Montreal City Hall hosts annual holiday open house – Montreal


Montrealers stood in line outside city hall Saturday morning, waiting for a chance to visit with Santa and catch a glimpse of Mayor Valérie Plante for the city’s annual holiday open house.

Once inside, children and their parents could partake in various activities, from crafts to face painting to, of course, a photo shoot with Santa and the mayor.

READ MORE: Montreal elementary school gets Christmas treat from Generations Foundation

Firefighters and police officers were also on hand, some playing live music and others distributing colouring books and other goodies.

Plante, for her part, took the time to greet residents and wish them happy holidays.

WATCH: Making the holidays brighter for some Montreal families

“It’s so great to be here today,” she said.  “It’s such a great moment for me to talk to citizens and families.”

READ MORE: ‘I felt like I was important’: Batshaw tradition spreads holiday cheer one gift at a time

When asked if she had a Christmas wish, Plante said she was looking forward to spending some quality time with family, adding it was her wish for all Montrealers.

“We work hard, we dedicate a lot of our energy for our jobs,” she said, “But then, it’s time to also cool down with our family and loved ones so we can get energized.”

Visitors to city hall were also encouraged to meet other elected officials in council chambers and take part in a tour to learn more about the democratic process.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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This Molasses Cookie Recipe Restored My Faith in Holiday Confections


Welcome to Never Fail, a weekly column where we wax poetic about the recipes that never, ever let us down.

Here’s the thing about holiday cookies that people miss: Most of them are bad. Like, moisture-sapping, gritty, too-sweet mounds of sadness bad. Nobody wants that, no matter how cutely those pucks are decorated or how festively they’re packaged. I’m over it! I want a cookie that tastes good, first and foremost. Which is why I’m forever a devotee of the OG (original glitter–bomb): Chewy Molasses Cookies.

Chewy Molasses Cookies: All You Ever Wanted

Sure, I love cookies that make a visual impact. Raspberry rugelach that shine like Christmas tree ornaments? Great! Zebra cookies with a dazzling collar of ruby–red sugar? Nice! But there’s a simple beauty in this molasses cookie recipe, a throwback from when BA contributor Alison Roman worked in our test kitchen. (Yep: The same person who brought the world The Cookies.) They dazzle quietly, showing up without needing too much attention. Plus, they make your house smell more festive than a holiday candle store, and are a whole lot less complicated to make than any of the disappointing, look-better-than-they-taste “showstoppers” that are bound to turn up at the cookie swap. What more could you ask for?

Here’s how to get started. Bump your oven racks to the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat it to 375º. Whisk together those dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls, per usual. Then, combine the mixtures—no special equipment necessary!—until well incorporated. Nothing fancy, folks!

salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread

Okay, you should probably make these Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread Cookies too…

Throw some sanding sugar into a separate shallow bowl. Scoop out dough by the tablespoonful (cookie scoops encouraged) and form into balls and roll in the sanding sugar. Plop ‘em onto two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper and toss them into the oven. After 8–10 minutes, rotating the cookies halfway through, they’re done and ready to relieve you from bad sugar cookie–tyranny.

Just like that, you’ve made a batch of beautiful, pillowy cookies that twinkle ever so slightly from that sugar bath you gave them earlier. They’re so much more complex tasting than they seem like they should be, with punchy hits of cinnamon, a kiss of cardamom, and just the right about of zing from ginger, all backed up by that just-the-right-amount-of-bitter molasses. They basically capture the feeling of hygge better than any cozy log cabin in Aspen. And after weeks of force-feeding yourself bland cookies, you could use a little rest.

The molasses cookie recipe in question:



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This Anthurium Plant Will Make Your Holiday Table Feel Totally Fresh | Healthyish


A rose is a rose is a rose—but there’s nothing like an anthurium. The waxy, otherworldly flower feels straight out of a Georgia O’Keefe painting, and it’s become a botanical barometer for measuring a restaurant’s downtown It factor. We’ve been spotting anthurium at NYC hotspots like Dimes, Primo’s, and Flora Bar for months, all thanks to florist Marisa Competello of Metaflora.

« My arrangements can be a little kooky and atypical—I go through phases where I’m really into using feathers or painting in my arrangements and anthurium definitely lend themselves to that, » Competello says. « They’re just kind of provocative and cool, as well as a little weird and phallic, and they’re available at the flower market year-round.”

