Masterchef Canada Mary Berg's Original Churro Recipe

If you recently finished marathoning a Netflix show like me and is in dire need to find a new show to watch, I have a mighty good suggestion right here for you! Around a month ago I was on set of Masterchef Canada's Season 3 Winner Mary Berg's brand new cooking show, "Mary's Big Kitchen Party" and saw her whip up some delicious things! Premiering last month already in October, we all get to see Canada's favourite home cook make some of her best dishes for an entourage of some of her closest friends. If you haven't read my full experience of my visit on set and my one-on-one interview with her yet, you can play catch up by clicking HERE.

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Rolling out over 8 weeks on Bell Fibe TV1 and Gusto TV, Mary's Big Kitchen Party will see her create original recipes with unique ingredients in an effort to bring people together in her favourite room of the house - the kitchen! From seared scallops with crispy pancetta and poke crisps to peach pecan cake with burnt caramel and gingerbread whoopee pies with eggnog cream, each week will give viewers something new to try, allowing them to bring the party home.

When I was on set and watched the TV filming magic happen before me, I was able to witness Mary make these most delicious looking churros for her guests to eat. It was hard not to hear my stomach grumble as I watched from far away the entire cooking process of making this fried treat come to life. After filming was done I was able to grab one to eat and in my honest opinion, best churro I have EVER had! It was mindblowingly good and because it was just that tasty I made sure that I was able to share this amazing recipe to all my loyal readers!

Enjoy and don't forget to tune in every Friday at 9PM on Gusto TV and OnDemand on Bell Fibe TV 1 to catch Mary make even some more mouth-watering recipes!

Mary Berg's Original Churro Recipe

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Serves 8

Ingredients

1 cup water
Β½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 Β½ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 Β½ teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
Vegetable oil, for frying
Β½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Store bought chocolate sauce

Directions

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, salt, sugar, and butter.  Bring this mixture to a boil, add the vanilla, and dump in the flour all at once.  Stir the mixture with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball.  Remove from the heat and continue to stir for about 30 seconds.

Allow the mixture to cool and heat 3 – 4” of vegetable oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot to 375F.  Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.

Spoon the slightly cooled churro mixture into a piping bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a few churros at a time into the hot oil by piping and snipping with scissors.  Fry the churros until golden and drain on a paper towel lined plate.

While still hot, place the churros in the cinnamon sugar and toss to coat.  Allow them to cool slightly and serve warm with store bought chocolate sauce.

Jarritos - The Perfect Cocktail For Any Party

When it comes to entertaining often times the hardest part of putting a party together is trying to figure out what drinks you'll be serving to all your guests. Of course you can go the easy route and have a selection of store bought juices, pop, and beers on hand, but that's not the type of party you want to have. That's not the host you want to be! You want to provide your guests with choices. You want to elevate your party with home-made cocktails that get the alcohol flowing and people talking. Something that can be put together in a jiffy without leaving you stuck in the kitchen for hours on end. By the time you get through reading this article, you'll have at least one more party trick up your sleeve and let me tell ya. This is a good one!

A simple solution to spice up your next party that will surely be a hit among all your guests is by offering up the Mexican soda, Jarritos. Introduced in 1950 as Mexico's first national soft drink, this drink has stood the test of time and is still enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Made with 100% natural sugar, many of their 12 delicious flavours here in Canada are sourced from actual fruit trees in Mexico. You can drink them straight up out of their distinctive glass bottles or turn them into colourful cocktails for a new and exciting way to make some boozy drinks.

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A few weeks ago Jarritos helped celebrate "Dia de los Muertos" aka Day of the Dead or All Souls Day in Toronto, where they hosted a media dinner at one of the city's finest Mexican restaurant La Carnita. We had the most epic Mexican feast the night after Halloween which consisted of Dips & Chips (the fresh guacamole was amazing), chicken wings, Mexican street corn, tacos, and paletas. One of the highlights of this feast was definitely the Jarritos cocktail that started the night off for me, and ended the night as well. I just couldn't stop drinking it and lucky for us here I have the recipe to re-create it back at home!

