Tag Archives: Anna Olson

Lasagna dish on a table

One Dish, Four Ways: Our Hosts Put Their Own Spin on a Classic Lasagna

Is there any dish more synonymous with comfort food than a good old fashioned lasagna? Fresh pasta, ooey gooey cheese, a rich sauce… It’s no wonder this dish is a fail-proof staple for beginner cooks and seasoned chefs alike. With the weather outside making us want to stay in and indulge, we’re thinking it’s time to gather around the table and put a spin on this classic meal. To get you inspired, we’ve lined up four irresistible variations on lasagna from our Food Network Canada hosts.

1. Anna Olson’s Roasted Vegetable Lasagna with Four Cheeses

This meatless recipe for roasted vegetable lasagna by Anna Olson, host of Fresh with Anna Olson, ups the ante on traditional lasagnas by including a four-cheese blend and delicious roasted carrots, parsnips and Roma tomatoes. You’ll be wondering how you ever managed with one-cheese recipes as you taste the distinct flavours of ricotta, Parmesan, Asiago, and Swiss Gruyere blended into a sauce and mixed with the vegetables between sheets of fresh lasagna.

2. Ree Drummond’s Slow-Cooker Lasagna

Plated lasagna dish

Chef and host of The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond offers up a delicious slow-cooker lasagna that’s heavy on flavor and light on prep work. A simple three-step recipe that has you combining your meat and cheese mixtures with layers of lasagna noodles (broken to fit your slow cooker), there’s little left to do but sit back in anticipation of this fool-proof dinner that’s sure to become a family favourite.

3. Giada De Laurentiis’ Spicy One-Skillet Lasagna

Lasagna in a skillet

Fans of easy-cook recipes will love this delicious one-skillet lasagna from Giada De Laurentiis of Giada Entertains. This recipe combines a medley of unexpected flavours ingredients like spicy Italian sausage, lemon zest and red pepper flakes to turn up the heat on this classic dish. With just one skillet needed to pull off this savoury spin on traditional lasagna, you’ll love the quick prep time – and easy clean-up!

4. Ina Garten’s Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

Portobello mushroom lasagna dish

Looking for a meatless lasagna recipe that doesn’t skimp on that hearty texture? Chef Ina Garten of the Barefoot Contessa has you covered with her Portobello mushroom lasagna . With rich ingredients like whole milk, butter, flour, Portobello mushrooms and Parmesan, this lasagna is every bit the indulgence you’d want from this classic dish, minus the meat.

Looking for more crowd-pleasing comfort food? Check out these must-try slow-cooker recipes and the cheese-stuffed recipes  that will have you drooling!

Iron Chef Anna Olson

Meet Canada’s Newest Iron Chef, Anna Olson and Enter to Win Her New Cookbook

A brand new Iron Chef has been announced for the holidays and it’s Canada’s baking sweetheart, Anna Olson. We sat down with Anna to talk everything from how she felt about competing for the first time to her favourite cookie this holiday season.

Iron Chef Anna Olson

Read on for the full interview with Iron Chef Anna Olson and don’t forget to enter our draw to win one of five signed copies of Anna’s new holiday cookbook, Set for the Holidays. It’s chock-full of delicious recipes that will have your holiday entertaining sorted, from delicious comforting appetizers like Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese Squares, to sweet Canadian classics like Signature Butter Tart Squares. And of course, don’t forget the cookies for Santa, like Breton Sea Salt Shortbreads and Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies,

Can you tell us about how you fell in love with food?

My love of food happened gradually out of love for spending time with my grandmother in the kitchen. She was the avid baker. For her, it was the passion for cooking, but most especially baking to share.  I think over the years when I look at what I love about baking most is that sense of sharing that comes with it. So it all started there, even though it took me a while to come about it professionally.

How did you begin to transition that into your career?

For a lot of people, baking is a stress reliever. When I was in university and early in my career in banking, it was my way to relieve stress at the end of the day. And I really did have what I call my ‘muffin epiphany’ where after a very stressful day I found myself up at two in the morning making banana muffins just to relax. And it was at that moment the light went off and I said, “Okay, I need to cook”.

Within three months I quit and went to cooking school. It was a need. I needed to make cooking and baking my full-time occupation. Originally, I didn’t plan on working in restaurants. I thought that recipe development for a company would be the way I went. But I actually got hooked on the adrenaline of working in restaurants.

How do you feel Canadian cuisine has influenced you— because you have a very strong identity as a Canadian chef and baker.

When I found myself living in the Niagara Region, I was drawn to the type of cuisine with four distinct menus based on four distinct seasons with produce that came from close by. In Canada, we embrace that, whether it’s cooking with the seafood of the East Coast, the produce and dairy we have in Ontario, Quebec beef, or the fish on the West Coast. That is Canadian cuisine and we don’t need to rely on a dish or a specific menu to call it Canadian. You can cook globally so long as you shop locally. And that too, I think is very Canadian, bringing the global influence.

How did it feel to compete on Iron Chef Canada?

When the opportunity came to be an Iron Chef, I thought long and hard about it. I was petrified. Can I do this? Can I stand up against a challenger and can I deliver a five-course menu [that is] all baking in an hour? And even though this is an all baking episode, the rules are still exactly the same as if it was a traditional Iron Chef [challenge].

I decided one of my life philosophies is you never regret the things you try and fail. And I thought if I say no to this, I’ll always wonder ‘what if?’ So I just jumped right in.

Anna Olson Battle Nuts

So once you did decide you were going for it, how did you start to prepare?

There is really only so much you can do because you have to wait until the [secret] ingredient is revealed. But knowing that you have to prepare a certain amount of dishes, I had to look at techniques. People know me from Bake where I really focus on the technique behind something. So I knew I needed to find recipes that could draw on that and [we] could mix, bake, set, and cook within an hour, which can be a challenge.

What I didn’t want the judges to do was walk away with sugar shock, [that] they didn’t have a great experience because I didn’t give them a balanced menu. That was already in my head. So when the ingredients [are] revealed, you simply apply it.

How did you go about showcasing Canadian flavours in your Iron Chef Canada menu?

I feel showcasing Canadian flavours and preparations is just inherent to my style, so I didn’t feel like I had to reach or be something different than [what] I was. I think that would have created a challenge that I didn’t need. We do what we know and we do what we love. Just like a home cook preparing Christmas dinner, if you make something you’ve never made, it’s going to go sideways. The home cook at holiday time is kind of their own Iron Chef!

What’s your favourite holiday food event—from cookie swaps to brunch to the big Christmas dinner?

