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Blind taste test: Which of these sweeteners make the best shortbread?

- November 26th, 2014


With many health-conscious people steering away from refined white sugar, and opting for alternative natural sweeteners such as agave syrup and coconut sugar to sweeten their foods, I thought it would be interesting to find out what would happen if I replaced white sugar with a “healthier” sugar in baked goods.

To better taste the sweeteners, I decided to test the sweeteners using a plain shortbread recipe, which is also perfect for the upcoming holiday season. In a feat that I thought was almost impossible, I baked close to 100 cookies using five natural sweeteners in one afternoon.

I then asked my fellow Sun Media editors to participate in an informal blind taste test, having them to rate each cookie out of five based on what they thought a shortbread cookie should taste like.

The five sweeteners used in the cookie taste-off were confectioner’s sugar, agave powder, coconut palm sugar, xylitol and brown sugar.

Which cookies panned out? And which ones turned out half-baked? Read on to find out.

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Burger King Canada adds Whopper poutine to menu

- November 12th, 2014


What could be better than a traditional poutine? How about a poutine made with Whopper ingredients?

Burger King Canada is adding the Poutine à la burger to its menu, mixing French fries with cheese curds, gravy, chopped beef, mustard, ketchup and pickles.

Poutine à la Burger Offered at Canadian Burger Kings

This new addition would boost the fast food chain’s poutine offerings to three. It already serves a plain poutine and a poutine with bacon.

Let’s hope this new spin on a Canadian favourite tastes better than Pizza Hut Canada’s Cheesy Beef Poutine Pizza.

David’s Tea bundles up the flavours of fall

- October 28th, 2014

David’s Yes We Cran tea. (Jenny Potter/QMI Agency)

The briskness of autumn ushers in a longing for comfort foods and warm, sweet flavours.

David’s Tea has bundled the tastes of the season into its fall collection, which features the flavours of Sweet Apple Cider, Pumpkin Chai, Maple Sugar, Yes We Cran and Snickerdoodle.

We recently got a chance to try some of the teas, which are only available for a limited time, and here is what we found:

Reviewed by Jenny Potter

Flavour: Yes we cran

Taste: Hibiscus-based tea is fruity, warm and bitter – absolutely perfect for fall. As a huge hibiscus iced tea fan, I was afraid this would be more of a summer tea. But the whole cranberries, paired with cinnamon and pumpkin spices, really warms this cup up.

Method: I steeped about a tablespoon of yes we cran in a tea ball for approximately five minutes. Within a few minutes the tea turned bright pink and then a deep red.

Would you try it again?: Yes. I would like to try it as an iced tea, or mix it with green tea for a different flavour combo.


David’s Maple Sugar tea. (Marianne Dowling/QMI Agency)

Reviewed by Marianne Dowling

Flavour: Maple sugar

Taste: The dominant flavours of this “maple sugar” tea were not maple sugar at all – but apple and cinnamon. While an apple and cinnamon tea is nice – it’s not what is written on the package, so I was a little disappointed. I also tried the tea without sugar and milk, in case they were masking the true flavour – but I still could only taste apple and cinnamon.

Method: I followed the package’s instructions and used just over a teaspoon of tea in my mug – but opted to steep it for about 10 minutes instead of the suggested four to seven. I wanted to make sure as much flavour seeped into the water as possible and I drank it hot with a bit of sugar and some vanilla soy milk.

Would you try it again?: I would still try it again because apples and cinnamon are nice in a tea too.


David’s Sweet Apple Cider tea. (Ling Hui/QMI Agency)

Reviewed by Ling Hui

Flavour: Sweet apple cider

Taste: The tea has an intense apple flavour that’s on the verge of being too artificial, but isn’t very sweet. I’m surprised there’s no cinnamon flavouring in this tea, though the tea leaves do smell strongly of vanilla.

Method: I measured one and a half teaspoons for one cup of tea and steeped it for five minutes. I did not add any sugar, though some people might prefer it sweetened.

Would you try it again?: I would try this tea again if I wanted apple cider lite.


David’s Pumpkin Chai tea. (Meghan Mitchell/QMI Agency)

Reviewed by Meghan Mitchell

Flavour: Pumpkin chai

Taste: With the name pumpkin chai, I was expecting the tea to have a more pumpkin-y flavour. Instead, it had an almost creamy quality and tasted of spices and caramel, but was weaker than I thought it would be.

Method: I steeped one and a half teaspoons of tea in a mug of hot water for 10 minutes. I didn’t add any sugar or sweetener.

Would you try it again?: I may try it again, but not if I was in the mood for pumpkin.

4 tips for taking beautiful food photography

- October 16th, 2014

Sure, a picture is worth a thousand words, but how do you truly capture an incredible meal or you latest homemade creation with just smartphone?

You don’t need a high-end camera or expensive editing software to take stunning, unique images that will make your Instagram followers jealous.

What you do need are these tips from Ren Bostelaar, manager of Henry’s School of Imaging who teaches classes on the recipe for mouth-watering food ‘phoneography.’

Get ready to make your followers hungry. :)



1. Light. Light. Light.

Work the light as much as you can. You know those beautiful, morning and evening shots with golden light streaming in? There is a reason why they look magical.

Turn off your flash, it is too harsh. Remember Martha Stewart’s bad food pics? That’s why.

Instead, get as close to a window or candle as possible. You’ll capture the food’s texture and colour better, plus your pics will look sharper and less grainy.


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