Close up shot of Christa Bruneau-Guenther

Chef Christa Bruneau-Guenther Brings Her Home Cooking and Indigenous Roots to Wall Of Chefs

Since childhood, chef Christa Bruneau-Guenther has cared for others in her extended family and community, using food to share stories and sustenance. Born in Winnipeg, Christa is a member of Peguis First Nations but grew up partially removed from her traditional Cree and French Métis roots. “The disconnect came from being brought up in an urban city and also the effects of residential schools,” she says. “Growing up in poverty, it’s just about survival every day.”

Closeup shot of Christa Bruneau-Guenther in chef's whites

Although an aunt taught her to make bannock and homemade jam and there were the occasional fishing and foraging trips, Christa’s food journey really began in her 20s when she began to transition from home cook to chef. “Since I had 32 cousins and all I ever did was babysit from when I was eight, I was really good at taking care of others,” she says. At the age of 23, Christa opened up an Indigenous holistic licensed family daycare that helped inner-city children with trauma and other health concerns. She applied for government funding and began developing recipes in accordance with the newly released Canada’s Food Guide for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. 

See More: 12 Canadian First Nations Recipes

It was an eyeopener for Christa. “For the first time, I saw ingredients that were related to my Cree culture, such as squash, or pine nuts, and began incorporating them into our food program, getting the children involved in the food culture as well,” she says. “For myself and my staff, who were also Indigenous, we had this new sense of pride and self-worth and an understanding of where we came from.”

In her decade running the daycare, Christa continued her research into recipes and ingredients from her Indigenous heritage, which brought the challenges of recording recipes passed down through oral recounting and the lack of subject-specific recipe books in her local libraries. She began tapping into the community of Indigenous elders, as well as sharing her knowledge with local universities and residents. As a home cook with no restaurant experience or training other than a brief career as a server, Christa eschewed the traditional culinary school path. “Most of my learning was through Food Network, actually. I would watch and write down simple recipes from chefs such as Giada de Laurentiis and Christine Cushing and experiment in my own kitchen,” she says.

When an open space in the Ellice Café and Theatre — formerly a community-subsidized cafe meant to help homeless or displaced people — became available, the owners were looking for someone who would bring a similar aesthetic to the space. Christa opened Feast Café Bistro in Winnipeg’s West End in December 2016, showcasing the simple and affordable recipes that she brought from her home kitchen. The restaurant is already a fixture in providing aid to the homeless through donation initiatives of leftover food and “pay it forward” programs.

Related: 12 Tasty Canadian Indigenous Restaurants

Key to Christa’s efforts is accessibility of Indigenous ingredients — which can be a challenge given that the food costs of some harder to find foraged items can be higher than others. Feast uses these ingredients to maximize their flavour while keeping them affordable, such as incorporating sweetgrass, juniper and cedar for a dry rub for bison, sumac or bee pollen for pickling, and bannock as a pizza or sandwich base.

Christa Bruneau-Guenther on the set of Wall of Chefs

Christa also uses this accessibility ethos in her judging for Wall of Chefs, wanting to promote home cooks and their skill sets, bringing them into her shared community of those who cook for love. “Home cooks may have an advantage: they’re used to looking in their fridge and come up with something that’s healthy and that your family will love,” says Christa. “I want viewers to see that you can do this too, and even though you’re not a highly trained chef, it doesn’t mean that you can’t cook a delicious, pretty looking plate of food that feeds your soul.”

Watch full episodes of Wall of Chefs online. You can also stream your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Celebrate Halloween at Home This Year With This Gourmet Miso Caramel Corn

Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any scarier, along comes Halloween. And while we don’t know exactly what to expect from this year’s holiday, we do know you’ll need this recipe for miso caramel corn to get you through it. It’s the ultimate salty-sweet combo and it’s an easy treat to pack up and give away or — let’s be real — to enjoy curled up on the couch with your fave scary movie.

Bowl of miso caramel corn

Miso Caramel Popcorn

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 cups

Ingredients:

8 cups popped popcorn (from ½ cup kernels)
⅔ cup packed dark brown sugar
⅓ cup unsalted butter
3 Tbsp golden corn syrup
¼ tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp white miso
2 Tbsp black and white sesame seeds

Ingredients for miso caramel corn on table

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 250ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat. Place popped popcorn in a large bowl. Set aside.

2. Combine sugar, butter and corn syrup in a medium pot. Set over medium-high heat to melt butter. Once butter has melted, stir mixture until combined.

Ingredients for miso caramel corn in pot

3. Bring mixture to a boil, swirling occasionally. Continue to cook until temperature reaches 250ºF on a candy or instant-read thermometer, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, then whisk in baking soda (be careful as it will bubble up) until it is several shades lighter in colour and mixture is uniform. Whisk in miso and sesame seeds until fully incorporated.

Miso caramel corn sauce in pot

4. Immediately drizzle mixture over popcorn and working quickly, stir to coat. Scrape popcorn onto prepared baking sheet and arrange in an even layer.

Related: 12 Dead-Easy Halloween Cocktails You Need to Try This Year

5. Bake until shiny and crisp, about 20 to 25 minutes. The best way to determine crispness is by carefully plucking a kernel from the baking sheet, letting it cool for a second or two and then trying it. It will still be a bit sticky at this point, but it should have a nice crunch. Let cool completely, about 15 minutes.

Closeup of miso caramel corn

Want more Halloween treats? Try these make-ahead gory white chocolate truffles or these witches’ cauldron cupcakes.

Ina Garten's Red Wine Braised Short Ribs served with a crusty baguette

Ina Garten’s Braised Short Ribs Have a Boozy Secret Ingredient

The Barefoot Contessa’s hearty stew may be time-consuming, but it will be well worth the hours of braising when you taste the rich flavours. Perfect for a special-occasion supper or to make-ahead for a week’s worth of dinners, Ina’s braised short ribs are full of secret ingredients and absolutely bursting with flavour.

Related: Ina Garten’s Classic Cocktail Recipes, From Margaritas to Mojitos

Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa) holding a bowl of her red wine-braised short ribs served with a crusty baguette

Ina starts this rich main by braising short ribs on a sheet pan instead of a stovetop. No need for a messy oil splatter sear with this method that cooks up her four pounds of short ribs without the time or mess. Ina then starts with a mirepoix of celery, carrots and onions before adding her secret weapon to the dish – an entire bottle of red wine (Ina’s pick is a Cotes du Rhone which she likes for the full-bodied flavour).  After adding in beef stock, crushed tomatoes and thyme, Ina finishes the stew with a bottle of Irish stout beer. The yeasty, hoppy flavour complements the red wine to add incredible depth.

