Tag Archives: Food Network

Apple Sauce-homemade does not get easier

Pic 1 Final sauce

It’s pink.  It’s easy.  You can buy bushels and bushels of apples at the farmers market and not worry about what to do with them.  (Just what to do with all the apple sauce.)

Pic 2 apples

Any apples will do but you want an apple with a sweet-tangy mix.  Cortland, Pink Ladies (Cripps Pink) and of course your Macintosh.  When I made the sauce with Pink ladies I didn’t need to sweeten it but up to you–just mix in a bit of brown sugar–some spices, or just leave it plain.

Sure–you can buy sauce but it will not have this awesome amount of flavour.  You will be converted.

Pic 5 softened apples

And the pink colour comes from cooking the apples with the skins on.

For the step by step go to foodnetwork.ca or see the recipe below.

Pic 7 Final Sauce

BTW, my son would not eat this, so pulled a giant guilt trip and pretended to cry.  Ha!  It worked.   And I said I would never use such tactics…..

Recipe: Apple Sauce
Makes 1 cup

Ingredients
4-5 apples of choice
1 teaspoon lemon juice
brown sugar, to taste
cinnamon, to taste

Instructions

  1. Core and slice up 4-5 apples into large wedges.
  2. Add two tablespoons water, one teaspoon lemon juice.
  3. Cook over medium, 30-40min, in a lidded pot. Add water if necessary.
  4. Strain cooked apples with spatula and pasta strainer.

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The words “Cookie Exchange” need not cause a panic attack

PIC 2 Final Squares 2

It’s that time of year!  Expect an email with subject: Cookie Exchange! to pop-up in the INBOX.  Do not leap back in fear as one does from email chain letters that promise certain death (sent from you favourite Aunt).  Instead be the first to say YES, I will do it.  Cookie exchanges are actually a lot of fun and if you make these simple 7-Layer squares (errr..cookies) your end of the deal will be sealed and sliced in no time.  No flour involved.

Add coconut

If you can layer things like shredded coconut  (notice a child doing it)..

chocolate chips..

or chocolate chips….

and drizzle with condensed milk (you may need to know how to open a can at this point)

You can end up with this….

Just out of the oven!

All these pics are pulled from more specific directions on my Family Fun blog for foodnetwork.ca.  Just click HERE to go there for the recipe.  If you have a non stick pan that is the best way to go, but I just used a ceramic casserole dish.

PIC 1 Final Squares 1

And I’d love to hear if there are any classic 7 layer (or 5 layer or 9 layer) cookies in your holiday repertoire!

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2012 Chef’s Challenge-the ultimate foodie fundraiser (I’m going! I’m tweeting!!)

2012 Chef’s Challenge

I am totally pumped to have been invited to be a Chef’s Challenge social media reporter for this Saturday’s event. 

If you haven’t heard about it, the Chef’s Challenge is an amazing fundraiser for Mt. Sinai Hospital focusing on women’s health and raising money for breast and ovarian cancer research.

He’ll totally be meaner than this on Saturday.

Picture a kitchen stadium where celebrity chefs Lynn Crawford, Chuck Hughes, Mark McEwan, David Rocco and Michael Smith work with foodie fundraisers to battle it out during a three-course meal service under the eagle eye of  Guy Fieri who will be commenting through the event (hopefully there will be some yelling and mockery even).  Each course must be delivered to a set of celebrity judges that will score the plates on taste, presentation and the crew’s work style and skill.   There will be cameras, there will be commotion.

To attend the event you have to qualify by raising a minimum $2500 each.  The Top 50 fundraisers get to test their kitchen skills on stage with one of the above Chef’s as team leaders.

Personally this sounds beyond stressful and I’ve worked in a kitchen, so I am eager to see how everyone fares under pressure.  It was a love/hate deal for me.  Maybe more hate.

