Category Archives: Holidays

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.

Best-Ever Gravy Recipe

Don’t let your gravy be an afterthought — this killer herb-infused, make-ahead recipe is about to become your secret weapon for winning the holidays.

Never underestimate the power of a good gravy. From its ability to heat up lukewarm mash to its sly way of camouflaging a turkey that’s been cooked a bit too long, gravy is the unsung superhero of holiday cooking that rarely gets the glory it so deserves.

best-ever-gravy-recipe-with-chicken-wings

Making it ahead means you can take your time creating the kind of rich and velvety gravy holiday dreams are made of. This one is built on a solid foundation of chicken wings, a gorgeous helping of flavour-packed vegetables, and a seasonal trio of fresh herbs, all slow-roasted to perfection. To really send it over the top, add the juices from your roasted bird the day of for even more depth of flavour. Just try not to guzzle it up all before it hits the table.

best-ever-gravy-recipe-using-chicken-wings

Ingredients:
8 to 12 chicken wings
2 yellow onions, halved with outer skin in tact
4 to 5 small carrots, peeled, quartered
3 celery stalks, quartered
4 fresh rosemary stems
4 to 5 fresh sage leaves
4 fresh bay leaves
1 Tbsp kosher salt
4 Tbsp flour

best ever gravy with mashed potatoes

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Place all the ingredients in a large roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt. Roast for about 75 minutes.
3. Set roasting pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Add 8 cups of boiling water, scrapping up any brown bits as you stir. Sprinkle in flour and stir to ensure no lumps form. Simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, smashing with a potato masher every now and again.
4. Pour through a fine mesh sieve into another pot. Let cool. Store in the fridge until ready to use.
*If serving with your holiday turkey, reserve any juices from your bird and add this to your make ahead gravy.

Anna Olson’s Tips to Make Holiday Baking a Breeze

As Canada’s baking expert and adored television personality, Anna Olson has amassed an infinite amount of tips and tricks to keep her calm and organized in the kitchen.

Whether you’re a serious home baker or just preparing for your annual cookie swap, it’s always a challenge trying to whip up homemade treats during the busy holiday season. Here, the Bake with Anna Olson star shares some of her holiday traditions, along with her tried-and-true tips for holiday baking.

Scottish-Pan-Shortbread

On Her Turkey-Less Traditions
I do have some traditional things; when I grew up, my grandmother would always make cherry walnut icebox cookies. And my husband’s favourite holiday dessert is an Icelandic dessert called Vinarterta; a prune and cardamom shortbread torte. So for me, it’s not Christmas until those are made. But, I am a cookie monster. I love making holiday cookies — shortbreads are my favourite. There are so many different styles with those same four ingredients.

On Show-Stopping Desserts
To ensure success and to ensure that you’re spelling desserts front to back and not backwards (which is stressed), you want to budget time. It takes baking, chilling, cooling, setting time — those are the little steps that you don’t want to cheat on. For something like a croquembouche, make it work for you as a make-ahead (dessert). (Make and) freeze the profiteroles a week ahead, take them out to thaw, and make the pastry cream two days ahead. Then, you can assemble it the day you serve it, and set aside one hour.

Croquembouche

On The Right Ingredients
(Use) unsalted butter, not salted butter. It’s sweeter, fresher and you’re in control of the salt, because you don’t know how much salt is in salted butter. Salt also retains water, and when you melt butter in a pan, you get that white liquid that runs off called milk solids, [which is] essentially water. So you’re getting more butter in unsalted butter.

On Knowing Your Oven
Just because you set your oven to 350°F, doesn’t mean it’s actually at 350°F. Spend the $7 to $10 on an oven thermometre. That’s the best way to prevent a baking disaster, because that’s the point where you relinquish control. I do a lot of candy making and chocolate work at holiday time, so I have a really good thermometre and I’d say that’s indispensable.

Chocolate-Slice-Cookies

On Freezing Now, Baking Later
I find that when you freeze baked cookies, they never come out as good as they went in. They take up so much space, so you can just make all your (cookie) dough ahead of time. If it’s a slice-and-bake, say my Chocolate Slice Cookies, I’ll just label it: “Chocolate slice, 325°F, 1/4-inch thick, 12 minutes.” So when I pull it out (of the freezer), I don’t have to go back to the recipe — slice, bake, done.

