Tag Archives: everyday cooking

Spicy sautéed chickpeas on white plate

You Can Whip up This Spicy Sauteed Cauliflower and Chickpeas Recipe in Just 10 Minutes!

Who says simple meals can’t still be fancy? This quick We Know You Have 10 Minutes recipe is plate-lickingly good. In our opinion, you can never go wrong combining chickpeas and cauliflower, especially when they’re sauteed and caramelized with a splash of balsamic vinegar. A pro-tip: to get the cauliflower to cook quickly, cut into very, very small florets. The lemony yogurt is really the star of the dish. It’s tart and acidic flavours amplify the subtle sweetness and earthiness of the other ingredients and honestly, we could just eat the yogurt alone, it’s so, so good. You can use any plain yogurt, but if you want to really explode the flavour of this dish, choose a thick Greek variety. Then top with mint to add a bit of freshness. It’s shocking a dish that tastes this good only takes 10 minutes to make!

Spicy sautéed chickpeas on white plate

Spicy Sauteed Cauliflower and Chickpeas

Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4

Ingredients:

Chickpea Cauliflower Saute
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp granulated garlic powder
½ to 1 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on spice preference)
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small or ½ large cauliflower (about 4 cups), chopped into very small florets
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Lemony Yogurt
½ cup plain, unsweetened yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
¼ lemon, squeezed
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper

Toppings
Few mint leaves
Squeeze of lemon

Ingredients for spicy sautéed chickpeas on countertop

Directions:

1. Place a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat. Add in the oil, swirl around the pan to coat the bottom, then toss in the granulated garlic powder and red pepper flakes. Saute for 30 seconds until fragrant.

2. Add in the chickpeas and cauliflower. Shake the pan so they’re coated in the oil. Pour in the balsamic vinegar, sea salt and pepper. If the pan seems too dry, add in another Tbsp of oil. Toss well to coat.

Related: Healthy 10-Minute Meals When You Just Don’t Feel Like Cooking

3. Leave the chickpeas and cauliflower undisturbed and let everything saute for 3-5 minutes. Seriously — no stirring — let them do their thing! After 3-5 minutes, toss and saute for another 3 minutes until the chickpeas and cauliflower are slightly browned.

Spicy sautéed chickpeas in frying pan

4. If the cauliflower still seems too hard and hasn’t quite cooked yet, add about ⅓ to ½ cup water and cover to soften the cauliflower. This will take about 5-ish minutes.

5. While the chickpeas and cauliflower are cooking, combine the yogurt, lemon, oil and salt and pepper, then spread it on the bottom of a platter or plate.

Three white plates next to a pan full of spicy sautéed chickpeas

6. Place the chickpeas and cauliflower on top of the lemony yogurt, squeeze a bit of lemon and add fresh mint leaves over to garnish.

Spicy sautéed chickpeas on three white plates

Like Tamara and Sarah’s spicy sauteed cauliflower and chickpeas recipe? Try their 10-minute vegan antipasto skewers or their 5-ingredient slow cooker beef Bolognese.

Get the how-to recipe here:


 

Glazed salmon on top of bed of asparagus

This 20-Minute Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Salmon is the Perfect Weeknight Meal

You have probably heard of honey glazed salmon… but have you heard of pomegranate glazed salmon? Pomegranate molasses is an ingredient commonly used in Middle Eastern cuisine and has both sweetness and tanginess that adds so much depth and flavour to any dish. It is the star ingredient in this glaze, along with garlic, honey and chilli flakes for some heat. You can typically find pomegranate molasses in the international aisle at your local grocery store, but if you can’t find it, you can make your own at home. Simply mix together pomegranate juice, a bit of lemon juice and sugar (to your preference) and reduce it down until it looks like a thick glaze.

Glazed salmon on top of bed of asparagus

Pomegranate Molasses Glazed Salmon

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Salmon
½ kg salmon fillet (or 4 pieces)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil (or any vegetable oil)

Glaze
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 ½ Tbsp pomegranate molasses
2 ½ Tbsp honey
½ tsp salt
½ tsp chilli flakes (more or less per preference)
Squeeze of lemon juice
Spring onions for garnish

Glazed salmon ingredients on table

Directions:

1. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper on both sides.

Four raw salmon filets on white plate

2. Heat up a cast iron or non-stick skillet on medium high and add the olive oil. Wait until pan is hot, then lay the salmon skin side down and cook for 3-4 minutes. Make sure you don’t crowd your pan.

Four salmon filets cooking in pan

3. Flip the salmon to sear on the other side for 2 minutes until golden. Remove and set aside.

Two salmon filets cooking in pan

4. Decrease the heat to low and add in the crushed garlic. Cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.

5. Add the pomegranate molasses, honey, salt, and chilli flakes and stir for a minute. Add the squeeze of lemon.

6. Place the salmon back into the pan and cook for 5 more minutes or until cooked through (depending on thickness of the salmon).

Related: Easy Grilled Salmon Recipes You’ll Love

7. Plate the salmon (recommended on a bed of roasted vegetables) and spoon the glaze on top. The glaze thickens when it cools down, therefore it is recommended to serve immediately. If it does cool down, you can heat it back up and add a splash of water to loosen it.

8. Garnish with spring onions and additional chilli flakes.

Like Amina’s glazed salmon recipe? Try her curried Brussels sprouts or roasted cauliflower with tahini.

vegan cassoulet in white dish

This Cozy Weeknight Cassoulet is Given a Spicy Vegan Makeover

A cozy weeknight favourite with a vegan spin, this French-inspired dish is booming with flavour and wholesome ingredients, while topped with a light panko crumb crust to add a nice crunch. While cassoulet traditionally contains meat, this Can You Vegan It? recipe gives the classic a plant-based twist. This recipe calls for harissa paste for a bit of a spicy kick, but if heat isn’t your thing, substitute black pepper in place of the paste. Plus, an added bonus: this meal all comes together in one pot and it takes just an hour to whip up!

vegan cassoulet in white dish

Spicy Vegan Cassoulet

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients:

3 medium leeks
¼ cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 large carrots, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
3 parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp ground cloves
1-1 ½ tsp sea salt
1 tsp harissa paste
3 (19 oz) cans cannellini (white kidney) beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups of water
1 ¾ cups organic panko crumbs
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried thyme

vegan cassoulet ingredients on kitchen countertop

Directions:

1. Cut and discard the green part of the leeks, leaving only the white and pale green parts to work with. Halve leeks lengthwise, then chop crosswise into 1-inch pieces. Place chopped leeks in a bowl or large strainer and rinse thoroughly until the sandy particles are gone.

