3 Vibrant Vegetarian Dinner Recipes That Make Lemon the Star

If your winter diet consisted of one too many stew and casserole dishes, we hear you, and we bet your current recipe arsenal is due for a spring refresh. Few people know how to celebrate seasonal fare like Jeanine Donofrio, the face behind the plant-forward recipe blog Love & Lemons, where healthy, rainbow-bright dishes take centre stage. That’s why we’re showcasing three mouth-watering vegetarian spring dinner ideas from her brand new cookbook, Love & Lemons Every Day (Available April 2).

The best part? Each recipe brilliantly incorporates lemon in a new way. The star ingredient adds a bright, citrusy finish to each main that denotes the sunny season ahead.

Asparagus, Snap Peas & Chive Blossom Pasta

This stunning pasta dish, featuring seasonal produce like radishes, asparagus, snap peas and chive blossoms, is a staple no matter the occasion; it’s easy enough to cook for the family on busy weeknights, and pretty enough to serve at your next dinner party. The pasta is lightly dressed in a mixture of fresh lemon juice and Dijon mustard, before being garnished with Parmesan cheese and lemon zest. We love how the pasta shape mimics that of the veggies! Get the recipe here!

Spring-on-a-Plate Socca Flatbread

Meet your new favourite healthy pizza alternative that’s the epitome of spring. The flatbread itself is made from chickpea flour, and requires only three ingredients. A cashew-based herb spread featuring fresh lemon juice acts as the perfect base. Topped with red radishes, pickled red onions, frozen peas, preserved lemons, mint leaves and feta cheese, this heavenly main can do no wrong, and is a delicious way to usher in the vibrant season ahead. Get the recipe here!

Cauliflower Steaks with Lemon Salsa Verde

By now, we’re sure you need no convincing that cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable worth celebrating. But in case you still had your doubts, this spring-focused dish is proof on a plate. A flavourful puree of cauliflower florets, garlic cloves, miso paste and lemon juice act as the base, with a perfectly roasted cauliflower steak placed on top. The vegan, dairy-free main is then topped with a zesty salsa verde starring preserved lemons, parsley, pine nuts and capers. Get the recipe here!

Images excerpted from Love and Lemons Every Day: More than 100 Bright, Plant-Forward Recipes for Every Meal by Jeanine Donofrio. Copyright © 2019 Jeanine Donofrio. Photography by Jeanine Donofrio, Christopher Broe, and Jack Mathews . Published by Penguin Canada, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Guilt-Free Paleo Carrot Cupcakes with Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting

Eating cupcakes is an indulgent treat, but what if your cupcake could also provide your body with healthy fats, protein and beta-carotene? Our nutritious carrot cupcakes are far better for you than their traditional, white flour, sugar-laden cousins, meaning they can double as a snack or even breakfast. We skip the dairy-filled buttercream icing for a “pegan” alternative that blends up cashews, lemon juice and maple syrup for a rich and healthy frosting.

Paleo Carrot Cupcakes with Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 9 cupcakes

Ingredients:

Cupcake Batter:
1 ½ cups almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
3 eggs
⅓ cup maple syrup
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups grated carrot

Cashew “Cream Cheese” Frosting:
1 cup cashews, soaked for 2 hours or up to overnight
4 Tbsp unsweetened dairy-free milk
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Pinch of sea salt

Optional Toppings:
Cacao nibs
Coconut flakes
Lemon zest

Directions:
1. Mix together the dry ingredients (almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg). Ensure the baking soda is mixed in very well, otherwise it can turn the carrots green.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients (eggs, maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla extract).
3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet, and then fold in the grated carrots.
4. Once everything is well combined, scoop ¼ cup of batter into a lined or oiled muffin tin, bake in a 350°F oven for 23-25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
5. As the cupcakes are baking or cooling, prepare the icing by blending all ingredients in a blender or food processor until a smooth and silky texture forms.
6. Once the cupcakes are cool, ice them using an offset spatula or spoon, or with a piping bag (you can make this out of a Ziploc bag).
7. Top with cacao nibs, coconut flakes or lemon zest, or leave them plain.

For more wholesome baked goods, browse these 60 Vegan Desserts Even Non-Vegans Will Love and 12 Healthy Muffin Recipes for Busy On-The-Go Mornings.

Why You’ll Fall in Love With Food Network Canada’s Newest Host, Dylan Benoit

They say if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen, but Dylan Benoit is all too happy to embrace the fire and flames on the new Food Network Canada show Fire Masters. As host, he brings his passion for cooking over the fire to the small screen as three chefs compete each week to impress a panel of judges with their grilling skills.

Though a proud Canadian, Benoit has taken his talents around the world and now lives in the Cayman Islands where he can pursue his love of the culinary arts, along with scuba diving, riding motorcycles and travelling to far-flung parts of the globe.

We “grilled” the Fire Masters host about his hobbies, who inspires him in the kitchen and what he thinks about leading the hottest new culinary competition show.

How does it feel to be the host of Fire Masters?

Honestly, I never thought I would end up on TV, let alone Food Network Canada. When I was going to cooking school, I used to come home and watch the types of shows I’m now on. I never thought, ‘Oh, one day I’ll be on Food Network’ or ‘I want to have a show.’ It was always just get to the kitchen, put your head down, earn your stripes and become a great chef. The fact this has transpired is a bonus and I’m insanely grateful.

Was there a dish you were hoping someone would make all season that you didn’t end up seeing?

I didn’t go in [to filming] with any expectations. I was just happy to see everything these chefs brought to the table. And what I liked about the show was there were so many people from all over the country, the States and Mexico and the Caribbean and they brought a lot of flavours I wasn’t expecting.

Who inspires your cooking?

My mom was a huge inspiration for my cooking. We grew up eating very well around our house, so that’s where the spark started. Then, as I grew older, it was more about travel — going to different places, learning about their food and through their food.

What do you consider to be your signature dish?

The concept of a signature dish is very tough. For me, it changes all the time — depending on the season or where I am. A dish I would make here isn’t the same as I’d make in Cayman or California. I have certain ingredients that I lean towards, that I use when I can.

What about the recipes you’ve developed over the years? Is there one you’re most proud of?

Bacon. I have a lamb bacon recipe which is pretty fun. Everybody loves bacon! And there are so many other meats you can use to make it, like lamb or beef.

We hear you have cooked for some celebrities. Any anecdotes you can share?

When I worked with Chef Mark McEwan at One at the Hazelton Hotel, the Beastie Boys came in one time. All three of them sat at the bar and ate chicken noodle soup. Once, I was working at the pasta station there during the film festival and Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston came in. She had the rabbit ravioli and when the order came in, the sous chef leaned over to me and said, “That’s for Jennifer Aniston. Don’t screw it up.” I’m sure there’s plenty of others, but a lot of the time you’re in the back and you don’t know who you’re cooking for. It doesn’t matter if it’s a massive celebrity or a regular person on the street. You want to make sure the food is the same every time.

You’ve been living on Cayman Island since 2010. What do you miss most about Canada?

I miss a lot of things, to be honest. All my family, which is a big one. I do miss the seasons — not winter. I miss wearing jeans and boots and a leather jacket. That’s why little trips like this are always nice to come back and get refreshed. I miss my cottage in Georgian Bay area.

Do you have any food-inspired tattoos?

I do actually! A pineapple skull — I don’t know why. A bottle of whiskey or rum flying away. I’ve got a bowl of noodles on the inside of my index finger.

What has been your most delicious travel memory?

