Contest Alert! WIN a Butter Tart class with Chef Shai!

In honour of Chef Shai’s Birthday on May 7, we are SUPER-EXCITED to Announce another AMAZING CONTEST … Complete your Summer Camp Registration BEFORE Midnight on Friday, May 31st and you could WIN a Butter Tart Cooking Class with Chef Shai.

Simply register for a summer camp session and you will be entered to win the following exciting PRIZE: One (1) 2-hour In-home Private Butter Tart Class with Chef Shai for your child and up to 5 friends. SWEET!!

In case you didn’t know, Butter Tarts are one of Chef Shai’s specialty recipes. You only need to try one to know why! So buttery, flaky, sweet and delicious … is your mouth watering yet?! Chef Shai will bring all the necessary ingredients and equipment to your home and conduct a hands-on interactive cooking lesson with your child and their friends. After the Butter Tart are out of the oven, everyone will sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labour! Yum!

Here’s what you “knead” 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 Friday, May 31st. You will automatically be entered into the contest once your register.

Eligibility: All new and previous registrations. If you have ALREADY registered, then you will also be entered into the contest.

Draw Date: We will pick the winner on Sat. June 1st. Winner will be contacted and announced on Monday, June 3rd, 2019. This prize has a $600 value. Prize must be accepted as a described; no replacements or monetary exchange.

Photo by Kailee Mandel

What’s the Recipe for a Healthy, Active Lifestyle?

PRESENTED BY: Zach Budd, Director of Nike Tennis Camps /  SPORTS CAMPS CANADA

Photo: courtesy of Sports Camps Canada

Spring is here and we all want to get outside and get active! A healthy lifestyle includes many components, such as, keeping our body fit, learning new skills, and making nutritious choices in what we eat.  As a busy family, it’s often hard to keep all our health goals on track. We can provide some guidance and ideas on how to create healthy goals but, ultimately, try to work together to see what works best for you. As parents, we can act as role models and hopefully our children will learn from a young age that healthy choices help them feel better and play better!

Let’s begin with ways to get our bodies moving! Exercise will help our body stay strong so that we can do all the things we like, and it helps us feel great. Here are some fun ways for kids and families to get active:

  1. Get a group of children together and go play outside. How about tag or hide-and-go-seek?
  2. Grab your sports equipment and play your favourite sport at the park with your friends and family … baseball, basketball, soccer are all great activities for a group of people!
  3. Ride your bike, scooter, or walk to school or to local spots in your community. Leave the car behind and get some exercise.
  4. Don’t forget your chores! Doing work around the house gets you moving … help with the yard work (raking), do some gardening (pick out some new flowers or veggies to grow), cleaning inside the house is good too (folding laundry, vacuuming).

If you would like to start a new training routine, such as running, then we recommend that you sit down with an adult before the summer begins to prepare a running schedule that will be appropriate for your age, experience and your goals for the season. When starting your running season, make sure the distances are manageable and easy, over time you can slowly start setting goals that are tougher to reach. Also try to explore new places and run on different terrains such as hills, grass, and trails. Finally, keep a journal or diary to record what you have done each day to celebrate your progress.

Next up is the importance of learning new skills and keeping our brain active! Try to expose children to a variety of opportunities that will benefit their brain & body:

  • learn to play a variety of sports
  • play board games
  • learn to play a musical instrument
  • engage in painting or drawing classes
  • try drama lessons
  • learn to cook at a young age

By learning and by doing various actions, we become more confident and experienced and that makes those activities more enjoyable. Learning something new also gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Last, but not least, we need to make sure that we’re feeding our body all the nutrients it needs to keep us moving all day long! With the introduction of the new Canada’s Food Guide, we were thrilled with the addition of the lifestyle change “Cook More Often”. Cooking our own meals at home and as a family is a great place to start. When we control what goes into our food, then we can make better choices that benefit our body. Cooking is a great family activity and you can get kids of all ages involved in meal prep.

Age 4-6: children can start with tasks such as washing produce, measuring, mixing, assembling and organizing. We recommend low risk activities and providing supervision while in the kitchen.

Age 7-10: With their quickly developing fine motor skills, this age group is ideal for introducing more challenging roles, such as knife skills and pan work. Also, it’s important to explicitly lay out the safety rules when using this higher risk equipment while still approaching the experience with relaxed energy and encouragement.

