How-to-Melt-and-Temper-Chocolate-for-Perfect-Candy-Making

How to Melt and Temper Chocolate for Perfect Candy Making

Dreaming of divine chocolate decorations but terrified of losing your temper? For many baked items, such as fluffy frosting or creamy cake fillings, you can get away with simply melting chocolate to take it from a solid to liquid form like in these Chocolate Divinity Candies. When you get into the world of bonbons and confectionary, however, that’s another matter entirely. Tempering chocolate is a mandatory step if you want both the shiny gloss and the distinctive snap of a well-made candy or decoration like in Anna Olson’s Chocolate Dipped Marzipan — and that’s where you have to pay some attention to technique in order to achieve success.


L-R: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Divinity Candy and Chocolate Dipped Marzipan

Related: Chocolate Making Tools Every Home Chocolatier Needs

If the thought of working with molten chocolate (and even worse, the dangers of it seizing or splitting) has you clutching your (baking) pearls, we’ve got you covered. Read on to find out the best, and easiest, ways to work with chocolate, even if you’re a novice chocolatier.

How to Properly Melt Chocolate

For melting chocolate, each method has its advocates: some cooks prefer the double boiler method (or just setting a glass bowl on top of barely simmering water), while others turn to the microwave for an easy fix. Both methods involve the same basic principle: chopping chocolate into chunks for faster, more even melting, and applying gentle heat until most of the distinct shapes have disappeared.

If the unthinkable happens and your chocolate separates into a greasy, gritty mess, due to over-vigorous stirring or too-high heat, you can try Anna Olson’s ingenious trick to add moisture to return the mixture to molten glossiness (note: this fix is only for melting — even a single drop of water is the enemy of well-tempered chocolate).

See More: Desserts That Prove Peanut Butter and Chocolate Are a Perfect Match

How to Properly Temper Chocolate

For this technique, you’ll need to pull out a few items, namely a candy thermometer, a sturdy glass bowl and a silicon spatula that can handle some heat without melting. Depending on the method you use, you may also need a few more pieces of equipment, such as a marble board and wax paper.

The initial stage of tempering looks much like the melting process — use a glass bowl set over barely simmering water (not a rolling boil; there shouldn’t be any bubbles) to melt the chocolate chunks, or place the bowl in the microwave and use short bursts, checking often.

Where tempering differs, however, is the next step, where the chocolate mixture is cooled and warmed within precise ranges of temperature in order to achieve a smooth, shiny surface when it hardens (the temperature you need to hit depends on the type of chocolate you plan to use).


Anna Olson’s Chocolate Covered Caramel Bars

See More: Easy Chocolate Garnishes With Steve Hodge

This varying of temperature can be accomplished in a couple of ways: by adding other ingredients such as more chocolate (seeding) or cocoa butter to the mixture, or by pouring two-thirds of the hot chocolate mixture onto a marble board and mixing it with putty knives to cool it manually (see Anna Olson’s step-by-step description for more on this method).

Inquiring scientific minds among us may be intrigued by more gear-driven approaches, including Alton Brown’s combination of the friction of a food processor’s blades plus liberal use of a hair dryer to create heat, or J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s sous-vide circulator method over at Serious Eats.

Decoding Seed Tempering

For the easiest method using the least equipment, however, seeding chocolate is probably the best approach for a chocolate novice (for a visual demonstration, check out the video below from Great Chocolate Showdown judge Steve Hodge, pastry chef and chocolatier at Temper Pastry in West Vancouver.) With a few simple steps, this process can be achieved without too much stress (on both the chocolate and the cook).


 

Using the glass bowl over simmering water method, melt chunks of chocolate to the desired temperature (remember that they vary depending on the chocolate and are very narrow ranges, so use that candy thermometer.) We’ll use dark chocolate for this example, which should be heated to 45 to 48 degrees — milk and white chocolate, with higher milk and sugar contents, may react differently. 

Take the chocolate off the heat (leave the burner on…you’ll need it again shortly) and add prepared small pieces of chocolate (the “seeds”), which will help cool the mixture down quickly as they melt into the warmed chocolate.

Stir with a spatula until the overall temperature comes down to about 27 degrees Celsius (again, there may be some variation depending on the type of chocolate you use).

Next, quickly warm the chocolate back up by putting it into the double boiler until it hits 32 degrees Celsius and a thick and glossy texture — perfect for piping into a pretty design on waxed paper that will set up beautifully. If you aren’t sure if you’ve tempered the chocolate correctly, you can test it out by piping a small bit onto the waxed paper (or a metal sheet pan set over an ice pack).

Working quickly, swirl and create chocolate garnishes to your heart’s content: the designs should set up to a delicate decoration with the signature snap when you bite into it (try and leave a few decorations for dessert!)

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown Mondays 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.

Molly Yeh’s Pretty Almond Tarts Are the Perfect Spring Dessert

Many of us have turned to at-home baking projects in recent months, finding comfort in the nostalgia that comes with revisiting classic desserts – and, with spring around the corner, we’re craving bright, bold treats that’ll satisfy our sweet tooth. Enter: Molly Yeh.

Almond meal, granulated sugar, fresh raspberries and colourful sprinkles with sliced almonds come together beautifully in this gorgeous, mouth-watering dessert you can enjoy year-round.

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

Molly Yeh’s Almond Tarts

Total Time: 3 hours, 25 minutes (includes chilling and cooling time)
Yields: 12 servings

Ingredients

1/3 cup (67 grams) granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups (228 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup (168 grams) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
2 large eggs, separated
Nonstick cooking spray, for the pan

Filling:
1 cup (120 grams) almond meal
3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp almond extract
1 large egg

Glaze:
About 1 cup (120 grams) powdered sugar, or more as needed
1/4 cup (60 milliliters) heavy cream, or more as needed, or 2 ounces fresh raspberries
1/4 tsp almond extract
To decorate: sprinkles, sliced almonds

Related: Molly Yeh’s Carrot Cake With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting is Simply Show-Stopping

Directions

1. For the shells: Pulse together the granulated sugar, flour and salt in a food processor to combine. Add the butter and continue to pulse until mealy. Add the egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for the filling) and pulse until the dough comes together. Press the dough into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to overnight.

2. To mold the shells, grease a muffin tin with nonstick spray. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to 1/4-inch-thick, dusting with more flour as needed. Cut out 3-inch circles and press them into the muffin cups so that the dough comes all the way up the sides. (No worries if the dough tears; just patch it up with additional dough.) Freeze the shells for 15 minutes.

3. For the filling: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

4. Combine the almond meal, granulated sugar, salt, and butter, either by blending it in the food processor (no need to clean it out after making the dough, you can just use it immediately for this step), or by stirring it together in a large bowl (I find it’s easiest to get in there with my hands). Add the almond extract, egg and the reserved egg whites from the shells, and continue to blend/stir until smooth and combined.

5. Fill the frozen shells with the filling so that it comes up about 1/4-inch from the top. Bake until the tops and edges are lightly browned; begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then use a small offset spatula or a knife to remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

6. For the glaze: If making the glaze with heavy cream, combine the powdered sugar, heavy cream and almond extract in a bowl until smooth. Add additional powdered sugar or liquid to thicken it up or thin it out so that you get the consistency of a thick glue.

7. To make the glaze with the raspberries, place the raspberries in a fine-mesh sieve and give them a rinse. Place the sieve over a bowl and use a stiff rubber spatula or wooden spoon to smash them through the sieve into the bowl until you’re just left with seeds in the sieve. Be sure to scrape the underside of the sieve to get the stuff that’s sticking to it. (You should be left with about 2 tablespoons seedless puree. If it’s a tiny bit more or a tiny bit less, that’s fine.) Add the powdered sugar and almond extract and mix to make a thick glaze. If it’s too thick, add a few drops of water to thin it out, and if it’s too thin, add a few more spoonfuls of powdered sugar. It should be the consistency of a thick glue.

