Tag Archives: kitchen-basics

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.

Related: Mouth-Watering Recipes That Use 10 or More Cloves of Garlic


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.


Get the recipe for 8-Minute Garlic and Parmesan Pan-Fried Shrimp

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


Learn how to make 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.

For more at-home cooking experiments, check out these 8 Realistic Ways to Stick to Healthy Habits and the 10 Best Foods (and 5 Worst) for Your Mental Health and Wellness.

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.

Don’t Toss ‘Em! 5 Seriously Delicious Ways to Use Broccoli Stems

Food waste is a big issue here in Canada, yet there are plenty of easy, commonly overlooked things you can do at home to dramatically reduce your own waste footprint. For instance: finding creative (and tasty!) ways to eat the often discarded parts of fruits and veggies. Most people are quick to toss away leaves, peels, stems and stalks, when really, these are delicacies that can lend flavour, texture and vibrancy to so many dishes (proof: these delicious uses for leftover food scraps).

One of our favourite neglected ingredients is broccoli stems. Once peeled, they’re sweet and crunchy, and when cooked, they’re incredibly tender. Broccoli stems are also quite versatile: you can shred them into rice, spiralize them into noodles, blitz them into hummus or pesto, add them to broths, blend them into soups and even roast them into french fries! Read on to learn how it’s done.

1. Broccoli “Rice”

Broccoli rice can be used as a wonderful substitute for white rice, brown rice or cauliflower rice. Use it to make fried rice, add it to mac and cheese, bake it into a savoury casserole with other veggies, or simply add it to a salad.

Ingredients:
4 broccoli stems

Directions:
1. Using a paring knife or peeler, peel the tough skin of the stem.
2. Run the stems along a grater, or if using a food processor, install the grating blade and run the stems through the feeder tube.
3. Squeeze out any excess moisture.

2. Broccoli Slaw

You may have seen broccoli slaw in ready-to-go bags at the grocery store, but it’s so easy and quick to make at home. Broccoli stems hold up in a slaw, they’re hearty and retain dressing really well so they don’t get soggy. Like any slaw, you can add whichever veggies you love and make different style dressings to go along with it, like soy sesame, yogurt dill or citrus and honey.

Ingredients:

Slaw
2 broccoli stems, julienned
2 carrots, julienned
1 cup sliced purple cabbage
½ cup roughly chopped mixed herbs (basil, mint, cilantro, parsley)

Dressing
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp whole-grain mustard
Pinch of sea salt and pepper

Directions:
1. Using a paring knife or peeler, peel the outer tough skin of the broccoli stem and then thinly julienne it. If using a food processor, install the grating blade and run stems through.
2. Julienne the carrots, thinly slice the purple cabbage and roughly chop the herbs. You can also grate the carrots with the grating blade on the food processor.
3. Toss everything together in a bowl.
4. Whisk the dressing in a separate dish, then pour over the slaw. The slaw can be kept in the fridge for up to 4 days.

3. Broccoli Noodles

If you’re looking for low-carb options, broccoli noodles can replace traditional pasta (read: 10 satisfying weeknight recipes where veggies replace carbs). The best broccoli noodles are made using a spiralizer, but if this isn’t a kitchen gadget you own, opt for a veggie peeler instead!

Ingredients:
2 broccoli stems

Directions:
1. Using a paring knife or peeler, peel the outer tough skin of the broccoli stem.
2. If using a spiralizer, run it through to create noodles, or use your peeler, and continue to peel until you have flat, long tagliatelle-style noodles.

4. Broccoli Hummus

When broccoli stems are lightly steamed, it takes the bitter edge off. The stems are also more mild in flavour than the florets, so the broccoli taste in this hummus recipe doesn’t overpower. Combining with other classic ingredients makes for a unique twist on an already fantastic snack staple. Smear it onto sandwiches, use it to dip fresh veggies and crackers, or have it act as dressing for pasta salad.

Ingredients:
3 broccoli stems
¼ cup tahini
½ lemon, juiced
1 garlic clove
¼ cup fresh parsley (optional)
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
2-3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:
1. Using a paring knife or peeler, peel the outer tough skin of the broccoli stem. Lightly steam until tender.
2. In a food processor, add all ingredients, except olive oil. Begin to blitz, then add 1 Tbsp of oil at a time through the feeder tube until creamy and perfectly blended. If the mixture is too thick, you can add a few spoonfuls of water as needed.

