Category Archives: Kitchen Basics

Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich

Here’s How to Cook Eggs Perfectly Every Time

Eggs are one of the most versatile foods with limitless possibilities. Whether you’re looking to master the omelette, dip toast soldiers into perfectly soft boiled eggs, make an egg salad with hard-cooked eggs or top your Benedict with a runny poached egg, we make it easy cook ’em just right. Just follow our ultimate egg cooking guide, which includes cooking methods and times, so that you always get the perfect results.

chunky-egg-salad

How to Make Perfect Hardboiled Eggs

To hard-cook your eggs, fill a pot with enough water to cover eggs by about 2 inches. Bring water to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat, cover pot and leave them for 10 minutes. Remove eggs from hot water and place the eggs in an ice water bath.
Get the recipe for Egg Salad

How to Make a Soft Boiled Egg

Boil enough water to cover your eggs. Gently lower eggs into water with a spoon and boil for 6 minutes. Remove eggs from boiling water and place in an ice bath to stop cooking.
Get the recipe for Bobby Flay’s Bacon Cheddar Twists with Soft-Cooked Eggs

ina-gartens-Eggs-Benedict_

How to Poach an Egg Perfectly

Poaching eggs have a reputation of being a little intimidating to perfect. Fresh eggs poach much better than old eggs. Fill a saucepan 2/3 full with water and bring to a boil. Add 1 Tbsp of vinegar and lower heat to a simmer. Crack an egg into a small cup and gently tip it into the water. Cook for 4 minutes if you like a runny yolk, and 6 minutes if you like your yolk a bit firmer. Remove egg with a slotted spoon and place on a paper towel to drain excess water.
Get the recipe for Eggs Benedict and Easy Hollandaise Sauce

How to Make Soft, Fluffy Scrambled Eggs

Whisk your eggs in a bowl so that the whites and yolks are fully combined. Heat a pat of butter in a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. Add your eggs into the pan and let cook for 1 minute undisturbed. Using a rubber spatula, push eggs around the pan to scramble. Continue to do this until any uncooked, liquid eggs make contact with the pan, about 2 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and serve.
Get the recipe for French-Style Scrambled Eggs

How to Make Hard Scrambled Eggs

These eggs are a less moist than soft scramble. To make them simply add 2 more minutes to the cook time for soft scrambled eggs.
Try these Great Eggs Sandwich Recipes

How to Make a Perfect Omelette

Whisk 2-3 eggs until completely combined. Heat a pat of butter in a non-stick pan over medium. Pour the eggs into the pan and move around the pan so that the surface is completely covered with egg. Using a spatula drag and push the eggs so that the uncooked eggs make contact with the surface of the pan. Cook until bottom is set and the top is moist about 1-2 minutes. Fold omelette in half and serve.
Learn how to make an Easy No-Flip Omelette

How to Make a Sunny Side Up Egg

Lightly coat the bottom of a frying pan with oil. Heat pan over medium and gently crack an egg into the pan. Cook until whites are opaque and yolk is still runny about 3 minutes.
Get the recipe for The Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich

The Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich

How to Make Eggs Over Easy

Follow the same instructions for sunny-side-up, but after 3 minutes of cook time flip the egg and continue to cook for another minute.

How to Cook Eggs Over Hard

Follow the same instructions for sunny-side-up, but after 3 minutes of cook time flip the egg and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Ready to get cracking? Try these Tasty Ways to Eat Eggs for Dinner.

ripe cherries bowl

How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies In Your Kitchen Once and For All

It’s inevitable. No matter how clean you keep your kitchen, how many fly swatters you invest in or how many times you make sure your window screens are shut tight, at some point over the summer, you’re bound to deal with the pesky little gnats known as fruit flies.

Before you throw in the towel – or throw out the fruit – there are a few strategies and solutions for dealing with these annoyances right away. Here are our top tips and tricks for eradicating fruit flies in the kitchen, for good.

Related: Foods You Can Still Eat After the Expiry Date

Ripe cherries

Wash Produce Immediately 

What causes fruit flies?  While some of these bugs travel in through window cracks and screens, it’s most likely that they’ve come in with your actual fruit and vegetables. Most of the time they’re undetectable (they can grow from an egg to an adult in about the span of a week, and procreate rapidly), which means that washing all of your produce as soon as you get home from shopping is an important step in avoiding them all together.

Related: Foods You Should Be Washing But Probably Aren’t

Don’t Feed the Fruit Flies

While we know you’re not purposefully inviting these gnats to an all you can eat buffet in your kitchen, it is helpful to make sure that any food scraps and drippings are cleaned up straightaway, and that you avoid leaving out empty cans of beer or bottles of wine. Take out the garbage, compost and recycling every day, and be sure to eat fresh counter fruit in a timely manner so the unwelcome guests don’t have anything to feed on.

Related: Hearty Sheet Pan Dinners That Make Clean-Up a Breeze

Pump Up the Air Conditioning

Fruit flies thrive in warmer climates, which is why they come out to play during the summer months and why they die off come winter. Keeping your home at a cool, regulated temperature could potentially help to keep these pesky flies at bay.

red apples

How to Make Fruit Fly Catcher

Once you’ve got fruit flies, how do you actually get rid of them? They’re often too numerous to just swat out, and that just gets messy. This is where some of the brilliant DIY concoctions come in handy. Here are a few of our favourite, chemical-free solutions.

– Place a piece of cut-up fruit in a small bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes in it with a toothpick. As the bowl fills up with flies, place it in the freezer to kill them off, dump it out and start again.

– Pour a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar in a mason jar and cover the top with plastic wrap, securing it with a rubber band. Poke a few holes in the jar with a toothpick so the flies can get in, but not out. Eventually, they will succumb to the liquid. If you’re out of apple cider vinegar, try leftover wine or beer, a mashed up banana or overripe fruit instead. Rather than using plastic wrap, make a cone out of a rolled up piece of paper, leaving a small opening, and place that in the mason jar with the point down.

– In a medium saucepan, simmer 1 pint milk with 1/4 lb raw sugar and 2 oz ground pepper for 10 minutes or so. Pour this mixture into shallow bowls with a drop or two of dish soap (this helps the flies stick to the mixture) and place around the house.

– Mix a few drops of lemongrass essential oil with hot water in a clean spray bottle. Spray windowsills and doorways (and any actual flies you see) to leave a gnat fighting, fresh scent around your house.

Hopefully, you’ll be fruit fly-free in no time. Happy hunting!

Looking for more kitchen tips? Try these 10 Time-Saving Kitchen Cleaning Hacks and How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More.

Black Garlic: What It is and Why You Need to Cook With It This Year

As Canadians get more adventurous in the kitchen, it’s only natural that they’d be on the lookout for the latest on-trend foods and dishes to try at home. And, with 2020 kicking into high gear, black garlic has continued its steady ascent as one of the most sought-after ingredients in North American cuisine. But if you’re left reeling at the thought of cooking with the inky, blackened cloves – or don’t entirely understand how to incorporate it into your favourite recipes – you’re definitely not alone.

Although not an entirely new concept (Japan, Thailand and South Korea have been extolling the virtues of black garlic for years) this versatile ingredient can be easily swapped in for traditional white garlic in most dishes.

Still not convinced? We break it all down for you – from the what to the how – and offer up some of our favourite garlicky Food Network Canada recipes as mouth-watering examples of where you can introduce this on-trend ingredient into your repertoire.

Related: 12 Hottest Food Trends We’ll Be Devouring in 2020

What is It?

In short, it’s your everyday run-of-the-mill white garlic – albeit gradually aged over a period of weeks. By gently heating entire bulbs in a humidity-controlled environment (think: rice cookers), you wind up with darkened, sticky cloves that quite frankly resemble garlic gone bad. Despite their slightly charred and off-putting appearance, the Maillard reaction (the chemical reaction between amino acids and sugars that lend browned/aged foods their unmistakable taste) actually deepens their flavours for an entirely different – and elevated – culinary experience.