8. Spread the glaze over the cooled tarts and decorate with sprinkles, almonds and anything else you’d like! These will keep for several days at room temperature or in the fridge.

Related: These Gorgeous Desserts From Molly Yeh Deserve a Standing Ovation

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.

Watch the how-to video here.


Leftover fried chicken nachos

Leftover Fried Chicken + Pineapple + Nacho Chips = The Game-Day Meal of Your Dreams

When life gives you leftover fried chicken, make nachos! Inspired by the flavours of The Heartbreak Chef’s Dutty Chicken Sandwich, these Dining In chicken and pineapple nachos with jerk sour cream pairs leftover spicy fried chicken with the sweetness of pineapple — and is then finished with red onion, jalapenos and loads of cheese. It’s a quick and simple dish for a late-night snack or game-day meal!

Leftover fried chicken nachos

Leftover Fried Chicken and Pineapple Nachos With Jerk Sour Cream

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

½ cup sour cream
2 tsp jerk sauce
6 cups tortilla chips
3 cups medium cheddar, grated
2 cups leftover spicy fried chicken (or leftover chicken tossed in jerk sauce), cubed
1 cup pineapple, cubed
½ small red onion, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Leftover fried chicken nachos ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. In a small bowl, combine sour cream and jerk sauce. Set aside until serving.

Jerk sour cream in bowl

2. Layer about of the tortilla chips on a round baking tray or skillet. Top with about of cheese, fried chicken, pineapple, red onion and jalapeno peppers. Then repeat with another layer — of the tortilla chips, cheese, chicken, pineapple, onion and jalapenos. Place the nachos in the oven to bake for 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted.

Leftover fried chicken ingredients on countertop

3. Remove the nachos and make another layer using the remaining ingredients, forming a pyramid. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and tortilla chips are beginning to brown.

Leftover fried chicken nachos

4. To serve, spoon a large dollop of the jerk sour cream on the top of the nachos and sprinkle with green onions. Enjoy!

Watch the how-to video here:


Like Philip and Mystique’s leftover spicy fried chicken nachos? Try their eggplant parm dip!

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

Long before she married into royalty, Meghan Markle extolled the virtues on healthy eating on her now-defunct blog, The Tig. During her seven years living in Toronto filming the legal drama Suits, the now Duchess of Sussex carved out her own online space to write about health and wellness, often sharing quick cooking tips.

But it was an interview she did with Delish in 2018 that garnered the most attention: she said she loved making a three-ingredient zucchini pasta sauce. A veggie-forward Bolognese, if you will. Using only zucchini, bouillon cubes and water, she said it was a “filthy, sexy mush” that she loved. With the duchess in the news as of late, this dish has recently been trending on the Internet all over again. It doesn’t exactly sound delicious, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

So, go ahead, cook like a duchess with this messy, mushy, sexy, filthy three-ingredient slow cooker concoction. For personal preference, I’ve added one more ingredient (an onion: I couldn’t resist) and options for additional seasonings, if desired. (Spoiler alert: it’s a lot more delicious than it looks, I swear!).

Related: Meghan Markle and the Struggle Among Black Women Everywhere

Meghan Markle’s Slow Cooker Zucchini Pasta Sauce

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

5-6 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped (optional)
2 bouillon cubes
½ cup water
Salt and pepper (optional)
1 package penne or rigatoni
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

Directions

1. In one large slow cooker (or Dutch oven), add zucchini, onion, bouillon cubes and water. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

2. Set timer to cook for four hours on low heat, stirring once or twice in that timeframe. The zucchini will start to get nice and mushy – that’s what we want!

Related: A Peek Inside Meghan Markle’s Former Toronto Home

3. At the 3 hour and 40 minute mark, cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package instructions.

4. Season the zucchini sauce with salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately over pasta.

Related: Here’s What the Royal Family Really Eats

Verdict

It’s simple, it’s hearty (I didn’t need more than one serving before I felt full) and it smells surprisingly delicious as it simmers away in the slow cooker.  Was it tasty (read: sexy)? Absolutely. Would I make it again? Probably. Was it worth the nearly five-hour wait? Not really.

We also tried the feta tomato pasta TikTok trend and Popeye’s famous Chicken Sandwich — are they worth the hype?

Photo of Meghan Markle courtesy of Getty Images.

quinoa chocolate cake icing

This Easy Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake Recipe Requires Just 10 Ingredients

If you’re looking for a gluten-free dessert that’s rich, moist and chocolatey, look no further! This Baking Therapy quinoa chocolate cake checks all the boxes. It has the texture of a classic chocolate cake and it’s made without any special flours. It might seem strange to add quinoa in a cake, but it is so delicious and adds to the perfect tender cake. It’s the perfect birthday dessert. All you need is a food processor or blender and you are on your way to chocolate heaven.

quinoa chocolate cake with icing

Gluten-Free Quinoa Chocolate Cake

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 25-35 minutes
Rest Time: 2-4 hours
Total time: 3-5 hours
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

Cake
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ cup whole milk
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Frosting
2 cups heavy cream, divided
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Equipment:

Food Processor, Amazon, $100.

quinoa chocolate cake ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line and grease two 9×9-inch round pans, set aside.

2. Cook the quinoa to package directions, set aside to cool. Melt the butter and chocolate chips either in a double boiler or in the microwave and set aside to cool slightly.

Related: Birthday Cake Recipes That Will Make You a Dessert Person

3. In a food processor, blend the quinoa, milk, eggs, vanilla extract and chocolate-butter mixture until the quinoa has broken down and the mixture is smooth, about 1-2 minutes.

quinoa chocolate cake batter

4. In a large bowl, sift the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Create a well in the centre and pour in the wet ingredients. Whisk until fully combined. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and smooth out the tops. Bake for 25-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, a few crumbs are OK.

5. Let cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes then invert and let cool completely on a wire rack.

quinoa chocolate cake in pan

6. For the frosting, heat 1 cup heavy cream on the stove until it just comes to a boil. Pour directly over the chocolate chips, let sit for 1 minute, then stir to combine. Mix in the remaining 1 cup heavy cream, cover and chill for 2-3 hours. Dividing the cream helps chill the mixture quicker. When ready to serve, whip the cream on high until stiff peaks form. Spread between cake layers and on top. Enjoy!

quinoa chocolate cake being iced

Like Sabrina’s quinoa chocolate cake? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

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.

Overhead shot of edamame tofu topped with ginger and cherry tomatoes

This Zingy Edamame Tofu Brings the Fresh Flavours of Japan to Your Table

You already know that tofu is an incredibly versatile ingredient, but did you know how easy (and delicious) it is to make at home? With this surprisingly simple, flavour-packed Taste Of recipe, chef Yoshi Okai combines edamame beans, gelatin and soy to create a super-light and creamy homemade tofu. Topped with ginger, ponzu and cherry tomatoes, this beautiful dish is like a portal to summer days in Kyoto.

“This dish reminds me of summers of my childhood,” says Yoshi. “The fresh tofu made from green soybeans can be dressed up by serving it topped with luxury ingredients, or a simpler version, like this one, can easily be prepared at home. It can be served as a meal in itself, or as an appetizer for a larger meal. Mushimono means ‘steamed’ in Japanese, but here refers to the way the tofu cools and sets.”

