Anna Olson: 1 Simple Dessert, 4 Seasonal Decorations

There are certain desserts that suit any season: chocolate or vanilla layer cake, cheesecake, lemon or chocolate tarts, to name a few. Almost any neutral dessert can be the foundation for a gorgeous plate, and playing with seasonal accents gives you countless options. You could serve the same dessert to the same guests on separate occasions, and they likely wouldn’t notice because you’ve changed the toppers (or maybe they just had a little too much wine with dinner!).

Seasonal plating gives any dessert a distinctly Canadian feel; very few countries have four distinct seasons the way we do, and with that comes not only a variation of ingredients, but preparation variations as well.

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For my Maple Chiffon Cakes (which happen to be gluten-free), I have four plating styles to show you, to give you a sense of how to change up your accents for each season.

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1. Fall
Now that we’re into cozy sweater season, treat your desserts with the same sense of warmth. Try a warm caramel sauce drizzled over the cake with a crispy topper of maple toasted almonds, and you’ve got a perfect plate for this time of year.

2. Winter
Winter gives us the greatest plating flexibility since we have fewer local ingredients to access, and using tropical fruits or citrus can really brighten up any dessert on a frosty day. Here, I’ve gone with one of my favourite flavour combinations: chocolate and orange. The addition of a warm chocolate sauce and candied orange zest gives you gloss and vibrancy in a plated dessert.

3. Spring
When plating desserts in spring, you should try to lighten things up a little. A nice rhubarb or strawberry sauce would be perfect, or even a simple lemon glaze with edible flowers makes for a fresh arrangement on your plate.

4. Summer
Fruits flourish in summer, so take advantage of the brief warm season. A cream cheese frosting adds richness to any dessert, and would contrast well with a mix of berries or even berry preserves. If it’s really hot outside, you can’t go wrong with a scoop of ice cream to cool things down a bit.

Get the recipe for my Seasonal Garnishes.

Spooky Apple Cider Punch

In my search for Halloween party ideas, I came across this great recipe from the homemaker of all homemakers, Martha Stewart. Inspired, I decided to whip up my own mix of ingredients, to go along with the shrunken apple heads. This punch is super easy and would also be great alcoholic, substituting the soda for champagne, or adding some spiced rum or bourbon to the mix!

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Serves: 4-8

Ingredients:
4 cups apple cider
2 cups sprite (or other sparkling soda)
1 cup cranberry juice
2 sticks of cinnamon
2-4 apples (2 for a small punch bowl, 4 for a wider punch bowl)
2 whole cloves per apple (optional)

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Directions:
1. Start by preheating your oven to 250°F.
2. While oven is preheating, peel the skin off all of your apples and slice them in half, removing the core with a melon baller. Cut faces using the round side (I used the smaller side of my melon baller, along with a paring knife to cut out the faces).
3. Once sliced in half, and given a face, place the apple on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for about 2 hours until apples have shrunk a bit, and become wrinkly. Push a clove into each eye socket of your apple.
5. Mix ingredients for punch together, place your apples into the bowl, along with the cinnamon sticks.
6. Serve and enjoy!

Oreo Chocolate Salami

This chocolate salami is by far the easiest and most delicious no-bake dessert you’ll ever make. Despite its name, this popular sweet doesn’t contain any meat, but is named as such for its resemblance to salami. Traditionally, this tasty treat is packed with tea biscuits, tons of butter, eggs and some sort of port or alcohol, but this recipe needed a modern face-lift.

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My version eliminates the eggs and alcohol, swaps out some of that butter for sweetened condensed milk, and packs in Oreos and pretzels for lots of good crunch. After chilling out for a bit, it’s rolled in icing sugar so that it really gets that cured meat appearance.

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Truffle-like with tons of crunchy cookies and pretzels, it’s actually easy enough to make with the kiddies. Make it a topic of conversation by wrapping it neatly in parchment and tying the ends with butcher twine. Go that extra mile by making a pretty handwritten label for it. It would be a wonderful hostess gift!

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooling Time: 3 hours
Makes: 10-12 servings

Ingredients:
200 g good quality dark chocolate (85% cocoa)
½ cup sweetened condensed milk
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
Pinch of salt
1 heaping cup roughly chopped Oreos (about 10)
½ cup roughly chopped salted pretzels
¼ cup roughly chopped tea biscuits or graham crackers
Icing sugar

Directions:
1. Melt the chocolate, sweetened condensed milk and butter in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of lightly simmering water. Mix often to be sure the chocolate is melting evenly. It may start look like it’s separating, but that’s OK. Season with a pinch of salt and mix.

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2. As soon as the chocolate is melted, combine with the Oreos, pretzels and tea biscuits.

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3. Transfer the mixture to a long piece of plastic wrap and form it into a salami-shaped log. Wrap super tightly with plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about 3 hours to set.

