Farmer's Market Sign

Insider Tips on Scoring Deals at the Farmers’ Market

As asparagus, ramps and fiddleheads begin to sprout through freshly thawed soil, Canadians are eager to taste the first delicious harvest of the season.

Soon, farmers’ market season will be in full swing, so we caught up with market insiders Dina Rock and Kim Antonius for their insight on how to score at farmers’ markets this season.

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1. Think in season and within reason.

“First off, I know that when a lot of people go to the farmers market they might be thinking that they’ll find a deal because they’re cutting out the middleman,” says Fairmount Park Farm Market founder Kim Antonius. But she warns that isn’t necessarily the case. “Food isn’t always less expensive at the farmers’ market than it would be at your local grocery store,” she says. Grocery stores buy in massive quantities from distributors who import cash crops from warmer climates, and the local produce you buy at a farmers’ market may end up costing the same — or even a little more — than what you’ll find in big box stores. This year, however, Antonius speculates that the high American dollar may allow local markets to be more competitive.

Dina Rock, owner and chief pickling officer at Mighty Fine Brine, is also a regular farmers’ market vendor. She cautions shoppers against the temptation to bargain with farmers and artisans. “People who work in the local food movement in Canada do it mostly out of a passion for our community, our growing season and our environment,” she says. “We live in a place where we’re subject to the elements and limited in the amount that can be produced. So our incomes are already tremendously challenged. You would never walk into a Starbucks and say, ‘Can I get a discount on that latte?’ So to say, ‘I know you toiled on your farms and were up since 5 a.m. harvesting these beautiful pears…but can I get a discount on them?’ That’s frustrating. This is how people make their living — don’t try to discount that.”

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2. Fresh is best but good things can come to those who wait.

Still, there are opportunities to score at the market, particularly if freshness and nutrition are priorities. “The fresher the produce, the higher the nutrients it has,” says Antonius .“So when you’re buying something that was picked that morning, or the night prior, it has more nutrients in it than something that has been shipped from California…the other thing is that it’s so fresh, it lasts longer.”

Of course fresh, local, seasonal fruits and veggies is what the market is all about, but consider waiting week or two into the season before scooping up the latest crop. “Ramps are finally available,” notes Rock. “They’re going to be at their most expensive because they’re available right now… Wait a week or two, so that that fever pitch has died down a little bit.”

Fresh Strawberries Market

3. Get friendly with your farmers and vendors.

Rock will dole out deals from time to time — when customers buy a lot at once, she’s liable to toss in an extra goodie. But like all good things in life, the best deals are earned. “For me it comes down to building relationships,” she says. If Rock has brought something special to the market or is in the mood to trade, her regular customers — the ones who take the time to get to know her and her business — will hear about it first.

As you get to know farmers and vendors, Antonius suggests asking them to add you to any email lists they might have going. That way you’ll be the first to know about bumpers and seconds, the rare crops that farmers might sell at discount.

“One of my favourite bumper crops are fava beans,” says Antonius. “They’re amazing when they come, but they don’t last very long. If you learn how to preserve or freeze them, then you can buy larger quantities of them for less and have them when they’re out of season, too.”

Preserving is also a great way to deal with seconds; slightly damaged or ugly produce. Most farmers don’t bother bringing their seconds to market, but are often happy to part with imperfect produce at a lower rate if they know you’ll be there to buy it.

At the end of the day, even shoppers who prefer their transactions swift and silent will benefit from choosing from the farmers’ market. “Your dollars are investing in Canada’s farmland,” says Antonius. “It’s really exciting to think of yourself as a purchaser, but also an investor.”

Canada’s Multicultural Food City Is…

With its soaring mountains and beautiful ocean views, Vancouver boasts an enviable landscape, but for You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci, big mountains are a small part of Vancouver’s appeal.

“Sure, Vancouver’s a beautiful city, but you can’t eat scenery!” he says. “Lucky for me, it’s also one of the country’s most exciting food cities. Vancouverites can enjoy food from all over the world without having to leave the Lower Mainland. When you’re this good looking, the whole world comes to you.”

Here, in no particular order, are some of the Vancouver eateries that inspired him to name Vancouver his favourite Canadian city for multicultural dining.

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Calabash Bistro (Caribbean)
Fusion treats like the calabash poutine — jerk-dusted fries topped with melted Brie and jerk chicken — are washed down with delicious rum drinks at this laid-back Caribbean bistro. Visit late at night to enjoy your Caribbean meal with a side of live entertainment; Calabash hosts live reggae, hip hop, funk and poetry five nights a week.

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The Reef (Caribbean)
Trini Roti, Domenica Beef, and Maracas Bay Mahi showcase the Caribbean’s diversity of flavours. Can’t get to The Reef? We’ve got their recipe for Island Thyme Chicken boasting juicy bone-in chicken breasts marinated in coconut milk.

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DD Mau (Vietnamese)
Bahn Mi, or Vietnamese sandwiches, are the specialty at downtown Vancouver’s DD Mau. Favourites include the BBQ Roasted Duck, Crispy Roasted Pork and Lemongrass Tofu, washed down with an avocado smoothie. For a taste of DD Mau at home, try their recipe for Lemongrass Chicken Banh Mi.

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La Mezcaleria (Mexican)
This stylish spot on Commercial Drive is beloved for its organic brunches and fresh margaritas. Serving inventive creations like BBQ Tamarind Squid and Barbacoa de Cordero (lamb shoulder roasted in banana leaves and served in volcanic rock) alongside favourites like Enchiladas Classicas and Queso Fundido, La Mezcaleria has something for everyone. Try their recipe for Enchiladas Classicas at home!

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Nuba (Lebanese)
With several downtown locations, it’s easy to find a Nuba to satisfy your cravings for Lebanese treats. Favourites include standards like Chicken Tawook, Falafel and Hummus, as well as Grilled Halloumi Cheese served with fresh tomato, nuts and pomegranate mint dressing and Lamb Hushwie (sautéed minced lamb with onions and pine nuts, served on a creamy base of fresh hummus).

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Campagnolo Roma (Italian)
Simple, unfussy Italian is on the menu at Campagnolo, a busy East Hastings establishment serving comforting classics like Bucatini all Amatriciana (bucatini noodles with cured pork, tomato and Parmesan cheese), as well as fresh pizzas and house-made meatballs.

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Vij’s Rangoli (Indian)
Vancouver has many Indian restaurants, but Vikram Vij’s namesake spot, which features a fusion of classic Indian spices and local delicacies, is one of the most celebrated. Some favourites from You Gotta Eat Here!’s visit include Spicy Pulled Pork on Sautéed Greens with Sour Cream Chutney and Naan, and Split Pea, Lentil and Spinach Mash with Mogo Fries and Bengali Curry. For visitors on the go, Vij’s has an extensive menu of boil-in-the-bag takeout treats.

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Longtail Kitchen (Thai)
Fresh B.C. seafood meets classic Thai flavours in this New Westminster restaurant that serves modern versions of Thai street eats. Enjoy the variety of Thai curries, the classic Pad Thai with Prawns, or try the Som Dtam Green Papaya Salad at home.

Catch all new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! Fridays at 9 E/P. Be sure to visit the location map to plan your next  multicultural dining experience. 

How to Throw a Carnival-Themed Party with HGTV Star Tiffany Pratt

Carnivals are all about eating delicious treats, having fun and enjoying marvellous spectacles. With all that emphasis on good times and that cheerful bright palette, they make the perfect family-friendly theme for a summer party.

We talked to Home To Win star and stylist extraordinaire Tiffany Pratt to get her tips on how to create a dazzling carnival-themed party.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Mix it up.

Tiffany’s signature style is colourful and whimsical. The aesthetic is not only perfect for a carnival theme, but is also easy to make your own. By mixing items you already own with new pieces, and avoiding the stress of being perfectly matchy-matchy, setting a stunning table is simple. “My personal philosophy is to use as much as you’ve got,” says Tiffany. She suggests repurposing leftover streamers from past parties, and mixing paper plates with regular cutlery. “The idea is to pull everything out that you’ve got; with a carnival you can use anything, because anything goes!” Once you’ve assembled the décor and serving ware you already own, you can start seeking extras: paper bags for loot bags or canvas to paint your own big top. “But the main event is to scour the house, use what you’ve got and have fun mixing patterns and colours,” says Tiffany.

