Anna Olson's vanilla and caramel birthday cake on a display

5 Classic Cake Recipes & Expert Advice for a Perfect Bake Every Time

Baking a cake from scratch can be easier than you think, especially when armed with professional tips and tricks. Veer too far from a few established rules, however, and you can end up with a cake catastrophe on your hands. Never fear, we’ve got you covered: with these five foolproof tips, we can help you ensure baking success and turn out a perfect, professional-tasting cake every time.

Let’s take a look at five favourites: classic cakes that you can make again and again, from anything-but-basic vanilla to next-level carrot cakes.

Vanilla Cake

Anna Olson's vanilla and caramel birthday cake

This delightfully moist cake is a stellar example of vanilla-flavoured deliciousness that can be used as a base for your favourite frosting. Sifting the flour mixture serves two purposes: it disperses small amounts of crucial ingredients, such as leaveners or salt, throughout the cake and also aerates the flour to make it easier to combine. Two types of pastry cream — vanilla and caramel — are used in different ways to create a multi-layered and hued cake with impressive height and fantastic flavour.

Chef’s Tip: Sift dry ingredients together onto a large piece of parchment paper before adding it to your stand mixer to keep things nice and neat. You can also grab the paper by the corners and use it as a foldable slide to help transfer your dry ingredients around your kitchen and pour into your mixing bowl.

Get the recipe for  Anna Olson’s Classic Vanilla Birthday Cake With Caramel Pastry Cream

Not sure which flour to use for your next big bake? Check out Flour 101: Your Guide to Mastering Holiday Baking and Ardent Mills’ complete flour portfolio including definitions and best-used-for applications.

Chocolate Cake

Six-layer chocolate fudge cake with slice cut out

This tall tower of cake perfection from pastry chef Anna Olson is a spectacular showstopper for any celebration for chocolate lovers. Four layers of fluffy cake (made with cake and pastry flour leavened with baking soda for extra rise) are sandwiched together with creamy, fudge frosting for a confection that’s decadent without being heavy. Using brewed coffee adds balance and depth to the chocolate notes in the cake, while a combination of bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder adds plenty of chocolate-forward flavour to the fudge frosting.

Chef’s Tip: Chocolate flavour intensifies and improves with time. If you can resist the temptation, wrap your cake layers well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and place in the freezer for a few days before thawing and icing them. Plan ahead for future chocolate cravings and make a double batch to freeze for up to 30 days.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

Sponge Cake

Strawberry sponge cake with whipped cream and fresh fruit

Although all-purpose flour works well for cakes that require some structural integrity for heavier fillings, a soft wheat or cake and pastry flour (can lend the tender yielding quality needed to roll this sponge cake around a simple raspberry jam filling. Vary the filling based on your preference, and use homemade jam for an extra special touch.

Chef’s Tip: When whipping egg whites, your bowl needs to be perfectly clean. Any fat or oil residue in the bowl will keep your egg whites from whipping up and holding a structure no matter how long you beat them. A pinch of cream of tartar can also help to strengthen your whipped egg whites.

Get the recipe for Classic Raspberry Jelly Roll

Carrot Cake

Cream cheese iced carrot cake with heirloom carrot flowers

Keeping carrot cake from being too heavy, while still incorporating plenty of carroty goodness throughout, can be a bit of a challenge. Attempting to get the shredded carrots evenly dispersed in the batter causes some home bakers to over mix and overwork the gluten in the sturdy all-purpose flour, causing a tougher cake. This recipe from Molly Yeh provides some guidance to help counter this common error, including mixing the batter to 90 per cent before incorporating the carrots.

Chef’s Tip: To help your cake bake evenly, rotate the pan in the oven halfway through baking, helping ensure even temperature no matter the placement in the oven. Also, begin checking the cake for doneness about 20 minutes into your bake time to ensure the cake is not overbaked.

Get the recipe for Molly Yeh’s Carrot Cake With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Coffee Cake

Ree Drummond's blueberry crumb coffee cake on a plate

An easy coffee cake is a secret weapon for any baker: ready in under an hour with no frosting or decorations necessary, since it comes with its own crunchy and golden topping fortified with all-purpose flour such as Ardent Mills Bakers Hand®. With a cake this simple, the ratio of the ingredients plays a big part in a successful bake. The commonly used scoop and flatten method may unnecessarily compact flour into the measuring cup, adding more than intended to your recipe. A better technique is to simply spoon flour into the cup lightly and level off with a knife.

Chef’s Tip: For a consistent creaming cake batter, take all ingredients out of the fridge ahead of time to ensure they are all at room temperature. Softened butter creams easier and builds more volume. Also, eggs and milk that are at the same temperature ensure a more consistent creaming, and prevents the butter from clumping again.

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Blueberry Coffee Cake

Looking for more classic cake inspirations? Try these birthday cake recipes that are sure to make you a dessert person.

Sponge cake photo courtesy of Ardent Mills

Egg-in-a-hole breakfast with orange slices on white plate

Rise and Shine With This Scrumptious Prosciutto-Wrapped Egg-in-a-Hole Breakfast Recipe

Combine your egg and toast together as one with this prosciutto-wrapped egg-in-a-hole recipe. A delicious runny yolk wrapped in bacon-like prosciutto and baked in the center of a cheesy piece of toast is the best way to treat yourself in the morning. It’s simple, fun and something that everyone will enjoy!

Egg-in-a-hole breakfast with orange slices on white plate

Prosciutto-Wrapped Egg-in-a-Hole

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

¼ cup softened, salted butter
6 slices of prosciutto
6 medium eggs
Pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped,
1 ACE Bakery® Three Cheese Oval

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Cut the bread loaf into six 1 ½-inch thick slices, discarding ends. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the bread from the centre of each slice and discard bread cut-outs (or set aside for extra dipping). Spread both sides of each cut-out slice of bread with a light coating of butter.

Related: The Best Ways to Prepare Eggs Around the World, From France to Japan

3. Place bread slices onto a lined baking sheet. Next, fold and layer in a slice of prosciutto so it cups the well like a cupcake liner. You’ll want the sides to stick out like a flower because it’s going to cradle the egg and the edges will crisp up in the oven.

4. Crack an egg into each of the wells and sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and chives. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the egg whites are set, but the yolk is still soft like a poached egg. Serve warm and enjoy right away.

Watch the how-to video here:


Eden Grinshpan’s Baba Ghanoush With Za’atar, Pomegranate and Mint Will Be Your New Favourite Dip

What makes this an essential is the eggplant technique, which is so simple but blows your mind at the same time. I learned about charring eggplants whole when I was twenty-one years old and working in a restaurant in Tel Aviv. They’d score an eggplant, throw the entire thing on the grill, and then let the fire do all the work. The skin gets completely charred while the heat steams the flesh until it is smoky, tender, and juicy. That becomes the foundation of baba ghanoush, a smoky, velvety dip that’s an essential in its own right.

Baba Ghanoush with Za’atar, Pomegranate, and Mint

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-35 minutes
Total Time: 30-45 minutes
Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients:

3 medium eggplants
½ cup tahini paste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
1½ tsp kosher salt
Za’atar, for serving
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Pomegranate molasses, for serving
Fresh mint leaves, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving (if in season)

1. With the tip of a knife, pierce each eggplant in two places—doesn’t need to be perfect or in the same place every time; this is just so the eggplant doesn’t explode on you (it’s happened to me, and it’s not pretty).

2. Pick a cooking method for the eggplant: grill, broiler, or stovetop burners. The bottom line is that you want this eggplant to be almost unrecognizable. It’s going todeflate and the skin will get white in some places, but that just means the fire is working its magic on that eggplant.

