Category Archives: Holidays

Sfenj doughnuts on colourful tablecloth

Sfenj AKA Moroccan Doughnuts: Your New Fave Hanukkah Dessert Using Just 5 Ingredients!

Sfenj, derived from the Arabic word for “sponge,” are crispy and chewy doughnuts made with unsweetened, sticky yeast dough that is risen until light and fluffy, pulled into rings and fried until golden. They’re a breakfast staple in Morocco and other Maghrebi countries and often eaten by Sephardic Jews during Hanukkah, symbolizing the oil that fuelled the holiday miracle. Sfenj should be served piping hot and can be enjoyed plain, drizzled with honey or dusted with sugar. They’re simple to make at home, only require the most basic ingredients and don’t contain any eggs or milk — so you can add them to your list of best vegan recipes too.

Sfenj dougnuts on colourful tablecloth

Sfenj Moroccan Doughnuts With Honey and Sugar

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Servings: 12 to 15 doughnuts

Ingredients:

Doughnuts
3 tsp dry active yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 ¾ cups lukewarm water, divided
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp sea salt
Vegetable oil for frying

Topping
Honey (optional)
Ground cinnamon (optional)
Granulated or icing sugar (optional)

Sfenj doughnut ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in ½ cup of lukewarm water and set aside to bloom for 10 minutes.

2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast mixture with flour and gradually add 1 ¼ cups of lukewarm water until it forms a sticky dough. Then add the salt and continue to knead for about 10 minutes, which will make the dough springy and elastic. A stand mixer with a hook attachment is ideal for this, but you can also mix by hand, working the dough vigorously. The dough should still end up very sticky and loose.

Related: You’ve Been Making Couscous All Wrong. Here’s the Right Way to Prepare It

3. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let the dough rise for 2 to 3 hours, until light, airy — and they double or triple in size. (To speed up the rising time, put dough in the oven with the light turned on).

4. In a high-sided pan or pot, heat 1 to 2 inches of vegetable oil on medium heat until hot, measured on a candy or deep-fry thermometer between 360°F to 370°F. (A Dutch oven works great for this because it maintains a consistent temperature and its heavy weight anchors it to the burner, reducing the risk of accidents when deep frying). If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the temperature of the oil with the handle end of a wooden spoon. If you see lots of little bubbles form around the wood, your oil is ready to fry in.

Related: Cozy Jewish Comfort Food Recipes

5. Keep a small bowl of cold water handy for wetting your hands before you shape each doughnut. Lightly punch down the dough to deflate it. Pull off a piece of batter about the size of an egg. Use your thumb to make a hole in the centre of the dough and then pull gently to form a doughnut shape. (Don’t worry about getting them perfect, they will puff up nicely in the oil).

Woman shaping sfenj doughnut dough

6. Carefully put the doughnuts one at a time into the pot of hot oil and don’t overcrowd them. (A good rule of thumb is 3 to 4 doughnuts at a time). Fry the doughnuts for 1 to 2 minutes until golden brown on the bottom and puffed on top. Then flip carefully with a slotted spoon or metal tongs and cook on the other side for another 1 to 2 minutes, until even in colour and golden brown all over.

Sfenj doughnuts frying in oil

7. Remove the finished doughnuts onto a cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil. Serve piping hot or warm, either plain, drizzled with hot honey or dusted with cinnamon or sugar — and preferably accompanied by a glass of Moroccan mint tea.

Sfenj doughnuts being dusted with sugar

Like Claire’s sfenj recipe? Try her upside-down apple cake or comforting mujadara recipe.

This Upside-Down Apple Cake is a Must-Make Rosh Hashanah Dessert

This flavourful glazed apple cake recipe is a mashup of two of my favourite fall desserts: a simple and delicious honey apple cake that I grew up eating on the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah and a show-stopping upside-down salted caramel apple cake that has become a more recent indulgence. I’ll be serving it for dessert at our Jewish New Year dinner, as well as Thanksgiving, because it’s one of those crowd-pleasing autumn cakes that has something for everyone, from the tender and nutty crumb to the sticky, sweet and salty topping. It’s also made almost entirely in a good old cast-iron skillet, which has become my new go-to for everything from barbecuing to baking.

Upside-Down Apple Cake With Honey and Salted Caramel

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Total Time: 60 to 70  minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:

Topping
2 Tbsp + ½ cup unsalted butter, divided
4 small or 3 large baking apples such as Gala or Pink Lady, peeled, halved and cores neatly scooped out with a teaspoon or melon baller
⅔ cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup almond flour, toasted
1 tsp ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup light brown sugar
⅓ cup light-coloured honey
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk plain Greek yogurt (4% or 5%), room temperature
Flaked sea salt to finish (optional)

Directions:

1. Set the rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Spread almond flour on a parchment- or silicone-lined baking sheet and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden. Set aside to cool. Keep the oven on.

2. Meanwhile, heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet (or other oven-safe pan) over medium heat. Cast-iron takes longer to heat up than other pans, so leave it on for a good 5 minutes before you start cooking for even heat distribution. Add 2 Tbsp butter to coat and arrange apple halves with cut sides down. Cook apples until cut sides are evenly golden brown. (Don’t stir). This can take 5 to 10 minutes or a bit longer, depending on the type of apples you’re using, so keep a close eye on them and rotate as needed. Turn apples over and cook for about 5 more minutes, until slightly tender and juices start to release. Transfer apples to a plate with cut sides up.

3. To make the caramel sauce, add ½ cup butter to the skillet on low heat. When it starts to bubble, stir in brown sugar. Keep stirring until smooth and thickened for about 2 minutes. (If it’s separating, add one or two spoonfuls of very hot water). Remove from heat and stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and vanilla. Let cool for 1 minute. Arrange apples, cut sides down, on top of the caramel sauce, spacing evenly.

4. For the cake: whisk together flour, toasted almond flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

5. Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, beat butter, brown sugar and honey together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. On medium speed, add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in half of the flour mixture, then the yogurt, until combined. Beat in remaining flour mixture until incorporated and no flour pockets remain. Do not over-mix.

Related: Transform Those Overripe Bananas Into This Impressive Upside-Down Cake

6. Spoon batter over apples and caramel in skillet, smoothing evenly.

7. Bake until it is evenly browned and the middle springs back when pressed lightly, about 30 to 40 minutes. Let the apple cake cool in the skillet for 10 to 15 minutes, then run a small knife or offset spatula around the edges to loosen and flip over onto a cooling rack or dish. (If any apples stick to the skillet, gently scrape them off and press them back into the top of the cake).