Get the recipe for Roger Mooking’s 30 Cloves of Garlic Sauce

What Does it Taste Like?

For starters, it doesn’t taste much like traditional garlic. Once blackened, the cloves become earthy and syrupy-sweet in flavour, with additional hints of prunes, balsamic vinegar and black licorice. It’s also softer and has a molasses-like texture, making it easier to spread on crackers or crostini. Something for at-home chefs to consider: due to the loss of its original sharp taste, a larger volume of black garlic is required with any recipe in order to achieve higher taste levels.

How to Use It

You can add black garlic to salad dressing or dip recipes, purée them with olive oil, create scrumptious pastes from scratch or rub onto fish or meat before popping your dish in the oven. If you purchase it in powdered form, you can also sprinkle it on pretty much anything your heart (and stomach) desires.

Related: Pinterest Predicts the Top 15 Food Trends for 2020



Get the recipe for Everything Garlic Bread Knots

How to Make It at Home

We’ll be honest: it’s a long, drawn-out process, but if you have the time to spare, the results are well worth the wait. A relatively easy hack is to break out the rice cooker and use the “warm” setting to transform white garlic into black garlic over the span of roughly three to four weeks (or 40 days). You can also use your slow cooker.



Get the recipe for Anna Olson’s Garlic Parmesan Twists

Where to Buy It

Although it might be a little difficult to track down in major grocery chains, specialty stores, like Whole Foods, often carry both whole heads of pre-humidified black garlic and the powdered variety.

Health Benefits

Although it’s lower in allicin, the compound that gives traditional garlic many of its health-boosting properties, black garlic is still rich in amino acids and contains double the antioxidants as the white variety. It’s also a great source of vitamins C and D.

Black garlic photo courtesy of Getty Images

The One Genius Kitchen Product You’ll be Gifting Everyone This Year (Plus More Ideas)

Ah, the joys of shopping during the holidays – scouring the big-box department stores and online shops for the latest and greatest items to gift your loved ones, only to wind up more confused than when you first started.

But there’s never been a better time to surprise an at-home chef or foodie with a gift, considering the current wealth of innovative gadgets that will elevate their food game to the next level.

For the friend or relative who knows their way around the kitchen (and has cooked you more than their fair share of scrumptious meals and party appetizers), there really isn’t a better way to demonstrate how much you appreciate their culinary skills than with the latest appliances that seamlessly marry technology with home cooking.

And if there’s one genius kitchen product that’s been generating all the hype as of late, it’s this one:

The Instant Marinator


Vacu Vin 1/3 Quart Instant Marinating Container, $39.99, Amazon.ca.

What is it?  An Instant Marinator boasts impressive technology that removes oxygen from the container (a vacuum pump extracts the air faster and opens up the pores of the meat to absorb the sauce). This ultimately speeds up the entire marinating process and tenderizes the meat in minutes. Bonus: considering the Instant Marinator comes in a variety of sizes, from half-quart containers (above) to tumbling canisters, there are plenty of options and price points to choose from, making it a refreshingly flexible budget-friendly option if you’re looking to save some cash.

Who needs it? The friend or relative who loves pairing homemade marinades with their favourite cuts of meats or veggies. Also ideal for those who want to save time in the kitchen (read: all of us!) and never think to marinate tomorrow’s dinner the night before.

Related: Marinating 101: How to Flavour Your Meat, Fish and Vegetables

Want more kitchen appliance ideas? Gift one of the handy gadgets below to a loved one, or simply treat yourself (because there’s nothing wrong with that!).

Sous Vide Precision Cooker


Chefman Sous Vide Precision Cooker, $124.99, Amazon.ca

What is it? A method of cooking that involves sealing food – from eggs to fish to meats – in a heat-stable plastic pouch and bathing in water, before cooking to perfection using precise temperature control (no under-cooking or overcooking here!). Fun fact: the term Sous Vide actually means “under vacuum” in French. It also happens to be a healthier way of cooking due to the enhanced flavour and little to no additional salts or fats. The vacuum sealing ensures essential vitamins and minerals don’t dissipate during the cooking process, so you can soak up all those nutrients as you eat. And now the process is easier with the Sous Vide Precision Cooker that heats  up the water that much faster. Bonus: since it’s Bluetooth and WIFI enabled, it connects to your phone or tablet.

Who needs it? The determined home chef who tends to overcook just about everything, or the nervous food preparer who doesn’t want to risk under-cooking or ruining a dish, especially when entertaining. It’ll transform anyone into a kitchen master, we swear.

Never attempted a sous vide dish? These En Sous Vide Baby Back Ribs and Sous Vide Steelhead Trout recipes are perfect for beginners.

Digital Glass Steamer


Cuisinart Digital Glass Steamer, $194, Amazon.ca.

What is it? Skip the stove-top steamer and opt for the modern digital variety that delivers steam from the top down. Because who doesn’t love a beautifully steamed dish – especially since it retains many of the foods original minerals and vitamins? The appliance boasts a dishwasher-safe glass surfaced pot large enough for family-sized portions of veggies, fish, chicken or rice. Foodies can also look forward to everything from specific food settings to a built-in timer.

Who needs it? The health-conscious home chef, or anyone looking to be inspired in the kitchen with an easy and good-for-you cooking solution. We’re all about it!

Related: 15 Bad Eating Habits Experts Recommend Ditching by 2020

Smoke-Less Indoor Grill

Philips Smoke-less Indoor BBQ Grill, $329.00, Amazon.ca.

What is it? Living in Canada means spending a significant chunk of the year curled under a blanket, waiting for the snow to melt. However, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the smoky taste of a summertime BBQ. Cheer everyone up this winter with a SmokeLess Indoor Grill featuring advanced infrared heat technology and minimal side spattering for evenly grilled food that will remind you of warmer days. The non-stick grid also provides those authentic, sought-after grill marks and the constant heat browns your meats without burning them. It’s also ideal for healthy, lean grilling with a grease tray that collects excess fats.

Who needs it? That friend or relative who lives for summer grilling and would love to keep the party going year-round.

For more holiday gift ideas, check out which top kitchen appliances our editors can’t live without.

Top 5 Kitchen Knives Every Home Cook Should Own

The most important investment you can make for you kitchen is a set of good-quality knives. While you might be put off by the fear of owning an overly sharp blade, it’s actually more dangerous to do your prep with a dull knife, as it forces you to use far more pressure and movement. A well-made knife will always do the work for you, making your prep safer and easier. But which type of knife is best for each job? Here are the best types of knives to prepare you for anything in the kitchen.

Related: Can I Freeze This? How to Freeze Fruit, Cheese, Leftovers and More

Chef’s Knife

A chef’s knife is the most crucial knife to have in your kitchen and if you invest in a higher quality brand, you’ll only ever need one. It’s multi-purpose with a curved edge, which allows it to easily rock back and fourth on a cutting board. Ranging anywhere between 6 to 12 inches long, chef’s knives traditionally have a heavier blade allowing that weight to do the tough work for you. When purchasing, you’ll want to choose one with a handle that feels secure and generally just feels right. Your knife should feel like an extension of your hand, so shop around until you find the perfect one.

chefs-knife

Wüsthof Classic Chef’s Knife, Williams Sonoma, $120.

Paring Knife

Pairing knives are small with a simple blade that works best for quick jobs like slicing through vanilla beans, or intricate work like crosshatching chestnuts or segmenting citrus. Ranging in size from 2 ½ to 4 inches long, make sure you choose a knife that’s light in weight with a super sharp blade.

Related: The Top 5 Kitchen Utensils Every Home Cook Needs

paring-knife

Wüsthof Classic Paring Knife, Williams Sonoma, $50.

Serrated Knife

While serrated knives are the no-brainer option when it comes to cutting any type of bread, they’re also the ideal choice for slicing layered cakes or cutting through soft fruit like tomatoes. Keep in mind their ridged teeth can never be sharpened, so you might have to invest in a few throughout your lifetime.