4. Broccoli Fries

This is one of our favourite ways to devour broccoli stems. They have a firm texture, which makes them perfect for roasting into a french fry. When roasted, the stems become slightly sweet, and soften on the outside, while the middle still retains its satisfying crunch. You can eat these as is or dip them into hummus, pesto or even ketchup.

Ingredients:
4 broccoli stems
1 to 2 Tbsp avocado oil
¼ tsp sea salt
Pinch of pepper
¼ tsp granulated garlic

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Using a paring knife or peeler, peel the outer tough skin of the broccoli stem, then slice into french fry shapes.
3. Place the “fries” on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic. Ensure the pieces are spread out so they have a chance to crisp.
4. Roast for 25-30 minutes until lightly browned.

Don’t stop there. Here are 15 veggies to regrow in your kitchen, genius tips to make food last longer and the 10 most wasteful cooking habits to kick.

How These Nutritionists Organize Their Fridge Will Change The Way You Grocery Shop

When you have an organized fridge, you’re immediately set up for success – not just to eat healthily, but to save money, cook more, eat consciously and order less takeout. As nutritionists and private chefs, we have seen many fridges in our day; the good, the bad and the ugly. We’ve seen it all: mouldy containers, expired condiments, weeknight leftovers, wilting produce that’s turning all shades of brown, and shelves covered in sticky goo from a spill that was never cleaned up. Are you nodding your head? Can you relate? This was us, we admit that we were those people with messy (and sometimes gross!) fridges, and we’ve managed to come out the other side to share our tips on how to live your best organized fridge life.

1. Do a Weekly Fridge Clean Out
Just as you take your garbage out once a week, do the same with your refrigerator. Make every Thursday fridge clean-out day. This is probably the most important tip we can offer, and although it’s a simple one, it’s not necessarily easy because it takes effort (about 10 minutes worth). We know when items accumulate in the fridge, they’re usually shoved to the back, then forgotten to expire and rot. This is how fridges become gross and crowded, which will deter you from opening it and buying new produce items. Then you’ll end up ordering take out, and you know those leftovers will sit in your fridge… for too long. Do you see the cycle? Just clean your fridge!

Read More: 10 Genius Ways to Make Your Food Last Longer 

2. Store Food Properly to Make it Last
One of the most common problems we hear from our clients is, “our produce always goes bad before we get a chance to use it.” This is not only a waste of money, but also a waste of food and effort from everyone involved in the process (think: farmers, food brokers, shippers, grocery stores, etc). Instead, store food properly. Keep veggies and heartier fruits like apples in the crisper drawers. Herbs and asparagus need to be kept in glasses of water like a bouquet of flowers. Leafy greens and broccoli should be stored in bags to prevent them from wilting. Delicate fruit like berries should be placed on the shelf. Don’t wash produce before putting it in the fridge, this will spoil it faster.

3. Invest in a Whiteboard (it costs $1.50)
Keep a whiteboard on the outside of your fridge that lists what you’ll be eating for the week and which groceries you need to buy. You will be an organizational champion if you do this. You clearly outline your meals so you know what you need to prep and when. You also know which ingredients you need to stock up on. Simply take a picture of the board with your phone and use it as your grocery list. We also organize the board in columns of produce, pantry and other. This will make shopping efficient because your list will already be organized by grocery store aisles/sections.

Read More: 10 Clever Ways to Double Your Fridge Space

4. Become a Prep Master
Take a few hours to prep and chop your produce. This step is annoying, we know, but so worth it. We find it best to do at night. Throw on a great Food Network show to keep you occupied as you chop and slice away. Cooking can sometimes to be a challenging feat, especially when you’re tired and busy, but think about how much easier it is when produce is already prepped. You can throw together a quick stir-fry or roasted veggie dish when cauliflower is already in florets, cabbage is already sliced and potatoes are already cubed.

5. Buy Premade Food
While we bet you enjoy cooking, we also know you’re busy with a life and things to do, so crafting an elaborate meal isn’t always an option. We recommend buying a few items that are premade to keep in your fridge like a cooked chicken, a box of mixed greens that’s ready-to-eat or store-bought soups, stews and chilis. This way you won’t reach for foods that you don’t actually want, and you can put meals together in minutes. We recently bought a cooked chicken, spiralized butternut squash noodles and Thai soup, then threw all these items together in a pot and had a warming, delicious meal with minimal effort.

