Butter Tart Doughnuts

Treat Yourself With Canadian Butter Tart Doughnuts

We love Canada, so there’s no reason not to inject some of our classic recipes with a little extra patriotism. In this dessert, we (literally) inject light, fluffy, yeasted doughnuts with a gooey butter tart filling. This recipe celebrates our love of Canada, our love of doughnuts and our love of our classic Canadian dessert, the butter tart.

Butter Tart Doughnuts

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Rising Time: 2 hours 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Makes: 12 to 14 doughnuts

1 cup 2% milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 (8 g) pkg quick-rise instant yeast
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 large egg, beaten
2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
Oil for frying (amount depends on size of pot)

1/2 brown sugar
1/4 golden corn syrup
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup icing sugar

Butter Tart Doughnuts


1. In a small saucepan, heat milk over low until temperature is slightly warmer than room temperature (should feel comfortable to touch). Stir in sugar and pour into the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Sprinkle yeast over warm milk mixture and set aside until foamy bubbles appear on the surface, about 10 minutes.
2. After yeast is foamy, beat in butter, egg, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add in flour and beat on medium-high speed until a smooth dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly and climbs the dough hook, about 5 minutes.
3. Form dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover with a dish towel and place in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
4. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface until ¾-inch thick. Using a floured 3-inch round cutter, press into dough and twist to release dough from sticking to cutter. Place dough rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Reroll dough scraps one at a time and repeat. Cover dough rounds with kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
5. Prepare a baking sheet lined with a few layers of paper towel. Pour enough oil into a large pot until 3- to 4-inches deep. Set pot with a clip-on thermometer and heat until temperature reaches 350ºF. Adjust heat to maintain 350ºF temperature.
6. Working in batches of 3 or 4, fry doughnuts until golden, about 1 minute per side, for a total of about 2 minutes. Using a spider or slotted spoon, carefully transfer fried doughnuts to prepared baking sheet. Cool.

1. Combine all filling ingredients in a double boiler. Heat over high while stirring until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Place mixture in the refrigerator until chilled, about 2 hours.

1. Transfer chilled filling into a piping bag. Poke a hole in the side of one doughnut using the back of a wooden spoon until you reach the centre of the doughnut. Pipe filling into doughnut. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.
2. Dust doughnuts with icing sugar before serving.

Looking for more tasty recipes? Try these 20 Great Canadian Butter Tart Recipes.

Great Canadian Burger

Get Ready To Taste The Great Canadian Burger

This weekend, celebrate Canada’s extra-special birthday with a big, bold burger. Wildly delicious, moose is a lean meat endless in versatility. And this recipe brings the majestic animal out of the woods and onto your barbecue in the tastiest way possible. The key to juicy moose is to mix it with Alberta beef before it hits the grill. Slather in wild blueberry and red onion jam for a crave-worthy-burger that’ll make you proud to be Canadian.

Great Canadian Burger

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4

1 Tbsp butter
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp wild blueberry jam
1 lb(s) ground moose meat
1/2 lb(s) medium ground beef
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
4 ciabatta buns
1/4 cup full-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup baby arugula, lightly packed

1. Heat butter in a small pan over medium. Add in red onion and cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add in vinegar and continue to cook for another 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Stir in blueberry jam and simmer for 5 minutes or until mixture is thick.
2. Combine moose meat, ground beef and salt in a bowl. Divide meat into 4 portions and form patties using your hands. Pack tightly, but do not overwork meat.
3. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high. Add in oil and gently place burgers down. Cook until a golden brown crust forms, about 4 minutes per side.
4. Cut ciabatta buns in half. Smear 1 Tbsp of Greek yogurt on to the bottom of each bun. Place burger on top of yogurt. Divide onion jam among burgers. Top with arugula and close with top bun.

Watch this Burger Edition of You Gotta Eat Here! where host John Catucci enjoys some of the craziest burgers out there.


Anna Olson’s Butter Tarts Are the Ultimate Canada Day Treat

Can’t decide on which classic Canadian dish to serve for the nation’s 150th birthday? Look no further, because now you can make Anna Olson’s famous butter tarts for your Canada Day festivities!

anna olson butter tarts canada day

It’s no stretch to say that Anna Olson is a butter tart expert. Even when travelling around the world, the Bake with Anna Olson star is often asked to demonstrate how to make these quintessential Canadian treats. So when teaming up with Kin Community creator Beth Le Manach of Entertaining with Beth for a festive summer collaboration, Anna knew exactly what would be on the menu.

To celebrate this momentous Canada Day, Anna’s sharing her “true Canadian, classic sweet treat”! In this scrumptious video from Anna Olson’s YouTube channel, Oh Yum, you’ll learn the secret to making her irresistibly sweet and flaky butter tarts, just in time for the long weekend!

Can’t wait to get baking?  Get into that kitchen and start whipping up a batch of these Canadian treasures.  Find the recipe to her delicious Canada Day Butter Tarts below.

Anna Olson’s Pecan Butter Tarts

Butter tarts are a Canadian classic sweet treat. While this recipe uses pecans, feel free to use other additions in place of the pecans such as raisins, walnut pieces, chocolate chips or simply leave the butter tarts plain.

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 12 butter tarts


2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces (does not have to be ice cold)
1/4 cup cool water
2 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice

3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins, pecans or walnut pieces


1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the oil and blend in using a pastry cutter, electric beaters or a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until the flour looks evenly crumbly in texture.
2. Add the butter and cut in until rough and crumbly but small pieces of butter are still visible. Stir the water and vinegar (or lemon juice, if using) together and add all at once to the flour mixture, mixing just until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into 2 logs, wrap and chill until firm, at least an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Pull the chilled dough from the fridge 20 minutes before rolling.
4. Cut each of the logs of chilled pie dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece out on a lightly floured work surface to about 5 mm thick and use a 12 cm round cookie cutter to cut each into a circle. Line each muffin cup with the pastry so that it comes about 1 cm higher than the muffin tin, and chill the lined tin while preparing the filling.
5. Whisk sugar, maple syrup and butter in a bowl by hand until combined. Whisk in eggs, then vinegar and vanilla. Sprinkle a few raisins, pecans or walnut pieces into each cup and then pour the filling into the shells and bake the tarts for 5 minutes, then reduce oven to 375°F and continue baking until butter tart filling starts to dome, about 20 more minutes. Cool tarts in the tin, and chill the tarts in the tin before removing.

Looking for more yummy treats? Learn the sticky-sweet History of Butter Tarts.

Nanaimo bars

The History of Nanaimo Bars: A Beloved Treat

Located on the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo, B.C. is a verdant, broody kind of place; a typical Pacific coast town, washed out in foggy greys and steel ocean blues. But this misty city is also the namesake for what might just be the sunniest dessert square the world has ever produced: the Nanaimo bar, a soft layer of yellow custard sandwiched between rich chocolate ganache and a coconut-graham crust.

Nanaimo bar

Nanaimo bars’ history likely predates the first printed recipes.

The first known recipe for Nanaimo bars appeared in the 1952 Women’s Auxiliary of the Nanaimo Hospital Cookbook and was labelled “chocolate square.” One year later, a similar recipe was published in Vancouver’s Edith Adams’ Cookbook, this time going by the name “Nanaimo Bar.” These are the bar’s earliest known publications, but Nanaimo Museum interpretation curator Aimee Greenaway figures they’ve been around much longer.

Nanaimo bars in the 1953 Edith Adams cookbook

This display from the Nanaimo Museum features the Edith Adams’ Cookbook, the first to print the well-loved recipe under the name Nanaimo bar.
Nanaimo Museum

“What’s always interesting with Nanaimo bars is the folklore,” she says. “You could get any number of different answers from people in Nanaimo if you ask them about the history of the Nanaimo bar.”
Greenaway particularly likes the stories from Nanaimo’s coal mining era. “Nanaimo was founded on coal — that’s really what developed it into a settlement,” she says. “The story was that families were sending Nanaimo bars on sailing ships from England to Nanaimo. That was kind of interesting, but we haven’t been able to find anything to back that up.”

Chelsea Barr, destination marketing officer with Tourism Nanaimo has heard similar tales. “You get stories all the time from grandmothers saying, ‘That was something my mom used to make me and it was in the lunchboxes of all the miners going into the mines,’” she says.

