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!

5 Halloween Party Recipes Inspired by Scary Movies

Alright, so making cute party snacks isn’t your strong suit— that’s OK! Not everyone has a steady hand (or patience) to make immaculate marshmallow jack o’ lanterns or a five-layer tombstone cake. Here are five Halloween recipes that are meant to look messy and gross, but actually taste delicious. Bonus: you can do this while already half in the bag over a witches’ brew (gin) and still impress your friends.

Halloween smoothie recipe

Camp Crystal Lake Waters, inspired by Friday the 13th
Makes about 4 cups

Welcome your guests with a shot glass filled with some murky brew.

Ingredients:
4 cups kale leaves, stems removed and leaves torn into small pieces
2 cups sweetened almond milk
1 cup blueberries
2 Tbsp freshly grated ginger
2 Tbsp maple syrup

Directions
Place all ingredients into a blender and mix until everything is evenly blended. Pour into shot glasses and serve.

Halloween recipe red pepper hummus pita pockets

Puss-filled Wounds, inspired by A Nightmare on Elm Street
Yields: about 2 cups of hummus, enough for about 30 pitas plus leftovers.

A snack of roasted red pepper hummus served in mini pita pockets. Make things less hectic by making the hummus the night before.

Ingredients:
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or one 591ml can)
2 whole roasted red peppers
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and lemon juice, to taste
Two bags of bite-sized pitas

Directions:
1. Combine chickpeas, roasted peppers, garlic and olive oil in a blender, food processor, or a bowl if you’re using a hand blender.
2. Purée the ingredients until everything becomes a smooth and velvety texture and all the lumps gone. If the mix is too thick, thin it out with a bit of water.
3. Add lemon juice and salt to taste. Continue blending until everything is well incorporated. Store in an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to serve.
5. To serve, cut open a hole in the middle of the pita and stuff a spoonful of hummus inside.

Halloween recipe pea soup shot glass

Regan’s Demon Vomit Shots, inspired by The Exorcist
Yields about 12 cups of soup.

Make this chilled pea soup the night before and reheat just before serving, or serve chilled with mint or basil leaves as garnish.

Ingredients:
4 cups frozen green peas
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cups whole milk or cream
1 cup potato, chopped and peeled
1/2 cup white onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 pats butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Mint or basil leaves, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

1. In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic until the onions become translucent.
2. Add the chicken broth and milk. Bring to a simmer.
3. Add the peas and potato.
4. Continue to simmer. Blend the mixture until smooth. Add in the parmesan and stir until it’s all melted. Let cool completely before refrigerating in an airtight container.
5. Sprinkle with additional grated Parmesan before serving.

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Bloodied Campfire Marshmallows, inspired by Cabin in the Woods
Yields about 36 bloodied marshmallows.

A sweet spread of marshmallow skewers, drizzled with coloured chocolate for your hungry guests to enjoy. This is meant to look messy and splattered, so don’t spend too much time trying to get the “blood” to drip just right. You can also make this the night before.

Ingredients:
1 bag large size marshmallows
1/2 pound red chocolate wafers (available at bulk food stores)
1 Tbsp chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Place the chocolate wafers and chips into a microwave-proof bowl that’s been wiped completely dry.
2. In intervals of 15 to 20 seconds microwave the chocolate on med/high, stirring the chocolate in between as it melts. Continue until the chocolate has completely melted and there aren’t any lumps.
3. Over a sheet of parchment paper, drizzle the melted chocolate on top of the marshmallows using a spatula, allowing it to run down the sides of the marshmallows. Allow the chocolate to harden and dry before skewering them.

Halloween party recipe LeatherfaceJerky

Leatherface Fruit Jerky, inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

This fruit leather with licorice strings is gooey, sticky and slightly slimy, perfect to gross out your guests while they pick at it.

Ingredients:
1 package thin red or black shoelace licorice
2 cups fruit gummies of various colours and flavours

Directions:
1. Place a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the top bowl.
2. Pour in the gummies and stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until the gummies have melted and melded into one gooey blob.
3. In a baking tray lined with parchment paper, pour in the melted candy mixture. Using the spatula, spread the candy evenly in a rectangular shape about 1/2cm thick. Let the candy cool to room temperature then chill in the fridge for a few minutes. This will harden the candy so that it’ll be easier to peel off the parchment.
4. Remove from fridge and peel the candy off the paper. Using a pair of scissors to cut the candy into uneven, haphazard shapes.
5. Cut the licorice into short strands and place on top to replicate stitches.

