Category Archives: Holidays

turkey dinner hand pies on a white plate

Turkey Dinner Hand Pies Are the Leftover Hack You Need

Step aside, turkey noodle soup and hot turkey sandwiches – this reimagined twist on turkey dinner leftovers is the game-changing recipe you need for the holidays. Store-bought puff pastry means you only need 15 minutes of prep time to whip these up before popping them into the oven, so you can get back to snuggling up on the couch and basking in that cozy holiday feeling. Warning: you *may* never be able to eat regular leftovers again.

turkey dinner hand pies on a white plate

Turkey Dinner Hand Pies

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 20-25 minutes
Cool Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 40-45 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients:
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
Flour, for dusting
8 thick slices leftover roast turkey
½ cup leftover gravy, plus more for dipping
½ cup leftover stuffing
½ cup leftover cranberry sauce, plus more for dipping
1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp water, for egg wash
1 tsp fresh thyme (optional)

ingredients for turkey dinner hand pies on a marble countertop

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375˚F.

2. On a lightly floured surface, lay out pastry sheets. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough until both sheets are roughly 10″ x 12”.

3. With a sharp knife, cut each pastry sheet into 4 rectangles, creating 8 rectangles total.

a puff pastry sheet on a white countertop cut into quarters

4. On the right side of one pastry rectangle, lay a slice of turkey. Spread 1 Tbsp gravy over the turkey. Top with 1 Tbsp of stuffing, followed by 1 Tbsp of cranberry sauce. Brush edges of the pastry with egg wash, and then fold the left side of the pastry over the right, lining up the edges as best you can. Crimp shut the open edges with a fork to seal, and use a sharp knife to mark 3 slits in the pastry. Repeat this step with the remaining pastry sheets, creating 8 hand pies total.

Related: Here’s How Long You Can Eat Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

steps for stuffing turkey dinner hand pies shown in 4 separate images

 

5. Brush the tops of the turnovers with remaining egg wash, then sprinkle with fresh thyme (optional).

Related: Use Leftover Potatoes to Make This Internet-Famous Crispy Potatoes Recipe

3 unbaked turkey dinner hand pies on a parchment lined baking sheet

6. Bake the hand pies for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown and crispy.

7. Remove from oven and let cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes.

4 turkey dinner hand pies on a cooling rack

8. Serve immediately alongside additional gravy and cranberry sauce for dipping.

Related: Save That Leftover Pie Dough and Make These Cinnamon Pinwheel Cookies!

a turkey dinner hand pie on a patterned plate, cut in half to show filling

Looking for more leftover ideas? Try these 10 Ways to Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers, From Potatoes to Stuffing.

tea and orange brined turkey on a serving platter

The Ultimate Guide to Turkey Cooking Times

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

Related: The Best Leftover Turkey Recipe You’ll Ever Need (We Promise!)

Get the recipe for Tuscan Turkey Roulade

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 aluminum 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


Related: How to Brine a Turkey and Why You Should Try It

turkey cut in half on a plate with green leaf garnish and orange slices

Get the recipe for Tea- and Orange-Brined Roasted Turkey

Top Turkey Cooking Tips

1. If using a frozen bird, ensure it’s fully defrosted 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’re 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 more delicious inspiration? Here are the perfect side dishes to pair with your holiday turkey.

mooncakes for mid autumn festival 2021

Mooncakes Decoded: Everything You Need to Know About the Decadent Treat

Dense, with a sugary richness contrasted ever so slightly by a golden brown pastry shell, mooncakes have a certain moreishness that make them a perfect indulgence for celebration. This is fitting, considering the role of mooncakes as a prized gift during the Mid-Autumn festival in China and throughout the world.

mooncakes for mid autumn festival 2021
Getty

Origin and History of Mooncakes

The origin of mooncakes is spun from a fanciful legend of Moon Goddess Chang’e, who became a deity upon drinking a potion for immortality given by the gods to her heroic archer husband Hou Yi, celebrated for shooting nine of 10 suns from the sky. In one version, the separation of the two lovers due to the flight of Chang’e to the heavens leads a heartbroken Hou Yi to set out favourite foods in her honour — a tradition that has continued in the moon festival.

