Cute and Easy Canada Day Pretzel Sparklers

Cute and Easy Canada Day Pretzel Sparklers

The best part of Canada Day is laying down outside on a summer night and watching the sky light up with celebratory fireworks. If the cool grass and the sound of firecracker bangs doesn’t bring back a feeling of nostalgia, this recipe will.

This tasty recipe takes all your favourite childhood snacks and combines them into the craziest treat ever. The chocolate covered pretzel rods not only look like sparklers, but thanks to the pop rocks, they will literally create tiny explosions in your mouth.

Canada Day Pretzel Sparklers

Prep: 10 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups finely chopped white chocolate
12 pretzel rods
28.5 g cherry popping candy
1/2 cup red chocolate rounds

Directions:
1. Heat white chocolate in a double boiler set over medium heat. Keep over heat until chocolate is fully melted, about 5 minutes. Pour chocolate into a tall pint sized glass.
2. Dip one pretzel rod into white chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip off. Sprinkle cherry popping candy onto pretzel rod while white chocolate is still wet. Set onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Continue with remaining pretzels. Tilt the glass of chocolate when necessary to allow tops of pretzels to fully immerse in chocolate.
3. Heat red chocolate rounds in a double boiler set over medium heat. Keep over heat until chocolate is fully melted, about 5 minutes. Pour chocolate into a bowl. Dip the end of one pretzel rod into the red chocolate. Flip pretzel rod upside down to create a dripping effect with the chocolate. Hold pretzel rod still for 3 seconds to allow chocolate to set. Set onto a baking sheet lined with new parchment paper.
4. Allow pretzels to set in fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

BBQ Tempeh Banh Mi with Pickled Carrots and Cabbage

You can enjoy the fresh flavour combination of a traditional Vietnamese-style banh mi — but with no meat at all! This simple sandwich is a great meatless Monday option and you’ll be craving the left overs all week. You’ve probably seen a vegetarian take on the classic banh mi made with tofu, but we like the heartiness and bold flavour of tempeh. Smothered with sweet BBQ sauce, it goes perfectly with a quick-pickled cabbage and carrots, crunchy cucumbers, spicy jalapenos and citrusy cilantro.

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Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 4 sandwiches

Ingredients:
1 brick/package tempeh (250 g)
½ cup favourite BBQ sauce
¼ cup water
1 cup shredded cabbage
1 cup carrot ribbons (or shredded)
½ cup white wine vinegar
½ cup water
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp raw sugar
½ tsp ground mustard
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground pepper
1 long French-style baguette (divided into 4 pieces) OR 4 crusty rolls
½ cup vegan mayonnaise
3 field cucumbers, thinly sliced or shaved
¼ cup pickled jalapenos
1 cup cilantro leaves

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F.
2. Slice tempeh into approximately ¼” thick slices. Whisk together your favorite BBQ sauce with ¼ cup water and marinate tempeh for 20 minutes in the fridge.
3. In small pot combine white wine vinegar with ½ cup water, minced garlic, raw sugar, ground mustard, cumin seeds, sea salt and ground pepper and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat, and submerge cabbage and carrots in the liquid. Refrigerate until ready to assemble sandwiches.
4. Lay marinated tempeh slices onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, flipping the slices halfway through baking time.
5. Prepare the baguette/buns by spreading 1 Tbsp of vegan mayonnaise on the inside of each side of the bun.
6. Shake excess liquid off pickled cabbage and carrots, and place a small handful on the bottom bun. Place a couple slices of baked tempeh on top and add cucumber, cilantro and pickled jalapenos.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

How Chopped Canada Stars will Celebrate Canada Day

Believe it or not, this year Canada is turning 149 years old —but it doesn’t look a day over 100. To celebrate, the stars of Chopped Canada are eager to rejoice in our great nation with cottages, cocktails, and, of course, food.

Lynn Crawford’s Weekend Getaway
“My cottage in the Kawarthas is my little piece of heaven. I’ll be there with my friends and family. We have a pizza oven that always gets fired up. We always make sure there’s dessert pizza, too, with marshmallows, caramel sauce, raspberries and strawberries. Summer fun!”

Eden Grinshpan Keeps it Classic
“I live in New York right now, so I will probably have a couple Ceasars and some poutine to celebrate with my husband.”

Make this classic Canadian drink absolutely amazing with these super patriotic garnish ideas.

Roger Mooking’s House Party
“It’s both my father-in-law and daughter’s birthday that weekend so we’ll be having a party at my house this year.  There may be fireworks, but, shhh, don’t tell anyone!”

Michael Smith’s Berry Canadian Cake
“Canada Day on Prince Edward Island often coincides with the start of our strawberry season so we like to celebrate with Strawberry Shortcake, then as many fireworks as I can round up.”

Strawberry Rhubarb ShortcakeGet Michael Smith’s recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake.

Massimo Capra Craves International Foods
“Here in Canada, we have incredible diversity in food and people, so we can celebrate with just about anything. The beauty of this country is that we love food from all over the world. We can go back to the old English days and cook up some bangers and mash! But right now I’m craving some beautiful curry.”

Get the recipe for Curry Tofu Chutney Salad. Perfect for summer!

Brad Smith Keeps it Low Key
“This is the first summer I’ll have to myself. Every other summer since I was 21 I’ve had to work, so I’ll go to a buddy’s cottage, relax and enjoy what Canada has to offer.”