Serve sweet and colourful treats.

“I think popcorn is the first thing that comes to my mind for this kind of party,” says Tiffany, “especially dazzled up popcorn.” She suggests decorating paper bags and filling them with colourful or caramel popcorn. She’s also a big fan of handheld edibles, like finger sandwiches and sliders. Candy is a must for a carnival party; for a refreshing beverage, Tiffany suggests serving root beer floats. For grownups who’d like a little more carnival spirit in their drink, sangria and other colourful punches keep the libations on-theme. Tiffany suggests umbrellas or swizzle sticks for added festivity.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Style a “smorgasbord of fun.”

“To create a table that looks like something you want to photograph, levels are really important,” says Tiffany. Think cake plates, stacks of cool dishes, and anything else that can be used to create height. “Not only are the plates, and the food, and the cups and the cutlery all centred in a really cool, artistic way, but you have them all away around the table to actually eat,” she says. “If it looks like a smorgasbord of fun in the centre, it invites people to grab and eat and play.” Style your table with levels; by mixing up colours and patterns, food and drinks, cutlery and plates, you invite entertainment factor, says Tiffany.  “People aren’t afraid to take apart the table and enjoy things, whereas if it looks so perfect, they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want to touch it, it looks so good!’”

Don’t stress.

Remember: good style is equal parts functional and fashionable, says Tiffany. Invoking fun and creating curiosity is just as important as remembering to put out forks. At the end of the day, it’s about the people. Yes, a beautiful setting can encourage a festive mood, but don’t stress about it.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful gesture; putting out containers for guests to bring home leftovers, and including adults in the loot bags are small gestures with huge impact.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Flowers, flowers, flowers.

Don’t have streamers or festive décor you can repurpose for your carnival party? No matter what the theme, “lots of flowers make things look so beautiful and festive,” says Tiffany.

Follow Tiffany Pratt on Instagram @thetiffanypratt and watch Home to Win Sundays at 10pm on HGTV. Better yet, sign up to see if you have what it takes to win your very own HGTV dream home!

Fizzy, Fermented Kombucha 101

Perspective is everything when it comes to kombucha, a fizzy fermented tea and ancient drink that is trendy (again).

Is it a cure-all, a probiotic health elixir that combats digestive issues? Is it an expensive and over-hyped panacea? Is it – a drink that’s fermented by adding a slimy symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast to sweetened tea – just a little bit weird?

SCOBY

The SCOBY, a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, is responsible for fermenting the kombucha. Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

You’ll have to decide for yourself, but one thing is for sure: kombucha is delicious, and despite the high cost of buying it in health food stores, it’s cheap and easy to make at home.

Kombucha is created by adding a culture, called a SCOBY, to caffeinated, unflavoured, sweetened tea. As the SCOBY eats the sugar, the tea becomes tart and fizzy — the longer it’s left to ferment, the tarter and fizzier it becomes, eventually turning into vinegar. Once the initial fermentation is complete — in anywhere from five to 14 days — the kombucha can be enjoyed as is, or flavoured with fruit and herbs, and fermented a second time for a naturally fizzy, flavoured drink.

flavoured kombucha

Kombucha can be flavoured with fruits and herbs. Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.
From The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

All you need are clean glass jars, sugar, plain green, white or black tea, and a SCOBY, and you can easily be making this bubbly, trendy brew at home. The easiest way to grow a SCOBY is to order one online or get one from a friend. Each new batch of kombucha will produce a new SCOBY, so one is all you need to get started. SCOBYs can sometimes be grown from a bottle of store-bought kombucha, although this method is less consistent.

Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Image courtesy The Big Book of Kombucha © Hannah Crum and Alex LaGory, 2016. Photographs © Matt Armendariz. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

If you’ve never tried kombucha before, it’s a good idea to sample a few varieties first. Kombucha is infinitely customizable, and knowing how you like yours is the starting point for delicious flavour experiments.

Kombucha can be brewed in large continuous batches for an everlasting supply (continuous method) or in smaller batches (batch method). Although the supply list and method can seem a bit daunting for first-time fermenters, it’s actually quite simple once you get into the swing of things.

Ready to try brewing your own kombucha? We’ve got you covered:
How to Batch Brew Kombucha
How to Brew Continuous Kombucha

Noah Cappe’s Carnival Eats Travel Bucket List

As the host of Carnival Eats, Noah Cappe knows carnivals like the rest of us know our own backyards. But this world-travelling, funnel cake-funnelling host still has a few carnivals, fairs and festivals on his bucket list.Carnival-Eats,-Noah-Edmonton_0079

“For the show, we’ve focused mostly on North America,” he says. “We’ve covered so much ground and we’ve gone to most places, [but] there’s still a few we haven’t done. We haven’t gone to Las Vegas – a carnival in Vegas would be wild.”

But Sin City’s (surely) flashy deep-fryers aren’t the only ones Noah wants  to sample from. The Toronto native would love it if the show ventured a little further, putting Alaska, the Yukon and Hawaii on his Carnival Eats bucket list.pineapple-drink

“I’d love to see Carnival Eats in Hawaii,” he says, and not just because he’d get a free vacation there. “People want to see how to use pineapple in different ways,” he says.

Can’t get to the carnival? Try these recipes for the Top 15 Carnival Foods You Can Make at Home.corn-dog

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Cory Vitiello on How to Make Fruits and Veggies Last

By night, you may know Cory Vitiello as an expert on Chef in Your Ear, but by day, he’s a popular Toronto chef and restaurateur. He’s also a serious purchaser of fruits and vegetables. Produce is important at his Toronto restaurant, Flock, which is just as famous for its fresh salads as its antibiotic and hormone-free rotisserie chickens. “We probably go through $20,000 worth of produce in a week,” says Cory.Cory Vitiello

Here, he shares his tips for which fruits and veggies will last the longest, how to store them for optimal longevity, and what to do with them when they’ve started to wilt. These tips are a great starting point for getting the most from your fresh goods, but as always, trust your senses and don’t consume food that looks or smells off.

Apples
Last for: up to 3 months in the fridge.
Store apples in the warmest part of the fridge in a sealed bag, says Cory. Apples tend to absorb flavours, so avoid putting them next to fragrant items like cheese. If they’re starting to overstay their welcome, peel them, cut them into slices and toss them in a Ziploc bag in the freezer. From there, you can “use them for smoothies just like you would bananas,” says Cory.

Tip: A plastic bag helps keep apples (and bananas) well segregated from other produce; apples release ethylene gas, which can cause premature ripening in nearby produce.

beets-raw-wholeBeets
Last for: 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
Although beets last quite a while in the fridge, they tend to lose their sweetness over time. Cory recommends keeping them at room temperature as long as possible to maintain optimal flavour. As long as they’re firm — “I mean very firm, you should not be able to bruise them” — they can be stored in the pantry. “If you’re looking for a nice salad beet, you definitely want to use the firm, fresh ones,” says Cory. When the skins start to get leathery, move them to the refrigerator, or better yet, roast them. “Keep the skins on — you don’t have to peel them. Just give them a good scrub and roast them with your apples that are about to expire.”

Cabbage
Lasts for: up to 2 months in the fridge.
“Cabbage is probably one of the most underrated vegetables,” says Cory. “As long as it’s stored in the fridge, you’re golden.” Peel off wilting outer layers to reveal crisper leaves below, and don’t be afraid to branch beyond coleslaw. Cory likes chopping a cabbage in half, dicing it against the grain, and stir-frying: bonus, cooked cabbage goes nicely with your roasted or sauteed aging beets, apples and carrots.

carrots-orange-yellow-purpleCarrots
Last for: 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
Trim the green tops off carrots and store them in water with their skins intact so they stay fresh and juicy. “I like to leave the skins on, scrub them down and roast them whole,” says Cory. “I love that rustic, natural look on a carrot. What I don’t like is a perfect carrot stick on a plate. I think that looks tacky and 1980s.”

