Tag Archives: recipe

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

Irresistible No-Bake Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

I’m over chocolate on Valentine’s Day, which is why we created this sultry two-bite dessert you can whip up for yourself, your sweetheart, or all your single gal pals! They’re vegan, raw and gluten-free, giving you just the energy boost you need for some alone time — or, staying up all night gawking at Tinder.

strawberry-cheesecake-bites

No-Bake Vegan Strawberry Cheesecake Bites

Ingredients:

Crust (makes 24 mini cheesecakes)
1 cup pecans
6 medjool dates
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/4 tsp sea salt

Filling
1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 3 hours)
1/2 cup frozen strawberry slices
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
2 Tbsp lemon juice

Swirl/Topping
1/2 cup frozen strawberries, melted

strawberry-cheesecake-bites3Read More: Lauren Toyota’s Fail-Safe Tips for Eating Plant-Based (And Loving It)

Directions:

Crust
1. Remove the pits from the medjool dates and soak them in warm water for 10 minutes. Drain the water from the dates and place in a food processor along with the remaining ingredients. Process until the nuts are crumbled and the crust is sticking together on its own.
2. Press about 1 1/2 tsp of the mixture into the bottom of each mini muffin cup.

Tip: To remove the cheesecakes easily from the tray, cut 4-inch strips of parchment paper and place those in the bottom of each cup. Press the crust mixture on top of these. Then when the cheesecakes are done setting in the freezer, you can pull on the parchment tabs to lift the cheesecakes out.

strawberry-cheesecake-bites2

Filling
1. Drain cashews from the soaking water and rinse under fresh water. Then add them to a high speed blender or Vitamix along with frozen strawberries, agave nectar, melted coconut oil, and lemon juice. Blend until smooth.
2. Pour this mixture into a bowl and set aside. Clean out the blender to make the strawberry puree for the swirl.

Swirl/Topping
1. Allow these strawberries to melt at room temperature or heat over low heat in sauce pan for a few minutes until soft. Then blend this in a blender into a smooth purée.
2. Take a scant Tbsp of the cashew filling and pour on top of the pressed crust. Then take 1/2 tsp of strawberry purée and dollop on top of the cashew filling. Take the end of a toothpick and swirl the two mixtures around to make a fun artsy pattern!
3. Freeze the cheesecakes for 1-2 hours until solid. Remove them from the mini muffin trays and allow to thaw for 10-15 minutes before biting into them.

Craving more plant-based Lauren Toyota recipes? See here for her Buckwheat Pancakes with Brandied Strawberries and Coconut Whip (pictured) and her Easy 2-Ingredient Vegan Peanut Butter Cups.

Minty Nanaimo Bars

Holly Jolly Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Just in time for the holidays, we’ve taken the traditional Canadian treat and dressed it up with an extra festive twist. We’ve kept the Nanaimo bar‘s classic, with a chewy base and creamy custard filling, but added a splash of peppermint to the chocolate glaze. Who doesn’t love mint and chocolate together? A quick sprinkling of crushed peppermint candies fancies up this simple yet nostalgic treat — perfect for any holiday dessert buffet!

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Cook Time:  30 minutes
Total Time:  80 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
Base:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly whisked
Pinch salt

Filling:
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbsp custard powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 to 4 Tbsp milk

Topping:
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 to 1 tsp  peppermint extract, or to taste
Crushed peppermint candies

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Directions:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, coconut, walnuts, cocoa, sugar and salt. Stir in melted butter and egg. Mix until evenly combined.
3. Dump the mixture into the prepared pan. Press/smooth into an even layer using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon.
4. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes, or until the top feels slightly firm. Allow to completely cool on a wire rack before adding the next layer.

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

For the Filling:
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth. Gradually add in the remaining ingredients until incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium and mix until smooth and creamy. Add a bit more milk and/or sugar as needed until the filling is a spreadable consistency.
2. Spread on top of cooled base with an offset spatula. Chill in refrigerator until slightly firm, about 20 minutes.

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

For the Topping:
1. Once the custard base has chilled, place chocolate, butter and coconut oil in the top portion of a double-boil. Melt over simmering water and stir until smooth. Add peppermint extract to taste.
2. Spread melted chocolate over chilled custard layer. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies and refrigerate until chocolate sets.
3. Once set, run a thin knife around the edges of the pan and pull out the squares using the parchment paper. Slice into 12 even bars using a large, sharp knife. Enjoy!

Peppermint Nanaimo Bars

Looking for more tasty recipes? Try these 10 Tasty Nanaimo Bar Recipes.

Chicken tortilla casserole

How to Host a Successful Freezer Meal Swap

From must-make recipes to time-saving tips, we’ve got everything you need to know about hosting the ultimate meal swap party . What’s a meal swap party? It’s a chance to meal prep with your friends and family, so you can all stock your freezers with a dinner stash that will last for months. So call up your friends and get ready for one great afternoon of cooking together.

Start with Freezer-Friendly Recipes

Deciding on recipes that freeze like a dream is the key to any successful meal swap party. While we love casseroles, soups and stews for freezing, this is the time to pull out all the stops. If you’ve been dying to try that recipe for cheesy lasagna made with slow-braised beef short ribs and pork belly, instead of regular ground beef, go for it. Everyone will appreciate the extra effort when they finally dig in to their freezer supply.

If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, start with these 12 Make-Ahead Meals You Can Freeze.

Beef stew and chicken tortilla casserole

Try Ree Drummond’s Chicken Tortilla Casserole or this Stew-Pendous Beef Stew with Biscuits.

Clear Out Space in the Fridge

Before your guests arrive, do an intense fridge and freezer clear out to ensure you’ve got enough space to accommodate all those meals you’re about to whip up. Take the opportunity to use up items you already have on hand, like frozen peas and corn for casseroles, fresh herbs and vegetables and even eggs, cheese and cream.

Have One Person Buy All The Food

Orchestrating a freezer meal swap party takes some next-level organization skills. Keep it as streamlined as possible by having one person do all the grocery shopping. This will minimize
waste and any chance of forgotten ingredients.

Make Work Stations

To run your cooking party with military precision, every recruit will need their own set of tools at their station — think chopping boards, a sharp knife (emphasis on ‘sharp’) and bowls to keep all those pre-chopped ingredients together. It’s also a good idea to ask guests to bring extra cooking vessels like pots and pans, to limit intermittent dishwashing and make the most out of your time.