Chef McEwan with Chef’s Challenge co-chair Simmie Antflick (photo courtesy of  Nick Lee)

There were several pre-events leading up to this Saturday, one was hosted by reigning champion Chef McEwan.  Click here for more deets.

The hour of judgement for Chuck Hughes (photo courtesy of Nick Lee)

Then there was the cookie battle judged by Chuck Hughes (cookies! Chuck Hughes! can this be a monthly thing? Or even daily?)

It’s a kitchen party… (photo courtesy of Nick Lee)

And the very first event was at Chef John Cirillo’s Culinary Academy where some aspiring chefs got a few lessons in the kitchen.

Hopefully I have peaked your interest and you can follow my tweets  Saturday night (@sueriedl) and also sign up to follow @chefschallenge for daily updates.  The radiant Ivy Knight (  I was torn between radiant and luminescent)  is part of the team organizing this event and you can follow her @ivyknight or at @Swallow_Food

For more information on the event please go to:

chefschallengeforacure.com

facebook.com/ChefsChallengeCanada

twitter.com/ChefsChallenge

Huge thanks to Nick Lee for letting me use his photos of the events.

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Homemade pesto– you’ll give yourself a high-5.

Who else falls into the “I’ll just grab a jar of pesto from the store shelf”  while shopping rut?

My basil plant has gone wonderfully berserk with leaves this year and I had to use up the bounty.  The colour and freshness of the homemade stuff is huge.

And so versatile when it’s crazy busy back in September mode–yes pasta, but also sandwich spread, fish or chicken glaze or add to sour cream for a dip.

I used pesto as inspiration for my latest blog on foodnetwork.ca so if you would like the recipe click on the link.  It truly takes not time at all.

(You can substitute walnuts for pine nuts or keep it nut-free (a la french pistou, here is my chef basics video recipe).

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Find me on Foodnetwork.ca with some kid-friendly cooking ideas

The blue shape is a train. Really. Squint.

Happy Father’s Day to all ye dads.  And to my dad and to my son’s dad.  (You know who you are.)

I jut wanted to let you all know that I’ve started blogging weekly for The Food Network, so every Friday I’m posting a recipe or something to do with cooking that is easy for kids to participate but also that helps them start to learn about food, cooking and kitchen skills.

Today’s post is sugar cookies for Father’s Day.  Just the basic variety (cars, planes, trains).  If you want to see kick ass effort check out this link to a cookie “remote control”.

I know! Crazy. Someone loves their husband more than I love mine. (from somewhatsimple.com)

I encourage Felix to cook with me, and before I teach him about organic or local or grass-fed I really just want him to see meals come together.  A pizza made from scratch.  Stuff like that.

And I do not mean to be preachy (we are having friends over tonight and I will be ordering pizza and just making a quick salad to go with–or actually asking my friends to bring that–better idea!)  but  sometimes a simple lentil salad with lemon dressing (canned lentils) can go a long way when paired with fast meals like grilled cheese-or pasta with garlic and butter.

And Does Felix eat lentil salad?  Sometimes a fair bit, sometimes none but usually something in between.  But, he knows how to make it!  Though honestly, my cat could make it (it’s slightly more awkward whisking with paws we’ve found–and we keep electrical gadgets out of her reach).

You’ll see a new sidebar on the right side of the blog called Cooking With Kids and I will add links there as the blogs accumulate.  Thanks for checking it out.

Have a fantastic weekend.    S.

See the train shape now? What about the car? Maybe move back from your screen…

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Top Chef Canada: The Final Episode 13

The final three as summed up by Rob and I:

Dale, “I’m crazy high-end cooking–your hot dog will be be plated after being carved into a pig sniffing a truffle”

Connie, “I’m sausages and home-cooking, your hot-dog will be made from a pig I’ve slaughtered, butchered and shoved into the casing myself.

Rob, “I do a bit of everything, I think I’ll make snarky comments about Connie and Dale while I whip up a homemade sausage served with ballpark mustard and yes, you’ll love it.