See More: Dinner Etiquette Tips That Would Make Ina Garten Proud

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Total Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Ina Garten Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients:

5 lbs very meaty bone-in beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch chunks
Good olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts (3 leeks)
3 cups chopped celery (5 to 6 ribs)
2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 cups chopped unpeeled carrots (6 carrots)
1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic (5 cloves)
1 (750-milliliter) bottle Burgundy, Cotes du Rhone, Chianti, or other dry red wine
4 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, such as San Marzano
1 (11.2-oz) bottle Guinness draught stout
6 sprigs fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
Toasted baguette, for serving

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the short ribs on a sheet pan, brush the tops with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Roast for 20 minutes and remove from the oven. Reduce the temperature to 325°F.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large (12-inch) Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium heat. Add the leeks, celery, onions, and carrots and cook over medium to medium-high heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer over medium heat for 10 minutes, until the liquid is reduced. Add the stock, tomatoes, Guinness, thyme, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper.

Overhead shot of bowl of Ina Garten's red wine braised short rib stew

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Soup and Stew Recipes

3. Place the ribs in the pot, along with the juices and seasonings from the sheet pan. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook in the oven for one hour. Uncover and cook for one more hour, until the meat is very tender.

4. Remove the short ribs to a plate with a slotted spoon and discard the thyme bundle and any bones that have separated from the meat. Simmer the sauce on the stove for 20 minutes, until reduced. Skim some of the fat off the top and discard. Return the ribs to the pot, heat for 5 minutes, and taste for seasonings. Serve hot in shallow bowls, with a toasted baguette and extra sauce on the side.

Watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

What is a Ghost Kitchen? (And Why They’re Thriving During COVID)

We’re all very familiar with takeout these days, but did you know that your new favourite dish may not actually come from a physical restaurant? It may have come to you by way of what’s sometimes called a “ghost kitchen,” “virtual kitchen” or “dark kitchen.”

While these terms are often used interchangeably, Adam Armeland, CEO and co-founder of  “virtual food hall” Kitchen Hub explains the difference: “Ghost kitchens are restaurants that sell exclusively (or predominantly) through digital channels and do not have a direct customer-facing component (with seating, pickup counter, etc.).”

Spread of plates featuring different dishes from Kitchen Hub restaurants

Virtual or dark kitchens on the other hand exist in addition to the traditional brick-and-mortar restaurant structure — and offer customers the option to eat their favourite meals at home. For example, Kitchen Hub is a dark kitchen for some of Toronto’s favourite restaurants, a space where takeout is prepared for PAI Northern Thai Kitchen, The Carbon Bar, Kanga and Cheesecake Factory Bakery. Kitchen Hub also offers customers the advantage of having access to all these different restaurant menus with one order.

Related: Ranking Canadian Retailers Offering Grocery Delivery Right Now, by Price

Differences aside, these all include a centralized commercial kitchen, allowing customers to order menu items online (whether via kitchenhub.ca, SkipTheDishes, Uber Eats, DoorDash or similar food delivery services). “They allow restaurants to take on a smaller footprint, fewer employees and take advantage of the increasing demand for food outside of the restaurant,” says Armeland.

Related: We Tried Popeyes’ Famous Chicken Sandwich That Finally Arrived in Canada – Is It Worth the Hype?

There are more benefits for customers too: “The customer benefits from food being prepared in a facility that is purpose-built for off-premise consumption. Not only will their order get to them faster and fresher, but it will also be prepared in a facility that was designed to have less interaction with the outside world, which minimizes risk [of exposure] to everyone in the process.”

But this model isn’t new — it’s been around since 2013, when the first ghost kitchen opened in New York. Brick-and-mortar restaurants are costly to start up and run — and can be a challenge in the best of times. Enter a global pandemic, hitting the restaurant industry with a $4B drop in revenue between January and April alone. The pandemic catalyzed many restaurants to switch to the ghost or dark kitchen model. “All restaurants effectively became ghost kitchens overnight when the government mandated that they could only be available for takeout and delivery,” says Armeland.

Spread of plates featuring Thai dishes, including golden curry and shrimp

As for what makes a great ghost kitchen? “By and far the most important thing is the restaurant brand and food; the customer wants what they want and from our experience, that is a great brand serving good food,” says Armeland. Kitchen Hub offers the digital and physical infrastructure, allowing the restaurants themselves to focus on what they do best: cooking for their customers. “[At Kitchen Hub] the restaurants operate out of their own dedicated kitchen, with their own chefs, so consumers can expect the same food quality that they have come to love and expect from their favourite brand (or in our case, multiple brands at the same time),” adds Armeland. In terms of what food trends Armeland has noticed throughout the pandemic, he says it’s about the sweet tooth.

Related: Can’t Dine Out? These 20 Toronto Restaurants Are Offering Date Night Meal Delivery

Pandemic or not, Armeland adds: “I think that ghost kitchens are here to stay and are becoming a necessary part of a restaurant’s future planning to serve their customers through the fastest growing channel in the food industry.” 

Restaurant photo courtesy of Getty Images; food photos courtesy of Kitchen Hub

Plate of Anna Olson's Hot Chocolate Nanaimo bars topped with mini marshmallows from her new cookbook Baking Day with Anna Olson

Anna Olson Remixes a Classic With Her Hot Chocolate Nanaimo Bar Recipe

As the weather turns crisp and we’re spending more time at home, baking becomes one of our favourite pastimes. Not only can the act be soothing itself, but it’s rewarding to create delicious treats to share with loved ones (we firmly believe that baking is a love language). And what better to cozy up with than Canadian treasure Anna Olson’s new cookbook, Baking Day with Anna Olson?

Anna Olson on the cover of Baking Day with Anna Olson

Pre-order Baking Day with Anna Olson, Amazon, $31

To celebrate the October 27th release of Anna’s new cookbook, we’re sharing a sneak peek at one of her delectable new dessert recipes. Classic Nanaimo bars are remixed with the cozy addition of hot chocolate and marshmallows for a truly delightful treat.

Related: 9 Nanaimo Bar Recipes to Sink Your Teeth Into

Hot Chocolate Nanaimo Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 18 Nanaimo bars

A twist on a classic can be a beautiful thing, and adding hot chocolate mix to a Nanaimo bar recipe really works. Nestled between the traditional chocolate coconut base and the melted chocolate topping is a layer of hot chocolate–spiked custard icing. When the bars are topped with mini marshmallows, the hot chocolate twist is complete.

Related: Coffee and Hot Chocolate Recipes to Warm Your Belly This Fall

A plate of hot chocolate Nanaimo bars topped with miniature marshmallows

Ingredients:

Bars
½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, cut in pieces
¼ cup (50 g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (30 g) cocoa powder
½ tsp salt
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 ½ cups (195 g) graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (100 g) sweetened flaked coconut or toasted sliced almonds

Filling
½ cup (115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups (195 g) sifted icing sugar, divided
⅓ cup (40 g) powdered hot chocolate mix
2 Tbsp (12 g) vanilla custard powder
Pinch fine salt
3 Tbsp (45 ml) 1% or 2% milk

Topping
4 oz (120 g) semisweet couverture/baking chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp (30 g) unsalted butter
1 ½ cups (75 g) mini marshmallows
Sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

Directions:

1. Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) square pan and line it with parchment paper so that it comes up the sides.