Related: The Best Ways to Shop, Prepare and Cook Chinese Greens

Mooncake delicacies have long been rumoured to be the basis of revolution throughout Chinese history, from the Manchu rebellion (a story, which turns out, may be equally mythological) to the recent political uprisings in Hong Kong. The round cakes are gifted and shared with family, friends and business acquaintances to symbolize reunion each year on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. Today, mooncakes are made throughout China, although, as with much Chinese cuisine, regional variations abound.

Where to Find Mooncakes

In larger Chinese supermarkets, you can often find more than 100 kinds of mooncakes and be warned: these delicacies dont come cheap. Around the Mid-Autumn Festival, which starts this year on September 21, store shelves and bakery displays begin to fill with colourful boxes of these treats.

Although you can certainly make mooncakes at home if you’re looking for a project, part of the pleasure of these pastries is opening the elaborate wrapping or box and getting that first glimpse of the intricate lettering or patterned design of the pastry created with a specialized mold that varies by bakery or manufacturer. Cutting through the thin golden crust to reveal the dense filling inside is also a satisfying sight, revealing the splendid treasures beneath the patterned pastry.

Related: Restaurant-Worthy Chinese Scallion Pancakes You Can Make at Home

If you want to attempt them at home, molds can be found in some Asian supermarkets and restaurant supply stores, and come in either wood or plastic for easy extraction, according to Carolyn Phillips’ comprehensive work, All Under Heaven.


Pexels

Types of mooncakes

From traditional to modern, here’s a rundown of the most common types you’re likely to encounter.

Sizes

Mooncakes generally come in two sizes, depending on the type: a larger 3-inch version and a smaller 1-inch mini cake.

Shells

The most traditional version of mooncakes uses lard or shortening to create a tender light brown shell, easily pressed into a mold and shaped. One variation you may see on store shelves today, however, are the increasingly popular snowy or snow skin mooncakes, which are unbaked and use rice flour, giving them a mochi-like consistency.

Related: Make These Soft and Fluffy BBQ Pork Bao Buns

Fillings

One of the most commonly made types of mooncakes are the ones using red bean paste, resulting in a dark brown filling the colour of a Mexican mole sauce or roux for gumbo. The texture is soft and chewy but easily sliced, and densely sticky sweet.

Lotus seeds, on the other hand, produce a lighter filling based on a laborious process involving shelling, boiling and pureeing the seeds to form a paste. The creamy caramel coloured filling is smooth and delicately sweet, contrasting with the thin pastry shell.

Although these two fillings are the staples, bakeries and manufacturers have gotten increasingly creative, using fruit such as durian or dates, nuts or even egg custard as fillings to cater to a wider audience.


Unsplash

In addition to the red bean, lotus seed, and other fillings that may come inside your mooncake, salted egg yolks are often added to represent the full moon in autumn. Whether you choose a one or two yolk filling is up to your tolerance for rich textures: brined duck eggs are used for both savoury and sweet applications in Chinese cooking and the salting process turns the yolks into the essence of deeply yellow egginess. If you really want to go all out, three egg yolk versions are available, but not for the faint of heart.

Whatever your choice, be sure to share your mooncakes with friends and family, the way that they were meant to be eaten —  in celebration and amidst the joy of reuniting.

Related: These Chinese Coconut Buns Come Together With Ingredients You Already Have on Hand

sephardic challah bread on a linen tablecloth

This Sephardic-Style Spiced Challah is the Perfect Addition to Your Rosh Hashanah Spread

For most Canadians, challah is best known as a wonderfully fluffy, eggy, yeasty and sweet braided bread appreciated by Jews and non-Jews alike. Whether it’s enjoyed for Shabbat and Jewish holidays or as the base of custardy French toasts and decadent deli sandwiches, this golden Ashkenazi loaf has origins in Central and Eastern Europe and is popular for good reason. But there are other delightful challah traditions, including lighter, more savoury loaves favoured among Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews of North African and Middle Eastern ancestry.

Unlike the multi-stranded braided challahs, these loaves are commonly coiled into festive (and far easier) “crowns,” which, during Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), take on special meaning to symbolize the continuity of life. The flavours of these loaves are also wildly different. My Moroccan grandmother’s challah was always laced with whole spices such as cumin and caraway seeds that were mixed into the smooth and airy crumb. It was the perfect pairing for a table full of spicy, saucy and tangy cooked salads and tagines. This challah recipe takes me back to everything I loved about my grandmother’s cooking and being in her kitchen.

