How to Make Keto-Style Stuffing for Thanksgiving (That Tastes Heavenly)

Sticking to a keto, low-carb or paleo diet throughout the holidays certainly does not mean missing out on all the Thanksgiving classics, like stuffing. And here’s the best part about our keto stuffing: it actually tastes like the real thing! Using a keto bread, either from the grocery store or homemade, still provides that wonderful moist, stuffing texture and nicely soaks up all the delicious, flavourful juices. Keto bread has become so popular that it’s available at most conventional grocery stores and almost all health food stores; if you can’t find it, check the freezer section.

Keto-Style Cauliflower Stuffing Recipe

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes (or 1 hour 45 if drying the bread)
Total Time: 70 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

4 cups (about 1 loaf) store-bought or homemade keto bread, sliced into 1 ½ inch cubes
¼ cup butter
1 large shallots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups cauliflower florets, chopped into ½ inch pieces
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
3 Tbsp fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
2 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
1 ½ cups beef or chicken broth
1 egg

Directions:

1. The keto bread must be dry or stale before you begin this recipe so it can soak up all the juices. If it’s not stale, dry it by placing the bread cubes on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and ensure the bread is not overcrowded. Bake in the oven at 250°F for 1 hour. Toss halfway.

2. Place a large, wide skillet on medium-high heat, add the butter, and as it begins to sizzle and melt toss in the shallots, celery, garlic and cauliflower, cook for 10 minutes until softened. After 10 minutes add in the herbs, salt and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes. Take off the heat.
3. Heat the oven to 350°F. Butter a casserole dish (9×13 works well but any medium to large casserole dish will do).
4. In a bowl, crack and whisk the eggs and stir in the broth.
5. Transfer the shallot mixture into a large bowl, fold in the dried keto bread, pour over the egg and broth mixture and stir to combine.

6. Place the mixture into the buttered casserole dish, cover it and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, uncover it and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

More reasons to do a happy dance at the Thanksgiving table this year: this keto cheesecake, these fudgy keto brownies and our collection of the best keto-friendly appetizers.

Eddie Jackson's Pineapple Gochujang Short Ribs

Eddie Jackson’s Gochujang Short Ribs Are Your New All-Star Dish

Eddie Jackson’s sweet short ribs made with gochujang sauce and fresh pineapple make for easy entertaining, leaving you with more time to enjoy with your guests (and the big game!). Inspired by Koreatown tableside grilling, they are ready in a flash — and will be gone even faster!

Serve at your next gathering with other crowd-pleasing favourites from Game-Day Eats: 100 Recipes for Homegating Like a Pro.

Eddie Jackson's Pineapple Gochujang Short Ribs from Game Day Eats

Pineapple-Gochujang Short Ribs

Prep time: 5 minutes (plus 5 hours marinating and resting time)
Cook time: 5 minutes
Serves: 8-10

Ingredients: 

1 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
4 oz (about 115 g) fresh pineapple, roughly chopped
½ cup turbinado sugar
1 shallot, roughly chopped
1 kiwi, peeled and roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 (1-inch/2.5-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled
1 tablespoon gochujang
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 lbs flanken-style short ribs
Thinly sliced scallion, for serving

Directions: 

1. In a food processor, combine the soy sauce, pineapple, sugar, shallot, kiwi, garlic, ginger, gochujang, sesame oil, and black pepper. Pulse until the ingredients are combined and no large chunks remain.
2. Put the ribs into a large resealable plastic bag or large nonre­active bowl with an airtight lid. Pour the marinade over the ribs and massage it into the meat. Seal (or cover) and refrig­erate for at least 4 hours. Remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature about 1 hour before grilling.
3. When ready to grill, prepare a grill for direct cooking (or set a grill pan over medium-high heat).
4. Grill the ribs until the meat is browned through, 2 to 3 min­utes per side, turning frequently. Top with the scallions and serve immediately.

Tip: Shake off any excess marinade before you grill the meat to prevent any flare-ups. Any leftover marinade can be brought to a boil until it reduces slightly and used as extra sauce for the ribs, if desired.

From the book GAME-DAY EATS: 100 Recipes for Homegating Like a Pro by Eddie Jackson. Copyright © 2019 by Eddie Jackson. Published on September 24, 2019 by Harper Design, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Reprinted by permission.

Rutabaga & Sweet Potato Casserole is the Vegetarian Comfort Food to Beat

What is a rutabaga, you ask? The bulbous root vegetable is similar to a turnip, with a sweeter and milder flavour, making it an excellent partner for sweet potatoes. Rutabagas also pack a nutritional punch, rich in vitamin C, fibre and potassium. That brings us to this oh-so-comforting casserole recipe that’s frankly a cold-weather must.

Cutting the rutabagas a bit thinner than the sweet potatoes accounts for their longer cooking time and ensures the veggies cook evenly, resulting in a tender, earthy and creamy side that’s a great accompaniment to a sumptuous roast, roast chicken or fish dish. Fall flavours come together in all their glory. Are you ready for it?

Rutabaga and Sweet Potato Casserole

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

⅓ cup butter, cut into small cubes
⅓ cup flour
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1-½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups whole milk
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (about ¼-inch thick)
1 small onion, thinly sliced (about ⅛-inch thick)
1 small rutabaga, peeled and thinly sliced (about ⅛-inch thick)

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Grease a 2L baking dish with butter.
2. Melt butter over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Add flour, thyme, salt and pepper and whisk constantly for 1 minute. Pour in milk in three additions, whisking until thickened each time. Remove from heat.

3. Lay about half the sweet potatoes in an even layer into prepared dish. Top evenly with half the onion.

4. Pour and spread ⅓ of milk mixture over the vegetables. Layer with rutabaga and remaining onion, followed by another ⅓ of milk mixture. Top with remaining sweet potato and milk mixture, spreading to cover.

5. Bake until top is golden and vegetables are tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 60 to 70 minutes, covering with foil if top is browning too quickly.
6. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Looking for more creative ways to cook with root veggies? Here are 50 hearty recipes you’ll devour, plus 60 must-try casserole dishes for easy weeknights.