John Higgins’ Great BBQ
“Scotland is my birthplace but Canada is definitely my home. My wife has a family of 14 siblings and there’s always people coming over. We do something simple [on the barbecue] like peameal bacon. It has to have spicy honey mustard sauce and a great coleslaw.”


Get the recipe for Maple Bourbon Peameal Bacon Sliders.

Anne Yarymowich and the Great Outdoors
“Always start the day with a Caesar and then have fun with it. Find something local, something that is grown and raised within a 10 km radius of where you live and throw that on the barbecue. We have such a short summer season and Canada Day is at the height of it, so being outside is essential.”

East Coast Inspired Donair Pizza

Donair pizza is one of those crazy mashups that could have only been created on the east coast. Like the beloved donair, it includes all the same fixin’s, but with one important addition; mozzarella cheese. So if you’re having trouble deciding between pizza and a donair, this creative twist on a classic is the way to go!

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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Serves: 2 to 4

Ingredients:

Donair Meat
1 lbs lean ground beef
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp kosher salt

Donair Sauce
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp garlic powder

Pizza
1 500g package pizza dough
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup finely diced tomato, seeded
1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 tsp cornmeal

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Directions:

Donair Meat
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Combine beef with spices (by hand or in a food processor). Whirl until fully combined, about 30 seconds.
3. Form meat into a loaf shape, then place on pan. Bake, in centre of oven, until meat feels firm to the touch, 40 to 50 minutes.
4. Let cool before slicing length wise as thinly as possible.

Donair Sauce
1. Combine sweetened condensed milk with vinegar and garlic powder.

Pizza
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough into a 14-inch circle.
3. Dust a 15-inch pizza pan with cornmeal. Transfer to pan.
4. Arrange donair meat in one even layer over dough. Sprinkle with cheese. Top with tomatoes and onion.
5. Bake in centre of oven until crust is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Drizzle with donair sauce.

How to Shuck an Oyster Like A Pro

Shucking oysters is a delicate process and at first glance, may seem intimidating. But once you learn to break through their tough exterior, you’ll relish the sweet and savory mouthful inside.

To get the best tips and tricks, we turned to the pros at the BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival in Comox Valley.

With over 22 years of experience at Fanny Bay Oysters, Ray Silvey and oyster shucking Guinness World Record holder, Patrick “Shucker Paddy” McMurray share their best techniques to help you shuck like a pro at your next cocktail party.

What You’ll Need:
– Oysters
– Oyster knife
– Damp tea towel or stainless steel glove
– Serving tray (with ice, lemon wedges and condiments)

Steps:
1. Make sure the oysters are clean of any grit or debris that may still be attached from their time in the ocean and on the beach. A quick rinse in the sink will do.

2. A stainless steel glove and damp tea towel are interchangeable. A stainless steel glove is highly protective and will save you from any unwanted slips and cuts from the very sharp oyster knife. Alternatively, use a damp tea towel that has been folded into a small square, creating at least eight layers of protection to avoid slipping.

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3. To begin shucking, hold your oyster knife in your dominant hand. Place your other hand around the towel covered oyster.

4. You will enter the oyster at the hinge (the back) where the top and bottom shell meet. Here there is a natural opening perfect for the tip of your knife.

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5. Apply pressure with the knife in this sweet spot and turn the knife 1/4 turn like a key in a lock (do not jam it or pry it like wedging open a paint can). With this slight wiggle you will feel it crack open.

6. The top shell will still be attached by the adduction muscle. Scrape your knife along the top of the shell to detach.

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7. Now that your oyster is open, take a moment to wipe out any debris that may have made its way into the shell. You’ll then have to cut the adductor muscle away from the shell, which is about 2/3 of the way up from the hinge on the right hand side.

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8. Repeat these steps until all your oysters are open. Serve on a bed of ice with fresh lemon. Enjoy!

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Fun Party Tip: Shucker Paddy likes to serve up a shot of Canadian whisky as an oyster chaser. Have your guests slurp back their oyster and pour some whisky into the empty shell while they’re enjoying. The salt water and whisky compliment each other perfectly. Try serving oysters with Shelter Point Distillery Single Malt Whiskey, both from the beautiful Comox Valley.

Guy and Hunter’s European Vacation: How to Eat Like a Parisian

This week, Guy Fieri and his son Hunter take their month-long culinary adventure to Paris, France. If you haven’t already watched the episode, you can watch it online here.

Paris is often referred to as the “City of Light,” but this dynamic duo refers to it as the “City of Croissants.” Guy took his son to one of the oldest bakeries in the city to learn how to make pastry “the old school, original way,” to properly make an authentic croissant — which can take up to 36 hours!

The elegant old town of Chantilly, 50 kilometers north of Paris, was Guy and Hunter’s next stop. It’s also the commune where Guy spent time in as a high school exchange student. After reuniting with an old classmate, the gang drove up to see the house where Guy used to live. The star chef has many memories of making tacos for his French friends, so together, they make a French-Mexican fusion dinner of tacos complete with raclette cheese melted on top. The French love their cheese, whether it’s Brie, Camembert, or Bleu d’Auvergne.

Take a trip to France like Guy and Hunter, and eat like a Parisian with this delicious inspired menu.