It’s obvious that florists like Competello favor anthurium, but they’re striking enough to elevate any homemade arrangement too. Here, she walks us through the perks of using the so-called “flamingo flower.”

Go for monochrome

Anthurium come in a range of colors like white, red, green, and deep purply black. It can be tempting to use them all, but Competello prefers to hone in one color, clustering the monochromatic blooms together to make a sculptural arrangement. “I often use anthurium as an accent or a pop of color against a neutral background like palms, » she says. « They’re like an exclamation point. » This technique creates impact with just a few flowers, which is ideal as anthurium can be pricy. Try pointing all the flowers in the same direction for a smooth line and a striking shape.

Don’t kill your darlings

Cut flowers quickly fade from their prime, but anthurium are an excellent choice for arrangements because they’re relatively hardy. « Anthurium will last over a week, sometimes more, and when they expire the stamen will stay the same and look alive, which is also interesting, » says Competello. « It’s always helpful to change the water every couple of days, but other than that these are pretty low-maintenance and will last.”

Get a little weird

Sometimes the best arrangements aren’t afraid to get a little irreverent. Competello creates metallic palms with silver or gold spray paint, and tucks in plumes of feathers to channel tropical ’80s vibes. Keep things streamlined by picking one pop of color—a group of red anthurium, a spray of purple feathers—and keeping the background monochrome.

Go beyond bouquets

Floral arrangement are the perfect holiday party centerpiece but fade almost as fast as those bottles of Beaujolais. Anthurium are also a surprisingly rugged houseplant, just as long as you remember to water them regularly. Want a totally no-maintenance look that lasts? Pick up one of the bouquets from Metaflora’s new collaboration with West Elm—featuring imitation palm leaves, feathers, dried flowers, and yes, anthurium. Just don’t try to smell them. These ones are plastic, and therefore immortal.

All products featured on Healthyish are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


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This Overnight French Toast Casserole Is the Holiday Breakfast As Exciting as Presents


‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except whoever hasn’t wrapped their presents yet. Someone already breaking into the eggnog. Someone on the phone with FedEx because the ergonomic socks they ordered never arrived. Mom, freaking out. Dad, freaking out. Kids bouncing off the walls tracking Santa on some bogus website sponsored by Big Candy. NO ONE IS SNUG. IT IS CHAOS.

Except your overnight French toast, all comfy in the biggest casserole pan you own, covered in custard, waiting patiently to be unwrapped for breakfast the next morning. Take a photo with it in your jammies, send it to @mollybaz and say, “Thanks for the overnight French toast, I’m going to wear it all day! It fits perfectly! I love it!”

This recipe is your holiday feeding-a-boatload breakfast solution, all of the prep takes place the night before serving, and that prep is: slicing and toasting bread, mixing some eggs with milk and cinnamon, and assembling a shingled masterpiece, and shoving it in the fridge. The day of, you pour some butter on top and bake. And hey, it works for all kinds of crowds, not just Hallmark movie family unit clichés. I made it recently for two of the people I will spend Christmas with: my boyfriend and my great aunt. We ate ALL OF IT. The recipe feeds six. IT WAS SAVAGE.

A few details guarantee a French toast better than most:

The bread: Use challah or brioche. Those eggy breads will soak up the custard like a sponge. However, you MUST toast the bread (in the oven) first so that when it gets covered in liquid it keeps its shape and doesn’t get soggy and gross. So yes, you need to turn the oven on, but maybe it was already on for some cookies or something?

baked french toast

Photo by Chelsie Craig, Food Styling by Kate Buckens

Make it rain.

Triple dairy threat: The custard is a ton of eggs, plus a combo of whole milk and heavy cream, because it’s CHRISTMAS, COME ON. The third dairy is a dollop of crème fraîche on every serving, the metaphorical tiny present you find under the tree after all the presents have been opened—and inside the ring box is a dollop of crème fraîche.

That’s pretty much it, honestly. You smush the bread under the custard with a spatula, then soak it all overnight (make room in the fridge! This can also just be for two hours!), cover with melted butter and coarse sugar in the morning, and bake it for half an hour until puffy, golden, and crispy around the edges. The pieces on the bottom of my casserole were pudding-like and gooey good, the pieces on top were crispier like cinnamon toast. A bite that combines both is sensational. Now let’s get to the presents.