2. Place a large Dutch oven pot over medium heat and add ¼ cup olive oil. Once heated, add leeks, carrots, zucchini, garlic, parsley, bay leaves, cloves, salt and harissa. Stir occasionally until veggies are semi soft and golden, about 15 minutes; then add in beans and water. Cook covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s One Pot Recipes That Will Make Dinner a Breeze

3. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss panko bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp olive oil, garlic powder and thyme. Place it on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 7-9 minutes until toasted and light brown, stirring occasionally. Set aside and let it cool.

panko breadcrumbs roasted on cookie sheet

4. When the cassoulet is ready, discard bay leaf and parsley sprigs and season with more salt and pepper if needed. Top with toasted garlic panko before serving.

vegan cassoulet in white dish

Like Valerie’s vegan cassoulet? Try her low-carb vegan ramen or her healthy Sriracha-honey oven-fried chicken.

hot dog fried rice in black wok

Your Kiddos Will Not Stop Asking You to Cook This Hot Dog Fried Rice Recipe

It’s pretty much a fact that all kids (and many of us adults) love hot dogs. It’s also a fact that they are devoid of any meaningful nutrition. But alas, they find redemption in this hot dog fried rice recipe, alongside eggs, green beans and tofu. Tofu skeptics: this might just be your gateway tofu dish! This has long since been a family favourite at my house and I think it could be at yours too. (This dish can be enjoyed by everyone from age 3 and up). Be sure to cut hot dogs into small ⅛-inch slices so they’re not choking hazards for very young children. For a gluten-free version of this Kindred Kitchen recipe, opt for gluten-free hot dogs and tamari in place of soy sauce.

hot dog fried rice in skillet with wooden spoon

Hot Dog Fried Rice

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4-5

Ingredients:

6 cups cooked rice (2½ cups uncooked rice), cooled and refrigerated 1-2 days
4 large eggs
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
Kosher salt to taste
High-heat neutral oil
4 hot dogs, thinly sliced to ⅛-inch pieces
1 package (400 g) extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry, cut into ⅓-inch cubes
1 ½ tsp soy sauce (or tamari for gluten-free), divided
½ lb green beans, stem trimmed and cut into ⅓-inch pieces
2 tsp finely minced ginger
3 tsp finely minced garlic (from 4-5 medium cloves)
3 scallions, finely chopped (reserve a little bit for garnish)

hot dog fried rice ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Take cooked rice out from the fridge and break up any clumps of rice thoroughly with your hands. Set aside. Then whisk eggs with sesame oil and a pinch of salt in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.

person fluffing rice in black bowl

2. Prepare all other ingredients. The key to any stir-fry is to not crowd the pan, cooking and seasoning every ingredient separately.

3. Preheat a wok or large heavy-bottomed sauté pan over medium heat. Drizzle oil and add whisked seasoned eggs, moving it around constantly with a spatula until eggs are starting to set. but still quite runny. (They will cook more at the end). Scoop out and set aside.

Related: Easy and Tasty Ways to Use Leftover Rice

4. Turn heat up to medium-high. Drizzle a tiny bit of oil and add sliced hot dogs. Stir-fry until heated through and edges are just starting to brown and even crisp up if you like. Scoop out and set aside, leaving behind any oil that came out of the hot dogs.

5. If needed, drizzle a bit more oil and add the tofu cubes. Stir-fry gently so as not to break them. Let the tofu heat through and get a little brown on the edges. Season with ¾ tsp soy sauce (or tamari) and salt to taste. Cook for 30 seconds, scoop out and set aside.

cooking cubes of tofu in black wok

6. Next, drizzle a bit of oil and stir-fry the cut green beans until tender, but still crisp, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and ¾ tsp soy sauce (or tamari). Again, scoop out and set aside.

7. Heat 2-3 Tbsp of oil and add the minced ginger. Move it around and cook for 5-10 seconds. Add the minced garlic and cook for 5-10 seconds or until the garlic is just turning golden, being careful not to let it burn. Stir in most of the chopped scallions, remembering to reserve some for garnish. Add 1 Tbsp more oil and make sure the oil is heated and quite hot at this point (but before smoking) before adding the chilled cooked rice. Stir everything to distribute everything evenly. Cook until rice is fully heated through.

Related: How to Cook a Perfect Pot of Rice on the Stove

8. Add back the hot dogs, tofu and green beans. Mix well and allow to heat back through for a minute. Finally, add the runny eggs and stir to distribute. Stir-fry another minute to cook eggs fully. Turn heat off and taste. Add salt if needed. Garnish with scallions. Enjoy!

hot dog fried rice in black wok

Like this hot dog fried rice recipe? Try this vegetarian mujadara!

Plate of healthy fried chicken

This Healthy Sriracha-Honey Oven-Fried Chicken is Simply Delish

For all the fried chicken lovers out there who are looking for a much healthier way to enjoy delicious chicken — this paleo Sriracha-honey oven-fried chicken is right up your alley. It’s spicy, sweet and savoury, extremely flavourful and there’s no deep frying or oil required.

Plate of healthy fried chicken

Healthy Sriracha-Honey Oven-Fried Chicken

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serving: 4

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour
1 tsp flaky sea salt
½ tsp black pepper
2 eggs
1 lb chicken breasts or thighs (4-5 pieces)
⅓ cup Sriracha hot sauce
⅓ cup pure honey
1 tsp garlic powder
Fresh chives or parsley, for topping

Ingredients for healthy fried chicken on countertop

Directions:

1. Preheat your oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt and pepper. In a smaller bowl, whisk eggs.

Related: Our Best Budget-Friendly Chicken Recipes to Have on Rotation

3. Dip each chicken breast in the whisked eggs, then coat with almond flour mixture and place on the lined baking sheet. Store any leftover almond flour mixture in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. This can be reused within 3 days.

Healthy fried chicken in batter on baking pan

4. Transfer the chicken to the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes.

5. In the meantime, combine Sriracha hot sauce, honey and garlic powder in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until the honey is melted and mixture is smooth. Turn off the heat and set the sauce aside.

Sauce for healthy fried chicken in pot

6. When ready, take the chicken out of the oven, then turn the oven settings to broil. Using a pastry brush, brush the Sriracha-honey sauce on the surface of the chicken until coated. Place the chicken back in the oven and broil for 3-5 minutes.