A lot of the really good memories, you’re just in these places you’d least expect. The little hole-in-the-wall joints. The first thing that jumps to my mind is Hong Kong. I have a favorite noodle place there called that Tsim Chai Kee. This is the bowl of noodles that all noodles shall be rated against in my mind. It’s just super simple. It’s an egg noodle with chicken broth and these dumplings the size of a golf ball. You get three of them and they’re just chock-full of shrimp.

What’s the easiest technique someone new to grilling should learn to master first?

Indirect heat — that’s where you start something on a relatively high heat on one side to get the sear you want and then move it to a side that’s on low while the high heat is still running. It allows you to rest the meat while you continue to cook it. I think that’s the one thing most people don’t understand. Everybody just goes in hard and fast with high heat and you end up with overcooked or dry food.

What’s the most overused ingredient in grilling?

Beef tenderloin. I really enjoy it, but I think there are so many other cuts that can be similar in texture and tenderness that don’t cost you as much and pack a little more flavour.

This interview has been edited for clarity.

Conquer Brunch With This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata and Sourdough Bread

You can never go wrong when serving your guests a hearty, veggie-packed breakfast casserole topped with melted, gooey goat cheese. Stratas are usually reserved for birthdays, Mother’s Day or Easter brunches, simply because they easily feed a crowd and can be fully prepped ahead of time; so no fuss, no muss when entertaining guests. Make this the day before and pop it into the oven when it’s go-time. What makes this strata even more special is that it’s made with sourdough bread, an artisan-style loaf that is easy to digest and adds incredible texture and bite.

Make-Ahead Vegetable Strata With Sourdough Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 5 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

½ Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 zucchini, sliced into thin circles
1 ½ cups chopped kale or baby kale
1 ½ tsp dried thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
6 eggs
1 ½ cups dairy-free milk
4 cups sourdough loaf cut into 1 inch cubes
4-6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1. Place a skillet on medium heat, coat the bottom with extra virgin olive oil and add the onions. Stir occasionally and allow them to cook for 3 minutes, then add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes.
2. Add the cherry tomatoes and zucchini and let them cook for 5 minutes.
3. Add the kale, thyme, sea salt and pepper. Stir until the kale begins to wilt.
4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and dairy-free milk.
5. In a large casserole dish (9×13), coat the bottom with a little olive oil, spread ½ the bread on the bottom, top with ½ of the veggies, then layer the rest of the bread and veggies on top.

6. Pour the egg and milk mixture over and crumble the goat cheese on top, nestling some pieces underneath the bread cubes.
7. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until you’re ready to bake it. It can be left in the fridge for up to one day.
8. When you’re ready to bake, heat your oven to 350°F, place the uncovered strata in the oven for 45-50 minutes until it starts to bubble up and crisp.

This Make-Ahead Veggie Strata & Sourdough Bread

Still salivating? Here are 25 more crowd-pleasing brunch recipes and 15 sheet pan breakfast bakes that promise to please!

5 Gorgeous Pastel Cakes That Will Make Your Spring Table Shine

It’s been a long, drawn-out winter. The upside? Spring’s arrival is all the more deserving of celebration! We’re paying tribute to perfect temperatures, fresh blooms and heaps of sunshine with five show-stopping pastel cakes from professional baker and food blogger Tessa Huff’s latest cookbook, Icing on the Cake. From her rainbow no-bake cheesecake to a blueberry galaxy cake, these eye-catching desserts promise to brighten spirits (and plates) everywhere.

1. Lavender Blackberry Cake

This stunning buttercream cake is the epitome of spring: not only does it feature a brilliant flower crown, the batter is subtly infused with lavender milk and simple syrup, which is complemented by thin layers of blackberry jam and tangy cream cheese frosting. While the flower wreath is completely optional, Tessa provides helpful step-by-step instructions in her book on how to pipe them to perfection. Get the cake recipe here!

2. Rainbow No-Bake Cheesecake

Rainbow No-Bake Cheesecake

The fact that this pastel-happy cake doesn’t require an oven is already a win. Even better is the cheesecake’s light, mousse-like texture and warm-weather flavours (think strawberry, mango and lime). Prepare it for Easter dessert, or simply make it on the weekend to welcome spring in style. Get the cake recipe here!

3. Blueberry Galaxy Cake

This isn’t your average galaxy cake. Instead of being coated in a shimmering mirror glaze (see here for instructions on this technique), this version features a delicate watercolour frosting that resembles a starry galaxy just the same. The cake is lemon poppy seed, iced with vanilla and blueberry buttercream. We love how Tessa adorned the berries with gold and silver luster dust before arranging on the cake. After all, creating a delicious and dazzling dessert is all in the details. Get the cake recipe here!

4. Blackberry Elderflower Vertical Cake

This vertically layered dessert turns traditional cake filling on its head (and looks mighty fine while doing so). The technique is also easier to achieve than you might think. The sugary secret? Cutting the cake lengthwise to create four long strips, then rolling one strip to create a spiral before wrapping the remaining strips around it. The vanilla sponge cake is also infused with an elderflower syrup, which perfectly complements the blackberry buttercream. Be sure to slice this dessert before serving to show off your baking acumen. Get the cake recipe here!

5. Orange Salted Honey Cake

While each of these spring-inspired cakes are almost too pretty to eat, the good news is they taste just as scrumptious as they look. This decadent butter cake combines citrus with salted honey for an unexpected, zesty flavour pairing that hits all the right notes. The ruffle petal piping technique is certainly worth a try, too! Bake this show-stopper for an upcoming baby shower, Mother’s Day brunch or as a DIY wedding cake. Your guests will be happy you did. Get the cake recipe here! 

Recipes excerpted from Icing on the Cake by Tessa Huff, reprinted by permission of Abrams Books. Photographs by Tessa Huff.

Ross Larkin One Year Since Winning Top Chef Canada

Ross Larkin: Life Since Winning Top Chef Canada

Ever since Ross Larkin showcased Newfoundland on a plate to winning results on the sixth season of Top Chef Canada, he’s made quite the name for himself in the Canadian culinary scene. We’d expect nothing less—who hasn’t been dreaming about the chef’s jaw-dropping display of east coast ingredients like diver scallops, moose, and winter chanterelles? And don’t even get us started on that whiskey-compressed apple and snowberry concoction he whipped up in the finale.

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year now since Larkin won the show, so we caught up with the chef to find out what his life has been like since season six. As it turns out he’s been quite busy in and out of the kitchen.

Chef de Cuisine at Raymond’s

Even before entering the Top Chef Canada kitchen Larkin was impressing the culinary community as the chef de cuisine at one of the country’s top restaurants, Raymond’s. Jeremy Charles’ world-class spot draws in tourists from all over (the late Anthony Bourdain even visited it on his series, No Reservations). These days though, it’s not just Jeremy Charles that tourists are seeking out: diners have been increasingly asking to meet Ross, too, ever since his big win.

“The restaurant has had an amazing showing following the series, people coming here from all over,” Ross says. “That was very flattering and different, going into the dining room and talking to people who are so excited and asking for pictures. I didn’t realize how big it was. It’s wild.”

 

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???????????????????????? Radish and flower tart | cattail with sunchoke

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He bought his first house

Ross has been renting his whole life, so following his big win he and his wife Celeste, who is the pastry chef at Raymond’s, finally bought their own space. It closed at the end of October.

“That was a whirlwind. I had no idea what went into buying a house, and there’s a lot more than I thought. Thankfully my uncle is a real estate agent here in Newfoundland so he helped us immensely with everything,” Ross says. “Pretty much every day we walk around the house and see something that needs painting or fixing, but it’s been great. Having a home of my own is something I never thought would happen.”

And, it’s also a home decked out with all of those amazing kitchen appliances he won on the show.

