Tag Archives: summer

The Best Beach-Themed Party Cake for Summer

Take a day at the beach home to your table with this chic and playful cake. Combining a contemporary ombré effect with whimsical cake toppers, it’s the perfect design for a summer birthday celebration.

The cake itself is extremely moist and is bursting with flavours of zesty key lime and the sweet spiciness of fresh ginger. The buttercream is flecked with real vanilla bean and is silky smooth with a mild, creamy coconut taste. A simple wave pattern is achieved with the help of a rotating cake turntable, while a sprinkling of brown sugar adds texture and rounds out the sandy beach theme.

Beach Party Cake

Active Time: 80 minutes
Bake Time: 28 minutes
Cake Toppers: 30 minutes
Serves: 12 to 16

Ingredients:

Key Lime Ginger Cake:
3 1/4 cup cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp key lime zest
2 Tbsp key lime juice (4 to 5 key limes)
3/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
6 egg whites, lightly whisked
1 cup full-fat coconut milk

Coconut Vanilla Buttercream:
6 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
1/3 cup coconut cream or full-fat coconut milk
Gel food coloring in blue
1/4 cup brown sugar

Beach Party Cake

Directions:

Key Lime Ginger Cake:
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3, 8-inch round cake pans and set aside.
2. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, whip the butter until smooth. Add the sugar, lime zest, and ginger. Mix on medium until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the lime juice and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the egg whites and coconut milk. Set aside.
5. With the mixer on low, add in half of the flour mixture. Add in the egg white mixture and mix until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. Add the remaining flour and mix until combined.
6. Evenly distribute the batter between the 3 pans and bake for about 28 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Beach Party Cake

Coconut Vanilla Buttercream:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, lightly whisk together the egg whites and sugar. Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.
2. Stirring intermittently, heat the egg white mixture until it registers about 155-160°F on a candy thermometer. Once hot, carefully transfer the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.
3. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks, or until the outside of the mixer bowl returns to room temperature, about 8 minutes. Stop the mixer and swap the whisk for the paddle attachment.
4. With the mixer on medium-low, add in the vanilla bean seeds and butter, a few Tbsp at a time. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until silky smooth. At any point does the buttercream appear curdled, just keep mixing. If the buttercream appears soupy, try placing it in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes then mixing again. Gradually add in the coconut cream and mix until combined.

Assembly:
1. Once the cakes have cooled, trim the tops to make them level, if necessary. Place one layer on a cake board or serving dish and top with about 3/4 cup of the buttercream. Spread with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat. Crumb coat the cake with the buttercream and chill in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.
2. Of the remaining buttercream, tint about 1/3 blue with gel food colouring and set aside. After the crumb coat sets, place a large dollop of the plain buttercream on top of the cake and smooth out.
3. Starting with the bottom half, add the blue buttercream all the way around the sides of the cake. Mix the remaining blue buttercream with the remaining white buttercream to create light blue. Fill in the sides with the light blue buttercream. Begin smoothing out the buttercream to create an ombre effect. Smooth out the top of the cake as best as possible. To create the wave pattern, place the cake on top of a cake turntable. Touch the end of a metal spatula to the bottom of the cake. As you spin the cake around, create a wave motion around the cake with the spatula as you gradually bring the spatula up the side of the cake until you reach the top.
4. Top the cake with brown sugar to resemble sand and add cake toppers.

Beach Party Cake Topper

DIY Beach Cake Toppers

Materials:
About 5 ounces fondant, white plus various colours.
Gel food coloring
Paring knife
Rolling pin
Ruler
Clean paint brush
Cardstock
Piping tip
Small flower cookie cutter
Popsicle stick

Beach Party Toppers

Directions:
1. Create a template for the surfboard out of cardstock and set aside.
2. Roll out white fondant to about 1/4-inch thick and use the template to cut out the shape.
3. Roll colored fondant to about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick and use the ruler and paring knife to cut various strips. Adhere the strips to the surfboard using a touch of water and a clean paintbrush. Set aside to dry.

Beach Party Toppers
4. For the inner-tube, roll out a piece of yellow fondant to about 1/2-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter to cut out the shape. Use the round end of a piping tip to cut out the center.
5. Using your fingertips, gently smooth and round out all of the edges to make the tube-shape. Roll out a different color of fondant to about 1/4 to 1/8-inch thick and cut out small flowers with cutter. Adhere the flowers to the inner-tube with a touch of water and a clean paint brush. Set aside to dry.
6. To assemble, insert the popsicle stick 1/4 of the way into the cake. Insert just the very end of the dried surfboard into the top of the cake (directly in front of the popsicle stick) and prop up the back with the popsicle. Gently lean the dried inner-tube against the surfboard.

How to Make Blushing Cherry-Berry Sangria

Gorgeous red fruit gives this bubbly sangria a mild blush, delivering a pop of flavour and colour to any budget-friendly bottle of sparkling wine.

Chock-full of strawberries, raspberries and cherries, and hit with muddled fresh mint, this fun and fruity cocktail is sure to become your go-to summertime sipper.

blushing-bubbly-sangria-recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Standing Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 6 to 8

Ingredients:
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 lemon, zest
1 lemon, juiced
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
3 cups ice cubes
1 bottle (750 ml) dry sparkling wine, chilled
1 1/2 cups each frozen sliced strawberries and raspberries
1 cup frozen pitted sweet cherries

blushing-bubbly-sangria-recipe2

Directions:
1. In large pitcher, combine mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, and water. Stir, bruising mint slightly, with wooden spoon.
2. Let stand for 15 minutes.
3. Top with ice and sparkling wine; stir to combine. Stir in raspberries, strawberries and cherries.
4. Pour into chilled glasses to serve.