Related: The Most Creative Ways to Increase Your Protein Intake This Month

Edamame Tofu Mushimono

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:
200 g shelled edamame
200 mL dashi (or other broth)
3 g agar-agar powder
7 g powdered gelatin
400 mL soy milk, at room temperature or a little warm
12 whole cherry tomatoes, sliced
Small piece fresh ginger, grated (about 1/2 tsp)
Leaves from 1 bunch cilantro, for serving
Ponzu, for serving
Olive oil, for serving
Flaked sea salt, for serving

Related: Fried Pork Belly Pairs Perfectly With Crunchy Papaya Salad in This Traditional Thai Dish

Directions:

1. To make the edamame tofu, combine the edamame, 100 milliliters broth and 50 milliliters water in a blender and puree. Set aside.

2. Combine the remaining 100 milliliters broth, agar-agar and 100 milliliters water in a pot and bring to a simmer, stirring to combine and activate the agar. In a cup, combine 50 milliliters water and the gelatin. Add that gelatin solution to the pot; keep the mixture at a simmer. Add the soy milk to the pot. Add the edamame puree to the pot. Keep simmering until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes.

3. Pour the mixture into a shallow rectangular 8-by-8-inch dish and let sit until room temperature, about 30 minutes. Refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

4. After the tofu has set and is firm, slice it into 16 portions and garnish with tomato, ginger and cilantro leaves. Finish with a drizzle of ponzu, olive oil and flaked sea salt.

Cook’s Note: Have all the ingredients at room temperature before starting this dish. If the tofu is not cooked long enough, it won’t firm up. Allow it to firm up fully before cutting it!

Looking for more easy meat-free meal ideas? These make-ahead vegetarian recipes will liven up your dinner table.

Composite image of the season 9 cast of Top Chef Canada

This Year’s Top Chef Canada Contestants (Plus Season 9 Predictions!)

We all need nice things in our lives right about now, and what’s nicer than a brand new season of Top Chef Canada? The ultimate culinary competition is back for an anticipated ninth season, with a whole new batch of chefs ready to slice and dice their way to the top.

But first, this diverse group (which for the first time includes a married couple competing against each other) will have to cook their way into the hearts of a notoriously tough judging panel. This year that includes returning judges Mark McEwanMijune PakChris Nuttall-Smith and Janet Zuccarini, along with host-with-the-most Eden Grinshpan. Who will rise to the challenge, and who will fall faster than a collapsed soufflé?

We have a few first-look thoughts and impressions to get you started heading into the brand new season before it premieres on April 19 at 10p.m. ET/PT. Call it our amuse-bouche for all of the fierce competition to come.

Aicia Colacci, Montreal

Previous Gig: Chef de Cuisine at Impasto

First Impressions: This self-proclaimed queen of pasta is going to bring the heat this season, and probably more than a few plates of spaghetti, rigatoni and raviolis in between. Aicia reveals that growing up food was always at the center of everything, and after getting her start in advertising she completely switched gears to the culinary world. Naturally, she’s never looked back.

Our Predictions: Passion in the kitchen can never be understated, but here’s hoping that this pepperoncino can keep her cool when the competition really heats up. As for her penchant for pasta? Well, that will definitely impress the judges at the start, but Aicia will need to prove that she has other bold plates that she can bust out too in order to rise to the ranks of Top Chef Canada.

Alex Edmonson, Calgary

Current Gig: Personal Chef and Owner of AE Chef Services

First Impressions: As a former model and current social media star, Alex is used to all eyes on him. But now he’s out to prove that he’s more than a pretty face (or a pretty food picture on Instagram), by showing that his flavours and techniques are just as impressive. The chef knew he wanted to be in the kitchen ever since he saw the movie Ratatouille in his teens, and now as a personal chef, he brings the restaurant to the people.

Our Predictions: Alex isn’t the least bit nervous about entering the Top Chef Canada kitchen, but maybe he should be. While his multitasking experience as a business owner could serve him well, not being in the pressure cooker environment of a working kitchen for a while could ultimately be a disadvantage.

Andrea Alridge, Vancouver

Current Gig: Chef de Cuisine at CinCin

First Impressions: Being a young chef at a renowned restaurant can come with its share of challenges, but that also means that Andrea is hungry to prove. Meanwhile, although this chef cooks a lot of Italian at her regular gig (where she fell in love with cooking with fire), she is also eager to showcase tons of other flavours—including those from her Filipino-Jamaican heritage.

Our Predictions: Andrea may be our chef to beat in terms of best fusion flavours this season. After all, she herself has said that she’s a rule breaker. But her desire to grow and passion for food could also mean that she will learn from any potential stumbles along the way, which makes her a strong contender in our books.

Emily Butcher, Winnipeg

Current Gig: Chef de Cuisine at Deer + Almond

First impressions: Emily grew up with a strong awareness of the magic that cooking can conjure up. After all her grandfather ran a butcher shop, her grandmother had a pie business, and her dad is “a pretty awesome home cook.” This chef sees cooking like a dance, and is very much looking forward to the day when the magic of dining returns following the pandemic.

Our Predictions: Emily seems fairly driven to become the first Top Chef Canada winner from Winnipeg. But first she may need to loosen her perfect standards just a smidge in order to keep up with the tight timelines and pressure cooker challenges featured on the show. She may also need to take the judges’ criticism to heart without letting it weigh her down, a challenge for any passionate chef on this show.

Erica Karbelnik, Toronto

Current Gig: Head Chef, Elmwood Spa

First Impressions: This fierce competitor is here to prove herself to everyone. That includes her former mentor Mark McEwan, her family, and her husband/fellow Top Chef Canada competitor, Josh. Erica definitely brings a lot to the table this season, but we’re especially excited to see her cooking, which she says will be a mix of Polish, Israeli and Moroccan influences.

Our Predictions: How will husband and wife competitors fare in this kitchen? It’s hard to say because that’s definitely a Top Chef Canada first, but we can’t wait to see how they compete with each other. Meanwhile, we’re even more jazzed to see some of the new flavours and fusion fare that Erica promises to bring—something tells us it’s going to be spicy.

Galasa Aden, Calgary

Current Gig: Executive Chef, Cliffhanger Restaurant

First Impressions: Galasa is all about infusing his plates with heart and soul, whether he’s making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or whipping up a dinner party for 20. The young chef is excited to showcase his Canadian-Ethiopian cooking style in the competition, a style he started refining as a young guy cooking with his mother in the kitchen.

Our Predictions: Galasa is aware that some of the other chefs may underestimate him because he’s the chef at a golf course, but where you cook is really only a matter of geography. This chef is definitely here to inspire and prove himself, and as a result, the other chefs may pick up a thing or two from this young star along the way.

Jae-Anthony Dougan, Ottawa

Current Gig: Owner, Chef Jae Anthony Pop Up

First Impressions: This seasoned chef has owned restaurants across Canada and cooked for basically every Canadian celeb possible (think Drake and The Weeknd). Now he’s ready to crush it on Top Chef Canada. Jae-Anthony wants to represent underrecognized Black chef talent, and he’s all about changing the game for his community… not to mention for his son.

Our Predictions: Winning this competition is quite personal for Jae-Anthony, so we’re fully expecting him to be one of the fiercest chefs out of the gate. His array of Caribbean flavours will be game-changing, and we have a feeling he’ll unknowingly push some of the other competitors to put their own passion and flair on the plate too.

Josh Karbelnik, Toronto

Current Gig: Chef de Cuisine, The Broadview Hotel

First Impressions: This fierce competitor (and former Chopped Canada winner) is all about bringing luxurious and refined plates with big flavours. He saw the power of perseverance firsthand as a young kid when his single mom would work three jobs to take care of the family. And he himself has had to push through, having lost two fingers nine years ago in an ice cream machine accident.