Timing is Everything
My #1 tip: Timing. Taking time now that we have time. If you know you have between 7:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Saturday morning, then make that your time. Make your favourite coffee, put on your favourite playlist, and baking takes you into that place. We love our sweets at the holidays, but we love baking because it’s an extension of that sharing and giving, and you want to channel that — remind yourself that that’s what it’s about.

Looking for some festive dessert recipes? Check out Anna Olson’s Ultimate Holiday Treats.

How to Host a Feast of the Seven Fishes Like Matt Basile

Until he was well into his teens, restaurateur and cookbook author Matt Basile had never tasted a Christmas turkey. Instead, the Italian-Canadian creator of the Toronto street food company, Fidel Gastro, spent his childhood holidays dining on Southern-Italian specialties, like fresh grilled shrimp and fettucine Pomodoro.

Basile’s family never called their holiday meal a ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes,’ but as he points out, “Italians — especially southern Italians — don’t really look to name a food trend; they just eat the best quality food.” Even among the Italian and Italian-American families who call their holiday dinner by the idiosyncratic name, there are no set rules for what must be served, although, as the title implies, seafood is appreciated.

Here are Basile’s tips for hosting a memorable and delicious Italian-Christmas dinner.

garlic shrimp

Start with Love (and Frangelico)

“Lots of love and food,” were always on the menu at Basile’s Nonno’s house, where his family would gather for a festive feast, always served family-style. “It’s just how you ate,” he says. “It forced you to be patient and to look at the person across from you and make sure their plate was topped up before yours. It taught you to share a meal with the people you loved versus just consume one.”

Before the generous meal, there was “always enough to feed an army,” says Basile — his family served Frangelico aperitivos.

Add Seafood (and Pasta, and Steak)

Grilled shrimp, grilled sardines with lemon, and crab legs were regulars on the Basile family’s holiday menu, often served alongside fettuccine pomodoro and steak. But it’s the zuppa di pesci, a fragrant seafood soup, that really gets Basile in the Christmas spirit. “The most nostalgic of the dishes was the zuppa di pesci — tomato broth with incredibly soft potatoes and carrots with clams, cod, salmon and shrimp,” he says. “It would be something I would absolutely crave every year. A few years ago when my girlfriend and I opened our restaurant, we invited both our families and I made a massive 20 litre pot of it.”

tiramisu

Don’t Forget to Espresso Yourself!

The Basile family capped their holiday meals with Sambuca-laced espresso,  a nice alternative to dessert. But just in case you and your guests still have belly room, consider serving one of these Italian holiday favourites: panforte, a spiced chocolate cake, crisp pizzelle waffle cookies, creamy tiramisu, or a towering fruit-studded panettone.

Whatever menu you choose, remember Matt Basile’s advice: setting a festive mood is more important than serving any particular dish. “If you have to follow rules like it’s biblical, then you’re doing it wrong,” he says. “It should be fun, first and foremost.” Good times are not just for guests, either — as the host, it’s essential for you to participate. After all, says Basile, “the more fun you have, the more fun your guests will have!”

doughnuts strawberry

Must-Make Strawberry Cheesecake Doughnuts

Celebrate Hanukkah with a tray of classic sufganiyot, but with a truly magnificent twist. We take the traditional treat, filled with strawberry jam and dusted with powdered sugar, and amp up the taste factor. Bite into one and you’ll get a mouthful of tart strawberry preserves, plus a soft, creamy cheesecake custard. If you’re a cheesecake lover and doughnut fanatic, this recipe might change your life — or at least make your Hanukkah extra special.

strawberry cheesecake Sufganiyots

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours
Makes: 12-14 doughnuts

Ingredients:

1 cup milk
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 7-g packet quick-rise instant yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg, beaten
2 1/2 cups flour plus more for dusting
1 cup cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk
3/4 cup strawberry preserves
1 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup icing sugar

strawberry cheesecake Sufganiyots

Directions:
1. Heat milk in a small sauce pan over low until temperature is slightly above room temperature. Stir in sugar and remove from heat. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer set with the dough hook attachment, add yeast and set aside until tiny bubbles appear on the surface of the milk, about 10 minutes.
2. Beat in salt, vanilla, butter and egg until smooth. Add in flour and beat on medium high speed until a smooth dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl cleanly and climbs the dough hook, about 5 minutes. Form dough into a ball and place in a well-oiled bowl. Cover with a dish towel and place in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
3. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface until 3/4-inch thick. Using a floured 3-inch round cookie cutter, press into dough and twist to release dough. Place dough rounds on the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll dough scraps one time and repeat.
4. Cover dough rounds with dish towel and set aside in a warm place until dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
5. Prepare a baking sheet lined with a few layers of paper towel. Pour oil into a large pot until 3-4 inches deep. Set pot with a clip-on thermometer and heat until temperature reaches 350°F. Adjust heat to maintain temperature. Working in batches of 3 or 4, fry doughnuts until golden, about 1 minute per side. Remove doughnuts carefully using a spider or slotted spoon. Place on paper towel lined surface and allow to cool.
6. To make the cheesecake filling, beat cream cheese with icing sugar, milk, and vanilla until smooth. Place mixture in a piping bag fitted with 1/4-inch piping tip. Poke piping tip into the side of each doughnuts and evenly distribute filling among doughnuts until piping bag is emptied.
7. In a small bowl mix strawberry preserves with lemon zest. If there are any large strawberry chunks in preserve, remove and chop into small pieces and return to mixture. Place into the same piping bag. Return piping tip into the same hole of doughnut made with cheese cake filling. Repeat with strawberry filling, distributing mixture to doughnuts.
8. Dust with icing sugar right before serving.

Biscotti

1 Easy Biscotti Recipe, 6 Tasty Holiday Cookies

Biscotti is a classic Italian cookie that’s double baked to make a dunk-able coffee treat. While the classic flavours are delicious, we decided to try something new with six seasonal variations. From a crunchy version jam-packed with pretzels and hazelnut spread, to refined flavours like lemon, rosemary and cranberry, there’s a variation that everyone will enjoy. No matter what your sweet tooth is asking for, it can be found in one of these recipes.

Whip up a batch or two for your holiday hosting, and serve alongside your favourite hot beverage for a delightful after-dinner treat.

Italian Biscotti

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
2. Stir flour, baking powder and salt together in a bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat until mixture is pale, light and fluffy. Add in eggs 1 at a time and then vanilla. Add in dry ingredients in 2 parts while mixing on low speed just until combined.
3. Divide dough in 2 equal portions. Roll into 2 logs, then flatten the top to resemble long rectangles, 2 inches wide and 12 inches long.
4. Bake logs 2 inches apart on baking in the centre rack of oven until logs are firm to touch and bottoms are beginning to golden, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
5. Once logs are cool enough to handle, place them on a cutting board. Slice each log into 1-inch thick pieces on a slight bias. Lay the cut side down on prepared baking sheet and bake until cookies are firm, about 20 minutes.

Biscotti

Variations:

Cranberry, Lemon and Rosemary
Complete steps 1 and 2. Fold in 1 1/2 cup dried cranberries, zest of 1 lemon and 2 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped. Proceed with recipe.

Nut and Seed
Complete steps 1 and 2. Fold in 1/2 cup poppy seeds, 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/2 almonds, 1/2 cup sesame seeds, 1/2 pistachios (any combination of nuts and seeds is good). Proceed with recipe.

Hazelnut, Coconut and Pretzel
Stir 1/4 cup of hazelnut spread into dough just until marbled. Add in 3/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut and 3/4 cup roughly chopped pretzels. Proceed with recipe.

Mocha Latte
Omit 1/4 cup of flour and replace with 2 tsp espresso powder and 1/4 cocoa powder. Proceed with recipe. After steps 1 and 2, add 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate wafers. Proceed as per recipe.

Matcha Green Tea and White Chocolate
Add 1 Tbsp of matcha green tea powder with flour, baking soda and salt. After steps 1 and 2, stir in 1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips. Proceed with recipe.

Cinnamon Roll
Mix 3 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup brown sugar and 3/4 cup chopped walnuts in a bowl. Divide dough into 2 portions. Roll one dough portion into a 10×10-inch square. Sprinkle 1/2 the cinnamon mixture over the dough and roll. Form roll into 2×12-inch log and place on cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough portion. Bake as per recipe.