Pan full of healthy fried chicken

7. When ready, top with fresh chives or herb of choice. Serve immediately.

Like Valerie’s healthy Sriracha-honey chicken? Try her low-carb mint lamb burgers or her low-sugar persimmon creme brulee.

Bulgur salad in white bowl

This Middle Eastern Bulgur, Pomegranate and Almond Salad is Full of Whole Grains

Bulgur wheat is one of the most underrated grains, but it’s oh-so versatile and packed with fibre. It’s a common Middle Eastern staple and comes in various sizes — from very fine (which is used for tabbouli) to coarse grind (which has a similar cook time to rice). If you’re looking for a creative way to give bulgur a try, this winter salad is the perfect recipe. It’s crunchy and nutty, with hints of sweetness and tartness from the pomegranate and lemon juice; and the parsley and green onion add freshness. It’s the ultimate balance of flavours and ready within minutes.

Bulgur salad in white bowl

Middle Eastern Bulgur, Pomegranate and Almond Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 2 to 4

Ingredients:

Bulgur
¾ cup coarse bulgur wheat (makes 2 cups cooked)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 ¼ cups water
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Salad
1 cup pomegranate seeds (roughly half a large pomegranate)
¾ cup slivered almonds (or whole or blanched almonds)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped parsley
¾ cup chopped green onions
½ cup crumbled feta (optional)

Dressing
3 Tbsp olive oil
⅓ cup pomegranate juice
Juice of 1 lemon (roughly ¼ cup)
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper

Bulgur salad ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Wash and drain the bulgur. In a pot on medium heat, add the olive oil and washed bulgur. Saute for a few minutes to toast the bulgur.

Related: Fantastic Warm Salad Ideas to Enjoy Right Now

2. Add the water, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to boil, cover and turn heat to low and cook for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork when it is ready.

Bulgur cooking in pot

3. Meanwhile, deseed the pomegranate. You can do this by using your fingers or tapping the back of half the pomegranate with a wooden spoon to release the seeds.

Pomegranate seeds in bowl

4. In a pan on medium heat, toast the almonds in the olive oil for 5 minutes, stirring continuously until they turn golden brown. Remove immediately off the heat.|

Almonds roasting in pan

5. Chop the parsley and green onions.

6. Mix all the salad dressing ingredients together in a jar and shake well.

Salad dressing in jar

7. Assemble the salad by mixing all the ingredients except for the toasted almonds and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (You can also eat this salad warm!). Before serving, add the toasted almonds, mix well and enjoy.

Bulgur salad in white bowl

Like Amina’s bulgur, pomegranate and almond salad? Try her roasted cauliflower with tahini and curried Brussels sprouts.

This Venison Carpaccio With Cedar Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jam is the Perfect Appetizer

Not only does cooking reflect culture, but it also reveals the resources found in a community’s surrounding environment. I discovered a love for food as a child, later combining my passion for cooking with the desire to know the history and cuisine of the First Nations peoples better. This is the inspiration behind my dishes.

I work with foragers and hunters in northern Québec who supply me with exceptional products such as wild cattails and currant leaves. My venison carpaccio recipe, which includes cedar jelly and a sea buckthorn jam, is a great example of my cooking technique. Slices of the freshest venison are garnished with the boreal flavours of cedar and sea buckthorn, a tart vitamin C–rich berry that can be found fresh or frozen at specialty markets.

At its essence, my work is focused on adapting the traditional pantry of an ancient culture to modern tastes. For the First Nations, respect for Mother Earth is paramount. By staying in harmony with nature, my recipes permit me to rediscover forgotten flavours that long served as a cuisine of survival. The Canadian wilderness has so much to offer: spices, herbs, flowers, mushrooms and roots, plus boreal nutmeg, peppery green alder (or dune pepper), wood cardamom, serviceberry, wild celery root and the Labrador tea, a tisane of local herbs. These are the colours in my palette of Indigenous cuisine.

Venison-Carpaccio-With-Cedar-Jelly-and-Sea-Buckthorn-Jam_888embed

Venison Carpaccio With Cedar Jelly and Sea Buckthorn Jam

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Sea Buckthorn Jam
1 lb (600 g) sea buckthorn berries, rinsed
14 oz (400 g) apples, diced
17½ oz (500 g) sugar

Venison
12 thin slices venison
2 Tbsp (30 ml) cedar jelly
2 tsp (10 ml) duck fat
Fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper to taste
Microgreens for garnish (optional)

Related: Holiday Party Appetizers Your Guests Will Love

Directions:

1. In a saucepan with splash of water, cook sea buckthorn berries over low heat until they burst.

2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into clean saucepan then discard seeds. Add apples to berry mixture and stir in sugar. Cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, skimming any foam that forms on the surface. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Place venison on serving dish. Brush each slice with cedar jelly and duck fat, then sprinkle with fleur de sel and pepper. Garnish with sea buckthorn jam and microgreens.

Published October 13, 2015, Updated December 28, 2020

Leftover turkey pizza

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

We’re sure you’ve come across a lot of ways to use up leftover turkey, but what about a recipe that uses ALL the holiday leftovers? Introducing the Love Your Leftovers holiday pizza! You will never need — or want — to find another holiday leftovers recipe again. You might even find yourself roasting up a turkey just to make this delicious pizza. For the carbs portion, feel free to use any leftover carb you have available, like roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes or stuffing. Add the cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts and you’re good to go!

Leftover turkey pizza cut up on counter

Leftover Turkey Pizza Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 to 18 minutes
Total Time: 25 to 28 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup leftover turkey, pulled or diced (Not a fan of turkey, but have leftover ham or leftover rotisserie chicken? They both work too!)
½ cup mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes or stuffing
½ cup cranberry sauce
½ cup roasted Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

Leftover turkey pizza ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Place pizza stone in the oven. Divide dough into two equal portions. Stretch and roll out dough to desired thickness.

Person kneading pizza dough

2. Generously brush the dough with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a pizza paddle.

Related: Delicious Uses for Leftover Mashed Potatoes

3. Dollop with ricotta cheese. Top with turkey, potatoes, cranberry sauce and Brussels sprouts.

Leftover turkey pizza

4. Slide pizza onto the heated stone and bake until the crust is golden, about 15 to 18 minutes. Enjoy!

Leftover turkey pizza

Like Marcella’s leftover turkey pizza recipe? Try her vegan eggnog or her cinnamon streusel muffins.

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

This Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit is the Perfect Holiday Appetizer (or Easy Dinner Idea!)

