Tag Archives: Canada

Celebrate Canada Day With These Mini Bagels (and Epic BLT Bagel Board!)

When you think of Canadian cuisine, you likely think of poutine, maple syrup, smoked salmon, bannock — and Montreal-style bagels. And with Canada Day quickly approaching, I wanted to share a fun way to get the family involved to create these delicious mini bagels and an epic BLT bagel board. These Baking Therapy mini bagels are covered in white and black sesame seeds and perfectly chewy on the inside. Once you try your hand at homemade bagels, you’ll be making them every single weekend!

Mini Bagels

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Rest Time: 10 hours (or overnight) plus 10 minutes
Bake Time: 13-15 minutes
Total Time: 11 hours
Servings: 15 mini bagels

Ingredients:

Dough
250ml warm water
2 tsp honey
2 tsp active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour
1 Tbsp neutral oil
1 ½ tsp salt
¼ cup white sesame seeds (optional)
¼ cup black sesame seeds (optional)

Boil
1 Tbsp baking soda
2 Tbsp honey

Directions:
1. In a small bowl, mix together the water, honey and yeast. Let sit for 5-10 minutes until foamy.

2. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the bread flour, oil and salt. Mix on medium-low for 10 minutes until dough is soft, smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, cover with a bowl and rest for 10 minutes.

Related: 12 Canadian First Nations Recipes to Make for National Indigenous Peoples Month

3. Portion the dough into equal portions (15 x 45-50 gram balls). Roll each piece of dough against a non-floured surface to create smooth, round dough balls. Place the dough balls on a parchment lined cookie sheet, cover with plastic and chill in fridge for at least 10 hours or overnight.

4. Remove the tray from the fridge and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 400°F. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the baking soda and honey.

Related: Snack Plates Are the Easy Dinner Option You Need This Week

6. To shape the bagels, grab a piece of dough, slightly flatten. Grab the edge furthest from you and fold the dough over itself and continue to roll the dough over into a log. Roll to about 6 inches long, wrap around your finger as though tying a knot. Pinch the seams together to seal. Give it one last roll to smooth everything out. Place on a parchment-lined sheet.

7. Turn the heat down to medium and keep at a rolling boil. Drop the bagels in (5-6 at a time), boil for 1 minute per side. Transfer to a cooling rack and while the bagels are still hot and sticky, press them into the sesame seeds. Place the bagels back on the parchment lined sheet and bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes until lightly golden brown.

8. Enjoy as a breakfast sandwich, as part of a BLT bagel board or simply with a little cream cheese. Bagel board suggestions include: crispy bacon, boiled eggs, tomatoes, iceberg lettuce, avocado, cucumbers, red onion, cream cheese and dijon mustard.

Like Sabrina’s baking? Check out her easy recipe for soft rolls, along with her gooey overnight cinnamon buns and fudgy gluten-free sweet potato brownies.

Watch out for Sabrina’s baking videos on the Food Network Canada Instagram account.

Celebrate Summertime With These Creative S’mores Butter Tarts

What do you get when you combine two classic Canadian desserts? The ultimate summertime treat: s’mores butter tarts! These feature a classic butter tart filling along with the three components of a s’more: milk chocolate, graham crackers and marshmallows. Get the campfire songs ready — this dessert doesn’t disappoint.

S’mores Butter Tarts Recipe

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Rest Time: 2 hours
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours, 50 minutes
Servings: 18 s’mores butter tarts

Ingredients:

Crust
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
¼ cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ tsp fine salt
½ cup unsalted butter, cold and cubed
¼ cup ice water

Filling
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
½ cup corn syrup
1 large egg, whisked
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 pinch fine salt
½ cup chopped milk chocolate, plus more for topping
1 cup mini marshmallows
Graham cracker crumbs, for topping

Directions:

Crust
1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, graham cracker crumbs and salt. Using your hands, work in the butter until a crumbly mixture is formed.

2. Add the ice water and mix until dough comes together. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disc.

3. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 2 hours.

Related: Our Best Great Canadian Butter Tart Recipes

4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut dough into 18 circles and shape into a muffin pan. If using a larger muffin pan, cut dough into 12 circles. Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Filling
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, egg, vanilla and salt until well blended. Transfer to a pourable measuring cup.

3. Sprinkle a few pieces of chocolate in each tart shell. Evenly divide filling amongst the shells. The tarts should be ¾ of the way full.

4. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, until the filling is bubbly and crust is golden.

5. Remove from the oven and top with marshmallows. Just before serving, broil the tarts for 30 seconds or until marshmallows are toasted. Top with a sprinkle of graham crackers and shaved chocolate. Enjoy!

Want more fun summertime treats? These Nanaimo bar popsicles and strawberry rhubarb cheesecake pastry pockets are so delish.

The #1 Item Missing From the New Canadian Food Guide (And Why You Need It)

Canada’s first food guide came onto the scene in 1942, with a goal to prevent nutritional deficiencies in Canadians during wartime. The focus was on drinking ½ pint of milk, eating a daily serving of potatoes, tomatoes and meat or fish, and eating four to six slices of bread a day! Since then, the food guide has gone through many incarnations over the years, as new research and lobby groups changed the nutrition landscape.

While Canada’s new 2019 food guide has made great strides, this one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition is still forgetting one key element.

The missing piece? Healthy fats. There is no mention of fat anywhere besides a small area that says “limit saturated fat”. We’re no longer in the era of the low-fat craze – quite the opposite, as research is continuously showing how important it is to consume good-for-you fats, so it’s unfortunate this entire macronutrient group is ignored. There are many different types of fats, some good and some bad, so it would have been beneficial to highlight the big difference between them. Read on for 10 important reasons why good fats are integral to a healthy, well-rounded diet:

1. Fat + Vegetables = Perfect Combo

You need fat to absorb vitamin A, D, E and K along with antioxidants, like lycopene and beta-carotene. That’s why it’s important to pair healthy versions (like extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, olives or coconut oil) with your veggies. All of these nutrients have protective properties to promote longevity. So, bring on the healthy salad dressing!

2. Fats are Essential (i.e. they need to come from your diet)

Fats like omega-3’s, found in walnuts, chia seeds, flax, salmon, mackerel and sardines, are essential, meaning the body can’t make them on its own, and they need to come from your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in disease prevention by lowering inflammation and slowing signs of aging.

3. Fats Protect Your DNA

Fats help build cell membranes. This is the outer layer of the cell that prevents bad substances from entering and protects internal DNA. DNA damage is what causes aging and age-related diseases.

4. Fats Help with Weight Loss

This one is pretty counter-intuitive, but fats that are composed of medium-chain fatty acids, like coconut oil and ghee, are immediately used for energy in the body; this increases metabolism and aids in weight loss.

5. Fats provide plenty of energy

Fats have a lot of potential energy: one gram has double the calories as one gram of carbs (this is not a bad thing!). Some fat you eat gets converted into energy immediately, while others are stored and then burned for energy when the body needs it (for example, during exercise).

6. Fats Improve Brain Function

Fats are important for mental clarity, focus, cognitive function and enhancing memory. They also surround nerve fibres in the brain, which helps speed up brain communication and impulses.

7. Fats Help Delay Aging

A study found that a high fat diet can postpone signs of aging in the brain and may prevent age-related cognitive decline and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

8. Fats Help Fight Disease

Recent research found that when diets high in good-quality fats, like butter and cold-pressed oils, are combined with low sugar and low processed foods, disease risks are reversed: good cholesterol (HDL) increases, blood pressure improves, circulating triglycerides are reduced and insulin and blood sugar levels decrease.

9. Fats Insulate & Protect

Fat controls the internal temperature of the body, ensuring you’re warmer in the winter. It also cushions vital organs like your kidneys, heart and the brain, protecting them from injury.

10. Fat is Needed for Healthy Skin

Skin cells are surrounded by layers of fat that help skin look plump and hydrated. Omega 3’s play a big role in providing the building blocks for healthy skin and lowering inflammation.

Incorporate more nourishing, fat-fueled dishes into your diet with these 15 Wholesome Recipes Packed with Healthy Fats

Despite healthy fats not being prominently featured in the new food guide, plenty of other promising updates were made. Here are the top 7 positive changes that should be celebrated:

● The food guide is now a plate (goodbye, rainbow cartoon food images!), which provides a great visual to understand what your plate and portion sizes should resemble.
● Veggies and fruits take up half the plate (a big win!) and they highlight a variety of rainbow coloured produce, from broccoli and berries to cabbage, spinach and peas.
● Meat and alternatives is now simply “protein”, showing that protein comes in many shapes and sizes and not just through animal products.
● Milk and alternatives was removed, which is now encompassed within protein, as there are many Canadians who can’t tolerate dairy.
● Grain products have become “whole grains”, focusing on those that are fibre-rich rather than refined.
● Water is highlighted as the beverage of choice.
● The guide focuses on eating habits: being mindful when you dine, deeply enjoying your food, sharing meals with others and cooking more often.