Celery
Lasts for: up to 2 weeks in the fridge.
When the base of celery goes limp, do like “everybody’s mom” and cut the base off, and revive celery sticks in a cup of water in the fridge. Or simply remove the flimsy outer stalks to reveal the heart, “which is the best part anyway.” And don’t forget to use the inner leaves — Cory likes to toss his in fresh salad as he would with other herbs. “It’s really nice, tender and sweet.”

Garlic
Lasts for: 3-6 months.
“All garlic will age to a certain point, but you want to keep it in a dark place, in a paper bag,” says Cory. Keep it away from fruit to avoid flavour transfer, but you’ll know it’s nearing the end when it starts to sprout. To use up a bunch of garlic at once, peel and roast in olive oil on low heat until just browned. Store the roasted cloves submerged in olive oil in a jar in the fridge.  “Use it for pasta, sauces, anything you’d use garlic for — it’ll last for a month after you roast it,” says Cory.

Onion and Shallots
Last for: 2-3 months.
Like garlic, onions and shallots are best stored in paper bags in a dry, cool place, encourages Cory. Sprouting will indicate that they’ve started to turn; as with beets, if they start to wrinkle or can be easily squeezed like an orange, cook them. Whether you roast them for a dip, caramelize them for burgers or at them to soups, “any kind of cooked preparation is fine,” says Cory.

pomegranatePomegranates
Last for: 3 -4 weeks in the fridge.
Pomegranates can last quite awhile as long as they’re intact. Once you remove the seeds from the fruit, however, they need to be eaten within a couple of days. “The seeds have an incredibly short shelf life and will lose their juice, go pale and won’t taste as sweet,” warns Cory. He suggests sprinkling them on your morning yogurt, or trying them in salads. If you crack into your pomegranate and find some of the seeds are brown and slimy, don’t eat them, but do go ahead and pick out the good ones.

Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes
Last for: 2 – 3 months.
These famously long-lived staples are good to eat until they start sprouting, says Cory. Like beets, the starch and sugar levels will fluctuate according to storage methods. “If you store them in a cool, dark place,” says Cory, “that will prevent the sugar levels from building up. Then you’ll get a nice, dark roasted potato, and not a limp one that tends to burn quickly or is flimsy when you fry it — that’s because of too much sugar. When you store them in the fridge, they build up too much sugar.”

Winter Squashes
Last for: up to 3 months.
“This is definitely one of the most versatile and longest lasting ingredients,” says Cory. “It takes a long time for winter squash to break down. I like eating winter squash raw — I’ll peel and shave it really thin on a mandolin or vegetable peeler, and it gives a really nice, unique crunch in a salad. But when in doubt, just roast it whole — cut it in half, smear with butter and some spices.”

watermelonWatermelon
Lasts for: 2-3 weeks in the fridge
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen an expired watermelon,” says Cory. But if you’re looking to use up your watermelon quickly, he suggests scooping out the flesh and tossing it in the blender with your favourite tea. “Watermelon iced tea is the ultimate summer drink,” he says.

Insanely Delicious Bacon Grilled Kimcheese Sandwich

There’s no way around it; grilled cheese sandwiches are ooey, gooey comfort food at its finest. While there are lots of mouthwatering  additions to a grilled cheese — apple, bacon, smoked meat — kimchi adds a zesty cabbage crunch.

This version marries the Canadian comfort classic of melted aged cheddar cheese and crispy bacon with tangy, spicy Korean kimchi.

Serve it with homemade spicy ketchup for the ultimate flavour bomb.kimchi-grilled-cheese-kimcheese

Bacon Grilled Kimcheese Sandwich

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 strips of bacon
8 slices white sourdough bread
2 1/2 cups aged Canadian cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup store-bought kimchi, drained with juices reserved
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 cup ketchup

Directions:

1. Heat a large pan to medium and fry bacon until crispy, about 5 minutes. Remove bacon from pan and set aside on a paper towel. Remove pan from heat and reserve 1 Tbsp of bacon fat in a small bowl. Leave remaining bacon fat in pan for later use.

2. Divide cheese among four slices of bread. Cut each bacon strip in half and place on top of cheese. Divide kimchi among sandwiches and sprinkle each with 1 Tbsp of sliced green onion. Top each sandwich with remaining bread slices.

3. Reheat pan with bacon fat to medium. Place 2 sandwiches in pan and fry one side until golden, crispy and cheese has begun to melt, about 4 minutes. Flip each sandwich and fry the opposite side until golden and cheese has completely melted, another 4 minutes. Remove sandwiches from pan and set aside. Add reserved bacon fat back to pan. Repeat with the two remaining sandwiches.

4. Mix 2 Tbsp of reserved kimchi juice with ketchup. Serve with grilled cheese.

Looking for more deliciously cheesy snacks? Try our Garlic Fingers with Donair Sauce.

The Sandwich Capital of Canada Is…

Hogtown, the Six, T-dot, the Big Smoke, the Sandwich Capital of Canada. Whatever you call it, Toronto is a big city with big-city pleasures and big-city problems, so it’s no wonder busy residents often eat on the go.

They’ve got sports teams to cheer for and complain about, traffic to get stuck in, and weather to hide from,” says You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci. “Torontonians don’t have time to eat their food with a fork and knife — they want to pick it up with both hands! That’s why you’ll find some amazing sandwiches here in Canada’s sandwich capital!”

Want to know what Toronto’s hiding between its slices? In no particular order, here are some of the GTA’s best sandwiches, as featured on You Gotta Eat Here!

Buttermilk Fried Turkey Sandwich, The ClubhouseFried-Turkey-Sandwich-(2)Can’t get to Toronto’s Kensington Market to sample The Clubhouse’s Buttermilk Fried Turkey Sandwich, smothered in smoky mayo and topped with crispy cranberry cilantro slaw? Luckily, we’ve got the recipe.

 Cuban Medianoche, La CubanaBraised-Shortrib-Medianoche-1Pressed sandwiches are the specialty at La Cubana. With two locations in trendy Toronto hoods Roncesvalles Village and Ossington Village, this eatery knows how to please cool Torontonians. The secret? Fresh, classic fare with a throwback vibe. Be sure to try the Traditional Medianoche, a soft white milk bun filled with molasses pork, ham and Gruyère.

Hogtown BLT, The CureThe-Hogtown-Cure---Hogtown-Ultimate-BLT---IMG_8073If hunger is what ails you, Hogtown’s got a cure — The Cure’s Hogtown BLT. The Cure (formerly The Hogtown Cure) piles its signature sandwich with house-made bacon, peameal bacon, arugula and tomato, layering it on a bun smothered with bacon jam and remoulade. Yum!

The Beastwich, BeastBeastwichYou can’t beat the Beast…but you can try. (For real, you CAN try: with this recipe). Or, head on over to this Toronto hotspot for its Beastwich, an intimidating tower of a buttermilk biscuit filled with a fried chicken thigh, pimento cheese, pork sausage gravy and a fried egg.

Smoked Meat Sandwich, Caplansky’s DeliCaplansky's-Smoked-MEat-SandwichCaplansky’s is an old-school Jewish deli, serving all-day breakfasts and sandwiches piled high with house-smoked meats. Chef Zane Caplansky‘s signature dish is not to be missed!

Sloppy Joe, White Brick Kitchen IMG_3291---White-Brick_Bacon-Brisket-Sloppy-JoeIf the only Sloppy Joe you’ve ever had came from a can, prepare for a revelation. White Brick Kitchen’s version is hot mess of ground chuck, bacon, sour cream and BBQ sauce. Try it yourself at home, if you’d like — we’ve got the recipe.

Pulled Pork Beanasaurus, Sul Irmaos Smokehouse BeanosaurusSul Irmaos is a GTA favourite, celebrated for its Portuguese BBQ and comfort food. Their Pulled Pork Beanasaurus is a medley of Southern slow-cooked pork, kettle-cooked baked beans, creamy coleslaw and crunchy fried mac and cheese bites. Prefer to make the Pulled Pork Beanasaurus at home? Here’s the recipe.

