Tips for Throwing a Vegetarian Holiday Feast

Many of us look forward to the holiday season because it brings friends and family together at the table. However, when meat-eaters and vegetarians are gathered for a feast, making a holiday meal that pleases everyone can be a real challenge.

This year, you can create new traditions. What’s new today will become tomorrow’s tradition so showcase traditional foods with a vegetarian twist. There’s no need to scrap all of your favourite holiday foods just because they are not vegetarian. Many of them can be made over, often resulting in a healthier, more delicious version.

Replace gelatin with a vegetarian sea vegetable called agar-agar. It comes in clear bars and white flakes. Unlike gelatin, agar-agar needs to be cooked with other recipe ingredients, brought to a boil and then simmered. It will give dishes like your sweet cranberry relish a terrific texture.

Cutting back on the number of eggs in a recipe can be difficult. My favourite substitute is ground flax seeds. 1 tablespoon (15mL) finely ground flax seeds whisked with 3 tbsp (50mL) water is a wonderful substitute for 1 egg. When it comes to baking, divide the egg amount in half and use ground flax for the other half. Try this tip when you make pumpkin pie; you’ll love it!
Use ingredients that are closely associated with the season being celebrated, like corn, squash, sweet potatoes, apples, nuts, cranberries, chestnuts and pumpkin.

All too often during a turkey dinner, vegetarians have eaten “around the bird,” filling their plates up with all the trimmings. This never makes for a truly satisfying meal. The old way of viewing vegetarian meals lacks a culinary centrepiece, some sort of meat-free dish that has the same star appeal as the big bronzed bird.

One of my favourite recipes to serve with all the traditional trimmings is a huge squash, filled with a whole grain bread stuffing made with chestnuts, wild rice, mushrooms, Vidalia onions and barley cooked in vegetable stock. This recipe has its own carving ritual, requiring skilled slicing into proper portions. It also pairs very well with many traditional side dishes.

Savoury dishes are very satisfying. For the holiday season, Ricotta and Asiago Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms are an elegant main course to serve that still use a lot of familiar and traditional ingredients. This may remind you of lasagna, with large grilled mushroom caps used in place of the noodles.

Some holiday recipe suggestions:
Warm Mushroom Arugula Salad
Apple Chestnut Stuffing
Kale with Cream Cheese Sauce
Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Snap Pea and Brussels Sprout Sauté
Wild Rice Pilaf
Cranberry Apple Bran Muffins
Pumpkin Pie

Creating a gorgeous centrepiece by arranging fruits, vegetables, and herbs is a great way to establish a warm and inviting vibe at your holiday gatherings. A successful arrangement relies on balance and variety, so group similar colours together, break up horizontal pairings with vertical objects such as jarred jams and pickles, and create a focal point by including a tall vase filled with leafy branches, stalks and fruits. Get creative!
Chestnuts, figs, squash, pears and cabbages alongside herbed oils and vinegars can provide a stunning backdrop to your table or entrance. Using seasonal ingredients to create your centrepiece will be well reflected in the meal you serve.
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Apple-Raspberry Kugel

What is a kugel? The word means ‘pudding’ in English (think bread pudding with potatoes, noodles or cheese). They are either sweet or savory. My new-age version pairs tofu with cottage cheese, and is delicious hot or cold.

11×7 inch baking dish, lightly greased
Preheat oven to 350° F
Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients
8 oz    rinsed soft tofu
1 lb    2% cottage cheese
? cup    pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp    almond nut butter
2 Tbsp    lemon juice
1 tsp    ground cinnamon
1 tsp    pure vanilla extract
½ tsp    grated orange zest
½ tsp    ground coriander
3    medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cups    raspberries or blueberries
½ cup    thinly sliced toasted almonds
¼ cup    shredded coconut

Method
1. Blend tofu, cottage cheese, maple syrup, nut butter, lemon juice, cinnamon, vanilla, zest and coriander in a blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in apples, raspberries and almonds. Turn into prepared pan and sprinkle with coconut.
2. Cover and bake for 35 minutes or until set.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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Ricotta & Asiago Grilled Portobellos

Stuffed mushrooms can be served in a bun, open faced or between a crusty roll. The meaty, earthy flavour combines so well with classic Italian ingredients. Just a hint of classic lasagna ingredients, replacing noodles with large grilled mushroom caps.

Makes:  6-8 servings

Ingredients:
8 large Portobello mushroom caps
3 tbsp   olive oil
1 tsp  salt
1 tsp  black pepper
2 cups  ricotta cheese
1 cup  grated asiago cheese, divided
? cup   diced green  olives
2 tbsp  diced basil
2 cups  tomato or marinara sauce

Method:
1. Preheat gas grill, medium-high heat.
2. Lightly brush mushrooms, both sides, with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place mushrooms, gill side up, on the grill. Cook for  8 minutes or until softened, turning once. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet gill side up.
3. Combine ricotta, ½ cup asiago, olives, and basil.
4. In a small pot, heat tomato sauce for 3 minutes or until hot.
5. Spread ¼ cup tomato sauce into each mushroom cap, gill side up.
6. Place ¼ cup ricotta filling on top of tomato sauce. Sprinkle with remaining asiago cheese.
7. Transfer the entire baking sheet onto the grill.
8. Grill for 5 minutes or until asiago cheese has melted and filling is hot and bubbling.
Nettie Cronish is a Natural Foods Chef, Culinary Instructor and Cookbook Author. She is a vegetarian and has 3 children who want to eat meat. Her latest cookbook, Everyday Flexitarian, is about cooking one meal 2 ways.

 

Dig In to the Best of Fall’s Flavours

While summer meals are about choosing light eating options, we tend to want hearty meals when the weather turns cold. Whether you love to cook stews or casseroles, great dinner meals make excellent leftovers. Use our recipes to make today’s dinner and tomorrow’s lunch delicious with Canadian cheese.

Making stews with leftover turkey is a great way to enjoy a hearty lunch after a delicious dinner. This simple turkey and cider stew pairs the tender fowl with the subtle flavouring of fresh rosemary and the cheesy goodness of Canadian Raclette.

 

Turkey and cider stew with Raclette

While not exactly a one-pot meal, this is a great mid-week dish that leaves plenty for the next day’s lunch. Easier to make than lasagna, it blends the creaminess of cottage cheese with the mildly tart Canadian Provolone.

 

Cottage Cheese Pasta

East meets west in this delicious fried rice meal. Try using Canadian Havarti, a semi-soft cheese that originates in Denmark.  Not only is Havarti delicious, but you can get it in a variety of flavours, such as jalapeno, dill, garlic and more!.