Candy-Filled Pumpkin Pail Cake for Halloween

Bursting with colourful candy and pumpkin spice, this charming Jack O’Lantern cake is the ultimate Halloween dessert. A little less spooky and a lot more whimsy, celebrate the haunting holiday with treats instead of the creepy crawlies. Made from two Bundt cakes sandwiched together to create the pumpkin shape, even the inside has a candy surprise! The pumpkin spice cake is the perfect seasonal flavour, but feel free to fill and top the cake with whatever candies you’d like.

Jack-O-Lantern-Cake

Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 to 60 minutes
Total Time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours
Serves: 14 to 18

Bundt Cakes:

Note: To create the pumpkin design, two cakes will be needed. Repeat recipe for each bundt cake.

Ingredients:
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp pumpkin spice
1/2 tsp salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Liberally grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, pumpkin spice and salt in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl or liquid measuring up, whisk together the vanilla, pumpkin and milk. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugars and oil with an electric mixer. Add in the eggs and yolks, 1 at a time, and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
4. With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients. Once incorporated, slowly stream in the milk mixture. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack until it is safe to handle before inverting the cake out of the pan. Allow the cake to completely cool, about 1 hour, before assembly.

JackOLanternCake-candy-filled

Vanilla Spice Frosting

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
5 1/2 to 6 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
3 to 5 Tbsp milk
Orange food colouring

Directions:
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk until combined.
2. Once combined, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add more sugar and/or milk until desired consistency is reached. Add the orange food colouring until desired shade is achieved.

Assembly
Ingredients:
1 cup assorted chocolate candies
Whole candy bars and lollipops for decoration
2 oz black fondant

Jack O Lantern Cake

Directions:
1. Once the cakes have completely cooled, turn upside down and trim the bottoms so that they are flat. Reserve the cake scraps for later.
JackOLanternCake-cut
2. Stack the cakes on top of each other. Using a serrated knife, begin carving the cakes until they resemble the shape of a pumpkin. Depending on the initial shape from whatever pan you are using, be sure to trim so that the gap between the 2 cakes is fairly seamless. If desired, go back and define the ridges on top by cutting grooves into the cake to resemble that of a pumpkin. Most importantly, save the cake scraps.
Jack O Lantern Cake
3. Once trimmed, separate the 2 cakes. Place the bottom cake on a serving dish or cake board. Press the cake scraps into the hole to create a bottom layer about 1-inch thick. Fill the center with chocolate candies.
JackOLanternCake-frosting
4. Spread on a thin layer of frosting on the top of the cake. Place the second cake on top to form the pumpkin. Continue to fill the center with candy. Press the remaining cakes scraps to cover the top of the hole. Crumb coat the entire cake with frosting before giving it a smooth finish.
Jack O Lantern Cake
5. Roll out the black fondant to 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick. Using a parking knife and round cutters (or the large end of a piping tip), cut out eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Stick the cut pieces on the cake to form the Jack O’Lantern. Cover the top with an assortment of candy and enjoy!
Jack O Lantern Cake

Indulgent Yet Healthy Apple Pie Squares with Date Caramel Sauce

Everyone loves a warm, gooey, flaky apple pie, especially come fall. We took the classic recipe and turned it into indulgently delicious squares. They also happen to be healthy for you: they’re filled with good fats, natural sweeteners, fibre and vitamin-rich apples, of course! A date caramel sauce is the finisher, as it gets generously drizzled on top for extra sweetness. You’ll fall so in love with the simple, healthy caramel sauce you may even want to double the recipe for it and spread it over toast, sliced apples or eat it by the spoonful.

Healthy Apple Pie Squares with Date Caramel Sauce

Prep Time: 35 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 65 minutes
Servings: 8 squares

Ingredients:

Crust & Topping
2 cups almond flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 Tbsp coconut sugar
¼ tsp sea salt
⅓ cup coconut oil
1 egg
¼ cup roughly chopped walnuts

Filling
4 cups mix of granny smith and Fuji apples, peeled, cored & thinly sliced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted

Date Caramel
6 medjool dates, pitted
½ cup warm water
2 Tbsp dairy-free milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Crust & Topping
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Make the crust. In a food processor, pulse the almond flour, oats, coconut sugar and sea salt using the “S” blade until combined.
3. Add the coconut oil and egg, pulsing until the mixture is crumbly like sand.
4. Take half of the mixture, place it to the side and mix in the roughly chopped walnuts (this will be used as the topping). The other half of the dough will become the bottom crust.

5. Oil a 7×11 baking dish (or put parchment paper down) and place half the dough into the dish. Push it down using your hands or the back of a measuring cup until it is evenly spread out. Poke a few holes with a fork for heat to escape.
6. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until golden and remove.

Filling
1. In a bowl, mix together the apples, lemon juice, cinnamon and coconut sugar.

2. Place a pot on the stove over medium-low heat and melt coconut oil. Add in the apple mixture and stir until apples begin to soften (this will take about 10 minutes). The apple juices should be mostly evaporated at this point. The longer you allow to stew, the softer and mushier the apples will become. If you prefer a chunkier texture, spoon the cooked apples over top of the crust and spread out evenly. If you prefer a smoother texture, mash the apples with the back of a spoon to create a paste, then spread evenly over the crust.

3. Take the remaining crust and disperse it over the apples in crumbly chunks. It should look rustic, so there’s no need to place it over gently.

4. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
5. Take the dessert out of the oven when ready, allow to cool completely to room temperature before slicing into squares. Cut them into 8 even pieces.

Date Caramel
1. As the apple pie squares are baking, make the date caramel sauce.
2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender (if you have a mini blender or processor, use that instead) and blitz until creamy. If it’s too thick, add more water, about 1 Tbsp at a time.
3. Once the squares are cut and cooled, drizzle the date caramel sauce all over.

Make the most of your apple bounty with these Irresistible Apple Desserts for Fall, Our Easiest Apple Crisp Recipes and Anna Olson’s Best Apple Desserts.

Your 10 Most Common Turkey Cooking Questions, Answered

So you’ve decided to cook a turkey for the holidays, have you? NBD. It’s only the centrepiece of your entire meal—what could possibly go wrong?