Catch new episodes of You Gotta Eat Here! Fridays at 9 E/P. Be sure to visit the location map to find the nearest sandwich shop near you.

Cooking off the Grid: Chef Katie Mitzel of Skoki Lodge

Beyond the picturesque town of Banff, Alta., through two passes in the Rocky Mountains and around a spring-fed turquoise lake is a remote cabin in the woods, where gourmet meals are prepared without electricity or running water.

In a world where chefs are obsessed with seeking the next big food trend, chef Katie Mitzel is taking guests back in time, serving up three delicious meals a day from her rustic mountain kitchen at Skoki Lodge.

Skoki Lodge Food

Nestled in Banff National Park, Skoki Lodge is a National Historic site that was built in 1930, making it Canada’s first ski lodge. Situated 11 km from any road, the hike-in lodge has been maintained as it was first built;  its log cabins and family-style, candle-lit dining service make it a place to connect with nature, friends and food.

To say Chef Mitzel’s kitchen is off the grid is an understatement. Cut off from modern amenities and without electricity, much is made by hand, including the bread — Mitzel kneads 16 loaves every morning, starting at 5 a.m.

Dishes are washed by hand with water that’s hauled from a nearby glacier-fed creek, and boiled. The log cabin kitchen is lit by natural light in the summer, and propane lamps in winter.

If you are doing fine knife work, sometimes you have to wear a head lamp,” says Mitzel. “And you always want to have a lighter in your pocket because you are constantly having to light things.”

Skoki Lodge’s stoves, fridge and freezer run on propane, turning out fantastic meals like pork tenderloin with creamy herb sauce, ginger and sesame salmon, and velvety butternut squash soup.

Skoki Lodge

Lake Louise Ski Resort/Paul Zizka Photography

But the lodge is still at the mercy of Mother Nature when it comes to getting supplies. There are no phones to order deliveries, so planning is key. Once a week, Mitzel uses the lodge radio to call in items. Sometimes the radio cuts out and she has to go into town to make her order.

“I don’t think a lot of hotel [chefs] would ski, like, 28 kilometers to do a food order,” says Mitzel. Once the order is placed, it is either brought in by snowmobile in the winter or by pack horse in summer. Despite the extra steps required,  the remote location fuels Mitzel’s creative juices and inspires her menu.

skiing

Lake Louise Ski Resort/Paul Zizka Photography

“Being outdoors, looking at the different colours and the different textures of the landscape, I am able to bring that back into the kitchen and implement that into my food,” says Mitzel.

For instance, she uses edible flowers on cakes to give them “that rustic gourmet kind of feeling.”

The challenges of a 1930’s style kitchen also inspires her creativity. Leftover veggies become soup and mushy berries are transformed into coulis. Minimizing food waste is essential in Mitzel’s kitchen as there are no dumpsters, and all garbage must be flown out.

Mitzel’s creativity has helped Skoki  uphold its reputation as a gourmet getaway, attracting guests like Prince William and Kate Middleton, who visited the lodge in 2011. Middleton told Mitzel that they chose to stay at Skoki because of its reputation and remote location.

Talk about being gracious and so kind,” says Mitzel, who pulled out all the stops for the royal couple, preparing a AAA Alberta beef tenderloin for the Prince, and Alaskan halibut for the Duchess. She also made her famous green salad with multi-coloured grape tomatoes and ginger dressing. There was also king crab puff pastry with avocado and green onion, and tiger prawns in sweet chili glaze. For dessert, she served chocolate cake with raspberry coulis and Canada Day cheesecake.

The couple revelled in the secluded location, and after a long day of hiking in the mountains, ate everything Mitzel prepared.

Kate said it was really important to them that they were just Skoki guests when they were here,” says Mitzel.

Skoki Lodge

“We base a lot of our reputation on our food,” says Mitzel, who recently wrote The Skoki Cookbook after years of fielding guests’ requests for her recipes. The cookbook is a sneak peak into Mitzel’s mind and palate, inspired by magazines, the restaurants she visits while on break from the lodge, and above all, her passion for nature.

It’s that passion and creativity that inspires guests to make the five hour hike back to the lodge year after year.

Speedy Passover Menu

Amy Rosen’s Speedy Passover Menu

Passover, which starts Friday with the first Seder, commemorates the exodus of the Israelites from ancient Egypt. The holiday celebrates their freedom from slavery. You’ve got Moses, the parting of the Red Sea, the Ten Commandments and a triumphant return to Canaan — I’m sure you’ve seen the movie.

The holiday is full of symbolism, especially through the food. Boiled eggs signifying springtime and renewal, and the salt water in which you dip them mimics the tears and sweat of enslavement. But there are also many delicious dishes to be had!

Here’s a menu for a speedy Passover, for all those times when you have a dozen Jewish friends unexpectedly drop in for dinner during the eight days of Passover.

Starters

Charoset

Amy Rosen’s Charoset
Charoset and matzo are your go-to nibbles to kick off Passover. This is an easy recipe to start your feast.

Chicken Soup
You can pretty much guarantee that Ina Garten routinely makes this soup for her adoring husband Jeffrey, complete with fluffy matzo balls. And it’s as classic a version as it gets — schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) included.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup with Ground Chicken Meatballs
I love Chuck Hughes’ version with chicken meatballs. Just substitute matzo meal for the breadcrumbs in the balls.

Bobby Flay's Matzo Ball Soup

Matzo Ball Soup
Bobby Flay’s version looks good too, and of course there’s jalapeño in it for a kick of heat.

Fish course

Poached Salmon

Traditional Poached Salmon
Normally this would be gefilte fish, which these days most people buy in a jar and side with horseradish. But Judaism’s dirty little secret is that not everyone likes the stuff — its longevity mostly based on nostalgia. So update your fish course with a fresh and easy dish, like this simply poached salmon, served on a bed of dressed greens.

Homemade Lox
If you’ve somehow planned ahead and have a homemade side of lox curing in the refrigerator, that would be an instant fix; thin slices tossed with some arugula and lemony vinaigrette.

Main course

Caplansky Family Brisket

Caplansky’s Family Brisket
Everyone is going to expect a brisket for dinner, but not this time. Brisket is traditional and delicious, but one thing it isn’t is fast. This recipe is for next time.

Garlic and Citrus Chicken 
For now, here’s a luscious roasted chicken by Giada De Laurentiis, full of lemon, orange and garlic flavours, juicy meat and a crisp skin.

Sides

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes 
Crispy roasted potatoes with lots of rosemary, pepper and salt. Yes, please. (Thanks, Ina!)

Roasted Asparagus
Roasted asparagus is the best asparagus. It’s also a perfect first taste of springtime.

Pan-Fried Zucchini with Toasted Pistachios
This quick dish of zucchini and pistachios is a delicious nod to the Middle East.

Dessert

Passion Fruit Pavlova

Classic Passion Fruit Pavlova
Traditional desserts are out of the question during Passover as you can’t have anything that uses a leavening agent, like baking powder and baking soda, which is why whipped egg whites are where recipes go for lift. Try this classic pavlova with zingy passion fruit.

Passover Brownies

Passover Brownies
If you’re craving chocolate, these easy brownies will get the job done.

Looking for more delicious Passover ideas? Try our 26 New and Classic Passover Recipes.

susur-noodle-soup-tips

How Susur Lee Pimps His Noodle Soup

Want to take your noodle soup to the next level? We spoke to Chopped Canada judge and world-renowned chef Susur Lee for his tips on turning simple soups gourmet. Whether you’re upgrading a homemade recipe or adding flair to a packaged version, soup it up with Susur Lee!

Ramen

Food Network Canada/Food Factory

Ramen

Pimp it with: Chinese BBQ duck breast and plum sauce.

“The idea of ramen noodles, it’s really about convenience, right?” says Susur. He suggests an easy upgrade by combining ramen with another delicious convenience food: BBQ Chinese duck breast. “I like making Japanese-style ramen, and getting Chinese BBQ duck breast in Chinatown, and just putting it in,” says Susur. “I think it’s perfect. And with a little bit of plum sauce on top, it’s the best, the most convenient, and you can really pimp it up! I would eat that any day.”

