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Beautiful shot of fresh pastries

5 Expert Food Photography Tips to Show Off Your Baked Goods

The true hero of every food photo is, without a doubt, the food itself. Since you’ve nailed creating the perfect baked goodies, here are my five tips to take the most enticing photos of them, whether you wield a camera or a mobile phone!

Related: Steve Hodge’s Best Tips for a Successful Bakery

Good Light or Bust

This is my first tip for good reason! The light you shoot your subject in is the biggest determinant between a flat, mediocre photo and a stellar one.

• Natural Light: The good news is, natural sunlight is a great light source for food photos and costs nothing—but you must know how to use it right. Study the light available in your home, bakery or studio and observe how the light looks at different times of day, including intensity, colour temperature (cool versus warm) and shadows. If you have windows facing different directions, compare how the light looks next to each of those too.

• Direct Light:  Strong, direct light can be edgy and dramatic, but it’s trickier to master.

• Diffused Light: Indirect light is the easiest to make food appealing. What is “diffused indirect light”?  Think of the light that comes in through your window mid-morning before the sun’s position and intensity casts shadows inside, or an overcast day when clouds disperse its rays. Another element of light is the direction from which it hits the subject: from the side, behind or above. In general, the most forgiving natural light for a beginner photographer is diffused indirect sunlight coming from the side of the subject i.e. placing your subject at or near table-height beside a window where there are no shadows or harsh sunlight.  A north-facing window, if you have one, is favoured by food photographers because of the softer, bluer light.

• Artificial Light: Be sure to turn off every artificial indoor light. No food looks good with even the faintest bit of icky yellow cast.

Related: Explore Bakeries From Project Bakeover

Gotta Hit Them Angles

There are three commonly-used angles to shoot food:  straight-on from the front, three-quarter downward angle, or overhead.  A good exercise is to look through your camera lens or screen as you move around the subject to figure out which angle showcases the attributes you want to highlight. Below are general rules with practical examples, but be sure to explore all three (and angles in between) to find the best one.

• Straight-On: Ideal to showcase height and/or interesting layers for cupcakes, layered cakes, stack of cookies or bars.

• Three-Quarter: Best for showing off items with layers or fillings in bars, macarons, filled tarts, profiteroles, doughnuts, cinnamon rolls.

• Overhead: Perfect for flat foods or foods with interesting shapes, surfaces or toppings e.g. pizzas, galettes, pop tarts, cookies, doughnuts, macarons, cinnamon rolls.

Overhead shot of a cauliflower pizza
Photo courtesy of Sonia Wong

See More: Here Are Our Favourite Bakeries Across Canada

Bring Images to Life

Composition: How elements are arranged in your shot to be aesthetically pleasing. Keep in mind:

Rule of Thirds: Imagine overlaying a grid of nine boxes over your image, then place your points of interest at the four intersecting points of the grid.

Leading Lines: Use lines to lead a viewer’s eye to the focal point e.g. a cake knife pointing toward the confection.

Repetition: Place multiples of the same item or items of similar shape. Grouping in odd numbers is ideal.  

Symmetry and Asymmetry: There is beauty and balance in symmetry, but be careful it doesn’t look boring or manufactured. Asymmetry can evoke interest. Try using negative space as well, in practicing asymmetrical composition.

Layers: Photos are two dimensional. Introducing layers creates depth and texture. Layers can take the form of the backdrop, linens, plate, cooling rack, a sprig of mint atop a cupcake or a sprinkling of powdered sugar on a tart.

Shot of a cupcake with pink buttercream icing on a plate with a mint green
Cupcake from Bluegrass & Buttercream bakery. Photo courtesy of Project Bakeover

• Colour: Different hues evoke different emotions or impressions. Blue feels calm, orange feels warm, green feels fresh and brown feels earthy. There’s also established guidance for mixing colours in visually appealing ways such as complementary, monochromatic and analogous combinations. Complementary tones sit opposite on the colour wheel i.e. pink cupcake set on a green surface. Monochromatic combos use hues, tints and shades of the same colour i.e. red strawberries on pink frosting. Analogous combo involves three adjacent colours i.e. red, orange and yellow heirloom tomato slices arranged on a vegetable tart. Think about the impression you want your food to make and choose your colours intentionally for the props and elements in the frame.

• Props: Anything that helps your image tell a complete story is a prop. You may use glassware, napkins, plates, pinch bowls, baking tins, cake stands, cutlery, etc. to add interest by way of texture, shape and height. You can also use raw ingredients from the recipe as a prop to convey freshness, such as juicy berries, vibrant herbs, a dribble of maple syrup or a dusting of flour on the table. Scatter bits of the food around it to hint at its texture, such as streusel crumbs or bits of chopped nuts. You can place utensils used in preparation, serving or enjoyment of the food to make the viewer feel part of the experience, such as a used whisk or spoon shattered through the sugary crust of a crème brulée tart. Be sure the prop makes sense and relates to the hero food.

Capture Food At Its Freshest

With some exception, many baked goods look their best when freshly prepared. Think about the shine of chocolate chips on a just-baked cookie, the glisten of freshly dripped glaze on a cake or gooey cheese on a hot pizza. These details make them inherently more drool-worthy! This means you should prepare as much of your set up as possible before the food is ready. Pull the table next to the window, set up any surfaces or backdrops, grab all the props you might need, fire up your playlist, and if you’re using one, have the tripod set up with the camera. Arrange props (sans the hero food) in a way you think will look good, and once the hero food hits the scene, ideally you only need to make a few final adjustments before you click away.

Beautiful shot of various pastries
Photo courtesy of Sonia Wong

Editing Magic

Brightness, colour saturation, white balance, contrast, shadows: these are some of the basic adjustments you can tweak in editing software to create a more professional and polished result. You don’t need to be an expert photographer or to shell out big money for software. There are powerful mobile editing apps available, some free to download (Lightroom and Snapseed for example). Taking an excellent photo straight out of camera is always #goals, but that rarely happens. Image editing can save a photo or enhance an already strong one. That said, I caution the impulse to over-edit. It’s easy to get carried away and end up with harsh, fake-looking results, so use a gentle touch!

Tune into Project Bakeover Thursdays 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.

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

This veggie-forward recipe with a boozy kick is one of Ree Drummond’s all-time best pasta dishes, and it’s easy to see why! Serve up this creation from The Pioneer Woman when you need a 30-minute stress-free meal that’ll also immediately brighten your dinner table.

Ree starts mini sweet peppers, garlic, onion, red and orange bell peppers, poblano and jalapeno in butter and olive oil over medium-high heat for a flavourful base. For a bit of a boozy kick, she adds 1/2 cup clear tequila and serves it all up with fresh cilantro and reserved mini pepper rings for toppings.

Related: 16 Minutes Until Dinner With The Pioneer Woman’s Honey-Garlic Shrimp Skewers

The Pioneer Woman’s Six Pepper Pasta

Total Time: 30 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

Kosher salt
1 lb fettuccine
2 Tbsp salted butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
6 multi-colored mini sweet peppers, sliced into rounds, a few rounds reserved for garnish
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 poblano pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup clear tequila
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp adobo sauce from canned chipotle peppers, plus more if needed
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Fast White Chicken Chili Will Become a Weeknight Staple

Directions

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta according to package instructions, then drain and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the mini sweet peppers, garlic, onion, red and orange bell peppers, poblano and jalapeno and season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the onions and peppers begin to darken, about 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a plate and set aside.

3. Return the skillet to the heat and allow it to come back up to temperature. Turn off the heat and pour in the tequila. Turn the heat back on and let it cook for 1 minute while scraping the bottom of the skillet to loosen any browned bits. Add the broth, bring to a simmer and simmer until reduced slightly, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Reduce the heat to medium low and pour in the cream. Add the adobo sauce, stirring constantly. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken, another 4 to 5 minutes.

5. When the sauce is thick, add the vegetables to the skillet, making sure to include all the juices that have drained onto the plate. Stir and cook until the mixture is bubbly and hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Taste and add salt, pepper and/or adobo sauce if needed.