OPTION 1: Grill Preheat the grill until hot. Add the eggplants and let the fire do its thing, making sure to keep turning the eggplants so they char all over. You want them to get black in some places, 20 to 30 minutes total.

OPTION 2: Broil  Preheat the broiler. Put the eggplants in a broilerproof roasting pan and place the pan as close to the heating element as possible. (You may have to adjust your oven rack to accommodate the size of the eggplants and the depth of the pan.) Broil until they are evenly charred all over, 30 to 35 minutes, checking and turning the eggplants periodically. You want the eggplants to keep their shape but get really charred and wilted.

OPTION 3: Stovetop Gas Burners Line your stovetop around your burners with foil. Working with one at a time, place the eggplant over a medium flame and let it char, making sure to turn it every 5 minutes. Continue cooking until it is deflated and black all over, 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Transfer the cooked eggplants to a colander in the sink and let the juices run. (The juices can make the dish taste bitter.) Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove the stem and all of the skin.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggplant flesh with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.

5. To serve, first make a za’atar oil by mixing together 1 tablespoon of za’atar with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil for every 2 cups of baba ghanoush.

6. For each serving, use a spoon to spread about 1 cup of the baba ghanoush over a platter or in the bottom of a bowl. Drizzle over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the pomegranate molasses (go easy—it’s very tart and sweet), followed by the za’atar–olive oil mixture. Finish with a sprinkling of small mint leaves (or large leaves, torn) and a small handful of pomegranate seeds (if using).

Excerpted from Eating Out Loud by Eden Grinshpan. Copyright © 2020 by Eden Grinshpan. Photography by Aubrie Pick. Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Eating Out Loud, Amazon, $35

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

How to Choose the Healthiest Type of Salt for Cooking

With the ability to bring out the inherent, muted flavours in food, salt is added to most recipes — including sweets — to smooth everything out. Without it, home cooking can be bland and unappetizing, but getting in the habit of adding too much salt to foods is linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular irregularities. While definitely less health-threatening, large amounts of salt can cause water retention, making your pants feel a bit snugger and leaving your skin looking dehydrated. However, salt is necessary for our bodies to function correctly, maintaining normal heart rhythm and nerve function — without it, complications arise.

888_types-of-salt

How Much Salt Should I Eat Per Day?

Eating too little salt is generally not a concern for most, with the advent of packaged and convenience foods. Enjoying a diet rich in whole, unprocessed, naturally low-sodium foods is the most nutritious option, allowing you to add salt to taste when cooking, reducing the risk of overdoing your daily recommended amount. Current Health Canada guidelines advocate most healthy adults eat approximately 1500 mg of sodium per day, though most are consuming more than double that.

Sodium and chlorine are the two elements that make up salt, making all types of salt sources of these essential compounds, adding another layer of confusion to the mix, as most are indistinguishable to the palate from one to the next. Whether purchasing at a grocery store or specialty food shop, salt’s diverse price range, wide-spanning varieties and nutritional profile can leave you scratching your head.

Related: Forget Salt: I Cooked With 6 Trending Spices to See if They’re Actually Worth the Hype

What is Sea Salt?

Sea salt is derived from its eponymous source (the sea), originating from any number of regions around the world. Its clean, pure taste is adored by cooks and is available in coarse and fine options; the former is well suited for garnishing, while the latter is ideal for cooking food and baking thanks to its ability to dissolve. Coming in white, grey, red, pink and black, the colour you choose is a matter of personal preference and price point.

Regarding health benefits, sea salt is plentiful in trace minerals due to its marine derivation, delivering many of the same nutritional compounds that make superfood seaweed so nutritious. The healthiest forms of sea salt are the least refined with no added preservatives (which can mean clumping in the fine variety). Pink Himalayan salt is touted by healthy home cooks as the ultimate mineral-rich seasoning, said to be the purest of the sea salt family.

What is Ground Salt?

The most common ground salt (taken from the ground, not the sea) is table salt, a cheap and common seasoning that can be found in most home kitchens. A more refined version of salt, table salt has added iodine, a trace mineral necessary for correct thyroid function, thyroid cancer-prevention and proper mental development and maintenance. Iodine deficiency is rare, and the mineral can be accessed from vegetables, seaweeds, milk, wild fish, eggs, and unrefined sea salts.

Related: The Easiest Ways to Save Over-Salted Food 

What is Kosher Salt?

Kosher salt tastes slightly less salty than table salt or sea salts (though it can be derived by either the sea or ground) due to its ability to dissolve more quickly on the tongue. Anticaking agents can be added to kosher salt, but can be purchased pure, too. Kosher salt makes it easy to grab a pinch and clings to food well, making it a favourite amongst chefs and home cooks alike.

What are Gourmet Salts and How Do I Use Them?

Gourmet salts run the gamut in terms of price and taste. “Plain” finishing and naturally flavoured finishing salts can be a unique addition to any dish. They carry a heftier price tag than a basic sea salt or ground salt, but are used in moderate amounts, potentially lasting for years.

Fleur de sel (“flower of salt” in French) is a readily available sea salt ideal for garnishing (both sweet and savoury foods), and, while still expensive, carries a softer price tag than many other gourmet options. Fleur de sel’s pure nature, free of additives, preservatives or anticaking agents, will provide the same trace minerals as other salts, with a cleaner taste.

Smoked salts are just that; smoked. This gourmet treat is to be used sparingly on meats, fish, eggs and vegetables for a truly unique taste. Flavoured salts can include any number of natural additions, from lemon peel to lavender to dried truffles to chili, and can be purchased or made at home.

Are Salt Alternatives Healthier?

Like sugar, salt has low-sodium alternatives that are generally comprised of chemical sources. Some find the strange taste of chemically derived salt alternatives to be off-putting. Salt alternatives can adversely interact with some medications and health conditions, so check with a doctor before reaching for this product.

Natural, chemical-free options such as dulse (seaweed) granules are marketed as a salt substitute, containing the same range of minerals as “pure” sea salt. The taste of dulse granules is decidedly sea-like, so use judiciously when adding this salt substitute to a recipe.

And the Healthiest Salt Is…

No matter which salt you choose, the small amount used contributes little nutritional value to your overall diet, making your selection a matter of personal taste. If you’re concerned about increasing the mineral content in your diet, focus on consuming more grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts and lean protein — salt shouldn’t be used as a supplement or alternative for the nutrition these foods contain. Reducing your total salt intake to the recommended daily intake (1500 mg) can be accomplished with a diet low in unprocessed foods and yes, a pinch or two of salt — any type you like.

Fore more inspiration and alternatives, these healthy salt substitutes are the real deal.

Published January 5, 2017, Updated April 18, 2021

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

beef with plantains on white plate

This Beef With Plantains and Black Beans Recipe is a Taste of Venezuela

A dish indigenous to Venezuelan people for over 100 years, this primavera beef with plantains and black beans recipe is filled with so many delicious ingredients, including onion, garlic, mushroom gravy, peppers, cilantro, spices and of course, beef, plantains and black beans. The perfect weeknight dinner!

beef with plantains on white plate

Primavera Beef With Plantains and Black Beans

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:

2 lbs of beef in cubes
1 medium onion chopped finely, divided
3-4 cloves of garlic, divided
½ cup mushroom gravy
½ cup beef broth
1 red and 1 green bell pepper chopped in cubes
1 dried red hot pepper
¼ tsp oregano
Salt to taste
½ lb of black beans
¼ tsp black pepper
1-2 plantains
1 lime cut into quarters
Cilantro to garnish

Directions:

1. In a frying pan, cook the beef with ½ the onion, ½ the garlic, mushroom gravy and beef stock, until tender.

2. Add the bell peppers, red pepper powder and oregano and add salt according to taste.

Related: Transgender Day of Visibility: Yasmeen Persad Talks About Food Insecurity and Trans Nutrition

3. Also in a pan, cook black beans with salt, pepper and remaining onions and garlic until soft.

4. Peel off the skin of 2 large plantains and slice them thin. Deep fry in vegetable oil.

5. Serve all with steamed rice. Garnish with lime and cilantro.

Cover of the cookbook 'Cooking With Trans People of Colour'Excepted from Cooking With Trans People of Colour, a cookbook of recipes of significance from The 519’s Trans People of Colour Project (TPOC). The cookbook is compiled by and for racialized trans people, also featuring unique sections including cooking and eating on a budget, hormones and healthy eating for trans folks, and resources and sexual health promotion information to support racialized trans folks.