2. For the crust, place the butter, sugar, cocoa powder and salt in a metal bowl and set over a pot of gently simmering water, whisking until the butter has melted. Add the lightly beaten egg and whisk until the mixture thickens to the consistency of pudding, about 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the graham cracker crumbs and coconut (or almonds). Scrape the crust mixture into the pan and spread to level it. Chill the pan while preparing the filling.

See More: Anna Olson’s Best Chocolate Recipes 

3. For the filling, beat the butter with 1 cup (130 g) icing sugar until smooth. Stir the hot chocolate mix, custard powder and salt with the milk (it will make a thick paste) and stir into the butter mixture until smooth. Beat in the remaining ½ cup (65 g) icing sugar. Do not overbeat — the filling should be smooth, but not fluffy. Spread evenly over the crust (no need to refrigerate).

4. For the topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a metal bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring gently with a spatula until melted. Cool the chocolate slightly and then pour over the filling, spreading to cover it. Sprinkle the marshmallows on top of the chocolate in an even layer (it will not fully hide the chocolate) and, if you like, finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.

5. Chill the pan for about 2 hours before slicing into bars. Nanaimo bars will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

For more of Anna Olson’s delicious dessert recipes, check out her ultimate holiday desserts or Anna Olson’s best-ever cake recipes.

These Healthy Apple Oatmeal Cookies Are the Perfect Breakfast Sweet Treat

If you’re anything like me and have a weakness for cookies, the thought of a healthier option is exciting, but it can also make you wonder: Will they taste good? Will my friends like them? Will they actually taste like cookies? Enter these Baking Therapy healthy apple oatmeal cookies. They’re soft, chewy and loaded with goodies like cranberries, coconut and chocolate. Sweetened with date sugar and maple syrup, they also boast a hint of caramel flavour. Trust me: they’re the perfect healthy breakfast treat!

apple oatmeal cookies on cooling rack

Healthy Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 15-20 minutes
Bake Time: 15-17 minutes
Total Time: 40-47 minutes
Servings: 16 cookies

Ingredients:

½ cup date sugar
½ cup maple syrup, room temperature
½ cup coconut oil, softened
½ cup unsweetened apple butter
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups spelt flour (or whole wheat)
1 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups large flake oats
1 cup (about 1 medium apple) finely diced apples
½ cup dried cranberries
⅓ cup dark chocolate chunks or chips
¼ cup shredded coconut

apple oatmeal cookie ingredients on white counter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together the date sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil and apple butter. Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract.

Related: Anna Olson’s Lighter Dessert Recipes to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

3. In another bowl, whisk together the spelt flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add to the stand mixer and mix until just combined. Fold in the oats, apples, cranberries, chocolate and coconut.

apple oatmeal cookie dough in stand mixer bowl

4. Scoop the cookie dough into 2-inch balls and place them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Freeze for 15-20 minutes, slightly flatten each cookie before placing them into the oven. Bake for 15-17 minutes until golden on the edges. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

apple oatmeal cookie dough in balls on baking sheet

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her ginger molasses cookiessticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

How to Grow Fall Vegetables and What to Do With Them

Sweater weather is here, but growing season is far from over. Just because the days are shorter and the temperatures are dropping, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your garden. Want your very own harvest of autumn produce? Here are the fall vegetables you should consider and some recipes to try once they’re ready to pick.

How to Grow Garlic

If you’re new to fall gardening, growing garlic is a good place to start. Garlic can be easily planted mid-autumn in a sunny spot with soil that is well-drained. Separate the cloves and set them with the pointed end up and the root side down in rows that are at least one foot or 30 centimetres apart — and you should have some new bulbs by late fall. Take your freshly harvested garlic and roast it, pickle it or add it to  your favourite dishes. Interested in growing garlic indoors? While you can’t grow bulbs if you don’t have any outdoor space, you can easily grow garlic greens in a pot on a sunny window ledge. In about 7 to 10 days, you can snip the greens and add them to soups, salads, baked potatoes and more.

A chicken breast cooked to a golden finish with whole cloves of garlic and a creamy sauce

Get the recipe for The Barefoot Contessa’s Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic

How to Grow Cauliflower

It may be the most challenging vegetable in the cabbage family to cultivate, but fall is the perfect time for growing cauliflower. The secret is to start your seeds indoors about four weeks before you plan to plant them. Once the seedlings are ready, select a spot in your yard where they’ll get lots of light and be sure to water them so they grow quickly. Plant them outside when it’s between 18°C and 24°C for a late fall or early winter harvest. Once the florets are densely formed, the cauliflower is ready to harvest. Serve as a side dish with Sunday roast, toss it into a stir-fry or use it in a low-carb mac and cheese.

Cauliflower prepared popcorn style with a red Korean gochujang sauce

Get the recipe for Korean Gochujang Cauliflower Popcorn

How to Grow Beets

Beets are a fall harvest favourite that is best grown from seeds. Plant them in mid-summer or early fall — at least eight weeks before the first heavy frost — in an area with full sun and well-loosened soil. To speed up germination, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. After planting, add a thin layer of mulch to keep the roots cool on warmer days. When you’re growing beets, you’ll want to give them water regularly to develop healthy roots. Harvest when they’re anywhere from the size of a golf ball to a tennis ball. And don’t discard those greens! They’re packed with nutrients and a tasty whether sautéed on their own or added to pastas and soups.

Roasted red beet quarters tossed with fresh tarragon and parsley

Get the recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Roasted Beets With Herbs

How to Grow Brussels Sprouts

It takes patience to grow Brussels sprouts, but they are an easy crop that takes up minimal space in your garden. The seeds have to be planted six to 10 weeks before the first frost in rows three feet or 90 centimetres apart. Water them weekly and harvest after the first fall frost for the sweetest flavour. Twist them off the stem when you’re ready to cook them and any remaining sprouts will stay on the plants through part of the winter, even after the snow has begun. If you plant your seeds in the fall, don’t expect any sprouts until late winter or early spring. Roast them with bacon and maple syrup, shave them into a salad or even try them in your air fryer.

Get the recipe for Orecchiette With Vegan Sausage and Brussels Sprouts

How to Grow Broccoli

Growing broccoli takes time and extra care. You’ll have to plant the seeds in early fall, well before the first frost of the season. Plant them 18 to 24 inches or 45 to 60 centimetres apart in well-drained soil that gets at least eight hours of sun per day, ideally a partially-shaded area. There are so many ways to enjoy fresh broccoli, whether you include it in a sheet pan dinner or serve it steamed with melted Cheddar on top.

Slices of beef and broccoli florets on wooden skewers with teriyaki sauce

Get the recipe for Broccoli Beef Skewers With Teriyaki Glaze

How to Grow Pumpkins

Bright orange gourds and fall go hand in hand. Early June is the time to start thinking about planting as the seeds need warm soil to get started. They also need ample space for the long, rambling vines. Once planted, give them a deep watering of about one inch per week and adjust the amount depending on rainfall to prevent the vines from rotting. Once the pumpkins begin to grow on the vines, you’ll need to raise them off the ground using supports for even colouring and shape. If you have limited space, but still want to grow a pumpkin or two, plant smaller sugar pumpkins that are perfect for cooking and baking. They’re perfect for pies, cakes and soups.