 

Shrimp Fried Rice with Havarti

This nutritious root-vegetable gratin is a delicious dinner that’s easy to prepare and makes a great lunch the day after. The rutabaga and parsnips become slightly sweet when cooked, making them a nice combination with carrots and potatoes. Instead of the Provolone that’s called for, try different Canadian cheeses such as Cheddar, Swiss, or even Mozzarella.

 

Root Vegetable Gratin

 

Ratatouille is a traditional French dish from the Provence region. Basically a vegetable stew, it typically contains zucchini, eggplant, tomato, and fresh basil. Serve over cooked rice, pasta, quinoa, millet, spaghetti squash—even toasted baguette—and top with grated Canadian Mozzarella and Parmesan. Oooh la la!

 

Ratatouille Au Gratin for Grown Ups

Braised Lamb Pasta from Derek’s Kitchen

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This dish is about as “comfort food” as it gets. It’s like meat and potatoes without the potatoes. It’s really simple, but if you make everything from scratch it’s pure love on a plate. With a this simple, fresh pasta noodles make all the difference. I posted the recipe for how to make the buckwheat pasta last month – you can find the recipe here.

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This recipe is based on a dish that fellow Top Chef Canada alumni Dusty Gallagher made for me when I visited his restaurant in Toronto. I liked it so much that I’ve since made it at home a couple times (to rave reviews) so I decided to share the recipe here. Each time, I’ve braised the lamb specifically with this dish in mind, but this is also something you could make if you just happen to have some leftovers in the fridge that need to get used up. You might want to try my recipe for braised lamb shank first, just so that you can make this pasta with the leftovers. Leftover beef bourguinon makes a killer pasta too.

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Because you will be shredding the meat after it’s cooked, you can use any cut of lamb that braises well. I bought leg of lamb because that’s what happened to be on special at my local supermarket. If you see packages of cubed lamb, those should work perfectly well because chances are they were cut from the shoulder or rump, which are both great cuts for braising. Look for meat that has a good amount of fat and connective tissue left on it because that will melt down and keep the meat tender and juicy.

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Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours
Serves 4

Ingredients:
250g fresh buckwheat pasta
600g fresh lamb (shoulder, leg or rump)
2 carrots, peeled & roughly chopped
1 large onion, peeled & roughly chopped
1 head garlic
1/2 bunch fresh sage
2 cups red wine
1 tbs corn starch
4 tbs vegetable oil
salt & pepper

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350F
2. Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil on medium heat in a large pot or cast iron dutch oven and sauteé the carrots & onions until they are nicely browned. Cut the head of garlic in half and then press the exposed cloves down against the bottom of the pot to brown them a little. Deglaze with 2 tbsp red wine. Use a wooded spoon to scrape up any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.
3. While the vegetables are browning, brown the lamb in a separate pan. Generously season the lamb with salt & pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan on high heat and sear the lamb on all sides until it is nicely browned. Deglaze with 2 tbs red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the meat to the pot with the vegetables.
4. Add 1/2 of the fresh sage to the pot and the remaining red wine, then add water until all the ingredients are covered. Bring the water to a gentle simmer, cover the pot and place it in the oven. Cook at 350F until the lamb is tender and easily breaks apart with a fork, about 3 hours.
5. When the lamb is ready, stain the cooking liquid into a large frying pan or shallow wide-bottomed pot. Discard the vegetables – their job is done, all their flavour has been infused into the meat and sauce. Place the meat in the frying pan and use a fork or wooden spoon to break up the meat into chunks. Mix 1 tbsp corn starch with 2 tbsp cold water and then pour the mix into the sauce. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce until the sauce is just thick enough to start coating the meat, about 5 minutes.
6. Bring a large amount of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta until it is al-dente – 6 minutes for fresh pasta. Strain the noodles and then toss them in the pan with the meat & sauce. Simmer the noodles with the sauce for 1 minute and then serve. Garnish each plate with some freshly chopped sage.

 

 DerekBocking Derek Bocking is a professional chef with over 15 years culinary experience. On his blog, Derek’s Kitchen, he shares restaurant-style recipes for amateur gourmets to try at home, from quick and easy meals to more elaborate showstoppers.

 

 

 

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What’s On The Table: Benefiting The Stop Community Food Centre

Food lovers, don’t forget to grab your tickets to this year’s What’s On The Table event, happening on November 7th. The eighth annual event features the most innovative chefs in Toronto and the best Niagara wines, benefiting The Stop Community Food Centre.

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Check out these photos of some of the yummy treats from last year’s What’s on the Table! The 2011 sold-out event raised over $340,000 for anti-hunger programs.

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The Stop raises money to provide nutritious food and social support to those living in poverty in Davenport West. 90% of the funds raised at What’s on the Table go directly to these anti-hunger and community-building programs.

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Buy your tickets and find out more about the event here.

 

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Top 5 Walnut Recipes

If you’re feeling the effects of the cold, gloomy weather, then this week’s top 5 will hopefully spruce things up a bit. A great way to get out of a food rut that is often caused by dropping temperatures is to put an autumn spin on summer foods. This week, we’re bringing you the top 5 walnut recipes. Walnuts are a fantastic (and healthy!) addition to salads and pasta dishes that will put an end to your lunch boredom.

 

1. Spinach Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette and Candied Walnuts

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This gorgeous salad, courtesy of Michael Smith, is super easy to prepare but that doesn’t stop it from being a show-stopper. Serve this at your dinner table and watch your kids gobble up plates of leafy spinach (seriously!). Who can say no to sweet, candied walnuts?

 

2. French Lentils with Walnuts and Goat Cheese

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Chef Laura Calder brings us this yummy concoction of French lentils, walnuts and goat cheese. Honestly, have lentils ever looked so gourmet? We’re obsessed with the beautiful presentation of this dish, but we can’t ignore the fact that it’s also incredibly nutritious, and leftovers make an easy-to-pack lunch for the next day!

 

3. Endive Salad with Beets, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

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Laura Calder’s up again, this time with a delectable endive salad, topped with beets, walnuts and blue cheese. Are you drooling yet? Make this at your next dinner party and your guests will be blown away by combination of ingredients.

 

4. Penne with Gorgonzola, Spinach and Walnuts

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When you think of pasta and comfort food, we bet the first thing that comes to mind is mac and cheese. Not anymore. Comfort food takes on a chic spin with this delicious recipe.

