Monday Tip #14

Explore your surroundings through food.

Embedded in this post is a podcast I was recently on. Listen to the 3 of us (well really 2, Keegan didn’t participate that much). We speak about the Toronto food scene, my experience on Masterchef, and of course fast food.

I invite you to explore your surroundings through food. Explore a new neighbourhood, try a new cuisine. There is always something new out there. I myself learned about multiple new places to try just in this conversation.

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Zack

Monday Tip #13

Goin up….. on a Tuesday. I’ll be honest, the Monday tip this week slipped my mind. After a long day of work all I wanted to do was come home and relax.

This week we’re discussing meat, specifically ground meat. Any time you make a dish with ground beef (meatballs, meatloaf, etc…), you should always fry off a little piece of it to make sure you’re happy with the flavour and seasoning. 20130729-261058-merguez-test-patty.jpg

There might be worse things than spending the time to make a full-blown meatloaf only to discover that it doesn’t have enough salt in it, but I can’t think of any off hand.

Here’s the trick: when making meatloaf, sausage, or meatballs, take a small chunk of your mixture and fry it in a skillet (or even faster, microwave it for 10 to 15 seconds) and taste. Adjust seasoning levels in the mixture accordingly.

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Zack

Monday Tip # 12

So I came down with a cold early Friday and was unable to post this weekend like I planned to. Thus the reason for the double post today. If you haven’t seen my other post from today, please see the new recipe here.

This week’s tip surrounds peeling garlic. Most people I know, try cutting off the ends and peeling it themselves. This takes too much time and effort and makes your hands smell.

The much easier and faster way to do it is to crush the garlic clove gently with the blade of your knife and the peel comes clean off. If you need more than a few cloves, or even a whole head of garlic, crush the bulb with your hand or a knife, place it all in a bowl, place another bowl overtop and shake. The result will allow you to pick out the peeled garlic cloves.

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Zack

Banana Bread!!!!

Probably one of my all time favourite desserts. Moist, gooey, and can be combined with different flavours depending on your preference. This recipe came out a little dense because I only had one egg (lack of prep on my part), but comes out delicious when properly made (I made a second batch to make sure)

Ingredients:

2 Cups All Purpose Flour

3/4 Brown Sugar

2 Eggs

2 1/3 Cups Mashed Bananas (Overripe)

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda (Baking Powder is a Mistake)

1/4 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Cup Butter

Optional: Vanilla, Sour Cream, Chocolate Chips

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Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 9×5 loaf pan

Step 2: In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

 

Step 3: Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

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Zack

Monday Tip #11

Don’t overcrowd the pan!!! This week’s tip will help get your meals cooked more quickly. When you overcrowd ingredients in a pan, like so, you’ll notice that not everything cooks evenly.

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As you may notice, the zucchini rounds are less cooked than the mushrooms, chickpeas, etc… Now yes this may be a byproduct of the zucchini having just been added. However, the fact still remains that had the pan not been so crowded, the zucchini could cook in a much shorter period of time. The overcrowding of the pan actually reduces the heat in the pan and adds to cook time.

Today’s tip also explains why many recipes call for certain things to be cooked and then set aside for later. Items are cooked at different pan heats and for different lengths of time. Then added back in together to finish the dish.

Take the time to cook things separately and add ingredients in stages. It may sound like a lengthier process, but it will make the end result much better.

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Zack

 

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May 2-4 Weekend

Just wanted to write a small post before I sign off for the long weekend. The weekly tip next week will still be posted on Monday.

With the coming of Victoria Day Weekend, usually marks the start of summer. Cottage visits on the weekend, fireworks, and backyard barbecues. Time spent with family and friends, usually around food.

Whether you’re entertaining a large crowd up at the cottage or just having a quite backyard barbecue, food is usually a central aspect of this weekend. You could always go for the good classics like burgers or steak, or even jazz it up with a twist. Either way, enjoy your long weekend and be responsible (not that this is a PSA about drinking and driving, but yeah, don’t do that either).

If you are in need of a few recipes to try, click here to find an article I wrote last year about Canada Day and BBQ.

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Zack

Monday Tip #10

10!! 10 tips already. Double digits 🙂

If you guys ever have any tips or topics you think I should write about, please do not hesitate to contact me. As well if you have any general food or cooking related questions. It is best to contact me through email. zack.stern@hotmail.com

Anyways, todays tip revolves knives and keeping them sharp. As a young child, I remember seeing infomercials starring Ron Popeil selling his “Showtime” knife sets on TV.

