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These Fresh, Easy Appetizers Will Save Your Summer

Summer entertaining doesn’t have to be fancy. In fact, it can be as easy as toast … especially when you can lean on the abundance of beautiful fresh stone fruit that is soon to be in season. We’d love to show how to turn your fruit bowl into an easy summer appetizer, with a baguette and some simple toppings.

Peach-and-Proscuitto-toast

Peach & Prosciutto Crostini Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 12 crostini

Ingredients:
1 demi baguette, cut diagonally into 12 slices
12 slices prosciutto or speck
1 ripe peach, cut into thin wedges
1/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
1/4 cup basil, torn
Good quality olive oil to garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet, then drizzle with oil. Bake until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly, then drape 1 piece of prosciutto over each toast. Top each with 2 peach wedges. Garnish toasts with pistachios and basil, then finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Plum & Ricotta Crostini Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 12 crostini

Ingredients:
1 demi baguette, cut diagonally into 12 slices
3/4 cup ricotta
1 ripe plum, cut into thin slices
2 Tbsp balsamic glaze
3 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 Tbsp tarragon, finely chopped

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet, then drizzle with oil. Bake until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly, then smear 1 Tbsp ricotta over each toast. Top each with 3 plum slices. Drizzle with balsamic glaze, then garnish with pine nuts and tarragon.

Cherry & Goat Cheese Crostini Recipes

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 12 crostini

Ingredients:
1 demi baguette, cut diagonally into 12 slices
1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved
1/4 cup goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
freshly ground black pepper to garnish

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet, then drizzle with oil. Bake until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Cool slightly, then divide cherries between toasts. Top with goat cheese and almonds. Drizzle with honey, then garnish with thyme and a crack of freshly ground black pepper.

Fruit-Toasts-spread

Looking for more recipes? Try these Sensational Summer Appetizers Your Guests Will Love.

These Easy Banana Split Cheesecake Bars Will Make Your Summer That Much Sweeter

This twist on a summertime classic is perfect for those hot summer days since it has no need for the oven to be on for hours. This nearly no-bake dessert starts with an easy vanilla cookie crust, creamy cheesecake and whipped topping. The best part is that it can be made ahead of time, so it’s ready to feed a hungry crowd in an instant. Consider this your go-to summer dessert for barbecues, potlucks and any meal that needs a cool and sweet ending.

slice-of-banana-cheesecake

Banana Split Cheesecake Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Chill time: 3 hours
Bake Time: 10 minutes
Makes: 16 Servings

Ingredients:
Crust
1 (312 g) box (5 cups) vanilla wafer cookies
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling
2 ¼ cups heavy cream, divided
3 ozs (93 g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
3 (250g) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 (96g) package of instant banana cream pudding
1 cup granulated sugar

Topping
1 (1 L) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
¾ cup maraschino cherries, drained
½ cup dry roasted peanuts
2 Tbsp rainbow sprinkles

dish-of-banana-split-cheesecake

Directions:
Crust
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 13×9-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray and line with parchment paper.
2. In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse together cookies, sugar, and salt until small crumbs remain. Pour in melted butter and pulse until combined.
3. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Bake until lightly golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Filling
1. Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup heavy cream over a medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Pour over chocolate and let stand 2 minutes. Slowly stir together until combined. Let cool completely.
2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. With the mixer running, gradually add remaining 1¾ cup cream, beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in pudding mix until combined.
3. Spread cream cheese mixture and drizzle with chocolate sauce in alternating layers over the crust, reserving ¼ cup chocolate sauce for later use. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.

Topping
1. Spread whipped topping over cheesecake. Garnish with a drizzle of remaining chocolate sauce, bananas, cherries, peanuts, and sprinkles.

Looking to satisfy your sweet tooth? Try our best No-Bake Summer Desserts.

Turn Your Kitchen into a French Bakery with Palmier Cookies

Palmier cookies: fun to say, fun to make and delicious to eat! The name means “palm tree” in French and if you look carefully you can see they are kind of shaped like the fronds of a palm tree (though puff pastry can be unpredictable – but know that no matter what shape yours end up, they are scrumptious!)

These puff-pastry based cookies are found in many boulangeries across France and are a staple of the after-school “goûter” snack. The classic version that you’ll find in In the French Kitchen with Kids contains just two main ingredients – puff pastry and sugar – so they couldn’t be easier to make, especially now you can buy pre-rolled puff pastry in most supermarkets. They are very versatile though and lend themselves to other fillings, both sweet and savoury – here we’re filling them with jam for a sweet treat, but spreads like pesto and tapenade work well too for a delicious savoury snack.

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This is a really fun baking project for kids during the school holidays – experiment with different fillings and remember that practice makes perfect with the rolling technique!

Jam Palmier Cookie Recipe

Active Time: 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 15 to 18 minutes
Makes: About 20 cookies

Ingredients
1 x sheet store-bought puff pastry (8 oz), thawed but chilled
1/3 cup of your favourite jam (jelly works well here as large lumps of fruit can make rolling the pastry a bit of a challenge)

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Directions:
1. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper and set aside. Place a piece of parchment paper larger than 10 x 10 inches on a work surface.
2. Roll your pastry out on the parchment paper until it’s about 10 x 10 inches. Many store-bought puff pastry rolls are already this size, check yours with a tape measure if you’re not sure.
3. Spread all but 3 Tbsp of your jam evenly over the surface of the pastry.
4. Fold the left and right sides of the pastry inwards so they meet in the centre, like you’re closing a book.

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5. Spread about 2 Tbsp of jam on one half of the folded pastry.
6. Fold the left and right side of the pastry inwards again, so they meet in the centre again.
7. Spread the remaining jam on the pastry roll, then fold the pastry in half lengthwise.

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8. Wrap the pastry log tightly in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes.
10. Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
11. Remove the pastry log from the fridge and place it on a cutting board.
12. Using a very sharp knife, cut the log into about 20 slices, each one 1/2 inch wide. Lay the slices flat on the baking tray about 2 inches apart.

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13. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, then flip them over and bake for a further 8 minutes, until they are golden and crispy and the jam is starting to caramelise. Keep an eye on them in the final minutes of baking as they can go from perfect to scorched in a matter of seconds.
14. Remove from the oven and place the tray on a wire cooling rack until they are cool enough to touch.
15. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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About the author: Mardi Michels is a full-time elementary school French teacher, cookery teacher, food and travel writer, recipe developer and the author of eatlivetravelwrite.com. A full-time francophile, she and her husband operate a vacation rental home in Southwest France. Her first cookbook, In the French Kitchen with Kids (Appetite by Random House,) publishes on July 31, 2018.

One-Pot Campfire Mac & Cheese is the Ultimate Camping Comfort Food

Mac and cheese is one of the easiest recipes to prepare, which is why it’s perfect to make on a camping trip. Perfectly al dente noodles, surrounded in creamy cheese it’s hard to improve on perfection. But the smoky, woodsy flavour from a roaring campfire takes the classic comfort food to a whole new level. This is a meal that feeds a crowd, is simple, fast and best of all, only requires the use of one pot!

Easy Campfire Mac and Cheese Recipe

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

2½ cups whole milk
1 cup water
2 cups macaroni noodles
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2½ cups grated cheddar cheese
½ tsp dry mustard powder
½ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Get your fire going or turn your grill to medium-high heat.
2. Pour milk and water into a medium pot and bring to a boil, then add the macaroni noodles and stir. Cook the noodles, stirring often, until tender, about 7 to 10 minutes.
3. Take the pot off the fire or grill and immediately stir in butter, grated cheese, mustard powder, salt and pepper. Mix well so the noodles are cheesy, gooey and delicious. Serve hot.