Read More: Here’s How a Nutritionist Meal Preps Every Sunday

6. Place Ready-to-Eat Food at Eye Level
When you’re desperate for a snack or even meal, the easiest thing to do is visit the pantry and grab something carb-o-licious. But, you don’t really want to do that, do you? Have you ever binged on your kids’ goldfish crackers before? No, me neither, never. Put everything that’s already prepared (leftovers, cut up carrots, hummus, soups, grapes, etc) on the middle shelf, or the shelves that are directly at eye level. Grocery stores do this to entice you to buy certain brands, so do the same with your fridge. Keep them in transparent containers so you can see what’s inside.

7. Be a Minimalist
Do you really need a fridge that’s bursting at the seams? We’ve found that crowded fridges are just filled with accumulated mess. We don’t mean your fridge shouldn’t be stocked, but when you can barely even see what’s inside, that means it’s too full, and usually not with good, edible food. Also, the air cannot circulate around properly. Be a minimalist when it comes to stocking your fridge. Think about how much you really eat, what you really need, and when you will actually use the ingredients you’re buying. To be honest, we often have a close-to-empty fridge with only essentials in it to ensure we eat what we buy and don’t let excess food go to waste.

Read More: How Long Do Leftovers Last? We Break it Down

8. Store Raw Meat, Poultry and Seafood on the Bottom Shelf
This is a food safety measure that’s required by restaurants, and you should adopt it for your fridge at home. Store these items on the bottom shelf and put them in a container or on a tray. This ensures that if there is some spillage, it will not spoil any other items in the fridge. Imagine you kept your raw chicken on the top shelf and the juices accidentally drip down onto your berries, yogurt or lettuce. This cross contamination can make you really sick, so, keep these items low down. We also recommend pushing them to the back of the bottom shelf where the fridge tends to be the coldest.

9. Group Ingredients Based on Similarity
For instance, all of our fermented foods like sauerkraut, pickles, yogurt and miso are on the same shelf beside each other. All of our varieties of mustards and BBQ sauces are grouped together on the doors. So are our Asian style condiments like tamari, Thai curries, sesame oil and fish sauce and our nut/seed butters like peanut butter, almond butter and sunflower butter. This makes cooking more efficient so you don’t need to search the fridge to figure out where all the items are as you’re cooking. It also easily alerts you to when one of those items is running low or empty.

Read More: 4 Things You Didn’t Know About Expiry Dates

10. Store Flours, Nuts & Seeds in the Fridge
Many people will store these items in cupboards or in the pantry, but they’re actually better off in the fridge. Flours, nuts and seeds all have oils that can become sensitive to heat and spoil quickly, so keep these items in bags or containers in the fridge. A crisper drawer or any of the shelves will do the trick. Beware: these items can pick up smells from other ingredients in the fridge, so ensure they’re stored away tightly in their bags/containers.

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.

Guide to Building a Chef-Worthy Pantry of Dried Herbs and Spices

The tools of the trade for this season’s Top Chef Canada chefs go beyond sharp knives and moxie. The Top Chef Canada kitchen pantry is well stocked, beautifully organized and slightly envy-inducing. It’s brimming with spices, herbs and spice mixes with a spectrum of tastes, tangs and temperatures from extra-mild to ferociously hot, giving the chefs just what they need to create a winning dish.

These herbs and spices are mixed, matched and layered for bold, attention-grabbing flavour that makes their dishes stand out from the crowd. And taking these tastes from a professional kitchen to home base is easier than you’d think. All you need is a seasoning collection built for contemporary palates.

How to Build a Contemporary Spice Pantry

Map out your spice cupboard like you’re planning a trip. Is there a destination you’re aching to go to? A dish you’d love to try there? From Indian to Moroccan to French and beyond, herbs and spices are a passport to an untapped world of tastes awaiting exploration.


Spices at a Moroccan Market

To begin, bring one new spice or herb per week into your kitchen and before you know it, you’ll have a library of tastes waiting for you, inspiring you and helping you along, every time you cook.

How to Store Spices and Herbs

Treat your herbs and spices like gold and they’ll return the favour, staying fresh longer. Store spices in the jar they came in or transfer to your own airtight jar, well-sealed and away from direct light or high temperatures, which can cause oxidation, leading to flat, not fresh, spices and herbs. A kitchen cupboard is the perfect place.

How to Tell if Spices and Herbs are Still Good to Use

Aroma: Strong, prominent and striking.
Colour: Vibrant, rich and natural.
Taste: Discernable and fresh tasting, not flat, unnoticeable or papery.