Related: Bread Baking for Beginners: How to Make the Perfect Sourdough Loaf

Boning Knife

Boning knifes have ultra flexible and tapered blades that are usually 5 to 6 inches long, making it easy to guide your way through certain meats. While not necessary in every household, you might want to consider owning one if you butcher whole chickens, fillet your own fish or butterfly chops.

Carving Knife

Carving knives are large, long and thin, with a blade that’s between 8 and 15 inches long. Its super slim shape makes it a breeze to carve meat with precision, giving you show-stopping slices of roasts, prime rib, turkey and ham perfect for entertaining.

Related: How to Carve the Perfect Turkey Like a Pro (We Break It Down)

Once you’ve invested in some great knives, the most important thing to remember is to always keep them sharp. If you cook every day, you should be sharpening your knives every week. When you feel like your blade is starting to dull, sharpen it yourself or take it in to get sharpened by a professional to keep its edge clean and long-lasting.

Leftovers in plastic container in fridge

The Best Ways to Reheat (and Reuse) Leftovers

Wouldn’t the world be an amazing place if we had time to cook a delicious family meal every single night of the week? It certainly would. But since many of us have evening commitments and strict daytime work schedules, dinnertime (and prep) always seems to be cut short. Leftovers are a natural result of busy lives and they don’t always have to be ho-hum after a quick nuke in the microwave. Here are six popular homemade dishes and how to revive them into tasty next-day dishes.

Pasta

Have you ever noticed that pasta is a lot more firm once it’s been sitting for a while? The extra sauce that was sitting on your pasta dish gets absorbed by the leftover noodles. To get the flexibility and sauciness back in a pasta, heat about ¼ cup of tomato sauce, heavy cream or chicken broth, let it come to a simmer then add leftover pasta from the fridge, stir and allow to heat through. Top with a little Parmesan if you have it because, well, it always goes with pasta.

Leftovers in plastic container in fridge

Pizza

Sure, a microwave does (sort of) do the trick with day-old pizza. The result may be decent enough with hot toppings and revived cheese, but it gives the crust an almost soggy, spongy texture. For freshly-made pizza flavor, preheat your oven to a low broil, place two pieces of pizza into a cast iron skillet and let cook in the oven. The cast iron does an amazing job or crisping up the crust, while the low broil gets the cheese bubbly again. For more than an individual serving, use a large pizza stone for the same effect.

Chicken and Fish

To be completely honest, it’s nearly impossible to get the same juicy, tender qualities from cooked poultry and most types of fish the next day. For best results, heat up your protein in a moderately hot oven (about 375°F) in a small baking dish. Add a few spoonfuls of water or stock, cover with tinfoil and bake until warmed through. Giving leftover meats like this a quick chop make them easy additions to simple noodle or cream-based soups.

Related: Sunday Dinners That Promise Leftovers Throughout the Week

Pork and Steak

Much like chicken and fish, big cuts of pork and beef are hard to bring back to life after sitting in the fridge overnight. That being said, there are still ways to make them these leftovers taste pretty delicious. First, let the meat come to room temperature, then slice it into pieces (somewhere between ¼ to ½” thick). This is a much better way to reheat because cooking a larger piece of meat (like tenderloin or roast) will result in an overcooked exterior and too well-done interior. Heat a spoonful or two of butter in a large pan on medium heat, add the sliced meat and let it cook, stirring frequently until warmed through.

Rice

You can easily reheat leftover rice in the microwave in a covered container, but that will generally give you a slightly overcooked, mushy texture. Instead, preheat your oven to 350°F and evenly spread cold rice into a medium-sized baking dish. Loosely cover with tin foil, poking a few holes to allow the steam to escape and let it bake for approximately 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, stir gently with a fork and let bake, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

Vegetables

This is quite a broad category, so right off the bat, the more tender vegetables like beans, snow peas, asparagus and wilted greens (spinach, Swiss chard, etc.) don’t lend themselves well to reheating after a first cook. If you have leftover corn (if it’s on the cob, cut off the kernels), peas or any sort of legume (chickpeas, beans, lentils), you can give them new life with a quick fry in a large pan with some broth and spices. Root vegetables like butternut squash, yams, potatoes and beets benefit well from a quick re-roast in the oven. Preheat oven to 350°F, lay them out on a baking sheet and let them roast for 12 to 15 minutes. Once removed from the oven, dress them lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Published September 26, 2016, Updated September 1, 2019

Two Ways to Roast Peppers Perfectly (Every Time!)

Roasted peppers have a wonderfully sweet, caramelized flavour that makes for a tasty accompaniment to many dishes. They’re rich in vitamin C and packed with antioxidants and we’ve got two easy ways to cook the colourful capsicum.

Green, Yellow, Orange or Red?

All bell peppers come from the same plant, with each colour representing the different points of maturity. Green peppers are basically unripe, lack sweetness and can have a subtle bitter taste at times. This is why green peppers are cheaper to buy than red peppers and are a despised ingredient among many chefs. Orange, yellow and red peppers are matured green peppers and have a much fruitier, pleasant taste, though most argue that red peppers are the sweetest.

RoastedPeppers_Stove_Roast

Using a Gas Stove

If your house has been blessed with a gas stove, you also lucked out on the fastest and least messy way of roasting peppers. Simply turn on the burner and place one or two whole peppers directly on the flame. Using a pair of tongs, rotate the peppers to ensure all sides are blackened. The more charred the peppers, the easier they’ll be to peel later.

RoastedPeppers_Stove_Roast2

Using an Electric Stove (or Toaster Oven)

Unlike most vegetables where you simply roast them at 375°F, bell peppers are best cooked using the broil setting. Broiling is like using an upside-down BBQ; the heat comes from above and will char the surface of the food, which is what you want when cooking peppers.

RoastedPeppers_Broiler

Give your whole peppers a very light coating of oil and then place them on a lined baking sheet (it gets messy when the peppers’ juices start leaking out). Set the oven to a high broil and place the pan of peppers inside. You’ll see the skin start to bubble and then blacken. Flip the peppers every so often to ensure they get an even char on all sides. This should take anywhere between 40 minutes to 1 hour.

RoastedPeppers_Broiler_2

Cleaning the Peppers

Once the peppers are completely blackened, place them in a large bowl or pot and cover with plastic wrap for 15 minutes to steam. This steaming process loosens up the skin to make the peeling process easier. When they’re done steaming, slice open the peppers (be warned, there will be lots of juices spilling out) and clean out the seeds, ribs, and stems. The charred skin should slip off easily. Do not rinse the peppers under running water in an attempt to make the skin flake off easier, as the water will simply wash away the pepper’s sweet juices. Slice the peppers to desired thickness.

RoastedPeppers_Stove_Roast4

Store the peppers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to two weeks. Use them for sandwiches, salads, an addition to your homemade hummus or in the following recipe for roasted red pepper soup, which pairs superbly with a grilled cheese sandwich on a chilly afternoon.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 pats of butter
1 cup chopped white onion
1 cup chopped potato
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 medium-sized red bell peppers, roasted, cleaned and diced
4 cups no-salt added chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream, whole milk, or coconut milk
Salt, pepper, and chilli flakes to taste

Related: The Pioneer Woman’s Best Soups and Stews

Directions:

1. In a soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the onions until they begin to sweat and turn translucent. Add the potatoes and garlic and continue to cook for five minutes. Add the peppers, broth and cream/milk. Stir, cover and bring down to a simmer for 20 minutes.

2. Using a blender, blend everything until it reaches a creamy and smooth consistency.

3. Season with salt, pepper and (optional) chili flakes to taste.

RoastedPepperSoup

4. Serve immediately or let cool completely to room temperature before storing in airtight containers in the fridge for up to three days.

