All posts by Allison Day

Allison Day is currently working on her 3rd cookbook, Modern Lunch (Appetite by Random House), the Taste Canada award winning blogger of YummyBeet.com, a nutritionist (R.H.N.) and food photographer. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, SHAPE, Chicago Tribune and more.

Potato Latke Eggs Benedict is Our New Brunch Favourite

Eggs Benedict is a weekend brunch recipe that will dirty more than a few dishes – but the results are well worth it. This version uses classic latkes as the base, instead of the more common English muffin, and skips the ham for rich smoked salmon. A buttery, bright and oh-so-easy Hollandaise, along with perfect poached eggs, completes this delicious Benny variation. The steps are plentiful, though very simple, so this recipe is absolutely doable for a special holiday breakfast or brunch with family and friends.

Latkes-eggs-Benedict-top

Latke Eggs Benedict with Smoked Salmon

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Makes: 4

Ingredients:

Easy Blender Hollandaise
2 egg yolks, egg whites reserved for latkes
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp water
200 g (about 1 cup) salted butter, melted, still warm
Kosher salt, to taste

Potato Latkes
2 lbs russet potatoes, peeled
1 small yellow onion, peeled
2 egg whites (reserved from hollandaise), whisked
3 Tbsp matzo meal or potato starch
2 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp baking powder
High-temperature vegetable oil, for frying

Poached Eggs
1 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
8 large eggs

To Assemble
2 Tbsp fresh dill fronds or minced chives
400 g smoked salmon
Lemon wedges

Latkes-eggs-Benedict-ingredients

Directions:    

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, reduce to a simmer.
2. Preheat oven to 200ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
3. Bring the smoked salmon out of the refrigerator to take the chill off.
4. In a medium bowl or blender, add egg yolks, lemon juice and water.
5. With an immersion (stick) blender or regular blender running, add melted butter in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Taste and season with salt, if needed.
6. To keep warm, transfer mixture to a smaller bowl to fit into a large bowl, and fill a larger bowl with just-boiled water (do not allow any to get into the hollandaise). Stir the hollandaise a few times when you’re ready to serve. Alternatively, transfer hollandaise to a thermal container (just make sure it doesn’t smell like coffee!).
7. Using the finest shredding attachment on your food processor, process potatoes and onions (or grate both with a box grater). Transfer mixture to a fine mesh sieve, lined with cheesecloth, set over a large bowl. Squeeze cheesecloth to remove excess starch and water from the potatoes and onion. Then transfer potatoes and onion to a large bowl.

8. To the potatoes and onion mixture, stir in whisked egg whites, followed by matzo meal or potato starch, salt and baking powder.
9. Fill a large skillet with ½ inch of oil. Heat to medium-high. Do not allow oil to smoke. The potato mixture should sizzle immediately when added to the pan; if it doesn’t, wait until the oil comes up to temperature. Fun alternative: try adding the uncooked latke mixture to your waffle iron instead of a skillet, for a fuss-free, extra-crunchy base.
10. Working in batches, without crowding the pan, scoop ¼ cup of potato mixture into hot oil and carefully flatten with a spatula. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a prepared baking sheet and keep warm in the oven while you finish the latkes. If you have leftover latkes from another meal, just reheat in oven at 200ºF.
11. To simmering water, add vinegar. One at a time, working quickly, crack eggs into a small bowl and gently add to simmering water. Poach for 3 to 5 minutes, until whites are set but yolks are still runny. Remove from water using a slotted spoon and place on a warmed plate.
12. On plates, add stacks of latkes, and then top with slices of smoked salmon, poached eggs and spoonfuls of Hollandaise. Garnish with dill or chives and lemon wedges. Serve immediately.

Looking for more holiday brunch inspiration? Here are 30 Boxing Day brunch recipes.

Three Easy No-Bake Vegan Chocolate Truffles to Please the Foodie in Your Life

Chocolate truffles are one of the easiest candies to make at home. There’s no candy thermometer or boiling sugar to contend with; and they come together with just a handful of pantry ingredients. This chocolate truffle recipe is vegan, with rich coconut milk and oil taking place of traditional heavy cream and butter. And because the holidays are about going all-out when it comes to sweets, three options are given for festive panache. The no-bake base gets glammed up with gingerbread, fruitcake and coconut flavours, delivering a texture and taste to please any giftee. For parties, hosting gifts or family get-togethers, this big-batch recipe makes enough to share.

Trio of No-Bake Vegan Chocolate Truffles

Prep time: 30 minutes
Chilling time: 7 hours
Makes: 80 (approximately 26 of each flavour)

Ingredients:

Vegan Chocolate Truffle Base:
600 g dairy-free semi-sweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped
6 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch, salt
2 cups coconut milk, well shaken (avoid light or reduced fat options)

Gingerbread Truffles:
⅓ Vegan Chocolate Truffle Base
⅓ cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped (plus some for garnish, if desired)
1 Tbsp molasses
⅛ tsp ground allspice
⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground cloves
⅔ cup cocoa powder (for rolling)

Fruitcake Truffles:
⅓ Vegan Chocolate Truffle Base
⅓ cup dried fruit or raisins, chopped
2 tsp dark rum
1 tsp orange zest
¼ tsp almond extract
1 cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped (for rolling)
Note: omit walnuts and almond extract for nut-free recipe

Coconut Truffles:
⅓ Vegan Chocolate Truffle Base
1 ½ cups unsweetened desiccated coconut, cooled

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, add chocolate, coconut oil, vanilla extract and salt. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat coconut milk until steaming around the edges, just before a boil. Remove from heat and pour into chocolate mixture. Allow it to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes, then whisk well.

2. Divide truffle base between three medium bowls or pans. In one bowl containing ⅓ of the truffle base, add all the gingerbread truffle ingredients except for the cocoa powder for rolling. Stir well to combine. In the second bowl containing ⅓ of the truffle base, add all the fruitcake truffle ingredients except the walnuts and stir well to combine. In the third bowl containing the final ⅓ of the truffle base, add ½ cup of unsweetened desiccated coconut (leaving one cup for rolling) and then stir well to combine.
3. Label and refrigerate all three chocolate truffle bowls for at least 6 hours until firm (or up to 1 week if covered).
4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and roll each truffle into a 1 to 2 tablespoon-sized ball and add to baking sheet.
5. For the gingerbread truffles, roll in cocoa powder and gently press in a piece of additional crystallized ginger if desired. For the fruitcake truffles, roll in chopped walnuts. For the coconut truffles, roll in the additional coconut.
6. Refrigerate truffles until firm (about 1 hour) before transferring to an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month. Serve chilled.

Looking for more dairy-free holiday sweets? Check out these 25 decadent holiday vegan desserts!

Make This Healthy Vegan Grain Bowl (With Wine-Baked Tofu!) For Your Holiday Dinner Party

Classic holiday dishes lend themselves naturally to the grain bowl concept, offering a combination of contrasting yet complementary textures, tastes and colours for a celebratory meal-in-one. This bowl also happens to be vegan, with a red wine-baked tofu instead of turkey and a roasted garlic miso-mushroom gravy. Simply mashed sweet potatoes, green beans enlivened with lemon and fluffy quinoa round out this celebratory holiday bowl.

Serve this up family-style and have guests build their own bowls, or enjoy it as a weeknight or weekend winter dinner. Like all great bowls, the add-ons and combinations are flexible – try roasted brussels sprouts or steamed kale instead of green beans, pan-fried butternut squash or mashed Yukon gold potatoes instead of mashed sweet potatoes and roasted chickpeas instead of tofu. Of course, the true testament to this bowl’s holiday status: the leftovers are delicious!

Healthy Vegan Grain Bowl With Red Wine Glazed Tofu and Miso-Mushroom Gravy

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Marinating Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Red Wine and Thyme Glazed Tofu:
1 (280 g) package extra-firm pressed tofu
½ cup red wine or cranberry juice
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp maple syrup
½ tsp dried thyme

Mashed Sweet Potatoes:
4 medium sweet potatoes, well scrubbed
1 Tbsp coconut oil
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground black pepper



Roasted Garlic Miso-Mushroom Gravy:
1 whole head garlic, halved crosswise
2 Tbsp sweet white miso
2 Tbsp finely chopped dried porcini mushrooms
1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp red wine or cranberry juice
1 Tbsp spelt flour
1¼ cups water, plus more to thin if desired

Lemony Green Beans:
200 g green beans, trimmed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest

For Serving:
3–4 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice, warm
Lemon wedges
Chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

Red Wine and Thyme Glazed Tofu:
1. Slice tofu into ¼-inch slabs and then each slab diagonally into 2 triangles. In a large shallow dish, whisk to combine red wine or cranberry juice, vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, maple syrup and thyme. Add tofu in a single layer, cover, and marinade at room temperature for 1 hour. Meanwhile, prepare the other components.
2. When you’re ready to bake the tofu, preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and add tofu in a single layer. Drizzle over marinade. Bake for 7 minutes, flip and bake for an additional 7 to 12 minutes, or until tofu is beginning to brown and dry around the edges and marinade is reduced. Reheat in the oven right before serving.

Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Garlic:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment or foil and add sweet potatoes. Prick with a knife to allow steam to escape and pop in the oven for 35 to 50 minutes, until completely tender when pierced with a knife.
2. Roast the garlic for the gravy in a foil ball at the same time as you are cooking the sweet potatoes, until tender. Cool and reserve for gravy.
3. When potatoes are cool enough to handle but still warm so coconut oil will melt, peel sweet potatoes, discard skin and add sweet potato flesh to a large bowl along with coconut oil, salt and pepper. Mash with a fork until smooth. Reheat right before serving in a low oven or on the stovetop.

Roasted Garlic Miso-Mushroom Gravy:
1. Squeeze half of the roasted garlic (method above) in a medium saucepan – it’s okay if you get garlic papers in the pot as this will be strained at the end. To garlic, add miso, mushrooms, coconut oil, vinegar, red wine or cranberry juice, tamari or soy sauce and flour.
2. Whisking constantly, heat miso mixture over medium heat until coconut oil is melted and a thick, bubbling paste forms. Slowly whisk in water and cook, whisking constantly, until bubbling and thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and rest for 2 minutes, then strain using a fine mesh sieve into a warmed gravy boat or small pouring jug. Discard used sieve components.