With five minutes of prep time, this incredibly easy appetizer is a favourite around the holidays — or any day for that matter. You don’t even need to splurge on a fancy Brie, a budget choice is just as delicious with every sweet and savoury bite. And while this holiday recipe calls for walnuts or hazelnuts, as well as cranberries or cherries, feel free to add in whatever nuts and dried fruit you prefer. Almond and pecans are always tasty, alongside apricots or figs. You can also swap out the herbs for a strip of orange or lemon zest too.

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

Baked Brie With Nuts and Dried Fruit

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

200 g double cream Brie
3 Tbsp packed brown sugar
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp butter
2 sprigs thyme or rosemary
½ cup toasted walnuts or hazelnuts
¼ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries

Baked brie with nuts and dried fruit ingredients on table

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Place the Brie in a small oven-safe skillet or a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Score the top with a paring knife for the cheese to quickly warm. Bake until softened and slightly puffed all around about 15 minutes.

Related: Best Edible Gifts Under $20 That’ll Make Anyone’s Holiday Sweeter

2. While the Brie is in the oven, make the topping: combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter and thyme in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a low boil; cook, stirring until brown sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute. Stir in nuts and dried cranberries.

Making baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

3. Immediately top warm Brie with hot pecan cranberry mixture and serve with crackers and fresh fruit if desired.

Tip: If using a heat-safe small skillet or ceramic dish, the Brie will stay warm for up to 15 minutes. It can also be reheated in the microwave until warm, about 30 seconds. If you’re a fan of toasted nuts, feel free to toast them before adding to the brown sugar mixture. Do so over medium heat, stirring until lightly browned, 3-5 minutes.

Serving of baked brie with nuts and dried fruit

Like Soo’s baked Brie recipe? Try her Chinese scallion pancakes or pan-fried pork chops with roast cabbage wedges.

bowl of stew with sourdough toast

One Humble Can of Tomatoes, Six Different Meals to Remember

As the weather turns cooler and we spend more time cozied up indoors, we often turn to our pantry to see what simple recipe we can whip up for a weeknight dinner. From pureed to chopped to strained, tomatoes are something I always have on hand as they can be used in endless ways. Here are six recipes you can make with a humble can of tomatoes.

Shakshuka

Shakshuka is a tomato-based dish that consists of poaching eggs in a spicy sauce. You can make it in 30 minutes with just a few simple ingredients. Start by sautéing garlic, diced onion and sliced red bell pepper in olive oil. Add your chopped tomatoes, paprika, cumin and chili powder. Let simmer for 10 minutes before cracking in the eggs. Cover with lid and poach the eggs until the whites are cooked, but yolk is soft. Garnish with crumbled feta cheese and fresh parsley.
shakshuka in a cast iron pan

Sloppy Joes

Have a can of tomatoes and ground meat in the freezer? Grab yourself some fresh buns and make sloppy Joes! A childhood favourite of mine, sloppy Joes consist of simmering together ground meat — beef, pork, chicken or turkey — as well as tomato sauce, onion, garlic, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. You can sneak in a few extra veggies if you’d like too. Serve the mixture on a bun.

bun with sloppy Joe mixture on black plate

White Bean and Tomato Stew

This stew consists of simmering white beans in tomato sauce, along with chicken stock, garlic, onion, celery, thyme and red pepper flakes. It is loaded with flavour and can be served a number of ways: over steamed rice, on sourdough toast or with pasta simmered right into the stew. Serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

bowl of stew with toast

Pizza Sauce

One of the most popular uses for canned tomatoes is homemade pizza sauce. We make a lot of pizza at home — and I prefer homemade sauce to the store-bought option, as you can control the flavours. It is so easy to make and requires no heating. Just stir together the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. You’ll be wondering why you didn’t always make your own sauce.

two slices of square pizza on a black plate

Salsa

Almost as easy as pizza sauce, you can turn a can of tomatoes into fresh restaurant style salsa. To a food processor: add tomatoes, green pepper (optional), fresh cilantro, onion, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until the salsa is as smooth or chunky as you prefer. Open a bag of tortilla chips and dip, dip, dip away!

grey plate with tortilla chips and bowl of homemade salsa

Chili

The perfect hearty meal on a brisk fall or snowy winter day is — hands down — chili! You can add pretty much anything you like, be it lots of vegetables or just beans, ground meat, tomatoes and spices (chili powder, paprika, cumin and coriander). I like to include onions, celery, carrots and red and green peppers in my classic chili recipe.

chili in a white bowl

Want to cook with more pantry staples? Here is one humble can of chickpeas, six different ways and one can of black beans, six ways.

roasted cauliflower with tahini

This Middle Eastern Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini is What Vegetarian Dreams Are Made Of

If you’re serving up a vegetarian side, don’t settle for boring. Take it up a notch with this easy recipe! Cauliflower is the perfect vegetable to serve in the fall — and roasting it brings out its nutty and sweet flavour. It is typically mild in taste and can use some spices to jazz it up. In this recipe, it’s marinated in olive oil and warm Middle Eastern spices, then roasted to perfection. The key to roasting cauliflower is to use a high temperature so the outside can caramelize, while still maintaining a bit of a bite. But we’re not done yet. Serve this cauliflower with a luxurious drizzle of tahini sauce and garnish with parsley, cilantro or flaked almonds. Then just watch it disappear off the plate.

roasted cauliflower with tahini

Middle Eastern Roasted Cauliflower With Tahini

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Cauliflower
1 large head of cauliflower or 2 small ones (roughly 600g without stems)
4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp salt + more per preference

Tahini Drizzle
½ cup tahini paste
3 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
1 small garlic clove, crushed
5-7 Tbsp water, per preference

Garnish
Handful of parsley or cilantro (optional)
Flaked almonds (optional)

roasted cauliflower with tahini ingredients

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Wash the cauliflower and pat dry using a paper towel. Trim off the ends and green stems. Cut into florets.

chunks of cauliflower on baking tray

2. Prepare the marinade by mixing together the olive oil, onion powder, cumin powder, chilli powder and salt.

roasted cauliflower with tahini marinade

3. On a large sheet pan, toss the cauliflower with the marinade ensuring they are well coated. Do not overcrowd them on the pan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until they are caramelized. Toss around halfway through baking time.

roasted cauliflower on baking tray

Related: How to Grow Fall Vegetables and What to Do With Them

4. Meanwhile prepare the tahini drizzle by mixing together the tahini, lemon juice, salt and garlic. Whisk everything together using a fork. The tahini will thicken a lot and seize up and it will seem like it is ruined. However, keep whisking and gradually add water a few Tbsp at a time, until it becomes smooth again. Adjust the thickness of the sauce to your preference by adding more or less water.

white bowl filled with tahini

5. Take the cauliflower out of the oven and taste for salt. Add more if required while they are hot. Toss in lemon juice if you desire. Serve the cauliflower with the tahini sauce drizzled on top. Garnish with parsley, cilantro or almonds if using.

roasted cauliflower with tahini

Like Amina’s Middle Eastern roasted cauliflower recipe? Try her curried roasted Brussels sprouts.

