Meet Your New Favourite Summer Side: Grilled Za’atar Carrots with Halloumi & Mint

Carrots may seem like an odd veggie to toss on the BBQ, especially compared to their common counterparts like zucchini, onion and eggplant – but, let us assure you that you will be changed after biting into a grilled carrot. Sweet, vaguely crunchy and smoky is the name of the game; you’ll be wondering why you haven’t been grilling these slender, flavourful veggies for years. Pairing them with salty halloumi, fresh mint and a quick hit of drizzled honey and za’atar will transport you straight to the Mediterranean.  

Grilled Za’atar Carrots with Halloumi & Mint

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb medium sized carrots, halved
½ package halloumi, cut into ½ inch slices
3 Tbsp avocado oil
1 heaping tsp za’atar spice
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp honey
½ cup fresh mint leaves

Directions:

1. Slice carrots in half, and cut the halloumi into ½ thick pieces. Place them in a bowl with avocado oil, za’atar, sea salt and pepper.
2. Turn on the BBQ to medium-high and place the carrots on the grill (don’t put the halloumi on the grill just yet). Turn the carrots every few minutes so they develop the char lines and start to soften on the inside. They should take between 15-20 minutes to cook through. At the 10 minute mark, or when the carrots look like they only need 10 more minutes to cook, place the halloumi on the grill and cook for 3-5 minutes per side.

3. Take everything off the grill and place it on a serving dish, drizzle with additional extra-virgin olive oil and honey, then top with fresh mint leaves.

Keep your BBQ veg game going strong with these 3 grilled veggie “steak” recipes (read: broccoli, sweet potato and cabbage). Each one is paired with a memorable, flavour-rich marinade, too.

Middle Eastern Halva Ice Cream Cake with a Waffle Cone Crust

Halva (halawa) is a bitter-sweet Middle Eastern tahini confection with the rich flavours of sesame seeds and vanilla, sometimes jazzed up with rose water, pistachios, almonds, melted chocolate and more. Its crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture makes it the ultimate addition to this sophisticated ice cream pie with a buttery waffle cone and oat crust.

The gently bitter notes of the halva, along with a few generous pinches of salt in the recipe’s crust and chocolate topping, balance this dessert’s sweetness for a sliceable ice cream cone that both adults and children will love.

Find halva in Middle Eastern grocery stores, in most international sections of large supermarkets or online.

Middle Eastern Halva and Chocolate Ice Cream Cone Cake

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chill Time: 7 hours
Total Time: 7 hours 20 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Halva Ice Cream Filling
1.5L vanilla ice cream
400g (from a 454g pkg) halva, any flavour, roughly chopped, divided  

Waffle Cone Crust
1 (199g) box waffle cones (approx. 8 large cones)
½ cup rolled oats
½ unsalted butter, melted
¼ tsp fine-grain salt

Chocolate Shell
125g dark chocolate, chopped
2 Tbsp coconut oil
⅛ tsp fine-grain salt

Directions:

Waffle Cone Crust
1. Remove ice cream from freezer and allow to soften slightly (not melt) while you prepare the crust.
2. Line an 8- or 9-inch springform pan with a round of parchment paper on the bottom.
3. Break up waffle cones into a food processor. Add oats and pulverize until finely ground. Add melted butter and salt and blend until combined.
4. Press waffle cone mixture into the prepared springform pan and freeze while you prepare the filling.

Halva Ice Cream Filling
1. Working quickly, in a stand-mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon, mix ice cream until soft enough (but not melted) to fold in two-thirds of the chopped halva.

2. Remove crust from the freezer and spread ice cream mixture on top, smoothing out. Transfer back to the freezer and freeze until firm, about 3 hours, before working on the chocolate topping.

Chocolate Shell and Serving
1. While making the chocolate shell, remove the ice cream cake from the freezer.
2. For the chocolate shell, in a small saucepan over low heat, melt chocolate, coconut oil and salt until liquefied.
3. When the springform pan has warmed enough to release, unhinge the pan and then place cake on a plate that you can fit in your freezer.
4. Working quickly, pour or drizzle over chocolate shell in a rustic pattern, allowing some of the chocolate to drip off the sides.

5. Before the chocolate sets, dot the top with the remaining one-third of the halva pieces.
6. Transfer to the freezer and freeze until very firm, about 4 hours. If not eating immediately, wrap frozen cake in foil to avoid freezer burn and store for up to 2 weeks.
7. To serve, slice cake using a very sharp chef’s knife and place on serving plates. Serve immediately.

Don’t stop there. We’ve rounded up 15 healthy Middle Eastern recipes you’ll make on repeat along with the top 10 Middle Eastern restaurants in Toronto right now.

Late Night Eat Toronto

The 10 Best Late Night Eats in Toronto

It’s hard for restaurant-goers to go hungry in Toronto, where the array of plates fused from countries all over the world is serious business. But that’s during regular dinner service hours. What about the joints that are perpetually open late for those of us seeking out delicious options (and maybe even a cocktail or two) until the wee hours of the morning?

As host Jordan Andino proves on the Toronto episode of Late Nite Eats, The Six is revolutionizing the after-hours dining scene in some pretty delicious ways. Here are 10 of our picks for the best after-hours joints the city has to offer.

Bar Fancy

1070 Queen St. W

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by BAR FANCY TORONTO (@barfancyto) on

If you’re craving classic bar snacks, head over to this Queen West spot, where chefs and co-owners Jonathan Poon and Jesse Fader dish out oysters and fried chicken alongside nori-topped artichoke dip and dirty nachos. The joint is open until 2 a.m. daily, and serves an array of beer and wines as well as mixed drinks by request.

Bar Raval

505 College St.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Bar Raval (@bar_raval) on

Big atmosphere and small plates are the themes of this Barcelona-inspired pinxto bar in Little Italy, where a curved wooden bar and an impressive peek-through bar rail adorn the intimate space. There, Grant Van Gameren and Robin Goodfellow dish out crafty cocktails and memorable toothpick-tapas, like house-smoked fish, a variety of cured meats and cheeses, and tiny sandwiches on fresh bread until 2 a.m.

Night Owl

647 College St.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Nightowl (@nightowlto) on

Another Little Italy joint, this two-floor space features live music, arcade games, and an array of illuminated signs to keep the eye wandering until the last call at 2 a.m. There are boozy floats and hand-crafted cocktails to help wash down the rotating menu of elevated bar food, like shawarma poutine, juicy cheeseburgers, or spicy fried cauliflower doused in sauce and adorned with pickled onions and cabbage.

Chantecler

1320 Queen St W

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Chantecler (@chanteclerto) on

Steak tartare, smoked duck breast, chicken paté, and other classic French fare comprise the menu of this long-standing Parkdale haunt, which is open until 2 a.m. six days a week (although owner Jacob Wharton-Shukster closes down shop on Wednesdays). Add in a friendly atmosphere and an impressive cocktail menu with items like the gin-soaked “Corpse Reviver #2” or “Lady Problems,” a concoction of sherry, Cocchi Americano, green chartreuse and absinthe, and you can see why this place has become a neighbourhood staple.

Petit Potato

Unit 1-2, 10 Ravel Rd

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Petit Potato 大有名糖(@petitpotatotoronto) on

Tawainese and Japanese foods fuse together at this late-night joint, which is open daily until 1 a.m. There, crispy chicken wings are tossed in Yuzu sauce, creamy Japanese omelettes are topped with thick pork cutlets, and an array of ramen dishes keep patrons happy and full. But the real feat here are the desserts. If you have a sweet tooth, the ice cream stacked toasts and pancake soufflés are sure to impress.