Note: This recipe can easily be made vegan with a couple simple swaps, outlined below.

sephardic challah bread on a linen tablecloth

Sephardic-Style Challah with Whole Seeds and Spices

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Rest Time: 3-4 hours
Bake Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 4-5 hours
Servings: One large round loaf or two small loaves

Ingredients:
For the dough
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp cumin or nigella seeds
1 Tbsp of caraway, coriander or anise seeds
4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and levelled, plus extra for dusting
1½ envelopes (12 grams) instant yeast
1 egg (optional), at room temperature
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp salt
6 Tbsp canola or sunflower oil, plus extra for oiling hands and baking sheet
¾-1 cup warm water

For the egg wash and topping (optional)
Cornmeal for dusting baking sheet
1 egg, plus 1 Tbsp water
Salt to taste
Sesame or poppy seeds, for sprinkling

Ingredients for sephardic challah on a white countertop

Directions:

1. For the dough, in a skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds,  cumin, caraway or other seeds until fragrant (and before they start to pop), about 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside to cool.

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

Seeds and herbs toasting for sephardic challah

2. Combine all of the dough ingredients (including the seeds), then mix and knead for about 10 minutes by hand, stand mixer (with dough hook) or bread maker until smooth, soft and supple. If using egg, add ¾ cup of warm water first.

Option: For a vegan “water challah” without egg, use 1 cup of water. If the dough is too stiff, add more warm water, one tablespoon at a time, as needed. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.

3. Let the dough rise in a tightly covered bowl for roughly 2 hours until puffy and about doubled in size.

Dough for sephardic challah in a mixing bowl

4. Sprinkle cornmeal on a lightly-oiled baking sheet.

5. With oiled hands, gently deflate the dough and transfer it to a lightly greased work surface.

Related: Irresistible Dulce de Leche Rugelach

6. To make one large loaf, roll the dough into a 40- to 50-inch-long rope. (If you don’t have enough work space, roll it one half at a time, bending the rope in the middle.) If the dough isn’t stretching easily, let it rest covered for 5 to 10 minutes, then continue rolling. For two smaller loaves, aim for 25-inch ropes.

7. Let the rope(s) rest for 5 minutes. Form the rope into a coil, starting from one end. Tuck the second end under the finished coil.

Two coils of dough for sephardic challah on a white countertop

8. Place the coil(s) on the prepared baking sheet(s), one loaf per pan.

9. To make the egg wash topping, mix the reserved egg with 1 Tbsp water and a pinch of salt.

Option: For a vegan “water challah” version, skip this step or substitute egg wash with maple syrup or aquafaba (without water).

10. Brush dough coil(s) with a first layer of egg wash. Cover coil(s) with a large inverted bowl. Let stand for 60 to 90 minutes, until very puffy.

10. Near the end of the rising time, place a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 400°F.

11. Brush a second layer of egg wash onto dough coil(s) (this extra step will make the loaf beautifully shiny) and sprinkle generously with sesame or poppy seeds.

Dough for sephardic challah sprinkled with sesame seeds on a baking sheet

12. Place baking sheet in center of preheated oven (for two small loaves, place the baking sheets side by side or one at a time) and bake for 30 minutes or until the loaf is a rich, golden colour and the bottom is crispy. To check doneness, a digital thermometer poked into the centre of the loaf should read 190°F. Transfer to a rack to cool before serving or slicing.

Related: An Easy, Tender Brisket Recipe That is Sure to Impress

A golden loaf of sephardic challah on a linen tea towel

Love Claire’s challah? Be sure to try her upside-down apple cake for a gorgeous Rosh Hashanah dessert.

Anna Olson holds up a ceramic ramekin dessert

Anna Olson’s Genius Way to Use Up Leftover Holiday Cookies

They say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure – and this rule certainly applies in the kitchen! From pie crusts to trifles, there are dozens of creative ways to use stale cookies in sweet repurposed recipes. Use Anna Olson’s tip below for any type of cookies you have on hand, or try your hand at one of our other great recipes that make use of your sweet holiday leftovers.

