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Photo of Anna Olson beside a close up of an Apple Cannoli Tart

Anna Olson’s Apple Cannoli Tart is the Best New Dessert Mashup

When it comes to comforting sweet treats, mouthwatering apple tarts are in a league of their own. Perfect for upcoming summer BBQs, this easy, elevated apple tart recipe is inspired by the traditional cannoli, but it’s the baked apples marinated with maple syrup that really makes this dessert shine.

Paired with a fresh and creamy ricotta cheese filling, this two-in-one dessert mashup from Junior Chef Showdown judge and mentor Anna Olson features an unexpected twist on an all-time favourite dish that brings out the flavours of the classic Italian treat.

See More: Anna Olson’s Best Fixes for Your Biggest Baking Fails 

Anna Olson’s Apple Cannoli Tart

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 5 hours
Yields: One 9-inch fluted tart

Ingredients:

Pastry
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp icing sugar, sifted
1 hard-boiled egg yolk
1 egg yolk
½ tsp vanilla
1-¾ cups pastry flour, sifted
¼ tsp salt

Filling
2-½ cups peeled, cored and thinly sliced apple, like  Cortland or Honeycrisp
3 Tbsp maple syrup or sweet Marsala wine
1-⅓ cups full fat, creamy ricotta cheese
¼ cup plus 1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp grated dark chocolate
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 Tbsp butter, melted

Related: The Best Recipes from Junior Chef Showdown 

Cannoli Apple Tart With Ricotta Cheese

Directions:

Pastry
1. Beat the butter and icing sugar together with a hand mixer in a large bowl until smooth.

2. Press the hard-boiled egg yolk through a sieve into a small bowl and stir in the raw egg yolk and vanilla. Add this to the butter mixture and stir until blended.

3. Then, add flour and salt to the butter mixture, stirring until blended.

4. Shape the dough into a disc (it will be very soft) and, wrap in plastic and chill for about 2 hours until firm.

5. On a lightly floured work surface, gently knead the dough just a little soften, then roll it out to a circle about 12 inches across and ¼-inch thick. Line a 9-inch removable-bottom fluted tart pan, pressing the pastry into the bottom and sides.  Be sure to trim away any excess dough.

6. Chill the tart shell for 30 minutes and heat the oven to 325°F.

7. Place the chilled tart shell onto a baking tray and dock the bottom of the pastry with a fork. Bake the tart shell for 20 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown.

8. Cool the tart shell to room temperature.

Filling
1. Heat the oven to 350°F

2. Toss the apple with the maple syrup or Marsala and set aside; stir occasionally.

3. Whisk the ricotta, ¼ cup of the sugar, grated chocolate, egg, egg yolk, lemon zest and nutmeg together. Strain the Marsala from the apples into the ricotta mixture and stir to blend.

Assembly
1. Pour the ricotta filling into the tart shell and arrange the apples over top. Brush the apples with the melted butter and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

2. Bake the tart for 25 minutes or until the apples are tender.

3. Cool the tart to room temperature then chill until ready to serve.

Note: The apple ricotta tart will keep refrigerated for up to two days.

Watch Junior Chef Showdown Sundays at 9ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Harry Eastwood headshot overlaid on a food beauty of a tahini, lemon and berry pound cake

Gorgeous Edible Cake Decorations to Elevate Any Dessert

I’ve always been a big fan of using natural flowers to decorate celebration cakes, not only because they look spectacular, but also because you can then clean the stems and re-use them as cut flowers afterward. Fresh flowers are low maintenance and will immediately turn your cake into a glamorous thing of beauty.

Tahini pound cake with a lemon drizzle and fresh edible flowers

Get the recipe: Dairy-Free Tahini, Lemon and Berry Pound Cake

The things to bear in mind when choosing your fresh flowers are the following:

-Only use flowers that are edible, such as roses, calendula, borage, lavender, fennel, violas, nasturtiums, pansies, cornflowers and dahlias – as well as herbs we already commonly use in cooking.

-If you’re picking them yourself, rather than ordering them through a producer, make sure to wash the stems before use. Avoid flowers from the side of the road or in areas where pesticides are widely used.

Related: These One-Bowl Flowerpot Cupcakes Are the Cutest Thing We’ve Ever Seen

-Decorate with flowers at the last minute and keep in the fridge until needed.

-Just to be on the safe side, I prefer using decoration flowers only on cakes that are iced with a barrier between the flowers and the cake itself, such as fondant or royal icing – avoiding naked cakes. Even edible flowers may cause allergic reactions in some people so remember to remove them before handing the cake out to be eaten.

-Always tape the flower stems with floral tape to ensure that none of the liquid from the flower stems transfers to the cake itself

Can’t get your hand on edible flowers? Why not try Harry’s recipe for creating beautiful stained glass fruit to decorate cakes?

Watch the how-to video below:

Watch and stream The Big Bake and all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription
Mijune Pak on set of Top Chef Canada season 9

Top Chef Canada Judge Mijune Pak Reflects on Reinvention in Her Own Career and the Restaurant Industry

Among the lessons that those in the hard-hit hospitality industry have had to learn this past year is reinvention — from the early days of pandemic closures, chefs and operators have scrambled to adapt to takeout, social distancing and often costly retrofits, as well as other hurdles in their path.

And when it comes to transforming herself based on both circumstances and passion, Top Chef Canada judge Mijune Pak is well suited to offer up some hard-won wisdom from her career, which has evolved and shifted with the zeitgeist as she adapts and refreshes her brand. “I think that my role as this food personality has really changed because when I first started it was a lot more from a critiquing side,” she says. “Now, it’s more of a support system for the industry and being a voice for the Canadian culinary food scene on an international level.”

Mijune Pak on the set of Top Chef Canada

Born and raised in the food-forward city of Vancouver, Mijune originally set her sights on a career in media relations. With a degree in Communications from Simon Fraser University, Mijune’s first job was marketing for Paramount Pictures, handling advance screenings, tracking critics’ reviews and other promotional material. Her interests, however, lay in filling up notebooks with pictures and observations of the dishes she was eating in her travels. Based on her sister Mijon’s encouragement, Mijune launched , her food and travel blog, FollowMeFoodie.com, in 2009. Over time, Mijune’s role has shifted away from the blogging that launched her career into a more expansive role as entrepreneur and spokesperson for an industry she loves.

Related: We Tried Mijune Pak’s New Chocolate Creations

When the pandemic curtailed her travel last year, Mijune started hosting At Home With Mijune, a cooking show with chefs, on Instagram Live as a means of bolstering the industry. “I had this platform to use, and these connections for chefs, so why not keep supporting the industry that’s supporting you, and try to push through this together by being creative?” she asked herself. 

Mijune also brought this spirit of adaptation and evolution to her role as a judge on Top Chef Canada — a cooking competition completely changed by the circumstances of the world around it. Adding to the heightened awareness around this season of the show are growing, and necessary, discussions around social justice, food origins and responsibility in acknowledging the cultures behind ingredients and using them mindfully. “So many things happened in 2020 politically as well as globally, and I think it put everyone in a really sensitive position. Everyone took a step back from their usual role: listening to everyone’s background and where everyone’s food was coming from,” says Mijune. She drew from her own Chinese heritage (Mijune’s mother, Mimi, has a Hong Kong and Malaysian background) as well as her own experiences as a Chinese-Canadian when judging and sharing stories at the Top Chef Canada table. “Growing up in Vancouver, when I would bring anything Chinese to school for lunch, I would get made fun of and teased for it,” she remembers. “And now it’s so awesome it’s being celebrated. But there are dangers of cultural appropriation of food. My mother’s recipes have been adapted over the years — it’s not exactly how her mom or grandma would have made it. Food and recipes evolve with ingredients and over time and place, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s really important to bring forward a lot of the cultural history and knowledge that comes with using these ingredients, as well as showing how they are used traditionally, and not just in a modern context.” 