Get the recipe:



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‘We’re really grateful’: Holiday Helpers brightens season for Durham families – Durham


There’s just over a week left before Christmas, and though this time of year is magical for some, it can be difficult for others.

However, for more than 40 families in Durham who weren’t expecting much this year, Christmas will be a holiday they won’t soon forget.

It’s all thanks to Holiday Helpers, whose workshop is operating on overdrive in Pickering, Ont.

Volunteers have spent days wrapping presents and creating packages for dozens of families in Durham.

“It’s a big relief. It kind of alleviates a little bit of stress that was lingering,” said Michelle Thompson, a recipient of assistance from Holiday Helpers.

Holiday Helpers expands to help families in Durham

Thompson wasn’t sure what kind of Christmas her family was going to have this year.

She just had a baby six weeks ago so receiving gifts and a tree will make this holiday a memorable one.

“We arranged to spend time with family so we knew that was there regardless. Spending time with family, having a good dinner, but we weren’t too sure we were going to have a lot of the presents and a lot of the extra things that the children really enjoy. We’re really grateful,” said Thompson.

This is the first year the charity is spreading Christmas cheer in Durham.

For the past 22 years, its focus has been on the Greater Toronto Area.

“Things we take for granted, they can’t take for granted. I remember last year delivering gifts to one individual, and a five-year-old kid ran up to me and said: ‘Thank you. Thank you. Thanks to you, we can have a Christmas,’” said Romayne Toban, a volunteer with Holiday Helpers.

EXCLUSIVE: Family set to be deported Christmas Eve will be allowed to stay in Canada

Toban has been volunteering with the organization for three years.

“Christmas is a time of giving and being around loved ones, and thanks to Holiday Helpers and the Family Worship Centre, we’re going to give back to the community and help others,” said Toban.

“The best part of this is seeing everyone come together and wanting to help give back at a time that is so stressful and everybody’s so busy,” said Holiday Helpers co-founder Sarah Rutka.

Meanwhile, Thompson was overwhelmed by the amount of boxes loaded into her van.

“It’s really great to have all these gifts and to be able to see my children getting the things they actually want. Toys can be pretty expensive and things can get overpriced so this is just great; they’ll be so happy,” said Thompson.

This year, Holiday Helpers is helping 41 families in Durham and over 600 total. Next year, the charity is hoping to give over 50 families in the area a magical Christmas.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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The Roast Beef Sandwich Recipe That Makes the Best Holiday Feast


I remember feeling very confused as a child—most of the time, all of the time—but especially at the end of How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, when the Grinch turns his attitude around and serves every Who in Whoville a slice of “roast beast.” The cartoon roast looked delicious, with its browned edges and pink inside. But how would it feed all the Whos? I wondered. What is roast beast? I wondered. Then I dreamed, as little girls do, about a fat slice of roast beast being handed to me by a smug man with four furry fingers.

grinch roast beast

I assumed it was roast beef, for obvious reasons, but on closer inspection, it’s gotta be a ham or a roast goose. Food director Carla Lalli Music confirms the goose theories. Well that’s not gonna feed all the Whos in Whoville (a.k.a. the eight people I call my friends)! To recreate this scene properly, and to feed a crowd this holiday, the best meat for the job is really a huge hunk of roast beef. Specifically, this garlic-rosemary slow roast beef by Chris Morocco.

grinch roast beast 3

You start with a 4-lb. New York strip roast, which I picked up from a butcher who had the gall to charge me $130 for it. “But it’s Christmassss!” I said with a Cindy Lou pout. “No shit,” he replied with a bloody thwack to the cutting board. “Ok-ay.” I swiped that credit card.

The only thing elaborate about Chris’s recipe is the quality of that hunk of meat, the sheer size of the lad. The rest is pretty simple. A day before roasting, I seasoned it with salt and pep and rubbed it with a garlic-rosemary-oil mixture that made my kitchen smell incredible. The next day, the beast went into the oven at a mere 200° for almost three hours. Low and slow is the name of the game. During that time I made a nice salad dressing, bought some Martin’s potato buns, whipped up the horseradish sour cream, and read a novel’s worth of cheesecake recipe reviews by strangers on the internet, searching for truth. (I landed on Craig Claiborne’s, if you’re curious. It came out rich and dense; you could carve “David” from it.)