Appetizers:

Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Ham, Apricots and Camembert on Toast

Garden Vegetable Raclette

French Onion Soup

Main Dishes:

Ina Garten’s Coq Au Vin

Grilled Chicken Cordon Bleu

Duck a l’Orange

Beef Bourguignon

Desserts:

Mini Croissants

Brie Cranberry Tarts

Apricot Clafouti

Chocolate Mousse

Canadian No-Bake Cheesecake Bars

Celebrate Canada Day by proudly showcasing our beautiful maple leaf on top of these creamy no-bake cheesecake bars. The addition of a red graham cracker base makes it even more patriotic, but the best part of this luxurious dessert is that it can be made ahead, leaving you more time for celebrating!

Canadian-No-Bake-Cheesecake-Bars1

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cool Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Makes: 12 servings

Ingredients:
Base
1/ cup butter, melted
1 Tbsp red food colouring
2 cups graham cracker crumbs

Filling
1 1/2 tsp powdered gelatin
2 tbsp water
1/3 35% cream
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Topping
1/2 cup coarse red sugar

Canadian-No-Bake-Cheesecake-Bars2

Directions:
Base
1. In a small bowl, whisk together butter and food colouring. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and butter mixture. Mix until butter mixture is evenly distributed.
2. Pour into prepared pan and press evenly then set aside.
4. Line a 9-inch square metal baking pan with foil leaving a 2-inch overhang then set aside.

Filling
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water. Microwave on medium heat until dissolved, about 20 seconds.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl and using an electric mixer, whip cream then set aside.
3. In a separate bowl and using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until light. Add sugar, sour cream and vanilla and beat until combined.
4. Stir gelatin into cream cheese mixture. Fold in whipped cream. Pour over crust, smoothing top.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
6. Using foil overhang as handles, remove cheesecake from pan and transfer from foil to serving plate.
7. Cut Cheesecake into 12 pieces.

Topping
1. Place 1 3/4 inch maple leaf cookie cutter in centre of each cheesecake piece.
2. Spoon rounded 1/4 tsp coarse red sugar into centre of cutter.
3. Using tip of knife, gently spread sugar to fill cutter. Remove cutter being careful not to disturb sugar.

Mark McEwan’s Perfect Techniques for Grilling Vegetables

When it comes to healthy and appetizing barbecues, no one brings the heat quite like celebrity chef and Chopped Canada judge Mark McEwan. Known for cooking with fresh vegetables and plant-based foods, we asked the star for his techniques on grilling veggies the right way.

Asparagus is a popular vegetable around the barbecue. Sure, you could steam or roast it, but nothing beats the flavour of asparagus that’s simply grilled.

“Trim the ends off and marinate it with olive oil and salt and pepper,” says Mark. “Lay it at a 90-degree angle on the grill at a low heat. Then, put a warm vinaigrette on the top.”

One must-have item around the grill is tin foil. “I’ll take my beets out of the garden, scrub them, quarter them and place them down on two sheets of foil paper. I like putting on olive oil, thyme, smashed garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. I seal it with another sheet of foil on top and fold the edges in like a Christmas package,” says Mark. It’s best to leave the foiled beets on  the top rack of the grill for about an hour.

If beets don’t whet your appetite, Mark says you can use this easy technique on carrots, sweet onions or peppers. If you prefer your peppers with some grill marks, Mark has the perfect method  for you.

“I take a whole pepper and rub it with a tiny bit of olive oil. I’ll put it over the hottest part on the barbecue, make it completely black and then I’ll peel the skin off. Once I pull the core off and take the seeds off, I can marinate the peppers which is fabulous,” he says.

Mark’s simple marinade includes water, vinegar, chilies, fresh herbs and a small amount of olive oil. Try any one of our 10 Great Marinades for Grilling Season.

Completely charring a pepper makes removing the skin a lot easier. “It actually cooks the pepper to another dimension where it has a different taste. It you use a marinade, you can leave it in the fridge for a week!”

Looking for more grilling tips? Check out: 12 BBQ Hacks to Make You a Grilling Superstar.

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

The Best Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

We didn’t think mac and cheese could get any better, but enter: peameal bacon! Take the deliciousness of the classic pasta dish — macaroni smothered in ooey, gooey cheese — then top that with a crunchy cornmeal crumble. It doesn’t get better than this.

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups macaroni noodles
2 Tbsp panko crumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 Tbsp cornmeal
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1-1/2 cups cubed peameal bacon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup shredded smoked cheddar
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Directions:
1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water with 1 Tbsp salt until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine panko crumbs, parmesan and cornmeal in a small bowl. Work in one Tbsp butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
3. Preheat broiler. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp butter, then the bacon. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
4. Melt 1/4 cup butter in the same pot over medium-low. Whisk in flour until mixture forms a paste, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in cheese, cayenne and mustard. Stir in pasta and bacon. Scrape mixture into an oven-safe baking dish. Top with cornmeal mixture. Broil in centre of oven until top is golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Looking for more mouth watering recipes? Try our 10 Perfect Peameal Bacon Recipes.

The Best Barbecuing Tips from our Stars

From proper saucing to perfectly grilled veggies, celebrity chefs and Chopped Canada judges share their best barbecue tips so you can throw a fantastic feast in your own backyard.

Roger Mooking on How to Beat the  Heat
“Make sure you understand your heat source well. All fires are not created equal and the environment can be a very dynamic variable when cooking outdoors; wind, humidity, types of wood or charcoal.”


Try our Top 100 Grilling Recipes

Michael Smith on When to Get Saucy
“Always add BBQ sauces last. They’re loaded with sugar that burns if you add too early.”


