Janet Zuccarini judging on the set of Top Chef Canada

Janet Zuccarini on Having Resilience in Her Own Life and on This Season of Top Chef Canada

Restaurateur and Top Chef Canada judge Janet Zuccarini learned all about one of the themes of this season — resilience — from her father at an early age. Giacomo Zuccarini opened Toronto’s Sidewalk Caffè before Janet was even born; a legacy that would shape her outlook on restaurants in more ways than one. “The restaurant was really successful, with lineups out the door,” she says. “And one day, when my father took his first vacation to go back to Italy to visit his mother, his business partner emptied out his bank account and fled to Mexico with all the money, and my father had to shut the restaurant down.”

Although Giacomo would go on to have a long career in the espresso machine importing business, he warned his daughter about the travails of being a restaurateur. When Janet went against his wishes and opened up her first restaurant Cafe Nervosa (later renamed Trattoria Nervosa) in 1996, it caused a rift between them. “My father brought me up telling me almost every day to never go in the restaurant business,” she remembers. “And when I did, it upset my father so much that he did not speak to me for one year. It was horrible. Because it was so traumatic for my father to lose everything at one point, he felt that I did it on purpose, in a way. But we healed.”

Janet Zuccarini on the set of Top Chef Canada

Today, Janet’s Gusto 54 restaurant group — named in tribute to year her father first opened Sidewalk Caffè — spans multiple cuisines and cities, including Wall of Chefs judge Nuit Regular’s Pai and Kiin restaurants, Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen, Gusto 101 and others in Los Angeles, but she’s never lost sight of those early lessons of adaptability and overcoming adversity. 

Related: Eden Grinshpan’s Baba Ghanoush Recipe

This outlook would serve her well when the COVID-19 pandemic irrevocably changed the restaurant landscape. According to a December 2020 survey from industry group Restaurants Canada, eight out of 10 restaurants are either losing money or barely scraping by in today’s climate, and 48 percent of owners of single location restaurants are expecting to close within six months if conditions don’t improve. “It’s been absolutely devastating and has been a decimating experience for anyone with a small business, but the restaurant industry has been hit arguably the hardest during the pandemic,” says Janet. “With this third wave, we spent money that we don’t have to reopen outdoor dining just to be shut down again for the third time. Every time there’s a shutdown on short notice, you furlough all your team members that you just hired and paid to train, and figure out what to do with all of your inventory of food. We just keep getting one blow after the other. “

Viewers will be able to see this shift in the industry reflected in this season of Top Chef Canada, from behind-the-scenes logistics to Quickfire and Elimination Challenges. “The show is going to be very relevant, because not only did we have to shoot the show in such an extra safe way, with everyone on the set being tested every day they were on set, and of course wearing face shields and masks, and sitting separated at the judges’ table,” says Janet. Creating pandemic appropriate challenges was also an issue. “We had to address COVID, and what restaurants are going through and create challenges that represent how we’ve changed our way of relating to food and dining with regards to restaurants,” she says.

Related: Meet the Season 9 Top Chef Canada Competitors

Janet Zuccarini on the set of Top Chef Canada with Mark McEwan and Eden Grinshpan

Overall, what Janet hopes the audience takes away from this season is a feeling of looking forward in terms of the restaurant industry. “As a restaurateur, I’ve shifted and adapted from selling groceries to takeout to home meal kits with chef tutorials over Zoom. We’ve opened four restaurants during the pandemic. The ideas have to keep coming, and going, and changing,” she says. “As the year has gone on, we’ve had different needs: people are not traveling, they’re not going to concerts, they’re starved for experiences. So, I have a lot of hope for the future.”

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Curry shepherd's pie in serving platter

Classic Shepherd’s Pie Gets a Spicy West Indian Makeover

This Dining In dish combines two of our favourite comfort foods for the ultimate feel-good meal: a chicken curry shepherd’s pie inspired by the chicken paratha at Ali’s Roti in Toronto. Comforting and rich, this version has all the components of a classic shepherd’s pie, with a simple swap of lamb for chicken. We seasoned the chicken with spices traditionally found in a West Indian curry, tossed it with peas and carrots and topped it with a thick layer of the fluffiest potatoes before baking it in the oven.

Curry shepherd's pie in serving platter

Chicken Curry Shepherd’s Pie

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp curry powder
1 ½ Tbsp garam masala
½ tsp roasted geera (cumin)
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 wiri wiri or Scotch Bonnet pepper, chopped
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
2 lbs ground chicken
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup fresh or frozen peas
2 Tbsp tomato paste
¾ cup chicken stock
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
½ cup milk
¼ cup butter

Curry shepherd's pie ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. In a small bowl, whisk together curry powder, garam masala, geera and ⅓ cup water until smooth. Heat a deep skillet or medium pot to medium-high heat. Add the oil and once it begins to smoke, pour in the spice mix. Stir constantly until it becomes a deep brown colour, about 2 minutes. Add a splash of water if it begins to stick to the pan.

2. Stir in the onions until coated in the curry and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic, peppers and thyme, cook an additional 2 minutes.

Related: Caribbean Recipes That Will Liven Your Dinner Table

3. Add the chicken to pan and season with salt and pepper. Break up and stir the chicken until completely coated in the curry and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, mixing occasionally, until browned. Stir in the carrots, peas and tomato paste. Pour in chicken stock, bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes.

Ground meat cooking in pan

4. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot with 2 tsp of salt and cover with water by 1 inch. Bring the pot to a boil and cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the water and transfer the potatoes to a bowl.

5. Return the pot to medium-high heat and add the milk and butter. Once hot, add the potatoes and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Transfer the curry chicken to a 9×13-inch baking dish. Dollop potatoes on top and spread, adding divots and ridges for ultimate presentation. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are hot and peaks beginning to brown.

Curry shepherd's pie being prepared for the oven

Like Philip and Mystique’s chicken curry shepherd’s pie? Try their leftover fried chicken nachos or their caramelized onion risotto.

Watch the how-to video here:

 

Orange-coloured mar-tea-ni against an orange background

This Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni is the Spring Cocktail You Need

Earl Grey is a breakfast tea staple often served with cream and sugar, but when shaken with gin, it’s even more delicious. This easy That’s the Spirit cocktail is a tea-infused variation on the classic gin sour. The floral notes of Earl Grey tea pairs perfectly with the botanical notes of the gin — making this the ultimate spring cocktail for your next “tea time.” Cheers!

An orange-coloured frothy MarTeaNi against an orange background

Earl Grey Mar(tea)ni

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 2 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 1

Ingredients:

½ cup sugar + extra for rimming
½ cup water
1 Earl Grey tea bag + loose tea leaves for rimming
2 oz gin of choice
¾ oz lemon juice
1 egg white

Ingredients required for a MarTeaNi, including a martini glass, a shaker, glass tray, loose earl gray leaves and more

Directions:

1. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved.

2. Remove from heat and add 1 Earl Grey tea bag. Let steep for 10-15 minutes, depending on how strong you want the tea flavour to be.

