No Cook Wine & App Night

I love to host friends and family, but I don’t always love to cook. When I’m in a no-cook kind of mood, apps are the easiest option. Pair with some really nice wine and no one will be upset you didn’t make a 3 course dinner! I have a few go-to apps that are easy, simple and use all store bought items. When I’m serving no-cook apps, I like to include one stand out item, and I can’t wait to share my favourite with you!

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And, as with all hosting, it’s all about the presentation! Even if you’re using all store bought items, make sure to take them out of the packing and serve them on nice dishes. I have quite the collection of serving ware, as I find this to be one of the most important things about hosting. It doesn’t have to be expensive – I pick up a lot of my pieces from Homesense at really reasonable prices.

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So what are my 3 favourite no-cook apps? A charcuterie/cheese board, crudités platter and mussel stuffed olives. Read below for how I put these apps together, the ingredients and how to display.

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If my charcuterie/cheese board is part of several apps, I like to keep it small with high quality items. I typically include 5 items: a cheese, meat, nut, pickled vegetable and a cracker. For this wine and app night I chose my current favourite cheese, L’etivaz. This is a Swiss cheese made with unpasteurized cow’s milk, similar to a comté. I bought it at the St. Lawrence Market, but you could find it at any specialty cheese shop. The meat I used is a fig and port wine dry sausage by the Irresistibles Artisan brand from Metro – trust me, it’s so good! To keep the nut interesting I picked up the crowd pleasing macadamia, and a jar of pickled mushrooms. To finish off my board, I added pre-made sea salt and rosemary crostini’s from Stonemill Bakery.

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Crudités is just a fancy French way of saying vegie and dip platter, but it sounds so much better right?! For the crudités, stay away from pre-cut basic vegetables and choose some more interesting items. For this platter I used snap peas, endive, mini cucumbers and heirloom carrots. Same goes for the dip – try something different than the typical ranch, like a artichoke asiago sauce. I buy this artichoke asiago dip up from the St. Lawrence Market, but you can find similar at the grocery store.  Just make sure to take it out of the plastic container and put it into a nice serving bowl – will look homemade!

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And last, the pièce de résistance! My favourite, and easiest, no-cook app is mussel stuffed olives. I had these at a market in Madrid several years ago and have not stopped making them since! This app only requires three items – large green olives, mussels and toothpicks. Slice the olive, stuff with mussel and secure with a toothpick. Done! Super simple and easy to make, but they stand out as a unique and different app.

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A wine and app night is not complete with a great bottle of wine. When I’m doing apps, I’m not too picky about the wine pairing as it’s difficult when you have a lot of different foods and flavours. I instead pick a wine that I love and want to share with my guests. For this night I chose the Frog’s Leap Zinfandel, which I  bought on a trip to Napa last year. I was excited to share the bottle, and found memories of the winery, with our fellow wine loving guests. Plus, it’s great that the Frog’s Leap Zinfandel is now available at the LCBO.

With this no-cook wine and app night you will spend less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying your guests company!

Cheers!~GDW

 

Wines for Easter Dinner

If you’re like me and always put in charge of bringing the wine to family celebrations, then I’m sure you’ve started thinking about what will pair best with Easter dinner. Most Easter dinners involve pork or bird roasts that are complimented best by medium-bodied white and red wines. I’ve found three local Ontario wines that will work great with your dinner and satisfy different wine tastes. Each bottle is under $20 and available at most LCBO locations. I suggest picking them up now before that the weekend rush!

Strewn Chardonnay Barrel Aged VQA

The Strewn Chardonnay from Niagara is a full-bodied and rich white that will pair really well with turkey or Cornish hen. It has toasty peach aromas and buttery fruit flavours. If you tend to steer away from oaked Chardonnays because of their overwhelming butteriness, you don’t have to worry with the Strewn Chardonnay as it’s really balanced with good acidity and a clean finish.

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G. Marquis The Silver Line Pinot Noir

The more adventurous culinary family is having lamb or duck for their Easter dinner, and these types of meats deserve a delicate and refined red wine. The G. Marquis Pinot Noir is a medium-bodied dry red that will match the flavours of the lamb or duck nicely. It’s really elegant with a smokey spice aroma, cherry flavours and a hint of violet.

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Cave Spring Dry Rosé VQA

The Cave Spring Rosé is a versatile and food friendly wine. It will pair well without a lot of menus, but particularly if you’re having ham or salmon. This rosé is a medium-bodied dry wine made up of 57% Pinot Gris, 18% Riesling, 14% Pinot Noir, 7% Cabernet Franc, 4% Gamay. It’s lovely aroma of ripe red cherries is followed by flavours of red berries and finished with a refreshing acidity.

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Hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend filled with fresh new wines for Spring!

Cheers!~GDW