Cooking With Trans People of Colour, Glad Day Bookshop, $25.

Photo by: Eli Carmona

Chickpea pancakes with fruit and maple syrup

You Won’t Believe These Fluffy Chickpea Pancakes Are Totally Gluten-Free

Can you think of a better way to start the day than with a stack of fluffy pancakes? These Baking Therapy chickpea pancakes are gluten-free and come together in no time. Bananas are mashed and folded into the batter to give the pancakes a touch of sweetness and the buttermilk helps give it height and a slight tang. Whip up a batch this weekend, you won’t regret it!

Chickpea pancakes with fruit and maple syrup

Banana Chickpea Pancakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12-14 pancakes

Ingredients:

1 banana
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp butter + more for frying
1 ¼ cup chickpea flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Chickpea pancakes ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mash the banana. Whisk in the eggs, maple syrup, buttermilk and butter. Sift in the chickpea flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until the batter comes together.

Chickpea pancakes batter

2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-low to medium heat. Melt about ½ Tbsp butter in the pan, scoop in about ¼ cup of pancake batter, cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges begin to set and the tops are bubbly. Flip and cook for another 1 minute. (To keep pancakes warm while cooking, place on a baking sheet in a 250°F oven).

Related: Unique and Tasty Ways to Eat Chickpeas

3. Top with berries and a drizzle of maple syrup!

Chickpea pancakes with fruit and maple syrup

Like Sabrina’s chickpea pancakes? Try her lemon poppy seed coconut buns or her rhubarb and sour cream streusel muffins.

Acadian rappie pie on green and white plate

This Traditional Acadian Dish Uses Less Than 10 Ingredients

One of the first things you’re asked if you ever venture down to the Acadian communities of southwestern Nova Scotia is, “Have you had rapure?” Rapure or pate a la rapure is more commonly known as rappie pie in English. It is more akin to a casserole than a pie, but even that is using the term loosely. Its ingredients are modest: potatoes, meat, stock, maybe a little bit of salted onions for flavour — and if you’re feeling luxurious, some salted, crunchy and rendered pork fat on the side. Those who have never been exposed to it often wonder what is on their plate and why it’s there. But trust us. We’ve been eating this for almost 200 years and we’re enthusiastic about it. It’s our comfort food. And reheated rappie pie in a skillet with lots of butter is a wonderful thing indeed.

Acadian rappie pie on green and white plate

Râpure / Rappie Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, minced
2 Tbsp oil or butter
2 Tbsp salted onions, plus additional 2 tsp (optional)
1 (4 pound) whole chicken, preferably a stewing hen
12 cups cold water (or enough to cover chicken in the pot)
2 bay leaves
3-4 carrots, diced
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp minced salt pork (optional)

Directions:

1. The first thing to do is make the chicken stock. This can be done the day before. In a pot large enough to accommodate your chicken, saute onions in the butter (or oil) until translucent. Add 1 tsp of salted onions if you have them. If not, add a bit of salt to onions to help them sweat.

2. Add chicken and cover with water. Add the bay leaves and carrots. Cover the pot and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to keep the bird at a gentle simmer. Cook for about 1 hour, or until meat is almost falling off the bone, but not quite.

3. Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the stock through a sieve. (At this point you can refrigerate your stock until you need it or just keep it warm if you plan on making the rappie pie at the same time).

Related: Where to Eat in Nova Scotia: Top Chef Canada’s Renee Lavallee’s Top 5 Restaurants

4. Shred the chicken into small pieces, discarding the bones and skin. Set aside.

5. Grate your potatoes on a box grater or rasp. Take your time or you’ll end up with bloody knuckles. (Alternatively, you can use a juicer to simultaneously pulverize your potatoes and remove much of the water. The texture will be mildly different, but highly comparable).

6. Place portions of the rasped/grated potato into muslin or kitchen towels. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. You will be adding stock to it afterwards, and you want to get out as much of the liquid as possible. (Tip: squeeze the potatoes into a large measuring bowl. Let’s say you squeeze out 7 ½ cups of potato water, you should add back in about 10 cups of stock. This is the ratio you’re trying to achieve. Adjust accordingly).

7. Bring the stock to a rolling boil. You need it to be as hot as possible to scald the potatoes properly. Heat your oven to 425˚F.

Related: The Delicious History of the Halifax Donair

8. Put the potatoes into a large bowl, big enough to accommodate at least twice its volume. (If you don’t have a bowl big enough, do this in batches, making sure to keep your stock as hot as possible for scalding the potatoes.) Break up the potatoes using a hand mixer. Mix in half of the hot stock using a hand mixer and stir it all together, making sure to moisten the potatoes as much as possible. Mix in the rest of the hot stock and keep stirring. The mixture will thicken, but keep stirring for about 2-3 minutes after adding the last of the stock. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and the salted onions as you go.

9. Pour enough of the potato pulp to cover the bottom of your casserole dish. Add roughly ½ of your chicken, tossing it over the potatoes. Add enough potatoes to just cover the chicken and then add more chicken, finally covering that with the rest of the potatoes.

10. Place the rappie pie into your oven. Bake at 425˚F for 30 minutes and then turn down the heat to 375˚F and bake for another 1 ½ to 2 hours. Occasionally baste the top with butter (or small dice of salt pork) to help the crust brown. The dish is ready when the crust on the top is nice and set and golden brown. Serve warm with loads of butter or possibly a little molasses on the side.

Pantry and Palate cookbook coverExcerpted from Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food @2017 Simon Thibault. Reprinted with Permission from Nimbus Publishing.

 

Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, Amazon, $35.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Katie Lee's Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

You’ll Never Guess the Secret Ingredient in Katie Lee’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

If I could only choose one dessert (besides frozen yogurt) to eat for the rest of my life, it would be warm chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven with a glass of milk. I am always trying to perfect my recipe. I like a chewy chocolate chip cookie, none of these flat, crispy cookies for me. Give me the chew and make it soft. I know it sounds weird, but white miso paste is the secret ingredient for the perfect cookie. You don’t taste miso, but the umami makes the chocolate even more chocolatey and gives the cookie a chewier texture. Trust.

Katie Lee's Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Related: Try Katie Lee’s Eggplant “Meat” Ball Sandwiches

Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Serves: 24-30 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (220 g) lightly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/3 cup (75 ml) white miso paste
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (255 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ cups (255 g) semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions:

1. Beat both sugars and the butter together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg, miso paste, and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Add the flour and baking soda and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (this is very important in order to have a chewy cookie that doesn’t spread out too much).

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

3. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

4. Use a medium ice cream scoop to portion cookie dough onto the prepared pans. Use two fingers to lightly flatten each scoop of dough. Bake, rotating and switching the pans halfway through, 13 to 14 minutes for a chewy cookie (a few minutes longer if you like a more well-done cookie). Transfer to a wire rack to cool (though I usually eat one straight out of the oven!).

