Cocktail and Appetizer Recipes: Girls’ Night In

Clockwise, from bottom left: fig and olive tapenade, blue cheese and caramelized onion dip, oat and seed Raincoast Oat Crisps, and oat and rosemary raisin Raincoast Oat Crisps

I am so blessed to have the most beautiful, brilliant girlfriends, and many of them live in the same city as I do. Once a month, one group of gals I lovingly refer to as the GNOs (for Girls Night Out) gets together somewhere around town or at one of our residences for some good-old-girl-talk over food and drinks.

October’s event was at my place and I made a signature cocktail and two fabulous appetizers.

For the cocktail, I tried to replicate one I had at an event at Reflections in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia. It was amazing, a revelation – Disaronno amaretto, pear nectar, lemon juice and cardamom. The cardamom was surprising and totally delicious.

Since then, the hotel has kindly shared the real recipe (I used ground cardamom, which I don’t recommend because although still very tasty, it’s a bit gritty), which you’ll find below.

For the appetizers, I made two dips from The Lesley Stowe Fine Foods Cookbook, an awesome cookbook and one of my favourites (her black bean linguine with prawns has become a staple of my kitchen repertoire).

I served both dips with Stowe’s new Raincoast Oat Crisps, the gluten-free version of her famous Raincoast Crisps, which currently come in two flavours: oat and seed, and oat and rosemary raisin.

This was the first time I made Stowe’s blue cheese and caramelized onion dip and it turned out incredibly good. The stinky cheese and sweet onions were a lovely match.

I love Bleu Bénédictin Cheese, which is made by Benedictine monks at the Fromagerie de L’Abbaye Saint-Benoît in Quebec, Farmhouse Natural Cheeses’ Castle Blue Cheese, made in Agassiz, and Moonstruck Organic Cheese’s Beddis Blue, made on Salt Spring Island.

The olive and fig tapenade is one of my go-tos for entertaining, it’s always a hit with its combination of sweet and salty.

Hope you enjoy!

Pear and Cardamom Coupe Cocktail

The cocktail menu at the Disaronno Contemporary Terrace event at Reflections Lounge (left), and my homemade version of the Pear and Cardamom Coupe cocktail. 


  • 2 oz Disaronno amaretto
  • 2 oz pear nectar (I used Triple Jim's Organic Pear Juice, made in Chilliwack, purchased at Urban Fare)
  • 3 cardamom pods, muddled
  • 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice


  1. Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, stirring well.
  2. Strain into an old fashioned glass, over ice, and garnish with a slice of pear.

Olive and Fig Tapenade


  • 1 cup Mission figs, quartered
  • 1 cup pitted nicoise olives or other brined black olives
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. In food processor, roughly chop figs.
  2. Add olives, capers, garlic, and thyme, pulsing until combined and slightly coarse.
  3. Add oil and lemon juice, pulsing to combine.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.

Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Dip


  • 1/2 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 oz blue cheese
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 4 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in small frying pan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add onion, cover and cook until deep golden brown, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Whisk together mayonnaise and sour cream in a medium bowl.
  4. Add blue cheese and cream cheese and mash with rubber spatula until smooth.
  5. Stir in caramelized onion.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.