Hong Kong Macaroni Soup

Karon Liu

Hong Kong Macaroni Soup

Pimp it with: sake, marinated pork tenderloin, Vietnamese cilantro and lemon balm.

“If you’re making macaroni soup, your pasta has to be quite overcooked; it cannot be too al dente,” advises Susur. “If I eat that soup, it’s very soft.” Broth is also important, so make or select a good quality base and add a touch of sake for depth. Then, instead of the usual cold cut ham, Susur recommends marinating thinly sliced pork tenderloin with soy sauce, egg white, green onion, ginger and “quite a bit of black pepper.” Lightly poach the marinated pork in the hot broth just before serving, and top the soup with chopped lemon balm and Vietnamese style cilantro — “Not the Chinese, not the Spanish, the Vietnamese long one,” explains Susur. Since this dish will be eaten with a spoon, be sure to cut all your ingredients to bite size.

Alton Brown's Chicken Noodle Soup

Food Network Canada/Good Eats

Chicken Noodle Soup

Pimp it with: semolina dumplings, poached chicken slices and marjoram.

Turn your chicken noodle soup into a delicious meal experience with thin slices of poached chicken breast (follow the same method as the pork tenderloin above) and semolina dumplings. “It’s basically semolina, an egg, butter and Parmesan cheese,” says Susur. “You whip it together and turn it into a dumpling, and you just float it, almost like a matzo ball. It expands in the chicken noodle soup, and it tastes so good. And also chopped marjoram — that would make the soup taste really good… And that’s my pimped up noodles!”

PhoPho

Pimp it with: Don’t even…

“I think I wouldn’t ruin the pho,” says Susur. “I think pho is so perfect.”

5 Tips on Becoming a Better Baker

Spring Baking Championship season two has only just begun, but we’ve already learned a lot from the contestants and judges. Here are some of the best baking lessons we’ve picked up so far:

Spring Baking Championship Host and Judges

1. Set creative limits.

Spring shortcakes are almost always garnished with fresh seasonal berries, but when our Spring Baking Championship contestants were tasked with creating their own, there was only one rule: no berries. The result was a medley of cool and creative cakes, from cardamom and honey biscuits with caramelized fig to cherry pistachio shortcake with micro basil to peach and mascarpone shortcake with Italian genoise. In fact, some of the most interesting creations we’ve seen on our Baking Championship series come from the limitations imposed by the show’s challenges. The next time you set out to bake a favourite recipe, set your own challenge: choosing an ingredient you must or mustn’t use, using a new tool, or styling your dish in a way you’ve never tried before.  You might be surprised by how much creative freedom comes from adding a constraint.

2. Be bold.

A sprinkle of black salt here, a sprig of micro basil there — our contestants prove that these bold touches aren’t just beautiful, they’re flavourful too. Think beyond the standard sweets in your pantry the next time you set out to bake a dessert. The baby greens in your garden could add spring colours to a cake, while the smoker can infuse fresh fruit and compotes with exotic depth. Unlike our contestants, you’ve got time to experiment, so work in small batches to avoid wasting ingredients while you discover which funky combinations you like best.

3. Remember: sometimes less is more.

In a single episode of Spring Baking Championship, two contestants managed to raise our judges’ ire by including too much almond extract in their cakes. Even the contestant that only used a few drops because, in her words, “It’s a very, very strong flavour,” got flak. Judge Lorraine Pascale says, “Almond extract should be in one thing only, and that is in the garbage because it’s just so overpowering.” Judges also criticized another contestant for using too much tequila in her margarita-inspired cake.

4. Seek novel tools.

Acetate strips, available in baking stores and online, can help form a perfect layer cake, a smoker gun infuses fruit with a hint of campfire, and a marble slab tempers chocolate, Belgian-style. These are just three of the cool tools our contestants used in their creations. Hit up your local cooking store and ask staff to bring out a tool you’ve never seen before — who knows what it will inspire you to create!

5. Budget your time.

Let’s be real: it’s fun watching contestants scramble to complete their creations on time, but it’s an absolute drag doing the same at home. Judges reward bold experiments — when they turn out — but we suggest testing out new ingredients and techniques well in advance of big events. The day of a party is not the time to try smoking cherries.

Catch new episodes of Spring Baking Championship Sundays at 9 E/P.

the commodore duck confit

Q&A: Commodore’s Jon Vettraino Is Like a Braised Beef Cheek

After working at various restaurants around Toronto and abroad, chef Jon Vettraino is dropping anchor. The talented chef, who learned the ins and outs of seafood early in his career under chef Martha Wright, is taking up the daunting task of running his own restaurant, The Commodore. Situated in Toronto’s trendy west end, the light and bright restaurant serves up Italian influenced dishes with lots of seafood.

Vettraino is passionate about using the best seasonal Canadian ingredients and creating contrasts with taste and texture. His Cape Breton shrimp on toast contrasts nutty flavours from the brown butter sauce with salty anchovies and savoury garlic and herbs. The taste and aroma are a treat for the senses. The dishes are as visually pleasing as they are delicious and served up on what looks to be Nonna’s fine china.

Duck Confit Crepe

One of Vettriano’s favourite dishes to make is the Duck Confit Crepe. The dish starts with super crispy crepe made out of tapioca and rice flour and coconut cream, topped with medallions of duck confit, QP mayo, peanuts, chillies, mint and scallions.
By Joel Gale

Vettraino’s passion for food and his creativity is evident across the menu. We caught up with him to talk about his new restaurant, his earliest food memories and who he thinks is the most impressive chef in the city.

What’s your idea of happiness?

Vettraino : My idea of happiness is to one day own a cottage where I can spend weeks at a time enjoying the good life with my wife and son.

What’s your first memory of food?

Vettraino: My first memory is probably my Croatian babysitter’s fried smelts. She’d make big seafood dinners and I’d sit in diapers and taste everything while she cooked.

Who was your cooking mentor? How did you first meet?

Vettraino: The chef that influenced me the most was Martha Wright. At the time Starfish had recently made James Chatto’s Top 10 Best list and I was impressed by that. Martha has a fantastic resume and she has really good ideas. She cooks seasonally, light and fresh. I’d been cooking for a few years before Starfish but my time there made me realize I had a lot to learn and unlearn.

Venison Ragu

The Commodore’s Gnocchi with Venison Ragu.
By Joel Gale

What do you love to cook the most (your signature dish)?

Vettraino:  I think I enjoy baking bread the most. It’s the most satisfying. It’s so simple yet incredibly complex. It’s so accessible that people have forgotten how much work goes into it.

As for a signature dish, it’s hard to say. We make a Vietnamese-style duck confit crepe which is my favorite at the moment. We make a super crispy crepe out of tapioca and rice flour and coconut cream. Then we top it with medallions of duck confit, QP mayo, peanuts, chilies, mint and scallions. It’s fun to cook and the response has been really positive.

Where do you see yourself in 2 years?

Vettraino: In two years I hope to have fine tuned the Commodore to the point that it’s become a Toronto institution.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

I think if I wasn’t a chef I’d be working in film. Doing what exactly, I could never quite figure out.

What’s the least favourite thing about yourself?

Vettraino: My horrendous memory might be my least favorite thing about myself. That, and my gluttonous appetite. The appetite is a blessing and a curse. My inner fat kid has a pretty great palate.

Swordfish Crudo

The Commodore’s Swordfish Crudo with pickled sea asparagus, Trinidad peppers, shiso and crispy chicken skin.
By Joel Gale

What was the last restaurant you dined at? What did you eat?

Vettraino: The last restaurant I dined at was Campagnolo. We had Craig’s classic burrata with roasted grapes and the Amatriciana which are always excellent.

Name a Canadian chef that is doing exciting things in food right now. 

Vettraino: I’d have to say Patrick Kriss is cooking the most impressive food in the city. It’s hard to speak for Canada because I haven’t eaten outside of Toronto in two years. Alo is the total package. The staff, front and back are full of all stars. The food is flawless. The technique, presentation and flavour combinations are at a level that can compete with any Michelin starred restaurant I’ve eaten at.

