While we’re all familiar with the standard trappings of an edible soirée — food, drinks and plenty of catching up — the legalization of cannabis and the resulting products have given hosts a new element they can safely incorporate into their entertaining plans. Now you can whip up your own infused recipes to serve alongside regular courses, have pre-rolls on hand to offer guests, or cap off a dinner with a delicious, ready-made infused dessert.
Infused cooking has come onto the tables of some of the chicest hosts in town. We spoke to chef and cookbook author Rose Reisman, who recently partnered with TREC Brands (which oversees Blissed, Thumbs Up, and WINK cannabis brands) on her cookbook Be Blissed: Easy CBD and THC Infused Recipes for Everyday, and Pete Shearer, the senior category manager for flower here at the OCS [note: Shearer has since left the OCS], to get their tips on how to creatively and safely pair cannabis and food.
“If you had told me two years ago I would be doing this, I would have said ‘Are you crazy?’” says Reisman, who credits her adult children with inspiring her cannabis cooking renaissance. “It’s an experience and people love having something new in their lives.”
Gatherings that include cannabis — either infused in food or served on their own — must always be a legal-adults-only affair. And they require extra attention and care to ensure they stay that way.
Even if you’re always careful to keep cannabis products away from kids and pets in lockable boxes or somewhere else where little hands and furry friends can’t reach, it can be easy for a toddler — or an intrepid 15-year-old — to get into the “special” platter of desserts during the hubbub of a get-together. Never leave infused dishes or other cannabis products unattended. You should also carefully label any infused foods that you may be prepping in your fridge or freezer beforehand, especially if you’re not the only one who has access to it.
Always let guests know beforehand that it’s going to be an infused affair and make sure that those who are partaking have a designated driver to take them home, or other form of transportation. Just like you would have non-alcoholic drinks available for guests who don’t want to partake, you should also make sure to have non-infused options. You can also consider having CBD-only and balanced 1:1 products on hand, to provide your guests with options.
“I’ll always have something that’s not infused so if even at the last minute someone decides they’d rather not [consume cannabis], I have something to offer them,” says Reisman.
Spring leading into summer is a busy time for entertaining. Just like you stock up on frozen appetizers and a variety of beverages to be ready at a moment’s notice, it’s a good idea to have some of your favourite dried flower available for cooking with or responsibly sharing. Buying dried flower in large formats can be a cost-efficient way to keep something special on hand — either a crowd-pleasing favourite or something new your guests haven't tried before.
Know Your Audience
If you plan on infusing your dishes, how do you know exactly how to dose your recipes? That, says Shearer, really depends on who your guests are.
“You have to read the room,” says Shearer. “Who are you inviting? What’s their previous experience with cannabis? If they’re generally high-volume consumers, their tolerance may be higher. But if you’re in mixed company or unsure, it’s best to go lighter.”
Reisman likes to stick with a CBD-forward, micro-dosed meal that stretches over several courses, with a maximum of 2.5mg of THC per person spread throughout the entire evening. “At first my friends were a little nervous," she says, "but I told them 'Trust me, it's so mild, you'll barely notice it.'”
It's important to remember that everyone's tolerance is difference. “Start low and go slow” should always be the mantra when hosting an infused event, and guests should be clearly informed ahead of time of which dishes are infused and their potency.
Cooking With Cannabis
You can incorporate cannabis into your recipes in a number of ways. You can infuse your own butters and oils (which takes a bit of work), use ready-made ingestible oils available at Authorized Cannabis Stores and from OCS.ca, or even incorporate a small amount of dried flower into sauces that don’t require heating, which will add an herbaceous flavour, but without psychoactive properties.
“I usually mix the dried flower in with a vinegar/oil-based sauce, like a chimichurri or a pesto,” says Shearer, adding that he uses less than one gram for a very large, 12-plus person portion. “I opt for dressings and sauces that don't need to be heated, as heat often degrades the subtle aromatic qualities of the dried flower being used. I let the sauces sit in the fridge for a few hours to let the flavours marry.”