We get it. The idea of roasting an entire bird that will either signify the success or failure of a dinner party is daunting, which is probably why we always have so many questions about how to properly cook the bird in the first place. It’s not like we do it every other week.

Thankfully, with a little planning and know-how, cooking a turkey is one of the most satisfying—and delicious—things about a group meal. Read on for answers to all of your juicy turkey-themed questions.


Get the recipe for Tuscan Turkey Roulade

1. How to cook a turkey, and for how long?

We swear one of the best ways to cook a turkey—for beginners, novices and experts alike—is the old fashioned way: roasting. How long you cook your turkey depends on how much it weighs and whether it’s stuffed.

A good rule of thumb is to roast a raw (not frozen), unstuffed turkey at 325°F for 20 minutes per pound. Remove the neck and giblets, rub it down with your chosen spice rub, put it in a roasting pan, and cover it or tent it with foil—shiny side down. Baste the bird with melted butter or pan drippings every half an hour, and remove the tent for the last 60 minutes. Then, let the bird rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.

If you’re cooking a stuffed turkey, you can follow almost all of the same steps, but you’ll have to cook it longer. Need more info? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times.

2. How do you brine a turkey?

If you’ve craving super juicy, flavourful turkey, brining can be your best friend. Brining basically means you let your bird sit in a salty water bath for 12-24 hours before you roast it, which allows meat to retain more moisture through the cooking process. But you can dry-brine a turkey as well.

If you’re wet-brining, you’ll need an extra-large container to hold all of your liquid. If you’re dry-brining you’ll have to get down and dirty with your bird, ensuring that you massage all of that salty, flavourful goodness evenly into the meat.

Whichever method you go for, brining will definitely up your turkey-roasting game.

3. What temperature should you cook turkey?

Although 20 minutes per pound is a good rule of thumb, how long a turkey actually takes to cook varies according to how often you’ve opened the oven door, whether the bird was completely thawed when you popped it in, how well your individual oven heats up and how evenly it cooks. That’s why it’s always important to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. A bird is good to go when a thermometer inserted into the inner thigh of an unstuffed turkey reads 170° F, or 180° F for a stuffed bird. Be sure to check the stuffing itself too—that should reach 165 °F.

4. How to defrost a turkey quickly?

Most turkeys need a few days to fully defrost—about 24 hours per five pounds is widely considered the golden rule. Here’s the good news: If you forgot to transfer your turkey from freezer to fridge in time, you can still thaw your bird in a cold-water bath. Pop it in a clean sink, tub or container with enough cold water to immerse it completely, and then refill it every half-an-hour to help prevent any foodborne illness. At that rate, a 15-pound turkey should be ready to go in about 7.5 hours.


Get the recipe for Lemon-Sage Butter Roasted Turkey

5. How to carve a turkey?

Ever notice how no one ever jumps up at the chance to carve a turkey? It seems like such an overwhelming task, but once your turkey is roasted to golden perfection, you’re going to need someone to volunteer as tribute. Or, you can learn how to do it yourself!

Basically, remove the legs and thighs first, followed by the drumsticks. Carry on to remove the wishbone and then the breasts, followed by the wings. Slice the thigh meat and breast meat, then voila! Put it on a platter for all to enjoy. Easy peasy, turkey breezy. Or, something like that.

6. How to make ground turkey?

If you’re tired of regular old chuck, ground turkey can be a delicious alternative. When experimenting with new recipes remember to ensure you always cook ground turkey to an internal temperature of 165°F in order to prevent foodborne illness. Other than that, ground turkey is your playground. You can use it for comfort foods like meatloaf and chili, or get even more creative with stuffed peppers, meatballs and burgers. Basically you can use it any way you’d use regular ground beef.


Get the recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Ohio  Turkey Chili

7. Why is turkey the healthiest meat?

We’ve all heard about the health benefits of eating turkey—it’s a lean, low-fat meat that’s full of protein and helps promote muscle growth. But like most health foods, there are some stipulations. Dark meat, although still full of vitamins, is higher in fat than white meat. And, like chicken, it’s best to avoid the fatty skin if you’re looking to keep the calories in check.

Considering that, why not take advantage of turkey leg sales after the holidays and whip up some Jerk Turkey Legs? Or pick up a breast and try out a hearty and satisfying stuffed Turkey Roulade.

8. Which holidays do you eat turkey?

As far as we’re concerned, any holiday is a good excuse to roast up a turkey, but typically in Canada we flock to the bird come Thanksgiving and Christmas. That’s probably because fall and winter are great times to indulge in plenty of turkey leftovers. From Turkey White Bean Chilli and frittata, to sliders and panini, there are myriad ways to use up those bird-tastic extras.


Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Leftover Thanksgiving Panini

9. How long do turkey leftovers last?

If you need a bit of a break from new recipes after making such a big feast, no one would blame you. But if you do eventually want to give your leftovers new life, you’ll want to wrap them up and pop them in the fridge within two hours, and then use them within three-to-four days.

Otherwise, freeze leftovers in an airtight plastic bag or container for up to six months. That way, you can just pull them out the next time you’re hankering for a classic casserole or soup.

10. What are the easiest turkey recipes for beginners?

If you’re hesitant to cook a turkey, we definitely recommend starting with the basics. There are many, many ways to switch up roasted turkey when you consider the various spice mixes, brining techniques, stuffing options and even basting methods out there (we personally love layering the bird with bacon slices before popping it in the oven!).

Pick a recipe that you feel comfortable with, and experiment from there. And remember, practice makes perfect…ly  delicious turkey.

8 Cooking Tips to Make the Perfect Mashed Potatoes Every Time

The perfect mashed potatoes should be creamy, fluffy, decadently buttery and so good it requires little to no gravy if made right. Why then have we grumbled over gluey, lumpy and sloppy interpretations of what is a simple staple on every holiday menu? You need only follow 8 incredibly easy tips for the lightest and most sublime mashed potatoes. This spuds for you.

1. Mix it Up

We like Yukon gold potatoes for their buttery texture and golden hue, and Russet potatoes for their starchy, dry quality, making for a lighter mash. Choose one or mix the two for the best of both worlds.