Published November 18, 2015, Updated January 2, 2019

chicken-stock-how-to-make

How to Make Fast Homemade Turkey Stock with Your Instant Pot

After a night of Thanksgiving cooking, cleaning and entertaining the last thing anyone wants to do is step back into the kitchen and embark on new cooking projects. You could spend hours simmering your turkey carcass to create stock, but with the help of an Instant Pot electric pressure cooker, you can transform it into a rich, delicious golden stock in less than 20 minutes. Use this golden liquid to make soups, risotto, or use as a braising liquid. It also freezes beautifully, so you can use it any time.

turkey-carcas-for-stcok

20-Minute Instant Pot Turkey Stock Recipe

Ingredients:
1 turkey carcass
2 carrots, roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 onions, halved with skin left on
1 bunch parsley

Directions:
1. Pull any meat off the turkey carcass and reserve for another use. The bones don’t have to be completely clean. Place them in the Instant Pot with any leftover pan drippings or small leftover turkey bits.
2. Place carrots, celery, onion, and parsley into the pot.
3. Fill pot with water just to cover contents. Close lid and set to soup setting for 15 minutes.
4. When it is finished. Let the steam release from the valve.
5. Strain stock through a mesh sieve and discard bones and vegetables.
6. Season stock with salt and pepper.

I like to make this beautiful soup using the stock with leftover turkey meat, sautéed leeks, fresh peas and Parmesan cheese. Looking for more ideas for what to make with your turkey stock? Try these tasty recipes:

Turkey-Kale-and-Brown-Rice-Soup-Recipe

Turkey, Kale and Brown Rice Soup Recipe

leftover-turkey-pho-recipe

Leftover Roast Turkey Pho Recipe

alton-brown-turkey-soup

Bird to the Last drop Turkey Soup Recipe

Looking for more leftover ideas? Try these Tasty Ways to Use Your Thanksgiving Leftovers.

iced-coffee-pour-feature

How to Make Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee All Summer Long

Cool down in a flash with this simple iced coffee recipe that is crisp, refreshing, and delicious. Instead of waiting hours for cold brew, or chilling hot brewed coffee, this easy method requires brewing a coffee concentrate directly over ice. The result is an instantly chilled coffee that is ready to serve in less than 10 minutes.  The best part is that you don’t need fancy equipment—almost any manual drip or pour-over style brewing device with a filter will do. This easy method can also work with some automatic drip machines.

flash-iced-coffee-pouring

Easy Flash Brew Iced Coffee

Time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2.5 cups

Equipment:
A coffee brewer like a Chemex or a similar brewer that you use to make filter/drip coffee at home.
Kettle
Kitchen scale
Timer
Spoon

flash-iced-coffee-setup

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups (14 oz) hot water,  just finished boiling
2 cups (300 g) ice
1/2 cup (50 g) coffee grounds, medium

Directions:
1. Add ice to the carafe.
2. Place the coffee filter in the brew basket and add coffee grounds.
3. Position coffee brewer on top of a kitchen scale and set value to zero.
4. Start the timer and pour first 1/2 cup (4 oz) of hot water over coffee grounds in about 30 seconds. Gently stir the grounds with a spoon, making sure all of the coffee is fully soaked.

pour-over-flash-iced-coffee
5. After 1 minute, pour an additional 1/2 cup hot water (4 oz) over wet coffee grounds.
6. After 2 minutes, pour the remaining hot water over the coffee grounds for a total of 1 ¾ cups (14 oz).
7. Brew will finish dripping through coffee grounds after about 4:30-5 minutes.
8. Serve freshly brewed cold coffee over ice and enjoy!

final-iced-coffee-pour

Looking for more coffee knowledge? Learn how to brew the best cup of coffee ever.

5 Budget-Friendly Cuts of Beef and How to Cook Them

As grocery prices mount, it’s a bonus to find cheaper alternatives, especially when it comes to meat. One area where you can save big and find some great new favourites is by seeking out inexpensive cuts of beef, a typically higher-priced protein. These new cuts of beef are as delectable and easy to cook as some of your old standbys, but far more affordable. Before you head to the butcher this week, take note of what to ask for and how to cook it with this handy guide.

chuck-steak-in-pan

7-Bone Steak or Chuck Steak

Often thought of as the ground meat in a good burger, chuck steak is akin to a rib steak in its fattiness and makes an excellent, cheaper alternative cut. If prepared correctly, it provides the perfect balance of marbling and highly flavourful meat. Because it contains bones, you’ll also benefit from the richness they impart.

How to Cook: Best marinated to tenderize, this steak yields greatest results when grilled over high temperature just to medium-rare doneness – overcooking will lead to a chewy, dry steak.

Bavette Steak

Also called a flap steak, this cut comes from the bottom of the sirloin. This inexpensive option boasts major flavour and benefits from being marinated and scored as you would a flank steak.

How to Cook: After grilling it should be seared at a high heat for a short time and rested before slicing against the grain. A perfect cut for a steak salad, sandwiches or tacos.

Petite Filet with Wasabi CreamGet the recipe for The Pioneer Woman’s Petite Filet with Wasabi Cream.

Shoulder Tender or Petit Tender

The consequence of being difficult to cut from the animal, the shoulder tender is an underused piece of beef. Similar to filet mignon and pork tenderloin, only more flavourful, it’s a very tender cut of beef weighing about 8 to 12 oz. Like pork tenderloin, it occasionally has a silverskin that can be easily cut away.

How to Cook: Try it seared and finished in the oven, cut into medallions and grilled or cut into strips for a fast stir-fry. It’s best cooked no further than medium to maintain tenderness.

Merlot Steak

Perfect for grilling, broiling and stir-frying, the merlot cut is known for its flavour, but is also a lean steak, making it one that needs proper attention to avoid dryness and toughening.

How to Cook: It’s recommended to cook this cut over high heat for only a few minutes per side, which helps maintain flavour and tenderness. Like the shoulder tender, keep this steak below medium doneness.

oyster-steak-with-chrimp

Oyster Steak

The oyster steak’s higher fat content and exposure to air means bigger, beefier taste. It’s called oyster steak because this cut’s interesting fat pattern looks a bit like an oyster shell.

How to Cook: Deeply flavourful, this little 6 oz gem is another steak benefiting from higher temperature for a shorter period of time, about 3 minutes per side.

Get ready for barbecue season with our essential tips for grilling any cut of steak perfectly.

How to cook rice on stove

How to Cook a Perfect Pot of Rice on the Stove

Confession time: Years ago, I received a rice cooker as a gift that I’ve used guiltily only when the gift-giver in question comes for dinner. The rest of the time — whether I’m cooking rice to accompany a hurried weekday dinner or as the base for a leisurely simmered-all-day weekend cooking project — I turn to a trusty pot and a stovetop burner. Want to learn how to cook rice with a no-fuss, no-mess method? Look no further than this recipe that will turn out a pot of fluffy, perfect rice every time.

The perfect pot of rice is easier than you think.

The perfect pot of rice is easier than you think.
Thinkstock

The Right Equipment to Cook Rice

I find up to two cups of uncooked rice will be just fine in a medium-sized saucepan, while anything more is best prepared in a larger pot. Similar to pasta, you’ll be using a boiling liquid as a cooking medium, so make sure you have enough room for bubbles to rise without boiling over. A lid with an adjustable steam vent is nice, but not crucial — you can always prop the lid open with a wooden spoon or pair of chopsticks. The flat wooden paddle found in Chinese or Japanese supermarkets is made specifically for this purpose (and the ones with a straight edge are perfect for stirring the bottom of the pot).

How to Cook Jasmine Rice: A Basic Method

There are as many methods of cooking rice as there are cultures that use it, so keep in mind this is the way that works for me, but it’s not the only one by far: pilafs and pilaus, risottos and biryanis all use different techniques for speciality dishes.

1. Pour your rice into a pot. (Up to one and a half to two small coffee mugs will adequately feed two people). Rinse the rice in cold running water, drain the excess water, then repeat this twice or until the water in the pot is clear when you agitate the rice.
2. Add enough liquid to cover the rice by about an inch. Use a ratio of 2:1.
3. Cover the pot, place it on a burner set to medium-high and bring the water to a boil.
4. Once the liquid boils, lift the lid and give the rice a thorough stir, making sure you get the areas at the bottom. Turn the heat down to low (just above minimum). Keep cooking the rice on low for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is tender, and has lost that wet look.
5. Fluff the rice with the paddle.