Looking for more camping ideas? Try our Brilliant Camping Food Hacks.

How to Make Rainbow Swirl Frosting

If certain coffee franchises have taught us anything through their creative iced drinks, it’s that when it comes to all rainbow-coloured or unicorn-inspired  people are all in. So why shouldn’t the tri-coloured frosting be all the rage with cupcakes, too? Thanks to a little kitchen creativity, you can get that same pretty rainbow effect without heading out to the bakery or fancy cake shop.

Rainbow Frosting, Two Ways

Anna Olson has two ways to achieve a tri-coloured swirl that works for any colour-combo of your choosing. That means decorating with soft pastels, funky neons, or with themed birthday or anniversary party hues – it’s as simple as scooping icing into a piping bag.

Anna Olson puts a pastel concoction to the test with a fresh batch of cupcakes, first by using three separate piping bags joined by a special coupler. The tool helps to give the icing a rainbow-like effect, with perfectly defined edges. Then, for those of us who don’t have such fancy tools, she shows us how to create a pretty tie-dyed effect using one large piping bag and a simple star tip. Sure, those edges may fold into each other a little more, but it’s actually a really pretty and neat way to finish off a traditional cupcake. One that’s guaranteed to be loved by children and adults alike.

It may sound like a fancy schmancy way to top the traditional dessert, but it’s actually really easy. Even novice bakers can get the hang of this with a little practice and a spare frosting plate.

“I love that no two cupcakes look the same… it almost looks like a bouquet of flowers,” Olson says towards the end, once she’s decorated half-a-dozen impressive yet oh-so-simple cupcakes in a matter of seconds.

With frosting tips like these, you’re certain to be the star of your next birthday celebration, potluck get-together or cupcake party. If you can resist the tempting colours long enough to actually get them there without eating them all first, of course.

You special little unicorn, you. And now as someone out there probably once said, “keep calm and cupcake on.”

Want more recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth? Check out 30 Celebration Worthy Cupcake Recipes.

Melon Frosé Sangria is Made for Warm Summer Nights

Summer nights are made for sangria. Fresh summer fruit, chilled wine and a little bubbly make the ever-popular summer sipper. Yet, you can easily take this drink for classic to epic with the help of your freezer and blender. Trade your red wine for rosé and combined with juicy, ruby-red watermelon, cantaloupe and herbaceous elderflower liqueur. The result is a cool summer frozé that will be a hit at your next summer barbecue or dinner party. Learn how to make this easy summer cocktail with our simple 4-ingredient recipe.

melon-froze

Melon Frosé Sangria Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 4 hrs 40 min
Makes: 6 cups

Ingredients:
1 bottle rosé wine
1-½ cups chopped watermelon, plus more for garnish
1-½ cups chopped cantaloupe, plus more for garnish
3-4 ounces elderflower liqueur

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Directions:
1. Pour wine into a 13×9-inch baking dish or pan. Cover and freeze for 3-½ hours.

2. Blend watermelon, cantaloupe and liqueur until fully pureed. Scrape wine into blender and blend until smooth. Return to freezer and chill until thickened and slushy in consistency, about 1 hour. Serve immediately, garnished with skewered chunks of watermelon and cantaloupe.

melon-in-blender

Looking for more sweet summer drinks? Try these 30 Summery Sangrias.

How to Spend 48 Hours in the Heart of the Okanagan Valley

No matter the time of day, there is always something spectacular to sip, see or snack on throughout the Okanagan Valley. With several hundred wineries scattered among the green slopes that wind along a string of lakes, along with an array of boutique restaurants and hidden gem snack spots, it’s hard to narrow down the options.
A solid plan, featuring some must-see spots, will help.

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Fresh fruit, BC VQA wine and samosas are just some of the tasty treats worth stopping for at the Penticton Farmers’ Market.  Photo Courtesy of ET2media.

Morning in the Okanagan Valley

Starting the day off right means getting something good to eat – and perhaps stocking up on nibbles for later with a bottle of wine. In Osoyoos, carb load with some of the fine baked goods from The Lake Village Bakery. Here, sourdough serves as the base for most of their offerings, including sticky cinnamon buns and croissants. Grab a coffee and a pastry, but also some focaccia or French baguettes for afternoon snacking.
Every Saturday throughout the summer, Penticton closes off several blocks of downtown for their weekly markets. Fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods, preserves and honey are on offer. Treat it like a walkable smorgasbord, stopping for samosas, a spiralled fried potato on a stick and a bag of cherries or apricots. You can also pick up a bottle of local BC VQA Wine at the market while you’re there.
All weekends call for brunch. With his fourth restaurant, Sunny’s – A Modern Diner, Chef Rod Butters puts the focus on breakfast classics, including Cluck and Grunt (eggs with bacon or sausage), Door Stops (French toast) or BBBBenny & the Jets, Butters’ take on eggs Benedict, which can be ordered by the piece – allowing for mixing and matching.

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Be sure to try the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir at the See Ya Later Ranch, a winery that boasts some of the highest-altitude plantings in the Okanagan. Photo Courtesy of Wines of British Columbia.

Afternoon in the Okanagan Valley

Build an appetite or work off a luxurious lunch by renting a bike – even an E-bike to help with hills – and heading up to the Naramata Bench. This 15-kilometre stretch is home to dozens of wineries, including Laughing Stock Vineyards and one of the Bench originals, Hillside Winery. Naramata Road serves as an unofficial divide between the two distinct terroirs, with glacial till on the upper side and sand, silt and clay on the lower.
Stop for a bottle of bubbles and an interesting history lesson at the Fitzpatrick Family Vineyards, an estate winery set against the lake, just south of Peachland. Once a fruit orchard, that same plot is now awash with grape vines used to make Fitz Brut, Reserve Sparkling and some still wines. Sit on the patio – which serves as a crush pad come harvest – and enjoy pizza from the restaurant’s wood-burning oven.
From the depths of the valley, wind your way up the road to See Ya Later Ranch, a winery that boasts some of the highest-altitude plantings in the Okanagan. After trying some of its offerings, including the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, head outside and look up to see the rows of vines sloping toward the sky.
A winery on the smaller side, Moon Curser earns a reputation with its unusual varietals and quirky story. The name of the family-owned winery pays homage to smugglers trying to cross the U.S. border near Osoyoos. The moon was something worth cursing when conducting illegal pursuits. Try some of their more unique offerings, like the Tannat, or sip on others based on their names, such as Afraid of the Dark or Dead of Night.

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Nk’Mip Cellars, North America’s first Aboriginal-owned winery is a must-visit spot. Photo Courtesy of Milk Creative Communications.