 

5. Walnut, Fig and Brie Tart with Pear Sauce

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Rounding out this week’s list is this yummy dessert recipe by Anna Olson. Perfect for a cold autumn night, this will delight your guests.

 

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Pumpkin Pizza from The Hot Plate

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We all crave pizza and because it’s so simple to make or order, it’s easy to have it at least once a week. Since pizza isn’t that good for you, our Pumpkin Pizza recipe is the perfect way to use your leftover Jack O’ lantern carvings and make pizza a healthier option for dinner. This delicious recipe can be a simple gourmet meal for any occasion, and because it’s almost Halloween most of us have extra pumpkin that we don’t know what to do with. If you have 45 minutes, you can make this yummy pizza for your friends, family or just yourself because you may not want to share it.
p2

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Makes 1 12-inch pizza

Ingredients:

1 prepared pizza dough
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup diced pumpkin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups shredded skim mozzarella cheese
¼ crumbled blue cheese
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 garlic cloves
salt and pepper

Instructions:
1.In a small pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic, rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes until garlic is almost golden. Remove from heat and set aside.
2.Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the pumpkin and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Add ½ cup water, brown sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Stir, cover and simmer until just tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover and reduce liquid until evaporated.
3.Roll out pizza dough on parchment paper until desired thickness; we recommend 1/4-inch to support the toppings.
4.Brush the dough with garlic oil leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Divide pumpkin, spinach, blue cheese and pine nuts over the pizza.

 

Amanda_Garbutt Amanda Garbutt is the host of The Hot Plate, a free online cooking show dedicated to inspiring culinary confidence in new cooks. The Hot Plate also offers regular cooking tips and advice, how-tos, and information on seasonal ingredients

 

 

 

 

 

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Restaurant Takeover: Chef Derek Minkensky Takes Us Behind the Scenes

Derek Minkensky here, bubbling over with all the behind the scenes gossip from Restaurant Take Over’s Rap’s episode! What can I say, Miss Carol stole my heart. Honestly, she and Mr. Rose are the nicest people you would ever want to meet. This episode above all others, reminded me of why we do what we do. We are helping people and their communities.
When I first entered Rap’s I barely realized it was a restaurant. I thought the crew had played a nasty trick on us. But no, this was the place! There was no food in the display cases, tiles missing from the floor, mismatched chairs and tables, half-painted walls and posters for menus! Paula had her work cut out for her. I felt her pain. But of course, I was more interested in the food…

rapspic1
The Jerk chicken that I had was actually different than the chicken Miss Carol cooked for me in the episode. The sauce just dripped off this version. Not in a good way. It was runny! Not at all caramelized in the way a good Jerk sauce should be. Huge disappointment. However, the Jerk Chicken that Miss Carol cooked for me on her drum was probably the BEST I have ever eaten. How could she be serving the slop I ate at her counter? This woman could cook! Sadly she had let her standards slip. It was clear to me that she was the linchpin that held Rap together, but she was crumbling under her heavy workload. The only way to help her was to teach her how to take care of herself, so that she could reignite her lost passion for the food she loves.

rapspic2
I knew a trip to Caribana and an old-fashioned Jamaican-themed beach party would remind her of her roots and the passion she had when she first opened Rap’s. What you don’t see in the episode was that we were actually on a Caribana float! It was a blast! There were so many people our cameramen Kuba and Bart couldn’t even get a shot of us. However they had a blast shooting and it totally shows on screen. They are such dedicated and talented guys. Miss Carol and I were dancing up a storm and getting all riled up with the crowd. It was the best medicine for her. This is her culture and for too long she had been hiding away in her dark, sweaty kitchen. She needed to let loose. The party was the cherry on the sundae.

rapspic3
My ultimate goal in the Rap’s episode was to shave down that unruly menu. It was a typical Jamaican menu with all the classics (and I mean ALL of them!). That menu was HUGE! For the most part, Miss Carol was the only one in the kitchen and she had become a slave to the sheer volume of dishes. I pleaded with her to think about hiring some kitchen help. Eventually she let a little neighborhood secret slide… she does not run the drum at night! That’s the job of Mr. Rap’s, a drum wielding community icon. You may have a caught a glimpse of him on reveal day. Mr. Rap’s made me feel like I was out on the side of the road in Kingston, Jamaica eating a real handful of authentic Drum Chicken. Everyone in the neighborhood knows Mr. Rap’s. He’s a classic!

rapspic4
Kitchen day was so fantastic! Miss Carol was so humble, despite her culinary prowess. I felt honoured to share a drum with her. I think that really comes across in the episode. However, what you didn’t see was our kitchen dance party! We threw down some Bob Marley and Toots and the Maytals and went bananas! It got so hot that the popsicles were melting! (Must have been my white man overbite that kept from making it into the episode, because no one had any complaints about Miss Carol’s moves).

Finally reveal day rolled around and it was seriously emotional. If I wasn’t such a MAN I would have cried. (Who am I kidding? I was blubbering. The editor just didn’t include it to maintain my mystique). What you don’t see in the episode is how much this was a community affair. On reveal day, neighborhood folk were approaching Paula and I to talk to us about the history of Rap’s. They explained that it was the original Jamaican restaurant in the neighborhood and that it always had been the best Jerk chicken on the block. They felt Restaurant Takeover was exactly what it needed. They loved the new look, the new food, and were excited to see their old haunt reinvigorated and Miss Carol back on her game! This was intensely motivating and made me extremely proud to be a part of the putting Rap’s back where it belongs – at the centre of its community.

 

If you missed it, you can watch the episode here.

 

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Family Fun: Quick Icing for Any Ol’ Day

Fall is birthday season for me. I seem to be going to or organizing a party every week. When it comes to adults or kids, cupcakes seem to please all. Just change the colour of the topping and you’ve got a hit for any occasion. Amazingly, it’s actually easier (and cheaper) to make icing/frosting at home than to run out and buy it pre-made.

Icing_Chocolate_Cupcake

RECIPE: Buttercream Icing
Makes approx. enough to ice a 13″ x 9″ inch cake, or two 8″ layers — about 2 cups.

Ingredients
1/3 c softened butter (room temp)
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp real vanilla (NOTE: You’ve probably got butter, icing sugar and milk hanging around, right? I would never say vanilla is optional, but in a pinch you can do without.)
about 3 tbsp milk (may need more)

Icing_Ingredients

In a tall bowl (to prevent splatter), combine 1 cup icing sugar with 1/3 cup butter that has been brought to room temperature. Just whirl it around with an electric hand mixture until it is crumbly.