Our Predictions: If anyone can persevere through tough challenges this season it may be Josh. However let’s not forget that one of the people he’s competing against is his high school sweetheart and wife, Erica. Josh seems pretty sure that he and his partner will be the last chefs standing, so if that dream doesn’t come true it will be interesting to see how this couple rebounds.

Kym Nguyen, Vancouver

Current Gig: Sous Chef at Pidgin

First Impressions: Kym is here to put themselves on a plate, whether that means an Asian twist on a Shepard’s Pie or coating everything with soy sauce. The non-binary chef is all about interesting flavour combinations and mixing different culinary experiences together. And, although they didn’t go to culinary school, they definitely represent a new wave of chefs—chefs that leave aggression and anger behind in the kitchen in order to bring light into the industry that they love.

Our Predictions: Kym may seem quiet compared to some of the other competitors, but their food will speak for itself. The former architect student made a commitment when they first started their culinary career to practice civility in the kitchen, so we can probably expect that next-level outlook to be on full display on the show.

Siobhan Detkavich, Kelowna

Current gig: Demi Chef de Partie at Terrace Restaurant at the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery

First Impressions: At 21-years-old Siobhan may be a young competitor, but that doesn’t mean she won’t bring experience. So far in her culinary career, she’s turned heads winning over competitions and palates alike, and she’s definitely not one to be underestimated when things get tough in the kitchen.

Our Predictions: As a young, Indigenous competitor Siobhan admits she feels a bit of pressure to represent. This chef knows what she wants, and what she wants is to win. Even if she doesn’t make it all the way to the finale, it seems like she’ll be taking in every single learning opportunity along the way, which means she has everything to gain from doing this series.

Stéphane Levac, Nova Scotia

Current Gig: Chef, Maritime Express Cider Co.

First Impressions: This self-proclaimed casual-to-fine-dining chef is self-taught and tends to whip up comfort fare in his taproom, but he’s ready to take his bagels and foraged plates to the next level on Top Chef Canada. For him, food is a way of reconnecting with his Indigenous roots, and now he’s ready to share those plates with the rest of Canada.

Our Predictions: Stephane may be this season’s biggest wild card, as self-taught chefs typically are on this show. That isn’t a bad thing—sometimes it’s the chefs that think outside the box that come up with some of the most show-stopping plates. In that vein, we can’t wait to see what tricks Stephane may possibly have up his sleeve.

Watch Top Chef Canada April 19 at 10ep 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.

Beautiful shot of fresh pastries

5 Expert Food Photography Tips to Show Off Your Baked Goods

The true hero of every food photo is, without a doubt, the food itself. Since you’ve nailed creating the perfect baked goodies, here are my five tips to take the most enticing photos of them, whether you wield a camera or a mobile phone!

Related: Steve Hodge’s Best Tips for a Successful Bakery

Good Light or Bust

This is my first tip for good reason! The light you shoot your subject in is the biggest determinant between a flat, mediocre photo and a stellar one.

• Natural Light: The good news is, natural sunlight is a great light source for food photos and costs nothing—but you must know how to use it right. Study the light available in your home, bakery or studio and observe how the light looks at different times of day, including intensity, colour temperature (cool versus warm) and shadows. If you have windows facing different directions, compare how the light looks next to each of those too.

• Direct Light:  Strong, direct light can be edgy and dramatic, but it’s trickier to master.

• Diffused Light: Indirect light is the easiest to make food appealing. What is “diffused indirect light”?  Think of the light that comes in through your window mid-morning before the sun’s position and intensity casts shadows inside, or an overcast day when clouds disperse its rays. Another element of light is the direction from which it hits the subject: from the side, behind or above. In general, the most forgiving natural light for a beginner photographer is diffused indirect sunlight coming from the side of the subject i.e. placing your subject at or near table-height beside a window where there are no shadows or harsh sunlight.  A north-facing window, if you have one, is favoured by food photographers because of the softer, bluer light.

• Artificial Light: Be sure to turn off every artificial indoor light. No food looks good with even the faintest bit of icky yellow cast.

Related: Explore Bakeries From Project Bakeover

Gotta Hit Them Angles

There are three commonly-used angles to shoot food:  straight-on from the front, three-quarter downward angle, or overhead.  A good exercise is to look through your camera lens or screen as you move around the subject to figure out which angle showcases the attributes you want to highlight. Below are general rules with practical examples, but be sure to explore all three (and angles in between) to find the best one.

• Straight-On: Ideal to showcase height and/or interesting layers for cupcakes, layered cakes, stack of cookies or bars.

• Three-Quarter: Best for showing off items with layers or fillings in bars, macarons, filled tarts, profiteroles, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls.

• Overhead: Perfect for flat foods or foods with interesting shapes, surfaces or toppings e.g. pizzas, galettes, pop tarts, cookies, doughnuts, macarons, cinnamon rolls.

Overhead shot of a cauliflower pizza
Photo courtesy of Sonia Wong

See More: Here Are Our Favourite Bakeries Across Canada

Bring Images to Life

Composition: How elements are arranged in your shot to be aesthetically pleasing. Keep in mind:

Rule of Thirds: Imagine overlaying a grid of nine boxes over your image, then place your points of interest at the four intersecting points of the grid.

Leading Lines: Use lines to lead a viewer’s eye to the focal point e.g. a cake knife pointing toward the confection.

Repetition: Place multiples of the same item or items of similar shape. Grouping in odd numbers is ideal.  

Symmetry and Asymmetry: There is beauty and balance in symmetry, but be careful it doesn’t look boring or manufactured. Asymmetry can evoke interest. Try using negative space as well, in practicing asymmetrical composition.

Layers: Photos are two dimensional. Introducing layers creates depth and texture. Layers can take the form of the backdrop, linens, plate, cooling rack, a sprig of mint atop a cupcake or a sprinkling of powdered sugar on a tart.

Shot of a cupcake with pink buttercream icing on a plate with a mint green
Cupcake from Bluegrass & Buttercream bakery. Photo courtesy of Project Bakeover

• Colour: Different hues evoke different emotions or impressions. Blue feels calm, orange feels warm, green feels fresh and brown feels earthy. There’s also established guidance for mixing colours in visually appealing ways such as complementary, monochromatic and analogous combinations. Complementary tones sit opposite on the colour wheel i.e. pink cupcake set on a green surface. Monochromatic combos use hues, tints and shades of the same colour i.e. red strawberries on pink frosting. Analogous combo involves three adjacent colours i.e. red, orange and yellow heirloom tomato slices arranged on a vegetable tart. Think about the impression you want your food to make and choose your colours intentionally for the props and elements in the frame.

• Props: Anything that helps your image tell a complete story is a prop. You may use glassware, napkins, plates, pinch bowls, baking tins, cake stands, cutlery, etc. to add interest by way of texture, shape and height. You can also use raw ingredients from the recipe as a prop to convey freshness, such as juicy berries, vibrant herbs, a dribble of maple syrup or a dusting of flour on the table. Scatter bits of the food around it to hint at its texture, such as streusel crumbs or bits of chopped nuts. You can place utensils used in preparation, serving or enjoyment of the food to make the viewer feel part of the experience, such as a used whisk or spoon shattered through the sugary crust of a crème brulée tart. Be sure the prop makes sense and relates to the hero food.

Capture Food At Its Freshest

With some exception, many baked goods look their best when freshly prepared. Think about the shine of chocolate chips on a just-baked cookie, the glisten of freshly dripped glaze on a cake or gooey cheese on a hot pizza. These details make them inherently more drool-worthy! This means you should prepare as much of your set up as possible before the food is ready. Pull the table next to the window, set up any surfaces or backdrops, grab all the props you might need, fire up your playlist, and if you’re using one, have the tripod set up with the camera. Arrange props (sans the hero food) in a way you think will look good, and once the hero food hits the scene, ideally you only need to make a few final adjustments before you click away.