The Christmas Day brunch is my favourite meal. I love how it’s relaxed and casual, but still elegant. We do the big ham and lots of side salads.  I’ll do things like a raspberry Danish pastry wreath and scones with fruit to start the meal, but then you still get to have dessert. Brunch is done is [by] 2 or 3 p.m. and the kitchen is cleaned up and you still have the rest of the day to snack. And the best is that little leftover ham sandwich or turkey sandwich later on in the evening.

Anna Olson's Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

What’s your ‘it’ cookie of the season?

I do have a collection of three cookies from my latest cookbook called Crinkles and Twinkles. So I do a Chocolate Crinkle,  a Gingerbread Crinkle, and a Lemon Twinkle. They’re rolled in granulated sugar and sparkles. Those, together on a plate, look lovely because they all relate, but they each have their own flavour.

The other cookie that I like to make every year is a Vinarterta Linzer cookie.  It’s a mix of tradition and reinvention. I’ve adopted what is a really quite difficult and time intensive [recipe] to make into a simpler cookie. It’s very much a Canadian prairie recipe. When Icelanders emigrated [to Canada]  they treasured and kept onto these heritage recipes. That’s a big part of Canadian cooking too. We cherish our cultural heritage and hold onto these recipes, but also share them with each other.

That is, to me, what a cookie exchange should be. You can always assign people to make you make the shortbread or make the chocolate cookie, but everyone should be invited to make one that’s part of their family tradition.

*This interview has been edited and condensed.

Watch Anna Olson on Iron Chef Canada: Battle Nutcracker ‘Sweet’ on December 12 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

anna-olson-fudge-brownies

The Only One-Bowl Brownie Recipe You Need (With a Secret Ingredient!)

The secret to moist, chewy, fudgey brownies? Mayonnaise!  Everyone’s favourite sandwich spread is the key to success when it comes to the perfect brownie. Also worth mentioning is that mayo replaces the need for any butter, which means far less saturated fat.

Anna Olson’s One Bowl Chocolate Brownies

Makes: 1 9-x-13-inch (3.5 L) pan

Ingredients:

4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
⅔ cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
⅔ cup mayonnaise
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
½ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Grease and line a 9-x-13-inch (3.5 L) baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Place the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and pour boiling water overtop. Let the chocolate mixture sit one minute, then whisk to melt.
3. Whisk in the sugar, then add the mayonnaise and then the eggs, one at a time. Stir in the vanilla.
4. With a wooden spoon or spatula, stir in the flour, cocoa powder and salt until evenly blended. Stir in the chocolate chips.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 30 minutes, until a tester inserted in the centre of the brownies comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.
6. Brownies slice best when chilled, but taste best at room temperature.
7. Once sliced, you can store the brownies in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Want more baking recipes and tips? Find out how to fix your biggest baking fails here.

How to Make Rainbow Swirl Frosting

If certain coffee franchises have taught us anything through their creative iced drinks, it’s that when it comes to all rainbow-coloured or unicorn-inspired  people are all in. So why shouldn’t the tri-coloured frosting be all the rage with cupcakes, too? Thanks to a little kitchen creativity, you can get that same pretty rainbow effect without heading out to the bakery or fancy cake shop.

Rainbow Frosting, Two Ways

Anna Olson has two ways to achieve a tri-coloured swirl that works for any colour-combo of your choosing. That means decorating with soft pastels, funky neons, or with themed birthday or anniversary party hues – it’s as simple as scooping icing into a piping bag.

Anna Olson puts a pastel concoction to the test with a fresh batch of cupcakes, first by using three separate piping bags joined by a special coupler. The tool helps to give the icing a rainbow-like effect, with perfectly defined edges. Then, for those of us who don’t have such fancy tools, she shows us how to create a pretty tie-dyed effect using one large piping bag and a simple star tip. Sure, those edges may fold into each other a little more, but it’s actually a really pretty and neat way to finish off a traditional cupcake. One that’s guaranteed to be loved by children and adults alike.

It may sound like a fancy schmancy way to top the traditional dessert, but it’s actually really easy. Even novice bakers can get the hang of this with a little practice and a spare frosting plate.

“I love that no two cupcakes look the same… it almost looks like a bouquet of flowers,” Olson says towards the end, once she’s decorated half-a-dozen impressive yet oh-so-simple cupcakes in a matter of seconds.

With frosting tips like these, you’re certain to be the star of your next birthday celebration, potluck get-together or cupcake party. If you can resist the tempting colours long enough to actually get them there without eating them all first, of course.

You special little unicorn, you. And now as someone out there probably once said, “keep calm and cupcake on.”

Want more recipes to satisfy your sweet tooth? Check out 30 Celebration Worthy Cupcake Recipes.

Pudding Chomeur is The Québec Dessert We All Need in Our Lives

It’s no secret that some of our favourite foods are French Canadian classics; Tourtière, split pea soup, maple everything and of course, gravy-and-cheese-curd-smothered poutine. But when it comes to desserts, nothing beats syrupy, sweet pudding chomeur.

What is Pudding Chomeur?

If you haven’t had this classic, quintessential Québec dessert and you love the taste of fresh maple, this is definitely one you’ll want to add to your recipe box. The dish first rose in popularity during The Great Depression, when factory workers were forced to be a little more creative with what they had on hand, especially if they wanted to indulge their sweet tooth. For French Canadians that meant all the staples for a basic cake (flour, butter, milk and eggs) and tons of maple syrup that they sometimes sourced in their very own backyards. (If they didn’t have access to maple syrup, they used brown sugar as a caramel stand-in instead.)

The result was pudding chomeur, which roughly translates into “unemployment” or “poor man’s” pudding. Don’t let the name fool you though; once you dig into these single-serve cakes and all of their glorious maple goodness, you’ll feel like you’re indulging in the richest (not to mention easiest to whip-up) dessert ever.

Anna Olson has her own elevated riff on the dish, where she takes a regular old cake base—no added vanilla or lemon zest here—and gussies it up with some additional butter and brown sugar for a little extra luxurious richness.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Pudding Chomeur.

Then comes the really delicious part: the maple syrup concoction. Olson simmers up maple syrup, water, vanilla and more butter and then douses her uncooked cakes until they’re swimming in the stuff.

“You’re going to think it’s too much syrup,” she advises. But it’s not. It’s really, really not.

For you see, as the pudding chomeur bakes up, the maple syrup bakes down, thoroughly soaking the cake and transforming it into a sweet, syrupy ramekin of heaven. You end up with cake on top and all of the maple goodness for dipping and dunking underneath.

It’s so simple you could make it on a weeknight, but it’s also rich enough to serve to guests at the end of a fancy dinner party. Another bonus? Your house will smell absolutely incredible.

Now that’s what we call une bonne idée.