Strategically Chop Your Veggies

Before you start, comb through each recipe to see how much chopped garlic, onions and fresh herbs you’ll need, and then designate a member of the group to tackle it all at once, making use of appliances like food processors and mandolins. Prepping all the ingredients ahead of time makes cooking and assembly that much faster.

Greta's-Shepherds-Pie

Another scrumptious recipe option is Shepherd’s Pie with “Squashed” Potatoes.

Make Sure You Have Enough Storage Containers

All those meals need to be portable, so ensuring there are sufficient food storage containers is key, especially if you want to maximize the number of meals each person gets to take home. One bonus to meal prep parties is that you often come out with more food than you bargained for, so plan accordingly. If your aim is to cook enough food to stretch into 15 take-home meals per person, it’s a good idea to budget enough containers so that everyone has 20. Also, don’t forget to label your meals clearly and include a simple ingredient list, the date it was made and cooking instructions.

Have Easy Snacks at the Ready

To have a marathon cooking day, you’re going to need sustenance. Ideally, things that don’t need to be cooked and don’t take too much time to prepare. We like the idea of a simple charcuterie board that guests can munch on throughout the afternoon or this idea for a DIY bruschetta bar.

Looking for more kitchen tips? Try our 20 Life-Changing Freezer Hacks.

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.

 

iced-coffee-pour-feature

How to Make Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee All Summer Long

Cool down in a flash with this simple iced coffee recipe that is crisp, refreshing, and delicious. Instead of waiting hours for cold brew, or chilling hot brewed coffee, this easy method requires brewing a coffee concentrate directly over ice. The result is an instantly chilled coffee that is ready to serve in less than 10 minutes.  The best part is that you don’t need fancy equipment—almost any manual drip or pour-over style brewing device with a filter will do. This easy method can also work with some automatic drip machines.

flash-iced-coffee-pouring

Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2.5 cups

Equipment:
A coffee brewer like a Chemex or a similar brewer that you use to make filter/drip coffee at home.
Kettle
Kitchen scale
Timer
Spoon

flash-iced-coffee-setup

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups (14 oz) hot water,  just finished boiling
2 cups (300 g) ice
1/2 cup (50 g) coffee grounds, medium

Directions:
1. Add ice to the carafe.
2. Place the coffee filter in the brew basket and add coffee grounds.
3. Position coffee brewer on top of a kitchen scale and set value to zero.
4. Start the timer and pour first 1/2 cup (4 oz) of hot water over coffee grounds in about 30 seconds. Gently stir the grounds with a spoon, making sure all of the coffee is fully soaked.

pour-over-flash-iced-coffee
5. After 1 minute, pour an additional 1/2 cup hot water (4 oz) over wet coffee grounds.
6. After 2 minutes, pour the remaining hot water over the coffee grounds for a total of 1 ¾ cups (14 oz).
7. Brew will finish dripping through coffee grounds after about 4:30-5 minutes.
8. Serve freshly brewed cold coffee over ice and enjoy!

final-iced-coffee-pour

Looking for more coffee knowledge? Learn how to brew the best cup of coffee ever.

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Upside-Down-feature

A Stunning Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake That’ll Steal the Show

If you’ve managed to stop yourself from eating all of summer’s sweet strawberries fresh off the vine (or from the farmer’s market), then we have a treat for you. Turn these summery jewels into a delicious upside-down cake! Simple and understated, upside-down cakes are great for casual picnics because they travel well and pretty enough for any summer gathering. In this case, we used bright strawberries and vibrant rhubarb for this sweet and slightly tart cake.  The caramelized fruit and tender cake are definite crowd pleasers. Top with pillowy whipped cream for a festive ruby-red and white pairing for Canada Day!

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Upside-Down-4

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake Recipe

Serves: 8 to 10
Bake time: 40 to 45 minutes
Total time: 1 ½ hours

Ingredients:
For the topping:
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ Tbsp heavy cream
2 cups strawberries, trimmed and sliced*
1 cup rhubarb, chopped into ½-inch pieces

*Slice small strawberries in half. For larger berries, cut into 3 to 4 slices, about ¼-inch thick.

For the cake:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
2 to 3 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract

mint for garnish, optional

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Upside-Down-3

Directions:

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch cake pan with butter and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. And the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until the sugar melts, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the vanilla and heavy cream until smooth. If needed, return to low heat, whisking, until smooth. Pour the caramel into the prepared cake pan. Carefully arrange the strawberries, cut-side down, on top of the caramel. Pack the strawberries closely together as they may shrink after baking. Sprinkle in about a third of the rhubarb to fill in any gaps between the berries.

3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large mixing bowl using a hand mixer), mix the butter and sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. With the mixer on medium-low, add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

5. Add half of the flour mixture and mix to combine on low. Stream in the buttermilk until incorporated. Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Stop the mixer and fold in the remaining rhubarb.

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Upside-Down-1

6. Tip the batter into the pan, on top of the strawberries. Smooth out the top of the cake and bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the finished cake to rest for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, run a thin knife around the inside edge of the cake pan. Place a large cake plate on the top of the cake pan, and very carefully (using oven mitts) flip the cake plate and cake pan upside-down. Remove the cake pan and allow the cake to continue to cool.

7. Meanwhile, whip the cream and sugar together with a whisk (by hand or electric) until medium peaks. Add in the vanilla and whisk again until combined.

8. Serve the cake with a dollop of whipped cream and a fresh sprig of mint, if desired.

Strawberry-Rhubarb-Upside-Down-02

Looking for more delicious strawberry treats? Try our 45 Best Strawberry Desserts to Celebrate Summer.

Butter Tart Cheesecake

The Best Maple Butter Tart Cheesecake Recipe

The classic Canadian butter tart has many variations – pecans or raisins, firm or runny filling, crispy or flaky pastry — and everyone has their favourite combo. If there’s one thing that all Canadians can agree on, it is the fact that butter tarts are one of the most delicious desserts out there. So why not go one step further and combine your favourite Canadian sweet treat with another indulgent dessert — cheesecake. The result is a sweet and salty combination that gets topped with butter tart filling and lots of pecans for extra crunch!