Looking for more cocktail recipes? Check out: 30 Cocktails to Keep You Cool This Summer.

Beet Hummus

Bright and Beautiful Beet Hummus

Brighten up your summer nights with this vibrant hummus. The punchy dip gets a natural fuchsia face-lift with the help of a sweet summertime staple: beets!

If you’ve been to the farmer’s market lately, you’ve likely seen the deep garnet beauties piled high, ready for roasting, sauteing and spiralizing. But before you pop those colourful gems into the oven, consider this tasty snack. The beets require no pre-cooking, but can be roasted if you prefer. Enjoyed with pita wedges, on toast, with vegetables and so much more, you’ll keep finding a home for this addictive dip in your kitchen.

Beet Hummus

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Hummus:
1 raw beet, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (preferably aged)
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt

Serving:
Whole wheat pita bread
Thinly sliced radishes
Sesame seeds
Fresh herbs of choice

Directions:

Hummus:
1. Pulse beet and garlic in a food processor until finely minced. Add remaining hummus ingredients and puree until smooth.
2. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place pitas on a baking tray and warm for approximately 7 minutes, or until desired temperature.
3. Remove from oven and slice into wedges.
4. Serve with hummus, garnished with radishes, sesame seeds and herbs.

Upside-Down Cherry Cheesecake Jars

Picnic Perfect Upside-Down Cherry Cheesecake Jars

Sour cherries have a short season beginning in June and ending in August. The plump ruby red gems are a delicious way to celebrate summer. The pucker-inducing stone fruit are more tart than their more common counterpart, but add the perfect balance to this creamy no-bake cheesecake.

In this recipe, a sweet-tart topping made of sour cherries is layered with a smooth and creamy cheesecake mixture with a hint of almond. To top it off, crunchy graham crumb streusel is sprinkled over top. Close the lids and bring these jar cakes along to your next picnic, and enjoy all the layers of red and white deliciousness with shear Canadian flavour.

Upside-Down Cherry Cheesecake Jars

Prep Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, 30 min
Makes: 6, 8-oz Jar Cakes

Ingredients:

Graham Crumb Streusel:
1/3 cup graham cracker crumb
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup butter, at room temperature

Sour Cherry Sauce:
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp.cornstarch
2 cups sour cherries
2 tsp lemon zest

Cheesecake Filling:
½ cup sour cream
1 250 g brick cream cheese
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp almond extract

Upside-Down Cherry Cheesecake Jars

Directions:

Graham Crumb Streusel:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment.
2. In a bowl, combine graham cracker crumb, brown sugar, flour and cinnamon. Work the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingers until pea size clumps being to form, about 1 minute.
3. Pour the mixture onto prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer.
4. Bake until mixture is golden brown and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Once cooled, break any big clumps into crumbs.

Sour Cherry Sauce:
1. Combine 1/3 cup sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan heated over medium.
2. Add in cherries and cook until tender and sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Add in corn starch and cook until dissolved, about 1 minute.
3. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest. Let cool.

Cheesecake Filling:
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or using a hand mixer, beat sour cream with cream cheese, honey and almond extract on high until smooth and fluffy.
2. Cool in fridge for about 1 hour. Transfer mixture into a piping bag.

Assembly:
1. Pipe one layer of cheesecake mixture into the bottom of each jar. Spoon a layer of sour cherry sauce over the cheesecake mixture. Continue this pattern leaving a 1/2 –inch of space at the top of each jar.
2. You can finish with a cheesecake layer or a cherry sauce layer. Sprinkle graham streusel over top layer of each jar cake.

Tip: If you cannot find fresh sour cherries, they can be replaced with frozen.

The Ultimate Summer Condiment (and 5 Ways to Use It)

Summer is made for spontaneous cooking; grilling what you bring home from the farmer’s market, tossing enormous salads with what you have on hand and building sky-high sandwiches to take on a picnic.

While there are lots of sauces, dressings and toppings, all you really need is one super summer condiment to finish your creations with big flavour. And we’ve got just the thing: Salsa Verde. Not the Mexican version, which packs tomatillos and heat (although that one’s good, too) — the Italian kind, loaded with fresh garden herbs, nuanced with briny capers, garlic, umami-rich anchovies and enlivened with a touch of piquant mustard. It adds a deep, savoury, herbal, rich flavour perfect for all impromptu summer eating adventures.

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde
Active Time: 5 minutes
Makes: ¾ cup

Ingredients:
¼ cup capers
6 anchovies
2 medium garlic cloves
1 tsp grainy mustard
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup finely chopped parsley
¼ cup finely chopped basil
¼ cup finely chopped mint
Salt, to taste

Directions:
1. Combine capers, anchovies, garlic and mustard in a small food processor and process to a coarse paste (or do it by hand with a mortar and pestle).
2. Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in olive oil, then stir in herbs. Season with a good pinch of salt, taste, and add more if desired.
3. Store in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Salsa Verde

Here are 5 delicious ways to use up your jar of green gold:

1. Use it as a marinade for beef, lamb, chicken or halloumi cheese. Simply toss a big spoonful into a freezer bag with your protein of choice and marinate for 30 minutes to 24 hours.