Find this and more great recipes in Katie Lee Biegel’s new cookbook It’s Not Complicated: Simple Recipes for Every Day, Amazon, $36.

Katie Lee Biegel's new cookbook It's Not Complicated

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we earn an affiliate commission.

rigatoni pie on white plate

Food Network’s Rigatoni Pie is the OG TikTok Honeycomb Pasta (and Now We Want Both!)

You might’ve seen the honeycomb pasta hack that has gone viral on TikTok, in which Anna Rothfuss AKA @bananalovesyoutoo stuffs string cheese in rigatoni pasta, layering on sauce, ground meat and grated cheese for good measure. We daresay this popular quick meal evokes a Food Network Canada eye-catching favourite: our very own 20-minute, 10-ingredient Rigatoni Pie. While slightly more elevated in flavour (no string cheese here), this vegetarian version is equally melty and gooey and just as straight-forward to make for a quick weeknight meal — all with simple pantry ingredients you likely already have on hand.

rigatoni pie on white plate

Looking to save additional time? Instead of making your own tomato sauce, swap in four cups of store-bought marinara. For meat-lovers, you can mix things up too by adding cooked ground meat to the sauce (just note: you’ll need less of the sauce). This delicious budget-friendly comfort food will be a fan favourite at home, and the good news is the yield is high, so there will be plenty to go around.

Watch the how-to video here:


Rigatoni Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
9 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 15-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 cup loosely-packed fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb(s) rigatoni
1 lb(s) part-skim mozzarella, grated
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Heat 4 Tbsp of the olive oil with the garlic in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it begins to sizzle, cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes, then add the tomatoes and 1 ½ cups water. Increase the heat to high and bring the tomato sauce to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes then puree in a blender until smooth.

Related: This Feta Tomato Pasta Trending on TikTok is as Easy as 1-2-3

2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil and bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is slightly less than al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil.

3. Stand the rigatoni on their ends in the prepared pan until it is completely filled (you might not use all the pasta). Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch drips. Pour the sauce over the noodles, spreading it with the back of a spoon (You might not use all the sauce.) Sprinkle the pasta with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Related: I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

4. Cover the pan with foil, doming it slightly to avoid touching the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes more. Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan, cut into wedges and serve.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

Meet the World’s First Autonomous Robotic Kitchen Assistant

What if we told you that we know someone — rather something — who can work a grill and fryer perfectly for 100,000 hours straight? Its name is Flippy and it’s an AI assistant chef from Miso Robotics. The cost? $30,000 USD, plus a monthly fee of $1,500 USD/month.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

The robot addresses the problem of fulfilling late-night shifts that no one wants in a 24-hour restaurant. Also, due to the pandemic, there’s greater concern for food safety and hygiene. This is able to solution all of that, as the robot works with minimal human contact.

Related: Ways to Continue Supporting Your Favourite Local Restaurants

The robot chef — invented in 2016 — is controlled by AI to do more than just the repetitive task of being a burger flipper. Today it can keep track of cooking times and temperatures. It can place baskets in the fryer to make chicken wings, onion rings, hash browns and much more. As upgrades are made, this robot chef will be able to take on more complex tasks. The company has raised over $20 million, which shows there’s an appetite for this kind of technology.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

The robot is currently operating in Caliburger in Fort Myers, Florida. The restaurant chain has ordered more for each of their global locations. White Castle, the oldest fast-food chain in America, wanted in on this action as well. “We’re looking at Flippy as a tool that helps us increase speed of service and frees team members up to focus more on other areas we want to concentrate on, whether that’s order accuracy or how we’re handling delivery partner drivers and getting them what they need when they come through the door.” said White Castle’s vice president, Jamie Richardson. No word yet on whether the robot chef will be coming to Canada anytime soon.

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

While this technology is impressive, there may be some concern that this will impact jobs in the fast-food industry. With so many unfilled restaurant jobs across North America and turnover rates at an all-time high, the introduction of robot chefs may be seen to some as a much-needed service. Also, while the robot is working the back of house, patrons will still have front-facing human customer service.

Photos courtesy of Miso Robotics

vegan no-bake strawberry lemon tart on countertop

Say Hello to Spring With This Healthy No-Bake Vegan Strawberry Lemon Tart

Pucker up for this bright and tangy, no-bake strawberry lemon tart. You don’t have to be vegan to love this dairy-free dessert, but you can still appreciate how healthy it is — a gluten-free and paleo-friendly dessert, with no refined sugar. Plump Medjool dates make the nut-based crust perfectly sweet and chewy, paired with a fruity filling of coconut milk, fresh strawberries, lemon juice and a splash of maple syrup. (It’s thickened with just a bit of agar and tapioca powders, which you can find at most bulk or health food stores).

vegan no-bake strawberry lemon tart on countertop

Vegan No-Bake Strawberry Lemon Tart

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 2-3 hours or overnight
Total Time: 3 hours
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup raw walnuts
1 ¼ cup raw cashews
1 cup oats
2 ½ cups pitted Medjool dates, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted (plus extra for greasing pan)
1 tsp vanilla
¼ tsp sea salt
4 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
½ cup fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
Zest of 2 lemons
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp tapioca starch/flour (or 2 Tbsp of arrowroot powder)
4 Tbsp cool water
1 (14 oz) can full-fat coconut milk
2 tsp agar powder

vegan no-bake strawberry lemon tart ingredients

Directions:

1. In a food processor or heavy-duty blender, combine walnuts, cashews, oats, dates, coconut oil, vanilla and sea salt. Pulse for about 1 minute or until the dates and nuts are combined and stick together.

2. Press the crust mixture into the bottom and sides of a greased 9-inch tart pan (preferably with removable bottom). Set aside while making the filling.

vegan no-bake strawberry lemon tart crust

3. Add strawberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, maple syrup and vanilla extract (and arrowroot powder only if you’re using it as a substitute for tapioca) to a blender or food processor and pulse or blend until pureed, about 1 minute, and set aside.

4. Stir the tapioca powder into 4 Tbsp of cool water. Set aside.

Related: Healthy Baking Recipes for When You’re Bored at Home

5. Add coconut milk and agar powder to a small saucepan, stirring while it simmers until thickened, around 1 minute. Once it’s bubbling, gradually add tapioca slurry, stirring continuously until it’s glossy and even thicker, about another minute.

6. Remove from heat and stir in strawberry mixture until combined. (If you have any clumps, don’t worry! Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer).

vegan no-bake strawberry lemon tart being cooked in pot

7. Pour filling mixture into tart crust, chilling in the fridge for at least  2-3 hours or overnight. (Store for up to one week). Before serving, decorate with pretty berries, lemon slices and flowers.

vegan no-bake strawberry lemon tart on countertop

Like Claire’s vegan strawberry lemon tart? Try her vegan Girl Guide cookies or her vegan Moroccan doughnuts.

Fresh rolls with green curry dipping sauce

Celebrate Spring With All-Green Fresh Rolls and Green Curry Dipping Sauce

I fell in love with the simplicity of fresh rolls since traveling to Bali. They’re on every menu and they all taste amazing! It might just be the tropical heat that makes them taste so good, but I ate my weight in them. It was on my agenda to master making them at home and I decided that filling them with lots of crunchy green stuff would be the game plan. I love that these are all green because, let’s face it, most of my best recipes are brown so it’s nice to change things up! Even if you can’t quite get the hang of rolling them on your first go, it all tastes the same in the end. And just wait until you get that creamy green curry dipping sauce in your mouth. It’s fantastic!