Night in the Okanagan Valley

To better understand the history of the region, and the people who lived here long before grapes were first grown, a visit to Nk’Mip Cellars, North America’s first Aboriginal-owned winery, should not be missed. Begin, if possible, at the Nk’Mip Desert Cultural Centre on site at Spirit Ridge Resort to explore exhibits and take the interpretive trail that winds through the semi-arid desert that makes the terroir so unique. Follow it up with wine and dinner at the cellars – try their signature Mer’r’iym (marriage) blends and sample some traditional ingredients, such as bison or salmon.
Further north, Liquidity Wines offers its own sort of education with a limited presentation of the National Geographic Photo Ark project, which features images of thousands of creatures. This is the only place where the Photo Ark is exhibiting the work in Canada, and Liquidity has it on-site until Labour Day. Finish up with dinner overlooking the vines, and try a few of their signature wines, including the gorgeous rosé.
Overlooking stripes of vines down to Okanagan Lake, the view from Old Vines Restaurant at Quails’ Gate Winery is unparalleled. On warm summer evenings, the restaurant opens the wall of doors onto the patio, breaking down the division between inside and out. Feast on dishes made with local, seasonal ingredients, expertly cooked and beautifully plated, and take advantage of the expert suggested pairings. Lastly, don’t skip the chance to try their splendid Syrah.

Looking for more inspiration? Get a Wine Lover’s Guide to the Okanagan Valley.

campfire-pizza

How to Make Easy Campfire Pizza in a Cast Iron Skillet

Cooking pizza over a fire adds such incredible flavour, you won’t want to make pizza in a conventional oven again. Our homemade dough is simple and fast, so there’s no “knead” to feel intimidated while quickly whipping it up near the campfire. Pizza will become your new camping staple, especially when you’re with a crowd because everyone can customize a crust with their favourite toppings. Keep it simple or go big with lots of veggies and meats – either way, this campfire pizza is a welcome addition to your backyard fire pit or camping trip.

Easy Campfire Pizza Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Pizza Dough
1 pkg rapid rise instant yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for pan
2½ cups spelt flour or whole wheat flour, plus more for kneading and shaping

Toppings and Assembly
⅓ cup prepared tomato sauce
1 ball buffalo (fresh) mozzarella, sliced into thin circles or 1½ cups shredded mozzarella
¼ red onion, sliced into thin circles
¼ cup black olives, pitted and sliced
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped 

Directions:

Pizza Dough
1. In a large bowl, mix the yeast in warm water and stir for 1 minute, until dissolved. Add the olive oil and flour and mix until a ball of dough comes together. Using your hands, knead the dough until a smooth ball forms. Add more flour to the bowl if the dough is too sticky.
2. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit, preferably in a warm place, for 15 minutes.
3. Divide the dough in half and make two balls. Set one ball aside in the bowl.

Toppings and Assembly
1. Get your fire going or heat a grill to high.
2. Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with additional olive oil and spread 1 of the balls of dough out on the pan. Use your fingers to push the dough to the edge of the skillet and cover the bottom evenly.
3. Cook the dough on the fire for 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough forms a firm crust.
4. Remove the pan from the heat using a heatproof glove, and carefully flip the crust over.
5. Add half of all of the toppings, except basil, on the pizza and place the pan back on the fire. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. If you have lots of toppings, cover the pizza with aluminium foil to help them cook.
6. Once the first pizza is ready, take it off the pan and repeat these steps with the second half of the dough and remaining toppings. Sprinkle basil over top, slice and serve.

Planning a camping trip? Try these Brilliant Camping Food Hacks.

Pudding Chomeur is The Québec Dessert We All Need in Our Lives

It’s no secret that some of our favourite foods are French Canadian classics; Tourtière, split pea soup, maple everything and of course, gravy-and-cheese-curd-smothered poutine. But when it comes to desserts, nothing beats syrupy, sweet pudding chomeur.

What is Pudding Chomeur?

If you haven’t had this classic, quintessential Québec dessert and you love the taste of fresh maple, this is definitely one you’ll want to add to your recipe box. The dish first rose in popularity during The Great Depression, when factory workers were forced to be a little more creative with what they had on hand, especially if they wanted to indulge their sweet tooth. For French Canadians that meant all the staples for a basic cake (flour, butter, milk and eggs) and tons of maple syrup that they sometimes sourced in their very own backyards. (If they didn’t have access to maple syrup, they used brown sugar as a caramel stand-in instead.)

The result was pudding chomeur, which roughly translates into “unemployment” or “poor man’s” pudding. Don’t let the name fool you though; once you dig into these single-serve cakes and all of their glorious maple goodness, you’ll feel like you’re indulging in the richest (not to mention easiest to whip-up) dessert ever.

Anna Olson has her own elevated riff on the dish, where she takes a regular old cake base—no added vanilla or lemon zest here—and gussies it up with some additional butter and brown sugar for a little extra luxurious richness.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Pudding Chomeur.

Then comes the really delicious part: the maple syrup concoction. Olson simmers up maple syrup, water, vanilla and more butter and then douses her uncooked cakes until they’re swimming in the stuff.

“You’re going to think it’s too much syrup,” she advises. But it’s not. It’s really, really not.

For you see, as the pudding chomeur bakes up, the maple syrup bakes down, thoroughly soaking the cake and transforming it into a sweet, syrupy ramekin of heaven. You end up with cake on top and all of the maple goodness for dipping and dunking underneath.

It’s so simple you could make it on a weeknight, but it’s also rich enough to serve to guests at the end of a fancy dinner party. Another bonus? Your house will smell absolutely incredible.

Now that’s what we call une bonne idée.

Want to try your hand at more classic dessert recipes? Take a look at this list of Anna Olson’s classic baking recipes.

Canadian Restaurant Locations from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives

Guy Fieri’s road tripping adventures on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives have taken him all across the United States and beyond. More recent seasons included stops in Cuba, Spain and Mexico, but before he ventured to those countries, he headed north of the border to Canada.

Guy has sampled some of the most eclectic cuisine that reflects our country’s diversity, from Chinese hand-pulled noodles to Jewish deli-smoked meats. Here are the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Canadian locations that you can visit in Toronto and Vancouver.

Jethro’s Fine Grub (Vancouver, BC)

In Season 12, Guy was treated to homemade pulled pork with slaw at Jethro’s Fine Grub. When you’re in Vancouver,  stop by for breakfast and try the Gold Rush; pancakes stuffed with bananas, pecans and streusel.

The Rosedale Diner (Toronto, ON)

Season 17 brought Guy to Toronto with a visit to the Rosedale Diner for Asian pork ribs. Brunch is a popular time to visit this diner for a classic Eggs Benny or scrumptious chicken and waffles.

No waffling about today’s brunch choice.

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The Tomahawk (Vancouver, BC)

Season 13 included a visit to Vancouver’s Tomahawk for some roast beef, a French dip, and a steak and mushroom pie. This legendary diner is also known for its Skookum Chief Burger, made with an organic beef patty, Yukon-style bacon, a free-run egg, aged Cheddar and a sliced hot dog.

Have you ever tried our Skookum Burger? #Tomahawk BBQ #Burgers #North Vancouver

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The Stockyards (Toronto, ON)

The Stockyards was one of Guy’s Toronto stops in Season 17. They were excited to show off their burgers, fried chicken and mouth-watering BLT, but their BBQ smoked ribs are one of the main reasons that locals flock to this smokehouse and larder.

Falconetti’s (Vancouver, BC)

While in Vancouver during Season 13, Guy sampled the handmade Thai chicken sausage at Falconetti’s. This east side bar and grill is known for its delicious eats and live music to entertain you throughout the week.

The Ace (Toronto, ON)

A Season 16 episode, ‘Layers of Flavor’ included a visit to The Ace in Toronto. Guy tried their pork belly, the mac and cheese burger, and a Christmas burger, but their Clubhouse is where it’s at when lunchtime rolls around.