2. Stir it into thick Greek yogurt with a squeeze of lemon and serve alongside salmon, toss with boiled potatoes for a vibrant, herb-filled potato salad, or use as a green goddess dip for garden-fresh crudités.

3. Swirl it into mayo for an herb aioli, and then use it to spread on sandwiches; chicken, lamb or beef burgers; and as a dressing for veggie-packed pasta salads.

4. Mash it into softened butter as a flavour-loaded finish for grilled steaks, lamb chops and corn on the cob. Just dab it onto piping hot food to melt before serving.

5. Thin it out with a bit more olive oil and drizzle over grilled vegetables, or use as a dressing for salads. Add a squeeze of lemon for brightness.

Must-Make Nanaimo Ice Cream Cake

Nanaimo bars are a timeless and popular addition to any dessert platter. In fact, the popular treats, which hail from Nanaimo, B.C., are usually the first to disappear at a party.

Turn the classic sweet tray favourite into a decadent frozen True North dessert by layering the traditional base and custard filling with ice cream, then topping it off with a layer of chocolate. Slice and serve at your next get together for a new twist on a winning dessert that’s sure to disappear before it even starts to melt.

nanaimo-ice-cream-cake2

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Cool Time: 9 hours (minimum)
Total Time: 10 hours
Makes: 8 servings

Ingredients:
4 cups premium quality vanilla ice cream

Base:
½ cup butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 egg
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs

Custard Filling:
1 cup butter, softened
5 Tbsp custard powder
6 Tbsp 35% cream
3 ¾ cups icing sugar

Topping:
1 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tsp butter

nanaimo-ice-cream-cake1

Directions:

Base:
1. In top of a double boiler or metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water, melt butter, sugar, and cocoa powder until smooth, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, beat egg. Slowly whisk in stovetop mixture (to temper egg) until smooth. Stir in coconut and graham cracker crumbs; set aside.

Custard Filling:
1. In large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat butter, custard powder, and 35% cream until light and fluffy. Beat in icing sugar in 2 additions until combined.
2. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside.

Topping:
1. In a microwave safe bowl, melt chocolate and butter on low, for about 1 minute, stirring once or until melted.

Assembly:
1. Let ice cream stand at room temperature until spreadable, about 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, line an 8-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a 3-inch overhang on all sides. Press base into bottom of pan. Spoon half of the ice cream on top of base; spread evenly. Freeze along with remaining ice cream for 15 minutes.
3. Spread custard filling over ice cream. Freeze for 15 minutes. Spread with remaining ice cream. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.
4. Spread chocolate topping over ice cream. Return to freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.
5. To serve log, using plastic wrap overhang as handles, remove from loaf pan. Remove plastic wrap and place on serving platter. Cut into 1-inch thick slices using a hot knife. Serve.

Looking for more delicious recipes? Try our oh-so-tasty Nanaimo S’mores.

How to Keep Fruit Fresh

How to Keep Summer Fruit Fresh Longer

As summer stretches into long, balmy afternoons and ripens to a peak, so does the fruit in the fields and orchards. Suddenly the market is brimming with sweet, juicy nectarines, ruby red strawberries, and plump indigo blueberries. And then, poof! As quickly as they appeared, they’ll be gone. If this brief, dizzying moment of plenty sends you into a buying frenzy, you’re not alone. Once you’ve carried home your weight in peak-ripeness apricots and raspberries, how do you keep them from turning to mush before you can devour every last one? Here’s how to extend the life of your precious summer bounty.

How to make fruit last longer

Keep it cool.
Refrigerate all berries and ripe stone fruits as soon as you bring them home.  Once they’ve reached their peak, the heat (even room temperature) will cause spoilage, quickly. Perfect strawberries can go bad in a single afternoon on the counter.

Keep it dry.
Humidity is the enemy. Don’t wash your fruit until ready to eat, and store on paper towels or a clean dish towel to absorb any excess moisture. Keep it on a shelf in your fridge, not in the crisper drawer — unless you have one you can program. The standard fridge drawers offer a higher-humidity environment suited to vegetables, but unfriendly to fruit.

Give it space.
Ripe fruit is soft and injures easily. Don’t leave raspberries piled into the box they came in to be mushed under their own weight, and don’t cram juicy nectarines into a produce bag where they bash and bruise each other senseless every time you rustle them. Whenever you damage the flesh, you create an opportunity for mould.

How to Keep Fruit Fresh

Give it air.
If fruit is packed tightly, there is little air circulation, which means more humidity and faster rot. Store ripe stone fruit like peaches, plums and cherries in a shallow bowl in the fridge. Gently transfer fragile berries to a wide container lined with paper towels, keeping them in a single layer or close to it. Leave the container lid slightly ajar to let excess moisture escape.

Wash in acid.
If you’ve brought home apricots or strawberries that are still slightly under-ripe, try giving them an acid bath. Swish any whole (never cut), firm fruit in one part vinegar to 10 parts water. The solution kills off any mould spores already on the fruit, potentially increasing its longevity.

Looking for more tasty recipes? Try one of our 36 Strawberry Desserts to Celebrate Summer.

Cute and Easy Canada Day Pretzel Sparklers

Cute and Easy Canada Day Pretzel Sparklers

The best part of Canada Day is laying down outside on a summer night and watching the sky light up with celebratory fireworks. If the cool grass and the sound of firecracker bangs doesn’t bring back a feeling of nostalgia, this recipe will.