Want to try your hand at more classic dessert recipes? Take a look at this list of Anna Olson’s classic baking recipes.

anna-chocolate-cake

4 Must-Know Chocolate Rules for Better Baking

A chocolate dessert is a welcome sight at any time of the year, no special occasion required. While there’s a certain set of rules for making chocolate truffles and other candy, chocolate desserts like cakes, tarts, mousses and more requires some specific know-how. From knowing when to use baking chocolate vs. chocolate chips to decoding chocolate percentages, this information will help you deliver desserts that are as decadent as they deserve to be.

Rich-Chocolate-Mousse-Cake

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Rich Chocolate Mousse Cake

1. The Difference Between Chocolate Chips and Baking Chocolate

There are two types of chocolate used in baking recipes and they have distinct characteristics and functions.

Chocolate Chips

Sold in a bag and measured by volume (i.e. 1 cup/250 mL), chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape when stirred into a batter or dough, like in Chocolate Chip Cookies. They often contain ingredients like soy lecithin that helps the chip hold its shape and stay in place within the recipe. That is why chocolate chips are not meant to be melted and folded into recipes like chocolate cake, frosting or brownies. You will find that when melted, the chocolate is thick and even grainy since the chips weren’t designed for this function.

Baking Chocolate

Sold in squares, bars or large chips called “callets,” baking chocolate is also called couverture chocolate. It is made to be chopped and melted to be used in baking. It is important to weigh your baking chocolate for recipes, and not measure it by volume. When melted, baking chocolate is smooth and glossy, making it easy to stir into your recipes. Chocolate sold in bars labelled as “chocolate” can be used in baking, but if the bar is labelled as a “candy bar”, then that is eating chocolate, not baking chocolate.

2. The Difference Between Dark, Milk and White Chocolates

Dark and milk chocolates are made up of cocoa solids (also called cocoa liquor), cocoa butter, sugar, flavouring such as vanilla, and sometimes emulsifiers like lecithin. Milk chocolate is milder than dark chocolate because it has fewer cocoa solids and more sugar and cocoa butter, making it melt more easily and taste a little sweeter.

White chocolate has all of the above ingredients except for the cocoa solids, so the absence of that bitter character makes it taste so mild and sweet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, unsweetened chocolate has no sugar and very little cocoa butter, so it is strong and very bitter.

Because these differences in cocoa contents, dark milk and white chocolates melt and re-set differently from each other. Because of this difference, they’re not interchangeable in recipes. Other ingredients such as the sugar, cream and butter would need to be adjusted if you planned on changing chocolates.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Classic Dark Chocolate Mousse

3. Chocolate Percentage Explained

In the world of dark chocolate, you may notice that it is called semisweet or bittersweet, or the package has a percentage on it. This percentage indicates the cocoa liquor content. The higher the percentage, the more intense the chocolate.

Semisweet needs a minimum of 35% cocoa liquor but typically falls between 40 and 65%. Bittersweet chocolate falls between 66% and 99%, but 70% is my preferred number for desserts that have a chocolate intensity and balance.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s White Chocolate Mousse Cups

4. Baking Chocolate Storing Tips

Be sure to store chocolate, well-wrapped in a cool, dark place, but be sure not to refrigerate or freeze chocolate. If you see a white “dust” on the surface of your chocolate, it is not mould. It is called bloom, and is simply a little cocoa butter rising to the surface of the chocolate, and is a sign of a temperature change at some point. It is perfectly fine to use.

Are you a chocoholic? Try Anna Olson’s best chocolate recipes.

anna-olson-kneading-dough

Anna Olson’s Guide to Making Bread at Home

Comforting, filling and satisfying, bread is the cornerstone of western food culture. And making your own bread is one of the gratifying baking projects. There’s a sense of power and confidence that comes from coaxing four simple ingredients into a dough that grows and then bakes into something so fulfilling.

There is such satisfaction to rip into that loaf of freshly baked bread, a whisper of steam emanating from it, and letting the butter wind in little rivulets as it melts on your first bite. If you’ve always wanted to try making your own loaf, this guide will give you the knowledge and confidence to bake bread at home.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Rustic Ciabatta.

The Four Magic Ingredients

Flour

Bread flour has a higher protein (gluten) content than all-purpose, so when kneaded, the proteins bond, giving the dough strength so it can hold in the air the yeast produces. Many types of bread can be made with all-purpose flour, but if you are getting serious about bread baking, then bread flour is best.

Water

Tap or spring water is a personal choice, but no matter your choice, the temperature is key. Yeast ferments at around 115ºF (46ºC), so your water should be that or a touch warmer. A thermometer isn’t necessary – I just test the water on my wrist – it should feel slightly warmer than body temperature.

Yeast

Yeast is key to fermentation. Yeast feeds on the natural sugars within the flour and generates alcohol and carbon dioxide, which causes your dough to rise. As the bread bakes the alcohol cooks off, while the air bubbles produced by the CO2 stay in place, making the bread airy, fluffy and light.

Leavening Agents

Most bread recipes call for commercial yeast, but there’s more than one way to leaven your bread.

Commercial Yeast

The simplest ways to start fermentation is to add a few teaspoons of dry active or instant yeast. Dry active yeast needs to be dissolved into water, while instant yeast can be added at any time, no dissolving needed.

Starters

A yeast starter is a natural and flavourful way to start fermentation, most commonly used for sourdough bread. To make your own starter, combine equal parts by weight of flour and water. Then add a touch of honey. You could also add a pinch of commercial yeast, which is optional. Place the mixture in a loosely-covered jar on your countertop and let sit for 24-36 hours. The natural yeast in the air will start a fermentation. After using, remaining starter can be re-fed and stored in the fridge, feeding it every two days with the same proportions of flour and water. The longer it ages, the more flavour it develops.

Salt

Salt does more than flavor bread. It also slows fermentation, which is a good thing. The longer a bread is left to rise the better flavour you get and the interior texture becomes stretchy when you tear into it. Commercial breads than have a fluffy cotton-like texture are quickly fermented, where homemade or artisan breads have a chewier texture and more character.

 

4 Easy Steps to Making Bread

How to Knead Bread

Kneading is the important step of working the dough to develop the proteins in the flour. You can do this by hand or with a mixer equally well, and it is a gratifying step – that feeling of pushing, stretching and pulling the dough is so soothing, and as the dough becomes developed, you will feel it get elastic under your hands.

Don’t be tempted to add too much flour to your dough as you knead it. I like to hold back 1/2 cup of flour from the recipe to use for kneading. Bread dough should still be a little tacky in most cases and barely come away from your hands after kneading.