Related: Whiskey, Green Tea + Honey = The Only Cocktail Recipe You’ll Ever Need

3. Rim martini or coupe glass with sugar and loose tea leaves, set aside.

4. Add gin, lemon juice, Earl Grey simple syrup you made earlier and egg white to a shaker without ice. Shake vigorously (10-15 seconds).

5. Add ice to the shaker and shake again until chilled. Strain into rimmed martini or coupe glass. Enjoy!

Hand pouring out the mar-tea-ni cocktail into a rimmed martini glass

Here are more warm-weather cocktails you’ll love.

Heuvos rancheros on white serving platter

Make Breakfast at Home With This Hearty Huevos Rancheros Recipe

So much of my inspiration in the kitchen comes from when my daughters and I lived in Mexico City. When it comes to breakfast, huevos rancheros were a big part of our weekend brunch. We would go out to our favourite neighbourhood restaurant, where the aroma of freshly made corn tortillas filled the air and start our Saturday in the best way possible. Bathed in a fiery tomato sauce and topped with dollops of refried black beans, these huevos rancheros are the ones I make at home when the craving for a hearty Mexican breakfast strikes.

Heuvos rancheros on white serving platter

Huevos Rancheros

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

Ingredients:

1 can (540 mL) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tightly packed chopped fresh cilantro leaves, divided
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
⅓ cup water
¼ tsp sea salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (398 mL) fire-roasted tomatoes
½ tsp ancho chili powder
4 eggs
4 corn tortillas
¾ cup crumbled cotija or feta cheese
1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced

Directions:

1. In a blender, combine the black beans, ½ cup of cilantro, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, chipotle, water and salt. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute.

2. In a small saucepan, heat 1 Tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 1 minute. Pour in the tomatoes, sprinkle the mixture with chili powder and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside, keeping warm.

Related: Start Your Day the Molly Yeh Way With These Breakfast Recipes

3. In a medium frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat. Add the black bean mixture and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Wipe the pan clean.

4. In the same pan, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil over medium-high heat. Carefully crack the eggs into the pan, leaving space between each egg. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until the whites are cooked and no longer translucent and the yolks are still runny. Transfer to a plate. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Wipe the pan clean.

Related: Tasty Taco Recipes You’ll Crave Every Day of the Week

5. In the same pan over medium-high heat, toast the tortillas, about 2 minutes per side. A few charred spots are OK.

6. To serve, top each tortilla with refried beans, a fried egg, tomato sauce, cheese and avocado and sprinkle with the remaining cilantro.

Cover of Diala's Kitchen cookbookExcerpted from Diala’s Kitchen by Diala Canelo. Copyright © 2020 by Diala Canelo. Cover and interior photography by Diala Canelo. Published by Penguin an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Diala’s Kitchen, Amazon, $30.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

anna-olson-icing-a-cake

Anna Olson’s Best Fixes for Your Biggest Baking Fails

When it comes to baking, nobody is perfect. Even expert bakers like the talented teams on The Big Bake have bad days in the kitchen, but the best part about messing up is learning from those mistakes.

Whether you’re baking a cake, whipping up a batch of cookies, or trying your hand at homemade pie dough, the next time you head into the kitchen, let Anna Olson show you how to fix your biggest baking fails.

Why do my chocolate chip cookies spread too much when baking?

There are two main reasons why your chocolate chip cookies are too soft and meld together into one giant sheet while baking. The first is that your butter could be too soft. An easy fix for that is to scoop the dough onto a pan, and then chill it for an hour before baking.

Your cookies could also fall flat if you use too much sugar or not enough flour. Even a seemingly harmless extra tablespoon of sugar could cause the cookies to spread because sugar liquefies as it bakes. Be sure to use measuring spoons and cups and follow the instructions for the best results.

How do I stop my cake from sinking in the centre?

A common culprit for why your cake is too wet (AKA raw in the middle) or sinking is an incorrect oven temperature. Just because your oven beeps and the display indicates that it’s 350ºF doesn’t mean that the temperature is accurate. An oven that runs too hot may make your cake look done when it really isn’t, or if the temperature oscillates, your ingredients can’t set at the right time and the cake sinks. The best solution is to purchase an oven thermometer and manually adjust how you set your oven.

Another cause is inactive baking powder or baking soda. If you don’t bake on a regular basis, always be sure to check the expiry date on your baking powder. For baking soda, replace it every three to four months and use the older box in the fridge as a deodorizer.

Anna Olson's lemon cake with coconut frosting and shaved coconut, a slice cut out and plated

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake

What causes my cheesecake to crack in the centre?

There are a few key steps to remember when baking a cheesecake. First, when adding eggs to your batter, mix them in on a low speed to prevent air working into the batter. Second, run a palette knife around the inside edge of the pan within 15 minutes of the cheesecake coming out of the oven. That way, if the cheesecake contracts, it will easily pull away from the sides without causing it to crack or tear in the centre. Finally, be sure to cool the cheesecake completely to room temperature before chilling. Your cheesecake can be refrigerated when the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch, not the sides.

See More: Watch Baking 101 With Anna Olson

How do I prevent peaked tops on muffins?

When your muffins come out of the oven with peaked tops, this is a sign of overmixing. To get those perfect muffin tops, mix your batter by hand instead of using electric beaters. When hand mixing, use a gentle stirring motion until the point where flour is no longer visible.

Anna Olson's chocolate banana muffins on a plate

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Banana Muffins

Can I still use curdled custard?

Curdled custard means that the eggs in the custard have overcooked, but don’t throw it away and start over. While still hot, put the custard into a food processor or blender, and puree on high speed. Strain the custard into a dish, cool and chill as usual, and no one will even know – it’ll be smooth and perfect!

Ready to get even more advanced? See more baking tips from Anna Olson.

What is seized chocolate, and how do I avoid it?

If your chocolate has seized, it will take on a dull, curdled look, it will not be smooth, and some oil (which is actually cocoa butter) will be floating. To prevent seizing, melt your chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a pot filled with an inch of barely simmering water while slowly stirring. The steam from the water gently melts the chocolate. Try and avoid using the microwave to melt your chocolate, but if you must, use a lower heat setting.

If your chocolate seizes, remove it from the heat and add a few drops of tepid water. Stir slowly and gently with a spatula where the water was added, then increase the radius of your stirring motion to return the chocolate to its smooth state.

Craving a chocolate dessert? Try Anna Olson’s chocolate recipes for every skill level.

Why does my pie dough crack when rolled or shrink when baked?

Dough cracking while rolling may not be a sign of anything wrong with the dough itself. It is often that the butter within the dough is too cold, causing cracking. To prevent this, try pulling out the dough 30 minutes before rolling. It will roll out with less cracking (and far less effort).

If your dough shrinks when rolled or after baking, it’s a sign that it needed “relaxing.” The proteins (gluten) in flour become elastic when “exercised,” i.e. making and rolling the dough, and time is the only fix. If your dough springs back when rolling, pop it back into the fridge to rest for 20 to 45 minutes. To avoid a crust that shrinks when baking, chill the lined pie shell for 30 minutes before baking.