Orange pumpkin soup served in white bowls topped with fresh herbs

Get the recipe for Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Don’t know the difference between butternut and acorn squash? Our ultimate squash guide breaks it down for you.

Buddy Valastro on the set of Big Time Bake

Buddy Valastro Gives Us the Scoop on Big Time Bake

We’re used to seeing cake master Buddy Valastro create masterful concoctions and larger-than-life gateaux, but in his latest series he’s trading in his apron for a scoreboard. In each episode of Big Time Bake Buddy hosts and judges as four bakers create cookies, cupcakes and a showpiece cake in just six hours.

So what’s the twist? Unlike other competition series the clock never stops on this showdown. So bakers not only have to plan out their time wisely, but they have to prove they’re as good at multitasking as they are at creating. We sat down with Buddy to get his hot take on what impresses him in the kitchen, what he misses about competing, and how, despite his impressive resume, he’s really “not a cake snob” at all.

See More: 10 Moments From Buddy vs. Duff That Had Us On the Edge of Our Seats

After doing Buddy vs. Duff, is it nice to be on the other end of the judging table with Big Time Bake?

I love to compete. For years, I really didn’t compete. I just kind of did my own show. I did Cake Boss. And I wasn’t competing with anyone, but it was a way to push myself to the limits, right? And then when you go into a competition, I think that even upped the ante even more. It pushes you even further. So when I’m judging, I’m also rooting. I’m the kind of guy that’s like, ‘Oh, man, I wish I could help’ or, ‘I wish I could give them a piece of advice.’ Just like a lot of people at home. I’m sure a lot of people watch at home and are kind of like ‘Oh, why did you do that,’ or, ‘Why did you use that colour?’ So it’s nice to judge but if you said to me, like gun to the head, ‘What do you want, to compete or judge?’ I would compete.

What is it that you love about competing?

I love to make, to create and it’s just kind of what I like to do. And it’s less about winning or losing. It’s more about challenging myself. Kind of like breaking a new record or making a another favourite cake or, just sparking the ideas. I have the mind of an eight-year-old-boy when I cake design, because I think the ending is possible. Why can’t this cake move, or why can’t it spin, or why can’t it be, you know, five thousand pounds or whatever. Whatever the obstacles are. And when you’re able to look at things that way, and you become successful at it, you look at life that way. So I look at life, I look at business and I go, ‘Why can’t I open a bakery in Canada?’ Or, ‘Why can’t I have vending machines?’ or whatever it is. You’re not afraid to dream big and make things happen. And I feel like a lot of my successes is because of that. I attribute a lot of that to my whimsical daydreaming and cake design to success in business.

Does watching these competitors spark your creativity at all?

Oh, absolutely. You pick things up from the competitors, too. I’m a student and I’m always learning. I see a good idea or a good technique or a good thing and I’m always putting that in my back pocket and trying to do different things with it. And I don’t want you to take what I said before wrong in the sense where, I do love to judge. I still love to encourage people and I still love to give my critique.

Related: The Evolution of Buddy Valastro

How would you describe your judging style?

I’m a pretty open book, I call it the way I see it. If I love something I’m going to tell you I love it. If I don’t like something I’m going to tell you I don’t like it. I gotta tell you, watching this show, you’re rooting and trying to coach and it’s amazing. What I love about this show in particular that’s different than a lot of the older formats that we did, was this show is kind of like non-stop action the whole time. Meaning the clock never stops.

Is that an advantage or a disadvantage?

It might seem like a disadvantage to the competitors for the audience at home, but it’s quite the contrary, it’s the opposite actually. Because when you work in your bakery or you’re doing your thing, you’re making cookies and cakes and pies and everything is happening at the same time. I actually feel like this is more of a baker’s natural habitat. And because we combine the six hours into one, versus having the two-hour cookie round, the two-hour cupcake round, and the two-hour cake round, we’ve been so successful with the level of difficulty in the beauty of the final products throughout. It’s been amazing. I mean, some of these cakes are the best cakes I’ve seen on these types of competition shows. I was totally blown away.

See More: Buddy Valastro’s Coolest Celebrity Cake Creations

What does it take to impress you in that kitchen?

The thing is, I am so impressed. Like, I’m not a cake snob by any means, because I’m the Cake Boss or because I can do some crazy things. I never belittle anybody’s work. Everybody works to their own level, or their own creativity. Everybody marches to the beat of their own drum, right? And I see the beauty in everything. It’s why I’m creative when I dream of cakes. Like if I’m driving to work and it’s fall and I start to see the foliage? Cakes and colours and schemes pop into my mind. Or, if I’m in the Middle East and I’m looking at architecture, I’m inspired. Or if I’m in an old Victorian house and I’m looking at moldings and trims, I can apply that to what I do. To me the world is my inspiration. And by seeing other people’s work and other people’s talents, I learn a lot. I’ve seen a couple of things from watching the show and from seeing competitors compete using different techniques. It was really good.

Watch Big Time Bake Mondays at 10ep and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

 

Nothing Says Fall More Than This Sumac-Spiced Roasted Delicata With Tahini Lemon Drizzle

When there’s a dish that incorporates all of our favourite things — squash, tahini and sumac — we know it’s a good one. Delicata squash is a fall delicacy — it’s only available in the autumn months, so take advantage now! You don’t have to peel it (woohoo!), and since it’s on the smaller side, it cooks fairly quickly, unlike other heartier squashes. It’s sweet and earthy and so perfectly takes on the natural lemony flavour of sumac. Once roasted, grab some kale and tahini drizzle — and for pops of juicy, fruity flavour, some craisins or pomegranate seeds. This dish is the epitome of fall flavours we love.

Sumac-Spiced Roasted Delicata With Tahini Lemon Drizzle

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 delicata squash, halved, de-seeded and sliced into ¼ -inch thick semi circles
1 red onion, sliced into strips
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp sumac
½ tsp sea salt, divided
Pinch of pepper
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup cold water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 cups chopped kale
½ cup toasted walnuts
½ cup craisins or pomegranate seeds
Few Tbsp freshly chopped parsley

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prep the squash and onion, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Drizzle olive oil on top and season with sumac, ¼ tsp salt and pepper. Toss around. Then roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prep the tahini sauce in a bowl. Mix together tahini, cold water, lemon juice, garlic and ¼ tsp salt.

4. On a long platter or in a big bowl, place the chopped kale. Add a pinch of salt and a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Begin massaging the kale (basically, just squeezing the kale in your hands) to help make it more digestible and easier to eat.

5. Layer the roasted squash and onion on top. Scatter the toasted walnuts, craisins and parsley on top, then drizzle the tahini sauce.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s sumac-spiced delicata? Try their slow cooker beef Bolognese or their no-bake chocolate oat bars.

