Keep your guests happy with these holiday food shareables from chef Doreen Prei

One of the most stressful parts of the holidays is figuring out what food to serve your guests at parties — whether it's your party or someone else's.

CBC Radio Active's food columnist is here to help make sure you don't bring chips to your holiday parties

Gougères are a great appetizer for any holiday party, chef Doreen Prei says. (The Associated Press)

One of the most stressful parts of the holidays is figuring out what food to serve your guests at parties — whether it's your party or someone else's.

If you're tired of bringing bags of chips or making grandma's Jell-O salad every year, CBC's Radio Active chef columnist Doreen Prei has you covered with a few quick ideas for any holiday gathering. 



  • 4 oz unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • large pinch sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 large eggs
  • 90 g grated Swiss Gruyère cheese
  • pinch cayenne

What you'll need:

  • Two baking sheets, lightly oiled or lined with parchment paper


  • Preheat oven to 400°F
  • Sift flour, cayenne and salt
  • Place water and butter in medium-size pan and heat slowly until butter melts, then turn up heat and bring to a boil, removing from heat at boiling point
  • Immediately beat in flour with a wooden spoon. Continue beating vigorously until mixture comes away from sides of pan
  • Transfer paste to bowl, then beat in eggs one at a time, beating vigorously after each addition of egg until fully incorporated
  • Beat in ½ cup of grated cheese
  • Pipe or spoon mixture onto prepared baking trays, forming two-inch mounds, two inches apart
  • Sprinkle remaining ¼ cup of cheese on top, then bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown

The ingredients make between 30-36 gougères. 

Caramelized onion tart


  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 50 ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 large onions, sliced
  • 200 g goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp whipping cream
  • truffle oil
  • tarragon leaves, picked and chopped
  • lemon juice to taste
  • 1 sliced puff pastry


  • Preheat oven to 375°F
  • In large pot, melt butter with oil then add onions
  • Cook, stirring, over medium-high heat. Season with salt to taste
  • Continue cooking onions over medium to low heat, stirring frequently until nicely caramelized, about 20-30 minutes
  • Take a piece of chilled puff pastry and place on parchment-lined baking tray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until risen, golden and cooked through, then allow to cool
  • Place goat cheese in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add the cream, tarragon and truffle oil to taste and whip until creamy. Season with lemon juice and salt
  • Spread the caramelized onions on cooked puff pastry 
  • Scatter goat cheese on the tart
  • Bake in preheated oven, just to warm through and melt cheese
  • Slice into portions and serve.

Cheese fritters


  • 500 g ricotta cheese
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • 60 g parmesan, grated
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 90 g flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Frying oil


  • Combine all ingredients, add flour gently last and form ball or quenelles
  • Deep fry at 360°F until golden brown
Each week, chef Doreen Prei joins Radio Active to share some of her best cooking and food tips. (Supplied)

Tomato orange jam


  • 8 tomatoes, halved
  • 3 oranges, juiced
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • chili flakes
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • olive oil


  • Preheat oven to 450°F
  • Place tomatoes and sliced red onion on parchment-lined baking tray and toss with olive oil, orange juice, salt, pepper and chili flakes
  • Roast in preheated oven until tender, around 40 minutes
  • Place in pot and cook to reduce

Pan-seared duck breasts


  • 4 duck breasts, cleaned and trimmed, skin-scored
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Red currant pan sauce:

  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 50 ml brandy
  • 1 cup red currants
  • 3 orange zest pieces
  • sprig of thyme
  • 75 g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • honey and lemon juice to taste
  • sea salt

Method for duck:

  • Preheat oven to 425°F
  • Heat cast iron pan over medium heat, then sear duck breasts skin side down without crowding the pan until skin is golden and fat has rendered
  • Transfer to preheated oven for approximately 5 minutes until cooked (breasts should still be pink)
  • Remove from pan and rest while making a pan sauce

Method for pan sauce:

  • While duck is resting, pour off excess duck fat, then sweat the shallots together with thyme and orange zest until shallot is softened
  • Turn up heat and deglaze with brandy, then add red currants
  • Cook until red currants break down and reduce
  • Season to taste with salt, honey and lemon juice, then finish with cold, diced butter

Truffled butternut squash soup


  • 300 g squash, washed and diced
  • 65 g butter
  • 30 ml olive oil
  • salt
  • 300 ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • 150 ml cream
  • 75 g parmesan, shredded
  • truffle oil to taste


  • In medium-heated pot, melt butter with oil
  • Add squash and season with salt
  • Cook gently until soft
  • Cover with stock and cream and bring to a boil (you may have to add more stock, depending on how creamy the squash is)
  • Puree when soft and add parmesan cheese
  • Finish with truffle oil
Prei says almond cake would be a huge hit to your holiday parties. (The Associated Press)

Almond cake


  • 600 g brown butter 
  • 600 g sugar
  • 480 g egg whites 
  • 460 g flour 
  • 200 g almond meal 
  • 40 g rum
  • 40 g honey
  • pinch salt 
  • 1 vanilla pod, scraped 


  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Whisk together almond meal, vanilla and flour. Add nut butter slowly, then honey and rum
  • In a separate bowl, whisk egg whites with sugar and salt until stiff
  • Fold mix slowly into flour mix then pour into a cake tin and bake at 350°F until set
  • Brush a little almond syrup on cake

Spiced dark chocolate Popsicles


  • 500 ml cream
  • 250 g dark chocolate
  • pinch salt
  • sugar to taste
  • pinch allspice
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 cardamom pods 

What you'll need:

  • Anti-griddle food freezer
  • Empty squeezable bottle


  • Combine all ingredients in pot and gently bring to boil, whisking gently
  • Once chocolate is melted, check for sugar seasoning. Take off heat for 10 minutes and then strain through sieve
  • Cool down on an ice bath then fill squeeze bottle with mixture and use anti-griddle to make Popsicles

Doreen Prei is on Radio Active every Thursday at 4:40 p.m. Listen to Radio Active with host Portia Clark, weekday afternoons on CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM/740 AM in Edmonton. Follow the show on Twitter: @CBCRadioActive.