This method creates light grains of rice across the top of the pot and a crisped rice crust along the bottom and sides. You can stir those crunchy bits — prized among some cultures — into the rest of the rice for textural variation, or toast and enjoy it later for a snack.

You can vary this basic method to a wide range of rice options:

How to Cook Sushi Rice

I prefer the pleasant fluffiness and slightly sticky texture of short-grain sushi rice, pairing it with everything from spicy stir-fries to a silken stew. Use the above method, reducing the water to a 1:1 ratio. When the rice is cooked, add a tablespoon of seasoned rice vinegar (add two tablespoons if you will be using the rice to make sushi) and a sprinkle of furikaki flakes (a Japanese rice seasoning mix that can consist of sesame seeds, seaweed, dried egg or bonito and other crunchy goodness) to taste.

How to Cook Basmati Rice

For those looking for a little more structure in their grains, long-grain varieties such as basmati, are delicate and slightly perfumed options that retain their slender shape when cooking. Using the method above, reduce the water to a 1:1.5 rice/liquid ratio. Some basmati rice recipes will benefit from a short soaking period for softer rice — a purely optional step.

How to Cook Brown Rice

Brown rice, which can be either short or long grain, adds fibre and whole grain goodness to your diet. Although brown rice generally takes longer than white rice to cook (typically, an additional 15 minutes or more), the simmering time can be minimized with a brief toasting in butter first, which emphasizes the grain’s natural nuttiness. Before beginning the method above, melt four tablespoons of butter or margarine in a  pot on medium-high heat, then stir in the brown rice. Toast for a couple of minutes while stirring, then add the liquid and proceed with the method above.

Rice Flavour Variations

If you’re pairing rice with other dishes, using water is fine. Add creaminess with some coconut milk, use chicken broth to give it a little pep (the concept behind recently trendy Hainanese chicken rice) or use some mushroom stock if you’d like a little umami heartiness.

There it is; simple rice in about 30 minutes, without needing to pull out specialized equipment and without too much fuss. For more ideas on how to cook rice, check out our 16 Best Rice Recipes for Dinner and Dessert.

Cast Iron Skillet Cookie

How to Season Your Cast Iron Pans

Cast iron pans are a game-changing addition to any kitchen. In my opinion, there’s no better way to cook crispy hash browns, fry an egg or sear a burger than by using a cast iron pan. Cast iron Dutch ovens are essential for braising, stewing and even making bread. While there are many myths about cleaning and seasoning cast iron cookware, it is actually simple and easy to care for. Follow these tips that will help your cast iron last forever.

Cast Iron Skillet Cornbread

How to Season a Cast Iron Pan

When we say season, we’re not talking salt and pepper. Seasoning a cast iron pan means treating it with oil. A brand new cast iron pan might say “pre-seasoned” on it and but it’s best to season it yourself before using it. Start by preheating the oven to 325°F. Pour a few tablespoons of oil in the pan, and spread in and around the edge of the pan. Place a sheet of aluminum foil over the center rack in the oven. Place the cast iron pan upside down on the foil. It will catch any oil drips. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let cool.

How to Wash a Cast Iron Pan

Many people that will tell you that soap and water will destroy a cast iron pan. This isn’t true. Cast iron pans can get grimy just like other cookware and it’s okay to scrub your pan. Use the abrasive side of a sponge, and rinse your soap off with plenty of water. Dry your cast iron right away and re-season it to get back that beautiful oily lustre.

cast-iron-skillet-cookie

How to Care for a Cast Iron Pan

The best way to care for your cast iron cookware is by using it. The more you cook, sear and fry in it, the better seasoned it becomes. Cast iron is great for cornbread, brownies, fried chicken and steaks. The more use a cast iron pan gets, the more non-stick it becomes.

What to do About Rusty Cast Iron 

When cast iron is left wet or stored in a humid environment, it can start to get rusty. This is an easy problem to fix and even easier to prevent. Ensure that your cast iron cookware is completely dry after using it and store it in a dry place. Do not let it soak in the sink before you clean it or re-season it. It’s best to minimize the time between when you begin cleaning it and when you re-season it. If your pan does get a bit rusty or cruddy, scrub it away with dish soap and an abrasive sponge. Steel wool is also a good option. Once the rust is removed, dry your cookware and re-season it.

Seasoned and ready to get cooking?  Try one of these 14 Incredible Cast-Iron Skillet Recipes.

4 Things You Didn’t Know About Expiry Dates

We’ve all been there, squinting at tiny writing on a milk carton wondering if it is still OK to add it to your morning cereal. Should you trust your nose, or stick to the best before date? The answer isn’t always clear. Expiry dates might be the finite end of when you can safely consume food, but most of the foods we purchase are only stamped with a best before date, meaning it’s merely a suggested date to guarantee freshness and nutritional value. Here are some things you need to know about expiry dates so you can save money, and avoid tossing away food that’s still perfectly good to eat.

1. Only 5 Types of Products Have Actual Expiry Dates

In Canada, the only products to carry a true expiry date are: infant formula, nutritional supplements, meal replacements, formulated liquid diets and food formulated for low-energy diets sold by pharmacists. Not what most of us envision when it comes to filling up our grocery carts! All other food that stays fresh for 90 days or less are stamped with a best before date, which is just the industry’s way of guaranteeing it will taste as it should and be nutritionally accurate to its label.

2. The Best Before Date Only Applies to Unopened Packages

While we usually rely on these dates the most when consuming already purchased foods at home, the best before date is no longer valid once a package is open, meaning the countdown to the last sip of milk isn’t as set in stone as it seems. Since food has a higher chance of being contaminated once the package is opened, the best before date is only an accurate gauge of freshness while you’re strolling the aisle of the grocery store.

milk-pour-over-cereal

3. You Can Still Consume Food Past the Best Before Date

Just because it’s on or past the best before date doesn’t mean you have to throw it out. Milk and yogurt can be safely consumed for up to one week after their best before date. How long are eggs good for? You can test uncooked eggs to see if they are still good by placing them in a glass of water. If the egg floats, it has gone bad; if it sinks, it is good to eat. But make sure to use common sense when consuming any food past their stamped date. Always remember the saying: when in doubt, throw it out.

hard-boiled-eggs

4. There Are Still Some Foods to Watch out For

Fresh fish, shellfish and most meat (even deli meats) have a smaller window of opportunity to consume after their best before date, so it’s best not to risk eating these items after that suggested time.

Food waste costs the economy billions of dollars a year, so why not be more mindful of what you’re tossing in the garbage can? It’ll keep extra money in your pocket while helping out the environment.

Photos courtesy of Getty Images

marinated-chicken-breast on a plate with salad

How to Cook Chicken Breasts Perfectly Every Time

Loaded with lean protein and low in calories and fat, boneless, skinless chicken breast have become synonymous with people looking to start or maintain a healthy diet. Baked in the oven, roasted with veggies, stuffed or slow cooked, there are countless chicken breast recipes to choose from. While the versatile protein has a magic ability to take on any flavour you apply to it, the lack of fat means it is easy to overcook, leaving you with dry, bland chicken. Not to worry, it doesn’t have to be that way!
Whether you are starting a healthier diet or simply looking to eat more chicken, learn how to cook chicken breast perfectly every time. These tips will add life and excitement to your baked chicken breasts and ensure maximum flavour.

sliced stuffed chicken breast on a plateGet the recipe for Rachael Ray’s Spinach and Mushroom Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Start with Quality Chicken Breast

The taste and texture of chicken starts with how it was raised. Chickens that are raised to free range on pastures are usually healthier and more nutritious. Look for organic chicken that has been humanely raised. The meat might be pricier, but the difference in flavour and texture is worth it.

Season Your Chicken Breast

Sprinkle salt on raw chicken before you even think about pre-heating the oven. This will ensure the meat has time to absorb the salt, flavouring the meat inside as well as out. The result is a more flavourful chicken breast than seasoning after it is cooked.

sliced chicken breast with salad and lemonGet the recipe for Marinated Chicken Breast

Marinate Your Chicken Breast

Chicken breasts are like sponges for flavour – so get creative! Place chicken in a freezer bag with the marinade of choice. Store it in the fridge for hours or overnight before cooking for maximum impact. Pesto makes an easy herby flavour-injection, or try yogurt with Indian inspired spices for a creamy texture.