Butter Tart Cheesecake

Maple Butter Tart Cheesecake

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes + chill time
Makes: 10 slices

Ingredients:

Crust:
1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 tsp salt

Cheesecake:
1 (250g) pkg cream cheese
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
3 Tbsp maple syrup
1/2 cup 35% whipping cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt

Maple Pecan Sauce:
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp 35% cream
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Butter Tart Cheesecake

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter an 8-inch round springform pan.
2. In a large bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt. Firmly press graham cracker crumb mixture into bottom of greased pan and push 1 inch up the side. Bake until golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
3. In a large bowl combine cream cheese and brown sugar. Using an electric mixer beat until well combined and fluffy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in maple syrup, cream, butter and salt.
4. Wrap bottom of the pan with aluminium foil. Pour in filling and place in a roasting pan. Pour boiling water into roasting pan about 1 inch up the side. Bake until edges are set and middle still has a jello-like wobble, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes. Remove pan from water and let cool, about 1 hour. Remove from tin, cover and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight to chill completely before serving.
5. When ready to serve, make the sauce. In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, maple syrup, cream, salt and pecans. Bring to a boil and let bubble for 2 minutes, until slightly thickened. Serve drizzled over cheesecake.

Butter Tart Cheesecake

Looking for more butter tart goodness? Try our Best Butter Tart Recipes.

Bumble Bee Cake

Bee-utifully Sweet Spring Honey Cake

With whimsical bumblebees swarming around a beehive-shaped cake, this honey and apricot dessert is perfect for a springtime birthday party. The slight tartness of the apricot filling pairs perfectly with the sweet and smooth honey buttercream icing. The simple shape is easy to carve, and just a swirl of buttercream transforms an ordinary layer cake into an edible birthday centerpiece. The best part? The marzipan bumblebees are super fun (and simple!) to make with a few basic cake-decorating tools.

Spring Bumble Bee Birthday Cake

Bumble Bee Birthday Cake

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Makes: 8-10 servings

Ingredients:

Honey Butter Cake
3 cups cake flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup honey
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Honey Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3-1/2 to 4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup honey, or to taste
2 tsp vanilla extract
Yellow gel food coloring

Assembly
1/2 cup apricot preserves
6 marzipan bees (See instructions below)

Spring bumble bee cake

Directions:

Honey Butter Cake
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour four 6-inch cake pans and set aside.
2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
3. Measure the milk and honey in a liquid measuring cup and set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth.
5. Add in the sugar and mix until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
6. With the mixer on low, add in the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
7. Stop the mixer, and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
8. With the mixer on low, add in 1/2 of the flour mixture. Pour in the milk and honey mixture, scraping out any remaining honey if necessary.
9. Add the remaining flour mixture and mix on medium-low until combined.
10. Evenly distribute the batter between the four pans. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.
11. Let cool on wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Honey Buttercream
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and cream cheese on medium until smooth.
2. With the mixer on low, gradually add in the sugar, honey and vanilla.
3. Once everything begins to combine, turn the mixer up the medium-high.
4. Continue mixing until the buttercream is light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.
5. Add in the gel food coloring, a few drops at a time, until desired shade is reached.
6. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap until use.

Bumble bee cake

Assembly
1. Once the cakes are completely cool, trim to tops so that each layer is flat.
2. Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium round tip with some of the buttercream and set aside.
3. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake board or serving dish.
4. Pipe a ring of buttercream around the top, outer edge of the cake. Fill in the buttercream dam with about 1/3 cup of apricot preserves.
5. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.
6. Pipe a double ring of buttercream on top of the third layer of cake and fill with about 1/4 cup of apricot preserves.
7. Use any remaining buttercream left in the piping bag to fill in the gaps between the layers of cake. Use an off-set spatula to smooth out.
8. Chill in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes, or until the buttercream firms up a bit.
9. Once chilled, use a serrate knife to carve the cake into a beehive-shape. Taking only a little bit off a time, carve the cake until the top is shaped like a dome.
10. Once carved, crumb coat the cake with the honey buttercream. Chill to set about 10 to 15 minutes.
11. Frost the entire cake with buttercream.
12, Set the cake on top of a cake turntable. Place the tip of a metal spatula near the bottom of the cake. Gently press into the frosting and spin the cake. As you spin, slowly bring the tip of the spatula up the side of the cake and over the top to create the spiral texture.
13. Finish with the marzipan bees while the frosting is still soft.

Bumble Bees

Marzipan Bees

Materials:
7 oz marzipan
Rolling pin
Paring knife
Piping tip
Thin paint brush
Yellow gel food coloring
Black gel food coloring

Bumble Bees How to

Directions:

1. Tint about 3 ounces of marzipan yellow and 1 to 2 ounces black.
Divide the yellow marzipan into about 6 half-ounce balls (about the size of a large gumball) then roll into a bee shape.
2. Use the end of a thin paintbrush to indent two eyes and the large opening of a small piping tip to create a smile. Set aside.
3. Roll out the black marzipan to about 1/8-inch thick.
4. Use the paring knife to cut thin strips. Wrap the strips of black marzipan around the body of the bees and secure by gently pressing the ends into the belly of the bees.
5. Re-roll the remaining black marzipan. Use the large, round opening of the piping tip to cut out one circle per bee. Adhere the black circle to the back ends of the bees.

Bumble Bees
6. Roll out plain (untinted) marzipan to about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick. 7. Using the large, round opening of the piping tip, cut out two circles per bee. Pinch the tips and elongate the circles slightly to create wings.
8. Press the tips together on the backs of the bees.
9. Roll two tiny balls of plain marzipan per bee to create the eyes.
10 Gently press them into the indented eye markings.
11. Lightly dip the end of the paintbrush in the black gel food coloring and mark the centers of the eyes. Let dry.

Looking for more great birthday party ideas? Check out our Winter Wonderfuland Birthday Party or our 25 Best Birthday Cakes.

halloween-porch-party-pumpkins

How to Host a Spooktacular Halloween Porch Party

Growing up in Australia, we didn’t celebrate Halloween. No jack o’lanterns, costumes or going door-to-door collecting candy from neighbours.

Now that I’m teaching at an elementary school in Canada, the growing excitement of Halloween is impossible to avoid, with kids planning their costumes weeks in advance of the big night. Living in a neighbourhood filled with families, it’s fun to see their creative costumes and hand out treats to all the little ghouls and goblins. These days, we make an evening of it – setting ourselves up on the front porch with snacks, drinks and dinner and play host to condo-dwelling friends who don’t have trick or treaters. It’s become an annual event that’s a fun, no-fuss way celebrate Halloween, enjoy time with friends and catch up with neighbours without leaving your front porch! Over the past decade, we’ve got the hosting of this porch party down to a fine art. If you’d like to throw your own front-porch soiree, here are our best tips for a spooktacular evening outside.