Lemony Green Beans:
Steam or blanch green beans until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain and add to a large bowl and toss with olive oil and lemon zest. Set aside until ready to serve.

Assembly:
To bowls, add a bed of quinoa, dollop of mashed sweet potatoes, side of green beans and fan of tofu. Pour over warm gravy, to taste, and finish with a sprinkle of parsley and squeeze of lemon. Serve immediately. Alternatively, lay everything out family-style and allow guests to build their own bowls.

Craving more wholesome easy-to-make recipes? Here are 15 Meal-Sized Salads You’ll Actually Crave, and 15 Sweet and Savoury Breakfast Bowls for Brighter Mornings.

This Vegan Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk Takes Less Than 30 Minutes

A warming bowl of Thai coconut curry soup is made even better with the addition of pure canned pumpkin. A fiery twist on the many squash soup recipes out there, this robust vegan pumpkin version is layered with flavour, coming through with a delicate balance of salty, sour, citrusy, sweet and savoury tastes. Both pumpkin and coconut milk provide dairy-free creaminess to the vegan soup base, which is super satisfying on its own, but can be quickly made into a heartier meal with cubes of firm tofu and shredded bok choy stirred in until heated through. For additional heft, a few spoonfuls of natural peanut butter or a handful of unsalted roasted peanuts would be delicious.  Make this easy vegan pumpkin soup recipe your own, experimenting with the Thai-inspired tastes you find most appealing.

Vegan Spicy Thai Curry Pumpkin Soup with Coconut Milk

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp vegan Thai red or yellow curry paste
1 Tbsp peeled minced fresh ginger
1 (3-inch) stalk lemongrass, bruised
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more to thin as needed
1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree or 2 cups fresh pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk, 1 Tbsp reserved for garnish
2 Tbsp lime juice, plus more for serving
1/3 cup shredded Thai basil or fresh cilantro
3 red Thai chilis, sliced or minced

Directions:
1. In a large pot, heat coconut oil and sesame oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, garlic, curry paste, ginger and lemongrass, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until onions are softened, about 10 minutes.

2. Add broth, pumpkin and tamari or soy sauce. Bring mixture to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Remove lid and discard lemongrass. Stir in coconut milk and lime juice. Using an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth, or transfer to a blender and puree soup in batches. If soup is too thick for your preference, thin with additional broth until desired consistency.

3. Reheat soup over low heat, ladle into bowls, swirl over reserved coconut milk and top with basil or cilantro and chili. Serve with additional lime juice.

Want more easy pumpkin recipes to make this autumn? See here for 12 Incredible Ways to Hack a Pumpkin and 35 Creative Pumpkin Recipes to Try This Fall.

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cups with Coconut Whipped Cream

Pumpkin-flavoured everything defines the fall season, and pumpkin pie, the original, is no exception. This vegan version (in mini, bite-sized form!) uses coconut in a few different ways – flour, milk and sugar – to achieve a tender dairy-free crust, trademark custardy interior and must-have whipped cream topping. But rest assured, even with all of that coconut, the flavour is loud and clear: pumpkin pie with whipped cream!  The coconut is used for butteriness and richness, which vegan desserts require in order to achieve the familiar texture, taste and appearance of traditional baked goods. Spelt flour lends a nutty, wholegrain note to the pastry, but doesn’t have a too-strong flavour, like whole-wheat flour can. Spelt flour is also lower in gluten (not gluten-free), which means a more tender, flaky pie crust, naturally.   

Prepare the pastry the day before so it’s ready to take form in your muffin tin the day you want to serve these miniature vegan treats. Leftover pumpkin pie cups will last for one day at room temperature, or for a few days in the refrigerator. 

Vegan Pumpkin Pie Cups with Coconut Whipped Cream

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Chilling and Cooling Time: 8 hours 20 minutes
Total Time:
 60 minutes (not including chilling and cooling time)
Servings: 10 to 12 pie cups

Ingredients:

Spelt Pastry:
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups light spelt flour, plus more for rolling
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
Pinch, salt
1/3 cup cool coconut oil (solid but still scoopable); or cold unsalted vegan stick butter, cubed
2 tsp distilled white vinegar
1 to 5 Tbsp ice water

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup coconut sugar or dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp coconut flour
2 tsp pumpkin spice, plus more to garnish
Pinch, salt
1 cup canned coconut milk (not light or reduced fat)

Coconut Whip:
1 (14 oz) can coconut milk, refrigerated for 24 hours, unshaken
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Garnish:
1/4 cup crystallized ginger pieces

Directions:

Spelt Pastry:
1. In a food processor, pulse 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar and salt until combined. Distribute pieces of coconut oil or butter over top of flour and pulse until incorporated and a coarse meal forms. Sprinkle over vinegar followed by 1 Tbsp of water. Briefly pulse dough until it begins to hold together. If it’s too sticky, add more flour; if it’s too dry, add water 1 Tbsp at a time.
2. Tip dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a disc. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 1 day.
3. Bring the dough out of the refrigerator and rest at room temperature until still cool but you are able to roll, about 20 to 30 minutes.
4. Sprinkle a large clean surface and rolling pin with additional flour. Unwrap dough and roll into a large, 1/4-inch-high round. Using a 4- to 5-inch cookie cutter or drinking glass, cut circles of dough, re-rolling as needed, for 10 to 12 circles. Fit circles into a 12-count muffin tin, removing any air pockets from the bottom. The pastry should be almost or just touching the top of the muffin rim.
5. Refrigerate formed pastry cups for at least 1 hour, or until completely chilled. Meanwhile, prepare the filling and coconut whipped cream.

Pumpkin Pie Filling:
1. In a large bowl, whisk to combine pumpkin and sugar. Sift over coconut flour, pumpkin spice and salt, and then whisk again until smooth. Slowly whisk in coconut milk until fully incorporated.

Coconut Whip:
1. Remove coconut milk can from refrigerator (don’t shake) and open. Spoon only the thick creamy top into a bowl and reserve watery liquid below for another use (in baking, smoothies, soups or sipping).
2. With electric beaters, whip coconut cream until it begins to get fluffy with soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Once desired texture has been reached, beat in maple syrup and vanilla. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, up to 1 day.

Baking and Assembly:
1. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Fill chilled pastry cups to the top with filling, smoothing slightly to flatten.
2. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate pan and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes until filling is dry to the touch and both the filling and pastry are beginning to brown. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes. Run a knife around the outside of each cup to loosen, and transfer to a wire cooling rack to cool completely, about 5 hours.
3. To serve, dollop cooled pumpkin cups with coconut whip and sprinkle with crystalized ginger and/or additional pumpkin spice, if desired. Enjoy immediately.

Looking for more vegan pumpkin recipes? Try these Vegan Pumpkin Scones with Maple Glaze or Vegan and Paleo Pumpkin Blondies.

Nutritionist Reveals 10 Secrets to Keeping Energy Levels Up All Day Long

In today’s bustling everyday life, keeping energy levels up and steady can be a struggle. Over the last several years, I’ve incorporated doable strategies and practices into my daily routine that really work to keep my energy levels soaring. These are my top 10 tips for achieving that get-up-and-go feeling.

1. Drinking Lots of Water

For the last 15 years or so, I’ve made it a focus to drink plenty of water every day. Today, I’m never without my stainless steel water bottle when I leave the house. Drinking water keeps my energy levels up by keeping me hydrated, which is especially important during hot summer days, or after vigorous exercise. It’s also had a positive effect on my naturally dry skin, and my digestive system. And I never buy plastic bottled water unless I’m travelling and there isn’t a place to fill up my water bottle – we’re inseparable.

2. Exercising Regularly

This does so much for my energy levels – I love to move! Exercise also keeps my appetite strong (here’s what to eat post-workout), clears my mind and helps me sleep more soundly (I have always had trouble sleeping). This, in turn, boosts my energy levels and mood the next day. It also reduces my stress tremendously. And those post-workout endorphins really keep going – when I’m in a good mood, my energy levels soar, and exercising makes me happy.


Get the recipe for Sweet Potato Toast with Almond Butter, Banana and Coconut Chips

Here’s what I do: I walk everywhere I can, taking the stairs up to our apartment. I also do the rare run along with barre or yoga classes five times a week. It may seem like a lot, but I make it part of my every day routine. I choose to spend one hour at an exercise class instead of on my phone mindlessly scrolling through social media, which is a more positive choice for me (and my eyes). And I never exercise if I really, truly don’t feel like it – it’s all about balance.

I recommend starting slowly with an exercise routine. You may feel more tired at first, but that washes away after a few weeks of consistency. Start with a walk and build from there.

3. Sipping Coffee

After a few glasses of water, I start my day with a cup of pour over coffee. Two cups of coffee is my max, but I find this really propels me forward and gives my brain and body energy and clarity for the day ahead. I’ll occasionally have a bulletproof coffee, which is essentially grass-fed butter and coconut oil blended into hot coffee, if I’m feeling in need of a bigger energy jolt, but 99% of the time I drink it black.

4. Limiting Caffeine

Although I just said that coffee boosts my energy levels in the morning, I don’t overdo it and never use it as a quick fix for an energy boost. I find that too much coffee or green tea creates highs and lows in my energy levels and increases my anxiety. Limiting caffeine or cutting it out completely after 12 p.m. is critical for me if I want to get any sleep that night. I switch to herbal teas in the afternoon and into the evening, which also add to my overall water consumption for the day. Win-win!

5. Eating Intuitively

I don’t follow any diets, but instead, eat intuitively. Essentially this means that if I’m hungry, I have a meal, and if I’m not hungry, I don’t. When I do eat, I make sure to consume whole foods filled with produce, good fat, protein and complex carbs. However, nothing is off limits for me – I enjoy all foods. And I do eat dessert (see here for guilt-free ways to satisfy your sweet tooth), but I’ll have it after dinner or in the afternoon on a lazy weekend when I can spare the sugar crash.


