Devin Connell used to take hosting seriously. "I wanted to put on a show and not involve anyone," says the owner of Toronto's Delica Kitchen. But after setting up two locations of the restaurant, launching Paulette's Original Donuts, writing a book and having a child, the 32-year-old has changed her attitude toward having company. "Now I make entertaining a way more collaborative experience," she says. "When people step into your kitchen with a glass of wine, they instantly relax. You don't have to slave away and present something. That's what a restaurant is for." Instead of multiple-course dinners, Connell is more likely to serve drinks and nibbles or something kid-friendly, like brunch. And she always recruits help. "I'll ask one of my friend's husbands to come in and make the hollandaise or get the kids to try something." For example, Connell's one-and-a-half-year-old son is obsessed with egg shells, so she might set up a supervised egg-cracking station for her little guy and his friends. "Of course, your house will be demolished but that happens anyway. You just have to roll with it," says the reformed perfectionist. The recipe below is a good way to start.
Ready time: Approximately 1 1/2 hours
6 large whole eggs, plus 4 yolks
2 cups plus 1 tbsp whipping cream, divided
1 cup whole milk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp horseradish
2 tbsp lightly packed minced fresh chives
Zest of 1 lemon zest, plus 4 tsp juice
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
16 slices smoked salmon
10 English muffins, cut in half
1 cup very cold butter, in a single block
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a large bowl, whisk together whole eggs, 2 cups of cream, milk, mustard, horseradish, chives, lemon zest, 1½ tsp salt and pepper. Line a generously buttered 9-by-13-inch casserole dish with a layer of English muffin halves, cut-side up and overlapping slightly. Pour half of the egg mixture over top.
Arrange remaining muffins halves cut-side down and pour remaining mixture over top, pressing muffins down into the liquid. Let the dish rest for 20 minutes or overnight.
Place the casserole dish on a baking sheet and bake for 65 minutes or until the top is golden brown and the liquid is set. Remove the dish from the oven and let rest.
Meanwhile, to make the hollandaise, combine lightly beaten egg yolks, remaining cream, lemon juice and remaining salt in a small saucepan. Add the block of butter and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Place saucepan over low heat and swirl butter with a spoon as it melts into the eggs and cream. Continue stirring for a total of 12 minutes after butter has melted. Sauce will have a consistency between heavy cream and thin mayonnaise.
Spoon bread pudding into 8 portions. Top each with 2 slices of smoked salmon and a big spoonful of hollandaise.