Age 11+: This age category has the potential to take on the recipe in its entirety with some supervision. For less experienced tweens, we recommend following the guidelines for the age 7-10 category. Just like the younger age category, explicitly run through the safety rules when using any higher risk equipment and be sure to provide encouragement and support.

So, let’s strive to keep our bodies fit and strong, every day, by keeping active, playing sports and fun games, challenging ourselves to try something new and feeding our bodies with nutritious foods. That sounds like a fabulous recipe for a healthy lifestyle!

We are sharing an easy Rooks to Cooks Recipe Idea to try with your kids! Chef Shai suggests this yummy breakfast recipe to provide fuel for your family before a weekend tournament, game or practice.

Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Egg & Potato Omelette)

Yield: 6-8 Servings

Spanish Egg & Potato Omelette


  • 700g (1.5 lbs) Yukon gold potatoes (peeled & sliced into ½ cm rounds)
  • 1 medium onion, sliced (110g)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (4g)
  • 90ml olive oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 6g salt
  • 5g pepper


  1. Cook the potatoes: Heat the oil in medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the potatoes and season. Cover the pan with a lid and gently cook for 10 minutes without letting the potatoes brown.
  2. After 10 minutes, add the onions and cook for another 10 minutes with the lid on. At this point the onions should be soft and slightly clear. Carefully drain the oil from the pan and save it for later.
  3. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Add the warm potatoes and onions and let the mixture sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, clean the frying pan. Heat the reserved oil in the pan over low heat. Pour the potato, onion and egg mixture into the pan, shaking the pan to ensure the mix is evenly distributed. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes on a low heat. After 15 minutes, the mix should be fairly solid but remain SLIGHTLY runny on the very top.
  5. Time to flip! Using a spatula, loosen the tortilla from the edges. Shake to loosen. Slide the tortilla out of the pan and onto a plate. Carefully put the pan over the plate and flip it back into the pan uncooked side down.
  6. Cook for an additional 5 minutes over low-medium heat. Slide onto a plate and let it cool slightly. Cut into 6 wedges and serve immediately.
  7. Garnish Suggestion: feel free to add some chopped green onions or perhaps some diced tomatoes on top as a garnish. ENJOY!


Sports Camps Canada (SCC) was founded in 2015 and is the official operator of Nike Sports Camps in Canada. SCC partners with the country’s best coaches to direct our camps and provides them with valuable administrative and marketing support. We continue to grow thanks to an outstanding community of Camp Directors and the dedication of the entire Sports Camps Canada staff. Now for a limited time only, enjoy $25 off camp with code ROOKS25 today! Register for Nike Sports Camps this summer at

Happy Earth Day 2019!

Happy Earth Day Everyone! Today, and Everyday, we need take the time to appreciate and respect this wonderful planet that we call home. Earth is where we live, work and play and we all must do our part to keep our home healthy for future generations. Let’s try our best to think locally and take conscious steps within your own family – such as conserve energy, recycle, try to eat sustainably.  Every little bit helps to conserve our planet and protect our nature – plants, animals and environment.

For 2019, the Earth Day Network is inviting everyone to join their campaign entitled: “Protect our Species”. We can and we must work towards protecting the world’s threatened and endangered species! Their message is that we can slow the rate of extinctions and even enable the declining, threatened and endangered species to recover by joining together globally and taking immediate action. Check out their website for more information,

Let’s start within our own community! While there are many ways to respect our planet, we have some Earth Day ideas that will get you started right at home. “Lettuce” help get your whole family involved in these activities!

4 Earth-friendly Ideas for your family:

  1. Buy local food to reduce the distance from farm to table:
  2. Look for organic food to support farmers who practice organic farming that is free from toxic pesticides. Also purchase food from companies who use organic ingredients.
  3. Compost your kitchen scraps. Use your green bins so that kitchen garbage is diverted from the landfill. Or use a backyard compost bin so you can turn waste into fertilizer for use in your garden.
  4. Grow your own organic garden. If you have some space in your backyard garden, then think about growing some vegetables. Many vegetables can even be grown in containers, for example tomatoes, herbs, lettuce, peppers.