6. Add the drained pasta to the sauce and toss to combine. Transfer to bowls and garnish with fresh cilantro and a few reserved mini pepper rings.

Watch the How-To video


For more inspiration, check out The Pioneer Woman’s 16-minute dinners.

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.

Beauty shot of Molly Yeh's Kung Pao Chicken, as seen on Girl Meets Farm, Season 6.

Skip Takeout With Molly Yeh’s Saucy and Spicy Kung Pao Chicken

Whether it’s scrumptious chicken shawarma tacos or a hearty zucchini pizza, Molly Yeh is an expert when it comes to comfort food classics. This is why it’s no surprise that we’re obsessed with the Girl Meets Farm star’s saucy, spicy twist on this Chinese takeout staple.

Boneless chicken thighs are cut into cubes, seasoned and mixed together with garlic, ginger, hoisin sauce, bell peppers, green beans, dried red chile peppers and Sichuan peppercorn powder for a hot and delicious one-dish meal you’ll want to eat on repeat.

Related: Molly Yeh’s Zucchini Pizza With Fresh Pesto Will Be Your New Go-To Pie

Beauty shot of Molly Yeh's Kung Pao Chicken, as seen on Girl Meets Farm, Season 6.

Molly Yeh’s Kung Pao Chicken

Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 4 to 6 servings

Ingredients

2 tsp cornstarch
3 Tbsp soy sauce
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 cloves garlic
One 2-inch piece ginger
2 Tbsp neutral oil
2 to 3 dried red chile peppers
1/2 lb green beans or Chinese long beans, sliced on a diagonal into 1-inch pieces
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1/2 bunch scallions, trimmed and sliced on a diagonal
1/2 tsp Sichuan peppercorn powder or crushed black peppercorns and coriander seeds
1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, plus more for garnish
Cooked white rice, for serving

Beauty shot of Molly Yeh's Kung Pao Chicken, as seen on Girl Meets Farm, Season 6.

Related: 25 Tasty Chinese Takeout Dishes You Can Master at Home

Directions

1. Whisk together the cornstarch, 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon rice vinegar in a medium bowl. Add the chicken, then toss to coat and let marinate at room temperature, 20 minutes.

2. Combine the hoisin, sugar, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, remaining 2 tablespoons rice vinegar and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl. Grate the garlic and ginger into the sauce. Stir and set aside.

3. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil, then add the chicken. Stir-fry until browned on the outside, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chiles, green beans, red pepper, scallions whites, Sichuan peppercorn powder and peanuts. Stir-fry until fragrant and the veggies are crisp-tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer until thickened slightly and the chicken is completely cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes. Garnish with the scallion greens and additional peanuts. Serve with the rice.

Related: 15 Recipes From Around the World That’ll Help Fill Your Travelling Void

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.

Watch the how-to video here.


Steve Hodge on the set of Project Bakeover

Steve Hodge Shares His Best Tips on How to Run a Successful Bakery

The life of a small business owner can be a challenging one, with small profit margins, fickle clientele and staffing issues looming as potential issues just over the horizon. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular put many small businesses in peril, and the hospitality industry was particularly hard hit (according to industry association Restaurants Canada, 10,000 restaurants closed between March and December 2020).

Steve Hodge and Tiffany Pratt discuss renovation plans for OMG Baked Goodness on the set of Project Bakeover

Steve Hodge knows these challenges like the back of his baking pan — as the owner of Temper Chocolate & Pastry in Vancouver, he has built up his business from a single location to one that sells treats in retail stores across the country. Now, on Project Bakeover, Steve brings the lessons he’s learned from his own success to small bakeries across North America.

We caught up by phone with Steve, who shared some of his best tips from the early episodes of this season for struggling entrepreneurs and bakery owners.

Related: Here’s What You Need to Know About Steve Hodge

Think Outside the Store

The first thing Steve does before even entering a bakery is to eyeball the signage outside. If the word “bakery” isn’t front and center, customers can get the wrong first impression (at Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats in Episode 1, the word didn’t even appear on the signage, but “classes” and “parties” were highlighted. “This could be a party store,” said Steve). Often, the customer’s decision as to whether to enter the shop is based on curbside appeal and a clear sense of the store’s direction.

See More: Mrs. Joy’s Absolutely Fabulous Treats Gets a Bold New Look

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

If the customer can’t see what your shop is selling, then they are less likely to buy. In Episode 2, Steve recommended that OMG Baked Goodness’ poorly organized and half-empty counters be loaded full of bright lights and inviting products. Remember to spotlight the best sellers and popular products.

Close up shot of the baked goods at OMG Baked Goodness

Bigger is Not Always Better

Sometimes customers want a big over-the-top treat, but more often, they are looking for a small indulgence. As soon as Steve bit into Mrs. Joy’s cream puff, he knew it was too large and a waste of her ingredients. “She’d get a bigger bang for her buck if she cut it down a bit,” he says. Consider that customers have varying appetites and budgets, and plan accordingly.

See More: We Share Our Go-To Bakeries Across Canada

Be Ready to Change on the Fly

Especially during pandemic times, where rolling lockdowns can mean an open dining space one day and a closed storefront with takeout only the next, flexibility is essential. At Temper Bakery, Steve and his team were ready to make some quick changes to adapt when the COVID-19 lockdowns began. “As bakeries, we can change the way we run our business — we can be a dine-in or grab-and-go,” he says. “At Temper, we now sell more frozen bake-at-home products than we sell fresh from the store. It was a matter of simplifying our business model and streamlining the elements to maximize profitability.”

Keep It Simple

In the same vein, Steve advises bakery owners to think outside the box, but not to hold onto inventory because they’re too attached to it or think they’ll need it later on. “This is a great time to simplify,” he says. “At Temper, we took 20 per cent of our menu off when the pandemic first hit, and we’re never returning to the old way.” The worst mistake he saw at the bakeries he visited was an overabundance of product choice, which led to the bakery owners being overwhelmed and working day in and day out.

Related: Watch Steve Hodge’s Video Bio

Harness Social Media

“If you’re not online, get online,” says Steve, who recommends that bakery owners use social media to identify and spotlight their hero items. “When I was in culinary school, there was no social media. Now, home cooks around the world can pick up the phone and take a picture of their baked goods. Social media changed the world of pastry in terms of who we knew were the best, and you learn more by inventing and creating.”

Take It Outside

Putting tables outside for curbside pickup is a perfect opportunity to draw traffic and boost curb appeal, says Steve. “It will draw you out of the kitchen and make you more interactive as a business owner,” he says. “If you haven’t been involved in [the] community, go outside and say hello and stay safe to your customers. Really take the chance to interact with them — they’ll remember it.”

To Make Money, You Have to Spend Money

Even if margins are tight, Steve recommends some low-cost ways to garner some publicity, such as contacting the local paper and buying a small ad, or running a contest on social media. “It can be as simple as saying ‘if you like this picture, send to this person, or recommend it for a gift and you have a chance to win a gift box’,” he says.

Put Your Logo Out There

Think beyond flyers when it comes to logos. “If you sell coffee in your shop and don’t logo your cups, go buy a $20 stamp with your logo and stamp away,” says Steve. “The majority of stuff for takeout that people carry around outside is in paper cups. You want your logo everywhere: on stickers, poles, and in peoples’ hands.”

Steve Hodge at OMG Baked Goodness

Keep an Open Mind to New Ideas, Even After the Pandemic Ends

Don’t just innovate in terms of trend chasing, advises Steve.  “We ask ourselves as business owners, ‘why didn’t we think of this before?’ — well, we didn’t always have to think of that next step,” he says. “But out of the pandemic, we’ve learned a lot of great things as to how to run a business, and we’ll keep doing them.”

Watch Project Bakeover Thursdays 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.