Along with these discussions around food origins and authenticity lay the constant awareness of the pandemic’s devastating effect on restaurants. “Adapting really quickly to changes has always been kind of a theme in the competition, but this was in very different circumstances. We filmed it in the fall and didn’t know what was going to happen with the pandemic when it aired,” says Mijune. “We had to take into consideration what kind of challenge would be mindful of the pandemic. Along with the producers and creative staff, it challenged the chefs to think about the competition as something they might actually have to apply in the future in their businesses.”

See More: Watch Full Episodes of Top Chef Canada

Ultimately, Mijune, much like her fellow judge, Janet Zuccarini, sees these challenges and adaptations to changing social mores as a process of evolution in the restaurant industry — and a sign of its resilience. “When people don’t see the background of what’s happening — the real behind the scenes —  they can think that your career or industry is only on an upwards trajectory because they don’t see the lows,” she says. “And I think when those lows happen, you just have to kick yourself in the butt, and ask what you haven’t tried yet, and what you still enjoy, because so much of this industry is built on passion. You really have to enjoy it and live and breathe it, and love it without any expectations.”

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

A platter of deviled eggs and tempura cauliflower and a plate of ricotta topped figs

3 Crowd-Pleasing Appetizers From Lynn Crawford That Make the Perfect Snack Board (Plus Recipes!)

Kids aren’t the only ones that like to snack! Grazing platters are an impressive way to plate a variety of appetizers perfect for entertaining when you just can’t decide on one dish. Beyond that, snack platters can make for a special dinner at home that’s casual and delicious.

These three elegant appetizers from Junior Chef Showdown judge and mentor Lynn Crawford are so easy to make and, when plated together, make for a lovely spread of hors d’oeuvres. Featuring classic deviled eggs, lightly crusted tempura cauliflower and ricotta-stuffed figs drizzled with honey, this picturesque and crowd-pleasing grazing platter tastes as good as it looks.

Easy Five-Ingredient Deviled Eggs

Total time: 20 minutes
Yields: 12 devilled eggs

Seven deviled eggs on a wooden platter

Ingredients:

6 eggs, hard boiled and peeled
⅓ cup mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 Tbsp salmon roe
1 Tbsp minced chives

Directions

1.  First, cut the hard boiled eggs in half. Remove yolks and transfer to a small bowl.

2.  Pass the yolks through a fine mesh sieve or mash well with a fork.

3.  Add mayonnaise and Dijon and stir until creamy. Season with salt and pepper.

4.  Spoon or pipe filling into egg halves evenly and then top evenly with roe and chives. Serve immediately.

Related: Lynn Crawford’s Bacon and Egg Ramen

Better-Than-Takeout  Cauliflower Tempura With Quick and Easy Buttermilk Ranch

Total time: 30 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Three plates of cauliflower tempura and buttermilk ranch

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Tempura
1 small head cauliflower, cup into medium florets, about 4 cups
1 cup flour, divided
3 egg yolks
1 cup cold club soda
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp salt
Oil for frying

Buttermilk Ranch
Sour Cream
Mayo
Fresh Herbs (Parsley, Dill, Chives)
Buttermilk

Related: BBQ Halibut Collar & Tempura Spot Prawn Salad

Directions:

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a cooling rack and toss cauliflower with ¼ cup flour in a large bowl.

2. Then, whisk together egg yolks and water in a large bowl until foamy. Add remaining flour, cornstarch and salt. Mix until smooth.

3. Heat oil in a deep fryer or heavy-bottomed saucepan to 325°F.

4. Toss cauliflower and flour in the batter. Add in batches to oil and fry for 3 minutes. Transfer to prepared sheet, sprinkle with more salt and cool slightly before serving.

5. Serve with buttermilk ranch (recipe below) or your dipping sauce of choice.

6. For buttermilk ranch, in a small bowl stir sour cream and a little mayo with  fresh herbs such as parsley, dill, and chive. Add buttermilk until desired consistency and salt and pepper. Optional: Add a few dashes of your favourite hot sauce.

Ricotta-Stuffed Figs Drizzled With Honey

Total time: 20 minutes
Yields: 12 stuffed figs

Six figs topped with ricotta and drizzled with honey on a plate

Ingredients:

12 figs
¾ cup ricotta cheese
1 Tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup chopped pistachios
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

1. Prepare the figs by cutting 1/2-inch off the steams. Them, score the top of each fig with an “X” about 1/2-inch  deep.

2. Gently separate the cuts and set aside.

3. In a separate bowl, stir cheese with lemon juice. Place the sauce into a small piping bag or sandwich bag.

4. Cut the tip and pipe the cheese mixture into each fig and sprinkle with the crushed pistachios.

5. Stir honey with the lemon zest. Drizzle over the figs before serving.

Related: 3 Classic Sauces From Lynn Crawford That Will Be Instant Staples (Plus Recipes!)

Watch Junior Chef Showdown Sundays at 9ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Sunny Anderson makes her Nunya Business Chili Cheese Fries, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen

Sunny Anderson’s Easy Chili Cheese Fries Get Major Flavour From a Secret Shortcut

The food experts on The Kitchen are all about making delicious dishes quick, easy and fun — and these super-simple chili cheese fries from co-host Sunny Anderson are like a fast-pass to flavour city.

Sunny’s genius nunya business shortcut? Pre-made marinara sauce makes a hearty chili in a fraction of the time. Once it comes together, the rich, beefy chili teams up with tangy nacho cheese sauce, all poured over a mountain of hot crinkle-cut fries. Why choose crinkle over straight or shoestring varieties? The crinkled ridges are essential for catching all the yummy, saucy goodness. The final result? These fries are the perfect pick for a crowd-pleasing game-day — or any day, really — snack.

Related: Sunny Anderson’s Chicken and Sausage is a One-Pot Wonder

Sunny’s Nunya Business Chili Cheese Fries

Total Time: 1 hour
Prep Time: 25 minutes

Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:
One 28-to-32-oz bag frozen crinkle-cut french fries
1 tsp kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, grated on a rasp
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 lb ground beef (80% meat/20% fat)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups marinara sauce (pick one with personality!)
One 15-oz jar nacho cheese sauce (mild, medium, spicy — your choice)
3 scallions, sliced on the bias
1/4 cup sliced pickled jalapenos

Related: 55 Crowd-Pleasing Chili Recipes

Sunny Anderson holds up her chili cheese fries

Directions:
1. Line a sheet tray with aluminum foil. Arrange the fries on the sheet tray in a single layer. Bake according to the package instructions. Season with salt.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large cast-iron pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder and cumin and cook until the spices are fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the beef, salt and a few grinds of black pepper and cook, breaking the beef into bits while browning, until fully cooked, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the marinara sauce and stir to coat. Let cook for 5 minutes to let the flavours meld.

3. Heat the nacho cheese sauce according to the package instructions. Top the fries with the chili and nacho cheese sauce, then garnish with the scallions and pickled jalapenos.

Can’t get enough of Sunny’s time-saving hacks for comfort food classics? Try her tasty take on late-night mac and cheese — all made in the microwave, in one mug.

Watch The Kitchen and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Close up of Kardea Brown's sweet potato waffles with fried chicken

Kardea Brown’s Maple BBQ Chicken and Waffles Put a Sweet Spin on Comfort Food

Inspired by passed-down family recipes and an innate flair for flavour, Kardea Brown does comfort food right with every must-try recipe she shares on Delicious Miss Brown. Her latest spin on a soul-food classic — chicken and waffles — takes your brunch to the next level with the perfect balance of warmth, spice and sweetness.

For the chicken component of the dish, Kardea makes crispy fried chicken wings the same way her grandmother and mother showed her — well-seasoned and shaken up old-school in a brown paper bag. Once golden, the wings are dipped in Kardea’s sweet-and-tangy barbecue sauce. Plain waffles wouldn’t do the finger-licking wings justice, so Kardea created a crave-worthy spin with smashed sweet potatoes and spiced up with cinnamon for a callback to sweet potato pie. Finally, maple syrup is the delicious thread that ties the dish together — it’s the sweetheart of the barbecue sauce and it’s drizzled over the waffles.