Get the recipe for Healthy Vegan No-Bake Chocolate Brownies 

6. Eating Lunch

I never skip lunch because I need the energy to power me through the day. In general, dinner is always the biggest meal of the day, but I find that also eating a hearty yet light lunch is better for my energy levels. Bowls with vegetables, protein and healthy fats keep me full for hours, and ensure my stamina is high with no afternoon crashes.

7. Enjoying Balanced Meals

I look to get a ton of fresh produce into my diet including leafy greens, dark orange vegetables, whole grains, eggs, meat, beans and healthy fats (and an absurd amount of full-fat plain Greek yogurt!) I eat for energy and pleasure in equal amounts. Enjoying a range of colourful, real food is at the heart of my diet. And when I say enjoying, I really mean it. I slow down to chew, engage in conversation with the person I’m sharing a meal with and appreciate what it’s providing for me.


Get the recipe for Banquet Bowls with Cauliflower Hazelnut Pilaf, Dhal and Scallion Cucumber Raita

8. Regulating Blood Sugar

I experienced extreme blood sugar drops and energy dips my entire life until I started paying attention to what I was eating. For me, I love carbs, and my body does really well on them, but they need to be complex for the most part, which are rich in fibre and slower to digest, containing a lower or low-glycemic index. Pairing complex carbohydrates with a protein source, for example, an apple with peanut butter or sourdough toast with eggs, digest slowly for sustained energy. I make homemade energy bites or pack a small bag of almonds and dried fruit to take with me when I leave the house, which I can snack on in times of emergency. As much fun as a cookie is as an afternoon snack, I need something with more substance to help me through.

9. Turning to Healthy Fats

I am so excited about healthy fats, and make sure that every meal and snack includes some form of fat. If I need a real energy kick-start for breakfast (most days), I add a dollop of coconut oil on top of my fruit, granola and yogurt, or cook my eggs in extra butter. I’ve been amazed at how just a teaspoon or two of extra fat can steady my energy levels for hours. Incorporating more fat into my diet over the years has done wonders for my mood, digestive system, hair and skin, too.


Get the recipe for Shakshouka

10. Choosing Iron-Rich Foods

Like many women, I have ongoing problems with extremely low iron, which causes overwhelming fatigue for me, among other unwelcome side effects. Incorporating good-quality red meat once a week into my meals, as well as plenty of dark leafy greens (squeezed with lemon, as the vitamin C helps with iron uptake), flaxseed, chia seeds, beans and whole grains is what works best for me. A texturally appealing kale salad with a vibrant dressing (like this recipe) is one of my go-tos to ensure I’m on my way to getting enough iron for the day (here are 15 tasty ways to boost your iron intake).

Try one or more of my tips out if you’re looking for sustained or boosted energy levels throughout the day, or share what works for you. Even one or two minor changes can make a big difference – I’m a baby-steps-approach-to-wellness devotee.

What Exactly Are Macros and How Do You Count Them?

You may be seeing the term macros more often these days thanks to the increased popularity of the keto diet and the general public’s heightened attention to the benefits of eating healthfully. The term is short for macronutrients, which includes the three most important nutrients required for the proper functioning of every body part and our overall well-being. Macros encompass carbohydrates, fats and protein, each bringing with them their own unique benefit for the body. At a basic level, carbohydrates give energy, fats provide satiation and proteins repair and build muscle – but the benefits don’t stop there.


Get the recipe for this Mexican Quinoa Bowl, which features a healthy balance of carbs, fat and protein. 

The following breakdown of macros is general, and varies from person to person. Every body is unique, with recommended intakes fluctuating based on age, activity level, weight, height and health status. Check with your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist if this is something you’re excited to know more about.

The Macros Basics

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are where our bodies can most easily turn to for energy. They’re especially important for brain functioning, as the brain gobbles up a huge percentage of the carbs we eat. Complex carbohydrates are preferable most of the time, but simple carbs can be beneficial to boost blood sugar levels quickly after a workout.

Fats

Fat not only adds flavour to food and keeps you full, but this macro is also incredibly important to one’s whole health. Fats nourish the brain and organs, help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, E and D), contribute to proper hormone function, lubricate joints, keep skin soft and hair healthy, lubricate the eyes, regulate the mood and so much more. Suffice to say that fats are not to be skipped (unless you have an underlying health problem), and a well-rounded diet includes a balance of good-quality fat sources such as grass-fed butter, coconut oil, flaxseed oil, extra-virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, eggs (with the yolk), fatty fish and avocado.


Get the recipe for Soba Noodles with Garlic Shrimp and Miso Dressing

Proteins

When you add protein to a meal, be that from eggs, steak, chicken breast, tofu or beans, you’ll likely notice that you feel satisfied and remain full for longer. Proteins are building blocks of muscle, enzymes, hormones, cartilage, bones, skin, hair, nails and blood. Neurotransmitters in the brain are built from protein (amino acids), which basically ensure that the different body parts can “talk” to each other. A complete protein contains all essential amino acids, which is found in animal protein sources. However, if you follow a plant-based diet, combining two different foods can replicate a complete protein. For example, pairing brown rice with black beans, or seeds with legumes, creates a complete protein full of all essential amino acids.

Why Focus On Macros?

Looking to our unique activity levels, age and lifestyle, it may be beneficial to pay closer attention to the macros you’re eating. For instance, if you workout often, in general, you’ll need more carbohydrates for energy than someone who lives a very sedentary lifestyle.

Those who are following a ketogenic diet believe that fat is the best fuel for weight loss purposes, as it takes more work to turn fat into energy than carbs. If you’re following a keto diet, you should be doing so under medical supervision.


Get the recipe for Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Why Count Macros?

Calorie counting is hard to stick to, and doesn’t put any focus on the nutrition found within the food. Counting macros, however, takes a more holistic look at all of the good-for-you nutrients you’re consuming. Most of it is common sense: look at a plate (or bowl) of food, and then see if it’s a healthy balance of carbs, fat, and protein. An example of this could be a large green salad with roasted sweet potato tossed in an olive oil-based dressing and paired with chicken, or the salmon tacos with avocado pictured below.


Get the recipe for Ina Garten’s Roasted Salmon Tacos 

If you’re looking to lose weight, maintain a healthy weight, increase your energy levels or up your game at the gym, counting macros may help you along.

The Percentage of Macros You Need

These percentages of macros needed is dependent on a range of factors, so choose both what feels right and is recommended by your medical professional. The numbers are what you’re aiming for in your whole day, so plan meals accordingly:

Macros for General Health 

  • 45-65% carbs
  • 20-35% fat
  • 10-35% protein

Macros for Weight Loss

  • 30% carbs
  • 25% fat
  • 45% protein

Macros for Strength

  • 50% carbs
  • 20% fat
  • 30% protein

Macros for Endurance

  • 45-50% carbs
  • 20-30% fat
  • 15-20% protein

Macros for the Keto Diet (under medical supervision)

  • 6% carbs
  • 73% fat
  • 21% protein

How to Count Macros Successfully

If counting or tracking your macros is something you want to try, you have to know your weight (tied directly to body mass index) and activity level, as your carb, fat and protein intake requirements are entwined to these two pieces of information. Here’s a Macro Calculator that does the math for you, leaving you to just cook, eat and start tracking.

For overall well-being, counting macros or not, focus on whole, real, unprocessed foods made from scratch when possible, 80% of the time and keep those extras to 20% of the time. It can be as easy as that.

how-to-make-cauliflower-rice-and-flavourful-recipes

How to Make Cauliflower Rice (and 3 Flavourful Variations)

Cauliflower has gained a lot of popularity among healthy eaters for its fibre-rich and disease-preventative benefits. As well, it’s a bit of a chameleon when it comes to nutritious meals. This cruciferous vegetable has a mild, agreeable taste that can take on any flavour and be transformed into risotto, pizza crust and cauliflower “rice” — all without the hefty dose of carbs!

Cauliflower rice in a bowl

If you don’t have a food processor, you can still make this sneaky healthy side dish with a knife or box grater. Here are a few easy ways to make the perfect cauliflower rice, and a few simple seasoning ideas.

Three Ways to Make Cauliflower “Grains”

Food Processor Method:

1. Cut cauliflower into several rough pieces and remove the tough core.

2. Working in 2 batches, add to a food processor fitted with a metal blade, and pulse until the size of rice or couscous. Add to a large bowl.

3. Repeat with the second batch of cauliflower.

Box Grater Method:

1. Cut cauliflower into several rough pieces and remove the tough core.

2. Working in several, manageable batches, grate cauliflower on the medium-sized holes of you grater. Add to a large bowl.

3. Repeat with remaining pieces of cauliflower.

Knife Method:

1. Cut cauliflower into several rough pieces and remove the tough core.

2. Make small slices crosswise into cauliflower pieces.

3. When entire head is slices, chop until fine, roughly the size of rice or couscous.

How to Cook Cauliflower Rice and Flavour Variations

Cauliflower rice is a nutritious addition to meals whether served raw or cooked. Add your uncooked rice into salads, soups or bake into casseroles for textural delight.

Simple Rice: Warm olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower “grains,, sprinkle with salt and cook covered for 8 minutes until fluffy. Serve as a side dish or bed for curries and stews.

Roasted Rice: Roast rice until crispy and use as a crunchy topper for avocado toast or hummus. For more flavour, try roasting the rice with cumin, cinnamon and thyme.

Southwestern Cauliflower Rice: Saute onion, red bell pepper and garlic with cumin, chili powder and smoked paprika. Add cauliflower rice and cook until tender. Season with a squeeze of lime juice, salt and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve inside tacos, as a side dish or toss in black beans to make it the main event.

Chinese Fried Cauliflower Rice: Sauté onion, carrot, ginger and garlic. Add cauliflower rice and cook until tender. Season with soy sauce or tamari, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and Sriracha. Stir in diced green onions and serve inside lettuce cups with shredded cooked chicken or duck.