The "Strawberry For The Souls Cocktail" was created by Joanna Matysiak of La Carnita and incorporates the strawberry flavour of Jarritos in it. This is the perfect cocktail to incorporate at your next party because it's so easy to make and it just tastes absolutely delicious and refreshing with the aromatic strawberry flavour it brings.

Strawberry For The Souls Cocktail Recipe

Ingredients:

2oz Tequila
1oz Lemon Juice
3oz Coconut Water
3oz Strawberry Jarritos
Strawberry Slices (garnish)
Dehydrated Lemon Wheel (garnish)

Directions:

Combine tequila, lemon juice, and coconut water in a shaker and shake away. Strain contents into a mason jar (or glass) over fresh ice. Top up with strawberry Jarritos, garnish, and enjoy!

All pictures on this blog post taken by Josh Tenn-Yuk courtesy of Jarritos Canada

All pictures on this blog post taken by Josh Tenn-Yuk courtesy of Jarritos Canada

If you want to switch it up a bit, or add some more variety of flavours into the mix just replace the Strawberry Jarritos in the end and try some other fruit flavours such as Pineapple, Mango, or Grapefruit (all personally my other favourite fruit flavours from Jarritos). Half of the fun is getting to experiment with all the colourful and fruity flavours Jarritos offer!

Creating a Viking Appetite with Highland Park

Did you ever wonder if you had any Viking ancestry in you? Well if you just so happen to be living and reading this from Orkney, Scotland you very likely could be part Viking! In fact 1 in 3 people living on Orkney today have Viking ancestry, and the Highland Park 12 Years Old Viking Honour Single Malt Scotch Whisky perfectly reflects the unique culture of the remote island home.

Highland Park is a premium and unique singe malt Scotch Whisky that honours the spirit of the Viking ancestors. It shares the pride, integrity and fierce independence of the Vikings and is distilled with the same rigorous standards introduced in 1798 by the founder, Magnus Eunson who was a descendant of the early Viking settlers.

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There are five keystones that separate Highland Park from other distilleries: hand turned floor malting, aromatic peat from Hobbister Moor, sherry oak casks, cool maturation, and cask harmonization. No other distillery uses all 5 of these benchmarks, so it's safe to say there is no other whisky out there that tastes like Highland Park.

Viking Honour features the perfect harmony of aromatic smoky peat, sweet heather honey, and rich fruit cake. The full Highland Park 12 Years Old Viking Honour Tasting Notes (43% abv/750 mL) are below:

Colour: Natural, glowing amber
Nose: Heather-honey sweetness, gently peaty smokiness
Palate: Rounded smoke and honey sweetness, full malt delivery, oak, alongside equal amounts of dried fruits and spice
Finish: Sweet and lingering with heathery notes and subtle smoke right at the end

With a recent update to its aesthetics (box & bottle design) and name, Highland Park has teamed up with The Healthy Butcher, a local Greater Toronto Area butcher, to create some unique infusion and pairing recipes that will no doubt stir up our Viking Appetites. The Healthy Butcher is focused on craftsmanship, providing only the best quality 100% grass fed and Certified Organic meat to their consumers. This partnership brings the smokey and sweet notes from the Highland Park Whisky to rustic and or gamey meats from The Healthy Butcher, so today I am going to share with you all a delicious Meatball recipe that will surely be the show stopper at your next family meal.

These meatballs can be eaten two ways. You can incorporate them in any classic pasta dish or better yet pair it off with the Highland Park Scotch Whisky Sauce (the recommended way of eating it)!

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Below you will find all the ingredients you need for the Meatballs and Highland Park Scotch Whisky Sauce. Simply combine all the ingredients together.

Meatballs

  • 2 1/2 ounces breadcrumbs
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 2/3 tbsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander
  • parsley
  • 1/2 diced onion

Highland Park Scotch Whisky Sauce

  • 1 diced onion
  • 1/4 cup Highland Park Scotch Whisky
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 oz roux (butter/flour)
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 2 cloves garlic
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There are also select products that are already infused with the Highland Park Single Malt Scotch Whisky that can be bought at any of The Healthy Butcher store locations in Toronto and Kitchener. So the next time you want to fire up your grill or have some mad cravings for some delicious meats, don't forget to bring out the Viking in you and pair it off with some Highland Park, The Orkney single malt with a Viking soul!