It’s certainly easy to imagine miners carrying Nanaimo bars to work, transporting sparks of custardy sunshine in the darkness of the mines. But neither Nanaimo’s historical miners nor current residents have an exclusive relationship with the dessert; over the last century, similar sweets have popped up across North America, going by names like “New York slice,” “London fog bar” and “prayer bar.” Still, when it comes to branding, Nanaimo is the winner, bar none. “Of course, we know that Nanaimo Bars originated in Nanaimo, or they would be called New York Bars, or New Brunswick Bars,” boasts the City of Nanaimo website.

The city has been instrumental in promoting the dessert. In 1986, then-mayor Graeme Roberts launched a contest to find the ultimate Nanaimo bar recipe. In the years since, winner Joyce Hardcastle has enjoyed promoting the B.C. treat, appearing in numerous newspaper stories and even starring in a segment of Pitchin’ In with Lynn Crawford. “It’s kind of like being a celebrity, but for one item,” she says. The secret to her prize-winning recipe? “I wouldn’t say secret, because I say it all the time, but the trick is to use unsalted butter,” says Hardcastle. “It makes the bars a bit more mellow.”

Joyce Hardcastle and Nanaimo bars

Joyce Hardcastle pictured with her prize-winning Nanaimo bars,plus souvenir tea towels and mugs featuring her recipe, and a sampling from her collection of newspaper clippings.

Nanaimo bars are easy to make at home, but travellers with a sense of adventure (and a high-tolerance for sugar) can check out the Nanaimo Bar Trail, where sweet adaptations and variations abound. Tasting options include deep-fried Nanaimo bars and Nanaimo bar cupcakes, lattes, fudge and martinis.

For tired feet, sore from pounding the trail all day, Kiyo salon offers a Nanaimo-bar themed pedicure. “It is amazing,” says Barr. “Your feet will smell like chocolate for the entire day.”

Want to try Joyce Hardcastle’s ultimate Nanaimo bar? Get the winning recipe here!


The Lumberjack Breakfast Sandwich Delivers All Your Faves In One Bite

Behold, the Lumberjack Breakfast Sandwich! All the parts of a hearty start to the day — eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, pancakes and hash browns — in one nifty, stackable, portable package. (Don’t forget the napkins.)

lumberjack breakfast sandwich

Layers of breakfast meats, a hash brown patty and fried egg are interspersed with a key structural piece: the pancake. Akin to a traditional clubhouse, this middle starchy tier serves as both a condiment layer (douse it in syrup for a salty-sweet combination, slather simply with butter or spike with hot sauce for kick), while also soaking up those runny egg yolk, sausage and bacon juices.

After breakfast, you’ll be ready to tackle the woods…or a nap on the couch. Which would, again, be completely understandable.

Lumberjack Breakfast Sandwich

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

16 slices cooked bacon
4 cooked hash browns, prepared according to package directions
4 cooked pancakes
16 uncooked breakfast sausages
4 large eggs
8 pieces of toast
2 Tbsp butter, more as needed
maple syrup, for serving
hot sauce, for serving
ketchup, for serving

1. Preheat the oven to 200ºF.
2. On a large baking sheet or large ovenproof dish, add bacon, hash browns and pancakes. Keep warm in oven while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
3. Remove the sausages from casings; discard casings. Take 4 uncased sausages and squash them into 1 thin patty, just slightly larger than the piece of bread you will be using for toast. Repeat with remaining uncased sausages for a total of 4 patties. In a large skillet, fry patties over medium heat, flipping once, until browned and completely cooked through, approximately 5-7 minutes. Transfer cooked patties to oven with other ingredients to keep warm.
4. Using the same pan with residual sausage patty fat, or a clean one with a bit of melted butter swirled around the bottom to reduce sticking, fry the eggs sunny side up until the whites have completely set and the yolks are cooked at the edge but still runny. Season eggs with salt and pepper.
5. To assemble, building from the bottom up, start with 1 piece of toast, buttered, if desired. Top toast with 4 slices of bacon, 1 hash brown, 1 pancake that has been dressed to your liking (with maple syrup, butter and/or hot sauce), 1 sausage patty and 1 fried egg. Top your stack with a second piece of toast. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make 4 sandwiches. Serve with maple syrup, hot sauce and ketchup. Enjoy!

Looking for more Canadian dishes? Try our 10 Perfect Peameal Bacon Recipes.

5 Cheap and Tasty Cuts of Pork to Make for Dinner Tonight

It’s easy to fall into a routine at the meat counter — after all, pork chops and steaks are simple and guaranteed crowd pleasers. For something a little more interesting, however, follow the lead of chefs across the country and look at off-cuts such as cheek, shoulder, hock, feet and tails, all of which, with a little preparation and care, yield great flavour. Or, if you’re set on pork tenderloin, try taking it one step further with savoury stuffings. Either way, stretching your imagination (and your dollar) a bit will land you a meal that’s a cut above the rest.

Rolled Pork Florentine

Get the recipe for Rolled Pork Florentine
Food Network Canada

Tender, My Love
Typically sold boneless, tenderloin is easy to portion out into individual medallions if you don’t want a larger roast, and is a good size for a smaller family.

How to Cook Pork Tenderloin: Lean and solid meat without much fat or sinew, fast-cooking tenderloin can be butterflied, rolled around savoury seasonings and roasted for a special occasion dinner or any time that warrants celebrating. Since pork tenderloin is relatively tender, it doesn’t need the low and slow cooking that tougher cuts require (in fact, overcook tenderloin and it will be dry and stringy). Prepare your filling ahead of time, and make sure it’s cooled before stuffing the tenderloin if it’s going to be sitting before cooking.

Tackle a crisp and crackling Stuffed Porchetta With Epic Homemade Gravy, spinach and bacon stuffed Rolled Pork Florentine, fly the Italian colours with Tricolore Stuffed Pork or go German with a Cauliflower and Caper Gratin With Pork Rouladen. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, make succulent sandwiches or try one of these recipes.


Get the recipe for Instant Pot Barbecue Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Food Network

Shoulder Season
Pork shoulder (or its alter ego, pork butt) is a more heavily marbled area than tenderloin, and can be prepared with the skin on or off, and can come bone in or boneless. You’re more likely to see blade cut shoulder (which comes from the area closer to the tenderloin) at the supermarket.

How to Cook Pork Shoulder: Pork shoulder can be cooked low and slow as a roast, or, when thinly sliced into chops, grilled on the barbecue.  Cubed and seared off in a hot pan before adding to liquid, pork shoulder makes an excellent dish with lentils, adding flavour to braised dishes as it simmers away. Left whole, it’s the ideal vehicle for strong seasonings such as the vibrant herb and citrus marinade for harissa-spiked cider braised pork with apples. Or, pull the fork-tender pieces apart to shred for that summertime favourite, pulled pork sandwiches, best enjoyed with loads of smoky barbecue sauce.

Try making Pulled Pork Sandwiches (or one Mega Pulled Pork Sandwich), Cider Braised Pork Shoulder With Apples or Braised Pork Shoulder With Lentils.


Get the recipe for Roasted Pork Hocks
Food Network Canada

Hock It To Me
Meaty pork hocks come from the front or back legs of the pig between the foot and shoulder. You may also see smoked hocks in German or Polish supermarkets, which can be used like ham bones to flavour soups.

How to Cook Pork Hocks: Settle in: you’re going to need patience with this one. Due to the fibrous tissue and sinew in hocks, longer cooking times are a necessity. Pork hocks can be braised in liquid with vegetables for a complete meal, or, for a true lesson in crispy carnivorousness, brined and roasted for crackling that puts chicharrones to shame.

Try a relatively light hock preparation in a Pork Hock Terrine, or keep it crispy with simple Roasted Pork Hocks. If you’ve picked up a smoked hock, try the whimsically named Pig and Pea Soup.


Get the recipe for Crispy Pork Cheek Latkes 

Food Network Canada

Turning The Other Cheek
Pork cheeks come from the often used face muscles of the pig, which have sinew running through them but not much fat. When cooked, pork cheeks are soft, yet maintain enough structure that they can be used to stuff ravioli, pulled apart for ragu or simply served whole on top of mashed potatoes or a purée of parsnips. Most butchers should be able to set some aside for you if you call ahead of time or put in a special order.