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4. Unwrap and dust with icing sugar or roll in sifted icing sugar. Keep wrapped in the fridge until ready to serve. This will keep, if wrapped well, for up to 5 days.

Halloween Pumpkin Pasta

With fall upon us, out come the sweaters, colourful leaves, and tons of Autumn-inspired eats, like this Halloween pumpkin pasta.

This tasty dish is perfectly suited for the season; Halloween farfalle pasta covered in a creamy pumpkin sauce spiced with fresh rosemary, paprika and nutmeg.

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Halloween Pumpkin Pasta
Adapted from the Martha Stewart recipe.

Ingredients:
250 grams Halloween farfalle pasta
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary
1 can (400 ml) pumpkin purée
1 clove of garlic (minced)
1/2 cup of half-and-half cream
1 Tbsp white-wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp paprika
2-3 pinches of nutmeg
1 shallot (minced)
Salt and pepper

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Directions:
1. Start off by cooking your pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until the pasta reaches its desired tenderness.
2. While the pasta is cooking, in a large sauce pan, fry the fresh rosemary in olive oil for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. Once is begins to brown remove the rosemary from your pan onto paper towel.
3. In the same pan, add in the pumpkin purée, garlic, half-and-half, white-wine vinegar, paprika, nutmeg and shallot. Cook the sauce, stirring regularly for about 3-5 minutes until the ingredients have combined and the sauce has warmed through.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper (feel free to add more half-and-half if the sauce is too thick).
5. Once the sauce has finished, add in the rosemary and pasta, stir and serve!

Spooky Eyes Chocolate Bark

When I was a kid, I stretched trick or treating for as many years as I could. It wasn’t until I was verging on my late teens before I finally felt too old. There was nothing better than getting free candy, munching on it all night long, and having a huge stash at your disposal to enjoy for weeks to come.

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Now that I’ve grown way past the acceptable age of trick or treating, I look for other ways to get my candy fix.

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This year, I’m making Halloween chocolate bark, combining my love for Halloween treats and chocolate into one delicious treat. The tiny eyes are super easy to make and add a touch of spookiness to this tasty chocolate bark.

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Ingredients:

The chocolate:
3 cups chocolate chips
½ cup–1 cup assorted Halloween chocolates (depending on size)

The eyes:
1 egg white
1 ½ cups icing sugar
Black gel food colouring

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Directions:
1. Place the chocolate chips in a heat-resistant bowl. Place bowl over top of pot of simmering water to create a double broiler. Let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally.
2. Pour melted chocolate on a parchment lined baking sheet. Using a spatula, spread chocolate evenly into a large rectangle of even thickness. Place Halloween candy all over melted chocolate.
3. In a medium-sized bowl whisk egg white until frothy. Whisk in icing sugar until a smooth, white icing is formed. Place half of icing into a Ziploc bag or piping bag. Cut off a small corner of the bag or tip of the piping bag. Pipe two dots, for eyes all over the Halloween chocolate bark. Dip a q-tip into black gel food colouring and dot eyes on the white dots of icing.
4. Let set in the fridge for 30 minutes. Break bark into small pieces for eating, sharing or giving as gifts for Halloween!

Hearty Vegetarian Chili with Butternut Squash

There’s nothing more soul-warming than a big bowl of chili. A unique and tasty alternative to your typical chili, this vegetarian green chili is made with tangy canned tomatillos, poblano chiles and jalapeños for some added heat.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

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Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 poblano chile pepper, seeded and chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 cans whole tomatillos, drained and roughly chopped
2 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped
8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 Tbsp lime juice
Shredded aged Cheddar
Sour cream
Finely chopped radishes
Lime wedges
Tortilla chips

Directions:
1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan set over medium heat. 2. Add onions, poblano, carrot, celery, jalapeño, garlic, chili powder, paprika, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 7 to 10 minutes or until vegetables soften.
3. Add tomatillos, broth and Worcestershire sauce, and bring to a boil. Add butternut squash, potatoes, white beans and pinto beans. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or until vegetables are tender and chili thickens slightly.
4. Stir in corn, cilantro and lime juice. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve with Cheddar cheese, sour cream, radishes, lime wedges and tortilla chips.

Notes:
– For those who like their chili to pack a punch, replace chili powder with chipotle chili powder.

Chocolate Pumpkin Truffle Pops

It’s much easier than you think to eat clean leading up to Halloween, and still satisfy your sweet tooth.

Try making these easy chocolate pumpkin truffle pops for your Halloween party and watch them disappear right before your eyes — without any tricks! Filled with natural peanut butter, shredded coconut, dates and vegan chocolate chips, these waist-friendly pops are also great for an afternoon snack or after-dinner treat.