Leftover Grits, Ham & Gruyere Cheese = The Ultimate Fried Snack From Kardea Brown

Can a bite-sized fried recipe really be the snack of your dreams? As Kardea Brown proves time and time again with her mouth-watering comfort food on Delicious Miss Brown, the answer is yes with a capital Y.  Ready in 45 minutes, these crispy balls have all the goods thanks to the combo of ham, cheese, paprika, breadcrumbs and leftover cooked grits. It’s the afternoon snack we’ve all been waiting for.

Related: Kardea Brown’s Pan Fried Collard Greens Are the Garlicky, Bacon-y Vegetable Side Dish of Your Dreams

Kardea Brown’s Cheesy Country Ham Grit Balls

Total Time: 45 minutes
Yields: 10 to 12 servings

Ingredients:

Canola oil, for frying
1/2 cup diced country ham
2 1/2 cups leftover cooked grits
1 cup grated smoked Gruyere cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
Kosher salt

Miss Kardea Brown rolls her Cheesy Country Ham Grit Balls with Spicy Mayo in breading, as seen on Delicious Miss Brown, Season 3.

Related: 32 Easy Air Fryer Recipes That Are Simply Delish

Directions:

1. Fill a large Dutch oven two-thirds full with oil and heat over medium-high heat to 360°F.

2. Add 2 tablespoons oil to a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ham and cook just until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. Add the grits and cheese to the bowl and stir until combined. Using wet hands, scoop 1/4 cup of the grit mixture, roll it into a ball and place on a platter or large plate. Repeat until all the grit mixture is used.

3. Whisk together the flour, paprika and cayenne in a shallow bowl. In a separate shallow bowl, add the eggs. Add the panko to another separate shallow bowl. Dip each grit ball into the flour mixture and shake to remove any excess before dipping into the eggs and then into the panko, spinning to coat completely.

4. Add the grit balls to the Dutch oven in batches, frying until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Remove to a sheet pan lined with a wire rack and immediately sprinkle with salt.

Looking for a Southern-style finish to your fried snack? Kardea Brown’s Caramel Apple Cake should hit the (sweet) spot.

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.

Watch the how-to recipe video here:


Composite image of Noah Cappe, Eden Grinshpan and Steve Hodge over a close-up image of Valentine's Day conversation hearts

Local Restaurants That Food Network Canada Stars Are Loving This Valentine’s Day

This Valentine’s Day, Food Network Canada stars are sending love notes to their favourite local restaurants across the country. From baked goods to a romantic takeout meal at home, these are the local spots across Canada that our stars are crushing on (and with one bite, you will be too!). To participate in the #MyLocalValentine campaign, head to Food Network Canada’s Instagram on February 14th, and share your love notes to your favourite local restaurants using the Valentine’s Day templates in stories.

Related: Easy Pink Beet Pancakes Are the Perfect Valentine’s Day Breakfast

Tiffany Pratt: Tori’s Bakeshop (Toronto, Ontario)

 

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Toronto’s first vegan café and bakeshop in 2012 that has gained a loyal following with Food Network Canada staff and chefs alike. “I love Tori’s Bakeshop in the Beaches so much! I have been eating those breakfast cookies for as long as they have been open! Also their Easter cream egg is the most addictive thing I have ever put in my mouth. I even designed one of their locations! The food is made with love and everything tastes amazing and is good for you too. Gluten-free and vegan alike – this food is for everyone! I LOVE YOU TORI!”

Love the design of Tori’s Bakeshop? Did you know that it was designed by Tiffany herself? See more of Tiffany Pratt and her local restaurant designs in Project Bakeover.

Mijune Pak: AnnaLena (Vancouver, BC)

 

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In Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood, AnnaLena offers contemporary Canadian fare. “Love the creativity, quality of ingredients and commitment to flavours at AnnaLena, and they’re offering a Valentine’s Day tasting menu available for dine-in as well as a take-out.”

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, we tried Mijune Pak’s new chocolate creations (a perfect gift?) and here’s what we thought.

Renee Lavallee: Doraku Sushi (Dartmouth, Nova Scotia)

 

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A post shared by 道楽 Doraku (@dorakudartmouth)

This Japanese restaurant has been open for nearly thirty years, and is considered a local staple. “My favourite local love goes to Doraku Sushi in Dartmouth. Hands down THE BEST sushi in Nova Scotia. Perfect for a Valentine’s date night at home.”

And if you’re wondering where else to eat in Nova Scotia, here are Renee Lavallee’s top picks.

Eden Grinshpan: Joso’s (Toronto, Ontario)

Another longstanding favourite, this restaurant is a Yorkville staple. In business since 1967, it aims to transport guests to the warmth and beauty of the stunning Dalmatian coast. “My family and I have been going to Joso’s for years and are dear friends with the owners, Leo and Shirley. We LOVE their fresh seafood, squid ink risotto and the overall ambience. We always have the best time there.”

Looking to make a sweet dessert for your Valentine at home? Have you tried Eden Grinshpan’s Pistachio-Dusted Rose-Glazed Yeast Donuts?

Noah Cappe: Mallard Cottage (St. John’s, Newfoundland)

 

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Located in an 18th Century Irish-Newfoundland vernacular-style cottage, you can expect to find traditional fish and chips, moose croquettes, fishwiches, and Nutella crepes on the menu.

Restaurant picks aside, here are 10 more things you ought to know about Noah Cappe.

Suzanne Barr: TORA

 

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If you’re a fan of aburi sushi (or if you’re looking to try the novel flavours of this flame-seared take on the original), TORA ought to be on your list, as it’s on Suzanne Barr’s: “Since we’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day at home this year with our son, we’ve opted to go for a family-friendly menu from TORA – one of our fave spots for high-quality sushi and lots of it. And of course, a nice bottle of sake for after the little one goes to bed ;)”

Here’s how chef Suzanne Barr will make you think about your dinner plate differently

Steve Hodge: Two River Meats (Vancouver, BC)

Two Rivers Specialty Meats has something for those who enjoy the process as much as the results; offering house-made sausage, steak burgers, and more, the meats are thoughtfully sourced from farmers who care about their animals.  “For anyone looking to cook at home, they are the best and can be shipped!”

Aside from being in Project Bakeover, here are 10 more things you need to know about Steve Hodge.

Tiffany Pratt’s Top Tips for Giving Bakeries New Life

We all love freshly baked goods, but who doesn’t love a visual feast to accompany those mouthwatering croissants, cookies, and sky-high stacked deli sandwiches? HGTV Canada designer (and everyone’s favourite Queen of Pink) Tiffany Pratt gets it, which is why she’s here to help struggling bakery owners with her new series Project Bakeover. In each episode she teams with master chocolatier Steve Hodge to give new life to rundown places, tackling one bakery at a time.

Headshot of Tiffany Pratt smiling on the set of Project Bakeover

Of course, resto-design is something that Pratt is passionate about, having transformed numerous GTA eateries in the past. We sat down with the designer to pick her creative brain on what it takes to give any bakery (or restaurant for that matter) a whole new visual life.

Related: Gorgeous Restaurant Designs By Tiffany Pratt

Attract Customers at the Curb

Before a customer even walks into your establishment, it’s important to set the tone and mood with plenty of curb appeal. Go for a warm and welcoming vibe that gives patrons an idea of what they can expect when they step inside. “The space being welcoming doesn’t start when you walk in the door, it starts before you actually walk through the door, on the sidewalk from the street,” says Tiffany. “Create impact to get people inside. How I do that is with colour and shapes and textures and prints.”

Whether that’s a bright façade, a watercolour fence, or graffiti on the walls remains up to you, just make sure that it stands out and that it speaks to the vibe you’re going for.

Embrace What Makes Your Business Unique

Nothing gets customers more excited than knowing they have the option to try something new, even when you’re talking about the comfort fare featured at most bakeries. In terms of design, Tiffany says that means looking at different shapes, colours and textures that stand out and alert people that what you have going on at your space is unique and special. Of course, adding a different type of food or a daily special doesn’t hurt either. “It’s really about giving people an experience,” Tiffany adds.