2. Size Matters

Peel and cut the potatoes the same size and add to a large pot of cold water. Both measures will ensure even cooking to prevent the outer layer from breaking down, avoiding lumps.

3. Seasoning is Everything

Add enough kosher salt or sea salt to boiling water until salty to the tongue, about 1 Tbsp salt to 6 cups water. Two cloves of garlic will flavour the cooking liquid and the potatoes when you mash together.

4. Shake the Pot

Drain the potatoes and return to the pot. Set over medium heat, shaking the pot, uncovered until all moisture has evaporated, about 1 minute.

5. Hot Liquid Equals Smooth Mash

Heat butter and cream or milk in a saucepan until steaming, and keep warm. A hot mixture is easily and quickly absorbed into the mashed potatoes. Starch requires full-fat dairy for a creamy texture, so don’t skimp out during the holiday.

6. A Ricer is Nicer

A ricer or food mill is a professional cook’s tool to push the spuds through small holes to get that restaurant-quality texture every time.

7. Fresh is Best

Reheated mashed potatoes are never as good as freshly made. To prep ahead: peel, cut and soak your potatoes in cold water, and combine the butter and cream or milk in a saucepan, covered. Stir in the seasoned cream mixture into the potatoes and taste for seasoning. You may need to sprinkle more salt, and remember, reserve any remaining cream mixture, as the potatoes will continue to absorb the liquid.

8. Dress for Success

Perfect in its natural state, don’t forgo a simple garnish like a square of butter, and or chopped chives, green onions or parsley. You can also stir in a spoonful of sour cream for a tangy finish.

Classic Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

1.5 kg russet and Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in large chunks
3 cloves garlic, smashed
¾ cup 35% cream
¼ cup milk
½ cup butter
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 green onions, chopped (optional)
2 Tbsp butter (optional)

Directions:

1. Fill a large pot of cold salted water; add potatoes and garlic. Bring to boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are falling apart, about 15 minutes.
2. Drain potato mixture and return to pot over medium heat; shake pot, uncovered until potatoes are dry, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl.
3. Using a ricer or food mill, press potatoes and garlic through ricer back into pot.

4. Heat cream, milk, butter, salt and pepper in saucepan over medium heat until butter is melted, and mixture is hot. Stir into potato mixture and taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
5. Transfer to serving dish and top with butter and green onions (if using).

See here for the ultimate guide to turkey cooking times, a reliable Thanksgiving checklist to stay ahead of the stress, and the best make-ahead baked stuffing.

Tasty Thai “Fall” Rolls with Pumpkin-Coconut Sauce (That You Can Make Ahead!)

A Thai-style appetizer with a Thanksgiving twist, these “fall” rolls offer a light bite before the main event. Inspired by the fresh summer rolls enjoyed at Thai restaurants, this autumnal version with roasted sweet potato and cabbage, soba noodles and peanuts is paired with a savoury coconut milk and pumpkin sauce spiced up with sriracha and juicy lime. They’re healthy, easy to prepare and can be made ahead up to one day – a bonus when holiday entertaining

Create your own filling to use up leftovers like roasted Brussels sprouts and squash, or add a bit of protein with shredded roasted turkey. You can even wrap up a Thanksgiving meal with all the trimmings. There are no rules to roll.

Fresh Thai “Fall” Rolls with Pumpkin-Coconut Dipping Sauce

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Cool Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Makes: 15 to 20 rolls

Ingredients: 

Filling
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¼-inch sticks
5 cups shredded green cabbage or quartered Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil, plus more for noodles
2 Tbsp soy sauce, plus more for noodles
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
½ (363g) pkg (2 bundles) buckwheat soba noodles 

Coconut-Pumpkin Dipping Sauce
1 (160mL) small can coconut milk
⅓ cup pumpkin purée
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Sriracha, to taste 

Assembly
15 to 20 rice paper wrappers
3 green onions, sliced into matchsticks
1 cup fresh basil leaves or cilantro leaves
¼ cup roasted peanuts (salted or unsalted), roughly chopped
Black or white sesame seeds

Directions: 

1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Add squash, cabbage, olive oil, sesame oil, soy sauce and rice vinegar, and then toss to combine and spread into a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes, toss and roast for a further 15 to 20 minutes, until vegetables are very tender and beginning to caramelize. Set aside to cool to room temperature, or store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, rinse and drain well again. Transfer to a medium bowl and toss with a splash of additional sesame oil and soy sauce to coat and prevent the noodles from clumping. 

3. For the sauce, in a medium bowl whisk all ingredients well to combine so no lumps remain. If the coconut milk is cold, there will be lumps that refuse to whisk; if this happens, heat mixture in a pot over low heat, whisking constantly, until they melt. Pour into a serving bowl, or store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The sauce will firm as it cools, which tastes great, too – bring to room temperature for a looser dipping sauce consistency. 

4. To assemble, fill a large pie plate or rimmed baking sheet with warm tap water. Have all the filling and assembly ingredients chopped and within arm’s reach. Line a baking sheet or plate with parchment paper and have a few damp paper towels handy. Working one rice paper wrapper at a time, re-hydrate for 20 to 30 seconds in warm water until pliable, and place on a clean service.

5. To the wrappers, in the bottom third leaving a portion of rice paper wrapper exposed at the bottom, add a small amount (about ⅓ cup total) of roasted vegetables, noodles, green onions, basil and peanuts. Tuck in the bottom, then the sides and continue to roll away from you to seal. Place on prepared baking sheet and cover with a damp paper towel to avoid drying out. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling. If making ahead, wrap each roll individually in plastic wrap and transfer to an airtight container for up to one day; unwrap before serving.

6. Add rolls to plate next to dipping sauce, sprinkle the rolls and sauce with sesame seeds, and then serve. 

With an appetizer covered, it’s time to figure out the main course – here are some hacks to keep stress down in the kitchen.

