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In the Kitchen

How to Bake Beets

 

For no good reason I bought a great big bag of grown in BC beets. So what do you do with a great big bag of beets? Well, if you are like me, you run an experiment.

Rather than having them boil and splatter the top of my stove and make a grand old mess I decided to bake them.

BC Beets
BC Beets

The first step, before putting them in the oven is to wash each beet really carefully.

After the wash cycle, I lay them in a baking dish and drizzled olive oil over them and then into a 400 degree oven they went.

Now here’s a little reality check for you – don’t start this process unless you have a couple of hours. I read online that baked beets take 50-60 minute bake beets.

In your dreams.

Beets Ready for the Oven
Beets Ready for the Oven

 

I had the baked beets, well more accurately, baking beets in the oven, uncovered for 45 minutes and they were still rock hard like my biceps.

I covered them with foil and left them for another 20 minutes. Still hard. So I added about a quarter cup of water and sealed under the tin foil.

Another 20 minutes and I was able to pierce them with a fork.

By this time it was late so I took them out of the oven, loaded them into a plastic container and then into the fridge for an overnight stay.

Covered Beets
Covered Beets

This morning I pulled out six of them and peeled them by scraping them with the dull side of a knife blade.
I then drizzled them with olive oil, a splash of apple cider vinegar and a shake of sea salt.

They tasted good but something was missing. So I put them back in the baking dish and put them under the broiler in our oven for 5 minutes. That brought the flavour of the beets right to the front of my tongue!


Delicious.

 

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In the Kitchen

Minute Rice Cooking Tips from Chef John Higgins

While I was tuned into the webcast with Chef John Higgins, Director of Toronto-based George Brown Chef SchoolCanada’s leading chef school and one of the top culinary schools in North America, I made notes on some of his rice cooking tips – tips that work equally well for cooking Minute Rice 

 In no particular order here are his rice cooking tips. Granted some of them are things you already do but some may surprise you.

First one, Chef Higgins suggested was when boiling rice, use chicken broth, beef broth or vegetable stock in place of the water. This will add flavour to the rice itself and the dishes you prepare from the cooked rice.

Cook rice in coconut milk for a mildly sweet flavoured rice which pairs well with curry dishes and other spicy recipes. Coconut flavoured rice with fresh slices of mango or your kids’ favourite fruit can make a fun, healthy dessert option. 

 Add spices to the rice’s cooking liquid for an aromatic and flavourful base to your dish. Star Anise, cilantro and turmeric are good choices, with bold, robust flavours. Further to this tip, he suggested that when cooking rice you can introduce the flavours of your dish early on. For maximum flavour, add the herbs or spices your recipe calls for into the rice’s cooking water.

This one surprised me; he suggested that people can enhance their rice dishes by adding frozen vegetables. Rather than cooking the vegetables separately, though, condense your cooking time by adding them to boiling water before you begin cooking the rice. Using pre-cut, frozen vegetables is more convenient than cutting fresh vegetables (while still being nutritious), especially when you are pressed for time.

The next tip was one that I often do – add dried fruit – such as craisins, raisins, dried blueberries and currents – to the cooking water to draw out the sweet fruit flavours which will infuse your rice with a savoury taste the whole family will enjoy.

Here is one most Canadians have probably not tried – rice for breakfast. Instant rice in particular is quick and easy, making it a convenient and nutritious family option. Add almond or soy milk, or your kids’ favourite flavoured milk, as well as dried fruits or nuts for a complete, oatmeal-like breakfast dish which can be served hot or cold. Prepare the rice the night before to save time in the morning.

Or what about cooking your rice with your favourite flavour of tea? Steep a pot of tea and use the liquid to cook your rice instead of using plain water. For those less adventurous, start with a more simple flavour such as Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Chamomile tea. For an economical option, use the tea bag left over from your morning cup of tea.

For a zesty citrus spin on your rice dish, grate lemon, lime or orange zest into the rice’s cooking water as it’s boiling. Be sure to thoroughly wash your fruit with warm, soapy water before grating the zest into the water. For a more gourmet taste sensation, try a combination of citrus fruits in one rice dish.