For a more in-depth look, see here for the 10 Biggest Dos and Don’ts From Canada’s Brand New Food Guide

Canada's Updated Food Guide

10 Biggest Dos and Don’ts From Canada’s Brand New Food Guide

When Canada’s long-anticipated food guide overhaul was recently unveiled, the overriding message was loud and clear: eat more plant-based fare. In its first major update in more than 12 years, the new guide has widened its scope and reminds Canadians to cook at home more often, be mindful in their eating habits and be conscious of food marketing in an effort to limit their intake of sodium, sugar and saturated fats. As many health professionals predicted, the 62-page guide also emphasizes the importance of getting protein from plant-based sources such as beans, nuts and lentils, rather than opting for animal-based foods such as meat and poultry. No doubt the verdict came as a surprise to consumers, who grew up learning about the four distinct food groups that Canada’s Food Guide once touted as essential to a healthy diet. So, what exactly has changed? A lot, as it turns out.

Here we look at the major dos and don’ts from Canada’s updated food guide:

1. DO Prioritize Protein-Rich Foods
Pack a protein punch by introducing more nutrition powerhouses into your everyday diet. Items such as nuts, legumes, seeds, tofu, fish, eggs and lean red meat, among others, helps the immune system stay in tip-top shape and keeps us lean. To make the transition a little easier, stock your fridge and cupboards with hard-boiled eggs, canned beans and protein bars or powders so you’ll always have them on hand to add to your favourite recipe or enjoy as a snack.


Get the recipes for 28 High-Protein Vegetarian Meals

2. DO Consider More Plant-Based Foods
While many animal-based foods are nutritious and delicious, the new food guide places a stronger emphasis on plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains and plant-based proteins, which can help reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers. Although this has drawn the ire of big meat and dairy producers, health professionals claim it’s for the betterment of both our health and the environment.

Get the recipes for 20 Easy Vegan Weeknight Dinner Recipes

3. DO Become BFFs With Water
As the latest food guide overhaul makes abundantly clear, water should now and forever be your “beverage of choice.” That’s right, in an effort to keep us hydrated and curb the amount of sugary soft drinks and juices consumed (not to mention alcohol), water is the way to go from here on in. If that all sounds a little… well …repetitive and dull, consider adding flavour to your H20 with a handful of your favourite fruits, veggie slices or a dash of herbs such as mint or basil. Another option is to incorporate more water-rich foods into your diet, such as cucumber, watermelon and zucchini. If all else fails, there’s an app for that! The free Daily Water app can help you track your daily H20 intake and, before you know it, you’ll be opting for water over a soft drink or glass of wine at your next meal or social gathering.

4. DO Expand Your Palate
Canada boasts a rich diversity that can be seen in the variety of traditions, cultures and lifestyles that make up our nation – and the latest guide wants us to expand our food repertoire by exploring recipes outside our palate’s comfort zone. For those less adventurous foodies, you can start by trying something new every day, starting with items in a similar taste group (“flavour families”) as one of your favourite foods. For example, if you prefer sweet foods such as corn, then you’ll probably also enjoy parsnips and butternut squash.

Get the recipes for 13 Must-Try Canadian Foods by Province

5. DO Consider the Environment
While the overall health of Canadians is the main focus of the recent food guide updates, our actions – and what we choose to consume on a regular basis – do have a lasting impact on the environment. For example, there is strong evidence that eating more plant-based foods (and, by default, less animal-based products) affects greenhouse gas emissions, the amount of land used and pollutants produced. So go ahead and reduce your carbon footprint by opting for more plant-based proteins.

6. DON’T Confuse Whole Grains with Whole Wheat
With an influx of fibre, iron, plant-based protein and B vitamins, whole grains sure pack a considerable nutritional punch. Whole grain kernels are divided into three distinct parts: bran (outer shell packed with fibre and antioxidants), endosperm (middle layer made up of carbs) and germ (inner layer chock-full of minerals, proteins and vitamins). It also allows for a lot of versatility in the kitchen, as quinoa, wild rice, bulgur, oatmeal and millet, among others, are all considered whole grains.

Get the recipes for 10 Healthiest Whole Grains and How to Cook Them

7. DON’T Netflix and Nosh
We may not want to admit it, but most of us are serial snackers – whether we’re unconsciously doing it while watching TV at the end of a long work day or indulging in an assortment of goodies at a social gathering. A more mindful approach to help you “snack smart” includes selecting healthier versions of some of your go-to staples (instead of fries or chips, for example, you can opt for sweet potato fries. Yum!).

8. DON’T Waste Food
It happens: Produce goes bad, post-party scraps end up in the trash, and sometimes leftovers are tossed out instead of saved for a later date. According to the updated Canada Food Guide, however, a whopping annual average of $31 billion in wasted food is discarded due to impulse shopping, poor storage and unnecessarily large meals. To combat the issue – and help save the planet in the process – consider keeping everything neat and visible in your fridge so you’re always aware of what food you have and, when preparing for a meal, be conscious of serving sizes. You can further reduce household waste by preserving leftovers, donating unused non-perishable items and understanding expiration dates. It’ll save you money in the long run, as well.


See here for 8 Ways to Cut Food Waste in Your Kitchen

9. DON’T Fall for Fad Diets
You’ve seen ads for them everywhere, from TV to Instagram, extolling the virtues of the latest fad diet for quick-fix weight loss. Instead of cutting out certain foods or restricting your intake, consider incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet and opting for portion-controlled meals consisting of lean meats and fish. Enjoying a well-balanced breakfast every morning also goes a long way toward keeping your stomach satiated while waiting for your next meal – no diet required.

10. DON’T Ignore Food Labels – Especially Now
Sugar, along with saturated fat and sodium, are included in a group of items to cut back on. In fact, soft drinks are the number one source of sugar in the average Canadian diet. Cutting back on processed foods and reading food labels are easy ways to reduce your sugar and sodium intake. In addition, Health Canada has updated its nutrition label regulations, requiring that all sugar-based ingredients be listed in descending order by weight going forward. Food producers have three years to comply with this latest regulation.

Annie Sibonney’s Comforting North African Shakshuka

Ever since we were little, my twin sister has always been willing to cook, and I’ve always been willing to eat. No one was surprised when Annie Sibonney became a chef (and Food Network host ), while I became a journalist who writes a lot about food. Though we pursued different interests and have even lived in separate countries over the years, sharing food together brings us back to our roots.

Growing up in a French Moroccan home, one of the most cherished food memories from our childhood is shakshuka, an impressive North African dish of eggs poached in a bubbling, fragrant stew of tomatoes and spices. This was the dish that got everyone out of bed in our house. It’s the kind of one-skillet meal that connects everyone around a table. It’s cutlery-optional. All you really need is a perfectly crusty loaf of bread for sopping up the sauce and the rich, runny egg yolks.

Shakshuka-ready-on-a-table

Photo by Claire Sibonney
Claire Sibonney

Shakshuka is wildly popular throughout the Middle East for breakfast or brunch but can stand on its own for any meal of the day. With its heady aromas of garlic, onion, paprika and cumin, it’s the kind of dish that gets people’s attention.

Eggs simmered in a spicy sauce is so simple and satisfying that it’s eaten in many iterations around the world—from Italian eggs in purgatory to huevos rancheros in Mexico and menemen in Turkey—all of these dishes involve a little magic as the resulting meal is so much more than the sum of its parts.

Some people add feta, olives, sweet bell peppers or even potatoes to shakshuka, but for purists it’s not necessary. Although a bowl of labneh—Lebanese strained yogurt—or olives on the side never hurt.