Spooky eye bark recipe

The Treats

Arguably the most important part. If you have the willpower buy treats earlier rather than later, you’ll get a better selection. Don’t leave it until 5 p.m. on Halloween night because often by then, stores are sold out or won’t have the treats you want.  Buy treats with the “nut free” symbol on it so they are safe for everyone.

Plan your treats accordingly –  if you’re ok with a few leftovers (i.e. you haven’t already been eating treat-sized candy for weeks!) buy candy you enjoy.  The best way to avoid leftovers is to buy the right amount of treats – if you’re unsure, ask neighbours how many they typically hand out on Hallowe’en.

If you have guests joining your porch party, have them bring some treats too (make sure they buy something different so you have a good selection).

And hey – if you’ve got leftover candy, you can always make this cute candy bark.

Check the Weather and be Prepared

Sometimes, Halloween evening can be pretty chilly, especially after the sun goes down. Make sure you are dressed properly (layers work well here) and have gloves handy. Make sure you have comfortable cushions and lots of blankets for your porch party guests too.

chli-lime-pumpkin-seeds

Don’t Forget the Snacks

If you’re trying to avoid eating the candy before you hand it out (and while you wait for dinner to heat up), make some snackable items in advance. Since you’ll probably be carving your pumpkin anyway, save the seeds and make this spicy lime version.

And popcorn is always a good idea.

alberta-beef-stew

Don’t Forget to Eat Dinner!

If you’re not careful, Halloween dinner might end up being just treats and snacks but if you plan in advance, it can be the highlight of the night. As I rarely make it home before 5 p.m. and by this stage, many of the younger kids have already started trick or treating, there’s no time to prep dinner.  With a little planning, you can prepare a hearty dish that’s easy to reheat in the oven when you get home (or in the slow cooker in the morning) and serve family style on the porch.

A bowl of chili on a chilly night is always a good idea. This one tastes even better the next day so prep it the night before for an easy meal on the night.

Soup is a tasty way to stay warm. How about this hearty winter minestrone? Beef stew (made in the slow cooker) takes the fuss out of dinner in between trick-or-treaters. And lasagna is an easy dish to make the day before so all you have to do is pop it in the oven to warm up while you hand out the treats!

These are all great choices to feed a crowd and are easy to prepare in advance. That way you can pop them in the oven to reheat while you get started handing out treats!

slow-cooker-mulled-wine

Thirsty?

It’s always a good idea to have a selection of beverages (hot and cold, alcoholic and non-alcoholic) to serve your guests (and hey, the parents who accompany their kids trick or treating!). On cold evenings, a big slow cooker filled with mulled wine hits the spot! Remember paper cups for those parents who are taking their warm drinks along with them.

What about you – what are your Halloween evening traditions?

Chickpea-Fritters-Tzatziki-feature

The Crispy Chickpea Recipe You’ll Make Again and Again

Golden, crunchy chickpea fritters are a perfect match with a bright and tangy tzatziki. Pair them together as a dainty, dippable appetizer or turn the fritters into a salad topper that beats any crouton. Change it up by nestling the fritters and tzatziki in a large, soft flatbread with slices of fresh tomato and lettuce for a Greek twist on a falafel wrap, or make them into sliders using mini pita pockets or baby burger buns.

Chickpea Fritters and Tzatziki

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Soaking and Chilling Time: 12 hours 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Makes: 12 Chickpea Fritters, 2 cups Creamy Cucumber Tzatziki

Ingredients:
Chickpea Fritters:
1 cup dry chickpeas
1 clove garlic
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup refined avocado oil or grapeseed oil, for frying
½ cup cooked chickpeas, for garnish, optional
1 Tbsp tender fresh herb leaves (oregano, parsley, mint, etc.), for serving

Chickpea-Fritters-Tzatziki-9-copy

Tzatziki:
1 English cucumber
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
½ clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
1 Tbsp lemon juice
½ tsp salt
⅛ tsp ground black pepper
⅛ tsp red pepper flakes, more for serving
1 Tbsp tender fresh herb leaves (oregano, parsley, mint, etc.), for serving

Tzatziki

Directions:

Chickpea Fritters:
1. Add chickpeas to a large bowl and cover with at least 4 inches of water. Allow to sit at room temperature at least 12 hours or overnight. After soaking, drain and rinse well.
2. In a food processor, pulse garlic, cilantro, flour, baking powder, cumin and salt until minced. Pulse in lemon juice and olive oil. Add soaked and drained chickpeas to the food processor and pulse until finely minced and mixture is just combined.
3. Line a large rimmed baking sheet. Scoop chickpea mixture into portions of approximately 3 tablespoons, placing them on the baking sheet and gently forming into 1/2-inch-tall discs. Freeze for 30 minutes for mixture to absorb flour and firm up.
4. Preheat oven to 200ºF. In a large cast-iron or high-sided skillet, add avocado or grapeseed oil and heat over medium-high.
5. To test oil temperature, drop a small fritter crumb into oil – it should sizzle. Using a metal spatula, very gently add fritters to hot oil in two batches, cooking for about 5 to 6 minutes per side, until golden brown and cooked through. If browning too quickly, lower the element temperature. Transfer pan-fried fritters to a wire cooling rack set over a large rimmed baking sheet. When all fritters are cooked, keep warm in oven while preparing tzatziki.

Chickpea Fritters

Tzatziki:
1. Grate cucumber, add to a fine-mesh sieve and press to extract as much liquid as possible. Add to a large bowl with remaining tzatziki ingredients – except red pepper flakes and herbs – and mix to combine. Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with additional olive oil, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and scatter over herbs.

Assembly:
Transfer fritters to a serving plate, sprinkle with additional chickpeas, if desired, and garnish with fresh herbs. Serve fritters warm with tzatziki.

Chickpea-Fritters-Tzatziki-5

Looking for more recipes? Try these Chickpea Recipes to Keep Your Heart Happy.

Braided Pie

3 Pretty Ways to Top Your Pie

As we move away from fruit-filled summer pies and head into fall, it’s time to conquer a classic pie crust and add some decorative designs to our baking bag of tricks. From skinny, wide and braided lattice tops to fluted edges and free-from cut outs, the combinations are just as endless and creative as the fillings inside.

In general, the cooler you keep the dough and the less it’s handled, the better it’ll be to work with. However, this is easier said than done. When rolling out dough or making decorative pieces, limit the amount of kneading as well as the use of additional flour. If the dough becomes too tacky or warm, just pop it back in the refrigerator for a bit. When gathering scraps to re-roll, try to layer them on top of each other to keep the baked crust flaky. Got leftovers? Wrap them well in plastic, and store in the freezer for up to a few months.

