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Itinerary for 2014 MasterChef Caribbean cruise revealed

- July 25th, 2014
MasterChef U.S.A. (Courtesy Fox)

MasterChef U.S.A. (Courtesy Fox)

The itinerary for the week-long MasterChef cruise of the Caribbean has been revealed, and it includes plenty of opportunities to interact with fan favourite contestants like Christina Ha and Alexander Weiss, as well as MasterChef judge Graham Elliot.

The seven-day voyage will sail from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Nov. 8, 2014 and Elliot, plus past winners Ha and Luca Manfe, as well as MasterChef Junior victor Weiss, will be aboard. The winner of the current season of FOX’s hit cooking competition, to be revealed on Sept. 15, will also take part in the cruise.

Alexander Weiss of MasterChef Junior and Lucas Manfe and Christine Ha of MasterChef. (Courtesy FOX)

Alexander Weiss of MasterChef Junior and Luca Manfe and Christine Ha of MasterChef. (Courtesy FOX)

The luxurious Holland America MS Westerdam will be the vessel for the cruise, which will stop at several ports of call, including Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas. The ship will return to Fort Lauderdale on Nov. 15.

It has now been revealed that guests can look forward to on-board programming that will include Mystery Box challenges, cocktail parties, meet and greets, and demonstrations. Events include:

  • Christine Ha’s Mac-n-Cheese at Sea Competition – Ha will judge the first-ever Mac-n-Cheese at Sea competition where guests will compete to create their best version of the classic dish.
  • Blind Taste Test with Graham Elliot – A few willing audience members will have the opportunity to test their taste buds with a challenge led by Elliot.
  • Tag Team Sushi – Get a front-row seat to the famous Sushi Tag Team Challenge featuring the MasterChef Stars.
  • Master the Macaroon with Alexander – Learn to master Weiss’ signature dessert.
  • Designer Pasta – Learn how to make authentic, homemade pasta with a demonstration from Manfe.
  • Craft Cocktails – Create craft cocktails with the MasterChef season 5 winner.

“MasterChef fans and food lovers alike are in for an incredible journey with hours of original live programming that both entertains and instructs,” said Vivi Zigler, president of MasterChef’s production company, Shine America, in a statement. “Guests will get to live the MasterChef experience with some of the most skilled and beloved talent from the series, while also honing their own culinary skills.”

Fares for the cruise start at $1,442 per person. For more information or to book your ticket on the MasterChef cruise, visit

Sweet tequila treats from Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort

- July 23rd, 2014
Margarita popsicle. (Courtesy Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort)

Margarita popsicle. (Courtesy Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort)

July 24 is National Tequila Day and Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico is celebrating with a number of tequila-infused cool treats.

From chocolately tequila ice cream to sweet margarita popsicles, these treats would be best enjoyed poolside at Las Ventanas al Paraiso. Luckily for those who can’t make it to Mexico, the resort’s chefs have shared their recipes so you can cool down on these hot summer days with a tequila treat no matter where you are.

Chocolate Coated Tequila Ice Cream. (Courtesy Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort)

Chocolate Coated Tequila Ice Cream. (Courtesy Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort)

Chocolate Coated Tequila Ice Cream

· Tequila Ice cream
· 1 (12oz) package semisweet chocolate chips
· 1/2 cup vegetable or mild olive oil

· Shape tequila ice cream into balls using an ice cream scoop. Place balls on a silver foil-lined tray and put back in the freezer.
· Melt the chocolate in microwave or double-boiler. Don’t overheat the chocolate. Let cool without allowing the chocolate to harden.
· Dip the ice cream balls in the melted chocolate and gently turn using a teaspoon. Place chocolate-coated ice cream balls back on silver foil and return to the freezer.

Margarita Popsicles

· 3/4 cup sugar
· 3/4 cup fresh lime juice
· 1/2 cup water
· 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
· 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
· 2 tablespoons tequila Clase Azul
· 2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
· Salt

· Combine sugar, lime juice, water, lemon juice and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves.
· Remove from heat and allow cooling. Once cool, transfer to a blender with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime wedge and process until smooth.
· Pour into the cups and cover the top of each cup with slice of lime. Place the popsicle stick in center of cup.
· Freeze, preferably overnight. Remove from freezer and run cup under warm water to loosen popsicle. Slightly dip in salt and serve.

Tequila Sunrise Popsicle. (Courtesy Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort)

Tequila Sunrise Popsicle. (Courtesy Las Ventanas al Paraiso, A Rosewood Resort)

Tequila Sunrise Popsicles

· 2 tablespoons lime juice
· 2 teaspoons Grenadine
· 1 1/2 cups orange juice
· 1/4 cup tequila Don Julio 70

· In a measuring cup combine grenadine and lime juice. Using 4 plastic frozen pop molds, pour 4 teaspoons of the juice mixture into the bottom of each. Freeze for 1 hour or until get firm.
· In another cup combine orange juice and tequila. Carefully pour orange juice mixture over grenadine
· Cover paper cups with foil and insert sticks into cups, freeze overnight.

Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince George to spend summer vacation in Scotland

- July 21st, 2014
Prince George. (Reuters)

Prince William, Duchess Kate and Prince George. (Reuters)

Prince William, Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince George will spend their summer vacation at the Queen’s Scotland estate of Balmoral, US Weekly reports.

The royals will likely head to the Scottish castle soon after Prince George’s first birthday on July 22, which will be spent at the Cambridge’s apartment in Kensington Palace. Queen Elizabeth is even expected to attend the tiny prince’s party at Kensington, though the monarch has made it a summertime tradition to gather the royal family at Balmoral.

Balmoral Castle. (Fotolia)

Balmoral Castle. (Fotolia)

Queen Elizabeth can be seen with a young Princes William and Harry, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and Zara Phillips at Balmoral Castle in the below BBC video from the early 1990s.

More Royal Travel:
Prince William and Kate’s top 10 travel destinations
Where the Royals travel as children
Duchess Kate and Prince George on Mustique vacation
Prince William, Duchess Kate on Maldives second honeymoon

US Weekly reports that young royals often spend time at Balmoral learning to ride or shoot, though George is still too young for those activities.

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall and Princess Anne are also expected to vacation at Balmoral this summer. The family often starts the day together with a large breakfast, followed by a picnic lunch, afternoon tea and formal dinner at night.

A luxe British summer picnic with The Stafford London

- July 16th, 2014
The Stafford London's Luxury Picnic Experience. (Courtesy The Stafford London)

The Stafford London’s Luxury Picnic Experience. (Courtesy The Stafford London)

Enjoy these lazy days of summer with a right royal picnic in a stately setting, thanks to one of London, England’s most respected and hospitality-focused hotels.

The Stafford London has commissioned their executive chef Carlos Martinez to create a luxe picnic basket, with items ranging from pork pie to British blue lobster cocktail to chocolate trifle inside. The picnic menu is priced at CDN$72 per person. With champagne or wine, the price is $109 per person.

Available through September, depending on weather, the hotel hosts  their Luxury Picnic Experience package at Green Park, one of London’s eight Royal Parks and located next to Buckingham Palace itself.

Even if you can’t visit England this summer, The Stafford London has kindly shared recipes for three of the menu items exclusively with Sun Media and Find these recipes, as well as the complete picnic menu, below. Cheers!

(Courtesy The Stafford London)

(Courtesy The Stafford London)

Complete picnic menu – CDN$72

Deli Style Brioche Sandwich Selection
Green Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Quiche
Pork Pie, Piccalilli
British Blue Lobster Cocktail, Tiger Prawns, Rosemary
Summer Berries Pudding
Exotic Fruit Skewer
Chocolate Trifle

Champagne or wine – CDN$109

Champagne Bollinger ½ Bottle
White Wine ½ Chablis, Simmonet-Febvre, 2012
Red Wine ½ Crozes-Hermitage Cave de Tain, 2010
Still and Sparkling Water

Pork pie – Recipe courtesy The Stafford London

For the pastry

• 150g/7oz light salted lard
• 50ml/2fl oz whole milk
• 50ml/2fl oz water
• 450g/1lb T-55 flour
• Pinch salt
• 1 free-range egg

 For the pork jelly

• 900g/2lb pork ribs
• 2 pig’s trotters
• 2 large sun carrots
• 2 shallots
• 2 sticks celery

For the pie filling

• 400g/14oz neck of pork
• 55g/2oz pork belly skin removed
• 55g/2oz lean pancetta
• 1g Sea salt

• For the pastry, place the lard, milk and water into a small pan and gently heat until the lard has melted.
• Sift the flour into a large bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and mix well.
• Make a well in the flour and pour in the warm lard mixture. Mix well to combine, until the mixture comes together to form a dough. Knead for a few minutes, then form into a ball and set aside.
• For the pork jelly, place all of the pork jelly ingredients into a large pan and pour in enough water to just cover. Bring slowly to the boil, and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for three hours over a low heat, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface, then strain the stock through a fine sieve and discard the solids.
• Pour the sieved stock into a clean pan and simmer over a medium heat until the liquid has reduced to approximately 500ml/1 pint.
• For the pie filling, place all of the pie filling ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with your hands. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
• Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
• Line a pork pie dolly (or a jam jar) with cling film to prevent the pastry from sticking.
• Pinch off a quarter of the pastry and set aside. On a floured work surface, roll out the remaining three-quarters of pastry into a round disc about 3cm/1¼in thick. Place the pie dolly into the middle of the pastry circle and draw the edges of the pastry up around the sides of the dolly to create the pie casing. Carefully remove the dolly from the pastry once your pie casing is formed.
• Roll the pork pie filling into a ball and carefully place into the bottom of the pastry case.
• Roll out the remaining piece of pastry into a circle large enough to cover the pastry case as a lid.
• Brush the top inner parts of the pastry casing with some of the beaten egg and place the pastry circle on top. Pinch the edges of the pastry to seal the pie. Brush the top of the pie with the rest of the beaten egg, then bake in the oven for 45 minutes to one hour, or until the pie is golden-brown all over.
• Remove the pie from the oven and set aside to cool. Cut two small holes in the top of the pork pie and pour in the pork jelly mixture (you may need to heat it through gently to loosen the mixture for pouring). Chill in the fridge until the jelly is set.
• To serve, cut the pie into slices and serve with piccalilli or chutney.