Beautiful shot of various pastries
Photo courtesy of Sonia Wong

Editing Magic

Brightness, colour saturation, white balance, contrast, shadows: these are some of the basic adjustments you can tweak in editing software to create a more professional and polished result. You don’t need to be an expert photographer or to shell out big money for software. There are powerful mobile editing apps available, some free to download (Lightroom and Snapseed for example). Taking an excellent photo straight out of camera is always #goals, but that rarely happens. Image editing can save a photo or enhance an already strong one. That said, I caution the impulse to over-edit. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with harsh, fake-looking results, so use a gentle touch!

Tune into Project Bakeover Thursdays 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.

Punjabi cha straining in glass

Classic Punjabi Cha (Not Chai) Straight From a Punjabi Mom

Some say chai, others say chai tea, which is completely wrong as it translates to tea-tea. People from Punjab called it cha (not chai). Every Indian family has their own way of making cha, but this is the real deal — an authentic cup made by my mom, which is the backdrop of many childhood memories for me. My mom grew up in a small village in Punjab in the ’60s. Back then, simple spices such as cardamom pods were a bit of a speciality item used in tea when guests came over, as the pods would perfume the house. Note this isn’t masala cha, just an everyday cha that is so flavourful and easy to make.

Punjabi cha straining in glass

Punjabi Cha

Prep Time: 3 ½ minutes
Cook Time: 3 ½ minutes
Total Time: 7 minutes
Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1 tsp fennel seeds
4 cardamom pods
1 ¼ cup water
1 Tbsp loose leaf black tea
1 Tbsp jaggery
½ cup homogenized milk

Punjabi cha ingredients

Directions:

1. Crush the fennel seeds and cardamom pods together in a mortar and pestle, until pods open up and their aroma is released.

2. Over medium heat, pour water into the pot and simmer, not boil. Add spices to the water. Simmer for about 1–2 minutes. Add tea. Simmer for 30 seconds.

Related: Sweet and Savoury Matcha Recipes to Give Your Plate a Boost of Green

3. Add jaggery. Turn up the heat to boil for 45 seconds. Add milk. Boil for 30 seconds. Watch to make sure the cha doesn’t boil over.

Punjabi cha boiling on stovetop

4. Using a mesh strainer, strain cha directly into two teacups evenly.

5. With the back of a spoon, squeeze out the extra spices and tea flavour from the strainer directly into the individual cups.
Enjoy!

Punjabi cha in two glasses

Like Deepi’s cha recipe? She tried a $45 takeout meal that comes in a jewellery box.

Contemporary chocolate mini mousse cakes with matcha green tea cream insert and mango jam, covered with chocolate velvet spray and chocolate gourmet glaze, decorated with whipped chocolate ganache, on a texture background.

5 Unconventional Chocolate Pairings That Steve Hodge Loves

From sweet and delicate white chocolate to rich, indulgent dark chocolate and everything in between, it’s no secret that chocolate is incredible on its own. But this sweet favourite also makes for the perfect flavour pairing in dishes of all kinds: savoury, sweet or spicy. Just when you think you’ve been around the block and tried all the possible complementary cocoa combinations, a new trend that’s as surprising as it is delicious comes out. Steve Hodge shares five new chocolate pairings that will shock you with how much they just work.

Steve Hodge on the set of Great Chocolate Showdown

Related: Chocolate Pairings: 10 Unexpected Flavours That Are a Perfect Match

Parmesan Cheese and Chocolate

Chocolate and cheese are both beloved flavours, so why not try them together? The saltiness and texture of the cheese and the bitterness of the chocolate are an amazing combo. Bonus: if the chocolate is in temper, it adds a satisfying crunch.

Matcha Tea Powder and Chocolate

The bitterness and earthiness of the matcha work well with semi-sweet chocolate. The flavours of the chocolate and tea complement each other — and that little added sweetness from the chocolate balances out the matcha well.

Contemporary chocolate mini mousse cakes with matcha green tea cream insert and mango jam, covered with chocolate velvet spray and chocolate gourmet glaze, decorated with whipped chocolate ganache, on a texture background.
Credit: Getty Images

Related: Expert Chocolate Techniques to Master Now

Crickets and Chocolate

This pairing is all about texture and earthiness. Crickets will pair best with semi-sweet chocolate — and if you don’t tell anyone what it is, they’ll say, “I know that flavour…”.

See More: Tasty Food Trends We’ll Be Devouring in 2021

Salt and Vinegar Chips and Chocolate

It’s no secret that salt and chocolate work very well together, but the added acidity and tang from the salt and vinegar chips gives the chocolate pop, plus the crunch adds the perfect texture.

The Pioneer Woman recipe for chocolate-covered ruffled potato chips

Get the recipe for Chocolate-Covered Potato Chips

Beef Jerky and Chocolate

You’ve heard of a chocolate mole sauce, but this pairing takes savoury chocolate to the next level. The sweet and salty flavours work surprisingly well together and the texture is similar to fruit leather, enrobed in chocolatey goodness.

Watch Great Chocolate Showdown Mondays 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.

Healthy moscow mule cocktail on countertop

Celebrate National Moscow Mule Day With This Low-Sugar Moscow Mule Cocktail

March 3rd marks National Moscow Mule Day! This modern classic is great for ginger beer lovers and is typically made with vodka, lime and ginger beer, plus a little sugar. This That’s the Spirit Moscow Mule recipe shows you a fantastic way to add some fruit and herbal notes, and depending on the spirit preference, even more in-depth flavours that will really elevate this yummy cocktail. Bonus? It’s low in sugar and can be made non-alcoholic simply by omitting the spirit.

Healthy moscow mule cocktail on countertop

Low-Sugar Berry Sage Moscow Mule

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

200 ml gin (or spirit of choice)
3-4 leaves sage + 1 for garnish
1 heaping tsp of blackberry jam
½ oz lime juice
4oz light ginger beer
Blackberries for garnish (optional)

Healthy moscow mule cocktail ingredients

Directions:

1. In a non-reactive container, pour in spirit of choice (I picked gin to pull out some evergreen botanicals to compliment the sage in the drink). In your palm, gently lay down 3-4 leaves of sage and clap your hands together to release oils. Add sage to gin and cover with lid. Let the mixture sit for 3-4 hours or overnight. Agitate once in a while.

Healthy moscow mule cocktail syrup

2. Remove sage leaves from the mixture. This infused spirit is shelf stable for a few months.

3. In a shaker tin or mason jar, add 1 ½ oz sage-infused gin, plus blackberry jam and lime. Shake without ice to break up the jam. Add ice and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Strain into tall glass packed with ice.

Related: Ina Garten’s Fresh Whiskey Sours Will Be Your Go-To Cocktail

4. Top with ginger beer (¾ way to the top). Stir. Garnish with 3 blackberries and a sprig of sage (don’t forget to give it a gentle clap to release the oils!). Enjoy immediately.

Healthy moscow mule cocktail on countertop

Like Evelyn’s low-sugar berry sage mule? Try her non-alcoholic winter colada or her whiskey, green tea and honey cocktail.

Ree Drummond’s 30-Minute Vegetarian Pasta Makes Peppers the Star

This veggie-forward recipe with a boozy kick is one of Ree Drummond’s all-time best pasta dishes, and it’s easy to see why! Serve up this creation from The Pioneer Woman when you need a 30-minute stress-free meal that’ll also immediately brighten your dinner table.

Ree starts mini sweet peppers, garlic, onion, red and orange bell peppers, poblano and jalapeno in butter and olive oil over medium-high heat for a flavourful base. For a bit of a boozy kick, she adds 1/2 cup clear tequila and serves it all up with fresh cilantro and reserved mini pepper rings for toppings.

