuring cup with a knife or finger. By using this method you end up with a more accurate amount of flour than by scooping directly from the bag since flour will pack itself tightly. This method adds air (an easy sifting method).

On proofing bread (letting it rise)

The yeast in bread will act quicker in warmth and slower in cold. If your dough doesn't rise, the problem is either that the yeast is inactive (here's how to test your yeast to know) or it is too cold. In the winter, I make my bread rise faster by placing my dough (covered) in the oven with ONLY the light on. The oven temperature is NOT on, only the light. This creates an ample of warmth for the bread to rise. In the summer if my apartment is very warm then this is not necessary. 

On machine mixing vs hand kneading

This dough recipe requires a stand mixer with dough hook, but it can be kneaded by hand if you don't have access to a mixer. Use this method instead:

Follow step one. Add flour, salt and thyme to a large bowl and whisk until evenly combined. Make a well in the middle of the bowl and add yeast mixture and olive oil. Mix and bring together with a wooden spoon. Heavily flour a flat surface (it's a very wet sticky dough). Knead the dough using a folding action. Continue folding the edges into the centre of the dough for about 5 minutes until your dough in springy. Continue steps 3 and 4. 

Potato, Cheddar + Onion Focaccia || Simple + easy homemade bread that will impress your guests. Perfect for Christmas or the holidays and easily made dairy free without the cheese. || creamandhoney.ca

Hoping your week is full of holiday love!

Meg

xx


POTATO CHEDDAR + ONION FOCACCIA

the magic

inspiration:                       carb cravings

the feels:                           soft, chewy, crunchy

eat with:                            butter, olive oil and balsamic, cold                                                   meats, as a sandwich, dipped in soup,                                               fried eggs, salad, pasta, chili oil

might like if you're into:    carbs on your period, binging Netflix,                                                 lying to yourself by saying you'll have                                               just one slice, winter hibernation, The                                               Great British Bakeoff

the science

makes one large or two small focaccia (8 to 10 servings) || prep time: 40 mins to 2 hours bake time: 20 mins

ingredients:

dough

  • 375 g (2.5 cups) unbleached all purpose flour (see notes for measuring flour if you do not have a kitchen scale)
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 + 1/4 cup (310 ml) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (2 for dough and 1 for drizzling before baking)

toppings

  • 1 small (or half a large) russet potato, peeled and very thinly sliced (mandolin works best)
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (for potatoes)
  • 1 cup grated old cheddar cheese
  • 2 to 3 green onions, sliced in half lengthwise 
  • small handful of chives
  • flakey sea salt (Maldon)
  • few sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

method:

  1. Add honey to warm water and whisk until combined. Pour yeast on top and mix. Let sit 5 to 10 minutes. The yeast should fully dissolve and bubble. 
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer add the flour, salt, and thyme. (If you do not have a stand mixer and want to knead by hand, see the recipe notes above). Whisk until evenly combined. Make a well in the middle of the bowl. Pour yeast/water mixture and two tablespoon of olive oil. Attach dough hook to kitchen stand mixer, turn on low and let mix for five minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Dough is ready when it begins to climb dough hook and look evenly combined. This is a wet dough so it will be sticky and will not come together in a ball as other some doughs do. 
  3. Cover with tea towel or plastic wrap and let rise for thirty minutes up to two hours. The dough is ready when it has at least doubled in size. The longer (or warmer) the better. (read recipe notes above on how to speed up the rising process). While bread is proving, slice your potato and toss in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt. 
  4. Preheat oven to 400ºF and line a baking tray with parchment paper. Dump dough onto tray. spread out with fingers into one large rustic shape or separate dough and make into two or three smaller shapes. Sprinkle on half the cheddar cheese, lay on thin potato slices, and add the onions, chives, and thyme (if desired). Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil on top of the bread. I brush a little more on the sides of the bread where there are no toppings. Bake for 20 minutes or until bread begins to start turning golden. Remove from oven, add second half of cheese, turn oven to broil and return bread to oven for about 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and bread looks crispier. Let cool for 3 minutes and add a sprinkle of flakey sea salt. Let fully cool. 

Recipe adapted from The Sugar Hit's Za'atar Flatbread