"Food brings people together. No matter what the occasion or season, it is an important and essential part of any moment."
This was the very first sentence I ever wrote when I started blogging almost four years ago. Funny enough, that statement rings more profound today than it did back then. Food is not only the common denominator in almost, if not all, get togethers, it's very often the main attraction. When one puts love into their food, everyone can taste it - it's a scientific fact. If it's not, it should be, because where there's love, there's happiness. Where there's happiness, there's friendship. Where there's friendship, there's gatherings. Where's there's gatherings, there's love. It goes full circle.
And in this case, in more ways than one.
I am super excited to be part of a week-long celebration celebrating not only two of the most incredible Canadian food bloggers I know, but two of the most fabulous women anyone could ever wish to meet.
Gatherings: Bringing People Together with Food is the fantastically delicious brain child from two super clever ladies, Jan Scott and Julie Van Rosendaal.
Jan is an event planner and the talented genius behind the blog, Family Bites. She's like the sister you wish you had. Hell, if you have a sister, she's probably better. I'm just calling a spade a spade here, folks. And without sounding too much like I'm on an episode of 'The Bachelor', I instantly connected with her when I met her at a conference in early 2013. I especially love her stories on feeding her two teenaged boys. It gives me insight to what I'm in for with my two littles.
And Julie? Well, Julie's my girl. I met her about the same time I met Jan. Julie is so engaging and incredibly funny. We reconnected over some kick ass chocolate-covered salted caramels and wine a few months ago. For the record, anyone that shares chocolate or salted caramel anything with me is in my good books. Forevs.
But let's discuss the cookbook. What I adore most about it is it simplifies get togethers by combining amazing recipes along with some fabulous tips for a stress-free event. It stresses the importance of the entertaining aspect itself rather than making sure your carpet is pristine and stain-free. I mean, who hasn't had an event where they secretly wanted to throw a bowl of potato salad or a twenty-one pound turkey across the room because they were so stressed out? I can attest to that feeling at least once. Or twenty-three times.
Jan and Julie have broken down each chapter into specific categories such as Date Night/Dinner for Two, Backyard Barbecues, Kids Birthday Parties, Cocktail Parties, and my personal favourite, Weekend Brunch, to eliminate any food-throwing episodes or tantrums in future.
Although Brunch and I are besties, this self-confessed dessert junkie could not overlook (or stop dreaming about) the lush Pear and Cardamom Cream Cheese Tart found in the Fall Harvest Dinner chapter of the book. It almost literally jumped out at me from Page 203 and punched me in the face, begging to be made. My family and friends emphatically moaned through the entire forkful I allowed them. What? I doesn't specify I have to share a specific size. I felt that was being generous. Psshya.
In closing, I am so incredibly proud of these girls. This cookbook would for serious be a beautiful edition to anyone's cookbook repertoire. After comparing notes with my fellow bloggy friends as we went through the motions, we agreed that everything we've made thus far was insanely delicious.
Martha? She's got nothing on these girls.
Happy gatherings, friends!
Please be sure to check out these fabulous bloggers all week long as we celebrate Jan and Julie:
Mardi from Eat. Live. Travel. Write.
PEAR AND CARDAMOM CREAM CHEESE TART
Recipe posted with permission from Whitecap Books
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup icing sugar
½ cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
One 8 ounce package cream cheese
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
5 pears cored, peeled and sliced ¼-inch thick
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ cup sliced almonds - due to an almond allergy, we used walnuts
icing sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare a 9-inch springform or tart pan by greasing sides and bottom; set aside
To prepare crust:
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, add flour, salt, and sugar. Pulse ingredients until completely incorporated. Add butter and pulse just until the dough begins to come together. Spoon dough into prepared pan and press evenly across the bottom and sides. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator.
To prepare filling:
In a clean food processor bowl fitted with steel blade, blitz cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Add vanilla and egg and blend until silky.
Remove crust from refrigerator and pour cream cheese filling into crust. Cover and place in fridge while topping is prepared.
To prepare topping:
In a medium mixing bowl, stir in sugar and lemon juice. Add pears and cardamom and gently toss, ensuring all pieces are coated. Remove crust from fridge and arrange pears slices over cream cheese mixture. Sprinkle with almonds (or in my case, walnuts).
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the tart crust is golden brown and filling is almost set. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.
Once ready to serve, lightly dust surface of tart with icing sugar and serve at room temperature.
Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of Gatherings for review purposes, courtesy of Whitecap Books. As always, any and all opinions and views are completely my own. This post contains affiliate links.
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