Eden Grinsphan on Keeping it Clean
“Always clean and oil your grill. The grill should be on the hotter side so your protein doesn’t stick to it. And my party tip would be to always have a cocktail station!”


Try one of these 30 Cocktails to Keep You Cool This Summer

Massimo Capra on Enjoying the Simple Things
“Parties should be kept very simple. Stick with chicken or sausages. I wouldn’t dare make a 16-hour smoked brisket because that takes time. Simplicity is always key!”

Antonio Park on  Rocking Those Veggies
“Think about the vegetables. Everybody thinks about fish, seafood, sausages when they talk about barbecues. Don’t even think about that. Barbecued veggies are amazing! All you have to do is drizzle a bit of oil with salt and pepper and it’s even better if there’s charcoal! You get that smokey flavour that’s so nice.”


Try one of these 20 Vegetable Side Dishes

How to Make the Perfect Caesar Every Time

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For Canadians, caesars are like hockey games, Tim Hortons, or even, dare I say, denim-on-denim. It defines us, unites us, and just makes us who we are. It’s the signature drink on most patios, a staple on every menu and the one bevvie we always seem to be in the mood for.

They can however, be a tad difficult to make. Opt for tomato juice instead of Clamato, or too much Worcestershire and not enough hot sauce, and it’s all too easy for your caesar to become an undrinkable disaster.

I’m speaking from experience here.

And so, since it’s pretty much our obligation as citizens of this home and native land to master the art of creating the perfect caesar, I’ve put together a little how-to guide to help you (read: me) get it right every time.

So, what do you do? Start by mixing the ingredients. But before you start pouring, please note that the order of ingredients does matter.

Start with a rimmed glass, fill it with ice, add the Worcestershire, followed by Clamato juice, hot sauce, vodka, and then season with salt and pepper. An easy way to remember the order of ingredients is to start with the cheaper ones and work your way up.

When it comes to the garnish, here’s your time to be creative. Go the conventional route with a long piece of celery, or grab a skewer and make a combo with pickles and olives. But if you’re really looking to earn some extra hostess points, add a piece of bacon, or better yet, a juicy slider burger. Because you know, why not?

No matter what garnish you decide to use, I love finishing off the cocktail with a fun straw, like this red and white stripe version from Party City ($5).

And there you have it: an easy, fail-proof recipe for Canada’s number one cocktail.

Heartwarming Father’s Day Memories from our Stars

Although our stars are often away traveling the world and sampling great food, they always make time for family. Whether it’s enjoying a nice backyard barbecue or going on a road trip, nothing beats quality time with Dad! Here, our chefs and hosts share their favourite Father’s Day memories.

Noah Cappe shares a few photos of his father, Leslie Cappe via  Instagram @noahcappe

Noah Cappe shares a few photos of his father, Leslie Cappe via Instagram @noahcappe

“In recent years my dad has fallen in love with cooking,  more specifically, working the Q!” says Carnival Eats host Noah Cappe. “Last year, we were standing by the barbecue in the classic father and son pose, and I did a fake intro like he was cooking on Carnival Eats and he just went with it. It was hilarious!  That’s my dad.  That’s why I love those moments you get on a day like Father’s Day.”

Anna Olson and her father on a road trip; Anna's Key Lime Pie, her father's favourite dessert. Instagram @chefannaolson.

Anna Olson and her father on a road trip via Instagram @chefannaolson; Key Lime Pie, her father’s favourite dessert.

When Anna Olson was younger, she admits she had a hard time expressing her gratitude for her dad on Father’s Day. “All the typical greeting cards showed guys fishing, golfing or hanging out in the garage — and my dad did none of these things,” says the Bake with Anna Olson star. “But as I grew up and took on baking as my after-school hobby, I quickly learned that he appreciated sweets as much as I liked making them, and he still does to this day.  When I am working on new dessert recipes, I always make sure my dad gets first pick of the sweet selection. His favourite dessert is my key lime pie.”

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.

Chopped Canada judge Eden Grinshpan says she was lucky to sit down and have dinner with her whole family every night as kid. “My father grew up in Israel and always talks about the foods his mother gave him. Every special occasion we try to replicate those dishes for him, like smokey eggplant with sliced tomatoes and a sponge cake with 12 eggs in it,” she says. Her father, Menashe Grinshpan, has been supporting the star since day one. “Because of the support and love from him and my mother [Riva], I have been able to achieve everything I have ever wanted to do in my life. I’m a very lucky girl.”

Cooks vs. Cons judge and Sugar Showdown host Josh Elkin was four years old when he gave his dad his first gift. “I built my dad a pencil holder for his desk. To this day, he still has it, although it doesn’t hold pencils anymore,” he says. While pies and ties are popular gift items these days, the star is grilling up something different. “I would love to cook my dad an awesome steak dinner, which I’m sure he would adore. However, it wouldn’t last through the test of time like a pencil holder has.”

Roger Mooking shares some throwback photos of his parents and himself as a little boy via Instagram @rogermooking.

Roger Mooking shares a throwback photo of his parents Gemma and Allay Mooking, as well as a baby photo of himself via Instagram @rogermooking.

“My father was a second generation restaurateur so he clearly inspired me in my career,” says Chopped Canada judge Roger Mooking.  His father Allay and mother Gemma raised him in Trinidad before moving to Canada at the age of five. “I grew up in a household of good steady cooking and music.” Sounds like the perfect pairing to us!