Meat and Bread (Vancouver, BC)

In Season 13’s “Old Faves, New Craves,” Guy paid a call to Vancouver’s Meat and Bread. The porchetta sandwich was on the menu, followed up by a decadent maple bacon ice cream sandwich.

The Lakeview (Toronto, ON)

During Guy’s Season 16 trip to Toronto, stuffed French toast, a cornflake chicken club and a pie milkshake were ready to be devoured at The Lakeview. This restored diner serves up diner classics, including a banana split perfect for sharing.

Peaceful Restaurant (Vancouver, BC)

Family kitchens were the focus of the Season 13 episode that brought Guy to Peaceful Restaurant in Vancouver. Some of their recipes have been passed down from generations, including their fresh hand-pulled noodles and beef rolls.

#dandannoodles #foodie #fodgasam #chinesefood #spicy #delicious???? #sichuan #nomnom

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The Red Wagon Cafe (Vancouver, BC)

Guy dug into some pulled pork pancakes with a side of Jack Daniels syrup at Vancouver’s Red Wagon Cafe in Season 13. The savoury shredded pork is featured in other dishes on the menu, including their ooey, gooey mac and cheese.

Caplansky’s (Toronto, ON)

Authentic Jewish deli fare was the star of Season 16’s ‘Real Deal Roots’ that brought Guy to Caplansky’s Deli. Their College Street location has closed, but you can still sample smoked meat sandwiches, knish and brisket at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

The Reubenesque @ #caplanskys #reuben #deli #meaty ????: @hmdfood666

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Save-On-Meats (Vancouver, ON)

Vancouver’s butcher shop, turned bakery and diner, Save-On-Meats, welcomed Guy in Season 13. Their menu includes classics like turkey pot pie and decadent burgers, but selections like this Ranchero Shrimp Benny really shine.

Ranchero shrimp benny for the win!

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A Saskatoon Musician’s Easy Saskatoon Berry Jam Recipe

There is an especially fun dynamic between the two women standing in the kitchen. Musicians Alexis Normand and Allyson Reigh are two-thirds of the popular Western Canadian band, Rosie and The Riveters. The trio is made up of equally talented singers, instrumentalists and songwriters.

Being a triple threat is a feat in and of itself, of course, but being able to cook on top of that trio of skills would make Normand the quadruple threat of the talented bunch.

“She’s always cooking while we’re on tour, it doesn’t matter what city we’re playing in,” says Normand’s bandmate, Reigh as she measures sugar for the Saskatoon berry jam they’re about to make. “She’s one amazing cook.”

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It’s clear that Normand is the foodie of the group. Growing up in Saskatoon, her grandmother was an avid cook and passed down a love of the kitchen to her mother, which she has also come to embrace whether she’s at home or on the road.

Her speciality? Making big batches of Saskatoon berry jam that she cans, labels and brings on tour. Family, friends and fans alike have come to love the edible keepsake that pays homage to her prairie roots.

“It’s a really hot item, people love it,” says Normand as she adds the Saskatoon berries to the pot. “It’s funny, though, because they aren’t as ‘Saskatchewan’ as you would think. I learned that after travelling across the country, that you can find Saskatoon berries in abundance [in B.C. and Alberta too], but there, they’re called Saskatoons. That’s where I’m from and making this jam this is a family tradition!”

Alexis-Allyson-tea-and-toast

Like most jam recipes, Normand’s family recipe for Saskatoon berry jam only calls for a few ingredients: berries (fresh or frozen, though frozen is the most easily obtained year-round), sugar and a bit of water. You can feel free to add some lemon zest or a few drops of vanilla if you’d like, but good quality Saskatoons don’t need much to make a lasting impression.

“There’s always something to be said about giving someone an item that’s homemade. It’s someone’s time that they’re gifting you, really. That’s the really nice thing about it,” she says.

One big misconception about making jam at home is that you need to make a dozen jars and can them. Normand does make big batches before she goes on tour, but her small-batch recipe is just as good, and easily lasts a couple of weeks in the fridge.

“Nothing about this process is hard, but when I was younger I was under the impression that it was challenging. I think people just need to try it once,” says Normand. “You cook down the ingredients, you put it in jars, cool it down and it tastes delicious! It doesn’t get any better or easier than that, does it?”

saskatoon-jam-complete

Simple Saskatoon Berry Jam Recipe

Makes: 3 Cups
Total Time: 25 Minutes

Ingredients:
4 cups Saskatoon berries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
¼ tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
¼ tsp vanilla extract (optional)

Directions:
1. Place ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a simmer on medium-high heat.
2. Reduce to medium heat and let cook, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Transfer to a heat-safe container and allow to cool to room temperature.
4. Cover and place in refrigerator to use as desired. Will keep for up to 2 weeks refrigerated.

Make the most of Saskatoon season with these Sweet and Savoury Saskatoon Berry Recipes.

sea-urchin-per-seny

Top 10 Michelin-Star Restaurants in the World

Holding three Michelin stars is a rare honour few restaurants have achieved, and these Michelin-starred restaurants rank among the world’s finest culinary destinations thanks to innovation, creativity and some of the best food you’ll ever taste. According to Elite Traveler magazine’s annual list of the world’s 100 best restaurants, these are 2018’s top 10 Michelin star restaurants.

Globo de helio comestible #postre #edibleballoon #floatingdesert #chefgrantachatz

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1. Alinea: Chicago, Illinois

Founded by chef Grant Achatz in 2005, Alinea quickly rocketed to the top of Chicago’s food scene due to Achatz’s unique food preparation and deconstruction of iconic dishes, renowned for his brave and unconventional approach to fine dining. Alinea remains on the cutting edge of the molecular gastronomy movement, with the intention of both shocking and delighting guests with dishes such as an edible balloon made from a dehydrated apple filled with helium, or a truffle-topped ravioli filled with truffle broth that explodes with flavour in one’s mouth.

2. Azurmendi: Larrabetzu, Spain

Located in Larrabetzu, Spain, Azurmendi follows the vision of Basque chef Eneko Atxa follows the offers diners a unique experience that begins at the restaurant’s rooftop vegetable garden, where they get a gander at some of the fresh produce they’ll be enjoying for their meal. Diners are then brought through the kitchen to an indoor greenhouse, where some “snacks” such as the restaurant’s popular “edible cotton” are served. In the dining room, guests enjoy such exquisite dishes as truffled egg, which is cooked “inside out” with part of the yolk removed and substituted with truffle consommé. In addition to having attained three Michelin stars, Azurmendi is also environmentally friendly, recycling its waste, harvesting rain and using geothermal energy to cool the building.

3. Eleven Madison Park: New York City

The menu of this world-class Manhattan restaurant is distinctly American, as seen through the creative filter of chef Daniel Humm. The restaurant is renowned for its multi-course tasting menu, which changes based on the availability of fresh, seasonal local ingredients and guided by the culinary traditions of New York City and the agricultural offerings of the region. Dining at Eleven Madison Park is an event, and enjoying the full 11-course tasting menu will take upwards of three hours as diners sample such exquisite dishes as Muscovy duck glazed with lavender honey and foie gras terrine served with plums, umeboshi and bitter almonds.