The Shelf Life of Spices and Herbs

Dried herbs: 1 to 2 years
Ground spices: 2 to 3 years
Spice mixes and seasonings: 1 to 2 years
Whole dried spices: 3 to 4 years

Bold Spices and Herbs to Explore

We’re pulling inspiration from the Top Chef Canada kitchen to help you build the ultimate culinary spice pantry. Here are some gourmet options to consider adding to your new spice pantry along with recipes to try to bring the flavour home.

Ancho Chili Pepper: With a mild heat and sweet, fruity flavour, ancho chili pepper is the dried version of a poblano pepper. Try it in this epic recipe for a Mexican Puebla Hot Pot Broth with Avocado Crema from McCormick’s Helloflavour.ca.


Mexican Puebla Hot Pot Broth With Avocado Crema

Saffron: Earthy, sweet, ever so slightly bitter and remarkable, saffron is used in Scandinavian, Middle Eastern, Spanish, Indian and Italian cuisines, adding not only a distinctive flavour but glowing yellow colour, too. Try saffron in this Whole-Roasted Cauliflower recipe.


Whole-Roasted Cauliflower With Hazlenut, Orange and Saffron

Garam Masala: With a warmth akin to holiday baking spices but with a savoury, spicy edge, this Indian spice blend is usually a mix of cardamom, cinnamon, chili, curry leaves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns. Cull inspiration from India with this recipe for garam masala Sweet Potato Cakes.


Sweet Potato Cakes

Harissa: This North African spice blend comes dried or in paste form, often containing hot peppers, garlic, coriander, rose and caraway. It can be used in Moroccan tagines and stews, in spreads, dips or as a rub for meat. Give it a try at dinner tonight with this recipe for Chicken and Chickpea Tagine with Apricots and Harissa Sauce.


Chicken and Chickpea Tagine With Apricots and Harissa Sauce

Za’atar: Fragrant, slightly sour, nutty and herbaceous, this spice mix is common in Middle Eastern cuisine. A mix of thyme, sumac and toasted sesame seeds, it brings depth to grilled flatbreads, fish, meat, hummus and more. It plays off of creamy chickpeas like a champ in this recipe for a Middle Eastern take of beans on toast.


Smoky Chickpeas on Grilled Toast With Poached Eggs and Za’atar

Lavender: Floral, soothing and delicate, culinary lavender adds a touch of Southern France to savoury dishes, and is a traditional component in herbes de Provence, a French spice mix containing thyme, oregano, marjoram, savory and rosemary. Lavender also shines in baked goods, sweets and cocktails. Bring a little bit of Southern French flair to your tea time with this recipe for Coconut Lavender Macaroons.    

Essential Herbs and Spices Every Kitchen Needs

The building blocks of everyday meals, these spices and herbs have your back, soothe your soul and bolster your mood with their familiar flavour. See our collection of 16 dried herbs and spices every home cook should have in their pantry. 

Sponsored by McCormick. For more great recipes using herbs and spices go to helloflavour.ca.

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.

How to Fix Overcooked Meat

How to Rescue Overcooked Meat

We’ve all been there; the grey pork chop, the expensive steak that’s cooked all the way through and chicken breast that emits a puff of dry air when pierced with a knife.

Whether the result of distraction or fear of undercooking, we’ve all taken a beautiful cut of meat and cooked it to bone-dry oblivion. Unfortunately there’s no undo button, but there are two great strategies to coax deliciousness back into your sad, overdone meat.

How to Fix Overcooked Meat

1. Change your tactics. Switch from a dry cooking method like grilling, roasting or pan-frying, to a moist one like braising or stewing.
Gently simmered at a low temperature for a long period of time, the meat’s collagen will dissolve into gelatin and the muscle fibres will separate, producing the fall-apart tenderness relished in braises and roasts. Watch closely and stop cooking immediately when the meat is easily pulled apart with a fork. Remember: low and slow — don’t let it rise above a simmer or you will dry it out further.

2. Shred it and sauce it. The second option, which is quicker but with less succulent results, is to slice or shred the meat as thinly as possible and warm it in a liquid. The meat itself will still be dry but small pieces have lots of surface area to absorb moisture. Try a barbecue sauce and repurpose the protein into tacos (here’s a great sauce recipe for that) or bathe it in marinara sauce and make a quick ragu for polenta or spaghetti.

There’s no way to rewind a steak from well-done back to rare, but you can definitely re-purpose it into a delicious new dinner.

Jennifer Pallian is a Vancouver-based food writer and photographer, who shares vibrant recipes on her blog Foodess.