At around 1:30 in the video, it is demonstrated exactly why keeping your knives sharp is essential to any home cook, chef, caterer, anyone who cooks. Knives that get dull just don’t work as well. You also need to keep your knives sharp so that you can work quicker and more efficiently in the kitchen. These knives were always razor sharp (at least according to the demo) and that’s why they worked.

When buying knives, make sure they’re of good quality for one thing. Next, make sure to sharpen your knives regularly. Invest in a good quality knife sharpener, it will really save you a lot of effort in the kitchen.

I’ll be sure to do a future Monday tip about proper knife technique and handling.

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Zack

Celeriac Puree

What exactly is celeriac? “The unsung hero of the vegetable world, knobbly, odd-shaped celeriac has a subtle, celery-like flavour, with nutty overtones” (BBC Good Food). More commonly known as celery root, this vegetable can be used in a variety of dishes.

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Like many other root vegetables (potato, turnip, squash, etc…), celeriac is great roasted in the oven or made into a mash. It also goes well with a variety of flavours and proteins. Today I wanted to share my recipe for celeriac mash. A great alternative to mashed potatoes and slightly more sophisticated.

First, cut the ends off and peel the root entirely. Then cut into smaller chunks to allow for a faster cook time. If you leave it whole or don’t cut small enough chunks, you’ll be waiting for a long time. I cut mine about 1/2-1/4 inch thick.

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Boil the celery root until fork tender, just as you would potatoes, (this took around 20 minutes, but again depends on the size of your cuts). You can either fork mash them or I choose to use a food processor which makes for a smoother puree. Add in milk, butter, salt, pepper, treat this just as you would mashed potatoes.

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Serve along side whatever you choose. You’ll see here I chose to serve this with steak and green beans amadine, the recipe for which can be found here.

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Zack

Green Beans Amandine

Possibly the first French forward recipe I’ve introduced in my blog in a little while. This is my absolute favourite way to cook green beans. In culinary terms, the word “amandine” (almondine) refers to a dish garnished with sliced/slivered toasted almonds. Very frequently this includes green beans or asparagus.

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Above you’ll find the ingredients needed for this recipe. I chose to add mushrooms to the beans, but you can do without.

You’ll need: Green Beans (1 Package), Zested and Juiced Lemons (2), Almonds (if you cant find slivered/sliced, just take whole almonds and pulse them or break them up with a hammer), Salt and Pepper.

Blanch the beans for a few minutes to make the sauté process faster. Take the blanched beans and put them in a pan with some oil, leave to cook for a few minutes. You can make this recipe without blanching the beans, it will just take longer for the beans to become tender. Add the sliced mushrooms and sauté for another few minutes.

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At this point, in a side pan, brown about 2 tablespoons of butter (keep an eye on this) and then add the almonds (again keep an eye on this). The almonds should soak in the butter but DO NOT LET THEM BURN. Burnt anything is just terrible. Add the browned almonds along with the lemon juice and zest and cook for another 2 minutes or so, allowing everything to incorporate.

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Zack

 

Monday Tip # 9

For this week’s tip, we focus on one of my favourite breakfast foods, Pancakes!! Though my sweet tooth is normally active during the day, breakfast isn’t usually one of those times where I go for something sweet. If I did, pancakes would definitely be my choice. They’re great for breakfast, brunch, or even breakfast for dinner.

Some of us have our own recipe for pancake batter, some do a variation on a cookbook recipe. Others may use the mix straight out of the box. No matter, when making pancakes, there are a few keys to getting them to come out light, crispy, fluffy, and golden.

  1. Mix wet and dry ingredients separately before combining. You should sift dry ingredients into their own bowl to make sure there are no lumps. Mixing the ingredients separately also allows for them to combine before being mixed all together.
  2. Mix your batter just enough to combine. Do not over mix as this will cause the glutens to over develop.
  3. Leave your batter to rest for a little while after mixing. This will allow the glutens in the batter to relax before cooking. The end result will be lighter and fluffier than if you make your pancakes right away.

 

Multiple recipes coming this week so stay tuned for that.

Eat. Love. Share.

Zack