Fresh rolls with green curry dipping sauce

All-Green Fresh Rolls With Green Curry Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 50-55 minutes
Servings: 10 rolls

Ingredients:

½ cup canned coconut cream
1 ¾ cups tightly packed fresh cilantro, divided
2 Tbsp green curry paste
2 large garlic cloves
2 Tbsp lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 Tbsp seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch chili flakes (optional)
10 dried rice paper sheets
5 large green leaf lettuce leaves (ribs removed), torn in half
2 avocados, sliced
½ English cucumber, ribboned with a peeler
1 ½ cups sugar snap peas
1 ½cups packed microgreens or sprouts
1 ½ cups fresh mint leaves
1 ½ cups fresh basil leaves

Directions:

1. To make the green curry sauce, in a high-powered blender, add the coconut cream, ¼ cup cilantro, green curry paste, garlic, lime juice, vinegar, sugar, sea salt and chili flakes. Blend until very smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and bring to a low simmer, cooking about 2 to 4 minutes, until slightly thicker and reduced.

2. Once all your vegetables are prepped for the fresh rolls, fill a wide shallow dish that’s slightly larger than the rice paper sheets with tepid water so you can soak the whole sheet. Soak one rice paper sheet at a time, for 10 to 20 seconds. You still want to feel the cross- hatch pattern on the surface of the rice sheets. Don’t oversoak or it will be too soft and hard to roll.

Related: Veganism Made Easy: Lauren Toyota’s Fail-Safe Tips for Eating Plant-Based (And Loving It)

3. Assemble the rolls one at a time. Lay the wet rice paper sheets on a work surface. Add a piece of the lettuce and divide the avocado, cucumber, snap peas, microgreens or sprouts and fresh herbs among the sheets in whatever order you like. Roll one side of the rice paper over the filling, tucking it in as you start rolling again and also folding the sides in. Continue rolling until completely sealed. Place on a plate or cut in half if you prefer.

4. Serve with the green curry dipping sauce. Leftover dipping sauce will get thick from refrigeration. Add a teaspoon of water at a time to thin it out until it’s a smooth, dippable consistency.

Cover of cookbook 'hot for food all day'Excerpted from hot for food all day by Lauren Toyota. Copyright © 2021 by Lauren Toyota. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

 

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Jordan Andino, Lynn Crawford and Anna Olson on the set of season 2 of Junior Chef Showdown

6 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This Spring

The change of seasons means one exciting thing around here: a brand new slate of fresh spring shows from Food Network Canada to watch with STACKTV on Amazon Prime. From a new season of a classic Canadian culinary competition to a show about revamping struggling restaurants, here are all the Food Network Canada shows you won’t want to miss.

Top Chef Canada

When to Watch: New Season begins Monday, April 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Host Eden Grinshpan and Mark McEwan on the set of Top Chef Canada season 9

Canada’s homegrown culinary competition returns for its ninth season of high-stakes challenges. Host Eden Grinshpan and head judge Mark McEwan return to welcome 11 talented and diverse chefs from across the country to compete for the ultimate bragging rights and

Related: Meet the Season 9 Top Chef Canada Contestants

The Big Bake

When to Watch: New Episodes Tuesdays at 9 p.m ET/PT

Eddie Jackson, Anna Olson, Ron Ben-Israel and host Brad Smith on the set of The Big Bake season 2

If you love over-the-top baking creations, we’ve got some great news for you! The Big Bake returns for a second season of larger-than-life competition that sees three talented baking teams compete to create large-scale theme cakes. Hosted Brad Smith returns along with judges Eddie Jackson, Harry Eastwood and new judges, Anna Olson and Ron Ben-Israel.

See More: Baking 101 With Anna Olson

Chef Boot Camp

When to Watch: New Series begins Thursday, April 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Chef Cliff Crooks on the set of Chef Boot Camp

There’s no doubt that it’s been a tough year for chefs and business owners. Enter Chef Cliff Crooks whose goal is to help struggling chefs rehabilitate their kitchens to find the culinary success they deserve.

See More: Canadians Aim to Set Record on National Takeout Day

Junior Chef Showdown

When to Watch: New Season begins Sunday, April 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Young cooks display big talent on this culinary competition that showcases the best cooking talents from ages 9 to 12. Lynn Crawford, Anna Olson and Jordan Andino return as judge-mentors, coaching the junior chefs through a series of culinary challenges.

Jordan Andino, Lynn Crawford and Anna Olson on the set of season 2 of Junior Chef Showdown

Related: Meet the Season 2 Junior Chefs

Top Chef

When to Watch: New Episodes Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Host Padma Lakshmi and judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio return for another season of grueling kitchen battles. This season, Top Chef heads to Portland, Oregon where a new batch of 15 of the most talented chefs from across the U.S. compete for the whopping $125,000 grand prize and the coveted title of Top Chef.

Related: Top Chef Portland: Meet the Competitors

Fire Masters

When to Watch: New Episodes return Thursday, April 15 at 11 p.m. ET/PT

Pre-heat your barbecue because it’s officially grilling season now that Fire Masters is back with all-new episodes! Host Dylan Benoit is back for another flame-packed season where chefs compete in two rounds of competition. In the final round, the remaining competitor must face off against one of the judges in order to take home the $10,000 cash prize.

Related: The Best New Ways to Use Your Grill This Year

Lemon poppy seed buns on countertop

Brighten Your Day With These Easy Lemon Poppy Seed Coconut Buns

Baking bread (or buns) may seem a little intimidating with kneading and proofing, but it doesn’t have to be! These Baking Therapy lemon poppy seed buns come together really easily — in less than two hours. They’re soft, fluffy and filled with a sweet coconut filling. Similar to making cinnamon rolls, but the dough is knotted, so you get lemon, poppy seed and coconut in every single bite. Yum yum!

Lemon poppy seed buns on countertop

Lemon Poppy Seed Coconut Buns

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Servings: 8 buns

Ingredients:

Lemon Poppy Seed Buns
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp instant yeast
¼ tsp salt
3 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp lemon zest
1 cup milk, warm
4 Tbsp butter, melted
1 egg, beaten

Coconut Filling
½ cup shredded coconut
¼ cup cornstarch
¼ cup sugar
Pinch salt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Egg Wash
1 egg

Lemon Glaze
2 cups icing sugar
4-5 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp lemon zest

Lemon poppy seed bun ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the flour, sugar, instant yeast, salt, poppy seeds and lemon zest. Whisk to combine. Add the warm milk, butter, egg and give it a quick mix with a fork to get the dough going. Attach the dough hook and mix for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer to a clean, large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside to proof for 35-45 minutes, until doubled in size.

Lemon poppy seed bun dough on countertop

2. Prepare the filling: in a bowl, mix together the coconut, cornstarch, sugar, salt, lemon juice, egg yolk and vanilla. Mix to combine and set aside.

3. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Related: Healthy Baking Recipes for When You’re Bored at Home

4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough into a rectangle, about 16 x 14 inches. Spread the filling evenly over top. Fold the dough over onto itself, you should have roughly 8 x 14-inch rectangle. With the folded edge closest to you, cut the dough into 8 equal portions, using a knife, pizza or pastry cutter. Grab one strip of dough, hold the ends and twist them in opposite directions and tie into a knot. Place the knotted buns 2-inches apart on baking sheets.