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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 10

Ingredients:
¼ cup coconut flour
¼ cup canned organic pumpkin pie mix
5 medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter (or substitute another nut butter)
¼ tsp vanilla powder (optional)
Pinch sea salt
¾ cup vegan chocolate chips
½ Tbsp coconut oil
¼ cup chopped pecans
¼ sweetened shredded coconut

Directions:
1. In a food processor, combine coconut flour, pumpkin pie mix, dates, peanut butter, vanilla powder and sea salt until it forms a ball of dough.
2. With your hands, roll balls approximately 1 ¼” in size and poke truffle pop sticks into each ball. Set them on a dish or baking sheet lined with parchment paper while you melt the chocolate coating.
3. Melt chocolate chips with coconut oil in a double boiler or mixing bowl over a pot filled with a small amount of boiling water. 4. Stir until just melted and smooth, and remove from heat.
5. Dip the truffle pops in the melted chocolate and swirl to coat evenly. Use a spoon to get chocolate coating near the base of the ball. Allow excess to drip off before standing them upright.
6. Sprinkle coconut and/or pecans all over the chocolate, and using a piece of Styrofoam, place the truffle pop sticks in the 7. Styrofoam to stand upright in the fridge.
8. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the chocolate set. Keep truffle pops in the fridge until serving.

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Palak Paneer: An Indian Favourite

By Suganya Hariharan

One of my most craved, all-time favourite Indian dishes, palak paneer is a scrumptious curry made of rich cottage cheese cubes simmered in creamy spinach sauce—“palak” meaning spinach and “paneer” is the Indian cottage cheese. This dish is famously served alongside fragrant rice and garlic naan in India.

To make it your own, replace the spinach with kale or create a blend of your favourite leafy greens. Spinach already goes well with garlic and cheese, and when it becomes a curry mixed with fragrant spices it becomes infinitely more delicious.

This dish takes only 30 minutes to prepare at home. To make it purely vegan, replace paneer with firm tofu, avoid cream and use oil instead of butter. It tastes great with basmati rice and warm naan.

Palak Paneer: Spinach with Indian Cheese, Courtesy of Suganya Hariharan, relishthebite.com, Montreal

Take your leafy greens to new heights with this traditional Indian spinach and cheese curry dish.

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Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients
2 tbsp (30 mL) ghee, unsalted butter or oil, divided
1 small stick cinnamon
3 cardamom pods
1 small dried bay leaf
1 tsp (5 mL) cumin seeds (jeera)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 fresh green chillies, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, minced
1 medium tomato, finely chopped
1 tsp (5 mL) chilli powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) turmeric powder
8 oz (250 g) fresh spinach (or other leafy greens), washed
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp (15 mL) kasuri methi leaves, crushed
½ tsp (2 mL) garam masala powder
½ tsp (2 mL) chilli powder
3 tbsp (45 mL) cream
8 oz (250 g) paneer

Garnish
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh cilantro
1 tsp (5 mL) cream
Pinch garam masala

Directions
1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cinnamon, cardamom, bay leaf and cumin seeds and sauté briefly, until slightly golden in colour. Add onion, chillies, garlic and ginger; sauté until soft.
2. Add the tomatoes, chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder to skillet; sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until well mixed and soft. Add spinach and cilantro and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, or until wilted.
3. Remove bay leaf. Transfer the spinach mixture to a blender and pulse it few times until smooth but not puréed, being careful of hot splashes.
4. Return spinach mixture to skillet; add remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil, crushed kasuri methi leaves, garam masala and chilli powder and cook over medium heat. Stir in cream, adding water, if mixture seems too thick.
5. Add paneer to skillet and simmer, covered, for 5 to 6 minutes or until the paneer has absorbed the curry flavours.
6. Remove from heat. Garnish with coriander leaves, cream and garam masala.

Tip: For extra flavour, try frying paneer lightly in butter before adding to the curry.

Jump over here to print, save or share this recipe.

Do you have a delicious dish to share with the rest of Canada? Submit your recipe here for a chance to be featured on Great Canadian Cookbook and Food Network Canada!

Relish the Bite
My name is Suganya Hariharan, author of Relish the Bite. I do the cooking, writing and photography for the blog. Visit my site for all kinds of recipes but mainly tasty, spicy, flavourful Indian recipes. Never be afraid to try new flavours in your cooking!

What It Takes To Become a 1, 2 or 3 Michelin Star Restaurant

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First published in 1900 by the Michelin tire company as a guide to help French motorists find lodging on the road, the Michelin Guide is now exclusively devoted to fine dining. Over the decades, the guide has far surpassed its humble origins to become an almost-sacred tome to chefs, foodies, culinary experts and the restaurants who regard the guide as the final word in fine dining.