Related: 16 Minutes Until Dinner With The Pioneer Woman’s Honey-Garlic Shrimp Skewers

The Pioneer Woman’s Six Pepper Pasta

Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 lb fettuccine
2 Tbsp salted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 multi-colored mini sweet peppers, sliced into rounds, a few rounds reserved for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup clear tequila
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers, plus more if needed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Fast White Chicken Chili Will Become a Weeknight Staple

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mini sweet peppers, garlic, onion, red and orange bell peppers, poblano and jalapeno and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions and peppers begin to darken, about 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a plate and set aside.

3. Return the skillet to the heat and allow it to come back up to temperature. Turn off the heat and pour in the tequila. Turn the heat back on and let it cook for 1 minute while scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen any browned bits. Add the broth, bring to a simmer and simmer until reduced slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to medium low and pour in the cream. Add the adobo sauce, stirring constantly. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken, another 4 to 5 minutes.

5. When the sauce is thick, add the vegetables to the skillet, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook until the mixture is bubbly and hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and add salt, pepper and/or adobo sauce if needed.

6. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Transfer to bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and a few reserved mini pepper rings.

Watch the How-To video


For more inspiration, check out The Pioneer Woman’s 16-minute dinners.

Watch The Pioneer Woman 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.

Fresh Northern Thai papaya salad and crispy fried pork belly

Fried Pork Belly Pairs Perfectly With Crunchy Papaya Salad in This Traditional Thai Dish

We may not be able to travel right now, but you can still send your taste buds on a flight to northern Thailand with this Taste Of recipe from Lakana Sopajan-Trubiana. Spicy, crunchy and full of flavour, this papaya salad pairs perfectly with salty fried pork belly.

“This is the style of papaya salad we make at home on our family rice farm in Isaan in northeastern Thailand,” says Lakana. “It’s different from the Bangkok ‘big city’ version: it’s funkier and more pungent from the addition of fermented fish sauce and salted crab. Traditionally, the salad is eaten with grilled or fried meat. Here we pair it with pork belly; the crunch and tang of the salad cuts the heaviness of the pork and balances out the dish.”

Related: Delicious Thai Takeout Recipe to Try This Week

Isaan Papaya Salad With Fried Pork Belly

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Som Tom (Papaya Salad)
4 to 10 fresh Thai bird chiles, depending on taste
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp palm sugar
½ cup halved grape tomatoes
3 Tbsp fermented fish sauce
1 Tbsp fish sauce
2 Tbsp tamarind juice
2 slices lime
2 cups shredded young green papaya
¼ cup shredded carrot
¼ cup salted crab

Fried Pork Belly
¼ cup fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 ¼ lbs pork belly, cut crossways into ½-inch-thick slices
2 ½ cups tempura flour
Canola oil, for frying

Equipment:

Large mortar and pestle (optional)

Fresh Northern Thai papaya salad and crispy fried pork belly

Related: Ground Pork Recipes You’ll Make On Repeat

Directions:

1. For the som tom (papaya salad): combine the chiles, garlic and palm sugar in a large mortar and bash with a pestle until it forms a coarse paste, 2 to 5 minutes. (You can also combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and use gloved hands to break, shred and mash the ingredients together). Add the tomatoes, fermented fish sauce, fish sauce, tamarind juice and limes and mix well. Add the papaya, carrot and salted crab and mix gently.

2. For the fried pork belly: combine the fish sauce, sugar and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add the pork and massage the ingredients into the meat. Refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes to marinate.

3. Place the tempura flour in a large bowl. Coat the pork belly in the flour and place on a sheet pan fitted with a cooling rack. Pour oil to the depth of 1 to 2 inches into a large heavy skillet and place over medium to low heat. When hot, gently place the pork belly in the skillet and cook until golden brown and crispy, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Drain the pork briefly on a clean wire rack set over a sheet pan. Serve with the papaya salad.

Cook’s Note: Hand-shredding with a large sharp knife, not with a box grater, is the traditional way to prepare the papaya for this salad and will give you a crunchier texture. You can tweak the flavours in this recipe to your preference: add more palm sugar for a sweeter dish, more chiles for spicier one and so on.

Looking for even more salad recipes? These hearty salads will brighten up any winter meal.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls with icing

Two Popular Desserts Join Forces to Make the Ultimate Sweet Treat: Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls!

Carrot cake lovers, we’ve got you. These Baking Therapy carrot cake cinnamon rolls combine all the delicious flavours we love in a classic carrot cake: carrots, pecans, coconut (and don’t forget the cream cheese icing!) all rolled up to make the ultimate cinnamon roll. They’re made with bread flour — which gives it that pillowy, but chewy texture — but it can be easily swapped with all-purpose for a cakier treat. Make this any day of the week! You’ll thank us later.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls with icing

Carrot Cake Cinnamon Rolls

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 1 hour
Bake Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 8 cinnamon rolls

Ingredients:

Cinnamon Rolls
1 cup milk
¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
4 cups bread flour
¾ tsp salt
2 large eggs, beaten
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
1 cup grated carrots

Filling
¾ cup brown sugar
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
6 Tbsp butter, melted and cooled
½ cup chopped pecans
⅓ cup shredded coconut

Cream Cheese Icing
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
6 oz cream cheese, softened
1 ½ cup icing sugar
1 Tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

Equipment:

Quarter Sheet Pan, Amazon, $34

Stand Mixer, Amazon, $400

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Start by making the cinnamon roll dough: warm the milk in the microwave or on the stove until warm to the touch. Stir in 1 Tbsp sugar and the active dry yeast. Cover loosely with kitchen towel and set aside for 5-10 minutes.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the hook attachment, combine flour, remaining sugar and salt. Add the proofed yeast mixture, beaten eggs and butter. Work the dough until it just begins to come together, about 5 minutes. Add the grated carrots and continue on medium speed for another 5-8 minutes until the dough is smooth and has pulled away from the sides of the bowl. Transfer to a large clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise and double in size, about 45 minutes.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls dough

3. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a casserole dish or quarter sheet pan with melted butter and set aside.

4. Now for the filling: in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger.

Related: The Ultimate Dessert Mashup: Caramel Apple Cheesecake Meets Chinese Fried Wontons

5. Put the dough on a lightly floured surface, lightly flour your rolling pin and roll out to about 1/8-inch thick rectangle, about 17 x 14 inches.

6. Brush the top of the dough with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly the filling mixture and sprinkle the pecans and coconut overtop. Leave about a 1 cm border to allow the dough to adhere to each other when rolled. Start with the longest edge nearest to you, tightly roll the dough away from you into a firm log. Pinch the seams together and set the log seam side down.

Carrot cake cinnamon roll dough before being rolled up

7. With a serrated knife trim off the ends and divide the dough into 8 pieces. Transfer the rolls to the prepared pan, cover with a kitchen towel and let rise for another 15-20 minutes, until doubled in size.

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls before being baked in the oven

8. Bake for 30-38 minute until golden brown and bubbly.

9. For the cream cheese icing: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream both butter and cream cheese until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the icing sugar, cream, vanilla and salt and beat for 1 minute on medium-high speed.