Since it is Earth Day, let’s also try to be more planet-friendly and eat food that comes primarily from plants. As we read in the new Canada’s Food Guide, we should strive to choose protein food that come from plants more often. But rather than a complete changeover to plant-based diet, we would suggest that you try to incorporate more plant-based meals into your current food plan. For example, you could try a meatless meal once a week as a way to introduce the concept to your family. We know change can be difficult so if you take small steps to introduce a variety of different options then that will be much easier for you and your family to succeed.

Here is a great list of Plant-based Protein options to get you and your family started.  Plant-based diets offer all the necessary protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and  minerals for optimal health, and are often higher in fibre and phytonutrients. Plant-based includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes, and beans. It doesn’t mean you never eat meat or dairy, but you are choosing more of your foods from plant sources.


Here is a list of plant foods that contain a high amount of protein per serving:

  1. Soybeans
  2. Lentils
  3. Chickpeas and most bean varieties
  4. Spelt and Teff
  5. Hempseed
  6. Green Peas
  7. Blue-green algae (Spirulina)
  8. Amaranth and Quinoa
  9. Ezekiel Bread and Other Breads Made From Sprouted Grains
  10. Soymilk
  11. Oats and Oatmeal
  12. Wild Rice
  13. Chia Seeds
  14. Nuts, Nut Butters and Other Seeds
  15. Protein-Rich Fruits and Vegetables


In this section, we asked Karen Gilman, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, to provide valuable answers to our questions related to plant-based diet. We have also compiled a helpful Q&A below:

Q1. Within our own family, we can do our part by adopting a plant-based diet. We asked Karen to provide a few key benefits for our bodies when we switch to plant-based foods?

Karen: Plant-based foods have been linked to a number of health benefits among which is heart health. As plant-based foods like nuts, seeds, beans and legumes are rich in fibre and low in saturated fat they can help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure thus reducing our risk of heart disease.  The fibre and protein in these foods is also helpful in managing blood sugar levels. This helps keep us fuller long which may help with weight management. There is also some research that supports a plant-based diet may reduce your risk of some cancers.

Q2. Many people are concerned that they will not get all the protein and nutrients they need by eating plant-based. What types of plant-based foods do you recommend to get the most nutritional benefits?

Karen: One of the biggest concerns about plant-based diets is that it will be difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs. And most specifically there is a concern about protein. It is possible to get these nutrients when you follow a plant-based diet as long as you are eating a variety of foods.  And fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes all have protein!  However, there are a few nutrients like Vitamin D and B12 that are more difficult to get on a plant-based diet. You should make sure to discuss your dietary preferences with your healthcare provider so they can advise whether or not you should consider taking any supplements.

Additional info: If you are looking to add more plant-based proteins, but aren’t quite sure how, Karen offers a free Healthy Veg Call so book some time to talk to her today! Telephone: 416-949-0164

Contact Karen Gilman, Registered Holistic Nutritionist TM

Get your copy “Vegetarian Teen Basics For Busy Parents” =





5 “Eggs-quisite” Natural Dyes for Colouring Eggs

Contributor: Anastasiia Maklakova, Marketing Intern @ Rooks to Cooks

Natural dyes produce lovely coloured eggs

Easter is just around the corner and we have an “eggs-citing” activity that all family members will enjoy! For many families, the tradition of egg colouring has always been a part of Easter preparations. This year let’s try colouring eggs with natural dyes. Kids will love to see all the “eggs-traordinary” colours that they can produce using different vegetables and spices that you might have in the kitchen. Here are some recipes that will give you intense, beautiful colours and you don’t need to worry because the ingredients are natural and safe. We are sure that your kids will be “egg-static” about this activity!

Some “Eggs-cellent” TIPS to get you started:

  • To help prevent the eggs from cracking, keep them out of the fridge for about 1 hour before boiling; also, put one (1) teaspoon of salt in the water during boiling.
  • Before coloring, wash the eggs with soap and water; remove any oil or marks on the egg with rubbing alcohol to get better colors.
  • Cover your table or work area with paper because some of the dyes might be intense and it’s not easy to wash them off your surface.
  • Use a cooking skimmer or slotted spoon to transfer the eggs in and out of the dye.
  • If possible, pick a saucepan that is deep enough that your eggs are completely immersed in the dye or you will get a white/light spot; you can also roll them over occasionally to get an even colour.
  • After coloring, dry the eggs out and wipe with olive or canola oil to give them an incredible shine.
  • Colored eggs must be kept in the refrigerator.

