It is believed that the first commercial pizza originated in Italy in the 18th century.
The pizza Margherita owes its name to Italy’s Queen Margherita. Apparently, in 1889, she visited the Pizzeria Brandi in Naples and the pizza maker created a special pie for her. It consisted of three colours in the Italian flag: tomatoes (red), mozzarella (white), and basil (green).
The Hawaiian Pizza was invented in Canada; it is topped with tomato sauce, cheese, pineapple, and Canadian bacon or ham.
Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping.
Saturday is the most popular night to eat pizza.
It’s National Pizza Day and we are sharing our scrumptious Signature recipes for Pizza Sauce AND Pizza Dough. Delizioso!
Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Pizza sauce
Yield: Approximately 3 cups
1 -28 oz can whole unsalted tomatoes
1/4 bunch of basil
2 cloves garlic
¼ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
Strain tomatoes using a colander. Using your hands, puncture the tomatoes to release the juice contained.
Meanwhile in a food processor, process garlic, basil and olive oil together. Add in strained tomatoes and continue to pulse until ingredients are incorporated.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Rooks to Cooks’ Traditional Napoleon Style Pizza Dough
Yield: Serves 6
5 cups 00 flour + some for dusting
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
2 1/4 c warm water
Preheat your oven as high as it will go for at least 45 minutes to one hour.
In the bowl of your KitchenAid use the paddle attachment to mix the flour, sea salt and dry active yeast on low speed until all is incorporated. Add the warm water.
Switch to the dough hook and mix together on low speed for 8 to 10 minutes. The dough should be smooth and sticky but should not stick to the sides of the bowl, only a little to the bottom.
If the dough sticks to the sides sprinkle in a little more flour, if it is too dry then add a bit more water.
After the 8 minutes have passed remove the dough from the KitchenAid and cut it into 6 pieces and form them into rounds. Place them on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit at room temperature and rise for 1-2 hours.
Sprinkle the counter with a little bit of flour, take one piece of dough and press down on it with your fingers until you have 1/2″ thick circle or oval. Using your fists and knuckles start stretching the dough until 10″ in diameter making sure not to tear it.
Dust your pizza peel (or a piece of cardboard) very well with semolina flour or corn meal and set your pizza dough on it making sure it slides easily when moved. Pour 2-3 tablespoons of your pizza sauce in the centre and spread it around with the back of a spoon leaving 1 inch of space at the edges and making sure not to get any on the peel. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and add your favourite toppings.
Gently slide the pie on the preheated pizza stone in a hot 525 degree F or more oven, and bake for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden brown on the edges.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with basil and freshly grated parmigiano reggianno. Allow pizza to rest for a few minutes for the cheese to set.
Please note: Contest has ended and the winner has been notified. Thank you to everyone who participated!
Register BEFORE February 18TH and WIN an evening with CHEF SHAI!
In case you missed our Contest Newsletter, we have an amazing Family Day Contest to tell you about! Simply REGISTER for a summer camp session BEFORE the Family Day deadline, and you could win the following exciting Family PRIZE:
One (1) 3-hour In-home Private Family Cooking Lesson with Chef Shai herself!
Based on your preferences and learning goals, Chef Shai will prepare a custom menu plan for you and your family. From there she will bring all the necessary ingredients and equipment to your home and conduct a hands-on interactive cooking lesson with your family. After the cooking is complete, everyone will sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labour! This prize has a $600 value.
Here’s what you need to know!
To Register: Go online or call us to Register for a Rooks to Cooks Summer Camp Session. Each registration for a one week session is one entry so if you sign up for two weeks then you get two entries.
Deadline: to be entered into the contest you must register BEFORE 12:00 midnight on Monday, February 18, 2019 (Family Day). You will automatically be entered into the contest once your register.
If you have ALREADY registered, then you will also be entered into the contest.
Draw Date: Winner will be contacted and announced on Tuesday, February 19, 2019. Prize must be accepted as a described; no replacements or monetary exchange.