Anna Olson's flaky savoury pie crust

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Savoury Pie Crust

Is there a way to prevent a cake from breaking when it’s turned out of the pan?

All baked goods, including cakes, tarts, cookies and muffins, are fragile directly out of the oven. Be sure to wait 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out to cool.

If you suspect that the problem may be caused by the pan (cake will stick to a scratched pan even if it’s greased), then line the pan with parchment paper. Have the parchment hang just above the edges of the pan so you can use it to easily lift out the cake.

Is there a secret to preventing butter tart filling from bubbling over or sinking in the centre?

Butter tart filling bubbles over or sinks in the centre due to over-mixed filling. The eggs hold in the air which rises in the oven, causing the filling to overflow while baking and then sink immediately when taken out of the oven. The secret is to whisk the filling by hand until it’s evenly blended.

Sugar crystals in the bottom of the tarts are also caused by over-mixing, causing the sugar to separate from the eggs as the filling bakes. Adding a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to the filling ensures the sugar will completely dissolve as the filling bakes.

How can I avoid lemon square filling from seeping under the crust base?

The key to making squares with a fluid filling poured over a base, such as lemon squares, is how you mix the base. It should feel crumbly, so don’t over-mix it. Gently press the base into the pan, and make sure a bit of it comes up the edges and goes into the corners. Do not pack it in firmly or it will pull away from the edges while it bakes, leaving a gap for the fluid lemon filling to seep underneath.

Anna Olson's lemon meringue squares with graham cracker base, lemon curd and toasted meringue top

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Squares 

For more with Anna Olson, watch The Big Bake and Junior Chef Showdown. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription

Jordan Andino's double stacked smash burger with cheese and all the fixings

Double-Stacked Patties + Secret Sauce Make for Jordan Andino’s Perfect Burger

Although burgers are a great way to experiment with different toppings, nothing can beat a classic, flat patty diner burger. This simple smash burger recipe from Junior Chef Showdown judge and mentor Jordan Andino tastes gourmet using everyday ingredients you likely already have in stock.

See more: Our Most Popular Burger Recipes

The Perfect Cheeseburger

Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 small white onion, divided
2 Tbsp oil, divided
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp relish
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 lb (675 g) medium ground beef
2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 slices processed cheese
4 burger buns
1 tomato, sliced
8 leaves Boston bibb lettuce
Additional condiments, as desired

Related: Meaty Burgers That Don’t Contain Any Beef

Jordan Andino's double stacked smash burger with cheese and all the fixings

Directions

1. Slice half the onion into thin rounds and set aside. Slice remaining onion into ½-inch thick strips.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and onion strips. Cook until charred, about 5 minutes.

3. Chop onion and add to a small bowl. Stir in mayonnaise, ketchup, parsley, relish, lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

4. Meanwhile, mix ground beef with mustard. Divide into eight, 3 oz portions and place one patty on a plate with a square of waxed paper brushed lightly with a bit of the remaining oil. Flatten the patty to ¼-inch thickness with another plate. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining beef portions.

5. Heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle to high heat. Working in batches, place patties onto pan and cook until dark golden, about 90 seconds per side. After flipping, place cheese onto each patty until melted.

6. Spoon about half of the prepared sauce onto the four bottom buns. Top evenly with lettuce, tomatoes, onion rounds, two burger patties and any additional condiments. Spread bun tops evenly with remaining sauce and place over burgers.

Watch Junior Chef Showdown Sundays at 9ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Food Activist and Dietitian Rosie Mensah Looks at Nutrition Through a Social Justice Lens

Nutrition informs many discussions about food insecurity. At the forefront of these conversations in Canada stands Rosie Mensah, a Canadian-Ghanaian registered dietitian and food activist, who co-founded Dietitians for Food Justice as a response to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial injustices of the last year. Growing up in Toronto’s Jane-Finch corridor, Rosie saw firsthand the effects of food insecurity on her own family and the community around her. “From a young age, I noticed quickly that we never had consistent access to food or the quality of food was not the best or not the most nutritious and it was always an issue,” she remembers. “I knew that I wanted to do something to help members of my community achieve good quality of life and better health. And I wanted to do that through food.”

Rosie Mensah, registered dietitian, stands with arms crossed wearing pink v neck top

Rosie’s determination led her to a career as a registered dietitian, first through a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics at Western University. “Growing up, I didn’t see myself represented in terms of health providers, as a Black woman, a woman of immigrant parents; someone who grew up in low-income, government housing,” she says. “And representation, especially when it comes to health care, is so vital, because we talk about things like cultural awareness, cultural responsiveness and just being able to see yourself and feel safety, especially when it comes to your health.”

She quickly realized that she wanted to push further into the way she approached dietetics: “I really thought it was this narrative where you just teach people how to eat healthy, because that’s what you’re taught to believe,” she says. “But being more critical and thinking about the social factors that prevent people from achieving good health or getting access to food was a reason why I ended up doing my Master’s of Public Health in Nutrition and Dietetics [at the University of Toronto], because I thought that’s where I could really dig deeper into that knowledge and to gain that understanding.”

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

During the times where she wasn’t pursuing her studies, Rosie was also making the connections that would lead her towards her current social justice work. From being a part of the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council, she joined the Black Creek Community Farm, which led to a role as co-facilitator of Black Creek Food Justice Network — a Jane and Finch grassroots group advocating for local food justice in the community and beyond. Through these experiences, as well as through her work on the board of directors for FoodShare, she connected to dieticians with similar desires around food justice and advocacy. “Three of us came together last summer and decided we wanted to do something.  We want to stop talking and we want to start taking action — that’s really how Dieticians for Food Justice came about. We wanted to take things into our own hands and really demonstrate that there’s many dieticians that recognize the structural factors that contribute to poor nutrition or lack of food — and we want to use our voice to speak up for those things,” says Rosie.

Food box from FoodShare

At the heart of Rosie’s ethos is the idea that representation and inclusivity are crucial elements in health practices — a concept she’s used as the foundation for an anti-oppression course she developed for health care providers called CEDAR: Culture, Equity, Diversity, and Race in Dietetics. “I went into dietetics with this determination to strive to really help the most marginalized people and yet I just never felt like those perspectives were ever being discussed — and if they were, they were being stigmatized,” she says. “My goal as a nutritionist and dietician is to empower people to enjoy good food, diversity and different cultures, but also focus on nourishing themselves and that can look different based on your need.  And I also believe health includes nourishing your community and your environment around you.”

Photo of Rosie Mensah courtesy of Rosie Mensah; photo of FoodShare’s Good Food Box courtesy of FoodShare

A Hack for Homemade? Ree Drummond’s Shortcut Ravioli is So Easy (and Cheesy)

Let’s face it: nothing beats a warm, cheesy plate of home-cooked pasta at the end of a long day — but who has time to always make it all from scratch? The Pioneer Woman is the master of making mouth-watching comfort food easy and utterly delicious, and Ree does not disappoint with this simple and satisfying twist on homemade ravioli.