Interview with Masterchef Canada Season 3 Winner Mary Berg On The Set Of Her New Cooking Show "Mary's Big Kitchen Party"

When I was asked to go visit a TV set of a cooking show my natural reaction was an immediate YES. Just tell me when, where, what time and I'll be there! I'm one of those people who is completely fascinated with all the behind the scenes work that make TV and movie magic happen. I often times buy TV box sets or blu-ray movies just to watch the behind the scenes footage, so when an opportunity to see this first hand came up I was more than excited. The cherry on top to all of this was learning that this cooking show was revolving around Masterchef Canada Season 3 winner Mary Berg!

I'm a huge Masterchef Canada fan and I've seen all the episodes. I remember vividly watching Mary Berg's season and distinctly picking her as my favourite from the get-go to win her season (and I'm not saying that just because I met her... honest!) Her warm and positive energy on the show was infectious that made people like me want to root for her. It was matched by her unparalleled talent in the kitchen crushing out amazing dishes week after week on the show, which ultimately led her to win the title becoming Canada's first female and vegetarian winner. Now she's shed her past life as an Insurance Broker and followed her dreams to what now has led her to star in her very own cooking series with BELL FIBE  and GUSTO TV.

This is where I first meet Taylor Swift (whoops no I mean Mary Berg... but you have to admit the resemblance is uncanny!!) on set of her new cooking show "Mary's Big Kitchen Party." The TV set was actually at someone's home who was gracious enough to lend their kitchen for the purpose of this episode they were filming which was centered around the theme seafood! I stepped on set roughly around 20 minutes before they wrapped and it was such a treat to see all the different elements that are involved in making a TV show come to life. My biggest surprise was how fluid the whole filming process was. Mary and the director could speak and interact throughout the entire process without someone yelling "CUT!" The cameras keep rolling when re-takes are needed, so all of that to say is I realized just how important the editing process is. The cutting room floor is no joke,  and Mary also made it look super easy on camera. She is a complete natural!

After the filming of the episode ended I had the pleasure of sitting down and doing an one-on-one interview with Mary to discuss her journey after winning Masterchef, her new cooking show, and her Masterchef Canada friends she now calls family. This is also a great time to do a shameless plug for my very first interview I did with Masterchef Canada Season One winner Eric Chong. If you have not read the full interview I did with him, click this link here!

And now before we get into the nitty gritty of this interview, Mary Berg has a message to all of our readers!

It was only last summer where Canada learned the fate of Mary's newfound career, and it's safe to say a lot has happened ever since winning the title. "So when I first went on this journey they sort of ask you what your food dream is, and to be honest I always wanted to do some sort of catering or I wanted to work behind the scenes like for a magazine developing recipes. I felt like that would be really fun. I love writing so I felt like that would encompass my love for writing and of food," Mary explains. "But since winning Masterchef I did do some catering, but the whole TV world has really taken off. It's been an unexpected whirlwind, but I love every second of it. I do a lot of stuff with Bell Media, with Your Morning, the Marilyn Dennis Show, and The Social."

Not only is Mary in front of the camera a lot nowadays, but I soon find out she's going to become a published author and have her very own cookbooks. She excitedly reveals, "I just got signed on by Random Penguin House for two cookbooks which is a childhood dream come true! I still can't really believe it. Even when I'm slogging away trying to work my butt off to get everything done it's still like a pinch me moment." 

Juggling between writing, developing recipes, talk-show duties, and now her very own TV show cannot be easy, and if you've been watching TV lately you are bound to have seen some of Mary's commercial work she's been doing as well. "Yeah, I've done some of that too. And then this came along, an opportunity with BELL FIBE and Gusto TV. It's been so much fun! Everything happened so quickly, but it's been honestly so wonderful. I work so much harder than I ever did before, but I absolutely love every second of it. I don't have those Sunday nights where you're like... ughhh work tomorrow."