Rudolf Lindt, the famed chocolatier, created a process called “conching” in 1879. This process produced a smoother, silkier chocolate that could be used for baking. This enabled bakers to transform white or yellow cakes to the yummy chocolate cakes that we know and love today.
There are SO many different types of chocolate cakes. We love the classic chocolate cake with chocolate icing. Also popular is German Chocolate Cake and Chocolate Mousse cake. Yum!
Chocolate contains cacao, which is thought to affect mood. A chemical in cacao stimulates the brain’s naturally-occurring endorphins and increases serotonin production. Serotonin is the chemical that makes us feel good! It is for this reason that chocolate consumption is encouraged; in moderation of course 🙂
Cocoa beans, the base for making chocolate, are seeds from the cacao tree. The beans are found inside the cacao pods; each pod contains 20 – 60 cocoa beans.
Our Signature Cake Recipe with Chocolate Buttercream are sure to be a big hit for those with a sweet tooth!! So rich and delicious.
Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Moist Chocolate Cake Recipe
Yield: 2 – 8 inch round pans
[Tip: If you want to make the chocolate POP and add a kick to your cake, add coffee instead of water to your mix]
2 cups sugar
1 ¾ Cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa (unsweetened)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (or coffee)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder & soda, and salt.
Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Beat on medium for one minute.
Stir in boiling water (Batter will be thin, don’t worry about it)
Cover bottom of pan with parchment (cut into circle) and sides with parchment, cut rectangular strip.If you don’t want to cover pan with parchment, spray with cooking spray and powder with flour.
Bake for approximately 25 minutes.
Swiss Meringue Chocolate Buttercream
Yield: 1 pint
150g egg whites
225g unsalted butter at room temperature
225g Melted dark chocolate
28g vanilla extract
Cook sugar and egg whites over a double boiler until 60F.
Beat the sugar and egg whites into hard peaks with whisk, and let it cool.
Once cooled, add salt, chunks of soft butter, melted chocolate and vanilla, and mix with paddle attachment until smooth.
Flynn McGarry is not your average kid. Truthfully, he is quite extraordinary. Ever since he was a small child, he has loved cooking. So much so that when he was 10 years old, he decided that he was going to start his culinary journey and not just aim for a career but have it dominate his life.
Currently at age 19, Chef Flynn is not only a master at his craft but runs his very own restaurant in New York City called, Gem and is the subject of the documentary entitled, Chef Flynn. It’s an engaging documentary about McGarry’s journey, which concludes as he prepares to open his Manhattan restaurant.
Chef Flynn, Directed by Cameron Yates, opens at the Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema on Friday, January 25, and runs to Thursday, January 31. This documentary is sure to inspire as it captures Flynn’s singular drive and passion for cooking and follows the incredible rise of this culinary prodigy. To purchase tickets to the documentary: https://bit.ly/2FVQMSa
Watch the Official Trailer:
There is no doubt that Flynn McGarry is not only an inspiration to all budding young chefs out there but to anyone wanting to pursue their chef dreams. In 2015, McGarry was named one of Time magazine’s thirty most influential teens and there is no question that we will be hearing a lot more from this talented young man in the years to come.
Bonne Laufer had the chance to chat with him about his culinary life and what it took to get where he is today.
Q: Cooking is something that you have always been passionate about. As we see in your new documentary, Chef Flynn, the passion really kicked in at around age 10. How did you know at that age that this was something you wanted to spend the rest of your life doing?
Chef Flynn McGarry: I don’t think that it was a conscious decision at that age that this was something I wanted to spend the rest of my life doing but I’ve always been the kind of person that if I am enjoying something, then I want to keep doing it. So, becoming a chef was a natural progression for me. It never started as, I want to be a chef, it was just that I loved cooking and I kept doing it. Being that young I was never pressured into anything and I could have stopped whenever I wanted but I just truly loved doing it and it turned into something much bigger than I could have ever anticipated.
Q: You’ve always had the support, help and backing from your family. How important has that been in shaping who you are and what you’ve become?