Whether you weave an intricate, plaid design or go with a more traditional, rustic top crust, one thing is for sure: you’re going to have one delicious pie.

Braided Pie

Braided Pie
This contemporary design gives great coverage to the top of a pie, but with some extra whimsy. Braid lengths of pie dough together and fit them over the top of the filling. Try varying the widths of the braids and the space in between for different looks!

You’ll Need:
Double-crusted pie dough
Filling of choice
Egg-wash (optional)
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions:
1. Prepare bottom crust and fill the pie. Chill for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, roll out top crust to about 1/4-inch into a large rectangular shape.
3. Using a ruler and pastry wheel or sharp paring knife, cut dough into long, 3/4-inch strips. You’ll need about 15 to 21 strips, depending on desired thickness and spacing in between.

Braided Pie
4. Gather strips into sets of 3. Pinch tops of each set together.
5. Keeping strips flat, begin a classic 3-strand braid. Trying not to stretch dough, braid the length of each set of strands. The longest braid should be slightly longer than the diameter of pie pan.
6. Lay braids over pie filling, parallel to each other.

Braided Pie
7. Trim braids so they overhang the edge of the pie by 1/2 to 3/4-inch on each side.
8. Fold excess dough from bottom crust up and over edges of the braids and press together.

Braided Pie
9. To create a fluted edge, pinch the dough between the thumb of your dominant hand the thumb and index finger of the opposite hand. Continue around the entire edge of the pie.
10. Refrigerate pie for 15 to 30 minutes as the oven pre-heats.
Brush with an egg-wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar (if desired), and bake according to your recipe or until golden brown.

Lattice-Pie

Classic Lattice Pie
Think fresh apple pie chilling on a windowsill. This basic design weaves strips of pie dough together to create a classic top crust. The over-under technique is not difficult to master, and once you’ve got it down, the designs are endless! Try weaving skinny pieces or wide pieces, or a combination to create a fun plaid. You could even sneak in a few braided pieces, too.

You’ll Need:
Double-crusted pie dough
Filling of choice
Egg-wash (optional)
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions:
1. Prepare bottom crust and fill the pie. Chill for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, roll out top crust to about 1/4 to 1/8 inch into a large, oval shape.
3. Using a ruler and pastry wheel or sharp paring knife, cut dough into 1 to 2-inch wide strips. The centre strips should be slightly longer than the diameter of the pie pan. You’ll need about 6 to 10 strips to create the lattice top, depending on desired width and spacing in between.

Lattice Pie
4. Lay 1/2 of strips over top of filling, all in the same direction.
5. Gently pull back and fold over every-other strip about halfway.
6. Lay 1 strip perpendicular to first set, next to folded edges, then replace folded strips over top of the newest strip to start the weave.
7. From the first set, gently pull back strips that did not get folded during the last round.

Lattice Pie
8. Repeat step 6 with another strip.
9. Continue this over-under motion with the remaining strips until the weave covers the entire top of the pie.
10. Trim strips so they overhang the edge of pie pan by about 1 inch.
11. Gently tuck both the overhanging pieces from top lattice and bottom crust under and press together all the way around the pie.

Lattice Pie
12. Crimp pieces together and press into the edge of the pie pan firmly with tines of a fork. Make sure each piece is secure. Refrigerate pie for 15 to 30 minutes as the oven pre-heats.
13. Brush with an egg-wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar (if desired) and bake according to your recipe or until golden brown.

 

fishtail lattice pie

Fishtail Cut-Out Pie
Once you’ve got your lattice and braids down, try combining both techniques together in this show-stopping pie. A tight lattice covers the centre while a double, five-strand fishtail braid creates the border. A few free-form leaves add extra flair and even hide the seams of the braids.

You’ll Need:
2 to 3 single crust pie dough
Flling of choice
Egg-wash (optional)
Turbinado sugar (optional)

Directions:
1. Prepare the bottom crust and fill the pie. Chill for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, roll out half of the remaining dough about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick.
3. Using a ruler and a pastry wheel or sharp paring knife, cut very thin strips, about 1/2 inch wide and 7 to 8 inches long. You’ll need about 16 to 20 strips.
4. Following the directions of classic lattice design, weave together thin strips on top of the filled pie, leaving a 1 to 2 inch boarder around the edges. Fold over or trim any overhanging pieces of bottom crust. Place back in refrigerator.

fishtail pie braid
5. Roll out the remaining dough to about 1/4-inch thick. Using a ruler and pastry wheel or sharp paring knife, cut dough into long, thin strips.
6. Gather the strips into sets of 5. Pinch tops of each set together.
7. Keeping strips flat, begin a 5-strand, fishtail braid. Fan out all 5 strips. Taking the furthest strip from the right, cross it over the 2 strands closest to it and place it in the centre of the other 4.
8. Next, take the furthest strip from the left and cross it over 2 strands closest to it and place in the new centre.
9. Continue to braid the length of the braid, bringing the outmost strip over and into the centre.
10. Use braid to create a double-boarder around the pie, from the edge of the pan to the lattice centre.

fishtail pie crust
11. You’ll need several braids per ring. Braid ends of braids together or trim and press to seal. Use bit of egg wash to secure in place, if necessary.
12. With any remaining dough, roll out to about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick.
13. Use a sharp paring knife to cut a free-form leaves.
14. Use back of a paring knife to score leaf patterns on each leaf.
15. Arrange leaves on top of the pie, or where the braids meet to cover the seams.

fishtail pie leaves
16. Refrigerate pie for 15 to 30 minutes as oven pre-heats.
17. Brush with egg-wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar (if desired) and bake according to your recipe or until golden brown.

fishtail pie finish

Looking for more pie-spiration? Check out these 10 Tips from Bakers for Perfect Pastry Art.

Jerk Chicken Wings

Turn Up The Heat With These Jerk Chicken Wings

If you’ve ever been to Toronto in July, chances are you’ve experienced Caribana. Since 1967, the festival has been a bright, colourful and delicious celebration of Caribbean culture. If you can’t make to the festival, you can still celebrate by making these spicy jerk chicken wings right at home.