See More: Mrs. Joy’s Gets a Dramatic Makeover

Maximize the Takeout Experience

These days with takeout being more necessary than ever, it’s a chance for eateries to appeal to customers on a whole new level. Because let’s face it: everyone could use a little more joy in their lives, and what’s more joyful than feeling like your regular old Tuesday night takeout is an entire experience?

“I’ve had a few people that, instead of having a door, they just did a temporary cloud window, and made it a fun little pickup window,” Pratt says. “Cafes that I’ve designed turned their diner into one of those 1950s drive-in style places. And they actually did it so that people didn’t even have to leave their cars. They brought their food outside, drive-in style. There are so many fun ways to package things.”

Put Care Into Packaging

Speaking of takeout and delivery, Tiffany says it’s just as important to think about how you package your food as it is to think about how you design your space. Because that takeout is travelling away from your eatery, with every potential to bring new and returning customers back. “We focus less on what the space looks like right now as how the food is packaged,” she explains. “How can we take pictures of this fun takeout food? This comes into the conversation about branding and stickers and bags and logos, because if people can’t go into the restaurant or the bakery, they still want an experience.”

Related: Watch Full Episodes of Project Bakeover

Take Your Clientele Into Consideration

When Tiffany designed the dining room at Piano Piano, she knew that customers would be sitting down to a long and lengthy meal—as you do at nice Italian restaurants. Add in the fact that some meals would be heavy, and she wanted to ensure that people would be more than comfortable for extended periods of time. The designer says that taking the menu and clientele into consideration when designing any space is super important, and it’s one of the first conversations she has.

“I’ll say to myself as a designer, ‘OK, well, this is the food, this is what people are expecting.’ And then what can I do that is unexpected that no one has done yet that would make more people come here instead of anywhere else?” she explains.

Create An Overall Vibe

Whatever vibe you create with your eatery’s exterior, be sure to continue that feeling on the inside. Tiffany says that she always brings samples back to the spot itself in order to see how natural light affects her selections, and then she creates her famous colour combos in order to evoke all those feelings.

“Combining colours for me is about how I want the person who’s sitting in the space to feel,” she says, pointing to her dusty pink, teal, blue and mustard yellow design at Café Cancan as an example. “I just felt like that was making a more masculine clientele feel happy by that deep teal. The orange is very playful, but the pink always no matter who you are, makes everyone feel cozy,” she adds.

See More: Explore Bakeries From Project Bakeover

 

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Don’t Forget the Instagram Crowd

These days everything is visual, and customers who are inspired to take a photo of your space to share with their social media crew creates a great opportunity for more publicity. Tiffany always ensures that she has such a space in her designs, whether that’s a fun dresser by the restrooms with inexpensive props, a colourful wall, or fun accessories on the tables.

“My favourite is to have something else to take pictures of. That’s what everybody—influencer or not—gets excited about,” Pratt says. “This is a very visual culture that we live in. If we give people beautiful things to experience, to try, and to look at and take pictures of, that becomes a trifecta of the commercial bakery industry, in my opinion.”

Last But Not Least, Don’t Focus on Perfection

Looking ahead, Tiffany predicts waste-free design trends with less expensive finishes. She also thinks people will continue to be excited by colour and things that spark joy and creativity. But she also says that we’re learning to be more forgiving with ourselves, and that extends to design as well.

“We have to be less attached to perfection and doing things perfectly and spending tons of money on things,” she says. “Often just opening the doors and creating great food and creating a fun, inviting atmosphere is more important than anything. Don’t focus on perfection, focus on fun. Focus on creating an environment that people want to be in. That’s the most important thing.”

Watch Project Bakeover Thursdays 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.

Molly Yeh’s Zucchini Pizza With Fresh Pesto Will Be Your New Go-To Pie

Our all-time favourite Girl Meets Farm recipes often include Molly Yeh’s healthier comfort food classics – think bagel salads and chicken shawarma – and this mouth-watering zucchini-forward pizza is no exception. Whether you’re looking for a hearty lunch or family-friendly dinner main, this pie is a slice of pizza heaven.

Make use of all that luscious basil and mint growing in your indoor herb garden by combining it with toasted pine nuts, garlic, crushed red pepper, zucchini and cheese for a meal you’ll want to eat on repeat. Find more tips and recipes with our ultimate herb guide.

Related: Molly Yeh’s One-Pot Wonder Taco Hot Dish

Molly Yeh’s Zucchini Pizza With Basil Mint Pesto

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

Pizza Dough:
500 grams (3 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Pizza Toppings:
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
4 cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil, plus more for serving
1/2 cup fresh mint
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper, plus more for serving
1 lemon, halved
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan, plus more for serving
1/2 cup olive oil
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1/2 lb fresh mozzarella, torn
1 small or 1/2 large (6 ounces) zucchini, cut into 1/8-inch-thick slices

Related: Molly Yeh’s Flaky Dill Bread: The Perfect Use for Leftover Herbs

Molly Yeh's Zucchini Pizza with Fresh Basil Mint Pesto

Directions

1. For the pizza dough: Mix together the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl, then stir in 350 grams (1 1/2 cups) water until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and put it down for an 18- to 24-hour nap at room temperature until it’s doubled in sized and bubbling.

2. For the pizza toppings: Preheat the grill with a pizza stone over medium-high heat. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a baking sheet.)

3. Combine the pine nuts, garlic, basil, mint, crushed red pepper, juice of half a lemon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, a few turns of black pepper and the Parmesan in a food processor and pulse to a coarse crumb. With the processor running, drizzle in the olive oil and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired.

4. Divide the pizza dough in half. On a floured pizza peel or baking sheet, flatten out one half of the dough into a 10- to 11-inch round. Spread with a thin layer of the pesto and top with half of the mozzarella. Bring it out to the grill. Grill the zucchini and remaining lemon half on the grates until charred, a few minutes. Add half the zucchini to the pizza and slide it onto the pizza stone. Close the grill and cook until the bottom is browned and cheese is melty, 6 to 9 minutes. Drizzle with more pesto, squeeze with juice from the charred lemon and add more Parmesan, crushed red pepper and basil and serve.

5. Repeat with the other half of the pizza dough and ingredients.

Related: The Best Homemade Pizza Recipes (Including Dough From Scratch)

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.

Watch the how-to video here:


 

3 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This February

If you’re like us, all this time at home has been great for two reasons: it’s let us catch up on some of our favourite television, and has us spending way more time in the kitchen whipping up delicious eats (anyone else obsessed with that air fryer they got over the holidays?). The good news: that’s not about to change any time soon, as Food Network Canada has a delicious slate of new shows to dig into this month with STACKTV on Amazon Prime.

Project Bakeover

Who Should Watch:  Neighbourhood bakery lovers.

Steve Hodge and Tiffany Pratt on set for Project Bakeover

Pastry chef Steve Hodge (Great Chocolate Showdown) teams up with HGTV Canada star and the queen of colour Tiffany Pratt to help revamp down-and-out bakery owners’ businesses, breathing new energy (not to mention tasty goods) and beautiful design into their struggling shops.

Related: 5 Gorgeous Restaurants Designed by Tiffany Pratt

Supermarket Stakeout

Who Should Watch:  Savvy supermarket shoppers.

Alex Guarnaschelli is back for a third exciting season of this grocery store competition. Four chefs negotiate with shoppers to snag their groceries and make jaw-dropping themed dishes from the wares.

Host Alex Guarnaschelli portrait, as seen on Supermarket Stakeout, Season 3.

Great Chocolate Showdown

Who Should Watch:  Chocoholics of all ages.

Cynthia Stroud, Anna Olson and Steve Hodge return for the second season of sweet competition! Ten new talented bakers enter the competition ready to show off their chocolate-making and dessert-baking skills in order to take home the $50,000 grand prize.

Cynthia Stroud, Anna Olson and Steve Hodge on the set of Great Chocolate Showdown season 2

Related: Meet the Season 2 Bakers on Great Chocolate Showdown

Carolina Smothered Chicken with Creamy Mustard Sauce, as Seen on Delicious Miss Brown, Season 3.