CF: It was definitely an integral part of my life especially as a child because I looked to my parents for guidance. I think having that support gave me the confidence to actually go work in kitchens or set up a pop up restaurant in our home and let me fulfill my cooking dreams. My parents knew from the beginning that this wasn’t just a hobby. They supported my passion and, along with my sister, were with me every step of the way. Without that there is no way I would have gotten this far so quickly.
Q: We learn through the documentary that you were so passionate about cooking that you turned your bedroom into a makeshift kitchen. What was it like for you to get started at such a young age and as things were seriously progressing as you got older how did you handle knowing that this was something you were really going to do for the rest of your life?
CF: I don’t think I ever really thought about it like that to be honest. It just kept progressing and I was always finding new things to cook and I really enjoyed what I was doing. I still think of it the same way, I keep finding new things that I enjoy about it and I think that is really what keeps me going. Every day is a new experience and being inspired and getting to create exciting new dishes is a dream for me. To be honest, it’s very rare for me to think, ‘this is my job’. I appreciate all the opportunities that I have been given and I love having this freedom to create and make people happy with the food that I present.
Q: When the documentary was being shot was it annoying to you at any stage? The cameras were constantly in your face and we do get to see you when you are most vulnerable.
CF: It really wasn’t that bad but for me the most important element was having trust in the person who was making it. I have known the director/cinematographer Cameron Yates for a very long time so it made me a lot more comfortable for him to film certain things that you see in the documentary.
Q: It was such a fascinating and honest look at your life and I especially love the footage of you as a little baby – not quite a year old and banging around the pots and pans!
(laughs) Ha, I know. I guess I was destined to be a chef at a VERY early
age! My sister found that footage and it was a nice addition to the
Q: What is the biggest lesson you have learned over the past 9 years since you started taking your cooking seriously all the way to having your very own restaurant in New York City?
CF: I think the most important thing that I have learned is that you have to be very confident but also, I think about everything as though I am constantly learning. You can NEVER stop learning and I am always inspired by other chefs and the people I surround myself around. I never take the attitude ‘oh, I know this’ because you never know everything. My goal is to learn as much as possible and to continue learning.
Q: We know that cooking has always been your passion and you can spend 24 hours a day cooking if you could but there had to have been time to just be a kid?
Well yeah, I was a kid until I was 12 years old and then I was just kind of over it. (laughs) For me, spending time cooking was kid stuff. I never felt like I was missing out on anything and I never felt the need to play or partake in other programs. I was doing something that was interesting to me and I never felt left out or that I was missing out on anything. Don’t get me wrong, everyone is different, and I think the freedom of being a “kid” is needed and great but for me I was perfectly happy doing what I was doing. My parents were always happy and supportive with my decisions and, in fact, encouraged me to take some time away from the kitchen but I was always most happy when I was cooking and creating new dishes.
Q: With so many TV options out there today, cooking and baking shows are all the rage. We can’t get enough of them and I was wondering why you think we are all fascinated by them?
CF: I think it’s because they are interesting, and people want to learn how to cook. Chefs are interesting people and are artists in their own right. I see them as not disconnected, as many art forms are, but it’s partaking in something that we can relate to. People get ideas from these shows and many see themselves in the contestants. Especially the shows that feature every day home cooks who want to explore their passions. I think it gives people confidence and there are so many elements that give people something to be interested in.
Q: Who inspires you?
CF: There are so many Chefs that I am inspired by like Daniel Humm, René Redzepi and Thomas Keller. I am constantly inspired by people I work with and who have the same drive and passion that I have for cooking and creating.
Q: At Rooks to Cooks some of the things that we are passionate about is empowering our students, we’d like our young chefs to become more independent, we want them to build self-confidence and support their self-expression through a culinary education. How did these elements play in for you growing up as a young chef?
CF: All of those things were and still are very important to me. That is one of the reasons I started my pop up restaurants. There is always a learning curve but what was most exciting for me was creating and then executing the dish. I always try to find a balance between the two. It’s fun to create and take into consideration who and what inspires me so that I can add that to my dishes, but I also make sure I put my own spin on it and create my own style of food. It takes a while to do that and I only feel like now I can sort of define what that is, but it took many years to figure it all out.