That thought might have come across Mary's mind once too many times at her previous job as an Insurance Broker, but as we find ourselves in this beautiful kitchen we are both reminded how far she's come in following her dream to pursue cooking. Diving in further to Mary's new cooking show, she reveals just exactly what "Mary's Big Kitchen Party" is all about. 

"The show is based around me having kitchen parties which are my absolute favourite thing in the world. In my opinion it's not a real party until everyone ends up in the kitchen at some point. I know for me it's usually trying to dance around my friends standing in the kitchen, trying to prepare some food for them, and that's essentially like the premise of this show," Mary explains. "My friends all coming over to join me, maybe giving me a hand once in a while and enjoying the food and each other's company. Food is great, but so much better when it's enjoyed with people that you love."

When I was on set that day when Mary was shooting, that episode was seafood centric, so week by week there is going to be a new food theme that the episode revolves around. Mary adds that the themes give the show a foundation to work off of each week. "We got Halloween, Southern, today we were working on seafood. It's fun. It's something where you can kind of base your menu around and makes it a little easier to create."

Mary goes on by saying that her new cooking show is not necessarily the traditional cooking show we've all come to know. It's something that has never really been done before. "With Gusto's influence on it they are starting a dinner and a movie type of situation so what will happen is a movie is going to play, and my cooking show will air as interstitials in amongst the movie which is really neat."

With this episode being seafood focused, of course I had to ask her just what her favourite seafood dish to make at home is! Without hesitation Mary quickly states that it's ceviche. "I absolutely love making ceviche. In terms of like ease of input versus spectacular output ceviche is so, so fantastic. Something I didn't make today as it's a little bit heavier,  I do love anything with lobster and tarragon. It's such a beautiful shellfish and with that tarragon it is so so good!" You know Mary ain't lying about her love for lobster because apparently her freezer is filled with it. "I actually just recently discovered in my freezer that I forgot I made some Lobster Ravioli that had a bunch of tarragon in it. Best discovery ever! I made this like about three months ago, totally forgot I had it in there. I was like what do I make for dinner.... perfect," Mary laughs.

As I mentioned earlier, I was so impressed with how natural Mary was in front of the camera. She is already a seasoned professional and has such a great presence on screen. One could only think that the experience of being in front of the cameras on national TV may have helped prepared and guided her through her new journey of becoming this darling TV personality.

Mary agrees. "Yeah, I genuinely think it did. I was so happy with the season that I was on. My other home cooks in my season from Jeremy, Veronica, Dr. Shaun, everybody was so wonderful and I learned so much from them just in terms of the kitchen and of being a weirdo kind of. It was so much fun doing that and just kind of getting to know the side of television where it wasn't particularly competitive which I know sounds funny because it was a competition, but we were all friends. We just wanted everybody to do the best we could, to show Canada what we could do. And I think that really helped me just be comfortable, not worry about competing against my friend. Just be comfortable cooking and doing what I love in front of cameras. You almost forget that they are even there."

As it turns out, Mary still considers many of her cast mates on her season she competed with as family and still keeps in contact with many of them. There's even a little munchkin from the guy who she had to beat in the finale to win the title she just adores. "Jeremy's little daughter is like my favourite baby on the face of this planet! She refers to me as Aunt Mary which I am very excited about. Makes me sound a lot older than I am," Mary giggles. I jokingly put out the idea of Mary becoming her God Mother and she whole-heartily agrees. "Oh gosh that would be fantastic! Yeah Jeremy... give me a call!"

So Jeremy, if you're reading this. The ball is in your court now.

"As for Veronica we still hang out all the time, we actually had Thanksgiving dinner together and it's a really, really close knit family. Again it was so, so wonderful being with those people and not feeling the pressure to kind of duke it out. It was just like lets cook some good food and have a good time. And that helped me here because I got to learn the TV side of things, learning about cameras and angles."

So what's next for Mary Berg besides this new cooking show? She's going to help pass on the torch and help mentor other hopefuls of becoming the next Masterchef Canada by being part of the audition process for the next season set to air soon on CTV.

