Anna Olson’s Canadian-Inspired Desserts Will Make Your Weekend

The days are long and languid, and I love lapping up every last drop by spending as much time outdoors as possible. Let your summer dinner party festivities linger on by setting up a Canadian-inspired dessert bar, so guests can help themselves (and return for seconds.)

A Festive Strawberry Shortcake Bar

June & July are strawberry season, so why not celebrate with this fresh red and white dessert — strawberry shortcake?  If you are into baking, you can bake off shortcake biscuits, then have bowls of sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries sliced and ready for assembling and serving.  You can even add a bowl of chards of crisp meringue to stir into the dessert, making an Eton Mess (and this also gives those going gluten-free an option!).

Farmhouse-Strawberry-Shortcake

Classic Farmhouse Strawberry Shortcake

Get the recipe: Classic Farmhouse Strawberry Shortcake

For more of a cake version, slices of angel food cake suit strawberries and cream.  Set a whole cake out on display as a centerpiece, but have slices of cake already paltered and ready to serve.

Anna-Olson-Strawberry-Shortcake-and-Trifle

L-R: Angel Food Cake with fresh fruit; Strawberry Shortcake Trifles

For a more formal setting, you can assemble individual strawberry trifles.  Arrange them on a dressed table and use quarts of fresh strawberries as décor.

A Classic Butter Tart Buffet

A Canadian classic, this is a fun dessert station to set up if you are hosting a party at the cottage.  We all love butter tarts, but there are heated debates over what should be inside a butter tart: Raisins? Walnuts? Pecans? Chocolate Chips? Bacon? Nothing? So in order to please everyone, I like to make a dessert station out of butter tarts, or even butter tart squares.

Take the Quiz: Which Butter Tart Matches Your Personality?

I make plain butter tarts or butter tart squares – a good non-stick pan really helps make extracting the tarts or squares easy, and I’ve put my muffin tin through the paces, testing them with butter tarts!

Butter Tart Buffet, photo courtesy of Janis Nicholay

Get the recipe: Anna’s Butter Tart Bars

After the tarts are made, I prepare bowls of our favourite butter tart add-ins, as well as scoops of ice cream and caramel and chocolate sauce. Each guest can grab a plate, place a butter tart on it and top it as they wish.  What I’ve learned over doing this just about every summer is that inevitably, each guest puts EVERYTHING on their butter tart!

See More: These Nanaimo Bar Popsicles are Everything You Need This Summer

 

The Anna Olson Kitchen collection of 48 items of bakeware, baking tools and decor tools are available exclusively at The Hudson’s Bay Company and www.thebay.com

Our New Favourite Dessert of the Summer: Nanaimo Bar Popsicles

The Nanaimo bar is one of those great Canadian desserts with a name that does not at all describe the deliciousness of what is actually in the bar itself (a sweet coconut and graham cracker base, topped with custard-flavoured buttercream and finished with a thin layer of chocolate ganache).

Well, skip the grocery store. We’re giving the humble Nanaimo bar a refreshing summer makeover just in time for Canada Day. This fudgy, creamy and decadent popsicle recipe consists of three main components that pay homage to the iconic dessert: a chocolate custard base studded with crushed graham cracker pieces and toasted coconut flakes, a vanilla custard centre and a dark chocolate drizzle.

Nanaimo Bar Popsicles

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 12 hours (includes freezing)
Servings: 6-8 bars (depending on size of popsicle mold)

Ingredients: 

Vanilla Custard Layer
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla

Chocolate Layer
1/3 cup (50 g) dark chocolate, chopped
Crushed graham crackers
Toasted coconut flakes

Chocolate Drizzle
1/3 cup (50g) dark chocolate, chopped
1 Tbsp coconut oil

Directions: 

1. Combine milk, cream and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes until it reaches a gentle simmer. Remove saucepan from heat.
2. Whisk egg yolks, cornstarch and vanilla in a heatproof bowl until well combined.
3. Slowly stream in the hot milk mixture over egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly.
4. Return mixture to saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 6-8 minutes or until custard thickens and coats the back of a metal spoon.
5. Once custard has thickened, transfer the custard into two separate bowls to cool, with 1/3 of the custard in one bowl and 2/3 of the custard in the other (we will be reserving the smaller portion for the chocolate layer).

6. While custard is cooling, place chopped dark chocolate for the chocolate layer over a double boiler. Once chocolate has melted, using a rubber spatula, fold the melted dark chocolate into the reserved smaller portion of the custard.
7. Allow custard to cool before transferring to popsicle molds. Place a piece of saran wrap directly on the custard to prevent a ‘skin’ from forming on top of the custard.