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

Meet Ontario’s Butter Tart Champions

Diane Rogers knows the sweet taste of victory, and it tastes like butter tarts.

The award-winning baker beat out 165 submissions, and 69 amateur and professional baker to take home the top prize for her decadent cheesecake butter tarts at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland, Ont. this past weekend.

The one-day festival saw thousands of nostalgic visitors descend on the Ontario town eager to satisfy their sweet tooth on more than 100,000 of the best butter tarts in Ontario.

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Among the thousands of pastries enjoyed on Saturday, one recipe stood above them all. Rogers’ sweet, gooey tart topped with a tangy layer of cream cheese wowed the judges so much, she took home the best in show. In fact, her bakery, Doo Doo’s Bakery in Bailieboro, Ont., snagged first, second and third prize in the professional, non-classic category.

“I knew the competition was going to be stiff this year,” said the two-time festival winner. “I was worried.”

On top of bragging rights, this year, the best in show title comes with an entry to the Canadian Food Championships in Edmonton later this summer. There, Rogers will be competing against pastry chefs from across the country to earn her tarts the title of best dessert in Canada.

“It is pretty exciting just to go to Edmonton. We are pretty pumped about that,” says Rogers. “We’re going to have to start practicing.”

While Rogers’ cream cheese tarts earned best in show, The Maid’s Cottage in Newmarket, Ont. earned top marks in the traditional professional category with their classic, gooey pecan tarts.

The top secret recipe is generations old, belonging to the great-grandmother of sisters Pam Lewis and Debbie Hill. Growing up, Lewis knew that her grandma’s butter tarts were good, but it took prodding from a local customer at The Maid’s Cottage for the sisters to enter their family recipe in the competition.

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Festival-goers snapped up more than 100,000 butter tarts on June 11.

While Lewis won’t reveal the recipe, she will admit that the key to their flaky crust is lard, along with a commitment to good quality ingredients.

“It is made with all whole ingredients and a lot of love,” says Lewis. “They are our family pride and everyone loves them.”

The Maid’s Cottage has been serving up family recipes, like their now-famous butter tarts, since their mother opened the doors in 1998. Sisters Lewis and Hill joined the growing family business, which had grown to include a bakery, known as the “Tart Pit,” where their hard working bakers are busy creating beautiful hand-crimped pastries.

“My mom is a big part of this. She is always watching over us keeping busy — a real go-getter,” says Lewis who credits her staff for the hard work leading up to the festival. “Without our team it wouldn’t be possible.”

While their classic, pecan-filled tart earned first place, Lewis isn’t a butter tart purist.

“It is not that one is better than the other, it’s what one person likes, whether it is raisins or pecans,” she says.

Home baking champion, Jane Albert usually opts for the classic tarts, but the avid Ingersoll, Ont. baker couldn’t resist her own award-winning bananas foster butter tart. Her creativity earned her three festival titles, though she insists that the best tarts start with a perfectly flaky, handmade crust.

“It really doesn’t matter how ooey or gooey the filling is, the crust is the foundation for a good tart,” she says. “And you need to have your hands in it.”

Her first time entering the competition, Albert was excited to share her 200-year-old family recipe with the scours of butter tart lovers swarming Midland, looking to satisfy their taste for nostalgia.

Midland seems to have captivated an amazing market and concept of a very nostalgic dessert,” says Albert.

Looking for sweet recipes? Check out these tasty Canadian treats.

Chef’s Battle: Toronto’s Tastiest Dish Is…

The debate is over and the winner is undeniably delicious.

A stunning trio of flame-seared sushi set inside an empty lobster tail, topped with Wagyu beef, foie gras, butter-poached lobster and truffles has been named Toronto’s Tastiest Dish.

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi of Miku snapped up the coveted prize at the inaugural Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle on that saw four of the city’s best chefs steam, torch and sear their way through a kitchen stadium-like contest at George Brown College.

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Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle

Chefs Elia Herrera of Los Colibris, Cora James of Mamakas Taverna, Hayden Johnston of Richmond Station and Uchigoshi each presented their vision for a dish that best captures Toronto. It’s no easy feat, considering the very question sparks debates among foodies and even divide friendships. Award-winning food journalists and judges Amy Rosen, Lucy Waverman and Mike Ward took their roles seriously, picking a dish that represents the best of Toronto.

From flame-seared sushi to Coca Cola-doused duck tamales to a braised rib-stuffed burger and a sophisticated take on a Greek classic, this year’s contenders prove that Toronto’s food scene is as diverse as it is enticing.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto
Embodying the Aburi rule of “zekkei,” Uchigoshi’s winning creation is as beautiful as delicious. The stunning lobster dish pairs a trio of the restaurant’s signature flamed-seared Temari and Nigiri sushi, topped with butter-poached lobster, Wagyu beef and foie gras. Set inside of an empty lobster shell, each bite is topped with sliced truffle, micro greens and chopped ginger.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos
Duck Carnitas Tamale is a labour of love that starts with the duck bathing in milk and Coca Cola to tenderize and caramelize. After baking for two hours, it is wrapped in corn meal and a banana leaf pocket, and steamed until tender. The final dish is topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa verde, salty cotija cheese and a dollop of creme.