This tasty recipe takes all your favourite childhood snacks and combines them into the craziest treat ever. The chocolate covered pretzel rods not only look like sparklers, but thanks to the pop rocks, they will literally create tiny explosions in your mouth.

Canada Day Pretzel Sparklers

Prep: 10 minutes
Cool Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups finely chopped white chocolate
12 pretzel rods
28.5 g cherry popping candy
1/2 cup red chocolate rounds

Directions:
1. Heat white chocolate in a double boiler set over medium heat. Keep over heat until chocolate is fully melted, about 5 minutes. Pour chocolate into a tall pint sized glass.
2. Dip one pretzel rod into white chocolate. Allow excess chocolate to drip off. Sprinkle cherry popping candy onto pretzel rod while white chocolate is still wet. Set onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Continue with remaining pretzels. Tilt the glass of chocolate when necessary to allow tops of pretzels to fully immerse in chocolate.
3. Heat red chocolate rounds in a double boiler set over medium heat. Keep over heat until chocolate is fully melted, about 5 minutes. Pour chocolate into a bowl. Dip the end of one pretzel rod into the red chocolate. Flip pretzel rod upside down to create a dripping effect with the chocolate. Hold pretzel rod still for 3 seconds to allow chocolate to set. Set onto a baking sheet lined with new parchment paper.
4. Allow pretzels to set in fridge for 30 minutes before serving.

How to Make the Perfect Caesar Every Time

FN_RReardin_1Aug

For Canadians, caesars are like hockey games, Tim Hortons, or even, dare I say, denim-on-denim. It defines us, unites us, and just makes us who we are. It’s the signature drink on most patios, a staple on every menu and the one bevvie we always seem to be in the mood for.

They can however, be a tad difficult to make. Opt for tomato juice instead of Clamato, or too much Worcestershire and not enough hot sauce, and it’s all too easy for your caesar to become an undrinkable disaster.

I’m speaking from experience here.

And so, since it’s pretty much our obligation as citizens of this home and native land to master the art of creating the perfect caesar, I’ve put together a little how-to guide to help you (read: me) get it right every time.

So, what do you do? Start by mixing the ingredients. But before you start pouring, please note that the order of ingredients does matter.

Start with a rimmed glass, fill it with ice, add the Worcestershire, followed by Clamato juice, hot sauce, vodka, and then season with salt and pepper. An easy way to remember the order of ingredients is to start with the cheaper ones and work your way up.

When it comes to the garnish, here’s your time to be creative. Go the conventional route with a long piece of celery, or grab a skewer and make a combo with pickles and olives. But if you’re really looking to earn some extra hostess points, add a piece of bacon, or better yet, a juicy slider burger. Because you know, why not?

No matter what garnish you decide to use, I love finishing off the cocktail with a fun straw, like this red and white stripe version from Party City ($5).

And there you have it: an easy, fail-proof recipe for Canada’s number one cocktail.

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

Meet Ontario’s Butter Tart Champions

Diane Rogers knows the sweet taste of victory, and it tastes like butter tarts.

The award-winning baker beat out 165 submissions, and 69 amateur and professional baker to take home the top prize for her decadent cheesecake butter tarts at Ontario’s Best Butter Tart Festival in Midland, Ont. this past weekend.

The one-day festival saw thousands of nostalgic visitors descend on the Ontario town eager to satisfy their sweet tooth on more than 100,000 of the best butter tarts in Ontario.

Pecan-Butter-Tarts

Among the thousands of pastries enjoyed on Saturday, one recipe stood above them all. Rogers’ sweet, gooey tart topped with a tangy layer of cream cheese wowed the judges so much, she took home the best in show. In fact, her bakery, Doo Doo’s Bakery in Bailieboro, Ont., snagged first, second and third prize in the professional, non-classic category.

“I knew the competition was going to be stiff this year,” said the two-time festival winner. “I was worried.”

On top of bragging rights, this year, the best in show title comes with an entry to the Canadian Food Championships in Edmonton later this summer. There, Rogers will be competing against pastry chefs from across the country to earn her tarts the title of best dessert in Canada.

“It is pretty exciting just to go to Edmonton. We are pretty pumped about that,” says Rogers. “We’re going to have to start practicing.”

While Rogers’ cream cheese tarts earned best in show, The Maid’s Cottage in Newmarket, Ont. earned top marks in the traditional professional category with their classic, gooey pecan tarts.

The top secret recipe is generations old, belonging to the great-grandmother of sisters Pam Lewis and Debbie Hill. Growing up, Lewis knew that her grandma’s butter tarts were good, but it took prodding from a local customer at The Maid’s Cottage for the sisters to enter their family recipe in the competition.

butter-tart-festival

Festival-goers snapped up more than 100,000 butter tarts on June 11.

While Lewis won’t reveal the recipe, she will admit that the key to their flaky crust is lard, along with a commitment to good quality ingredients.

“It is made with all whole ingredients and a lot of love,” says Lewis. “They are our family pride and everyone loves them.”

The Maid’s Cottage has been serving up family recipes, like their now-famous butter tarts, since their mother opened the doors in 1998. Sisters Lewis and Hill joined the growing family business, which had grown to include a bakery, known as the “Tart Pit,” where their hard working bakers are busy creating beautiful hand-crimped pastries.