10. Spread the cream cheese icing over top while the rolls are still warm and enjoy!

Carrot cake cinnamon rolls

Like Sabrina’s carrot cake cinnamon rolls? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

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.

za'tar flatbread on serving platter

This Easy Vegan Za’atar Manaeesh AKA Flatbread is the Breakfast Dish You’ve Been Craving

Za’atar is the name of a Middle Eastern herb, but it’s also the name of a spice mixture made up of the herb, roasted sesame seeds, sumac and a few other spices. It’s so versatile and can be used in a variety of ways: in salad dressings, meat marinades and sauces. But the most common and traditional way of consuming za’atar is on a flatbread mixed with olive oil. This Can You Vegan It? za’atar flatbread is a Lebanese dish called manaeesh and it’s typically served with breakfast alongside a hot cup of tea. It’s often topped with cheese or labneh (strained yogurt), but you can also top with an assortment of fresh veggies and drizzle with more olive oil. This delicious breakfast is easy to make and the perfect start to the day!

za'tar flatbread on serving platter

Vegan Za’atar Manaeesh

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Rest Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 13-15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp instant yeast
1 cup warm water
2 ½ cups + 2 Tbsp flour, divided
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt
12 Tbsp za’atar blend

For the garnish (optional): cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, onions and/or radish

za'tar flatbread ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Start by mixing together the yeast with the warm water and set aside for a few minutes.

2. In a bowl, add 1 cup of the flour along with the sugar and the yeast mixture. Mix well with a spoon, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 10 minutes.

Related: Flexitarian Recipes Where Meat Isn’t the Star

3. After 10 minutes, add the rest of the flour (1 ½ cups plus 2 Tbsp), ½ cup olive oil and the salt and mix well until a shaggy dough forms.

za'tar flatbread dough in bowl

4. Using your hands, knead the dough for 3-4 minutes, then smooth it out and set aside to rise for about 30 minutes, covered.

5. Preheat your oven to 375°F. Mix the za’atar and ½ cup olive oil together.

Related: This Middle Eastern Bulgur, Pomegranate and Almond Salad is Full of Whole Grains

6. Once the dough is ready, separate into 10 equal-sized balls. Using a rolling pin and a floured surface, flatten each dough ball and spread a few Tbsp of za’atar paste on top until sufficiently covered.

za'tar flatbread on baking sheet about to go in the oven

7. Place on a floured sheet pan and bake for 13-15 minutes until the bottom is golden. Top with fresh chopped vegetables of choice and enjoy.

Like Amina’s za’atar manaeesh? Try her roasted cauliflower with tahini or her 20-minute pomegranate molasses glazed salmon.

Beauty shot of Molly Yeh's Kung Pao Chicken, as seen on Girl Meets Farm, Season 6.

Skip Takeout With Molly Yeh’s Saucy and Spicy Kung Pao Chicken

Whether it’s scrumptious chicken shawarma tacos or a hearty zucchini pizza, Molly Yeh is an expert when it comes to comfort food classics. This is why it’s no surprise that we’re obsessed with the Girl Meets Farm star’s saucy, spicy twist on this Chinese takeout staple.

Boneless chicken thighs are cut into cubes, seasoned and mixed together with garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, bell peppers, green beans, dried red chile peppers and Sichuan peppercorn powder for a hot and delicious one-dish meal you’ll want to eat on repeat.

Related: Molly Yeh’s Zucchini Pizza With Fresh Pesto Will Be Your New Go-To Pie

Beauty shot of Molly Yeh's Kung Pao Chicken, as seen on Girl Meets Farm, Season 6.

Molly Yeh’s Kung Pao Chicken

Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic
One 2-inch piece ginger
2 Tbsp neutral oil
2 to 3 dried red chile peppers
1/2 lb green beans or Chinese long beans, sliced on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced on a diagonal
1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn powder or crushed black peppercorns and coriander seeds
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving

Beauty shot of Molly Yeh's Kung Pao Chicken, as seen on Girl Meets Farm, Season 6.

Related: 25 Tasty Chinese Takeout Dishes You Can Master at Home

Directions

1. Whisk together the cornstarch, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the chicken, then toss to coat and let marinate at room temperature, 20 minutes.

2. Combine the hoisin, sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Grate the garlic and ginger into the sauce. Stir and set aside.

3. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add the chicken. Stir-fry until browned on the outside, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chiles, green beans, red pepper, scallions whites, Sichuan peppercorn powder and peanuts. Stir-fry until fragrant and the veggies are crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer until thickened slightly and the chicken is completely cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the scallion greens and additional peanuts. Serve with the rice.

Related: 15 Recipes From Around the World That’ll Help Fill Your Travelling Void

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.

Watch the how-to video here.


Vietnamese coffee creme brulee in white ramekins on countertop

This Easy Make-Ahead Vietnamese Coffee Creme Brulee is the Dessert You Need

Coffee + condensed milk + creme brulee — need we say more? This Baking Therapy dessert combines the sweet delicious flavours of Vietnamese coffee with the silky smooth creme brulee we all know and love. An easy make-ahead dessert you’ll make again and again!

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee in white ramekins on countertop

Vietnamese Coffee Creme Brulee

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours or overnight
Bake Time: 30 to 35 minutes
Total Rime: 2 hours, 55 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half
¼ cup dark roast coffee, coarsely ground
4 large egg yolks
1 (300 ml) can sweetened condensed milk
Pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup granulated sugar for tops

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Place 6 (3 ½ oz) ramekins in a baking dish. Set aside.

2. In a heavy bottom saucepan on medium-high heat, heat the heavy cream, half-and-half and coarsely ground coffee. As soon as the mixture begins to simmer, remove from the heat. Steep for 15 minutes then strain through a fine sieve.

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee ingredients steeping in pot

3. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and condensed milk until pale yellow in colour, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the salt and vanilla extract. Slowly add one ladle of the hot cream to the egg mixture, whisk to combine so the eggs don’t scramble. Continue adding and whisking until well incorporated. Pass through a fine sieve again to ensure a smooth mixture.

Related: Tropical Desserts That’ll Make You Forget It’s Still Winter

4. Ladle evenly into the 6 ramekins. Carefully fill the baking pan with about ½ inch of boiling water and bake for 30 to 35 minutes until the edges are set, but the centre is still jiggly. Remove and let cool completely on a wire rack. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Vietnamese coffee creme brulee on cooling rack

5. When ready to serve, working with one creme brulee at a time, sprinkle about 1 Tbsp of sugar over the top. Using a kitchen blowtorch, melt the sugar until it gets golden and bubbly. Let sit for 1 minute so that it hardens. Enjoy immediately!

Like Sabrina’s Vietnamese coffee creme brulee? Try her matcha and raspberry mochi doughnuts or her 7-ingredient Basque cheesecake.

Steve Hodge on the set of Project Bakeover

Steve Hodge Shares His Best Tips on How to Run a Successful Bakery

The life of a small business owner can be a challenging one, with small profit margins, fickle clientele and staffing issues looming as potential issues just over the horizon. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular put many small businesses in peril, and the hospitality industry was particularly hard hit (according to industry association Restaurants Canada, 10,000 restaurants closed between March and December 2020).

Steve Hodge and Tiffany Pratt discuss renovation plans for OMG Baked Goodness on the set of Project Bakeover

Steve Hodge knows these challenges like the back of his baking pan — as the owner of Temper Chocolate & Pastry in Vancouver, he has built up his business from a single location to one that sells treats in retail stores across the country. Now, on Project Bakeover, Steve brings the lessons he’s learned from his own success to small bakeries across North America.

We caught up by phone with Steve, who shared some of his best tips from the early episodes of this season for struggling entrepreneurs and bakery owners.

Related: Here’s What You Need to Know About Steve Hodge

Think Outside the Store

The first thing Steve does before even entering a bakery is to eyeball the signage outside. If the word “bakery” isn’t front and center, customers can get the wrong first impression (at Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats in Episode 1, the word didn’t even appear on the signage, but “classes” and “parties” were highlighted. “This could be a party store,” said Steve). Often, the customer’s decision as to whether to enter the shop is based on curbside appeal and a clear sense of the store’s direction.