Marcus Samuelsson Talks His Foray Into the Montreal Food Scene

In terms of chefs with real world experience, it’s hard to beat Marcus Samuelsson. The Food Network personality has been a favourite with Canadian audiences for years thanks to his participation on series like Top Chef Canada, Chopped and Chopped Jr., and of course there was his win on the second season of Top Chef Masters, when he bested Canada’s own Susur Lee.

So we were all giddy when he learned last fall that Samuelsson was prepping to open his first-ever Canadian eatery, Marcus Restaurant + Terrace, which officially launched this past May at the Four Seasons in Montreal alongside Marcus Lounge + Bar.

“I love the Montreal food scene, everything from Joe Beef to the immigrant scene in the smaller restaurants, the mom and pop shops,” he tells us. “It took me a long time to decide where in Canada, but my only goal was to be able to add something to the great food scene in Montreal.”

Considering Samuelsson’s background as an Ethiopian Swedish chef (one with an impeccable and beautifully coloured wardrobe), he could have gone in any direction with the menu at Marcus. But when he sat down to actually conceptualize it he knew that he had to have a clear and focused direction, one that would encompass the great fresh ingredients readily available to him in La Belle Province.

That meant seafood, fresh ingredients, and a comprehensive raw bar.

See more: Try Marcus Samuelsson’s Shrimp Piri Piri

“It took me a lot of time to study the community, what was there before, and then not just to create another restaurant like Montreal already had,” he explains. “It’s all Canadian ingredients; we’re using a lot of seafood. In order to stand out in a city like that you really have to have a point of view. I decided to do something around the grill and seafood and really take a stab at it that way.”

The result is a menu that includes everything from elevated gourmet hot dogs and stackable seafood towers to hand-crafted cocktails and salacious brunch items. It’s a constantly evolving thing, Samuelsson says, and for at least two years following launch he considers the brasserie a growing spot that will require him to visit quit often.

“I go back a lot,” he says. “I’m super excited about it and every time I go to Montreal we evolve and I learn more. It’s a brand new restaurant for at least two more years, because there’s stuff we want to add to it.”

Considering all of Samuelsson’s other interests, including restaurants in London, Bermuda, Chicago, Sweden, Norway, Finland, and in New York, where Red Rooster only one of several eateries he’s concurrently operating, it’s impressive that he’s able to go back as often as he does.

He maintains he chose his first Canadian location well—it’s only an hour away from New York, after all—but he was also originally optioning Vancouver and the 6ix, where he used to visit relatives in Scarborough. So does that mean he’s open to opening a resto in Toronto or some other part of Canada in the near future?

“Ask me in a year from now,” he sighs and then laughs.

 

This Cheesy, Comforting Butternut Squash Tartiflette is a Cold-Weather Must

Tartiflette is a dish from the Savoie region of France, popular in the Alps because it’s so hearty. A rich and comforting layered dish featuring potatoes, onions, lardons (bacon) and, traditionally, Reblochon cheese. Here, we’ve substituted butternut squash for some of the potatoes, making for a slightly sweeter bake that works well with the strong cheese. If you can’t find Reblochon, swap for any soft cheese with a washed rind (think Brie, Époisses or Cru du Champlain).

Pair the decadent dish with a simple green salad, or, if serving as a side, sprinkle a little chopped parsley on top – it’s not traditional, but it adds a hit of freshness (and colour!).

Comforting Butternut Squash Tartiflette

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

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lb (227g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch (2cm) cubes
1/2 small butternut squash (approx. 3/4 lb/ 350g), peeled and chopped into 1-inch (2cm) cubes
8 slices bacon (approx. 7oz/ 200g), roughly chopped in small cubes
1 large onion (approx. 7oz/ 200g)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
14oz (400g) Reblochon cheese (or alternative variety)
Salt and pepper, to season
Curly parsley, for garnish

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400˚F.
2. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large skillet (big enough to hold all your potatoes and squash cubes). Shallow fry the potato and squash cubes until they start to colour, stirring occasionally (watch the squash, it will caramelize faster than the potatoes). This will take around 5-7 minutes.
3. Remove the potatoes and squash from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
4. Add the bacon to the skillet and fry until it’s just starting to colour (approx. 3-5 minutes, depending on how small you’ve cut the bacon). You want it fully cooked but not crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and drain on paper towels.

5. Add the onions and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent. Remove the onions from the pan and drain on a paper towel.
6. Cut the Reblochon in half horizontally and cut one half into small strips. Cut the other half into small cubes.

6. In an oven-proof dish large enough to hold all the ingredients, layer half the onions, garlic and bacon.

7. Top with half the squash mixture and dot with some of the cheese cubes.
8. Repeat the process, layering the rest of the onions, then bacon, then the squash mixture.

9. Top with the strips of cheese, alternating the rind facing in and out with each strip. The cheese will not cover the top of the dish entirely (you will have some gaps and be able to see the squash and potatoes underneath).

10. Bake for 25 minutes at 400˚F, then turn the broiler on high and broil for approx. 5 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling and golden.
11. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Garnish with the parsley. Bon appetit!

For more cheesy, melt-in-your-mouth recipes that’ll warm your insides, try these 18 classic french dishes that are the definition of comfort food.

Pumpkin S’mores Sheet Cake is the Fall Dessert to Make This Season

Just when you thought you’d heard of all the pumpkin spice desserts out there, let us introduce you to this Pumpkin S’mores Sheet Cake. Anything baked in a sheet pan is already party-ready, but top it with silky ganache and fluffy, marshmallow-like frosting and it’s definitely a celebration. Dotted with chocolate chips and punctuated with show-stopping toasted meringue, this recipe is sure to impress this fall.

Pumpkin S’mores Sheet Cake

Bake Time: 28 minutes
Total Time: 90 minutes
Servings: 12 to 16

Ingredients:

Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp pumpkin spice
½ tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cups brown sugar
14 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
15 ounces pumpkin puree
1 cup chocolate chips

Chocolate Ganache Frosting
6 ounce bittersweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 ounces heavy cream

Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
3 large eggs whites
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Cake
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9-by-13-inch cake pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin spice and salt. Set aside.
3. Using a stand or hand mixer, mix the eggs, granulated sugar and brown sugar together on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until pale in colour. Mixing on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom of the bowl.
4. With the mixer on low speed, add in half of the flour mixture. Stream in the melted butter and mix until combined. Add in the remaining flour and mix until just barely incorporated. Add in the pumpkin and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the chocolate chips.