8. Once custard has cooled, transfer custard into popsicle molds. The vanilla custard layer goes in the mold first, taking up the majority of the mold. A thinner layer of chocolate custard goes on top of the vanilla layer.
9. Insert the popsicle sticks, cover and freeze overnight.

10. When popsicles are ready to be served, melt the remainder of the dark chocolate and add coconut oil to create the chocolate drizzle.
11. Drizzle unmolded popsicles with chocolate and sprinkle with crushed graham cracker and toasted coconut flakes. Serve immediately.

Can’t get enough of this Canadian sweet treat? We have 10 more tasty Nanaimo bar recipes that are calling your name, plus 50 red and white desserts to celebrate Canada Day.

Why Custom Catering is Becoming the Next Best Dining Experience

When it comes to food trends, 2019 has been all about consumers dictating which ingredients wind up on their plates – not to mention the cultivation of Instagram-worthy experiences. We’re demanding more healthy, sustainable farm-to-table options of our own choosing while also being given the opportunity to flaunt our food photography skills by capturing the latest crazes to emerge from the culinary world.

That’s where custom catering and grazing tables come in – merging big, diverse and beautiful displays that showcase our love of food with unique experiences you can enjoy with family and friends. From spectacular styling to high-quality ingredients (wave goodbye to processed meats!), these tables and platters make for a showstopping bespoke dining experience.

Aliza Devenyi, who co-owns Toronto’s cured.catering with Zoë Wisenberg, can attest to the high demand for photo-ready displays. “Most clients are concerned about the ‘wow’ factor,” she says, referring to the stunning table-sized charcuterie boards (pictured) she and Zoë specialize in. “Clients want an impressive, beautiful and, most importantly, delicious spread.”

According to a recent survey on millennial spending habits, more than 3 in 4 (78 per cent) said they would choose to spend their hard-earned cash on desirable experiences over material things. This pattern in spending habits is what economists are referring to as the “experience economy”, and its influence on food culture is undeniable – foodies need only look to the growing trends in farm-to-table options, custom catering and grazing tables for evidence.

“[They’re] not only a beautiful focal point for any party, but they provide a fun, interactive and customizable experience for guests,” Devenyi adds. “Gone are the days of stuffy dinner parties with complicated cuisines.”

A Visual Feast

For the uninitiated, a grazing table or supersized charcuterie board may resemble a traditional buffet at first – but instead of stacking a plate high with a limited selection of food, they instead allow guests to walk by, pop a bite-sized item into their mouths and keep mingling with the crowd. After all, nothing brings a group of people together quite like a table gorgeously styled with a rainbow assortment of drool-worthy foods to choose from.

And, as companies like cured.catering have proven, grazing tables or super-sized charcuterie boards are also genuine works of art. Even Pinterest is reporting that searches for grazing tables have skyrocketed by more than 163 per cent in the last year – and you can credit that surge in popularity to its Instagram-ready displays and communal experiences.

It also allows for customizing to suit a variety of dietary needs as people become more vocal about taking ownership of what’s on their plates.

With the growing number of dietary requirements, Devenyi and her business partner Wisenberg have had to get creative, sometimes crafting tables with a 50/50 balance of meat and vegetarian options. Think: prosciutto and honey paired with blue cheese (a personal favourite of hers) or something like vegan cashew “cheese” balls and thinly sliced veggies with nuts.

“We’ve noticed an increased demand in requests for offerings that cater to specific dietary needs, like gluten sensitivity, dairy-free and vegan,” she says. “We also have people asking for lighter options, such as more fruit and crudités.”

All of cured.catering’s creations are made up of locally-sourced produce, meats and specialty cheeses – something more foodies are taking note of when choosing where to spend their money.  As the business has developed, so too has its offerings, including all fruit or dessert tables – and candy tables for those with a major sweet tooth.

It’s apparent from rainbow bagels to epic spreads that people are eating with their eyes now more than ever before, with no signs of the trend abating anytime soon, including the ability to pick and choose how and what food you consume.

“Every bite has the power to be a different, transformative taste, which is why I think it’s so popular,” Devenyi says. “It’s not a plated meal, but rather … a way for guests to get creative and indulge in their hearts’ desires.”