And while the purists in the audience probably were shuddering aghast at this suggestion, Chef Higgins did say that using Minute Rice is an excellent starting point for making risotto. Risotto is a wonderful meal or side dish option enjoyed by all ages, but it takes time to make. Using instant rice in a risotto dish can cut in half the time it takes to make traditional risotto.

His final words of advice during the webcast were to follow a recipe exactly the first time you make it and then use the recipe as a sort of road map or guide to a destination. The tips he described above were ideas that can add another dimension to our cooking. Sure, we are already doing some of them but it is fun to see what others are doing. Enjoy.

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In the Kitchen

Mustard and Preventing Leg Cramps

This blog post isn’t so much about food as it is about how I use a certain for preventing leg cramps.

But to back up a little, I used to get excruciatingly painful leg cramps. Leg cramps that made me hop around in agony as I tried to stretch to get the cramp out of my leg. They would be particularly painful in the middle of the night.

I had tried nearly everything in my attempts at preventing leg cramps; I took mineral supplements with calcium and magnesium. I ate bananas. I drank water and I avoided alcohol.

However, if I spent a day working in the garden or working outside on the family cabin, particularly on a hot summer day, and I drank a bottle of beer or a glass of wine in the evening, I was almost guaranteed a night time horror of leg cramps.

Leg cramps that caused me to stagger around in the dark of the night in my feeble attempts to get the cramp out of my leg. Excruciating.

No more.

So, what is my solution to the agony I used to experience? Mustard!

Mustard
Mustard

Any mustard! Yellow mustard like you get on your ballpark hotdog or Dijon mustard. Any mustard!

My new system – go out and play all day. Work in the sun and get dehydrated. Drink a cool beer in the heat of the day and a glass of red wine in the evening. And then the magic – just before I go to sleep, I go to fridge with a spoon, fill it with mustard and eat it.

Yep, a spoon full of mustard. A spoonful of mustard prevents me from getting leg cramps!!

If perchance I do get a leg cramp during the evening or later in the night I reach into my bedside table, grab a package of yellow mustard and slurp it back. Within minutes the cramps completely disappear.

Mustard. Who would have thought.

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In the Kitchen

Spring Aspargus

I simply love this time of the year because of the fresh asparagus that we can access. Admittedly, it is not local and it is brought to us from Mexico or California, but I still love it. 

To cook my aspargus I turn our Titanium Exclusive sauté pan to high and let it get hot. I toss in a dollop of butter and let it melt before dropping in the aspargus. 

I let the aspargus sizzle for a couple of minutes, then roll the spears back and forth watching them turn bright green. 

Once they are a lovely green I will add a squeeze of lemon juice and let that sizzle for a bit – maybe a minute, maybe two. Then I slide the spears onto a plate. 

All in, 10 minutes and my plate of aspargus is ready. 

  

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In the Kitchen

Experimenting in the Test Kitchen

Although I have not been posting here for the last few days I have been eating, cooking and experimenting in the Eating in the Burbs test kitchen. We have been experimenting with a variety of gluten-free recipes and even some true Paleo-style cooking ideas – truly amazing what you can do with Paleo cooking!!

Gluten-Paleo-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies
Gluten-Paleo-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tomorrow I will post another exciting update about a collaboration that I am about to begin…details tomorrow!!

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In the Kitchen

Gluten-Free Brazilian Cheese Breads

My Mom made these cool little cheese breads – cheese breads that are gluten-free and yet still full of flavour!!

Gluten-Free Cheese Bread
Gluten-Free Cheese Bread

Once again, these are so easy to make that it is almost ridiculous. The best way to mix together the ingredients for these cheese breads is in a blender. However if you’re one of the poor saps who doesn’t have a blender then this can be done with a handmixer. Our experience is that the blender-mixed ingredients make for puffier and nicer breads.

The ingredients:

  • One and a half cups of tapioca flour
  • 2/3 cup of milk
  • one egg at room temperature
  • one heaping teaspoon of salt
  • 100 g of grated cheese – a combo of cheddar and mozzarella cheeses works well
  • 1/3 cup Olive oil

Once the ingredients are mixed, pour the mixture into well greased mini muffin pans. The above list of ingredients makes enough mixture to fill 24 mini-muffins. It is best if you have the two muffin pans ready to go.