Cora James, Mamakas
Pastry chef Cora James serves up a delicate and sophisticated Greek-inspired dish that starts with a katafi pastry base, topped with white chocolate, custard and whipped cream. A touch of Ontario strawberry jam is layered with lemon cream and a wisp of oregano.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station
Hailed as one of the city’s best, the famed Stn. Burger earned its spot for a reason. Made with a house-cranked ground beef patty that’s stuffed with braised and shredded ribs, it’s then seared in a smoking hot cast iron pan to keep all those juices basting. The burger is enveloped in house-made buttered buns, garlic mayonnaise, pickled onions, beer relish and aged cheddar.

Eager foodies will have a chance to try Chef Uchigoshi’s winning sushi dinner at this year’s Taste of Toronto at Garrison Common at Fort York June 23-26.

Want free tickets to this year’s food fest? Learn how here.

All photos courtesy of Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto.

Lynn Crawford’s Flavour-Packed Father’s Day Menu

Let Chopped Canada judge and award-winning chef Lynn Crawford be your sous-chef with these delicious ideas for your Father’s Day feast.

Make Memories

When planning your Father’s Day menu, chose ingredients that spark happy memories for the two of you. Lynn’s father and other members of her family were all butchers, and she recalls how proud her father was when she decided to pursue a culinary career.

Lynn also recommends taking advantage of the good weather by sparking up the grill.

“Dads love when their kids are making a meal for them. It’s nice weather [this time of year] and ultimately the feast should include a barbecue,” says Lynn.

Appetizer

Start your Father’s Day meal with a sweet summer salad your dad will want to eat over and over again. Lynn’s love of beets comes from her father’s penchant for pickling.

“He always made pickled beets. I have memories of all those different jars on the counter, purple hands, and the smell of vinegar all over the kitchen.”

Get Lynn Crawford’s recipe for Roasted Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Summer Greens.

Side

“My father and I cooked a lot together. As a kid growing up, dad was home from work first, so it was always about peeling potatoes and getting them on the stove. He had these dad repertoire recipes which were always very easy.”  Add some flair to your mashed potatoes with this easy and creative side.

Get the recipe for Lynn Crawford’s Lobster Mashed Potatoes.

Main

“My father had a couple of recipes he was known for. To this day, we still use those recipes,” says Lynn. “He’s got a great marinade for steak. He loved the barbecue!” Take a cue from Lynn and grill your dad a big, juicy steak for the special occasion.

Get the recipe for Lynn Crawford’s Coffee-Salted, Pan Seared Rib Eye Steak with Cowboy Steak Fry Salad and Smoked Paprika Aioli.

DessertChef Lynn dessert

To cap off a wonderful meal, go for a a burst of citrus with these shortcakes as a light and airy dessert. Chef Lynn is a big fan of incorporating grapefruit in lighter dishes that boast tangy, bright flavours.

Get Lynn Crawford’s Florida Grapefuit Shortcakes recipe.

Chocolate Cowboy Cake With Fudge Frosting

Even if you can’t make it to the Calgary Stampede, you can bring a little bit of rodeo home to your ranch with this fun and exciting cake.

Nothing says ‘classic’ like a chocolate cake with a decadent fudge frosting. Add a little espresso powder to the icing for a little jolt of ‘Yeehaa!’ Sophisticated in flavour, with a rustic homemade presentation, this cake is perfect for celebrating your big rodeo win or your special cowboy’s birthday.

cowboy cake

The perfect blank canvas (well, chocolate canvas), this cake is a great base for any party theme you’re after. The sides and top are iced, not too perfectly,  to give it a rustic, approachable look. Bring the excitement of the Stampede to your cake by topping it off with little horse and cowboy figures, homemade bunting, and sugared rosemary sprigs.

Chocolate Cowboy Cake with Fudge Frosting
Cook time: 30  minutes
Makes: 4-layer, 6-inch cake

Ingredients:

Cake:
175g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
270g (1-1/2 cup) brown sugar
3 eggs
2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt

Frosting:
225g (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (50 g) powdered sugar
4 Tbsp cocoa powder
100 g dark chocolate (70%), melted and cooled
2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven at 350°F. Grease 4, 6-inch cake pans.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
3. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, 1 at a time and mix until well incorporated.
4. Add in the dry ingredients and start mixing on slow. Gradually add the milk and sour cream/Greek yogurt.
5. Divide batter evenly into 4 cake pans. I used an ice cream scoop to make sure each pan had equal amounts of batter. You can also you a scale to do this.
6. Bake for 28-30 minutes until the cake springs back when you press the top gently. Let cakes cool before removing them from pan.

Cake icing

Frosting:
1. Beat butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder and espresso powder and beat until smooth.
2. Add the melted chocolate and beat until smooth.

Cake Assembly:
Level the cake layers if they have a domed top. Place the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand. Apply a large dollop of frosting and smooth it out, right to the edges of the cake. Place the second layer, apply frosting, and repeat. It is okay if things get a bit messy. With an offset spatula, coat the cake with the remaining frosting.

Decorations
Sugared Rosemary Sprigs
What You’ll Need:
1 egg white
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Directions:
1. Whisk egg white until it’s no longer stringy in consistency.
2. With a pastry brush, lightly brush a thin coat of egg white on rosemary sprig.
3. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Let dry overnight.

‘Yeehaw!’ Bunting 
What You’ll Need:
Two skewer sticks
Twine/string
Nice cardstock/paper
Glue, pen, scissors

Directions:
1. Apply a small dab of glue at the end of each skewer stick and attach each end of the twine to a skewer stick.
2. Cut out 6 small triangles from cardstock. Write the letters of ‘yeehaw’ on each of the triangles.
3. Attach to twine with a small amount of glue.

