I love Minestrone soup but ordering it in a restaurant is dicey. Often the broth is too weak or tomato-y for my taste and if pasta is added, it’s soggy and bloated beyond recognition. I prefer a robust broth made from tomatoes and roasted chicken stock. I’ve infused mine with Kielbasa sausage and a generous [...]Read More
You can spend your entire life without these little dumplings and not even know what you’re missing. I thought gnocchi were heavy, starchy dumplings that I could live without. A trip to Italy changed all that and now gnocchi is part of my standard repertoire. If you enjoy working with dough, as I do, making [...]Read More
Strawberries are so sweet and perfect on their own, I hate to mess with them. Unless there’s an ice cream maker handy, in which case I don’t hesitate to pulverize them beyond recognition for a greater cause: strawberry ice cream. If you’ve never made homemade ice cream, you’re missing out on one of summer’s greatest [...]Read More
You know your soup is good when you’re enjoying it cold from the refrigerator in the Tupperware container you stored it in. It’s even better served warm. Carrot soup is pretty tame, some might say boring, until it’s cheered up with freshly grated spicy ginger, freshly squeezed orange juice and acidic tomatoes. Now, that’s a [...]Read More
For special occasions, I’ll serve these refreshing sorbets in their lemony containers. More often though, I’ll make a jugful of sorbet and serve it in clunky glasses with big straws. Depending on the crowd, I’ll add a splash of vodka. Sorbets are made in an ice cream maker but if you don’t have one, you [...]Read More
Soufflé: Noun – A delicate baked dessert, made of stiffly beaten egg whites, that rise with the heat and deflate faster than it takes to sprint from the oven to the table. Soufflés wait for no one but chocolate soufflés are more forgiving; more robust than their pale counterparts. So sturdy, in fact, they can [...]Read More
My friend, chef Akemi Akutsu, taught Japanese cooking classes at French Mint. While rolling sushi and pleating gyoza dumplings, she shared stories of her life in Japan. Her family grew Shiitake mushrooms so school breaks were spent planting hundreds of Shiitake stems. She recalled neighbourhood parties where freshly picked Shiitakes were pan-fried over an open [...]Read More
A message to the reluctant cook,
Sometimes you’ll scorch the rice, burn the sugar or overwork the dough. You might under-cook, over-salt or overcrowd the pan.
I’ve made all these mistakes and plenty more.
But with every blunder, a new lesson unfolds. Knowing what NOT to do is as important as knowing what to do. If your cooking history is, um, colourful, consider yourself ahead of the curve.
With practice, you’ll learn to trust your senses:
Touch your food. You’ll feel when the dough is ready or when the meat is perfectly cooked.
Smell your food. Your nose knows if the fish is fresh or funky — or when the garlic’s about to burn.
Listen to the sizzle and the sputter. It’s telling you if your pan’s the right (or wrong) temperature.
Watch your food. It’s always perfect — just before it burns.
Taste as you cook. You’ll know if the soup needs a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon.
Most importantly, relax and enjoy the pleasures of the kitchen. And have a glass of wine while you’re at it.
Just don’t toss in the apron!