Dish and Design's Home for the Holidays showcases festive decor, gifts, gnocchi and aquavit

Guests included interior design blogger Haneen Matt, Brigid Beaubien of Urbanum in New Center, chef Doug Hewitt of Freya and spirit-maker Robyn Cleveland of Norden Aquavit

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

It was fitting that Homestyle readers tuned into the latest Dish and Design virtually from home once again, because the latest installment of the decor and hosting event was all about entertaining en casa. 

The presentations, hosted by Homestyle columnist Maureen Feighan on Tuesday, kicked off with some ideas from local interior design blogger Haneen Matt from Canton Township. 

"Haneen's home is like her palette," said Feighan, introducing the mom of four who has been featured in Homestyle as well as Better Homes and Gardens. She showed the virtual audience of more than 150 how to deck out their fireplace area for the winter season. 

Haneen Matt, an interior design blogger based in Canton, talks about her design inspirations as she demonstrates holiday decor.

Matt demonstrated how she crafted some greenery with silver and gold ornaments above a mirror using chicken wire as a base and securing the decorations with zip ties. 

"The more variety you use the more real it looks, in my opinion," she said of faux greenery. She was working with a round mirror from Anthropologie, garland from Kirkland and decorations were from At Home and Hobby Lobby. "I love mixing high and low ... I go all over the place."

As for decking the mantel itself, she recommends using personal touches. 

"Include things that are meaningful, and the whole holiday is about family, especially these days, and I love using things that have been passed down or are thrifted or vintage. Everything old has a story."

Next, Dish and Design traveled to New Center to speak to Brigid Beaubien of Urbanum, a home decor and gift boutique on Woodward

"The customers around here really shaped what we sell," said Beaubien. "We have a fair amount of kitchenware ... gourmet food product, interesting storage bowls. We also carry a fair amount of barware. A lot of cocktail glasses, a lot of bar accessories. Right now we have a lot of bar carts in." 

Brigid Beaubien is the owner of Urbanum, a home decor and gift store on Woodward in Detroit’s New Center area. Here, she discusses a product called 'Aged and Infused,' which contains dried fruits with which one can make flavored cocktails.

"I've chosen a lot of gifts that are focused on creating a memory with your senses, " she said, showing of some washable, colorful blankets made from recycled wool and other textiles, plus a variety of evergreen-scented candles and carefully selected bath products.

Beaubien, who also owns 8 Degrees Plato beer store in Midtown, said they also carry a lot of food-related gifts at Urbanum, which make great host gifts around the holidays. For folks who are hard to shop for, she suggested the wool blankets, but also charcuterie board sets, popular cookbooks and one-of-a-kind gifts that they can curate for you in the store. 

Continuing the food theme, chef Doug Hewitt showed the audience how to craft a colorful plate of semolina gnocchi with mushrooms, greens and crispy ham. His new restaurant Freya just opened last month at 2929 E. Grand Blvd., not too far from Urbanum, and he also is chef and co-owner of Chartreuse Kitchen & Cocktails near the Detroit Institute of Arts.

"I chose gnocchi because it can be an intimidating experience," he said. "The gnocchi that I chose to do for the demonstration is actually very simple. It's great for the holiday especially, and it's very easy to do at home." 

The busy chef showed the versatility of gnocchi and how it can be cut any way you want before searing it or putting in the oven in a casserole dish with your favorite sauce. He used mushrooms and prosciutto for this dish, but he said you can really use whatever you have on hand. 

Doug Hewitt, executive chef at Freya, shows ham, laid out between paper on cooking sheets, that will be turned into 'crispy ham.'

"This is recipe has a lot of fat ... you can use alternative milks," he said, adding that they're experimenting with non-dairy milk at the restaurant. Freya, which offers tasting menus for all diets, will host a six-course vegan Christmas feast Sunday for $95 per person. 

Also broadcasting from Freya, Robyn Cleveland of Norden Aquavit Spirits wrapped up the holiday edition of Dish and Design with a cocktail demonstration featuring a product that he makes, Scandinavian aquavit. 

"It is a botanical spirit, it's very similar to gin," he said, explaining that aquavit dates back to 1531 and their products are available in 13 states including Michigan, where it's made. "The main flavor, by law, has to come from caraway or dill and distilled into a neutral spirit base. It's made the same way gin is made, but has a refreshing, almost minty flavor, because of the caraway." 

Cleveland, who has been a bartender for more than 15 years, showcased an easy-to-mix aquavit and tonic cocktail.

Robyn Cleveland, co-founder and co-owner of Norden Spirits, a Michigan-made version of a Scandinavian spirit, pours strawberry-rhubarb aquavit while demonstrating a holiday drink recipe.

He also demoed a more advanced drink called "pink bubbles" with simple syrup, lemon juice, sparking rosé and Norden's own, limited-edition Aquavit Pink that is infused with fresh strawberries and rhubarb, rose and hibiscus. If you can still find a bottle of this limited-edition special batch of pink booze, that would also make a great gift for the holidays at $36.99 for a 750 ml bottle. Partial proceeds benefit the Pink Fund.

Twitter: @melodybaetens