Related: Pomegranate Ginger Chicken for a Sweet and Fruitful Rosh Hashanah

8. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt flakes and serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla ice cream and mint tea. Store covered at room temperature for up to 2 days or up to 1 week in the refrigerator.

Love Claire’s upside-down apple cake? For a main, whip up her vegetarian mujadara dish or seven-vegetable Moroccan couscous.

Your New Favourite Shortbread: Petits-Beurre (French Butter Cookies)

If you’ve travelled in France, you might be familiar with the ubiquitous Petit-beurre cookie. It has been around since 1886, when it was invented by Louis-Lefèvre Utile in Nantes. The cookies are still imprinted with his initials (LU) and are the best-known product of all the Lefèvre Utile range. This recipe is the closest I can get to my store-bought favourites.

Butter Cookies (Petits-Beurre)

Active Time: 45 minutes
Chilling Time: 1-3 hours
Bake Time: 11- 13 minutes
Servings: 50 cookies (approx.)

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ cup (113 g) cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
¼ cup (60 mL) heavy (35%) cream

Read: 20 Delicious French-Canadian Dishes to Make at Home

Directions:

1. Place the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse a few times to combine.

2. Add the cubed butter and pulse until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Add the cream and continue to pulse until the dough comes together. The dough will be fairly soft.

4. Gather the dough into a ball, divide in half and form each half into a disk. If you don’t want to use it immediately, you can wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days. Roll each disk between two sheets of parchment paper until it’s 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Keeping the dough flat and between the two sheets of parchment, place it in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours.

Read: These Classic French Dishes Are the Definition of Comfort Food

5. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (175˚C). Line two large baking trays with parchment paper. Remove one of the rolled-out pieces of dough from the fridge and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

6. Cut out cookies using a rectangular cookie cutter that measures 2 1/2 x 2 inches (6 x 5 cm). Place the cookies on the parchment-lined baking trays. They will not spread, so you can place them fairly close together—just make sure they are not touching.

7. Repeat with the second sheet of dough.

8. Place one tray in the top third of the oven and the other in the bottom third of the oven, and bake for 11 to 13 minutes, switching the trays from the top to bottom rack and turning them from front to back halfway through the bake, until the cookies are golden around the edges but still pale in the centre.

9. Remove the cookies from the oven and, using an offset spatula, immediately place them on wire racks and allow to cool completely. You can store these in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

For more irresistible baked goods, check out these 20 make-ahead options for your holiday bash, Anna Olson’s very best cookie recipes, or our most popular cookies of all-time.

Excerpted from In the French Kitchen with Kids by Mardi Michels. Copyright © 2018 Mardi Michels. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

These Christmas Cookie Trees Are the Prettier (And Easier!) Version of a Gingerbread House

Stacked anywhere from four to 14 cookies high, these Christmas Gingerbread Trees are festive and fun. Their 3D shape allows them to stand tall on any dessert table, or could be used to decorate individual place settings at your holiday feast. Much quicker and way less complicated that assembling an entire gingerbread house, these cookie trees come together rather easily during this busy time of year. Featuring homemade gingerbread cookies, the festive treats taste just as good as they look, too!

Gingerbread Christmas Cookie Trees

Bake Time: 8 to 10 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours
Servings: 2 dozen, 4 to 5 cookies per tree (depending on size)

Ingredients:

Gingerbread Cookies
3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup molasses
1 to 2 Tbsp water

Royal Icing
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ Tbsp meringue powder
3 Tbsp water, plus more to thin
1/2 Tbsp light corn syrup
¼ tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice (optional)

Directions:

Gingerbread Cookies
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and all of the spices together. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and brown sugar until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the corn syrup and molasses and mix until combined.

3. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in two additions. Mix until combined. If the dough seems dry, add in the water and mix until the dough comes together to form a ball.

4. Gather the dough and form into a disk. Wrap the disk in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

5. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature until it is soft enough to roll out (5 to 10 minutes). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or non-stick baking mats. Set aside.

6. Dust a clean work surface lightly with flour. Roll out the dough until about ¼-inch thick and cut out with various sizes of star cookies cutters.

7. Baked the cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the edges turn slightly golden. Repeat with the remaining dough.

8. Completely cool the cookies on a wire rack before decorating.

Royal Icing

1. Place the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Gently stir to combine. Add the water and mix on medium-low until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to mix until stiff peaks form, 5 to 8 minutes.

2. Add the corn syrup and vanilla or lemon (if using) and mix to combine. If the icing is still rather thick and clumps together, add more water (a teaspoon or two at a time), until the icing holds stiff peaks.

Assembly
1. Thin the royal icing with water until the desired consistency is reached (for piping, it should resemble the same consistency as toothpaste). Decorate the tops of the cookies, as desired.

2. While the icing is still wet, build the Christmas Gingerbread Trees by stacking the smaller stars on top of the larger stars. Use a dab of icing in-between cookies to secure as needed. Attach a small star to the tops of each tree.

For more holiday baking inspiration, these watercolour snowflake sugar cookies are here to dazzle, along with our top 100 holiday cookie and square recipes (bring on the sugar rush!).

How to Make Glistening Watercolour Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Are you ready for the holiday season? We sure are, and these watercolour snowflake sugar cookies are bringing the shine and shimmer for a dose of festive magic. Whether served at a cookie exchange or dessert buffet, the elegant treat’s marble-like icing and glistening edges are unique, while still being incredibly delicious. The best part? Just like a snowflake, each cookie design is quite literally one-of-a-kind. To simplify the recipe you can also skip the glitter; the watercolour effect is sufficiently stunning on its own.

Watercolour Snowflake Sugar Cookies

Bake Time: 15 to 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 to 6 hours

Ingredients:

1 recipe sugar cookies – cut and baked into snowflakes
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 Tbsp meringue powder
6 Tbsp water, plus more to thin
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
½ tsp vanilla extract or lemon juice (optional)
gel food colouring
sanding sugar, sprinkles, or sugar pearls (optional)


Directions:

Icing
1. Place the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Gently stir to combine. Add the water and mix on medium-low until combined. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and continue to mix until stiff peaks form, 7 to 10 minutes.

2. Add the corn syrup and vanilla or lemon (if using) and mix to combine. If the icing is still rather thick and clumps together, add more water (a teaspoon or two at a time), until the icing holds stiff peaks. Use immediately, or cover by pressing a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the icing.