Related: Shop Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Gadgets

Sugar Cookies


To use as a crumble topping, break up leftover sugar cookies into little pieces in a bowl. For every one cup of crumbled up cookies, add two tablespoons of melted butter and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. It’s that easy! After cooling, serve this delicious dessert as you like it – drizzled with caramel sauce, with a scoop of ice cream, or a dash of icing sugar.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Wooden charcuterie board with a chocolate dessert salami cut into small coins

Take leftover store-bought or homemade chocolate sandwich cookies and make a rich, chocolate-y no-bake dessert (that makes a great late holiday gift!). Chocolate sandwich cookies, graham crackers and pretzels stud this dessert salami, making it the perfect recipe to use up all your leftover snacks.

Get the recipe for No-Bake Oreo Salami

Gingerbread Cookies

Milk chocolate bark studded with ginger snap cookies, cranberries and pistachios and drizzled with white chocolate

Got surplus gingerbread cookies or a smashed gingerbread house? Crushed up gingerbread cookies work perfectly in place of ginger snaps in this milk chocolate holiday bark.

Get the recipe for Gingerbread Holiday Bark

Shortbread Cookies

Vanilla ice ccream swirled with strawberries and topped with a cookie crumble

For a sweet, buttery topping, crumble leftover shortbread cookies on top of ice cream drizzled in homemade strawberry rhubarb syrup. It’ll add a little crunchy texture to your sundae.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb & Shortbread Cookie Crumble

Anything Else!

Grasshopper pie with chocolate crust and mint cream filling and a sprinkling of chocolate cookie crumble

Instead of graham crackers, use a cookie of your choice to make a delicious pie crust. For this traditional grasshopper pie recipe, crush chocolate cookies and mix with melted butter. Press into a pan and then fill with marshmallow fluff. Delish!

Looking for more ways to use up leftovers? Check out these tasty ways to use all that leftover turkey, plus these sweet & savoury ways to repurpose pie dough.

Holiday Dessert is Made Easy With These Cute 6-Ingredient Mini Apple Crumble Tarts

Need an easy, yet impressive holiday dessert? If you have a package of puff pastry in your freezer and a handful of other fridge and pantry staples, you’re halfway to making these simple apple crumble tarts. This version is mini-sized, perfect for individual servings to snack on during the week (it doesn’t have to be a special occasion to enjoy a homemade dessert!) or for serving at holiday gatherings. Best of all, they come together in no time at all and if you are the kind of person who likes to plan ahead, you can assemble these and freeze them so you’ll only need to preheat the oven when you’re ready to enjoy.

Mini apple crumble tarts on white tray

Mini Apple Crumble Tarts

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Bake Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 12 tarts

Ingredients:

400g (or 2 rolls) frozen puff pastry, thawed but chilled
1 large or 2 small granny Smith apples
3 Tbsp butter, melted + 3 Tbsp cold butter cut into 12 pieces
¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup large flake rolled oats (not instant)
Pouring cream (optional)
Sliced or slivered almonds (optional)

Mini apple crumble tarts ingredients

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 375˚F. Lightly grease a muffin tin with butter.

2. Roll out pastry; use a 3 ½-inch cookie cutter to cut out 12 rounds.

3. Place a round of pastry into each spot in the muffin tin and gently press them into the tin. Prick the bottom of each pastry round with a fork and place the tin in the fridge while you work on the filling.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Irresistible Apple Desserts

4. Peel and core the apple(s) and cut into tiny cubes. Place in a medium bowl and set aside.

5. Mix the melted butter, flour, sugar and oats in a small bowl until all the ingredients are wet. Mix the apples with the crumble topping.

6. Divide the filling evenly between the pastry cups. (At this stage you can freeze the assembled tarts. Once completely frozen, you can store in them in airtight containers for two weeks. Bake from frozen — although they might take a few minutes longer in the oven).

Mini apple crumble tart in baking tray

7. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the tin from the oven and top each tart with the small cube of butter. Bake for another 20 minutes at until the pastry is golden brown, the apples are soft and the crumble is crispy.

8. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes in the tins. Serve with pouring cream and some slivered almonds.

Mini apple crumble tart on white plate

Like Mardi’s mini apple crumble tarts? Try her mixed berry galettes or her French butter cookies.

Neopolitan Baked Alaska Snowball is seen cracked open, with various chocolates and chocolate-covered strawberries seen inside

We Tried Mijune Pak’s New Chocolate Creations Just in Time for the Holidays

Foodie, Top Chef Canada judge, all-around champion for restaurants during the year that has been 2020… is there anything Mijune Pak can’t do? Well as it turns out the Vancouver personality hasn’t just been brightening up people’s lives with her virtual Instagram cooking classes and delightful new animated emojis these past few months. She’s also been helping fans relive their childhood memories with a new line of gourmet chocolates that are just as pretty as they are delicious.