The key to jerk seasoning’s delicious burn is the scorching Scotch bonnet peppers. Dial down the heat by removing the seeds and using as many or as few peppers as you desire.

jerk chicken wings

Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Total Time: 2 hours 45 min
Serves: 1 to 2 people

Ingredients:
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp brown sugar
6 garlic cloves
3 green onions
2 to 3 small Scotch Bonnets, seeds removed
1 1/2-in piece fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme
1 Tbsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 lbs chicken wings

jerk chicken wings cooking

Directions:
1. Combine oil with soy sauce, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, green onions, scotch bonnets, ginger, thyme, allspice and cinnamon in a blender. Purée until smooth, then pour into a large bowl.
2. Add chicken wings, then toss to coat. Let marinate, in refrigerator, for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 500°F. Line a baking sheet with foil. Set a wire rack on prepared sheet. Spray rack with oil. Transfer wings to rack. Reserve marinade.
4. Roast wings in centre of oven, turning once and brushing with reserved marinade, until crispy and cooked through, about 30 minutes.
5. Remove pan from oven and let stand until cool enough to touch, about 5 minutes. Serve with lime wedges.

Tip: Enjoy these wings on their own or skewer them for an impressive garnish for a cool and refreshing Caesar cocktail.

jerk chicken wing caesar

Summer Berry Sangria

1 Bottle of Wine, 3 Sangrias to Sip All Summer

Nothing says summer quite like sipping some sangria on a patio. It’s cool and refreshing, and eating the fruit that’s been soaking up the wine means it’s a drink with a snack included.

Summer Berry Sangria

While we tend to think of sangria in its most traditional form – red wine and brandy with orange juice, apples and wheels of lemon and lime – any bottle of wine can be transformed with a little fruit and liqueur.

One bottle of Sauvignon Blanc can be transformed into a hundred variations of sangria, from the sweet and sparkly to a deeply cooling version that refreshes with cucumber instead of fruit. Here are three new and tasty ways to kick off your summer with sangria.

Summer Berry Sangria

Summer Berry Sparkling Sangria
Brightly coloured berries really pop against the background of a white wine, so this sangria is perfect when the summer heat sends raspberries, strawberries and blackberries to the farmers’ markets. Tumble any combination you like of the berries into a pitcher, add a bit of simple syrup – depending on how sweet you like your sangria – and then let it all sit in the fridge to infuse those flavours. When ready to serve, pour in a bottle of sparkling wine for some bubbles and top with fresh mint leaves.

Tropical Sangria

Tropical Fiesta Sangria
Give your sangria a tropical twist by using fruits that are a little more exotic. Tangy pineapple and sweet mango are excellent; papaya is also great. You can also thinly slice some kiwis for a little pop of green colour and some lemon for a hit of citrus. Adding in Cointreau – or another brand of orange-flavoured liqueur – will give a nice undertone and plays well with the tropical fruit.

Cucumber Gin Sangria

Gin-Cucumber Sangria
For something completely different and incredibly refreshing, taking a page from another summer classic, the gin and tonic, and make a Gin-Cucumber Sangria. This one starts with Sauvignon Blanc and then gets a botanical and floral infusion by swishing in elderflower liqueur and gin – go for one with a particularly botanical or floral bend for full flavour, like Hendrick’s. Slices of lime add some tang, while mint makes it suitably refreshing. Finally, thin slices of cucumber bring some coolness to the mix.

Looking for more delicious summer cocktails? Learn how to make Ina Garten’s Rose Sangria.

Singapore Chili Sauce: You’ll Want to Put This All-Star Sauce on Everything!

Late-night eats call for those foods that hit all these crave-worthy notes: crunchy, salty, fatty, tangy, bright. These are the flavours and sensations the judges were looking for in the seventh episode of Top Chef Canada: All-Stars where the chefs had to create their ultimate late night eat.

TCC-Episode-7-Dennis-Tay-singapore-chili-shrimp

Dennis Tay felt panic as the judges approached his station, but he was needlessly worried; they loved his Fried Shrimps with Singapore Chili Sauce and Green Garlic-Butter Rice Noodles and he was in the top four for the challenge. (Resident Judge Mijune Pak was literally dancing as she ate the dish; there’s fewer compliments higher than that.)

Inspired by his own cravings after service for noodles and fried seafood, Dennis created a dish that combined those with his love of Asian flavours.

Since we can’t have Dennis whipping up fried shrimp with a Singapore Chili Sauce for us at home, the next best thing is to make chili sauce ourselves.

Typically used in combination with crab or as a condiment for Hainanese Chicken, this spicy sauce combines the hot, sour, sweet and salty flavours that Southeast Asia is known for. The key is in the balance. Yes, it should be delightfully spicy – it is a chili sauce, after all – but not to the point it overpowers the tang of lime and vinegar, the heat of the ginger and the garlic flavour. Tasting it to get all those flavours in equilibrium is essential.

Gwendolyn-Richards-Singapore-Chili-Sauce

While spicy heat is key, I’ve called for juicy, long red chilies here for spiciness that doesn’t completely suppress the other flavours. To really spike the spice, either leave in the seeds or consider throwing in a bird’s eye chili or two.

Singapore Chili Sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Serves: Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients:
4 long, red chilies
3/4-inch piece of ginger, about as thick as a thumb
3 cloves garlic
2 tabelspoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons lime juice
splash sesame oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 to 4 tablespoons chicken stock, hot

Directions:
1. Chop off the chili stems, slice in half lengthwise and remove the ribs and seeds.
2. Peel and roughly chop the ginger and garlic.
3. To a food processor, add the chilies, ginger and garlic and blitz a few times before adding the vinegar, lime juice, sesame oil, salt and sugar. Puree thoroughly.
4. Depending on how thin of a sauce you want, add a few tablespoons of the hot chicken stock. Puree the sauce again.
5. Check the seasonings, adding more salt, sugar, lime or vinegar if needed.
6. This sauce will keep for several days in the fridge.