“My mom is a big part of this. She is always watching over us keeping busy — a real go-getter,” says Lewis who credits her staff for the hard work leading up to the festival. “Without our team it wouldn’t be possible.”

While their classic, pecan-filled tart earned first place, Lewis isn’t a butter tart purist.

“It is not that one is better than the other, it’s what one person likes, whether it is raisins or pecans,” she says.

Home baking champion, Jane Albert usually opts for the classic tarts, but the avid Ingersoll, Ont. baker couldn’t resist her own award-winning bananas foster butter tart. Her creativity earned her three festival titles, though she insists that the best tarts start with a perfectly flaky, handmade crust.

“It really doesn’t matter how ooey or gooey the filling is, the crust is the foundation for a good tart,” she says. “And you need to have your hands in it.”

Her first time entering the competition, Albert was excited to share her 200-year-old family recipe with the scours of butter tart lovers swarming Midland, looking to satisfy their taste for nostalgia.

Midland seems to have captivated an amazing market and concept of a very nostalgic dessert,” says Albert.

Looking for sweet recipes? Check out these tasty Canadian treats.

Susur Lee’s 10 Tips for Making Amazing Camping Meals

World-acclaimed chef and Chopped Canada judge Susur Lee used to camp all the time with his family, especially when his three boys were kids. Grilling up the same old hot dogs and hamburgers on a camping trip can get boring… fast. But not for Lee who won’t settle for less than amazing food.

susur-lee-camping

Here Susur Lee shares his tips on how to elevate a humble camping meal into something extraordinary.

1. Bring along an olive oil sprayer. 
It’s a widely-known fact that olive oil is a crucial part of mastering an outdoor grill, but who wants to lug around a big bottle when they’re in the middle of the woods? Make things easier by bringing a sprayer with you to spritz the grill with oil whenever you need to. Keeping things quick, clean and simple is an integral part of ensuring your camping trip is successful.

2. Mix things up by grilling some fruit alongside your vegetables.
Sure, grilling veggies like bell peppers and zucchini is yummy and nutritious, but throwing some pineapple or peach slices on the grill adds an unexpected sweet and savory taste to your meals.

3. Buy quality, store-bought food whenever possible.
No one wants to spend a ton of time and effort on meal preparation during a camping trip, so if you can buy pre-packaged and already-made ingredients, make sure to do so. Lee likes to bring packages of peeled garlic cloves in a vacuum-sealed bag because they’re super easy to crush and add to anything. No muss, no fuss.

4. Choose square plates over round ones.
The idea behind this is simple. You don’t have a lot of room on a picnic table and square plates line up nicely along the edge of the table, leaving more space for other items. Efficiency is key when dining outdoors.

5: When life gives you lemons…
You can never have enough lemons on a camping trip. Lee loves to grill them and squeeze them over both desserts and main dishes to brighten them up. The citrus flavour will complement your dishes perfectly.

6. Keep it casual.
When you’re camping, it’s no secret that the simpler something is, the better. You don’t have to spend a lot of time (or any at all) on meal presentation. Keep everything looking rustic and  straightforward. This is not the time for delicate garnishes and fussy plating.

7. Serve food at room temperature.
Bugs can be a huge problem when you’re camping, and a good way to keep the flies away is to make sure your food is served at room temperature. Steaming hot dishes will attract pesky bugs and distract from your meal. Also make sure to pack mosquito covers to keep your food completely bug-free.

8. Bring a cooler.
Susur likes to have a big one on hand to store all his ingredients cool and safe from the heat.

9. Be sure to have plenty of fuel on hand if that’s your main source of cooking.
The last thing you want is to run out of gas in the middle of your gourmet camping meal!

10. Pick a good cooking spot.
You don’t want to be battling the winds on your camping adventure. Set up your cooking station in a place that’s shielded from the elements to maximize your enjoyment of cooking in the great outdoors.

Try these two tasty camping meals by Susur Lee:

Vegetable Polenta Cakes
Singapore Style Beef Shish Kabob

nanaimo-smores

Scrumptious Canadian Nanaimo S’mores

Bonfire or no bonfire, these s’mores are uniquely Canadian and arguably the most decadent. Inspired by the classic campfire treat of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers, this variation incorporates delicious Nanaimo bar flavouring. Each s’more is stacked with vanilla custard, gooey marshmallows, melted chocolate, toasted coconut and graham crackers.

Nanaimo Bar S'mores

Nanaimo S’mores

Ingredients:
12 whole graham crackers
24 large marshmallows
1/3 cup sweetened dessicated coconut, toasted
2 -1oz. milk chocolate bars, divided into 12 equal portions

For the Custard:
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Tbsp custard powder
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup icing sugar
2-3 tsp milk

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to broil.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter with custard powder, icing sugar and vanilla on medium speed. Add icing sugar in stages, then add milk, 1 tsp at a time until a smooth, thick paste forms.
3. Split graham crackers in two. Lay out 12 graham cracker halves and spread custard equally over them.
4. Place marshmallows on one half of a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place under broiler until marshmallows are golden, about 1 minute. Remove from oven and place the remaining graham crackers on the other half of the baking sheet. Place 1 portion of chocolate on each graham cracker. Return baking sheet to oven for another 30 seconds. Remove from oven and sprinkle toasted coconut over chocolate.
5. Using a small spatula, place 2 marshmallows on each custard graham cracker. Top each s’more with chocolate and coconut graham cracker. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

Looking for more tasty desserts? Try our Ultimate Nanaimo Bar recipe.

doughnuts

John Catucci Predicts What You Gotta Eat Next

Food trends come and go, but no matter what the masses are noshing and Instagramming, you can guarantee You Gotta Eat Here! host John Catucci will be right there with them. We talked to the food star and sampling savant to find out which treats you’ll be lining up for this summer.