Icing_Butter_Icing_Sugar

Now add 2 more cups icing sugar in a couple of batches. You’ll be cursing me at this point, thinking, “This looks nothing like icing!” It will be quite dry. Hang in there!

Icing_Add_Sugar

Now, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 3 tablespoons milk — and keep mixing. It will start to combine even with just the addition of vanilla.

Icing_Milk

One minute later, you’ll have a thick, creamy topping. You can add a little more milk to get the consistency you want, but be careful — a little milk goes a long way. The icing should be stiff enough to hold its shape on a cupcake.

Icing_Vanilla

This is the point where you add food colour. I went orange with this batch, for a combo birthday/Halloween theme.

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Please, don’t forget to lick the beaters! Waste not, want not as they say.

Icing_Spoon

Decorate as you wish. If you make the icing in advance, refrigerate it; to make it spreadable again, allow it to come to room temperature before using.

Icing_Smartie

If you’re sick of cupcakes, you can ice up that banana bread you’ve been planning to make (with the bunches of brown bananas hanging out of your freezer). Icing is a strong motivator!

RECIPE: Buttercream Icing
Makes approx. enough to ice a 13″ x 9″ inch cake, or two 8″ layers — about 2 cups.

Icing_Silver_Balls

Ingredients
1/3 c softened butter (room temp)
3 cups icing sugar
1 tsp real vanilla (NOTE: You’ve probably got butter, icing sugar and milk hanging around, right? I would never say vanilla is optional, but in a pinch you can do without.)
about 3 tbsp milk (may need more)

Instructions
Using a mixer, put the butter in a bowl and start mixing it with 1 cup sugar and then gradually add the rest of the sugar 1 cup at a time. Add your vanilla and milk. Use as much milk as you need to get a nice spreading consistency.
If you make the icing in advance and refrigerate it, let it come to room temperature before trying to spread it.

For chocolate icing:
Mix 2 ounces melted, unsweetened choc into the icing. You can use 1 cup less sugar for a less-dense icing.

 

Sue_RiedlSue Riedl is a Toronto-based food writer with a passion for cheese who writes a column called The Spread for The Globe and Mail. She loves to push stinky cheese on her 3-year-old.

 

 

 

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Macaron-Making with Nadège Patisserie

Last week, the Canadian Opera Company celebrated its annual Operanation fundraiser, and I was particularly excited for the limited edition Nadège Patisserie  macarons created in honour of the event.

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I went behind the scenes with Chef Nadège in Toronto’s Nadège Patisserie kitchen to get up close to her bite-sized creation. With the helping hand of Alexander Neef, the General Director of the Canadian Opera Company, she gave a step-by-step demo of the Sweet Revenge macaron, named after the opera party’s theme.

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As if watching Nadège mix, decorate and explain her creation wasn’t cool enough, I was treated to a macaron tasting when it was all said and done!

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Starting off with sweet notes of cherry and dark chocolate, the Sweet Revenge’s hint of chili kicked in after just a few seconds. One word: delicious.
Want to get your hands on these tiny treats? Head down to Nadège Patisserie (both the Queen St. West or Rosedale location are carrying them for a limited time).

 

 

reb Rebecca Burstein is a writer, editor, and virtual shopaholic. She’s currently the junior lifestyle editor at Slice.ca.

 

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Recipe to Riches: Episode 2 Recap

This week, Recipe to Riches saw a trio of Canadian home cooks, all hailing from the westcoast, compete to determine whose offering deserved to stand alongside oven-ready spring rolls, calzones and mini quiches. That’s right, it was the battle of Savoury Snacks!

And who were these enterprising best westerners?

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(From left: Lyndsay Wells, Stephen Childs, Jennifer Innis)

 

Victoria, B.C. civil engineer Stephen Childs, who took a scientific approach in developing his Chipotle Chili Bites, taking a well-loved existing product (chili) and shrinking it to an easy-to-eat portion.
Jennifer Innis, a mom, dental hygienist (on maternity leave) and part-time hairdresser from Leduc, Alberta. Her Chicken Cornish Pasties combined English culinary tradition and a home cook’s ingenuity with leftovers.

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(Above: Chicken Cornish Pasties)


Ex-RCMP officer Lyndsay Wells. Now a youth worker, the Ladysmith, B.C., resident’s Asian Snack Wraps were inspired by the kids she works with.

Asian Snack Wraps

(Above: Asian Snack Wraps)

 

 

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(Above: Chipotle Chili Slams)

 

Batch-Up Challenge

I might be wrong, but it seemed as though this week’s Batch-Up was 50 percent bigger than last week’s. Our contestants had to cook not 200, but 300 individual servings of their snack. Somehow that struck me as overkill. Of course, I’ve never cooked a meal for more than six people, so what do I know?

 

All three cooks ran into production problems. Stephen’s first batch of polenta pockets sprung chili leaks, Lyndsay’s deep-fried wraps were too doughy, and Jennifer had to figure out how to substitute liquid chicken stock for the powdered variety she was used to. Fortunately they all managed to regroup and solve their problems — which, I’ve got to say, must be easier said than done in such a high-pressure environment!

 

Of course, “problem solved” is a subjective proclamation. Did the judges concur? Generally, yes. Each earned kudos for different elements of their snacks, but there was no runaway best offering. Lyndsay’s filling was flavourful, but her decision to deep-fry her wrap turned it into a glorified spring roll; Stephen, too, had a bit of a greasiness issue due to deep-frying, but the judges still seemed high on his concept; and while Jennifer’s dough drew plaudits, she apparently sacrificed some of the meaty flavour of her filling.

 

Sadly, an amazing pastry wasn’t enough for Jennifer, and her Recipe to Riches journey came to an end. It’s too bad, really. I was lucky enough to eat some truly exceptional pasties in England this past summer. Now I’ll never know if Jennifer’s version could have satisfied my unrequited cravings back in Canada.

 

Product Launch

How did the marketers influence remaining contestants Stephen and Lyndsay? Well, they made both products rather youth-oriented. We got name changes (Chipotle Chili Slams and Wrap Attacks, respectively), we got cheerleaders, we got a hip-hop advertising jingle. Stephen even pulled out a vuvuzela (remember those?). All to entice a team of hockey players to try some bite-sized treats.