Greek Cauliflower Rice: Sauté onion, garlic, dried oregano, a pinch of nutmeg and chopped fresh rosemary. Add cauliflower rice and cook until tender. Season with salt, lemon zest and lemon juice. Remove from heat and stir in pitted black olives, seeded and diced Roma tomato, chopped fresh dill and crumbled feta. Serve with pita and hummus.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Published June 10, 2016, Updated June 1, 2018

8 Vegan Ice Cream Recipes You Need to Make This Summer

Summer desserts are all about ice cream in all forms. And for those who follow a vegan diet, dessert fiends who require their sweets dairy-free and anyone who just loves an ice-cold treat, these veganized recipes deliver. There’s everyday ice pops given a cocktail twist, a zippy apple sorbet, no-churn vegan ice cream that tastes like the real thing, a celebratory ice cream cookie cake and more, all given a plant-based makeover. So embrace that brain-freeze this summer, and scoop up something delicious.

No-Churn Vegan Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This recipe uses whole-food ingredients to create a no-churn, better-for-you ice cream tinged with summer childhood nostalgia. Rich in healthy fats from avocado and cashews, sweetened with dates and infused with real mint and a surprise, naturally green superfood ingredient, it’s a healthy way to satisfy your ice cream craving during a heat wave.

Vegan Oreo Ice Cream Cake

One of the best-kept secrets in the snack food industry: Oreos are vegan. An entire cookie package forms the base, freckles the filling and garnishes the top of this decadent creation. Use your favourite vegan vanilla ice cream to keep things simple, or prepare your go-to homemade version. A true crowd-pleaser everyone, vegan or not, will scream about.

Dairy-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

This recipe is doing its best Elvis impression, combining bananas, peanut butter and chocolate chips for a plant-based ice cream that you can make in a food processor. Frozen bananas act in lieu of dairy as the base, whipping up light and fluffy, just like ice cream, when frozen and blended. The peanut butter can be replaced with almond butter, sunflower seed butter or vegan chocolate-hazelnut spread.

Watermelon and Strawberry Icebergs

These pretty pink ice cream floats skip the dairy and soda pop, made instead with lycopene-rich watermelon, vitamin C-loaded strawberries and corn syrup-free sparkling water. This no-churn recipe can be made with the help of your freezer and a food processor or blender. For that “frosé” vibe, use sparkling pink wine in place of water.

Green Apple Sorbet

This (egg white optional) dairy-free sorbet is a refreshing end to a big vegan BBQ feast. Green apples bring a lovely pistachio hue to the finished product, but you could try this with your favourite apple variety like royal gala, pink lady or golden delicious for a rainbow of colours and tastes.

Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

Skip the scoop and turn to your muffin tin for a no-churn plant-based ice cream option. These freezer treats are like personal-sized icebox cakes, and are completely vegan, tasting like the best strawberry cheesecake ice cream from your local parlour.

Cocktail Popsicles

If a nightcap rather than ice cream is more your style for dessert, chill out with a cocktail popsicle. Choose from Stawberry-Aperol, Cucumber-Gin or Orange-Negroni ice lollies, all made without dairy.

Banana Ice Cream Sundae

Pile scoops of healthy, one-ingredient, frozen banana “ice cream” with your favourite sundae toppings for a vegan treat that both kids and adults will love to build and eat. Garnishes of mashed raspberries, blueberries, chocolate chips, pistachios and toasted coconut add a rainbow of colour, texture and summertime flavour (just skip the Greek yogurt called for or use coconut yogurt or coconut whip in its place). And the best part? Sundae add-ons don’t cost extra at home.

How to Spice Up Your Fried Chicken — Plus Tips for Frying at Home

In the kitchen, it’s often the classics that elude us, as we search for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie, mac and cheese or in the case of the Top Chef Canada chefs, fried chicken. For their latest Quickfire Challenge in Episode 6, the chefs were tasked with creating fried chicken with a twist. Seemingly straightforward, fried chicken can often fall flat on flavour and texture, turning out bland and greasy if not approached with a skilled hand. These chefs were in for a bigger challenge than they thought.

While a classic, buttermilk fried chicken recipe was presented by one of the chefs, the rest of the chefs chose to use their fried chicken and side as a blank canvas for big flavour. A seven-spice take on chicken and waffles garnered praise with its double-crunch factor from fried chicken skin (like a potato chip). And a Southern BBQ-style fried chicken plate brought the heat with a hot oil pour-over. But it was Chef Jinhee Lee’s nod to her mom’s fried chicken that reigned over the rest: an anchovy glazed fried chicken.

But don’t be intimidated by the chef’s impressive dishes. Fried chicken can be easy, crowd-pleasing and well worth the effort. Have a go at home in your own kitchen with these pro tips and recipes that will guarantee success.

Why You Should Marinade Your Chicken Before Frying

Not only will fried chicken be more flavourful when marinated, it will be juicier as well. Buttermilk is traditionally used for this as it’s slightly acidic and salty, which keeps the chicken moist and tender – even the white meat. If you don’t have buttermilk, plain yogurt, kefir, even pickle juice will produce a similar effect. Typically, you’ll want your chicken to marinade for at least a couple of hours, but the chefs didn’t have time for this in their 40-minute Quickfire Challenge.



Get the recipe for Skillet-Fried Buttermilk Fried Chicken

This recipe for fried chicken is a brilliant example of what a slightly acidic, salty and tenderizing marinade can do for your homemade fried chicken.

How to Layer Flavour When Frying Chicken

A marinade is the best way to ensure a juicy outcome, but it’s also a great place to begin building flavour. Add a dry rub of your choice, like a Cajun or BBQ mix to the chicken before letting it hang out in the marinade. Or, skip a step and add your spice mix right in the marinade. The more flavour you impart at this point, the more dynamic the final result will be. One of the chefs built their chicken around a seven-spice blend, which created an exceptional result. Now is the time when you want to go big with spices and seasonings– chicken can take it and much of those tastes will dissipate in the heat.

Fried Chicken with Dill Salt Recipe from Guy Fieri

Get the recipe for Fried Chicken With Dill Salt

This recipe is like a dill pickle chip in fried chicken form, infusing the marinade with dill pickle juice and a finishing salt with fresh dill. A three-layer process ensures a bold end result.

Transform Fried Chicken With the Help of the Spice Cabinet

The chefs used the herb and spice pantry in the Top Chef Canada kitchen to help their fried chicken and sides stand out, and you can do the same. Open your spice cupboard and explore a range of add-ins to jazz up your fried chicken rub, marinade, flour and dip. Almost anything goes.

Chili Powder or BBQ Spice Mix: Add zip to the rub, marinade and flour coating.
Curry Powder: Infuse the flour coating for a gorgeous yellow tint and earthy taste.
Harissa: Stir into the marinade and mix up with orange juice and honey for a sweet and spicy drizzle.
Herbes de Provence: Mix into the flour coating for a hint of freshness.
Lemon Pepper: Mix with flaky salt for a vibrant finishing touch.
Ras El Hanout: Mix the North African spice blend into your rub and coating.
Sriracha: Stir into mayo with lime juice for a fiery sauce.
Sumac: Swirl into buttermilk with lemon juice before marinating.
Za’atar: Add to your flour mix for a pop of flavour.
Pesto: Stir into mayo and yogurt for an herby dip.

Tips for Deep-Frying Chicken at Home

Having everything laid out and ready to go (your mise en place) will not only make things run more smoothly when frying, but it’s also safer and cleaner.

Frying Vessel: If you don’t have a deep fryer, deep-fry in a Dutch oven, deep cast-iron skillet (traditional) or enamel-coated cast iron pot for the best heat control. Deeper pots will reduce splattering.

Thermometer: Keep a deep-frying or candy thermometer in the pot while frying to monitor the temperature. As the chicken goes in, the temperature drops, and you need that sweet spot temperature for crispy, juicy, never-greasy chicken.

Cooling Rack: Set a wire cooling rack over a large rimmed baking sheet and transfer your chicken there when it’s done frying. Chicken can be kept warm in a low oven as you work through the batch this way, and, it reduces a soggy underside, so every corner of the chicken is crispy.

Oil: Choose an oil with a very high smoke point – this is not the place for the fruity extra-virgin olive oil you make salad dressing with. Shortening, lard and peanut oil are the best oils to fry your chicken in and are relatively inexpensive for the large quantity needed.

Contrasting Flavours Make Fried Chicken Delicious

Every chef offered a contrasting side or sauce for their fried chicken dish. The apple, fennel and corn slaw, as well as the compressed cucumber salad, were well received by the Top Chef Canada judges. Something acidic, like lemon or pickles (as one of the contestants chose), helps to cut through the rich fried chicken for a balanced dish. You can achieve this by keeping it simple with a lemon wedge or sweet-and-sour pickle served on the side, or whip up a tangy sauce for dunking, which is yet another place to spice things up.

Spicy Fried Chicken with Waffles

Get the recipe for Bobby Flay’s Fried Chicken and Wild Rice Waffles With Pink Peppercorn Sauce

This recipe speaks to the concept of contrasts perfectly, mixing sweet, heat and sour elements to tease out every ounce of flavour in your perfect fried chicken.

Sugar and Spice is Everything Nice: How to Make Desserts With Fragrant Spices

You may be familiar with your spice cabinet when it comes to savoury cooking, making curries, soups, burgers and salads with a confident hand. But desserts, from classic cookies to show-stopping sweet centrepieces can also benefit tremendously from a smack of fragrant spices you may not have usually considered. It was Top Chef Canada’s competitors that inspired us, as they were put to the test in the fifth episode’s Quickfire Challenge, being asked to create desserts with an eyebrow-raising twist using blindly chosen herbs and spices from the McCormick spice rack. The winning dish – Jalapeño and Sriracha Beignets, Burnt Orange Jalapeño Ice Cream and Caramelized Banana with Bone Marrow Caramel – wowed judges, rousing us to perhaps be a bit more adventurous in our dessert making at home.