Baro

485 King St. W

Whether you’re in the mood for a tasty snack or a full-on meal, this King West eatery’s Latin menu of modernized classics has you covered. Chef Steve Gonzales keeps his upstairs dining area, “Pablo’s Snack House,” open until 2 a.m. from Wednesday to Saturdays, where he serves shareables like yuca fries and empanadas, hand-held fare like braised chicken sliders and pork belly on steamed buns, or desserts like churros and flan.

Oddseoul

90 Ossington Ave.

Brothers and co-owners Leeto and Leemo Han deliver an array of Korean small plates and imaginative cocktails until 2 a.m. six days a week, closing down to reset each Sunday. Settle in among the exposed brick walls and 90s relics of this snackbar to enjoy items like Buffalo Fried Tofu, Tempura Prawns, Squash Poutine, Tempura Chicken with Devilled Eggs, or Kimchi + Pork Belly Fried Rice.

416 Snack Bar

181 Bathurst St

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by we keeps it real snacky (@416snackbar) on

Former Top Chef Canada: All Stars runner-up Dustin Gallagher helms the late-night menu at this affordable but delicious eatery, which serves patrons until 2 a.m. daily. There’s no cutlery to accompany the many snacks on the rotating menu, but when you’re dishing out items like tandoori heirlooms, falafel doubledowns or steak tartare on lettuce hearts, half the fun is eating with your hands anyhow.

LoPan

503 College St.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by DaiLo: New-Asian Cuisine (@dailoto) on

If you’re hungry for the delectable new Asian offerings of popular TO resto DaiLo but you’re also in the mood for American comfort food, take a jaunt upstairs to this fusion spot, which is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. daily. There you can sip on sours while snacking on items like KFC Popcorn Tofu with a Green Curry Slaw, a Big Mac Bao, or truffle fried rice.

Pinky’s Ca Phe

53 Clinton St.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by TORONTO x GTA foodie ????(@cindysfood) on

Executive chef Leemo Han concocts mouth-watering Vietnamese fusion food with a Philly flair at this Little Italy establishment, which is open from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., Monday to Saturday. The dimly lit space is full of 1970s Vietnamese personality, from string lanterns and a heated sunroom, to the vintage photos adorning the walls. The drinks are thought-out and feature signature items like the house raspberry syrup, while the small-but-impressive menu of items like Marrow Beef, French Dip and Tiger’s Milk Ceviche will have you coming back for more… and more… and more.

 

Watch Late Nite Eats Fridays at 10 PM E/T on Food Network Canada.

 

The 3 Best Grilled Veggie “Steaks” You’ll Ever Make (With Epic Marinades)

We’re in the heat of grilling season, with steaks and all their fine marinades sizzling on BBQs everywhere. But if you’re looking for a plant-based alternative (that’s not a veggie burger), hearty, meatier vegetables can take on the form of steak and be the star of the plate, too! Cabbage wedges with a maple balsamic drizzle, broccoli coated in dukkah and the tastiest garlic sweet potatoes are about to shake up your preconceived notions about grilling, one taste explosion at a time.

Grilled Cabbage Steaks with Maple Mustard Balsamic Drizzle

Mostly reserved for slaws and salads, cabbage is often a forgotten BBQ gem. Slicing it up into vegan “steaks” and placing it on the grill helps turn this bitter veggie into something sweet and smoky. The combo of maple, mustard and balsamic is a versatile sauce that transitions from wintry roasts to this summery drizzle, elevating the sweetness of the cabbage and adding a hit of acidity. Top with fresh basil leaves so every bite encompasses something crunchy and sweet; even better if the basil is picked from your own herb supply.

Ingredients:

Cabbage Steaks
1 small head of purple cabbage
1 Tbsp avocado oil
½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp granulated garlic
Pinch of pepper
5-10 fresh basil leaves

Drizzle
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard or Dijon
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Cut the cabbage into wedges by slicing it in half lengthwise, and then slice those pieces in half, so you’re left with 4 wedges. Keep the core intact.
2. Place the cabbage in a large bowl or tray and season with avocado oil, sea salt, granulated garlic and pepper.
3. Fire up your grill to medium-high, place the wedges on and flip every 5-7 minutes so each side comes into contact with the grill and becomes slightly charred and softened.
4. Cook for a total of 15-20 minutes, and if the cabbage begins charring too much, move it off the flame and into an area of indirect heat.
5. While the cabbage is grilling, whisk together your drizzle in a small bowl.
6. Take the cabbage off the grill when tender, crispy and browned, allowing it to cool for 5 minutes, then drizzle the maple-mustard balsamic on top.
7. Tear up a few fresh basil leaves, and scatter over the dish for vibrancy and freshness.

Grilled Broccoli Steaks with Dukkah

In the last few years, people have obsessively grilled cauliflower “steaks”, but broccoli is overlooked as an equally grill-worthy veg. Like all veggies that are BBQ’d, broccoli softens, sweetens and becomes deliciously smoky. This Middle Eastern inspired dish places the broccoli on a delicious puddle of tahini sauce, before being topped with one of our favourite Egyptian spices: dukkah. The aromatic blend is a collection of toasted and crushed nuts, seeds and spices that provide texture, bite and important seasoning.

Ingredients:

Broccoli Steaks
1 broccoli bunch
1 Tbsp avocado oil
¼ tsp sea salt
½ tsp granulated garlic
Pinch of pepper
2-3 Tbsp dukkah spice (store-bought or homemade)

Tahini Lemon Sauce
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp water
Pinch sea salt

Directions:
1. Slice the broccoli into large florets or steaks (so they don’t fall between the cracks of the grill), peel the stalk and slice them in half.
2. Place the broccoli in a bowl and season with avocado oil, sea salt, granulated garlic and pepper.
3. Turn the BBQ on medium-heat, place the broccoli florets and stalks on the grill. Every few minutes, flip the broccoli so each piece is cooked through and lightly charred (tongs work best). If broccoli is getting too browned, transfer the florets to an area of indirect heat.
4. While the broccoli is cooking, quickly prepare the tahini sauce. Once combined, pour it onto a plate and spread it out with the back of a spoon.
5. Place the grilled broccoli on the sauce, then sprinkle dukkah on top of the broccoli.

Grilled Sweet Potato Steaks with Cilantro Garlic Drizzle

How do you turn a root veggie into a summery dish? Grill it and smother it in fresh cilantro! This is a simple weekend BBQ recipe, since sweet potato wedges are always a crowd-pleaser. What makes it stand out from your typical roasted or deep fried wedge-variety is the smoky char marks that you simply can’t achieve from any other cooking method. BBQing veggies really does add so much flavour without doing much by way of seasoning. The cilantro-garlic drizzle that embellishes the dish is sort of like a gremolata, an Italian herb condiment, that just adds so much freshness from lemon, lemon zest and herbs. If cilantro is really not your jam, simply swap it for an herb you prefer like mint, basil or parsley.

Ingredients:

Sweet Potato Steaks
3 sweet potatoes
2 Tbsp avocado oil
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Drizzle
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp lemon zest
Pinch sea salt

Directions:

1. Slice the sweet potatoes into wedges – do this by cutting them in half lengthwise, and then slice the halves on a bias.
2. Mix the sweet potatoes with avocado oil, sea salt and pepper.
3. Place the sweet potatoes on a grill that’s on medium-high heat, allowing the wedges to cook about 5-7 minutes per side, then flip and cook for another 5-7 minutes. You should begin see grill marks, and the wedges should be soft on the inside.
4. As they’re cooking, whisk together the cilantro-garlic drizzle.
5. Place the wedges on a large plate and dollop the drizzle over top.

Don’t let your grill game stop there. Here are 20 vegan bbq recipes that pack a flavour punch, and 3 vibrant vegetarian dinners that make lemon the star.