This Kardea Brown Creamy Carolina Smothered Chicken Recipe is a Must-Try

As Kardea Brown has proven time and again on Delicious Miss Brown, truly crave-worthy comfort food involves a familiar favourite (chicken, chicken and more chicken) combined with a thick, mouth-watering sauce that will make you want to lick your plate clean. Trust us, you’ll want to introduce this hearty dish into your regular meal rotation.

Related: Kardea Brown’s Beef and Okra Stew is the Warming Dinner You Didn’t Know You Were Craving

Kardea Brown’s Carolina Smothered Chicken with Creamy Mustard Sauce

Total Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

Chicken:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp House Seasoning, recipe follows
4 bone-in chicken thighs
1 cup canola oil

Sauce:
1 medium onion, diced
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken stock or broth
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp ground mustard
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

House Seasoning:
1/4 cup garlic powder
1/4 cup onion powder
1/4 cup sweet paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup freshly ground black pepper

Related: Kardea Brown’s Pan Fried Collard Greens Are the Garlicky, Bacon-y Vegetable Side Dish of Your Dreams

Host Kardea Brown, Carolina Smothered Chicken with Creamy Mustard Sauce, Roasted Broccoli Salad with Bacon Dressing, as Seen on Delicious Miss Brown, Season 3.

Directions

1. For the chicken: Whisk together the flour and House Seasoning in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat.

2. Add the oil to a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess, and add to the hot oil. Fry until the chicken is golden brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove to a plate and set aside.

3. For the sauce: Add the diced onions to the hot oil in the skillet and cook until the onions are slightly softened and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butter, garlic, thyme and rosemary and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more. Whisk in the stock, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer until thickened, 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk in the cream, Dijon and ground mustard and bring to a simmer again until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chicken, turning to coat with the gravy. Cover and cook, turning the chicken occasionally, 25 to 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley before serving.

4. House Seasoning: Yields 1 1/4 cups. Stir together the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Keep in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Related: Skip the Drive-Thru With Kardea Brown’s 30-Minute Fish Fillet Sandwich

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.

Watch the how-to video here:


Two grilled tuna tacos filled with a mix of veggies and fresh salsa sit atop a crispy homemade corn tortilla

The Best Tacos in North America in 2021: John Catucci’s Bucket List Picks

Originating in Mexico sometime in the 18th century, today’s taco craze proves these simple tortilla snacks have serious lasting power. And with good reason; tacos are cheap, versatile and undeniably delicious. This hand-held street food packs intense flavour in just one bite and boasts the ability of entirely new tastes depending on your salsa of choice.  Whether you’re grabbing some late-night eats off the street corner or indulging in the diverse flavours at a high-end restaurant,  a taco simply never disappoints.  Why not make your New Year’s resolution to try the best tacos with one of food expert John Catucci’s picks of 2021!


See More: Browse the Restaurants Featured on Big Food Bucket List

Al Pastor Tacos with refried beans and a salad

Based on the lamb Shwarma brought to Mexico by Lebanese immigrants, the Al Pastor taco combines aromatic Middle Eastern spices with those indigenous to South America. A mainstay staple, this beef or pork-based taco can be found at just about any authentic taqueria, but for the ultimate plant-based take you’ll want to head to Tumerico in Tucson, AZ.  Prepared with smashed jackfruit, deep-fried then sauteed with pineapple for a sweet, caramelized finish. Top it all off with fresh corn, pico de gallo, onion, cilantro, a drizzle of cashew cream, and restaurant signature – a dusting of Tumeric. Beloved by meat-eaters, vegetarians and vegans alike for it’s spicy, smokey flavour.

Get the recipe for Al Pastor Tacos

 

Over at Tacos Chiwas, Chef Nadia Holguin shares the flavours of her families home state of Chihuahua, Mexico. The smoked brisket Deshebrada Roja Gorditas is the supreme hand-held food; slow-cooked shredded beef and refried beans fill a homemade flour tortilla pocket. Chef Nadia makes the 12-hour trip home each month to bring in the dried red hatch chile used to make the savoury Roja sauce, so you know she is passionate about bringing her guests the absolute best.

Related: 50 Tasty Taco Recipes You’ll Crave Every Day of the Week

 

John Catucci and Chef Nick Liu smile at one another while cooking in the kitchen at DaiLo

At the height of their popularity, the traditional taco took on a whole new delicious dimension when chefs began cooking them in a fusion style. At Toronto, Ontario’s Dailo, Chef Nick Liu creates predominantly Chinese fare with signature flair, including his exquisite Crispy Octopus Tacos.  The self-titled Ninja Chef begins by substituting your standard corn tortilla with thin slices of crunchy, sweet jicama and follows up with layers of salty pork belly, crispy fried octopus and an Asian vegetable garnish. The result, as John demonstrates, is a bite worthy of three first pumps of pure joy.

 

Related: From Competitor to Judge: Nick Liu Returns to Food Network Canada on Wall of Chefs

If you’re intrigued by a new blending of flavours but aren’t ready to give up a corn base, Primal Kitchen & Bar has you covered with their Tuna Tacos.  This Halifax kitchen fills their tortilla with a seared, pink tuna steak, topped with avocado crema, pickled vegetables and delicate shavings of dried seaweed.  Not that it needs selling, but John Catucci does call it “the best fish taco” he’s ever had.

Get the recipe for Tuna Tacos

 

Now that you’ve dipped your toes in the experimental side of things, it’s time to up the ante with a true original; Abe Fisher’s Veal Schnitzel Taco, found in the heart of Philadelphia. These decadent tacos are uniquely prepared with chunks of braised veal, which are then breaded and deep-fried. Finished with a salty anchovy mayo and sweet and spicy pickled red cabbage for the perfect bite every time.

Get the recipe for Veal Schnitzel Tacos

 

If you’re looking to really surprise your taste buds, Hamilton’s own Rapscallion Rogue Eatery is slinging sweetbread tacos, made with a less conventional, but seriously amazing, buttermilk fried pancreas. This buttery, rich meat is complemented by a drizzle of smokey, poblano aioli, spicy mango salsa and garnish with pickled red onion and fresh cilantro. Meat lovers everywhere- add this to your bucket list!

Watch full episodes of Big Food Bucket List onlineYou can also stream 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.

Host Jeff Mauro arrives, as seen on Kitchen Crash, Season 1.

Getting to Know Kitchen Crash’s Jeff Mauro: From Comedy To Cooking

Jeff Mauro’s worn a lot of hats during his career — from a chef’s toque to a ball cap — but he’s best known for his cooking shows. From the love of the humble sandwich to a hard-won place in the Food Network Canada roster, Jeff’s sampled a smorgasbord of skills on his way up. Here are 10 things you may not know about the host of the new Food Network show Kitchen Crash.

He’s Been a Comedian From Childhood

Born and raised in Chicago, Jeff’s been joking around since he was a kid — he started doing plays and comedies in the second grade and began honing his improv chops at Second City youth classes the next year. He even did standup comedy (briefly) in his 20s.

He’s Studied the Art of Television

Jeff’s ease with the camera comes through some serious studying: he has a degree in communications, radio, and television production from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. and was the valedictorian of his graduating class in 2000.

He Cooked His Way Through College

As the kitchen steward at the Sigma Chi fraternity house at Bradley, Jeff paid for his room and board by practicing his cooking skills on his fellow students. “I remember making everyone sit down and enjoy a nice dinner with wine,” he said in an interview with Spoon University. “It was pretty funny turning this crazy animal house into a place where we enjoyed a civil supper.”

 

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A post shared by Jeff Mauro (@jeffmauro)

He Has Professional Training in Cooking

During a stint in Hollywood pursuing his comedy and cooking career, Jeff made his bones the old school way — by enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu culinary program to hone his cooking chops, according to his bio.

Deli Runs in His Blood

After moving back to his hometown of Chicago, he opened up Prime Time Deli & Catering in Westmont, Ill., with his older cousin Dave, a chef. Jeff was also behind the now-defunct Pork ’n Mindy’s and now builds sandwich kits for his brand, Mauro Provisions.

