There’s nothing quite like gathering around a table with your loved ones, particularly during a holiday.
But planning and executing a show-stopping lineup for your Easter feast can be a stressful undertaking — even confident home cooks aren’t immune to a little performance anxiety. We’ve taken some of the eeeek! out of Easter by asking local chefs for some tips and tricks to make your cooking egg-stravaganza the best experience for both you and your guests!
Chef Trevor Hopper
Tango Bistro, Calgary
The beauty of a holiday isn’t just about good food, wine and laughter. It’s about the traditions behind the meal you tuck into alongside your favourite people. Chef Trevor Hopper of Tango Bistro loves reliving memories through food, and the more food the better, in his eyes. For a dinner of Easter-magnitude, Hopper suggests planning ahead and giving yourself lots of time (who wants to rush around all day?).
“When it comes to cooking, there’s no right or wrong way,” he says. “Have some fun, and don’t be afraid to make substitutions. Switch out the maple syrup for honey or use apple cider vinegar instead of orange juice. You get to choose how simple or complex your holiday meal will be — go with what’s in your comfort zone.”
Chef Hopper’s exquisitely simple maple bourbon glazed ham is a surefire way to impress your guests whilst keeping stress to a minimum.
“A simple way to infuse flavour and present a dish that looks as good as it tastes, is to score the ham first,” he explains. “That will also allow the heat to penetrate and ensure quick cooking.”
Chef Hopper adds that for this recipe, Angostura Bitters are always a safe choice, but the Charred Cedar from Black Cloud Bitters will add a smoky undertone that’s elegant and enticing.
“The bitters are optional, but experimenting with different flavours will bring a delicate nuance to your holiday meal,” he says. “If you’re pressed for time, use a fully cooked ham and reduce the cooking time by one hour or until the internal temperature is 145º F.”
Cibo Bistro, Edmonton
Chef Rosario Caputo of Cibo Bistro has been surrounded by good food his whole life. Every birthday, celebration, and holiday was spent in a bustling kitchen before settling down to a bountiful table with family. His perfect meal is simple and delicious, highlighting fresh local ingredients.
“Cooking should be fun. Don’t bite off more than you can chew; focus on the ingredient rather than doing 50 things for one dish. Keep it simple,” he recommends.
And what could be simpler than making a humble vegetable, like cabbage, the perfect sidekick to your Easter ham? The best part about this recipe is that you can pour yourself a glass of wine and mingle with your guests while Chef Caputo’s side dish is simmering on the stove.
“I love the energy in the room when it’s hyped up; the louder the room, the more excited I am to be hosting,” he says. “My guests are excited and ready for some good eats and I’m happy because I love cooking for people.”
And if you’re all having a rowdy good time, no one will notice if you make a mistake! So, go ahead, ham it up!