By the time the was beef was resting, my friends had arrived for cocktails and a little activity we call Lookit The Meat!, where you stand around the kitchen looking at that huge roast. Mingle mingle, kris and kringle, and then when it was about time to feast, I browned the roast in the biggest Dutch oven I own (Lodge’s 7.5 quart), a couple minutes per side.

DINNER TIME. Cue the Grinch-style slicing at the cutting board. Big knife, big grin, but thin slices, ideally. It was just like the cartoon, it has to be said: The beef was bright pink inside, and a general joy to behold, and the rosemary-garlic crust was deeply browned and crispy. Around the table, we loaded the sliced beef on soft buns with a slathering of horseradish cream, some mustard, and cornichons. Unlike Thanksgiving or other roast beast feasts, this isn’t a “pass the mashed potatoes, papa,” formal dinner. It’s a construction zone. Spoons stuck in mustard pots, rolls flying across the table. You get to be yourself. Load up the sandwich with four cornichons, sliced perfectly in half.

The luxury of the roast beef still makes it a special occasion, but a festive one. And you eat with your hands! There’s no other way. The assembly of a roast beef sandwich is like trimming your best friend’s show-offy 8-foot tree, or holding the rickety ladder as your awkward step-brother outlines the house in lights, or sloppily decorating sugar cookies with your 14 cousins. It’s about forced interaction with those you love—even if it gets a little messy sometimes.

Get the recipe:



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Healthier Holiday Cookie Boxes from New York City Baker Sarah Owens | Healthyish


I run the risk of getting too ambitious during the holidays. I see stunning examples (A, B, C) of cookie boxes filled with a bazillion varieties of intricately-designed treats and think, « Hey, I can do that! » Only I, ummm, can’t. (I know this because I recently tried to organize a package for a holiday swap and ended up sending brined nuts and not much else in a shoebox across the country.)

So this year, I’m leaving it to the professionals—to Sarah Owens, specifically. Owens is an award-winning cookbook author and former ceramicist who started shipping her cookie boxes all over the country from her home base in New York City’s Rockaway Beach in 2017, after seven years of small-scale sourdough bread baking.

She uses organic ingredients and heirloom grains—Sonora, Maris Widgeon, and Einkorn, for example—that have the complex flavors and aromas missing from modern flour hybrids (a.k.a. the all-purpose stuff most of us use at home). But since these flours haven’t been blended, standardized, and commercialized, they’re a little bit less predictable when it comes to their behavior in baked goods—another reason why it’s best to leave the healthyish cookie production en masse to a professional grain tinkerer.

Owens’s cookies are not only slightly healthier but also slightly more global versions of classics: This year’s box features, among its nine types, ras-el-hanout almond linzers (Owens blends the spices—including golpar, fenugreek, and anise—herself and sandwiches the cookies with homemade jam), Amarena cherry cheese spritzes, and, Owens’s personal fave, raspberry cardamom chocolate chip. Made with rye flour, their fruity essence comes from a raspberry caramel that’s whipped into the creamed butter, sugar, and eggs to create a cookie that’s chewy in the center but ultra crispy on the edges. And, lest she forget the cookie purists, there are also chocolate crinkles and gingerbread men.

The cookies are decorated in an organic, wabi-sabi fashion that I’d never be able to pull off, let alone replicate. They’re more Eileen Fisher than Lilly Pulitzer—earth tones and subtle embellishments, not pastels and neon animals—because Owens believes in honoring, not masking, her materials. And besides, « keeping the decorating relatively simple means that the cookies arrive to someone’s doorstep in a similar manner to how they left my hands, » Owens told me.

And lest you think these cookies are too rustic to impress your fanciest friend, wait until you see the 24-karat gold-dusted lemon-turmeric sugar cookies. It’s the holidays, after all—your loved ones deserve a little glitter and, yes, a box of these delicious cookies.

Get a cookie box online starting at $35. Order by 12/16 for delivery in time for Christmas.

All products featured on Healthyish are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.


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The Formula for a Memorable Holiday Party


Every Monday night, Bon Appétit editor in chief Adam Rapoport gives us a peek inside his brain by taking over our newsletter. He shares recipes he’s been cooking, restaurants he’s been eating at, and more. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

Your holiday party checklist

Should we dim the lights a smidge more? And what about ice—do we have enough ice? No, of course not, we can never have too much ice. And wait, who chose this playlist?