Don’t Roast Chicken Alone

Chicken breasts are a blank slate for flavour, so consider roasting them with complementary vegetables and herbs. Aromatic vegetables, citrus and herbs help inject flavour into the meat and help give you a tasty side dish to serve alongside.

bowl of chicken phoGet the recipe for Anne Burrell’s Chicken Pho

Try Poaching Chicken for Maximum Moisture

If you are making chicken soup or stew, poaching is an easy way to cook chicken. Simmering it in water or broth will ensure your meat stays moist and helps add flavour to pot. Immerse chicken breasts in simmering stock for about 10 minutes, then shred or slice the chicken into your desired dish.

When in Doubt, Don’t Overcook

We’ve all been there, you’ve left your chicken breasts in the oven a few minutes too long and you’re left with dry, unpleasant meat. How do you know when chicken is done? An instant-read thermometer will help you know what temperature you should cook your chicken to, no more guessing! Inserted into the thickest part of the breast should read no higher than165°F when the chicken is done. Easy, peasy!

Let Your Chicken Rest

Once you’ve cooked your chicken to the perfect temperature, remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 10 minutes before you slice. This will allow time for the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and ensure maximum juiciness. Cut too soon and those juices will escape. Have patience.

Looking for chicken breast recipes?  Look no further than these Popular Chicken Breast Recipes You Need to Try.

Your Ultimate Guide to Freezing Food

Using your freezer to preserve make-ahead meals, desserts, snacks and more, can save you money, reduce food waste and turn you into a kitchen saviour on busy weeknights. But you can’t get ahead of the game if you don’t know what can freeze and for how it can be frozen.

Foods high in water, like melons and squash, don’t freeze well, rendering them granular upon defrosting. While others like chicken breasts, cookie dough and chili were seemingly made for the deep freeze. From vegetables and fruit to fully prepared dinners, you’ll want to keep our food freezing guide handy next time you’re in the mood to stockpile.

freezer temperature

Essential Freezing Tips:
– Label foods before freezing with the date and its contents.
– Make at least one meal per week to use up freezer foods.
– Prevent freezer burn by using freezer-friendly bags, not the oftentimes thin plastic the food comes in.
– If freezing soups, stews and other dishes that are high in liquids, remember that when frozen, food expands, so be sure to leave headspace on your container to avoid bursting.
– Keep freezer temperature at -18ºC (0ºF).
– Remove as much air as possible from containers and bags of food to avoid spoilage and freezer burn.
– Defrost your freezer according to manufacturer’s directions at least twice per year.
– When in doubt, throw it out!

Produce:
Vegetables: 6 to 12 months
Fruit: 6 to 12 months
Juices and juice concentrates: 6 to 12 months
Prepared smoothies: 1 month

Produce not to freeze: melons, citrus (juice can be frozen, no whole fruit or segments), apples, pears, lettuce, radishes, alfalfa sprouts, potatoes (unprepared, you can freeze mashed potatoes), eggplant, mashed pumpkin and squash

vegetables-frozen-blocks-beans-peas-broccoli-corn-assorted-spinach

Bread and Grains:
Baked bread: 3 months
Unbaked bread: 1 month
Pizza (homemade): 1 to 2 months
Cooked rice: 3 months
Cooked whole grains: 3 months
Cooked pasta: 3 months

Bread and grains not to freeze: cooked quinoa, uncooked grains, uncooked pasta, cereal, cooked and raw oatmeal

Meat and Poultry:
Beef (steaks): 6 to 12 months
Pork: 4 to 6 months
Lamb: 6 to 12 months
Chicken and Turkey (whole): 12 months
Chicken and Turkey (parts): 6 months
Ground meat and poultry: 3 to 6 months
Sausages: 2 to 3 months
Cooked meat and poultry: 3 months

Meat and Poultry not to freeze: deli meats

Seafood:
Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines): 3 months
Lean fish (tilapia, halibut): 6 months
Cooked fish: 4 to 6 months
Shellfish: 3 months
Lobster: 12 months
Oysters: 2 to 3 months
Clams: 2 to 3 months
Mussels: 2 to 3 months

Seafood not to freeze: canned fish (in can, you can freeze canned fish outside of can in a separate container up to 3 months)

frozen food in freezer

Dairy and Eggs:
Milk: 3 to 6 months
Butter (unsalted, salted): 8 to 12 months
Margarine: 12 months
Eggs (out of shell): 1 month
Hard cheese: 6 months

Dairy and Eggs not to freeze: whole eggs in shell, hard boiled or cooked eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, soft cheese (goat cheese, cream cheese), sour cream, buttermilk, kefir

Beverages:
Juices and juice concentrates: 6 to 12 months
Milk: 3 to 6 months
Prepared smoothies: 1 month

Beverages not to freeze: carbonated drinks, soda, beer, wine, coffee (beans and brewed), tea (leaves and brewed), anything in glass bottles

Prepared Meals and Miscellaneous:
Broth: 3 months
Soups: 3 months
Stews: 3 months
Chili: 3 months
Casseroles (without eggs, meat or fish): 2 months
Casseroles (with eggs, meat or fish): 1 month
Frozen TV dinners: 3 to 4 months

Miscellaneous not to freeze: mayonnaise, prepared deli salads (egg salad, tuna salad, macaroni salad), salad dressings

Desserts and Baked Goods:
Cookies (baked): 6 to 8 months
Cookie dough (unbaked): 3 months
Cake (frosted): 1 month
Cake (unfrosted): 3 months
Cheesecake: 6 to 8 months
Pie (unbaked, fruit): 2 to 4 months
Pie (baked, fruit): 6 to 8 months
Pie (baked, pumpkin, sweet potato, pecan): 1 to 2 months
Muffins and quick breads: 6 to 12 months

Desserts and Baked Goods not to freeze: custards, cream pies, pudding, prepared milkshakes

Want to get the most out of your freezer? Watch this video on how to prep food for freezing.

Homemade Hot Sauce

Turn up the Heat with Homemade Hot Sauce

As the weather gets cooler, it’s time to crank up the heat in the kitchen. From the fiery flames of Caribbean pepper sauce to the thick red sauces found across Asia such as gochujang and sriracha, the world is truly your pepper. Here are the best ways to work with chiles, and a simple home-style Mexican hot sauce recipe to make your own sauce to suit your taste.

Finished-dish-LW

Heating Things Up
When it comes to chile peppers, it pays off to pay attention at the grocery store — similar looking peppers may have very different heat levels. A chile’s heat comes from its capsaicin concentration, and is measured on the Scoville scale, ranging from the mildly sweet bell pepper at zero, to over two million units for the searing ghost pepper (bhut jolokia) or the Carolina Reaper. The list of potential peppers around the world is lengthy, but some common peppers available in Canada include green jalapeños (in their smoked form, they become the ubiquitous chipotle), Thai bird peppers (tiny and extremely spicy), thin-skinned serrano chiles or milder green cubanelles. Habaneros and Scotch bonnets look very similar (they resemble rounded mini bell peppers) and, like many peppers, these cousins can increase in heat as they ripen from green to orange, red and yellow.

Chiles this spicy may be too hot to handle.

Chiles this spicy may be too hot to handle.
Leslie Wu

Safety First
When handling very hot chiles, it’s crucial to remember that the seeds, oils and residue can have adverse effects. Rubber gloves (or the thin medical kind sold in drugstores, which may be easier to navigate for those with smaller hands) are a wise precaution — avoid touching your eyes or face and keep your hands off of your phone until those gloves are removed. Remember that those oils can transfer as well, so use caution around children and pets. Work in a well-ventilated area with a range hood, and consider a mask, fan or open windows when roasting or frying chiles, as they may create vapors that can cause a burning sensation in your eyes and throat.