Williamsburg Pizza Margherita Pizza

Pizza Lovers: Here’s Where to Find the Best Pizza in 2020

If we know one thing to be true, it’s that everybody loves pizza. Whether it’s eaten fresh from a woodburning oven, straight out of a cardboard delivery box, or reheated on a bleary-eyed Sunday morning, pizza is always satisfying. And luckily for us, pizza is one of the ultimate takeout foods, making it the perfect dish right now.

And while it’s been said that even when it’s bad, it’s still good, John Catucci knows when a pizza is truly great. Like a giant slice topped with mini pizzas, a meta creation of epic proportions, this 26-inch slice brings you what you didn’t know you wanted- pizza on pizza. Or for the true original, maybe Willamburg Pizza’s Apple Bacon Grandma Pie is more your speed, a delicious ‘za topped with thinly slices apples, bacon, walnuts and four different varieties of cheese. 

Whatever your preferred pie style, get ready to add a few more to check off your very own Big Food Bucket List.

At Descendant Detroit Style Pizza, one of the first things pizza lovers will notice is that Detroit-style pizza is served in a square, with the sauce on top rather than providing a base for toppings. The Truff-Ghi starts with a thick Sicilian crust, chewy but never heavy. Topped with roasted garlic cremini mushrooms, caramelized onions, double-smoked bacon and heaps of mozzarella, this square is chock full of flavour. If you weren’t already drooling, the added drizzle of white truffle aioli will surely seal the deal.

See more: The Top 5 Pizza Recipes From You Gotta Eat Here!

The best part, John says, is the crust, while diving into a crunchy corner, “it’s light, it’s airy, it’s crispy.” A true testament of lasting love, John declares that “yes, I’d take it home and introduce it to my mother.” What more could you ask for? The Pugliese style pizza at Toronto’s Bar Buca keeps mixes things up with the addition of potatoes to the dough. Chef Rob Gentile says “the potato and the starches and the natural sugars create a beautiful, airy dough.”

See More: The Best Toronto Pizza Spots

“I’ve made a lot of pizza dough in my life, never using these ingredients,” says Catucci, flabbergasted. When it comes to ingredients, Italian tomatoes, virgin mozzarella and pepperoni make this dish, as John put’s it, “just so pretty.” A pizza so good, it’ll bring tears to your eyes.

Over at Connie’s Pizza, they’re making deep-dish like you’ve never seen before. Handcrafted, thick dough fully encases meaty chunks if Italian beef, giardiniera, and a blend of mozzarella and provolone,  making this slice a true “pie“.

It’s no surprise that the windy city is obsessed with this joint, known for their ooey, gooey, Italian classics, with one customer calling it the “pizza you dream about.”

This pie is spicy, with flavour all the way through, made with thin slices of Italian beef and giardiniera, a pickled blend of carrots, cauliflower and jalapeno, held in soybean oil. The dish holds 3lbs of pizza and cooks for 45 minutes- but hey, good things come to those who wait. After taking his first bite, John says “if that’s not bucket list, I don’t know what is!” We’re happy to follow owner Mike Stolfe’s advice, who laughs and says ” it’s good for you.”

Meanwhile, pizzaiolos at Williamsburg Pizza in Brooklyn are speaking a love language specifically for the pizza purists at heart, with their Margherita pizza.

If you’re looking to master the proper pizza fold, you’ll be happy to choose this slice as your test subject, which one customer says delivers a “slap of flavour.” “The sauce is tangy and sweet at the same time,” says John. “And the dough has flavour! It’s the “best Margherita slice I’ve ever had” he says, giving ultimate praise to the power of this pie.

Watch full episodes of Big Food Bucket List onlineYou can also stream your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

 

 

Hasselback apple with scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzling of toffee sauce

You’ve Got to Try These Delicious Hasselback Apples Topped With Coconut-Oat Streusel

Apples are such a versatile fruit with so many variations and endless ways to prepare them. These Baking Therapy Hasselback apples feature sweet honey crisp apples (my fave!) that are sliced open like a fan and topped with a delicious coconut-oat streusel. Serve with a drizzle of toffee sauce and a heaping scoop of vanilla ice cream. Perfect for any get together this fall season. Bet you’ve never had apples like this before!

Hasselback apples on white plate

Hasselback Apples With Coconut-Oat Streusel

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 32 minutes
Total Time: 47 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

Apples
3 Honeycrisp or Pink Lady apples
2 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp brown sugar
½ tsp cinnamon

Topping
3 Tbsp butter, room temperature
3 Tbsp brown sugar
¼ cup oats
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp shredded coconut
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Hasseback apple ingredients: apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, etc.

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. Peel the apples, cut in half lengthwise and with a melon baller, scoop out the core. Place the apples core side down and cut thin vertical slices all the way around, making sure not to cut all the way through.

Peeled and cut apples laying on pan

3. Mix together the butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and brush on the tops of the apples. Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes until softened.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the streusel topping. In a bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon, vanilla extract and salt. With a fork, work the mixture together until it forms a crumble.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Irresistible Apple Desserts

5. Remove the apples from the oven. If there is a lot of liquid in the pan, strain and top the apple with streusel, making sure to get it between the apple slices. Bake at 425°F uncovered for 10-12 minutes until the streusel is bubbly and golden brown.

6. Enjoy with a drizzle of toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Hasselback apples on baking pan

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her ginger molasses cookies, sticky toffee pudding and pumpkin pie squares with candied pecans.

Headshot of Ree Drummond set against a close-up of her broccoli and rice casserole

The Pioneer Woman’s Broccoli Rice Casserole is a Comforting Twist on Classic Thanksgiving Sides

There are a few things we all crave when we’re sitting down for that iconic Thanksgiving meal: fall flavours, harvest-inspired platters and plenty of soul-warming, comforting options. With that said — as much as we can’t get enough of seasonal classics like stuffing and cranberry sauce — there’s also plenty of room at the table for new spins on savoury side dishes. Enter the queen of home-cooking comfort food, The Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond, and her latest perfect-for-Thanksgiving casserole recipe. 

Made from a delectable mix of long-grain rice, broccoli and a plethora of cheeses, this easy-to-prepare casserole is creamy and oh-so comforting — making it a delicious addition to your Thanksgiving (and everyday, really) dinner table.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Must-Try Casserole Recipes

Ree Drummond holding her cheesy broccoli and rice casserole

Best Broccoli Rice Casserole

Total Time: 50 minutes
Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) salted butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, grated
4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne
3 cups whole milk
4-oz cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp paprika
8-oz processed cheese, cubed
3 cups grated sharp Cheddar
8 cups small broccoli florets
6-oz diced pimentos, drained
2 1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Ultimate Comfort Food Recipes

Directions:

 1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

 2. In a large skillet, melt the butter. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Sprinkle over the flour, dry mustard and cayenne and stir to mix it in well. Continue to cook for 1 minute.

 3. Next, add the milk, stirring constantly; cook until thickened, about 2 minutes. Add the cream cheese and Parmesan, stirring until totally combined. Stir in the pepper, salt and paprika. Add the processed cheese, stirring until completely melted. Next, add 1 1/2 cups of the Cheddar and stir until melted. Then, fold in the broccoli and pimentos.