How to Proof Bread

This is the most important part of bread making, and where you do nothing! Time is key here – the first proof (also called rise) is where the yeast really gets to work, developing flavor and texture. The first proof is usually at room temperature and some recipe call for you to punch down the dough, to challenge the yeast to get to work again.

The second proof happens after shaping, and you can control the timing of this by popping the bread into the fridge (this way you can make, proof and shape your bread dough the evening before, chill it overnight and then proof it in the morning to start the day with freshly baked bread).

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Seeded Rye Bread.

How to Shape Bread

Every culture with bread has a style for shaping it. Regions in France and Italy have very specific shapes to their bread, or consider flatbreads and other styles such as naan.

Shaping isn’t just for aesthetics – as the baker, you are knocking out the air from the dough one last time, coaxing that yeast back to work, and this helps develop the crust.

How to Bake Bread

Most bread cooks best in a high temperature oven, to set the crust and get that final burst of leavening. Adding steam, by spraying the inside of the oven with a misting bottle, or placing a tray filled with 2 cups of boiling water helps develop a good crust and a shine to the crust.

You can tell when your bread is baked by lifting it up with a tea towel and tapping the bottom – if it sounds hollow, then it’s done.

If you are baking bread in tins, turn the bread out of the tins immediately from the oven.

The most challenging step when baking bread? Letting it cool at least 20 minutes before slicing or tearing into it!

Can’t wait to get baking? Try Anna Olson’s Best Classic Baking Recipes.

Anna Olson’s Cheerful Lemon Meringue Easter Desserts

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

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

 

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

Get Anna’s lemon curd recipe here.

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

Lemon Curd Makes Easter Desserts Shine

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

The Best Meringue for Lemon Desserts

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

You Can “Lemon Meringue” Any Dessert

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

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

How to Fill Éclairs, Profiteroles and Cupcakes

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

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

The Final Flourish 

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

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

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

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

Anna Olson’s Easiest-Ever Holiday Desserts

The sheer bustle of the holidays is enough to trip up even the most prepared party-throwers among us. So why make things even harder for ourselves when it comes to whipping up a holiday meal? Or more specifically, when it comes to everyone’s favourite part — dessert.

Whether you have last-minute guests or a big dinner party planned, Anna Olson has your back. Here are four of her ridiculously easy-to-assemble favourites that will leave all your guests impressed and satisfied, giving you way more time to actually enjoy the holidays themselves.

Super Simple Chocolate Mousse

Who doesn’t want delicious chocolate mousse in a matter of minutes? This genius recipe calls for just two ingredients, making it the perfect dish for last-minute guests. Whip some up while you’re getting dinner ready, or make it in advance and keep some on hand in the fridge. This yummy dessert will last as long as the expiry date on the cream you used to make it, which means it can be the perfect standalone dish or serve as a fancy-schmancy garnish.

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse

If it’s a cheesecake flavour you’re looking for but you find yourself low on time, this zesty mousse certainly lives up to expectations. With just five ingredients—including fresh lemon juice—and a hand-mixer doing most of the actual labour, the hardest part about this recipe is not licking the spatula every time you scrape down your cream cheese mixture.

Last-Minute Lemon Delight

Whisk up this three-ingredient, warm lemony delight and serve it over fresh fruit for any last-minute guests you find yourself hosting this holiday season. Or, add some cream to stabilize the mixture and refrigerate it for a dreamy lemon mousse later on. Heck, why not just make both while you’re at it and enjoy the best of both dessert worlds? We promise, it’s that easy.

Easy Apple Tart

Anna can’t take full credit for the deliciousness that is this easy peasy apple tart; it’s actually her husband Michael’s go-to recipe. Four simple ingredients and a half hour in the oven mean this sweet-and-savoury dish is impressive without being time-consuming. Seriously, the hardest part is probably peeling the apples.

Looking for more inspiration? Try these 4 Genius Homemade Christmas Gifts from Anna Olson.

Anna Olson Halloween Hacks

Anna Olson’s Spooktacular Halloween Hacks

If you ask us, the best food-based Halloween offerings combine a little trick and a whole lot of treat. In fact, one of the best parts about the ghoulish holiday is invoking some kitchen creativity and concocting amazing offerings that look as though they belong at a feast table in the great hall at Hogwarts.

Anna Olson may not have the magic spell that brings chocolate frogs to life, but she certainly has oodles of creativity up her flour-dusted sleeves. Check out these four spooktacular Halloween hacks that not only elevate party-friendly treats but are guaranteed to impress kids and adults alike.

Spiderweb Donuts

Scare up some of these elevated jelly donuts for your next Halloween party or office get-together. All you need is a standard sugar glaze, some jelly donuts, a makeshift piping bag and a toothpick. Easy, peasy. (Spiders not included.)

 

Witch’s Cauldron Instant Ice Cream

Source some dry ice and watch guests’ faces positively light up when you whip up some instant, smoky ice cream in a matter of seconds. Extra points for a colourful spread of gummy worms, crushed Oreo cookie “dirt” crumbs and other sugary toppings to pour over top.

 

Slimiest Green Slime

It only takes three simple ingredients to simmer up some kid-friendly slime that’s not only chemical-free but edible, too. Decorate cakes, cupcakes or other concoctions with “green slime,” or just give it to the kiddies to play with as they see fit for some real Halloween fun.

 

Spooky Kitchen Fun: Halloween Treats

Get the kiddies involved in some good old-fashioned Halloween fun with these simple hacks that won’t just transform snacks into adorable creations, but you’ll craft some life-long memories while you’re at it. From witches hats and pretzel ghosties to blondie Frankensteins and fanged pumpkins, these treats are surprisingly easy to assemble.

 

Looking for more spooktacular inspiration? Try our 18 Orange and Black Halloween Treats.

Anna Olson’s Summer Fruit Flan

The minute the weather starts warming up, I start dreaming about the fresh fruits to come: First rhubarb, then strawberries, then cherries — and finally, apricots, raspberries, blueberries and peaches all at once. To get you ready for summer baking, I thought an elegant, classic fruit tart would be ideal. This fruit flan uses a cookie-like tart base with a sweet vanilla pastry cream filling and you get to be creative with the fruit on top — any summer fruit would make this a truly show-stopping dessert.

Anna Olson's summer fruit flan

Summer Fruit Flan

Servings: 8 to 10

Ingredients:

Pastry
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
¼ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
2 oz white chocolate, chopped

Pastry Cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
2 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp unsalted butter

Assembly
4 cups seasonal summer fruits such as strawberries, raspberries, Blueberries, apricots or peaches, in any combination
3 Tbsp apple jelly

Directions:

1. Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Stir in the egg yolks and vanilla. Stir in the flour and salt until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, until firm.

