There’s definitely a casual nature to spring entertaining in my house.  Formal dinner parties are traded in for early evening get-togethers enjoyed with close friends gathered around the kitchen counter. No fancy floral displays or time-consuming table setups required. A bunch of flowers stuck in a glass pitcher or decanter and cutlery rolled up in linen napkins is all you need.

Being casual doesn’t mean you can’t still entertain in style and with really good food.  I recommend serving tasty appetizers and meal-sized salads. I even sometimes forego  my favourite Pinot Grigio for some single-serve Pilsners. It’s casual entertaining made easy.


Panko Crusted Oysters

Pair with Radeberger Pilsner, 500 ml, $3.39
4 servings
Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
Total Time: Less than 1 hour

12 oysters, shucked, shells cleaned
1/2 cup milk1 egg
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp cayenne
Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
2/3 cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Vegetable oil
Spicy mayonnaise
Fresh herbs, such as oregano or parsley, for garnish

Method: Soak oysters in milk for 5 minutes. Drain oysters and set aside. Beat the reserved liquid with the egg to form a wash.  In another bowl, combine flour with cayenne, salt and pepper. Place Panko in a third bowl. Dip an oyster in flour and then shake off excess. Dip in egg wash and shake off excess. Dip in Panko and set aside. Repeat until all are crusted. Place vegetable oil in a deep-sided pan until it reaches 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches in depth. Place pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (350°F), lower oysters in batches into the hot oil. Cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Remove oysters with slotted spoon and place on paper towel to drain. Repeat until all the oysters are cooked. Place a spoonful of spicy mayonnaise on a clean oyster shell, top with a fried oyster and then garnish with fresh herbs. Repeat until all the oysters are finished.

Spicy Mayonnaise
Make a spicy mayonnaise topping, similar to remoulade, by combining 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon capers, 3 tablespoons grainy mustard, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, pinch cayenne pepper, pinch smoked paprika and 2 to 3 dashes hot sauce.


Poached Eggs & Asparagus Salad

Pair with Propeller Pilsener, 500 ml, $3.85

4 servings
Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
Total Time: Less than 30 minutes

2 bunches asparagus, trimmed
3-4 tbsp olive oil
Sea Salt
Cracked pepper
4 poached eggs (see Here’s How)
1 lemon, juiced 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan (optional)

Method: Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss asparagus with olive oil and season with a generous pinch of sea salt and cracked pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for 8 to 10 minutes. Asparagus should be soft but still have a little crunch to it. Divide asparagus amongst four plates, drizzle equal amounts of lemon juice on each. Gently place a poached egg in centre of each plate. Top each with equal amounts of shaved Parmesan to add an additional layer of flavour, if desired.

Here’s How: Poached Eggs

1. Crack 4 eggs into individual ramekins. Bring a wide pan three quarters full of water to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons white vinegar and pinch salt.
2. Reduce to a simmer (medium heat). Slowly pour eggs into simmering water. Eggs should take about 3 minutes each for a soft boil.
3. Remove eggs with a slotted spoon. Rest on paper towel to drain excess water. Season with cracked pepper and sea salt.


Smoked Salmon with Mini Potato Latkes

Pair with Pilsner Urquell, 500 ml, $3.79

4 servings
Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
Total Time: Less than 1 hour

3  lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes, peeled, grated
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 egg, beaten Pinch salt
Pinch pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 package cold smoked salmon
1/2 red onion, peeled, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp prepared horseradish
2 tbsp chives, chopped
2 tbsp capers

Method: Make latkes by placing grated potato in a bowl of water for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain. Place grated potatoes on kitchen towel. Roll up and squeeze to remove as much liquid as possible. Combine the grated potatoes, onion, beaten egg, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Place vegetable oil in sauté pan set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, but not smoking, place 2 tablespoon mounds of the potato mixture into the pan. Spread into rounds with the back of a spoon or fork. Cook until golden brown (4 to 5 minutes) on bottom. Use a spatula and turn. When the latke is golden brown on both sides, set on paper towel-lined plate. Repeat until all potato mixture is used.  Use more vegetable oil as necessary. Set out cold smoked salmon on a platter. Top with sliced red onion. In a separate bowl combine sour cream, horseradish, chives and capers. Invite guests to make top latkes with smoked salmon and the sour cream mixture.

Old Style Pilsner,  473 ml, $3.39
Radeberger Pilsner, 500 ml, $3.39
Pilsner Urquell, 500 ml, $3.79
Steam Whistle Pilsener, 6 x 341 ml, $14.99
Propeller Pilsener, 500 ml, $3.85


Shaved Fennel Salad

Pair with  Steam Whistle Pilsner,  6 x 341 ml, $14.99

4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: Less than 30 minutes
Total Time: Less than 30 minutes

2 fennel bulbs
1/4 cup olive oil
1 lemon, zest, juice
2  grapefruits, peeled, segmented
2 navel oranges, segmented
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
8  to 10 basil leaves, chiffonade (thinly sliced)

Method: Remove the fronds and tough outer leaves of fennel bulbs. Shave with a mandolin or slice with a very sharp knife. Place fennel in a bowl with olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, grapefruit and orange segments. Toss until well mixed. Season with salt and pepper.  Place fennel on a platter. Sprinkle basil over top.



There are so many more options for Pilsner than bratwurst, pretzels or chicken wings. Although, truth be told, we do enjoy those pairings as well. Pilsners’ pronounced aromas and lively, mildly bitter finish make them great beers to match with more than just casual cuisine. For wine lovers, think of Pilsner like a good quality Sauvignon Blanc as their herbal, grassy and spicy hop aromas (akin to the Sauvignon’s garden patch aromas) complement salads and fresh seafood dishes but their tangy finishes also allow them to cut through the fatty nature of cream and butter enhanced fare.

Risotto – The Italian classic is typically paired with a crisp Italian white wine but let the sharp bitterness of Pilsner refresh the palate of the rich creamy flavours  of this popular rice dish.
Quinoa – The grain-like flavours of Pilsner find a happy marriage with grainy salads such as those made from quinoa or couscous.
Sushi – Pilsner cleanses the spice of wasabi while amplifying the umami character of the soy.
Chicken with Mushrooms – A rich malty Czech-style Pilsner can match more substantial dishes, especially those with a cream component.  Try serving one with chicken braised with mushrooms and cream.
Grilled White Fish – Make a gourmet combination by serving Pilsner with grilled white fish topped with a herbed butter sauce. The beer’s grassy hop aromas marry with the herbs in the sauce while the cleansing bitterness of the brew cuts through the fat of the butter.

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