Filled with fear at the idea of a blazing, spicy sauce? Removing the seeds and the ribs (the white interior of the pepper) will go a long way in cutting the heat quotient, but keep a glass of milk or chocolate nearby when tasting this recipe in case your hot sauce is hotter than expected.

We’re going to start with a basic sauce adapted from a recipe from Chuck Hughes, and add flavours and textures as we go.

Home Style Hot Sauce

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total:  45 minutes
Makes: 5 cups

Ingredients:
12 Scotch bonnet peppers (substitute for habaneros or a mix of Scotch bonnet and cayenne peppers)
2 onions, peeled and halved
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup white wine vinegar
Salt
Olive oil
1 orange (optional)
1 tsp sugar (optional)
2 to 3 tsp avocado oil (optional)

With this many chiles, this sauce will definitely have a spicy kick.

With this many chiles, this sauce will definitely have a spicy kick.
Leslie Wu

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 °F. Remove seeds and ribs from chiles if desired (if leaving them whole, add a few punctures with a fork in each chile to avoid explosions in your oven). Lay chiles, onions and garlic on baking tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until vegetables have a nice char. Remove stems from the chiles.

Roast chiles until they get a nice char on them to ensure the best flavour.

Roast chiles until they get a nice char on them to ensure the best flavour.
Leslie Wu

2. Transfer the vegetables into receptacle of food processor, and reduce into a coarse purée with cilantro through intermittent pulses. Can substitute cilantro for another leafy green herb such as parsley or basil for a delicious addition. Add vinegar and season with salt to taste.

As a home style hot sauce, be sure to leave your puree chunky, not smooth.

As a home style hot sauce, be sure to leave your puree chunky, not smooth.
Leslie Wu

3. For those who like the sweeter things in life, a fruity kick can be added to this sauce by stirring in zest and juice of one medium-sized navel orange (or more traditionally, a couple of limes) and 1 tsp sugar to counter the heat. Pouring a dollop (2 to 3 tsp) of avocado oil adds a rich texture and glisten to finished sauce.

4. Pour into sterilized containers for your fridge to add some heat to your everyday life.

This hot sauce will make enough to share with friends and family.

This hot sauce will make enough to share with friends and family.
Leslie Wu

Enjoy the fruits of your labour with chicharrones (pork cracklings), served with homemade tortilla chips, spooned into salsa, enchiladas or queso for some extra heat, used in a marinade for chicken, or even to add a spicy kick as a dip for sliced pineapple.

Looking for more heat? Here’s 10 Canadian Hot Sauces You Need to Try.

Tonka Beans: What They Are and How to Use Them

You may have seen these wrinkly little beans at your local spice shop, or tasted their distinctive warm flavour at a restaurant. If you’ve ever wondered which spice makes this distinctive aroma, something like a mix of cinnamon, vanilla, almond and cloves, you’re not alone.

tonka-bean2

A wonderful alternative to ingredients like vanilla, cinnamon, almond extract or nutmeg, tonka beans are popping up on restaurant menus and slowly working their way into home cooks’ pantries. In Winnipeg, for example, you can sip it in an infused coffee cocktail at Clementine, or head over to Calgary for a scoop of tonka bean and cherry ice cream at Made By Marcus.

My first encounter with the tonka bean was at Silk Road Spice Merchant, a local spice shop in Calgary. A friend grabbed a small jar filled with stout, wrinkled black beans and said, “smell this.” The distinct aroma was unforgettable, but difficult to put into words. Part almond, part vanilla, a little cinnamon and maybe a hint of something fruity, like cherry. Whatever it was, it was intoxicating.

A little digging will tell you these beans are actually the seeds of flowers on gigantic trees (cumaru) that grow in Central and South America. Prior to its debut in the food world, the bean was used in tobacco and perfume production (and still are in some countries) because of its one-of-a-kind aroma. They’re also illegal in the United States, so consider yourself lucky to be an eager home cook in Canada!

The possibilities are endless with tonka beans, but here are few ideas to get you started.

tonka-bean1

Simple Syrup: Use equal parts water and sugar, heat in a pot with one tonka bean until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat, and let steep and strain into a bottle. Use in cocktails or in morning coffee.

Whipped Cream: Prior to whipping cream, place one tonka bean in a container with cream and let sit in fridge for at least six hours to infuse flavour.

Pumpkin or Apple Pie: The beans can also be grated the same way you would grate fresh nutmeg. Skip the pumpkin spice blend for once (blasphemy, I know) and use about a teaspoon or two of tonka bean for a new, delicious flavour.

Squash Soup: People seem to shy away from using ingredients typically associated with dessert (i.e. cinnamon, cloves, etc.) in savoury applications. Much like pumpkin pie filling loves its aromatic spices, a roast squash soup loves the same. Either drop a bean straight into the pot for 30 minutes or so to infuse its flavour, or ladle soup into a bowl and grate the bean on top using a microplane.

Caramel Sauce: Making homemade caramel sauce is really easy, so once you’ve made a batch and it has cooled down a bit, add a bean and let the magic happen.

tonka-bean-caramel-sauce

Tonka Bean Caramel Sauce

Cook Time: 15 minutes
Makes: 2 cups

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tonka bean

Directions:
1. Working in batches, sprinkle a thin layer of sugar in a large pot and place it over medium-high heat.
2. Once the layer of sugar turns to transparent beads, sprinkle a little more sugar on top. After repeating this several times, you’ll see that the sugar becoming more and more fluid.
3. Once you’ve melted enough sugar to cover the bottom of the pot, slowly add the rest of the sugar to the pan and as it heats, it will start to become darker in colour. You’ll be looking for a dark brown. (Note: this will happen progressively faster, so work quickly and do not walk away.)
4. Next, pour the heavy cream into the pan while stirring. The mixture will bubble up slightly. Once it goes back down, remove from heat and add in the butter. Stir until incorporated and add tonka bean.
5. Once cool, remove tonka bean and store in desired container or jar to use are desired.

5 Tips for Getting Rid of Cooking Smells

Bacon, fish, onions and fries — all delicious and intoxicating while cooking, but the second the final bite has been swallowed, can quickly turn into stomach-churning odours that need to be nixed, stat. Here are five tips that will help eliminate those pungent cooking smells and ensure your kitchen stays fresh.

888_cooking-smells-in-kitchen

1. Turn it Up
Prevention is the best medicine and this holds true when it comes to fighting the battle of kitchen smells. The simple flip of your stove’s overhead fan will get the majority of smells out before they have time to get cozy. This is one small yet mighty step to ensure last night’s fish and chips aren’t lingering in the air while you sip your morning coffee.

2. Open the Windows
Don’t underestimate the power of fresh air to help eliminate gnarly cooking odours. If you’ve got a small fan, even better — switch it on and set it near the window to help push out the bad and filter in the fresh.

3. Light a Candle
A candle seems like the obvious quick fix, but when attempting to freshen up the kitchen post bacon-frying, it’s important to take a second look at the label. Competing smells can be tricky, so opt for a fresh scent like citrus or even linen. Covering up evidence of a Sunday morning brunch with strong, musky scents or other food smells can be overbearing and defeat the purpose altogether.

4. Simmer Some Spices
The power of cinnamon sticks, cloves and even star anise to get some serious stink out of your kitchen is quite powerful. To get your own inexpensive, DIY smell fixer, simmer a small pot of water or even apple cider on the stove and plop in a mix of the above spices. This concoction is especially intoxicating at this time of year, when warm, spicy scents wrap you up like a blanket when you come in from the crisp air.

5. Clean Up your Act
Cleaning up the dinner dishes right away is a chore many of us would rather save for later. But those grimy, oily pots and pans is a bad smell breeding ground. Cleaning up right away, or even filling pots and pans with hot, soapy water, will stop the smells from continuing to linger and make the eventual dinner clean up that much easier.

5 Easy Dishes You Make in a Toaster Oven

The toaster oven is a marvelous appliance when you’re cooking for one or two people, and don’t want to turn on the oven just to bake a single chicken breast.