What’s Ree’s secret? To save time — without sacrificing that made-by-hand touch — Ree swaps out labour-intensive homemade pasta dough for store-bought wonton wrappers. The premade squares are perfectly sized for ravioli, and just need a little filling and sauce to transform into an incredible pasta dish. Ree’s recipe stars a lemony ricotta filling that brings bright, cheesy flavour to every bite. The best part? You can have this shortcut ravioli on the table in just 30 minutes.

Related: Ree Drummond’s Best-Ever Super Spicy Mac and Cheese

Shortcut ‘Homemade’ Ravioli

Total Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon, zested
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
48 wonton wrappers
One 24-oz. jar store-bought marinara sauce, warmed
1/4 cup store-bought pesto
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s 25 Cheesiest Recipes Ever

Directions:

1. Place the ricotta, Parmesan, oregano, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

2. Whisk together the egg with a tablespoon of water in a separate small bowl and set aside.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

4. Lay out a few wonton wrappers at a time. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the filling into the centre of each one. Then, working one piece at a time, dab your finger in the egg wash mixture and run it along the edge of a wrapper, then lay a second wrapper on top, lining up the edges as much as possible and gently pressing out any air bubbles. Set aside while you work on the rest.

5. Drop a few ravioli at a time into the boiling water (you will cook them in batches to allow for plenty of room). Stir gently with a spoon so they do not stick together. Let cook until they float to the top, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a platter. Cook the remaining ravioli in the same manner.

6. Spoon a little marinara sauce on each plate and lay 4 to 6 ravioli on top. Spoon more marinara sauce over the ravioli, then spoon over some small dots of pesto. Garnish with the fresh basil leaves and serve.

Related: Ree Drummond’s Buffalo Chicken Totchos Are the Food Mash-Up You Didn’t Know You Needed

Love using wonton wrappers in unexpected (and totally delicious) ways? These sweet fried wontons make an epic dessert with a decadent mix of caramel, apple and cheesecake flavours.

Watch the how-to video here:

Watch The Pioneer Woman and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Golden gooey monte cristo cut into half

This Clever TikTok Breakfast Hack Now Has Us Craving Monte Cristo Omelette Sandwiches

If you’ve seen the TikTok tortilla fold hack, then the breakfast challenge TikTok sandwich should come as no surprise. Where the wrap hack has @cookingwithayeh showing users how to divvy up a tortilla into quadrants for the ultimate fold, @foodqood‘s breakfast challenge sandwich similarly shows how to make an egg-and-cheese-based sandwich in the pan, with a few clever flips.

While that’s certainly one way to make a decadent, cheesy breakfast sandwich, it isn’t the only way. Known as the more savoury cousin to French toast and little brother to the béchamel-and-Gruyere-based croque monsieur, the Monte Cristo similarly offers delicious crisp on the outside and gooey-melty cheese on the inside. While this recipe includes both confectioners sugar and sliced ham, feel free to forgo or substitute either ingredient. It’s quick to make and easy enough for novice home cooks and pro chefs, alike.

A golden gooey monte cristo sandwich split in half

Related: Molly Yeh’s Bright, Spinach-Packed Spin on Eggs Benedict is Your New Brunch-Time Fave

Monte Cristo Omelette Sandwich

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 1 sandwich

Ingredients:

3 large eggs
Kosher salt
2 slices Swiss cheese
½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ Tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 slices sourdough or white bread
2 large slices ham

Directions:

1. Add the eggs, 1 Tbsp water and ¼ tsp salt to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Spread each cheese slice with ¼ tsp of the Dijon and set the slices mustard-side-up on a flat surface. Put the confectioners’ sugar in a small fine-mesh sieve set over a plate.

2. Heat the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until melted and starting to brown around the edges of the pan. Add the egg mixture and swirl the pan to coat the bottom. Working quickly, dip 1 slice of the bread in the eggs, then flip the slice and place it so the top edge of the slice is near the edge of the pan furthest from you. Repeat with the remaining slice of bread, setting it across the pan from the first bread slice. The bottom edges of the two slices should be in a straight line, with eggs all around.

Related: Mother’s Day Breakfast in Bed Recipes You Can Drop Off to Mom

3. Continue to cook the eggs until they are completely set on the bottom and mostly cooked on the top, 1 to 2 minutes more. Slide a large nonstick spatula under the bread and flip the whole omelet in one single motion. Set the cheese mustard-side up on top of the omelet, covering the bread. Lay the ham on top of one of the slices of cheese. Using the spatula, fold one side of the omelet (but not the bread side) over the cheese and ham, then fold over the other side. Fold in half so the bread slices meet and form a sandwich.

Related: Kitchen Skills Parents Should Teach Their Kids By Age 10

4. Cook until the bread on the bottom is golden brown and the cheese is beginning to melt, 1 to 2 minutes. Reduce the heat if the bread begins to darken too quickly before the cheese melts. Flip and cook until the other side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

5. Set the sandwich on a plate and dust with the confectioners’ sugar.

Watch the how-to video here:

crustless quiche in white serving dish

Savour Spring Veggies With This Crustless Quiche Recipe

Quiche for breakfast? You bet! A great way to utilize your spring veggies is to use them in a quiche. I’ve used spinach, onion and zucchini here, but you can easily use whatever spring veggies you have on hand: asparagus, fiddleheads, kale, etc. You’ll love this crustless, low-carb flavourful quiche with smoky hints of paprika, the tartness of Dijon and the creamy texture of sharp Cheddar.

crustless quiche in white serving dish

Crustless Veggie Quiche

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium zucchini, chopped
⅔ cups frozen spinach, defrosted
1 small onion, sliced
3 strips chicken bacon, chopped
6 large eggs
1 cup half and half
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp paprika
1 tsp Dijon mustard
⅔ cup sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
Chopped parsley, for garnish

crustless quiche ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly grease a round 9-inch baking dish.

2. Place a skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Saute the zucchini, spinach, onion and chicken bacon in the skillet for about 2 minutes, until cooked. Remove from heat and transfer the ingredients to the prepared baking dish.

crustless quiche ingredients cooking in pan

3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, half and half, salt, pepper, paprika and mustard. Add in half of the cheddar cheese and whisk until incorporated. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared baking dish on top of the sauteed ingredients. Top with the remaining cheese.

Related: Quick and Easy Low-Carb Recipes From The Pioneer Woman

4. Bake for 35 minutes. Top with parsley and serve.

Like Valerie’s crustless quiche recipe? Try her healthy Sriracha-honey oven-fried chicken or her spicy vegan cassoulet.