4. Per Se: New York City

Located on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Building in Midtown Manhattan’s Columbus Circle, Per Se features the cuisine of Chef Thomas Keller (the only American chef to be awarded three simultaneous Michelin stars, via his other restaurants, The French Laundry and Bouchon). With special tasting menus available daily — no single ingredient is repeated during the meal — the Michelin Guide describes Per Se’s cuisine as being “at one timeless and of the moment, raising the bar with meals that express artistry, seasonality and sourcing that can seem hyperbolic — they know which Vermont cow gave the milk for your butter.”

Min mun är belägrad ????#osteriafrancescana

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5. Osteria Francescana: Modena, Italy

The restaurant of chef Massimo Bottura (who topped the bestseller lists with his book Never Trust a Skinny Chef) in Modena, Italy celebrates the bounty of Emilia-Romagna, his home province in the northern part of the country. Yet Bottura’s take on Italian cuisine is hardly traditional, exploring the ingredients and traditions of the region by giving them a contemporary twist. Along with such classic Italian fare as tagliatelle and risotto cooked with veal jus, Bottura also presents such off-the-wall dishes as rabbit macaroons and his Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano, in which iconic cheese is served in five wildly differing textures, depending on their age, ranging from a crispy galette to a frothy Parmesan foam.

6. Robuchon au Dôme: Macau

One of many restaurants from celebrated chef Joel Robuchon, this gastronomic restaurant in Macao (formerly known as Robuchon a Galera) sits high atop the 48-storey Grand Lisboa hotel. Featuring the culinary creations of executive chef Julien Tongurian, Robuchon au Dôme has been described as arguably Macao’s best restaurant, and one of the top restaurants in all of Asia, offering French cuisine with a refined sensibility. The restaurant’s “Prestige Menu” features such offerings as imperial caviar and king crab refreshed with crustacean jelly, and a crispy waffle scampi seasoned with espelette pepper.

Potato beeswax 3.0

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7. The Restaurant at Meadowood: Napa Valley, California

A farm-to-table ethos permeates the dishes of this Napa Valley staple, with the Michelin guide gushing over the cuisine of Chef Christopher Kostow, describing food “that is elevated to an art form” and food that “never ceases to better itself through innovation and purity.” There’s a meticulous attention to detail is evident in everything served, and a seasonal approach to ingredients that means the menu changes constantly to make the most of fresh, local ingredients. “We are relentless in trying to make the food better, more delicious, more relevant, more singular, more personal,” the restaurant declares on its website. “We are smart enough to know that this is a forever task, yet impetuous enough to try to still do it all today.”

8. Le Bernardin: New York City

Regarded as one of New York City’s finest restaurants, Le Bernardin was founded in Paris in 1972 by siblings Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze, and initially only served fish. The restaurant later moved to New York, where it quickly became the toast of the NYC culinary scene. When Gilbert Le Coze passed away in 1994, the late chef’s disciple and friend Chef Eric Ripert took over, and continues to be guided by the philosophy that “the fish is the star of the plate.”

9. Restaurant de l’Hôtel de Ville: Crissier, Switzerland

Located in Crissier, Switzerland (a suburb of Lausanne), the Michelin Guide offers high praise for Chef Franck Giovannini, who “creates majestic dishes with a careful eye on maintaining traditions, which are then presented with impeccable service.” The food is exquisite, with a focus on balanced flavours and simplicity while utilizing lavish ingredients and flawless preparation. The menu changes constantly, with recent offerings including white asparagus from the Valais, seasoned with caviar, and medallions of Dublin Bay prawns served with guacamole.

10. The Fat Duck: Berkshire, United Kingdom

Opened in 1995 by chef Heston Blumenthal inside a renovated 16th-century cottage, The Fat Duck had attained three Michelin stars by 2004 and an international reputation for being on the cutting edge of such culinary trends as food pairing, multi-sensory cooking and flavour encapsulation. Famed for its eclectic 14-course tasting menu, The Fat Duck reflects Blumenthal’s sense of whimsy, evident in such dishes as the Alice in Wonderland-inspired mock turtle soup, which includes an edible faux watch made from freeze-dried beef stock coated in gold leaf that is dropped into a teacup into which hot beef stock “tea” is poured to dissolve the watch.
Along with inventive techniques, Blumenthal also adds a heavy dose of psychology to his dishes, using the power of perception to “trick” diners into experiencing certain taste sensations. “For example, eat sardine on toast sorbet for the first time, confusion will reign as the brain will be trying to tell the palate to expect a dessert and you will, therefore, be tasting more sweetness than actually exists.” This is reflected in a famed dish he calls “Sounds of the Sea,” in which the food is topped with a seafood foam and served on a “beach” made from tapioca, breadcrumbs and eel. What’s more, diners are presented with an iPod so they can listen to the sound of ocean waves while eating it. You’ll also want to leave room to try the Fat Duck signature dish, Blumenthal’s bacon-and-egg ice cream.

How does a restaurant even earn a Michelin star? Learn what it takes to earn 1, 2 or 3 Michelin stars.

What Exactly Are Macros and How Do You Count Them?

You may be seeing the term macros more often these days thanks to the increased popularity of the keto diet and the general public’s heightened attention to the benefits of eating healthfully. The term is short for macronutrients, which includes the three most important nutrients required for the proper functioning of every body part and our overall well-being. Macros encompass carbohydrates, fats and protein, each bringing with them their own unique benefit for the body. At a basic level, carbohydrates give energy, fats provide satiation and proteins repair and build muscle – but the benefits don’t stop there.


Get the recipe for this Mexican Quinoa Bowl, which features a healthy balance of carbs, fat and protein. 

The following breakdown of macros is general, and varies from person to person. Every body is unique, with recommended intakes fluctuating based on age, activity level, weight, height and health status. Check with your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist if this is something you’re excited to know more about.

The Macros Basics

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are where our bodies can most easily turn to for energy. They’re especially important for brain functioning, as the brain gobbles up a huge percentage of the carbs we eat. Complex carbohydrates are preferable most of the time, but simple carbs can be beneficial to boost blood sugar levels quickly after a workout.

Fats

Fat not only adds flavour to food and keeps you full, but this macro is also incredibly important to one’s whole health. Fats nourish the brain and organs, help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, E and D), contribute to proper hormone function, lubricate joints, keep skin soft and hair healthy, lubricate the eyes, regulate the mood and so much more. Suffice to say that fats are not to be skipped (unless you have an underlying health problem), and a well-rounded diet includes a balance of good-quality fat sources such as grass-fed butter, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, eggs (with the yolk), fatty fish and avocado.


Get the recipe for Soba Noodles with Garlic Shrimp and Miso Dressing

Proteins

When you add protein to a meal, be that from eggs, steak, chicken breast, tofu or beans, you’ll likely notice that you feel satisfied and remain full for longer. Proteins are building blocks of muscle, enzymes, hormones, cartilage, bones, skin, hair, nails and blood. Neurotransmitters in the brain are built from protein (amino acids), which basically ensure that the different body parts can “talk” to each other. A complete protein contains all essential amino acids, which is found in animal protein sources. However, if you follow a plant-based diet, combining two different foods can replicate a complete protein. For example, pairing brown rice with black beans, or seeds with legumes, creates a complete protein full of all essential amino acids.

Why Focus On Macros?

Looking to our unique activity levels, age and lifestyle, it may be beneficial to pay closer attention to the macros you’re eating. For instance, if you workout often, in general, you’ll need more carbohydrates for energy than someone who lives a very sedentary lifestyle.