More than anything, it’s a dish that’s meant to be shared—the bigger and louder the gathering, the better. When it’s served, the shakshaka pan (Annie uses a cast-iron bottom of a traditional Moroccan tagine here) is placed in the centre of the table and the portion closest to you is yours. One of the only rules of sharing shakshuka: never dip your bread into someone else’s yolk, even if it’s your twin sister’s!

annie-sibonney-with-Shakshuka-ingredients

Photo by Claire Sibonney
Claire Sibonney

North African Shakshuka Recipe

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Makes: 4 servings

Ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling over the final dish
2 pounds ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped (or 28 oz canned whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand)
1 medium onion, finely sliced
6 garlic cloves, chopped
1 small green chili pepper such as jalapeño or serrano, seeds removed and finely chopped
4 large eggs
1 ½ Tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp hot paprika or substitute with ground ancho powder, optional
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 cup water, plus more if necessary
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of roughly chopped cilantro or parsley leaves, or a mix of both

Shakshuka-ingredients

Photo by Claire Sibonney
Claire Sibonney

Directions:
1. Heat a medium-sized heavy skillet, such as cast iron over medium heat. Add the olive oil and sauté the onions until they have softened but not browned. Add the garlic, chili pepper and spices and stir for 1 minute, just enough for the kitchen to smell wonderfully aromatic.
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, water and salt to taste and increase the heat to high for 1-2 minutes, stirring the mix so that the tomatoes start to break down into a sauce and comes to a bubbling simmer. Reduce heat to medium once more. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
3. The sauce should have a pungent flavour and a deep-red colour from the spices. Cook for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, being careful not to scorch the sauce. Add more water if necessary to maintain the consistency of a rustic pasta sauce.
4. With the back of a large spoon, make room for each egg in the pan by creating little wells in the sauce. Carefully crack the eggs one at a time into a small bowl, making sure to keep the yolks intact.
5. Gently tip in your eggs, one at a time into the sauce, making sure to leave enough space between them. Season each egg with a little more salt. Cook for 10-13 minutes longer at a gentle simmer, rotating the pan constantly (do not stir!) to poach the eggs evenly in the sauce. The shakshuka is ready when the egg whites are set and cooked but the yolks are still bright, golden and velvety. Sprinkle the chopped cilantro and parsley over the finished dish with a liberal drizzle of olive oil.
6. For an authentic family-style meal, serve the shakshuka in its pan at the centre of the table and don’t forget plenty of good quality crusty bread to soak up the tomato sauce and to dip into the decadent yolks.

claire-and-annie-sibonney-eating-Shakshuka

Photo by Masumi Sato

Looking for more fresh summer recipes? Try our 40 Fresh Tomato Recipes.

 

Food Network Canada’s Guide to Summer 2017 Food Festivals

The sun is shining and the weather is warm, which means summer festival season has arrived in Canada! Whether you’re looking for a city street fair or a road-trip worthy culinary adventure, here’s your definitive guide to summer food festivals across the country.

1. Porkapalooza BBQ Festival (Edmonton, AB)
Dates: June 10 – 11

The Porkapalooza BBQ Festival in Edmonton is a community event that showcases the art and culture of all things barbecue. At the heart of the event is a BBQ competition where some of Canada’s finest grill-masters contend for the title. Festival goers can enjoy all of the mouthwatering grilled pork, plus assorted local food truck fare and icy cold brews.

2. Taste of Toronto (Toronto, ON)
Dates: June 15 – 18

Referred to as “The World’s Greatest Restaurant Festival,” Taste of Toronto takes over Garrison Common at Fort York for four days of divine dishes and sensational sips. World-class chefs will serve up bite-sized versions of their signature dishes and conduct live cooking demonstrations. If you’re an aspiring chef, you’ll also have a chance to get hands-on with interactive master classes.

taste-of-toronto2

Courtesy of Taste of Toronto

 

3. Taste of Little Italy (Toronto, ON)
Dates: June 16 – 18

Celebrate Toronto’s Italian history and the city’s international community at the Taste of Little Italy. Sample global eats from the kiosks that line College Street, like pizza, panini, and skewers of lamb known as speducci, or sit on one of the patios for a cocktail and watch the people stroll by. And don’t worry about trying all of the food — live music will have you dancing the night away.

Want to know what other countries have must-visit food festivals? Check out the13 Biggest Food Festivals Around the World.

4. The Shediac Lobster Festival (Shediac, NB)
Dates: July 5 – 9

With a title like the “World Lobster Capital,” of course Shediac is home to Canada’s most celebrated annual lobster festival. A tradition spanning close to seven decades, highlights of the weekend include the world’s longest lobster dining table, the longest lobster roll and a lobster eating contest. Get those bibs ready and prepare to indulge in all things lobster.

worlds-biggest-lobster-shediac

World’s Biggest Lobster, Shediac, NB
Getty Images

 

5. Taste of Saskatchewan (Kiwanis Park, SK)
Dates: July 11 – 16

Saskatoon’s culinary greats come together at the Taste of Saskatchewan each July in picturesque Kiwanis Park. The city’s top restaurants serve up some of their house favourites, from creative appetizers and mouthwatering mains to decadent desserts and specialty items. Whether you prefer a more traditional dish or like a dash of adventure, there will be something to make your tastebuds sing.

6. Taste of Edmonton (Edmonton, AB)
Dates: July 20 – 29

A summer tradition, the Taste of Edmonton celebrates all of the city’s rich culinary offerings. Sample an assortment of fabulous food from Edmonton’s restaurant scene — including gluten-free eats — accompanied by a refreshing beer or a crisp glass of wine. If the heat from the grills isn’t enough, things get even hotter when some of Canada’s finest musical acts take the stage.

7. Taste of the Danforth (Toronto, ON)
Dates: August 11 – 13

Taste of the Danforth in Toronto’s vibrant Greektown is Canada’s largest annual street festival, hosting close to 2 million guests each year. Indulge in Mediterranean treats like souvlaki, spanakopita and baklava, or sample other international foods as you enjoy music and other exciting activities. It’s a fun-filled weekend for the entire family.

taste-of-the-danforth-busy-street

Courtesy of Taste of the Danforth
Courtesy of Taste of the Danforth

 

8. Vegan Food and Drink Festival (Toronto, ON)
Dates: August 19

The third annual Vegan Food and Drink Festival returns to Toronto this August for a day of delicious comfort food and craft brews. Open to the entire family, prepare to nosh on delectable vegan eats that will satisfy even the carnivores in your life. With a wide selection of fine food vendors from Toronto, Southern Ontario, and even the US, every drink and food item available is 100% vegan goodness.

9. The Drummondville Poutine Festival (Drummondville, QC)
Dates: August 24 – 26

Now in its tenth year, the Poutine Festival in Drummondville (not far from Montreal) is the ultimate celebration of Québec’s delicious gift to the world. Enjoy traditional poutine — delicious fries smothered in cheese curds and brown gravy — or savour one of the more exotic takes on the culinary treasure paired with impressive live musical acts.

drummondville-quebec-poutine-festival

Poutine Festival, Drummondville, QC
Getty Images

 

10. Canada’s Largest RibFest (Burlington, ON)
Dates: September 1 – 4

What makes this Labour Day tradition in Burlington “Canada’s Largest RibFest?” Perhaps it’s the 180,000 people expected to attend, or maybe it’s the 150,000 pounds of ribs sold over the four-day event carefully prepared by 19 Ribber Teams from across North America. Or, it could be the millions of dollars that the Rotary Club has raised for charity during this grilled meat extravaganza over the past two decades.

Check out some of the wacky and delicious food festivals Noah Cappe visits on Carnival Eats.

chuck-and-danny's-rouge-park-bacon

Chuck and Danny Bring Home the Bacon

After a few weeks in the wilderness, Chuck and Danny are heading back to the big city for some urban renewal, along with a few expert tips from Toronto chef Elia Herrera, who shares some of the flavours and recipes from her native Cordoba, Veracruz. As they munch on Elia’s rajas poblanos tacos, she points the chefs towards the best purveyors in Southern Ontario, where they’ll gather bacon, onions and hot sauce for a Mexican-inspired campsite feast.

Chuck-Danny-Meet-Elia-Herrera
Chuck and Danny meet Chef Elia Herrera in Toronto.

At Frolic Acres Farm, the chefs meet Les and Terry Caswell to help them feed their prized pigs. The pigs’ feed is supplemented with buckwheat, which also gives the farm’s honey its buttery richness. The pigs roam the fields, rooting in the ground and playing with the  other animals on the farm, including the resident shaggy Scottish Highland cattle. “The flavour that you get from the pork is from what they eat outside,” says Terry. “It’s a fuller flavour.” Although Chuck and Danny have pork belly in mind to make porchetta, they’re tempted by the offer of maple-smoked bacon and pretend to mull it over — for almost a minute. “Yes, of course we want the maple-smoked bacon,” declares Chuck.

At Glen Rouge campground in Canada’s first urban national park, the chefs start assembling their bounty into a deluxe morning feast of maple-smoked breakfast burritos, made over the campfire with minimal fuss as a one-pan meal (someone’s got to do the dishes, after all). “That’s the thing about breakfast,” muses Danny. “People use four different pans, but if I could, I’d make the coffee in here, too.”

Chuck-Danny-Breakfast-Rouge-Park
Breakfast of champions: breakfast burritos with maple-smoked bacon.