Now let’s get started! Here are our Top 5 Natural Dyes and instructions on how to colour your eggs. Have fun!!

You will need the following ingredients, depending on which colour(s) you choose to try:

  • white vinegar
  • salt
  • Onion skin from 6-8 yellow onions (Yellow)
  • 6 medium beets, chopped (pink)
  • 4 cups raw spinach leaves (green)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Turmeric (golden/yellow)
  • 4 cups Red Cabbage (chopped or grated)
  1. Yellow Coloured Eggs:
  • In a saucepan, add onion skin from 6-8 bulbs to 4 cups of water, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt; bring to boil and then lower to a simmer for about 40 minutes; strain the onion skin;
  • Carefully put raw eggs into the pot of strained dye and gently boil for 10 minutes and then take pot off the heat; try to ensure that your eggs are completed immersed in the dye or you may get a white/light spot; you can also roll them over occasionally to get an even colour;
  • For more intense color, leave the eggs in the dye for longer depending on the depth of colour that you like;
  • Take the eggs out of the dye using a slotted spoon or tongs; pat dry with paper towels and let dry completely on a rack.

2. Pretty Pink Eggs

  • You will need about about 6 medium Beets; roughly chopped;
  • In a saucepan, combine beets with 4 cups of water, 1 tablespoon vinegar, and 1 teaspoon salt;
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes;
  • Place raw eggs in the pot and gently boil for 10 minutes; take pot off the heat and leave eggs in longer to get desired colour;
  • Take the eggs out of the dye, pat dry and then allow to dry completely on a rack.

3. Green Eggs

  • Add about 4 cups of raw spinach leaves, 4 cups of water, 1 tablespoon salt to a saucepan;
  • Boil for about 25 minutes; strain the spinach;
  • Place raw eggs into the pot with the dye and gently boil for 10 minutes; take pot off the heat and leave eggs in longer to get desired colour;
  • Take the eggs out of the dye, rinse and pat dry and then allow to dry completely on a rack.

4. Golden/Yellow Eggs

  • Pour 4 cups of water in a saucepan and add 2-3 tablespoons of turmeric;
  • Bring the solution to a boil for 2 minutes and then simmer/brew for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour;
  • Place raw eggs in the pot and gently boil for 10 minutes; take pot off the heat and leave eggs in longer to get desired colour;
  • Take the eggs out of the dye, rinse and pat dry and then allow to dry completely on a rack.

5. Beautiful Blue Eggs – believe it or not Red Cabbage produces Blue dye – very Cool!

  • Note: For this colour option, you will need to hard-boil your eggs in water for 10 minutes and let cool before dying.
  • In a saucepan, add 4 cups of chopped or grated red cabbage and 4 cups of water;
  • Bring to boil and then let simmer on low for approx. 25-30 minutes; the water will turn a purple colour;
  • Strain the cabbage from the water, then add 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar to the dye and stir throughout;
  • Let the dye cool to room temperature before using; then we put our dye into a small glass jar;
  • Now place your cooled, hard-boiled eggs into dye solution for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour for various shades of blue;  
  • To get deeper blue colours, try leaving your egg in the dye overnight and see what happens!
  • Take the egg out of the dye, pat dry and then allow to dry completely on a rack.

We hope you have fun “egg-sperimenting” with colours – kids can even mix various dye colours together to see what happens (for example, Yellow + Red = Orange). You may also find some other fruits and veggies around the kitchen that produce interesting dyes when boiled in water. There are lots of options and it is a great learning experience. 😊

Happy National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day!