Its going to be a tough call hot-doggers.  I’m stuck between Connie and Rob.

Quickfire

The chefs are taken  somewhere in the beaches on one of those “bikini-model” days where you want it to look warm and steamy outside but actually there’s a brutal wind and it’s bloody cold.  Connie looks miserable with a red nose and the sniffles.

They each have two hours to prep/cook/plate a BBQ meal for 20 volleyball players using Rickard’s red/white and dark beer and brand new Weber BBQs.

Rob is the only one appearing to have fun as he knocks back a few Rickard’s white and checks out the female volleyball players.

Dale is getting snarky-er, “Clearly the judges love Rob’s comfort food.  So whatever. He could put shit on the grill and they would love it”  This while Rob merrily kisses ass , clinking beer bottles with the judges.

Connie is shocked that Dale has lowered himself to making plain ol’ chicken wings which still turn out kind of “fancy pants.”  She’s working on ribs which usually slow-cook for hours but she’s going for it.

Rob makes a flatiron steak and citrus-spiked corn on the cob.  Dale serves ribs and chicken wings with veggies on the side  and Connie takes the win with white-ale chorizo burgers and dark ale ribs, served with  white-ale coleslaw.

Connie you rock.  And you need some serious soft Kleenex.

Then from out-of-the-blue (or whatever hotel room all the eliminated chefs were locked in) come Todd, Andrea and Dustin.  Since Connie won the Quickfire she gets to choose who will be on her team for the final Elimination.  Not surprisingly she picks Andrea (I would totally have gone for Dustin).  Andrea looks  a little too excited to be back.

In a Connie-esque unstrategic move Connie the assigns Dustin to Dale and Todd to Rob’s team.  They are all way too happy.  But Connie–that’s just the sweet gal she is.

Elimination

Each Chef will be serving a three-course meal of their choice at Peller Estates.  The meal should “showcase who they are as Chefs”.  Finally a challenge everyone is excited about.  Chef David Hawksworth and John Peller (owner of  Estates) join.

Dale is already complaining that three courses is not enough to show of his greatness and plans to serve two dishes for the second course.  You sly dog Dale.

The twist is thrown in by Jason Parsons the Chef at Peller Estates.  He informs the three chefs they will have to serve an amuse as part of their dinner which includes the use of a Cabernet-Franc Ice Wine.

AMUSE

Connie, in a move previously perfected by Todd, pulls out a large Himalayan brick of salt that she’s been hiding under her pillow “just for an occasion like this”.  She uses it to cure albacore crudo and the presentation is impressive.  Dale goes with a “Quebec Brie” (why can’t they ever say the name of the cheese–for God’ s sake!!!!)  paired with some foraged greens and frozen grapes.  But it’s Rob who takes the Amuse round with his goat cheese (from Salt Spring Island), frisee and a Cab France Ice Wine reduction.

1st Course

Connie goes with charcuterie making a smoked pork hock terrine with late-season rhubarb compote (pulling out the seasonal card–Jason Parsons loved it)–which everyone enjoys even though Chef MM thought it was a bit large.

Dale presents a plate of raw fish which was so beautiful I wanted to shellac it and put it on my mantel.  “Others” thought it was too “precious”  (Chef McEwan) and looked at it with disdain.  Everyone else looked pretty damn impressed.

Rob makes everyone say “mmmm” in delicious satisfaction with his foie gras boudin blanc with cauliflower purée and snap peas.

1st course goes to Dale but it’s close.

2nd course

Rob keeps the fatty richness coming with his oxtail and bone marrow which everyone agrees is scrumpalicious but the progression is a bit heavy.  Connie comes out serving lamb two ways–the winning way being the lamb neck croquette which is the most memorable part of the meal.  But here’s where Dale pulls ahead, way ahead…by cheating…no, wait, by “taking a big risk” according to the judges.  I mean, really no one said each course had to have only one dish, right?  (perhaps ask Connie and Rob what they think of that.)