Lemon spatchcock chicken on roasting pan

You’ll Love This Easy Lemon Spatchcock Chicken With Roasted Apples, Parsnips and Leeks

We are big fans of sheet pan-style meals where everything cooks together — especially when they’re a show-stopping dish like this. This is one of our favourite ways to cook a whole chicken, because when you spatchcock it, it cooks more evenly and you’re not left with overcooked breasts and undercooked thighs. Roasting apples, parsnips and leeks together with woodsy herbs like thyme has an incredible warming appeal that offers tart, sweet and earthy flavours.

Spatchcock chicken on sheet pan with roasted veggies

To spatchcock your chicken, flip the chicken so the back is facing up and cut along one side of the backbone from the top to the bottom. Now cut along the other side of the backbone, take it out. Flip the chicken over so it’s laying open in front of you. Using a knife, slice the cartilage that’s found between the breasts and then pull on both sides of the chicken to really open it up. And that’s it! Or if you don’t want to do the heavy lifting here, ask your butcher to do this for you.

Related: How to Grill the Perfect Piri Piri Spatchcock Chicken

Lemon Spatchcock Chicken With Roasted Apples, Parsnips and Leeks

Prep Time: 20 to 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

Chicken
1 whole spatchcocked chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp parsley, chopped finely
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sea salt
Pinch black pepper

Apples, Parsnips and Leeks
3 parsnips, chopped into 1-inch cubes
2 large pink lady apples, chopped into 1-inch cubes
2 leeks, washed thoroughly, halved and sliced into 1-inch thick pieces
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon sea salt
A few cracks of pepper

Garnish
Fresh thyme sprigs
Freshly chopped parsley
Lemon wedges

Spatchcock chicken ingredients on kitchen counter

Directions:

1. Spatchcock your chicken if you did not buy one pre-spatchcocked. Preheat the oven to 425°F.

2. Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl: garlic, parsley, thyme leaves, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, sea salt and black pepper.

Spatchcock chicken marinade in glass bowl

3. Chop the fruit and veggies and lay them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss around to ensure all pieces are seasoned well.

4. Push the fruit and veggies to the side and create space in the middle for the chicken. Lay the spatchcocked chicken down and then nuzzle it with the fruit and vegetables.

Lemon spatchcock chicken with veggies on roasting pan

5. Spread some of the marinade under the skin of the chicken and then spread the rest mostly on top of the bird. Rub a small amount on the underside. Roast in the oven for 1 hour.

6. When you’re ready to eat, garnish with fresh thyme, fresh parsley and lemon wedges.

Cooked spatchcock chicken and roasted veggies on serving tray

Like Tamara and Sarah’s spatchcock chicken recipe? Try their sumac-spiced roasted delicata and their 5-ingredient beef Bolognese.

These Pan-Fried Pork Chops With Roast Cabbage Wedges Will Help Your “What’s for Dinner?” Woes

Healthy and budget-friendly, cabbage is one of the most delicious and versatile cruciferous veggies. Anyone who is “on the fence” about cabbage will be converted with this roasted variety — promise! High heat cooking caramelizes the outer cabbage layers and opens up the nutty sweetness, while maintaining a tender, textured crunch. With the addition of the quick and easy pan-fried pork chops, this meal ticks off all the boxes and will become a family favourite.

Pan-fried pork chops and roasted cabbage on white plate

Pan-Fried Pork Chops With Roast Cabbage Wedges

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Cabbage
1 red cabbage (feel free to swap out red cabbage with white cabbage or a medium Savoy cabbage)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¾ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp lemon juice or red wine vinegar

Pork Chops
2 bone-in pork chops (1 ¼ to1 ½-inch thick) (approx. 1 ½ lbs)
½ tsp each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 thyme sprigs
3 cloves garlic, smashed
4 green olives (optional)

Garnish
Chopped parsley
Finely grated Parmesan

Ingredients for pan-fried pork chops and roasted cabbage

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut cabbage in half and then each half into 6-8 equal wedges, keeping the core and stem intact. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet; brush with ¼ cup of the oil all over and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Roast until browned and slightly charred on bottom, about 10 to 15 minutes. Flip and continue roasting until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Drizzle with lemon juice or vinegar.

Cabbage roasting on pan

3. While the cabbage is cooking, sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and cook pork chops until golden brown on one side, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes; repeat flipping and cooking until browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 135°F, about 8 minutes total.

Related: 12 Must-Try Fall Cocktails to Give Thanks for This Autumn

4. Remove pan from heat. Add butter, thyme, olives (if using) and garlic to pan, tilting and spooning the butter mixture over chops, basting the fat cap to brown.

Pork chops in pan

5. Transfer chops to a cutting board; cover and rest for 5 minutes. Cut into thick slices, reserving juices. Sprinkle with parsley or grated Parmesan (if using). Serve with cabbage.

Pork chops and roasted cabbage

Like Soo’s pan-fried pork chops with roast cabbage wedges? Then try her Chinese stir-fried eggplant or pork banh mi burgers.

How to Grow Fall Vegetables and What to Do With Them

Sweater weather is here, but growing season is far from over. Just because the days are shorter and the temperatures are dropping, it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your garden. Want your very own harvest of autumn produce? Here are the fall vegetables you should consider and some recipes to try once they’re ready to pick.

How to Grow Garlic

If you’re new to fall gardening, growing garlic is a good place to start. If you’ve ever wonder how to grow garlic, it can be easily planted mid-autumn in a sunny spot with soil that is well-drained. Separate the cloves and set them with the pointed end up and the root side down in rows that are at least one foot or 30 centimetres apart — and you should have some new bulbs by late fall. Take your freshly harvested garlic and roast it, pickle it or add it to  your favourite dishes. Interested in growing garlic indoors? While you can’t grow bulbs if you don’t have any outdoor space, you can easily grow garlic greens in a pot on a sunny window ledge. In about 7 to 10 days, you can snip the greens and add them to soups, salads, baked potatoes and more.