Tips for Hosting a Vegan Holiday Dinner

The holidays are a time to gather, share and soak in each other’s company, often over food and drink. Given the range of food allergies and dietary restrictions, along with a greater interest in vegan cooking, you’re likely to have a plant-based guest sitting at your dinner table this year.

Vegan holiday dishes used to consist of heavily processed foods or peculiar tofu creations, but today, they can stand proudly on their own. With a few store-bought helpers, a feast to feed any number of guests is doable this season, even on a weeknight.

If you’re new to vegan dining, this is a great place to start. Here are 11 tips on how to host a filling vegan dinner party for all, regardless of dietary preference — and still enjoy your own party.

Vegan Stuffing

Vegan Stuffing

Ask in advance about food allergies
There are several reasons why people choose to enjoy vegan cuisine, and allergies may be one of them. Be sure to ask about gluten, soy and nut allergies in advance so no one is left hungry.

Understand vegan eating
Vegans don’t eat any animal products, some also staying away from honey. This means that not only meat, poultry and fish are off the table, but eggs and dairy, too. Keep this in mind when planning your menu, and aim to cook recipes that are naturally vegan or can be easily made vegan (i.e. taking the cheese off the top). Those more experienced with vegan cooking may be able to adapt recipes with animal products, but first-timers should try to keep it simple.

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

Vegan Scalloped Potatoes

Make veggies the stars
Vegetables are having a moment in both the home cooking and restaurant world, proving they can do more for us than stand on the side. Show-stopping vegetable dishes include stuffed squash, whole roasted and stuffed pumpkins, root vegetable pastas, cauliflower steaks or savoury pies like this seasonal Vegan Sweet Potato and Kale Galette with Pistachio Parmesan.

Make a substantial salad
For a side dish, adding healthy fat and fibre in the form of avocado, sweet potato and chopped seeds into a salad creating a more satisfying side dish. Brighten it up with holiday favourites like pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries.

Roasted Sweet Potato Kale Salad

Roasted Sweet Potato Kale Salad

Hummus is the new cheese plate
Hummus and plant-based dip appetizers served with pita, naan or veggies are the vegan alternative to cheese plates (though you can get really fun — albeit, expensive — vegan cheeses now!). This will keep you and your guests from becoming overly ravenous before dinner. For a unique variation, try this Bright and Beautiful Black Bean Beet Hummus.

Think outside the holidays
Don’t feel chained to the idea of traditional “holiday” food when it comes to your dinner party. Have fun with a theme or choose a cuisine that’s naturally more vegan-friendly, like Mexican, Indian or Moroccan. These vegan Cauliflower Tacos with Mango Salsa and Avocado Crema will warm up even the chilliest of winter nights.

Keep guests full with plant-based protein
It’s easy to be excited about the vegetables, but protein will make sure everyone at the table leaves satisfied. Vegan proteins include beans and legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Vegan Wild-Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash

Vegan Wild-Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash

One-pot wonders
Vegan cuisine, based around an abundance of beans and legumes, lends itself well to hearty stews. A big pot of vegetable chili, chickpea tagine or mushroom braise creates a comfortable, family-style atmosphere at the table in a way that plated dishes have a hard time doing.

Consider wine and beer
Some wines and beers are not vegan, so be sure to do a little research before you head out to pick them up. While some diners aren’t as strict about their wine and beer consumption, some guests may be.

Befriend store-bought helpers
You absolutely don’t have to make everything from scratch, vegan holiday dinner or otherwise. Utilize store-bought vegan helpers like coconut milk ice cream, almond milk and vegan cheese, so you can focus on the most important thing: family, friends and, of course, your party!

Deep-Dish Vegan Apple Pie

Deep-Dish Vegan Apple Pie

Fruit desserts are always in-season
Baked or poached fruit, like apples or pears, served with the aforementioned coconut milk ice cream, makes for a winner of a plant-based dessert. Your home will be filled with the cozy aromas of the holidays, and your guests will feel totally taken care of. For those who love to experiment in the kitchen, a vegan cake, like this Vegan Apple Spice Cake, is the grand finale your holiday dinner needs.