Lemon poppy seed bun dough on countertop

Lemon poppy seed buns being formed by hand

5. Cover with plastic and let rise for 20-30 minutes until doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350°F.

6. Whisk 1 egg and brush the tops of the buns. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

7. Prepare the glaze: whisk together the icing sugar, lemon juice, vanilla and lemon zest. Drizzle over top and enjoy!

Lemon poppy seed buns on countertop

Like Sabrina’s lemon poppy seed coconut buns? Try her key lime pie cupcakes or her rhubarb and sour cream streusel muffins.

chiktay stuffed plantain cups

This Smoked Herring and Green Plantains Appetizer is Haiti in One Bite

This vibrant appetizer — full of plenty flavourful ingredients — is “Haiti in one bite,” says Nahika Hillery.  “Smoked herring (aranso) and green plantains are staples in our cuisine. They’re versatile ingredients and found in many other popular Haitian dishes,” Nahika says. “Can’t find smoked herring? No problem. ‘Chiktay’ means to shred and you can shred any cooked fish or meat to use in this recipe (just skip the desalting) and still enjoy the bold Haitian flavours.”


Chiktay Aranso Stuffed Plantain Cups

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

4-6 smoked herring
½ cup olive oil
1 finely diced carrot
1 finely diced red onion
1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
1 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1 cup finely diced orange bell pepper
2 finely chopped Scotch bonnet chiles (including the seeds), plus 1 whole Scotch bonnet chile
1 Tbsp minced garlic
2 whole cloves
1 tsp chicken bouillon powder or to taste
½ tsp adobo seasoning (optional based on saltiness of herring)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 sprig fresh thyme
Roughly chopped fresh parsley
3 Tbsp lime juice
3 cups frying oil
2 green plantains
Kosher salt
Finely diced tomato, finely diced avocado and sour cream, for garnish (optional)

Equipment:

Tostonera (plantain press), optional

chiktay stuffed plantain cups

Directions:

1. Remove the saltiness of the herring by placing it in a bowl of cold water and allowing it to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the water, then place the herring in a pot of water and boil for 10 to 15 minutes. The herring should taste no more than mildly salty; if it is still salty, boil for another 5 minutes and drain. Shred the herring with 2 forks, removing any large bones.

Tip: Salt is used to preserve smoked herring, so desalting is crucial to avoid an overly salty dish.

2. Pour the olive oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and red onions and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Add the green pepper, red pepper, orange pepper and chopped Scotch bonnet chiles and cook, covered, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook an additional minute.

Related: Last-Minute Party Appetizers That Are Beyond Easy

3. Add the shredded herring. Puncture the whole Scotch bonnet chile with the 2 cloves and add it to the skillet. Add the chicken bouillon, adobo seasoning, garlic powder, thyme, some parsley and lime juice. Mix everything well. Cover and let cook down for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat. Discard the whole Scotch bonnet and thyme sprig.

4. Pour the frying oil into a large skillet and set over medium-high heat. Peel the plantains and cut each into 4 to 5 pieces. Fry the pieces until lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Remove from the pan and press each piece of plantain flat; you can use a plantain press or the bottom of a small heavy pan or a plate. Mold the plantains into cup shapes (you can use a lemon squeezer or a tostonera with a rounded shape). Carefully fry the plantain cups again for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain the cups on a paper towel-lined plate or on a wire rack and sprinkle lightly with salt (optional).

Related: Top Pescatarian Dinner Ideas That Make Seafood the Star

Tip: Green plantains, not ripe ones, are best to use to create sturdy cups.

5. Fill the fried plantain cups with the smoked herring mixture. Garnish with diced tomato, avocado and sour cream if using and enjoy!

Like this recipe? Try this Guyanese roti or Peruvian cebiche.

Woman digging into takeout on kitchen table

National Takeout Day: Canadians Aim to Set Record for Most Takeout Ordered in Single Day

By now, it’s a familiar story: many local restaurants have been forced to shut their doors in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. Unfortunately, some of these restaurants have closed down for good, unable to continue absorbing the costs and challenges posed by the pandemic; with them going the creativity, unique offerings and livelihoods of entire culinary teams.

Last December, Restaurants Canada reported that 10,000 restaurants have already closed with upwards of 50 per cent expecting to close permanently if conditions don’t improve. 

Related: Canadians Now Ordering Food Online in Record Numbers, Survey Reveals

Woman Eating Delicious Takeaway Food At Home

Even as many meet this fate, others continue to provide delivery and takeout options, as well as alternate ways to continue nurturing a vibrant culinary life in cities and towns across the country. 

Related: Big Food Bucket List Restaurants Across Canada That Now Offer Takeout

In a show of support, Canadians are coming together on April 15th for a second year in a row. Created by Canada Takeout (CTO) — an organization dedicated to all things takeout across the country — #TakeoutDay has also evolved into a weekly celebration of local eats, taking place each Wednesday. 

Spicy Indian food spread on table ready to eat.

To date, the hashtag has reached 52.9 million people and CTO’s hope Canadians will embrace eating from their favourite local spots on April 15th by ordering from restaurant takeout menus. 

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

CTO is raising the bar from last year by challenging Canadians to set a national record for the most takeout ordered in a single day. Diners can participate by ordering takeout, uploading their takeout receipts to the Takeout Tracker and also spreading the love on social using the hashtags #takeoutday and #canadatakeoutrecordThe day follows on the heels of an FDA announcement that there is still no clear evidence of COVID-19 transmission through food or related packaging.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Spring pea toast with ACE Bakery loaf of bread

Celebrate Sunnier Days With This Elevated Spring Lemon and Smashed Pea Toast

If you’re ready to dive into spring with a fresh new recipe, you’re going to love this smashed pea spring toast. The combination of seasonal veggies like peas, radishes and fresh herbs is a match made in food heaven. It’s light and refreshing — making it the perfect bite to welcome in the warmer months!

Spring pea toast with ACE Bakery loaf of bread

Spring Lemon and Smashed Pea Toast

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

2 cups fresh or frozen peas
2 cups fresh arugula
Juice of 1 lemon, divided
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¼ tsp of sea salt and ground black pepper, divided
2 Tbsp plain yogurt
1 small garlic clove, chopped
1 tsp fresh chives, finely chopped
2 leaves fresh mint, thinly sliced
2 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced
Zest of 1 lemon
2 radishes, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp, crumbled feta
2 slices of ACE Bakery® Sliced Sourdough Miche

Directions:

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to boil. Once water has reached a boil, add peas and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft with a slight crunch, but still vibrant in colour.

2. While peas are cooking: in a medium mixing bowl, toss arugula with a squeeze of lemon, 1 tsp of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Set aside.

Related: The Tastiest Things You Can Put on Toast (That Isn’t Avocado)

3. Drain peas and add to a food processor, along with yogurt, remaining lemon juice, garlic, chives, mint, basil, lemon zest, as well as a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Pulse for 10-15 seconds or until slightly smooth with some texture from the peas. Set aside.

4. Place 2 slices of the ACE Bakery® Sliced Sourdough Miche on a lined baking sheet and drizzle with remaining olive oil. Transfer to the oven to broil on high for 6-8 minutes or until lightly golden and toasted. To assemble, spread on ½ cup of the mashed peas, layer on a handful of dressed arugula, as well as some sliced radishes and crumbled feta.

Watch the how-to video here:


What’s in Season? Your Guide to Canadian Fruits and Vegetables

Crisp lettuce and juicy tomatoes in your favourite salad. A ripe peach fresh from the farmstand. Sweet, earthy leeks in a creamy soup. Is your mouth watering yet? As Canadians, we have a plethora of seasonal produce at our fingertips throughout the year and knowing what and when to buy seasonally empowers home cooks with the best local flavours possible. Whether you are looking to shop local or support Canadian farmers across the country,  make food shopping a breeze all year round with our Canadian seasonal produce guide covering January to December.  Grab your tote bags and get shopping – bounty awaits!