Chef By Day, Actor By Night

Jeff split his time between slinging sandwiches and singing on stage at Piper’s Alley Theatre as Tony in the Chicago production of the interactive and kitschy musical, Tony and Tina’s Wedding. “I auditioned as a waiter and worked my way up to the Tony role,” he told Love In The Time Of Coronavirus.

He Has a Podcast With His Sister, Emily

One of four siblings, Jeff gets in lots of family time — especially with his sister Emily, with whom he does the podcast Come On Over (which has recently been spun off into a cookbook). Jeff jokes about the high ratings amongst his family members: “We are the ‘#1 New Podcast hosted by siblings’ as voted on by at least 6 of my 9 Aunts,” he posted on Instagram.

 

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A post shared by Jeff Mauro (@jeffmauro)

He’s No Stranger to the Food Network Canada Audience

Although Jeff auditioned three times for The Next Food Network Star before ultimately winning season 7, he’s making up for lost time. He’s made appearances on Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay, Guy’s Grocery Games, and judged Chopped Junior and Cupcake Wars. He also spun off his niche from The Next Food Network Star into three seasons of Sandwich King and currently co-hosts The Kitchen and his new show, Kitchen Crash.

He Has Two Mini Golden Doodles Called Jojo and Pinot G

Jeff’s fallen in puppy love with his two tiny doggos, who have their own Instagram account (@jojoandpinot) which currently sits at over 6,300 followers. The pups apparently prefer yak bones and turkey to sandwiches, however.

 

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His Family Sometimes Acts As His Camera Crew

During pandemic times, Jeff’s wife Sarah and son Lorenzo helped out with camera and styling duties during socially distanced filming for some of his television appearances.

 

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A post shared by Jeff Mauro (@jeffmauro)

And Once More With Feeling: Jeff Loves to Belt Out the Classics

Whether he’s serenading a ballpark with an enthusiastic version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during a Cubs game or taking a happy birthday wish to operatic heights, Jeff isn’t afraid to attack each song with gusto.

Watch Kitchen Crash January 10 at 10ep 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.

Host Jeff Mauro appears, as seen on Kitchen Crash, Season 1.

5 Hot New Releases to Binge on Amazon Prime This January

Here’s a resolution: watch more of the most delicious, drool-worthy shows to inspire you in the kitchen in 2021 (and beyond). Ring in the new year with a slew of new Food Network Canada series that you can binge-watch now with STACKTV on Amazon Prime. Ready to bid adieu to 2020 and hone your cooking skills in the year ahead? Read (and watch) on.

Kitchen Crash

Who Should Watch: The family who grocery shops together.

Host Jeff Mauro appears, as seen on Kitchen Crash, Season 1.

Jeff Mauro (The Kitchen) arrives in unsuspecting neighbourhoods to put chefs to the ultimate grocery showdown. Chefs are challenged to ambush real family homes and have a cookout right in the middle of the street. The winning chef achieves bragging rights (and a cash prize to split with the family whose pantry they raided!).

Big Food Bucket List

Who Should Watch: Supporters of local restaurants.

John Catucci watches as a restaurant patron takes a big bite of a pizza dish

John Catucci returns for all-new episodes of the most delicious and hilarious channel show. From Orlando, Florida to Hamilton, Ontario, John is leaving no stone unturned and trying all the delicious joints on his bucket list.

Related: Big Food Bucket List Restaurants That Offer Takeout Now

Kids Baking Championship

Who Should Watch: Little bakers, and the ones who love them.

Wideshot of Bella, Miabella, Haylin, Nemo, Keaton, Trey, Cydney, Mckenzly, Andrew, D'von, Namiah, Jonah racing to pantry, as seen on Kids Baking Championship, Season 9.

Duff Goldman and Valerie Bertinelli return for an all-new season of the exciting baking competition. Child prodigy bakers compete in a series of challenges to prove that they have the baking chops to be named the baking champion.

See More: Ree Drummond’s Very Best Dinner Recipes for Kids

Chopped $50,000 Champs Challenge

Who Should Watch: Couch culinary critics.

Contestants Brittany Rescigno, Gregory Headen, Fernanda Tapia, and Cory Oppold prepare to open their appetizer baskets during the Champions Tournament, as seen on Chopped, Season 45.

Former Chopped champions return to compete once more! It’s a battle of racing clocks and mystery basket curveballs as the best of the best compete to win a whopping $50,000.

Delicious Miss Brown

Who Should Watch: Anyone whose new year resolution is to cook more!

Miss Kardea Brown plates her Steakhouse Burger with frizzled onion, thick cut bacon, tomato and blue cheese dressing, as seen on Delicious Miss Brown, Season 3.

Caterer and cook Kardea Brown is whipping up Southern comfort food and sharing her recipes with you. Many of her recipes pay homage to her Gullah heritage (a distinct group of African Americans living in the Lowcountry region), inspired by recipes from her mother and grandmother. One thing is certain – when you’re in Miss Brown’s kitchen, there are sure to be some delicious eats!

Related: Easy, Comforting Recipes From Delicious Miss Brown

Anna Olson holds up a ceramic ramekin dessert

Anna Olson’s Genius Way to Use Up Leftover Holiday Cookies

They say one person’s trash is another person’s treasure – and this rule certainly applies in the kitchen! From pie crusts to trifles, there are dozens of creative ways to use stale cookies in sweet repurposed recipes. Use Anna Olson’s tip below for any type of cookies you have on hand, or try your hand at one of our other great recipes that make use of your sweet holiday leftovers.

Related: Shop Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Gadgets

Sugar Cookies


To use as a crumble topping, break up leftover sugar cookies into little pieces in a bowl. For every one cup of crumbled up cookies, add two tablespoons of melted butter and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. It’s that easy! After cooling, serve this delicious dessert as you like it – drizzled with caramel sauce, with a scoop of ice cream, or a dash of icing sugar.

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Wooden charcuterie board with a chocolate dessert salami cut into small coins

Take leftover store-bought or homemade chocolate sandwich cookies and make a rich, chocolate-y no-bake dessert (that makes a great late holiday gift!). Chocolate sandwich cookies, graham crackers and pretzels stud this dessert salami, making it the perfect recipe to use up all your leftover snacks.

Get the recipe for No-Bake Oreo Salami

Gingerbread Cookies

Milk chocolate bark studded with ginger snap cookies, cranberries and pistachios and drizzled with white chocolate

Got surplus gingerbread cookies or a smashed gingerbread house? Crushed up gingerbread cookies work perfectly in place of ginger snaps in this milk chocolate holiday bark.

Get the recipe for Gingerbread Holiday Bark

Shortbread Cookies

Vanilla ice ccream swirled with strawberries and topped with a cookie crumble

For a sweet, buttery topping, crumble leftover shortbread cookies on top of ice cream drizzled in homemade strawberry rhubarb syrup. It’ll add a little crunchy texture to your sundae.

Get the recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb & Shortbread Cookie Crumble

Anything Else!

Grasshopper pie with chocolate crust and mint cream filling and a sprinkling of chocolate cookie crumble

Instead of graham crackers, use a cookie of your choice to make a delicious pie crust. For this traditional grasshopper pie recipe, crush chocolate cookies and mix with melted butter. Press into a pan and then fill with marshmallow fluff. Delish!

Looking for more ways to use up leftovers? Check out these tasty ways to use all that leftover turkey, plus these sweet & savoury ways to repurpose pie dough.

Close-up of Mashed Potato with Goats Cheese, as seen on Barefoot Contessa: Back to the Basics, Season 15.

How to Make Ina Garten’s Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

It really doesn’t matter whether you serve turkey, ham, a turducken or even a tofurky — for many, the real star of a holiday meal is the mashed potato. Nothing beats the side dish’s creamy texture and buttery flavour, which is why we’re always looking to up our mashed potato game with cheese, buttermilk, bacon and other delightfully decadent toppings.

Close-up of Mashed Potato with Goats Cheese, as seen on Barefoot Contessa: Back to the Basics, Season 15.