He pulls out black cod with barbecue pork consommé (poured at the table)  and roast lamb with onions done four ways.  Chef MM says the fish dish is the best thing Dale’s done all season and overall no one gives a  crap what the rules were.  They’re eating this up.

Dale kills the second course.  At some point Dale says, “90% of people, 90% of chefs couldn’t replicate my meal.  That’s not arrogant, that’s just reality.”  Then he high-fives himself.

Course 3

Rob makes beignets just to round out the fatty meal.  Despite being downers on how much rich food Rob’s putting out, the judges are all sad little kids when they realize the doughnuts have no fruit filling.

Connie brings out a perfect plate of the cutest desserts ever….chocolate pot de crème with salted peanut brittle (which the judges all agreed could be crèmier), a divine salted-peanut caramel ice cream and a peanut butter- chocolate cupcake. Everyone is dying over the ice cream.

Dale goes so simple it’s actually “complex simplicity” according to consensus. It’s strawberries melted down and re-birthed to create a new, improved strawberry over a lemon custard (with basil custard and rosé sauce). Ok, it sounds kind of awesome.

No one seems to be a clear winner in this category (except Connie’s ice cream perhaps).

Judges Table

Too close to call.  I am still thinking Rob or Connie.  All the chefs are receiving praise such as ” technically skilled” “bold and bright flavours” and “great abs”.

The chefs are called in for the final assessment.

Connie’s food is declared, “robust and honest”

Rob “technically great”

Dale”thinks of the meal as an experience”.

Thea looks at Connie and says, “Connie” loooong pause..”you are NOT Canada’s Top Chef”.

Connie leaves and falls into big hugs in the arms or her mom and husband already waiting in the loser area (back room).

Then, Thea looks between Rob and Dale.  “Dale”  PAAAUUUUSE.  “You are Canada’s Top Chef!”

What! Really.  I actually am kind of happy that Dale (rather than Rob) won.  And when he turned around was surprised by his son, well, not a dry eye in the house!

Well, that’s it.  First season of Top Chef Canada over.  (I’m sure the Food Network’s Top Chef Canada web page will be updated by the Fall for further detail of this last episode.  Man, they work slower than the post office.)  And maybe the Loblaws people can come up with a better angle on their chef-o-mercials than that terrible side shot they cut to all season.  Film school bad.

And please, please, no more of those paper towel ads.  I’ll talk! I’ll say anything you want to hear just to not see that orange juice being knocked over in slow motion ever again.

Blogger out.

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Top Chef Canada- Episode 12

Connie, Rob, Dale and Dustin.  Last Chefs Standing.  They put on their civvies and are picked up in a limo and Dustin makes a funny, “should have worn my suit-street clothes!”

The limo takes them to One, Chef McEwan’s restaurant in Yorkville for breakfast.  The most uncomfortable “let’s all relax and have waffles” that I’ve ever watched. No one looks relaxed, everyone (rightly) looks like they’re trying to figure out why they’re here and how this is going to show up as part of the elimination round.  Chef M talks a lot about his favourite way to eat which is “family style” using  ingredients that are super expensive and unattainable for most families.

I guess he likes to eat, “families with a butler-style”.  I’m just kidding.  Some of those families only have a maid and nanny.

Quickfire

Gale Simmins is the guest judge. GS is a former Top Chef America judge and current host of the new Top Chef: Just Desserts series.  She introduces the challenge: each Chef will pick a knife (this is getting dull, what about pulling swords?) with the name of a Canadian film and base their dish around it.

Dale- Gingersnaps

Connie- Naked Lunch

Rob- Bon Cop/ Bad Cop

Dustin- My Big Fat Greek Wedding

Dustin decides to work some “secret love” into Greek Food and Dale reveals his idea for a “murder plate” based on the Goth girls.  I have to admit, I’m having fun though at first I thought it sounded kind of lame.