Anna Olson's vanilla and caramel birthday cake on a display

5 Classic Cake Recipes & Expert Advice for a Perfect Bake Every Time

Baking a cake from scratch can be easier than you think, especially when armed with professional tips and tricks. Veer too far from a few established rules, however, and you can end up with a cake catastrophe on your hands. Never fear, we’ve got you covered: with these five foolproof tips, we can help you ensure baking success and turn out a perfect, professional-tasting cake every time.

Let’s take a look at five favourites: classic cakes that you can make again and again, from anything-but-basic vanilla to next-level carrot cakes.

Vanilla Cake

Anna Olson's vanilla and caramel birthday cake

This delightfully moist cake is a stellar example of vanilla-flavoured deliciousness that can be used as a base for your favourite frosting. Sifting the flour mixture serves two purposes: it disperses small amounts of crucial ingredients, such as leaveners or salt, throughout the cake and also aerates the flour to make it easier to combine. Two types of pastry cream — vanilla and caramel — are used in different ways to create a multi-layered and hued cake with impressive height and fantastic flavour.

Chef’s Tip: Sift dry ingredients together onto a large piece of parchment paper before adding it to your stand mixer to keep things nice and neat. You can also grab the paper by the corners and use it as a foldable slide to help transfer your dry ingredients around your kitchen and pour into your mixing bowl.

Get the recipe for  Anna Olson’s Classic Vanilla Birthday Cake With Caramel Pastry Cream

Not sure which flour to use for your next big bake? Check out Flour 101: Your Guide to Mastering Holiday Baking and Ardent Mills’ complete flour portfolio including definitions and best-used-for applications.

Chocolate Cake

Six-layer chocolate fudge cake with slice cut out

This tall tower of cake perfection from pastry chef Anna Olson is a spectacular showstopper for any celebration for chocolate lovers. Four layers of fluffy cake (made with cake and pastry flour leavened with baking soda for extra rise) are sandwiched together with creamy, fudge frosting for a confection that’s decadent without being heavy. Using brewed coffee adds balance and depth to the chocolate notes in the cake, while a combination of bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder adds plenty of chocolate-forward flavour to the fudge frosting.

Chef’s Tip: Chocolate flavour intensifies and improves with time. If you can resist the temptation, wrap your cake layers well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and place in the freezer for a few days before thawing and icing them. Plan ahead for future chocolate cravings and make a double batch to freeze for up to 30 days.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

Sponge Cake

Strawberry sponge cake with whipped cream and fresh fruit

Although all-purpose flour works well for cakes that require some structural integrity for heavier fillings, a soft wheat or cake and pastry flour (can lend the tender yielding quality needed to roll this sponge cake around a simple raspberry jam filling. Vary the filling based on your preference, and use homemade jam for an extra special touch.

Chef’s Tip: When whipping egg whites, your bowl needs to be perfectly clean. Any fat or oil residue in the bowl will keep your egg whites from whipping up and holding a structure no matter how long you beat them. A pinch of cream of tartar can also help to strengthen your whipped egg whites.

Get the recipe for Classic Raspberry Jelly Roll

Carrot Cake

Cream cheese iced carrot cake with heirloom carrot flowers

Keeping carrot cake from being too heavy, while still incorporating plenty of carroty goodness throughout, can be a bit of a challenge. Attempting to get the shredded carrots evenly dispersed in the batter causes some home bakers to over mix and overwork the gluten in the sturdy all-purpose flour, causing a tougher cake. This recipe from Molly Yeh provides some guidance to help counter this common error, including mixing the batter to 90 per cent before incorporating the carrots.

Chef’s Tip: To help your cake bake evenly, rotate the pan in the oven halfway through baking, helping ensure even temperature no matter the placement in the oven. Also, begin checking the cake for doneness about 20 minutes into your bake time to ensure the cake is not overbaked.

Get the recipe for Molly Yeh’s Carrot Cake With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Coffee Cake

Ree Drummond's blueberry crumb coffee cake on a plate

An easy coffee cake is a secret weapon for any baker: ready in under an hour with no frosting or decorations necessary, since it comes with its own crunchy and golden topping fortified with all-purpose flour such as Ardent Mills Bakers Hand®. With a cake this simple, the ratio of the ingredients plays a big part in a successful bake. The commonly used scoop and flatten method may unnecessarily compact flour into the measuring cup, adding more than intended to your recipe. A better technique is to simply spoon flour into the cup lightly and level off with a knife.

Chef’s Tip: For a consistent creaming cake batter, take all ingredients out of the fridge ahead of time to ensure they are all at room temperature. Softened butter creams easier and builds more volume. Also, eggs and milk that are at the same temperature ensure a more consistent creaming, and prevents the butter from clumping again.

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Blueberry Coffee Cake

Looking for more classic cake inspirations? Try these birthday cake recipes that are sure to make you a dessert person.

Sponge cake photo courtesy of Ardent Mills

Egg-in-a-hole breakfast with orange slices on white plate

Rise and Shine With This Scrumptious Prosciutto-Wrapped Egg-in-a-Hole Breakfast Recipe

Combine your egg and toast together as one with this prosciutto-wrapped egg-in-a-hole recipe. A delicious runny yolk wrapped in bacon-like prosciutto and baked in the center of a cheesy piece of toast is the best way to treat yourself in the morning. It’s simple, fun and something that everyone will enjoy!

Egg-in-a-hole breakfast with orange slices on white plate

Prosciutto-Wrapped Egg-in-a-Hole

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

¼ cup softened, salted butter
6 slices of prosciutto
6 medium eggs
Pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbsp fresh chives, finely chopped,
1 ACE Bakery® Three Cheese Oval

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Cut the bread loaf into six 1 ½-inch thick slices, discarding ends. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the bread from the centre of each slice and discard bread cut-outs (or set aside for extra dipping). Spread both sides of each cut-out slice of bread with a light coating of butter.

Related: The Best Ways to Prepare Eggs Around the World, From France to Japan

3. Place bread slices onto a lined baking sheet. Next, fold and layer in a slice of prosciutto so it cups the well like a cupcake liner. You’ll want the sides to stick out like a flower because it’s going to cradle the egg and the edges will crisp up in the oven.

4. Crack an egg into each of the wells and sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper and chives. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the egg whites are set, but the yolk is still soft like a poached egg. Serve warm and enjoy right away.

Watch the how-to video here:


Eden Grinshpan’s Baba Ghanoush With Za’atar, Pomegranate and Mint Will Be Your New Favourite Dip

What makes this an essential is the eggplant technique, which is so simple but blows your mind at the same time. I learned about charring eggplants whole when I was twenty-one years old and working in a restaurant in Tel Aviv. They’d score an eggplant, throw the entire thing on the grill, and then let the fire do all the work. The skin gets completely charred while the heat steams the flesh until it is smoky, tender, and juicy. That becomes the foundation of baba ghanoush, a smoky, velvety dip that’s an essential in its own right.

Baba Ghanoush with Za’atar, Pomegranate, and Mint

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-35 minutes
Total Time: 30-45 minutes
Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients:

3 medium eggplants
½ cup tahini paste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
1½ tsp kosher salt
Za’atar, for serving
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Pomegranate molasses, for serving
Fresh mint leaves, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving (if in season)

1. With the tip of a knife, pierce each eggplant in two places—doesn’t need to be perfect or in the same place every time; this is just so the eggplant doesn’t explode on you (it’s happened to me, and it’s not pretty).