Matt’s Jalapeño and Sriracha Beignets, Burnt Orange Jalapeño Ice Cream and Caramelized Banana with Bone Marrow Caramel

Of course, it doesn’t have to be as extravagant as this winning Top Chef Canada creation to be just as delicious. Here’s how you can infuse your desserts with unexpected flavours when baking at home.

How to Add Spices to Desserts

Spices taste best when they’re bloomed or expressed by exposing them to fat, liquid, heat or a combination. If you’re making bread, dough or truffles, steep spices in milk to draw out their full potential. For cooked puddings, like rice pudding, add the spices halfway through the cooking time to infuse your recipe without overpowering it. For cookies, cakes and frostings add your spices when creaming or melting butter or oil instead of with the dry ingredients; you’ll get more bang for your buck and a richer, rounder spice flavour as the fat coaxes out the fragrant oils of the spices.

Add Heat to Your Sweets

Like this week’s Top Chef Canada Quickfire Challenge winner, dessert makers around the world frequently introduce a sizzling kick to desserts with dried hot peppers. Take Mexico, for instance: their chocolate desserts are often pepped up with chili, adding depth to ignite and excite the palate. A stunning example of this is shown in Helloflavour.ca’s recipe for Flourless Chocolate Chili Cake, combining cayenne, cocoa, sugar, eggs, and dark chocolate. It has just a touch of bite, but not too much that it’s overwhelming, and it’s easy to accomplish at home. Click here to get the Helloflavour.ca recipe.

The Dessert Spice Cabinet

You know vanilla bean, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, but there are other ways to spice up your sweets with flavours like star anise, thyme, and black pepper. What’s more, you can use the same black pepper or thyme in dinner as you do dessert, keeping things simple.


Valerie Bertinelli’s Black Pepper Walnut Biscotti

Black Pepper: Black pepper can elevate desserts, adding a gentle warmth and earthy quality to citrusy sweets. A Top Chef Canada competitor paired black peppercorns with sage, making a mango black pepper curd with sage candies, matching sweet and earthy flavours with aplomb. For something a bit more home cook friendly, try black pepper in crusts for lemon meringue pie and grapefruit curd tarts. Or, whip it into cookies, like this recipe from Valerie Bertinelli for Black Pepper Walnut Biscotti.


Valerie Bertinelli’s Mexican Hot Chocolate Layer Cake

Chipotle: For desserts with a real kick and exceptional fortitude, add smoky chipotle chili pepper powder. The spice is outstanding in dark chocolate desserts, like in this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Layer Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, but would also work in strawberry shortcake, grilled pineapple sundaes and tiramisu.


Giada De Laurentiis’s Parma-Style Carrot Cake

Fennel Seeds: Fennel seeds make appearances in many Italian and Indian desserts, offering a gentle and welcome anise tang that’s both naturally sweet and digestion promoting, especially after a large meal. This structurally impressive recipe from Giada De Laurentiis for Parma-Style Carrot Cake includes fennel seeds, pine nuts and mascarpone cheese for a comforting Italian dessert.

 


Anna Olson’s Chocolate Spice Cupcake with Chocolate Swirl

Five-Spice Powder: With warming notes of star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel and Szechwan peppercorns, Chinese five-spice transitions seamlessly into the realm of desserts. Use it to imbue heavy cream when making truffles, switch up homemade masala chai, roast with rhubarb to top a pavlova or add it to cake batters for a stylish twist. This Chocolate Spice Cupcake with Chocolate “Swirl” Frosting recipe incorporates five-spice in a moist and tender cake base.


Ayesha Curry’s
Easy Saffron Crème Brûlée

Saffron: Impart earthy elegance to your desserts and make them jump off the plate with saffron. In Scandinavia, sweet St. Lucia buns are infused with saffron and dotted with dried fruit during the holidays. In Middle Eastern cuisine, saffron is added to rice pudding, custards, doughnuts, ice cream and cookies. Here, it’s given the French treatment in this 4-ingredient recipe for Easy Saffron Crème Brûlée, proving that crowd-wooing desserts don’t need to take all day.

Sponsored by McCormick. For more great dessert recipes go to helloflavour.ca.

Chef Michael Smith’s Pro Tips for Perfect Rice, Every Time

It’s often the simplest foods that can be the most challenging to make. Take rice, for instance. The grain is common on dinner tables around the world but often turns out too mushy, underdone or just plain boring. To help, Food Network Canada Chef School’s Michael Smith makes nice with rice as he walks you through how to cook a perfect pot of rice to accompany any meal, plus shows us how it can star as the main course, with his best rice tips, preparation techniques, ratios and recipes.

How to Cook Rice

We asked Michael how long to cook white rice and how much water to use, and he gave us an easy to remember rice cooking rule.

“[The] simplest possible way to cook rice is: to measure out, one cup of rice to two cups of water. Put that in a small pot, bring it to a simmer.  [Add a] touch of salt, bring it to the simmer, turn down the heat to maintain the barest of simmers. Put a lid on it and walk away for 20 minutes.”

Before serving up your perfect rice, Michael offers this rice-cooking trick only chefs know.

“Just let it rest before you take the lid off. Ideally a 10 minute rest before you remove the lid. Then you’re ready to serve. You don’t need to fluff it.”

Varieties of rice, like short-grain brown rice and black rice can take upwards of 50 minutes to 1 hour to cook, but the ratio of water to rice stays the same.

For extra-fluffy, quick-cooking rice varieties that take just 15 minutes to cook up, you can lower the quantity of water to 1½ cups of water to 1 cup of rice, as shown in Michael’s recipe for perfect basmati rice. 


Get the recipe for Michael Smith’s Basmati Rice here.

Rice Cookers vs. Stovetop

You can use a rice cooker or pot on the stovetop to make great rice. Michael adds, “Anything that gets you in the kitchen and cooking real food is fine by me.”

So, whether you love the old-fashioned method or the high-tech approach, fluffy and tender rice is within reach. Michael thinks the Instant Pot (a pressure cooker) for rice is an awesome timesaver. These pressure cookers allow wholegrain rice, like brown rice, red rice and black rice cook faster, making them weeknight-friendly.

Washing Rice vs. Not Washing Rice

Rinsing or washing rice a few times in cold water for varieties like basmati, jasmine and other medium- to long-grain rice helps keep the grains individualized, which leads to a fluffy pot.

Starchier rice, like arborio, most commonly used in risotto and rice pudding, doesn’t need to be rinsed or washed, as the outer starches are important for a creamy dish; the exception to this is short-grain sushi rice and sticky rice, which should be washed before cooking.

Michael Smith’s Top Rice Tips

Overall, the best rice comes with patience. Being sure to properly measure at the beginning with a 2:1 water to rice ratio, no peeking under the lid when it’s cooking and letting the rice rest for 10 minutes before serving, are the top takeaways here.

How to Add Flavour to Plain Rice

Rice is a blank canvas, ready for any flavour you add to it. Whether used as a base for a richly spiced curry or as a standalone fried rice supper, rice can handle spices, seasonings and sauces like a champ.


Get the recipe for Michael Smith’s Golden Rice Pilaf here.

To flavour plain (but perfect) white rice, try cooking it with coconut milk in place of some of the water, along with slivered ginger and garlic. In the same vein, vegetable or chicken stock can be used in place of water to boost flavour. Upon serving, a drizzle of herb-infused butter or chili oil will make your rice really pop. Soy sauce or tamari add an Asian flair to white or brown rice, along with a splash of rice vinegar and sesame oil. While saffron threads, as featured in this recipe from Michael Smith, add earthiness and a beautiful yellow hue. Other ideas to bedazzle your rice include curry powder, Tex-Mex spices, garam masala, Italian seasoning or try cinnamon, cumin and raisins for a Moroccan twist.


Get the recipe for Michael Smith’s Saffron Almond Rice here.


Get the recipe for Michael Smith’s Southwestern Rice here.

You can even turn last night’s risotto into a crispy rice cake or deep-fried delight known as arancini. Risotto itself takes to creamy, bold add-ins well, as showcased in Michael’s bacon and blue cheese risotto recipe.


Get the recipe for Michael Smith’s Apple Pie Brown Rice here.

And don’t be afraid to bulk up your rice with vegetables, fruits (apple pie brown rice, anyone?), beans, cooked proteins, toasted nuts and more. When it comes to rice, how you make it, serve it and dress it up is up to you.

Give your fluffy rice something to hold onto, and serve it up underneath Michael Smith’s recipe for curried, vegetable-filled Golden Aloo Gobi.

Guide to Building a Chef-Worthy Pantry of Dried Herbs and Spices

The tools of the trade for this season’s Top Chef Canada chefs go beyond sharp knives and moxie. The Top Chef Canada kitchen pantry is well stocked, beautifully organized and slightly envy-inducing. It’s brimming with spices, herbs and spice mixes with a spectrum of tastes, tangs and temperatures from extra-mild to ferociously hot, giving the chefs just what they need to create a winning dish.

These herbs and spices are mixed, matched and layered for bold, attention-grabbing flavour that makes their dishes stand out from the crowd. And taking these tastes from a professional kitchen to home base is easier than you’d think. All you need is a seasoning collection built for contemporary palates.

How to Build a Contemporary Spice Pantry

Map out your spice cupboard like you’re planning a trip. Is there a destination you’re aching to go to? A dish you’d love to try there? From Indian to Moroccan to French and beyond, herbs and spices are a passport to an untapped world of tastes awaiting exploration.


Spices at a Moroccan Market

To begin, bring one new spice or herb per week into your kitchen and before you know it, you’ll have a library of tastes waiting for you, inspiring you and helping you along, every time you cook.

How to Store Spices and Herbs

Treat your herbs and spices like gold and they’ll return the favour, staying fresh longer. Store spices in the jar they came in or transfer to your own airtight jar, well-sealed and away from direct light or high temperatures, which can cause oxidation, leading to flat, not fresh, spices and herbs. A kitchen cupboard is the perfect place.

How to Tell if Spices and Herbs are Still Good to Use

Aroma: Strong, prominent and striking.
Colour: Vibrant, rich and natural.
Taste: Discernable and fresh tasting, not flat, unnoticeable or papery.