The Best Keto Protein Bar Recipe That Totally Beats Store-Bought

Loaded with peanuts, peanut butter, eggs and butter, this decadent tasting keto protein bar is truly superior to anything you’ll find in a package. The base takes cues from a peanut butter cookie, baked until firm and chilled, then topped with a peanut caramel. Dark chocolate and more peanuts top things off before being frozen until set – but you can enjoy them room temperature if you’re on the go. Satisfy your sweet tooth and fill up on protein and fat with these rich treats!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Caramel Keto Protein Bars

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake and Cook Time: 40 minutes
Chill Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours (including chill time)
Makes: 15 to 20 bars

Ingredients:

Peanut Butter Cookie Base
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup natural peanut butter
⅔ cup granulated keto sugar (allulose or xylitol)
2 large eggs
½ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
¼ cup coconut flour
¾ tsp salt

Peanut Caramel
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup granulated keto sweetener (allulose or xylitol)
½ cup heavy whipping cream (35%)
1 tsp blackstrap molasses
½ tsp salt
½ tsp vanilla extract
⅓ cup roasted unsalted peanuts

Chocolate Peanut Topping
1 cup chopped dark chocolate (99% for lowest sugar content, if possible), melted
⅓ cup roasted unsalted peanuts
Salt, to taste  

Directions:

Peanut Butter Cookie Base
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line an 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, leaving overhang for easy removal.
2. In a large bowl, mix to combine butter with peanut butter. Mix in sugar and eggs, one at a time and beat until smooth. Mix in peanuts, coconut flour and salt until combined and then evenly spread into the prepared pan.
3. Bake for 25 minutes, until dry to the touch on top and set around the edges. Cool to room temperature, then freeze for 1 hour or refrigerate for 3 hours. Meanwhile, prepare the caramel.

Peanut Caramel
1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat and continue to cook until browned, about 5 minutes (this adds additional flavour and colour). Whisk in the sweetener, cream, molasses and salt. Without stirring, cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until thickened.
2. Remove from heat and stir in peanuts and vanilla. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and cool to room temperature. Both the cookie base and caramel need to be chilled and/or kept at room temperature, otherwise the caramel will soak too far into the cookie base.
3. Once the caramel has cooled to room temperature, remove the chilled peanut butter cookie base from the freezer or refrigerator. Spread peanut caramel evenly over peanut butter cookie base and freeze for 1 hour, until caramel is firm.

Chocolate Peanut Topping and Serving
1. Slice chilled cookie base into thirds and from there, slice each third into whichever size you prefer to make about 15 to 20 bars.
2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and spread out the bars evenly. Drizzle with melted chocolate before it sets, then top with peanuts and salt to taste.
3. Freeze until chocolate is set, about 30 minutes, and enjoy. Store leftover bars airtight in the freezer for up to 2 months or refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Don’t let your cooking streak stop there! We’ve compiled 14 tasty keto-friendly snack recipes, along with the easiest keto dinners to make this week. Heading out for dinner instead? Don’t sweat it. Here’s what to order at a restaurant if you’re on the keto diet.

Anna Olson’s Quick Guide to Ingredient Substitutions

You’re all set to make your favourite cake recipe and you suddenly realize you’re out of a key ingredient. Don’t fret; there are many quick-fix replacements or substitutions (and even a few vegan baking hacks!) that will save you from running out to the grocery store for just one thing.

Please note that this list is not for those ingredients when adapting to allergy sensitivities to wheat, dairy and egg or those following a gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan diet. Check out these videos on replacing dairy and baking without wheat flour or this video with tips for making flourless pies and tarts.

888_red-velvet-cake

1. Cake and Pastry Flour
Not everyone has this in their pantry, but don’t let that stop you. For every 1 cup of cake or pastry flour, measure out 1 cup of all-purpose flour, spoon out 2 Tbsp of that flour, replace it with 2 Tbsp of cornstarch and then sift. Your cakes and cookies will be just as tender and delicate as if you used the real thing.

Alternatively, try Anna Olson’s recipe for Red Velvet Cake where she uses all-purpose flour instead of cake or pastry flour.

2. Unsweetened Chocolate
Most bakers have a stash of good semisweet chocolate in the cupboard, but not always unsweetened. To replace 1 oz (1 square) of unsweetened chocolate, stir 3 Tbsp of cocoa powder with 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil.

No unsweetened chocolate, no problem. Try Anna Olson’s recipe for Classic Devil’s Food Cake where she uses cocoa powder and brewed coffee to replace the rich flavour of unsweetened chocolate.

3. Buttermilk
This has to be the most common substitution considering most people probably wouldn’t buy a litre of buttermilk for a recipe that calls for just ½ cup. Though real buttermilk is preferred, you can replace every 1 cup called for in a recipe with 1 cup of 1% or 2% milk mixed with 2 tsp of lemon juice or vinegar.

Since I do prefer using real buttermilk in baking, I use any leftovers to make low-fat ranch dressing, in pancake or crêpe batter, or use it to marinate pork chops or chicken, before coating in the meat in breadcrumbs and baking.

Try Anna Olson’s recipe for Chilled Corn, Peach and Basil Buttermilk Soup

4. Egg Whites
Using the liquid from a tin of chickpeas can replace egg whites when whipped for a muffin, waffle or another quick bread recipe. I recommend using low-sodium chickpeas. On the flavour side, I do find this an ideal option in recipes with a robust flavour profile: anything with spices, or fruit as lead tastes, otherwise you might notice the hint of chickpea flavour of this add-in.

Try Anna Olson’s recipe for White Chocolate Cranberry Mousse Tart

5. Brown Sugar
It’s time to make oatmeal cookies and you open your brown sugar container only to find the sugar is a solid rock. No fear, you can replace 1 cup of brown sugar with 1 cup of granulated sugar plus 1 Tbsp of molasses.

Try Anna Olson’s recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Sandwich Cookies

6. Nuts
If you’re baking without using nuts, there are some substitutes you can try. Whether you’re baking for someone with an allergy, or just don’t have them on hand, don’t fret about replacing nuts with these tips.

See more: Anna Olson’s Best Tips for Assembling and Icing Cakes

These 30-Minute Gochujang Korean Chicken Skewers Are Straight-Up Delicious

Sweet and sticky with chili heat: Gochujang chicken skewers are a popular street food in South Korea, and you may become an instant convert with this quick and easy grilling sauce. Switch things up and brush the homemade sauce on grilled beef, pork, firm tofu or mushrooms – the applications are endless.

Gochujang Glazed Korean Chicken Skewers with Quick Cucumber Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes (includes marinating time)
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes (includes soaking skewers)
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Chicken Skewers
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut in 1 1/2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp white vinegar or cider vinegar
4 tsp canola oil
1 Tbsp sodium-reduced soy sauce
½ tsp each salt and pepper
6 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces
¼ tsp toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Gochujang Sauce
4 Tbsp gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp sodium-reduced soy sauce
1 Tbsp white vinegar or cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced

Cucumber Salad
2 baby cucumbers, cut into thin coins
¼ English cucumber, cut into thin coins

Directions:

1. Soak 8 wooden skewers in a pan of hot water for 15 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine chicken, vinegar, oil, soy sauce, salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes, stirring a few times.
3. Preheat grill over medium heat. Grease grill.
4. Gochujang Sauce: In a small bowl, stir together gochujang, honey, sesame oil, soy sauce, vinegar and minced garlic until smooth.

5. Reserve 2 Tbsp of Gochujang Sauce, and mix into bowl of cucumbers for a quick cucumber salad.
6. Alternately thread chicken and green onions onto skewers.

7. Cook chicken skewers in closed grill, turning once and brushing with remaining Gochujang Sauce halfway through until juices run clear when chicken is pierced, about 10 minutes.
8. Brush with remaining sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.