2. Pick a cooking method for the eggplant: grill, broiler, or stovetop burners. The bottom line is that you want this eggplant to be almost unrecognizable. It’s going todeflate and the skin will get white in some places, but that just means the fire is working its magic on that eggplant.

OPTION 1: Grill Preheat the grill until hot. Add the eggplants and let the fire do its thing, making sure to keep turning the eggplants so they char all over. You want them to get black in some places, 20 to 30 minutes total.

OPTION 2: Broil  Preheat the broiler. Put the eggplants in a broilerproof roasting pan and place the pan as close to the heating element as possible. (You may have to adjust your oven rack to accommodate the size of the eggplants and the depth of the pan.) Broil until they are evenly charred all over, 30 to 35 minutes, checking and turning the eggplants periodically. You want the eggplants to keep their shape but get really charred and wilted.

OPTION 3: Stovetop Gas Burners Line your stovetop around your burners with foil. Working with one at a time, place the eggplant over a medium flame and let it char, making sure to turn it every 5 minutes. Continue cooking until it is deflated and black all over, 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Transfer the cooked eggplants to a colander in the sink and let the juices run. (The juices can make the dish taste bitter.) Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove the stem and all of the skin.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggplant flesh with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.

5. To serve, first make a za’atar oil by mixing together 1 tablespoon of za’atar with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil for every 2 cups of baba ghanoush.

6. For each serving, use a spoon to spread about 1 cup of the baba ghanoush over a platter or in the bottom of a bowl. Drizzle over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the pomegranate molasses (go easy—it’s very tart and sweet), followed by the za’atar–olive oil mixture. Finish with a sprinkling of small mint leaves (or large leaves, torn) and a small handful of pomegranate seeds (if using).

Excerpted from Eating Out Loud by Eden Grinshpan. Copyright © 2020 by Eden Grinshpan. Photography by Aubrie Pick. Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Eating Out Loud, Amazon, $35

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

How to Choose the Healthiest Type of Salt for Cooking

With the ability to bring out the inherent, muted flavours in food, salt is added to most recipes — including sweets — to smooth everything out. Without it, home cooking can be bland and unappetizing, but getting in the habit of adding too much salt to foods is linked to high blood pressure and cardiovascular irregularities. While definitely less health-threatening, large amounts of salt can cause water retention, making your pants feel a bit snugger and leaving your skin looking dehydrated. However, salt is necessary for our bodies to function correctly, maintaining normal heart rhythm and nerve function — without it, complications arise.

888_types-of-salt

How Much Salt Should I Eat Per Day?

Eating too little salt is generally not a concern for most, with the advent of packaged and convenience foods. Enjoying a diet rich in whole, unprocessed, naturally low-sodium foods is the most nutritious option, allowing you to add salt to taste when cooking, reducing the risk of overdoing your daily recommended amount. Current Health Canada guidelines advocate most healthy adults eat approximately 1500 mg of sodium per day, though most are consuming more than double that.

Sodium and chlorine are the two elements that make up salt, making all types of salt sources of these essential compounds, adding another layer of confusion to the mix, as most are indistinguishable to the palate from one to the next. Whether purchasing at a grocery store or specialty food shop, salt’s diverse price range, wide-spanning varieties and nutritional profile can leave you scratching your head.

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

What is Sea Salt?

Sea salt is derived from its eponymous source (the sea), originating from any number of regions around the world. Its clean, pure taste is adored by cooks and is available in coarse and fine options; the former is well suited for garnishing, while the latter is ideal for cooking food and baking thanks to its ability to dissolve. Coming in white, grey, red, pink and black, the colour you choose is a matter of personal preference and price point.

Regarding health benefits, sea salt is plentiful in trace minerals due to its marine derivation, delivering many of the same nutritional compounds that make superfood seaweed so nutritious. The healthiest forms of sea salt are the least refined with no added preservatives (which can mean clumping in the fine variety). Pink Himalayan salt is touted by healthy home cooks as the ultimate mineral-rich seasoning, said to be the purest of the sea salt family.

What is Ground Salt?

The most common ground salt (taken from the ground, not the sea) is table salt, a cheap and common seasoning that can be found in most home kitchens. A more refined version of salt, table salt has added iodine, a trace mineral necessary for correct thyroid function, thyroid cancer-prevention and proper mental development and maintenance. Iodine deficiency is rare, and the mineral can be accessed from vegetables, seaweeds, milk, wild fish, eggs, and unrefined sea salts.

Related: The Easiest Ways to Save Over-Salted Food 

What is Kosher Salt?

Kosher salt tastes slightly less salty than table salt or sea salts (though it can be derived by either the sea or ground) due to its ability to dissolve more quickly on the tongue. Anticaking agents can be added to kosher salt, but can be purchased pure, too. Kosher salt makes it easy to grab a pinch and clings to food well, making it a favourite amongst chefs and home cooks alike.

What are Gourmet Salts and How Do I Use Them?

Gourmet salts run the gamut in terms of price and taste. “Plain” finishing and naturally flavoured finishing salts can be a unique addition to any dish. They carry a heftier price tag than a basic sea salt or ground salt, but are used in moderate amounts, potentially lasting for years.

Fleur de sel (“flower of salt” in French) is a readily available sea salt ideal for garnishing (both sweet and savoury foods), and, while still expensive, carries a softer price tag than many other gourmet options. Fleur de sel’s pure nature, free of additives, preservatives or anticaking agents, will provide the same trace minerals as other salts, with a cleaner taste.

Smoked salts are just that; smoked. This gourmet treat is to be used sparingly on meats, fish, eggs and vegetables for a truly unique taste. Flavoured salts can include any number of natural additions, from lemon peel to lavender to dried truffles to chili, and can be purchased or made at home.

Are Salt Alternatives Healthier?

Like sugar, salt has low-sodium alternatives that are generally comprised of chemical sources. Some find the strange taste of chemically derived salt alternatives to be off-putting. Salt alternatives can adversely interact with some medications and health conditions, so check with a doctor before reaching for this product.

Natural, chemical-free options such as dulse (seaweed) granules are marketed as a salt substitute, containing the same range of minerals as “pure” sea salt. The taste of dulse granules is decidedly sea-like, so use judiciously when adding this salt substitute to a recipe.

And the Healthiest Salt Is…

No matter which salt you choose, the small amount used contributes little nutritional value to your overall diet, making your selection a matter of personal taste. If you’re concerned about increasing the mineral content in your diet, focus on consuming more grains, vegetables, fruits, dairy, nuts and lean protein — salt shouldn’t be used as a supplement or alternative for the nutrition these foods contain. Reducing your total salt intake to the recommended daily intake (1500 mg) can be accomplished with a diet low in unprocessed foods and yes, a pinch or two of salt — any type you like.