The chefs start by crisping cubes of the maple-smoked bacon for a sweet and salty bite, then chop some onions they pulled from the ground at Willowtree Farm, where they learned to top and tail the locally grown alliums for market. “This is the smell of camping, right here,” says Danny. To top off their creation, and for an extra layer of velvety goodness, Chuck and Danny add in Oaxaca cheese — a semi-firm cow’s milk cheese with a squeaky texture — that will partially melt to bind the delicious ingredients together. Home cooks can substitute mozzarella and a sweeter-style smoked bacon (or make Chuck’s maple-glazed Big Time Bacon) if they want to try this playful take on bacon and eggs for an easy and hearty brunch or lunch.

Eager to dig in, the chefs wrap the mixture in tortillas — with a healthy sprinkling of some locally-made hot sauce they picked up from a roadside stand — and take a big bite. “The hot peppers aren’t hot at all,” deadpans Danny, whose bravado is interrupted with a coughing fit. “That’s going to wake me up.” Good thing he has the perfect antidote on hand: a glass of creamy horchata (a sweetened rice drink) made with the Caswell’s honey and the wild rice that the chefs gathered via canoe on Chemong Lake with James Whetung of Black Duck Wild Rice.

Chuck-Danny-Harvesting-Rice-Lake-Chemong
Harvesting rice on Chemong Lake

Watch the recipe video on how to make Breakfast Burritos.

As they sip and savour their Mexican/Canadian fusion meal, Chuck thinks about how the region’s ingredients have fit in so well with their theme. “Celebrating two nations through food is pretty special,” he says.

For more of Chuck’s better-with-bacon recipes, check out his Bacon Roasted Potatoes, Mussels with Bacon and Rapini, or Cobb Salad.

Missed the episode? Catch it online at Chuck and Danny’s Road Trip.

meet the tcc chefs

Meet the Competitors of Top Chef Canada: All-Stars

They’ve got their knives packed and are ready to hit the kitchen chopping! Representing Canadian cities from coast-to-coast, these talented chefs are back to claim the illusive title of Canada’s Top Chef. Get reacquainted with each chef and discover what head judge Mark McEwan thinks about their return to the Top Chef Canada kitchen.

Top Chef Canada: All-Stars

Graphic by James Chia Han Lee.

Looking for more exciting Top Chef Canada: All-Stars news? Meet the judges of this all-star season.

RIV-Chip-Stand

Fry Guys on the Hunt for Spectacular Spuds Across Canada

The Fry Guys are on a delicious mission. A mission to eat at every single chip truck on the Trans-Canada Highway. The group of four, fry-loving friends from Toronto started their epic journey last summer. Packing up a vintage ‘74 Airstream trailer, they set out on the three-week Ontario leg, cameras and forks in hand, documenting every delicious, golden spud along the way.

Patrick T. Lo, 31, Chris Solomon, 32, Zachary Muir-Vavrina, 33, and Paul Parolin, 32, met at the Ontario College of Art and Design, where they bonded over a love of food, travel and Canadiana. Last year, the longtime friends cooked up the mouthwatering idea of eating their way across the country together, on an epic road trip along the Trans-Canada Highway.

trans-canada-fryway

Conjuring fond memories of roadside food, chip trucks stuck out as a quintessential part of Canadian road trips.

“It is such an interesting part of Canadiana that doesn’t really get the attention that it deserves,” says Parolin. “What if we went around and reviewed all of them and documented them? It might be what people are looking for to embark on the trip themselves.”

With Solomon at the wheel and Lo filming their culinary adventure, they hit the Trans-Canada Fryway in Toronto last August. Driving east to Québec, north to Kenora and round-trip back to Toronto, the Fry-Guys taste-tested chips at 55 different wagons along the way.

Each exit was a chance to taste a bit of local flavour, and the guys were ready with a slew of criteria and a five-fork rating system to apply to each stand. Only judging the fries, they got one small order with gravy, per stand, looking for fresh, crispy chips that stood up on their own. While the fries were the most important part, they were only one component. The ambiance, the number of picnic tables and even the number of seagulls were all factors for a winning chip truck.

“If there’s seagulls, you know it is worthwhile,” says Parolin.

While they started as humble food lovers, the Fry Guys refined their potato palate considerably on this road trip.

“At first, we were earning our credentials, but now I feel like we are the experts, for sure,” says Parolin. “After the pure number, I know right away if (the fry) has been sitting out, or if it has been frozen.”

Wes' Chips in Arnprior, ON

Wes’ Chips in Arnprior, ON.
Trans-Canada Fryway

In the three-week journey, only three spots earned the Fry Guys ultimate 5-Fork rating. Wes’ Chips in Arnprior stood out with its evenly-cooked fries and the Ottawa Valley tradition of letting the customer add in ketchup, salt or vinegar halfway, before topping up the container with more perfectly-fried spuds. Excellent fries, combined with lots of picnic tables and vintage signage makes Wes’ a must-visit, as locals have known for years.

“If you were remotely close to Arnprior, it is definitely worth the stop,” says Parolin.

Kingston’s Country Cabin Chip Hut and Kenora’s Ye Olde Chip Truck are also the trucks to beat in Ontario. Beyond the fantastic fries, Ye Old Chip Truck was one of the Fry Guys’ most interesting stops along the way. The chip truck chain is owned and operated by a pair of 20-something best friends, who bought their uncle’s former business, turning it into a spud-tacular empire.

“It was such an amazing passing of the torch moment, to see a place that has been around for 60 years in such great hands now with these two young entrepreneurs,” says Parolin.

While chowing down was a big part of the trip, it’s that unique Canadian chip truck culture that the guys aimed to capture. Like the dueling French fry stands in Sturgeon Falls.

Situated between North Bay and Sudbury, Larry’s and the Riv have been serving up fries across the highway from one another for more than 25 years. These fry-vals caught word of the Fry Guys’ trip long before they arrived and there was a crowd ready to greet them.

“Larry’s is run by people who have been there for 20 years, themselves. Then to go next door to Riv’s, it was like a high school class, everyone there knew each other,” says Parolin. “Their older siblings worked there, and their parents had worked there. It was almost like a right of passage if you are from that region.”

RIV-Chip-Stand

Fries and gravy from The Riv in Sturgeon Falls, Ont.

While these stands are often social hubs for the local community, the Fry Guys found their voyage helped connect fellow fry-cooks across Ontario. One stop in Deep River was especially moving. They asked the owner of a fry stand to sign their trailer and she stopped and told them how much it meant to her to see all the other people who spend their day slicing and frying.

“When she looked at all these other names of people across our country who are doing the same thing she’s doing, it felt like she was a part of something bigger,” says Parolin. “It is stuff like that that made the trip worthwhile.”

Since the sunny days of August, the guys have been working away to publish the first leg of their trip as a web series. (Check out their first episode below.) They hope to have the rest of their Ontario episodes complete this spring, and to continue their cross-Canada road trip this summer, ahead of Canada’s 150th birthday.

“Eating the French fries was the thread that holds our idea together, but it is just as important to us to focus on the actual journey of going across the country and what that means to Canadians,” says Parolin.

8 Comforting Soup Spots Across Canada

Soup is notorious for filling one’s belly, warming the soul and curing a cold — but it’s also known as a simple, oftentimes cheap and hearty lunch (or dinner). Here are eight great spots in Canada that are cooking up delicious one-pot wonders.

Souper Duper Soup

Photo Credit: Souper Duper Soup

Ambrosia (Calgary, AB) 
Located right beside a Buddhist Monastery in downtown Calgary, this vegetarian Chinese eatery does an impressive job of creating unique and satisfying dishes. Go for the pickled cabbage soup for a hearty lunch or the robust and warming preserved Chinese radish soup.

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Photo Credit: Baba’s Homestyle Perogies

Baba’s Homestyle Perogies (Saskatoon, SK)
With a huge Ukrainian population in Saskatchewan, it should come as no surprise that you can find a lot of perogies and borscht around town. Baba’s (the Ukrainian term for grandmother) is located in a more industrial area of town, but worth checking out for a big bowl of this rich, salty and sweet beet soup.

Lunch Bell Bistro (Winnipeg, MB)
With quality, local ingredients and a recipe that is the embodiment of beauty in simplicity, one can never be let down by a classic chicken noodle soup. Tender chunks of Manitoba chicken, thinly sliced carrots and tender egg noodles float in an almost-clear broth that can make your shivers disappear after only a few sips.

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Photo Credit: Marché Soupson

Marché Soupson (Montreal, QC)
Open Monday to Friday, Marché Soupson’s offerings change daily. These beautiful pots of soup can range from anything like corn chowder to red lentil with toasted spices, and are mostly vegetarian or vegan; they opt for cashew cream to add that rich, velvety texture.

Soup ‘n Such Café Inc. (Toronto, ON)
Stay warm on a blustery winter day in Toronto with one of the signature soups from this little café. Turkey vegetable is a go-to. For vegan options that are equally filling, you can rely on cauliflower and red pepper, or vegetable lentil soups.