Related: Get Mijune Pak’s recipe for a Canadian Pie-in-a-Jar

Mijune Chocolate is a collaboration between Pak and award-winning chocolatier Christophe Bonzon. The limited-edition line of bars and snowballs was inspired by her childhood memories, which is how she wound up with concoctions like Maple Syrup French Toast and Neapolitan Baked Alaska Snowballs. Fans were so pumped to try the goodies come the Oct. 20 launch date that they even crashed the pre-order website.

Luckily we got our hands on some of the festive edibles—which are available to ship across Canada—and we had a few thoughts…

Neapolitan Baked Alaska Snowballs, $18.95

Related: 20 Holiday Gifts Perfect for the Food Lover in Your Life

First impression
You know when something is just too pretty to eat? That’s probably why we had to stash our snowball in the fridge for a few days before we finally broke down and smashed it. Not only was the packaging gorgeous, but the ball itself really did look like some kind of a magical, edible snowball that had been hugged by a fairy. The brilliant pink-and-white boule was finished with snow-like ridges and a sprinkling of chocolate crumble, basically putting this season’s trendy hot chocolate bombs to shame.   

Taste
Where do you even start when you’re presented with a flurry of flavours inside one magic ball? One that you get to crack open with more enthusiasm than a Kinder Surprise Egg? Outside the snowball is made up of creamy, layered milk chocolate, vanilla bean and white chocolate, which is basically a grown-up, sexier version of the childhood favourite, if you ask us. Then inside you’ve got a ton of fun Neapolitan crisps, dark-chocolate-covered marshmallows, and two freeze-dried strawberries that are coated in either ruby pink chocolate or dark chocolate. It’s enough to send your taste buds into overdrive, but in that indulgent, the-holidays-are-here kind of way.

See More: Baked Alaskas Are Making a Comeback – and These Chocolate Hazelnut Treats Are Proof

Inspirations
Mijune was inspired to create these brilliant snowballs from her childhood memories of eating Neapolitan ice cream. And like us, she always ate the chocolate and vanilla, but left the strawberry for someone more unsuspecting. This adult version has all the creamy flavours you remember eating as a kid, but without the brain freeze. Oh, and as for those strawberries? When wrapped in a crispy feuilletine, you kind of wish there were more than just two.

Lasting thoughts
If you can get your hands on one of these rare treats (note to Mijune and Christophe—produce more, please) they make a delightful and fun gift. The only problem is that you’re far more likely to want to keep it for yourself than give it out, especially if you’re stuck at your house for the holidays and are really craving that nostalgic taste of home.

Maple Syrup French Toast, $11.95

First impression
Like the snowball, this French Toast bar comes in an understated-but-pretty package that is also elegant thanks to the gender-neutral gold embellishments. Inside, the bar is also unabashedly Canadian thanks to a swanky Maple Leaf adorning it. Ours was broken in one spot by the time we opened it, however we really loved that the bar was perforated in unexpected diagonal lines, making it so much more elegant than traditional chocolate square bars.

Related: 10 Unexpected Chocolate Flavour Pairings That Are a Perfect Match

Taste
Most people are either a fan of maple or they aren’t. And even those who fall into the former camp have to admit that too much of the treat is overkill—it is kind of sweet, after all. Enter this special French Toast chocolate bar, which tones down the sweetness by pairing the maple with a crumbly, toast-like cookie that feels just a bit rough on your tongue. It’s a fun play on texture and flavour that we didn’t even know could exist in a chocolate bar, and we’d be lying if we said we haven’t been craving more ever since licking the last little bit off our plate.

Inspirations
So many of us grew up eating pancakes, waffles and French toast on a lazy Sunday morning, so you can’t help but feel a little nostalgic when you take that first bite into this bar. As soon as it hits your tongue you’re automatically transported back to the days when you would slather butter and maple syrup over a stack and dive in unabashedly. Just thinking about it now makes us want to whip up some French toast this weekend… 

Lasting thoughts
Whether you want something sweet to go with your tea, or you’re putting together a dessert board with all of your favourite things, the Maple Syrup French Toast bar is one sweet addition. It also makes an impressive gift or stocking stuffer, especially for any Canadians out there who find themselves missing home this holiday season.