Worthy restaurants are rated on a system of one to three stars, but the process of attaining Michelin stars remains highly secretive, with specially trained Michelin inspectors paying anonymous visits to restaurants and submitting meticulous reports rating the service, décor and, of course, the cuisine.
In order to know which restaurants are worthy of review, inspectors will comb through websites, blogs and restaurant reviews in local magazines and newspapers — if a restaurant in a given city is generating buzz and word of mouth praise from customers, it may land on a reviewer’s radar.

Michelin Star Ratings
Michelin gives out up to three stars, with only the world’s greatest dining establishments attaining that coveted third star. But exactly what does each star mean? According to the guide, one Michelin star represents a “very good restaurant in its category,” while two stars denotes a restaurant boasting “excellent cooking” that is “worth a detour.” Three stars, however, is the ultimate accolade, afforded only to those restaurants that offer “exceptional cuisine” that is “worth a special journey.”

Understandably, there’s a lot of grey areas within those rating descriptions, and the process of receiving stars is meticulous and painstaking, typically taking several years.
When a reviewer visits a restaurant for the first time, neither the restaurant’s owner nor chef will have any idea it even happened. If the reviewer loves the place, then another mystery visit will be paid the following year. Assuming the second visit goes as well as the first — preferably better — it’s at this point the reviewer may recommend the restaurant receive its first Michelin star.

Criteria
Michelin remains secretive about the criteria and evaluation process used to award stars, but certain factors are known to be key, including: the quality of the products; a chef’s mastery of flavour and cooking techniques; the chef’s ability to imbue the cuisine with his or her culinary “personality;” and consistency between visits, not just when it comes to food but also encompassing the overall dining experience.

Earning one Michelin star is typically seen as a gift from the gods, but is not necessarily a golden ticket to receiving the second and third. For that to happen, it will take many more anonymous visits over ensuing years, and the stars must align perfectly. For example, if an otherwise extraordinary restaurant happens to have an off night while an inspector is visiting, that single experience could quash any future hopes of ever getting a star.

How to Earn Stars
Although the process is seemingly random from a restaurant’s perspective, there are in fact several steps that can be taken to increase the likelihood of receiving Michelin stars.

Meticulousness
A restaurateur needs to treat every night as if it’s the night of a Michelin inspection, and chefs and staff must be meticulously trained to ensure everyone is working together and on the same page. By ensuring that every diner’s experience on any given night is as exceptional as possible, only then will a restaurant be in the running for a Michelin star.

Train Under Michelin-Starred Chefs
For a chef seeking a Michelin star, it can be beneficial to train under a chef who has already earned one or more. By becoming the protégé of a chef who’s already earned the respect of Michelin, an up-and-comer aspiring toward Michelin stardom can more easily get on Michelin’s radar.

Discipline
It’s been said that cooking is an endless quest for perfection that can never be achieved. Only those with the desire and discipline to be the best will make the cut to become Michelin’s next culinary superstars.

Investment
While it may be tempting to bank a restaurant’s profits, that’s not going to win a Michelin star. The key is to use those profits to further invest in the restaurant to improve the décor, better train staff, source higher-quality ingredients, etc. If a Michelin inspector sees a restaurant, no matter how good, constantly striving to improve instead of simply resting on its laurels, this could make all the difference. It’s not unheard of for a restaurant to spend millions on improvements and then earn the money back (and then some) thanks to the increased revenues that can come from a Michelin star.

Mastery
If you were raised in a kitchen in Spain where you learned the secrets of traditional Basque cuisine at your grandmother’s tutelage, why would you open a sushi restaurant in Tokyo? It makes sense for a chef to cook the type of food he or she is most comfortable with. Only by attaining a mastery of a particular cuisine will a chef then be able to push the boundaries and propel it in bold, new directions.

Creativity
Being on the cutting edge of new food trends, with a relentless pursuit of excellence combined with a drive to push the envelope, is a great way to attract Michelin’s attention. The Michelin Guide would have a tough time ignoring an innovative chef whose cuisine is being talked about as the “next big thing” in the food world.

The Finest Ingredients
As any great chef will confirm, ingredients are key. With this in mind, Michelin-starred chefs have been known to personally source unique, hard-to-find ingredients, forging relationships with farmers, artisan bakers, cheese-makers and the like in order to work with the only the best, most unique ingredients possible. Cutting corners is not the way to a Michelin star.

Walk to Canossa
This term refers to King Henry IV humbling himself before the pope and offering penance. It’s also the nickname for the practice (which was apparently quite common up through the 1980s) in which chefs aspiring toward Michelin stardom would journey to Paris in order to meet with the guide’s editors and make a case explaining why their restaurants deserved consideration. Although not as common as it once was, rumour has it this still takes place on occasion.

Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

It’s all pumpkin spice all the time once the first day of fall hits, and a big stack of pancakes is a great way to enjoy this tasty flavour combination.

These pumpkin spice pancakes are perfection: they’re just the right balance of fluffy and dense, sweet and a little spicy, and are packed with pumpkin flavour. Serve them up to family and friends for a decadent breakfast treat or part of a delicious brunch spread.

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Makes: 8 pancakes

Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp each nutmeg, all-spice & ginger
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup pure pumpkin purée
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup almond milk
1-3 Tbsp vegan butter for cooking

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Directions:
1. Heat a non-stick pan to medium/medium-low and pre-heat oven to 200°F. You’ll place the pancakes on a baking sheet or plate in the oven to keep them warm while you cook.
2. In a mixing bowl combine the flours, spices, baking powder and sea salt together with a fork. Add pumpkin purée, maple syrup and almond milk, and whisk together until well combined.
3. Use a 1/4 cup for each pancake. Lightly butter the pan with some vegan butter. Scoop batter into the centre of the pan. Once it starts to bubble all around and the edges of the pancake are slightly cooked through, that’s when you flip it. It’s approximately 2 minutes per side. Be sure to adjust your burner temperature as you go as the pan will get really hot half way through.
4. Serve with more vegan butter and real maple syrup.

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Chicken, Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni

This creamy chicken, spinach and ricotta-filled pasta is packed with a flavourful tomato sauce and walnut pieces for some crunch. With its cheesy, crisp crust on top and moist and tender interior,  you can’t go wrong with this satisfying baked pasta dish.

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Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
28 oven-ready cannelloni shells
1 pound ground chicken
1 ½ cups ricotta cheese
6 cups fresh spinach
1 small onion, finely diced
2 large cloves garlic
3 Tbsp olive oil
pinch nutmeg
¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 cup grated 4-cheese blend, divided
½ cup walnut pieces

For the Cream Sauce:
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream
3 Tbsp butter
3 Tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
Pinch nutmeg
¾ cups grated Asiago cheese

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large skillet, brown the ground chicken until cooked through and drain any water or extra fat. Add browned meat to a large mixing bowl and set aside.
2. In the same skillet, heat olive oil on medium high and sauté onion until golden brown. Add garlic to skillet and sauté for 1 minute. Add spinach and cook until wilted. Season with the salt and pepper and a pinch of nutmeg.
3. Add onions, garlic and spinach to bowl and allow to cool slightly before mixing ricotta through to incorporate. Mix in walnut pieces.
4. Make cream sauce by melting butter over medium-low heat in a saucepan. Take off the heat and whisk in flour. Heat milk and cream in a separate saucepan or in the microwave, and slowly whisk into butter and flour mixture. Raise heat to medium-high and bring to a light boil, whisking occasionally. Incorporate salt, pepper and Asiago cheese, and set aside.
5. Pour ⅓ of the sauce on the bottom of a 9 x 9” casserole or oven-proof dish.
6. Stuff half the cannelloni shells using an icing bag or a spoon and place in 2 rows on the bottom of the casserole. Cover with ½ of remaining sauce and ½ of 4-cheese blend. Repeat with the rest of the cannelloni, sauce and 4-cheese blend.
7. Cover with tin foil and place on a pan to catch any possible drips. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes, until cheese is golden brown and bubbling.
8. Let cannelloni cool for about 15 minutes before cutting into 6 sections and serving.

Vegan Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze

With fall comes pumpkin spice-flavoured everything and we just couldn’t resist. These light and fluffy vegan pumpkin scones are sweetened with maple syrup and topped with a luscious maple glaze, making them a pretty decadent breakfast or coffee break treat you can feel good about!

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Makes: 12

Ingredients:

Scones:
1 ½ Tbsp ground flax
3 Tbsp water
3 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp all spice
7 Tbsp cold coconut oil
1 cup maple syrup
½ cup pumpkin purée
½ cup non-dairy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Maple Glaze:
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
2 Tbsp non-dairy milk
½ tsp maple extract
¼ cup whole pecans

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 425°F
2. Combine ground flax with water and refrigerate for 10 minutes to set and thicken.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine whole-wheat flour, baking powder, sea salt and spices.
4. In another mixing bowl combine maple syrup, pumpkin purée, non-dairy milk and vanilla extract, and set aside.
5. Take 7 Tbsp of cold coconut oil and add to flour mixture. Using a pastry blender, cut the cold oil into the flour until it resembles a crumb-like texture.
6. Add thickened flax mixture into bowl with liquid ingredients and stir to combine.
7. Create a well in the middle of the dry mixture and pour in the liquid ingredients. 8. Fold a few times until the dough just comes together, and then place it onto a lightly floured surface.
9. Using your hands, shape dough into a long rectangle that’s approximately 1 ¼” thick and 4” wide. Make alternate diagonal cuts along the rectangle to cut out 12 triangles.
10. Bake scones on a parchment lined baking sheet for 12-14 minutes.
11. Once the scones are out of the oven, place on a wire rack to cool. Toast whole pecans for a few minutes on a baking sheet to get them golden brown and fragrant and once cool to touch, you can chop them into smaller pieces.
12. To prepare the glaze, mix together with a whisk or hand mixer the powdered sugar, non-dairy milk and maple extract.
13. To glaze the scones, dip the tops into the bowl of glaze and allow excess to drip a little. Place back onto the wire rack (some glaze will drip down the sides). Be sure to sprinkle with chopped pecans right away so they stick and allow them to dry.
14. Store scones in airtight container at room temperature.