 

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House hunting.

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He had his first magazine spread

Last fall Ross experienced another first when the quarterly publication Pie Digest asked if they could feature him following his Top Chef Canada win.

“I was flattered. I’d never been in any sort of publication, so to be featured in a magazine was huge. I was just so excited,” he says. “They did a really good job of representing me and the food in the restaurant and Newfoundland and Labrador. It was incredible.”

He’s been sharing Newfoundland cooking with the rest of Canada

In the past 12 months Ross has travelled extensively, bringing his culinary expertise to places like Calgary, Winnipeg, PEI, Vancouver and Montreal, where he’s shared unique ingredients and techniques with other chefs and patrons. One of the coolest things he says he’s done was participating in Winnipeg’s annual Raw Almond event last February alongside Jeremy Charles and the rest of the Raymond’s team.

The event, which started in 2013 and hails from Joe Kalturnyk and Mandel Hitzer, takes place each year when the river freezes and two temporary dining rooms are constructed. There, chefs from across Canada and the rest of the world congregate for special, sold-out dinner services.

“There are very select few events that being such a different group of chefs together,” Ross says. “It was so inspiring. Like yeah, it’s really cold in Winnipeg in the dead of winter, but it was so inspiring to be there. The people working with Joe are hands-down some of the nicest people I’ve ever worked with. They’re so passionate and they’re there to help with anything you need. We were really fortunate to be invited to that, and hopefully we can return.”

He took Newfoundland to Chicago, too

When Chicago’s famed Blackbird restaurant threw a chefs series to celebrate 20 years in the business, they asked Jeremy Charles and the staff of Raymond’s to host the closing night. It was Ross’ first time ever visiting the renowned culinary city, and he loved the overall Midwestern charm, unique architecture, and of course, the myriad of restaurants.

“We brought a little piece of Newfoundland down to Chicago and we did [dinner] how we do it at the restaurant,” he says. “It was very well received and people loved it. It’s always interesting to see what other restaurants are doing, especially Blackbird, which is such a high caliber, Michelin-star restaurant. Everybody was so amazed and excited and there were so many questions about what we were doing and the ingredients. They’re so different. There’s nowhere else in Canada, let alone in Chicago, where you’re getting ingredients like we’re getting here in Newfoundland.”

He’s getting really into beeswax

Living in Newfoundland, Ross says they don’t always have access to imported goods—especially when ferries carrying ordered fare shut down. In ths spirit of embracing what’s local and fresh, he and Celeste have been experimenting with that concept recently.

Some of their experiments have included encasing roots in salt dough to cure them or aging beef in beeswax, which Ross says eliminates some of that “blue cheese” flavour you traditionally get with air-curing. Meanwhile, it also creates less waste.

“It just gives the meat a very mild sweetness and almost makes it a bit richer in taste and consistency. And you don’t lose as much product—when doing the whole ribeye [the traditional way] you lose so much because you have to trim it. This way you just knock off all the beeswax and you have 100 percent yield on aged beef,” he says, noting that Celeste has been having similar success with plums in beeswax.

“She dips them in a couple of different layers of beeswax and lets them age for different lengths of time for various flavours, but it gives them a very fermented flavour, almost like a port. Beeswax just breaks them down in a very incredible way.”

 

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Ever wonder what 18 kg of bees wax looks like ?????#savethebees #bees #honeypot#eatlocal#supportlocal #supportfarmers #winniethepooh

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He and Celeste celebrated three years of marriage

This August marks Ross and Celeste’s third wedding anniversary, but the duo have been a culinary dream team for longer than that.

Not only did Celeste originally encourage Ross to apply for Top Chef Canada, but it’s also because of her that Ross got his gig at Raymond’s in the first place. When the pair were both working at former Top Chef Canada winner Dale McKay’s Ayden Kitchen + Bar in Saskatoon, Jeremy Charles called Celeste to see if she wanted the pastry chef job. Ross also knew Jeremy so he called him up asking for a gig too, and the rest, as they say, is history.

“We finished up our time in Saskatoon, went back to Vancouver, packed up everything, and we drove across Canada” he says. “I think we landed in St. John’s on a Friday and we started work on a Tuesday. Like I started at Raymond’s at the bottom and now I’m the chef de cuisine… I pinch myself every day. It’s incredible.”

 

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2018 was a fucking rollercoaster no doubt. Some of the most nerve wrecking, exciting, rewarding moments of my life to date. I was fortunate to have accomplished an amazing task of winning #topchefcanada a title that a only a few hold , not only that but to see how much it meant to the entire island of Newfoundland and how proud we are of this provinve and the beauties that it holds. This year I met so many amazing, talented people that I now have the pleasure of calling my friends. @cellymaemah and myself purchased our first home. Was able to travel and show people what it means to cook the food of Newfoundland on a world stage. I’m still in shock of everything that happened this year and am so grateful of the amazing people that surrounds me every day. 2018 one for the books, the new year has no idea what is comming…

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Watch a new season of Top Chef Canada, premiering April 1 at 10 PM E/P.

The Best Salmon Burger Recipe With Dairy-Free Tzatziki

We made these burgers for all of you out there who don’t like the fishy taste of fish. The refreshing dill, vibrant parsley, and sharp garlic and shallots mask the taste of salmon so well that many of our clients eat these burgers every single week. The eggs and mashed cauliflower give the burgers a soft, fluffy texture, which means they’re easy to eat. Plus, this recipe is a great way to get more wild-caught salmon into your diet.

Dill Salmon Burgers With Dairy-Free Tzatziki

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-6 burgers

Ingredients:

Salmon Burgers:
12 oz piece of fresh wild salmon or two 5.6 oz cans boneless wild salmon
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
1½ cups cauliflower florets
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, finely diced
1 egg
½ cup blanched almond flour
3 Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tsp whole-grain mustard

Coconut Tzatziki:
1 cup cucumber
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup plain, unsweetened coconut yogurt
¼ cup fresh dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp sea salt

Read More: 15 Delicious Ways to Use Canned Salmon

Directions:

Salmon Burgers:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. If you’re using fresh wild salmon, place the fillet on a baking sheet skin side down and sprinkle it with the salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Once the salmon is baked, set it aside to cool, and then carefully remove the skin. Keep the oven on. If you’re using canned salmon, drain the liquid from the cans.
3. While the salmon is baking, put the cauliflower florets in a small pot with ¼ cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, and simmer for 7–10 minutes, or until the cauliflower is soft and cooked through. Most of the water should be gone by this point; if it is not, drain the excess water using a colander. Then blend the cooked cauliflower in a food processor until it is creamy. If there is just a bit of water left in the pot, you can add it to the food processor with the cauliflower.
4. Crumble the cooked or canned salmon into the food processor, along with the remaining ingredients, except for the Coconut Tzatziki, and pulse to combine. If you don’t have a food processor, place all the ingredients together in a bowl and mix by hand.
5. Measure out ¼ cup of the salmon mixture. Shape it into a burger patty, and then place it on the baking sheet. Repeat with the rest of the mixture.
6. Bake the burgers for 20–25 minutes, then carefully flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes. The burgers should be firm to the touch and lightly browned on top when they are ready.
7. While the burgers are in the oven, make the Coconut Tzatziki.
8. Serve burgers with a hearty dollop of tzatziki sauce. Have them in a salad or in a collard or whole-grain wrap, or eat them on their own. Keep leftover burgers in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for 3–4 months.

Nutrition Note: Salmon, especially wild caught, is one of the best types of fish to eat because it contains coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation—and reducing inflammation is linked with slowing cancer growth. Salmon also contains vitamin D and selenium, both important nutrients for antioxidant action to protect your cells from cancer.