Related: Ina Garten’s Coziest Holiday Brunch Recipes

Ina Garten’s stress-free, goat cheese-filled make-ahead mashed potatoes recipe will certainly become a winner at your festive table this year. These spuds are one of those amazing dishes you can make ahead, and then heat up on the day to give them a crunchy Parmesan crust. Because who doesn’t want to check off another item on your to-do list before the big day? The only real trick will be not eating them all yourself. Simple, laid back and delicious — exactly how Ina Garten believes gatherings with friends and family should be.

Ina Garten’s Make-Ahead Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

3 lbs large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut in 3/4-inch chunks
5 large garlic cloves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
7 to 8 oz garlic-and-herb goat cheese, at room temperature, such as Montrachet
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1/2 cup half-and-half or milk
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the potatoes, garlic and 1 tablespoon salt in a large pot with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, until very tender.

2. Drain the potatoes and garlic and process them together through a food mill fitted with the coarsest blade set on top of a bowl. While the potatoes are still hot, stir in the goat cheese, butter, sour cream, half-and-half, 4 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons pepper until smooth.

See More: Ina Garten’s Vegetable Sides That Will Steal the Show 

3. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-12-by-2-inch oval baking dish, smoothing the top. Sprinkle the Parmesan on top and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve hot.

4. Make it ahead: Assemble the dish, including the parmesan, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bake before serving.

Watch Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics 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.

Celebrate the Holidays With Molly Yeh’s Brussels Sprout Latkes

Our favourite Girl Meets Farm recipes often include Molly Yeh’s mouth-watering holiday staples, and this clever twist on the Hanukkah classic is no exception. Whether you’re trying your hand at making latkes for the first time or looking for a new spin on a family favourite, this quick and easy masterpiece is your best bet.

Chickpea flour, red pepper flakes, onion, garlic and shredded Brussels sprouts come together in this healthier latke recipe that will become a household favourite. Just don’t forget the homemade balsamic Dijon sour cream dip for the finishing touch!

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

Host Molly Yeh's Brussels Sprouts Latkes & Balsamic Dijon Sour Cream, as seen on Girl Meets Farm, Season 2.

Molly Yeh’s Brussels Sprout Latkes

Total Time: 35 minutes
Yields: 8 servings

Ingredients:

Balsamic Dijon Sour Cream:
1 cup sour cream
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Latkes:
4 large egg whites
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
4 cups (about 12 ounces) lightly packed finely shredded Brussels sprouts
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup all-purpose or chickpea flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes
Canola or vegetable oil, for frying

Related: The Most Delicious Chocolate Babka with a Healthy Twist for Hanukkah

Directions:

1. For the balsamic Dijon sour cream: Stir together the sour cream, mustard, honey, vinegar and salt in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. For the latkes: Whisk together the egg whites and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add the Brussels sprouts, onion and garlic and stir to combine.

3. Stir in the flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, some black pepper and a few pinches of red pepper flakes.

4. Line a plate with paper towels. Heat a thin layer of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Scoop an eighth of the mixture (about 1/2 cup) into the skillet and use a spatula to pat it out into a flat pancake, about 1/2-inch thick. Cook until browned, 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Repeat with the remaining batter.

5. Remove to the paper towels, sprinkle with salt and serve with the balsamic Dijon sour cream and lemon wedges on the side.

Related:  20+ Hanukkah Decorations You’ll Want to Display All Year Long

Watch the how-to video:


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.

Host Kristin Chenoweth, as seen on Candyland, Season 1.

5 New Releases to Watch on STACKTV with Amazon Prime This December

The holidays are one of the most delicious times of the year – and while 2020 is making us reimagine typical festive traditions, you can always count on Food Network Canada as a source of inspiration, no matter what you’re craving. Here, we’ve rounded up an all-new selection of holiday shows featuring your favourite faces and enough delectable recipes to fill your stockings twice, plus classic shows that you’ll love watching any time of the year! Watch Food Network Canada on STACKTV with Amazon Prime Video Channels all December long.

Buddy vs Christmas

Who Should Watch: The family whose Christmas tree has been up and decorated since November

Team Buddy featuring Buddy Valastro, as seen on Buddy vs Christmas, Season 1.

Fan favourite Buddy Valastro returns for a brand new competition, this one decidedly more nice than naughty. It’s a completely new side of Buddy, as he’s pushed outside of his cake-creating comfort zone to compete against talented artists and design magical, holiday-inspired creations.

Related: Cakes, Cookies or Pies? Buddy Valastro Reveals His Ultimate Holiday Treat

Feasting With the Stars

Who Should Watch: Anyone missing big holiday get-togethers with family and friends

Geoffrey Zakarian, along with his family and celebrity friends, is sharing his treasured traditions and festive recipes with you in this one-hour special that’s the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit.

Restaurant Impossible: Revisited

Who Should Watch: Restaurant renovation aficionados

Robert speaks with Jennifer Kerzie outside of the restaurant, as seen on Season 17 of Restaurant Impossible

In these special episodes, host Robert Irvine heads back to previously visited failing restaurants to check in with the owners and discover their progress since the initial visit and see how things have changed.

See More: 20 Canadian Food Causes That Need Your Help This Holiday Season

Candy Land

Who Should Watch: Nostalgic board game lovers

Host Kristin Chenoweth, as seen on Candyland, Season 1.

The classic board game is brought to life in Candy Land, hosted by Kristen Chenoweth! Competitors travel around the board, plucking ingredients straight out of the game and building their sweet masterpieces along the way. You’ll be transported directly into a childhood fantasy with this sweet new series.

Christmas Cookie Challenge

Who Should Watch: Santa’s cookie bakers

Wide view of Host Ree Drummond and Host Eddie Jackson, as seen on Christmas Cookie Challenge, Season 4.

Eddie Jackson and Ree Drummond are back hosting a new season of this sweet competition. In each episode, five bakers compete to find out if their holiday cookie-making skills are worthy of Santa’s nice list (plus a cool $10,000 prize).

Related: From Bakers to Grill Masters, Holiday Gifts Perfect for the Food Lover in Your Life

Anna Olson smiles while icing a cupcake with her Anna Olson Kitchen Disposable Icing Bags

Anna Olson’s Top 10 Baking Tools for the Holidays

Holiday baking season is here and having the right tools on hand will help lead you to success. These are my top gadgets to make this holiday season less stressful. Remember, “stressed” spelled backwards is “desserts!”

Related: Anna Olson’s 50 Ultimate Holiday Desserts

1. Offset spatula

This tool becomes an extension of your hand as you use it to lift cookies off of hot trays, loosen cakes delicately from their pans and frost cakes with precision and panache. The spatula I use in Bake is my own. I’ve had it for about 10 years and I’d be lost without it!

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen Long Offset Spatula,  HBC, $10.

Hands mixing a batter with a black silicone spatula with various baking tools and ingredients laid on the table around the bowl

2. Silicone spatula

I prefer the curved spatulas for effective folding and stirring and for getting every last bit of batter out of a bowl. Silicone is heatproof so it can be used to stir pastry creams and sauces on the stove.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Allwin Housewares Silicone Spatula 3-Piece Set, Amazon, $12.

3. Oven thermometer

This may sound trivial but a thermometer placed inside your oven is a valuable and inexpensive tool that can save you frustration and prevent spoiled baked treats. You’d be amazed how many ovens don’t sit at the correct temperature the entire time your goods bake. Just because your oven “dings” or displays the temperature doesn’t necessarily mean it is accurate. If you discover your oven temperature is far out of range by 10 °C or more, a repair person can recalibrate it.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Pecula Oven Thermometre, Amazon, $12.

Related: Anna Olson’s Top 5 Vegan Baking Substitutes

Anna Olson poses in her kitchen while icing a cupcake

4. Disposable piping bags

Gone are the days of fabric piping bags that never quite come clean or that only fit your largest piping tip. Most cake supply and even craft shops will carry disposable piping bags in an assortment of sizes. They can be reused if you wish and are fully recyclable. You can even buy really small ones, which are perfect if you’re hosting a cookie decorating party.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen 100-Pack Disposable Icing Bags, HBC, $18.