Souper Duper Soup

Photo Credit: Souper Duper Soup

Souper Duper Soup (Dartmouth, NS)
There is a long list of fun soups on the menu here, like Greek Lemon Rice, and Cheeseburger and Chicken Enchilada. But no soup stands out more than the Donair; as Halifax and Dartmouth’s (unofficially) official food, this flavourful dish features beef, tomatoes, onions and donair spice.

Stock up Café (Vancouver, BC)
With a great array of pre-made soups to take home and heat up, Stock Up also has your basic stocks and a few daily specials like butter chicken or tomato bisque to eat on the go. There’s always something at this quaint little spot that your taste buds will agree with.

Stock up Café (left) and Ravi Soups (right)

Photo Credit: Stock up Café (left) and Ravi Soups (right)

Ravi Soups (Toronto, ON)
There’s a handful of little cafés to pop into for a bite in downtown Toronto. But when it’s extra chilly outside, one of Ravi Kanagarajah’s three eateries is sure to be a short walk from the office. The popular curried apricot and lentil soup with lime crème fraiche proves that Ravi isn’t just ladling out your basic out-of-a-box soups.

Great-Canadian-Toque-Cake

Get Cozy with the Great Canadian Toque Cake

This winter, let’s embrace the cold (and even celebrate it) with this chilly-weather inspired cake. Ultra-Canadian both inside and out, this maple and nutmeg flavoured dessert reminds us of bundling up for snowy winter days spent tobogganing or skating on the local rink.

Toque Cake

To create this super cute cake, simply carve a small layer cake into the domed shape before using a few decorative piping techniques to mimic different knit patterns with buttercream icing. Pop a pom-pom on top, and add a few marzipan maple leaves for extra Canadian flair!

This gorgeous cake is a perfect, whimsical showstopper for any party this season.

Toque Cake

Bake Time: 24 to 26 minutes
Total Time: 75 to 90 minutes
Serves: 6 to 10

Ingredients:

Maple Nutmeg Cake
2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
Red gel food coloring (optional)

Maple Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 to 4 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 to 2 tablespoons milk

Assembly
2 oz marzipan (or fondant)
Red gel food coloring

Toque Cake

Directions:

Maple Nutmeg Cake

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 6-inch round cake pans. Set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Add in the sugar and mix on medium until light and fluffy. Add in the maple and vanilla. Mix until combined.
4. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add in the eggs 1 at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
5. With the mixer on low, add in 1/2 the dry ingredients. Once combined, stream in the buttermilk. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Do not over mix.
6. Remove 1/3 of the batter and mix in the red gel food coloring until desired shade is achieved. Mix the remaining plain batter by hand until smooth.
7. Place the red batter in one of the prepared cakes pans. Evenly divide the remaining batter between the other 2 pans. Bake for 24 to 26 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Maple Buttercream
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add in the sugar and maple syrup and mix until combined. Once combined, turn the mixer up to medium-high and beat until fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add more sugar and/or milk until desired consistency is reached.

Red Buttercream
1. Make 1/2 the frosting used for our Red Rose Cupcakes.

Toque Cake

Assembly
1. Once the cakes are cool, trim the tops of the red layer and 1 of the white layers. Place the trimmed white layer on a cake board or serving dish. Spread on about 1/2 cup of buttercream with an offset spatula or the back of a spoon. Top with the red layer and repeat with the last white layer (dome side up, if present).
2. Using a long, serrated knife, trim and carve the cake into a domed shape. Save the cake scraps and set aside.
3. Once the cake has been carved into the shape of a toque, crumb coat the cake with a thin layer of buttercream all over.

Toque Cake
4. Fill 2 piping bags fitted with decorative piping tips with the red and maple buttercream. Stating from the bottom, pipe rows of the maple buttercream 1/3 of the way up (or until the red cake layer appears). Pipe red buttercream where the red cake layer is. Continue on to pipe maple buttercream over the top layer of cake.
5. For the pom-pom on top, gather a portion of the scraps and roll/form into a large cake ball. Place on top of the cake and pipe on red buttercream using a grass piping tip.
6. Tint the marzipan with red gel food coloring. Roll out to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch and cut out maple leaves using a small cookie cutter. Place on the cake as desired.

Toque Cake
7. For the maple buttercream (white) piping details, use a small rose tip (104) to pipe roses of small, interlocking V’s to create the woven pattern. Reverse the direction of the piping every-other row.
8. For the red buttercream piping details, use a small star tip (18) to pipe ropes (spirals) of buttercream. Use a grass tip to cover the pom-pom on top.

Toque Cake

Looking for more Canadian cake inspiration? Try our 15 Cool Canadian Cakes.

 

Bobby Flay

The One Place Bobby Flay Won’t Open a Restaurant

Here in Canada, we can’t get enough of Food Network star and chef Bobby Flay, whether we’re slapping one of his signature BBQ recipes on the grill, or creeping his cat’s Instagram account (we see you @nachoflay). But when we asked Chef Flay if he plans to open a restaurant north of the border, the American star was unequivocal: No. Not here, not now, not ever.

Thankfully it’s not because he doesn’t love Canada. In fact, Chef Flay is especially fond of Toronto, where he recently collaborated with long-time friend and former Iron Chef competitor Susur Lee. The culinary duo cooked up a special dinner at Lee’s restaurant Frings; the menu featured chorizo crepinette with apricot mostarda and braised octopus, where several lucky locals, including Drake, were in attendance.

Susur Lee and Bobby FlayFlay talked up the Toronto food scene while explaining why he’s not in a hurry to open a Canadian outpost: “In a town like Toronto, where there’s such a great culinary culture, I believe that the people of Toronto should be supporting the local chefs, and they do,” he said. Then he tempered his answer with a downright Canadian-sounding dose of humility: “Without mentioning names, there have been countless American chefs that have tried this town and they haven’t done very well. So I don’t think I’m better than them.”

Not even his pal Susur Lee could convince him. “But you know, Chef Bobby, I’ll tell you — your flavours would really suit in this town,” said Chef Lee. “Your big flavours!”

Susur Lee and Bobby Flay in Toronto

Still, the answer was — and is — no.

“When I roll out of my bed in New York, I can walk into my restaurant and cook,” he explained. “Even though Toronto is only an hour away, you still have to go the airport and get on a plane — it’s a whole event.”

Bobby Flay loves flying in and wowing Canadian diners, or cooking for them when they visit one of his US restaurants, but he doesn’t want to be anybody’s American fling. Falling in love with a Bobby Flay restaurant is a long-term affair, and that’s just how he likes it.

“You have to get people to buy in for a long period of time, not just once or twice,” he said, noting that his famed Mesa Grill ran 20 years before closing, and that three of his current restaurants have been open for more than ten years. “That’s what it takes to have success in the restaurant industry. It’s not a get rich quick proposal.”

It might not be the answer we want, but it’s an honest one. So in the mean time, we’ll be saving up for a trip to Flay’s Gato in New York City, and consoling ourselves with these awesome Bobby Flay recipes.

Can’t get enough Bobby? His new show Brunch at Bobby’s premieres Saturday, September 10 at 10 a.m. E/P. See the schedule here

beer-halls-canada

9 Awesome Beer Halls Across Canada

We’re in the last stretch of summer, so it’s time to soak up all that sun and spend some of that carefree time at a beer hall or two.

The beer hall experience is actually appealing to many demographics — beer halls in Canada are typically family friendly during the day, quite sizeable (200+ seats) and offer a large selection of craft brews (perfect for beer nerds), among other things. But they’re also perfect for those of us who like our Friday night dinners to segue into a prolonged evening of sipping on pints and, perhaps, a little rowdiness.

Try one of these nine beer halls across Canada that offer a good mix of beer, food and fun.

Barley Brothers (Winnipeg, MB)

If there’s one thing Winnipeg needs to improve on (and I’m a huge Winnipeg fan, trust me), it’s more places that offer a good selection of Canadian microbrews. With two locations, Brothers fills a bit of that void with 70+ beers on tap. The atmosphere falls more in the sports game watching category, but most of us need a place to do that so hey, we might as well be drinking a pint of Canadian-made beer at the same time.

Stillwell Halifax
Bar Stillwell via Facebook

Bar Stillwell (Halifax, NS)

Stillwell’s downtown location doesn’t technically match the exact definition of a traditional beer hall, but they definitely put emphasis on having a great array of Canadian craft beer. The ocean-side beer garden right on the dock is German-influenced, with long plank tables, pretzels, beer (naturally) and lots of well-made sausages.