Read More: 58 Fantastic Ways to Cook Salmon Fillets

Coconut Tzatziki:
1. Grate the cucumber with a hand grater or in a food processor using the grater attachment.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the grated cucumber with all the other ingredients.
3. Keep chilled in the refrigerator until ready to use or serve. This tzatziki will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Nutrition Note: Make sure to buy yogurt that is made of coconut milk (not dairy yogurt with a coconut flavor). Alternatively, you can use another type of dairy- free yogurt, such as almond milk yogurt. Just make sure you get an unsweetened, plain variety.

Recipe Excerpt:
Excerpted from The Living Kitchen by Tamara Green & Sarah Grossman. Copyright © 2019 Tamara Green & Sarah Grossman. Photography by Daniel Alexander. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

How to Make a Dreamy Mirror Glaze Cake

Ever wonder how to make a mirror glaze cake at home? This show-stopping masterpiece is made doable with some gelatin, chocolate and a range of contrasting colours, so you can cover nearly any cake in this gorgeous coating. The trendy technique may appear tricky to pull off at home, but carefully following these six steps and being mindful of key temperatures will lead you to a shimmering, galaxy-like cake glaze in no time! Just image this pretty pastel version at your Easter feast or springtime tea party.

How to Mirror Glaze Any Cake 

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Glaze Setting Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour (plus 2 hours for chilling baked cake)
Makes: Glaze for 1, 8- to 9-inch cake
Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

1 filled and smoothly frosted 8- or 9-inch cake
3 envelopes powdered gelatine
1 cup water, divided
1½ cups granulated sugar
7 oz. sweetened condensed milk
12 oz. white chocolate, chopped
Gel food colouring in 3 to 4 contrasting colours

Directions:

1. Place the smoothly frosted cake in the freezer until very cold and firm, at least 2 hours. Meanwhile, set up your glazing station by placing a wire rack over a rimmed sheet pan. Set aside.

2. Sprinkle the gelatine into a small bowl and stir in half of the water, ½ cup. Set aside for 5 to 10 minutes for gelatin to bloom. Meanwhile, stir together the remaining ½ cup water, sugar and condensed milk in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the mixture is hot, remove from the heat and whisk in the bloomed gelatine until it melts.

3. Place the chopped white chocolate in a large, heat-safe bowl. Pour the milk and gelatine mixture over the top of the chocolate. Gently stir until the chocolate melts. Use an immersion blender to make sure the mixture is completely smooth. Keep the device submerged in the glaze to prevent air bubbles. Strain the mixture back into the saucepan using a fine-mesh sieve to make sure the glaze is smooth and to remove any air bubbles.

4. Divide the mixture into 3 to 4 bowls. Add a few drops of different gel food colouring to each and gently stir until the desired colours are achieved. There is no need to divided the colours evenly – create a larger base colour with a few smaller portions of accent colours.

5. Add the base colour to a spouted cup or large measuring cup. Pour in the remaining colours and gently stir a little (stirring too much will muddle the colours together). Allow the mirror glaze to cool to 95°F when tested with a candy thermometre – pouring the glaze at the correct temperature is crucial to the cake’s success. If the glaze drops below 95°F, gently reheat in the microwave, 10 seconds at a time, and stir until the correct temperature.

6. As the glaze cools, place the chilled cake on the wire rack. Once the glaze hits 95°F, pour it over the top of the prepared cake. Starting in the centre, swirl the glaze around the cake. Make sure the glaze pours over each side of the cake as well. Immediately pop any obvious air bubbles with a toothpick. Allow the glaze to set for about 20 minutes before serving (the chilled cake with help the glaze set quickly). Cut the cake with a sharp knife and clean it between slices, and then serve.

Notes:

  • To prevent air bubbles, do not whisk or stir the glaze too vigorously.
  • Make sure to properly chill the cake ahead of time.
  • Frost the cake as smoothly as possible with buttercream or ganache.
  • Pour the glaze at a precise 95°F.

For more artfully prepared slices, bake up one of Our 40 Most Spectacular Layer Cakes.

The Ultimate Vegan Carrot Cake with ‘Cream Cheese’ Frosting

Carrot cake is a decadent, classic dessert that can easily be made vegan and still retain its trademark moisture and texture.

Rich and delicious, this carrot cake is filled and topped with a thick layer of faux cream cheese frosting for extra creaminess in every bite. A slice paired with a cup of coffee feels right any time of day — even at breakfast.

Prep Time: 2 hours, 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 12 hours, 20 minutes (includes chilling time)
Serves: 8 to 10

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Ingredients:

Carrot Cake
4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 cup raw pecan halves
2/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup bran (miller’s bran, not prepared cereal)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk or soy milk
1/2 cup grapeseed oil or canola oil, more for pan
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup raisins (optional)

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Orange “Cream Cheese” Frosting
2 cups full-fat canned coconut milk or unsweetened soy milk
1/2 cup vegan butter such as Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks, room temperature
1 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp orange zest
2 tsp vanilla extract
8 oz/227 g tofu ‘cream cheese’ such as Tofutti, room temperature

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Directions:

Carrot Cake
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line the bottom two 8-inch cake pans with a round of parchment paper; grease sides and parchment with a bit of oil.
2. In a food processor, pulse carrots and pecans until finely chopped. Add remaining carrot cake ingredients except raisins, if using, and pulse until a smooth. Quickly pulse in raisins, if using, and smooth into prepared baking pans.
3. Bake cake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out nearly fully clean and top is dry to the touch.
4. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, run a knife around perimetre, unhinge springform pan or flip out from cake pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool completely to room temperature.

Orange “Cream Cheese” Frosting
1. In a medium saucepan, add milk, butter, icing sugar, cornstarch and orange zest. Whisking constantly, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn off heat and whisk in small pieces of cream cheese until completely smooth; whisk in vanilla.
2. Pour into a medium bowl, cool to room temperature, cover and chill for at least 8 hours in refrigerator, preferably overnight.

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Assembly
1. Whisk frosting straight out of refrigerator (let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before whisking if too firm). Frost cooled cake in between layers, on top and on the sides, if desired. Slice and enjoy.
2. Store frosted cake airtight in refrigerator up to 5 days. Freeze unfrosted cake, wrapped tightly, for up to 2 months.

Looking for more tasty vegan treats? Check out: 25 Vegan Desserts Even Non-Vegans Will Love.

Food Network Canada spring schedule

8 Reasons You Need to Watch Food Network Canada This Spring

Winter is finally behind us, which means it’s time to trade in the hearty soups and casseroles for crisp salads and grilled fare. It’s been a long haul, but we’ve officially made it through the ice storms and sub-zero temperatures, and now we can’t wait to get out there and celebrate all the delicious things spring has to offer.

That includes some downright delectable selections coming up on Food Network Canada. The spring lineup is jam-packed with new and returning personalities, a few fun new competition series, and the return of Top Chef Canada, to name a few. Read on for all the reasons you’ll want to tune in to watch Food Network Canada this spring.

Buddy-Valastro-and-Duff-Goldman

Buddy vs. Duff

Premieres: March 10

Who’s your favourite pastry chef, Buddy Valastro or Duff Goldman? Both guys have been hitting us with their insider baking knowledge for years, but for the first time ever they’re going head-to-head in the kitchen for what might be the greatest feud in baking history.

Over the course of six pastry-filled episodes, Buddy and Duff compete in an intense selection of themed bake-offs that tackle everything from carnival treats and beautiful pies to plated desserts and doughnuts.