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A Chocoholic’s Dream: Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

By Mardi Michels

Growing up, I was a huge fan of Nutella. I was 11 years old when I discovered it for the first time at our local Italian deli. The chocolate spread, with a hint of toasted hazelnuts, tasted quite sophisticated to my young palate.

While I still have that sweet tooth, these days I’m more interested in satisfying my cravings with something like flourless chocolate cake. This cake has long been one of my favourite desserts and I have wonderful memories of my mum’s version. Over the past few years, I’ve made a number of flourless cakes and this one – combining my favourite childhood flavours of chocolate and hazelnuts – is one of the most popular. It’s light, not overly dense and fudgy, and sophisticated in its simplicity. Enjoy it plain or dress it up with a little fruit coulis, whipped cream or ice cream.

This cake is a crowd-pleaser that’s also perfect for a romantic dîner à deux. In fact, a colleague asked me to bake one for Valentine’s Day dessert for his sweetheart. It’s that good.

Flourless Chocolate Hazelnut Cake, Courtesy of Mardi Michels, eatlivetravelwrite.com, Toronto

Rich, moist and incredibly delicious, it’s hard to believe this heavenly dessert is made without a hint of flour.
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Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients
6 oz (170 g) dark chocolate (64 or 70%), roughly chopped
4 oz (115 g) butter, chopped
6 eggs, separated
3 oz (75 g) granulated sugar
4.5 oz (130 g) hazelnut meal (ground hazelnuts)
whipped cream, to serve

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180ºC). Grease 8-inch (2 L) springform pan.
2. Combine chocolate and butter on top of double-boiler over barely simmering water. Stir until melted and combined. Remove from heat; cool slightly.
3. In medium bowl, use electric mixer to beat egg whites until glossy and soft peaks form. Set aside.
4. In separate bowl, beat egg yolks and sugar until thick, creamy and light in colour.
5. Using rubber spatula, stir chocolate mixture into egg yolk mixture.
6. Add hazelnut meal to chocolate mixture, gently folding until the hazelnut meal is completely combined.
7. Stir egg whites into chocolate mixture one-third at a time, gently folding until no more streaks of white show.
8. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake for 45 minutes or until skewer inserted into middle of cake comes out mostly clean with some crumbs clinging.
9. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Remove side from pan and cool cake completely on cake rack. Serve with whipped cream.

Tip: This cake keeps well overnight, at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap or foil.

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Eat.Live.Travel.Write.
Mardi Michels teaches French and cooking to elementary school boys. She writes eat. live. travel. write, a blog about culinary adventures near and far. She was a founding member of Food Bloggers of Canada, is a Food Revolution Day Ambassador for Toronto, contributes to JamieOliver.com and hosts adult cooking and baking classes in Toronto.

A Colourful and Crispy Tofu Dish

By Suganya Hariharan

When I was young, I spent most of my time with my family in the kitchen, and I don’t regret it. I used to sit on the kitchen counter and taste my parents’ cooking. I had no idea what tofu was until I was in tenth grade, when my dad bought it from the market in Singapore. At first, I was a little hesitant to have it for dinner. I stood near the kitchen with my mom as she cooked the scrambled tofu with chopped onions and chilies. We had it with some hot rotis (Indian bread) and it tasted scrumptious! My dad started buying tofu regularly after that, making me different kinds of dishes with tofu – this recipe is one version of that dish. Using garlic with the skin on gives this dish a different flavour.

Serve this recipe as an appetizer with toothpicks, or alongside rice noodles or plain sticky rice. You can also use it as a sandwich filling for a quick, healthy breakfast.