Reisman’s book is all about cooking and baking with the Blissed Breathe High CBD Oil, though there are many ingestible oils on the market to choose from. Reisman’s recipes use milliliter measurements and most ingestible oil packaging comes with a dropper for precise dosing. While some oils have a mild flavour, others, like Blissed Breathe, are virtually flavourless.
Reisman says there are three main rules when it comes to cooking with an infused cannabis oil:
- Drizzling a finished dish with oil may not always work; it can leave a bitter taste.
- You don’t want to cook your infused dish at a high temperature because the oil will lose its potency. Reisman doesn’t recommend sautéing, frying or cooking in the oven beyond 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- You always want to combine an infused oil with another fat like ghee, coconut oil or butter (THC and CBD may be better absorbed by the body when consumed along with another fat).
Easy Edible Desserts
Here’s a quick cheat: you can serve your guests infused desserts that you don’t even need to make from scratch. Using simple add-ons to jazz up some of the tasty pre-made edibles that are available at authorized stores and on OCS.ca can be a delicious way to impress your guests. Here are a few ideas:
The High Top Cupcake
Top a regular chocolate cupcake with your favourite icing and a Wabi Sabi Cookies & Cream Milk Chocolate.
The Half Moon Ice Cream Sammy
Cut a Slowride Bakery Big Chocolate Cookie in half, stuff it with vanilla ice cream, then roll it in chocolate chips.
The Rich & Creamy Brownie Bite
Garnish an Olli Chocolate Brownie with whipped cream and top with a sliced strawberry.
It’s very (very!) important to remember what infused foods or cannabis products you’ve already served that night, and their potency. Have non-infused dessert options available, cut infused desserts into mini portions for milder potency, and make sure to clearly label all options.
Consider Flavour Profiles
Whether you’re infusing cannabis directly into the food itself or pairing cannabis products with courses, you’ll want to pick products that complement what you’re serving, which means you need to consider the terpene profiles in your flower, vape or edibles.
Found in many types of plants (not just cannabis), terpenes are fragrant oils that produce a unique taste and smell. Different cannabis strains will have terpene profiles that are earthy, woodsy, herbal, spicy, diesel (or “gassy”) or cheesy, all the way to citrusy and sweet. The five most common terpenes include citrus-y limonene, pine-y pinene, floral or spicy tropical linalool, earthy but fruity myrcene, and peppery beta-caryophyllene. A trained budtender can help you find what you’re looking for. Shearer also has some general rules of thumb he likes to adhere to.
“I find really earthy, heavy gassy profiles lend themselves well to desserts, like a heavy chocolate cake,” he says. “Strains that are really citrusy with bright, spicy notes are good with salads or something else that has a similar bright, zingy taste.”
Sharing is Caring
Infusing your food isn’t the only option of course. If you’re not into edibles but you still want to host a gathering where guests can safely share cannabis (without passing a joint around), there are a number of ways to do it.
“It can be as simple as just having a plate or bowl out that you’ve arranged with pre-rolls,” says Shearer. He likes to have at least four different (carefully labelled) pre-roll options to offer his guests. For easy sharing, consider pre-roll multipacks, which come with at least four joints per package, some with a variety of cultivars or in smaller sizes.
Shearer also likes to provide a “rolling bar” with an array of rolling papers, along with some pipes and some vaporizers, so his guests can choose their own format (he just makes sure to thoroughly clean and sterilize his pipes and vaporizer mouthpieces with rubbing alcohol before and after each use).
“You don’t host a party and have only a couple beverage options," he says. “Usually you offer your guests a variety of choices. Entertaining with cannabis is the same.”
But after all is said and done, a gathering where cannabis is on the menu is just like any other get-together — it’s the company that matters the most.
“I think the best pairing of cannabis is cannabis with good conversation,” says Shearer.
This article was originally published in October 2021. Some products may no longer be available.