Related: These Waffle Recipes Will Make You Jump Right Out of Bed

Maple BBQ Chicken and Sweet Potato Waffles

Total Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Active Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Yields: 4 servings (4 sweet potato waffles, 3 cups of Maple BBQ sauce and 5 tsp of seasoning)

Ingredients:

8 whole chicken wings, about 2 lbs. total
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Miss Brown’s House Seasoning, recipe follows
Canola oil, for frying
About 1 cup Miss Brown’s Maple BBQ Sauce, recipe follows
4 Sweet Potato Waffles, recipe follows
Pickled jalapeno slices, optional
Maple syrup, for serving

Sweet Potato Waffles
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
3/4 cup mashed sweet potato
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

Miss Brown’s Maple BBQ Sauce
One 14.5-oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Miss Brown’s House Seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Related: Kardea Brown’s Big Apple Crumb Cheesecake is the Dessert You Deserve Right Now

Directions:

1. Pour enough oil into a large Dutch oven to come about one-third of the way up the sides (it should be deep enough to cover the wings) and heat to 350ºF. Preheat the oven to 200ºF. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with a wire rack.

2. Rinse the chicken wings (the water is going to help the flour stick) and place on one of the prepared baking sheets. Season both sides with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place the flour and House Seasoning in a large paper bag and shake to combine. Add the chicken wings, 2 at a time, shaking well to coat. Return the coated wings to the same baking sheet.

3. Fry the wings in batches until golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 165ºF, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Transfer to the other prepared baking sheet.

4. To serve, toss the wings with the Maple BBQ Sauce. Place two wings on each Sweet Potato Waffle. Top with jalapeno slices, if desired, drizzle with maple syrup and serve warm.

Sweet Potato Waffles:

1. Preheat a Belgian waffle iron.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sweet potato, melted butter, sugar and eggs. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until well combined.

4.. Add a heaping cup of waffle batter to the preheated waffle iron and cook until the outsides of the waffle are lightly browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes, depending on your waffle iron. Remove the waffle and repeat with the remaining batter.

Miss Brown’s Maple BBQ Sauce:

1. Stir together the tomato sauce, maple syrup, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder and onion powder in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes. If the sauce becomes too thick, add up to 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper. Use on poultry, pork, beef or seafood. The sauce will keep, tightly covered in the refrigerator, for up to 2 weeks.

Miss Brown’s House Seasoning:

1. Stir together the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Cook’s Note: Miss Brown’s House Seasoning can be made in a large batch and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 3 months.

Special Equipment: Belgian waffle iron

Want another delicious chicken idea from Kardea? This creamy smothered chicken will have you licking your plate clean.

Watch Delicious Miss Brown and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Eddie Jackson's upcycled cake sundae recipe

Eddie Jackson’s Tips for What to Do With Leftover Cake

Maybe you had a celebration and everyone was a bit too full for dessert (unthinkable!) or maybe you just got the baking bug and couldn’t help making that cake just because. Whatever the reason, if you find yourself with a lot of leftover cake, have no fear! My easy ideas will help you repurpose that cake into entirely new dishes that are just as delicious.

Add Leftover Cake to a Smoothie for a Delicious Dessert Mash-up


Use dry leftover cake as a base for an epic ice cream sundae as seen in my recipe above.

Make Leftover Cake Into a Frozen Treat

Use a round cookie cutter to cut your leftover cake into ice cream sandwich size portions. Dip in melted chocolate and garnish with sprinkles, nuts or chocolate chips. These freeze really well so go ahead and make a large batch!

Related: Ice Cream Sandwiches for a Sweet Summer Treat

Toast Leftover Cake to Add Texture to Parfaits

Cut up leftover cake and toast it on low in the oven until crisp. Top your yogurt and granola with it for an extra punch of flavour and texture. Try it with a fig compote for a delicious sweet parfait.

Breakfast Parfait with Fig Compote as seen on Valerie's Home Cooking On the Road Again episode, season 7.

 

Use Leftover Cake to Make Multi-Use Cake Crumbs

Make multipurpose cake crumbs from your leftover cake and to a frosted cake for texture or find a great cake crumb cookie recipe and add them.

See More: Classic Cake Recipes and Expert Advice for a Perfect Bake

Make a Carnival-Worthy Treat

Cut up chunks of cake and add them to pancake batter before frying or deep-frying in oil for a treat that will transport you straight to a summer carnival.

Watch The Big Bake Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription

smoky chicken wings

Take This Quiz to Find Out Which Top Chef Canada-Inspired Meal Should You Make for Dinner Tonight

Hungry for a little dinnertime inspiration? No worries, because Top Chef Canada has your back. It’s still early in the season, but already the contestants on this year’s show have proven they’re concocting some of the most diverse and flavourful dishes to-date. From spice-filled fish dishes to flamed-kissed meats to delightful vegan offerings and everything in between, it’s hard not to salivate when tuning in.

If you’re on the hunt for ideas on what to make for your next dinner, take our quiz and then grab your Interac debit card and select ingredients for your feast while shopping. And get cooking already because your time starts… now!

Watch Top Chef Canada and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Janet Zuccarini judging on the set of Top Chef Canada

Janet Zuccarini on Having Resilience in Her Own Life and on This Season of Top Chef Canada

Restaurateur and Top Chef Canada judge Janet Zuccarini learned all about one of the themes of this season — resilience — from her father at an early age. Giacomo Zuccarini opened Toronto’s Sidewalk Caffè before Janet was even born; a legacy that would shape her outlook on restaurants in more ways than one. “The restaurant was really successful, with lineups out the door,” she says. “And one day, when my father took his first vacation to go back to Italy to visit his mother, his business partner emptied out his bank account and fled to Mexico with all the money, and my father had to shut the restaurant down.”

Although Giacomo would go on to have a long career in the espresso machine importing business, he warned his daughter about the travails of being a restaurateur. When Janet went against his wishes and opened up her first restaurant Cafe Nervosa (later renamed Trattoria Nervosa) in 1996, it caused a rift between them. “My father brought me up telling me almost every day to never go in the restaurant business,” she remembers. “And when I did, it upset my father so much that he did not speak to me for one year. It was horrible. Because it was so traumatic for my father to lose everything at one point, he felt that I did it on purpose, in a way. But we healed.”

Janet Zuccarini on the set of Top Chef Canada

Today, Janet’s Gusto 54 restaurant group — named in tribute to year her father first opened Sidewalk Caffè — spans multiple cuisines and cities, including Wall of Chefs judge Nuit Regular’s Pai and Kiin restaurants, Chubby’s Jamaican Kitchen, Gusto 101 and others in Los Angeles, but she’s never lost sight of those early lessons of adaptability and overcoming adversity. 

Related: Eden Grinshpan’s Baba Ghanoush Recipe

This outlook would serve her well when the COVID-19 pandemic irrevocably changed the restaurant landscape. According to a December 2020 survey from industry group Restaurants Canada, eight out of 10 restaurants are either losing money or barely scraping by in today’s climate, and 48 percent of owners of single location restaurants are expecting to close within six months if conditions don’t improve. “It’s been absolutely devastating and has been a decimating experience for anyone with a small business, but the restaurant industry has been hit arguably the hardest during the pandemic,” says Janet. “With this third wave, we spent money that we don’t have to reopen outdoor dining just to be shut down again for the third time. Every time there’s a shutdown on short notice, you furlough all your team members that you just hired and paid to train, and figure out what to do with all of your inventory of food. We just keep getting one blow after the other. “

Viewers will be able to see this shift in the industry reflected in this season of Top Chef Canada, from behind-the-scenes logistics to Quickfire and Elimination Challenges. “The show is going to be very relevant, because not only did we have to shoot the show in such an extra safe way, with everyone on the set being tested every day they were on set, and of course wearing face shields and masks, and sitting separated at the judges’ table,” says Janet. Creating pandemic appropriate challenges was also an issue. “We had to address COVID, and what restaurants are going through and create challenges that represent how we’ve changed our way of relating to food and dining with regards to restaurants,” she says.