 

It turned out that the focus group of teenage boys — admittedly a very specific audience — wasn’t much impressed. They gave Lyndsay fairly low “recommendation” scores, but only marginally preferred Stephen’s offering. In retrospect, I think Stephen had an inborn advantage when it came to this challenge. Namely, he didn’t remind the tasters of their mothers. Lyndsay was obviously very enthusiastic about her offering, but it was hard not to cringe a little when she was dancing to her product’s marketing rap.

 

Of course, our professional judges employ significantly broader criteria in determining a winner: flavour, healthiness, creativity, ease of production, and on and on. Neither Stephen’s Chipotle Chili Slams nor Lyndsay’s Wrap Attacks were perfect on any of these counts, but they did have enough promise to make for a difficult decision (or at least it looked that way on TV).

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(Above: President’s Choice Chipotle Chili Slams)

 

Ultimately, Galen Weston and the gang chose chili. We’ll see Stephen’s little President’s Choice Chipotle Chili Slams on Loblaws’ shelves starting this weekend! Will you be picking them up for an easy afternoon snack?

 

If you missed it, catch the full episode here.

 

Craig Moy

Craig is an editor at a Toronto-based city magazine. He also writes about all manner of cultural topics, including food culture.

 

 

 

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Recipe to Riches Season 2 Episode 2: Judges’ Recap

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JUDGE | LAURA CALDER

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The truth is that the Savoury Snacks in the batch-up were a big disappointment. The recipes we put through were delicious, and we could see any of these being potential products, but they just didn’t come off in the batch-up. So we were stuck tasting things where we thought “What? This isn’t what we tasted in auditions.”

Lyndsay literally transformed her recipe beyond recognition, so what we tasted after the batch-up wasn’t even what we passed through, and we felt kind of ripped off there. Stephen’s recipe was a good idea but it needed better execution.

The Chicken Cornish Pasties were the most well-executed. In a way we felt like, there we were with two innovative ideas, one that had to do with street food, and the other was an interesting bite, chili inside out, and we went with innovation instead of the best executed which made us feel a bit guilty. I know Jennifer was sure she was going through, so it was a big a shock to her that she was sent home. But in the end, what was the big idea? The big idea wasn’t going to be Cornish Pasties no matter how well-executed it may have been. It was a bit weak on taste although it was a great little home dish, but we didn’t see it having repeat sales power.

Asian Snack Wraps

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JUDGE | DANA McCAULEY

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What was really interesting about the batch-up for the Savoury Snacks episode is that it really reflected real life. The hurdles our Recipe to Riches finalists had to clear in this batch up were very common. There is always a challenge (or two) along the way when commercializing a recipe into a product but since our competitors didn’t expect them, these common problems really broke the finalists’ confidence. To be honest, I’m surprised we haven’t seen these kinds of issues arise before on Recipe to Riches!

The good news is that all the problems we encountered were easily resolved. Sadly, Jennifer went home after our batch-up challenge. Although she had the fewest problems in the kitchen, her concept was weaker than the other two. Even though we loved her product, Jennifer’s Cornish Pasties couldn’t compete against two more innovative products. Likewise, although Stephen’s batch up wasn’t as easy, he was a very deserving winner because he created a snack concept that is new and noteworthy.

Chipotle Chili Bites

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JUDGE | TONY CHAPMAN
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Savoury Snacks are so on trend. Consumers want the ability to eat on the go and they are having less and less family dinners so it’s a very powerful and important category.

There were two really hard-fought product launch events as they were both held in the same arena and they had to fight for their own territory. Stephen had a contest where you had to throw goo inside of a target to demonstrate his chili inside of polenta. The problem I found with the event is that only one person could throw at a time and given that most of the people there were male teens, they got bored with it very quickly.

What I loved about Lyndsay’s event was that she create a rap song and really brought her street food theme to life and everybody could enjoy it. She found a way to engage the entire audience in the event and really brought her street food theme to life. In the end, she didn’t take ultimate prize because this competition is about feasibility, desirability, originality and appeal. When it came down to tough deliberations, Stephen’s Chipotle Chili Bites clearly won.
Chicken Cornish Pasties

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If you missed it, catch the full episode here.

 

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Smokey Tomato and White Bean Soup

Start this soup off by cooking down the chopped onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil on medium-high heat. Once the onions have softened, about 5 minutes or so, stir in the red curry paste. Reduce to medium heat and let cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the diced tomatoes to the pot and continue to let cook until the tomatoes break down and release their juices, about 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender or food processor, take the tomato mixture and puree until smooth. If using a food processor, return the puree to the pot and add in the remaining soup ingredients. Once the soup starts to bubble, turn to low heat and let simmer on the stove for 20 minutes, stirring every once in a while. Finally, season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle out soup into bowls and finish with a dollop of sour cream! Stay warm folks!

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What you’ll need…

1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic
1 TBSP red curry paste
5 cups diced tomatoes
2 1/2 cups chicken stock (use veggie stock to stay vegan)
1 can white beans (drained)
1 1/2 cup zucchini squash (1/2? cubed)
1 TBSP lapsang sougchung tea (finely ground)
2 TSP lemon juice
1 TSP white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
olive oil
sour cream (for garnish, optional)

 

 

Dan Clapson Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

 

 

 

 

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Photolicious: Soupstock

On Sunday afternoon, Woodbine Park in Toronto was host to Soupstock – a one-day culinary celebration which featured over 200 soups from some of Canada’s top chefs.

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Presented by the Canadian Chefs’ Congress and the David Suzuki Foundation, the intent of Soupstock was to raise awareness about the fight to stop the Highland Companies’ proposed limestone Mega-Quarry in the Township of Melancthon 100 kilometres northwest of Toronto. Over 40,000 visitors sampled original soup creations made from over 10,000 lbs of donated ingredients.

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Visitors got to sample small portions of a variety of creative soups, chowders and stews with flavour combinations that were truly inspiring. What better way to spend a sunny autumn Sunday than sampling soups for a cause? For more info visit http://www.soupstock.ca/
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jennmyers

Jennifer Myers is lead web designer on FoodNetwork.ca & HGTV.ca. She loves deconstructing recipes in her mostly all-white loft with her mostly all-white French Bulldog.

 

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8 Yummy Nut-Free Halloween Treats

Hosting your kids’ friends on Halloween night can be downright scary if you aren’t prepared for today’s allergy sensitivities. Gone are the days of throwing together a bunch of snacks you have in the back of your closet for the gaggle of goblins and ghouls who show up at your house for a get-together on Halloween night. It’s likely that your child has at least one or two—if not many more—friends with some degree of nut allergy. According to Anaphylaxis Canada, a peanut allergy affects about 2 in 100 children in Canada.

