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Easy holiday dining tips and recipes from Revera

Whether you are a senior or will be hosting seniors this season, holiday entertaining can be stressful. But Gary McBlain, National Director of Culinary Services, Canada & US Retirement at Revera Inc., believes following common sense tips can help keep everyone’s spirits bright, even those preparing the feast.

McBlain and his team create the holiday menus for residents at the company’s 108 retirement homes. The keys, says McBlain, are planning and patience. "There is no question that, as much as we all look forward to the holidays, the pressure we may feel in preparing and hosting the family meal can be strong," said McBlain. "Particularly when you are cooking for a wide variety of ages, go with simple, classic recipes everyone will enjoy."


Holiday Entertaining Success Tips:

  1. Focus on making it a memorable experience. Dress up, fancy up the table, and use your best china.
  2. Keep the lights on full and use your discretion on having music. Seniors may have issues in low light environments and background music may interfere with hearing aids and impede conversation.
  3. Prepare conversation topics ahead of time that include everyone of all ages.
  4. In general seniors eat smaller portions (although everyone loves a little extra to take home) but they should be very flavourful.
  5. Don’t feel the need to have too many starters, side dishes or desserts. Instead focus on having fewer items but make sure they are the best quality you can afford and that they will please everyone.
  6. Herbs and spices will bring out flavours without adding salt or fat.
  7. Take texture into account. Crusty rolls or tough steaks may be issues. Warm, soft rolls and tender roasts may be better choices.
  8. Seasonal fruits like oranges, cranberries and currants work in a variety of dishes.
  9. Plan your menu to use a variety of cooking appliances. It won’t work if you need six pots on your stovetop and have only four spaces.
  10. Plan your menu so that baked items use similar temperatures. It won’t work if a turkey or roast beef is in at 300 F and you need to cook h’ors d’ouvres or bread at 400F.
  11. And most importantly, keep it simple – write out your plan of attack ahead of time. Plan some items that can be made a day ahead and reheated, such as soups. Do as much prep as possible in the days leading up to the event. Allocate your time properly – don’t rush or commit to other plans that day. Become familiar and test recipes ahead of time.


Roast Beef Tenderloin with Sauce Béarnaise

Yield: 10 portions


2.25 kg beef tenderloin trimmed of silver skin
125 ml Dijon mustard
100 ml cracked black pepper
250 ml hollandaise sauce prepared
2 tbsp dried tarragon


1. Place beef in roasting pan and coat with Dijon and pepper. Bake at 400˚F for 40-50 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 140˚F for medium.

2. Prepare hollandaise according to package directions, and then add tarragon.

3. Slice beef into 1- 1 ½ oz medallions.

4. Serve 6 oz beef with 25 ml sauce draped over meat.


Maple Squash Soup

Yield : 10 servings(portion size - 6 oz (175 ml))


50 ml Margarine
1.5 kg roasted squash, skin and seeds removed
50 ml apple sauce
2 L good quality (preferably homemade) chicken stock
150 ml real maple syrup
To taste allspice, cinnamon, ground cloves, salt and pepper


75 ml

150 ml crème fraiche
real maple syrup

1. Melt margarine and brush on halved butternut squash

2. Bake at 350˚F with some water for 40-50 minutes, until squash is very tender.

3. Add roasted squash and apple sauce to chicken broth and simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Purée soup with hand blender.

5. Add syrup and season with allspice, cinnamon, cloves salt and pepper to taste.

6. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraiche and drizzle with maple syrup.


Chocolate Mint Bread Pudding

Yield: 10 servings


700 ml 375 g 250 ml 2 Pinch 8 cups 35 ml

2 mint teabags
2% milk
Chopped semi-sweet chocolate
Fine white sugar
Diced bread, old muffins or cake
sweet red chili jelly (if desired)

1. Add tea to milk. Simmer over heat for 5 minutes (do not boil). Remove tea bags.

2. Add chocolate to milk and continue over medium heat until chocolate melts. Remove from heat.

3. Combine sugar, eggs and salt. Beat well.

4. Coat baking pan with butter, add bread to pan.

5. Pour egg mixture and milk mixture over bread.

6. Place pan in bigger pan and add hot water to larger pan to 1" depth.

7. Bake in a 400˚F oven for 20 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

8. Serve 125 ml per portion. Can be served warm or cold.

9. Top with a small spoonful of sweet chili jelly if desired.

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