If you were any dish or ingredient in the world, what would you be?

Vettraino: I’d be an off cut like braised beef cheeks. They’re a tough, poor man’s cut. Before you try them you can’t imagine they’d be any good, but then you try them and they’re nothing like you expected. They’re tender, flavourful and become one of your best meal experiences.

What is your favourite quote?

Vettraino: “Treat it like it’s yours, and someday it will be.” – Thomas Keller

Love Poutine? You Need to Try Newfoundland Fries

Never heard of Newfoundland Fries? We’re not surprised. Similar to poutine, this gravy-smothered dish is Newfoundland‘s best kept secret. Crispy fries are covered in a dressing or stuffing flavoured with savory spice, and topped off with a rich beef gravy. The result is a delicious cross between Thanksgiving dinner and your favourite late-night snack.

You can find the satisfying fast-food dish on the menu at most greasy spoons, chip trucks or canteens around Newfoundland. If you’re lucky enough to taste it right on The Rock, be sure to wash it down with a cold can of birch beer or pineapple Crush.

This recipe is a slight variation of the classic using panko instead of breadcrumbs, and adding cider vinegar and Worcestershire in the dressing for a bit of tang.

Newfie Fries

Newfoundland Fries

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

For the Fries
1 3-L container canola oil
3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes or PEI potatoes, cut into long 1/2 inch wide strips
1/4 tsp kosher salt

For the Dressing
1/2 cup panko crumbs
1 tsp dried savory
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp granulated sugar
1/8 tsp kosher salt
Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

For the Gravy
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup low-sodium beef stock
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Newfie Fries

Directions:
1. Place potatoes in a large bowl filled with cold water. Let sit, refrigerated, for at least 1 hour. Drain and let dry on a baking sheet.
2. Add enough oil (about 7 cups) into a large, heavy-bottomed pot until it reaches 4 inches up the sides. Heat oil over medium heat until temperature reaches 300°F.
3. Blanch fries in 2 batches for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to baking sheet lined with paper towel.
4. Increase heat until oil reaches 375°F. Add fries in 2 batches and cook until golden-brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt.
5. To make dressing, toast panko breadcrumbs with dried savory in a large pan set over medium heat, until light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to medium bowl.
6. Add butter to the pan, then onion, cook until softened, about 3 to 5 minutes. Season with sugar, salt and pepper. Stir onion mixture into bread crumbs.
7. To make the gravy, melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat. Add flour, whisking occasionally, until paste turns a light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in stock, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and let simmer 2 minutes.
8. To assemble, divide fries between two plates. Sprinkle with dressing, then cover in gravy. Sprinkle with more dressing if desired.

Want to share your variation of Newfoundland fries? Share your recipe with us!

Looking for another taste of Newfoundland? Discover What a Newfoundland Kitchen Party is Really Like.

460x307_chopped-canada-judges-restaurants.png

Where to Enjoy Dishes Made by Chopped Canada Judges

Ever wonder what makes Chopped Canada judges such experts on cuisine? Answer: They are all nationally renowned chefs who have spent time running incredibly successful restaurants. When it comes to delicious eats and a well-run kitchen, these spots certainly take the cake. See for yourself and sample the creations of your favourite Chopped Canada judges at these restaurants across the country.

Chopped Canada restaurants
Photo: Park Restaurant

Anne Yarymowich and John Higgins, The Chefs’ House at George Brown Chef School (Toronto, ON)

After working for years, heading up the food and beverage department at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Chef Yarymowich has moved on to the world of education. When she’s not judging and chopping contestants on Chopped Canada, Yarymowich can be found mentoring new generations of young chefs at George Brown alongside fellow judge, John Higgins. The Chefs’ House is the culinary program’s restaurant where the soon-to-be graduates practice their skills in a real-time service setting. With any sort of student-run service, you might expect a few hiccups along the way while dining, but rest assured you’re in good hands with these two Chopped Canada judges involved in the process.

Antonio Park,  Park (Montreal, QC)

With Lavanderia (Park’s newest Latin American concept) nominated as one of ‘Canada’s Best New Restaurant 2015’ in enRoute Magazine and one of the newer judges to the Chopped Canada panel, Antonio Park has had one heck of a year! Another one to mention is Park’s popular spot Jatoba, which offers a mix of Asian and South American cuisine. His first restaurant, Park, remains one of Montreal’s top spots, a Japanese eatery known for its stunning presentation and signature sushi platters. This place is frequented by many celebrities. On any given night you may be dining beside NHL players, or even cross paths with actor Neil Patrick Harris.

Lynn Crawford, Ruby Watchco (Toronto, ON)

One of Canada’s most well-known chefs aims to impress with her popular Toronto restaurant, Ruby Watchco. Chef Lynn and Chef Lora Kirk source local, seasonal ingredients to create a menu that changes daily. Think foraged mushrooms with polenta, butternut squash with bacon sauerkraut and rack of pork with Warner’s Farms spicy plum sauce. The restaurant also offers a four course family-style meal in their private dining room for special events. A slightly cozier setting than the main floor, which also features a chilled out ambiance for an incredible meal you won’t soon forget.

Massimo Capra, Mistura (Toronto, ON)

Lively and Italian through-and-through, it should come as no surprise that Capra’s restaurant  match his personality. His main eatery, Mistura, focuses on well-crafted Italian fare from freshly made pastas to antipasto, such as cured duck prosciutto and mortadella, to crostini topped with mushroom, arugula and gorgonzola. If you ever find yourself at Toronto Pearson airport, you can also head to Boccone Trattoria to have a little taste of Capra’s cooking.

Mark McEwan, Bymark (Toronto, ON)

No doubt one of the country’s most successful chefs, McEwan has built a culinary empire for himself while starring in two major television series, The Heat and Top Chef Canada, with multiple successful restaurant properties and his namesake boutique grocery store chain. Bymark restaurant was one of the first places in Canada to define the “gourmet burger” — 8 ounces of beefy goodness topped with shaved truffle, porcinis and brie — and has been a staple of the higher end dining since it opened its doors. Outside of Toronto’s financial district, you can also dine at one of Chef McEwan’s restaurants, including ONE Restaurant, North 44° and Fabbrica.

Michael Smith,  Fireworks (Bay Fortune, PEI)

Michael Smith’s restaurant has undergone a major renovation within the last year, making dinner here more of an immersed, interactive dining experience than ever. The focal point of the room is the giant 25-foot fireplace-meets cooktop, where the kitchen team prepares their nightly meals as you watch all the action front and centre. Smith is a huge advocate of local food, so expect everything to be seasonal at the Inn at Bay Fortune restaurant, Fireworks. Make sure not to miss oyster hour every night at 6pm, where the culinary team shuck through a pile of their world famous Colville Bay and Fortune Bay oysters.

Roger Mooking, Twist (Toronto, ON)

This bubbly chef has been a longtime staple of Toronto’s food scene with past restaurant endeavours, but has been getting a lot of buzz recently with his eatery, Twist, that you can find inside of Toronto Pearson Airport. His cool concept breaks the mould of the standard, subpar airport restaurant, offering diners a nice selection of craft beer and wine and a long list of comfort food like homemade burgers and pastas with interesting twists (hence the name!). Next time you have a bit of extra time before boarding your flight, pop into Twist to see what a nice, contemporary airport meal can feel like.

Susur Lee, Lee (Toronto, ON)

If you enjoy the breadth and depth found in the many facets of Asian cuisine, book a table at Lee to experience those robust flavours with a master chef’s finesse. Pulling from many overseas regions like Thailand and Japan, Susur Lee crafts a menu full of intriguing and well-crafted dishes like lobster ravioli with yuzu squash purée and housemade XO sauce or crispy tofu with pepper and mushroom compote and a soy chili glaze. The cocktail list is as equally well thought out, so start off dinner with a saketini (or two). Following in fellow judges Capra and Mooking’s footsteps, Lee also embraced the trend of elevated airport dining by opening up Lee Kitchen in Toronto Pearson airport earlier this year. Lee also owns glitzy dim sum restaurant Luckee, and Asian-fusion Bent with his two sons, Kai and Levi Bent-Lee.