Craft Beer Market
Craft Beer Market

Craft Beer Market (Calgary, Edmonton, AB, Vancouver, BC, Ottawa, Toronto, ON)

You’ll have a hard time finding a beer hall in Canada as big and as well-stocked as these brew-focused establishments. The food ranges from sliders and flatbreads to a gigantic “50 napkin” burger and a whole lot more. With over 100 beers on tap, chances are you’ll find something here that’s exactly what you’ve been hoping for.

central bierhaus
Central Bierhaus

Central Bierhaus (Ottawa, ON)

Plenty of exposed brick, industrial lighting and communal tables help give Central its casual and alluring vibe that draws in crowds for after work drinks, celebrations and everything in-between. The menu offers a nice mix of German food like schnitzel, pretzels, bratwurst and even a sausage platter.

congress beer house
Congress Beer House via Facebook

Congress Beer House (Saskatoon, SK)

A lively spot on the weekends, Congress is a fun place to go on Friday or Saturday nights to enjoy a few pints of craft beer and some live music or DJs. During the week, it’s much calmer inside, so if you’re interested in sipping on microbrews a bit more seriously, that’s the ideal time to go.

Das Bier
Das Bier via Facebook

Das Bier (Montreal, QC)

Montreal is a city that’s all about indulging, especially when it comes to food. But finding a place where you can get your fill of pints and sausages is surprisingly uncommon. Luckily, the recently opened Das Bier has got you covered with plenty of pretzels, juicy sausages and more than enough beer to keep your thirst quenched.

national beer hall calgary
National Beer Hall via Flickr

National Beer Halls (Calgary, AB)

This local chain of beer halls has four locations, and is known for its impressive and always rotating selection of craft beer, with fantastic happy hour specials between 3 and 6 pm. Finding a true pint at a mere $5 is like finding in a needle in a haystack. So, for me, National’s window of value is like a little piece of heaven.

Wurst
Wurst via Facebook

Wurst (Calgary, AB)

When Wurst opened its doors just over 4 years ago, it aimed for a split concept, offering a more contemporary German-inspired dining experience on the main floor and a rowdy beer hall on the lower level, which includes a polka band on peak nights. Fun rarely stays underground, so it wasn’t long until the beer hall vibe crept upstairs, making for two levels of enjoyment. Rowdy nights aside, it’s also a great place to go for brunch on the weekends and 100% family friendly.

Since it’s really hard to ignore a good pun, I assure you that you’ll have anything, but the “wurst” time at this beer hall.

wvrst toronto
WVRST via Instagram

WVRST (Toronto, ON)

Leave it to Toronto to take the German beer hall concept and twist it ever so slightly to scenester-chic levels. The bright red accent wall and strings of lights hanging from the ceiling make the long plank tables feel nice and inviting. In terms of food, WVRST’s pride and joy is sausage and when it comes to dinner, forget the schnitzel and spaetzle because they’ve got 22 different house-made sausages to choose from (there are three vegetarian/vegan options as well). Finish off with some soft serve ice cream because after a few pints, you won’t feel the need to ask yourself why a German-style beer hall serves ice cream.

12 Great Greasy Spoons to Try Across Canada

Some places may not love the term “greasy spoon,” but to me, using that expression isn’t always a bad thing. As much as we all love our plates of confit this, and sous-vide that, at the end of the day, sometimes you just want a greasy burger or a simple sandwich loaded with deli cuts and a proportionate amount of mustard.

blackfoot-diner
Blackfoot Truckstop Diner/Facebook

That, my friends, is where these satisfying and delicious greasy spoons come in.

Blackfoot Truckstop Diner (Calgary, AB)

Normally I wouldn’t put a restaurant on a list after it was mentioned only a couple of weeks ago, but for Calgary, Blackfoot fits the bill too perfectly for being both a great late-night food spot (open 24 hours), as well as a top notch greasy spoon.

Try the grilled hamburger steak drowned in gravy, with a healthy portion of poutine on the side — you will love (and hate) yourself for it.

broadway-cafe
Broadway Cafe/Facebook

Broadway Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

Anywhere that proudly proclaims they serve Campbells’ soup has clearly read the definition of greasy spoon in the dictionary. Keep things classic at this Saskatoon institution with a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup for dipping. Don’t forget the milkshakes either — I mean, how else could you wash all of that cheesy goodness down? And, with most menu prices not exceeding the $10 mark, your wallet will feel just as content as you do after sitting down for a diner-style meal here.

spoons-diner2
Spoons Diner/Facebook

The Commodore (Edmonton, AB)

In business for 73 years and counting, this casual downtown eatery on Jasper Avenue just might be the longest-running restaurant in the city’s history. Commodore is still owned by the original family that opened its doors back in 1942, passed down through the generations. Talk about a family business!

The food may be simple and the interior no-frills, but you’ll definitely soak up a little bit of Edmonton history anytime you visit this joint.

Cosmos Snack Bar (Montreal, QC)

French toast, crispy bacon, tall breakfast sandwiches with a sunny side egg, sliced in half and dripping down your hands as you pick it up… There’s not much to complain about at one of Montreal’s go-to greasy spoons. For a city that embraces foie gras so much, I’m almost a little surprised you can’t find it served diner-style here.

dangerous-dans-diner
Dangerous Dan’s Diner/Facebook

Dangerous Dan’s Diner (Toronto, ON)

If a gigantic burger topped with cheddar, bacon and a fried egg sounds good to you, then Dangerous Dan’s demands your presence. The Queen Street East diner is definitely a hot spot for many Torontonians, and Dan’s delicious deep-fried perogies alone are a good enough reason to check it out.

galaxy-diner
Galaxie Diner/Facebook

Galaxie Diner (Calgary, AB)

Calgarians looking for a hangover cure are always willing to brave long line-ups (and cold weather, come November) to get a seat inside this little restaurant that dishes out eggs by the hundreds and hashbrowns by the ton (my estimation), every day of the week. The “Calgary Sandwich” is Galaxie’s popular spin on a Denver and is loaded with everything from eggs, sausage and bacon, to peppers, onions, mushrooms and possibly a kitchen sink too!

Park Cafe (Saskatoon, SK)

What’s a guy gotta do to find some decent shock food in Saskatoon? Well, he has to go to Park Cafe. If you’re unsure what shock food is, just picture some of the more crazy items that Guy Fieri consumes on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and that pretty much sums it up. The “Death by Cheese Sandwich” is not for the faint of heart and is as greasy as it gets. Basically, it’s a nice, thick grilled cheese sandwich that’s battered, breaded and deep-fried. Everything in moderation, my friends.

save-on-meats
Save On Meats/Facebook

Save On Meats (Vancouver, BC)

Lumping Save On Meats into a line-up of greasy spoons may not be the most accurate thing to do. Sure, they cook up simple, comforting dishes like patty melts and Salisbury steaks, but beneath their simple offerings, this restaurant is so much more. The diner is community focused through-and-through, offering a token program where people (you and me) can purchase meals for $2.25 and hand them out to less fortunate individuals that you might encounter in an area of town that is slowly being restored.

spoons-diner
Spoons Diner/Facebook

Spoons Diner (Victoria, BC)

Whether you’re craving an early morning bite, quick lunch or simple dinner, Spoons is here for you. Pancakes, eggs Benny, clubhouse sandwiches… Whatever diner dish you’re craving, you’ll probably find it on the menu.

the-templeton
The Templeton/Facebook

The Templeton (Vancouver, BC)

Located on Granville Street in the heart of Vancouver, this old diner is charmingly worn and slightly rough-around-the-edges, not unlike the street you find it on. If reasonably priced BLT sandwiches or mini Kellogg’s cereal box breakfasts are your jam, this is the place for you.

The Westcliffe (Halifax, NS)

When Halifax-based food writer Kathy Jollimore told me you can get a cheeseburger and fries for under $5 at this east coast eatery, I almost didn’t believe her. Turns out, almost everything on the menu is $5 or less. Since we’re all the way out on the east coast, you can also find fried clams and fish and chips for one heck of a deal too.

zaks-diner
Zak’s Diner/Facebook

Zak’s Diner (Ottawa, ON)

Ottawa’s ByWard Market has no shortage of shops, restaurants and bars, but when the sun goes down and the street crowds dwindle, whose neon sign shines brightest? Zak’s. Established the same year as Lindsay Lohan (1986, obviously), this 24-hour diner keeps things nice and greasy around the clock with menu items like chili cheese dogs, deep-fried macaroni and so much more.

How Chopped Canada Stars will Celebrate Canada Day

Believe it or not, this year Canada is turning 149 years old —but it doesn’t look a day over 100. To celebrate, the stars of Chopped Canada are eager to rejoice in our great nation with cottages, cocktails, and, of course, food.