Decorating
1. Split the icing in half. Place half in a mixing bowl and cover the remaining icing tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside.

2. Thin the icing in the mixing bowl with water, a tablespoon or two at a time. Mix the icing and water together until smooth and the icing becomes a consistency that is slightly thicker than honey. It should be fairly thin, but still thick enough to cling to the cookies. More water may be added as needed if the icing does not settle smoothly on the cookies.

3. Dip a toothpick (or the tip of a knife) into the gel food colouring, then swirl the colour on top of the thinned icing. You may mix multiple colours together, if desired.

4. Dip the entire top of a snowflake cookie into the surface of the icing. Give the cookie a small twist, then lift. Gently shake the cookie to allow some of the excess icing to fall back into the bowl. Turn the cookie right-side-up and place on a piece of parchment paper or wire cooling rack. Gently tap the bottom of the cookie to release any air bubbles and/or to help the icing settle. Allow the icing to completely dry, at least 4 hours.

5. Continue with the remaining cookies, adding more swirls of food colouring as needed. The more you dip and swirl, the more the colours will blend together.

6. To add the sprinkle border, thin reserved icing with water until it is the consistency of toothpaste. Place sanding sugar or sprinkles in a shallow bowl. Fill a piping bag (or a zip-top bag with the corner snipped off) with the icing and pipe around the edges of the dried watercolour cookies. Flip and dip the cookie upside down into the bowl of sprinkles. Gently press so that the sprinkles stick to the icing. Allow the cookies to dry right-side-up. Note that it is important for the watercolour icing to be completely dried first, or the sprinkles will stick to the surface of the cookie.

7. Once dried, store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week or so.

For more show-stopping holiday baking recipes, make these stunning stained glass sugar cookies or try your hand at these double-decker chocolate cherry snickerdoodles!

Alton Brown's Turkey with Stuffing

The Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times

The main event during the holidays is serving a perfectly juicy and succulent roast turkey to the ones you love. The last thing you want to do is serve an overcooked (or worse, undercooked) bird. Even if this ain’t your first gobbler, it’s good to have a cheat sheet on hand to ensure you’re on track for dinner time. Follow the chart below for a foolproof way to roast a perfect bird for your holiday feast.

Alton Brown's Turkey with Stuffing

How to Roast a Basic Turkey

Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a large roasting pan, place thawed turkey, breast side up and tent with a piece of aluminium foil. Bake turkey using the chart below. Remove foil during last hour of cook time. Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 170°F.

Size of Turkey Unstuffed Stuffed
10-12lbs 3 – 3 ¼ hours 3 ½–3 ¾ hours
12-16bs 3 ¼ – 3 ¾ hours 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours
16-20lbs 3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hours 4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours
20-24lbs 4 ¼ – 4 ¾ hours 4 ¾ – 5 ¼ hours

 

Top Turkey Cooking Tips

1. If using a frozen bird, ensure it is fully defrosted if before roasting.
2. Take your bird out of the fridge while the oven preheats.
Juices will run clear when the turkey is done. Look at the juices running from the meat around the thigh bone.
3. If you are using a convection oven, your bird will cook in 25 per cent less time. Take 15 minutes off each hour on the recommended times above.
4. After the turkey is removed from the oven, let it rest for minimum 30 minutes. The juices need to resettle into the meat.

Looking for some delicious inspiration? Try Our Best Thanksgiving Turkey Recipes

Turkey Trouble? How to Fix Your Worst Holiday Cooking Disasters

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or new to the kitchen, preparing a holiday feast is not without its challenges. No matter how well you plan and prepare ahead of time, something is bound to go awry when it’s time to get cooking. From forgetting to thaw the turkey to over-mashing your potatoes till they’re gluey, we’re here to help you fix all those holiday dinner mishaps.

brined-herb-crusted-turkey-with-apple-cider-gravyGet the recipe for Brined Herb-Crusted Turkey with Apple Cider Gravy

How to Defrost a Turkey Quickly

Arguably the most important part of any holiday feast, the turkey is the literal centerpiece of your table. If you’ve forgotten to defrost your turkey ahead of time (most frozen birds will need a few days to thaw fully in the refrigerator) you’re not entirely out of luck. Thawing turkey is one of those things you need to do safely in order to prevent any foodborne illness, and a cold water bath can take this task from days-long to a matter of hours.

Place the turkey in a sterilized tub, large sink or bathtub filled with enough cold water to cover it. Do not remove the bird from its wrapper. Refill the sink or tub with cold water about every 30 minutes to help prevent bacteria growth. Using this method, a 15-pound bird should take about 7.5-hours to defrost. When your turkey has defrosted, remove it from the water and dry with paper towels.

How to Fix an Overcooked Turkey

If you forgot to set a timer or simply calculated the math wrong for cooking your bird, you could be serving a dry, overcooked turkey. There are a couple of solutions that can help save your meal, the easiest being to make a knock-your-socks-off gravy to smother any overcooked meat with. Alternatively, you can ladle a bit of broth over the bird or rub some butter on the dry spots to help bring moisture back into the meat.

How to Fix Lumpy Gravy

A great gravy should be smooth and creamy, with nary a detectable lump. But if your gravy is more lumpy bumpy than silky smooth, there’s actually a pretty simple fix. First, whisk that gravy like your life depends on it — this will help break up larger clumps and smooth everything out. Then, pour the gravy through a fine mesh strainer to separate any smaller clumps the whisk might have missed. If your gravy is still lumpy after trying both of these things, you can try placing it in a blender with a touch of broth and pureeing until smooth.

recipe-vegetarian-gravyGet the recipe for Vegetarian Gravy

How to Fix Burnt Gravy

A burnt sauce happens to even the most experienced cook, and can be solved with a bit of care. First, remove your pan from the heat immediately. Place the bottom of the pan in cool water to help prevent further burning of the gravy. Grab and fresh pan and gently start scooping up as much unburt gravy as possible. Some cooking experts swear that adding a raw, peeled potato to the gravy will help absorb any burnt flavours, or you can try adding 1 tsp of smooth peanut butter at a time to the gravy, whisking well and tasting until the burnt flavour is gone. A pinch of sugar is another way to rescue burnt gravy.

How to Fix Crumbly Cookie Dough

If your holiday cookies are falling apart, it’s likely because the flour hasn’t absorbed enough liquid to bind everything together. In order to fix crumbly cookies, try adding more liquid to the recipe in small increments — whether that’s additional water, melted butter, or an egg.