Along the way, they’ll also participate in six “cake-offs,” in which the chefs and their hand-selected teams try to outdo one another in a bid for bragging rights.

It all culminates in a massive showdown at Philadelphia’s Franklin Institute, where the chefs help execute two decadent wedding proposals before crafting special space-themed cakes that put all of their skills on the line.

Spring Baking Championship season 5 with Clinton Kelly

Spring Baking Championship

Premieres: March 18

Get those convection ovens ready because the fifth season of this seasonal baking competition is back, baby! Ten new bakers are ready to mix, whisk and purée their way to a big $25,000 win, and they’re willing to pull out all of their best baking tricks in order to nail this thing.

The competition kicks off with celebratory challenges, in which the competitors invoke their inner artists to create animal-themed doughnuts and, later on, watercolour cakes featuring all of spring’s best fruits and veggies. Decorative pies, marshmallow treats, and nutty desserts are also in store throughout the rest of the season.

Joining returning judges Duff Goldman, Lorraine Pascale and Nancy Fuller is new host Clinton Kelly, of What Not To Wear fame. We have faith that the lifestyle expert will be just as deft at handling these new hosting duties as he is the latest fashions.

Family Food Showdown

Premieres: March 21

There’s nothing quite like the act of cooking to bring families together, whether it’s through a secret family recipe, weeknight dinners at the table, or even a Sunday afternoon bake-session with the kids. But in this new competition series hosted by Valerie Bertinelli, we’re about to meet a series of families for whom food is everything.

In each episode, two foodie families (think restauranteurs, food truck operators, competition cooks and relatives) face off in a series of challenges that are designed to put their cooking, communication, and creativity to the test for a weekly $10,000 prize.

“With these contestants it’s not just about the money,” Bertinelli says. “There was a lot of pride involved, and so that’s when you’d see the fires really start to happen on the grills and in their personalities. So I would get close to them immediately, and it was really hard to watch the ones that didn’t get to go through. You start to fall in love with these contestants.”

Fire-Masters

Fire Masters

Premieres: March 21

The kitchen is about to get lit with the debut of this brand new Canadian competition show, which ditches the traditional oven in favour of all things grilled, charred and ‘cued. In 10 fire-fuelled episodes chefs from across North America come together in a sizzling, three-part cook-off for a rotating panel of established judges.

In the first round, three chefs must present an impressive signature dish to stay alive in the Napoleon grill arena. In the second round, the two remaining chefs go head-to-head by incorporating one of two featured ingredients into their dish. And then in the last round, the “Feast of Fire,” the last man or woman standing will take on one of the Fire Master judges.

Considering this year’s roster of experts includes former Top Chef Canada competitors and some of the greatest pitmasters around, we’d say the contestants have their work cut out for them. Canadian chef Dylan Benoit hosts the fireocious new series.

Burgers-Brew-and-Que

Burgers, Brew & ‘Que

Premieres: March 21

What’s better than a perfectly grilled burger and a fresh pint to go with it? Not much, according to Iron Chef Michael Symon. The chef and personality is back for a fourth season of his grilled-meats-based travel show, and we can’t wait to see what he’s going to uncover next.

Follow along as Symon searches high and low for the best barbecue and burgers in America, from elaborate cheeseburgers and perfectly smoked brisket, to fall-off-the-bone ribs and ridiculous roasts. Of course, he’ll also need some hoppy local brews and bevvys to wash it all down with, giving us some serious barbecue envy. In fact, a few episodes in, and you’ll probably want to start crafting your own food-based road trip, too.

Top Chef Canada Season 7

Top Chef Canada

Premieres: April 1

This is not a drill — Canada’s most prestigious culinary competition is back, and this season the “steaks” are higher than ever. Join 12 up-and-coming chefs, each representing the coming-of-age in the Canadian food scene, as they battle in some of the most intense Quickfires and fiercest Elimination Challenges to-date. On the line? A $100,000 cash prize from Interac, a design-inspired Café kitchen, a culinary tour of Italy for two from Air Transat, $5,000 worth of Cuisinart products, and the title of Top Chef Canada.

The action kicks off in the premiere episode with an “In-Cook” twist, when the 11 named competitors are asked to judge dishes from the three chefs vying for the last spot in the competition.

That inaugural challenge certainly sets the tone for the season to come, and we can’t wait to dig in. Host Eden Grinshpan is back to helm all the action; she’s joined by returning head judge Mark McEwan and resident judges Chris Nuttall-Smith, Mijune Pak and Janet Zuccarini.

Restaurant Impossible

Premieres: April 23

We have a soft spot for the owners of failing restaurants… after all, who doesn’t appreciate a foodie who is trying to put his or her dreams into action? So we’re all in when the 14th season of Robert Irvines restaurant-saving series returns in April following a two-and-a-half-year hiatus. After all, who doesn’t want to watch a new slew of restaurant owners that just need a little help in turning things around?

With a mere $10,000 and only two days to do it, it’s all hands on deck as Irvine attempts to muscle his way through the overhauls, teaching these owners the dos and don’ts of the industry so that their eateries can ultimately survive.

It’s a tall order, but if anyone has proven his salt over the years it’s gotta be chef Irvine.

Best Baker in America

Premieres: May 19

Sure, you can do better than store-bought goodies for the bake sale, and you’ve been known to roll out the fondant on occasion. But do you have what it takes to be classified as the best baker in the country? That’s the question this series poses when it returns for a hefty third season of elevated buttercream frostings, airy meringues, and modern takes on some tried-and-true classics.

Follow along as a brand new batch of contestants prove they have the baking skills needed to impress the all-star judges — and each other — in their rise to the top.

Nutritionist Reveals 6 Meal Prep Tips to Avoid a Sad Desk Lunch (Plus Two 10-Minute Recipes!)

Meal prep is the key to mastering lunch, and in my new cookbook, Modern Lunch, I share exciting and inventive ways to take your packed or at-home lunches from uninspired to extraordinary. Here, I’m revealing a handful of my top meal prep tips, along with two recipes for a re-imagined version of the midday meal.

What is a modern lunch, anyways?

It’s a refreshed version of the midday meal full of colourful, delicious, healthy ingredients that are readily accessible and straightforward to put together.

A modern lunch saves you time in the long run by getting ahead in the kitchen (welcome to the world of meal prep!), money (have you seen how much your lunch delivery is costing you each week?) and supports a healthy lifestyle (fresh, homemade meals are always going to be better for you than that pricey takeout).

Think about your schedule for the week and what your workplace has to offer before diving into meal prep. If you don’t want to stand in a microwave line, choose no-heat lunches (the book is loaded with those exact recipes), or, if you can only make lunch for one day of the week, just make one recipe. There are no “rules” you need to follow because we all have different schedules and constraints. The idea is to start thinking about lunch in a new way: as part of your self-care routine.

Here are some of my favourite meal prep tips, tricks and recipes to make sure a #saddesklunch is a distant memory.

1. Mark Your Calendar

A homemade (but not sad) lunch won’t happen unless you carve out the time during the week. Many home cooks find an hour or two on Sunday to be the most doable. I love Sunday afternoons to do my meal prep. Bonus: it’s a great time to catch up on podcasts or audiobooks.

Here’s what your Sunday meal prep could look like:
Step 1: Pick your recipes and make a grocery list (15 to 20 minutes)
Step 2: Shop (1 hour)
Step 3: Cook and prep (2 hours)
Step 4: Store the food and/or pack lunches (15 to 20 minutes)

2. No Time To Plan Lunch and Grocery Shop? Do This Instead

Keep canned chickpeas and beans, quick-cooking grains, ready-cooked proteins (canned salmon, tuna and sardines), olive oil, your favourite vinegar, mustard and tamari in the pantry at all times to form the base of your meal prep lunches. You can make a grain “bowl” in a container with a delicious dressing in a flash. And sweet potatoes, smoked tofu and cabbage or kale keep fresh for a lot longer than many perishable items, so keep these on hand for a packed lunch in a moment’s notice (pick up a few extra every time you grocery shop to make this a reality).