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Top 10 Rules For Fine Dining

Fine dining is about a lot more than just eating great food. It’s a culinary experience steeped in tradition, and there’s a lot of etiquette involved. For those unfamiliar with the ins and outs of dining at finer food establishments, here’s a quick refresher course to keep you up to par.

Top rules of fine dining

1. Attire
While the days of dinner jackets and women wearing gloves are long gone, dressing appropriately is still a hallmark of any upscale restaurant. Men are expected to wear a jacket and tie, while women should also dress for the occasion. If the dining is fine, so should be one’s clothing.

2. The Table
There are a few things to know about the table, first of which is to keep one’s elbows off it. It’s also considered rude to plunk one’s keys, cellphone, purse or what have you on the table. Purses should be placed on the floor, under the table, while phones should be turned off; texting and checking email during a meal is considered the height of boorishness in any fine dining establishment.

3. The Napkin
Upon sitting down at the table, the napkin should be unfolded and placed on one’s lap. When getting up from the table mid-meal, one would excuse him- or herself and place the napkin next to the plate, never on the chair. Napkins are not for wiping the mouth, but for gently dabbing it. When the meal is finished, the napkin should be placed next to the plate, not on it.

4. The Menu
If unsure of what to order, ask a waiter to make some recommendations. One thing that should never be done, however, is to ask the chef to alter a dish for your specifications, which any chef would consider an insult. If one has specific dietary restrictions, however, it’s a good idea to inform the server and see if they can recommend any suitable dishes.

5. The Glasses
A restaurant serving haute cuisine may have a staggering amount of glassware on the table, and each has its unique purpose. If unsure of which to use, just pay attention; the busperson will pour water into the water glass, while the waiter or sommelier will pour wine into the appropriate wine glass (there are different ones for red, white and sparkling wine/champagne). When making a toast, never clink glasses together; simply raise the glass. It’s also considered good manners to make eye contact with one’s dining companions when toasting.

6. The Wine
One should never discuss the price of wine. When ordering, simply point out a wine in the category of your price point and ask the waiter (or, even better, the sommelier) for recommendations; he or she will understand and stick to wines within the desired price range. When the wine arrives and the cork is presented, do not sniff the wine but carefully smell it as you have a little taste. Unless the wine has gone bad (hint: it will taste like vinegar), do not send it back just because you don’t like it.

7. The Cutlery
The fancier the restaurant, the more cutlery you’re likely to find on the table. For those confused about which fork to use with which course, the rule of thumb is to start at the outside and work your way inward. For example, the salad fork (which is smaller than the fork used for entrées) is on the outer left, with the entrée fork on the right. The knife and fork should be held while eating, with cutting of food to be done as you eat it; never cut up all your food and then eat and make sure the tines of the fork face downward. When finished, place the knife and fork on the plate, crossing each other, and never ever leave a spoon inside a bowl of soup.

8. Courses
Don’t order a salad for a main course. Fine dining is an experiential journey that begins with the appetizer or amuse-bouche and ends with dessert — you bought the ticket, so take the ride. The rule of thumb when it comes to courses is to order the same number as one’s dining companion; one person eating while another sits without food is awkward and embarrassing. Many of the world’s most prestigious restaurants, in fact, offer special multi-course tasting menus so that all diners can enjoy the same specific dishes at the same time.

9. Eating
When it comes to eating etiquette, there are a few general rules to remember: don’t slurp your soup, and don’t blow on hot food to cool it down. The fork is meant to spear food, not scoop it like a shovel. Don’t use cutlery to gesture to your dining companions. Never stick the entire spoon or fork in one’s mouth.

10. The Bill
If you’re hosting the meal and plan on paying, the most sophisticated move is to arrange for payment ahead of time with the restaurant. If your guest wonders about the bill, or insists on contributing, that makes it far easier to say the meal has already been taken care of.

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!

How to Flavour Your Meals Without Adding Salt

Eating a low-sodium diet is one of the best ways to take care of your heart these days. However, adding that extra kick of flavour to please your palate can be tricky without upping your sodium intake. Before you reach for that saltshaker, here are a few flavour-boosting ideas you should try — without having to sacrifice taste.