All photos courtesy of cured.catering 

30-Minute Pasta with Green Garlic Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes

It’s always exciting when the farmers’ market stands start to show signs of spring and summer. Often, though, this produce doesn’t stick around for very long, so you need to take advantage when it’s available. One way of making spring last a little longer is to make pesto from some of the best seasonal offerings – in this case, green garlic (also known as young garlic that boasts a milder, more delicate flavour) but you can easily substitute for garlic scapes or ramps – then freeze to relish the flavours even when they’ve disappeared from the market.

The best thing about this recipe? Even though it features a few different components, if you multitask, it’s ready in about 30 minutes – leaving you more time to enjoy those lovely longer daylight hours we’re all so grateful for this time of year.

Spring Pasta with Green Garlic Pesto and Roasted Tomatoes

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients: 

Pasta
250g dried bucatini pasta

Roasted Tomatoes
3 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pesto
6-8 green garlic shoots
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated (approx.)
⅓ cup toasted pumpkin seeds
½ – ¾ cup olive oil
½ tsp salt

Assembly
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 400˚F.
2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and lay the tomatoes in a single layer on the tray.
3. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Roast the tomatoes for 15 minutes, remove from the oven and set aside.
5. While the tomatoes are roasting, prepare the pasta. Cook according to the directions on the package. Drain and set aside.
6. Make the pesto: Clean and trim the green garlic, and roughly chop.
7. Place the green garlic in a food processor with the Parmesan and the pumpkin seeds.
8. Start processing the mixture, slowly pouring in the oil until you reach your preferred consistency. Season to taste with salt.
9. Add approximately ½ cup of pesto to the pasta, using tongs to toss so the pasta is completely coated. Season with flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
10. Divide the pasta between four bowls, and top with the roasted tomatoes. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

Notes:
● This makes approximately 1 cup of pesto, which is more than you’ll need for this recipe.
● If you won’t use the pesto immediately, place it in the fridge with a piece of plastic wrap touching the surface. You can also freeze the pesto for up to 2 months (in ice cube trays for convenient portioning!)

Looking for more easy and ultra-satisfying pasta recipes for spring? This 15-minute three-cheese pasta with peas is a seasonal must-make. We’ve also rounded up 25 spring dinners ready in 30 minutes or less.

Grilled Chili Corn with Coconut Lime Cream

Eating grilled corn straight off the BBQ in the summer sun is one of life’s greatest (and tastiest!) pleasures, but how about dressing things up a little with a coconut-lime cream sauce, some chili butter and fresh cilantro. To celebrate National Corn on the Cob Day (June 11), we suggest you take your cobs up a notch with this simple and delicious recipe.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Makes: 6 servings

Grilled Chili Corn with Coconut Lime Cream

Ingredients:

Coconut Lime Cream:
1 Tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp minced shallot
¼ tsp cumin
1 cup canned full fat coconut milk
1 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp pickled jalapeno brine (for extra spice add 1 Tbsp finely minced fresh or pickled jalapeno)
2 tsp arrowroot flour
2 tsp water
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Corn:
6 cobs of corn, husks and silks removed
4 Tbsp vegan butter (melted)
½ tsp chili powder
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:
1. In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, sauté garlic, shallot and cumin in coconut oil for 2 minutes stirring constantly. If using minced fresh or pickled jalapenos, add in with these ingredients.
2. Add coconut milk, lime juice, sea salt and pickled jalapeno brine, and bring up heat to medium to simmer the mixture. Whisk frequently.
3. Once at a simmer, mix arrowroot flour with water in a small bowl and add to the coconut sauce. Whisk constantly for 8 minutes until thickened, and then remove from heat.
4. When you’re ready to grill corn, melt vegan butter and stir in chili powder.
5. Brush the corn with this chili butter once it hits the grill. Baste one or two more times while you grill them on the barbecue for approximately 25 minutes.
6. Serve each corn on the cob with a generous drizzle of coconut lime cream and fresh chopped cilantro on top.

Note: You can prepare the coconut lime cream sauce in advance and refrigerate until you serve the corn. It will thicken even more.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Big Food Bucket List Burgers

The Best Burgers: John Catucci’s Picks for 2019

With a job that takes him to some of the best spots and hidden gem restaurants across North America in search of crave-worthy dishes, John Catucci knows what it takes for a burger to be great.

In the first season of Big Food Bucket List, he gets to explore fresh and unusual takes — from a sweet and savoury version using a classic Chinese snack to a place that glazes their bacon strips with yellow mustard — to more standard versions of the beloved hamburger.