Lynn Crawford’s Weekend Getaway
“My cottage in the Kawarthas is my little piece of heaven. I’ll be there with my friends and family. We have a pizza oven that always gets fired up. We always make sure there’s dessert pizza, too, with marshmallows, caramel sauce, raspberries and strawberries. Summer fun!”

Eden Grinshpan Keeps it Classic
“I live in New York right now, so I will probably have a couple Ceasars and some poutine to celebrate with my husband.”

Make this classic Canadian drink absolutely amazing with these super patriotic garnish ideas.

Roger Mooking’s House Party
“It’s both my father-in-law and daughter’s birthday that weekend so we’ll be having a party at my house this year.  There may be fireworks, but, shhh, don’t tell anyone!”

Michael Smith’s Berry Canadian Cake
“Canada Day on Prince Edward Island often coincides with the start of our strawberry season so we like to celebrate with Strawberry Shortcake, then as many fireworks as I can round up.”

Strawberry Rhubarb ShortcakeGet Michael Smith’s recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Shortcake.

Massimo Capra Craves International Foods
“Here in Canada, we have incredible diversity in food and people, so we can celebrate with just about anything. The beauty of this country is that we love food from all over the world. We can go back to the old English days and cook up some bangers and mash! But right now I’m craving some beautiful curry.”

Get the recipe for Curry Tofu Chutney Salad. Perfect for summer!

Brad Smith Keeps it Low Key
“This is the first summer I’ll have to myself. Every other summer since I was 21 I’ve had to work, so I’ll go to a buddy’s cottage, relax and enjoy what Canada has to offer.”

John Higgins’ Great BBQ
“Scotland is my birthplace but Canada is definitely my home. My wife has a family of 14 siblings and there’s always people coming over. We do something simple [on the barbecue] like peameal bacon. It has to have spicy honey mustard sauce and a great coleslaw.”


Get the recipe for Maple Bourbon Peameal Bacon Sliders.

Anne Yarymowich and the Great Outdoors
“Always start the day with a Caesar and then have fun with it. Find something local, something that is grown and raised within a 10 km radius of where you live and throw that on the barbecue. We have such a short summer season and Canada Day is at the height of it, so being outside is essential.”

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

The Best Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

We didn’t think mac and cheese could get any better, but enter: peameal bacon! Take the deliciousness of the classic pasta dish — macaroni smothered in ooey, gooey cheese — then top that with a crunchy cornmeal crumble. It doesn’t get better than this.

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2-1/2 cups macaroni noodles
2 Tbsp panko crumbs
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 Tbsp cornmeal
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1-1/2 cups cubed peameal bacon
1/4 cup all purpose flour
2 cups 2% milk
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3/4 cup shredded smoked cheddar
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Peameal Bacon Mac and Cheese

Directions:
1. Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water with 1 Tbsp salt until just tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine panko crumbs, parmesan and cornmeal in a small bowl. Work in one Tbsp butter until mixture is crumbly. Set aside.
3. Preheat broiler. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp butter, then the bacon. Cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.
4. Melt 1/4 cup butter in the same pot over medium-low. Whisk in flour until mixture forms a paste, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in milk. Increase heat to medium. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce has slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
5. Stir in cheese, cayenne and mustard. Stir in pasta and bacon. Scrape mixture into an oven-safe baking dish. Top with cornmeal mixture. Broil in centre of oven until top is golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Looking for more mouth watering recipes? Try our 10 Perfect Peameal Bacon Recipes.

Chef’s Battle: Toronto’s Tastiest Dish Is…

The debate is over and the winner is undeniably delicious.

A stunning trio of flame-seared sushi set inside an empty lobster tail, topped with Wagyu beef, foie gras, butter-poached lobster and truffles has been named Toronto’s Tastiest Dish.

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi of Miku snapped up the coveted prize at the inaugural Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle on that saw four of the city’s best chefs steam, torch and sear their way through a kitchen stadium-like contest at George Brown College.

taste-of-toronto-chefs-battle

Taste of Toronto Chef’s Battle

Chefs Elia Herrera of Los Colibris, Cora James of Mamakas Taverna, Hayden Johnston of Richmond Station and Uchigoshi each presented their vision for a dish that best captures Toronto. It’s no easy feat, considering the very question sparks debates among foodies and even divide friendships. Award-winning food journalists and judges Amy Rosen, Lucy Waverman and Mike Ward took their roles seriously, picking a dish that represents the best of Toronto.

From flame-seared sushi to Coca Cola-doused duck tamales to a braised rib-stuffed burger and a sophisticated take on a Greek classic, this year’s contenders prove that Toronto’s food scene is as diverse as it is enticing.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto

Chef Kazuki Uchigoshi, Miku Toronto
Embodying the Aburi rule of “zekkei,” Uchigoshi’s winning creation is as beautiful as delicious. The stunning lobster dish pairs a trio of the restaurant’s signature flamed-seared Temari and Nigiri sushi, topped with butter-poached lobster, Wagyu beef and foie gras. Set inside of an empty lobster shell, each bite is topped with sliced truffle, micro greens and chopped ginger.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos

Elia Herrera, Los Colibris and El Cabillito Tequila y Tacos
Duck Carnitas Tamale is a labour of love that starts with the duck bathing in milk and Coca Cola to tenderize and caramelize. After baking for two hours, it is wrapped in corn meal and a banana leaf pocket, and steamed until tender. The final dish is topped with shredded iceberg lettuce, salsa verde, salty cotija cheese and a dollop of creme.

Cora James, Mamakas
Pastry chef Cora James serves up a delicate and sophisticated Greek-inspired dish that starts with a katafi pastry base, topped with white chocolate, custard and whipped cream. A touch of Ontario strawberry jam is layered with lemon cream and a wisp of oregano.

Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station

Hayden Johnston, Richmond Station
Hailed as one of the city’s best, the famed Stn. Burger earned its spot for a reason. Made with a house-cranked ground beef patty that’s stuffed with braised and shredded ribs, it’s then seared in a smoking hot cast iron pan to keep all those juices basting. The burger is enveloped in house-made buttered buns, garlic mayonnaise, pickled onions, beer relish and aged cheddar.

Eager foodies will have a chance to try Chef Uchigoshi’s winning sushi dinner at this year’s Taste of Toronto at Garrison Common at Fort York June 23-26.

Want free tickets to this year’s food fest? Learn how here.

All photos courtesy of Sarjoun Faour for Taste of Toronto.

6 Cool Canadian Urban Wineries

Spending a weekend in wine country stirs romantic images of long drives, lush vineyards, and bed and breakfasts. Although we’ll never grow tired of swirling wine in the rural regions that grow the grapes, it couldn’t hurt to have them closer to home.

Enter: the urban winery. More and more vintners are setting up shop in the city, bringing the wine production process downtown. By outsourcing and importing grapes from the finest vineyards across the globe, wine producers are able to set up the fermenting, crushing and aging process at facilities far from the fields. These urban wineries are popping up all over the United States, and the trend is starting to spread in Canada.

From virtual vineyard tours and workshops, to delicious tastings and food pairings, wine aficionados can visit these wineries and have an authentic winery experience, without leaving the city. Check out these six wineries in Canadian cities that are making a splash in the wonderful world of wine.

Macedo Winery (Toronto, ON)
With grapes taken off vines from Italy, Portugal, Argentina and Canada, Macedo Winery produces their Evolution Wines. This family-run winery in the heart of Toronto is dedicated to sharing their vast knowledge in helping you find the perfect wine.

Courtesy of Noble Grape

Courtesy of Noble Grape

Noble Grape (Dartmouth, NS)
With seven locations across Nova Scotia and one in New Brunswick, Noble Grape is an “in-store winery” that allows customers to create their very own blend. Customers choose their ingredients and add the yeast to start the fermentation process, and Noble Grape takes it from there. In four to eight weeks, you can be sipping on your very own personalized wine.

Courtesy of Pacific Breeze Winery

Courtesy of Pacific Breeze Winery

Pacific Breeze Winery (New Westminster, BC)
From grape to bottle, hand-crafted and small lot wines are produced at this “Garagiste” (Garage Winery). The first of its kind in Canada, Pacific Breeze Winery has won over 50 international awards. Try one of their wines made with carefully selected grapes from British Columbia, Washington and California, without having to endure the long commute to wine country.

Sandhill Wines (Kelowna, BC)
Located in downtown Kelowna, Sandhill Wines offers virtual vineyard tours, a wine lounge and a Small Lots barrel cellar. Visitors can sit in on educational seminars, followed by a toast at the Tasting Bar. Head winemaker Howard Soon has won multiple awards for his wines, all of which are made with the best grapes from the Okanagan.