Tip: Gochujang or Korean hot pepper paste is made of fermented soybeans, glutinous rice and sweeteners. Often referred to as the backbone of Korean cooking, this shelf-stable ingredient can be found in Asian grocery stores or on Amazon. Look for the number of chilies on the package to find the right heat for your taste, 1 chili for mild and 3-5 for medium to spicy.

For more inspiration, check out our 25 most popular skewer recipes for summer grilling, or whip up one of these 20 vegan BBQ dishes that pack a flavour punch.

Forget Salt: I Cooked With 6 Trending Spices to See if They’re Actually Worth the Hype

When it comes to food trends these days, there’s a plethora of constantly evolving options to test out, whether you’re heading to your favourite local haunt or whipping up a meal at home.

From za’atar to sumac, spices are essential to many international cuisines – and bringing different blends to your own kitchen can lend a certain authenticity to your dishes and provide more inspiration (not to mention bragging rights if you nail a new recipe).

According to Forbes, the average American home kitchen in 1950 contained only 10 spices, seasonings and extracts on average. Today, that number is more than 40. Considering we’re neighbours, I would imagine that number rings true for Canadians as well.

It speaks volumes as to how far we’ve come in North America when it comes to branching out and trying new foods. Where once we might have expressed reluctance, we’re now at the stage where we’re looking for fresh, healthy and exciting ingredients to add to our favourite recipes, expanding both our horizons and our palates.

Related: 15 Anti-Inflammatory Herbs and Spices

For this experiment of sorts, I kept an open mind. I looked into some of the most popular spices being searched online with the intention of trying them all. Some, such as baharat and asafoetida, proved elusive and difficult to track down while others – *cough* saffron *cough* – would have put a significant dent in my wallet. In the end, I found a solid list of six spices to test out at home.

With the exception of turmeric,  I hadn’t tried any of these trending spices before. And, considering how much I love a meal that quite literally sets my mouth on fire, I didn’t want to leave a world of flavour untapped by missing out.

So, if you’re building a chef-worthy pantry of dried spices, start with these top trendsetters. Here’s why.

1. Shichimi Togarashi

Brief history: This popular Japanese spice medley dates back to the 17th century when it was originally produced as a tasty condiment by herbalists in what is now modern day Tokyo. It’s a seven-spice blend that typically contains ground red chili pepper, sansho powder, roasted orange peel, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds, ground ginger and nori seaweed. Other variations may substitute certain ingredients for poppy and/or hemp seeds instead.

Health benefits: Clear some space in your spice cabinet because, in addition to its great taste, Shichimi Togarashi packs a hefty nutritional punch. Thanks to its salt-free blend of various ingredients, it contains both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, fibre, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamins A, C and E.

Common uses: Sprinkle this versatile condiment over steamed rice, vegetables, udon noodles, grilled meats and soups or use to season popcorn, crackers, dry rubs or salad dressing.

The dish I made: Rice Bowl with Shichimi Togarashi-Spiced Sesame Chili Oil

Taste: I love spice – it was one of my favourite things about eating my way through Thailand a few years back. So chalk up my complete surprise at the hotness level of Shichimi Togarashi to my arrogance. I dipped my index finger directly into the finely ground blend to better give me an idea of how much to include in the recipe. Granted, I may have ingested too much at once: it was HOT. Since it had more of a kick than anticipated, I opted for a recipe where it was mixed in with a few other ingredients to help temper the level of spice. I wanted something that allowed Shichimi Togarashi to be the star of the dish without overpowering everything else in the bowl. In the end, I chose wisely, because mixing the store-bought blend with minced garlic, finely chopped shallots, slivered roasted peanuts and freshly grated ginger made for one unexpectedly addictive chili oil dressing. When I’m really hungry (which is most of the time), I still find myself thinking about it.

Not sure which additional spices to add to your pantry? Try these must-have kitchen spices.

2. Sumac

Brief history: The vibrant reddish-purple sumac shrub (one of about 35 species of familial flowering plants) is native to the Middle East and parts of Africa, and boasts gorgeous deep red berries that are dried and ground up into a coarse powder. In the past, sumac was commonly used to treat a variety of physical ailments. While the jury is still out on whether it actually worked for medicinal purposes, sumac definitely has plenty of health benefits.

Health benefits: Sumac has a reputation as an antioxidant powerhouse, above even fellow champion spices like oregano and cinnamon. Thanks to its antioxidant properties, it can help prevent heart disease and treat osteoarthritis in addition to lowering blood sugar levels. Sumac, when juiced, is also high in vitamin C.

Common uses: Mixes well with other spice blends, dry rubs, marinades and sprinkled over salads. It pairs best with chicken, fish and vegetables. Thanks to its deep red hue, it also adds a beautiful pop of colour to any dish.

The dish I made: Sheet Pan Sumac Chicken Thighs with Roasted Potatoes and Broccoli

Taste: With its tangy, lemony flavour, I’m convinced sumac can pair nicely with just about any dish. I found it so surprisingly rich in lemon flavour, in fact, that I sprinkled it generously over both the chicken thighs and the roasted potato and broccoli side combo. It was like a mini citrus heaven. Less tart than an actual lemon, it’s a great substitute for those who have a citric acid intolerance like my husband. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried a new spice or herb in a recipe only to find its flavour gets overpowered by other items on the plate. My next experiment will involve sprinkling sumac over fish to see if it really can provide the same great taste as lemon zest. If so, I’ll never have to worry about being out of lemons again.

Looking for a delicious sumac-flavoured side dish for your dinner main? Try this Grilled Corn on the Cob with Sumac Butter.

3. Za’atar

Brief history: Throughout history, housewives in the Middle East and North Africa concocted their own variations of za’atar. Therefore, much like Shichimi Togarashi, there can be a variety of blends to choose from. In fact, there are so many ways of mixing together all the herbs and spices that make up this popular condiment that a definitive origin mixture has proven illusive to historians and chefs alike. What we do know, however, is that it has been a staple in Arab cuisine since medieval times and only continues to increase in popularity worldwide.

Health benefits: Za’atar contains various properties that can help soothe inflammation, increase energy levels, clear the respiratory tract and can also be added to food as a preventative if you feel a head cold coming on – so keep it in stock during winter’s dreaded cold and flu season.

Common uses: It makes for great seasoning on meat and vegetables or sprinkled over hummus. Za’atar is often eaten with labneh (a drained yogurt that forms a tangy cream cheese) and is sometimes served with bread and olive oil for breakfast in Jordan, Palestine, Israel, Syria and Lebanon.

The dish I made: Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes

Taste: Funnily enough, sumac is usually the star of za’atar blends. Dried sumac often makes up a significant portion of the mixture, along with toasted sesame seeds, thyme, oregano, marjoram and salt. In reading up on it, I’ve come across references to it being called “slightly sour and nutty” in taste, which I didn’t find was the case in my experience. This could be attributed to the fact that there is no “right way” to make za’atar and, while I definitely found it to be nutty in taste (“woodsy” is what I said to my husband), I noticed a hint of lemon (albeit much more herbaceous in taste) which makes sense given the sumac connection.

Za’atar also pairs well with chickpeas, like in this Smoky Chickpeas on Grilled Toast with Poached Eggs and Za’atar recipe.

4. Moringa

Brief history: Earlier this year, I’d gotten into a conversation about moringa with the lovely lady I buy my loose leaf tea from here in Toronto, so I was thrilled to discover it’s trending upward in culinary culture as it gave me an excuse to introduce it in this experiment. Moringa oleifera, also known as a drumstick tree, is native to India, Pakistan and Nepal. It’s fragile leaves are the most popular part of the plant and can be eaten whole in salads or dried and ground up to drink as tea or used in soups, curries and sauces. According to some sources, in developing countries the leaf powder is sometimes used as soap for hand washing.