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This year, my kids came home from the first day of school having learned about allergies and all of the foods that kids in their class may be allergic to. For parents and kids, this is no longer a unique occurrence. More and more kids are sensitive to foods and can have reactions ranging from subtle to severe. If you are hosting any kids with food allergies, be sure that everyone is washing hands thoroughly before and after eating. Also, surfaces such as tables and toys should be washed clean of any possibly contaminating foods.

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Food allergies are not to be taken lightly. Simply coming in contact with an allergen can have severe consequences. For those with serious allergies this can result in anaphylactic shock and even death. In Canada there are ten priority allergens: peanut, tree nuts, soy, wheat, egg, milk, seafood, sesame, sulphates and mustard. As of August, 2012 food products sold in Canada must meet Canadian food labeling regulations. While this makes it much easier for consumers to identify products containing allergens, the difficulty with kids is that they are often eating out and do not have packaging labels in front of them in the school lunchroom or when eating at their friends’ homes.

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If you’re hosting a party or event this Halloween, you may have your work cut out for you when trying to go nut free. While scanning the aisles and reading labels for prepackaged snacks is always an option, why not consider throwing together your own home-baked peanut-free treats for this year’s Halloween bash? Keep in mind, you’ll still need to keep your eye out for allergy warnings on all your component ingredients! For instance, foods such as potato chips can be cooked in peanut oil or may contain trace amount of nuts.

 

Check out the list below for some nut-free Halloween treat ideas.

Jack O’Lantern Cookies and Pumpkin Patch Cookie Icing
These delicious Jack-o-lantern cookies are sure to delight!

BBQ Popcorn Cakes
Spicy popcorn treats will be a big hit if you’re hosting a teenage crowd.

Devil’s Food Cupcake Ice Cream Cones
An ice cream cone treat without all the messy drips.

Dipped Chips
Decorate these dipped-chips in orange and black for Halloween.

Melon Ball Monster with Dark Fudge Dipping Sauce
This adorable monster is fun and healthy!

Candy Apples
A tasty classic that can be made frightful with half a gummy worm sticking out of each!

Pink Peppermint Candies
Make two batches of these peppermint candies using black and orange food colouring.

Gingerbread Lollies
Gingerbread on a stick – what will they think of next?

Top 5 Sweet Potato Recipes

It’s time for our weekly top 5 post, and this week we’re embracing autumn and featuring sweet potatoes as the main ingredient. A healthier alternative to regular potatoes, they are beyond versatile; you won’t be able to get enough of them! These are the 5 most-searched sweet potato recipes of the past year (according to website stats). We hope you’ll get inspired to try them out!

1. Michael Smith’s Sweet Potato Soup

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Is there anything more comforting than coming home to a big bowl of soup after a long day of work? We don’t think so. This sweet potato soup is chock full of veggies like celery, onions and carrots, and is seasoned with yummy cinnamon. This might just be autumn in a bowl.

2. Sweet Potato Fries with Seasoned Salt

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These sweet potato fries, courtesy of Michael Smith, are a great way to cut down the calories of regular fries while still maintaining an amazing salty taste. Seasoned with cinnamon and brown sugar, as well as sea salt and chili powder, this is a great way to mix sweet and savoury.

3. Sweet Potato Poutine

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A healthier version of poutine? Sign us up! This recipe by Nadia G. is a great way to introduce sweet potatoes to your kids. They won’t be disappointed and neither will you!

4. Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes

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Coming in at fourth place is this delicious and easy recipe for twice-baked sweet potatoes by Michael Smith. Sprinkled with ginger, salt and raisins, this is a great example of how comfort food can also be nutritious.

5. Sweet Potato Home Fries

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Rounding out our top 5 list is this recipe for sweet potato home fries by Michael Smith. Topped with green onions and bacon, these would make a great side dish to any meal.

 

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Joe Beef: Discovering Montreal’s Eclectic Food Culture

Montreal is quickly becoming known for its vibrant food scene as Quebec’s distinct local culture is being celebrated throughout its many eateries. Living and eating well are paramount there and often a meal in Montreal becomes a feast. The culinary heritage has its roots in France of course,  but with the benefit of a uniquely Canadian influence, dining out in Montreal can be truly magical.

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One of the most celebrated restaurants in Canada is Joe Beef. Taking its namesake from an irish-born 19th century tavern owner who catered to the working class and the down and out.  The Joe Beef of yesteryear served labourers, beggers, longshoremen, sailors and ex army men with easy service and most surprisingly, “a menagerie of wild animals.” Joe Beef current day is a massively popular restaurant serving whimsical French market cuisine to locals and vistors alike in the not-so-quickly gentrifying neighborhood of Little Burgundy. The animals are gone, for the most part (the washroom boasts a bison…).

Since 2005, Owners Frédéric Morin, David McMillan and Allison Cunningham, have transformed a small street just north of the Saint Lawrence into a bonafide culinary destination. Joe Beef is well regarded, popular, and often fully booked.  In order to keep up with the influx of diners, The Joe Beef team opened Liverpool House (a tavern) and McKiernan (a luncheonette since closed) within the same block.

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A mid-autumn road trip to Montreal called for some quality cuisine and I was lucky enough to score reservations for Joe Beef. I could not have been more excited.

If Joe Beef has anything, it’s personality. The decor is eclectic, in a ‘found-and-meaningful objects’ way. The walls are lined with wainscotting, subway tiles and a hodge-podge of collectibles and old maps. Chalkboard menus spell out the evening’s offerings, changing weekly and featuring five or six new dishes at a time.  Renowned for a number of things, (rustic decor, oysters placed on inedible objects, liberal use of foie and seasonal ingredients) the Joe Beef kitchen creates whimsical dishes with intense flavour.

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We were seated at a table on the heated back patio overlooking the impressive garden. A Series of raised planters and garden beds provide fresh vegetables and herbs for the kitchen. A DIY smoker in the backyard allows the chef to serve home made, house smoked, homegrown and thoughtful dishes with an artisan approach.  Joe Beef is all about the locally sourced and seasonal and having relationships with the purveyors, as well as top notch hospitality.

Unassuming, cabin-life decor, comfortable with decedent eats; Joe Beef is on any gourmands must-dine list, and is a  true testament to the spirit of Montreal. If you cannot manage the trip  check out The Art of Living According to Joe Beef: A Cookbook of Sorts.