How to Fix Burnt Cookies

Unless you have time to bake an entirely new batch of cookies, it’s worth trying to save the ones you accidentally burnt. You can try using a fine grater, such as a microplane, to shave off the burnt bits, or a serrated knife to cut off larger burnt pieces.

apple-pie-sliceGet the recipe for Anna Olson’s Blue Ribbon Apple Pie

How to Fix Crumbly Pie Dough

Just like a crumbly cookie dough, crumbly pie crust needs more moisture added to it if you’re going to salvage it. Try sprinkling a few drops of water over your pie dough mixture before gently kneading or rolling until it is more pliable.

How to Fix A Hole in Your Pie Crust

Pie crusts are fragile things, and a hole can happen if you spread the dough too thin. Keep a few scraps of dough on hand in order to patch any holes with, then seal with a small amount of egg white and sugar before baking.

How to Fix Gluey, Over-Mashed Potatoes

Mash your potatoes too much or too vigorously and you’ll be left with an inedible gooey, gluey mess. Sadly, once this happens there isn’t much you can do to salvage them, aside from mixing in some properly mashed potatoes to help cut the gluey texture. However, you can turn your gluey mashed potatoes into a holiday gratin by spreading them in a thin layer across a baking dish, topping with butter, cheese, and breadcrumbs, and baking until the top is nice and crispy.

Looking for more holiday cooking help? Try these 10 Turkey Cooking Tips to Roast the Perfect Bird Every Time.

Vegan Shortbread Cookies That Party Goers Will Happily Devour

Rich and melt-in-your-mouth shortbread cookies are a holiday classic loved by all ages. Vegans and those who avoid dairy can still enjoy the butteriest time of year with this cookie recipe using store-bought vegan butter. Look for a variety with a touch of coconut oil in the mix for the richest flavour and most tender texture.

Vegan Shortbread Cookies

A dusting of icing sugar or drizzle of melted chocolate to finish will make these cookies pop on a platter, though for shortbread purists, they’re just as nice without the flourish. Whether you decorate or not, a pot of tea to pair alongside your vegan shortbreads is non-negotiable.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Bake Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 37 minutes
Makes: 12 cookies

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (125 g) vegan stick butter (not spread or margarine), room temperature
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp icing sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch, salt
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or light spelt flour

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (skip for non-stick baking sheets).
2. In a large bowl, cream vegan butter until smooth. Add sugars, vanilla and salt, and then continue to cream the mixture until fully combined, whipping a bit of air into the mix as you go. Slowly stir in flour until fully combined.

Vegan Shortbread Cookie Dough

3. Using your hands, gather dough into a ball and set aside to rest for 10 minutes. Or, wrap dough tightly and freeze for up to 2 months; defrost in the refrigerator overnight before using.

Vegan Shortbread Cookie Pressed Dough

4. Roll into 12 balls and place on prepared baking sheet, spacing 1- to 2-inches apart. Using the tines of a fork, gently flatten the top of each cookie. Alternatively, use a cookie press to make decorative spritz cookies.
5. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until just beginning to brown on the bottom and puffed. Cool for 5 minutes on baking sheet, then carefully transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
6. Once cookies are cool, dust with icing sugar. Serve.

Baked Vegan Shortbread Cookies

Impress guests further with these 25 Decadent Vegan Holiday Desserts.

Classic hot chocolate

5 Ways to Spice Up Santa’s Hot Chocolate This Holiday Season

We know that during the holiday season, your to-do list can seem longer than Santa’s. So, when you find time to cuddle up on the couch with a hot chocolate, ditch the powder and treat yourself to a decadent and delicious hot chocolate fit for the man in red himself.  Whether you want to stick with the classic or try something new, we’ve got you covered with five variations below.

Classic Hot Chocolate Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
1 cup whole milk
1 Tbsp 35% cream
1/4 cup good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped

Directions:

  1. Whisk cocoa powder, sugar and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat milk and cream in a small pot set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then whisk in dry mixture. Add chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Whisk dry ingredients from above, alongside 1/4 teaspoon of ground canela or cinnamon and a pinch of chili powder (preferably ancho). Set aside. Heat milk, cream and 1/8 teaspoon of vanilla extract in a small pot set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then whisk in dry mixture. Add chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Dairy-Free Chocolate-Covered Almond

Whisk dry ingredients from above, however mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar and not 2 teaspoons. Set aside. Heat 1 cup of almond milk in a small pot set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then whisk in dry mixture. Add 1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate and 1 tablespoon of smooth almond butter. Whisk until smooth.

Dark Chocolate Mint

Whisk dry ingredients from above, however mix in 1 tablespoon of sugar and not 2 teaspoons. Set aside. Heat milk, cream and 1/4 teaspoon of peppermint extract in a small pot set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then whisk in dry mixture. Add 1/4 cup finely chopped dark chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Caramel and White Chocolate

Heat milk and cream in a small pot set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then whisk in 1/2 teaspoon of corn starch. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup finely chopped white chocolate and 1 tablespoon of Dulce de Leche. Whisk until smooth.

Pumpkin Spice

Whisk 1 teaspoon of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of corn starch and 1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin spice in a small bowl. Set aside. Heat milk and cream in a small pot set over medium heat. Bring to a gentle simmer, then whisk in dry mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup finely chopped white chocolate. Whisk until smooth.

Don’t want to make your own hot chocolate? Order a cup of hot cocoa at one of these 10 cozy hot chocolate spots.

Show-Stopping Christmas Cupcake Wreath

Want to turn heads at your next holiday party or create a flashy dessert table? Turn ordinary cupcakes into a show-stopping centrepiece by simply arranging them to form a wreath!

CupcakeWreath01

Adorn mini cupcakes with sugar paste holly leaves before gathering them to create a giant edible wreath. A few sprinkles and sugar pearls give this easy dessert a bit of extra flair. Guests may resist snagging a cupcake for fear they may mess up the design, but this hesitation will only last a second — they’re too delicious not to enjoy!

If you don’t have a holly leaf cutter, you may cut the fondant by hand, make icing leaves using a piping bag and leaf tip, or tint the buttercream green and decorate as desired.  Arrange the cupcakes on your serving area before you frost and decorate to help create a more cohesive design. Pipe the buttercream so they almost touch, and arrange the leaves so they overlap and join the cupcakes together. Enjoy!