What’s in Season in  Winter

The dead of winter brings the blahs for most of us. Winter fare, however, can be quite inspiring. Think warm soups and stews, gorgeous roasts with luscious mashed or roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash and rutabagas. Fry onion rings and add sauteed garlic to everything. Braise cabbage or roll it around meat and rice filling for cabbage roll perfection. Dream even bigger with a moist, cream cheese frosted carrot or parsnip cake (yes, parsnip cake!) or rich, dark and dreamy chocolate beet cake. With dishes like these, winter won’t seem long enough!

potatoes-white-red-in-basket

What’s in Season in December

Pears, Brussels Sprouts, Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes, Pears

What’s in Season in January

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

Related: The Best Ingredients to Cook With in Canada This Winter (Plus Recipes)

What’s in Season in February

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

What’s in Season in March

Rutabagas, Turnips, Beets, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Potatoes

What’s in Season in Spring

As the seasons change, so does the fresh produce. Asparagus arrives in April in British Columbia, May in the rest of the country, continuing into July towards the East Coast — along with fiddleheads, radishes, spinach and later peas, beans, cauliflower and broccoli. We begin to see fresh lettuce and radicchio, along with celery and fennel in British Columbia, following in July in the rest of Canada. Fruit also begins with outdoor rhubarb, as well as strawberries and cherries in May, continuing into July. Make the most of these months with light pastas, simple salads, pies, tarts and where weather allows — a little grilling.

asparagus-cooked-sauce

What’s in Season in April

Asparagus, Radishes, Fiddleheads, Spinach, Fava Beans,  Rhubarb, Peppers (greenhouse), Tomatoes (greenhouse)

What’s in Season in May

Asparagus, Radishes, Fiddleheads, Spinach, Rhubarb, Kale, Salad Greens, Morel Mushrooms, Arugula, Swiss Chard, Green Onions, Peas, Cherries

Related: Our Fave Spring Dishes That Celebrate Seasonal Vegetables

What’s in Season in June

Asparagus, Radishes, Spinach, Rhubarb, Kale, Salad Greens, Arugula, Beets, Lettuce, Green Onions, Gooseberries, Saskatoon Berries, Strawberries, Broccoli, Celery, Swiss Chard, Garlic (Fresh), Peas, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips, Zucchini, Fennel, Cherries

What’s in Season in Summer

As summer hits, things kick into high gear with seemingly unending produce options. Stone fruits like peaches, plums, apricots and later nectarines burst onto the scene, tending towards an earlier arrival in British Columbia, soon ripening across the country and finally arriving in the Atlantic provinces in September. Berries also arrive this time of year, making it the perfect opportunity for crumbles, preserves and general good eating. Melons are now in full bloom, begging to be soaked in summery sangrias, wrapped in prosciutto and added to salads. And early pears and apples make their way onto the scene in late August, rounding out fruit season. Vegetables like homegrown corn, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini and rapini are now in their prime. It’s also the start of leek and eggplant season in August.

fresh-strawberries-in-a-basket

What’s in Season in July

Gooseberries, Saskatoon Berries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Currants, Cherries, Blackberries, Apricots, Nectarines, Green Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh), Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes (New), Radishes, Rhubarb, Salad Greens, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Peaches, Watermelon, Kale

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Summer Dinner Recipes

What’s in Season in August

Raspberries, Currants, Cherries, Blackberries, Apricots, Apples, Crab Apples, Blueberries, Gooseberries, Melons, Nectarines, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Strawberries, Artichokes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard,  Corn, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh),  Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Parsnips,  Peppers,  Potatoes (New), Radishes, Rhubarb, Rutabagas,  Salad Greens, Shallots, Spinach, Summer Squash, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Eggplants, Grapes,  Peaches, Watermelon, Kale, Pears

What’s in Season in Fall

We end our big season on a high note with pumpkin, leeks, eggplant, Brussels sprouts, cranberries, crabapples and the continuation from August of muskmelon and grapes. We begin to crave in-season apples and pears — and as cool weather approaches, so does the need for warmer dishes. Back indoors, get set for roasting, holiday feasting and all of the apple desserts.

fall-apples-on-a-cutting-board

What’s in Season in September

Cranberries, Apples, Crab Apples, Blueberries, Grapes, Melons, Pears, Plums, Prunes, Artichokes, Green Beans, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Corn, Cucumber, Garlic (Fresh), Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Onions, Parsnips, Peppers, Potatoes (New), Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Salad Greens, Spinach, Tomatoes, Turnips,  Zucchini, Beets, Eggplants, Nectarines, Watermelon, Kale

What’s in Season in October

Cranberries, Apples, Crab Apples, Pears, Quince, Artichokes, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Celery, Swiss Chard, Corn, Garlic (Fresh),  Leeks,  Lettuce, Green Onions, Onions, Parsnips,  Peppers, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Salad Greens, Spinach, Turnips, Beets, Eggplants, Kale

Related: Our Most Popular Fall Recipes on Pinterest

What’s in Season in November

Cranberries, Pears, Quince, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower,  Leeks, Onions, Parsnips, Potatoes, Pumpkin, Radishes, Rutabagas, Turnips, Apples, Beets

What’s in Season in Canada Year-Round

Don’t forget about options available regardless of the season. Take mushrooms, for instance, which are grown year-round and across the country. In addition, many greenhouse farms are using methods that help cut down on waste and reuse water, soil and energy, producing year-round. Cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes and lettuce are excellent greenhouse-bought options in winter when local outdoor choices have dwindled so you can enjoy a taste of summer, whatever the weather.

mushrooms-crimini

Published May 5, 2018, Updated April 7, 2021

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

Flat lay of baking ingredients including sugar, butter

The Perfect Pastry Butter Hack, Plus 9 Golden Baking Rules to Always Follow

The weather is turning, the days are growing longer, and creativity is at an all-time high. And with so many fresh springtime ingredients ready to be transformed, who wouldn’t want to hop in the kitchen and put that extra creativity to good use? Whether you’re baking up some fresh cookies or homemade butter tarts to cheer up friends, following an easy chocolate cake recipe for a special occasion, or kneading a loaf of crusty bread to go with that seasonal salad for dinner, there are a few golden baking rules you’ll want to follow the next time you’re getting your batter on.

But First—The Perfect Pastry Butter Hack

Cubed butter in a bowl

Whether you’re a seasoned baker like those on The Big Bake or someone who’s just beginning to dabble in the world of all-butter pie crusts, short crust pastry, puff pastry and other offerings, getting your butter to that perfect consistency and temperature can make or break your bake. If you’re working on a pastry in which you need air pockets between the layers to rise up in order to create those fabulous flakes, freeze the amount of butter you need for your recipe beforehand. Then, rather than cubing or cutting it and pinching it into your flour, use your cheese grater to grate the butter directly in. The result is an easier dough to work with, since the grated butter is much more forgiving.

But wait—what if you actually need room temperature butter for your recipe, and your butter is in the fridge or freezer? You should still grate it. Doing so increases the surface area, allowing your beurre to warm up and soften quickly. In other words, a grater is the perfect tool to hack all kinds of buttery bakes. And now onto the other golden rules of baking…

Related: Brown Butter Recipes You Won’t Be Able to Resist

Always Read Over Your Entire Recipe Before You Start

Flat lay of cookbook and coffee

This rule applies to all kinds of cooking and baking, but to baking in particular where exact measurements are required and substitutions can throw off your whole game. Read over your recipe from start to finish so that you know exactly how much of each ingredient you need. But don’t just read over the ingredient list—have a good look at the method too. It can be easy to miss simple steps like resting time, sifted flour versus poured flour, or creaming your butter and sugar before mixing. With that last step for example, creaming your butter and sugar together beats air into the butter and helps the sugar to hold that air, giving your baked goods structure. If you just mix or pour butter and sugar in without adding that vital step, you could end up with a dense, flat product.