The Shelf Life of Spices and Herbs

Dried herbs: 1 to 2 years
Ground spices: 2 to 3 years
Spice mixes and seasonings: 1 to 2 years
Whole dried spices: 3 to 4 years

Bold Spices and Herbs to Explore

We’re pulling inspiration from the Top Chef Canada kitchen to help you build the ultimate culinary spice pantry. Here are some gourmet options to consider adding to your new spice pantry along with recipes to try to bring the flavour home.

Ancho Chili Pepper: With a mild heat and sweet, fruity flavour, ancho chili pepper is the dried version of a poblano pepper. Try it in this epic recipe for a Mexican Puebla Hot Pot Broth with Avocado Crema from McCormick’s Helloflavour.ca.


Mexican Puebla Hot Pot Broth With Avocado Crema

Saffron: Earthy, sweet, ever so slightly bitter and remarkable, saffron is used in Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, Spanish, Indian and Italian cuisines, adding not only a distinctive flavour but glowing yellow colour, too. Try saffron in this Whole-Roasted Cauliflower recipe.


Whole-Roasted Cauliflower With Hazlenut, Orange and Saffron

Garam Masala: With a warmth akin to holiday baking spices but with a savoury, spicy edge, this Indian spice blend is usually a mix of cardamom, cinnamon, chili, curry leaves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns. Cull inspiration from India with this recipe for garam masala Sweet Potato Cakes.


Sweet Potato Cakes

Harissa: This North African spice blend comes dried or in paste form, often containing hot peppers, garlic, coriander, rose and caraway. It can be used in Moroccan tagines and stews, in spreads, dips or as a rub for meat. Give it a try at dinner tonight with this recipe for Chicken and Chickpea Tagine with Apricots and Harissa Sauce.


Chicken and Chickpea Tagine With Apricots and Harissa Sauce

Za’atar: Fragrant, slightly sour, nutty and herbaceous, this spice mix is common in Middle Eastern cuisine. A mix of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seeds, it brings depth to grilled flatbreads, fish, meat, hummus and more. It plays off of creamy chickpeas like a champ in this recipe for a Middle Eastern take of beans on toast.


Smoky Chickpeas on Grilled Toast With Poached Eggs and Za’atar

Lavender: Floral, soothing and delicate, culinary lavender adds a touch of Southern France to savoury dishes, and is a traditional component in herbes de Provence, a French spice mix containing thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory and rosemary. Lavender also shines in baked goods, sweets and cocktails. Bring a little bit of Southern French flair to your tea time with this recipe for Coconut Lavender Macaroons.    

Essential Herbs and Spices Every Kitchen Needs

The building blocks of everyday meals, these spices and herbs have your back, soothe your soul and bolster your mood with their familiar flavour. See our collection of 16 dried herbs and spices every home cook should have in their pantry. 

Sponsored by McCormick. For more great recipes using herbs and spices go to helloflavour.ca.

A Classic Combo: The Best Grilled Cheese with Tomato Soup

A timeless pairing, done ultimate-style. The best grilled cheese recipe ever, along with an outstandingly creamy (yet cream-free) tomato soup, are made world-class thanks to Food Network Canada Chef School’s Roger Mooking, who takes the classic coupling to a whole new level. This isn’t the typical lunch from your childhood, but an epicurean’s delight that’s layered and loaded with top-level ingredients. Along with a step-by-step video, Roger offers ingredient shopping tips, techniques and tricks for the greatest grilled cheese and tomato soup of your life. With this classic combo, it’s all in the details.

 

For the Tastiest Cream of Tomato Soup, Skip the Can

Roger begins by making the tomato soup for dunking, but it’s potatoes, not tomatoes, that start things off. The spuds, when pureed, add dairy-free creaminess to the dish without feeling too heavy – there’s a lot of cheese on the way, after all.

An amazing tip here for “roasted” tomato soup flavour without spending the time roasting tomatoes, Roger uses smoky chipotle peppers in adobo, which lends great depth and a little kick. Finally, fresh tomatoes are stirred in to add brightness and umami punch. After simmering the vegetables until tender, it’s time to blend.

Post-blend, Roger strains the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, creating that faux “canned” tomato soup vibe (but 100 per cent homemade and 100 per cent better). A finishing dab of butter adds silkiness and brings out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and onions. Basil, another time-honoured tomato soup partner, garnishes the bowl.

The Best Cheeses for Grilled Cheese

Now for the gooey grilled cheese. Roger uses a blend of stringy mozzarella and sharp cheddar, bringing both texture and flavour – it’s the best of both worlds in this gourmet grilled cheese recipe. He isn’t shy with the cheese, piling the dairy goodness in the centre of hearty sourdough bread, even allowing a bit of cheese to fall out the side and caramelize while grilling.

If mozzarella and cheddar aren’t in your fridge, or you’re looking to step outside the box, Roger provides this yummy alternative: “One that’s really nice and melty, like Provolone or Havarti.”

Fontina and smoked Gouda both work wonders in a grilled cheese, too.

How to Make the Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

“I think it’s important that there’s only very few elements from the grilled cheese, right? ” says Roger, who opts for minimal ingredients. “There’s bread, there’s butter, there’s cheese. So whenever you’re doing a recipe that has very limited ingredients like that, every ingredient really matters.”

We know it’s tempting, but don’t be stingy with the butter, it’s a core ingredient in the grilled cheese sandwich, making both quality and quantity count.

“Butters are not created equal, and you get some really pale watered down butters and they’re not great,” says Roger.

Irish and French butter is more expensive, but worth it here. While not absolutely necessary for the best grilled cheese sandwich ever, it certainly helps take it above and beyond.

Seasoning is also crucial and often skipped when making a grilled cheese sandwich.

“Make sure you season the layers internally,” says Roger. “You season when you stuff it with the cheese. And on the outside, on the butter, you season it with salt and pepper as well.”

For the bread, Roger reaches for sourdough because of its tangy taste. “So there’s a complexity of flavour in it,” he says, noting that you should look for a loaf with nice aeration and a nice crust on the outside.

Medium-low heat is the temperature you’re after on your stovetop griddle or skillet. This allows the cheese to melt slowly while the sourdough bread becomes golden brown, never burnt.

What Makes Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup So Good?

The mingling of crunchy, gooey, tangy and creamy elements is why grilled cheese and tomato soup go together so well. With this meal, it’s all about the contrast. For both kids and adults alike, there’s really no better comfort food meal, be it for lunch or dinner. It’s the timeless soup and sandwich combo, made Chef School-perfect.

Get Roger Mooking’s recipes for Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup. And, for a Canadian twist, try this recipe for Tomato and Beer Soup Shooters and Mini Bacon Grilled Cheese.

 

Anna Olson’s Cheerful Lemon Meringue Easter Desserts

Easter marks the time of year when the sun begins to shine a little brighter and warmer, and when garden flowers slowly begin to emerge from the ground. Not only are welcome changes happening outside, but also inside kitchens, with home bakers turning to fresh, vibrant flavours, like zingy lemon, for desserts that offer a treat for both the palate and eyes. Resident pastry pro, Anna Olson showcases a few brilliant ways to bring those good outdoor vibes into the kitchen with her lemon meringue desserts.

Get creative with lemon meringue, and think beyond pie this Easter with Anna Olson’s desserts that delight.

 

Anna Olson uses a bright lemon curd to fill cupcakes, profiteroles and eclairs before giving them the burnished meringue flourish.  Here’s where you can easily find the recipes that Anna references in the above video:
To bake up a lemon-scented cupcake, try Anna’s recipe here.

Get Anna’s lemon curd recipe here.

To make eclairs and profiteroles, use Anna’s recipe here.

Lemon Curd Makes Easter Desserts Shine

Anna Olson’s lemon curd recipe can be used beyond the recipes she features in the video. For instance, for a lemon-lovers Easter dessert, double the citrus by infusing a pound cake with lemon zest, then top each slice with a spoonful of lemon curd and tumble of sliced strawberries. Or, use lemon curd to fill a springtime layer cake or stir into yogurt for an Easter brunch side dish. There are countless ways to get more lemon curd into your springtime sweets.

The Best Meringue for Lemon Desserts

For that must-have snowy white topping, Anna makes a Swiss meringue, which begins by whisking egg whites and sugar together over a water bath until warm. This differs slightly from the raw egg white French meringues many recipes call for. When the sugar is dissolved and the whites are foamy, the mixture is added to a stand mixer where it’s beaten until glossy, thick and cool.

You Can “Lemon Meringue” Any Dessert

Armed with a tangy lemon curd and fluffy meringue, you’re ready to add lemon meringue intrigue to your favourite treats.  Anna adds a bright lemon curd filling and cloudlike meringue topping to cupcakes, profiteroles (cream puffs) and éclairs. Anna’s recipe for Lemon Coconut Cupcakes is a naturally fitting cake base to use for the cupcakes.

For the choux paste, the same base is used for both the round profiteroles and elegantly long éclairs, allowing you to have two seemingly different, French patisserie-level desserts in one. For a failsafe choux paste recipe, try Anna’s Profiteroles and Éclairs, replacing the pastry cream filling with lemon curd, and the chocolate topping with meringue, as shown in the video.

How to Fill Éclairs, Profiteroles and Cupcakes

When filling the choux paste desserts, you’ll feel the lemon curd resist slightly, which is how you know when to stop piping. If you don’t have a pastry bag, try a zip-top bag with a corner snipped out.

The profiteroles and éclairs are naturally airy so you can fill them with the lemon curd right away, but you’ll have to take out a centre portion of the cupcakes before filling (save those scraps for cake pops). That small hole in each cupcake that holds the lemon curd filling is fully concealed when the meringue topper is in place for a very delicious surprise.

The Final Flourish 

With that zippy lemon filling hiding in the treats, it’s time to top with the meringue. If you don’t have a pastry bag for the topping, consider going rustic with the back of a spoon, creating a bit of textural interest on top.

Anna notes you can leave the meringues to set as is, but for that true lemon meringue pie appearance, she gently caramelizes the meringue using a kitchen torch. Along with looking great stylistically, torching adds a rich toasted marshmallow flavour to anchor the juicy lemon filling.