Von-Doughnuts

Artisanal Doughnuts
Fancy doughnuts aren’t new, but they’re not going anywhere either, says John.  One doughy fried treat in particular has convinced him that we’re still at the peak of doughnut popularity. “We went to this place called Cartems in Vancouver, that just did incredible doughnuts like an Earl Grey doughnut,” he says. “That floored me. It was a cake doughnut, and they used bergamot in the cake batter and in the glaze as well. It’s like you’re eating a doughnut and having a tea on the side.”

Get the recipe for The Porky Monkey Doughnut from Von Doughnuts.

Fried Chicken

Fried Chicken
Just like doughnuts, John thinks fried chicken will continue sticking to your ribs and the popularity charts. He says 2016 is the year of fried chicken, in every form. “Bone in or out, in a sandwich, on a plate, with waffles, or just by itself. That’s always going to be there.” John particularly enjoys the fried chicken sandwiches at Toronto’s The Combine Eatery.

Get the recipe for Fried Chicken from Wallflower Modern Diner.

steak and kidney pie

Posh Nosh
If you’re already a pie and a pint kind of person, prepare to start jostling for elbow room at your British local. Elevated English pub fare will be the next cuisine to capture Canadian palates, says John, citing Toronto’s The Borough as a leader in fancy pub food. He cites their Yorkie Burger, a beef patty served between two Yorkshire puddings, as an example of what’s to come. “It has the flavours of a roast beef dinner that you like, but smashed in a burger,” he enthuses.

Get the recipe for Steak and Kidney Pie from The Dam Pub.

11 Super Quick Recipes for Gourmet Condiments

Summer commands big, bold flavour with minimal effort. Who wants to be slaving in the kitchen when the pool is shimmering and the lawn chairs are vacant?  Enter: super-condiments!  A few quick flavour-boosters amp up the contents of your jars and squeeze bottles, turning them into magical, mouth-watering delights.

Here’s how you can elevate your everyday condiments quickly, so you can get right back to the pool!

condiments

Miso-Mayonnaise: Stir 2 Tbsp of miso into 1/2 cup of mayonnaise for a salty umami boost.

Avocado-Corn Salsa: Doctor up 1 cup of store-bought salsa with a chopped ripe avocado and 1/2 cup of frozen corn.  

5-Spice Ketchup: Add 1 tsp of 5-spice powder, 1 tsp finely grated ginger, and a Tbsp of soy sauce to 1/2 cup of ketchup for a Chinese twist.

Not-So-Secret Sauce: Stir 2 Tbsp each of ketchup and relish into 1 cup of mayonnaise, along with a tsp each of onion powder and garlic powder.

Currynnaise: Stir 1 tsp of curry powder, Indian curry paste, or garam masala into 1/2 cup jarred mayonnaise, then add about 1-2 tsp of freshly squeezed lemon and 1 Tbsp of minced chives.  

Zesty Horseradish Mustard: Stir 1 Tbsp (or more, if you’re brave) of the pungent root into 1/2 cup prepared mustard to take your sausages to the next level.

Caramelized Onion Butter: Mix equal parts caramelized onions (let your slow cooker do the work) and softened butter, whipped together in a small blender or food processor.  

Sriracha Mayo: Add a bit of the hot sauce to mayo a squirt at a time to reach your desired spiciness.

Herb and Garlic Butter: Stir a clove of minced garlic and 2 Tbsp of minced fresh herbs of your choice (tarragon, rosemary, basil, chives or oregano) into 1/2 cup of softened butter.  

Spicy Chipotle Ketchup: Boost 1/2 cup of ordinary ketchup with 1-2 tsp of dried chipotle powder or the adobo sauce that comes in canned chipotles. Taste and add more for a greater kick!

Tarragon Cream Mustard: Mix 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard into 1/2 cup sour cream, and stir in 1 Tbsp minced fresh tarragon.  

Looking for something to put these sauces on? Try one of our Our 50 Most Popular Burger Recipes.

Guy and Buddy

Food, Family and Fun: Guy & Hunter’s European Vacation and Buddy’s Family Vacation

Pack your bags because Diners, Drive-ins and Dives star Guy Fieri and Buddy Valastro of Cake Boss fame are taking us on two amazing  family adventures this summer.

Father and son, Guy and Hunter Fieri, are embarking on the ultimate food-filled adventure, travelling through Europe searching for unique culinary experiences on Guy & Hunter’s European Vacation.

Guy is giving his eldest son, Hunter, a high school grad trip of a lifetime — a culinary vacation to 13 different cities in seven European countries, to fully discover a new continent of cuisine. For one month, they’ll visit cities like Paris and Venice to experience the age-old traditions behind international foods we’ve come to love.

The journey kicks off in Athens where they learn the secrets to making the perfect gyro, and check out an old-school rotisserie restaurant.