Related: Meet the Season 9 Top Chef Canada Competitors

Janet Zuccarini on the set of Top Chef Canada with Mark McEwan and Eden Grinshpan

Overall, what Janet hopes the audience takes away from this season is a feeling of looking forward in terms of the restaurant industry. “As a restaurateur, I’ve shifted and adapted from selling groceries to takeout to home meal kits with chef tutorials over Zoom. We’ve opened four restaurants during the pandemic. The ideas have to keep coming, and going, and changing,” she says. “As the year has gone on, we’ve had different needs: people are not traveling, they’re not going to concerts, they’re starved for experiences. So, I have a lot of hope for the future.”

Watch Top Chef Canada Mondays at 10ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

anna-olson-icing-a-cake

Anna Olson’s Best Fixes for Your Biggest Baking Fails

When it comes to baking, nobody is perfect. Even expert bakers like the talented teams on The Big Bake have bad days in the kitchen, but the best part about messing up is learning from those mistakes.

Whether you’re baking a cake, whipping up a batch of cookies, or trying your hand at homemade pie dough, the next time you head into the kitchen, let Anna Olson show you how to fix your biggest baking fails.

Why do my chocolate chip cookies spread too much when baking?

There are two main reasons why your chocolate chip cookies are too soft and meld together into one giant sheet while baking. The first is that your butter could be too soft. An easy fix for that is to scoop the dough onto a pan, and then chill it for an hour before baking.

Your cookies could also fall flat if you use too much sugar or not enough flour. Even a seemingly harmless extra tablespoon of sugar could cause the cookies to spread because sugar liquefies as it bakes. Be sure to use measuring spoons and cups and follow the instructions for the best results.

How do I stop my cake from sinking in the centre?

A common culprit for why your cake is too wet (AKA raw in the middle) or sinking is an incorrect oven temperature. Just because your oven beeps and the display indicates that it’s 350ºF doesn’t mean that the temperature is accurate. An oven that runs too hot may make your cake look done when it really isn’t, or if the temperature oscillates, your ingredients can’t set at the right time and the cake sinks. The best solution is to purchase an oven thermometer and manually adjust how you set your oven.

Another cause is inactive baking powder or baking soda. If you don’t bake on a regular basis, always be sure to check the expiry date on your baking powder. For baking soda, replace it every three to four months and use the older box in the fridge as a deodorizer.

Anna Olson's lemon cake with coconut frosting and shaved coconut, a slice cut out and plated

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Luscious Lemon Coconut Cake

What causes my cheesecake to crack in the centre?

There are a few key steps to remember when baking a cheesecake. First, when adding eggs to your batter, mix them in on a low speed to prevent air working into the batter. Second, run a palette knife around the inside edge of the pan within 15 minutes of the cheesecake coming out of the oven. That way, if the cheesecake contracts, it will easily pull away from the sides without causing it to crack or tear in the centre. Finally, be sure to cool the cheesecake completely to room temperature before chilling. Your cheesecake can be refrigerated when the bottom of the pan is cool to the touch, not the sides.

See More: Watch Baking 101 With Anna Olson

How do I prevent peaked tops on muffins?

When your muffins come out of the oven with peaked tops, this is a sign of overmixing. To get those perfect muffin tops, mix your batter by hand instead of using electric beaters. When hand mixing, use a gentle stirring motion until the point where flour is no longer visible.

Anna Olson's chocolate banana muffins on a plate

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Banana Muffins

Can I still use curdled custard?

Curdled custard means that the eggs in the custard have overcooked, but don’t throw it away and start over. While still hot, put the custard into a food processor or blender, and puree on high speed. Strain the custard into a dish, cool and chill as usual, and no one will even know – it’ll be smooth and perfect!

Ready to get even more advanced? See more baking tips from Anna Olson.

What is seized chocolate, and how do I avoid it?

If your chocolate has seized, it will take on a dull, curdled look, it will not be smooth, and some oil (which is actually cocoa butter) will be floating. To prevent seizing, melt your chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a pot filled with an inch of barely simmering water while slowly stirring. The steam from the water gently melts the chocolate. Try and avoid using the microwave to melt your chocolate, but if you must, use a lower heat setting.

If your chocolate seizes, remove it from the heat and add a few drops of tepid water. Stir slowly and gently with a spatula where the water was added, then increase the radius of your stirring motion to return the chocolate to its smooth state.

Craving a chocolate dessert? Try Anna Olson’s chocolate recipes for every skill level.

Why does my pie dough crack when rolled or shrink when baked?

Dough cracking while rolling may not be a sign of anything wrong with the dough itself. It is often that the butter within the dough is too cold, causing cracking. To prevent this, try pulling out the dough 30 minutes before rolling. It will roll out with less cracking (and far less effort).

If your dough shrinks when rolled or after baking, it’s a sign that it needed “relaxing.” The proteins (gluten) in flour become elastic when “exercised,” i.e. making and rolling the dough, and time is the only fix. If your dough springs back when rolling, pop it back into the fridge to rest for 20 to 45 minutes. To avoid a crust that shrinks when baking, chill the lined pie shell for 30 minutes before baking.

Anna Olson's flaky savoury pie crust

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Savoury Pie Crust

Is there a way to prevent a cake from breaking when it’s turned out of the pan?

All baked goods, including cakes, tarts, cookies and muffins, are fragile directly out of the oven. Be sure to wait 15 to 20 minutes before turning them out to cool.

If you suspect that the problem may be caused by the pan (cake will stick to a scratched pan even if it’s greased), then line the pan with parchment paper. Have the parchment hang just above the edges of the pan so you can use it to easily lift out the cake.

Is there a secret to preventing butter tart filling from bubbling over or sinking in the centre?

Butter tart filling bubbles over or sinks in the centre due to over-mixed filling. The eggs hold in the air which rises in the oven, causing the filling to overflow while baking and then sink immediately when taken out of the oven. The secret is to whisk the filling by hand until it’s evenly blended.

Sugar crystals in the bottom of the tarts are also caused by over-mixing, causing the sugar to separate from the eggs as the filling bakes. Adding a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to the filling ensures the sugar will completely dissolve as the filling bakes.

How can I avoid lemon square filling from seeping under the crust base?

The key to making squares with a fluid filling poured over a base, such as lemon squares, is how you mix the base. It should feel crumbly, so don’t over-mix it. Gently press the base into the pan, and make sure a bit of it comes up the edges and goes into the corners. Do not pack it in firmly or it will pull away from the edges while it bakes, leaving a gap for the fluid lemon filling to seep underneath.

Anna Olson's lemon meringue squares with graham cracker base, lemon curd and toasted meringue top

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Lemon Meringue Squares 

For more with Anna Olson, watch The Big Bake and Junior Chef Showdown. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription

Jordan Andino's double stacked smash burger with cheese and all the fixings

Double-Stacked Patties + Secret Sauce Make for Jordan Andino’s Perfect Burger

Although burgers are a great way to experiment with different toppings, nothing can beat a classic, flat patty diner burger. This simple smash burger recipe from Junior Chef Showdown judge and mentor Jordan Andino tastes gourmet using everyday ingredients you likely already have in stock.

See more: Our Most Popular Burger Recipes

The Perfect Cheeseburger

Total Time: 50 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 small white onion, divided
2 Tbsp oil, divided
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup ketchup
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp relish
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 lb (675 g) medium ground beef
2 tsp Dijon mustard
8 slices processed cheese
4 burger buns
1 tomato, sliced
8 leaves Boston bibb lettuce
Additional condiments, as desired

Related: Meaty Burgers That Don’t Contain Any Beef

Jordan Andino's double stacked smash burger with cheese and all the fixings

Directions

1. Slice half the onion into thin rounds and set aside. Slice remaining onion into ½-inch thick strips.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet to high heat. Add 1 tbsp oil and onion strips. Cook until charred, about 5 minutes.

3. Chop onion and add to a small bowl. Stir in mayonnaise, ketchup, parsley, relish, lemon juice and salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

4. Meanwhile, mix ground beef with mustard. Divide into eight, 3 oz portions and place one patty on a plate with a square of waxed paper brushed lightly with a bit of the remaining oil. Flatten the patty to ¼-inch thickness with another plate. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Repeat with remaining beef portions.

5. Heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle to high heat. Working in batches, place patties onto pan and cook until dark golden, about 90 seconds per side. After flipping, place cheese onto each patty until melted.