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Flavour with herbs.
Fresh herbs like basil, oregano and dill can give your dish a dynamic flavor boost, while using dried herbs like thyme, rosemary and bay leaves in sauces or soups can add depth and heartiness. You can also achieve complex, salt-free flavours by raiding your spice cabinet and creating your own herb mixtures.

Flavour with citrus fruits and vinegars.
Acids have the same affect on your taste buds as salt, and can brighten up any dish. Squeezing lemon on your seafood or leafy greens is a match made in culinary heaven. As an alternative, finish your plate with a splash of balsamic or red wine vinegar to add some serious zing.

Add garlic and onions.
Who needs salt when you have the option of adding garlic and onions to virtually any recipe? Sautéing this perfect pair can be used as the foundation of many sauces, soups and mains. Small dices of each can even be used to add depth to salad dressings or salsas.

Eat naturally salty foods.
Cheese, yogurt and olives are all naturally salty ingredients that you can add to your dish. Instead of turning the saltshaker loose on your plate, sprinkle some parmesan cheese on your veggies, or use yogurt in salad dressings to provide the taste of naturally derived salt.

Eat seasonally.
The flavours of seasonal, locally sourced fruits and vegetables will shine through in any dish, and you will come to appreciate the natural taste of each ingredient you use. There’s nothing quite like tomatoes and cucumbers tossed in a fresh summer salad, or the perfectly roasted squash on a crisp fall day.

When in doubt, roast it.
Meat and vegetables take on incredibly rich and smoky flavours when they are roasted to perfection in the oven, or charred on the BBQ — no salt needed here! Don’t forget to use the fond (the browned bits on the bottom of your pan) to create a delicious and complimentary sauce to your meal. Throw in some of the fresh herbs listed above and you’re all set.

Anna Olson’s Top 5 Food Halloween Costumes

I’m more fond of the playful side of Halloween as opposed to the spooky side — although my house is rumoured to be haunted (it’s an old Victorian home and doesn’t need much help getting dressed up for Halloween).

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Photos courtesy of Anna Olson

Our street really does Halloween in style; with lots of kids in the neighbourhood, the trick-or-treating starts right at dusk and doesn’t let up for three hours.  Along the way, we see some stunning costumes, and food is always on trend!  Here are the top five food Halloween costumes I’ve seen:

1. Bacon: My friend’s son, Walker, is obsessed with bacon, so of course it makes sense for him to dress up as his favourite thing on the planet.

2. Cakes and Cupcakes: If you come to my door dressed as a sweet treat, you can guarantee that I’ll toss an extra handful of sweets in your goodie bag. My friend’s daughter, Ruby, went all out with the tiered confection above. How sweet!

3. Lobster in a Pot: Our neighbour came by one year with her 6-month-old dressed as a lobster dropped into a stock pot— and her older sister was dressed as the chef who put her in there.

4. Popcorn: I’ve seen a single kernel (yellow outfit with puffy white kitchen bags tied on) and a box (striped box with clear bags filled with popcorn on top). Very economical and creative!

5. Jolly Green Giant: We happened to be taping Bake with Anna Olson on Halloween one year, and our Director of Photography arrived dressed in head-to-toe green, an exact replica of the asparagus spear giant. At least, I assume that’s what he is…

If raiding your kids’ bag of Halloween treats isn’t an option, I have some delicious goodies that taste just like your favourite classics:

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Chocolate Covered Caramel Bars
Shortbread cookies are topped with gooey caramel and dipped into chocolate. This takes a little work but it’s beyond worth it!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Whoopie Pies
If you love a good peanut butter cup, this treat is for you: peanut butter frosting sandwiched between chocolate cake cookies.

Chocolate Macaroons
These chewy, not-too-sweet cocoa and coconut candies are always a fan favourite .

Spiced Monkey Bread with “Spider Web” Spun Sugar

Who doesn’t love a warm, gooey cinnamon bun as a breakfast treat or afternoon snack, but monkey bread is even better! Sticky, fluffy Timbit-like rolls of cinnamon bread all stuck together in a giant loaf — there’s really nothing like it.