The only thing Catucci’s favourite burgers have in common? They all feature a beef patty (or several) on some sort of bun. Beyond that, only the chef’s creativity is the limit — even if it’s a version that honours the burger in its most classic form.

At Hamilton’s Hambrgr, the burger patties are made from a mix of chuck and inside round beef cuts, giving them a lot of juice and flavour. That signature mix is formed into a ball before it gets smashed against the sizzling hot flat-top grill, causing a Maillard reaction — similar to caramelization — that creates a golden crust. Those patties are paired with slices of bacon slathered with standard yellow mustard before they’re grilled on the flat top — adding an extra level of tang to the meaty #Hamont creation.

See more: The Best Burgers from You Gotta Eat Here!

Hamont Burger Hamburgr
The #HAMONT Burger

Burgers cooked on a flat top, especially with processed cheese, have a flavour that just can’t be recreated, says Catucci.

“There’s something about that thin, flat, smashed Maillard effect… and the processed cheese that works so perfectly. It’s everything you want in a burger,” says Catucci.

But, for nostalgia’s sake, Catucci likes a good charbroiled version.

“It reminds me of the burger place my parents would take me to as a kid. That’s the flavour of childhood.”

See More: Big Food Bucket List Restaurant Locator

Hodad’s in San Diego comes by their relatively classic take on a burger honestly. Now owned by the third generation of the same family, this spot has been dishing up burgers for decades. But that doesn’t mean they haven’t done some tinkering. Forget slices of bacon, Hodad’s creates a patty from the salty pork to slide between their smashed beef patties — however many you’d like.

Hodad's Burger
Hodad’s Double Bacon Cheeseburger

“It’s a delicious mess,” says Catucci. “Your shirt is going to be ruined, but you’re going to be happy.”

When it comes to burger toppings, Catucci goes for the standards: lettuce, tomato, mustard and relish. But he appreciates a burger that goes off the beaten path for condiments. There is no rivalry between classic and inventive for the Bucket List host — all burgers are welcome.

That’s one of the reasons why Catucci likes what Patois in Toronto is doing.

At this spot, known for bringing foods and flavours from different cultures together, the burger veers from any classic version. First, there’s no ordinary mayo spread on their signature Chinese Pineapple Bun Burger, it’s oyster mayo. And the smashed patty is topped with not just lettuce and tomato, but a handful of smoky potato sticks for salty crunch. What really sets this burger apart, though, is a sweet Chinese pineapple bun takes the place of a regular version, creating a salty-sweet concoction.

Patois Chinese Bun Burger
Patois’ Chinese Pineapple Bun Burger

“It almost tastes like steak,” says Catucci. “It’s unlike any other burger I’ve had.”

Meanwhile, at Saltie Girl in Boston, MA, traditional bacon is replaced with a slab of golden-crusted pork belly for their namesake burger, which also eschews American cheese for gruyere and gets a spicy kick from their ‘Angry Sauce’ spiked with sriracha.

No smashing here, the fist-sized patty is cooked in cast iron to get a nice crust and the whole thing is capped off with deep-fried chunks of lobster.


Saltie Girl Burger

It’s juicy patty and size leaves Catucci needing more than one napkin.

“It’s a complete mess of a burger, but that’s part of what makes it a bucket list, he says.”

While the burgers on this round of Big Food Bucket List are generally beef based, Catucci says he’s enjoyed several veggie or vegan burgers in his travels and he hopes to see even more in the near future as restaurants expand their offerings.

“It’s amazing what you can do (with veggie burgers),” he says, noting there is still an appetite for vegetable versions that echo of their meaty counterparts. (The Beyond Meat version, for example, is making serious inroads.)

“I’m hoping if there’s another season, I’ll get to eat more of those, for sure.”

Watch Big Food Bucket List Fridays at 9 PM and 9:30 PM ET.

Your New Favourite Summer Sheet-Pan Supper: Citrus Rainbow Trout

When it comes to sheet-pan dinners, you might think simple seasoning, but this seafood-forward recipe proves otherwise. Although it’s a cinch to whip up (read: 25 minutes total) you won’t miss out on the complexity of flavour that more labour-intensive meals tend to offer. Sweet and tart citrus fruits together with sprigs of fresh herbs like thyme and dill come together to create a show-stopping summer supper. You’ll get your daily dose of leafy green veggies, too, with both broccolini and baby bok choy starring in the dish. Plus, it’s packed with protein and is paleo-approved, not to mention the final presentation looks mighty impressive – hello, summer dinner parties!