Spicy Garlic Soy Tofu, Courtesy of Suganya Hariharan, relishthebite.com, Montreal

This vegan dish doubles as a crowd-pleasing weeknight dinner or a quick and easy appetizer when unexpected guests arrive.
Spicy-garlic-tofu_888embed

Prep time: 4 mins
Cook time: 6 mins
Yield: 2 cups (500 mL)

Ingredients
8-10 dry red chilies
1 2-inch (5 cm) piece ginger
1 tbsp (15 mL) white sesame seeds
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
7-8 cloves garlic, skin on
2 tbsp (30 mL) sesame oil
2 tsp (10 mL) soy sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) pepper powder
1 lb (450 g) extra-firm tofu, in bite-sized cubes
green onions, chopped

Directions
1. Place the chilies, ginger, sesame seeds, salt and garlic in blender and pulse 3 or 4 times, or until coarse paste forms.
2. Heat oil in frying pan over medium-low heat; add spice paste. Fry for 30 seconds. Add soy sauce, pepper powder and tofu cubes.
3. Toss well to coat, cooking for about 2 minutes or until tofu turns slightly golden and crispy.
4. Garnish with chopped green onions.

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RelishTheBite
My name is Suganya Hariharan, author of RelishTheBite. My “factual job” is writing SQL queries for my quality control analyst position. In the cooking department: I do the cooking, writing and photography for the blog. I believe in the taste of happiness and my blog is a place to find the recipe for your favourite food. Never be afraid to try new flavours in your cooking!

Top 5 Pizza Recipes from You Gotta Eat Here!

There’s just something about homemade pizza — whether it’s shaping the dough, the layering of your favourite ingredients, or devouring the pizza itself, nothing is more satisfying than some mouth-watering pizza created by yours truly.

To get you in the pizza making mood, we’ve rounded up five of our favourite pizza recipes from You Gotta Eat Here!:

1. Mango Tango Chicken Pizza
pizza4

2. Pulled Pork Pizza
Pulled-Pork-Pizza

3. Capricciosa Pizza
pizza5

4. Kung Pao Chicken Pizza
pizza3

5. Wise Guy Pizza
pizza2

How to Use Leftover Pumpkin Purée for Cookies

By Kacey Joanette

Pumpkins always remind people of autumn and Halloween, but if you grew up in a household like mine, there was never any inkling of pumpkin recipes. Over the years I have seen just how popular pumpkin recipes are and have delved into them head on, trying to win myself over with the whole love affair. At first, I assumed pumpkin recipes could be made using ordinary carving pumpkins, but that isn’t the case! Pumpkin pie or cooking pumpkins are picked specifically for cooking.

I finally experimented with homemade pumpkin purée when my daughter was old enough to pick her own pumpkins and would always pick the small cooking pumpkins to work with. We used them to make homemade pumpkin purée. To cope with the abundance of pumpkin purée, we decided chocolate chip pumpkin cookies were in order.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies, Courtesy of Kacey Joanette, thecookiewriter.com, Bowmanville, Ont.

After an afternoon of pumpkin picking, forget the traditional pumpkin pie and bake these chunky, bite-sized cookies instead.
Chocolate-Chip-Pumpkin-Cookies_888embed

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 30 cookies

Ingredients
1/2 cup (125 mL) salted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 mL) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
1/2 cup (125 mL) pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) whole-wheat flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground cloves
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground allspice
1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) ground ginger
1/2 – 3/4 cup (125 – 175 mL) chocolate chips

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In bowl, cream together butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well. Add pumpkin purée, mixing until just combined.
3. In separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and ginger. Slowly add flour mixture to butter mixture, mixing until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
4. Scoop 1 tbsp (15 mL) of batter per cookie onto baking sheet and roll into balls.
5. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before moving to wire rack.

Click here here to print, save or share this Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cookies recipe.

Do you have a delicious dish to share with the rest of Canada? Submit your recipe for a chance to be featured on Great Canadian Cookbook and Food Network Canada!

TheCookieWriter
The Cookie Writer is all about sharing recipes that can easily be adapted to suit dietary and lifestyle restrictions without anyone feeling left out.

Kid-Approved Breakfast Squares

Back-to-school season always leaves me with a bittersweet feeling. Sure, it’s nice to get back to a regular routine, but it also means summer is officially over. It’s time to replace the flip-flops and sunscreen for backpacks and lunchboxes, and there’s no more relaxing with leisurely sleep-ins and endless amounts of time to enjoy your morning meal.

With school starting comes the mad morning rush, and it takes a few weeks to get into the groove again. It’s helpful to prepare breakfast the night before to alleviate stress on busy mornings. These healthy breakfast squares really come in handy for those times when it’s just, “Grab your backpack and we’ll eat in the car!” They’re low in sugar, peanut-free and pack well for breakfast on the go.