This time around, I decided to make a Halloween-inspired, pumpkin-spiced monkey bread covered in “spider web” spun sugar. It’s a great treat for Halloween and the perfect bread for sharing; every little ghoul and goblin will be sure to get a piece.

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Ingredients:

For the dough:
¼ cup butter, melted
2 cups warm milk
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp quick rise yeast
4 ½-¾ cups all-purpose flour

For the dusting:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp pumpkin spice
½ cup butter, melted

For the spun sugar:
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp corn syrup
¼ cup water

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Directions:
1. Begin by making the dough. In a stand mixer bowl, combine the melted butter, warm milk, brown sugar, pumpkin spice, vanilla and yeast. Mix together and leave to sit for 3 minutes to activate the yeast.
2. Mix in the flour using a dough hook or using a wooden spoon if you don’t have a mixer. Mix until the dough comes together and continue to mix/knead the dough for 5 minutes.
3. Place the dough in a large, greased bowl. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for 1 hour. Once the dough has risen, punch it down.
4. For the dusting ingredients, mix together the sugar and spice.
5. Pull apart pieces of the dough to make small rounds (a couple inches in diameter). Roll each piece of dough into the melted butter and then straight into the spice mixture. Start packing the dusted balls tightly into a greased bundt tin. If you don’t have a bundt tin, use a large and deep, round 9” cake tin.
6. Once all the dough has been rolled and placed into the bundt tin, cover with a towel and leave to rise again for 30 minutes. Once the dough has risen again, place into a preheated 350°F oven.
7. Bake the monkey bread for 1 hour. The bread may leak from your bundt tin, so place a tray underneath to catch any drips.
8. While the bread is cooling, make your caramel for the spun sugar. Combine sugar, corn syrup and water in a small pot. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Boil, without stirring the mixture, until the mixture turns a light amber caramel, about 10 minutes.
9. Remove from heat and let cool slightly to thicken. Using a fork dip into caramel and quickly move the fork back and forth over a large piece of parchment paper to create small strands of sugar.
10. Once cool, lift off large strands and place on top of monkey bread to create spun sugar web.

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.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

10 Halloween Recipes for a Zombie-Themed Party

Halloween is quickly approaching, and so is… a zombie apocalypse? Well, maybe not, but we’ve got some ghastly recipe ideas for all you hardcore Halloweeners to feast like the undead this Hallows’ Eve. Get cooking…if you dare!

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1. Zombie Punch with Bloody Hats

2. Bleeding Hearts Scones 

3. Liver with Onion Compote

4. Broken Finger Cookies

5. Bloodshot Fried Eggs with Witch Fingers

6. Beet Hearts with Chèvre

7. Liver Pâté 

8. Brain with Brown Butter

9. Grilled Heart with Golden Beets & Horseradish

10. Roast Eight Winged Bat

Fun and Spooky Pumpkin Snack

By Julie Miguel

What if I told you there is another, non-traditional and fun way to prepare pumpkin seeds that doesn’t involve roasting them with salt and spices?

One year around Halloween, I was munching on some candied nuts I made while I stared at 11 uncarved pumpkins. (Yes, you read right! My husband bought 11 pumpkins one year.) I wondered how my recipe for candied nuts would work for pumpkin seeds.

I knew I would have a lot of seeds to work with and I didn’t want to make them all the same flavour. I’m so glad I gave my idea a shot, because one simple swap made for an incredible result. I transformed my normally boring pumpkin seeds into ridiculously delicious, salty-sweet candied pumpkin seeds – they’re the kettle corn of the pumpkin seed world. You won’t be able to stop eating them. I haven’t made the traditional roasted pumpkin seeds again, and I have a feeling you won’t, either.

Sweet and Salty Candied Pumpkin Seeds, Courtesy of Julie Miguel, dailytiramisu.com, Vaughan, Ont.