How to Cook Pork Cheek: A quick pan sear on each side of the cheek, then a covered braise in flavoured liquid, will make pork cheeks fall-apart tender. Unlike the time commitment needed for cuts such as shoulder, however, cheeks cook relatively quickly — in under half an hour for most preparations. Combined with shredded potatoes for a crispy latke and a powerful salsa verde, pork cheeks can be a hearty lunch or appetizer with a crunchy exterior yielding to soft and luscious meat.

Give Crispy Pork Cheek Latke a try.

Happy Feet (and Tail)
North Americans may be more familiar with pig’s feet and tails through the gustatory delights of Oktoberfest (such as the revelry in Kitchener-Waterloo’s annual celebration) or the lively culinary tales of Mennonite cuisine in Canada’s doyenne Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks. These off-cuts are part and parcel to many cuisines, from spicy Jamaican stew peas with pig’s tails to Chinese red braised pig’s feet, redolent with soy, black vinegar and ginger.

How to Cook Pig’s Feet and Tails: The natural gelatinous goodness of both tails and feet add body and gloss to stocks, leading to that jello-like consistency much prized among soup connoisseurs. Traditional preparations of both tails and feet often begin with a boiling step to soften the meat, which can be picked off the bone and used to punch up the flavour of meatballs or croquettes. Pig’s tails can also be slathered with your favourite sauce or glaze and crisped under the broiler or on the grill for a sweet and sticky treat that will add a twist to your next barbecue.

Ready to take that next step? Try Foie Gras Stuffed Pig’s Feet, Pig’s Feet Meatball Ragout or Pig Tail Croquette.

So remember, pork chops aren’t the only cut in town — from cheek to tail, the entire pig is your playground. If you’re intrigued and want to check out more common pork cuts, as well as recommended cooking times and other info, check out this check out this handy chart and trot off to your butcher counter right away.

You’ll Love Every Single Layer of This Nanaimo Bar Trifle

Transform the ultra Canadian dessert into an impressive party pleaser. This recipe takes the flavours of Nanaimo bars — coconut, chocolate and vanilla custard — and layers them into a decadent, drool-worthy trifle. We make it over the top with layers of chocolate wafer cookies and topping it off with whipped cream. Literally dig right into this deep-dish dessert of inspired by a classic Canadian square.


Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 8


Chocolate Cake:
1 box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Vanilla Custard:
6 Tbsp Bird’s custard powder
1/2 cup sugar
3 3/4 cups milk

1 cup 35% whipping cream
1 Tbsp sugar
1 cup desiccated sweetened coconut
10 chocolate wafers, crushed


1. Mix the cake batter according to box directions. Stir in walnuts.
2. Bake in a 9×9-inch baking pan according to package directions. Let cool.
3. In a microwavable bowl, mix custard powder with sugar and milk. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Whisk mixture until smooth then microwave for another 3 minutes. Whisk again, then let stand for 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap flush to the custard to avoid a skin. Refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.
4. Whip cream to soft peaks and fold in sugar.
5. Remove cake from pan and cut cake into 2-inch chunks. Layer 1/3 of cake pieces in the bottom of a trifle dish, spoon 1/3 of custard over cake pieces, then sprinkle on 1/3 coconut,  then1/3 of chocolate wafer. Repeat twice.
6. Spoon whipped cream on top, and sprinkle with reserved coconut and chocolate wafer.

Looking for more Nanaimo-inspired desserts? Watch these videos for Nanaimo Cheesecake Bars, Nanaimo Ice Cream Cake and Nanaimo Bar Pie.

S'more Pops

Get All the Flavour Sans Campfire with Fudgy S’mores Pops

Toasty, chocolatey s’mores are great for cool summer nights by the campfire. We love the Canadian flavours of graham crackers, chocolate and golden, toasted marshmallows so much that we created a whole new s’mores inspired treat. This one is for hot summer days by the lake or pool. Fudgey, frozen pudding pops are covered with toasted meringue and dipped in graham crumbs to create the ultimate summertime snack when there’s no campfire nearby.

S'more Pudding Pops

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes + 8 hours
Makes: 6 pops

3 cups prepared chocolate pudding
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar, divided
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup water
3 egg whites
1 cup graham cracker crumbs

S'more Pops

1. Divide prepared pudding into 6 popsicle moulds. Let freeze for minimum 8 hours.
2. To make the meringue, heat 1 cup sugar, cream of tartar and water over high in a small sauce pan. Let the sugar fully dissolve and the mixture reduce slightly, about 4 minutes
3. Meanwhile, beat egg whites to soft peaks in an electric mixer. Add remaining sugar and whip.
4. While the motor is still running, pour a stream of the sugar mixture into the egg whites along the side of the bowl. Careful not to pour directly into the whisk or the hot sugar mixture with splatter.
5. Whip until peaks are stiff and mixture is cool, about 10 minutes.
6. Place graham crumb in a small bowl.
Place a baking tray in the freezer.
7. Working quickly, spoon meringue on both side of one pudding pop. Using the back of the spoon, make swoosh patterns in meringue coating.
8. Dip the top of the pop into graham crumb to coat the top inch.
Using a kitchen torch, toast both sides of meringue until lightly golden. Avoid torching graham crumb.
9. Place pops on baking sheet set in freezer and repeat with remaining popsicles.
10. Keep in freezer until ready to serve. Or enjoy immediately.

S'more Pops

Craving more s’mores? Try our delectable Nanaimo S’mores.

perfect bbq chicken tips

8 Tips for Making the Best Barbecued Chicken Ever

Chicken is one of this most popular items to grill during BBQ season. When done right, it’s juicy and flavourful, but when done wrong, well… you know. Don’t let obvious mistakes come between you and a delicious chicken dinner. Follow the tips below and get perfectly barbecued chicken every time.

Lemon and Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs

Get the recipe for Lemon and Herb Marinated Grilled Chicken Thighs

1. Not All Cuts Are Created Equal
Different parts of the chicken cook at different times, making it harder to cook different pieces at once. A good tip to keep in mind is that bone-in chicken cooks slower than boneless and thicker cuts take longer than thin. Whole birds, like summertime favourite, beer can chicken, take the longest. Know your cuts so you can ensure you time it right, and avoid hangry barbecue guests.

2. Don’t Cook Cold Chicken
While it’s important to keep chicken in the fridge for marinating, don’t take it straight from the cold and slap it on the grill. Allow chicken to come to room temperature before you start cooking. This will allow for even cooking throughout.

3. Start With a Good Sear
Searing meat gives beautiful grill marks and adds that mouthwatering barbecue char to chicken. The key to a good sear is dry meat and a hot grill. First, pat the chicken skin with paper towel to take out as much moisture as possible. A super-hot grill allows the chicken to get a good sear and is less likely to stick. If you have thicker cuts, like a bone-in chicken breast, sear on both sides then move to indirect heat until cooked through. Clean and oil the grates before cooking is key to prevent meat sticking and tearing. Chicken is quite delicate. It would be a shame if you lost the beautiful skin to the grill, or tore your meat.

Related: Best BBQ Chicken Marinades

4. Closed for Business
Resist the urge to open the lid over and over to check on your chicken. The barbecue retains heat when the lid is closed and helps cook chicken evenly. The more you open, the more heat will escape.

5. Marinate or Season Ahead
Chicken is like a sponge that absorbs whatever flavours you throw at it. Properly season with salt when the chicken is raw and give it time to absorb the seasoning. Experiment with different marinades and brines. Chicken can be marinated for as little as 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spicy Peach Glaze

Get the recipe for Bobby Flay’s Grilled Chicken Breasts with Spicy Peach Glaze

6. Get Saucy at the End
Many BBQ sauces have a high sugar content, especially those sweet, sticky ones. If they’re applied to the chicken too early, they’ll burn on the grill. If you’re looking for the sauce to caramelize onto the chicken, apply 10 minutes before cooking is complete. Add more liberally once it has been taken off the grill.

7. Use a Thermometer
It’s difficult to tell when chicken is cooked by looking or touching it. Use a meat thermometer to avoid the guessing game and get the most accurate results. Chicken should reach a temperature of 160°F when taken off the grill and will continue to rise to 165°F off the grill.