Overall thoughts
As far as we’re concerned the only downside to the Maple Syrup French Toast and Neapolitan Baked Alaska Snowballs is that they’re limited-edition runs. We’re sure Mijune and Christophe had a blast acting like Christmas elves and collaborating with these sweet treats, but now that they’ve proven to be every bit as spectacular in practice as they are in theory, here’s hoping for even more sweet, sweet collaborations between these two in the near future.

Rainbow latkes on serving platter

Celebrate Hanukkah at Home With These Vibrant Rainbow Latkes

Although we might not be surrounded by friends and family as we light the Hanukkah candles this year, that doesn’t mean all traditions have to go out the window. Rather, they can be updated with a new vibrant spin: like making rainbow latkes. Step aside boring russet potatoes — your friends the beet, sweet potato, carrot, zucchini and blue potato are ready to steal the latke show. Rainbow latkes are strikingly gorgeous, taste sweet and crisp and are quite nutritious for you too. If you want to connect with friends and family this holiday season but aren’t quite sure how, consider dropping off a box of beautiful, colourful, homemade latkes to brighten their spirits.

Rainbow latkes on serving platter

Vibrant Rainbow Latkes

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Servings: 9 latkes

Ingredients:

Beet Apple Latkes
¾ lb beets (about 3 medium beets)
1 gala apple
2 Tbsp yellow onion
2 whisked eggs
2 Tbsp spelt flour
½ tsp sea salt

Sweet Potato Carrot Latkes
¾ lb sweet potato (about 2 small sweet potatoes)
2 carrots
3 Tbsp yellow onion
2 whisked eggs
2 Tbsp spelt flour
¼ tsp sea salt

Zucchini Spinach Latkes
2 medium zucchinis
1 cup baby spinach or spinach leaves
¼ cup yellow onion
2 whisked eggs
2 Tbsp spelt flour
½ tsp sea salt

Blue/Purple Potato Latkes
1 lb blue potatoes
½ cup yellow onion
2 whisked eggs
2 Tbsp spelt flour
½ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Rainbow latkes ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Using the shredding attachment on your food processor, shred one veggie or fruit at a time and wipe out the food processor before moving onto the next item. For example, shred the beets, place them in a bowl, lightly wipe out the food processor, then shred the apples. Place all shredded vegetables or fruit in their own separate bowls: beets, apple, sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, potatoes and onion. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a box grater. For the spinach, chop finely or blitz using “S” blade on your food processor.

Rainbow latkes shredded veggies

2. You will have to wring out the excess water from the zucchini and blue potatoes, otherwise those latkes will be too mushy and won’t stick together. You can do this by placing the zucchini and blue potatoes, separately, in kitchen towels or cheese cloth and squeezing the moisture out. Or you can also push the veggies down in your French press or ricer to remove excess liquid.

3. Now you can begin assembling the latkes. Within each of the veggie bowls add the correct amount of shredded onion, whisked eggs, flour, salt, pepper and any other ingredient it may call for.

Rainbow latkes ingredients in bowl

4. Combine the ingredients with your hands and then begin shaping them into latkes. We used a ¼ measuring cup — we like ours the size of a hockey puck, about 3-4 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick.

Related: Traditional Jewish Comfort Food Recipes to Try This Winter

5. If you’re baking them, preheat your oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and pour some oil on the parchment paper and spread it around. This will make the latkes crispy without actually frying them. At the 7-minute mark, flip the latkes, brush the other side with extra virgin olive oil and bake for another 8 minutes.

6. Alternatively, if you are frying them, place a pan over medium heat and add some oil. If you don’t like the olive oil taste, you can use a more neutral one. Slowly put the latkes onto the pan, but don’t crowd them, work in batches. Hear the sizzle and after about 4-5 minutes, flip and continue to fry on the other side until crisp.

7. Place the latkes on a towel or paper towel to sop up the excess oil.

8. Eat as is or serve with applesauce, labneh, Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s rainbow latkes recipe? Try their easy spatchcock chicken recipe or sumac-spiced roasted delicata.

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!

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

CupcakeWreath02

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.

CupcakeWreath06

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.

CupcakeWreath04

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.

CupcakeWreath07

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.

CupcakeWreath03
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.

root vegetable gratin in a vintage serving dish

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.

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.