Those who are following a ketogenic diet believe that fat is the best fuel for weight loss purposes, as it takes more work to turn fat into energy than carbs. If you’re following a keto diet, you should be doing so under medical supervision.


Get the recipe for Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Why Count Macros?

Calorie counting is hard to stick to, and doesn’t put any focus on the nutrition found within the food. Counting macros, however, takes a more holistic look at all of the good-for-you nutrients you’re consuming. Most of it is common sense: look at a plate (or bowl) of food, and then see if it’s a healthy balance of carbs, fat, and protein. An example of this could be a large green salad with roasted sweet potato tossed in an olive oil-based dressing and paired with chicken, or the salmon tacos with avocado pictured below.


Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Roasted Salmon Tacos 

If you’re looking to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, increase your energy levels or up your game at the gym, counting macros may help you along.

The Percentage of Macros You Need

These percentages of macros needed is dependent on a range of factors, so choose both what feels right and is recommended by your medical professional. The numbers are what you’re aiming for in your whole day, so plan meals accordingly:

Macros for General Health 

  • 45-65% carbs
  • 20-35% fat
  • 10-35% protein

Macros for Weight Loss

  • 30% carbs
  • 25% fat
  • 45% protein

Macros for Strength

  • 50% carbs
  • 20% fat
  • 30% protein

Macros for Endurance

  • 45-50% carbs
  • 20-30% fat
  • 15-20% protein

Macros for the Keto Diet (under medical supervision)

  • 6% carbs
  • 73% fat
  • 21% protein

How to Count Macros Successfully

If counting or tracking your macros is something you want to try, you have to know your weight (tied directly to body mass index) and activity level, as your carb, fat and protein intake requirements are entwined to these two pieces of information. Here’s a Macro Calculator that does the math for you, leaving you to just cook, eat and start tracking.

For overall well-being, counting macros or not, focus on whole, real, unprocessed foods made from scratch when possible, 80% of the time and keep those extras to 20% of the time. It can be as easy as that.

5 Fresh Portuguese Dishes to Shake up Your Summer BBQ

Spain is known for its delicious food and wine, but neighbouring Portugal rarely gets the praise they deserve for their equally tasty cuisine. Summertime is the perfect time to celebrate Portugal’s love for fresh ingredients, flavours and passion for grilling. Piri piri chicken is perhaps the most well-known barbecue recipe and rightly so, it’s very tasty. We have a great recipe for it below, but we’re really excited to introduce you to a few the lesser known classics. This summer, bring the flavours of Portugal to your table with these simple, fresh and delicious recipes.

chorizo-portuguese-chicken-bbq

How to Make Piri Piri Chicken

Piri piri chicken, the classic centrepiece of the Portuguese barbecue doesn’t need much of an introduction. It’s barbecued chicken seasoned with a spicy blend of fresh herbs, chillies and spices. Here’s how to make it: In a food processor place 8 red chillies, 6 garlic cloves, a small knob of peeled ginger, 1 Tbsp of dry oregano, 1 Tbsp. of paprika, 1/3 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup red wine vinegar. Pulse until a smooth paste form and rub all over the chicken. You can spatchcock your bird or cut it into parts. Let marinate in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight. Heat the grill to medium-high and cook until chicken is cooked through. Time will depend on the size of your bird. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

grilled-tomatoes-with-garlic

How to Make Grilled Garlic Tomatoes

Grilled garlicky tomatoes make an easy side dish. They are bold enough to stand up on their own or great stacked on grilled bread. Eat them with your chicken and let them or let ooze all over. Here’s how to do it: Mince 2 cloves of garlic and stir into 1/4 cup of olive oil. Toss about 3 cups cherry tomatoes in oil. Place tomatoes on a medium-high heated grill for about 2-3 minutes. Remove from grill and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.

How to Make BBQ Grilled Bread

Having grilled bread to slather up all the delicious sauces and juices from your barbecue feast is necessary. We top it with a delicious aioli inspired by the classic flavours in Portugal. To make grilled bread with garlic aioli: Mix 1 cup of mayonnaise with 1 minced garlic clove, 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and 1 tsp smoked paprika. Brush slices of sourdough bread with olive oil. Grill until charred then slather with mayonnaise mixture! Serve alongside your main or eat on it own.

grilled sardines

How to Make Grilled Sardines

With the Atlantic ocean hugging Portugal top to bottom, it’s no surprise that they’re regarded for their fresh seafood. Simple and delicious, grilled sardines are a Portuguese staple. To make them: Rub cleaned sardines with olive oil and salt. Cook over a medium-high heated grill until charred and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Remove from grill. Garnish with thinly sliced red onions and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

grilled-bbq-chorizo-and-peppers

How to Grill Chorizo Sausage with Peppers

Chorizo sausage is among the most prevalent in Portugal. It’s usually found in a traditional soup called clad verde. Here we grill it with a rainbow of peppers for the summertime. Here’s how: Slice 2 cups worth of assorted bell peppers. Cook 5 chorizo sausage over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 4 minutes per side. Toss peppers in olive oil, salt and minced garlic. Place on grill until fragrant and tender, about 2 minutes. Place grilled chorizo on a plate and garnish with grilled peppers.

Looking for more great grilled dishes? Try Bobby Flay’s Best BBQ Recipes.

anna-chocolate-cake

4 Must-Know Chocolate Rules for Better Baking

A chocolate dessert is a welcome sight at any time of the year, no special occasion required. While there’s a certain set of rules for making chocolate truffles and other candy, chocolate desserts like cakes, tarts, mousses and more requires some specific know-how. From knowing when to use baking chocolate vs. chocolate chips to decoding chocolate percentages, this information will help you deliver desserts that are as decadent as they deserve to be.

Rich-Chocolate-Mousse-Cake

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Rich Chocolate Mousse Cake

1. The Difference Between Chocolate Chips and Baking Chocolate

There are two types of chocolate used in baking recipes and they have distinct characteristics and functions.

Chocolate Chips

Sold in a bag and measured by volume (i.e. 1 cup/250 mL), chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape when stirred into a batter or dough, like in Chocolate Chip Cookies. They often contain ingredients like soy lecithin that helps the chip hold its shape and stay in place within the recipe. That is why chocolate chips are not meant to be melted and folded into recipes like chocolate cake, frosting or brownies. You will find that when melted, the chocolate is thick and even grainy since the chips weren’t designed for this function.

Baking Chocolate

Sold in squares, bars or large chips called “callets,” baking chocolate is also called couverture chocolate. It is made to be chopped and melted to be used in baking. It is important to weigh your baking chocolate for recipes, and not measure it by volume. When melted, baking chocolate is smooth and glossy, making it easy to stir into your recipes. Chocolate sold in bars labelled as “chocolate” can be used in baking, but if the bar is labelled as a “candy bar”, then that is eating chocolate, not baking chocolate.

2. The Difference Between Dark, Milk and White Chocolates

Dark and milk chocolates are made up of cocoa solids (also called cocoa liquor), cocoa butter, sugar, flavouring such as vanilla, and sometimes emulsifiers like lecithin. Milk chocolate is milder than dark chocolate because it has fewer cocoa solids and more sugar and cocoa butter, making it melt more easily and taste a little sweeter.

White chocolate has all of the above ingredients except for the cocoa solids, so the absence of that bitter character makes it taste so mild and sweet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, unsweetened chocolate has no sugar and very little cocoa butter, so it is strong and very bitter.