8. Let it Rest
If you cut it right away, you’ll lose all those lovely juices and flavours you’ve locked in! Allow grilled chicken to rest for 10-15 minutes after it has been cooked so that the juices can redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in perfectly juicy chicken breast every time.

No-Churn Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This easy, no-churn vegan ice cream is going to become your new go-to treat this summer. It’s creamy, minty, refreshing and totally dairy-free. No need to feel guilty after eating a whole pint either; it’s sweetened only with dates and packed with nutrient-rich avocados, cashews and coconut. Top your bowl with a healthy drizzle of melted chocolate and you’ve got the perfect no-bake dessert.


Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours, 15 minutes

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1 14 oz can full fat coconut milk
1 cup cashews
1 Tbsp coconut oil
10 dates
1/4 cup cacao nibs
3/4 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp liquid chlorophyll (for colour, optional)


Chocolate Sauce Topping:
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1 tsp coconut oil


1. Place the can of coconut milk in the freezer for 2 hours or in the fridge overnight.
2. Soak the cashews for 2 hours and soak the dates in warm water for 15 minutes.
3. Once the coconut milk has chilled, open the can and remove the hard coconut cream from the top and pop it into your blender. Reserve the liquid, you can use it to make smoothies.
4. Drain the cashews and dates and add them to the blender with all ingredients except the cacao nibs. If your blender comes with a plunger use it to push the ingredients towards the blade while it’s blending. Or continue to stop, scrape down the sides and mix. This will take about 3-5 minutes.
5. Pour the ice cream into a parchment-lined loaf pan, using a silicon spatula to ensure you get it all out of the blender.
6. Mix in the cacao nibs until they’re well incorporated.
7. Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and freeze for 4 hours or until you’re ready to eat.
8. Make homemade chocolate sauce by melting chocolate chips in a double boiler, then spoon in coconut oil until silky; drizzle it directly on top of ice cream.


Get 40 more delicious vegan dessert recipes here.

Photos by Sarah Grossman.

Summer Berry Sangria

1 Bottle of Wine, 3 Sangrias to Sip All Summer

Nothing says summer quite like sipping some sangria on a patio. It’s cool and refreshing, and eating the fruit that’s been soaking up the wine means it’s a drink with a snack included.

Summer Berry Sangria

While we tend to think of sangria in its most traditional form – red wine and brandy with orange juice, apples and wheels of lemon and lime – any bottle of wine can be transformed with a little fruit and liqueur.

One bottle of Sauvignon Blanc can be transformed into a hundred variations of sangria, from the sweet and sparkly to a deeply cooling version that refreshes with cucumber instead of fruit. Here are three new and tasty ways to kick off your summer with sangria.

Summer Berry Sangria

Summer Berry Sparkling Sangria
Brightly coloured berries really pop against the background of a white wine, so this sangria is perfect when the summer heat sends raspberries, strawberries and blackberries to the farmers’ markets. Tumble any combination you like of the berries into a pitcher, add a bit of simple syrup – depending on how sweet you like your sangria – and then let it all sit in the fridge to infuse those flavours. When ready to serve, pour in a bottle of sparkling wine for some bubbles and top with fresh mint leaves.

Tropical Sangria

Tropical Fiesta Sangria
Give your sangria a tropical twist by using fruits that are a little more exotic. Tangy pineapple and sweet mango are excellent; papaya is also great. You can also thinly slice some kiwis for a little pop of green colour and some lemon for a hit of citrus. Adding in Cointreau – or another brand of orange-flavoured liqueur – will give a nice undertone and plays well with the tropical fruit.

Cucumber Gin Sangria

Gin-Cucumber Sangria
For something completely different and incredibly refreshing, taking a page from another summer classic, the gin and tonic, and make a Gin-Cucumber Sangria. This one starts with Sauvignon Blanc and then gets a botanical and floral infusion by swishing in elderflower liqueur and gin – go for one with a particularly botanical or floral bend for full flavour, like Hendrick’s. Slices of lime add some tang, while mint makes it suitably refreshing. Finally, thin slices of cucumber bring some coolness to the mix.

Looking for more delicious summer cocktails? Learn how to make Ina Garten’s Rose Sangria.

1 Can of Chickpeas, 5 Simple Chickpea Salads

Turn a humble, economical and healthy can of chickpeas into five delicious salads that keep well in the fridge all week to enjoy for lunch, dinner, or as an anything-but-boring side dish. From smashed curry chickpea salad lettuce cups to chipotle sweet potato chickpea salad, these versatile recipes will surelysustain and satisfy.


Prep Time: 5
Cook Time: 5
Serves: 4

1. Green Goddess Chickpea Salad

1/4 cup homemade or prepared pesto
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice, more for serving
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 lb asparagus, tough ends removed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (19 oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups packed roughly chopped regular spinach or whole baby spinach
1 cup fresh shelled green peas or frozen, defrosted green peas
6 radishes, thinly sliced


1. In a small bowl, combine pesto, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
2. Steam asparagus until tender, about 5 minutes, refresh with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Add asparagus to a large bowl along with pesto mixture and remaining salad ingredients. Mix well to combine. Refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 5 days. Serve with additional lemon.


2. Smashed Curry Chickpea Salad in Lettuce Cups: In a large bowl, mash 1 (19 oz) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed, with a potato masher or back of a fork until roughly smashed. Mix in 2 stalks diced celery, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint, 1/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 2 tsp curry powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve in butter lettuce cups and garnish with pea sprouts on top.

3. Chickpea Salad Niçoise: In a large bowl, mix 1 (19 oz) can drained and rinsed chickpeas, 1/2 lb blanched green beans, 1/2 lb boiled baby new potatoes, 1/4 cup Niçoise or Kalamata olives, 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill, 1 Tbsp chopped capers and your favourite French vinaigrette recipe.

4. Chickpea Fattoush: In a large bowl, mix 1 (19 oz) can drained and rinsed chickpeas, 2 pieces torn well-toasted flatbread or pita, 1 diced tomato, 1/4 thinly sliced red onion, 6 chopped pitted dates, 1/2 cup crumbled feta, 4 thinly sliced Persian (baby) cucumbers, 1 Tbsp minced chives, 3 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 Tbsp ground sumac and salt to taste.

5. Ancho Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad: In a large bowl, mix 1 (19 oz) can drained and rinsed chickpeas, 2 peeled and cubed roasted sweet potatoes, 2 thinly sliced roasted red bell peppers, 1 minced chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, 2 Tbsp avocado oil or olive oil, 1 tsp lime zest, 1 Tbsp lime juice and 1/4 tsp salt. Serve garnished with chopped fresh cilantro and diced green onion.

Take a look at our collection of 60 Chickpea Recipes to Make Your Heart Happy.


How to Make The Best Cold Brew Coffee

On sweltering summer days, cold brew is a refreshing alternative to your hot morning coffee. The cool, satisfying summer drink is easier to make than you think.

In simplest terms, cold brew is made by soaking coffee grounds in water at room temperature or cooler for a long period of time. The resulting beverage is less acidic on the palate than your typical cup, but it also packs a punch. Because it requires more grounds than hot coffee, cold brew has the added benefit of more caffeine.


There are lots of cold brewing gadgets out there, but this recipe will show you an easy way to improvise at home with equipment you likely already have. After 18 hours, you’ll end up with a potent cold brew concentrate that can be diluted and enjoyed with ice, sparkling water or your milk of choice.

So, grab your favourite freshly roasted coffee beans, and give this simple cold brew method a try.


Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 18 hours, 30 minutes
Serves: 8

100 g or roughly 1 cup coarsely ground coffee
800 mL or 3 1/2 cups filtered water
1L Mason jar
Fine mesh bag  or nut milk bag
Paper coffee filter
Strainer or funnel


Cold brew

1. Place nut milk bag inside a mason jar and fill with ground coffee. Add filtered water. Give your soaked grounds a stir. Cover the mason jar with a cloth and place it in the fridge to brew for 18 hours.

Cold brew step 2
2. After 18 hours, take your brew out of the fridge and carefully remove the mesh bag filled with coffee grounds. Tip: Used coffee grounds make great compost.

3. Pour your cloudy brew through a pre-soaked paper filter (pre-soaking removes paper-y taste). If you don’t have pour-over coffee equipment, a strainer or funnel lined with a paper filter will do.