  • The grilled cheese sandwich became popular in the 1920s, after the invention of processed cheese (Kraft slices) and sliced bread. It was inexpensive and easy to make.
  • This sandwich is very versatile because you can change it up in so many ways: (a) try it with different breads, such as white, whole wheat, sourdough, rye …, (2) try a different cheese, such as Cheddar, Swiss, Brie, … There are so many possibilities!
  • Do you like to ADD to your grilled cheese sandwich? Most popular add-ons are bacon, ham and tomato. But how about some sauteed vegetables?
  • Number of calories in a typical grilled cheese sandwich: about 291 calories.
  • How much would you pay for a sandwich? In 2004, a grilled cheese sandwich, which supposedly had a grill pattern on it in the image of the Virgin Mary, was posted on eBay and purchased for $28,000! What??
  • According to RecordSetter, Takeru Kobayashi set a record for eating 13 grilled cheese sandwiches in one (1) minute (Austin, Texas, March 11, 2012).

And now … Chef Shai has a very “gouda” recipe to share!! Try this gooey, delicious sandwich today 🙂

Grilled Cheese

Yield: 2 servings


  • 150g old white cheddar sliced thinly
  • 4 Slices of sourdough bread
  • 30g unsalted butter  


  1. For each sandwich, generously spread 2 pieces of bread with butter and lay on your cheese slices. Top with the other slice of bread and spread the outsides with a good amount of butter.
  2. Heat some butter in a large frying pan over medium heat.
  3. Place sandwiches carefully in the butter and fry until crisp and golden brown. Flip and continue frying until second side is crisp and golden brown and cheese is fully melted.
  4. Remove sandwiches from frying pan and slice in half. Enjoy immediately.

We “knead” to let you know that it’s National Sourdough Bread Day!


Fun Facts:

  • It is believed that the Egyptians were among the first civilizations to capture wild yeast and bacteria for bread leavening, around 4,000 B.C.
  • Saccharomyces exiguus is the scientific name for wild yeast.
  • A sourdough starter is a method of growing yeast. You begin with a flour and water mixture that is the medium for growing yeast. You can either add commercial yeast to the mixture or let nature take its course with wild yeast that is present in the flour and in the air. As long as this starter culture is fed flour and water weekly, it can stay at room temperature indefinitely.
  • The sour taste of sourdough bread comes from lactic acid produced by lactobacillus (bacteria).
  • Because of its low glycemic index, diabetics can benefit from eating sourdough bread because it will not spike your blood sugar.


Chef Shai highly recommends that you check out Ken Forkish’s cookbook for a delicious Bread recipe with 80% Biga. Cookbook title: Flour Water Salt Yeast;

Hooray! Spring is finally here and we can’t wait for fresh produce.

Farmers’ Markets will be starting up soon!

After a long, cold winter, we eagerly await the arrival of Spring. A time when everything in nature starts to renew and grow. The days get longer, and the temperatures get warmer. We welcome all the beautiful changes that we see all around us! Flowers begin to bloom, and we are excited about all fresh vegetables and fruit we will see at our grocers and food markets over the next several months.

This year why not check out your local farmers’ markets for farm-fresh goodness. We checked out the Farmers Markets Ontario website and it currently lists 184 member markets across Ontario! That’s awesome. They typically run from about May to October, but you will find that there are more and more farmers’ markets open year-round. Find and Ontario Farmers’ Market:

Ontario growers rely on greenhouses to help them get ahead of the season for many crops. With a short growing season, it’s critical for many crops to get seeded early so we can enjoy them sooner and for a longer period of time. We have provided several resources below which will help you find a market or local farm where you can buy amazing seasonal produce. What a great way for us to support our hard-working farmers! Visit a Farm; click here to find one near you:

Are you sick of potatoes and root vegetables?? Get ready for all the fresh produce that will be sprouting soon!! Here’s a quick rundown on what will be available over the next few months; use the Harvest Ontario “What’s in Season guide” for a full listing of fruits and veggies:

In April:

  • asparagus
  • rhubarb

In May and June:

  • beans
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • cherries
  • cucumber
  • lettuce
  • peas
  • radishes
  • strawberries

To Celebrate Spring, we thought you might like to try our mouth-watering recipe for Strawberry Rhubarb Pie!!

Summer Campers making pies!

Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

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
  • Pinch of salt
  • 15g brown sugar

Strawberry Rhubarb Ingredients:

  • 2  cups of red rhubarb
  • 2 ½ cup of strawberries (washed and cut)
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 tbsp minute tapioca
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • ½ tsp of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp butter, cubed small
  • 1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp water
  • Turbinado sugar

Crust Directions:

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the salt, sugar, flour, butter, shortening, mix together.
  2. 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.
  3. Add cold water little bits at a time, mixing in between additions. Mix just enough to incorporate, do not over mix!
  4. 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.
  5. Divide dough in half.
  6. Roll out the first half and shape to pie plate and crimp the crust with a fork.
  7. Roll out the second half and cut into strips for lattice top.

Filling Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. In a bowl, mix  rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, tapioca, flour, lemon juice and zest, cinnamon, and vanilla.
  3. Pour the mixture onto the chilled crust pie plate.
  4. Cover the filling with the lattice top.
  5. Seal the edges.
  6. Brush with egg wash and garnish with turbinado sugar.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F, then reduce heat to 350F and bake for an additional 50 – 70 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and filling is soft.
  8. ENJOY!

Other Resources:
To Search Ontario’s directory of agritourism attractions, visit:

Meatballs anyone? It’s National Meatball Day!

#NationalMeatball Day


  • Meatballs can be found in many different cultures: Italian, Greek, Swedish, Turkish, Vietnamese and many more …. A lot of countries have their own take on the meatball using different types of ground meat and spices.
  • Have you ever heard the song “On Top of Spaghetti” by Tom Glazer? It’s about a meatball that has a bit of a misadventure: “I lost my poor meatball when somebody sneezed …”. We thought you might like to check it out:
  • World’s Largest Meatball: In 2017, the Italian-American Club of Hilton Head Island, SC, set the record for largest meatball: it weighed 1,757 pounds! It took lots of planning and even special equipment was made to cook the meatball (Guinness World Records).

Today, we are thrilled to share our amazing Signature Meatball recipe. You’re gonna love them!

Rooks to Cooks’ Signature Meatballs

Yield: 4-6 servings


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup freshly grated Romano cheese
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cups stale Italian bread, crumbled
  • ¾ cups lukewarm water
  • ½ cup olive oil


  • Combine ground beef in a large bowl.
  • Add garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper.
  • Blend breadcrumbs into meat mixture.
  • Slowly add the water, 1/2 cup at a time. The mixture should be very moist but still hold its shape if rolled into meatballs (TIP: I usually use about 1 1/4 cups of water). Shape into meatballs.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Fry meatballs in batches. When the meatball is very brown and slightly crisp remove from the heat and drain on a paper towel. (TIP: If your mixture is too wet, cover the meatballs while they are cooking so that they hold their shape better).
  • For the Italian Meatball version, add your meatballs to the pan with your tomato sauce. Cover partly and simmer for 30 minutes. Be sure to turn the meatballs occasionally.
  • Cook your pasta of choice – we like spaghetti!
  • Pour the sauce and meatballs over your pasta to combine; then serve and enjoy.

Celebrate Women on International Women’s Day!

Chef Shai Mandel, founder and owner of Rooks to Cooks

#IWD2019 Happy International Women’s Day to all the talented, confident, strong, entrepreneurial, caring women in our lives. You are amazing and we admire and appreciate all of you just as you are!

On March 8th, women across the world come together to celebrate their accomplishments but there is still more to be achieved with regard to gender balance. This day is a call to action for businesses, government, media, employers and more … to truly make a difference to create a #BalanceforBetter!

At Rooks to Cooks, we applaud and appreciate all the hard-working women in the culinary field. Once predominantly a male career path, we see more and more female chefs in strong roles in the foodie world. So amazing to see women as chefs, restaurant owners, and educators across the country.

Chef Shai Mandel confidently and successfully chose to fulfill her goal of teaching cooking to the next generation of potential chefs by starting her own company, Rooks to Cooks. Shai is a chef and teacher and has been working in kitchens her whole life. Inspired by her passion for food and education, Shai’s goal is to teach today’s youth valuable cooking skills and life skills that they can use both in and out of the kitchen.

Let’s look at some other renowned female chefs that have made a mark in the culinary field. In Canada, we have our popular group of Food Network chefs: Lynn Crawford, Anna Olson, and Christine Cushing, to name a few. But we were also thrilled to see that the list of female chefs is steadily increasing at many of the top restaurants across the country.

Working together we can all make a positive difference and help build a gender-balanced world. Balance is an issue that’s important for our economy and for communities to succeed and prosper. #BalanceforBetter

Chefs in training!