3. Find Your Favourites

A barrier to making lunch that I hear over and over again is that lunch is boring. If you’re not inspired to make lunch, you won’t. Ask yourself what you love – is it broccoli? Spinach? Sweet potatoes? Brown rice? Chicken? – and pick one or two recipes with that ingredient as the star attraction.

4. This Simple Trick Instantly Avoids a Sad Desk Lunch

Keep a cheap ceramic plate and bowl at work to transfer your packed lunch to, and use real utensils when eating. This simple switch elevates a desk lunch and somehow makes it taste way better.

5. Take Your Pantry to Work

Keep hot sauce; flaky salt; and a little bottle of vinegar, olive oil and tamari at your desk or in your workplace kitchen to perk up a lunch that needs a boost. Keep a few whole lemons at your desk to add zip to your grain salad and never look back. If you have to have sriracha on everything, keep some handy. These small boosters take lunch from blah to beautiful.

6. Make it Beautiful

Garnishes can do wonders to add a pop of appetizing colour to not just your lunch, but every meal. In my opinion, they should taste really great and add another dimension of flavour and/or texture, too. Try topping a meal with refreshing pea shoots or watercress, crunchy toasted pumpkin seeds, dukkah (an Egyptian spice and nut/seed mix), torn tender herbs, pomegranate seeds, strips of lemon zest and more. Another way to give your lunch an artful twist is to layer it in large glass jars, like the recipes I’m sharing below.

I have so many more tips in Modern Lunch, along with more than 100 recipes for both those who are new to a homemade lunch and lunch pros who are in search of fresh ideas. Here are two recipes to get you started because life is too short to have a bad lunch!

Two Grab-and-Go Meal Prep Salads from Modern Lunch:

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1. Chicken and Cucumber Ribbon Salad with Peanut Butter Vinaigrette

Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Peanut Butter Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter or favourite nut butter
2 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp avocado oil or grapeseed oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp water
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
¼ tsp red chili flakes

Chicken and Cucumber Ribbon Salad
2 (8 oz) poached chicken breasts, shredded
1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
3 green onions, sliced
1 English cucumber, sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler or cut into thin coins, divided
2 heads butter lettuce or gem lettuce, leaves separated, torn, divided

Directions:
1. For the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk lime juice, peanut butter, tamari, oil, maple syrup, water, fish sauce and chili flakes until fully emulsified. If not using immediately, store in an airtight glass jar for up to 1 week; just shake well before using.
2. For the salad, in a large bowl, combine shredded chicken, mint, and green onions. Keep cucumber and lettuce separate for assembly.
3. To assemble, add dressing to the bottom of four large jars. Add chicken mixture on top of dressing, followed by cucumber and lettuce. Seal and refrigerate, or take to go immediately.
4. Keep chilled in the office refrigerator or tucked away with a cooler pack at your desk. To serve, shake and enjoy directly out of the jar or shake, transfer to a serving bowl, and eat.

Lunch Notes: Stretch Your Meals with Quinoa
To lend a subtle nutty flavour, pleasing chewiness a little extra sauce-soaking vehicle to this recipe, toss in 1 cup cooked quinoa into the prepared chicken mixture. It also adds another serving to the dish, so you can enjoy it the whole workweek.

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2. 9-Layer Salad with Lemon Curry Dressing

Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Lemon Curry Dressing
½ cup lemon juice
½ cup unsweetened plain yogurt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp mild curry powder
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp minced garlic
ground black pepper, to taste

Salad
1 cup fresh shelled or frozen green peas, divided
1 bulb fennel, cored, shaved or very thinly sliced, divided
1 head radicchio, cored, shredded, divided
2 carrots, shaved or grated, divided
½ cup fresh herbs of choice (basil, parsley, mint), divided
4 cups baby arugula, divided
1 cup shaved parmesan, divided
4 servings protein of choice, divided (see Lunch Notes)
lemon wedges, divided

Directions:
1. For the dressing, in a small bowl, whisk all dressing ingredients until fully combined. Store airtight in refrigerator until ready to assemble salad jars.
2. To assemble the salad, add dressing to the bottom of four large jars. Top with salad ingredients in order listed. Seal and refrigerate or take to go immediately.
3. Keep your jar chilled in the office refrigerator, or with a cooler pack in your lunch bag. To serve, remove the lemon, shake up the jar, then squeeze the lemon over top, and enjoy. Or, toss the salad in a serving bowl, season with the lemon, then eat.

Lunch Notes: Pick Your Protein
Protein keeps you fuller for longer, making it a must-have addition. Chicken, salmon, tuna, hard-boiled eggs, or canned white beans are what I reach for to bulk up this salad.

Keep your lunch game strong all week long with this how-to guide for Sunday meal prep.

Recipe and photography credits:
Excerpted from Modern Lunch: +100 Recipes for Assembling the New Midday Meal by Allison Day. Copyright © 2019 Allison Day. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Buddy vs. Duff

Buddy vs. Duff: See Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman’s Most Epic Cakes

In Buddy vs. Duff, legendary bakers Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman will bring their culinary A-game as they face off in a series of dessert-themed challenges. The battling bakers will compete in a final space-themed task, where the judges will crown the winner and settle this epic feud once and for all. For a (visual) taste of what you cake expect to see from the series, we’ve kicked off the competition early, showcasing some of the most epic baked creations from Buddy and Duff. May the best baker win!

Buddy’s a pro at bringing animals to life

This sea-creature-inspired cake has our eyes go from the Hammerhead shark breaking through the top-most tier to the eel weaving it’s way through the middle section, all the way to the colorful collection of underwater life and seashells scattered all around the base of this cake. From shading to texture, we just can’t get over how detailed every creature on this cake is up-close!

Duff is all about the details when it comes to scene-style cakes

This elaborate city-scape cake created by Duff and his team called for 150 pounds of cake and 50 pounds of fondant. There is so much going on here, from a “just married” car and mini wedding cake to the hot air balloon — can you spot the sailboat?

Buddy is a master chef when it comes to barbeque baking

This cake, dubbed “House of Que”, looks so good; you would think it was the real deal. We’ll take a side of ribs, please!

Duff is always looking to up the ante

Never to be outdone, Duff takes the barbeque-baking concept to the next level, with his massive and ultra-realistic steak-cake, created with the Baltimore Ravens logo seemingly seared into the fondant. We love how detailed this cake is, from the meat-like texture created with shading and colouring, to the T-bone design that really completes the illusion of a real steak.

Buddy has a musical side – or at least his cakes do

Buddy created this amazing guitar-themed cake as a birthday tribute to musical icon Willie Nelson. The hand-painted details make this creation a true work of art — just look at the (intentional) signs of “wear and tear” and signature designs added to mimic Willie’s real guitar.

No one does a large-scale cake quite like Duff

This behemoth of a stadium-themed cake, designed to mimic the real deal and created for the US Open Grand Slam Tennis Tournament in 2010, has onlookers in awe as Duff adds the final touches. We love how Duff was able to mimic crowds in the stands, and have you seen the extra design elements outside of the stadium piece?

Buddy’s a builder – with fondant, at least

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Having so fun @marylandlive how do you like my cake?