Health benefits: It’s time for kale and matcha to move over and make room for a new supergreen superstar. Moringa leaves contain significant amounts of vitamins B, C and K, as well as protein and other essential nutrients. Despite being caffeine-free, it’s nature’s natural energy booster. It’s even been likened to a “miracle tree.” According to a study from the US National Library of Medicine, moringa trees have proven to be remarkably drought-resistant, making them a “critical nutritional resource” in areas affected by climate change.

Common uses: Dried into tea leaves, or have the powder sprinkled into yogurts, juices and smoothies.

The dish I made: Moringa Tea

Taste: Although it smells like a peppery version of green tea, don’t let your nose fool you. Despite a slightly bitter taste on the first sip, it reminded me a lot of, well, salad. It’s like plucking the leaf off a tree and dropping it directly into your tea mug. My tea lady sings the praises of moringa, telling me that as a child growing up in India she would often eat the leaves as a midday mini-salad snack.

5. Harissa

Brief history: This Tunisian hot chili spice typically consists of roasted red peppers, serrano peppers, coriander seeds, garlic paste, saffron and olive oil – so it’s definitely only for those who like it hot. Harissa is sometimes referred to as “Tunisia’s main condiment” and it’s the North African country’s biggest export. It’s posited that chili peppers were first introduced to Tunisians during Spanish occupation in the 16th century, so it’s accurate to say the condiment has been a main cuisine staple in the area for ages.

Health benefits: It’s usually made with red chili peppers that are rich in vitamins E, C, K, B6, iron, magnesium and copper, which means it’s high in both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as well as provides relief from symptoms of rheumatism, osteoarthritis and head colds. In addition, it has been known to boost metabolism.

Common uses:  Traditionally served alongside stews and couscous dishes, harissa can also lend its spicy taste to roasted veggies, salad dressing, dry rubs, hummus or sprinkled on eggs for a fiery breakfast.

The dish I made: Harissa Chicken with Roasted Chickpeas

Taste: Every bite is like fire and garlic, and I loved every minute of it, even as my tongue felt like a flame. Fully aware that this would be considered the spiciest spice on this list – Shichimi Togarashi paled in comparison – I was cautious with how much harissa I sprinkled over my chicken. I kept the roasted chickpeas harissa-free just to give my mouth a break in between bites. I’d recommend using it only if you’re craving a hot dish. But trust me when I say it’s worth the literal sweat that will pour off your brow.

Start enjoying some of harissa’s great health benefits with this Harissa-Marinated Chicken Skewers with Couscous recipe this weekend.

6. Turmeric

Brief history: Bold and beautiful, turmeric is a flowering plant from the ginger family whose roots are used for cooking purposes. A native to India and Southeast Asia, it’s a stunning addition to any dish thanks to its deep orange-yellow colouring. Although many begrudge its innate ability to stain just about anything in its path – farewell, Hudson’s Bay dish cloth – its rich flavour more than makes up for that ruined wooden spoon or your discoloured fingertips.

Health benefits: There are plenty of healthy positives to introducing more turmeric into your diet, although it bears mentioning that it’s the curcumin (the bright yellow chemical produced by the flowering plant) in the turmeric that does all the heavy lifting, and contains significant anti-inflammatory properties and is a rich source of many vitamins and minerals, including lowering the risk of heart disease, potentially helping prevent certain cancers and soothing arthritis pain.

Common uses: Toss it with roasted vegetables, sprinkle it over frittatas, add it to rice, use it in soups, sip it as a tea or blend it in a smoothie. The possibilities are endless, really.

The dish I made: Fast-Grilled Garlic Shrimp with Turmeric Rice

Taste: Despite the fact that it looks like ginger’s identical twin, turmeric tastes nothing like its relative. Its earthy-sweetness is far milder. Some have said they’ve noticed a bitter edge to turmeric, but I didn’t pick up on it even after dousing my rice in it.

Curious about trying it in a drink? Whip up this caffeine-free Turmeric Latte the next time you’re feeling thirsty.

And the winner is …

My biggest takeaway from this assignment is that even for someone like myself who enjoys a variety of spices, herbs and other flavours, I’ve merely scratched the surface as to what is available and how it can be incorporated into my weekly meal planning. If I had to choose a favourite from the six spices I recently tried, my pick would be Shichimi Togarashi for the mere fact that it blended so beautifully with the other ingredients that made up the sesame chili oil. I love a spice that you can clearly taste but doesn’t overpower all the other rich flavours in the dish.

This Heirloom Tomato Galette is a Summer Show-Stopper

Sun-ripened tomatoes are my favourite thing about the late summer. They taste so fresh and sweet. I remember my grandma slicing up tomatoes from her garden, drizzling them generously with olive oil and sprinkling with sea salt, to serve to us as the perfect snack. Sometimes the simplest things in life are the best. Maybe it’s the Italian in me, but I can’t help but love every variety of tomato. This galette combines a rainbow of heirloom tomatoes, but regular red cherry tomatoes will do the trick.

Heirloom Tomato Galette

Prep Time: 25 minutes (prep pie dough ahead of time)
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 70 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:

Single Pie Dough
½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ tsp fine salt
⅓ cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
3 Tbsp shortening, cold
¼ cup ice water

Galette
1 batch Single Pie Dough, chilled
⅓ cup basil pesto, homemade or store-bought
½ cup thinly sliced fresh mozzarella cheese
2 cups mixed heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tbsp extra- virgin olive oil
Pinch of fine salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
1 egg, whisked, for egg wash
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Single Pie Dough
1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the butter and shortening. Using your hands or a pastry cutter, work the butter and shortening until the mixture forms pea-sized crumbs. Add the water 1 Tbsp at a time, tossing until the dough begins to come together.
2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Use within 2 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Thaw in the fridge the day before using.

Galette
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the pie dough into a circle that is ¼ inch (5 mm) thick. Gently lift and transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.
3. Brush the dough with the pesto, leaving a 1-inch (2.5 cm) border. Layer the mozzarella over the pesto.
4. In a large mixing bowl toss together the tomatoes, oil, salt and pepper. Spread the tomatoes over the cheese. Gently fold the dough border over, pleating it as needed. Brush dough with the egg wash and sprinkle the edges with the Parmesan.
5. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the tomatoes burst. Serve immediately.

Recipe Excerpt:
Excerpted from Bake the Seasons: Sweet and Savoury Dishes to Enjoy Throughout The Year by Marcella DiLonardo. Copyright © 2019 Marcella DiLonardo. Photography by Marcella DiLonardo. Published by Penguin Canada®, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved. 

A Hawaiian Plate Lunch That Goes Beyond Standard BBQ Fare​

A Hawaiian plate lunch is regularly based around a rich protein, mayo-based salad, rice and pickled and/or fresh vegetables. It’s the surrounding countries that have influenced the classic plate lunch for something that is both familiar and truly unique to residents and visitors, echoing Hawaii’s diverse population.

The variations of the key components are as widespread as they are delicious. In this version, the meal is made with a mayo-based macaroni salad, shoyu chicken, pickled cabbage (or coleslaw) and sticky rice. But don’t be tied to what you see here. Try the plate lunch concept with pulled pork, teriyaki beef, fried spam, beef curry, or soft-set eggs. You can even add more than one protein on a plate if that’s what appeals to you. Mayo-based potato salad can replace macaroni salad, and short-grain brown rice or black rice can replace white rice. Kimchi can stand in for coleslaw or pickled vegetables, and so on. Make the Hawaiian lunch your own, and have guests customize their plate at your next BBQ – or luau! 