See More: Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats Gets a Bold New Look

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

If the customer can’t see what your shop is selling, then they are less likely to buy. In Episode 2, Steve recommended that OMG Baked Goodness’ poorly organized and half-empty counters be loaded full of bright lights and inviting products. Remember to spotlight the best sellers and popular products.

Close up shot of the baked goods at OMG Baked Goodness

Bigger is Not Always Better

Sometimes customers want a big over-the-top treat, but more often, they are looking for a small indulgence. As soon as Steve bit into Mrs. Joy’s cream puff, he knew it was too large and a waste of her ingredients. “She’d get a bigger bang for her buck if she cut it down a bit,” he says. Consider that customers have varying appetites and budgets, and plan accordingly.

See More: We Share Our Go-To Bakeries Across Canada

Be Ready to Change on the Fly

Especially during pandemic times, where rolling lockdowns can mean an open dining space one day and a closed storefront with takeout only the next, flexibility is essential. At Temper Bakery, Steve and his team were ready to make some quick changes to adapt when the COVID-19 lockdowns began. “As bakeries, we can change the way we run our business — we can be a dine-in or grab-and-go,” he says. “At Temper, we now sell more frozen bake-at-home products than we sell fresh from the store. It was a matter of simplifying our business model and streamlining the elements to maximize profitability.”

Keep It Simple

In the same vein, Steve advises bakery owners to think outside the box, but not to hold onto inventory because they’re too attached to it or think they’ll need it later on. “This is a great time to simplify,” he says. “At Temper, we took 20 per cent of our menu off when the pandemic first hit, and we’re never returning to the old way.” The worst mistake he saw at the bakeries he visited was an overabundance of product choice, which led to the bakery owners being overwhelmed and working day in and day out.

Related: Watch Steve Hodge’s Video Bio

Harness Social Media

“If you’re not online, get online,” says Steve, who recommends that bakery owners use social media to identify and spotlight their hero items. “When I was in culinary school, there was no social media. Now, home cooks around the world can pick up the phone and take a picture of their baked goods. Social media changed the world of pastry in terms of who we knew were the best, and you learn more by inventing and creating.”

Take It Outside

Putting tables outside for curbside pickup is a perfect opportunity to draw traffic and boost curb appeal, says Steve. “It will draw you out of the kitchen and make you more interactive as a business owner,” he says. “If you haven’t been involved in [the] community, go outside and say hello and stay safe to your customers. Really take the chance to interact with them — they’ll remember it.”

To Make Money, You Have to Spend Money

Even if margins are tight, Steve recommends some low-cost ways to garner some publicity, such as contacting the local paper and buying a small ad, or running a contest on social media. “It can be as simple as saying ‘if you like this picture, send to this person, or recommend it for a gift and you have a chance to win a gift box’,” he says.

Put Your Logo Out There

Think beyond flyers when it comes to logos. “If you sell coffee in your shop and don’t logo your cups, go buy a $20 stamp with your logo and stamp away,” says Steve. “The majority of stuff for takeout that people carry around outside is in paper cups. You want your logo everywhere: on stickers, poles, and in peoples’ hands.”

Steve Hodge at OMG Baked Goodness

Keep an Open Mind to New Ideas, Even After the Pandemic Ends

Don’t just innovate in terms of trend chasing, advises Steve.  “We ask ourselves as business owners, ‘why didn’t we think of this before?’ — well, we didn’t always have to think of that next step,” he says. “But out of the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot of great things as to how to run a business, and we’ll keep doing them.”

Watch Project Bakeover Thursdays 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.

Blackened trout and green beans on white plate

This Blackened Trout With Green Beans Only Takes 10 Minutes to Make (Yes, Really!)

Whether you seriously have no time to cook or you just have no desire to cook long, lengthy recipes, this is the perfect dinner for you! Blackening fish for this We Know You Have 10 Minutes recipe may seem complicated, but it is far from it. You simply combine a few spices, place them on the flesh of the fish and sear. Voila, that’s it! As the fish is cooking, you add orange juice in the pan to help poach and sweeten it. The fish isn’t actually blackening or burning, rather it is the spices that are and this technique helps enhance their flavours. Pair it with blanched green beans for a speedy side of veggies.

Blackened trout and green beans on white plate

Blackened Trout With Green Beans

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb French green beans
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp sea salt, divided
4 4-5 oz pieces of trout
1 Tbsp + few tsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¾ cup orange juice (3 oranges), divided
½ lemon squeezed
3 tsp orange zest
¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped

Blackened trout and green beans ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water. As you’re waiting for the water to boil, prepare an ice bath in another big bowl.

2. Carefully drop the green beans into the boiling water and let them cook for 2 minutes, then drain and place them in the ice bath.

Related: 10-Minute Vegan Antipasto Skewers Are the Creative Plant-Based Appetizer You Need

3. While the green beans are cooling, mix the paprika, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning and ½ tsp sea salt together in a wide dish. Place the trout flesh side down in the spices to ensure the flesh is coated.

Blackened trout seasoned on kitchen countertop

4. Place a wide pan on the stove, heat to medium-high, add 1 Tbsp oil and swirl around the pan. Place the trout flesh/spice side down.

5. Once the spices look like they’re browning, after about 2-3 minutes, add in ½ cup orange juice. Once the juice has mostly evaporated and caramelized, flip the fish over and cook for another 3-5 minutes. If your pieces are thick and aren’t cooked on the inside, place them in a 350°F oven for a few minutes.

Related: Healthy 10-Minute Meals When You Just Don’t Feel Like Cooking

6. Drain the beans again and place them in another bowl. Season with few tsp of oil, ½ tsp salt, the rest of the orange juice and lemon juice. Put the green beans on a dish with the trout and top both with orange zest and fresh parsley.

Blackened trout and green beans on plate

Like Tamara and Sarah’s 10-minute blackened trout with green beans? Try their 10-minute sauteed cauliflower and chickpeas.

Get the how-to recipe here:

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew - in a bowl

Vegan West African Peanut Lentil Stew: The Comfort Food You Need

This hearty and flavourful stew, also known as mafé, is one of many delicious delicacies that hails from West African cuisine. Traditional West African peanut stew uses ground peanuts and contains beef, but my Can You Vegan It? spin uses natural peanut butter since it’s more accessible, as well as lentils for extra protein. However, the sweet potatoes in this quick 45-minute dish perfectly seal the deal.

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew - in a bowl

West African Peanut Lentil Stew

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp crushed red pepper (plus more to taste)
1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
½ tsp ground black pepper (plus more to taste)
2 tsp cumin (optional)
½ tsp cardamom (optional)
5 cups low-sodium vegetarian broth
1½ cups red lentils
2 medium sweet potatoes, cut into chunks
1 (16 oz) can crushed tomatoes, with liquid
1 cup natural raw peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
Fresh chopped parsley for topping (optional)

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, garlic and ginger in the hot oil until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with the crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, as well as the cumin and cardamom (if using).

Related: Best Vegan Soup and Stew Recipes You’ll Crave All Winter

2. Pour the broth over the mixture. Stir the lentils and sweet potatoes into the liquid and bring the mixture to a boil; reduce heat to low and cover the pot partially with a lid. Cook at a simmer for 15 minutes.

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew - in a bowl

3. Stir in the tomatoes and peanut butter. Turn up the heat slightly to medium-low. Cover the pot and continue cooking for another 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Top with chopped parsley and serve.

West African mafe AKA peanut lentil stew - in a bowl

Like Valerie’s vegan mafé? Try her healthy sriracha-honey oven-fried chicken or her spicy vegan cassoulet.

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