Connie turns in a plate of “addictive foods” serving peanut brittle, truffle pop corn and chips sprinkled with lime.  Thea and Gale can barely tear themselves away.

Dustin makes a Danforth-style Greek plate of grilled octopus with some shrimp (?) hidden under a tomato (hidden crustacean love).  All the other chefs are laughing their ass off.

Dale makes the coolest plate pairing blood-red salmon and Goth black squid ink risotto.

Rob does shrimp two ways–spicy (bad cop) and mellow (bon cop).

Ultimately, Gail Simmons gives the win to Dale, she loves the violence on the plate says he showed the best technique.

Elimination Challenge

The chefs must create a menu for a “family-style” dinner party for Mark McEwan and his judge friends.  From a pantry stocked by Mark McKewan.  Since Dale won the Quickfire he has a head start of 5 minutes to take whatever he wants.

As Rob says, “everyone else gets his leftovers”.

Connie is freaking out that he might take the chicken.  C’mon Con, you think Dale would ever cook chicken?  Not unless it was flown in fresh from Bresse. (Fresh Chicken of Bresse Air– Food Network development people are you listening??)

We cut to some “we have extra time in the show” shots of the chefs.  Dale and Dusty are “so happy together” in their little bunk-home that Dustin admits there may be a bit of a bro-mance brewing.

The guest judges this week are David Lee (of Nota Bene), Jacob Richler (who comes across as a guy who would sneer at his own grandmother’s chicken soup) and Amy Verner– trend spotter. (The woman is everywhere.   She trend spots everything.  I think she must duplicate herself like clever Michael Keaton does in Multiplicity.  All versions looking stylish and cool. Unlike clever Michael Keaton.)

Course 1:

Connie kills course 1 with her lipsmacking beet salad and home-made cheese.  Chef Lee and Gail Simmons are much impressed.  Dustin’s fresh made pasta is sticky and flavourless while Dale’s oysters and mignonette is considered clumsy and “totally unlike Dale’s style”.

Course 2:

Course 2 is overshadowed by Connie’s family-style disaster “the roast chicken is rare!”.  She throws it into the deep fryer while Rob looks on amused, “Connie’s a little Texas today,  Shooting some stray bullets.”  But adds in typical smart-ass style, “but who am I too judge?”

So Connie squeaks by with her chicken and potato dish.   Dale serves Diver scallops with asparagus two ways.

Robs stomps all over Dustin’s “amateur” grilled lake trout with his seared perch, gnocchi and peas. One a hit , one a miss.

Course 3:

Dale makes steak, Jacob Richler sneers–or maybe he’s just breathing.  Rob makes a mouth-watering braised lamb neck with roasted mushrooms and baby beets which is loved by all.  Connie comes back from deep-fried chicken with a gorgeous chocolate ganache tart that no one can get enough of and Dustin…serves a composed fruit plate.  What?  For you last dish before the finals? (You even managed a strawberry shortcake for Milestones dude!)

Gail Simmons sums up everyone’s shock, ““I’m totally confounded by the fruit plate. This is your last chance to wow us….I actually think it’s absurd.”

Judge’s Table:

Rob takes the win, essentially he was the only one not too have screwed up some element of the meal.  Everyone looks pretty nervous as Connie is declared safe (YESS!!! Go Connie!!!!) and it is down to Dustin and Dale.  The Bromancers.  You know that Dustin must be the one to go, but man, it must have been hard for Thea to say.  He’s still smiling and completely gracious.  (I spend 5 minutes gushing to my husband about how sweet Dustin is only to discover he really doesn’t care.)

Dale actually looks stricken. Absence makes the heart grow fonder bromancer.  Or sometimes peach schnapps have the same effect.

Next week:  A winery, a kitchen and the first Top Chef of Canada revealed.

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