Bake for 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 400°.

The cheese-breads are best when eaten warm, shortly after they have come out of the oven. However they are also yummy as little sandwiches or as the hipsters say, sliders.

Cheese Breads
Cheese Breads

Enjoy!!

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In the Kitchen

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Here is the recipe for the most amazing and best tasting gluten free chocolate chip cookies you will ever find. Perhaps the best part, these cookies are super easy and quick to make.

Mix the following ingredients together in a bowl:

  • One cup of almond butter
  • 3/4 cup of sugar
  • One large egg
  • A half teaspoon of baking soda
  • A quarter teaspoon of salt.

Once the above list of ingredients is mixed, fold in a half cup of chocolate chips.

Using a tablespoon size disher, scoop the cookie batter onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.

Bake in a 350° oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

Be sure to let them cool before you eat them. If you can.

Gluten-Paleo-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies
Gluten-Paleo-Friendly Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

 

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In the Kitchen

Which Cooking Oil to Use

Earlier in January I found this very cool blog post on, not surprisingly, a very cool blog  and now, with their permission, I am sharing some of their post here with you.

From deep-fried foods to healthy salads, cooking oils play a part in the flavor profile and healthiness of many meals. With such a huge range of nut, seed, and flower oils on the market to choose from, all boasting their own array of nutritional and superfood benefits, it can be hard to know where to start.

Consider the smoke point when selecting an oil to cook with. The temperature at which a type of oil begins to smoke and burn will play a huge factor in the dishes you should use it in. Will you be cooking your food hot and fast? If that’s the case you might want to avoid the delicious and flavorful extra virgin olive oil, which begins to smoke at 320 degrees F, and instead opt for an oil with a higher smoke point, like avocado oil, which smokes at a searing 520 degrees F.

Then there’s your waistline and general health to consider. It’s no secret all oils contain fats, but consulting our list will teach the levels of mono-saturated, mono-unsaturated, and poly-unsaturated fats in 15 popular nut, seed, and flower oils, allowing you to choose the oil that’s right for you.

Will you be stir-frying your next meal? Try almond oil, avocado oil, olive oil, or walnut oil. Feel like a toasty flavor in your next salad dressing? Perhaps sesame oil should be your oil of choice. From flavor profiles to best applications, as well as interesting information on the derivation of each oil from its plant source, see the infographic below for everything you need to know about cooking oils and more.

If you want to see their infographic – a very useful and informative infographic, visit their blog at FIX dot com. They also have loads of other useful blog posts over there as well. Feel free to check it out but be sure to come back here!!

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In the Kitchen

How to Peel a Kiwi Fruit

A colleague showed me how to peel a kiwi fruit with virtually no mess and no fuss. Check out this cool little video to see how it is done –

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In the Kitchen

Awesome Yorkshire Pudding Recipe

As promised some days ago, here is the Yorkshire Pudding recipe my mother agreed to share with me and my readers.

Yorkshire Puddings
Yorkshire Puddings

I was in the test kitchen when this Yorkshire Pudding recipe was made and it really is as easy as I describe here – there is no pre-heating the pan, no need for “beef drippings” or letting the mixture rest for “so many minutes”. It is just this easy.

So give them a try and enjoy some of the most amazing Yorkshire Puddings you will ever make. Let me know if they work out for you too.

To begin – Use an 8 cup measuring cup or bowl and add to it the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of oil
  • 1 cup of milk or cream if you don’t have milk
  • And three eggs.

Using a handmixer mix the mixture until it is just blended. It’s really quick to mix, approximately one minute. You do not want to overmix this mixture.

Then pour the mixture into a well greased Yorkshire pudding pan or muffin type pan or custard cups. You should get six good sized Yorkshire puddings out of this amount of mixture.

If you use a muffin pan you should probably use every 2nd cup so that when they pop over, they don’t connect together and make a mess sticking together.

Place the muffin pan of mixture into an oven that has been pre-heated to 375°. Leave them in the oven for one hour and watch these beauties grow.

Two Popovers
Two Popovers
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