Catch a special sneak peak of Guy & Hunter’s European Vacation on Friday, May 20 at 10 E/P.  The series premieres Thursday, June 2 at 10:30 E/P. Get the schedule here


Buddy Valastro is taking a break from his bakeries to take the ultimate roadtrip with his wife Lisa and four kids in Buddy’s  Family Vacation. The Valastros will be driving across America in an RV in search of fantastic food and family adventures.

Whether it’s feeding alligators and eating spicy Étouffée in New Orleans, preparing seafood in Savannah or stopping off in Graceland, the Valastros know how to have fun on the road!

The adventure begins at home in New Jersey, where Buddy and Lisa come up with the rules of the road to keep them on track. Then the gang packs up to go South for their first destination: Charleston, South Carolina.

Catch a special sneak peak of Buddy’s Family Vacation on Friday, May 27 at 10 E/P.  The series premieres Thursday, June 2 at 10 E/P. Get the schedule here. 

How to Throw a Carnival-Themed Party with HGTV Star Tiffany Pratt

Carnivals are all about eating delicious treats, having fun and enjoying marvellous spectacles. With all that emphasis on good times and that cheerful bright palette, they make the perfect family-friendly theme for a summer party.

We talked to Home To Win star and stylist extraordinaire Tiffany Pratt to get her tips on how to create a dazzling carnival-themed party.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Mix it up.

Tiffany’s signature style is colourful and whimsical. The aesthetic is not only perfect for a carnival theme, but is also easy to make your own. By mixing items you already own with new pieces, and avoiding the stress of being perfectly matchy-matchy, setting a stunning table is simple. “My personal philosophy is to use as much as you’ve got,” says Tiffany. She suggests repurposing leftover streamers from past parties, and mixing paper plates with regular cutlery. “The idea is to pull everything out that you’ve got; with a carnival you can use anything, because anything goes!” Once you’ve assembled the décor and serving ware you already own, you can start seeking extras: paper bags for loot bags or canvas to paint your own big top. “But the main event is to scour the house, use what you’ve got and have fun mixing patterns and colours,” says Tiffany.

Serve sweet and colourful treats.

“I think popcorn is the first thing that comes to my mind for this kind of party,” says Tiffany, “especially dazzled up popcorn.” She suggests decorating paper bags and filling them with colourful or caramel popcorn. She’s also a big fan of handheld edibles, like finger sandwiches and sliders. Candy is a must for a carnival party; for a refreshing beverage, Tiffany suggests serving root beer floats. For grownups who’d like a little more carnival spirit in their drink, sangria and other colourful punches keep the libations on-theme. Tiffany suggests umbrellas or swizzle sticks for added festivity.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Style a “smorgasbord of fun.”

“To create a table that looks like something you want to photograph, levels are really important,” says Tiffany. Think cake plates, stacks of cool dishes, and anything else that can be used to create height. “Not only are the plates, and the food, and the cups and the cutlery all centred in a really cool, artistic way, but you have them all away around the table to actually eat,” she says. “If it looks like a smorgasbord of fun in the centre, it invites people to grab and eat and play.” Style your table with levels; by mixing up colours and patterns, food and drinks, cutlery and plates, you invite entertainment factor, says Tiffany.  “People aren’t afraid to take apart the table and enjoy things, whereas if it looks so perfect, they’re like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t want to touch it, it looks so good!’”

Don’t stress.

Remember: good style is equal parts functional and fashionable, says Tiffany. Invoking fun and creating curiosity is just as important as remembering to put out forks. At the end of the day, it’s about the people. Yes, a beautiful setting can encourage a festive mood, but don’t stress about it.

Finally, don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful gesture; putting out containers for guests to bring home leftovers, and including adults in the loot bags are small gestures with huge impact.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Courtesy Tiffany Pratt. Photo by Tara McMullen.

Flowers, flowers, flowers.

Don’t have streamers or festive décor you can repurpose for your carnival party? No matter what the theme, “lots of flowers make things look so beautiful and festive,” says Tiffany.

Follow Tiffany Pratt on Instagram @thetiffanypratt and watch Home to Win Sundays at 10pm on HGTV. Better yet, sign up to see if you have what it takes to win your very own HGTV dream home!

Grown-Up Summer Corn Salad

By Denise Bustard

Eating corn on the cob is always at the top of my summer bucket list, along with fresh berries, cherries and s’mores. There is just something about corn on the cob that represents all things summer to me. For one thing, it is the ultimate easy summer food. And I’m sure that everyone remembers eating it as a kid on a hot, sticky summer night, pretending to be a typewriter…chomp, chomp, chomp, ding! (I’m not alone here, am I?)

As a grown up, I look for new ways to enjoy my summer corn, and this salad is my new favourite way! It is healthy, packed with summer produce (hello, blueberries and fresh mint) and other delicious goodies (goat cheese and sliced almonds). The barley gives it some staying power, the almonds some crunch, the blueberries and corn a hint of sweetness, and goat cheese lends creaminess to it all. Best of all, it is easy to make this salad ahead of time, and it’s a perfect picnic lunch or barbecue side.

Grilled Corn and Barley Salad with Goat Cheese and Blueberries
, Courtesy of Denise Bustard, sweetpeasandsaffron.com, Calgary, AB

A fresh and summery salad that’s perfect for a barbecue.