6. Spoon about half of the prepared sauce onto the four bottom buns. Top evenly with lettuce, tomatoes, onion rounds, two burger patties and any additional condiments. Spread bun tops evenly with remaining sauce and place over burgers.

Watch Junior Chef Showdown Sundays at 9ep and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

The Pioneer Woman's shortcut ravioli with cheese, red sauce and fresh herbs

A Hack for Homemade? Ree Drummond’s Shortcut Ravioli is So Easy (and Cheesy)

Let’s face it: nothing beats a warm, cheesy plate of home-cooked pasta at the end of a long day — but who has time to always make it all from scratch? The Pioneer Woman is the master of making mouth-watching comfort food easy and utterly delicious, and Ree does not disappoint with this simple and satisfying twist on homemade ravioli.

What’s Ree’s secret? To save time — without sacrificing that made-by-hand touch — Ree swaps out labour-intensive homemade pasta dough for store-bought wonton wrappers. The premade squares are perfectly sized for ravioli, and just need a little filling and sauce to transform into an incredible pasta dish. Ree’s recipe stars a lemony ricotta filling that brings bright, cheesy flavour to every bite. The best part? You can have this shortcut ravioli on the table in just 30 minutes.

Related: Ree Drummond’s Best-Ever Super Spicy Mac and Cheese

Shortcut ‘Homemade’ Ravioli

Total Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4-6 servings

Ingredients:
1 cup ricotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 lemon, zested
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for the pasta water
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
48 wonton wrappers
One 24-oz. jar store-bought marinara sauce, warmed
1/4 cup store-bought pesto
Fresh basil leaves, for garnish

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s 25 Cheesiest Recipes Ever

Directions:

1. Place the ricotta, Parmesan, oregano, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

2. Whisk together the egg with a tablespoon of water in a separate small bowl and set aside.

3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

4. Lay out a few wonton wrappers at a time. Place 1/2 teaspoon of the filling into the centre of each one. Then, working one piece at a time, dab your finger in the egg wash mixture and run it along the edge of a wrapper, then lay a second wrapper on top, lining up the edges as much as possible and gently pressing out any air bubbles. Set aside while you work on the rest.

5. Drop a few ravioli at a time into the boiling water (you will cook them in batches to allow for plenty of room). Stir gently with a spoon so they do not stick together. Let cook until they float to the top, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a platter. Cook the remaining ravioli in the same manner.

6. Spoon a little marinara sauce on each plate and lay 4 to 6 ravioli on top. Spoon more marinara sauce over the ravioli, then spoon over some small dots of pesto. Garnish with the fresh basil leaves and serve.

Related: Ree Drummond’s Buffalo Chicken Totchos Are the Food Mash-Up You Didn’t Know You Needed

Love using wonton wrappers in unexpected (and totally delicious) ways? These sweet fried wontons make an epic dessert with a decadent mix of caramel, apple and cheesecake flavours.

Watch the how-to video here:

Watch The Pioneer Woman and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Anna Olson's vanilla and caramel birthday cake on a display

5 Classic Cake Recipes & Expert Advice for a Perfect Bake Every Time

Baking a cake from scratch can be easier than you think, especially when armed with professional tips and tricks. Veer too far from a few established rules, however, and you can end up with a cake catastrophe on your hands. Never fear, we’ve got you covered: with these five foolproof tips, we can help you ensure baking success and turn out a perfect, professional-tasting cake every time.

Let’s take a look at five favourites: classic cakes that you can make again and again, from anything-but-basic vanilla to next-level carrot cakes.

Vanilla Cake

Anna Olson's vanilla and caramel birthday cake

This delightfully moist cake is a stellar example of vanilla-flavoured deliciousness that can be used as a base for your favourite frosting. Sifting the flour mixture serves two purposes: it disperses small amounts of crucial ingredients, such as leaveners or salt, throughout the cake and also aerates the flour to make it easier to combine. Two types of pastry cream — vanilla and caramel — are used in different ways to create a multi-layered and hued cake with impressive height and fantastic flavour.

Chef’s Tip: Sift dry ingredients together onto a large piece of parchment paper before adding it to your stand mixer to keep things nice and neat. You can also grab the paper by the corners and use it as a foldable slide to help transfer your dry ingredients around your kitchen and pour into your mixing bowl.

Get the recipe for  Anna Olson’s Classic Vanilla Birthday Cake With Caramel Pastry Cream

Not sure which flour to use for your next big bake? Check out Flour 101: Your Guide to Mastering Holiday Baking and Ardent Mills’ complete flour portfolio including definitions and best-used-for applications.

Chocolate Cake

Six-layer chocolate fudge cake with slice cut out

This tall tower of cake perfection from pastry chef Anna Olson is a spectacular showstopper for any celebration for chocolate lovers. Four layers of fluffy cake (made with cake and pastry flour leavened with baking soda for extra rise) are sandwiched together with creamy, fudge frosting for a confection that’s decadent without being heavy. Using brewed coffee adds balance and depth to the chocolate notes in the cake, while a combination of bittersweet chocolate and cocoa powder adds plenty of chocolate-forward flavour to the fudge frosting.

Chef’s Tip: Chocolate flavour intensifies and improves with time. If you can resist the temptation, wrap your cake layers well in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and place in the freezer for a few days before thawing and icing them. Plan ahead for future chocolate cravings and make a double batch to freeze for up to 30 days.

Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Chocolate Fudge Cake

Sponge Cake

Strawberry sponge cake with whipped cream and fresh fruit

Although all-purpose flour works well for cakes that require some structural integrity for heavier fillings, a soft wheat or cake and pastry flour (can lend the tender yielding quality needed to roll this sponge cake around a simple raspberry jam filling. Vary the filling based on your preference, and use homemade jam for an extra special touch.

Chef’s Tip: When whipping egg whites, your bowl needs to be perfectly clean. Any fat or oil residue in the bowl will keep your egg whites from whipping up and holding a structure no matter how long you beat them. A pinch of cream of tartar can also help to strengthen your whipped egg whites.

Get the recipe for Classic Raspberry Jelly Roll

Carrot Cake

Cream cheese iced carrot cake with heirloom carrot flowers

Keeping carrot cake from being too heavy, while still incorporating plenty of carroty goodness throughout, can be a bit of a challenge. Attempting to get the shredded carrots evenly dispersed in the batter causes some home bakers to over mix and overwork the gluten in the sturdy all-purpose flour, causing a tougher cake. This recipe from Molly Yeh provides some guidance to help counter this common error, including mixing the batter to 90 per cent before incorporating the carrots.

Chef’s Tip: To help your cake bake evenly, rotate the pan in the oven halfway through baking, helping ensure even temperature no matter the placement in the oven. Also, begin checking the cake for doneness about 20 minutes into your bake time to ensure the cake is not overbaked.

Get the recipe for Molly Yeh’s Carrot Cake With Spiced Cream Cheese Frosting

Coffee Cake

Ree Drummond's blueberry crumb coffee cake on a plate

An easy coffee cake is a secret weapon for any baker: ready in under an hour with no frosting or decorations necessary, since it comes with its own crunchy and golden topping fortified with all-purpose flour such as Ardent Mills Bakers Hand®. With a cake this simple, the ratio of the ingredients plays a big part in a successful bake. The commonly used scoop and flatten method may unnecessarily compact flour into the measuring cup, adding more than intended to your recipe. A better technique is to simply spoon flour into the cup lightly and level off with a knife.

Chef’s Tip: For a consistent creaming cake batter, take all ingredients out of the fridge ahead of time to ensure they are all at room temperature. Softened butter creams easier and builds more volume. Also, eggs and milk that are at the same temperature ensure a more consistent creaming, and prevents the butter from clumping again.

Get the recipe for Ree Drummond’s Blueberry Coffee Cake

Looking for more classic cake inspirations? Try these birthday cake recipes that are sure to make you a dessert person.

