Cheers and bon appetit!

The start of the New Year is a time when we all try to raise the bar for ourselves and look to aim a bit higher in what we accomplish in life. One of the things I think we sometimes forget in planning these goals is that we need to have time to share our successes with others. It helps us keep momentum if we can share our positive experiences, and hear of the same from other people. But when can you find the time to just “hang out” when you have so much to get done?? You might be surprised just what you can arrange if you give it a try…

When we moved in to Rabbit Hollow a bit more than five years ago, Martin and I hosted a neighbourhood party - “Dessert before Christmas” (you know, as in “we don’t need any more indulgences but what the heck!”). We wanted to meet the neighbours. We thought the neighbours might see us as a bit odd but we just told them if they didn’t come we would have to eat it all ourselves! And you know what, it worked! We had a houseful, and almost everyone said what a great idea it was and that they’d been hoping to get together as a group for 20 years. Well, now our party is an annual event, and I love that many people on the block say it's a holiday event not to be missed.

Our Dessert night made us feel we were a part of a community. Our new friends and neighbours helped us create our outdoor kitchen and fabulous gardens, so now our year includes a summer garden party as well, to thank them for their support. Everyone brings something for the table, and we all enjoy the day.

In case you are wondering, there are not any houses for sale on our street, but I am sure if you take the plunge you can be the one on your street to start things off with a block party or street fair… and if you have that already, hang onto it and make sure your kids know how important it is. Friends and neighbours are the best survival equipment you can have in your life – especially if you are busy. Food and wine have the ability to open doors and loosen up people just enough to have a good time.

In today’s world, more and more people living in an ever growing community like Westbank need to get together once in while to talk about the needs of the neighbourhood and get to know each other. These days, not everyone goes to Church, or is part of local Lions club or even Rotary club. This certainly does not mean that we should not communicate with our neighbours.

To get you started, here is Martin's recipe for cheesecake, always a favourite at our Dessert party. If you want more recipe ideas, you can visit my Happy Gourmand blog or his Chef Instead website.

Happy New Year!

Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

  • 750g or 3 packages cream cheese, softened to room temp
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 9 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 300ml heavy cream (33% plus)
  • 1 ½ cup frozen whole raspberries
  • 2/3 cup semisweet Callebaut chocolate chunks (available in bulk at most grocery stores)
  1. Combine cream cheese and sugar, mixing with an electric mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, two at a time, beating well after each addition. Add heavy cream, zests and vanilla

  2. Pour into your greased pan. Add raspberries in the pan and mix carefully so they go everywhere. Drop the chocolate chunks in the pan too - do not swirl.

  3. Bake at 325°F (160°C) for 1 hour and 15 minutes depending on your pan. Watch for an even motion on top. Loosen the cake from the rim of the pan; cool before removing from the pan.

  4. Decorate with fresh raspberries and whipping cream.

Makes 12 large servings.

More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."


E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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