Corn-and-Barley-Salad-with-Blueberries-and-Goat-Cheese_888embed

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients
Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup (50 mL)white wine vinegar
1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
2 tbsp (30 mL) honey
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Dijon mustard
salt and pepper, to taste

Salad:
1 cup (250 mL) pearl barley (uncooked)
2 cobs corn, husks removed
1 cup (250 mL) blueberries
1/2 cup (125 mL) sliced almonds
1/4 cup (50 mL) red onions, sliced
1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped parsley
1 pkg (4 oz/115 g) soft goat cheese, crumbled

Directions
Vinaigrette:
1. In bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Salad:
1. Cook barley according to package directions. Allow to cool completely.
2. Meanwhile, heat barbecue to medium-high heat. Spray grill rack lightly with cooking spray. Grill corn, turning every 5 minutes, for 25 minutes. Cool, then cut kernels from cobs.
3. In large bowl, combine barley, corn, blueberries, almonds, red onion, parsley and goat cheese.
4. Pour reserved vinaigrette over salad ingredients and toss gently to combine.

Click here to print, save or share this Grilled Corn and Barley Salad recipe.

Sweet Peas & Saffron
Sweet Peas & Saffron is a food blog run by busy mom and grad student Denise. Here you’ll find a variety of fast and healthy dinners that are perfect for busy families who struggle with the 5 p.m. “what’s for dinner?” dilemma.

Grapefruit and Pistachio-Crusted Avocado Salad

The warm weather isn’t here to stay for much longer, so we’ve created a fancy summer salad with grapefruit and pistachio-crusted avocado to accompany all your grilled faves at your last summer BBQ.

The juicy grapefruit is not only in the salad, but we’ve made a vinaigrette from the juice too. Grapefruit pairs well with bitter greens like arugula, but you can definitely create a bed of greens to your liking using romaine, kale, mesclun or spinach.

888_grapefruit-and-pistachio-avocado-salad

Ingredients:
(makes 2 entrées or 4 appetizers)

For the salad:
8 cup salad greens
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 cup finely chopped basil leaves
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 grapefruits
1 avocado
1/4 cup salted pistachios, shell removed

For the dressing:
1/4 cup grapefruit juice (using half of 1 grapefruit from above)
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup cold-pressed olive oil
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Directions:
1. In a jar, combine all the dressing ingredients and shake well.
2. Mix together salad greens, dill, basil and red onion.
3. Peel and segment the remaining 1 1/2 grapefruits. Using a sharp knife, cut the top and bottom off so the grapefruit can sit flat on a cutting board, and then cut off the peel and pith around the circumference of the fruit. Place the knife between the grapefruit segments close to the membrane and lightly push the flesh out removing it from the membrane.
4. Cut your avocado in half, then in quarters and remove the peel. Finely chop pistachios or run them through a coffee grinder to get a coarse meal. Dredge the quarters of avocado through the pistachio meal.
5. Dress the greens mixed with herbs and red onion with half the dressing. Place grapefruit segments and pistachio crusted avocado on top. Sprinkle with any remaining crushed pistachios and serve immediately.

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.

Ice Cream Tacos

A fun summer treat that is great for the whole family, these crunchy ice cream tacos will be a guaranteed hit with kids! Get creative with this recipe and add in your garnish of choice.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

888_Ice-Cream-Taco1-new

Ingredients:
Smallest tortilla shells you can find (white or whole wheat)
1 Tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup white sugar
3 Tbsp melted butter
Tinfoil (create small tubes to use as spacers when baking tortillas)
Any flavour ice cream or frozen yogurt
2 cups chocolate melting wafers (or chocolate chips)
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp corn syrup
Decorating items (nuts, sprinkles, smarties, etc.)

888_Ice-Cream-Taco2-new

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Brush the melted butter onto one side of the tortilla shells.
3. Combine cinnamon and sugar together and generously sprinkle over the buttered tortilla shell.
4. Using the tinfoil tubes, fold the tortillas in half, with the cinnamon sugar side to be on the inside, creating the taco shell.
5. Place in oven for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and stiff to touch.
6. Allow your taco shells to cool.
7. Melt chocolate, butter and corn syrup until a nice dipping consistency has been achieved.
8. Take taco shell, pack full with ice cream and smooth around the edges with a spoon or knife.
9. Quickly dip in chocolate and sprinkle with choice of decorations.
10. Place in freezer for 15-20 minutes to allow the ice cream to set.

888_Ice-Cream-Taco3-new

Best Vegan Baked Potato Salad Ever

Potato salad is the perfect side dish in the summer. Here’s a vegan version that some say is the best they’ve ever had!

baked potato salad

Makes: 6 servings

Ingredients:

Potatoes
1 ½ lbs small red potatoes
1 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Dressing
½ cup vegan mayonnaise (store bought like Veganaise or Wild Wood)
½ cup sweet relish
1 tsp dijon mustard
½ tsp onion powder
1 Tbsp dill fronts (finely chopped)
1 cup celery (finely chopped)
1/4 cup red onion (finely chopped)

Toppings

1/4 cup Vegan Coconut Bacon
1 Tbsp snipped chives

Directions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
2. Cut the small red potatoes in halves and toss in sea salt, ground pepper, and olive oil until evenly coated.
3. Bake for 45 minutes in a oven safe dish. Meanwhile prepare the dressing by combining all the dressing ingredients until well combined.
4. Refrigerate until potatoes are fully cooled from baking.
5. Right before serving toss baked potatoes in the dressing.
6. Top with coconut vegan bacon and chives. Serve immediately!

See more from hot for food on their YouTube channel.