My French Canadian aunt taught me to make tourtière. Whenever I”d visit her in Montreal, no matter the season, my Aunt Aline would pull together a fantastic spread that included a tourtière or two. She’s one of those gracious French women who dresses beautifully, smiles easily and keeps a perfectly neat home that always smells delicious. [...]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
I first cured salmon at culinary school where I learned to scale, gut and fillet whole fish. If you’ve ever peeled fish scales from your cheeks or plucked them from your hair, you’ll know that scaling fish is a messy job. Fortunately, fresh salmon is readily available scaled and filleted, making the curing process simple [...]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
In culinary school our chef instructor insisted on consommé so clear you could read the date on a dime at the bottom of a bowl. He never tossed pocket change into our soup but he did teach us how to transform cloudy stock into a consommé so light and translucent it sparkled — with flavour [...]Read More
Vol-au-vents are light, delicate, pastries that typically hold creamy, savoury ingredients. You’ve probably seen them in the freezer section of your local grocer but if you want an extraordinary appetizer, you’ll need to handcraft your own puff pastry. If you don’t believe me, here’s what Julie Child says about vol-au-vents in Mastering the Art of [...]Read More
Few foods transcend all seasons — cozy sweater food is not the same as breezy sundress fare — but omelettes stride both comforting and light in a single reassuring bite. More technique than recipe, a classic French omelette is very different from your sturdy, stuffed with “the works” omelette. I enjoy both but when I’m [...]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!