National Sticky Bun Day – Yay!

Fun Facts:

  • Sticky buns and Cinnamon buns are similar when it comes to the dough (both are made with yeast dough); it is the glaze that sets them apart.
  • Sticky buns are made with a caramel glaze that goes in the baking pan before the buns are placed on top.
  • In the UK, sticky buns are called Chelsea Buns.
  • It is thought that the Ancient Egyptians were the first to add honey and nuts to their bread.

In honour of Sticky Bun Day, we are sharing our Signature Cinnamon Bun Recipe! It’s a sweet treat that we know you will enjoy 🙂

Rooks To Cooks’ Signature Cinnamon Bun Recipe

Yield: 12-14 buns


  • For the Dough
    • ¾ Cup warm water
    • 2 ¼ tsp dry active yeast
    • ½ cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp salt
    • ¼ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
    • 1 egg, room temperature
    • 1/3 cup canola oil
    • 4 ½ – 5 cups all purpose unbleached flour
  • For the filling
    • ½ Cup melted butter
    • 1 ½ cups packed brown sugar
    • 2 ½ Tbsp ground cinnamon
    • 2 Tbsp Cornstarch
  • For the frosting
    • ¼ cup softened margarine
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • ½ Tbsp corn syrup
    • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
    • 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar


  1. Making the Dough 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, pour in water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Stir and proof 5 minutes.
  • Once mixture looks bubbly and frothy, pour in remaining sugar and salt. Stir on low for 15-20 seconds.
  • In a small bowl, measure buttermilk, oil and egg. Whisk ingredients together until egg is incorporated to other two ingredients.
  • Pour contents into the water and yeast mixture. Stir another 20 seconds in the mixer.
  • Pour 2 cups of flour into mixer and stir on low until incorporated. Sprinkle flour in by 1/4 cup increments until dough cleans the sides and bottom of the bowl. Dough should be sticky but not sticky enough to stick to your hands when touched. Once it has reached this stage, turn mixer on and knead for 5 minutes.
  • Remove dough from bowl, grease and replace back into same mixing bowl {since it’s practically clean anyways}. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Rise 1-2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.

2. Filling and Cutting Rolls

  • In a medium size bowl, stir brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch together until combined. Set aside. Punch down dough.
  • Flour a large clean table liberally with flour. Lightly flour dough as well. Roll dough out to be a 20×30 rectangle {or as close to that as possible} while moving dough around to ensure it’s not sticking to your work surface. If it’s a little short or uneven, feel free to cut off the edges to even it all out. {FYI-I cut off some dough on one side and filled in a spot that needed more dough on the other side to make a more even rectangle}.
  • Spread softened margarine over dough, being sure to go right to the edges leaving a 1-inch strip untouched on one of the longer sides of dough.
  • Dump brown sugar mixture onto the middle of the dough and spread with your hands, creating an even layer over top of the margarine, still leaving that 1-inch strip of dough untouched. If you have any filling that falls off the sides of the dough, use a bench scraper to replace.
  • Lightly press the sugar mixture into the margarine using a rolling pin. Roll the dough up into a tight log, finishing with the plain dough on the bottom to seal the entire thing together. Cut off the uneven ends to even out the log. Score log every 2 inches and then slice your rolls using those marks.
  • Place into parchment paper lined, margarine greased pans. 12 into a 9×13, 3 remaining into a loaf pan, or 8×8 with the small ends. Cover pans with plastic wrap and dish towels. Let rolls rise another 1-2 hours or until they are touching and have risen almost double.
  • Bake in a preheated 350 degree for 17 minutes, or until tops start to brown. Watch them carefully!

3. For the Frosting

  • While the rolls are baking, whip cream cheese and margarine together. Stir in vanilla, corn syrup and lemon juice. Scrape sides and mix again.
  • Pour in powdered sugar and stir slowly until it starts to incorporate. Then mix on high for 5 minutes or until frosting starts to lighten in color. Scrape sides and mix again briefly.
  • Once rolls have been removed from the oven, frost using half the amount made. Then after they have cooled a few more minutes, frost again with remaining frosting. The first frosting will melt down into the rolls and the second layer should stay put. Serve warm.