Hawaiian Plate Lunch with Shoyu Chicken and Macaroni Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Shoyu Chicken
1 cup water
½ cup soy sauce
¼ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp honey
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, sliced
1 red Thai chili, sliced
1 kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 tsp cornstarch  

Macaroni Salad
8 oz elbow macaroni
Salt
1 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp pickle juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 dill or sweet pickles, finely diced
1 carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 Tbsp finely diced sweet onion
½ tsp granulated sugar
Ground black pepper, to taste

For Serving
Vinaigrette coleslaw, pickled cabbage or pickled vegetables (kimchi, pickled daikon, etc.)
Cooked sticky rice, warm
Fresh herbs or microgreens

Directions:

Shoyu Chicken
1. In a large high-sided skillet, combine water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, brown sugar, honey, garlic, ginger and chili. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer and add chicken in a single layer, submerging in the sauce. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes, until chicken is tender. 

2. Transfer chicken only to a foil-lined baking sheet and position oven rack in the top third. Preheat broiler to medium-high. For the sauce, remove large chunks of ginger and garlic. Transfer a spoonful or two of sauce to a small bowl and whisk in cornstarch. Bring sauce to a boil, then, whisking constantly, add the cornstarch mixture and boil for 30 seconds to 1 minute to thicken. Keep warm.

3. Broil the chicken for 5 to 8 minutes, keeping an eye on it if your broiler runs hot, until burnished on the outside. Transfer chicken back into the thickened sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.

Macaroni Salad
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt well. Cook macaroni according to package directions, drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Allow to drain very well.

2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, add cooked and drained macaroni, and mix to combine. Season with salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Assembly
To build your plate, add a mound of sticky rice, scoop of macaroni salad, portion of coleslaw or pickled vegetables and chicken thighs. Garnish with herbs or microgreens, and dig in!

For more Hawaiian dish inspiration, check out these 10 tasty places to eat poke in Canada, or whip up Lynn Crawford’s Hawaiian fish tacos and Ree Drummond’s grilled pineapple burger – both summer staples, as far as we’re concerned!

How to Make Oat Milk 5 Ways (And Why It’s the Best Non-Dairy Option)

Oat milk has been popping up on store shelves and appearing in recipes with greater frequency over the last few years, but it’s one of the easiest and most affordable alternative non-dairy milks to make at home. In fact, it’s no more challenging to whip up than a smoothie. Not to mention, oat milk is also the best non-dairy option for coffee or latte frothing because it’s thicker and therefore doesn’t curdle. Plus, it has a silky smooth taste and is naturally sweet.

We’ve provided a go-to oat milk recipe (read: 3 ingredients) along with 5 flavour variations to make this non-dairy drink a healthy and economical habit. The starch in oats contributes to the magically thick texture that we all love in commercial oat milks, all without hard to pronounce additives. Nut-free, dairy-free, vegan and simple – what’s not to love?   

How to Make Oat Milk

Total Time: 5 minutes
Makes: 4 cups

Ingredients:

4 cups filtered water
1 cup rolled oats
¼ tsp salt

Directions:

1. In a high-speed blender, add water, oats and salt. Blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until oats are pulverized and mixture is creamy in appearance and texture. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain oat milk into a large bowl, preferably with a pouring spout. Discard oat pulp in the sieve or use to make oatmeal or add to baked goods.

2. Pour strained oat milk into a large glass carafe with a lid or large Mason jars with a lid. Serve chilled. Oat milk will keep for 5 to 7 days. A shake or stir will be required before enjoying each time.

5 Unique Oat Milk Flavours

1. Turmeric-Ginger “Golden” Oat Milk: To the strained oat milk base, blend in 2 Tbsp honey, 1 Tbsp ground turmeric, ¼ tsp ground dried ginger and a pinch of ground black pepper. Strain again and enjoy chilled. Makes 4 cups.

2. Berry and Vanilla Oat Milk: To the strained oat milk base, blend in ½ cup raspberries or strawberries, 2 Tbsp maple syrup and ½ tsp vanilla bean powder or extract. Strain if desired and enjoy chilled. Makes 4 cups.

3. Date Shake Oat Milk: To the strained oat milk base, blend in 4 very soft pitted medjool dates, 1 Tbsp maple syrup, ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon and ⅛ tsp vanilla extract. No need to strain. Enjoy chilled. Makes 4 cups.

4. Chai Oat Milk: Instead of water in the oat milk base, use the same amount of strongly brewed loose-leaf chai; follow the instructions to complete the base. To the strained oat milk base made with the chai water, blend in 3 Tbsp honey. Enjoy chilled or warm. Makes 4 cups.

5. Salted Chocolate Oat Milk: To the strained oat milk base, blend in 3 Tbsp cocoa powder, 2 Tbsp maple syrup or brown rice syrup, 1/8 tsp instant coffee (optional) and a generous pinch of salt. Strain again and enjoy chilled. Makes 4 cups.

Think beyond your morning coffee and read up on the best non-dairy milks for every use (from baking to straight-up cereal). We’ve also rounded up 25 dairy-free breakfast recipes that will convince you it’s really the best meal of the day.

How to Brunch Like Big Food Bucket List’s John Catucci

Is there really any better meal than brunch? Think about it. Not only does it give you the chance to sleep in a bit, but it’s the one time of day where a boozy mimosa or Caesar is perfectly acceptable, mixing salty, fatty foods like sausage and bacon with sweet French toast or pancakes is the norm, and there’s a never-ending pot of coffee or tea ready for the taking.

The brunch crowd is taking over food tourism by storm and it’s no wonder: people are being more fun and creative with their offerings, taking brunch plates everywhere to new and delicious heights.

See more: From Brunch to Date Night: Bucket List Restaurants for Every Occasion

So what does Big Bucket Food List host John Catucci look for in a hot brunch spot? A place that takes the time to elevate their dishes by actually making certain staples, like bacon or bread, in-house.

“If I have the morning off and I’m going to go for brunch, I will seek out those places,” he says. “Anybody can put eggs on a plate with toast… but if they’re curing their own bacon and baking their own bread or donuts I will seek them out.”

Catucci certainly had the opportunity to do exactly that on Big Food Bucket List, when he highlighted delicious brunch spots across North America. One of his absolute favourites was right here in Canada, at Calgary’s Monki Breakfastclub & Bistro.

There, the chefs get creative with things like an array of eggs benedict plates, which are served with either classic or prosecco hollandaise (yup, prosecco!) and can be ordered to enjoy on a waffle instead of an English muffin.


Monki Bistro’s Brisket Benedict with Prosecco Hollandaise

“They put like a beet-root sauce in there so that the hollandaise was pink. It was so much fun,” Catucci says. “And then they use brisket instead of back bacon on their eggs benedict. That was a real fun sort of change.”

Another gem that Catucci tried from Monki’s was a seriously sweet rendition of French toast—the Hazelnut Chocolate French Toast, which comes stuffed with a banana and Frangelico cream mixture that we just want to eat with a spoon. As if that weren’t sinful enough, the entire concoction is then pan-fried in an egg-wash, slathered with a hazelnut chocolate sauce, and made to look like a perfectly decorated cake.


Monki Bistro’s Chocolate Hazelnut French Toast

It’s hard to imagine forking your way through that dish in just one seating, but the plate is also far from the most stacked Catucci saw on the series. Over in Earltown, NS he also sampled the Wild About Blueberry Pancakes at Sugar Moon Farm, which have been voted best in the country. Considering the buttermilk pancakes come piled with blueberries and a maple whipped cream made from in-house maple syrup, we can see why. Served with a side of smoked bacon, there’s really nothing else we need in our lives.