Salmon quiche – Recipe courtesy The Stafford London

For the pastry case

• 200g/7oz t-55 flour
• 100g/3½oz un salted butter, cut into small pieces, plus extra for greasing
• 1 free-range egg yolk
• a little water

For the filling

• 400g/14oz salmon fillet
• a little butter or groundnut oil
• pinch of salt
• 2 large handfuls baby spinash
• 4 free-range eggs
• 400ml/14fl oz double cream

• For the pastry case, put the flour and butter into the bowl of a food processor. Add a pinch of salt and blitz until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you prefer, rub the butter into the flour in a bowl with your fingertips.
• Add the egg yolk and enough water to bring the dough to a firm ball. The less water you add the better, as too much will cause your pastry case to shrink in the oven.
• Pat the pastry into a flat round on a floured surface then roll out to a rough circle large enough to line the tart tin. Lightly butter the tin, dust it with a small amount of flour, shake out any surplus then lower in the circle of pastry. Push the pastry right into the corner where the rim joins the base without stretching it. Make certain there are no holes or tears. Trim the overhanging pastry and place in the fridge to chill for 20 minutes.
• Set the oven at 200C/400F/Gas 6. Put a baking sheet in the oven to warm. Line the pastry case with kitchen foil and baking beans and slide onto the hot baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven and carefully lift the beans and foil out.
• Return the pastry case to the oven for five minutes or so, until the surface is dry to the touch. Remove from the oven and set aside. Turn the oven temperature down to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
• For the filling, place the salmon in a baking dish, brush with oil or butter, season lightly with salt and pepper and bake for 15 minutes, or until the flakes part easily. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little, then break into large pieces. Place the pieces of fish in the tart case.
• Wash the baby spinach leaves and remove and discard the thickest of the stems. Put the still-wet spinach into a saucepan, cover tightly with a lid and place over a high heat. Cook for a couple of minutes, or until the leaves wilt a little. They should keep their colour. Turn the spinach over once with tongs, let it steam a further few seconds, then remove from the heat, cool under cold running water and squeeze dry.
• Tuck the spinach into the tart case in between the salmon pieces. Gently whisk the eggs and cream, pour into the case and bake for 25 minutes, or until set. Serve warm.

Chocolate trifle – Recipe courtesy The Stafford London


• 175g/6oz Amadei milk chocolate
• 2 medium eggs yolk
• 25g/1oz light brown sugar
• 150ml/¼ pt whole milk
• 85g/3fl oz double cream
• 2½ tbsp icing sugar
• 4 x 4cm/1½in slices ladies fingers
• 2 tbsp Kirsch
• 225g/8oz fresh raspberries
• a few fresh pepper mint

• Put a 55g/2oz piece of the white chocolate in the fridge, (this will make it easier to grate later). Break the remainder into small pieces.
• Cream the egg yolks and caster sugar together in a large bowl. Whisk for about 2-3 minutes until the mixture is pale, thick, and creamy and leaves a trail.
• Pour the milk and cream into a small, heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour on to the egg yolk mixture, whisking all the time. Pour back into the pan and place over a moderate heat. Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it starts to thicken and coats the back of the spoon.
• Add the chocolate pieces and stir in until completely incorporated.
• Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Cover the custard with a little icing sugar and piece of cling film to prevent a skin forming.
• Place the ladies fingers slices in a large glass bowl and sprinkle with the Kirsch. Scatter with fresh raspberries, reserving a few for decoration.
• Pour the white chocolate custard over the ladies fingers and leave to set in the fridge, preferably overnight.
• To serve, decorate the trifle with the reserved raspberries. Take the piece of white chocolate from the fridge and finely grate over the trifle.
• Finally, dust with a little icing sugar and place the mint sprigs on top.

Majority of Canadians have only explored half their city, but still prefer to leave town on vacation

- July 10th, 2014
Staycation or vacation? (Fotolia)

Staycation or vacation? (Fotolia)

A new survey has found that 76% of Canadians have only explored half their cities, while another poll suggests this may be because we prefer to leave town when we have time off work rather than staycation.

In a survey by American Express, the 76% of Canadians who say they’ve only explored half of the city they live in blame a lack of time (42%) and their own comfort zones (53%) for keeping them from visiting new parts of town.

But another poll from says that even when we do have time off work, Canadians prefer to hit the road and leave their city. Forty-three per cent of survey respondents said they preferred to vacation, compared to 15% who said they like to staycation, saying that when they use vacation time to stay home, they just end up doing chores (34%) or attending appointments (8%).

Of the Canadians who prefer to travel on holiday, 36% said using time off to visit different destinations leaves them feeling more relaxed and refreshed than staying home does.