A chicken breast cooked to a golden finish with whole cloves of garlic and a creamy sauce

Get the recipe for The Barefoot Contessa’s Chicken With Forty Cloves of Garlic

How to Grow Cauliflower

It may be the most challenging vegetable in the cabbage family to cultivate, but fall is the perfect time for growing cauliflower. The secret is to start your seeds indoors about four weeks before you plan to plant them. Once the seedlings are ready, select a spot in your yard where they’ll get lots of light and be sure to water them so they grow quickly. Plant them outside when it’s between 18°C and 24°C for a late fall or early winter harvest. Once the florets are densely formed, the cauliflower is ready to harvest. Serve as a side dish with Sunday roast, toss it into a stir-fry or use it in a low-carb mac and cheese.

Cauliflower prepared popcorn style with a red Korean gochujang sauce

Get the recipe for Korean Gochujang Cauliflower Popcorn

How to Grow Beets

Beets are a fall harvest favourite that is best grown from seeds. Plant them in mid-summer or early fall — at least eight weeks before the first heavy frost — in an area with full sun and well-loosened soil. To speed up germination, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours before planting. After planting, add a thin layer of mulch to keep the roots cool on warmer days. When you’re growing beets, you’ll want to give them water regularly to develop healthy roots. Harvest when they’re anywhere from the size of a golf ball to a tennis ball. And don’t discard those greens! They’re packed with nutrients and a tasty whether sautéed on their own or added to pastas and soups.

Roasted red beet quarters tossed with fresh tarragon and parsley

Get the recipe for Valerie Bertinelli’s Roasted Beets With Herbs

How to Grow Brussels Sprouts

It takes patience to grow Brussels sprouts, but they are an easy crop that takes up minimal space in your garden. The seeds have to be planted six to 10 weeks before the first frost in rows three feet or 90 centimetres apart. Water them weekly and harvest after the first fall frost for the sweetest flavour. Twist them off the stem when you’re ready to cook them and any remaining sprouts will stay on the plants through part of the winter, even after the snow has begun. If you plant your seeds in the fall, don’t expect any sprouts until late winter or early spring. Roast them with bacon and maple syrup, shave them into a salad or even try them in your air fryer.

Get the recipe for Orecchiette With Vegan Sausage and Brussels Sprouts

How to Grow Broccoli

Growing broccoli takes time and extra care. You’ll have to plant the seeds in early fall, well before the first frost of the season. Plant them 18 to 24 inches or 45 to 60 centimetres apart in well-drained soil that gets at least eight hours of sun per day, ideally a partially-shaded area. There are so many ways to enjoy fresh broccoli, whether you include it in a sheet pan dinner or serve it steamed with melted Cheddar on top.

Slices of beef and broccoli florets on wooden skewers with teriyaki sauce

Get the recipe for Broccoli Beef Skewers With Teriyaki Glaze

How to Grow Pumpkins

Bright orange gourds and fall go hand in hand. Early June is the time to start thinking about planting as the seeds need warm soil to get started. They also need ample space for the long, rambling vines. Once planted, give them a deep watering of about one inch per week and adjust the amount depending on rainfall to prevent the vines from rotting. Once the pumpkins begin to grow on the vines, you’ll need to raise them off the ground using supports for even colouring and shape. If you have limited space, but still want to grow a pumpkin or two, plant smaller sugar pumpkins that are perfect for cooking and baking. They’re perfect for pies, cakes and soups.

Orange pumpkin soup served in white bowls topped with fresh herbs

Get the recipe for Vegan Pumpkin Soup

Don’t know the difference between butternut and acorn squash? Our ultimate squash guide breaks it down for you.

Nothing Says Fall More Than This Sumac-Spiced Roasted Delicata With Tahini Lemon Drizzle

When there’s a dish that incorporates all of our favourite things — squash, tahini and sumac — we know it’s a good one. Delicata squash is a fall delicacy — it’s only available in the autumn months, so take advantage now! You don’t have to peel it (woohoo!), and since it’s on the smaller side, it cooks fairly quickly, unlike other heartier squashes. It’s sweet and earthy and so perfectly takes on the natural lemony flavour of sumac. Once roasted, grab some kale and tahini drizzle — and for pops of juicy, fruity flavour, some craisins or pomegranate seeds. This dish is the epitome of fall flavours we love.

Sumac-Spiced Roasted Delicata With Tahini Lemon Drizzle

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 delicata squash, halved, de-seeded and sliced into ¼ -inch thick semi circles
1 red onion, sliced into strips
1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp sumac
½ tsp sea salt, divided
Pinch of pepper
¼ cup tahini
¼ cup cold water
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, minced
3 cups chopped kale
½ cup toasted walnuts
½ cup craisins or pomegranate seeds
Few Tbsp freshly chopped parsley

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prep the squash and onion, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

2. Drizzle olive oil on top and season with sumac, ¼ tsp salt and pepper. Toss around. Then roast in the oven for 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, prep the tahini sauce in a bowl. Mix together tahini, cold water, lemon juice, garlic and ¼ tsp salt.

4. On a long platter or in a big bowl, place the chopped kale. Add a pinch of salt and a small drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Begin massaging the kale (basically, just squeezing the kale in your hands) to help make it more digestible and easier to eat.

5. Layer the roasted squash and onion on top. Scatter the toasted walnuts, craisins and parsley on top, then drizzle the tahini sauce.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s sumac-spiced delicata? Try their slow cooker beef Bolognese or their no-bake chocolate oat bars.

These Curried Brussels Sprouts Are the Fall Side Dish You Need Right Now

Fall is all about making roasted veggies — and Brussels sprouts should be high up on that list. Their small size and nutty taste make them perfect for roasting. The key is to get the edges crispy and caramelized by roasting them cut side down at a high temperature. And don’t even think about removing the small leaves that fall off — those become so crunchy and make the best Brussels sprouts chips. In this recipe, we use a delicious curry spice mix to take them to next level. All you need to do is cut the Brussels sprouts, toss them in the spice mix and roast them on a sheet pan. The perfect side dish for any meal!

Curried Brussels Sprouts

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:

1 lb Brussels sprouts
3 large garlic cloves
1 ½ tsp curry powder
¼ tsp chilli powder (more to taste)
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
3 Tbsp olive oil
Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Wash the Brussels sprouts well and pat dry using a paper towel. Trim the ends and cut in half lengthwise. It’s fine if some of the outer leaves fall off, keep them to roast on the pan.