Active Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook: 12 to 15 minutes
Total: 5 hours, 45 minutes (including setting/cooling time)
Serves: 45 mini cupcakes

Vanilla Spice Cupcakes:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
12 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk

Holly Leaves:
3 to 4 oz green fondant
Holly leaf cutter
Paring knife
Foil or a brown paper bag

Vanilla Buttercream Icing:
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Assembly:
Piping bag and piping tip
Assorted sprinkles (optional)
Festive bow (optional)
Round red candies or fondant balls

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Directions:

Cupcakes:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a mini muffin tin with cupcake papers and set aside.
2. Whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until smooth. Add in the vanilla and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.
4. With the mixer on low, gradually add in half of the dry ingredients. Slowly stream in the milk and mix until combined. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until incorporated. Mix on medium for no more than about 30 seconds or until completely combined.
5. Evenly distribute the batter into the liners using a spoon, filling 2/3 of the way full.
6. Bake the cupcakes in the preheated over for 12 to 15 minutes. When done, they should be slightly golden on top and toothpick inserted into the centre should come out clean.
7. Cool cupcakes on a wire rack before frosting.

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Vanilla Buttercream Icing:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, add the egg whites and sugar. Whisk briefly by hand until combined.
2. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. Stirring intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it reaches 150°F to 160°F on a candy thermometre.
3. Once hot, carefully return the mixer bowl to the stand mixer. Fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg white mixture on high until stiff peaks, about 8 minutes. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature.
4. Stop the mixer and swap the whisk for the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and butter, a couple Tbsp at a time. Once all of the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until smooth.
5. If the mixture looks curdled, just keep mixing until it is smooth (this could take up to about 5 minutes). If it appears soupy, place the mixer bowl in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes, then mix until smooth.

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Holly Leaves:
1. Crumple then flatten a piece of foil or a brown paper bag (cut to lay flat) and set aside.
2. Working with only a portion of the fondant at a time, roll it out to 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick. Use the holly leaf cutter to cut out the leaves. Using the back of a paring knife, score the leaves down the centre and diagonally on each side to create leaf impressions. Pinch the bottom of each leaf then let dry on the foil or paper bag for at least 4 hours or overnight. Repeat with the remaining fondant. You will need about 60 to 80 leaves to complete the design. The crumbled foil/paper bag will give the leaves a natural shape as they dry.

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Assembly:
1. Arrange the cooled cupcakes into the shape of a wreath on a large serving dish or platter. Fill a piping bag fitted with a star tip with the buttercream. Pipe the frosting onto the tops of the cupcakes and sprinkle with sugar pearls, jimmies, or dragées, if desired.
2. Arrange the dried holly leaves on top of the cupcakes to form a wreath. Top with the red candies or fondant balls and bow to complete the design.

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3. It’s easier to pipe the cupcakes and arrange the holly leaves after the cupcakes have already been placed in the wreath shape. If transporting, pipe and decorate each cupcake individually, then arrange into the wreath shape before serving.

Looking for more festive treats? Try Ina Garten’s Festive Holiday Desserts.

The Delicious Difference Between Potatoes Au Gratin and Dauphinoise

There’s something irresistible about a dish of creamy, bubbly potatoes. And while we enjoy scalloped potatoes as much as the next carb-lover, we can’t help but wonder if the mouthwatering layers of taters au gratin are really just dauphinoise potatoes in disguise. Gratin potatoes – Dauphinoise potatoes, they’re the same thing, right? Wrong.

ultimate-potatoes-gratinGet the recipe for Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Potatoes au Gratin

Gratin is a French word that means the crust that forms on top of a dish when you brown it in the oven or under the broiler. The term originally comes from the French word “gratter” (to scrape) which refers to the need to scrape the crunchy bits of cooked food off the bottom of a dish so as not to waste it. In the case of a potato dish, the crunchy topping is usually from breadcrumbs or cheese and nowadays, “au gratin” is often used to refer to a dish topped and broiled until crunchy. Potatoes au gratin are slices of pre-cooked (usually boiled) potato cooked in cream and topped with cheese which makes the gratin.

Gratin Dauphinoise, on the other hand, is a dish made of thinly-sliced (not pre-cooked) potatoes that cook in cream. Dauphinoise traditionally does not contain any cheese. The starches in the potato mix with the cream to thicken the creamy sauce which contrasts with the crispy topping that comes from finishing the dish in a hot oven or a broiler.

Whichever way you cook your crunchy-topped potatoes, with cheese or without, it’s the perfect dish to ease into the cooler weather – the side dish that goes with absolutely everything! Here are a few different variations on creamy and/ or cheesy potatoes that will see you through the winter!

Nancy-Cheesy-Potato-GratinGet the recipe for Cheesy Potato Gratin

Bertinelli-Root-Vegetable-GratinGet the recipe for Valerie’s Root Vegetable Gratin

Squash-and-Potato-GratinGet the recipe for Spaghetti Squash and Cheesy Potato au Gratin

Looking for more tasty sides? Try more of our Perfect Potato Side Dishes.

Ina Garten’s New Year’s Eve Dinner Party Menu

Take a page from the queen of entertaining and ring in 2017 with a celebratory dinner chock-full of simple, yet indulgent dishes. Here’s how to throw the perfect New Year’s Eve party Ina Garten-style.

Keep it intimate and informal

Don’t feel pressured to create a fancy feast just because you’re hosting the last ‘hurrah’ of the holidays.  Keep your menu easy and let the ambiance do the work. Dress up your kitchen table with your finest china, cutlery and of course, candles. Ina tends to keep her dinner parties small and intimate. Try to pare down to a maximum of 8 guests — it will make the occasion feel extra special.

Make ahead as much as possible

No host likes to be hunched over the stove as guests arrive. Good thing Ina has some time-saving tricks, including easy make-ahead dishes. The key to stress-free holiday hosting is all about the planning. Once you know your menu, you’ll be surprised to find how many dishes can be made a day or two in advance and reheated just before guests arrive.

The Menu

Keep it seasonal and stress-free with warming, comfort food dishes that are also easy to make.

Ham and Cheese Board

1. Cheese Board

A cheese board is an easy appetizer that you can assemble in a flash. A good plate should have a few different flavours and textures, include a hard cheese, a semi-firm cheese, a soft cheese and a nice blue for some added bite. Balance out your board with some sweet grapes, fig jam, sliced baguette, nuts and crispy crackers. If you are looking to beef up your board, add some thick-sliced ham and good quality grainy mustard.