Q: What is your creative process like? You now run your very own restaurant and I am sure that you spend a lot of time creating new and exciting dishes for that. You offer 12 courses so it must give you such freedom to express yourself in so many different plates.
CF: We try to change things up almost daily. I definitely have some signature dishes that people expect but I try to change something up all the time. I never want to be boring or stale. The idea behind our menu is to showcase what is available and what is inspiring at that moment too. Obviously, some ingredients are only available at certain times of the year, so we work around that. It all starts with the ingredients and the farmers that I work very closely with, but from there I look at the foods as an art form. I can’t really explain my process but it’s all about what I have to work with and what inspires me. Having the restaurant gives me structure so sometimes I keep the same menu because I am not inspired that day, but other times I may change it up 4 times a week; it really just depends. I want it to be a very personal restaurant in that way, where the food changes by what I am inspired by and what interests me.
Q: Do you ever surprise yourself with what you cook?
CF: (laughs) Every once in a while I will make something and think, wow, I didn’t expect that! I may put something in the menu that I don’t necessarily like but customers love and ask for. It really is a new experience every day.
Q: I was wondering if you ever step back and say to yourself, wow – I can’t believe what I have accomplished, and I am not even 20 years old! Hard work definitely pays off!
CF: I don’t do that for that exact reason. If I did that, I don’t think I would be doing what I am doing. Age is just a number, I can’t focus on that and sometimes I wish others wouldn’t either! You’re right, I have worked really hard to get where I am, and I don’t plan on doing anything less. It’s a tough business but I love it and it really makes me so happy.
CHEF FLYNN’S KID-FRIENDLY ADVICE:
1.What advice would you give to young and aspiring cooks and chefs?
CF: Find a style or an entry point to cooking. While it is important to cook your own stuff and kind of create dishes and be creative with it, you can’t do any of that until you know all the basics. So learn all the basics on your own or go work somewhere to learn all the basics, and then from there start kind of doing your own thing. But never be like, “Alright, I’m done learning from other people.” Never get to a place where you think you know everything, because you never will. You are always going to be a student and you are always learning. Yes – you are going to constantly mess up but that’s ok and a huge part of it. Especially in cooking – there’s always something else to learn. You have to work really hard, but you also have to enjoy the work. It is long days and it can get tiring and trying at times but if you actually truly love it, then it’s easier to stomach than if you feel like it’s just become a routine job.
2. What skills does a young aspiring chef HAVE to learn?
CF: Knife skills are really important and a sense of urgency. Especially for young cooks wanting to work in the industry or a professional kitchen. It’s something that a lot of people don’t have anymore, but it is so important especially for a higher level of cuisine. Also, be a team player. You’re not going to get anywhere on your own and it’s important to work with others and respect them as well.
3) What is the best way to persevere and not let things get you down?
CF: It’s different for everyone but for me cooking is my outlet, I find it therapeutic. It could be the roughest day at work, but I always try to focus on the task at hand and it calms me down. I am working with my hands and creating something tangible which always gives me a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment.
4) What is the most gratifying thing about becoming a Chef?
CF: People liking your food! That is a huge thing for every chef — seeing the reaction from people eating your food and knowing that they are really enjoying it. What we create is special for people and when they come and eat in my restaurant for example to mark special events in their lives nothing makes me happier to know that I have made that day a little bit more special.
5) What is the best way to relieve stress?
CF: I like to read about anything that is NOT about cooking or I will go see a movie or watch a show on TV that has absolutely nothing to do with food! For me it’s been really important to be able to remove myself from it in some way for a few hours of the day.
6) What is your favourite guilty pleasure food?
CF: I love ice-cream! I eat ice cream way too much! I don’t know if it is a guilty pleasure at this point, I have just really come to terms with it!