Courtesy of Vancouver Urban Winery

Courtesy of Vancouver Urban Winery

Vancouver Urban Winery (Vancouver, BC)
Vancouver Urban Winery is a unique culinary and wine experience. In addition to producing their own wines under their namesake, they also have a wine-on-tap program where visitors can try 36 different varieties, most of which are from British Columbia. The rustic-chic winery also hosts a variety of wine education programs such as their Sunday School, where flights of wine are served blind.

Versay (Montréal, QC)
Founded four years ago by Jean-François Bieler, Versay is the only urban winery in Québec. They believe that good wine doesn’t need to involve a bottle or cork, selling wine in kegs and serves it on tap. This eco-conscious winery is all about minimizing their carbon footprint. Each keg eliminates the need for 26 glass bottles, not to mention the possibility of breakage when shipping. Who wouldn’t want wine on tap?

8 Vegan Restaurants in Canada You Have to Try

Eating vegan in Canada used to be a bit of a challenge but cruelty-free cuisine has become widespread in recent years and continues to thrive. Here are eight veggie-centric restaurants across Canada that are sure to satisfying any palate.

Boon Burger

Boon Burger

be love (Victoria, BC)

Start off your meal with a spread of house-made nut and seed cheeses and then try some fun takes on classic dishes, like the pastrami-spiced portobello ‘reuben’ sandwich. They also offer a weekend brunch (Victoria is big on brunch!) Vegan or not, the cardamom pear pancakes with maple ginger syrup and vanilla cashew ‘cream cheese’ will give your taste buds a shake.

Boon Burger (Winnipeg, MB and Barrie, ON)

It would be a shame to spend a chunk of time in Winnipeg (where Boon Burger’s original location is) and not pop in for one of their big, juicy vegan burgers. Whether you’re having the jalapeño ‘cheddar’ burger with pickled jalapeños and house burger sauce or the spicy boon buffalo burger, don’t forget to end your meal with their homemade coconut soft serve. Winter be damned!

Boon Burger: Vegan Poutine

Boon Burger: Vegan Poutine

Chau Veggiexpress (Vancouver, BC) 

Fresh and aromatic, the myriad of dishes offered at this vibrant Vietnamese joint are just as much of a treat for your eyes as they are for your mouth. Try their spin on pho (“candlelit lantern”), and since no Vietnamese dinner is complete without spring rolls, order the “non la rolls” filled with kale, shallots and tofu with a lemon vegan ‘fish sauce’.

ChuChai (Montreal, QC) 

Many of my friends that have eaten at ChuChai have left with a, ‘I can’t believe there was no meat in those dishes’ reaction. Using products like seitan (a glutenous meat substitute that can be seasoned, shaped and formed in a variety of ways), this Thai restaurant is able to create plates of food similar to many classics. From panang beef to salt and pepper squid, these vegan takes have all of the robust flavours of the original dishes, but none of the meat. Fooling your taste buds has never been so rewarding.

The Coup (Calgary, AB) 

It comes as no surprise that there aren’t many options for vegan dining in the land of beef, but The Coup, 11 years in business and counting, does a stand-up job. Aside from an exquisite interior, the restaurant offers creative food (the menu is about 75 percent vegan) and drink, including refreshing cocktails made from house-made juices and dishes like tandoori cauliflower wings with chimichurri.

The Hogtown Vegan: Philly Cheesesteak

The Hogtown Vegan: Philly Cheesesteak

enVie: A Vegan Kitchen (Halifax, NS) 

This popular vegan eatery on the east coast offers a little bit of everything, from lunch and dinner to weekend brunch. They also have a full-service grab-and-go area where you can buy an array of cold-pressed juices, salads and more. Their poutine with house-made ‘cheese curds’ will make anyone’s tummy happy, whether you’re a carnivore, herbivore or somewhere in between.

The Hogtown Vegan (Toronto, ON) 

While the name and branding (a gigantic pig as the logo) can be a little puzzling, everything you eat at this Toronto hotspot is completely meat-free. That being said, Hogtown is all about taking those classic, greasy-good pub dishes like nachos, wings and mac ‘n’ cheese, and making them deliciously vegan.

The Hogtown Vegan: Unchicken and Waffles

The Hogtown Vegan: Unchicken and Waffles

Kupfert & Kim (Toronto, ON) 

This small chain of fast-casual vegan restaurants is not only meat and dairy-free, but wheat-free too. Don’t worry, that certainly doesn’t mean the food is flavour-free. Swing by for a quick lunch and try one of the rice or quinoa bowls, or the congee made with brown rice, organic bok choy, house-made kimchi and loads of other veggies. There’s kombucha on tap here too!

Kupfert and Kim

Kupfert & Kim

lentil beer

10 New and Unique Canadian Beers to Try

If you consider yourself a beer fan and are looking to treat your taste buds to some creative new brews this is the perfect time to do it. Craft brewers across Canada are experimenting with new ways to make beer with some pretty wild ingredients. While the ingredients may raise eyebrows, the results are delicious. From lentil beer to grapefruit, here are 10  truly unique and some new Canadian beers to sip from coast to coast.

Last Best Brewing

1. Last Best Brewing (Calgary, AB) – Caramel Latte Beer 

Most people have only experienced a nitro-injected beer in the form of a stout (think Guinness), so this ale easily stands out from other microbrews. Since it’s ale infused with beans from a local coffee roaster, the Caramel Latte offers the best of both beer worlds as it’s refreshing and light but less effervescent and smooth on the intake.

Left Field Brewing

By Mark Horsley

2. Left Field Brewery (Toronto, ON) – Eephus Oatmeal Brown Ale 

Brown ales are as common as a Canadian penny in 2010 and oatmeal stouts are pretty easy to come by too. But an oatmeal brown ale? That’s not quite as common. This little microbrewery in Toronto brews up a list of beers, including this uniquely titled ale called Eephus, named after a particular style of pitch in baseball.

mill street lemon tea beer

3. Mill Street Brewery (Toronto, ON) – Lemon Tea Beer 

Mill Street has grown exponentially over the years, becoming one of the major players in the Canadian craft beer scene. Large-scale or not, this distinctive beer, infused with Earl Grey and orange pekoe, remains a reliable summer sipper and one of the few brews across Canada that features tea.

4. Muskoka Brewing (Bracebridge, ON) – Winterweiss 

This wintery brown beer is to a summery hefeweizen what the abominable snowman is to the sasquatch. Distant cousins, perhaps, but both are equally bold and delicious. Once you take a swig, you’ll be able to taste cloves, banana and the hint of sweetness that wheat beers are known for.

chucklehead

5. Phillips Brewing (Victoria, BC) – Chucklehead IRA 

This Indian Red Ale gets a 10 out of 10 on visuals alone. The vibrant label forces anyone terrified of clowns to face their fears. Once you get past the label, you’ll find a beautifully-coloured ale that can appeal to “hopheads,” ale and lager fans alike.

lentil beer

6. Rebellion Brewing (Regina, SK) – Lentil Cream Ale 

It is the International Year of The Pulses after all, so it’s only fitting that right in the heart of lentil country you can find a beer brewed with lentils. Don’t let the name fool you — there’s nothing creamy-tasting about it. Cream ales are typically quite easy-drinking and the use of lentils in the process makes for a lighter colour and more refreshing sip.

royal city brewing

7. Royal City Brewing (Toronto, ON) – Black Bean Brown Ale 

Much like the lentil beer mentioned above, Royal City is using Ontario-grown black beans to create this robust brown ale. So, what does bean beer taste like exactly? Surprisingly good! They also have a pilot system to experiment with more unique flavours, including Banana Bread Stout, Double Smoked Honey and Raspberry Spice.

Steel Toad Brewery

8. Steel Toad Brewery (Vancouver, BC) – Saison Sauvignon 

With a slightly higher alcohol percentage (6.5%) and big, bright citrus notes, it’s a little too easy to knock back a few glasses of this tasty beer in one of Vancouver’s newest brewpubs. The best part about this particular brew? Most saisons have a higher price point but at Steel Toad you can get a pint of this wine-infused beer for the same price as you would other creations.

9. Tree Brewing Co. (Kelowna, BC) – Grapefruit Radler 

It’s not too often that you come across a Canadian-made radler, although the type of beer itself is one of the most popular, low-alcohol patio drinks in the country. Tree Brewing Co. concocts a ton of interesting small-batch beers at this “beer institute,” but their delicious radler can be found in liquor stores all over Western Canada.

Cowbell Sour

10. Wild Rose Brewery (Calgary, AB) – Cowbell Sour 

Ask any Canadian cicerone (a beer sommelier) and they’ll tell you that sours are the hot ticket these days in the beer world. To all novice brewers, sour beer is pretty finicky in its brewing process and can yield an undrinkable product when not done properly. Cowbell boasts the marking of a classic sour being quite tart, but is infused with fresh lime leaves.