Shrimp Bisque

2. Shrimp Bisque

This elegant bisque soup makes an appetizing first course, just enough to tease the palate. Make a pot ahead of time and reheat as guests arrive.

cider-pork-tenderloin-fresh-herbs

3. Cider-Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Marinating this succulent pork overnight makes a luxurious and speedy New Year’s Eve dinner. Cider, maple syrup and fresh herbs like rosemary and ginger make for a fresh and subtly sweet main that is warm, comforting and elegant.

Bread Pudding

4. Ina Garten’s Panettone Bread Pudding

No meal is complete without a little something sweet — and that’s especially true for New Year’s Eve! This scrumptious bread pudding, full of nuts and candied fruit, can be made earlier in the day and served at room temperature.

Champagne Cocktails

5. Champagne Cocktails

Just before the big countdown, surprise guests with Ina’s Champagne Cocktail. Happy New Year!

Michael Smith's Oysters with Spicy Tomato Ice

How to Serve Oysters Like Chef Michael Smith

Nothing brings the glitz and glamour to a holiday party like freshly shucked oysters on ice. In this episode of Food Network Canada Chef School, Chef Michael Smith gives the ultimate cocktail party snack the Bloody Mary treatment with a spicy, lemony, white wine-spiked tomato ice. This savoury, granita-style topper adds a bold hit of flavour and a vibrant red hue to your platter – it definitely says, festive!

 

The first step is the spicy tomato ice, which needs to be prepared in advance, giving it ample time to freeze. The takeaway here is added sugar, which stops the tomato mixture from fully freezing. Natural sugars found in the white wine (he’s pretty casual about the variety of wine here, recommending to use what you’re drinking) also contribute to a slushier ice, which means smooth sailing come show time. And, for the requisite spicy element, Chef Michael Smith adds his go-to hot sauce. Combined with the natural, briny liquor (juice) found in the oysters, the combination positively sings on the palate.

This recipe, which Chef Michael Smith serves at his celebrated The Inn at Bay Fortune restaurant, uses Colville Bay oysters, a local variety from PEI with the great, big taste of the salty sea nearby. But, you can make it right at home, wherever you’re located, with his tips and tricks for safe shucking. Here, he shows you how to do it like a true PEI pro.

 

Easy, right? If you can’t find Colville Bay oysters, don’t fret; there are many more varieties from Prince Edward Island with a flavour, texture and appearance that will match your vibrant tomato ice. Try Pickle Point, Raspberry Point, Malpeque, Bedeque Bay or Summerside appellations, which all harbour delicious PEI oysters, too.

And forget plates. Oysters bring their own vessel, which adds a rustic, seaside touch to your festive spread. Be sure to keep these morsels on a bed of ice to keep your oysters ice-cold and the granita fresh.

Of course, one of the best parts of eating oysters is slurping them back, which always gets the conversation started! Treat your friends and family to this recipe for Chef Michael Smith’s Oysters with Spicy Tomato Ice.

Need more inspiration for your holiday entertaining? Try Lynn Crawford’s Seafood Risotto or Mark McEwan’s Ricotta Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce. Finish off your holiday dinner with Roger Mooking’s elegant Cookies and Cream Napoleons.

Roger Mooking's Cooking and Cream Napoleon

A Show-Stopping Strawberries & Cream Holiday Dessert

You can’t have a holiday dinner without a festive dessert, and Food Network Canada Chef School’s Chef Roger Mooking shows you how to make a red and white towering masterpiece that will woo your guests this season.

 

Plated desserts look ultra-impressive and are more festive than pie or cake, but can seem daunting to create at home. With a few pro techniques to make your star ingredients shine, this may be the easiest, show-stopper of a dessert you’ll ever whip up. Quick gourmet touches, like vanilla bean in the whipped cream (fridge-cold for full volume!), orange zest in the strawberries (balance that tang!) and sliced almonds in the pastry (turn up the texture!) transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary elements.

With this recipe, contrasts are key. Almond flour (almond meal) is sprinkled evenly over each layer like falling snow, adding a nuanced nutty note and an intriguing texture. This dessert isn’t just about layering visually, but layering tastes and textures, too. It’s these small details that set this dessert apart, showing guests they’re as special as what’s on the plate.

 

Chef Roger Mooking’s tips for handling and storing leftover phyllo dough are smart and simple. Why not put those extras to good use and prepare other festive recipes that use phyllo dough this season, like baklava for your cookie tray and spanakopita triangles for your cocktail party?

We love the festive red and white theme with the strawberries, a fruit that you can get year-round, but Chef Roger Mooking encourages us to step outside of the box. Even if the fruit you choose isn’t in season, that little bit of sugar he adds ensures that off-season fruit tastes in-season, every time. The sugar here is also key to macerating the strawberries for a no-cook sauce with the perfect amount of sweet, syrupy juices.

Roger Mooking's Cooking and Cream Napoleon

When the components of your holiday trifecta are ready to be assembled, a sneaky chef trick, smudging a bit of the whipped cream mixture on the plate before you add the first layer, keeps your tower from tumbling. Bring it to the table with confidence!

Up the elegance with this recipe for Chef Roger Mooking’s Cookies and Cream Napoleon.

Need an impressive holiday main for guests? Try Lynn Crawford’s Seafood Risotto laden with crabs and scallops or Mark McEwan’s tender Ricotta Gnocchi served with a luxurious Gorgonzola cream sauce.

Mark McEwan's Ricotta Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce

Cheese on Cheese: Easiest Ricotta Gnocchi with Luxurious Gorgonzola Sauce

If you’re interested in making your own gnocchi for a dinner party, but don’t know where to begin, keep it simple and start with this decadent, easy, cheesy ricotta gnocchi from Food Network Canada Chef School’s Chef Mark McEwan. More forgiving than the potato variety, ricotta gnocchi is a pillowy, luscious delight that you can DIY, even on if you’re hosting on a weeknight.

 

Chef Mark McEwan shows you just how relaxed homemade gnocchi can be, and he’ll walk you through every step with insider tips, tricks and foolproof techniques for a dish that’s sure to be your new party trick.

Even if you’re shy about homemade dough, you won’t be after trying your hand at this. It’s a little messy but incredibly stress-free to pull off. No pasta machines or fancy tools required, which is such an awesome tactile experience and a fun kitchen project to enjoy with family and friends.

Who knew so few ingredients could turn into something restaurant-quality in your own kitchen? Chef Mark McEwan loves to make this dish in front of guests for dinner and show. However, the beauty of this gnocchi recipe is that it can actually be made in advance so both those who like to cook in the moment and those who prefer to cook ahead of time will adore this recipe.

What’s more, the gnocchi can be served as a first course or main course, making it a versatile addition (even a last-minute one) to any dinner menu.