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Channeling his inner urban planner, Buddy crafted this true-to-life urban landscape for Maryland Live, and judging by the look on his face — he seems pretty happy with the results. We don’t blame him — the buildings, roadways and even greenery that sit atop the base of this giant cake all look like the real-deal.

Duff creates the stuff of (Marvel) legends

Would you believe this giant Hulk recreation is in fact, a fully-edible cake? Believe it! The mean green machine himself was built up as a cake and presented by Duff to the Stan Lee in 2014 at Comikaze Expo. Duff recently reposed this epic throwback creation as a tribute to the late Marvel Comics legend.

Buddy serves up the best of both worlds

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If you struggle with satisfying your sweet tooth while also getting your daily fruit-fix, Buddy’s got the solution with this delicious watermelon cake. All cake and icing on the outside, with juicy, ripened watermelon on the inside. Now this is a summertime treat to get excited about!

Duff makes the donut cake of all donut cakes

Helping Krispy Kreme celebrate their 81st birthday – and the launch of a new donut flavor – is no easy task, but judging by this cake, Duff is up to the challenge. This donut-covered cake looks too good to be true… mind if we have a piece, Duff?

Tune in to Buddy vs. Duff Sundays at 10:00 PM E/P.

The #1 Item Missing From the New Canadian Food Guide (And Why You Need It)

Canada’s first food guide came onto the scene in 1942, with a goal to prevent nutritional deficiencies in Canadians during wartime. The focus was on drinking ½ pint of milk, eating a daily serving of potatoes, tomatoes and meat or fish, and eating four to six slices of bread a day! Since then, the food guide has gone through many incarnations over the years, as new research and lobby groups changed the nutrition landscape.

While Canada’s new 2019 food guide has made great strides, this one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition is still forgetting one key element.

The missing piece? Healthy fats. There is no mention of fat anywhere besides a small area that says “limit saturated fat”. We’re no longer in the era of the low-fat craze – quite the opposite, as research is continuously showing how important it is to consume good-for-you fats, so it’s unfortunate this entire macronutrient group is ignored. There are many different types of fats, some good and some bad, so it would have been beneficial to highlight the big difference between them. Read on for 10 important reasons why good fats are integral to a healthy, well-rounded diet:

1. Fat + Vegetables = Perfect Combo

You need fat to absorb vitamin A, D, E and K along with antioxidants, like lycopene and beta-carotene. That’s why it’s important to pair healthy versions (like extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, olives or coconut oil) with your veggies. All of these nutrients have protective properties to promote longevity. So, bring on the healthy salad dressing!

2. Fats are Essential (i.e. they need to come from your diet)

Fats like omega-3’s, found in walnuts, chia seeds, flax, salmon, mackerel and sardines, are essential, meaning the body can’t make them on its own, and they need to come from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in disease prevention by lowering inflammation and slowing signs of aging.

3. Fats Protect Your DNA

Fats help build cell membranes. This is the outer layer of the cell that prevents bad substances from entering and protects internal DNA. DNA damage is what causes aging and age-related diseases.

4. Fats Help with Weight Loss

This one is pretty counter-intuitive, but fats that are composed of medium-chain fatty acids, like coconut oil and ghee, are immediately used for energy in the body; this increases metabolism and aids in weight loss.

5. Fats provide plenty of energy

Fats have a lot of potential energy: one gram has double the calories as one gram of carbs (this is not a bad thing!). Some fat you eat gets converted into energy immediately, while others are stored and then burned for energy when the body needs it (for example, during exercise).

6. Fats Improve Brain Function

Fats are important for mental clarity, focus, cognitive function and enhancing memory. They also surround nerve fibres in the brain, which helps speed up brain communication and impulses.

7. Fats Help Delay Aging

A study found that a high fat diet can postpone signs of aging in the brain and may prevent age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Fats Help Fight Disease

Recent research found that when diets high in good-quality fats, like butter and cold-pressed oils, are combined with low sugar and low processed foods, disease risks are reversed: good cholesterol (HDL) increases, blood pressure improves, circulating triglycerides are reduced and insulin and blood sugar levels decrease.

9. Fats Insulate & Protect

Fat controls the internal temperature of the body, ensuring you’re warmer in the winter. It also cushions vital organs like your kidneys, heart and the brain, protecting them from injury.

10. Fat is Needed for Healthy Skin

Skin cells are surrounded by layers of fat that help skin look plump and hydrated. Omega 3’s play a big role in providing the building blocks for healthy skin and lowering inflammation.

Incorporate more nourishing, fat-fueled dishes into your diet with these 15 Wholesome Recipes Packed with Healthy Fats

Despite healthy fats not being prominently featured in the new food guide, plenty of other promising updates were made. Here are the top 7 positive changes that should be celebrated:

● The food guide is now a plate (goodbye, rainbow cartoon food images!), which provides a great visual to understand what your plate and portion sizes should resemble.
● Veggies and fruits take up half the plate (a big win!) and they highlight a variety of rainbow coloured produce, from broccoli and berries to cabbage, spinach and peas.
● Meat and alternatives is now simply “protein”, showing that protein comes in many shapes and sizes and not just through animal products.
● Milk and alternatives was removed, which is now encompassed within protein, as there are many Canadians who can’t tolerate dairy.
● Grain products have become “whole grains”, focusing on those that are fibre-rich rather than refined.
● Water is highlighted as the beverage of choice.
● The guide focuses on eating habits: being mindful when you dine, deeply enjoying your food, sharing meals with others and cooking more often.

For a more in-depth look, see here for the 10 Biggest Dos and Don’ts From Canada’s Brand New Food Guide

Carrot Cake and Cheesecake Combine Into One Glorious Dessert

Moist carrot cake topped with rich cream cheese icing is one of life’s sweetest delights. Cheesecake just happens to be another. Here, we’ve created a super fun and easy dessert recipe that combines the two classic cakes. Squares of creamy cheesecake atop tender, spiced carrot cake will have you reaching for another taste – because when you’re offered two desserts in one, second helpings are encouraged.

Carrot Cake Cheesecake Squares

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour (plus cooling time)
Servings: 16 squares

Ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp allspice
¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt, divided
4 eggs, divided, room temperature
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup canola oil
1 cup grated carrots
2 tsp vanilla, divided
2 bricks (250 g each) cream cheese, room temperature
⅔ cup granulated sugar
⅓ cup sour cream, room temperature

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line with parchment so the paper comes up an inch above pan edges. Set aside.
2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, baking soda and ¼ tsp salt in a small bowl.
3. Whisk together two eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl. Add oil and whisk to combine. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Stir in carrots and 1 tsp vanilla. Spread mixture into prepared pan. Set aside.
4. Beat together cream cheese and granulated sugar in a large bowl with a hand mixer on high until well combined and fluffy, scraping down bowl occasionally. Add remaining eggs, one at a time, on low speed, scraping bowl between additions. Stir in sour cream along with remaining salt and vanilla.

5. Pour mixture gently over carrot mixture, spreading evenly to edges of pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the centre jiggles slightly when gently shaken.
6. Turn oven off and prop door ajar with a wooden spoon for 1 hour. 7. Remove pan to a wire rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
8. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Lift from pan by parchment edges and cut into squares to serve.
9. Tip: If you like your carrot cake with some crunch or tender sweetness, add a half cup of chopped walnuts or raisins with the carrots to add another dimension of taste and texture.

For more show-stopping dessert creations, learn to make this Spectacular Spring Carrot Cupcake Bouquet along with this Rhubarb Raspberry Cheesecake For Your Easter Table.