 4. In a large baking dish, create a base with half of the rice. Top with half of the broccoli cheese sauce. Repeat with the remaining rice, then the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the rest of the Cheddar evenly over the top of the casserole. Bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.

Looking for more of The Pioneer Woman’s easy comfort-food meals to warm your dinner table? Try one of these recipes from Ree Drummond this week!

Watch The Pioneer Woman and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Chef Suzanne Barr Will Make You Think About Your Dinner Plate Differently

If you read her bio, Suzanne Barr is described as a Toronto-based chef and restaurateur, a judge on Food Network Canada’s Wall of Chefs and a committed social advocate. Talk to her, and she’s all of these things, but it’s the more intimate details about her life and the refreshing perspective she brings to her work that will make you wish you could share a meal with her weekly. We caught up with the chef to learn about her culinary influences, her role in the fight for food justice and equality, and ultimately what she contributes to the world with every plate she creates.

Chef Suzanne Barr posing at True True Diner (now closed)

Photo courtesy of Samuel Engelking

Culinary Roots

Suzanne remembers growing up and crafting Jamaican beef patties in her parents’ kitchen alongside her mother, father and siblings. The flaky, fragrant pastries made for a coveted after-school snack or light Saturday supper (being of Jamaican descent, it’s long been a family staple for Suzanne). Today, her focus remains on paring a plate back to its essence, taking every opportunity to showcase local, seasonal ingredients.

“My cooking style has gone on a massive journey,” she says. “Right now, I’m really inspired by preservation, using old traditional techniques to store food and then use at later dates.” This past summer, Suzanne, along with her husband and five-year-old son, travelled to Montreal for a few days, and came back with a massive case of locally grown tomatoes, which she pickled whole with garlic and fresh basil. “It’s all about getting access to really incredible vegetables and elevating them to give them their shining moment of just being what they are.”

Related: 15 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Pickle, From Avocado to Okra

Jar of pickled whole tomatoes

Honing Her Craft and Mission

After over a decade in the film and television industry, Suzanne endured hardship when her mother was diagnosed with cancer. She became her mom’s caretaker, often contemplating the role food plays in health and community.

“After losing my mom, I needed something that was more healing and connective, that brought me back to the most essential things in life, which is eating and breaking bread and having community around food,” she says. “I rediscovered this passion that was such a big part of me, but had lay dormant for far too long. It was now my duty to follow it and walk away from everything I had known and worked toward,” she says.

Growing up and witnessing her mother as a vivacious force who saw the value in voicing her opinion and beliefs instilled in Suzanne the courage to do the same. “Having my mom as such a matriarch in my life really pushed my passion and drive to fight for women and folks who look like me.” Suzanne attended her first protest in 1997 when she was in her early 20s. It was The Million Woman March in Philadelphia. She was moved and inspired by the act of travelling to another city for a day-long celebration of being a woman of colour. Advocating for women and the BIPOC community is woven into her work, shining light on issues of inequality and structural racism that too often go unheard.

“It’s become a big part of the mission in the work I do: feeding and healing folks with food, all the while educating people on the importance for BIPOC folks to be connected, and having a voice that can stand and fight for the people who don’t always have those same opportunities,” she says.

Related: What is Food Insecurity? FoodShare’s Paul Taylor Explains (Plus What Canadians Can Do About It)

Chef Suzanne Barr critiquing a dish on the set of Wall of Chefs

Suzanne was the head chef and owner of Toronto’s True True Diner, an Afro-Caribbean restaurant and community space that paid tribute to the civil rights movement. She also paid her staff living wages, and believes tipping should be removed from every restaurant. Even if menu items become pricier,  if you’re transparent with your customers about your values, Suzanne believes enough people will stand behind you and support your mission.

“It’s important to pay people real living wages, to understand that when we speak about sustainability, it doesn’t stop with the food that we’re utilizing as restaurateurs and chefs. The sustainability of your staff, of the people who are working in these establishments, that to me is one of the most valuable resources that we have overlooked for far too long.”

True True permanently shuttered its doors this past July, and Suzanne was blindsided (she wrote a heartfelt statement about the experience). “I wanted to share that it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to share some of those not-so joyful stories that are part of being a business owner, and being a person of colour trying to compete in this industry that doesn’t always recognize the importance of having these faces for other POC and other non-POCs,” she says. “We’ll do it again in another space. True True lives within everyone who experienced it, and I’m grateful for that.”

Related: What It’s Honestly Like Dining out Right Now ⁠— and What I’ll Never Take for Granted Again

Recipe for the Perfect Dish

“I always tell my staff: No matter what you do, no matter where you end up working, make sure that when you’re creating a dish, a part of you is on that plate,” she says. “Because that same intention and love and commitment can spread, and it gets shared over and over again. It becomes a new memory for someone else in a different way. Even different from what you intended when you put it on that plate in the first place.” For Suzanne, the plate represents her Caribbean descent, her personality, her joy, and sharing that experience with others, from the first moment a diner sees the dish to their very last bite.

Pasta made by a home cook on Wall of Chefs

That’s Suzanne’s advice to home cooks and budding chefs, including those inspired to try out for Wall of Chefs someday. And with that comes embracing the fear of the unknown: “Being a little scared in the kitchen can actually inspire you to make some of the most incredible foods you’d never imagined you could make. Because you push yourself,” she says. And really, that’s the beauty of Wall of Chefs, too – it connects people to their own experience of cooking, and inspires fans to try their hand at making something new, whether it’s chicken cordon bleu or a first attempt at making pasta or bread from scratch. If it doesn’t pan out the first time, simply try again.

Watch full episodes of Wall of Chefs online. You can also stream your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

These Curried Brussels Sprouts Are the Fall Side Dish You Need Right Now

Fall is all about making roasted veggies — and Brussels sprouts should be high up on that list. Their small size and nutty taste make them perfect for roasting. The key is to get the edges crispy and caramelized by roasting them cut side down at a high temperature. And don’t even think about removing the small leaves that fall off — those become so crunchy and make the best Brussels sprouts chips. In this recipe, we use a delicious curry spice mix to take them to next level. All you need to do is cut the Brussels sprouts, toss them in the spice mix and roast them on a sheet pan. The perfect side dish for any meal!

Curried Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb Brussels sprouts
3 large garlic cloves
1 ½ tsp curry powder
¼ tsp chilli powder (more to taste)
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash the Brussels sprouts well and pat dry using a paper towel. Trim the ends and cut in half lengthwise. It’s fine if some of the outer leaves fall off, keep them to roast on the pan.

2. Peel the garlic and crush it using a garlic press. Mix together the curry powder, chilli powder, paprika, salt, olive oil and crushed garlic.

3. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the marinade ensuring they are well coated. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut side down on a sheet pan and space them out evenly (do not overcrowd!).

4. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Serve as a side with lemon wedges.