25-Minute Citrus Rainbow Trout Sheet-Pan Supper

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

¾ lb filet of rainbow trout
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
½ an orange, sliced in thin discs
½ a lemon, sliced in thin discs
½ a grapefruit, sliced in thin discs
Handful of fresh thyme sprigs
1 bunch of broccolini
2 baby bok choy

Marinade
1 Tbsp shallot, chopped
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2.5 Tbsp orange juice, from fresh orange
1 Tbsp lemon juice, from fresh lemon
1 Tbsp fresh chives, chopped roughly
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Garnishes
4 sprigs of fresh dill
Handful of chopped chives

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Rinse off the orange, lemon, grapefruit, broccolini and bok choy.
2. Slice the orange, lemon and grapefruit in half. Set aside one half of each (these will be used for the marinade). Then carefully slice the other halves in thin discs.
3. Trim off the tough ends of the broccolini, and cut off the bottoms of the bok choy so the leaves separate. Be sure to clean all the dirt off the bok choy leaves.

4. Combine the marinade ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor and blend until the shallot and chives are chopped into smaller pieces.
5. Place the broccolini and baby bok choy in a mixing bowl, and drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over top, along with sea salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables with your hands to evenly coat in oil.
6. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and place the piece of trout skin-side down in the centre. Place the broccolini and baby bok choy leaves around the fish.
7. Drizzle the marinade over top of the trout. It’s okay if some liquid drips off the fish and onto the vegetables.
8. Place the slices of orange, lemon and grapefruit on top of the fish and then add several sprigs of fresh thyme.
9. Bake for 15 minutes. Once the fish is ready, sprinkle chopped chives and sprigs of fresh dill over top before serving.

When time is limited, sheet-pan meals come in abundance, and we’ve got you covered no matter the time of day. We’ve rounded up our best one-pan recipes for hearty dinners, breakfasts, desserts and even seasonal for spring.

How to Make 5-Ingredient Strawberry Chia Frozen Yogurt Pops

Luxuriously creamy and speckled with chia seeds, our modern-day superfood, this frozen treat allows for more than the odd after-dinner sweet course. No electronic gadget is required, just a bit of muscle to muddle the strawberries for texture,  ensuring intense flavour in every bite. Make this healthy version and dip it into granola for a refreshing breakfast and snack option, or drizzle with honey and coat with chopped peanuts for a PB&J throwback.

5-Ingredient Strawberry Chia Frozen Yogurt Pops

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Freeze Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours and 10 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
1 cup hulled, finely chopped strawberries, divided
3 Tbsp liquid honey
2 cups Balkan-style plain yogurt or 2% Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp chia seeds
2 tsp vanilla
chia seed garnish (optional)
6 popsicle sticks

Directions:
1. In a bowl, using a fork, mash 1/3 cup of the strawberries. Add honey and mash to soften. Stir in yogurt, chia seeds and vanilla.

2. Spoon and divide yogurt mixture into moulds, tapping on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Sprinkle with more chia seeds on top (if using) and insert popsicle sticks.

3. Freeze until solid, 3 to 4 hours. To remove from mould, dip casing into cup of warm water to loosen yogurt pop.

Tip: For a fun decorative look, slice one strawberry. Fill moulds halfway and slide a slice directly on wall; top with remaining yogurt mixture.

Your love for this vibrant seasonal fruit doesn’t have to stop here. We’ve rounded up our 50 best strawberry desserts for summer. You can also keep cool with these 40+ no-bake sweets to make this season.

Introducing STACKTV: All of Your Favourite Networks Available Through Amazon Prime Video Channels

Canadian Amazon Prime members better clear their schedules; in partnership with Corus Entertainment, newly launched STACKTV features 12 top tier networks, live and on-demand, on Prime Video Channels. (Hello, stay-cation itinerary!)

Food Network Canada, HGTV Canada, Slice, Global, HISTORY®, W Network, Adult Swim, Showcase, National Geographic, Teletoon, Treehouse, and YTV are now available for Prime members in Canada. Now it’s even easier to watch your favourite Food Network Canada shows, like Top Chef Canada and Chopped, and the newly premiered Big Food Bucket List.

Prime Video Channels can be accessed through the existing Prime Video app, making it easy to watch your favourite Food Network Canada shows anytime, and anywhere, on smart TVs, iOS and Android mobile devices.

STACKTV will be available to Amazon Prime members in Canada for an additional $12.99 per month.

For more information on STACKTV, visit www.primevideo.com/stacktv.

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