How to Win at Dessert: Use Versatile Pâte à Choux for All-Stars Treats

From profiteroles – or, as we more commonly know them, cream puffs – to savoury, cheesy gougeres, towers of spun-sugar caged croquembouche and chocolate eclairs – all are built on one simple recipe: pâte à choux. This pastry is airy, light and hollow – which makes it ideal for filling with delicious things. Top-Chef-Canada-Episode-6-Nicole-Gomes-Paris-Brest Nicole Gomes’s Paris-Brest with Apple-Rhubarb Compote and Ginger Pastry Cream celebrating Canada’s 150th Birthday. When it doesn’t work out, as chef Nicole Gomes unfortunately had happened to her in the sixth episode of Top Chef Canada: All-Stars, the pastry was dense, heavy and hard to cut. The difference here between the two comes down to technique. Croquembouche Anna Olson’s impressive croquembouche.  Pâte à choux’s name reflects the dough’s cabbage-like appearance when baked. A fundamental part of the world of French pastry, it forms the backbone of many a dessert, including:

    • Profiteroles or Cream Puffs – small puffs of choux pastry, often filled with pastry cream, ice cream or sweetened whipped cream and dipped in a chocolate glaze.
    • Chouquettes – essentially profiteroles, but topped with pearl sugar before baking.
    • Croquembouche – A tower of profiteroles, held together by caramelized sugar and typically encased in a spun-sugar cage.
    • Eclairs – like profiteroles but oblong in shape.
    • Paris-Brest – named for the famed bicycle race, it is shaped like a wheel.
    • Honore Cake – A dessert with a puff pastry base that is topped with pastry or whipped cream and encircled on top with profiteroles.
    • Gougeres – a savoury profiterole, the choux pastry is augmented with cheese and sometimes herbs.

So, how to ensure you’ll have a Top Chef Canada-worthy pastry? Well, understanding the science behind pâte à choux is a good place to start. Whereas cakes and cookies rely on baking soda and baking powder to give them lift – created by a chemical reaction between the leaveners and other ingredients – the puff in a cream puff comes from steam being released. The water in the dough is heated as they bake and starts to expand, but the shell of the pastry has already started to cook, so that steam creates a ballooning effect. The result is a hollow dessert waiting to be filled. Laura-Calders-French-Food-At-Home-Gougeres A savoury treat: Laura Calder’s Gougeres made with gruyere cheese.

The ingredients are simple: butter, water, flour, eggs and a bit of salt. It’s the technique here that matters. Think of pâte à choux as a four-step process: two parts for making the dough and two parts when it’s baking.

The dough starts with one part butter and two of water – or a water-milk combination – that are brought to a simmer and then combined with flour. It’s key to add the flour all in one go and then keep stirring the mixture without stopping for several minutes to cook out that raw flour flavour and start drying the dough a bit. Good news: this is an excellent arm workout.

If you want to keep working your arms, you can transfer the dough to a bowl and add the eggs while continuing to stir, but feel free to move to a stand mixer or pull out your handheld one for the next step. The addition of eggs is where intuition needs to take precedence. Adding too much egg will lead to a runny dough and that means flattened pastries. Instead, add them one at a time while mixing and resist the last one if the dough is glossy and soft, but holds its shape when scooped.

Bake-with-Anna-Olson-profiteroles-eclairs Baking Queen Anna Olson’s eclairs and profiteroles.

A piping bag can be used to make the desired pastry shapes, but dolloping the dough with a spoon to make profiteroles works just as well. If piping, dip the end of your finger in a bit of water and smooth out any tips on the dough that could overbake.

Now the dough is ready for the oven. The key here is to start at a higher temperature and then reduce it. That initial blast of heat will help them puff as the water evaporates; the lower temperature will help them finish baking without overcooking. For best results, the tip of a sharp knife should be used to pierce the bottom of the pastry as soon it’s out of the oven to let any residual steam escape and keep it from getting soggy. These vents are perfect for then piping in pastry cream. The result should be a light and crisp outer shell with a virtually hollow interior. All choux pastries are best when eaten on the same day they’re made – which, really, is the perfect excuse to finish them all off.

Spring-Pastel-Eclairs Try these eclairs with pretty pastel-coloured glazes.

Pâte à Choux
Cooking Time:
45 minutes
Serves: 20 to 25 profiteroles or about 10 eclairs

Ingredients:
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, bring the water, milk, butter and salt to a simmer. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add all the flour at once, stirring vigorously until the dough is no longer sticking to the side of the pot.
3. Transfer the dough to a bowl and, using a stand mixer or handheld beaters, mix in the eggs, one at a time, making sure they are fully incorporated before adding the next one.
4. Scoop or pipe the dough into mounds on the parchment paper-lined baking sheet for profiteroles, smoothing over any points with a wet finger. (For eclairs, pipe oblong shapes.)
5. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 375°F and bake for another 15 minutes or so. The pastries should be puffed and nicely golden.
6. Using the tip of a sharp knife or a toothpick, poke a hole in the side or the base of the pastry to vent any extra steam.
7. Cool completely before filling with ice cream, sweetened whipped cream, pastry cream or even savoury fillings.

Filling Recipes:
Laura Calder’s Pastry Cream
Savoury Cream Cheese Profiteroles

Want more tips? Watch Anna Olson make her version of pâte à choux along with her recipes for Profiteroles, Croquembouche and Gateau St. Honore.

Cider Can Chicken is the New (and Better) Beer Can Chicken

We’re all familiar with the classic beer can chicken recipe. We’re taking this fantastic summer staple to the next level by swapping out beer and replacing it with a dry Canadian cider. The result is a juicy chicken with notes of sweet apples. In case that isn’t enough, we finish the recipe by taking all those delicious chicken drippings and making a sweet and savory cider-based gravy that’s so good, you’ll earn the must-deserved title of grill master.

Cider Can Chicken

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
1 4lb whole chicken
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp salt
1 473 mL can of dry cider
2 sprigs rosemary
1 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard

Cider Can Chicken

Directions:
1. Remove neck and giblets from chicken. Rub entire chicken with olive oil and season with salt.
2. Pour out 1/3 of the cider (or drink it) and place the can into the cavity of the chicken. Arrange the chicken so it balances on top of the can.
3. Place a cast iron pan over indirect heat on a grill preheated to medium-high. Place the can with chicken in the centre of the pan.
4. Place rosemary sprigs in the cast iron pan. Close the lid of the grill and let cook until juices run clear from thigh and chicken is golden brown, about 1 hour.
5. Remove chicken and can from pan and let rest. Move the cast iron pan over direct heat. Let liquid reduce by half, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, remove rosemary and stir in mustard until combined. Remove can from the chicken, carve chicken and serve with gravy.