If you’re starting to plan your fully vegan holiday dinner, look no further than these crowd-pleasing, delicious recipes:

1. Vegan Gravy
2. Vegan Stuffing
3. Vegan Scalloped Potatoes
4. Roasted Sweet Potato Kale Salad
5. Vegan Wild-Rice-Stuffed Butternut Squash
6. Deep-Dish Vegan Apple Pie

10 Delicious Ways to Dress Up Mashed Potatoes

With that big holiday dinner fast approaching, ask yourself this: are you getting tired of serving the same, boring old mashed potatoes each year? If you answered in the affirmative, you won’t go wrong with these mouth-watering recipes for mashed potatoes that will raise the bar at any holiday feast.

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1. Baked Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan Cheese and Bread Crumbs
Giada De Laurentiis adds bread crumbs and plenty of salty, melted Parmesan cheese to top this baked mashed potato masterpiece.

2. French Potato Purée
Superbly sophisticated, Laura Calder’s recipe puts a sensational spin on mashed potatoes with this creamy purée that will dazzle adult taste buds with its subtle complexity of flavours.

3. Crème Fraiche Mashed Potatoes
Anna Olson adds green onions, garlic and thick crème fraiche to these chunky mashed potatoes that make an ideal accompaniment for just about any main.

4. Garlic and Parsley Mashed Potatoes
Fresh, aromatic garlic is lightly sautéed in butter or margarine, combining with fresh parsley for a flavour-packed variation on the comfort-food classic.

5. Grandma’s Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
A time-honoured recipe from his grandmother, Michael Smith serves up this mouth-watering version of mashed potatoes that boasts golden-brown butter as its key ingredient, with just a touch of nutmeg to enhance the rich flavour.

6. Lynn’s Lobster Mashed Potatoes
“Opulent” doesn’t even begin to describe Lynn Crawford’s sumptuous recipe, with sweet, tender chunks of lobster tail mixed into buttery mashed potatoes for a decadent side dish that’s practically a meal in itself.

7. Horseradish Mashed Potatoes
You’ll be amazed at how adding just a bit of horseradish to mashed potatoes can add a zesty zip that takes this reliable side dish to new heights.

8. Grainy Mustard Mashed Potatoes
Fresh thyme and spicy whole-grain mustard add some deliciously powerful flavour to this kicked-up mashed potato recipe from Tyler Florence.

9. Baked Mashed Potatoes with Pancetta, Parmesan Cheese and Breadcrumbs
Smoky pancetta bacon is the secret weapon in this unbelievably flavourful variation of mashed potatoes that’s certain to satisfy any crowd.

10. Cheddar Bacon Mashed Potatoes
Imagine a bacon cheeseburger combined with mashed potatoes and you get the idea behind this creative recipe that adds the unmistakable flavours of crispy bacon and sharp cheddar.

The Best Latke Recipes for a Happy Hanukkah

There are so many reasons to love the humble potato; french fries, hash browns, tater tots… The list goes on. But there are only eight days to celebrate the tasty spud, so we’re fixin’ to fry.

The Jewish holiday of Hanukkah commemorates the miracle of oil (another fabulous ingredient worth saluting!), fueling a long-lasting flame in the Second Temple with a fry-fest of potato latkes. Gather the family, fire up the skillet and get clicking through our favourite ways to serve up this Hanukkah classic.

888_classic-potato-latkes

Just Like Bubby Used to Make
Potatoes and onions are bound together by flour and eggs then fried to golden perfection. While it may seem straightforward, there are two distinct types for patty prep: a rosti-style grated latke or smooth, creamy mashed potato pancakes. To keep the peace, we’ve got recipes for both, along with an oven-baked option for the traditionally flavoured holiday treat.

New Spins on an Old Favourite
Give your Bubby’s recipe a fresh approach — fresh produce, that is. Supplement (or even replace) the potatoes in your latke mixture with seasonal root vegetables like carrots, squash and parsnips. Up the nutrition factor of this holiday staple by swapping white flour for fibrous ingredients such as bran flakes or white potatoes, with richly coloured veg like zucchini. Click through these surprising options for your holiday get-together:

Feta and Spinach Latkes with Tzatziki for Hanukkah

Why make the same old latkes when you can mix it up a bit this Hanukkah? I’ve seen tons of recipes that use sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, zucchini but I love good and honest potato latkes. This year I stuck with potatoes and added a little Greek flavours to the mix.