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Knead the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface to soften enough that it can be easily rolled. Dust the pastry a little and roll it out to just over 11-inches in diameter and just under a ¼-inch thick. Line a 9-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan and trim the edges. Chill the pastry for 20 minutes in the fridge or 10 minutes in the freezer.

3. Dock the bottom of the pastry shell with a fork and bake it for 16 to 20 minutes, until just the edges are golden brown and the centre of the shell is dry looking. Cool completely before filling.

4. Keep the baked tart shell in its pan. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl placed over a pot of barely simmering water, stirring until melted. Brush the bottom and sides of the cooled tart shell to coat and chill the shell while preparing the pastry cream.

Related: Anna Olson’s Best New Dessert Recipes

5. Heat the milk in a heavy-bottomed saucepot until just below a simmer. Whisk the eggs, sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk half of the hot milk into the egg mixture, then pour this entire mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk. Whisk the custard constantly over medium heat until it thickens and just begins to bubble, about 3 to 4 minutes. Strain the custard into a bowl, stir in the vanilla and butter until melted and cover the bowl with plastic wrap so the wrap directly covers the surface of the custard. Cool the custard to room temperature, then chill for at least 2 hours.

6. To assemble the tart, spoon the custard into the tart shell and spread it evenly. Top the custard with the fresh fruit, creating an appealing design.  Melt the apple jelly over low heat, and then brush it over the fruit.  Chill the tart until you are ready to serve.

Note: The tart can be stored chilled for up to a day.

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Anna Olson’s Butter Tarts Are the Ultimate Canada Day Treat

Can’t decide on which classic Canadian dish to serve for the nation’s 150th birthday? Look no further, because now you can make Anna Olson’s famous butter tarts for your Canada Day festivities!

anna olson butter tarts canada day

It’s no stretch to say that Anna Olson is a butter tart expert. Even when travelling around the world, the Bake with Anna Olson star is often asked to demonstrate how to make these quintessential Canadian treats. So when teaming up with Kin Community creator Beth Le Manach of Entertaining with Beth for a festive summer collaboration, Anna knew exactly what would be on the menu.

To celebrate this momentous Canada Day, Anna’s sharing her “true Canadian, classic sweet treat”! In this scrumptious video from Anna Olson’s YouTube channel, Oh Yum, you’ll learn the secret to making her irresistibly sweet and flaky butter tarts, just in time for the long weekend!

Can’t wait to get baking?  Get into that kitchen and start whipping up a batch of these Canadian treasures.  Find the recipe to her delicious Canada Day Butter Tarts below.

Anna Olson’s Pecan Butter Tarts

Butter tarts are a Canadian classic sweet treat. While this recipe uses pecans, feel free to use other additions in place of the pecans such as raisins, walnut pieces, chocolate chips or simply leave the butter tarts plain.

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 12 butter tarts

Ingredients:

Pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup cool unsalted butter, cut into pieces (does not have to be ice cold)
1/4 cup cool water
2 tsp white vinegar or lemon juice

Filling:
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins, pecans or walnut pieces

Directions:

1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt together. Add the oil and blend in using a pastry cutter, electric beaters or a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until the flour looks evenly crumbly in texture.
2. Add the butter and cut in until rough and crumbly but small pieces of butter are still visible. Stir the water and vinegar (or lemon juice, if using) together and add all at once to the flour mixture, mixing just until the dough comes together. Shape the dough into 2 logs, wrap and chill until firm, at least an hour.
3. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lightly grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Pull the chilled dough from the fridge 20 minutes before rolling.
4. Cut each of the logs of chilled pie dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece out on a lightly floured work surface to about 5 mm thick and use a 12 cm round cookie cutter to cut each into a circle. Line each muffin cup with the pastry so that it comes about 1 cm higher than the muffin tin, and chill the lined tin while preparing the filling.
5. Whisk sugar, maple syrup and butter in a bowl by hand until combined. Whisk in eggs, then vinegar and vanilla. Sprinkle a few raisins, pecans or walnut pieces into each cup and then pour the filling into the shells and bake the tarts for 5 minutes, then reduce oven to 375°F and continue baking until butter tart filling starts to dome, about 20 more minutes. Cool tarts in the tin, and chill the tarts in the tin before removing.

Looking for more yummy treats? Learn the sticky-sweet History of Butter Tarts.

lemon-cheesecake

Anna Olson’s Guide to Making the Perfect Cheesecake

If you’re in charge of hosting the family for Easter brunch or planning a springtime get together, cheesecake is ideal for serving a group. This rich, velvety cake not only makes you look like a hero, it can also be prepared ahead of time. That’s one thing off of your to-do list right before the doorbell rings!

From trying to avoid the dreaded crack in the centre to impressing guests with a stunning homemade dessert, these insider tips and tricks will ensure cheesecake success. Plus, they’ll give you the confidence to jump right into this brand new recipe I’ve got for you!

cheesecake-main2

Here are 5 essential tips for the perfect cheesecake.

1. Ingredient Temperature
Ingredients of a like temperature combine easily and smoothly, so:

a) Pull your cream cheese out an hour before using (cut it into pieces while still cold, spread onto a plate and cover it with plastic.) Do NOT microwave your cream cheese — if it’s too soft on the outside and still cool in the middle, you’ll get lumps in your cheesecake.

b) Warm your eggs up by placing them in a bowl and covering them completely with hot tap water. In 3-4 minutes, those right-from-the-fridge eggs will have warmed up to room temperature without you having to pull them out hours ahead.

2. Scrape Your Bowl!
For a smooth and creamy cheesecake, you need to scrape your bowl often, and after each addition. It might feel tedious to stop the mixer or beaters every minute or two, but it’s a simple task that will result in a velvety and smooth texture.

3. Watch Your Mixing Speed
When beating cream cheese and adding sugar, you can beat on a higher speed. Once you start adding the eggs, reduce the speed to low, so you don’t add too much air. Whipped eggs will soufflé in the oven, and, once the cheesecake starts cooling, those souffleed eggs will fall. This is when a crack can develop, even hours after the cheesecake is out of the oven.

4. Gradual Cooling
Allowing the cheesecake to cool completely to room temperature before chilling is a simple and important step. Accelerating the cooling time by rushing it to the fridge can cause the cheesecake to contract, creating a crack. To check if the cheesecake is cool, touch the bottom of the pan, not the sides.