Bonnie Laufer and Rooks to Cooks would like to thank Chef Flynn for taking the time to talk about his love of cooking and his amazing career! We wish him continued success in all his future ventures.
Pies can be filled with a variety of sweet or savoury ingredients.
According to a survey by Tenderflake, Canadians like the following five sweet pies the best: Apple Pie (17%), followed by Lemon Meringue (14%), Pecan (10%), Blueberry (10%) and Pumpkin (8%).
The typical pie is round, 20–25 cm in diameter and 5–8 cm thick.
To get a fluffy pie pastry: put grated pieces of COLD butter in your dough so that it gets distributed throughout the crust and makes it extra fluffy while it bakes.
Pies can be made with either One Crust, where the filling is put on top of the pastry dough and baked (with no top crust) or Two Crust, in which there is a bottom crust with filling that is covered by a top crust.
If you want to indulge in a delicious PIE today, then please check out our mouth-watering recipe below …
Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Apple Pie Recipe Yield: 1 9-inch pie
Pie Dough Ingredients:
375g all-purpose flour
160g frozen unsalted butter
125g vegetable shortening or pure lard
100g COLD water
15g brown sugar
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the salt, sugar, flour butter, shortening mix together.
Rub shortening into flour until reduced to pea-sized crumbs. Once pea-sized crumbs, grate cold butter into flour. Toss butter lightly using the salad tossing method.
Add cold water little bits at a time, mixing in between additions. Mix just enough to incorporate, do not over mix!
Transfer dough to floured table. Shape into a thick disc. Tightly cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before rolling.
Apple Pie Filling Ingredients:
2 Granny smith apples peeled and sliced
3 ambrosia apples, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup – ½ cup sugar (depending on preference)
2-3 Tbsp cornstarch
¼ lemon juiced
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp cold water (egg wash)
1 tbsp sugar for sprinkling
In a large bowl, mix together apples, sugar, cornstarch, lemon, and cinnamon.
Pour into the crust, leaving room around the edges to seal.
Roll out the remaining dough and place on top remembering to cut in vents to allow steam to escape.
Seal the edges and then brush with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with sugar.
Preheat oven to 400F, bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for an additional 50 – 70 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and filling is soft.
Popcorn is derived from maize; its scientific name is “Zea Mays Everta”
Air popped popcorn has only 30 calories per quart
Canadians eat about 1.6 billion quarts of popcorn per year
Popcorn can pop up to 3 feet into the air
The #1 use of microwave ovens is to make popcorn
Want to make a sweet treat? Try our Caramel Corn recipe. Super easy to do with your kids … we know they will love this one!
Yield: 4 servings
90g brown sugar
25mL corn syrup
Pinch of salt
0.5g baking soda
1mL vanilla extract
45g popped popcorn
Preheat oven to 250F.
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, corn syrup and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring constantly. Boil without stirring for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and mix in baking soda and vanilla.
In a large bowl, add popcorn and drizzle caramel mixture over popcorn; stirring well to coat every kernel.
In large baking dishes, bake the corn for 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Let it cool completely before consuming.
Traditionally, we see Shortbread in the form of large rounds, triangular wedges, and thick rectangles. Today’s modern shortbread is made in various cookie shapes as well.
The triangular wedges are also called petticoat tails because it is thought that they looked similar to a ladies’ garment called the petticoat – worn under dresses in the Victorian era.
A Scottish cookbook dated at 1736 contained the first shortbread recipe. Some early versions contained yeast, but by 1850 most recipes were using the ingredients and ratios that bakers still use today: butter, flour, sugar and cornstarch.
Shortbread was once baked and shared only on Christmas or on Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year’s Eve, but shortbread is now baked and enjoyed throughout the year!
Helen’s Famous Shortbread Recipe
3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 cup sifted icing sugar
1 pound butter
In mixer, cream butter, add sugar, until like whipped cream.
Add flour and cornstarch (sifted together). Whip mixture until fluffy and until mixture breaks.
Drop from spoon onto cookie sheet.
Bake at 300 degrees F for approximately 20 minutes.