Because these differences in cocoa contents, dark milk and white chocolates melt and re-set differently from each other. Because of this difference, they’re not interchangeable in recipes. Other ingredients such as the sugar, cream and butter would need to be adjusted if you planned on changing chocolates.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Classic Dark Chocolate Mousse

3. Chocolate Percentage Explained

In the world of dark chocolate, you may notice that it is called semisweet or bittersweet, or the package has a percentage on it. This percentage indicates the cocoa liquor content. The higher the percentage, the more intense the chocolate.

Semisweet needs a minimum of 35% cocoa liquor but typically falls between 40 and 65%. Bittersweet chocolate falls between 66% and 99%, but 70% is my preferred number for desserts that have a chocolate intensity and balance.

White Chocolate Mousse Cups

4. Baking Chocolate Storing Tips

Be sure to store chocolate, well-wrapped in a cool, dark place, but be sure not to refrigerate or freeze chocolate. If you see a white “dust” on the surface of your chocolate, it is not mould. It is called bloom, and is simply a little cocoa butter rising to the surface of the chocolate, and is a sign of a temperature change at some point. It is perfectly fine to use.

Are you a chocoholic? Try Anna Olson’s Best Chocolate Recipes.

campfire-nachoes-with-cheese

These Campfire Nachos Are the Ultimate Camping Snack

This crowd-pleasing appetizer shouldn’t be reserved exclusively for game day, it also makes a fabulous summertime camping recipe, whether you’re in the backyard or deep in the woods. This is a one-pot wonder recipe where all ingredients are cooked together in a single dish, which then doubles as the serving platter, making for ultra-easy cleanup. If your campfire is in the backyard, we recommend using a cast iron skillet, but if you’re really roughing it, a disposable aluminium pan will do the trick.

Campfire Nachos Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 2-3

Ingredients:

Extra-virgin olive oil, as needed
1 cup tomatoes, diced
½ bag tortilla chips
1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 green onions, sliced
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
½ cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
½ lime, for serving

Directions:

1. Make your fire or heat your grill or burner to medium-high, and place on your cast iron or aluminium pan. Add a splash of olive oil when the pan is hot.
2. Evenly distribute ½ cup of the diced tomatoes into the pan, followed by ½ of the tortilla chips, ½ cup of the black beans, ½ cup of the grated cheese, ¼ cup of the diced tomatoes and ¼ of the sliced green onions on top.
3. Repeat all layers again until remaining ingredients have been used, except for the avocado, cilantro and lime.
4. Cover the pan with aluminium foil and let cook for 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts.
5. Remove from heat, uncover, top with diced avocado, fresh cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Planning a camping trip? Try these Brilliant Camping Food Hacks.

The Ultimate Vegan Pizza Recipe with Almond Ricotta Cheese and Coconut Bacon

If you can’t eat dairy or just want to try out a healthier alternative to cheese-laden pizza, then you’re going to love this vegan weeknight dinner recipe. Making your own dairy-free ricotta “cheese” is easy when you use almonds, which pairs perfectly with fresh, zippy basil pesto, marinara sauce and slivered kale. You’ll really impress everyone with the simple homemade crust recipe, but you can always use a pre-made one instead if you don’t have time to make it from scratch. Take your vegan pizza toppings up a notch by trying out coconut “bacon.”  Even if you aren’t vegan or want to share this dairy-free dinner recipe with your friends, you’ll find the savoury and slightly sweet bacon alternative adds the perfect crunch and a unique smoky taste that everyone will love.

Vegan Pizza with Almond Ricotta, Coconut Bacon and Pesto

Prep Time: 40 minutes (add 8 hours to soak nuts for “almond ricotta” recipe below)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Almond “Ricotta”:
1 cup slivered blanched almonds
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 small clove of fresh garlic, chopped

Coconut “Bacon”:
2 cups coconut flakes, unsweetened
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
1 Tbsp tamari
2 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp smoked paprika

Pesto:
1 cup basil leaves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp hemp seeds or pine nuts
1 tsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Homemade Pizza Crust:
1 packet rapid rise yeast (or 2 tsp of baker’s yeast)
1 cup warm water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 cups spelt flour or whole wheat flour

Additional Ingredients:
2 cups green kale, chopped finely
2 cups marinara sauce

Directions:

Almond “Ricotta”:
1. Place the almonds in a bowl and cover with water so the nuts are fully submerged.
2. Place on the counter and let sit overnight. Alternatively,  soak the almonds early in the morning and then finish the rest of the steps later in the evening. You’ll want the nuts to soak for 8 hours.
3. After the nuts have soaked, drain them out of the water and rinse off.
4. Place the rinsed off nuts, lemon juice, sea salt, 1/2 cup of water, and garlic in the food processor. Blend for a few minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy. You can scrape the mixture down the sides of the food processor to make sure it blends evenly.
5. Pour the blended almond mixture into a bowl and store in the fridge until ready to use.

Coconut “Bacon”:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
2. Toss together the ingredients so the coconut is evenly coated in the oil, tamari, maple syrup, and smoked paprika.
3. Spread out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Bake for 5 minutes, check and stir around. Make sure to keep your eye on the coconut so that it doesn’t burn (it can go from fine to burnt really quickly).
5. Once the coconut is beginning to crisp on the edges, remove from the oven.
6. Let it cool for 5 minutes before removing from the baking sheet.


Pesto:
1. Rinse off the basil well and make sure to dry it with a paper towel or tea towel.
2. Add all of the ingredients to the food processor and blend for 30 seconds to a minute, until everything is finely chopped.
3. Add sea salt and pepper to your taste preference.

Homemade Pizza Crust:
1. In a large bowl, mix the packet of yeast in warm water and stir for 1 minute until dissolved.
2. Add in the olive oil and flour. Using your hands, knead the dough until a smooth ball forms. Add extra flour to the bowl if the dough is too sticky.
3. Cover the bowl with a towel and let sit on the countertop for 15 minutes.
4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
5. If you’d like to make 2 pizzas, divide the dough in half to make 2 balls.
6. You’ll need to roll out the ball of dough to make a circular crust. The best way to do this is by placing a large piece of parchment paper on the counter. Sprinkle some flour over top. Then place the dough in the center. Place a second sheet of parchment paper over top. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out into a circular shape. Then carefully pull off the piece of parchment paper that’s on top.
7. Poke a few holes in the crust with a fork.
8. Slide or lift the piece of parchment paper with the crust on it onto a large baking sheet.
9. Bake for 5 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and keep on the baking sheet.

Pizza Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Spread the marinara sauce out evenly over top of the crust.
3. Sprinkle the chopped kale over top of the sauce.
4. Add dollops of the almond ricotta cheese and pesto.
5. Bake for 15 minutes until the kale is cooked.
6. Remove the pizza from the oven. Sprinkle the coconut “bacon” over top.
7. Serve immediately by slicing into pieces.

As showcased above, making your own vegan cheese is easier than it seems. For another crave-worthy option, check out this Herbed Cashew Ricotta Cheese recipe.

anna-peach-cake

How to Make the Best Birthday Cake

Birthday cakes carry some of the fondest memories. Sweet, colourful frosting,  the warm glow of birthday candles and making a wish when you blow them out.

What’s most important when baking a birthday cake from scratch is to feel the spirit of the occasion. You’re baking this cake for someone you care about, to celebrate them and mark their special day with a shared sweet treat.

From choosing the perfect birthday cake recipe to icing tips and tricks, this guide will help you make a memorable and mouthwatering birthday cake.