5. Tip the mixture into the prepared pan and spread evenly with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Bake for 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
6. Allow the cake to cool completely before spreading the top with the Chocolate Ganache Frosting. Allow the ganache to set (at room temperature or in the refrigerator) before topping with the Marshmallow Meringue Frosting. Use an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to make swirls and peaks with the meringue. Gently toast the meringue with a culinary torch.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting
1. Place the chocolate chips and butter in a heat-safe bowl.
2.
Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it just begins to simmer. 

3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and butter. Let stand for 30 to 60 seconds, then whisk until smooth.
4. Allow ganache to thicken before using (at least 30 minutes at room temperature, or 20 minutes in the refrigerator, stirring every 5 to 10 minutes).

Marshmallow Meringue Frosting
1. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Stir to gently combine. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl on top to create a double-boiler.  Stirring intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it is 160°f on a candy thermometer.

2. Once the egg whites are hot, carefully move the bowl back to the stand mixer. Whip on high speed with the whisk attachment until the meringue holds medium-stiff peaks, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine.
3. Spread the meringue on top of the ganache, being careful not to disturb or mix in the chocolate layer underneath. Lightly toast the meringue with a culinary torch.

We’ve got plenty more pumpkin-spiced desserts to make you drool. Start with these 40 perfect pumpkin treats, before exploring these healthy (and genius) recipe hacks using a can of pumpkin and 20 pumpkin pie recipes (if the classic fall dessert is your thing).

Spaghetti with Olive Tapenade and Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs

One of my best friends thinks that I’m Italian. Maybe it’s because I made rigatoni Bolognese during the first cottage weekend I spent with her, or maybe it’s because I really enjoy feeding everyone, have dark hair and an olive skin tone, and happened to grow up in New Jersey. All to say, this is how I inherited the name Nona.

If you’re like me, you always have spaghetti in your cupboard. Spaghetti is one of those pantry items you should always have on hand come Sunday night, when you want carbs. If you’re really like me, you put more carbs on your carbs. In this recipe, it’s in the form of garlic breadcrumbs on top of spaghetti.

888_Tapenade-Spaghetti-4

This dish is so simple to throw together and it’s made completely from scratch; big Spanish olives with red peppers are paired up with lemon zest, fresh parsley and anchovy, adding a kick of umami flavour.

My husband and I eat this standing up, right out of the pan, mostly because we don’t feel like doing dishes on a Sunday evening, but I would like to believe that it’s the Italian Nona in me. Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Olive Tapenade and Toasted Garlic Breadcrumbs

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serving Size: 4 servings

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Ingredients:

For the Tapenade:
2 ¼ cups large Spanish green olives with red pepper
2 Tbsp drained capers
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup very roughly chopped parsley
1 anchovy fillet, optional
Zest from 1 lemon

For the Garlic Breadcrumbs:
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced finely
½ cup breadcrumbs
2 pinches of salt
¼ tsp fresh black pepper
1 pinch red pepper flakes
2 tsp chopped parsley

1 lb (454 g) spaghetti
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided in recipe
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste

888_Tapenade-Spaghetti-2

Directions:

For the Tapenade:
1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor.
2. Pulse until coarsely chopped (just a few pulses). Set aside.

Tapenade_Spaghetti-7

For the Garlic Breadcrumbs:
1. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter with the oil.
2. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. About 30 seconds to 1 minute.
3. Add the breadcrumbs and toss to coat them with the garlic-y butter/oil.
4. Cook and toss for about 2 minutes to toast the breadcrumbs, and then season with salt and pepper.
6. Turn the heat off and add the red pepper flakes and parsley, and toss to combine. Set aside.

Tapenade_Spaghetti-8

For the Spaghetti:
1. Cook the pasta in heavily salted boiling water until just al-dente (9-11 minutes, depending on the brand).
2. Before draining the spaghetti, reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid then drain the spaghetti.
3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt 2 Tbsp of butter with the olive oil.
4. Add the tapenade and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
5. Add the spaghetti, 2 more Tbsp of butter, parmesan cheese, reserved cooking liquid, salt and pepper to taste.
6. Cook and toss for about 1-2 minutes until the spaghetti is coated with the tapenade.
7. Turn the heat off and sprinkle the garlic breadcrumbs over top. Serve with extra parmesan cheese and fresh black pepper.

Bobby Flay and Michael Symon

Our Favourite Friendship Moments Between BFFs Bobby Flay and Michael Symon

Bobby Flay and Michael Symon don’t keep their adoration for one another a secret. They’ve been friends for more than two decades, rose to fame together, invaded the culinary world and have been slaying it ever since. Despite being very different in style, the two chefs still find ways to take their friendship on-screen. For their first time (if you don’t count Michael giving Bobby a hard time on Beat Bobby Flay), the two face off in a barbecue competition like no other.

In BBQ Brawl: Flay v. Symon, the chefs mentor a team of world-class pitmasters, and go head to head to gain advantages throughout the competition — despite stating in 2015 that they “don’t cook against each other.” But no need to fret, things never get too heated between the two. Yes, there’s some gentle ribbing (see what we did there?), but with a friendship that’s this strong and has lasted this long, the only fire coming off of Bobby and Michael is from their bromance.

That look you get from a homie who knows how skilled you are but doesn’t want to admit it.

Bobby showed his “boy” some love by sporting some sweet Mabel’s BBQ swag. The original restaurant opened in Symon’s hometown of Cleveland in 2016; the grand opening of the second location, much closer to Flay’s heart in Las Vegas, was in December 2018. Both spaces are named for his business partner, Doug Petkovic’s late mother.

View this post on Instagram

my man!..#proud #congrats #earned

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In 2015, Bobby received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the first chef ever to do so, and Michael was there to show his “man” some support and say a few words. Aw.

Bobby knows how to keep his pal in check and jokes that even some of the best chefs around need a little schooling every now and again. (Sorry, Michael.)