Instead of a classic box grater, I tried using a mandolin with a shredding attachment to get those long strands of potato. If you have a spiralizer, give that a try too for fun, swirly latkes. Then mix it with lots of crumbled feta and spinach to give it that Spanakopita taste. Tzatziki made with sour cream is the perfect accompaniment, to these crispy treats.

Tip: Squeeze out as much liquid as possible from the latkes mix before placing them in the pan. It will make for crispier latkes that stay together when cooked. Enjoy and have a happy Hanukkah!

Feta Spinach Latkes

Serves: 15 latkes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:
1 kirby cucumber, shredded or chopped very finely
salt
1 cup sour cream
1 clove garlic, minced
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
800 g Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and shredded on a mandoline or box grater
½ yellow onion, grated and water squeezed out
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 255g package frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out well
1 ½ Tbsp flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
1 large egg
canola oil for frying
Maldon or other flaky salt to finish

Feta Spinach Latkes 1

Directions:

Tzatziki
1. Place shredded cucumbers in a strainer over a bowl and sprinkle with salt.
2. Allow the cucumbers to release some of their water for 5 minutes.
3. Squeeze out as much water as possible from the cucumbers and combine them with the rest of the tzatziki ingredients in a bowl.
4. Set in the fridge until ready to serve.

Latkes
1. Pre-heat the oven to 200˚F. Place a cooling rack onto a baking sheet. This will be to keep the latkes warm while frying them up in batches.
2. Combine the shredded potatoes, grated onion, feta cheese, spinach, flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl.
3. Whisk the egg in a separate bowl and combine with the potato mixture.
4. Heat a large skillet with 1/3” of oil over medium-low heat.
5. Fry the latkes by measuring out a ¼ cup of mix and squeezing out all the liquid and placing them in the hot oil. Flatten out a bit like a pancake.
6. Fry for 2 ½ – 3 minutes per side in batches making sure not to crowd the pan. Add more oil if needed between batches, just be sure to make sure the temperature of the oil comes back up before frying more latkes.
7. Remove the latkes from the oil and transfer to the cooling rack. Sprinkle with Maldon or flaky sea salt and keep warm in the pre-heated oven until ready to serve.
8. Serve with the tzatziki sauce on the side.

 

Dan’s Good Side: Lobster and Green Pepper-Stuffed Mushroom Caps

I was chatting with my friend Mel the other week about the fact that green peppers always seem to suck. They aren’t great raw, they aren’t great cooked. Is there a good way to cook them? Is there? I may just be a jaded, old green pepper hater, but I’m willing to keep trying avenues where they can be more enjoyable.

Anyway…recently I spent a good chunk of time out on the east coast, so I decided to bring a few lobsters back home with me to cook up a lobster-centric dinner for some friends. I thought it would be fun to go a little old school with some stuffed mushroom caps and there happened to be a green pepper from my last Spud Calgary delivery pre-travels, staring at me every time I opened the fridge, so it was time to use it.

It’s hard to go wrong with stuffed mushroom caps, especially when cream cheese and lobster are involved, but I must admit, the green pepper was an enjoyable addition to this recipe and everyone seemed to love them, so maybe I just need to cool it on my anti-green pepper campaign…

Lobster and Green Pepper-Stuffed Mushroom Caps

Yields: 24 stuffed mushroom caps
Total Time: 45 minutes

lobster-and-green-pepper-mushroom-caps
Ingredients:

1 green pepper (halved and seeds removed)
1 Tablespoon canola oil
1 yellow onion (diced)
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 Tablespoons white wine
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups cream cheese (softened)
2 cups cooked lobster meat (finely chopped)
1 Tablespoon liquid honey
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
salt and pepper (to taste)
24 white mushroom caps (stems removed)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F.
  2. Place green pepper on a small roasting pan, drizzle lightly with oil and let roast until tender, approximately 20 minutes.
  3. Heat remaining oil in a medium pan on medium-high heat and cook onion and garlic for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add white wine to pan and let cook until almost completely reduced, then add the butter and continue to cook for 5 more minutes.
  5. Transfer contents of pan to a blender, puree until smooth and set aside to cool. While that’s cooling, dice up the roasted green pepper and place into a large mixing bowl along with the next 4 ingredients.
  6. Once onion puree is cool, add it to the bowl and stir until everything is well-incorporated, then season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Place mushroom caps on a large baking sheet and spoon the cream cheese and lobster mixture into each cap. Bake in oven until mushroom is tender and the filling has started to brown, about 18-20 minutes.