Once you have the hang of it, you’ll be lemon meringue-ing everything.

From chocolate cake to madeleines, explore more springtime sweet inspiration with these Delightful Easter Desserts.

Anna Olson’s Dainty Easter Egg Chocolate Covered Strawberries

This easy and unique dessert is an exciting take on chocolate covered strawberries and dazzles on your spring sweets table.  Anna shows us how to give the time-honoured treat an Easter spin for a play on chocolate eggs that’s fresher, juicier, and prettier, too. It’s the chocolate and strawberry combo we all know and love, presented in a brand new way. There’s not a tastier way to enjoy fruit this Easter.

 

Make Your White Chocolate Eggshell

Whole strawberries with their stems cut off are dipped in melted white chocolate, taking on the appearance of an eggshell and acting as a blank canvas for your Easter egg designs. If you like brown eggs, this would be a great place to melt down some unwrapped chocolate eggs to coat the strawberries in place of, or in addition to, the white chocolate. For ease of dipping, choose firmer strawberries, not overly ripe ones that may bleed or cause the chocolate to split.

Decorating Eggs with Royal Icing

Anna uses royal icing to decorate the white chocolate dipped strawberries. This is simply a mixture of water, icing sugar and meringue powder, and you can get Anna’s royal icing recipe here. The royal icing is neutral base can be tinted in any colour you wish; in this case, it’s delicate springtime pastels. To pipe, Anna uses a parchment cone, which is easy to make – she demonstrates the technique in this quick video.

Add Some Sparkle

The royal icing also acts like glue when soft for a shower of decorator’s sugar (more colour!). This adds texture and vibrancy to really make the chocolate dipped strawberry eggs pop. Head to your local bulk food store and see the Easter-inspired sparkles and sprinkles they have available.

Do-Over Your Design

Anna notes that if you’re not happy with your design, just wipe it off before the royal icing sets. You don’t even need to re-dip the strawberries. As long as the white chocolate is firm, you can remove any unsightly icing squiggles in a pinch.

Have an Egg Decorating Party

For an interactive Easter activity, dip a few pints of strawberries far enough ahead of time so that the white chocolate can set, about 4 hours at room temperature or about 30 minutes if you put them in the refrigerator. Then, lay out sprinkles, tinted royal icing and any other edible decorations at the table for kids to embellish their own eggs.

Double the Chocolate

Easter wouldn’t be the same without mountains of chocolate. So, if you’d like even more chocolate on your white chocolate dipped strawberry eggs, decorate with a contrasting dark chocolate or coloured white chocolate instead of royal icing. This imaginative recipe is versatile and adaptable to your favourite sweet drizzles.

Keep the chocolate and berries theme going this Easter with Anna Olson’s Chocolate Raspberry Mousse Torte, decorating the top with these chocolate dipped strawberry eggs for a real showstopper.

The Best Ham Recipes and Tips for Your Easter Table

With Easter coming up, we’re talking to Food Network Canada Chef School’s Michael Smith, Mark McEwan  and Roger Mooking to help us master the baked holiday ham, a favourite roast this time of year. Your top ham questions for Easter and beyond are answered right here, by the pros. Along with what ham is best, how to cook ham and great tips for keeping your ham moist during roasting, the chefs deliver great ham glaze recipes for the trademark sticky-sweet crackling crust guests can’t get enough of. Intensely savoury, a little sweet and always crowd-pleasing, your Easter ham will be better than ever this year, thanks to the pros.

Best Ham to Buy

For the chefs, it’s all about the best quality, bone-in ham you can find – Easter ham is a once-a-year luxury, but can stretch beyond a single meal. Go big, and be rewarded with incredibly versatile leftovers – ham sandwiches, ham macaroni and cheese, ham omelettes, ham biscuits and more, next-day ham is a recipe-improving boon (we have a handful of leftover ham recipe ideas at the bottom of this article).

Michael Smith offers his advice on the traditional Easter ham, including what to look for when you’re purchasing it, saying, “I only cook one ham a year and that’s right around Easter. The best ham is bone-in, from a trusted source. You want something natural, naturally smoked. Not too many words that you can’t pronounce on the label.”

“To me, the best is buying a smoked, bone-in ham,” says Roger. “If you can go to a really good butcher, they can guarantee that they’re giving you [a good quality] Berkshire Ham or a Red Wattle Ham.” Red Wattle and Berkshire are heritage breeds of pork known for having the best quality meat.

How to Cook a Ham and Best Ham Glaze Recipes

Unlike other holiday meats, the beauty of a smoked ham is that it’s already cooked through. Cooks just have to heat, glaze and slice.

Roger keeps his ham moist and tender by covering it in the first half of cooking and mopping the glaze over the ham to finish. This helps to avoid both dry meat and a burnt crust. “As long as it’s covered you’ll have a nice steamy environment, and then towards the end, you [uncover it] and glaze,” he says.

Mark doesn’t typically add a liquid to the roasting pan when preparing his ham but that’s not to say you shouldn’t if you’re worried about keeping it moist.

“You could throw a tiny bit of stock in the bottom of the pan. A little bit of moisture with ham is not a bad thing at all. It helps to temper the cooking process and keep the ham moist. And you do want a moist ham.”

Mark also cautions against glazing the ham too early, as it can become too dark, or even burnt.

For a great ham glaze, the chefs love the interplay of sweetness with acid which complements a salty, smoky pork. The sweet component of a ham glaze can come from maple syrup, honey, fruit preserves, brown sugar, fruit puree or a mix of these. The acidic element can come from apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, or citrus.  A warm savoury note is welcome, too; some chefs like to add a bit of mustard or a strong spice like allspice to the mix.

You’re after the consistency of loose preserves or maple syrup for a glaze, something viscous enough that it will stick to the ham as you mop it on and baste.

Mark McEwan favours an “old school, old-fashioned bone-in a ham out of the oven, beautifully glazed.  For his glaze, Mark juices clementines and adds it to maple syrup. “I like clementines because they have a really rich colour and there’s a bit of pulp in it.” He rounds out the glaze with a bit of brown sugar and cider vinegar. And on the McEwan table,  ham is served with a good mustard; it’s “oh my goodness” delicious.

You can get Mark’s recipe for his Easter Ham Glaze with Maple and Clementine Juice here.

For Rogers’ glaze, he pairs his naturally smoked ham with honey, grapefruit juice, allspice, five-spice, a touch of strained tomato puree, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper, all stirred together until it reaches the consistency of maple syrup.

You can get Roger’s recipe for his Spiced Grapefruit and Honey-Glazed Ham glaze here.

Lynn Crawford has two delicious glazed ham recipes to serve at your holiday table: Pumpkin, Apple Cider, Maple Syrup and Mustard-Glazed Ham and a Traditional Maple-Glazed Ham with Cloves.

For a glazed ham recipe that gives you flexibility to create your own mix of flavours, try Michael Smith’s Sunday Ham with Apple and Rosemary Mustard Sauce. 

Easter Side Dishes for Ham

The perfect pairing for that beautifully glazed Easter ham is scalloped potatoes.   Try Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Potato Gratin recipe or pick your new favourite recipe from our 24 Seriously Delicious Scalloped Potato Recipes collection.

Our Favourite Recipes for Leftover Ham

Repurpose your holiday Easter ham myriad ways with these leftover ham recipes. It’s worth making extra just for them.

And for more leftover inspiration, here’s our collection of Best Easter Leftovers recipes.  

Anna Olson’s Pretty Birds’ Nest Meringues Sing of Spring

Pastry chef Anna Olson adds her whimsical touch to make a springtime or Easter treat that, as she says, “sings of the season.” Meringue nests hold a creamy vanilla buttercream, sweet coconut “grass” and colourful candy eggs. Kids and adults alike will love this treat, and every baker can put their own spin on it. What’s more, this fanciful birds’ nest dessert is easier than it looks, and Anna shows you how to pull it off flawlessly with the following video – and have fun in the process.

 

To assemble these spring-themed meringue birds’ nests,  you’ll need Anna’s simple white Birds’ Nests meringue recipe here.

You can use your favourite buttercream frosting recipe for the filling or try Anna’s vanilla buttercream frosting recipe here.

Meringue 101

For the nests, Anna turns to a French meringue, a straightforward mix of egg whites and sugar. Unlike Swiss meringue, a French meringue doesn’t have you warm or cook the egg whites and sugar together before using; the whites are kept raw, becoming cooked upon baking in a low oven. Be careful not to over-whip your egg whites, but if you do Anna shares her easy fix in this quick video.

No Pastry Bag? No Problem

If you don’t have a pastry bag, prepare the nests as you would a mini pavlova, using a spoon to create rounds and indentations where your filling will sit. There’s no wrong way to go about creating your masterpiece.

This Trick Keeps the Colour Pure Pink

To retain the pink colour (or your preferred pastel shade) in your meringue, a low and slow bake will help to achieve this. Other desserts, like pavlova, where you want to keep the appearance fair,  can also follow this method, with or without food colouring.

Avoid Browning the Meringue

A low oven also helps to avoid browning for a more polished look, creating a crisp exterior and airy interior to boot. After baking, those delicate egg whites have turned into a sturdy base, ready to be filled.

Have Fun with the Filling

rich vanilla cupcake buttercream is the ultimate compliment to those light-as-air nests. You can play around with the flavour of the buttercream, use a thick vanilla bean custard, or using Anna’s recipe for lemon curd mixed with whipped cream for the filling. And, not only does the filling taste great, it acts as “glue” for the decorative toppings to come.


If you’d like a more straightforward interpretation of this springtime treat, try Anna Olson’s elegantly pared down recipe for her meringue birds’ nests here.

Decorating the Birds’ Nests

Anna keeps with the playful feel of the meringue nests, creating green “grass” from shredded coconut and green food colouring. She uses liquid food colouring, not paste, which coats every strand of coconut more evenly to create a bagful of blades ready to decorate with.