Duck Steak au Poivre ala Joe Beef

Serves 2

This is the kind of dish that used to be prepared tableside in Montreal chophouses.

1 large duck breast half, about 15 ounces (420 g)
1 tablespoon black or green peppercorns, crushed in a mortar until somewhere between whole and powder
Salt
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped French shallot
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon brined green peppercorns, drained and patted dry
2 tablespoons Cognac
½ cup (125 ml) beef shank stock
¼ cup (60 ml) whipping cream (35% butterfat)
Frites

Remove the skin from the duck breast by running a sharp knife between the skin and the meat, lifting the skin away from the meat with your fingers. This is a detailed, annoying task, similar to unwrapping a new dishwasher. When you’ve separated the two, you can set the skin aside to use for a confit.

Cover the meat with plastic wrap and pound it with a rolling pin or the side of a giant cleaver until it is flattened by about 20 per cent. Lightly score the meat to prevent retracting. Rub one side of the duck steak with the black peppercorns to season it, and salt the other side.

Heat a nice (you’re serving tableside, remember?) pan over medium-high heat. Let it get quite hot, add the oil, and when it is hot, add the steak. Cook, turning once, for 1½ minutes on each side.

Take the steak to a plate and set aside. Pour off any fat from the pan, and then wipe it clean.

Put the pan over medium heat, add the butter and sweat the shallots for 4 or 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the mustard, green peppercorns and Cognac, and mix for 30 seconds. Add the stock and reduce until almost syrupy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream and mix well, taste and adjust the seasoning, then reduce for a full 2 minutes. If you reduce the sauce too much, add stock or water, not cream.

Return the steak to the pan and toss it in the sauce for a few seconds on each side. Serve on a silver tray with the sauce and fries on the side.

Variation
You could also tie two small duck breasts together, flesh to flesh, and raost them in the pan for 3 min per side then finish in a 425F 220C oven for 4 minutes.

(From: The Art of Living According to Joe Beef , published by Ten Speed Press)

jennmyers

Jennifer Myers is lead web designer on FoodNetwork.ca & HGTV.ca. She loves deconstructing recipes in her mostly all-white loft with her mostly all-white French Bulldog.

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What’s On The Table: A Benefit for The Stop Community Food Centre

On November 7th, the eighth annual What’s on the Table is set to take place, featuring the most innovative chefs in Toronto and the best Niagara wines, benefiting The Stop Community Food Centre. Delicious food and wine, and all for a good cause? What could be better?

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Check out these photos of some of the yummy treats from last year’s What’s on the Table! The 2011 sold-out event raised over $340,000 for anti-hunger programs.

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The Stop raises money to provide nutritious food and social support to those living in poverty in Davenport West. 90% of the funds raised at What’s on the Table go directly to these anti-hunger and community-building programs.

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You can buy tickets and find out more about the event here.

 

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Restaurant Takeover: Chef Andrea Nicholson Takes Us Behind the Scenes

The Royal Caribbean truly felt like a tropical storm had blown through it and no one picked up the pieces. It was in desperately in need of Restaurant Takeover’s help.

I received a call from Crystal, who is the daughter of The Royal Caribbean owner Ainsley. She told me that the restaurant was in dire need of help; the decor was ragged, the food was suffering from lack of passion, and her father was burnt out, not to mention was suffering from some serious health issues. Crystal also mentioned that if Restaurant Takeover didn’t help, they would eventually have to close their doors.

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The Decor

The decor of the Royal Caribbean was extremely outdated and off-putting. The walls had, as I called it, “boiled plantain” paint, which really looked just plain dirty. Mirrored glass covered the walls (who wants to watch themselves eat?). The tiles on the floor were all chipped, grimy and not at all suited for a restaurant.
Fake dusty plants and dirty hot sauce bottles were the added decorations which just added to the storm. Needless to say, Montana had her work cut out for her.

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The Food

I was really excited to get into the kitchen with Ainsley. I love Caribbean Food and I have a fair amount of experience with the cuisine and culture. My husband is Jamaican and I have travelled to almost every Caribbean island.

There is no doubt that Ainsley can cook the classic Jamaican dishes. His oxtail, jerk chicken, goat and whole fish were amazing and exactly how they should taste. It was the dishes that were not Caribbean that were the problem. The vegetarian pasta dish that he cooked for me was absolutely horrid and there were actually about 6 other ingredients in that dish that did not make the cut (like hoisin sauce, thyme, garlic powder, hot peppers and seasoning salt). So needless to say that dish was one of the worst things I have ever put into my mouth. I was actually more worried that my unborn baby would be eating it too!!

At that point, I had seen enough and was really looking forward to getting Ainsley into the RTO kitchen and showing him some fresh new approaches to Caribbean cuisine.

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Teaching an old dog new tricks!

Ainsley had been working at Royal Caribbean 7 days a week, struggling through 14 hour days for years. He was completely burnt out and lacked any passion or energy towards his menu. My job here was to make his life and work as simple as possible and to re-energize him and the menu. On RTO kitchen day, Mister Outgoing, Ainsley, was so nervous to cook with me we give him a little shot of rum to loosen him up. I don’t condone drinking on the job but for the first time, behind the camera, it was necessary!
The three dishes that I showed Ainsley are so easy to execute and really tied into the Jamaican theme. A solid vegetarian dish should have substance, flavour and creativity. And the Jamaican curry pumpkin stew has all those things. It has texture, and it’s spicy and cooked with love.
In the next two dishes, I wanted to incorporate the vibrant and fresh Caribbean fruits and veggies that are so commonly used in the cuisine, like Cho-Cho, plantain, avocado, hearts of palm and coconut. Ainsley was so receptive and reinvigorated to be cooking with ingredients he grew up with. I definitely sparked his flame again and showed him the potential that his restaurant has.

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The Reveal

Now it was time to show Ainsley and Crystal the hard work that the RTO team had been doing for the past 6 days. Ainsley was so nervous and excited to see the work and couldn’t wait to get in there, and more importantly show off his new place to his customers.
Montana and I walked them both in and they both let out this amazing gasp and were totally grateful. Montana completely captured the cool Caribbean beach feeling and gave Ainsley and Crystal the Royal Caribbean of their dreams.

All of Ainsley and Crystal’s family and friends were in attendance to celebrate with them and it was time for one more surprise and truly the highlight for me. I had the privilege of presenting Ainsley with a trip back home to Jamaica! With the renovation and a trip to plan for, Ainsley was like a new man. That night, before all the RTO crew left, he was already in his kitchen cooking up new dishes and was so excited to open the doors and begin his new chapter.