Fore more inspiration and alternatives, these healthy salt substitutes are the real deal.

Published January 5, 2017, Updated April 18, 2021

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

beef with plantains on white plate

This Beef With Plantains and Black Beans Recipe is a Taste of Venezuela

A dish indigenous to Venezuelan people for over 100 years, this primavera beef with plantains and black beans recipe is filled with so many delicious ingredients, including onion, garlic, mushroom gravy, peppers, cilantro, spices and of course, beef, plantains and black beans. The perfect weeknight dinner!

beef with plantains on white plate

Primavera Beef With Plantains and Black Beans

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Servings: 2-4

Ingredients:

2 lbs of beef in cubes
1 medium onion chopped finely, divided
3-4 cloves of garlic, divided
½ cup mushroom gravy
½ cup beef broth
1 red and 1 green bell pepper chopped in cubes
1 dried red hot pepper
¼ tsp oregano
Salt to taste
½ lb of black beans
¼ tsp black pepper
1-2 plantains
1 lime cut into quarters
Cilantro to garnish

Directions:

1. In a frying pan, cook the beef with ½ the onion, ½ the garlic, mushroom gravy and beef stock, until tender.

2. Add the bell peppers, red pepper powder and oregano and add salt according to taste.

Related: Transgender Day of Visibility: Yasmeen Persad Talks About Food Insecurity and Trans Nutrition

3. Also in a pan, cook black beans with salt, pepper and remaining onions and garlic until soft.

4. Peel off the skin of 2 large plantains and slice them thin. Deep fry in vegetable oil.

5. Serve all with steamed rice. Garnish with lime and cilantro.

Cover of the cookbook 'Cooking With Trans People of Colour'Excepted from Cooking With Trans People of Colour, a cookbook of recipes of significance from The 519’s Trans People of Colour Project (TPOC). The cookbook is compiled by and for racialized trans people, also featuring unique sections including cooking and eating on a budget, hormones and healthy eating for trans folks, and resources and sexual health promotion information to support racialized trans folks.

Cooking With Trans People of Colour, Glad Day Bookshop, $25.

Photo by: Eli Carmona

Chickpea pancakes with fruit and maple syrup

You Won’t Believe These Fluffy Chickpea Pancakes Are Totally Gluten-Free

Can you think of a better way to start the day than with a stack of fluffy pancakes? These Baking Therapy chickpea pancakes are gluten-free and come together in no time. Bananas are mashed and folded into the batter to give the pancakes a touch of sweetness and the buttermilk helps give it height and a slight tang. Whip up a batch this weekend, you won’t regret it!

Chickpea pancakes with fruit and maple syrup

Banana Chickpea Pancakes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 12-14 pancakes

Ingredients:

1 banana
2 large eggs
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp butter + more for frying
1 ¼ cup chickpea flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

Chickpea pancakes ingredients on countertop

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, mash the banana. Whisk in the eggs, maple syrup, buttermilk and butter. Sift in the chickpea flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until the batter comes together.

Chickpea pancakes batter

2. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-low to medium heat. Melt about ½ Tbsp butter in the pan, scoop in about ¼ cup of pancake batter, cook for 2-3 minutes until the edges begin to set and the tops are bubbly. Flip and cook for another 1 minute. (To keep pancakes warm while cooking, place on a baking sheet in a 250°F oven).

Related: Unique and Tasty Ways to Eat Chickpeas

3. Top with berries and a drizzle of maple syrup!

Chickpea pancakes with fruit and maple syrup

Like Sabrina’s chickpea pancakes? Try her lemon poppy seed coconut buns or her rhubarb and sour cream streusel muffins.

Acadian rappie pie on green and white plate

This Traditional Acadian Dish Uses Less Than 10 Ingredients

One of the first things you’re asked if you ever venture down to the Acadian communities of southwestern Nova Scotia is, “Have you had rapure?” Rapure or pate a la rapure is more commonly known as rappie pie in English. It is more akin to a casserole than a pie, but even that is using the term loosely. Its ingredients are modest: potatoes, meat, stock, maybe a little bit of salted onions for flavour — and if you’re feeling luxurious, some salted, crunchy and rendered pork fat on the side. Those who have never been exposed to it often wonder what is on their plate and why it’s there. But trust us. We’ve been eating this for almost 200 years and we’re enthusiastic about it. It’s our comfort food. And reheated rappie pie in a skillet with lots of butter is a wonderful thing indeed.

Acadian rappie pie on green and white plate

Râpure / Rappie Pie

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, minced
2 Tbsp oil or butter
2 Tbsp salted onions, plus additional 2 tsp (optional)
1 (4 pound) whole chicken, preferably a stewing hen
12 cups cold water (or enough to cover chicken in the pot)
2 bay leaves
3-4 carrots, diced
10 pounds potatoes, peeled
Salt and pepper to taste
4 Tbsp minced salt pork (optional)

Directions:

1. The first thing to do is make the chicken stock. This can be done the day before. In a pot large enough to accommodate your chicken, saute onions in the butter (or oil) until translucent. Add 1 tsp of salted onions if you have them. If not, add a bit of salt to onions to help them sweat.

2. Add chicken and cover with water. Add the bay leaves and carrots. Cover the pot and bring to boil. Reduce the heat to keep the bird at a gentle simmer. Cook for about 1 hour, or until meat is almost falling off the bone, but not quite.

3. Remove the chicken from the pot and strain the stock through a sieve. (At this point you can refrigerate your stock until you need it or just keep it warm if you plan on making the rappie pie at the same time).

Related: Where to Eat in Nova Scotia: Top Chef Canada’s Renee Lavallee’s Top 5 Restaurants

4. Shred the chicken into small pieces, discarding the bones and skin. Set aside.

5. Grate your potatoes on a box grater or rasp. Take your time or you’ll end up with bloody knuckles. (Alternatively, you can use a juicer to simultaneously pulverize your potatoes and remove much of the water. The texture will be mildly different, but highly comparable).

6. Place portions of the rasped/grated potato into muslin or kitchen towels. Squeeze out as much of the liquid as you can. You will be adding stock to it afterwards, and you want to get out as much of the liquid as possible. (Tip: squeeze the potatoes into a large measuring bowl. Let’s say you squeeze out 7 ½ cups of potato water, you should add back in about 10 cups of stock. This is the ratio you’re trying to achieve. Adjust accordingly).

7. Bring the stock to a rolling boil. You need it to be as hot as possible to scald the potatoes properly. Heat your oven to 425˚F.

Related: The Delicious History of the Halifax Donair

8. Put the potatoes into a large bowl, big enough to accommodate at least twice its volume. (If you don’t have a bowl big enough, do this in batches, making sure to keep your stock as hot as possible for scalding the potatoes.) Break up the potatoes using a hand mixer. Mix in half of the hot stock using a hand mixer and stir it all together, making sure to moisten the potatoes as much as possible. Mix in the rest of the hot stock and keep stirring. The mixture will thicken, but keep stirring for about 2-3 minutes after adding the last of the stock. Taste for seasoning, adding salt, pepper and the salted onions as you go.