Here are five easy ways to cook delicious meals and snacks with this underrated kitchen appliance.

Breakfast: Warm Turkey and Gooey Mozzarella English Muffins

This simple yet satisfying breakfast sandwich beats anything you’ll get at a coffee shop en route to work. Protein from the turkey and healthy fats from the avocado will keep your hunger in check, while the spicy mayo, which can be made in advance, will wake up your taste buds. This recipe makes two English muffins, enough for you and your roommate (or you and your hangover).

BreakfastSandwich

Ingredients:
2 whole wheat English muffins
2 slices mozzarella
1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
4 slices turkey breast
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
Sriracha, to taste

Directions:
1. Slice the English muffins in half and top each of the bottom halves with a slice of mozzarella and two turkey slices.
2. Toast all four halves in the toaster oven until the cheese starts to melt.
3. In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise with Sriracha until it’s to your liking.
4. Top the toasted muffins with avocado slices and a smear of the spicy mayo.

Mid-Morning Snack: Roasted Spiced Almonds

Forget buying the sugar-laden, honey-roasted nuts and opt for toasted almonds for a healthier snack that you can take to the office. Toasting the almonds intensifies the nuttiness and gives them a better crunch.

Almonds

Ingredients:
1 heaping cup raw almonds
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
2 big pinches cayenne

Directions:
1. Set the toaster oven to the bake setting at 400°F.
2. In a pan lined with aluminum foil, toss the almonds with the olive oil ensuring that every nut gets evenly coated.
3. Sprinkle salt and cayenne on the almonds and toss again. Spread the almonds out in single layer and bake for 12-14 minutes until the almonds turn a dark brown, but not black.
4. Let cool for five to 10 minutes before serving. Let the almonds cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Lunch: Baked Chicken Fingers with Cucumber-Mango Slaw

Nothing will replace the greasy goodness that is a bucket of fried chicken (NOTHING!), but this baked version uses significantly less oil and still has that satisfying crunch.

ChickenTenders

Ingredients:
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut into thick strips
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 panko crumbs
1/4 cucumber, julliened
1/2 mango, julliened*
Chili flakes, to taste
Salt, to taste

Directions:

1. Set the toaster oven to the bake setting at 425°F.
2. In a small bowl, lightly coat the chicken strips in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
3. In another bowl, combine the panko crumbs, parmesan, and Italian seasoning. Dredge the chicken in the crumb mixture, pressing the crumbs into the meat to ensure they’re heavily coated.
4. In a baking pan covered with aluminum foil, line the chicken strips in a single layer. Bake for 8 minutes. Flip, then bake for another 7 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely. Let the chicken rest for five minutes.
5. In the meantime, toss the cucumber and mango together. Sprinkle with chili flakes on top. Serve with chicken strips, which go well with dips like Dijon or ketchup.

*Wash the mango and slice the skin off with a paring knife. Slice along the length of the mango, keeping the knife as close to the pith in the middle as possible. Repeat with the other side. You’re now left with two mango halves or “cheeks” and the inedible seed in the middle.

Afternoon Snack: Vegan, Dairy and Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Oat Cookies

These soft and chewy cookies are basically made from a sweet potato that’s been baked, pureed and mashed with rolled oats. They’re essentially teething cookies (my baby niece approves), but I’ve also been passing them off as vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free (as long as the oats came from a gluten-free factory) treats for my friends who suddenly became intolerant to everything. Hey, as long as they taste good, right?

SweetPotatoCookies

Ingredients (makes about a dozen cookies):
1 medium sweet potato
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions:
1. Set the toaster oven to the bake setting at 400°F.
2. Poke holes in the sweet potato with a fork. Place on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes.
3. Set the toaster oven to 350°F.
4. Remove skin and place in a mixing bowl. Using a hand blender (or a spoon or potato masher) mash the potato to get a creamy consistency. Add in the oats, maple syrup, vanilla, and spices. Mix until well combined.
5. Make Tbsp sized dough balls and place them on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Arrange them so that none of them are touching the edges of the tray or each other. Slightly flatten the cookies with your palm.
6. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before transferring to cool completely on a wire rack.

Dinner: Lemon-Pepper Cod with Roasted Vegetable and Kale Salad

Roast whatever vegetables are in season when they’re at their most flavourful (not to mention cheapest) — potatoes, parsnips, beets, sweet peppers — mix it up to keep things fresh and exciting.

CodSalad

Ingredients:
1 cod filet
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup summer squash, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup carrot, cut into small cubes
1/3 cup white onion, diced
2 cups kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Zest of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat the toaster oven to 400°F.
2. In a pan lined with aluminum foil, toss the vegetables with olive oil until everything is evenly coated (about 2 Tbsp). Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Remove from oven and pour the vegetables into a bowl to cool.
3. Sprinkle the cod with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Season both sides with salt and pepper. Place on roasting pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the fish is flaky and no longer translucent. Let the fish rest for 5 minutes before serving.
4. In the meantime in a serving bowl, toss the kale with the warm, roasted vegetables and 1 Tbsp of lemon juice. Place the cod on top, sprinkle with lemon zest and serve.

How to Properly Clean Out Your Fridge

Does your fridge smell a little suspect? Do you have multiple near-empty mustard jars, half-full relishes, and countless containers of salsa (mild, medium and extra spicy) vying for space with your daily essentials? Is your freezer playing host to baggies filled with meat so freezer-burned you can no longer identify it? If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time to clean out your fridge to make room for the good stuff.

cleaning-out-your-fridge

Getting Started

It’s a daunting task, but it must be done. Turn on some lively tunes and kick everyone out of the kitchen.. Have bags or bins for garbage, compost and recycling at the ready. Wear rubber gloves, and possibly a surgical mask.

Turn the temperature control down a few degrees since you’ll have the doors open a lot, and take everything out of the fridge. Everything. We mean it. If your fridge has a drip pan, remove it to clean.

Once all the food is out, remove shelves and racks, and wash them in hot soapy water. Wash all stationary pieces with a soapy cloth or sponge. Don’t use any strong cleaners — food-grade dish soap only. You don’t want to risk poisoning yourself or your family in the name of a clean fridge!

Replace that ancient box of baking soda (you should be changing it every three months) and while you’re at it, use a few tablespoons of the new baking soda and some water to create a paste that can be rubbed all over the inside of your fridge, then rinsed away with a damp cloth for extra odour control and rotten smell eradication.

What to Toss

In the fridge: Toss anything that’s passed its expiration date, but also keep in mind how long something has been open.

Follow these guidelines for food safety:

Ketchup: 6 months
BBQ Sauce: 4 months
Maple Syrup: 12 months
Salsa: 3 days (fresh), 1 month (commercially produced or
jarred)
Mustard: 12 months
Pickles: 1 to 2 weeks (homemade or barrel), 2 months
(commercially produced)
Jam and Jelly: 6 months
Mayonnaise: 2 months

If you have two types of mayonnaise, three types of ketchup and four barbecue sauces, don’t combine one type of condiment into a single bottle. Instead, pick the freshest one and throw away the rest.

When it comes to meats and cheeses, be ruthless. Anything that looks or smells bad has got to go. Also, start storing opened packages in airtight Tupperware containers, rather than closing them half-heatedly with clips and ties. Your food will last longer and your entire fridge will smell better. Plus, containers that can be stacked and labeled are easy to organize.

In the freezer: Follow the directions specific to your freezer for defrosting, if necessary. (Most modern freezers don’t need to be defrosted but will benefit from a good cleaning.)

Then ascribe to these rules when deciding what to keep and what to throw away:

Bacon or Sausage: 1 to 2 months
Ham, Hot Dogs or Cold Cuts: 2 to 3 months
Raw Roasts, Steaks or Chops: 4 to 12 months
Raw Ground Meat: 3 to 4 months
Cooked Meat: 2 to 3 months
Raw, Whole Poultry: 1 to 2 months
Raw Poultry Parts: 9 months
Cooked Poultry: 4 months
Raw, Wild Game: 8 to 12 months