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Family Fun: Weekend Biscuits

Whenever we arrive at my in-laws’ home, there’s a round plastic Tupperware container filled with fresh biscuits. Soft, slightly sweet and so familiar. Comfort food.

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These biscuits are great with butter and honey (or jam, lots of jam) but just as versatile served with soup or stew. They easily pop into a jacket pocket for a nice fall trip to the park, too.

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You can halve the sugar in the recipe if you prefer the biscuits less sweet, but this is how I know and love them; but I love them most because they take only 10 minutes to whip together.

Weekend_Biscuits_Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a medium bowl, combine 2½ cups AP flour, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ cup sugar and 1 tablespoon baking powder. Combine well with a fork or whisk.

Weekend_Biscuits_Shortening

My mother-in-law uses shortening but you can substitute cold butter. Cut up the shortening with a couple of knives — literally hold a knife in each hand and run them back and forth in the bowl, like little metal “legs” walking through the shortening until it is broken into little pea-size bits in the flour. (You can also rub the butter into the flour with your fingers.)

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Crack an egg into a measuring cup and beat with a fork. Now pour in enough milk to make 1 cup.

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Add the milk/egg mixture to your flour and mix with a wooden spoon (or any mixing spoon) until you create a dough.

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You’re going to dump out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it lightly until it holds its shape (about 1 minute).

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Now, gently press out the dough with your fingers, until it is about the same height as your round cookie cutter. To make a dozen biscuits, your cutter needs to be about 2½” to 2¾” in diameter.

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Cut out the biscuits and then reshape the scraps and flatten again until you have used it all up. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until the biscuits have risen and are lightly golden on top.

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The base will be crisp and browned. Cool (for at least 30 seconds!) before devouring.

 

RECIPE: Biscuits
Makes 1 dozen

 

Ingredients
2½ cups AP flour
¼ tsp salt
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup shortening or cold butter
1 large egg
scant ¾ cup milk
NOTE: You’ll also need a round cookie cutter, about 2½” to 2¾” in diameter


Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder and mix well.
  3. Crack the egg into a small bowl and beat well with a fork. Add the milk, and beat to combine. Set aside.
  4. Cut the shortening (or butter) into small cubes and add to your dry mixture. Using a couple knives or your fingers cut or rub it into the flour until the mixture looks crumbly.
  5. Add the milk/egg mixture to the dry. Stir gently with a spatula, until a dough is formed.
  6. Move the dough to a floured surface and roll/knead it lightly until it holds together well. Flatten gently with your fingers, until it is the height of the cookie cutter.
  7. Dipping the cookie cutter in flour, cut individual rounds from the dough. Reshape the dough when needed to use it all up. You should have about 1 dozen biscuits.
  8. Put the biscuits on a greased cookie sheet.
  9. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until biscuits are lightly golden.

Sue_RiedlSue Riedl is a Toronto-based food writer with a passion for cheese who writes a column called The Spread for The Globe and Mail. She loves to push stinky cheese on her 3-year-old.

 

 

 

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Anna’s October Bake Off: Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Thanksgiving officially launches the autumn entertaining season, so now it’s time to flex your baking muscles and try a dessert fit for a dinner party!

This Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake captures all the best of autumn baking – fragrant spices, fresh apples and caramelized sugar.  The caramelized sugar takes a bit of attention. Make sure you don’t walk away from the pan as the sugar boils, and brushing the sides of the pot as the sugar bubbles helps to keep sugar droplets from crystallizing (so that your sugar remains fluid).  If you are baking this recipe with your kids, be sure that they don’t take on this task, as the sugar reaches over 300 degrees F.

I’d like to hear your dinner party stories – what else you served for your meal, the occasion that brings you together and of course, photos of the spectacular dessert – even shots of your enraptured guests!  As always, get creative with presentation and what you choose to serve with the cake…a scoop of ice cream? A custard sauce? A salted caramel sauce?

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CARAMEL APPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Apples make an ideal upside down cake, since they caramelize so nicely and the juice meld with the sugar syrup, making for a shiny glaze when the cake is inverted.

Makes one 9 inch cake
Serves 12

Caramel Apple Layer:
3  apples (Spartan, Mutsu or Cortland), peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
2 Tbsp  water
1 Tbsp  lemon juice
1 cup  sugar
¼ cup  unsalted butter

Cake:
¼ cup  unsalted butter at room temperature
½ cup  sugar
½ cup  packed dark brown sugar or demerara sugar
4  eggs at room temperature, separated
1/3 cup  sour cream
1 tsp  vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp  baking powder
½ tsp  ground cinnamon
¼ tsp  salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9 inch cake pan and place it on a parchment-lined baking tray.

2.  For the caramel apple layer, arrange the apples tightly together in the bottom of the prepare pan.  Pour the water and lemon juice into a small saucepot, and then add the sugar and butter.  Bring this mixture to a boil without stirring and continue to boil, occasionally brushing the sides of the pot down with water, until it is a rich caramel color, 4 to 6 minutes.  Remove the pot from the heat and pour the caramel over the apples, coating them as much as possible (but don’t worry if they are not completely coated).  Set aside while preparing the cake.

3. Beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar together.  Add the egg yolks, sour cream and vanilla and beat until blended.

4.  In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and stir this into the butter mixture.

5.  In another bowl, whip the 4 egg whites until they hold a soft peak and fold them into the cake batter in 2 additions.  Scrape the batter overtop of the apples and spread evenly.

6. Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Allow the cake to cool for 30 minutes.  Run a knife around the inside edge of the cake pan and place a serving plate overtop the pan.  Flip the cake over and lift the pan off, revealing the caramel apple top.

 

Here’s how Bake Off works:

  • Our hostess with the mostess, Anna Olson, picks a recipe middle of every month
  • You make the recipe (follow it or add your creative flair)
  • Email us (giveaways@foodnetwork.ca) a picture and short descriptive blurb before November 14th 9am ET for your chance to win! Anna will pick the winner (We are giving away a $100 gift card to Williams-Sonoma and an autographed copy of Anna’s cookbook). 

Anna_OlsonProfessionally trained pastry chef Anna Olson is the host of Food Network’s Bake with Anna Olson. Anna’s culinary philosophy is based on a common-sense approach of cooking and baking with the seasons, as well as respecting the ingredients, the technique and the process of sharing with others through food. Most of all, cooking and baking should be fun!

 

 

 

 

 

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