Oatmeal Breakfast Squares
Recipe courtesy of Angie Wright of Friday is Cake Night.

healthy-oatmeal-breakfast-squares_888Blogembed

Prep time: 10 mins
Bake time: 20 mins
Yield: 9 squares

Ingredients
1 cup (250 ml) milk
1 large overripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup (50 ml) packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp (45 ml) unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/2 tsp (2 ml) vanilla
11/2 cups (375 ml) old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup (125 ml) oat flour
1/2 tsp (2 ml) cinnamon
1/2 tsp (2 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) salt

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat an 8-inch square cake pan with non-stick spray.
2. In large bowl, mix together milk, banana, brown sugar, applesauce, egg and vanilla.
3. Add rolled oats, oat flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt to banana mixture. Stir to combine. Scrape batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 to 15 minutes before cutting into squares.

Written by Angie Wright

Friday is Cake NightI live in Northern B.C. with three taste-testers: my husband and two kids. We love to travel and try out new recipes. I have always loved to bake – and I have the extra 10 pounds to prove it!

Print, save and share the recipe for Healthy Oatmeal Breakfast Squares.

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Weeknight Dinner Hero: Pizza with Broccoli Sauce

By Kacey Joanette

When it comes to dinner, pizza is usually a family favourite because it can easily be customized to suit anyone’s likes and dietary concerns. Homemade pizza is a favourite here and weekly pizza night is not something new. But eating a lot of the same meal can sometimes become repetitive, and my family finds coming up with unique pizza toppings is fun and exciting. This broccoli sauce was definitely created by the need for change. Not only is it different, but it’s also a great way to get nutritious veggies into your child’s diet. Hiding broccoli in this pizza sauce is a great way to introduce it to your child.

Growing up we had the same sides: steamed or boiled veggies with butter. They were nothing special, and definitely not memorable (sorry, Mom and Dad!) Creating recipes on my own time and experimenting a lot with different cooking methods, I have come to appreciate the finer qualities of simple ingredients. My daughter is a good eater and requests broccoli often, but I want to steer clear of plain and simple sometimes, especially if she is having friends over who may not be as fond of certain veggies. Being able to hide broccoli in this pizza sauce is fantastic for the child in your life who does not get enough greens or the child who loves them but wants a change. Top the sauce with cheese and their favourite toppings and they’ll never notice the broccoli!

Homemade Pizza with Yummy Broccoli Sauce
This sauce is so delicious, your child won’t ever suspect it’s chock-full of broccoli.

BroccoliPizzaSauce_888x600

 Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 45 minutes
Yield: Sauce for one large pizza

Ingredients
1/2 lb (225 g) broccoli
1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) all-purpose flour
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (250 mL) heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup (50 mL) vegetable broth (approx)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) red chili flakes
salt and pepper
pizza dough for 1 pizza
mozzarella cheese
asparagus (optional)
red pepper (optional)
artichoke hearts (optional)
olive oil (optional)
balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 475ºF (240ºC).
2. In food processor, blend broccoli until puréed (about 2 cups/500 mL).
3. In large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until evenly combined and roux is deep brown (the longer you cook it, the deeper the flavour and the less likely it is to taste like flour.)
4. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in cream. Stir in broccoli, broth, chili flakes, salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until sauce is thick and creamy.
5. If necessary, stir in additional vegetable broth to thin sauce until spreadable.
6. Roll out pizza dough and spread with sauce. Top with your favourite pizza ingredients, such as mozzarella cheese, asparagus, red pepper and artichoke hearts. (I marinated the asparagus and red pepper with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, then added to pizza along with artichokes.)
7. Bake 15 to 18 minutes, or until crust golden and cheese is melted and bubbling.

TheCookieWriter
The Cookie Writer is all about recipes that can be easily adapted to suit dietary and lifestyle choices.

Spicy Pumpkin and Sausage Soup

Whenever Fall rolls around, I start to go a little soup crazy. The spicy Italian sausage adds nice heat to this hearty, vegetable-heavy bowl of goodness. With the chickpeas, chunks of zucchini and kale and thick broth, this soup almost feels more like a stew. Needless to say, it is best enjoyed with family or  friends.

pumpkinsoup

Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 5-6

Ingredients:
3 cups fresh pumpkin (1 cubed)
2 large Italian sausages (casing removed)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 yellow onion (finely chopped)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups zucchini (halved, 1/2 sliced)
3 cups kale (stems removed, loosely chopped)
1 14 oz can chickpeas
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Directions:
1. Start with preheating your oven to 400°F. Toss the chunks of pumpkin with a bit of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and let them roast in the oven until they’re fork tender, about 35 minutes.
2. While that’s happening, cook the sausage in a large pot on medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon as you go, until well-browned. De-glaze the pot with the red wine, then add the chopped onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 5 minutes or so.
3. Next, pour in the broth, remaining vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and let simmer for 20 minutes.
4. Once the pumpkin is ready, remove from oven, place into a food processor or blender with cream and purée until smooth. Stir the pumpkin puree into the pot, along with remaining ingredients. Let simmer for another 20 minutes.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper to finish.