2. Peel the garlic and crush it using a garlic press. Mix together the curry powder, chilli powder, paprika, salt, olive oil and crushed garlic.

3. Toss the Brussels sprouts with the marinade ensuring they are well coated. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut side down on a sheet pan and space them out evenly (do not overcrowd!).

4. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the bottom is golden brown. Serve as a side with lemon wedges.

Looking for more fall recipes? Try this vegan pumpkin soup or this easy paleo butternut squash tart.

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Dinner Ideas: Slow Cooker Beef Bolognese

Ready to make the most comforting dinner with the least amount of effort? Then you’ll love this beef Bolognese. It only required five ingredients, plus a little salt and pepper! It’s the perfect, warming dish to make as the weather starts turning cooler — and is usually loved by all family members, even picky eaters. After a quick sauté of the onion and beef, simply throw all of the ingredients into the slow cooker and voila, you’re done. We like to choose a jar of our favourite store-bought marinara or tomato sauce, since it infuses so much flavour in one simple ingredient. If you would like to add the extra step of making your own, go for it. For the ultimate comfort dinner, serve the Bolognese over a big pile of your favourite noodles.

5-Ingredient Slow Cooker Beef Bolognese

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 to 6 hours
Total Time: 3 to 6 hours
Servings: 4

Ingredients:
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 x 750 ml jar marinara or tomato sauce
½ cup chicken broth or dry red wine
½ tsp sea salt and pinch of pepper

Directions:

1. Place a wide skillet over medium-high heat and add in the oil. Once heated, put in onion and cook for 3 minutes until translucent.

2. Add in the ground beef, break it up with the back of a spoon and allow to brown.

3. Then place the onion, browned beef, sauce, broth, salt and pepper in the slow cooker.

4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours.

Like Tamara and Sarah’s slow cooker beef Bolognese? Try their vegan pumpkin soup or their no-bake chocolate layered oat bars.

How to Make Traditional Chinese Congee From Scratch

This recipe stems from my mother’s kitchen, where a bubbling pot of congee is a near constant presence, ready to be doled out as a breakfast, family lunch or late-night snack. Forms of congee can be found on tables around the world, from arroz caldo in the Philippines to India’s kanji. Whether you enjoy congee as a creamy porridge or more of a rice soup, it is the ultimate comfort food that doesn’t require any special equipment to make. Although some rice cookers have a congee setting, you can just as easily cook this recipe in a heavy pot. Be sure to get the bottom of the pot when you stir, because as my mother always says: “there’s nothing worse than burnt bits, which are distressing.” Take her advice and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon making this simple, yet restorative fix for your loved ones’ flagging spirits as the cold weather drags on. 

Congee

Traditional Chinese Congee

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours, 30 minutes
Servings: 10

Ingredients:

1 cup short grain jasmine rice (although there is some leeway in terms of rice choice, there are some outliers — parboiled rice will cook too quickly to achieve the right consistency, wild or brown rice cook more slowly and may be too chewy in the finished product)
10 to 12 cups cold water
1 2-inch knob ginger
7 cups boiling water (to be added as needed)
2 tsp salt
1 to 1.5 cups store-bought or homemade chicken broth
500 grams of pork shoulder or chicken thigh, cut into ¼-inch thick pieces
1 tsp cornstarch
½ tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp rice wine or sake
8 king oyster mushrooms, sliced lengthwise
3 green onions, separated into white and green parts (cut the white parts into larger 2-inch chunks, as they will be cooked, whereas the green parts should be chopped finely, as they’ll be used for garnish)

Note: while this recipe uses chicken broth and slices of pork or chicken, it could easily be made vegetarian or vegan by omitting the eggs and meat and using water, vegetable or mushroom broth.

Congee ingredients

Directions:

1. Rinse rice three times or until water runs clear. Drain rice. Place rice in heavy bottomed large pot and pour cold water over rice.

2. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally to prevent rice from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Stir with a rice paddle, thick spatula or heat-resistant silicone turner.

3. Add ginger. Bring to a simmer and cook for about an hour, topping up with hot water so that it doesn’t boil down. Adjust the heat to keep it just below a rolling boil, but not so high that it boils over (it boils over very fast, so do not leave it unattended). You may need to lower the temperature between the lowest setting and medium.

Related: How to Cook a Perfect Pot of Rice on the Stove

4. At the one-hour mark, the congee will start to thicken and become creamy as the rice begins to break down. Add salt and broth.

5. Marinate the chicken or pork with the cornstarch, sea salt, oil and rice wine or sake. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes to marinate.

6. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add marinated pork or chicken slices, as well as the king oyster mushrooms and the white parts of the green onions.

Chicken slices

6. Continue simmering for another 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve warm with crispy you tiao (savoury fried crullers) and topped with rousong, pei dan (century eggs) or soft-boiled chicken or duck eggs, thin slices of raw fish, chopped cilantro, green onions or peanuts. Most of these add-ons can be found at Chinese markets.

Like Leslie’s congee? Check out her tips on how to make a soup creamy without dairy and how to make homemade hot sauce.

The Big Social: Canada’s Ultimate Feel-Good (Socially-Distanced) Food Party

Here at Food Network Canada, we’ll take any opportunity to break bread with our friends, but the meals taste even better when we’re dining for a good cause!

The Big Social is a national cross-country food party that brings people together and raises funds for low-income communities. Like many other nations, Canada has been deeply affected by the coronavirus crisis. It’s challenging enough to self-isolate in a well-stocked home. But for the many Canadians living on a low income, there is a heightened sense of anxiety. Food insecurity was already an urgent problem, with 1 in 8 Canadians struggling to put food on the table. Now, 1 in 7 people are experiencing food insecurity during the ongoing pandemic.

With The Big Social, you can connect in person or online, making this year’s Distance Edition the perfect way to give back during COVID-19. From October 9-25, raise funds, share food, have fun, show you care!

The best part is that anyone can host, and joining is as easy as 1-2-3. Go to www.bigsocial.ca to register to host. Once you’ve registered, you can set a fundraising goal for your dinner, and send out a (socially-distanced) invite to your friends, family or coworkers to join and support low-income communities through donations!

Your generous donation supports community members to eat well, cook healthy and take action on issues that affect their livelihood.