Clocktower Brew Pub

Beer Me Up, Scotty: Canadian Brewery Making Star Trek Beer

An Ottawa brewery is on a mission to The Final Frontier, boldly going where no Canadian beer makers have gone before. For The Clocktower Brew Pub, The Final Frontier is the name of their highly anticipated Star Trek-themed craft brew.

Much to the excitement of Trekkies and craft brew fans alike, the official Star Trek beer is being created in partnership with the Aviation and Space Museum for their Starfleet Gala on May 12, 2016. The out-of-this world event launches an exhibit on space science and includes a very special guest, the original Captain Kirk himself, William Shatner.

Ottawa's Clocktower Brew Pub is marking its 20th anniversary with a new Star Trek themed beer.

Ottawa’s Clocktower Brew Pub is marking its 20th anniversary with a new Star Trek themed beer.

The Final Frontier is based on a historic beer style called Kentucky Common; the amber ale has a light body, making it cool, refreshing and easy to drink. Traditional Kentucky Common style is corn-based, but brew-master Patrick Fiori wanted to give it a true Star Trek twist by adding triticale. The rye and wheat hybrid adds body and a cereal flavour to the beer. Trekkies will know it as a real-life version of the fictional “quadrotriticale,” the grain mentioned in the classic original Star Trek episode, Trouble with Tribbles. The episode is famous for the scene in which William Shatner is chest-deep in adorably fluffy pests.

“It took a lot of thought to come up with a name that represented what Star Trek meant to us,” Fiori said in an email.

While the labels and packaging are under wraps until the gala, the brewery is excited to reveal their newest enterprise with the museum.

“The best part of this experience is not only to be able to say that The Clocktower has added to the Star Trek mythos, but as a company, we are turning 20 this year and are able to show that we can stay current and relevant 20 years later,” said Fiori.

This isn’t The Clocktower Brew Pub‘s first foray into sci-fi themed brews. Last year, they collaborated with Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Wil Wheaton to create the ‘HefeWheaton,’  a German-style wheat beer that was launched at Ottawa ComicCon.

Can’t wait to ask the bartender for an astronomically good pint? The Final Frontier will be available for tasting at the Starfleet Gala on May 12, and at Ottawa ComicCon May 13 to 15. After that, you can enjoy it at one of The Clocktower Brew Pub’s five Ottawa locations throughout May.

Looking for more tasty craft brews? Maybe you’ll love one of these 10 New and Unique Canadian Beers to Try.

10 Pantry Staples This Nutritionist Can’t Live Without

Keeping a well-stocked pantry is always a top priority — menu planning and impromptu meals are made easy when I have what I need at hand. Building a healthy pantry takes time and can be overwhelming to shop for in one go, so start small. Go for one or two of the following recommendations and before you know it, a treasure trove of healthy cooking goodies will be at your disposal. The bulk food store is your best friend in the case for many of these goods, so stock up.

From canned beans to oils to grains to natural sweeteners, here’s a list of nutrient-filled pantry stars you should bring into your kitchen today.

1. Coconut Oil

The virgin variety of coconut oil, known for its luscious tropical taste, is heat-stable up to 350°F. I like to use this in place of butter for dairy-free baking, in smoothies, to sauté vegetables and as a foundation for coconut milk-based curries by toasting the spices in it. Coconut oil is one of my favourite ways to incorporate some healthy fats into my daily diet.

Try coconut oil in place of butter in pastry: Vegan Sweet Potato and Kale Galette with Pistachio Parmesan

vegan-sweet-potato-and-kale-galette

2. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

EVOO contains anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats and cell-protecting antioxidants. I use the extra-virgin variety for salad dressings, to garnish soups and grains, and even bake with it. More refined “light” olive oils are better for high-temperature roasting (325°F plus) as they’re less likely to oxidize.

Try baking with EVOO: Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Mandarin Orange Glaze and Walnut Olive Brittle

zucchini-olive-oil-cake-with-mandarin-orange-glaze-and-walnut-olive-brittle

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

I keep apple cider vinegar handy to perk up just about any savoury meal. It goes especially well in salad dressings, and can brighten up a bean soup without added salt. “Raw” unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains probiotics for a healthy immune system, making it a pantry must-have.

Use apple cider vinegar to brighten up a whole grain salad: Quinoa, Roasted Eggplant and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

quinoa-roasted-eggplant-and-apple-salad-with-cumin-vinaigrette

4. Raw Nuts and Seeds

I keep raw chia, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and hemp seeds in my refrigerator for quick nutrient boosters for any meal, whether it’s a bowl of oats or addition to a salad. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews get a workout in my homemade granolas, trail mix and homemade nut butters. Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein and minerals, so I make sure to have at least a handful (all unsalted) every day.

Turn chia seeds into a creamy, dairy-free dessert: Berry Chia Seed Pudding

berry-chia-seed-pudding

5. Chickpeas

If I don’t have beans and legumes in my cupboard, I may go into full-on panic mode. I buy canned chickpeas (and cook my own when I’m feeling ambitious) for quick soups, stews, salads, vegan “fudge” and homemade hummus. Instead of egg or chicken, I mash chickpeas with mayonnaise and lemon for a chickpea salad to add between whole grain bread or tuck inside a wrap – it’s a quick, make-ahead lunch.

Have chickpeas this weekend for brunch: Smoky Chickpeas on Grilled Toast with Poached Eggs & Zahtar

smoky-chickpeas-on-grilled-toast-with-poached-eggs-and-zahtar

6. Whole Grains

I buy whole grains in bulk so I can try a small portion of each one. Millet, quinoa, short-grain brown rice and large-flake oats are my top picks, all delivering a unique nutritional profile. If you have a blender, you can grind your own gluten-free and whole grain flours for baking (for this, I recommend oats, millet or quinoa). Build a grain bowl, make a porridge or pudding, bake a cake, toss a salad, stir into a soup or stew — the sky’s the limit with whole grains.

Replace white rice with whole grain millet in risotto: Millet, Kale and Lemon Risotto 

millet-kale-and-lemon-risotto

7. Whole Grain Pasta

Sometimes, only pasta will do. I buy spelt, kamut or gluten-free brown rice noodles in every shape and size available (I really love pasta!). To watch portion size, I’ll enjoy 2 to 3 ounces (dry weight) and fill it out with plenty of low-starch vegetables and some protein, like a fried or poached egg — and probably some cheese on top.

Bulk up whole grain pasta with lean greens and meaty mushrooms: Whole Grain Spaghetti With Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

whole-grain-spaghetti-with-brussels-sprouts-and-mushrooms

8. Maple Syrup

I have a moderate sweet tooth and usually try to satiate it with fresh fruit (apples or bananas with peanut butter is my afternoon go-to). However, I always keep real maple syrup, preferably grade B “medium” for its full-bodied taste, in my kitchen. It is a great addition to granola, sweetening up Greek yogurt, baking, stir-fry sauces, beverages, as well as an obligatory topper for whole grain spelt pancakes and waffles.

Enhance your healthy comfort food dinner sides with maple syrup (and EVOO!): Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

maple-mashed-sweet-potatoes

9. Dried Herbs & Spices

If I want to add flavour to any meal and also bump up the nutritional prowess, I head on over to my spice cabinet. Like whole grains, I buy small portions of dried herbs and spices in bulk, for the most variety and best price. Dried herbs and spices contain lesser-known antioxidants that support good health. Cinnamon is great for sweet treats or Moroccan-inspired savoury dishes, cumin is always added to hummus, dried thyme tastes wonderful in roasted potatoes and chili powder helps to build a flavour-packed chili.

Give omega-3-packed salmon a hit of smoky, earthy spice: Blackened Salmon

blackened-salmon

10. Sea Salt

I choose unrefined sea salt for its mineral profile and clean, crisp taste. Fine-grain sea salt goes well in baking and flaky salt adds texture to just about any food, both savoury and sweet.