4. You now have a crystal clear cold brew concentrate. Dilute with ice and water or add milk and sweetener to taste. Store your cold brew coffee in the refrigerator to enjoy for up to a week.

Easy Peasy Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes

Growing up I always thought strawberry shortcakes were composed of, well, cake. Why would someone call it a shortcake if cake was not the starring ingredient? While there are versions that pair strawberries with cake, these fluffy, flaky biscuits are made in a large muffin tin, which give each one a crisp, clean edge. Once they’re ready, they’re sliced and filled with a bright, glossy strawberry mixture. I made a basil whipped cream for these shortcakes for an earthy note, but you can easily opt for the classic, plain (and delicious) whipped cream.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

Makes: 10 individual shortcakes


Baking Powder Biscuits:
3 cups flour
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Coarse sugar

Strawberry Filling:
1 clamshell strawberries, hulled, halved, quartered if large
1/2 cup apple jelly

Basil Whipped Cream:
1 cup whipping cream
1/3 cup basil leaves, torn (optional)
*If preparing basil whipped cream, infuse basil into whipping cream at least 3-4 hours ahead of time.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream


Baking Powder Biscuits:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a large muffin tin.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, vanilla, salt and baking powder.
3. Using a pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs of consistent size. The butter should be pea-sized bits throughout the mixture.
Stir in milk until dough starts to form a ball.
4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1-inch thickness.
5. Use a circle cookie cutter to cut out the biscuits. Note: When cutting biscuits with a cookie cutter, do not twist the cookie cutter once you have cut into the biscuit dough. This will “seal” the edges of the biscuit and prevent optimum rising!
6. Place each biscuit into a muffin tin cavity. Brush the top of each biscuit with heavy cream and sprinkle on coarse sugar.
7. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 22 minutes, until tops are golden.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

Strawberry Filling:
1. In a microwave safe bowl, warm apple jelly.
2. Toss strawberries in apple jelly until all pieces are covered. Set aside.

Basil Whipped Cream:
1. Heat cream over medium temperature in a small saucepan until it just starts to simmer. Remove from heat and toss in basil leaves.
2. Allow mixture to sit at room temperature about 30 minutes, uncovered.
3. Pour the cream through a mesh strainer into a small bowl to remove the leaves.
4. Cover and refrigerate at least 3 hours before using.
5. Once chilled, pour basil whipping cream into the stand of a standing mixer. Whisk until stiff peaks form.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

1. Before assembling, warm the biscuits lightly if they have cooled.
2. Split shortcakes and divide strawberry and whipped cream among bottoms. Close with shortcake tops.
3. Serve warm.

Muffin Tin Strawberry Shortcakes with Basil Whipped Cream

Looking for more tasty treats? Try these 36 Strawberry Desserts to Celebrate Summer.

John Catucci: Where You Gotta Take Dad This Father’s Day

For over five seasons now, John Catucci has been sampling the best comfort foods all around the world. When it comes to special occasions like Father’s Day, the host of You Gotta Eat Here! can certainly offer a few tasty recommendations. We talked to the TV star to get his top three picks on where to take your pops for a memorable Father’s Day brunch.

For the Meat Lover

“First of all, if your dad wants to sleep in [on Father’s Day], let him!” says John. He recommends grabbing a table at Caplansky’s located in Toronto. The old-school Jewish deli serves all-day breakfasts and sandwiches, piled high with house-smoked meats.

“Just have a big ol’ honkin’ smoked meat sandwich with your pop. And if he gets mustard on his face, so what? It’s his day. Let him get dirty!”

For the Potato Lover

John Catucci says taking your dad to Holy Grill is a must. Stationed in the heart of Calgary, Holy Grill offers sandwiches, burgers and eggs Benedict. Dishes like the South Beach Benny are the holy grail of breakfast perfection.

“They have this smashed potato that’s so good,” John says. “They smash them and they fry them so they’re crispy on the edges and soft and pillow-y on the inside. It’s a great place to be in!”

For the Trendsetter

Emma’s Country Kitchen in Toronto, is a popular brunch destination offering all-day breakfast, homemade doughnuts and drool-worthy buttermilk biscuits. To really spoil your dad, John has the perfect idea.

“Because Emma’s is always so busy for brunch, go in and wait in line for him. Let your dad sleep in, and call him when the table is ready,” says John. “Let your dad shuffle his way inside in his slippers and robe.”

Visit the location map to plan your next Father’s Day brunch, lunch or dinner!

Exclusive Interview With The Winner Of Top Chef Canada: All-Stars

In a competition that pitched the best of four seasons of Top Chef Canada, Nicole Gomes sliced and sautéed her way to the champion spot. For the Calgary-based chef-owner of the catering outfit Nicole Gourmet and co-owner of Cluck n’ Cleaver, a chef-driven, fast-casual spot specializing in fried and rotisserie chicken, the win was hard fought and earned. Eliminated only two episodes before the finale in Season 3, Nicole came back to the Top Chef Canada kitchen eager to compete. Leading up to the finale, she won five challenges – three Quickfires and two Eliminations – and faced a panel of disappointed judges twice.

Nicole in Episode 3 of Top Chef Canada: All-Stars

We chatted with Nicole about how she prepared for All-Stars, what made this time different and what’s next after her big win.

Why did you want to return to Top Chef Canada to compete again?

It took me a long time to reply; I had to think about it. I had no clue who was going to be on, so that was a hesitation. But I knew this round would be great competition – more about the food because it’s All-Stars. And I really wanted to win. It’s not about the money – that’s a bonus, to be honest. It was about a woman winning, as all of the four past seasons have been men.

How did you prepare for competition?

The first season that I did, I prepared by actually cooking and testing dishes, but that was silly. I have so much under my belt from over 20 years of cooking experience, why would I do that? So, this time I prepared by investigating flavour profiles. I read a book I love called The Flavor Thesaurus (by Niki Segnit). You just go into the index and say, “I’m cooking with almonds today, what pairs with that?”

We’re not allowed to bring any recipes, so when you arrive, you have to write down everything you know in your head. Cooking isn’t a problem, but baking you had to memorize before you left – basic recipes: a pie dough, biscuit recipe, cookie recipe, ice cream base.
We were given a book we were allowed to use. On the first page I wrote down mantras, mistakes I’d made from season 3, things I needed to improve on. And as I was going along in the competition, mistakes I made that I wouldn’t do again. That’s the biggest thing about life, you should learn from your mistakes.

More words of wisdom from Canada’s Top Chef.

What did you learn from your own season that you brought to All-Stars?

I said to myself, “Be more quiet.” That didn’t happen. Ha!

The other thing was to cook what I know and just make it relative to the challenge. I didn’t do that in season 3. I was trying to reinvent the wheel and that was the biggest mistake. I know such a variety of cuisines and techniques that you can pretty much apply to any challenge if you’re quick on your feet.

How was it different than your first time on the show?

The level of cooking was more elevated. The food level was way higher. People really brought it. Also, the pantry was amazing, what they stocked it with. As far as the challenges, this season was more, almost, catering based. They were bigger events.

Nicole in Top Chef Canada Season 3: Evidence that her personality hasn’t changed too much since her first time on the series.

What was your favourite challenge?

For the excitement of it, the [Late Night Eats in the TTC Lower Bay station] challenge was good – and not because I won. It was a really cool set, it was a cool day. It was challenging to produce that much food for that many people walking off the train at the same time.
I really liked the retail wars challenge as well – and not because our team won. It was because it was more in my wheelhouse. Cooking is not all about restaurants. It’s about providing a service that people don’t know how to do at home.

Nicole and team celebrating their Retail Wars win.

When I started cooking, it was fancy – go out for an anniversary or birthday. It was an occasion. For most people, everyone ate at home and sat around the table and talked to each other. People now don’t do that; people don’t know how to cook. That changes the way we go out and eat. The retail challenge really solidified that. People eat out, out of necessity, not a special occasion anymore.

Which challenge pushed you the hardest and why?

The finale. You want to win. It’s you and this other dude, who is awesome. At some points, I told myself to forget it, you got this far.

I had not prepared a final menu. I was out the night before at Bar Raval with friends and I wrote a menu while they were drinking. It’s all handwritten. They were asking what I was doing and I couldn’t tell them why I was [in Toronto], so I said, “I have a big day tomorrow; I’ve got to do this menu. I’m catering something.” I’m going to frame it; it’s so full of notes.