Symon gets a bit of revenge, by teasing Flay about his age who, at 54, is nearly six years older than Michael.

Michael and Bobby take their friendship (and cooking skills!) on the road with Chef Marc Vetri in Philadelphia.

Sometimes it’s the differences that make a friendship work, as Symon points out.

Nothing says bonding like two dudes golfing. And, yes, virtual golfing counts.

What’s a little love tap between friends?

A striking pose and a little shimmy and shove from Bobby prove these guys have nothing but love for one another.

Tune in to BBQ Brawl: Flay v. Symon on Sundays at 9 and 9:30 PM E/T.

Need more proof these guys know each other well? Laugh along as Bobby and Michael take a Match Game-style quiz.

Fall Chia Puddings 3 Ways: Apple Pie, Pumpkin Pie & Chocolate Chai

When September rolls around, I become a little bit of an enthusiast for all things fall. I like to incorporate the cozy flavours of the season into each meal of the day, and breakfast is no exception! These chia puddings are like biting into your favourite autumn dessert: apple pie, pumpkin pie and chocolate chai. They require minimal prep, and are so good for you, as chia seeds are loaded with nutrients. Pumpkin pie for breakfast? Yes, please!

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 8 hours
Servings: 2

Apple Pie Chia Pudding

Ingredients
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup chia seeds
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 medium apple, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp walnuts or pecans, roughly chopped
Coconut whip, for topping (refer to this recipe, if desired)

Directions
1. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla, apple sauce, cinnamon and nutmeg until well blended. Let stand for 30 minutes.
2. Whisk mixture a second time to distribute the chia seeds. Transfer mixture to a glass jar or serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. When ready to serve, top with sliced apple, nuts and coconut whip.

Pumpkin Pie Chia Pudding

Ingredients
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup chia seeds
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ cup pumpkin puree
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground ginger
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground allspice
1 Tbsp walnuts or pecans, for topping
Coconut whip, for topping (refer to this recipe, if desired)

Directions
1. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and allspice until well blended. Let stand 30 minutes.
2. Whisk mixture a second time to distribute the chia seeds. Transfer mixture to a glass jar or serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. When ready to serve, top with nuts and coconut whip.

Chocolate Chai Chia Pudding

Ingredients
1 cup almond milk
¼ cup chia seeds
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp chai concentrate (optional)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1 pinch ground cardamom
1 pinch ground ginger
1 pinch ground allspice
1 pinch ground cloves
1 pinch ground nutmeg
1 Tbsp mini dark chocolate chips
Coconut whip, for topping (refer to this recipe, if desired)

Directions
1. In a medium size mixing bowl, whisk the almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup, vanilla, chai concentrate, cocoa powder, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, allspice, cloves and nutmeg until well blended. Let stand 30 minutes.
2. Whisk mixture a second time to distribute the chia seeds. Transfer mixture to a glass jar or serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. When ready to serve, top with chocolate chips and coconut whip.

Stay warm and cozy this season with this healthy apple pie oatmeal breakfast bake, these vegan pumpkin spice pancakes or this streusel-topped pear kuchen cake.

Food Network Canada Fall Schedule

Fall Lineup 2019: These Are the Shows You Can’t Miss

If the colder weather has you feeling peckish for some classic comfort foods, Food Network Canada has you covered with an array of delicious new and returning programming this fall.

What would the end of the summer be without new installments of our very own homegrown competition, Iron Chef Canada? The masterful culinary series returns for the second half of its first-season on Aug. 28, with plenty of respected chefs ready to tackle new ingredients in a Kitchen Stadium battle against Iron Chefs Hugh Acheson, Amanda Cohen, Lynn Crawford, Rob Feenie and Susur Lee.


Iron Chef Susur Lee and the Chairman Jai West on the set of Iron Chef Canada

That show isn’t the only one evoking nostalgic kitchen memories, though. Back following a seven-year hiatus is Alton Brown’s long-running series Good Eats. On Aug. 31 he’s back for an impressive 15th season that digs deep into the history of food and cooking with informative bits and sketches that we’ve definitely been craving. You could say Good Eats: The Return promises to be all that and a bag of chips.

Speaking of cravings, we’re also riding the end-of-summer sugar high with the introduction of Kardea Brown’s four-part Cupcake Championship on Sept 2. The series is guaranteed to hit plenty of sweet notes thanks to its jaw-dropping challenges and three-dimensional cupcake tableaus, which don’t just look good enough to eat but are… Or so we hear.


Kardea Brown on the set of Cupcake Championship

Cupcakes are just the beginning of the competition. Alex Guarnaschelli’s latest series, Supermarket Stakeout is as fierce as it gets. The Chopped judge steps out from behind the judges’ table to host the ruthless new series, in which chefs raid shoppers’ grocery bags in hopes of cooking their way to a $10,000 grand prize. The series kicks off Sept. 1, the same night we welcome longtime Food Network Canada personality Bobby Flay back on air.

BBQ Brawl: Flay VS Symon features the chef going head-to head with fellow Iron Chef Michael Symon in a four-episode competition that’s all about mentoring some of North America’s most respected barbecue challengers. The show isn’t Flay’s only new fall entry though—he’s sharing his taste buds with a culinary adventure series as well.

The Flay List hits closer to home as Flay welcomes his daughter Sophie along for the ride. The series, which kicks off Oct. 3, follows the duo as they introduce each other to some of their favourite places to eat classic dishes; it’s an exploration that is sure to make all of our tummies rumble.

The smorgasbord that is Food Network Canada’s fall programming doesn’t stop there. Come for the new (and new-ish) series, but stay for all of your returning faves. Your favourite in-the-kitchen shows are back with new, bold seasons featuring big flavours and the personalities you love.

Saturday, Sept. 7 is a big day thanks to the return of fan-favourites like Rachael Ray and 30 Minute Meals, Ina Garten and the 16th season debut of Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics, and Ree Drummond and her The Pioneer Woman creations. That date also marks the 17th season return of The Kitchen, which kicks things off with a Brady Bunch-themed episode.