Sugar Moon’s Wild About Blueberries Pancakes

Then there are the brunch places that totally twist traditional brunch dishes, like chicken and waffles, in a whole new way. Like in Boston, where Saltie Girl makes good use of its proximity to the water with a Fried Lobster & Waffles dish that we’d dive into for days. Who wouldn’t, with that light but golden brown batter on delicate chunks of lobster and a perfectly turned waffle? Add in some of the restaurant’s signature spicy maple syrup and this is a dish you dream of for days after consuming it.


Saltie Girl’s Fried Lobster and Waffles

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about brunch without also bringing up one of the most creative food cities in the world—New Orleans. Sure, the destination may be known for some of the best fried chicken and creole-spiced anything around, but Catucci also sought out mouth-watering brunch dishes at Brennan’s, a spot that’s so popular it’s dubbed a “New Orleans tradition.” Breakfast there is so much so their jam that they even offer two-course breakfast dishes.

So what did Catucci flock to on the menu? A dish called Eggs Cardinal, which may be a cardinal sin to enjoy so much. If you’re a fan of eggs benedict, this thing is next-level as it uses a crispy shrimp boudin (a type of sausage) as the base. It’s made using a mixture that includes shrimp, peppers, creole spice, and onion before it’s smoked, covered in panko and fried. They then place a perfectly poached egg on top and douse the thing in hollandaise sauce, giving you the most perfect mix of salty, crispy, creamy, and saucy brunch possible.


Brennan’s Eggs Cardinal

It’s probably a good thing we can’t eat it every day, because we totally would. Wouldn’t you?

Ah, the #BrunchLife.

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

This Simple Cherry Crisp Will Make Your Summer That Much Sweeter

Nothing complements a summertime meal quite like a fruit-laden dessert – and this cherry crisp is easier to make than pie. There’s no better way to showcase the popular summer fruit in its prime than with a sweet, buttery golden oat topping that beautifully contrasts with the warm fruit beneath. Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that can melt into both layers.

Easy Summer Cherry Crisp

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

Topping
½ cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted

Filling
6 cups cherries, pitted and halved
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cornstarch

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon and salt. Stir in butter until combined.
3. In a large bowl, combine cherries and sugar. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in cornstarch and pour into 9×5-inch pan. Sprinkle with oat mixture.

4. Bake until fruit is bubbling and topping is golden brown, about 40 minutes, covering with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning if necessary. Let cool 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Looking for more desserts that will satisfy your sweet tooth? We have 20 grilled desserts you can make on the BBQ, plus 40+ no-bake desserts you need to make this summer.

Ina Garten’s Playlist Proves That She’s the Queen of Summer Parties

The top things every summer party should have are fabulous food, delicious drinks, and wonderful company. But right behind those musts is good music. Just ask Ina Garten, who created her own playlists (available on Apple Music and Spotify) featuring her favourite oldies but goodies.

But we went a step further and, like any great dish and accompaniment, paired a handful of the songs she adores with her amazing recipes. So get out there, enjoy some fantastic fare and magnificent music — all courtesy of The Barefoot Contessa.

“Happy Together” by The Turtles

Kick things off with Ina’s fresh Arugula, Watermelon and Feta Salad. It will wow you with both its brightness and its fresh summer flavours. From the bitter of the arugula, the sweet of the watermelon and the salt of the feta, it will tantalize every tastebud.

“In the Summertime” by Mungo Jerry

Nothing says summer party like ribs, but what’s even better with these Smoked Pork Ribs is that they don’t even require a smoker to achieve the flavour. Ina uses pork spareribs (but points out that lamb works just as well), and you can either use her simple glaze or opt for your own favourite barbecue sauce. As host, however, just ensure they’re cut in easy to eat pieces so as your guests won’t get too messy.

“Good Vibrations” by The Beach Boys

The layers of peaches, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries — which get an extra kick from the raspberry brandy — on top of brioche or egg bread (your choice, of course) make Peach and Berry Summer Pudding the perfect dessert for those lazy, steamy nights.

“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding

Sometimes you need two sweet treats to cap off a scorcher of a day and after a dessert packed with fresh fruits, a creamy Frozen Hot Chocolate caps off any meal. Again. Its only downfall? You won’t be leaving the party anytime soon; the chocolate will keep you buzzing for a little while longer.

“Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles

Sometimes a party can be so good, the guests don’t leave until the following day. But you know who they are and knew what to expect so you likely would have prepped for the Overnight Belgian Waffles ahead of time. The batter will be ready by morning where all you’ll need is your handy-dandy waffle iron. Top with sliced bananas, toasted coconut, maple syrup, and creme fraiche or let them decide and allow for them to dress the waffles themselves.

Can’tget enough of these easy entertaining recipes from the Barefoot Contessa? Try Ina Garten’s 25 Best Summer Dinner Recipes

I Tried “Beyond Meat” Meals at 5 Popular Canadian Chains. Here’s How They Stacked Up

Walk into any restaurant, fast food joint, or even fine-dining establishment these days, and it’s pretty impressive how seriously chefs are taking the current plant-based eating revolution. Menus now feature locally sourced plates of vegetables and whole grains as mains, rather than afterthoughts on the plate. Dairy-free desserts with nut bases are weirdly a thing, while people are coming up with more ways to use cauliflower than I even knew possible. (Do we really need to add it to smoothies? Can’t we draw the line at buffalo wings and pizza crust?)

It seems like vegans everywhere are finally being given some actual options other than another boring bowl of quinoa, and as someone who has dabbled in the vegan lifestyle but never fully committed, I certainly appreciate the improvements.

This brings me to the latest craze taking over Canadian menus: Beyond Meat. The meat-free product has been touted as the first plant-based burger that looks and cooks like beef, without any GMOs, soy, or gluten. The patty itself is made of pea, mung bean and rice, but it gets its red, beef-like colour from beets. Meanwhile, you can thank the addition of coconut oil and cocoa butter for the white, fat-like marbling throughout.

The product first came to our attention when A&W started carrying it here in Canada, but since then, a variety of grocery stores and other food chains have started selling it across the country. Given how quickly Beyond Meat seems to be exploding here, I decided to venture out and try several iterations of the vegan product in the form of sausages (breakfast sandwiches), ground beef (burrito bowls) and beef patties (burgers). Here’s how they stacked up.

Breakfast Sandwiches: Tim Hortons and A&W

Breakfast is basically the best meal of the day, and I’m a weirdo who will take sausage links over bacon any day of the week. So yes, I’m pretty picky when it comes to any food that pretends to be sausage when it’s clearly not, but I tried to keep an open mind as I went into my self-imposed sausage sampling at these two popular fast-food joints.

Tim Hortons

The coffee shop has really expanded its breakfast slate lately, and that includes three ways to consume vegetarian meals: the Beyond Sausage Egg & Cheese, the Beyond Sausage Farmer’s Wrap, and the Beyond Sausage Lettuce Tomato (the only vegan option). I went for the Egg & Cheese, which clocks in at 430 calories and boasts 24 grams of protein.

Appearance: If someone had thoughtfully handed me a breakfast sandwich (with my signature giant coffee) and not alerted me to the fact that the sausage was Beyond Meat, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference just by looking at it. But once I opened up the sandwich and saw the actual patty, I found it slightly more processed looking and dryer than your traditional glistening sausage patty.

Taste: Tim Hortons knows how to kick things up a notch, that’s for sure. My coffee came in handy to wash down the patty’s spice, which might have blended into the overall sandwich better with a runnier egg or some ketchup. Instead, my mouth felt dry and like I had eaten a pre-heated or microwaved product. As for the “meat” itself? The consistency was slightly chewier and less greasy than real sausage, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as some of the other fake meats I’ve chewed on over the years. This didn’t fall apart, it wasn’t pasty, and as far as healthy substitutes go, I only slightly missed the real thing.