Who was your toughest competition?

(Dustin Gallagher the Toronto-based chef whom she would battle in the finale.) It was Dusty all the way for me. I didn’t realize it until halfway through, though. He was cooking so well. He has quite a vast knowledge of a variety of cuisines.

Andrea, as far as the women, she’s quite well versed. The retail challenge, I thought for sure she’d kill that. She gives people what they want; she understands her audience.

Nicole and Dustin awaiting the judges verdict one last time in the Finale.

Tell us about your finale menu, the inspiration and the story you wanted to tell the judges.

For most of the season I hadn’t cooked any Italian. It was all Asian or French. I did pain perdu and these prawn cakes and curries and carrot cake. I wasn’t holding out at all, there just wasn’t an opportunity really for me to do Italian. And that’s my specialty.

I love Italian because of how it brings a table together. Italians eat more culturally. Cooking is about bringing people together and so I decided to do something more comfort-like. I worried, is it too simple? But I know how to refine Italian.

I remember every detail of this menu. The fish dish I was a little disappointed in myself for that; I lacked finesse on plating. I was rushing it. I made a few bad calls there. I had fried celery but the basket still had capers in it and that carried over because I was rushing and I got called out at Judges’ Table.

Nicole’s Beef Carpaccio with Pine Nut Aioli, Arugula Pesto and Crispy Capers

My favourite dish on that was the carpaccio, for aesthetics and the way it ate and the quality of the beef I was able to get. The other dish on that finale menu I was quite proud of was the panna cotta; panna cotta is simple, but it’s difficult. If you don’t do it right, it’s a mess. I loved the flavour combinations of it: wild strawberry, vin cotto, the Marcona almond-bee pollen crumble. It turned out well and it surprised me; that’s where I thought I failed.

During the finale, Eden Grinshpan remarked:  “I can’t get over how perfect the pairing of flavours is.”

What are your plans for the future?

Cluck n’ Cleaver is my baby still. The expansion of that is happening quite quickly. I’m looking in Vancouver, and Francine (Gomes, her sister and Cleaver’s co-owner) is on the ground here in Calgary. We’ve had a lot of opportunity come our way and a lot of franchisee people are interested in us.


I hope that maybe sometime down the road when I get Cluck n’ Cleaver settled that I can open a restaurant. A restaurant would be a dream. I just want a small room, under-designed. Just good food.
I want you to be able to come and get amazing pappardelle and a curry rice bowl. A “neighbourhood” type place would make me happy; knowing the people coming in the door and they’re regulars, having a discussion about how they’re doing. That’s more where I’d be because I love talking to people about food, travels and what they’ve been up to. That’s what I want. It’s not for money; it’s purely to feed people, make them happy. I don’t think there’s anything that would make me happier.

More Top Chef Canada: All-Stars:
Read our Finale Episode Recap for exclusive insight from the Top Chef Canada judges.

Read 12 Times the All-Stars Chefs We’re Just Like Us!


Top Chef Canada: All-Stars Finale Episode Recap

It’s been a delicious ride, but all epic battles must come to an end—no matter how savoury they are. And so Dustin, Trevor and Nicole entered the Monogram Kitchen one last time on Sunday night as the first ever trio of Top Chef Canada: All-Stars finalists, where they faced off against each other in a crazy culinary showdown.

Nicole, Dusty and Trevor arrive in the Monogram Kitchen for the very high stakes Quickfire Challenge.

Of course this wouldn’t be a finale without a bit of a look down memory lane. Before we got down to business each chef opened up about what being in the finals meant to them and why they started cooking in the first place. It was a sweet and touching moment before the gas grills turned to high, and these guys (and gal) knew it. We didn’t buy their grins walking into the Quickfire Challenge as anything other than nerves, especially because they had to have known what was coming next: One. Last. Elimination.

Can you imagine being the chef to be booted from the competition right before the final stretch? To say it would suck would be a complete understatement. That’s like being told you’re going to the World Series only to find out you’ve been booted because they invited too many teams. So yeah, this was pressure at its absolute finest.

Fittingly, the dish the chefs had to create was the dish they’d want to eat before the day of battle, so it wasn’t just fancy schmanzy comfort food here: it was actually a bit of these chefs on a plate. And each chef had a fairly different strategy to deal.

Dustin proved he’s the most adorable family man ever when he created a Fennel-Poached Salmon with Fingerling Potatoes, because that’s a meal he and his wife enjoy eating together. Okay so perhaps it wasn’t comfort food in the traditional sense of the term, but it certainly had an elevated, spa-like quality that definitely impressed. Meanwhile, Trevor threw his efforts into a Handmade Tagliatelle (such a risky move given the time crunch everyone was under), and Nicole doubled down with a Spaghetti Puttanesca and a Grilled NY Striploin. Because if it’s your last meal, why shouldn’t you have two? Now that’s a girl after our own heart.

So whose dish did Mark McEwan, Mijune Pak and Eden Grinsphan positively devour? Dustin’s, naturally, and that win earned him the honour of becoming the first of the two official official finalists of the night. The guy knows how to cook fish, what can we say.

Dusty’s Fennel-Poached Salmon with Fingerling Potatoes, Braised Carrot and Fennel.

That meant it was down to Nicole and hot-streak Trevor. But while the judges were impressed with Trevor’s overall ability to make pasta in such a short time span, it was one crucial thing that did him in, in the end: salt. That’s right, the one ingredient that every chef can never seem to get enough of was what ruined Trevor in the end, and he was instantly eliminated in a heartbreaking twist.

Part I of Nicole’s Meal: Grilled NY Strip Steak with Salsa Verde

Part II: Spaghetti Puttanesca

Mark told us later on: “With Trevor, it was all or nothing. He would come out and he would wow you and he would take the day or he would falter. As it went on and the competition wore on him, his bag of tricks was just not there.”

“It’s a shame that I got eliminated… I would have liked to have cooked a final meal, for sure because I spent all of last night planning it and that just got cut short,” Trevor said post-elimination. “So I could have been sleeping for four hours instead of planning menus but no regrets. That’s what you’re here for. It was fun while it lasted.”

And then there were two.

If we’re being honest, we always knew it would come down to Dusty and Nicole. Every week if felt like one or both of them were in the top, and while they had their stumbles along the way they were few and far between. So we would have given anything to have had a place at the judge’s table for the All-Stars feast they were tasked with creating. That must have been the best meal of these judges’ lives.

Of course you can’t create a gigantic five-course feast for a group of judges (Chris Nuttall-Smith and Janet Zuccarini joined Eden, Mark and Mijune) without a little help from your friends. So back to join in on the party were Dennis and Andrea, two of our favourite local Toronto chefs. Dustin immediately picked his boy Dennis to serve as his sous-chef for the evening, while Andrea and Nicole rose above their past annoyances to create a female powerhouse on the flip side of the competition. And that’s when the real battle began.

Dennis helps Dusty in plating his Japanese Rib Eye Steak entree course.

Andrea helping Nicole make the pasta for the Goat Cheese Tortellini.

From the first bite, which was literally one single bite as it was the Amuse Bouche, you could tell this was going to be one stiff competition. Nicole finally decided to bust out her signature Italian flavours, while Dusty opted to showcase his worldly Asian experience with different cuisines. Both had their merits. Dusty’s Braised Winter Melon was a mini flavour bomb, but so was Nicole’s Lemon Arancini with Truffle Fonduta. The pair also pulled in neck-and-neck with their apps (Dustin earned tons of praise for the Iced Ginger Dressing in his Thai Mango Salad, while Nicole’s Beef Carpaccio melted in the judges’ mouths), and seemed pretty tied up in the rankings following their first main, too. We mean, really: how do you judge between a perfect Olive Oil-Poached Cod and a perfect Goat Cheese Tortellini anyhow?

Chris on Dusty’s Thai Mango Salad: “This is a masterpiece of seasoning.”

TCC-All-Stars-Nicole-Finale-Carpaccio Janet on Nicole’s Carpaccio: “This is a brilliant dish.”

Mijune on Dusty’s Olive Oil-Poached Cod: “The cod is so buttery, so silky smooth.”

Mark on Nicole’s Tortellini: “That dish is magic. This is the best tortellini I’ve ever eaten.”