How to Select a Birthday Cake Recipe

Which Flavour of Cake to Make?

Chocolate and vanilla cake are the most common types of birthdays because they tend to be crowd pleasers. Birthday cakes are for sharing, after all! Lemon and carrot cake follow close behind these top two cake flavours. And if you happen to be baking a cake for my birthday, then consider this Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake, it’s my all-time favourite!

Here are my favourite recipes for the most popular birthday cake flavours.

Chocolate Cake:  Anna Olson’s Classic Devil’s Food Cake


Vanilla Cake: Anna Olson’s Classic Vanilla Birthday Cake with Caramel Pastry Cream

Lemon Cake: Anna Olson’s Lemon Swiss Buttercream Hatbox Cake

Carrot Cake: Anna Olson’s Carrot Cake With Cream Cheese Frosting

How Big of a Cake to Make

While an 8-inch or 9-inch round cake might be typical, it’s popular right now to make cakes that are taller with a smaller diameter. You can take a recipe for a two-layer, 8 or 9-inch cake and spread the batter evenly in an 11-x-17-inch sheet pa. This will likely take less time to bake, so set the timer 10-15 minutes sooner, but check the doneness the same way. Then use a large round cutter or a template you can trace to cut smaller rounds and make a 4 or 5-layer cake that will sit wonderfully tall.

The Right Ingredients

Stick to the ingredients called for to make the cake. If the recipe calls for cake and pastry flour, it is because using it will result in a tender cake with a fine and delicate crumb structure, because the flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose. Dutch process cocoa powder has some acidity removed so it will react to the baking powder or soda differently than regular cocoa. Buttermilk really makes a cake moist and nicely balanced.

 

Make-Ahead Cake Tip

Cake layers can be baked well ahead of time and frozen, and then thawed on the counter when ready to assemble. Do not refrigerate unfrosted cake or it will dry out.

Birthday Cake Frosting Tips

There are countless types of frostings to choose from, and my above recipes feature common types: chocolate, basic buttercream, Swiss buttercream, and cream cheese. Here are a few quick tips that apply to all  frostings:

  1. Work with frosting at room temperature. To be smooth and spreadable, frosting needs to be at room temperature. If it’s a warm day, your butter may be softer than room temperature, so pop the frosting in the fridge until it holds its shape when you spoon or spread it.
  2. Food colouring gel works easily and smoothly into frostings. Just add a little at a time with a toothpick, mixing well before adding more. The colour will intensify the longer it sits, so favour less at first. Also, the colour will fade if exposed to sunlight, so keep that in mind when you display your cake.
  3. Buttercream or cream cheese frosting benefits from whipping on high speed to build in structure and a fluffy texture. If you want a fudgy frosting for your chocolate cake, like Devil’s Food Cake, then avoid whipping the frosting.

Make-Ahead Frosting Tip

All of the above frostings can be made ahead and then chilled or frozen to be used later. Thaw the frostings on the counter (do not microwave) and then re-whip them to fluff them up before using.

How To Assemble a Birthday Cake

There are 3 parts to assembling the birthday cake:

 

How to Fill a Layer Cake

If adding a pastry cream or a fruit filling to your birthday cake, you need to prevent it from seeping out the sides.  To do this, spoon some of the frosting into a piping bag and pipe a “dam” around the outside edge of the cake, then spoon and spread the filling before topping with the next cake layer.

 

How to Mask a Cake

Covering the cake smoothly takes a little patience and practice. A fully masked cake has the frosting on the top and sides while a “naked” cake has the sides exposed (no frosting, or just a sheer layer). A few hints on masking:

  • More is More! Dollop or spread generous amounts of frosting when first applying. It is easier to scrape away excess frosting than to add more (at the risks of pulling up crumbs).
  • Top then Sides: Spread a level layer of frosting onto the top of the filled cake, pushing it right over the edges. This makes it easier to frost the sides and have the edges meet easily and straight.
  • Smooth, smooth, smooth! Use an offset palette knife to keep smoothing the top and sides of the cake until it is smooth and seamless.

Birthday Cake Decorating Ideas

  • any sprinkles, cookies or candies should be applied before chilling the cake
  • ribbon can be used, but place a strip of parchment under the actual ribbon, so that grease marks from the buttercream do not appear.
  • practice any piping detail on a plate or sheet of parchment before starting on your cake, but …
  • remember that all piping mistakes are erasable.  Simply scrape off and start again.
  • the same goes for writing “Happy Birthday” in chocolate. Practice on a plate first
  • fresh fruits and flowers are a lovely way to finish a cake. Be sure that flowers are non-toxic, and that fruits are washed, and air-dried before applying.

Have a birthday coming up? Try one of our Best Birthday Cake Recipes.

5 Budget-Friendly Cuts of Beef and How to Cook Them

As grocery prices mount, it’s a bonus to find cheaper alternatives, especially when it comes to meat. One area where you can save big and find some great new favourites is by seeking out inexpensive cuts of beef, a typically higher-priced protein. These new cuts of beef are as delectable and easy to cook as some of your old standbys, but far more affordable. Before you head to the butcher this week, take note of what to ask for and how to cook it with this handy guide.

chuck-steak-in-pan

7-Bone Steak or Chuck Steak

Often thought of as the ground meat in a good burger, chuck steak is akin to a rib steak in its fattiness and makes an excellent, cheaper alternative cut. If prepared correctly, it provides the perfect balance of marbling and highly flavourful meat. Because it contains bones, you’ll also benefit from the richness they impart.

How to Cook: Best marinated to tenderize, this steak yields greatest results when grilled over high temperature just to medium-rare doneness – overcooking will lead to a chewy, dry steak.

Bavette Steak

Also called a flap steak, this cut comes from the bottom of the sirloin. This inexpensive option boasts major flavour and benefits from being marinated and scored as you would a flank steak.

How to Cook: After grilling it should be seared at a high heat for a short time and rested before slicing against the grain. A perfect cut for a steak salad, sandwiches or tacos.

Petite Filet with Wasabi CreamGet the recipe for The Pioneer Woman’s Petite Filet with Wasabi Cream.

Shoulder Tender or Petit Tender

The consequence of being difficult to cut from the animal, the shoulder tender is an underused piece of beef. Similar to filet mignon and pork tenderloin, only more flavourful, it’s a very tender cut of beef weighing about 8 to 12 oz. Like pork tenderloin, it occasionally has a silverskin that can be easily cut away.

How to Cook: Try it seared and finished in the oven, cut into medallions and grilled or cut into strips for a fast stir-fry. It’s best cooked no further than medium to maintain tenderness.

Merlot Steak

Perfect for grilling, broiling and stir-frying, the merlot cut is known for its flavour, but is also a lean steak, making it one that needs proper attention to avoid dryness and toughening.

How to Cook: It’s recommended to cook this cut over high heat for only a few minutes per side, which helps maintain flavour and tenderness. Like the shoulder tender, keep this steak below medium doneness.

oyster-steak-with-chrimp

Oyster Steak

The oyster steak’s higher fat content and exposure to air means bigger, beefier taste. It’s called oyster steak because this cut’s interesting fat pattern looks a bit like an oyster shell.

How to Cook: Deeply flavourful, this little 6 oz gem is another steak benefiting from higher temperature for a shorter period of time, about 3 minutes per side.

Get ready for barbecue season with our essential tips for grilling any cut of steak perfectly.