See More: Flour 101 – Your Guide to Baking

Remember the Quality of Your Ingredients Matters

Flat lay of baking ingredients including nuts, sugars and butter

When you’re shopping for a special recipe, the quality of ingredients will help dictate the quality of your final product. Sure, you can grab artificial vanilla extract, but will it taste the same as the real stuff? Of course not. The same can be said for the type of chocolate, nuts, maple syrup and honey you use—fresh, good quality ingredients will always transform your bake. Butter is another big one. In France, some of the world’s top pastry chefs only use butter that’s high in milk fat—at least 82 per cent. In Canada, our butter is typically only churned to 80 per cent milk fat, and that two per cent drop makes a world of difference. If you really want to create the flakiest of pastries and crispiest of cookies, grab Gay Lea’s new Bakers Gold butter, which is churned to an impressive, chef-grade, 84 per cent milk fat.

Never Overbeat Batter

A stand mixer or even the handheld variety can be a wrist saver for sure, but when you’re talking about mixing together ingredients for a bake there’s a slippery slope. More often than not recipes for baked goods always come with the disclaimer, “don’t overmix.” And for good reason. When you overmix cakes, cookies, muffins, bread or even pancakes you run the risk of injecting too much air into the batter and developing extra gluten. While some gluten is key when it comes to chewy baked goods, too much of it will just make your offerings gummy and dense. In other words, when a recipe says “mix until just combined,” take the step seriously and don’t walk away from a mixer that’s having a party in the mixing bowl.

Related: Harry Eastwood’s Healthy Baking Substitutes

Stop Confusing Wax Paper and Parchment Paper

Blueberry cookies on way paper with fresh flowers and ingredients

Hands up if you’ve charred a recipe or two by accidentally putting wax paper instead of parchment paper in the oven. Baking with wax paper is never really advisable. The stuff is water-resistant, which means it’s great to lay down for cool things when you don’t want them to stick, but it’s definitely not heat-resistant. A good rule of thumb is to remember that for anything cold, you want wax paper. And for anything hot you want parchment paper, which is typically safe in the oven up to 450°F. (But check your packaging.) If you have both and you keep confusing them however, maybe consider investing in a silicon mat or liners. Depending on the brand they’re great for all things hot and cold, and they wash up easily in your sink to cut down on waste, too.

Always Blind-Bake Pie Crusts

Blind baked pie crust with raw ingredients nearby on the table

No, you don’t need a blindfold to pull off the best pie crust of your life. Instead, all you need is a blind bake and some high quality butter, like the aforementioned high milk-fat butter that is Gay Lea’s new Bakers Gold butter. Blind baking means that you bake the crust in full before putting in any kind of filling, so that you know the crust is cooked all the way through. Otherwise you run the risk of adding filling to an uncooked crust and creating a soggy mess. What’s the other benefit of blind baking a pie crust with a butter that’s high in milk fat? Higher butterfat means less water and a softer texture, resulting in butter that easily melts into those pastry layers. There’s nothing like the flavourful, flaky crust that you get as a result. One bite can basically transport you back into your grandmother’s kitchen, where your mouth waters in anticipation of that freshly baked pie sitting in the windowsill.

See More: The Best Summer Pies and Tarts

Don’t Substitute Baking Powder for Baking Soda

…and vice versa. Although it’s easy to confuse baking powder with baking soda, they each do different things in the chemistry that is baking. Baking soda, AKA the one some people keep in the fridge to help deodorize all of those food smells, is sodium bicarbonate. In order for sodium bicarbonate to activate and help your baked goods rise, it needs an acid (brown sugar, lemon, vinegar, chocolate etc.) and a liquid. Baking powder, however, is baking soda that already has an acid (cream of tartar), and sometimes a bit of corn starch. In order to activate its equally awesome rising properties, all you need is a liquid.

Browning Butter is a Baking Superpower

Would you consider this one a rule, or a hack? Either way, nothing beats the deep, rich flavour of browned butter—especially in baking. Brown butter cookies, brown butter brownies… even a cake with brown butter frosting is enough to make you hungry. If you want to execute perfectly browned butter for use in your baked goods, slowly melt it in a pan over medium heat. You want even heat distribution so that the butter cooks evenly, but be sure to constantly stir it so that it doesn’t burn (brown butter can turn to burnt butter before you can say “browning burnt butter” three times fast). When the butter is a nice brown hue and the edges begin to sizzle and foam, you’re ready to remove it from the heat. All in all, the entire process should only take about 5-8 minutes, but it makes a huge difference in your final flavour profile.

Related: Anna Olson’s Guide to Buttercream Icing

Chill Your Cookie Dough Before Baking

Chocolate chip cookies baking on a baking sheet

If you’re going through all of that effort to make cookies from scratch, don’t you want to make the best possible batch? Of course you do! So if you aren’t already chilling your cookie dough before baking it, we have to ask, why not? As a general rule of thumb, once your dough has come together you should chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the butter can harden again. That way the butter doesn’t disperse too quickly and flatten out the cookie. If you find it tough to work with chilled dough, scoop out your balls beforehand and then chill them on a baking sheet in the fridge. Or, flash-freeze them in the freezer, throw them into a freezer-friendly bag, and bake them up anytime you want fresh cookies.

Chilling cookie dough is a golden rule to be sure, but there are exceptions. If you’re going for a thin cookie that spreads out or you have a delicate dough like macron or madeleine, those are the instances where you’ll want to bake your cookies at room temperature instead.

Weigh Your Ingredients Whenever You Can

Recipes come in all kinds of measurements, but when it comes to baking, many of the pros prefer weighing their ingredients as opposed to counting cups and tablespoons. One reason is that a recipe is easier to half or double when you’re talking about weight over volume. But more importantly, there is less room for error when you’re using a kitchen scale versus the human eye. Baking is an exact science. And while there’s tons of room for creativity and innovation, the science at the base of those recipes remains the same. Whenever you have the opportunity to weigh your ingredients definitely do so, because the better you can get at precise ingredient measurements, the better those buttery baked goods will wind up tasting.

Watch The Big Bake Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch 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.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Arabic lentil soup in white bowls

This Classic Arabic Lentil Soup is Perfect for Ramadan

Ramadan is a month celebrated by Muslims across the globe — and it requires fasting from food and water from sunrise to sunset. Most Muslims wake up before sunrise to have a small meal and then break their fast with a few dates and this Arabic lentil soup at sunset. Breaking the fast with soup helps to prepare the stomach for the meal to follow and it includes a lot of nutrients. Soup is also rich in fluids, which are much needed after a long day of fasting. This specific recipe uses a few simple ingredients that add a depth of flavour — and it only requires a few minutes of hands-on time.

Arabic lentil soup in white bowls

Arabic Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp cumin
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp black pepper
1 ½ cups split red lentils
7-8 cups water
Lemon juice (optional)

Arabic lentil soup ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. In a soup pot, add the vegetable oil along with the onions, potatoes and salt. Cook for a few minutes until they soften.

2. Add the cumin, turmeric and black pepper to the onions and potatoes and continue to cook for a few minutes to toast the spices.

Related: Healthy and Hearty Soup Recipes

3. Wash and drain the lentils several times until clean. Add the lentils along with the water to the pot. Mix well, then cover and simmer on medium heat for 40-60 minutes. (Halfway through, taste and adjust the salt. Also, add more water if required, depending on the consistency you prefer).

Arabic lentil soup cooking in pot

4. Remove from the heat once the vegetables have softened and serve with a squeeze of lemon on top.

Arabic lentil soup cooking in pot

Like Amina’s Arabic lentil soup? Try her Middle Eastern eggplant casserole or her curried Brussels sprouts.

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