Looking for more fall recipes? Try this vegan pumpkin soup or this easy paleo butternut squash tart.

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Dinner Ideas: Slow Cooker Beef Bolognese

Ready to make the most comforting dinner with the least amount of effort? Then you’ll love this beef Bolognese. It only required five ingredients, plus a little salt and pepper! It’s the perfect, warming dish to make as the weather starts turning cooler — and is usually loved by all family members, even picky eaters. After a quick sauté of the onion and beef, simply throw all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and voila, you’re done. We like to choose a jar of our favourite store-bought marinara or tomato sauce, since it infuses so much flavour in one simple ingredient. If you would like to add the extra step of making your own, go for it. For the ultimate comfort dinner, serve the Bolognese over a big pile of your favourite noodles.

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Beef Bolognese

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 to 6 hours
Total Time: 3 to 6 hours
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 x 750 ml jar marinara or tomato sauce
½ cup chicken broth or dry red wine
½ tsp sea salt and pinch of pepper

Directions:

1. Place a wide skillet over medium-high heat and add in the oil. Once heated, put in onion and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.

2. Add in the ground beef, break it up with the back of a spoon and allow to brown.

3. Then place the onion, browned beef, sauce, broth, salt and pepper in the slow cooker.

4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s slow cooker beef Bolognese? Try their vegan pumpkin soup or their no-bake chocolate layered oat bars.

Easy Paleo Butternut Squash Tart Recipe: Your Fave Seasonal Squash Transformed!

We can all agree that the fall season is popular for all things pumpkin, particularly pies and tarts. However, you can also enjoy delicious fall desserts by transforming another seasonal favourite into a tasty tart. Introducing this rustic paleo butternut squash tart, made with a grain-free crust and a decadent buttery filling. It’s easy to make and a great way to enjoy butternut squash all season long.

Paleo Butternut Squash Tart

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Bake Time: 55 to 60 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Servings: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

Crust
1 ¼ cup almond flour
½ cup arrowroot starch or tapioca starch
1 Tbsp cane sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 stick unsalted cold butter, cubed
¼ cup ice water

Filling
2 cups cooked and pureed butternut squash
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp paleo-approved brown sugar
4 ½ tsp arrowroot starch or tapioca starch
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 stick unsalted room temperature butter
2 eggs
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup warm water

Tip: To save time, you can purchase frozen prepared butternut squash cubes. Heat them up with 1.5 Tbsp of water in the microwave on high for five minutes. Puree in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Directions:

1. In a large bowl or a food processor, start by combining the almond flour, starch, sugar, cinnamon, salt and butter until the batter is crumbly. Add in 1 tsp of ice water at a time until the dough starts coming together. You may not need the full ¼ cup of ice water in the event that your dough already sticks together, so play it by ear. Once your dough is formed, but not too sticky, flatten it out into a 1 inch disk and wrap in saran wrap. Refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

Related: The Ultimate Squash Guide: All the Varieties and Their Best Uses

2. When your dough is ready to roll out, remove from the fridge and preheat your oven to 350°F. Roll out the dough between two pieces of parchment paper into a 10 inch round disk. If you find that the dough is too hard to roll, leave it at room temperature for about a minute. Remove the parchment paper and transfer the dough into a greased 10-inch round tart pan. Press the dough into the pan until all the edges are covered, then return it to the fridge.

3. Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl. Using a hand mixer, mix for 3 minutes until you get a smooth batter. It’s normal to see tiny clumps of butter in the batter after mixing.

4. Pour the filling into the tart crust and place the tart pan on a baking sheet. Place the tart in the oven and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. When ready, cool the tart on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Serve with toppings of choice.

Like Valerie’s paleo butternut squash tart? Try her 30-minute low-carb lamb burger recipe.

Molly Yeh’s Flaky Dill Bread: The Perfect Use for Leftover Herbs

Our favourite Girl Meets Farm recipes often include Molly Yeh’s mouth-watering baked goods – think cake and cookies – and this flaky, herb-alicious bread is no exception. Whether you’re looking for a warm mid-day snack or flavourful dinner side, this eight-ingredient masterpiece is your best bet.

Make use of all that luscious dill growing in your herb garden by combining it with your homemade dough and enjoy the soothing scents. Serve hot for optimal deliciousness. Find more tips and recipes with our ultimate herb guide.

Related:  Molly Yeh’s One-Pot Wonder Taco Hot Dish

Molly Yeh’s Flaky Dill Bread

Total Time: 2 hours
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup pastry flour
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
Oil, for greasing the bowl
3/4 cup (12 tablespoons) butter, very soft
1 cup chopped fresh dill

Related: Your New Favourite Dish Starring Avocado: Molly Yeh’s Guacamole Salad

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, pastry flour, sugar, salt and baking powder. Create a well in the center and add 3/4 cup water. Mix until you have a shaggy dough.

2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead, adding additional flour as needed, until smooth, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest for 30 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 6 balls. Keep them covered with plastic wrap when you’re not working with them. Using your hands, spread 1 tablespoon butter on a large work surface, top one of the balls of dough with another tablespoon of butter and pat out into a flat circle. Put the buttered dough ball on top of the spot of butter on the work surface. Using a flat hand, gently massage the dough in circular motions (as if you’re washing a window) to flatten it out into a very large translucent circle. It’s OK if it tears and is not perfect just try to get it as thin as possible!

4. Top with a sprinkling of the dill and then roll it out into a long, skinny log. Roll the log into a coil and transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Related: Molly Yeh’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake is a Birthday Treat to Remember

5. Roll out the coils into 7-inch-round circles by placing them between two pieces of wax paper and flattening with a rolling pin. The dough will probably want to stick to the wax paper, but it’s ok if it tears while you’re peeling it off. Alternatively, you can stick the rolled-out coils in the fridge for about 30 minutes, which will make them slightly easier to handle.

6. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook one at a time until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Serve hot!

Get to know the cookbook author and blogger behind Girl Meets Farm with 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Molly Yeh.

Watch Girl Meets Farm and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

These Pumpkin Pie Squares With Candied Pecans is the Fall Dessert You’ve Been Craving

It’s fall! Which means, it’s time to celebrate with a pumpkin dessert. Pumpkin bars, cookies and loaves are among my favourite, but you can’t forget the most important of all — pumpkin pie. These Baking Therapy pumpkin pie bars have a rich and smooth filling blended with warming spices like cinnamon, ginger and clove, as well as a gingery cookie crust. Serve with fresh whipped cream and spiced candied pecans for a little crunch. Once you try these babies, I promise you’ll be hooked!

Pumpkin Pie Squares With Spiced Candied Pecans

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 90 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 45 minutes
Servings: 12 to 16 squares

Ingredients:

Crust
1 cup gingersnap cookie crumbs
1 ⅓ cup (9 full sheets) graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup brown sugar
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
7 Tbsp butter, melted

Filling
⅔ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
1 can (300 ml) sweetened condensed milk
3 ⅓ cup (796 ml can) pumpkin puree
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp salt

Pecans
½ egg white
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whole pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease a 9-inch square pan.