An example of donation breakdowns:

$30 can give seniors a healthy cooking session
$50 can provide fresh fruit and vegetables for a family
$75 can bring food literacy education to kids
$100 can grow a garden in low-income communities
$175 can help to open a new Community Food Centre

To stay safe and healthy, consider these virtual event themes:

1. Cross-country (or global!) cheers: The beauty of a virtual event is that you can “cheers” your friends across the country — or the world! 

2. PJ party: Because let’s be honest, there’s nothing quite like eating in your PJs. 

3. Beloved family recipes: Everyone can cook from the same recipe, follow a kitchen leader, or prep separately and then share the story behind the dish.

Register to host an event for The Big Social at www.bigsocial.ca.

For more, check out how FoodShare’s Paul Taylor breaks down food insecurity (and how Canadians can help) and how food injustice inspired this 23-year-old to start her own farm.

A Haitian Chef Reveals the Secret Ingredient to His Toronto Restaurant’s Success (Even During COVID)

Like most great chefs, Marc-Elie Lissade jumped at the opportunity to fill a global food gap in a major metropolis. After leaving Haiti at age 11, Lissade spent some time living in the United States before setting down roots in Toronto in the hopes of opening his own restaurant. And that’s when, in December 2019, Boukan was born – a Haitian food joint offering French-Creole street fare.

“Street food works in Toronto because it’s open to many styles of cuisine,” he says. “And we don’t already have a lot of Haitian or Creole cuisine here.”

Related: The Very Best Ways to Devour Street Food Around the World

Lissade excels at Haitian comfort foods (think: deep fried and delicious). Boukan is a vibrant space packed with eye-popping colour located on Toronto’s Kingston Road. The walls, dedicated to the work of local artists and signatures left behind by satisfied customers, illustrate the importance of ancestral ties and community.

His passion for food comes from his close bond with his grandma, a bona fide chef in her own right. Growing up, it was she who taught him many of the homemade seasonings and recipes that make Boukan such a hot spot destination for foodies.

It’s hard to deny how Lissade’s attention to history, family meals and community have become the main ingredients to his restaurant’s success (FYI: he also has his own catering company called Black Apron Events and garnered the top award from 2018’s Taste of the Caribbean!).

A Place in History

Given his penchant for connecting with family through food, it comes as no surprise that Lissade turned to his ancestral roots when brainstorming a restaurant name – in particular, a groundbreaking moment in Haitian history.

The Haitian Revolution is widely considered one of the most significant moments in the history of the Atlantic World. It lasted for more than a decade, beginning in August 1791 before concluding in January 1804 with the self-liberated slaves exerting independence over French colonial rule in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti). The event bears the distinction of being the only slave uprising to result in a state led entirely by non-white rulers and former captives.

Prior to the revolution, enslaved Haitians would gather around a campfire (boukan) to shares stories, dance and enjoy food together. It’s that specific aspect – a community coming together – that ultimately inspired Lissade to take a page from his ancestors’ history book for the name of his restaurant. “After 1804, Haitians were [finally] able to celebrate,” he says. “For me, Boukan is our culture and it represents history and a place of celebration.”

Family Ties

If one were to map out Lissade’s career trajectory, from his catering company Black Apron Events to Boukan, it would start with his grandma. At only eight years old, Lissade was a chef in training, assisting his grandma with her catering company – running around grabbing the ingredients and cookware she needed. Even now, any reference to his grandma will take Lissade on a trip down memory lane.

“I remember every Saturday night we’d have fritay [pronounced free-tie, a general term for fried food] and griyo [deep fried pork]. We’d sit down and she’d tell us stories,” he recalls. “We always looked forward to that.” (Griyo also happens to be his favourite recipe to make with his grandma, which Boukan customers can find on the menu).

Every family has its own fiercely guarded kitchen secrets that are passed on through generations. When asked if there’s a specific tip or secret ingredient that his grandma taught him over the years, Lissade gives a reluctant laugh. “Yes. It’s really about the process of [prepping] the food,” he says. “She taught me to cook with three senses: smell, sight and texture. When you’re cooking, you’re always running around tasting different things, so your taste buds change. [Slowing down and paying attention to] those senses is what helped her become a better cook. Now, at 32, I understand why she was cooking that way.”

Related: 15 Easy Cooking Techniques Everyone Should Learn to Master

A Place to Gather

There’s a real sense of community woven into the very fabric of Boukan, from the rotating work by local artists featured on the walls to recipe-sharing with fellow chefs.

“I wanted the place to be open to everybody,” he explains. “We all get stronger through collaboration with others.” And that collaboration takes on many forms.

For starters, Lissade rotates the artwork featured in his restaurant roughly once a month to make room for new pieces and local talent. “I don’t want to go to a restaurant where the same artwork has been on the wall for 15, 20 years,” he says. “Yes, this is a restaurant, but it’s also an art gallery where I open it to all local artists in Toronto. People can purchase it and it is full commission to them. I don’t take money from it because I know how hard it can be – unless you’re a Picasso.”

Even the story behind one of Lissade’s favourite “secret ingredients” has a communal backstory. “I have a close friend who lives in Miami and she’s a Haitian chef,” he says, citing her influence on one of the most popular recipes he’s crafted for the menu. “When I was opening Boukan I thought it’d be a crazy idea to offer a vegan burger. We [Haitians] love meat, but I wanted to be different.”

The result was the wildly popular Burger Boukanye featuring a plant-based patty, pickled onions, vegan Creole mayo and, the secret ingredient, djon djon – a rare black mushroom only found in northern Haiti. “I’m not vegan, but I thought it was so good,” Lissade says of his collaboration with his friend. “The seasoning in it is the one I learned from my grandma, so you can’t find it anywhere else.”

Related: Iconic Southern Comfort Food, From Cornbread to Fried Chicken

As for the global pandemic that shuttered the vast majority of businesses around the world, there was no way to predict the fallout for a restaurant as young as Boukan. “I was very worried,” he says. “We’re not even a year old, so when COVID happened I didn’t know what to do. We weren’t eligible for help from the government because we’d only been open for a few weeks last year.”

Enter: the very community he’s sought to bring together through food. “Thank God for the support of the Haitian community and our neighbours – they supported us like there’s no tomorrow. If it wasn’t for them, I think we would have been closed by now.”

To learn more about Boukan Owner and Executive Chef Marc-Elie Lissade, tune into the @AmexCanada #ShopSmallStories Twitter episode here. The Twitter Original series was created in partnership with American Express Canada in support of their Shop Small program, a national movement, backed by a Cardmember offer, to encourage Canadians to get behind their local small businesses and help revive communities.

Photos courtesy of North Agency