The interview was part of the annual Lay’s Do Us a Flavour contest. This year, the contest featured internationally-inspired flavours, which gave Canadians the chance to vote for their favourite ones in store. The winners were: Canadian Bacon Poutine, Thai Sweet Chili and Cheese and Onion (from the UK), all of which reflect the latest food trends and Canadian palettes.
Me: What are the most important ingredients that every home cook or chef must have?
Dana: Butter, extra virgin olive oil, whole peppercorns, kosher salt, onions and garlic.
Just as a side note, I totally agree with her suggestions. I mean, what in the world would Jeffery do, If Ina Garten didn’t have butter at her fingertips? Come on people, you know as I well as I do that butter makes the world a better place right?
Dana also made a valid point of suggesting that processed ground pepper just doesn’t cut it. Freshly ground is the way to go. We also talked a bit about new oils to try as a change for EVOO. I recently received a whole box of goodies from a company called Chosen Foods. They sent me an array of avocado oils to try and I must say, it’s amazing to use in the majority of my recipes.
Me: Do you often cook with or without a recipe or measured ingredients?
Dana: As a trained chef, I often cook without measured ingredients, it’s part of the creative process of recipe development. However, I always measure or weigh ingredients for baking.
Me: What are some of your favourite fall recipe ingredients?
Dana: Anything but pumpkin spice! (Dana felt that this combo has been overused and are typically the norm at this time of the year but boring). I like using sweet potatoes, cranberries and pears for fall inspired dishes.
Me: What do you think were the biggest food trends for 2016?
Dana: Not too much different from 2015. Regional Canadian fare is amongst the top trends plus a blend of multicultural foods such as Thai, Vietnamese and Japanese are always on board as favourites.
Me: What do you think the next big trend and flavour will be for the coming year?
Dana: Definitely leaning towards Korean inspired flavours and dishes.
Me: What social media foods/recipes are getting the most attention?
Dana: Hmmm….hard to pick just one specific food or recipe. I lean towards searching the top hashtags or keywords that would bring me to trending foods in the media.
Also, a big thanks to Lay’s for sending me those winning chips! I chose the Cheese and Onion flavour to top one of my favourite all time -best ever -out of this world casserole dishes. Those chips really took this recipe to the next level. I don’t think I will ever use plain flavoured ones again. It would be comparable to turning towards pumpkin spice.
- 1 (10 oz) box penne pasta
- 1 (8 oz) box or bag frozen spinach (you can substitute fresh as well)
- 1 bbq chicken, cut into bite size chunks (store bought or homemade)
- 1 (10 oz) tetra box organic cream of mushroom soup
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups of rose sauce (recipe)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (any combo will do, I used white & yellow cheddar)
- ½ bag of potato chips, roughly crushed (I used Lay's Cheese & Onion)
- ¼ cup of butter cut into small pieces
- In a large saucepan, boil water for pasta. Cook pasta together with spinach until pasta is done. Drain, and set aside.
- Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl (except for the potato chips & butter, this is your topping)
- Place pasta and spinach in the bowl with the blended ingredients and stir.
- Place in a well greased casserole dish (I like to spray mine with avocado oil and top with chips and dot with butter.
- I used a large oval ceramic dish but a 9 x13 dish is fine.
- Bake at 350F for 40 minutes, or until casserole is beautifully bubbly and brown.
- Serve warm.