A&W

This national joint was the first in Canada to offer Beyond Meat, which means it’s had lots of time to perfect its sandwiches. At breakfast you can order a Beyond Meat Sausage & Egger or a vegan version without egg that comes with lettuce and tomato. In both cases, it’s up to you whether you want it on an English muffin or a traditional bun. I decided to go with the regular old Sausage & Egger— which has 28 grams of protein and 540 calories — in order to keep my comparison as fair as possible.

Appearance: Even though I knew what I had ordered, I couldn’t get over how much the patty looked like actual sausage. It was darker in colour than the Tim Hortons’ version and looked freshly cooked, as did the egg that accompanied it.

Taste: This “sausage” was nowhere near as spicy, but it somehow offered that greasy mouth feel that you get when you eat a sausage patty. Of course that could be a result of the sausage being cooked on an actual grill alongside the egg (which was still slightly runny), and the fact that the English muffin had been buttered. Either way, I felt completely satisfied and like I was eating a real egg and sausage sandwich, one that kept me notably full for hours afterwards.

The Winner: A&W

 

Burrito Bowls: Mucho Burrito and Quesada

Mexican food makes me happy. I craved it every single day when I was pregnant with my first babe, and I was elbows-deep making up vegan Mexican freezer meals when I was pregnant with my second. (No joke, we’re still working our way through those casseroles.) I find it’s one of the most versatile things to make vegetarian or vegan thanks to all of the beans and rice, so I didn’t necessarily know that I needed a Beyond Meat option. Then again, some people really love ground beef in their tacos and burritos, so I figured what the heck.

Quesada

The chain has been offering Beyond Meat across Canada since late February, using the company’s Feisty Crumbles in its tacos, burritos, quesadillas and bowls for a feel-good meat alternative. The premise of the restaurant is really a build-it-yourself, so I went for a regular-sized Beyond Meat Burrito Bowl with cheese, refried beans, brown rice, and a variety of other toppings that clocked in at 345 calories and 28 grams of protein.

Appearance: The chunks of “beef” sat alongside the rest of the ingredients behind the sneeze guard, but they looked beef-like enough. In my bowl, they peered through the toppings like small chunks of actual chuck, which was good enough for me to almost forget that I wasn’t about to dive into the real thing.

Taste: Maybe the chunks had been sitting out too long, or perhaps they were simply undercooked, but I suspect they weren’t supposed to be rock hard. A few times, as I was wading my way through my dish, I’d bite down and practically chip a tooth on what felt like a cold, hard pebble, which isn’t how I’d order any beef — meat-free or otherwise. As for the rest of the crumbles? They were cold and chewy, and I would have absolutely enjoyed the bowl more without them.

Mucho Burrito

If you’ve ever eaten at this popular joint, you know the restaurant name is not an exaggeration — the portion sizes here are no joke. That extends to the newly launched Beyond Meat products, which stuff generous portions of crumbles into bowls, burritos, tacos and more. While you can pretty much customize any order with Beyond Meat, I decided to try their signature Beyond Meat Power Protein Bowl, which clocked in at over 1300 calories by the time they added the sauces, crispy jalapeños, quinoa, rice, and other adornments that came with it. Sadly, it’s basically impossible to calculate how much actual protein was in the bowl thanks to the website’s convoluted nutritional data.

Appearance: I have a hearty appetite and can eat 300-pound men under the table on my most ravenous of days, but even I knew looking at this bowl that I wouldn’t be able to dig through more than half of it. The thing was loaded with so many toppings and a good hit of green sauce that it was impossible to even see the Beyond Meat, but I also like sauce, so I’m not complaining. I did catch a glimpse of the product in question behind that trusty old sneeze guard, and it came out of its hiding space on that assembly line piping hot and looking like regular old ground chuck.

Taste: One of my favourite things about burrito bowls is that every bite can be different. This bowl was no exception thanks to the endless grains and veggies within. It was actually a little difficult to find the crumbles, but they were there in their chewy chunks of glory. While they were hot and filling, they didn’t add much flavour-wise either, and I would have mucho preferred if they just weren’t there at all. I suspect that Beyond Meat has some work to do with its crumbles in general, but for now there was more than enough protein in the other ingredients to keep me full and satisfied well into the dinner hours — despite only eating half my order.

The Winner: Mucho Burrito

 

Burgers: The Works and A&W

Ah, the veggie burger. It’s a sore spot with vegetarians and vegans alike, because these patties are practically impossible to perfectly execute. Some have too many fillers while others fall apart, some taste mushy while others are too chewy, and overall it’s hard to find a true vegan option that isn’t just some form of mashed up, processed bean. Or another portobello mushroom masquerading as meat (don’t even get me started).

The Works

If you’re looking for an elevated, gourmet burger that rivals Mark McEwan’s signature chuck, this place comes close with its crazy concoctions and imaginative titles like Gettin’ Piggy With It or Son of a Beech. So while I could have ordered a Beyond Meat Burger with basically any toppings, in my heart I knew I had to pick between the Beyond a Hipster’s Wildest Dreams and Beyond Sexy, since they were featured so prominently on the signature burger menu. In the end, I went with the sexier option — complete with pineapple, banana peppers and arugula. I paired mine with fries, which according to the nutritional menu, cost me anywhere from 310-1370 calories.

Appearance: The burger came slathered in toppings and glistening sauce, but that was 100 per cent on point for me. When you’re forking over nearly $20 for a burger, your mindset is basically go big or go home, right? Anyhow, upon further inspection, the patty itself was pretty impressive. It was a nice, dark hue, and there were even grill marks on it — the sign of any real barbecued piece of “meat.”

Taste: You know how a really good homemade burger is solid when you chomp down on it, but then it falls apart slightly in your mouth as the juices spread out? I was missing that experience in eating this patty, but that didn’t make the flavour any less enjoyable. In fact, despite the burger having a bit of a denser texture, it didn’t have that fake-meat aftertaste that so many other vegan burgers can’t escape. Add in that aforementioned plethora of toppings to bolster the overall flavour, and it was hard to remember I wasn’t eating the real thing.

A&W

Yes, I had already visited A&W for their Beyond Sausage sandwich, but I feel like when you’re known as the company that popularized Beyond Meat in the first place, you need to also evaluate the original burger that put this whole craze in motion. For that reason, I headed to another A&W location to sample the Beyond Burger for one final, 500-calorie (and 22 grams of protein) meal.

Appearance: There’s no doubt this is a hearty burger, from the sesame seed bun and the giant tomato to the abundance of lettuce, tomato, mayo and cheese (which I asked for when it was offered). As for the Beyond Meat patty itself? It wasn’t as brown or golden as I’d expected, but it was still appetizing enough.

Taste: I usually go for cheese on veggie burgers because I find them dry, but this burger did not need it. The patty itself was firm but juicy, without that chewy, fake-meat texture. A few bites in and I actually deconstructed the burger to see if I had been given a meat patty by mistake (nope). The abundance of sauce rendered the burger a bit messy by the time I got down to the last quarter, but even though I wasn’t that hungry, I still ended up eating every single bite. And needing extra napkins, but that’s beside the point.

The Winner: A&W

 

So, what’s my main takeaway with the Beyond Meat revolution? While the product itself has a ton of potential (I’m just waiting for street meat vendors to start offering the sausages, or pasta places to give those crumbles a whirl), how it’s cooked and what it’s paired with are pretty important factors. Still, it’s nice to finally have these (mostly delicious) options entering the Canadian market, and that goes for vegans, vegetarians, or the regular old meat-eaters out there who are just trying to incorporate more plant-based eating into their best lives.

Just another msblogs site