Mary explains just how much fun she had at the Masterchef Canada auditions, however this time around she's on the other side. "I can't even explain to you the excitement you see in people's faces and the nervousness all at the same time. I experienced that completely. Like it was so funny seeing that from them because I knew exactly what they were feeling at that moment. You just got to drink it all in. It's terrifying. It's a very strange thing to do, to kind of put your life on hold and be like hey, I'm going to see if this is a thing I could actually do. And I'm so proud of everybody who did. I think it's going to be a really good season."

And that's a wrap!!

Make sure you all tune in starting on Friday, October 27th at 9PM Eastern on Gusto TV for a Friday night movie, along with tasty recipes from Mary Berg's new cooking show, "Mary's Big Kitchen Party." Find below the full list of movies and Mary Berg's recipe themes that are set to air. Her show will also be available on demand starting Saturday on BELL FIBE TV1. 

Halloween recipes for Practical Magic (October 27), Italian cuisine for Under the Tuscan Sun (November 3), Southern recipes for Sweet Home Alabama (November 10), famous New York City cuisine for Working Girl (November 17), Hawaiian recipes for 50 First Dates (November 24), seafood recipes for Splash (December 1), holiday desserts for Elf (December 8), and holiday recipes for Deck the Halls (December 15).

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Fuel Foods

It's almost been four years since I've gone on this journey to become a food blogger/digital content creator, and what I've realized in doing so is this job comes with a blessing a curse. The blessing is I get to indulge in all of the incredibly delicious food on a weekly basis, and the curse is....I get to indulge in all of the incredibly delicious food on a weekly basis. One of the most common questions now I get asked all the time is "How are you still not fat?" A valid question because part of my job now is essentially eating things whether they are healthy or not. The notion of "It's For the Gram" is for better or worse part of my life now, and in coming to this realization over the past year I've learned to put my body and health first above all else.

It started with a total revamp of my lunch diet where portion control, salads, and fruits became the daily norm. Going to the gym consistently started do become a new lifestyle, and just being more mindful of what I'm putting in my body especially when I have control over it at home needs to be the new mentality. So of course when Fuel Foods reached out to me to try their nutritious meal options designed for people looking to live their best and most healthy life I was all on board. I need as much help as I can get!

Fuel Foods is a Toronto based company made up by Health, Wellness, and Nutrition professionals combining over 30 years experience, with an additional 20 years in the kitchen. They are a meal delivery service that understands the importance of readily-available, convenient nutrition that many of us working unfortunately just can't find the time or have the know-how on preparing meals that strike a healthy well-balanced lifestyle.

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I tried one of their meal boxes that was delivered right to my door step which consisted of nutritious main entrees, breakfast items, snacks, and even a cold-pressed juice to help get my eating schedule on track for the next few days. One of my favourite parts of their delivery process was that you receive text messages the day of the delivery that notifies you around what time you should be receiving your package. My text message said it would arrive in about 17 minutes and so it did!

Upon opening up the box, all the meals and snacks are well-portioned to ensure you are not over-eating, but still gaining all the nutrients one requires per day. Each meal is very clearly labelled on the front for complete transparency into how many calories, protein, carbs, and fat are in each meal/snack. For the main entrees it also explicitly states the exact date the food was cooked, and in my case it was cooked for me on Sunday and delivered on Sunday. Definetly made fresh to order!

Below you will find exactly what my meal box consisted of.

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Thai Green Curry Thighs

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Middle Eastern Ground Beef

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AAA Sirloin with Pesto Barley

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Gremolata Whitefish

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Protein Pancake Roll

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Bliss Bowl

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Chocolate Coconut Protein Bites

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Date Blueberry Protein Muffin

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Protein Cookie

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Arouse

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Having all these meals cooked, pre-portioned, and ready-to-eat saved me so much time after work each day which allowed me to do other things I enjoy. Not having to worry or think about what to make for my next meal was amazing, especially with the added bonus in knowing that what I was consuming through Fuel Foods was healthy and good for my body. If you struggle like me to strike a healthy lifestyle balance, I would highly encourage you all to give Fuel Foods a shot and let them help us reach our dietary and fitness goals in our daily routines. We only have one body so lets take care of it and make sure we fuel it up the right way.

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