5. Loosen the Sides of the Cheesecake
By running a palette knife around the inside edge of the springform pan soon after the cheesecake comes out of the oven, you separate the cake from the pan. This way, if the cheesecake does want to contract, it can pull away from the sides of the pan, making it less likely to crack in the middle.

cheesecake-main

Meyer Lemon Meringue Cheesecake Recipe

Prep Time: 75 minutes
Cook Time: 90 minutes (plus chilling time)
Makes: 1, 9-inch cheesecake
Serves: 12-16

anna-olson-cheesecake-ingredients2

Ingredients:

Graham Crust:
1 cup (225 g) graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp (25 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60 g) unsalted butter, melted

Cheesecake:
3 pkg (750 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tin (300 mL) sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely grated lemon zest
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
2 large whole eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh lemon juice

Lemon Curd:
2 large whole eggs
3 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) finely grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 cup (60 g) sour cream

Meringue Topping:
3 large egg whites
9 Tbsp (110 g) granulated sugar

anna-olson-cheesecake-ingredients-2

Directions:

Graham Crust:
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC). Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan.
2. For the crust, stir the graham crumbs, sugar and melted butter together in a bowl until combined and press this into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes (no change in colour to note) and cool completely on a rack before filling.

Cheesecake:
1. For the cheesecake, lower the oven temperature to 300ºF (150ºC).
2. Beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in the condensed milk, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl well. Beat in the zest and vanilla, then on a lower speed; beat in each egg and the yolk one at a time. Still on low speed, beat in the lemon juice.
3. Pour mixture over the cooled crust and bake for about 45 minutes, until the outside of the cheesecake is set, but the centre still has a little jiggle to it.
4. Prepare the lemon curd as the cheesecake cools.

anna-olson-cheesecake-directions-1

Lemon Curd:
1. For the curd, whisk the whole eggs, egg yolks, sugar, lemon zest and juice in a metal bowl. Whisk in the butter and sour cream and place the bowl over a pot of gently simmering water, whisking often, until the lemon curd has thickened (but it will still be fluid), about 10 minutes.
2. Strain the curd and spread this gently over the cheesecake.
3. Once fully cooled to room temperature, chill the cheesecake for at least 6 hours (do not cover with plastic wrap).

Meringue Topping:
1. For the topping, whisk the egg whites and sugar in a metal bowl placed over a pot of gently simmering water until frothy and very warm to touch (165ºF if using a thermometer).
2. Use electric beaters or transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until the meringue has cooled and holds a stiff peak when the beaters are lifted.
3. Use a butane kitchen torch to brown the meringue or pop it into a 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 3-4 minutes to brown and then cool before refrigerating.

anna-olson-cheesecake-directions-2

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Meyer Lemon Meringue Cheesecake here.

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.

Anna Olson’s Tips for Hosting the Ultimate Cookie Exchange

Everyone wants a holiday cookie tin brimming with an assortment of styles but often there just isn’t enough time to get all that baking done, even if your intentions are true.

Hosting a cookie exchange with friends is the best way to get a great variety and also make an occasion out of getting together to swap.

Get the hot chocolate (or mulled wine) warming…it’s time for cookies (and I hear there is a certain North Pole resident who is rather fond of cookies!)

Get the hot chocolate (or mulled wine) warming…it’s time for cookies (and I hear there is a certain North Pole resident who is rather fond of cookies!)

Here are three key tips to hosting a successful cookie exchange this holiday season.

1. Make a Cookie Wish List
If you are initiating the exchange, create a list of cookies that people can sign up for. That way you know you’re getting a balanced mix of colour, size, shape, flavour and texture. Of course, invite your guests to offer their own favourites before confirming the list. They may have a fantastic family recipe you wouldn’t know about! Also inquire into any allergies, so guests can steer clear.

Specify how many cookies each should bring. If a group of ten people are asked to bring a dozen cookies for each person, then everyone goes home with ten dozen cookies – perfect!

2. Consider Exchanging Dough
If you are meeting weeks before the holidays, your cookies might be stale (or eaten!) before you even get to your own festivities.

Exchanging cookie dough to be frozen and baked later is another great option.  The dough should be shaped as they should be baked. Icebox cookies can be shaped into logs to be sliced and baked and chocolate chip cookies can be scooped and then frozen.  Each guest needs to include a little card with the name of the cookie with the portioning and baking instructions. This way each guest can bake the cookies as they need them.

3. Have a Decorating Party
When gathering your cookie group together, have a little fun by including a decorating session. Have gingerbread or sugar cookies ready with frosting and decor in ample supply. Let everyone dress up a few cookies to eat then or take home.  My theme last year was Christmas sweater cookies!

Looking for more holiday cookie inspiration? Check out our collection of 50 Classic Christmas Cookie Recipes.

What Food Network Stars Are Thankful For

Whether you write it down, share  it at the dinner table or quietly reflect, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pause, and take a moment to celebrate all your good fortunes. From good health to cherished moments with close friends and family, to a table full of delicious food, we all have a lot to be grateful for. We caught up with some of our stars to hear about what gives them pause, and what they’re most thankful for this holiday season.

“I am thankful for those quiet little moments that tuck themselves in between the noisy, messy workings of life,” says Anna Olson, host of Bake with Anna Olson. “This time of year, the sound of Canada geese flying overhead in formation, or the tapping of cool, autumn rain against my kitchen window is enough to make me stop and pause.”

As an immigrant from Hong Kong, Susur Lee has always been thankful to live in a welcoming country such as Canada. “This year that thankfulness is amplified,” the chef and judge on Chopped Canada says. “Canada’s attitude towards immigrants and refugees makes me even more thankful that I landed in this great country.”

Susur’s cast mate John Higgins shares the same sentiment, adding Canada is “the place where dreams come true.”

When it comes to Thanksgiving, fellow judge Roger Mooking appreciates all the good food on the table. “I’m most thankful for a properly well-made Trini roti with bone-in goat.  Oh yeah, and my family, too!”

Having spent most of the year on the road for Carnival Eats or Bachelorette Canada, host Noah Cappe is looking forward to coming home. “I’m thankful for the time I get to spend with family over the holidays, catching up and just hanging out around the table,” he says. “I’m also really thankful for gravy!”

Anna Olson’s Guide to Baking Ingredient Expiry Dates

Expiry dates and best before dates are placed on products to protect us, but logic tells us that our sliced almonds can’t transform from edible one day to toxic the next simply because of a date stamp on the package.

So here are a few categories where these dates are critical, simply a guideline or can be ignored.

baking-ingredient-expiry-dates

 

CRITICAL

Fresh Dairy: Fat lengthens the shelf life of milk ingredients, so skim milk has a closer expiry date than whole milk or whipping cream. Once opened, these ingredients are best consumed or used by the date listed.

Soured Dairy: Sour cream, buttermilk and yogurts have been soured, which thickens them but also makes them last longer in your fridge. While best used by the date stamped, I find these products can still be enjoyed for a few days following, especially when used in baking.

