When halibut is in season, I can’t get enough. Roasted, pan seared or poached — it’s all good. One of my favourite ways to serve halibut is poached in a classic fish broth enriched with a bit of butter. If you’ve got compound butter on hand, even better. The simplicity of the dish requires the [...]Read More
If you enjoy seafood, you’ll love what homemade fish stock does to chowders, sauces and stews. Fish stock can be made with any type of white fish, but halibut is in season and it creates the most delicate, flavourful broth imaginable. Vegetables, herbs, wine, water and halibut bones create a milky stock that outshines anything [...]Read More
Spot prawn season is so brief, it hardly seems fair. If you’re lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, you owe it to yourself to indulge as often as possible during the prawns’ fleeting season, from May to June. Spot prawns are so sweet and succulent they need little fussing. Some purists eat them [...]Read More
Every chef has a stash of flavour enhancers and compound butter is one of the finest. Combine room-temperature butter with herbs, spices and a squeeze of lemon juice or vinegar for a butter that enriches everything it touches. The butter can be used right away or rolled in plastic-wrap and stored in the refrigerator — [...]Read More
There’s something special about a pastry you can pick up with your hands. Turnovers are daintier than pie and easier to prepare. Because the filling is precooked, the pastry stays crisp, not soggy. Best of all, turnovers can be made in advance and stored, unbaked, in the fridge until you’re ready to bake them. I’ve [...]Read More
I learned to make meringue at culinary school and soon forgot all about them – until a home exchange in Bordeaux and Paris a summer ago. Everywhere I looked, meringue were piled high in bakery windows as if they were something special. My twin daughters begged me to buy them. “Girls, they’re only [...]Read More
If you show up at my door unexpected, and plan to stay for a while, you’ll be served warm marinated olives. Tucked in the side compartment of the fridge, right between the mustard and pickles, you’ll find a Mason jar full of olives in flavoured oil. I’ll grab a small saucepan and tip the olives [...]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 soups 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!