9. Pour enough of the potato pulp to cover the bottom of your casserole dish. Add roughly ½ of your chicken, tossing it over the potatoes. Add enough potatoes to just cover the chicken and then add more chicken, finally covering that with the rest of the potatoes.

10. Place the rappie pie into your oven. Bake at 425˚F for 30 minutes and then turn down the heat to 375˚F and bake for another 1 ½ to 2 hours. Occasionally baste the top with butter (or small dice of salt pork) to help the crust brown. The dish is ready when the crust on the top is nice and set and golden brown. Serve warm with loads of butter or possibly a little molasses on the side.

Pantry and Palate cookbook coverExcerpted from Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food @2017 Simon Thibault. Reprinted with Permission from Nimbus Publishing.

 

Pantry and Palate: Remembering and Rediscovering Acadian Food, Amazon, $35.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Katie Lee's Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

You’ll Never Guess the Secret Ingredient in Katie Lee’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

If I could only choose one dessert (besides frozen yogurt) to eat for the rest of my life, it would be warm chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven with a glass of milk. I am always trying to perfect my recipe. I like a chewy chocolate chip cookie, none of these flat, crispy cookies for me. Give me the chew and make it soft. I know it sounds weird, but white miso paste is the secret ingredient for the perfect cookie. You don’t taste miso, but the umami makes the chocolate even more chocolatey and gives the cookie a chewier texture. Trust.

Katie Lee's Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Related: Try Katie Lee’s Eggplant “Meat” Ball Sandwiches

Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Serves: 24-30 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (220 g) lightly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/3 cup (75 ml) white miso paste
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (255 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ cups (255 g) semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions:

1. Beat both sugars and the butter together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg, miso paste, and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Add the flour and baking soda and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (this is very important in order to have a chewy cookie that doesn’t spread out too much).

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

3. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

4. Use a medium ice cream scoop to portion cookie dough onto the prepared pans. Use two fingers to lightly flatten each scoop of dough. Bake, rotating and switching the pans halfway through, 13 to 14 minutes for a chewy cookie (a few minutes longer if you like a more well-done cookie). Transfer to a wire rack to cool (though I usually eat one straight out of the oven!).

Find this and more great recipes in Katie Lee Biegel’s new cookbook It’s Not Complicated: Simple Recipes for Every Day, Amazon, $36.

Katie Lee Biegel's new cookbook It's Not Complicated

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Food Network’s Rigatoni Pie is the OG TikTok Honeycomb Pasta (and Now We Want Both!)

You might’ve seen the honeycomb pasta hack that has gone viral on TikTok, in which Anna Rothfuss AKA @bananalovesyoutoo stuffs string cheese in rigatoni pasta, layering on sauce, ground meat and grated cheese for good measure. We daresay this popular quick meal evokes a Food Network Canada eye-catching favourite: our very own 20-minute, 10-ingredient Rigatoni Pie. While slightly more elevated in flavour (no string cheese here), this vegetarian version is equally melty and gooey and just as straight-forward to make for a quick weeknight meal — all with simple pantry ingredients you likely already have on hand.

rigatoni pie on white plate

Looking to save additional time? Instead of making your own tomato sauce, swap in four cups of store-bought marinara. For meat-lovers, you can mix things up too by adding cooked ground meat to the sauce (just note: you’ll need less of the sauce). This delicious budget-friendly comfort food will be a fan favourite at home, and the good news is the yield is high, so there will be plenty to go around.

Watch the how-to video here:


Rigatoni Pie Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 60 minutes
Rest Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
9 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 15-oz can whole peeled tomatoes in juice
1 cup loosely-packed fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 lb(s) rigatoni
1 lb(s) part-skim mozzarella, grated
⅔ cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Heat 4 Tbsp of the olive oil with the garlic in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Once it begins to sizzle, cook, stirring occasionally, until the garlic is soft and just beginning to brown, about 6 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes, then add the tomatoes and 1 ½ cups water. Increase the heat to high and bring the tomato sauce to a boil, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cool for 10 minutes then puree in a blender until smooth.

Related: This Feta Tomato Pasta Trending on TikTok is as Easy as 1-2-3

2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with 1 Tbsp olive oil and bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until it is slightly less than al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta, spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil.

3. Stand the rigatoni on their ends in the prepared pan until it is completely filled (you might not use all the pasta). Place the pan on a foil-lined baking sheet to catch drips. Pour the sauce over the noodles, spreading it with the back of a spoon (You might not use all the sauce.) Sprinkle the pasta with the mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Related: I Tried Meghan Markle’s “Filthy, Sexy” Zucchini Pasta Sauce — Here’s How It Stacked Up

4. Cover the pan with foil, doming it slightly to avoid touching the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the pan and continue cooking until the top is golden brown and bubbly, about 30 minutes more. Let the pasta cool for 10 minutes, then carefully remove the sides of the pan, cut into wedges and serve.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

Meet the World’s First Autonomous Robotic Kitchen Assistant

What if we told you that we know someone — rather something — who can work a grill and fryer perfectly for 100,000 hours straight? Its name is Flippy and it’s an AI assistant chef from Miso Robotics. The cost? $30,000 USD, plus a monthly fee of $1,500 USD/month.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

The robot addresses the problem of fulfilling late-night shifts that no one wants in a 24-hour restaurant. Also, due to the pandemic, there’s greater concern for food safety and hygiene. This is able to solution all of that, as the robot works with minimal human contact.

Related: Ways to Continue Supporting Your Favourite Local Restaurants

The robot chef — invented in 2016 — is controlled by AI to do more than just the repetitive task of being a burger flipper. Today it can keep track of cooking times and temperatures. It can place baskets in the fryer to make chicken wings, onion rings, hash browns and much more. As upgrades are made, this robot chef will be able to take on more complex tasks. The company has raised over $20 million, which shows there’s an appetite for this kind of technology.

Flippy robot chef in fast food restaurant

The robot is currently operating in Caliburger in Fort Myers, Florida. The restaurant chain has ordered more for each of their global locations. White Castle, the oldest fast-food chain in America, wanted in on this action as well. “We’re looking at Flippy as a tool that helps us increase speed of service and frees team members up to focus more on other areas we want to concentrate on, whether that’s order accuracy or how we’re handling delivery partner drivers and getting them what they need when they come through the door.” said White Castle’s vice president, Jamie Richardson. No word yet on whether the robot chef will be coming to Canada anytime soon.

Related: What is a Ghost Kitchen? (And Why They’re Thriving During COVID)

While this technology is impressive, there may be some concern that this will impact jobs in the fast-food industry. With so many unfilled restaurant jobs across North America and turnover rates at an all-time high, the introduction of robot chefs may be seen to some as a much-needed service. Also, while the robot is working the back of house, patrons will still have front-facing human customer service.

Photos courtesy of Miso Robotics

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