Eggs: Eggs are amazing — their shell is nature’s best sealed container, but the contents within it are fragile. Eggs can remain fresh and safe to use for weeks, but once the best before date is reached, it’s best to add them to your organics bin. If you have separated egg whites left from a recipe, they can be frozen indefinitely.

Leaveners: Yeast, baking powder and baking soda do not spoil, but once the expiry date approaches you may find that the activating power of these products has faded. Baking powder and baking soda can be stored in sealed containers at room temperature but if you’ve purchased yeast in a jar (not the little paper packets), it should be refrigerated once opened.

That said, I find that baking soda, while date stamped up to a year out, starts losing it’s oomph within three months of opening a box. What I prefer to do is replace my baking soda every three months (it’s only $1.69 a box) and move the previous box to my fridge as a deodorizer.

GUIDELINE

The following ingredients will not necessarily spoil by the expiry date, but are best consumed around that time, for optimal freshness and flavour.

Oils: Some oils will turn rancid after a spell, so while the date on the bottle may be far ahead, by that date they might pick up a musty aroma indicating that it’s turning. This won’t hurt you, but the flavour is certainly off-putting and can ruin a dish. While it may be handy, it’s best not to store your bottle of olive oil by the stove – the regular heat exposure can turn it faster.

Nuts and Seeds: It is the oil within nuts and seeds that make them sensitive to spoiling. The oilier a nut (think pine nuts, pecans, walnuts) the shorter the shelf life, where nuts such as almonds or hazelnuts last longer. Storing nuts in an airtight container in a cool, dark place is best, or freeze them indefinitely.

Chocolate: Chocolate really doesn’t spoil, so it is safe to consume it weeks, even months after the expiry, assuming it’s been properly stored in a cool but not cold, dark place. If you see a white dust form on the surface of the chocolate, it’s not mold. This is called “bloom” and is some of the cocoa butter within the chocolate rising to the surface, and is simply a sign that at some point the chocolate changed temperature quickly.

Spices: Your cinnamon won’t spoil, but you may find that it loses its strength after the expiry date approaches, or if you store all of your spices together, they may absorb each other odours after a prolonged time. If you buy your spices in bulk, get them out of their little baggies and into sealed jars — mason or jam jars work well — to keep their flavours pure.

Flours and Grains: Flours will go stale after a while, and while still safe to eat, you may notice that your baked goods aren’t stupendous if made with them. When I purchase a whole grain product (like spelt kernels or bulgur wheat) I transfer the grains to a sealed jar, but I cut out the expiry date from the package and drop it into the jar.

IGNORED

There are some expiry dates that are less worrisome, and typically don’t need to be followed.

Honey: If stored in a cool dark place, honey keeps forever. After all, honey was used to preserve the mummies in ancient Egypt! After a time, you may notice that honey crystallizes, but all you have to do is heat it up and it liquefies again.

Vanilla Extract: Pure vanilla extract has an alcohol base, so it will keep forever. Keep the lid on tight and if it’s already contained in a dark, glass bottle, store your vanilla in a dark place and it’ll keep for ages.

Salt and Sugar: I’ve seen salt labeled with a best before date but so long as they don’t have added ingredients, such as spices and flavours, salt and sugar do not spoil!!

I hope this guide helps, after all, being aware of best before dates means you’re less likely to waste food and enjoy baked goods that are fresh-tasting and fulfilling. Happy baking!

Inspired With Anna, Food Network Star Kids, and More Coming This Fall

As we say goodbye to another beautiful summer, we say hello to an action-packed fall line-up on Food Network Canada. We’re kicking off September with exciting new shows and brand new episodes of your returning favourites.

Chopped Canada returns with more high-stakes, heart-pumping competition Saturday, September 3rd at 9 pm E/P. Brad Smith and all your faovurite judges are back to critique appetizers, entrées and desserts from talented Canadian chefs.

Get a double-dose of Bobby Flay this fall as Beat Bobby Flay returns with new episodes Thursday, September 1st at 10 pm E/P. The grill-master and breakfast pro will also debut a brand new show, Brunch @ Bobby’s, premiering Saturday, September 10th at 10 am E/P. With the launch of this appetizing new series, we’re giving away three copies of his cookbook, Brunch @ Bobby’s, which features 140 sweet and savoury recipes. Enter the contest now.

On the new series Inspired with Anna, acclaimed chef Anna Olson takes a break from baking to travel Southeast Asia for an unforgettable culinary journey. From Singapore to Hong Kong, Anna discovers unique ingredients in the markets, and learns original techniques from local cooks and distinguished chefs. Inspired with Anna premieres Sunday, September 4th at 10 am E/P  with two back-to-back episodes.

The Man in Plaid is back! John Catucci is hilarious, but when kids across Canada invite him into their favourite restaurant kitchens, things get downright silly. On a special edition of You Gotta Eat Here!, a new generation of foodies show John that their taste in cuisine goes beyond chicken fingers and fries. You Gotta Eat Here!: Kids Edition begins Friday, September 2nd at 8 pm E/P and regular episodes resume Friday, September 30th at 9 pm E/P.

Speaking of kids, Tia Mowry and Donal Skehan host the pint-sized competition, Food Network Star Kids, where 10 wildly talented young chefs battle their way through a variety of culinary challenges to become the next Food Network Star Kid. The adventure begins Sunday, September 4th at 8 pm E/P.

An all-new, star-studded cast of recruits joins the new season of Worst Cooks in America: Celebrity Edition hosted by Anne Burnell and Rachael Ray. Upcoming episodes feature Oktoberfest-themed beer and sausage challenges, a Halloween Bloody Mary battle, and the return of the trivia game, Family Food. Guest judges include lasy season’s winner, Jenni “JWoww” Farley, and runner-up, Kendra Wilkinson. The competition heats up Wednesday, September 14th at 9 pm E/P.

For our full show lineup, visit our schedule page.

Heartwarming Father’s Day Memories from our Stars

Although our stars are often away traveling the world and sampling great food, they always make time for family. Whether it’s enjoying a nice backyard barbecue or going on a road trip, nothing beats quality time with Dad! Here, our chefs and hosts share their favourite Father’s Day memories.

Noah Cappe shares a few photos of his father, Leslie Cappe via  Instagram @noahcappe

Noah Cappe shares a few photos of his father, Leslie Cappe via Instagram @noahcappe

“In recent years my dad has fallen in love with cooking,  more specifically, working the Q!” says Carnival Eats host Noah Cappe. “Last year, we were standing by the barbecue in the classic father and son pose, and I did a fake intro like he was cooking on Carnival Eats and he just went with it. It was hilarious!  That’s my dad.  That’s why I love those moments you get on a day like Father’s Day.”