Skip store-bought trail mix and make your own sweet and salty, heart-healthy walnut version: Maple-Glazed Walnuts with Sea Salt

maple-glazed-walnuts-with-sea-salt

Want more pantry staple ideas? Check out 18 Staples You Should Always Have in Your Pantry and 11 Clever Ways to Use Pantry Staples

Nanaimo bar pie

How to Make This Irresistible Nanaimo Bar Pie

We love Nanaimo bars and we love pie. So why not combine the best of both worlds? We’ve kept the signature crumb base of the bar, but lightened the filling and softened up the glaze. The result? A dessert that tastes like a Nanaimo bar, but eats like a pie.

Nanaimo Pie

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour plus chilling
Serves: 8 people

Ingredients:

For the Base
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Filling
1.5 cups 2% milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 Tbsp sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 Tbsp custard powder
1/2 cup 35% cream

For the Glaze
2 ounce semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/4 cup 35% cream

Nanaimo Pie

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-in pie plate. Combine graham crumbs, cocoa, sugar, coconut, walnuts and salt in a large bowl. Stir in butter and egg until evenly mixed. Press into and up the sides of prepared pie plate. Bake, in centre of oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean, about 15 minutes. Let rest on a wire rack until cool to the touch.
2. In a medium pot, bring milk and vanilla to a simmer. Whisk yolks with sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in custard powder. Gradually whisk in hot milk. Return mixture to pan and place over medium-high heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture comes to a boil, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue whisking until mixture is thick and no cornstarch flavour remains, 1 more minute. Remove from heat. Using a rubber spatula, press mixture through a sieve into a small bowl. Place bowl inside a larger bowl halfway filled with ice and cold water. Stir mixture occasionally until cool. Remove from ice bath and set aside. Beat cream, using an electric mixer, until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold into egg mixture. Spread evenly over cooled crust.
3. Microwave chocolate and butter in a small glass bowl until melted, about 1 minute. Stir in corn syrup. Stir in cream, one tablespoon at a time, until evenly combined. Pour over custard, smoothing top. Let set in fridge at least 1 hour before serving.

Looking for more Nanaimo goodness? Learn the delicious history of Nanaimo Bars.

Olive Oil

How to Choose the Right Cooking Oil

Now more than ever, grocery aisles are brimming with choices of seemingly endless types of oil. And while it’s sometimes easy to know which options aren’t for daily use — toasted walnut oil, for instance — there are still a lot of basics to sort through. So which oils should hold a place in your pantry? This guide will help you decide which types you need.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil
This classic Mediterranean staple has gained popularity all around the globe over the past couple of decades thanks to its nutritional values and beautifully rich flavour. Because it’s high in ever-so-healthy monounsaturated fats, it’s praised as one of the most beneficial oils to incorporate into your diet. Unfortunately, olive oil won’t do the trick for all of your cooking needs. Whether you’re choosing virgin or extra-virgin as your household staple, all olive oil will deteriorate and have an off-putting taste if cooked at a high temperature, leaving it best to use for light sautéing, poaching at a low heat or simply in salad dressings or emulsions.

Sunflower Oil
Although you can purchase nutty cold-pressed sunflower oil that can be used in place of olive oil, the most common type of sunflower oil available is a light and refined variety that’s neutral in flavour and can take on high heat. The downside is that this refining process removes some of its healthy nutrients. If you’re looking for an all-purpose oil to get any job done, sunflower oil will always do the trick. Not only is this oil perfect for frying, roasting or searing, it can also be used as a neutral fat in baked goods or aioli.

Coconut Oil
High in saturated fat, coconut oil was once thought as being extremely unhealthy to consume, however it’s had a new wave of popularity thanks to its versatility (especially in vegan cooking) and being claimed as a new superfood. Firm at room temperature and liquid when melted, coconut oil can be used as you would butter. However, unlike butter, it can also tolerate a higher heat, making it a great choice to cook with. Choose virgin coconut oil as it has a subtle and nutty coconut flavour, and the best nutritional properties compared to refined varieties.

Butter

Butter
Butter arguably has the most appealing taste that keeps you coming back for more. Because of its milk fats, it tends to burn easily and should never be used for cooking over a high heat (those fats, however, brown beautifully in a slow and controlled burn when making brown butter). Butter is best used when you’re looking to give a boost of flavour, whether it’s for a pasta sauce, glazing vegetables or a final baste on a steak or roast chicken. Thanks to its creamy texture at room temperature, it’s the ultimate fat to use for cakes, cookies and frosting.

Lard
While lard lost some of its popularity after vegetable shortening came to the market, it made a huge comeback among chefs and bakers of all generations for its full, rich flavour and ability to make the flakiest pie crusts. Lard is always rendered from pork fat, not making it suitable for everyone to use, but if you’re not looking for a health conscious choice, this all-purpose fat is great for high-heat cooking such as stir-frying and deep-frying as well as most baking.

Peanut Oil
Peanut oil has a neutral flavour and has a very high smoke point, which makes it the go-to choice for stir frying or deep frying. Because this oil is commonly refined, most of the peanut allergens are removed during the process leaving it safe for a large majority of people who have peanut allergies. You’ll see it as the common choice at chip trucks, so give it a try next time you’re craving some fries or a battered piece of fish.

Learn how to make your own salad dressings with our 40 homemade recipes.

ratatouille

Eden Grinshpan’s Mother’s Day Menu

Want to honour your mom like a star chef would? Let Chopped Canada judge and Le Cordon Bleu-graduate Eden Grinshpan be your sous-chef with these delicious ideas for celebrating the lady who raised you.

Love is in the details.

Eden Grinshpan (second from left) with her mom, Riva Grinshpan, sisters Arielle and Renny Grinshpan, and father Menashe Grinshpan.

Eden Grinshpan (second from left) with her mom, Riva Grinshpan, sisters Arielle and Renny Grinshpan, and father Menashe Grinshpan.

“I love making my mother dishes that make her feel great and resemble something we have experienced together or that she just loves and craves the most,” says Eden. Whether you choose to emulate a dish you’ve enjoyed together, feature an ingredient that sparks a happy memory, or just want to cook her very favourite dish, thoughtfulness is the best seasoning for any Mother’s Day recipe.

Appetizer

Anna Olson's Israeli Couscous with Olives, Arugula and Feta

Israeli salad with tahini is a dish that always reminds Eden of good times with her mom. “My mother and I can eat this dish everyday and when we are in Israel together we always eat it,” she says. “It’s one of our favourites. Every time I eat it, I always think of us at cafés in Tel-Aviv.”

Start your Mother’s Day meal with something similar: Arugula and Feta (pictured), Ruth Daniels’ Israeli Salad or Anna Olson’s Israeli Couscous with Olives.

Side

Eden Grinshpan's Ratatouille

“Ratatouille is one of my mother’s favourite ways to enjoy vegetables,” says Eden. “The way the tomato breaks down and turns into a sweet sauce around the perfectly cooked vegetables is such a treat. I love to incorporate some other unique elements like harissa and smoked paprika. The ratatouille goes really well as a side for the grilled fish.”

Get Eden Grinshpan’s Ratatouille recipe (pictured).

Main

Whole Baked Fish with Lemon and Herbs

“Whenever I am in Toronto visiting we always go to Joso’s which is my parents’ favourite restaurant,” says Eden. “The fish is so fresh and simply prepared. When I make my mom fish, I do the same, by either roasting it whole or grilling the fillets and dressing it with olive oil and fresh lemon. She could eat fish everyday.”

Take a page from her favourite restaurant menu and make a similar Mother’s Day main: Whole Baked Fish with Lemon and Herbs (pictured) or Bobby Flay’s Grilled Tilapia with Lemon Butter, Capers and Orzo.

Dessert

Anna Olson's Key Lime Meringue Pie

“I try to keep to keep my Mother’s Day dishes balanced and light, but also with a little decadence. It’s Mother’s Day, after all,” says Eden.

Eden’s mom is “obsessed” with lime, and can never turn down a slice of key lime pie. “It’s the perfect way to treat her on Mother’s day.”

Enjoy a similar Mother’s Day dessert: The Pioneer Woman’s Key Lime PieAnna Olson’s Key Lime Pie or Anna Olson’s Key Lime Meringue Pie (pictured).