Looking for more delicious cake ideas? Try our 25 Best Birthday Cakes.

Kate Bouska

Bringing Indigenous Cuisine to the Table

Two years ago, Kate Bouska wasn’t sure if she’d ever see her dream of owning a food truck come true. The woman, from Baker Lake, Nunavut had moved to Ottawa to pursue her love of cooking, but found herself battling depression, struggling financially and falling behind in school. Eventually she dropped out of her chef training program, but Bouska’s culinary ambitions didn’t end there.

This 20-year-old woman is one of 17 students enrolled in Algonquin College’s new indigenous cooking pre-apprenticeship program. The program is offered free, thanks to a grant from the Ontario government, and provides training for the next generation of young, indigenous Canadian chefs. In the first few weeks, Bouska’s already learning food theory, knife and presentation skills, as well as how to cook traditional indigenous cuisines from communities across Canada.

“When I found out about this course it was the answer to my dreams,” Bouska says. “The program isn’t quite what I had expected but it is interesting to learn all types of First Nations food.”

Kate Bouska

Kate Bouska is excited to get to put her culinary skills to the test cooking at the campus restaurant.
Algonquin College

The culinary school is the brainchild of Wes Wilkinson, the program’s academic manager, who saw a disconnect between aboriginal students and the curriculum in some culinary programs.

“We hired all indigenous instructors and indigenous consultants to help with the program’s development,” says Wilkinson, who wanted to ensure students were learning from Canada’s best chefs. “Instructors are everything from Algonquin, to Mohawk to Cree to from Nunavut.”

The result is a curriculum food lovers would be excited to taste. Jerome Brasser, executive chef at Ottawa’s Wabano Centre, leads the six-hour cooking class on Fridays, where he, with the help of guest instructors, teach students how to make everything from fry bread, to hominy corn to Arctic char gravlax.

“Last week we made three different types of bannock. We made cinnamon brown sugar bannock, plain bannock and blueberry bannock. We’re having a lot of fun and the students are really enjoying it,” says Brasser. “I try to come up with traditional recipes and teach them the basics too.”

Eager young chefs will also learn how to skin and cook beaver, smoke goose and rabbit over the campfire and learn how to cook wild game such as venison, bison and elk.

“Some of my previous students, who have graduated from the culinary course, have offered to teach as well, since they came from reserves and are living in Ottawa. They have jobs here now and are really interested in teaching the young folks their processes.”

The semester culminates with the entire class running the kitchen at the campus’ Restaurant International — an experience that will put their culinary skills to the test. It’s this high-stakes environment that Bouska looks forward to the most.

“It’s exciting. The highlight is learning how to plate,” says Bouska. “The precise cuts are the most difficult.”

It’s seeing students like Bouska find work at the end of their 8-week placement that will be the true marker of the program’s success for Wilkinson.

“Ultimately this is what this is all about,” says Wilkinson, who is excited to see students, who come from communities across Canada, thrive.

For Bousa, she still has her eye on opening a food truck with her friend, with plans on using her cooking school experience to create an indigenous menu.

Hungry? Discover 12 Tasty Canadian Indigenous Restaurants.

Guy and Hunter’s European Vacation: How to Eat like an Italian

Guy and Hunter kicked off their family vacation in Athens, where the father-son duo learned how to eat like Grecians. This week, the two cruise through Italy on their vespas, and learn how to make the essential Italian dessert: gelato.

“Of all the countries to visit, I think  Italy is the most important,” Guy says, explaining it’s where his entire family originated.

It’s in Rome where the two Fieris learn how to make fig and banana gelato, which is a chilled Italian delicacy. Gelato is churned at a slower rate and served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream, making its texture silkier and smoother.

Guy and Hunter leave the sweets behind and head to Venice via gondola to check out the seafood markets for a big family reunion dinner. Guy decides to make some surf and turf for his cousins, as Hunter meets many of them for the first time.

No trip to Italy is complete without trying branzino, a popular silver-skinned fish sea bass. Guy stuffs his branzino with lemons and veggies, and garnishes with parsley. The Fieri’s Italian feast isn’t complete without plates of spaghetti and clams, a recipe which originates in Naples. Typically in North America, spaghetti is served with red sauce and loads of meatballs on top, but in Italy, the rule is it has to be white.

Take a trip to Italy like Guy and Hunter, and eat like an Italian with this inspired menu.

Appetizers:

Artichoke and Tomato Panzanella

Grilled Treviso with Citrus Bagna Cauda

Cheese Stuffed Dates with Prosciuotto

Crispy Ceci

Main DishesbranzinoBaked Branzino with Citrus Gremolata

Ferris’ Clam Linguine

Spaghettini with King Crab

Anna Olson’s White Pizza

Desserts:

Meyer Lemon Gelato, Beet Root Spongecake and Dark Chocolate Crisp

Fresh Citrus with Gelato and Almond Cookies

Pineapple Semifreddo

Torrone

Watch all new episodes of Guy & Hunter’s European Vacation Thursdays at 10:30 E/P. Catch up on episodes online.

lobster bites

Simply Irresistible Lobster Roll Bites

Lobster rolls — soft rolls stuffed with a creamy, cold lobster salad — are a comfort food favourite across the Canadian Maritimes. The airy, soft roll gets swapped out for crispy little toast cups in this fun, bite-sized appetizer that’s perfect for any time of year.

