4 Christmas Dinner Staple Alternatives

Also known as, “So you don’t want to bake a ham this Christmas.” We get it. We love a good, juicy ham, but sometimes life need a little more adventure than those salty haunches can deliver. Below are four great options for those of your looking to experiment this holiday season and delight your loved ones with something a little different.

 1. Duck


A personal favourite at the farm, duck is incredibly flavourful and full of the kind of rich, smoky fat that chef dreams are made of. If you’re going to go with a bird this holiday season (and are still having turkey hang over’s from thanksgiving) make sure to think about how many guests you’ll have to feed; one full roast duck may look large, but they can only feed about 4 people.


2. Boeuf Bourguignon


For the red meat lovers in your life, this well-loved, hearty stew is a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Boeuf bourguignon is a French beef stew loaded with autumnal vegetables and plenty of flavour-laden herbs, all cooked in a gorgeous red wine sauce. Bon Appétit!


3. Goose


If you’re looking for something a bit more adventurous than duck (or just an option where you don’t have to cook two of something to feed a larger crowd) goose is a great choice. There is raucous debate over whether goose or duck fat is the more premium fat, but really you’ll win either way. A goose should feed about six to eight people, and you should have plenty of fat left over to cook other things in, or preserve food (confit style).


4. Roasted gourd!


A vegetarian option! Still hearty and delicious, gourds are able to fill you up without feeling as heavy as their meat counterparts, so they make for a great main. Looking for a recipe? Click here to see our take on a roasted summer squash gnocchi.

5 Holiday-Inspired Cocktails

The holiday are a time to celebrate the best of the season with those you love, and nothing says celebration like a jubilant “Salut!” If you’re looking for ways to incorporate the holidays into some tasty beverages for your friends and family this year, then look no further then our five favourite holiday cocktails!

  1. Paul Brans’ Flor de Mina


Leña bartender Paul Brans’ recipe balances cherry and orange flavours with acidity and herbs for a truly festive (and seriously good-looking) cocktail.


1oz quality gin
1tbsp Disaronno Amaretto liqueur
1tbsp Cherry Heering liqueur
1tbsp Amaro Averna liqueur
2 drops orange bitters
1 splash Parés Baltà Cava Brut
Orange zest
1small sprig rosemary, torched
2 Amarena cherries

Directions: Combine gin, amaretto, Heering and Amara liqueurs and bitters in a shaker filled with ice. Shake and pour into a coupe champagne class. Top with the Cava Brut. Garnish with orange zest, a sprig of torched rosemary and a skewer with two Amarena cherries.


2. Vegan Eggnog


This frothy and shockingly light drink is a great vegan option for guests!

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
3 c. vanilla soy beverage

6oz Rum
1 c. full-fat coconut milk
¼ c. maple syrup
½ tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. cloves
½ tsp. nutmeg

Directions: Blend all of the ingredients together in a blender until frothy. Pour into the glasses and garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon.


3. Sparkling Pomegrita


Makes two cocktails; perfect for New Year’s, especially with appetizers, and a great way to make less expensive sparkling wines more enjoyable. To make for a crowd, multiply by six, and use a whole bottle of sparkling wine.


2 oz. silver tequila
1 oz. Cointreau or Gran Marnier
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. homemade grenadine
Sparkling white wine – try a cava from Spain

Directions: Combine the tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and grenadine in a shaker with ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into two iced and salted martini glasses, and top with 2 oz. sparkling wine.


4. Mulled Wine


It’s a classic for a reason. Curl up next to a fire, breathe in the scent of your Christmas tree, and delight in the full, warm flavour of this holiday favourite.


Peel of 1/2 lemon, cut into curls
Peel of 1/2 orange, cut into curls
6 lumps sugar
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground cloves
3 cups boiling water
2 quarters [quarts], Sherry, Marsala or Burgundy

Directions: Pour boiling water over the fruit peel, sugar, and spices and simmer for 10 minutes. Place in a punch bowl. Add the wine, which has been heated to the boiling point but not allowed to boil (in merry Old England, a poker was heated in the fire-place, and thrust into the bowl!). Makes 20 servings, 4 ounces each.


5. Cardamom Sipper


Wind down at the end of the day with the adult version of a glass of warm milk. Research shows cardamom may help ward off stomach ulcers. It and sesame seeds (the essential ingredient in tahini) also have heart-healthy and anti-inflammatory benefits. Be sure to use refrigerated coconut milk (found with nut milks in the dairy case) and not canned coconut milk.


1 C Refrigerated, unsweetened coconut milk
3 Green cardamom pods, crushed
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tsp tahini
3/4 ounces bourbon
Ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions: Bring milk, cardamom, cinnamon stick, and syrup to a simmer in a saucepan over medium, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in tahini, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Strain into a glass. Discard cardamom pods, and reserve cinnamon stick. Add bourbon; stir. Garnish with reserved cinnamon stick and ground cinnamon, if desired