Every Nest Needs Eggs

Egg shaped candies are the final touch. Alternatively, small foil-wrapped chocolate eggs will work as well, just be sure to unwrap them before eating. Or, if it’s already sweet enough for you at this point, consider topping your nests with blueberries (like robin’s eggs), raspberries or red currants.

We can’t think of a more fun, family-friendly way to serve up something sweet, special and just a little different this Easter.

After the chocolate egg hunt, serve up a scrumptious Easter Brunch with the help of these morning-making recipes.

How to Cook a Perfect No-Flip Omelette, Plus More Easy Ways with Eggs

Good mornings start with great breakfasts. Chef Roger Mooking of Food Network Canada Chef School, showcases his skills with the incredible, edible egg, walking you through how to make the perfect omelette using the broiler – without the often-feared flipping. Roger’s failsafe tips make it possible for home cooks of all skill levels to turn everyday eggs into a chef-inspired morning masterpiece.  And along with Roger’s no-flip omelette recipe, we’re sharing even more egg recipes for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner, so you can really get cracking in the kitchen.

 

How to Make a No-Flip Broiler Omelette

Make sure you have all of your ingredients set out and ready to go, as this breakfast omelette comes together fast.

Something important to note is the colour of the omelette. Classic French omelettes have no golden brown bits or caramelized edges, as the typical soufléed American-style omelettes often do, remaining a pale yolk-yellow inside and out. Gentle heat and a swift hand make this possible, as do the quality of the eggs.

Free-Run Eggs Are Best

Roger thinks free-run (or free-range) eggs are the most delicious eggs, and a clear choice for the perfect omelette.

“You want to get as close to the natural source of ingredients as possible,” he says.

Eggs are a great example of this, where quality and freshness really count. Head to your farmers’ market to source your eggs, or choose the best you can get at your local grocery store.

You’ll see that beating your eggs is no big deal. Skip the fancy whisk and use a fork, incorporating a little air, beating until the whites and yolks are uniformly combined. For flavour, Parmesan and chives add a hint of something special, without distracting from the mild eggs.

The Perfect Omelette Pan

Roger uses a mix of butter and vegetable oil in his cast-iron skillet – his preferred nonstick pan – so the butter won’t burn. When the pan is heated, a few moments of cooking is done on the stovetop before it’s popped under the broiler. If you’re adding a filling, add that before it heads into the broiler. Sautéed mushrooms, wilted spinach, leftover cooked vegetables or diced ham are just a few ideas, but Roger keeps his omelette unadulterated, classic French-style.

The tri-fold is the finishing touch (don’t stress!), along with additional Parmesan and chives. Serve it up with toast and breakfast (or brunch or lunch or dinner) is served.

Treat your family, and yourself, to Roger Mooking’s no-flip, no-fuss French Broiler Omelette tomorrow morning.

More Ways with Eggs, All Day

Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen, taking you from breakfast to dinner.

The Perfect Make-Ahead Breakfast:
Protein-packed frittatas that can be made the night before, chilled and then sliced to eat on the go.
Try these recipes:
Michael Smith’s Broccoli Frittata
Whole30 Veggie-Packed Breakfast Frittata

Egg-cellent Lunch Ideas:
Versatile hardboiled eggs are just the ticket to power you through an afternoon.
Try these recipes:
Egg Curry
Egg Salad Sandwich with Avocado and Watercress
Lynn Crawford’s Chicken and Egg Salad

Cheep! Cheep! Dinner Recipes:
Eggs baked or poached in cream or a sauce is a delicious and economical way to serve up dinner. Don’t forget the crusty bread!
Try these recipes:
Roger Mooking’s Baked Eggs
Eggs in Purgatory

For more egg inspiration, check out 41 Tasty Ways to Eat Eggs for Dinner.

How to Buy and Cook Fish with Chef-Approved Tips and Recipes

Food Network Canada Chef School brings together Chefs Mark McEwan, Michael Smith and Roger Mooking to share their best tips and recipes for cooking fish at home. You’ll learn which types of fish work best for grilling, frying, oven-roasting and pan-searing and get great fish recipes for cooking cod, salmon, halibut, trout, tuna, sea bream and more!  You’ll also get their best tips for buying the freshest fish and learn how to select sustainable fish varieties that are friendlier for the environment. From beginner to advanced, prepare to have fish demystified as you find a fish and dish to suit your cravings.

How to Buy Fresh Fish

Mark McEwan gives his top tips to keep in mind as you head to the fishmonger (a butcher and purveyor of seafood).

Select Sustainable
Before you go shopping, research the fish you’re looking to cook on a site such as Ocean Wise, which can help you make a well-informed decision about your dinner. Ocean Wise makes this simple with their seafood search bar and no-fuss labelling.

The Fresh Fish Checklist
When you’re at the fishmonger, go through this checklist before buying to ensure you’re getting the freshest catch possible.

1. Aroma: First, use your nose to make sure the fish smells like the sea. It should never smell fishy or off.

2. Eyes: On whole fish, clear eyes, not grey or opaque, ones that sparkle when you peer at them, are the next thing you want to look for in your fish.

3. Gills: Make sure the gills are intact on a whole fish, and the interior bloodline should be a mix of bright red and healthy pink.

4. Firmness: Finally, give the fish a poke; it should be bouncy and spring back as opposed to sinking or retaining your fingerprint, which points to age and desiccation.

Nervous About Cooking Fish? Start Here

Not sure where to start? For the chefs, it’s about getting a quality fish you enjoy and preparing it simply. “Very minimal cooking that gives you a beautiful representation of what fish can be,” says Mark McEwan. Pick a fish and cook method you’re comfortable with, and go from there.

1. Pick a Fish to Cook
For beginners looking for a fail-safe fish to cook, a meatier variety with a higher fat content, like salmon, halibut and mackerel, are more forgiving to overcooking.

Best fish for beginners:
Halibut
Salmon
Haddock
Cod
Trout
Mackerel
Swordfish

Best fish for advanced:
Sea Bream
Tuna
Pickerel
Perch
Sardines

Roger Mooking stresses being mindful when shopping, opting for fish on a watch list, like Ocean Wise, aimed to help consumers make educated, sustainable seafood choices. He favours Canadian Halibut (Ocean Wise shares a great chart to help you pick a sustainable species of halibut). “You can grill it, you can roast it, you can pan sear it, you can steam it and they all work really well,” he says.

2. Pick the Right Cooking Method
Not every fish suits every cooking method, so we’ve whittled down a few key techniques and great recipes below. Your fishmonger will likely have cooking tips for your fish selection, too.

You don’t always need a recipe! Roger tells us that a preparation for salmon or halibut can be as simple as placing a pat of butter on the fish fillet, seasoning with salt and pepper, and roasting at 350ºF until the fish is cooked to your liking. The juices from the fish, along with the butter, salt and pepper are your built-in sauce.

The Best Fish for Deep-Frying

For a truly decadent meal, turn to fried fish. In this section, we’ll focus on battered and fried fish, but there are deep-frying preparations (like deep-fried whole fish) that the adventurous can explore.

“Any fish works battered and fried. But we tend to prefer white fish,” says Michael Smith. “Firm white fish tends to work best because it stands up to the (frying) process.” This includes halibut, cod, haddock, pickerel, perch and walleye, so look to what’s fresh, local and available in your area. You can even glean a bit of inspiration from your local fish and chip shop’s menu.

Here are some decadent deep-fried fish recipes to whet your appetite:
Roger Mooking’s Shoreline Fried Halibut
MMM Fish Tacos
Fish in Chips

The Best Fish for Grilling

The chefs are unanimous with their choice for having easy success with grilling fish: salmon.  Why? Michael Smith says that the higher the fat, the better the fish is for grilling, and salmon is naturally fattier. Roger Mooking adds, “Canada has really great salmon. You can get a lot of sustainable salmon as well.”

In addition to recommending salmon, Mark McEwan also recommends thicker steaks like halibut, tuna and swordfish because they work incredibly well on the grill.

Here are some great grilled salmon recipes to try:
Michael Smith’s Grilled Salmon with Grilled Salad
Miso-Ginger Marinated Grilled Salmon
Sweet and Spicy Grilled Salmon

Here are more delicious grilled fish recipes:
Michael Smith’s Grilled Tuna with Carribean Salsa
Grilled Tuna Tataki Bowl
Grilled Halibut with Tomato Vinaigrette
Grilled Swordfish with Candied Lemon Salad

Watch Mark McEwan grill a whole fish in this Italian inspired recipe:

How to Grill Fish Perfectly

In Chef School, Mark McEwan serves up a gourmet grilled sea bream. This recipe is advanced but doable for the home cook thanks to his pro tips. A quick marinade of fresh herbs, olive oil, salt and pepper are applied after scoring the fish skin to avoid buckling when it hits the grill. For the finishing touches, Mark pairs his grilled sea bream with crunchy focaccia croutons, juicy lemon segments, salty capers and more fresh herbs.

Mark’s 4 Steps to Grilled Fish Perfection
Regardless of which fish you choose, here are his top tips for a grilling flawlessly:

  1. Preheat the grill: Be sure to preheat your grill or grill pan; you want it red-hot so you can hear a loud sizzle when the fish hits the grill. Starting with a cool or just-warm grill will encourage sticking.
  2. Oil the grill: Before you add the fish, your grill needs to be oiled. To oil the hot grill, Mark uses a canola oil-laced cloth to wipe the grates, which has a higher smoke point than olive oil, so it won’t burn.
  3. Oil the fish, too: To oil the fish, Mark compares the amount of oil applied to the fish to the amount of suntan lotion you’d put on at the beach: not too much, not too little. If you’re making Mark’s sea bream recipe, the olive oil-based marinade doubles as the lubrication for the fish.
  4. Don’t flip too soon: The fish will release when it’s ready, so don’t move it right away. It’s tempting to fuss with fish on the grill, but Mark tells us the less you do, the better. When the first side of the fish is crispy and golden brown, it should release easily without any skin or flesh sticking.

 

Sea Bream

Get Mark McEwan’s recipe for Grilled Sea Bream, or try your hand at this super-easy, 20-minute grilled salmon recipe from Michael Smith.