But by the time we got to the second entrees things definitely began to fall apart. Dustin totally overshot his mark by trying to recreate a Japanese style platter that included soggy tempura, while Nicole forgot to think about the overall flow of her plates by serving a sea bream with a second butter sauce. With such a disastrous showing, we knew it could only come down to every chef’s most loathed dish of all: dessert. Because doesn’t it always come down to dessert?

Nicole’s Sea Bream with Fingerling Potatoes, Crispy Capers, and Beurre Blanc Sauce

Dusty’s Japanese Rib Eye Steak with Miso Eggplant, Vegetable Tempura and Nori Squid Ink Butter

From where we were watching, it could have been either Dustin’s vanilla ice cream or Nicole’s panna cotta that were the winning elements on their plates. It was impossible to tell, and the conflicting judges’ opinions weren’t super helpful either: one minute they seemed to be in favour of Dusty’s overall dishes and the next they were Team Nicole.

Janet on Nicole’s Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta: “One of my favourite panna cottas that I’ve ever had.”

Eden on Dusty’s Apple Tarte Tatin with Vanilla Ice Cream: “The star of this plate is the ice cream. The texture’s gorgeous.”

So whose name was it that was called out in the end? Let’s just say that she not only became the very first All-Stars winner, but she also became the first female chef to ever win a season of this show. That’s right, in the end it was Nicole who stole the competition and our hearts with her hilarious one-liners. The second she heard her name announced you could see just how much this competition truly meant to her, and that made her win oh-so-much sweeter.

From Episode 9: Nicole declares her intentions.

Chris told us afterwards: “Nicole’s specialty is Italian food, it’s what she loves, it’s what she’s great at. She didn’t even go into her comfort zone until she’d made it to the very end. You get to the finale and she pulls out this skill, this expertise that we didn’t even know she had and it was mind-blowing. I cannot say enough about what a great chef she is and what a smart human being she is.”

“Being Italian, you can really know if just one nuance is off because Italian food has very, very strict rules. She really stuck to the nuances,” Janet agreed. “One thing I really remember about her food is being incredibly fresh tasting and she really cooked with a light hand and that’s what Italian food is. You’re just bringing out the inherent goodness of really good product.”

No nerves here while preparing her finale dinner – just some smooth dance moves.

“Nicole just kept getting better and better and better. She kind of rose to the occasion,” Mark chimed in. “I remember her from the first time I met her and she’d have flour all over herself, her station would be a mess. Completely lovable. But at the base of it, a good cook: knows how to season, knows how to combine things. This is her catering background. So, she excelled because her food tasted good. And only got better. That’s what it takes to win. You’ve got to have that consistency and you’ve got to generate momentum and she did that all the way through. And how adorable was that that she won? That was incredible.”

So well deserved. Nicole raising a glass with her mom and sister to her right and boyfriend to her left.

“I’m still on cloud nine, I can’t believe this. This is incredible. Winning this is crazy—winning this against Dustin is crazy. I’m still in shock,” she said afterwards. “There were some great competitors. I know I’m good at what I do but winning this is over the top. First woman, Top Chef Canada and then All-Stars? It’s unbelievable.”

Of course it was also bittersweet because we loved Dustin equally, and he wanted to win so much for his family. He should at least rest assured that he more than proved his salt in the kitchen, and showed everyone just how grown up and capable he is as a chef. Obviously great things are in store for him, and we’re not the only ones who know it.

“Dustin’s amuse bouche was just astonishing. It was so delicious, so impressive. It was so simple, but not simple. It was one of these things that just it looked so innocent in that glass bowl and you taste it and your mind just goes to a thousand beautiful places,” Chris reflected. “It had everything. It was such a masterpiece of judgment, of seasoning. It was fresh, it was savoury. Every bit of that amuse bouche suggested we were about to have the meal of a lifetime. And then he comes out with this Japanese course that was just an unmitigated disaster. Nothing about it was good. It was so disappointing because he worked so hard and I think this was one of those instances where he thought what he served was good and it just wasn’t. God, it’s heartbreaking. I’ll never forget the look on his face when he didn’t win. Your heart just went out for him.”

“It was for Dustin to lose and, unfortunately, he did lose it. I know he thought he won and I felt terrible about it, but he had an amazing showing,” Mark said. “The whole Japanese thing, I didn’t get it. To me, that’s where he gave it away. You have to be very careful with Japanese food. It’s all about extreme precision and when it doesn’t land, it doesn’t land. He put a lot of gas in that category and he spent a lot of energy there and it just didn’t resonate, whereas Nicole did simpler dishes, but you wanted more.”

“I’m bummed out. I know where I fell short today but I wouldn’t change anything, I’d just make it better,” Dustin said. “I was really hoping to win this so even though I made it far and it was a good run, it’s going to take some time to decompress… It’s one thing in the first season to get kicked off on a random episode but to be so close and to almost have it is a little trying.”

Even as she wins the title, Nicole acknowledges Dusty’s amazing work. 

And that brings us to the end of another season of Top Chef Canada. It’s been a slice, but now we’ve got to get back to our regularly scheduled weeknight meal planning. At least now we’ll have a little inspiration from some of the best in the business… and now we’ll probably always remember to hold back on the extra salt.

But wait…there’s more!
Read our exclusive interview with Canada’s Top Chef Nicole Gomes

Watch these bonus scenes and bloopers:

The Final Two’s Hotel Bar Chat

Fun With Eden

All-Stars Bloopers


Top 10 Tips for Making Homemade Pasta Like an All-Star

Pasta can be simple and rustic, or decadent and elegant. It can be dished up on a massive platter and passed around a boisterous table, or perfectly, artistically plated and served with pristine silverware and white linen.

Nicole’s Goat Cheese Tortellini

For Top Chef Canada: All-Stars winner Nicole Gomes – as revealed in the finale last night – it was a key part of her five-course menu. The judges fell in love with her Goat Cheese Tortellini with Preserved Lemon, Ricotta Salata, Peas and Pancetta in a Butter Sauce (not to mention the other components of her Italian-themed dinner).

Nicole channeling her inner Italian nonna while prepping her tortellini.

Head judge Chef Mark McEwan highlighted Nicole’s pasta as the best part of her finale menu. “Just her finesse on that meal was really extraordinary,” he said.

Nicole preps the filling while Andrea uses a stand mixer attachement to roll out the dough.

Whether it’s to impress a panel of Top Chef Canada judges or to feed the family at home – who, no doubt, can also be tough critics – pasta fits the bill. At its heart, no matter who’s being served, it’s the same basic dough; rolled, stuffed or cut in many ways and topped with sauce. The trick is having a good recipe (see our list below) and remembering these 10 essential tips and tricks:

1. Trust Your Gut
Making pasta from scratch is really more about a feeling, rather than measurements. Depending on the humidity, the flour, the size of the eggs, you may need more or less flour going along, so getting a feel for the dough is essential.

2. Traditional Is Best
The traditional way of making dough from scratch – with a well of flour, and the eggs and salt in the middle and using a fork to draw the flour slowly in to the liquid – ensures the perfect amount of flour gets added before kneading into a nice ball of golden dough.

3. But If You Don’t Have Time… 
However, for those of us who prefer to use our stand mixers, simply hold back a bit of the flour and only add it when necessary, or add a spoonful or two of water if the dough is too dry.

4. Remember This Basic Ratio for Ingredients
As a general rule, the ratio is three parts flour to two parts eggs by weight. There are tons of variations on this, many depending on if you also want to add water, the type of flour (all-purpose versus durum semolina versus the finely-milled 00) and if you want to add a couple of additional yolks to the mix for a richer dough. (Water-only dough is also common.)  However, this basic ratio will serve you well.

5. Pasta Dough Needs To Be Kneaded
Once your dough is mixed, it’s all about the kneading. It will take up to 10 minutes to transform the shaggy mix into a smooth and elastic ball.

6. Take A Rest
After kneading  it will be time for a rest – for both you and the dough! A little forethought here is key because you’ll want to let the dough relax for at least an hour before proceeding. This will make it smoother and easier to deal with when rolling it out.

7. Salt Cooking Water Generously
Pasta water should be salted to taste like the ocean (or the Mediterranean!) – because that is going to flavour the noodles.

8. Never Rinse Your Pasta
Don’t ever do this! If you rinse pasta after cooking, you rinse off the starch adhering to the noodles. That starch helps the sauce cling to the noodle.