2. Start making the crust. Pulse the gingersnap cookies and graham crackers into a fine crumb in a food processor or use a resealable plastic bag and crush with rolling pin. Add to a bowl with brown sugar, cinnamon and melted butter. Mix together until it resembles wet sand. Transfer to pan, press mixture down and bake for 10 minutes.

Related: Our Baking Expert Reveals 10 Baking Supplies You Can’t Live Without

3. While the crust is baking, whip up the filling. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs and egg yolks. Add the condensed milk, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla and salt. Whisk until fully combined.

4. Pour the filling over the crust and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then lower the oven to 325°F and bake for another 30 minutes. The centre should be firm and the sides will start to pull away from the pan. Let cool completely in pan.

5. Whisk together egg white,  sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and vanilla. Toss in the pecans. Bake at 300°F for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

6. Slice into 12 or 16 squares and serve with fresh whipped cream and candied pecans for crunch.

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her ginger molasses cookies and the best ever sticky toffee pudding.

Host, Alyson, with judges, Terri and Ray, as seen on Outrageous Pumpkins, season 1.

The 5 Best New Shows to Watch on Amazon Prime in October

While October may not be the first month that comes to mind when thinking about the most delectable times of year, we’d like to make a case for why it’s one of our favourite months for food-loving television junkies. With a packed schedule full of your Spookylicious favourites, plus new crave-worthy Canadian series, it’s a very good time to tune into Food Network Canada on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels. Here are the shows we’ll be glued to all month long, and why you shouldn’t miss them!

Halloween Baking Championship

Who Should Watch: Baking Fanatics

Carla Hall on the set of Halloween Baking Championship

It’s the ultimate baking competition, with a spooky twist! Hosted by Carla Hall (Top Chef, The Chew),  talented bakers from across North America compete to create Halloween-themed baked goods that are scarily delicious.

Related: Meet the Season 6 Bakers on Halloween Baking Championship

Big Food Bucket List

Who Should Watch: Social Media Foodies

John Catucci laughing with a chef making smoked pork ribs

Are you missing dining out and feeling the foodie FOMO? Do you crave discovering local gems and trying out the must-eat offers before the rest of your friends? Then tune into this series where John Catucci (You Gotta Eat Here!) is back and exploring the bucket list-worthy spots across North America. He’s taking you into the kitchens to see how all the drool-worthy dishes are made.

See More: Explore the Restaurants From Big Food Bucket List

Big Time Bake

Who Should Watch: Competitive Cooks

Buddy Valastro on the set of Big Time Bake

Buddy Valastro (Buddy vs. Duff) is back with an all-new series, and this time he’s behind the judging table! In this adrenaline-pumping baking competition, bakers are given six hours to create a show-stopping cake. The catch? It’s a nonstop competition in the kitchen.

Related: The Evolution of Buddy Valastro: From Cake Boss to Buddy vs. Duff

Outrageous Pumpkins

Who Should Watch: DIY Lovers

Get ready to be astounded and inspired! Seven expert carvers compete to create the haunting and life-like Halloween rendering, all using pumpkins. Hosted by Alyson Hannigan (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), this four-part series is for more than just food lovers as the fantastic creations are spooky works of art that will delight all.

Related: 40+ Perfect Pumpkin Desserts to Make Your Fall Menu Sweeter

Wall of Chefs

Who Should Watch: Home Cooks Seeking Inspiration

"The Wall" on Wall of Chefs

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to cook in front of one of your culinary heroes? What about an entire panel of the most inspiring cooks across the country? That’s what the home cooks are up against as they do culinary battle in front of “The Wall” in order to win $10,000 and some serious bragging rights!

Related: The Best Expert Cooking Tips From “The Wall” (Take Note!)

Close-up headshot of a smiling Chef Nuit Regular

Chef Nuit Regular Brings a Warm Heart and a Keen Eye to Wall of Chefs

For as long as she can remember, Chef Nuit Regular has always found happiness by fostering it in others — although her happiness didn’t always start in the kitchen. As a young child growing up in Phrae, Thailand, she remembers hating to cook. “I wanted to go out to ride bicycles with my friends, but I had to help to make curry paste, even when I was little. My mother would grow her own vegetables and sell satay in the laneway outside the house,” says Nuit. “And I wanted to help my mother, because I loved her.”

When Nuit later trained as a nurse in Pai, Thailand, she made extra money for herself and her family by selling food in class, and then eventually worked in nursing by day and ran Curry Shack restaurant during the evening hours with her husband, Jeff Regular. “I wanted to become a nurse and help the poor people in my village to make them comfortable and ease their worry and pain,” she says. “And when I started cooking in the restaurant and the guests said they loved the food, it made me feel happy in the same way.”

Related: Inside Chef Nuit Regular’s Fridge

Close up shot of Chef Nuit Regular smiling

Photo courtesy of Michael Graydon and Nikole Herriott

She and Jeff brought different flavours of Thailand to Toronto’s restaurant scene, including the northern Thai flavours at Sukothai, Pai Northern Thai Kitchen, Sabai Sabai and elaborate royal Thai dishes at Kiin. Trying to do something new has often presented its own challenges, both in sourcing authentic ingredients and in changing preconceived notions. Although many people were curious and wanted to learn, Nuit clearly remembers a customer who insisted her pad thai was made incorrectly. “He wanted me to add ketchup to the pad thai and I had to tell him, ‘I am sorry, but even though I won’t make any money here, I can’t give you the dish that way’,” says Nuit. “In the beginning, it was really hard because people didn’t understand, but now there’s a lot of diversity in Toronto.”

Related: 18 Ingredients the Wall of Chefs Stars Love to Splurge on

A plate of pad Thai noodles

Nuit Regular’s pad thai dish at Pai, which remains ketchup free.

Today, Nuit is a successful chef and restaurateur, responsible for over 200 staff members across her restaurant empire (with a second Pai location set to open this year) and her first cookbook, Kiin: Recipes And Stories From Northern Thailand, set to hit the shelves on October 20. As a judge on this season’s Wall of Chefs, Nuit enjoys the histories and backgrounds of the dishes that contestants set before her. “I want to see the story behind the dish, and those techniques from different households,” she says. Competitors looking to impress her discerning palate should be prepared to present a balanced, colourful and creative dish (she has even been known to sniff the food in front of her to check the aroma when judging). She also wants cooks to remember their portion sizes. “Don’t try to make a lot,” she advises. “You only have to make four plates, which is more manageable: the cooking time will be shorter, and your flavours will be more intense.”

Nuit Regular and Noah Cappe at a home cook's station on the set of Wall of Chefs

Nuit Regular on the set of Wall of Chefs

See More: Watch Full Episodes of Wall of Chefs

And as one former home cook to another, Nuit sympathizes with the stress of the competition (she still admits to some nervousness herself when she cooks in front of people). “I pause, take a step back and breathe,” she says. “And I tell myself, ‘You’re doing something that you’ve made for your family before that they love’. If you cook, follow your heart.”

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