Sponge cake photo courtesy of Ardent Mills

Eden Grinshpan’s Baba Ghanoush With Za’atar, Pomegranate and Mint Will Be Your New Favourite Dip

What makes this an essential is the eggplant technique, which is so simple but blows your mind at the same time. I learned about charring eggplants whole when I was twenty-one years old and working in a restaurant in Tel Aviv. They’d score an eggplant, throw the entire thing on the grill, and then let the fire do all the work. The skin gets completely charred while the heat steams the flesh until it is smoky, tender, and juicy. That becomes the foundation of baba ghanoush, a smoky, velvety dip that’s an essential in its own right.

Baba Ghanoush with Za’atar, Pomegranate, and Mint

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20-35 minutes
Total Time: 30-45 minutes
Servings: 4 cups

Ingredients:

3 medium eggplants
½ cup tahini paste
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, grated
1½ tsp kosher salt
Za’atar, for serving
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Pomegranate molasses, for serving
Fresh mint leaves, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving (if in season)

1. With the tip of a knife, pierce each eggplant in two places—doesn’t need to be perfect or in the same place every time; this is just so the eggplant doesn’t explode on you (it’s happened to me, and it’s not pretty).

2. Pick a cooking method for the eggplant: grill, broiler, or stovetop burners. The bottom line is that you want this eggplant to be almost unrecognizable. It’s going todeflate and the skin will get white in some places, but that just means the fire is working its magic on that eggplant.

OPTION 1: Grill Preheat the grill until hot. Add the eggplants and let the fire do its thing, making sure to keep turning the eggplants so they char all over. You want them to get black in some places, 20 to 30 minutes total.

OPTION 2: Broil  Preheat the broiler. Put the eggplants in a broilerproof roasting pan and place the pan as close to the heating element as possible. (You may have to adjust your oven rack to accommodate the size of the eggplants and the depth of the pan.) Broil until they are evenly charred all over, 30 to 35 minutes, checking and turning the eggplants periodically. You want the eggplants to keep their shape but get really charred and wilted.

OPTION 3: Stovetop Gas Burners Line your stovetop around your burners with foil. Working with one at a time, place the eggplant over a medium flame and let it char, making sure to turn it every 5 minutes. Continue cooking until it is deflated and black all over, 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Transfer the cooked eggplants to a colander in the sink and let the juices run. (The juices can make the dish taste bitter.) Once the eggplants are cool enough to handle, remove the stem and all of the skin.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggplant flesh with the tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and salt.

5. To serve, first make a za’atar oil by mixing together 1 tablespoon of za’atar with 1½ tablespoons of olive oil for every 2 cups of baba ghanoush.

6. For each serving, use a spoon to spread about 1 cup of the baba ghanoush over a platter or in the bottom of a bowl. Drizzle over 1 to 2 teaspoons of the pomegranate molasses (go easy—it’s very tart and sweet), followed by the za’atar–olive oil mixture. Finish with a sprinkling of small mint leaves (or large leaves, torn) and a small handful of pomegranate seeds (if using).

Excerpted from Eating Out Loud by Eden Grinshpan. Copyright © 2020 by Eden Grinshpan. Photography by Aubrie Pick. Published in the United States by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Eating Out Loud, Amazon, $35

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Katie Lee's Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

You’ll Never Guess the Secret Ingredient in Katie Lee’s Chocolate Chunk Cookies

If I could only choose one dessert (besides frozen yogurt) to eat for the rest of my life, it would be warm chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven with a glass of milk. I am always trying to perfect my recipe. I like a chewy chocolate chip cookie, none of these flat, crispy cookies for me. Give me the chew and make it soft. I know it sounds weird, but white miso paste is the secret ingredient for the perfect cookie. You don’t taste miso, but the umami makes the chocolate even more chocolatey and gives the cookie a chewier texture. Trust.

Katie Lee's Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Related: Try Katie Lee’s Eggplant “Meat” Ball Sandwiches

Miso Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes
Serves: 24-30 cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup (220 g) lightly packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
½ cup (1 stick/115 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg
1/3 cup (75 ml) white miso paste
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups (255 g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1½ cups (255 g) semisweet chocolate chunks

Directions:

1. Beat both sugars and the butter together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the egg, miso paste, and vanilla and beat until well mixed. Add the flour and baking soda and mix until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (this is very important in order to have a chewy cookie that doesn’t spread out too much).

2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

3. Spray two baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.

4. Use a medium ice cream scoop to portion cookie dough onto the prepared pans. Use two fingers to lightly flatten each scoop of dough. Bake, rotating and switching the pans halfway through, 13 to 14 minutes for a chewy cookie (a few minutes longer if you like a more well-done cookie). Transfer to a wire rack to cool (though I usually eat one straight out of the oven!).

Find this and more great recipes in Katie Lee Biegel’s new cookbook It’s Not Complicated: Simple Recipes for Every Day, Amazon, $36.

Katie Lee Biegel's new cookbook It's Not Complicated

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. For more products handpicked by our editorial team, visit Food Network Canada’s Amazon storefront. However, when you buy through links in this article or on our storefront, we earn an affiliate commission.

Jordan Andino, Lynn Crawford and Anna Olson on the set of season 2 of Junior Chef Showdown

6 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This Spring

The change of seasons means one exciting thing around here: a brand new slate of fresh spring shows from Food Network Canada to watch with STACKTV on Amazon Prime. From a new season of a classic Canadian culinary competition to a show about revamping struggling restaurants, here are all the Food Network Canada shows you won’t want to miss.

Top Chef Canada

When to Watch: New Season begins Monday, April 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Host Eden Grinshpan and Mark McEwan on the set of Top Chef Canada season 9

Canada’s homegrown culinary competition returns for its ninth season of high-stakes challenges. Host Eden Grinshpan and head judge Mark McEwan return to welcome 11 talented and diverse chefs from across the country to compete for the ultimate bragging rights and

Related: Meet the Season 9 Top Chef Canada Contestants

The Big Bake

When to Watch: New Episodes Tuesdays at 9 p.m ET/PT

Eddie Jackson, Anna Olson, Ron Ben-Israel and host Brad Smith on the set of The Big Bake season 2

If you love over-the-top baking creations, we’ve got some great news for you! The Big Bake returns for a second season of larger-than-life competition that sees three talented baking teams compete to create large-scale theme cakes. Hosted Brad Smith returns along with judges Eddie Jackson, Harry Eastwood and new judges, Anna Olson and Ron Ben-Israel.

See More: Baking 101 With Anna Olson

Chef Boot Camp

When to Watch: New Series begins Thursday, April 15 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Chef Cliff Crooks on the set of Chef Boot Camp

There’s no doubt that it’s been a tough year for chefs and business owners. Enter Chef Cliff Crooks whose goal is to help struggling chefs rehabilitate their kitchens to find the culinary success they deserve.

See More: Canadians Aim to Set Record on National Takeout Day

Junior Chef Showdown

When to Watch: New Season begins Sunday, April 25 at 9 p.m. ET/PT

Young cooks display big talent on this culinary competition that showcases the best cooking talents from ages 9 to 12. Lynn Crawford, Anna Olson and Jordan Andino return as judge-mentors, coaching the junior chefs through a series of culinary challenges.

Jordan Andino, Lynn Crawford and Anna Olson on the set of season 2 of Junior Chef Showdown

Related: Meet the Season 2 Junior Chefs

Top Chef

When to Watch: New Episodes Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT

Host Padma Lakshmi and judges Gail Simmons and Tom Colicchio return for another season of grueling kitchen battles. This season, Top Chef heads to Portland, Oregon where a new batch of 15 of the most talented chefs from across the U.S. compete for the whopping $125,000 grand prize and the coveted title of Top Chef.

Related: Top Chef Portland: Meet the Competitors

Fire Masters

When to Watch: New Episodes return Thursday, April 15 at 11 p.m. ET/PT

Pre-heat your barbecue because it’s officially grilling season now that Fire Masters is back with all-new episodes! Host Dylan Benoit is back for another flame-packed season where chefs compete in two rounds of competition. In the final round, the remaining competitor must face off against one of the judges in order to take home the $10,000 cash prize.