5. Ice cream scoops

I rely on an assortment of sizes, not just for scooping ice cream. They are great for portioning perfectly consistent cookies and dropping muffin or cupcake batter into tins with less mess.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Chee Mong Ice Cream Scooper Set, Amazon, $29.

6. Candy thermometer

The world of confectionery and chocolate work requires a precision that only a candy thermometer can offer. The difference between the thread stage and the soft ball stage of boiling sugar is only a few degrees and a candy thermometer takes the guesswork out of it. There are traditional models and also digital probe thermometers – both work equally well. If you have an induction cooktop I recommend the traditional model because the magnetic energy of the induction can interfere with the digital reads.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Taylor Classic Candy Thermometer, Amazon, $17.

Related: From Easy to Advanced: Anna Olson’s Chocolate Recipes For Every Skill Level

7. Fine rasp

Savoury kitchens use this fine grater for garlic and Parmesan but I value it for finely grated citrus zest, mincing ginger without any fibres, grating nutmeg and for chocolate. Now there are models with larger grates, so you get chocolate curls, not just shavings.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Starfrit Zester/Grater with Protective Cover, Amazon, $10.

Yellow Citrus Juicer on a marble table with freshly squeezed juice and lemons

 

8. Bar citrus juicer

Lemon, lime and orange juice figure prominently in desserts and I always use freshly squeezed juice. A bar juicer is and fast and convenient way to extract the most juice and it’s easy to clean.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Chef’n FreshForce Citrus Juicer, Amazon, $33.

9. Measuring tape

This may seem trivial but a fabric measuring tape is immensely handy in a baker’s kitchen. I can verify how thick my dough is as I roll it and I can measure the circumference of a piece of fondant before I lift it to cover a cake. Plus, I can ensure that my squares are all cut to the same size.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Edtape Measuring Tape, Amazon, $6.

10. Cake wheel

If you are getting serious about baking this will be a tool you’ll want to invest in. A cake wheel spins on its base, making seamless frosting simple and detailed piping less. Professional cast-iron cake wheels can be pricey but there are other more affordable options. You can even purchase a lazy Susan that can function as a cake wheel.

Food Network Canada Editor Pick: Anna Olson Kitchen Glass Top Cake Turntable, HBC, $44.

For more festive recipes from Anna Olson, try her Triple Gingerbread Bundt Cake and Hot Chocolate Nanaimo Bars.

All products featured on Food Network Canada are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy through links in this article, we earn an affiliate commission.

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

When it comes to quick and easy five-ingredient meals, you can rely on The Pioneer Woman for a healthy and scrumptious weeknight option. With fresh cherry tomatoes, crunchy bell peppers and juicy cuts of boneless ribeye steaks, this bright and bold sheet pan wonder from Ree Drummond is everything you need in a well-balanced meat and veggie dish. *chef’s kiss*

Related: Simple and Satisfying Recipes That Use 5 Ingredients or Less

Steak Sheet Pan Supper

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Yields: 2 servings

Ingredients:

2 red bell peppers, cut into thick rounds
2 yellow bell peppers, cut into thick rounds
1 large yellow onion, cut into thick rounds (large rings only)
2 cups whole cherry tomatoes
Two 12-ounce boneless rib-eye steaks, about 1 1/2 inches thick
4 tsp Montreal steak seasoning
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 Tbsp salted butter
1 loaf crusty, artisan-style French bread, for serving

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Cheesiest, Most Comforting Recipes Ever

Directions:

1. Position an oven rack on the highest level in the oven. Preheat the broiler on high.

2. Arrange the peppers on a sheet pan in a single layer. Do the same with the onions and cherry tomatoes. This will create a bed of vegetables for the steaks to sit on.

3. Lay the steaks directly on the vegetables with an inch or two between the steaks so they aren’t touching. Season the top of each steak with 1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning. Drizzle the top of each steak with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Top each steak with 1 tablespoon butter.

4. Broil until the tops of the steaks are nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and use a set of tongs to flip the steaks over. Sprinkle the other side of each steak with 1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning. Drizzle each steak with 1 tablespoon olive oil and top each with 1 tablespoon butter. Slide the pan back into the oven and broil the other side for 3 minutes.

5. Plate each steak with half of the veggies from the pan. Serve with a chunk of crusty French bread.

Watch the How-To Video for Steak Sheet Pan Supper


Want to spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your family? The Pioneer Woman’s top cooking tips for easier weeknight dinners will help you get started.

Watch The Pioneer Woman via 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.

Team Buddy featuring Buddy Valastro, as seen on Buddy vs Christmas, Season 1.

Cakes, Cookies or Pies? Buddy Valastro Reveals His Ultimate Holiday Treat

Christmas is kind of a big deal at the Valastro residence. Sure, this holiday season may look a little bit different than Christmases past as a result of the pandemic, but in a typical year Buddy and his wife Lisa go all-out when it comes to their holiday dinners. Would you expect anything less from the Buddy vs. Christmas personality?

In previous years the couple has hosted all of their extended family, which adds up to more than 100 festive people. Typically Lisa cooks (prime rib, eggplant parm, lasagna, shrimp, lobster and more), while of course, Buddy does the desserts. But don’t let him fool you — he doesn’t necessarily whip up 100 mini pastries or elaborate cakes at home for the occasion.

Related: Buddy vs. Duff: See Buddy Valastro and Duff Goldman’s Most Epic Cakes

“Well, I’m not gonna lie. I don’t want to take credit,” he tells us. “I just bring like a slew of stuff from the bakery. We bring cakes and pies and cookies and lobster tails and pastries. And you know, we still love cake. After all these years and all these holidays and all these desserts, we still love cake.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Buddy Valastro (@buddyvalastro)

While cake may be a year-round hit, Buddy adds that Christmas feels like an especially great time to indulge in pasties. He and his family specifically dive into Italian classics like cannoli and lobster tails (AKA sfogliatelle) because, let’s face it: when else do you have as much room for dessert as you do come the holidays?

“As big as the meal is that my wife makes, I swear it is just as important when we eat dessert,” he laughs. “No matter how stuffed everyone is — ‘oh, I can’t get up, I’m so full’ — they wind up all eating dessert. Every single one of them.”

Related: Ina Garten’s Best Desserts for the Holidays

For those fellow dessert-lovers out there, the host adds that around the holidays Carlo’s Bakery typically offers a red-and-white sponge cake that’s festive and crowd-pleasing — and they have a few other goodies in store for December too. This year that’s extra exciting for Canadians since the shop has expanded into Canada. In fact, Buddy says his Oh Canada Baby! cake would be the perfect thing for Christmas dessert this year.

“That would be a great Christmas cake on anyone’s table because it’s pretty and it’s delicious,” he says. “It’s also made with love. I want the Canadian people to know this is only the beginning of the plans for Canada because every time I come there fans are just so receptive and great. I’ve always felt so loved there and now it’s time for me to do some more in Canada.”

Related: Buddy Valastro’s Coolest Celebrity Cake Creations

For now Canadians can catch Buddy in his latest holiday-themed series, Buddy vs. Christmas. In each of the four episodes the baker and his team come together to face off against highly specialized artists (Broadway set designers, expert glassblowers and more) to see who can create the best life-sized Christmas displays to be presented at high-profile events.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Buddy Valastro (@buddyvalastro)

“These four creations are some of the best work — I was so blown away by what we did,” Buddy reveals. “When you see what we made, it’s just to another level. This was less about a competition because we’re all artists. Whether you’re a glassblower or whether you’re a brick artist and you make Legos or you’re a Broadway set designer or you’re someone who does animatronics in the windows, we’re all using different art forms to express our medium,” he continues.

“I love Christmas. My house is like the Griswolds at home with the decorations and stuff. And I gotta tell you, we just turned it on for this. It’s really cool.”

Watch Buddy vs. Christmas Mondays at 10EP 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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