Once you’ve made some truly terrifying jack-o’-lanterns, use this recipe to make use of all those delicious, crunchy seeds.
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Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Yield: 1 cup of pumpkin seeds

Ingredients
1 cup (250 mL) plain, unshelled pumpkin seeds
¼ tsp (1 mL) cinnamon
1/3 cup (75 mL) granulated sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
½ tsp (2 mL) kosher salt

Directions
1. Rinse pumpkin seeds and pat dry. Pour seeds into large bowl and stir in cinnamon.
2. Measure sugar and water into saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to boil. Do not stir. Cook, watching carefully, until liquid is just starting to turn a very light shade of amber and is syrupy. Remove from heat and pour syrup over pumpkin seeds, stirring to coat seeds.
3. Scrape syrup-coated seeds back into saucepan on stove with heat off. Continue to stir seeds in saucepan. As mixture cools, sugar will begin to crystallize.
4. Sprinkle salt over seeds and stir just until salt is evenly incorporated and seeds no longer stick together.
5. Pour seeds onto parchment paper–lined baking sheet lined to cool completely.

Note: Make sure that you use a very small pot so that when stirring the pumpkin seeds you are able to use the edges of the pot to break the clusters apart.

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Daily Tiramisu
Julie Miguel is a television cook, recipe developer, food stylist, food photographer and food blogger with a passion for inspired and healthy family recipes. She is also a proud wife and a mother to two young boys. The focus of her blog, Daily Tiramisu, is to empower home cooks to create wholesome meals from scratch. Cooking is something that Julie has always been fiercely passionate about. She is not a trained chef, but she is a home cook with a lot of real-life experience.

Why You Should Use Grapes Instead of Maple Syrup

By Kacey Joanette

When cooking for my daughter, I love experimenting and trying new things—it’s not unusual for a child to pick a new favourite and want it 24/7. I also love coming up with creative and unique recipes based on classics. This allows me to take an underused ingredient and turn it into something innovative and marvellous!

I feel grapes never get the love they deserve. Growing up, we ate them all the time as a snack, but not once were they included in any of our meals. However, with other fruit there is no limit to the amount of recipes behind them.

When I created these pear pancakes I wanted to steer clear of maple syrup as the traditional topping choice and go with something more exciting. The grape sauce was created by my need to be original, but also to use up the surplus that was available in my fridge (always looking for new ways to use up leftovers!)

Pear Pancakes with Grape Sauce, Courtesy of Kacey Joanette, thecookiewriter.com, Bowmanville, Ont.

Send syrup packing with this sweet grape sauce for fruity, homemade pancakes.
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Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10-15 minutes
Yield: 10 (1/4 cup portion) pancakes

Ingredients
Pancakes
3/4 cup (175 mL) milk
1 tbsp (15 mL) vinegar
1 1/4 cups (300 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp (30 mL) granulated sugar
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2 mL) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg
pinch of cinnamon
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) lemon juice
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter, melted
1 pear, peeled and cored, half diced and half grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 tbsp (15 mL) coconut oil or butter, for cooking

Sauce
1/2 cup (125 mL) red grapes
2 tbsp (30 mL) lemon juice
1/8 -1/4 tsp (0.5-1 mL) almond extract
pinch of salt

Directions
Pancakes
1. In 1-cup (250 mL) liquid measure, combing milk and vinegar. Set aside.
2. In medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
3. In small bowl, whisk together egg, lemon juice and vanilla. Whisk in milk mixture. Stir in melted butter.
4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients; add pear. Mix just until combined.
5. In large frying pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Pour batter into pan by ¼-cup (50 mL) portions. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until bottoms are golden, then flip, cooking until golden. Repeat with remaining batter and coconut oil.

Sauce
1. In small saucepan over medium heat, combine grapes, lemon juice, almond extract and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, or until grapes begin to break down.
2. To serve, pour sauce over pancakes.

Tip: If you prefer, substitute 3/4 cup buttermilk for the milk and vinegar and omit Step 1 from the pancake directions.

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

Chicken-Dumpling Soup: Kaillie Humphries Shares Her Fave

By Kaillie Humphries, as told to Valerie Howes

As an elite athlete, Kaillie Humphries—two-time World and Olympic champion in bobsleigh—has to watch every bite she eats. It’s important to consume the perfect balance of proteins, carbs and fats for peak physical performance. Every so often, however, this Calgarian indulges in her favourite meal: a bowl of her grandmother’s chicken-and-dumpling soup. Sometimes, what the body needs most is a little nourishment for the soul.