Anna Olson and her father on a road trip; Anna's Key Lime Pie, her father's favourite dessert. Instagram @chefannaolson.

Anna Olson and her father on a road trip via Instagram @chefannaolson; Key Lime Pie, her father’s favourite dessert.

When Anna Olson was younger, she admits she had a hard time expressing her gratitude for her dad on Father’s Day. “All the typical greeting cards showed guys fishing, golfing or hanging out in the garage — and my dad did none of these things,” says the Bake with Anna Olson star. “But as I grew up and took on baking as my after-school hobby, I quickly learned that he appreciated sweets as much as I liked making them, and he still does to this day.  When I am working on new dessert recipes, I always make sure my dad gets first pick of the sweet selection. His favourite dessert is my key lime pie.”

Eden Grinshpan (second from left) with her mom, Riva Grinshpan, sisters Arielle and Renny Grinshpan, and father Menashe Grinshpan.

Eden Grinshpan (second from left) with her mom, Riva Grinshpan, sisters Arielle and Renny Grinshpan, and father Menashe Grinshpan.

Chopped Canada judge Eden Grinshpan says she was lucky to sit down and have dinner with her whole family every night as kid. “My father grew up in Israel and always talks about the foods his mother gave him. Every special occasion we try to replicate those dishes for him, like smokey eggplant with sliced tomatoes and a sponge cake with 12 eggs in it,” she says. Her father, Menashe Grinshpan, has been supporting the star since day one. “Because of the support and love from him and my mother [Riva], I have been able to achieve everything I have ever wanted to do in my life. I’m a very lucky girl.”

Cooks vs. Cons judge and Sugar Showdown host Josh Elkin was four years old when he gave his dad his first gift. “I built my dad a pencil holder for his desk. To this day, he still has it, although it doesn’t hold pencils anymore,” he says. While pies and ties are popular gift items these days, the star is grilling up something different. “I would love to cook my dad an awesome steak dinner, which I’m sure he would adore. However, it wouldn’t last through the test of time like a pencil holder has.”

Roger Mooking shares some throwback photos of his parents and himself as a little boy via Instagram @rogermooking.

Roger Mooking shares a throwback photo of his parents Gemma and Allay Mooking, as well as a baby photo of himself via Instagram @rogermooking.

“My father was a second generation restaurateur so he clearly inspired me in my career,” says Chopped Canada judge Roger Mooking.  His father Allay and mother Gemma raised him in Trinidad before moving to Canada at the age of five. “I grew up in a household of good steady cooking and music.” Sounds like the perfect pairing to us!

Heartwarming Mother’s Day Memories from our Stars

Our star chefs weren’t born ready to share delicious food with the world — they were raised that way, largely thanks to their loving mothers. Here, they share their favourite Mother’s Day memories.

Find out whose mom raised eight children, whose mom decorated cakes with ballerinas, and whose mom’s cooking was a cautionary example.

Noah Cappe's mom enjoying a birthday cake; Noah as a kid. Instagram, @noahcappe.

Noah Cappe’s mom enjoying a birthday cake; Noah as a kid. Instagram, @noahcappe.
Instagram, @noahcappe

“My mom raised EIGHT kids,” says Carnival Eats host Noah Cappe. “She dedicated a huge part of her life to making all of ours better, so Mother’s Day is super special for lots of reasons.” Now that Noah and his siblings are grown up, the dinner table is crowded — these days, it sits close to twenty people including all the spouses and grandchildren, says Noah. “But the moments during those nights, when there are five different conversations at once, and dishes are being passed around in fluid rotation from years of practice, and we couldn’t hear the doorbell if it rang, from the noise in the room — that’s when she’s the happiest, and those are my favourite memories of Mother’s Day.”

Josh Elkin, then and now. Childhood picture courtesy Instagram, @thejoshelkin.

Josh Elkin, then and now. Childhood picture courtesy Instagram, @thejoshelkin.
Instagram, @thejoshelkin

Cooks vs. Cons judge and Sugar Showdown host Josh Elkin never forgets to give his mom flowers and a sweet card for Mother’s Day, although he always forgets what he wrote on the card. “I give my mom the card, thinking that I wrote the most unique message, and she responds saying, ‘I love it Josh, you’re so sweet,’” he explains. “Little do I realize, year after year, I write the same thing on the card.” This year Josh plans to step it up with — what else? — a sugary treat. “I’ll be baking my mom some sweets, maybe even write some niceties on a cake using some icing. That way, it’ll for sure be unique.”

Susur Lee with his mom. Instagram, @susurlee.

Susur Lee with his mom. Instagram, @susurlee.
Instagram, @susurlee

Susur Lee credits his parents for working hard to provide for his family. “I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without my mother and father,” says the Chopped Canada judge. “I know it sounds predictable, but because she was always working, she didn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I was either eating her terrible food or going out for dim sum with my dad.” But all that time suffering through bad meals or eating delicious restaurant dinners inadvertently shaped the budding chef. “Together, without really knowing it, they shaped the way I would eat and interact with food for the rest of my life.”

Anna Olson then and now. Childhood photo courtesy Instagram, @chefannaolson.

Anna Olson then and now. Childhood photo courtesy Instagram, @chefannaolson.
Instagram, @chefannaolson

“My mom and I have a special bond around Mother’s Day,” says Bake with Anna Olson star Anna Olson. It’s not just that she loves her mom, but Anna’s birthday is around the same time as Mother’s Day, too. “We’ve always made a super girly thing of it,” she says. Anna and her mom exchange gifts like scarves and perfumes, and doll up each other’s desserts. “When I think of Mother’s Day, I think of birthday cake. As a kid, my Mom used to always top my cake or cupcakes with these plastic ballerinas that I thought were the most glamorous thing ever. Thanks, Mom!”

Need a cupcake to decorate, with ballerinas or anything else? Try Anna Olson’s Lemon Coconut Cupcakes.

Michael Smith, his wife Chazz, his kids Gabe, Camille and Ariella and a prime PEI lobster. Photos courtesy Instagram, @chefmichaelsmith, @thechazzsmith.

Michael Smith, his wife Chazz, his kids Gabe, Camille and Ariella and a prime PEI lobster. Photos courtesy Instagram, @chefmichaelsmith, @thechazzsmith.

Chopped Canada judge Michael Smith is a proud Prince Edward Islander, so it should come as no surprise that his Mother’s Day memories feature the island province’s famous lobsters. “On Prince Edward Island, Mother’s Day is traditionally celebrated with a giant feed of lobsters,” he says. “Our fishing season starts at the beginning of May, so lots of moms get their first taste of our famous lobsters on their special day. Even though they should have the day off, I suspect many moms willingly stay in the kitchen just to keep an eye on things!”