Rachael Ray is back with 30 Minute Meals

Then, on Sunday, Sept. 8, the meal continues with new seasons of Mollie Yeh’s Girl Meets Farm, Valerie Bertinelli’s Valerie’s Home Cooking, Giada DiLaurentiis’ Giada in Italy. The fourth-season debut of her other series on October 20th,  Giada Entertains.

It’ enough great shows to keep you full and satiated all fall season long, so you’d better come hungry.

Find all our show websites here.

Host Gail Simmons on the set of Iron Chef Canada

Gail Simmons Answers Your Most Burning Question About Iron Chef Canada

Chefs stepping into the Iron Chef Canada Kitchen Stadium, as well as home viewers, will be familiar with Gail Simmons — as the all-knowing host, she’s the first voice you hear on each episode and the one who provides background information on chef and ingredient pedigrees.

Gail’s also made her bones in the kitchen, as a culinary-school trained expert, food writer for Food & Wine magazine and judge on Top Chef. Although she currently lives in Brooklyn, Gail is Canadian through and through — born and bred on Toronto’s food scene. “Part of the reason I was so excited to do this show was that it gave me an opportunity to work on not only a brand I love, with a network I’ve always wanted to work with, but to have a project that brought me home,” she says. “And the bonus is that the work I’m doing is with the best chefs in Canada and I also get to see how far the culinary world has come since I left twenty years ago.”


Host Gail Simmons on the set of Iron Chef Canada

One thing that Gail is especially excited about this season is the focus on Indigenous cuisine, especially in Battle Trout between Iron Chef Lynn Crawford and Chef Shane Chartrand of the Maskekosak from Enoch Cree Nation. “I have to say I cannot wait to watch this episode because, to me, it just epitomized true Canadian cooking,” she says. “Chef Shane is cooking food that opened my eyes to the bounty of Canada.

As the show’s knowledgeable host, Gail doesn’t get to taste the finished dishes, but she does get to see what competitors do successfully, and what causes panic on the kitchen line. “The simple ingredients can be just as challenging as, let’s say, offal (watch the full episode of Battle Offal here) where you need to understand how to cook with the internal organs of different animals. That is incredibly difficult in a lot of ways, but it also focuses what you can make,” she says.

Keeping it simple can be a real challenge for chefs wanting to demonstrate technique and skills in a competitive environment, especially with more familiar ingredients. “An ingredient that we all cook with all the time is so open to possibilities and vagaries that the challenge becomes cooking on the fly and keeping your focus, and doing something that is interesting, but is still all about that ingredient,” she says. 


Chef Shane Chartrand takes on Iron Chef Lynn Crawford in Battle Trout

Similar issues arise when chefs heed the siren song of the ice cream machine. “I’m all for ice cream, don’t get me wrong, but there are a couple [of] flavours where I’m just like ‘that should never be made into ice cream’,” Gail laughs. “For some reason, I guess because it’s there, and you can do it relatively quickly, almost every chef can’t resist the temptation.”

Given the time restrictions, Gail sees the pressure cooker and deep fryer used to get ingredients cooked quickly, especially proteins. When it comes to equipment that could be used more, however, Gail pines for use of the wood smoker. “It would take more time, so I understand why they don’t, but I love seeing them pull out a smoker.  It adds a lot of nuanced flavour,” she says. “I also love the dehydrator, but you need a lot more time with that.”

Due to the prowess of the Iron Chefs, Gail is adamant that she doesn’t desire to set foot in Kitchen Stadium as a competitor, although she has written about chefs (she counts many of the Iron Chefs as friends and colleagues who she’s known for years) and cooking techniques for decades. “I have culinary training, but I don’t work in a restaurant every day,” she says. “I would love to cook against all of them, really, but I could never claim to do what they do.”

For those brave souls who are entering Kitchen Stadium for the first time, Gail has this piece of advice: remember the clock. “Chefs who fail to think in advance about time management and really pay attention to the ticking of the clock are the ones that aren’t able to follow through,” she says. Taking the time to scope out the space is also essential, she says. “You spend a lot of time racing around looking for things, racing around to get from the fridge to the fryer.”


Host Gail Simmons on set for Battle Trout of Iron Chef Canada

Chefs do get some help from the culinary team, who stock the kitchen with ingredients and also prepare equipment so that competitors aren’t waiting to preheat an oven or bring water up to temperature. Lest viewers at home think there’s any creative stretching of time in production, Gail makes it clear that the competitors have to adhere to strict time limits. “The one question I get the most from viewers is ‘Is that hour really an hour?’ she says. “When we say go, that clock is in real-time. And most people can’t cook a two-course dinner in an hour for their family, let alone what these chefs do. It is extraordinary.”

Watch Iron Chef Canada on Wednesdays this fall, starting at 10 PM E/T. 

Easy No-Bake Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Granola Bars

Get into the fall spirit with these simple no-bake granola bars with a pumpkin twist! While store-bought varieties are often filled with unhealthy preservatives, these homemade bars contain more wholesome ingredients. The end results produce a delightfully chewy, chocolate snack that encompasses all the cozy flavours of autumn. I recommend using almond butter, as it has a much more neutral taste than peanut butter. This recipe is also vegan and dairy-free, making it an ideal treat for everyone this season.

Easy No-Bake Pumpkin & Dark Chocolate Granola Bars

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 12 bars

Ingredients:

3 cups quick cooking oats
½ cups natural almond butter
¼ cup coconut oil
¼ cup pumpkin puree
⅓ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup mini dark chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Grease an 8-inch square baking dish and line with parchment paper. Leave an inch or so of overhang for easy removal. Set aside.
2. In a saucepan over low heat, add the almond butter, coconut oil, pumpkin puree and maple syrup. Whisk until well blended.
3. Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and all spice. Let cool slightly.

4. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Fold in the oats followed by the pumpkin seeds and chocolate chips.
5. Transfer mixture to prepared baking dish. Press down gently to firm.

6. Let chill for 60 minutes in the freezer before slicing. To store bars, place in a lidded Tupperware. Can be refrigerated for a week or stored in the freezer for up to a month.

Get your pumpkin fix with these grain-free chocolate chip muffins, vegan pumpkin pie cups with coconut whip or decadent pumpkin pie swirl brownies!