Top Chef Canada Season 7 Feature Image

Top Chef Canada is Back for a New Season — with a Never-Before-Seen Twist

Sharpen those knives and brush up on your culinary skills because Top Chef Canada’s Café kitchen is open for business. An all-new season of the Food Network Canada series—along with one pretty big twist—kicks off Monday, April 1 at 10 PM E/P.

Top Chef Canada Season 7

Joining returning host Eden Grinshpan, head judge Mark McEwan, and resident judges Chris Nuttall-Smith, Mijune Pak and Janet Zuccarini are some of the brightest culinary talents Canada has to offer. This season they’re lighting up the kitchen with some incredibly competitive challenges and cooks for panels of world-renowned chefs, all in a bid to win this year’s grand prize: a $100,000 cash prize from INTERAC, a design-inspired Café kitchen, a culinary tour of Italy for two from Air Transat, and $5,000 worth of Cuisinart products. Oh, and did we mention they’ll also join the select few to earn the coveted title of Canada’s Top Chef?

These contestants represent the culinary “coming of age” in the Canadian food scene and this year that includes several award-winning chefs, the first Quebec City representative, and some who have even studied under former Top Chef Canada winners. Given all that, we can’t think of anything more cutthroat or coming of age than one lemon of a twist.

This season, 11 chefs will enter the competition, but the coveted 12th slot is still up for grabs. And so in the show’s first-ever “cook-in” challenge, three chefs will cook for their lives.

Top-Chef-Canada-Season-7-Cast

No pressure or anything. Just whip up the best dish you’ve ever served. Yeah, we’re stressed out just thinking about all the delicious optics, but we also can’t wait for that kitchen to heat up.

For now, here’s a peek at the chefs putting it all on the line.

  • Tania Ganassini from Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON – Chef/co-founder of Staff Meal Niagara
  • Takeshi Horinoue from Montreal, QC – Chef/partner at Restaurant Park, Lavanderia, Café Bazin
  • Hayden Johnston from Toronto, ON – Chef de Cuisine at Richmond Station
  • Sebastien Laframboise from Quebec City, QC – Executive chef at District Saint-Joseph
  • Renee Lavallee from Dartmouth, NS – Chef/owner at The Canteen
  • Paul Moran from Tofino, BC – Executive chef at Tofino Resort + Marina
  • Dennis Peckham fromPort Moody, BC – Chef/owner at Fraice Sheet Foods
  • Phillip Scarfone from Vancouver, BC – Head chef, Nightingale
  • Erin Smith from Toronto, ON – Chef (on maternity leave)
  • Max Straczek from Vancouver, BC – Chef de Cuisine at Fable
  • Wallace Wong from Toronto, ON – The Six Pack Chef

Top-Chef-Canada-Season-7-Cook-Ins

And here are the three chefs ready to throw down for that coveted 12th spot:

  • Alexei Boldireff from Edmonton, AB – Head chef at Baijiu
  • Benet Hunt from Saskatoon, SK – Executive chef at Ayden Kitchen and Bar
  • Paul Kim from Toronto, ON – Chef/owner at Doma

It sounds to us like this season has all the ingredients for the most delicious run yet. We know we’ll be bringing our appetites.

This Healthy Ethiopian Breakfast Bowl Features Your New Favourite Grain

Need a delicious and healthy way to switch up your breakfast routine? This teff breakfast bowl is it! Inspired by my Ethiopian Canadian upbringing, it’s a tasty spin on the flavours of home. Teff is an ancient grain that is quintessential to Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine – it’s usually found in the traditional Ethiopian flatbread injera. This tiny grain is rich in minerals like manganese and iron. Plus, it’s packed with protein. In case you need a few more reasons to add it to your pantry, teff is also a great source of fibre and is naturally gluten-free.

This healthy breakfast bowl is flavoured with cinnamon, cloves and cardamom – all of the essential ingredients to Ethiopian tea. The spiced teff is topped with crisp pears, creamy almond butter and crunchy pecans that pair perfectly with the grain. Finally, it’s sweetened with Canadian maple syrup, so each spoonful is rich in flavour and texture.

Teff Breakfast Bowl


Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 3

Ingredients:

Teff Breakfast Bowl
1 cup teff grains (not the flour – unless you prefer a smoother texture)
2/3 cup water
2/3 cup almond milk
1 stick cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp cardamom

Toppings
1 1/2 pears, sliced
1/2 cup pecans
6 tsp maple syrup
3 Tbsp almond butter

Directions:

1. Add the teff, water, almond milk, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom to a pot and bring to a boil. Be sure to stir frequently. As it begins to thicken, turn the heat down and put a lid on the pot until it’s cooked all the way through. Tip: Use a rice cooker to guarantee a perfect batch every time.

2. Pour 1/3 of the teff mix into a bowl and remove the cloves, cinnamon and cardamom.

3. Top the teff bowl with half a thinly sliced pear, 1/3 of the pecans, 1 Tbsp almond butter and 2 tsp maple syrup.

4. Pour the remaining teff mix evenly into two bowls and repeat the topping steps listed above (or refrigerate and enjoy as two days’ worth of pre-made breakfast).

5. Grab a spoon and eat up!

Looking to expand your grain horizon further? Here are The 10 Healthiest Whole Grains and How to Cook Them.

Lasagna dish on a table

One Dish, Four Ways: Our Hosts Put Their Own Spin on a Classic Lasagna

Is there any dish more synonymous with comfort food than a good old fashioned lasagna? Fresh pasta, ooey gooey cheese, a rich sauce… It’s no wonder this dish is a fail-proof staple for beginner cooks and seasoned chefs alike. With the weather outside making us want to stay in and indulge, we’re thinking it’s time to gather around the table and put a spin on this classic meal. To get you inspired, we’ve lined up four irresistible variations on lasagna from our Food Network Canada hosts.

1. Anna Olson’s Roasted Vegetable Lasagna with Four Cheeses

This meatless recipe for roasted vegetable lasagna by Anna Olson, host of Fresh with Anna Olson, ups the ante on traditional lasagnas by including a four-cheese blend and delicious roasted carrots, parsnips and Roma tomatoes. You’ll be wondering how you ever managed with one-cheese recipes as you taste the distinct flavours of ricotta, Parmesan, Asiago, and Swiss Gruyere blended into a sauce and mixed with the vegetables between sheets of fresh lasagna.

2. Ree Drummond’s Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Plated lasagna dish

Chef and host of The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond offers up a delicious slow-cooker lasagna that’s heavy on flavor and light on prep work. A simple three-step recipe that has you combining your meat and cheese mixtures with layers of lasagna noodles (broken to fit your slow cooker), there’s little left to do but sit back in anticipation of this fool-proof dinner that’s sure to become a family favourite.

3. Giada De Laurentiis’ Spicy One-Skillet Lasagna

Lasagna in a skillet

Fans of easy-cook recipes will love this delicious one-skillet lasagna from Giada De Laurentiis of Giada Entertains. This recipe combines a medley of unexpected flavours ingredients like spicy Italian sausage, lemon zest and red pepper flakes to turn up the heat on this classic dish. With just one skillet needed to pull off this savoury spin on traditional lasagna, you’ll love the quick prep time – and easy clean-up!

4. Ina Garten’s Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

Portobello mushroom lasagna dish

Looking for a meatless lasagna recipe that doesn’t skimp on that hearty texture? Chef Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa has you covered with her Portobello mushroom lasagna . With rich ingredients like whole milk, butter, flour, Portobello mushrooms and Parmesan, this lasagna is every bit the indulgence you’d want from this classic dish, minus the meat.

Looking for more crowd-pleasing comfort food? Check out these must-try slow-cooker recipes and the cheese-stuffed recipes  that will have you drooling!