Kaillie Humprhies

Kaillie Humphries (Photo Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee)
Mike Ridewood/Canadian Olympic Committee

My favourite childhood dish is definitely my grandmother’s chicken-and-dumpling soup. It tastes similar to chicken noodle soup, only instead of noodles, it has these big, doughy dumplings floating in every bowlful. Although curry powder is not traditionally used in German cooking (my grandmother’s family immigrated to Alberta from Germany not long before she was born), just a pinch is added to the dumplings, which warms up the soup even more. It has generous chunks of browned chicken breasts, along with celery and carrots, in a rich-tasting broth. My dad does his own version with sweet parsnips added. Any way it’s made, this soup is very comforting.

I was my grandmother’s first granddaughter, and very close to her, so I love that this soup recipe can make me feel close to her again. After my little sisters were born, she became my babysitter, and we spent a lot of time together. She was a hairdresser and worked out of her basement—I spent countless hours down there with her as a child, playing with all her hairdressing stuff. She also had a piano and taught me to bang out some songs.

When I was about 12, my grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and she passed away in 2006. We never did cook together, so it was my mother who eventually passed on the recipe to my sisters and me.

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I crave chicken-and-dumpling soup when I get sick—or just homesick and in need of a little love. During the World Cup here in Calgary, I’d been away training for a while and had been missing home, so my mum made me this soup and drove it down to where I was staying. It was perfect. During race time, you don’t want to be feeling down, mentally or physically.

Strictly speaking, this soup is not a part of my diet as an athlete. I usually add way more chicken and veggies than the recipe calls for to make up for the dumpling carb-load. I don’t tend to eat it with anything else, such as bread, but you don’t need to; it’s pure soul food on its own. I probably eat it about five times a year. It’s my feel-good soup!

Anne’s Chicken-and-Dumpling Soup, Courtesy of Kaillie Humphries, Calgary

From the kitchen of Olympic athlete Kaillie Humphries, this chicken soup delivers a dose of comfort when you need a pick-me-up.

Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients
Soup
8 cups (2 L) chicken stock or turkey stock (approx.)
1 or 2 ribs celery, diced
1 or 2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 or 2 parsnips, peeled and diced (optional)
1 onion, chopped
2 cups (500 mL) cooked chicken or turkey (approx.), diced
salt and pepper to taste

Dumplings
8 eggs, well beaten
½ cup (125 mL) flour (approx.)
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 tsp (5 mL) curry powder

Directions
Soup
1. In large stock pot, add stock, celery, carrot, parsnip and onion; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; add chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste; add chicken stock to taste. Reduce heat to low; simmer.

Dumplings
1. While soup is simmering, mix together eggs, flour, salt, curry powder and ¼ cup (60 mL) water until mixture is thick paste like Play-Doh. Add more water, flour or egg as necessary until right consistency.
2. Increase heat to high; bring soup to rapid boil. Drop dumpling mixture by 1 tbsp (15 mL) into soup. If first few dumplings dissolve into little bits, they need more flour. Drop in remaining dumpling mixture by 1 tbsp (15 mL). Cover and reduce heat to medium-low; cook for 10 to 15 minutes.

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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.

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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!

Apple Napoleons with Dulce de Leche

The flavours of apple, cinnamon and dulce de leche marry exquisitely in this decadent, tasty dessert. Head to your local farmer’s market for some freshly picked apples and indulge in this after-dinner delight.

Watch this dessert come to life in this video and then try the recipe yourself below:

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Serves: 6

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Ingredients:
1 package frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 cup mascarpone
1 Tablespoon brandy
2 Tbsp icing sugar
2 Tbsp butter
4 apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup dulce de leche (approximately)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll cold puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface, into two 9 x 12-inch (30 x 23cm) rectangles. Arrange each piece of puff pastry on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Top with a second piece of parchment paper and a second baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway, for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool completely.
2. Cut each piece, using a serrated knife, into 9 equal rectangles; set aside. The puff pastry can be prepared and stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days in advance. With electric mixer, beat mascarpone with brandy and icing sugar until light and fluffy; keep chilled. Store, covered and refrigerated, for up to 2 days.
3. Melt butter in large skillet set over medium-high heat. Add apples and cinnamon; sauté for 5 to 7 minutes or until tender. Stir in dulce de leche and vanilla, cook, stirring, for 3 to 5 minutes or until heated through.
4. Add a dollop of mascarpone over 6 pieces of puff pastry; top with some apples. Repeat layers once and cap with remaining puff pastry. Drizzle additional dulce de leche on top. Serve immediately.