Related: The Best New Ways to Use Your Grill This Year

Flat lay of baking ingredients including sugar, butter

The Perfect Pastry Butter Hack, Plus 9 Golden Baking Rules to Always Follow

The weather is turning, the days are growing longer, and creativity is at an all-time high. And with so many fresh springtime ingredients ready to be transformed, who wouldn’t want to hop in the kitchen and put that extra creativity to good use? Whether you’re baking up some fresh cookies or homemade butter tarts to cheer up friends, following an easy chocolate cake recipe for a special occasion, or kneading a loaf of crusty bread to go with that seasonal salad for dinner, there are a few golden baking rules you’ll want to follow the next time you’re getting your batter on.

But First—The Perfect Pastry Butter Hack

Cubed butter in a bowl

Whether you’re a seasoned baker like those on The Big Bake or someone who’s just beginning to dabble in the world of all-butter pie crusts, short crust pastry, puff pastry and other offerings, getting your butter to that perfect consistency and temperature can make or break your bake. If you’re working on a pastry in which you need air pockets between the layers to rise up in order to create those fabulous flakes, freeze the amount of butter you need for your recipe beforehand. Then, rather than cubing or cutting it and pinching it into your flour, use your cheese grater to grate the butter directly in. The result is an easier dough to work with, since the grated butter is much more forgiving.

But wait—what if you actually need room temperature butter for your recipe, and your butter is in the fridge or freezer? You should still grate it. Doing so increases the surface area, allowing your beurre to warm up and soften quickly. In other words, a grater is the perfect tool to hack all kinds of buttery bakes. And now onto the other golden rules of baking…

Related: Brown Butter Recipes You Won’t Be Able to Resist

Always Read Over Your Entire Recipe Before You Start

Flat lay of cookbook and coffee

This rule applies to all kinds of cooking and baking, but to baking in particular where exact measurements are required and substitutions can throw off your whole game. Read over your recipe from start to finish so that you know exactly how much of each ingredient you need. But don’t just read over the ingredient list—have a good look at the method too. It can be easy to miss simple steps like resting time, sifted flour versus poured flour, or creaming your butter and sugar before mixing. With that last step for example, creaming your butter and sugar together beats air into the butter and helps the sugar to hold that air, giving your baked goods structure. If you just mix or pour butter and sugar in without adding that vital step, you could end up with a dense, flat product.

See More: Flour 101 – Your Guide to Baking

Remember the Quality of Your Ingredients Matters

Flat lay of baking ingredients including nuts, sugars and butter

When you’re shopping for a special recipe, the quality of ingredients will help dictate the quality of your final product. Sure, you can grab artificial vanilla extract, but will it taste the same as the real stuff? Of course not. The same can be said for the type of chocolate, nuts, maple syrup and honey you use—fresh, good quality ingredients will always transform your bake. Butter is another big one. In France, some of the world’s top pastry chefs only use butter that’s high in milk fat—at least 82 per cent. In Canada, our butter is typically only churned to 80 per cent milk fat, and that two per cent drop makes a world of difference. If you really want to create the flakiest of pastries and crispiest of cookies, grab Gay Lea’s new Bakers Gold butter, which is churned to an impressive, chef-grade, 84 per cent milk fat.

Never Overbeat Batter

A stand mixer or even the handheld variety can be a wrist saver for sure, but when you’re talking about mixing together ingredients for a bake there’s a slippery slope. More often than not recipes for baked goods always come with the disclaimer, “don’t overmix.” And for good reason. When you overmix cakes, cookies, muffins, bread or even pancakes you run the risk of injecting too much air into the batter and developing extra gluten. While some gluten is key when it comes to chewy baked goods, too much of it will just make your offerings gummy and dense. In other words, when a recipe says “mix until just combined,” take the step seriously and don’t walk away from a mixer that’s having a party in the mixing bowl.

Related: Harry Eastwood’s Healthy Baking Substitutes

Stop Confusing Wax Paper and Parchment Paper

Blueberry cookies on way paper with fresh flowers and ingredients

Hands up if you’ve charred a recipe or two by accidentally putting wax paper instead of parchment paper in the oven. Baking with wax paper is never really advisable. The stuff is water-resistant, which means it’s great to lay down for cool things when you don’t want them to stick, but it’s definitely not heat-resistant. A good rule of thumb is to remember that for anything cold, you want wax paper. And for anything hot you want parchment paper, which is typically safe in the oven up to 450°F. (But check your packaging.) If you have both and you keep confusing them however, maybe consider investing in a silicon mat or liners. Depending on the brand they’re great for all things hot and cold, and they wash up easily in your sink to cut down on waste, too.

Always Blind-Bake Pie Crusts

Blind baked pie crust with raw ingredients nearby on the table

No, you don’t need a blindfold to pull off the best pie crust of your life. Instead, all you need is a blind bake and some high quality butter, like the aforementioned high milk-fat butter that is Gay Lea’s new Bakers Gold butter. Blind baking means that you bake the crust in full before putting in any kind of filling, so that you know the crust is cooked all the way through. Otherwise you run the risk of adding filling to an uncooked crust and creating a soggy mess. What’s the other benefit of blind baking a pie crust with a butter that’s high in milk fat? Higher butterfat means less water and a softer texture, resulting in butter that easily melts into those pastry layers. There’s nothing like the flavourful, flaky crust that you get as a result. One bite can basically transport you back into your grandmother’s kitchen, where your mouth waters in anticipation of that freshly baked pie sitting in the windowsill.

See More: The Best Summer Pies and Tarts

Don’t Substitute Baking Powder for Baking Soda

…and vice versa. Although it’s easy to confuse baking powder with baking soda, they each do different things in the chemistry that is baking. Baking soda, AKA the one some people keep in the fridge to help deodorize all of those food smells, is sodium bicarbonate. In order for sodium bicarbonate to activate and help your baked goods rise, it needs an acid (brown sugar, lemon, vinegar, chocolate etc.) and a liquid. Baking powder, however, is baking soda that already has an acid (cream of tartar), and sometimes a bit of corn starch. In order to activate its equally awesome rising properties, all you need is a liquid.

Browning Butter is a Baking Superpower

Would you consider this one a rule, or a hack? Either way, nothing beats the deep, rich flavour of browned butter—especially in baking. Brown butter cookies, brown butter brownies… even a cake with brown butter frosting is enough to make you hungry. If you want to execute perfectly browned butter for use in your baked goods, slowly melt it in a pan over medium heat. You want even heat distribution so that the butter cooks evenly, but be sure to constantly stir it so that it doesn’t burn (brown butter can turn to burnt butter before you can say “browning burnt butter” three times fast). When the butter is a nice brown hue and the edges begin to sizzle and foam, you’re ready to remove it from the heat. All in all, the entire process should only take about 5-8 minutes, but it makes a huge difference in your final flavour profile.

Related: Anna Olson’s Guide to Buttercream Icing

Chill Your Cookie Dough Before Baking

Chocolate chip cookies baking on a baking sheet

If you’re going through all of that effort to make cookies from scratch, don’t you want to make the best possible batch? Of course you do! So if you aren’t already chilling your cookie dough before baking it, we have to ask, why not? As a general rule of thumb, once your dough has come together you should chill it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so that the butter can harden again. That way the butter doesn’t disperse too quickly and flatten out the cookie. If you find it tough to work with chilled dough, scoop out your balls beforehand and then chill them on a baking sheet in the fridge. Or, flash-freeze them in the freezer, throw them into a freezer-friendly bag, and bake them up anytime you want fresh cookies.

Chilling cookie dough is a golden rule to be sure, but there are exceptions. If you’re going for a thin cookie that spreads out or you have a delicate dough like macron or madeleine, those are the instances where you’ll want to bake your cookies at room temperature instead.

Weigh Your Ingredients Whenever You Can

Recipes come in all kinds of measurements, but when it comes to baking, many of the pros prefer weighing their ingredients as opposed to counting cups and tablespoons. One reason is that a recipe is easier to half or double when you’re talking about weight over volume. But more importantly, there is less room for error when you’re using a kitchen scale versus the human eye. Baking is an exact science. And while there’s tons of room for creativity and innovation, the science at the base of those recipes remains the same. Whenever you have the opportunity to weigh your ingredients definitely do so, because the better you can get at precise ingredient measurements, the better those buttery baked goods will wind up tasting.