Lobster Roll Bites

Lobster Roll Bites

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 48 pieces

Ingredients

Toast Cups:
12 slices soft white bread
3 Tbsp butter, melted

Lobster Salad:
1-1/4 cups diced cooked lobster meat (5 oz/140 g)
3 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 green onion, light and dark green parts separated, minced
1 rib celery, finely diced
2 tsp lemon juice
Pinch each salt and pepper

Lobster Bites prep

Directions:

Toast Cups
1. Using a rolling pin or wine bottle, roll each bread slice firmly to flatten it. Trim the crusts from the bread to make squares.
2. Lightly brush both sides of each slice with butter, and then cut slices into quarters to make 4 small squares.
3. Press 1 square into each well of two lightly greased mini muffin tins.
4. Bake in a 350°F (180°C) oven until golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack. You can store the toast cups in airtight container for up to 1 week.

Lobster Salad & Assembly:
5. In a bowl, mix together lobster, mayonnaise, white and light green part of green onion, celery, lemon juice, salt and pepper. You can cover and refrigerate the salad for up to 4 hours.
6. Spoon the salad into the toast cups just before serving. Sprinkle with dark green part of green onion.

Lobster Roll Bites

Lobster 101
You can buy lobster a few different ways from your fishmonger or the seafood department of many grocery stores: Whole cooked lobsters; frozen claws and arms (which are usually less expensive); fresh raw tails; frozen shelled meat; or follow the tip below to boil your own live lobsters. You’ll need one live, whole 650g lobster or 450 g cooked claws or tails in shells to yield the amount of meat called for in this recipe.

How to Cook and Shell Whole Lobsters
In a heavy-bottomed stockpot, pour in enough salted water to come at least halfway up the side of the pot. (Make sure the water covers the lobsters by a couple of inches, but remove them before continuing.) Bring to a rolling boil. Snip off the rubber bands from the lobsters’ claws. Carefully plunge each lobster headfirst into the saucepan. Don’t drop them in, or boiling water may splash on you. Cover and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until lobsters have turned bright red and the small legs twist off easily, about 10 minutes for a 650g lobster. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Twist the tail off one lobster. Using kitchen shears, cut up the inside and back of shell to release the meat. Crack apart claws and remove the meat. Repeat with any remaining lobsters.

 

Looking for more tasty lobster recipes? Try our 15 Best Canadian Seafood Recipes

Susur Lee’s 10 Tips for Making Amazing Camping Meals

World-acclaimed chef and Chopped Canada judge Susur Lee used to camp all the time with his family, especially when his three boys were kids. Grilling up the same old hot dogs and hamburgers on a camping trip can get boring… fast. But not for Lee who won’t settle for less than amazing food.

susur-lee-camping

Here Susur Lee shares his tips on how to elevate a humble camping meal into something extraordinary.

1. Bring along an olive oil sprayer. 
It’s a widely-known fact that olive oil is a crucial part of mastering an outdoor grill, but who wants to lug around a big bottle when they’re in the middle of the woods? Make things easier by bringing a sprayer with you to spritz the grill with oil whenever you need to. Keeping things quick, clean and simple is an integral part of ensuring your camping trip is successful.

2. Mix things up by grilling some fruit alongside your vegetables.
Sure, grilling veggies like bell peppers and zucchini is yummy and nutritious, but throwing some pineapple or peach slices on the grill adds an unexpected sweet and savory taste to your meals.

3. Buy quality, store-bought food whenever possible.
No one wants to spend a ton of time and effort on meal preparation during a camping trip, so if you can buy pre-packaged and already-made ingredients, make sure to do so. Lee likes to bring packages of peeled garlic cloves in a vacuum-sealed bag because they’re super easy to crush and add to anything. No muss, no fuss.

4. Choose square plates over round ones.
The idea behind this is simple. You don’t have a lot of room on a picnic table and square plates line up nicely along the edge of the table, leaving more space for other items. Efficiency is key when dining outdoors.

5: When life gives you lemons…
You can never have enough lemons on a camping trip. Lee loves to grill them and squeeze them over both desserts and main dishes to brighten them up. The citrus flavour will complement your dishes perfectly.

6. Keep it casual.
When you’re camping, it’s no secret that the simpler something is, the better. You don’t have to spend a lot of time (or any at all) on meal presentation. Keep everything looking rustic and  straightforward. This is not the time for delicate garnishes and fussy plating.

7. Serve food at room temperature.
Bugs can be a huge problem when you’re camping, and a good way to keep the flies away is to make sure your food is served at room temperature. Steaming hot dishes will attract pesky bugs and distract from your meal. Also make sure to pack mosquito covers to keep your food completely bug-free.

8. Bring a cooler.
Susur likes to have a big one on hand to store all his ingredients cool and safe from the heat.

9. Be sure to have plenty of fuel on hand if that’s your main source of cooking.
The last thing you want is to run out of gas in the middle of your gourmet camping meal!

10. Pick a good cooking spot.
You don’t want to be battling the winds on your camping adventure. Set up your cooking station in a place that’s shielded from the elements to maximize your enjoyment of cooking in the great outdoors.

Try these two tasty camping meals by Susur Lee:

Vegetable Polenta Cakes
Singapore Style Beef Shish Kabob