9. Store It If You’re Not Cooking It Right Away 
If waiting, divide the pasta into portions, dust with a little bit of flour to keep the noodles from sticking together and then make nest-like bundles on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and set aside until ready.

10. Fresh Pasta Freezes Well
Fresh pasta can also be frozen for future meals. Just put the baking sheet of noodles into the freezer for about 15 minutes – to keep the pasta bundles from sticking together – and then transfer to a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible. Frozen pasta should be cooked directly from the freezer. Add about 30 seconds to 1 minute to the cooking time.

Anna Olson’s Mushroom Ravioli with Asparagus and Tarragon

Want to try making fresh pasta at home?  

Here are great pasta recipes from our chefs:
Michael Smith’s Homemade Pasta Recipe
Ricardo’s Fresh Pasta
David Rocco’s Basic Fresh Pasta Dough Recipe
David Rocco’s Fresh Tortellini (Use His Basic Fresh Pasta Dough Recipe for this)
Anna Olson’s Homemade Pasta with Garden Vegetables and Parmesan
Anna Olson’s Mushroom Ravioli with Asparagus and Tarragon

Have the pasta ready and need some inspiration for sauces?

Try these delicious sauce recipes from our chefs:
Chuck’s Bolognese
Tomato Sauce
Giada’s Rigatoni with Eggplant Puree
Giada’s Penne with Shrimp and Herbed Cream Sauce

12 Times The All-Stars Chefs Were Just Like Us!

If you’ve been tuning into Top Chef Canada: All-Stars then you’re well aware that these chefs are like culinary super heroes. There’s no onion they can’t slay without shedding a single tear. No hunk of meat they can’t butcher to the most precise cut. No flavour profile they can’t deconstruct and build back up quicker than The Flash.

That’s why when we look back over the course of the season we’re reminded that, while these guys and gals killed it in the kitchen, they’re prone to all those real life foibles and emotions regular folks deal with all the time. Whether it was a hair-pulling mishap, an eye-rolling rivalry or over-the-top excitement, here are 12 times the All-Stars showed us they’re just like us.

1. How Does This Thing Work?!Having access to all of the latest and greatest kitchen tools and appliances is pretty gravy… if only one can figure out how to use them. Heads up Nicole, that mixer only works if you actually plug it in.

2. Slaying the Budget in the Grocery Check Out Line

Sure, sure… any of these guys could create a wonderful meal in the kitchen if they had unlimited access to amazing ingredients. But doing that while coming in under budget? Well that’s priceless.

3. Actually Admitting You’re ScaredBut really, how do you react when a panel of culinary experts that scares the crap out of you tastes your food at a world market? Do you cry? Puke? Huddle down under the table and bawl your eyes out?

4. High-Five Freeze OutAndrea, we know you didn’t mean to freeze Curtis out over that conciliatory handshake when he beat your mother sauce in front your mentor John Higgins, but um, #AwkwardTurtle much?

5. Hating the Idea of Facing Your PastWe mean… would you want to cook for Lynn Crawford again after she previously called your Italian Wedding Soup a divorce before the wedding?

6. When You’re Too Excited to See That Not Everyone is Feeling You

A quick lesson in how to (not) make friends and influence people: Win a string of immunities and then have THE BEST TIME prepping your dish in front of the other chefs competing for their lives.

7. Being a Fanboy

We totally get it: Daniel Boulud is the real deal, and cooking for him is stomach-dropping scary. To be honest, we’re actually kind of proud of Dennis for not fainting when he heard that he’d have to whip up a fancy French dish for one of his idols.

8.  When Someone Mentions Snacks

This is the only appropriate reaction when someone tells you that you have to create a Top Chef Canada-caliber dish using good old-fashioned beef jerky.

9. Needing to Smash Something. Now.

Sometimes when you’re under an insane time crunch and your regular old knife just isn’t smashing garlic the way you need it to, you have to resort to other measures. Like cathartic bottle smashing, for example.

10. I’ll Have One of Each, Please.

What would you want to eat the night before a big battle? Not one, but two dishes: Spaghetti Puttanesca and Grilled Steak with Salsa Verde. Heck, why not make it three? We’re not driving. Now that’s a girl after our own heart.

11. When You Make Something DE-LI-CIOUS.

It’s okay Nicole, if we made tortellini that good we’d probably be licking the spatula clean, too.

12. It’s All About Family.

As Mark McEwan told us, this thing was Dusty’s to lose. And while the disappointment of actually losing it was obviously in every inch of his body language, there was one pretty nifty thing in store: hugs from his wife and baby girl, whom he missed so much this season. And in the end, isn’t that the best prize of all? All together now: Awwwww.

Top Chef Canada Judges Reveal Who They’d Want to Return for the Finale

We all have off days. Those days when we must deal with slip-ups and mistakes, bad choices or simply not doing our best work. Unlike the rest of us who can wake up the next day, shake it off and continue, a bad day on Top Chef Canada: All-Stars can mean the difference between surviving for another round or being sent to pack your knives.

12 All-Stars chefs assembled in the first episode.

Judges were forced to make tough decisions based solely on the most recent challenge, and ignoring any stellar performance and crave-worthy dishes that had led up to the current one that had failed to impress.

“Those decisions are never clear and they never sit very well,” said head judge Chef Mark McEwan.

If given the chance to erase one of those unclear decisions, who would the judges bring back to compete in the finale? For most, the answer was clear: Andrea Nicholson.

Premiere Episode: Andrea, Trista and Curtis  find out their Elimination Challenge dishes were the top performers.

Andrea impressed the judges from the first episode when her history on a plate creation for the Elimination Challenge hit all the right notes. “A stand out dish,” said judge Janet Zuccarini of the roasted bison striploin with a barley risotto with a pickled mead and pear gastrique.

She went on to win the mise en place Quickfire Challenge in episode 2, and episode 5’s blind taste test Quickfire Challenge where famed Chef Daniel Boulud picked her Cod Basquaise  as the best of the bunch. She had been a top performer in the first episode as well as with her team for the Middle Eastern feast in episode 3.

But the Elimination Challenge in episode 5 “Retail Wars” would prove to be her undoing.

Retails Wars Episode: Andrea leads her team in putting together the menu.

“That was a real tough decision [to send her home] because she had made so many great plates up until then and her compositions were good, her seasoning was mature and then retail wars just kind of unraveled,” said McEwan.

As team leader, Andrea went into the challenge with more responsibility. That, and a disappointing meatball with a solidified mozzarella centre sealed her fate.

The judges have spoken: Andrea is sent home in Episode 5 but not before a hug from fellow chef Connie DeSousa.

For the judges, it was a gut-wrenching choice, which is why judges McEwan,  Zuccarini and Mijune Pak and host Eden Grinshpan agreed they would be quick to put her right back into the competition if given the chance.

“Leading up to [retail wars], in my heart of hearts, I was saying to myself, ‘She’s going to win this, she’s going to win this,’” Zuccarini said. “She’s so talented and her dishes were very sophisticated, really from a seasoned and professional chef.”

Calling her a fierce competitor, Grinshpan said Andrea made some of the best dishes on the show.

“Her food is just so exquisite and she’s so good at really showcasing flavours and not overcomplicating foods and just making foods that you want to eat and make you feel good.”

One of Andrea’s stand out dishes: the Lamb Tartare with Harissa Labneh and Za’atar Crisps from Episode 3.

For his part, though, judge Chris Nuttall-Smith would have given another chance to Connie DeSousa who was facing some personal challenges during the show that affected her performance.

Connie prepping her Dark Chocolate Soufflé in the premiere episode.

Or, he says, Todd Perrin who didn’t manage to shine to the level he could have.

“He is this experienced, mature, smart, salt-of-the-earth, hugely talented chef who got eliminated quite early on in the competition; I would love to see him come back and show what he could do,” he said.

Todd saying goodbye to his fellow chefs at the end of the second episode.

Though perhaps Nuttall-Smith just wanted a finale where he could try something from every chef, and who could blame him?

“For the most part, they were just extraordinary chefs and you kind of wanted to see them all go through.”

Tell us who would you want to bring back for the finale in the comments below!

Watch the Top Chef Canada: All-Stars finale Sunday, June 4 at 10 E/P.