But first, more cheese!

 

Like all gnocchi, these are just begging for a little something special to be sauced in. Enter, a bold gorgonzola sauce – yes, it’s “cheese on cheese” as Chef Mark McEwan says! In this video, you’ll be amazed at just how easy it is to turn rich gorgonzola into a gnocchi sauce that’s pure luxury.

With the gnocchi cooked and the sauce complete, it’s time to tuck in. Chef Mark McEwan’s decadent, totally-worth-it, “cheese on cheese” recipe is the elevated comfort food we’re making for dinner tonight!

Find the Ricotta Gnocchi recipe here and the Easiest Gorgonzola Sauce recipe here.

For more holiday cooking inspiration, check out Lynn Crawford’s seafood risotto with crab and scallops.

Chef Lynn Crawford's Seafood Risotto

One-Pot Seafood Risotto from Lynn Crawford is Entertaining Made Easy

When you want to go that extra mile for friends and family around the holidays, you can still use that back-pocket one-pot cooking technique – especially when it’s as elegant as this party-pleasing seafood risotto.

 

Risotto is refined yet cozy comfort food, and here, Food Network Canada Chef School’s Chef Lynn Crawford is showing you how to master this crowd-pleasing meal, with a sophisticated seafood twist. The seafood included in this meal, fresh, sweet crab and juicy, meaty scallops aren’t your everyday risotto add-ins, which makes them super-special and worthy of a place on your Feast of the Seven Fishes Christmas Eve menu or a classy New Year’s Eve dinner at home.

Chef Lynn explains each and every ingredient so you can nail this dish on your first try. We find out that arborio rice is key to ultra-luscious risotto because its natural starches turn into a creamy sauce as you stir in the white wine, here, Chardonnay, which is naturally buttery on the palate, and the hot stock.

Flavours of red Thai chili, tarragon, parsley, lemon and Parmesan cheese make this dish pop, but are mellow enough to leave the sweet and succulent seafood front and centre.

 

To add that extra special touch, try picking your own crab meat out of the shell, or recruit a family member to be your sous chef. In this tip video, Chef Lynn shows you how to do it, and explains the different types of crabmeat you’re working with. Put on some holiday tunes and pick away until you get most of the meat out of the shell, setting it aside with the fun-sized scallops for their risotto debut. And save those shells for a seafood stock in the future.

After the final stir, our mouths are watering! Chef Lynn calls this risotto “a magical dish,” and we couldn’t agree more.

It’s time to take your tips, tricks and techniques, and put them to the test in your own kitchen. Stir up Chef Lynn Crawford’s Seafood Risotto this holiday season with her easy to follow recipe found here.

Traditional Acadian Christmas Meat Pie Recipe

There’s a new meat pie in town! We’ve all heard of tourtière, the French-Canadian spiced meat pie. But there’s another French-Canadian meat pie that is just as worthy of your love: an Acadian pie traditionally eaten at Christmas that hails from the Maritimes. I first heard of it through my cousin-in-law’s wife when we were sharing holiday eating traditions. When she said the words “traditional Christmas meat pie,” I had to know everything about it.

acadian meat pie

Not only did I get the recipe, but I also got to make the pie with her parents, Norma and Rufus, who are of Acadian descent and grew up in New Brunswick. We were going to cook her family’s recipe, handed down to her dad by his mother. Rufus has been making this same pie for decades in huge batches for family Christmas gatherings.

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When we first began cooking I asked Rufus: “So this is kind of like tourtiere, right?” I received a firm lesson from Rufus that it is not. Tourtiere is a Quebecois dish, and we were making an Acadian meat pie. The flavours are different and, according to Rufus, better.  The meat is flavoured with onion and most importantly, summer savoury (the stuff from New Brunswick is best). Tourtiere uses ground meat and has a spiced taste from nutmeg, allspice and cloves that is totally different from an Acadian meat pie. Which one is better? They are both delicious in their own way, but I am a bit more partial to the Acadian meat pie since I learned it from a dad who has been carrying on this long Christmas tradition for his family.

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A sincere thank you to Norma and Rufus for sharing their Christmas family recipe and traditions with me and our Food Network Canada readers. Maritimers are so friendly, aren’t they?

Acadian Christmas Meat Pie Recipe

Ingredients:
3 pounds beef blade roast, bone-in (or similar inexpensive cut)
3 pounds pork shoulder picnic roast, bone-in, skin removed (or similar inexpensive cut)
2-3 heaping Tbsp summary savoury
3 medium onions, chopped very fine
1/2 tsp dried ground ginger
6 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
Salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Cut the beef and pork into large chunks, about 2-inches in size.
2. Place the meat in a large heavy pot and add enough water to cover the meat. Stir in the chopped onions, summer savoury and ground ginger.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a sturdy simmer for about 2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender and comes easily off the bone. Add water if the cooking liquid evaporates too much; the meat should remain covered with liquid when cooking.
3. Meanwhile, boil the potatoes and when fork tender, drain and mash. The potatoes should be finely mashed and have no lumps; the texture of the potatoes must be completely smooth for the filling to turn out correctly. Season the mashed potatoes well with salt and pepper.
4. Once the meat is cooked, use a slotted spoon to remove the meat from the cooking liquid.
5. Shred the meat. Remove any bone and large pieces of fat. However, keep some small pieces of fat for flavour and mash it into the shredded meat.  Set aside about one cup of the cooking liquid. Place the shredded meat back into the remaining cooking liquid. Season the meat well with salt and pepper. Simmer the meat and liquid for another 30 minutes.
6. Mix the mashed potatoes into the shredded meat, one large spoonful at a time. Incorporate each spoon of mashed potatoes well before adding the next. Once all of the mashed potatoes are incorporated, taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if needed.  The meat and potato filling should be moist  – not too dry or too wet. If it seems too dry, add a bit of the reserved cooking liquid. The mixture should not be too wet. If there are pools of liquid in the mixture, it is too wet and the pie crust will be soggy.
7. Using your favourite pie dough recipe or purchased pie dough, roll out the dough and place in a pie pan. Fill the pie pan with the meat and potato filling. Do not over-stuff and pack down the filling. Cover the pie with a second piece of pie crust and crimp the edges, creating a seal. Cut steam vents into the top and brush the crust with an egg wash.
8. Bake in a preheated 350 F oven until the crust is golden brown, about 30 – 40 minutes.