Notes: Substitute caramel sauce for the dulce de leche, if desired.

10 Cool Hotel Bars in Canada

Bars and lounges found inside of hotel properties tend to get a bad rap — maybe not a bad rap, but this scenario may seem familiar to you: a lonely businessman sips on a glass of whisky as the barkeep leans over and says “Rough day?” Well, it’s 2015 and we’re not on the set of Mad Men, and hotel watering holes are so much more than that.

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Here are 10 bars and lounges across the country that while located in a hotel, they offer an intriguing atmosphere and do a great job with their cocktails, too.

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6Twelve (Saskatoon, SK)

Head into the waterfront Sheraton hotel and down the hallway to find this cocktail hotspot serving everything from an after-work drinks to the perfect first date cocktail. The Blackberry Blossom is floral and bright, helping you pretend that winter isn’t around the corner. For something a little different, try the Beetnik, a martini that’s prepared with house-made beet-infused vodka with dill.

Bearfoot Bistro’s Champagne Lounge and The Ice Room (Whistler, BC)

Après-ski or not, the Champagne Lounge is one of the most popular places in Whistler to enjoy a drink. Like the Listel Hotel it’s housed in, the lounge is equal parts contemporary and cozy. If you’re after a less-than traditional bar experience, pop in to the property’s -32° ice lounge for a vodka tasting with some friends. Don’t worry, they supply the jackets.

The Drake Hotel Lounge (Toronto, ON)

Queen Street West has no shortage of great places to go for a drink, but you have to give props to The Drake for being around for so many years and keeping up with the joneses, or at least the hipster-cool cocktail joints nearby. There’s ample seating here (a rarity on Queen Street) and there’s usually something interesting going on in the evening, including the weekly 86’d Industry Mondays, live music and more.

Lounge Central 899 (Calgary, AB)

Often eclipsed by the well-known Le Germain restaurant Charcut, a lot of people forget that this chic lounge, recessed on the main level, is a comfy and cool place to enjoy a classic cocktail with a bite to eat. The food offerings are minimal, but the charcuterie is made by Charcut, so you know it will be good.

Pacific Rim Lobby Lounge (Vancouver, BC)

Most Fairmont properties are known for their cocktail programs, but this particular lounge in downtown Vancouver just feels like a cut above the rest. Wear your Sunday best to this spot; otherwise the ball-gowned servers floating around the room might make you feel under-dressed. It’s a pretty regal cocktail experience, but in the best way.

Plateau Lounge (Montreal, QC)

When you walk into a W Hotel, you can typically bank on things being pretty slick and sophisticated, and, naturally, Plateau is no exception in terms of décor and their well-crafted cocktails. The lounge is much calmer earlier in the week, but picks up Thursday to Saturday evenings, when you’ll find local DJs spinning tunes.

Prohibition (Vancouver, BC)

Don’t let the name scare you, there’s no shortage of booze behind the bar here. Currently one of Vancouver’s hottest spots to grab a drink, Prohibition is located in Hotel Georgia, but sticks to the speakeasy feel with a side door entrance, complete with an eye slot, a lush interior and bartenders that can make whatever your heart desires.

Raw Bar (Calgary, AB)

Famous in Calgary for its stunning contemporary Vietnamese cuisine, Raw Bar was one of the first establishments in Calgary to put an emphasis on craft cocktails, and continues to be a leader in the scene. Sip on a build-your-own old fashioned, order a Rose Aperol Spritzer punch bowl to share — you can’t really go wrong.

Shangri-la Lobby Lounge (Toronto, ON)

The Shangri-la spares no expense when it comes to appearance, service and quality. Much like the aforementioned Pacific Rim, it’s a place where you should probably be mindful of what you’re wearing. Sitting down in here at night, with the ambient lighting, while you sip on a classic gin martini will make you feel a bit like a movie star.

YEW (Vancouver, BC)

This sustainable seafood-focused restaurant inside The Four Seasons hotel also looks to the ocean when it comes to inspiration for their cocktail menu. Designed by one of Canada’s most well-known mixologists Lauren Mote, the intricate drinks (separated into five different categories, each inspired by one of the world’s oceans) feature unique ingredients like Irish moss, Green Chartreuse, fenugreek and more.

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

Michelin-star-restaurants

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.