Dan-Clapson-Avatar Dan Clapson is a food writer and culinary instructor based out of Calgary. He is constantly creating new recipes and striving to expand his culinary horizons. He thinks yam fries are overrated.

5 Ways To Master Phyllo Pastry

Transforming this wispy-thin pastry into a myriad of festive options is easier than you think. From a delightful cherry almond strudel to brunch-friendly smoked ham and egg cups, here are five reasons to get your phyllo on right now.

1. Phyllo Egg Cups with Ham and Cheese

Churning out brunch for a crowd with the ease of a seasoned line cook is a breeze with these delightfully light phyllo pastry cups, filled with smoked ham, shredded cheese and eggs, all baked to a golden brown perfection.

Phyllo-Egg-Cups

2. Cherry Almond Strudel

Brimming with ripe, juicy cherries encased in crisp, flaky layers of phyllo pastry and topped with a dusting of cinnamon, brown sugar and almonds, this delicate and sophisticated treat is a cinch to pull off thanks to the PC® Black Label Sour Cherry Fruit Spread.

Black-label_CherryStrudel

3. Classic Greek Baklava

Dripping with honey and crunchy bits of walnut, this showstopper dish is where phyllo pastry really shines. Serve alongside grapes and a dollop of Greek yogurt to balance out the sweetness of this classic Greek dessert.

ChucksDayOff_ClassicGreekBaklava

4. Tomato Cheese Tart

This knock-out recipe for savoury tomatoes on a crisp, buttery tart can be thrown together in a snap, making it the perfect recipe to have on hand during the holiday season.

chucksdayoff_tomato-cheese-tart

5. Camembert Feuilletee with Apricot Syrup and Pistachios

Sweet apricot, creamy Camembert and pistachio, all wrapped up in a buttery phyllo purse is bound to become a dinner party staple. Because who doesn’t love melted cheese paired with fruit and nuts?

Food Fetish: Harissa-Roasted Winter Squash

If you’ve never tried Harissa, my advice is to run—don’t walk—to your nearest grocery store or spice bar and grab yourself a stash. Because once you get a taste of this fiery Moroccan mixture of crushed hot red chilies, caraway, cumin, coriander, garlic, salt and spearmint leaves, you’ll want to throw this flavour bomb on just about everything.

From a rub on grilled meat, to a spicy addition to your best pasta sauce, Shakshuka, or the way I used it here on roasted vegetables, this bold spice mixture is an addictive way to lend depth to your favourite savoury dishes, and is just the sort of pantry addition itching to be experimented with.

roasted_harissa_squash

Since I find that roasted squash can easily veer toward being too-sweet, a healthy whack of Harissa is a real game changer. Once I factored in the bit of crunchy coating is gives the vegetables, this spicy side landed a reoccurring role on my fall cooking repertoire.

Since I was feeling a little festive, I crumbled some goat cheese on top, along with a few bright orbs of pomegranate for some extra pizzazz.

winter_squash_pom

Ingredients:

1 acorn squash, cut in to wedges
3 Tablespoons Harissa spice blend
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons crumbled goat cheese*
Pomegranate seeds*
*Optional

winter_squash_large

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Whisk Harissa spice blend, oil and maple syrup in a small bowl.
  2. Cut the squash in half from top to bottom and scrape out the seeds with a spoon. Cut each half into 4 equal wedges.
  3. In a large bowl, toss squash wedges with Harissa mixture to coat. Roast for 10 minutes, toss once and continue to roast until squash is tender, 20-25 minutes.

BonnieMo Bonnie Mo is a Toronto-based editor and the face behind Food Network Canada’s Food Fetish column. She’s also a contributing editor over at slice.ca.