Cider Can Chicken

 

Want more delicious beer recipes? Watch this video for 5 Things to Make with Beer

 

matzoh-brie

The Ultimate Cinnamon-Strawberry Matzo Brei for Passover

If you’re a pancake or French toast fanatic, it can be tough to find an equally delicious breakfast during Passover. Sweet matzo brei is the perfect solution. Similar to French toast, matzo is soaked in an egg mixture and fried in butter until golden and crispy. It’s super satisfying, delicious and comes together in a snap!

matzo brei strawberry

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2

Ingredients:
3 sheets matzo (you can use egg matzo, gluten-free or any other type)
2 eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp butter
1/4 cup strawberry preserves
5 strawberries, sliced matzo brei berry

Directions:
1. Break matzo into mismatched pieces and place in a bowl. Run water over matzo for 20 seconds then drain.
2. Beat together eggs, milk, sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Place wet matzo in mixture and let soak for 1 minute.
3. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium. Add matzo and pour in any residual egg mixture. Let cook for 1 minute, then stir using a rubber spatula, scraping the sides. The matzo will break apart. Cook, while stirring until egg is cooked through, about 2 minutes.
4. Remove from heat and divide between two plates. Top with strawberry preserves and fresh strawberries.

Looking for more delicious recipes? Try these 10 Delicious Things to Make with Matzo.

S'more Cookie Pizza Featured Image

5 Genius Ways to Hack Store-Bought Cookie Dough

Chocolate chip cookies deserve praise for their modesty and simplicity, but sometimes you want to shake up your dessert game. We’ve got five recipes that use store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough and surpass the humble beginnings of just a plain ol’ cookie. So grab a log of that dough and get ready to give your chocolate chip cookies a new groove.

Cookie smore tart pie

Chocolate Chip Cookie S’more Tart
Press a log of cookie dough into a 9-inch pie plate and up the sides in an even layer. Chill in freezer for 10 minutes. Bake in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes. Let cool. Set oven to broil. Place marshmallows over cookie base to fill the pie. Place under the broiler for 10 seconds. Immediately sprinkle chocolate chucks over top of marshmallows to melt.

Oreo Cookies

Oreo-Centered Cookie
Wrap 3 Tbsp of cookie dough around an Oreo cookie. Bake in a 350°F oven on greased cookie sheet until edges are golden, about 10 minutes.

banana cookie muffins

Banana-Chocolate Chip Muffins
Let a log of cookie dough come to room temperature. Line a 24 cup mini muffin tin with paper liners. Mash 2 ripe bananas into dough and stir to combine. Divide mixture into liners and bake in a 350°F oven  for 15 minutes or until golden and baked through.

Cookie brownies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies
Prepare the batter of boxed brownie mix as per package directions. Pour into a 9×9 inch baking pan. Break up log of cookie dough into 2 inch pieces. Disperse throughout brownie dough. Bake as per brownie directions, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

cookie dough pizza

Milk and Cookies Pizza
Roll out cookie dough into a large circle 1/2-inch thick and bake in a 350°F oven until cookie is cooked through and edges are golden, about 15 minutes. Beat 1 stick of butter with 1/4 cup malted milk powder and 1 1/3 cup icing sugar. Smear over cooled cookie leaving a 1-inch border around the edge. Top with chocolate, or toppings of choice.

Looking for more delicious ideas? Learn 5 Ways to Hack a Can of Cinnamon Rolls.

Breakfast Pizza Rainbow

3 Easy Breakfast Pizzas for Kids (and Adults)

If there’s one thing kids can’t get enough of, it’s pizza. Get ready to win major points when you bring pizza to the breakfast table with these three tasty (and healthy) versions they’ll be leaping out of bed for.

Breakfast Pizza Rainbow

Rainbow Pizza Pancakes
If a plate of pancakes is your kid’s dream breakfast, then try this fun, healthy spin on your classic flapjack. Thanks to the Greek yogurt and myriad of fruit, your kids will get the proper protein and nutrients for a full day of school and fun.

Prep Time:15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:

Pancake:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup 2% Greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp butter

Toppings:
1/3 cup 2% Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup strawberries, sliced
1/4 cup peach, sliced
1/4cup banana sliced
1/4 cup kiwi, sliced
1/4 cup blueberries, sliced

Directions:
1. In a small bowl whisk together flour and baking powder. Add egg, yogurt and vanilla, and stir until just combined. The batter will be thick. Let rest for 10 minutes.
2. Heat a large non-stick pan to medium high. Melt 1 tsp of butter in pan. Spoon ¼ cup of batter into pan working in batches of two. Flip pancakes once when golden, about 2 minutes. Cook other side for another 2 minutes. Remove from pan and repeat with remaining batter. Set pancakes aside to cool slightly.
3. To top the pancakes, begin by mixing the yogurt, cinnamon and maple syrup in a small bowl. Spread yogurt mixture equally among pancakes. Top each pancake in rows of strawberries, peaches, bananas, kiwis and blueberries to resemble the rainbow.

Tip: Use any combination of colourful fruit to make different shapes and patterns.

Breakfast Pizza Taco

Taco Breakfast Pizza
This taco breakfast pizza recipe comes together in a snap and packs a ton more nutrients than any frozen pizza pocket you can buy at the grocery store. It’s made with scrambled eggs, cheese and avocado; a winning combination that’ll your keep your little back-to-schooler full until lunch time.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 6-inch corn tortillas
1/2 cup prepared salsa
2 eggs, scrambled
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 avocado, sliced

Directions:
1. Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350°F. Spread prepared salsa equally among tortillas, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge.
2. Divide the scrambled eggs among the tortillas. Sprinkle cheese over tortillas.
3. Bake until cheese is melted and salsa is warm, about 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven and place avocado slices on each tortilla. Cut each tortilla into “pizza slices” and serve.

Breakfast Pizza Fruit and Chocolate

‘Chocolate’ Pita Pizzas
This pita pizza recipe looks like it’s laden with chocolate, but shhh… we use a healthy alternative that’ll make your kids think you’re the best! We blend avocado and banana, then add a touch of cocoa and honey to turn this nutrient-rich spread into a chocolate lover’s dream. Topped with fun animal faces made of bright fruit slices, coconut and chocolate chips, your kids will think you’re serving dessert for breakfast!

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
4 pitas
1 banana, divided
1/2 ripe avocado
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 Tbsp honey
5 strawberries, sliced
1/2 kiwi, sliced
2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tsp chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Slice 1/2 the banana into small rounds and set aside.
2. In a small bowl mash the other 1/2 of the banana with avocado until a smooth paste forms. Stir in cocoa powder and honey.
3. Spread equally over 4 pitas. Using the sliced fruit, coconut and chocolate chips, top each pita with patterns of your choice.
4. Enjoy!

Looking for more delicious breakfast ideas? Try our 10 Quick Breakfasts for Busy Mornings.