Watch The Big Bake Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT. Watch and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Molly Yeh's spinach and pita eggs benedict

Molly Yeh’s Bright, Spinach-Packed Spin on Eggs Benedict is Your New Brunch-Time Fave

Nothing says “brunch” better than a rich, runny egg-topped eggs benedict — but, as Molly Yeh shows us time and time again on Girl Meets Farm, you can always make a classic dish even yummier with a little creativity. Enter: Molly’s creamy, bright, veggie-packed twist on eggs benedict.

Starting with warm, crisp homemade pita bread as the base, Molly layers on plenty of flavour with sunny poached eggs, garlicky sauteed spinach and a rich, cheesy feta cream sauce. The mouth-watering sauce, which Molly calls “hollandaise’s sassy younger sister” gets a touch of sweet-meets-smoky kick from a dash of Aleppo pepper.

Related: Molly Yeh’s Bagel Salad Recipe is an Instant Brunch Classic

Pita and Greens Benedict With Feta Cream

Total Time: 4 hours 15 minutes (includes rising time)
Active Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Yields: 4 servings (Note: pitas yield 24 pitas)

Ingredients:

Benedict:
2 oz feta, crumbled
1/2 cup (113 g) whole milk Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper or paprika, plus more for sprinkling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
2 cloves garlic, sliced
6 oz spinach
Juice of 1/2 lemon
4 large eggs
2 Pitas, halved, recipe follows

Pitas:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for the bowl
3 3/4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting (you may sub out 1 3/4 cups bread flour for 1 3/4 cups whole-wheat flour)
Nonstick cooking spray for the bowl, optional

Special Equipment: a high-speed blender

Related: Molly Yeh’s Spinach and Feta Rugelach Are a Savoury Twist on a Classic

Directions:

Benedict
1. Combine the feta, yogurt, Aleppo or paprika, a few turns of pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a high-speed blender and blend until very smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use (this can be made a day or two in advance).

2. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute. Add the spinach, a few pinches of salt and 2 tablespoons water and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and wilted, about 4 minutes. (You may need to add the spinach in batches if it’s too much to fit in all at once.) Season with pepper and squeeze in the lemon juice. Turn the heat down to low just to keep this warm while you poach the eggs.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Crack the eggs one at a time into a small bowl, then carefully lower the eggs into the boiling water. Cook until the whites are firm but the yolks are still runny, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove to a paper towel or clean kitchen towel to dry off any excess moisture.

4. Toast or grill the pitas. Drizzle with a little olive oil and top with the spinach and eggs. Spoon on the feta cream and sprinkle with fresh black pepper and a pinch of Aleppo or paprika. Enjoy!

Pitas
1. Mix together the warm water, yeast and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer running on low speed, add the salt and oil, then gradually add the flour. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix, adding just enough additional flour so that the dough no longer sticks to the bowl, until the dough is smooth and slightly sticky, 7 to 10 minutes. (Do not add too much flour.) Lightly coat a clean large bowl with oil or cooking spray, then place the dough in the bowl and turn it once or twice to coat it in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size, about 2 hours.

2. Turn the dough onto a clean work surface and divide it into 24 equal pieces. Mold each piece into a ball by stretching the top and tucking the edges under. Place the balls 1 inch apart on a piece of parchment paper, then cover them with plastic wrap and let them rise for 30 minutes.

Molly Yeh making her pita and greens benedict

3. Preheat the oven to 500ºF and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. With a rolling pin, roll out the balls of dough into 3-inch circles, dusting with flour as needed. Place them on the lined baking sheets and bake until they’re puffy and just starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

Cook’s Note: Leftovers are tasty and can be frozen and reheated in the toaster.

For more ideas on how to start your morning in the most delicious way, check out these breakfast recipes from Molly Yeh.

Watch Girl Meets Farm and stream Live and On Demand on the new Global TV App, and on STACKTV. Food Network Canada is also available through all major TV service providers.

Sunny Anderson’s Chicken and Sausage is a One-Pot Wonder

As Sunny Anderson has proven on The Kitchen, truly crave-worthy comfort food doesn’t need more than one dish to make when it involves juicy chicken breasts combined with sliced andouille sausage and seasonings that will make you want to lick your plate clean. Trust us, you’ll want to introduce this hearty, satisfying dish into your regular meal rotation.

Related: 20 Recipes From Around the World That’ll Help Fill Your Travelling Void

Sunny Anderson’s Big Easy Chicken and Andouille File Gumbo

Total: 1 hour, 35 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

3 Tbsp cooking oil
2 chicken breasts, gently pounded thin
2 lbs andouille sausage, sliced into 1-inch rounds
1 stick salted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Cajun seasoning, preferably Mama Mia’s For Whatever Seasoning
2 green bell peppers, seeded and chopped
1 white onion, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 jalapenos, finely chopped (seeds optional)
4 cloves garlic
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Enough chicken stock base for the 8-cup stock equivalent
2 bay leaves
2 Tbsp file powder, plus more for serving
Serving suggestions: cooked white rice and hot sauce, optional

Related: Charcuterie Boards Are Trending: 10 Unique Ideas for Busy Weeknights

Directions

1. Add the oil, chicken and sausage rounds to a stockpot on medium-high heat. Sear the chicken to get color and sausage to get color and render fat, but not to cook fully. As the parts finish searing, use a slotted spoon to remove them and place on a plate, leaving the fat in the pot, about 10 minutes total.

2. Add the butter, flour and Cajun seasoning to the pot. Cook on medium heat, constantly stirring, until the roux becomes a rich, dark caramel color, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. Add the bell peppers, onions, celery, jalapenos and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, to coat, until everything gets tender, 5 to 8 minutes, then add the stock base and 8 cups water and stir to mix the base into the pot. Add the bay leaves and cover the pot to simmer until the gumbo is thickened, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Add the reserved chicken and sausage, then stir in the file powder. Simmer, uncovered, for another 30 minutes.

5. Shred the chicken in the pot. Serve over rice with a shake of hot sauce and file powder.

Related: Canned Chicken Recipes That’ll Make You Forget Dinner Started in the Pantry

Watch the how-to video here

Watch The Kitchen and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

Ree Drummond’s Best-Ever Super Spicy Mac and Cheese

When it comes to quick and easy meals, you can rely on a comfort food classic like mac and cheese to satisfy all your cravings. And who better to provide inspiration for a scrumptious feast? The one and only Ree Drummond, naturally. With macaroni, jalapenos, hot sauce and a variety of cheeses, this spicy one-pot wonder from The Pioneer Woman is everything you need on a busy weeknight.

Related: Ree Drummond’s Buffalo Chicken Totchos Are the Food Mash-Up You Didn’t Know You Needed

Super Spicy Mac and Cheese

Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients

1 lb macaroni
2 Tbsp salted butter
1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 jalapenos, seeded and finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cups whole milk, plus more if needed
8 oz queso blanco-style processed cheese, cubed
1 cup grated Monterey Jack
1 cup grated pepper jack
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
Hot sauce, as desired

Related: Ree Drummond’s 30-Minute Vegetarian Pasta Makes Peppers the Star

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook the macaroni according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the crushed red pepper, jalapeno, garlic and onion and cook, stirring, until the veggies have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the milk and heat until starting to bubble around the edges. Add the processed cheese and stir until melted. Add the Monterey Jack and pepper jack cheeses, pepper, kosher salt, seasoned salt and hot sauce to taste. Stir until the cheese is melted. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add a splash of milk if the sauce seems too thick. Fold in the cooked macaroni and serve.

3. Reheating instructions: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the mac and cheese in a baking dish, cover with foil and heat until warmed through, about 25 minutes.

Related: This Bold 5-Ingredient Sheet Pan Steak Supper From The Pioneer Woman Will Brighten Your Table

Watch the how-to video here:

Watch The Pioneer Woman and stream all your favourite Food Network Canada shows through STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels, or with the new Global TV app, live and on-demand when you sign-in with your cable subscription.

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