When it comes to throwing a party, my wife, Simone, and I can be a bit…particular. Especially during the holidays, when expectations climb and everyone’s calendar jams up with competing engagements.

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But there is nothing I enjoy more than a good holiday party: the glistening ham (yes, there must be a ham), the punch bowl (the primary cause of your next-morning hangover), the twinkling tree (says the nice Jewish boy), and Nat King Cole or Frank Sinatra on the speakers (you really can’t go wrong with either).

It all starts with the guest list. Which, invariably, leads to the discussion between Simone and me of how big of a get-together we want to host. I’ve always been of the school to invite everyone we know because half of them won’t be able to make it, and it’s always better to have too many guests than too few. This, Simone likes to point out, has led to our essentially throwing college-level keggers, wherein by night’s end we realize we might have had fun, but we never found a single moment to hold a proper conversation with a friend.


So, what is the formula for a memorable holiday party? Well, to start, how about a slightly smaller affair? More soiree than rager. And yes, ham. Bone-in, scored, and glazed. One of the easiest and most impressive things you will ever make. Set it on a grand cutting board with a basket of those squishy square-cut dinner rolls, some Dijon and mayo, and a crock of cornichons. Your friends will talk about this spread until December 2019.

Punch. Looks nice, particularly with a big molded block of ice bobbing in the middle of the bowl. But you know what? I could do without it. It goes quick, it’s too sweet, and if you have a kid waking you up at 6:45 the next morning, you’ll be glad you didn’t indulge.


Bobbi Lin

Dimmers. Votives. Christmas lights. You know the drill. Good lighting is everything. Remember how your mom always told you to dress up for special occasions? Well, she was right. Put a look together—your party deserves it.

Finally, don’t forget to have fun. It sounds obvious, but throwing a party is a lot of work. Inevitably, an hour before your guests arrive, you or your partner will be nearing full meltdown mode. One of you will have to run to the store for the 46th time that day. That outfit you thought was going to work is totally not going to work. And at the exact same second, you will both realize you have yet to jump in the shower.

But if all does go as planned, there will be that moment at the end of the night when the votives are flickering and you and your close friends are splayed out on the sofa and the living room floor. Someone will be trying to carve the last bit of meat from the ham bone. Someone else will open a totally unnecessary final bottle of wine. And you will realize why you threw this party in the first place.

Get the recipes:

Pineapple-Glazed Ham
Spicy-Tamarind-and-Honey-Glazed Spiral Ham
Spiced Rum Punch with Citrus and Luxardo
Earl Grey–Bourbon Punch

You know what would make a pretty great holiday gift? Our magazine! And a cool tote bag, plus some great baking tools for holiday cookies. More details here.


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Stuff Your Stockings This Holiday Season with Tinned Fish


Did you know Cantabrian anchovies are the absolute best anchovies? YOU DO NOW! Unlike the ones you get at the grocery store, which are super fishy tasting, bony, and break in half when you try to remove them from the jar, these are meatier, butterier, and have a richer ‘chovie flavor. They’re wild-caught during just a few months of the year in the Cantabrian Sea, a.k.a anchovy heaven, and hand-preserved. That’s a lot of work, and it pays off. A life-changing gift for the anchovy lover, which is hopefully everyone in your vicinity.

Buy it: Cantabrian Anchovies, $10 from Donostia Foods


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CP Holiday Train rolls into Calgary in support of local food banks – Calgary


With bright, flashing lights piercing the night, the Canadian Pacific (CP) Holiday Train made a stop in Calgary on Saturday.

Thousands took in a free show by musicians Terri Clark, Kelly Prescott and Sierra Noble after the train stopped at Anderson CTrain Station.

On its journey across North America, the CP Holiday Train features musical performances and collects donations for local food banks. The train presented the Calgary Food Bank with a cheque for $15,000 on Saturday.

Now in its 20th year, the holiday rail journey has raised more than $14.5 million and gathered 4.3 million pounds of food for communities along routes in Canada and the United States, organizers said.

WATCH (Dec. 9, 2017): Mallory McCredie and Shawna Ogston joined Global Calgary to talk about the CP Holiday Train, which helps raise money for local food banks.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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