Tips:
This meat pie can be served warm or at room temperature and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch or dinner over the Christmas holidays.
This recipe will make enough filling for approximately 8-10 pies.
If you’re not making that many pies,  freeze the filling and use it at a later time.
This recipe can be scaled up or down; however, the ratio of meat and potatoes needs to remain at 1:1.

Looking for more recipes? Try these great Acadian Recipes.

giant latke cake

A Crispy, Potato Latke Cake for a Hanukkah Crowd

A fresh and delicious take on traditional latkes, this pan-fried stack of potato pancakes is made for a Hanukkah crowd. While we love crispy, salty, bite-sized latkes, this larger version is just as delicious and impressive when layered with a sweet and savoury filling of smoked fishpomegranate seeds, shaved apple, fresh fennel and sour cream.  Or customize with your favourite toppings and fillings,  such as apple sauce, sour cream or goat cheese and chives. Sliced and served family style, this beautiful golden stack means less time standing at the stove and more time enjoying your company.

giant latke cake

Latke Cake

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:
3 lbs (about 4 large) russet potatoes, peeled, grated
2 medium onions, grated
1½ tsp salt, divided
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¾ tsp ground black pepper, divided
1 cup vegetable oil, for frying
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 large fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced, fronds reserved
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 cup (about 100g) flaked smoked trout or salmon or whitefish
½ cup pomegranate seeds
⅓ cup chopped fresh parsley
1¼ cups sour cream

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 200ºF. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a wire cooling rack.

giant latke cake

2. In a large bowl, stir to combine potatoes, onions and 3/4 tsp salt. Transfer to a cheesecloth- or kitchen towel-lined colander. Let sit for 10 minutes in sink or nested in large bowl. After 10 minutes, tightly twist cheesecloth or kitchen towel and squeeze firmly to remove as much moisture as possible. Discard liquid.
3. Add potato mixture to the same large bowl and stir in flour, eggs, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.

giant latke cake

4. Heat 1/4 cup oil in large non-stick skillet over medium-high. Add 1/4 latke mixture to pan, spreading to a make a thin, 7- to 8-inch in diameter circle. Fry until deep golden on the first side, about 4 minutes, then flip fry for about 4 minutes longer, until deep golden on the second side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towel to absorb oil for 1 minute, then transfer to prepared baking sheet and place in oven to keep warm. Repeat with remaining oil and latke mixture to make 4 latkes. Keep latkes warm in the oven while you prepare the toppings.

giant latke cake

5. For the salad, in a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, remaining 1/4 tsp salt and remaining 1/4 tsp pepper. Add fennel, apple, fish, pomegranate arils and parsley, tossing to combine. Set aside 1/2 cup of mixture for the final topping.

giant latke cake

6. In a medium bowl, stir sour cream with reserved fennel fronds.
7. To assemble, dollop cake stand or serving platter with 1 Tbsp sour cream mixture and then top with one latke. Top latke with 1/3 cup sour cream mixture, spreading to the edge, and then top with 1/3 of the salad mixture. Repeat layers finishing with the final latke. For the final topping, top with reserved 1/2 cup salad and a dollop of sour cream mixture. Serve immediately.

After a slice or two of latke cake, satisfy your sweet tooth with some deep fried Hanukkah desserts.

4 Soft Gingerbread Cookies, 1 Easy Recipe

When it comes to Christmas cookies, gingerbread is always a crowd pleaser! The irresistible smell of ginger, cinnamon and cloves baking in the oven can turn any household into the epitome of Christmas coziness.

Gingerbread Cookies

While gingerbread men are the classic cookie shape, there are lots of ways to customize your cookies without cutters. From sugar-coated crackle cookies, to jam-filled thumbprints, our alternatives to gingerbread men are just as delicious.

Get Anna Olson’s Gingerbread recipe here.

Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies

Gingerbread Thumbprint Cookies
Scoop gingerbread dough into 1 tbsp balls. Squish a thumbprint into the top of the ball to make an indent in the cookie. Chill dough for 30 mins. Bake at 350F until golden brown, about 15 mins. Use the back of a spoon to further indent thumbprint as soon as the cookies come out of the oven. Let cool. Fill cookies with your favourite jam, chocolate spread or even whipped cream!

Gingerbread Gift Tag Cookies

Gift Tag Gingerbread Cookies
Roll out gingerbread dough in the same way you would to make gingerbread men. Use a small knife to slice cookies into rectangles the size of a gift tag. Slice one side into a triangle shape, cutting the top of the triangle into a flat side. Using a skewer, poke a hole in the triangle end of the cookie. Bake at 350F for 15 mins or until golden brown. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, re-poke holes using the skewer. Once cool, write names on the gift tags and string with ribbon – attach to gifts or use as Christmas tree ornaments.

Candy Cane Icebox Gingerbread Cookies

Candy Cane Icebox Gingerbread Cookies
Roll a portion of gingerbread dough into a log. Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment paper and place in the fridge until solid, about 1 hour. Remove from plastic wrap. Brush a frothy egg white all over outside of dough. Roll dough in crushed candy canes. Slice dough into ¼” rounds and bake until golden, about 10-12 minutes.

Crackle Gingerbread Cookies

Crackle Gingerbread Cookies
Scoop 2 tbsp portions of dough and roll into a ball. Roll balls in coarse sugar – you can use white, green or red sugar! Chill dough in the fridge for 30 mins. Bake cookie balls for 15-20 mins, or until golden and crackled. Let cool.

Homemade Baileys

Homemade Irish Cream is Your 5-Minute DIY Christmas Gift

In coffee, on ice, in adults-only smoothies or as an eggnog add-in, homemade Irish cream is the gift that keeps on giving. You won’t believe how easy it is to make this holiday favourite right at home. Packaged in small glass jars, one batch will yield at least a dozen homemade gifts or enough to treat guests, friends and family during the holidays.

Homemade Baileys

Total Time: 5 minutes
Makes: Approximately 3 cups

Ingredients:
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 (300 mL) can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup whisky
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp finely ground coffee or freeze-dried instant coffee
1/4 tsp salt

Homemade Baileys

Directions:
1.Add all ingredients in a blender and puree until fully combined. Pour into sterilized glass jars, seal and store in the refrigerator up to 1 month.
2. To serve, stir into hot coffee, serve on ice, blend into a milkshake, whisk into eggnog or whatever you can dream up. Irish cream also makes a great base for truffles, homemade ice cream and boozy custards for your holiday trifle.

Looking for more homemade gifts? Try 4 Genius Homemade Christmas Gifts from Anna.