1. Molecular gastronomy The chef, innovator and former Microsoft chief technology officer Nathan Myhrvold's multi-volume work Modernist Cuisine, takes a scientific approach to cooking and destroys many long-cherished tropes, such as the myth of "natural" ingredients (there are actually very few truly natural ingredients, and most of them you wouldn't want anywhere near your dinner plate).
Using a combination of very old and very new techniques, the style is a no-nonsense approach to the art and science of preparing meals.
2. Sous-vide Arising partly in harmony with the molecular gastronomy movement, there's been increased interest in an update on a long-forgotten technique called sous-vide, which involves simmering food in sealed plastic bags in water at low temperatures (typically about 140 degrees Fahrenheit or so) for very long periods; the technique cooks food very evenly, and because the food is sealed in, it stays moist and flavourful.
3. Locavore cuisine McCauley is a bit skeptical of the premise that the locavore movement -- the idea of producing and eating food that has travelled less than 100 miles to your table -- is better for you or the planet.
Actually, recent studies at the University of Guelph have shown that the carbon footprint and costs of the 100-mile diet are exponentially higher than centralized, high-efficiency factory farms, even those that are a significant distance away from where the food is sold. That said, some restaurants and individual homeowners have started cultivating urban-backyard and rooftop gardens to grow fresh, organic produce for the table; while such micro-cultivation may not have a significant impact on the food industry as a whole, there are certain social (not to mention gourmet) advantages to food produced this way. 4. The digital kitchen In some countries now, including parts of Asia and London, England, you can scan QR codes on your smartphone to order groceries in the afternoon, and have them delivered by the time you get home from work. In fact, smartphones and other digital devices are finding many uses in the kitchen, from meal planning and recipe lookup to counting calories.
Appliances like "smart" refrigerators have built-in computer screens, and soon will be able to read barcodes on milk cartons and tell you when they've expired, or let you know when you're out of staples like eggs or cheese. And tablet computers are tailor-made for the kitchen: Some kitchen designers are building them into the cabinetry right along with other appliances, and there are literally thousands of apps with recipes and other info, so that for many cooks, they are rapidly displacing hard-copy cookbooks for everyday meal preparation.
5. The gentrification of humble foods Comfort food like burgers, pizza and even mac-and-cheese has gone uptown: High-end restaurants have started offering gourmet versions of familiar favourites, elevating them to the level of haute cuisine. Interestingly, the opposite is becoming true as well, perhaps a reaction to the aging baby boomer demographic: Fast-food chains like McDonald's, in an attempt to capture a more sophisticated audience, have begun offering healthier and more sophisticated options on their menus, creating what McCauley calls "pressure on the middle" between haute and low cuisine.
6. Nose-to-tail dining This trend harks back to the days of the family farm, when every part of the animal was used in some way. Popularized by chefs such as Britain's Fergus Henderson and Jennifer McLagan's cookbook Odd Bits, the idea is to get closer to the source of your dinner and to experiment with "the rest of the animal" as a food source, with less familiar cuts such as organs, tail, tongue, feet and so on. Some of these novel cuts are highly nutritious, less expensive and quite delicious when prepared well.
While we don't need a holiday to enjoy our favourite Chinese-inspired dishes, we can't wait to join in the celebrations with these delicious recipes.
The Year of the Rooster begins on Saturday, January 28, and lasts until February 15, 2018. This holiday is also called the Lunar New Year, and is celebrated not only in China, but across Asia and around the world in countries like Canada, where Chinese Canadians number more than a million — one of the most common ethnic origins in our multicultural mix.
There are a number of traditional dishes served during the celebration that are meant to be auspicious. Noodle dishes are especially important, as long noodles are a symbol of longevity. Dishes that cook a whole animal (such as a fish) signify the beginning and ending of the year, and the head and tail are usually displayed intact on the serving dish. Dumplings can signify prosperity, and oranges, representing luck and wealth, are a great way to round out a meal.
Here are some of our favourite traditional and reinvented recipes that we'll be cooking up this year to join in the festivities. Gung Hei Fat Choi!
Traditionally served during the holidays and Chinese New Year, these crumbly melt-in-your-mouth cookies have three layers of almond flavour. Ground almonds add a hint of crunch, almond extract lends a sweet aroma and whole almonds make for a pretty garnish.
This Chinese classic gets a wholesome makeover by replacing the meat with loads of fresh vegetables. Korean hot pepper paste isn't traditionally found in ma po tofu, but it adds a nice kick. Look for it in the Asian section of your grocery store, or substitute with one teaspoon of sriracha.
“This is my take on a wintertime favourite that's served in my childhood home,” says Food specialist Irene Fong. “My dad loves this braised beef with noodles, but it's just as good served over rice.” We've used brisket here because it's unbelievably tender when braised.
The thick meat sauce on these noodles is a bit like an Asian-style Bolognese. The cooked noodles tend to stick together if they stand for a while, so mix the sauce into them and eat right away for the best texture. For a twist, serve the sauce over rice with a side of steamed bok choy.
There are so many reasons to bake a cake—birthdays, family get-togethers, office potlucks—and no dinner really feels complete without a dessert or something sweet to end the meal.
Everyone is familiar with the retro
pineapple upside-down cake, topped with rings of pineapple baked in a brown sugar glaze with a moist and tender cake below. But upside-down cakes don't have to be limited to just pineapple. Apples, pears and berries all make delicious and beautiful cake toppers. Take time to carefully arrange the fruit; once flipped over, you will be rewarded with a spectacular dessert!
Upside-down cakes need to be inverted shortly after they come out of the oven or the fruit may stick. Place serving platter right side down on top of the cake. Using oven mitts, hold the sides of cake pan and platter together; carefully flip cake onto the serving platter.
Upside-Down Buttermilk Pear Cake Delicate slices of pear and a rich, gooey caramel sauce are the crowning glories of this moist and tender cake. If any of the caramel and pear topping sticks to the pan, just use the tip of a sharp knife to scrape it back onto the top of the cake.
Photography by Ryan Szulc
Raspberry Upside-Down Cake Flip over this summery cake to reveal jewel-toned raspberries, the perfect treat when fresh berries are in season. Sweet caramel enhances the juicy fruit.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
Mini Berry Bundt Cakes These cute raspberry-swirled cakes only reveal their pretty design once they are flipped over. Dusted with icing sugar, they make the perfect addition to any
Photograpy by Jodi Pudge
The Ultimate Tarte Tatin Apples, slowly caramelized in butter and sugar, sit proudly atop this classic French upside-down tart. Traditionally, this tart is baked in a heavy cast-iron pan. Clean and season your pan well to get rid of any savory flavours before baking up the
Photography by Jeff Coulson
Sticky Caramel Apple Buns These sticky caramel buns—with a hidden apple filling—will make ordinary cinnamon rolls seem boring. You wouldn't even know the dough has a bit of whole wheat flour! Don't wait too long before flipping these buns; the caramel will stick if it gets too cold.
Photography by Jeff Coulson
Caramel Topped Semolina Cake Sweet caramel surrounds this moist and dense flan-like cake. Not many cakes are made with breakfast cereal, but this one uses wheat semolina (a.k.a. farina), traditionally cooked up in milk for
Photography by Jim Norton Looking for more dessert inspiration? Check out our
Baking and Desserts page
You'll recognize a good baguette by its signature deep-golden crust, and it's chewy, soft interior. For all its perfection when it comes to texture,
it does have one major flaw: it's really only at its best if enjoyed on the day it's made and purchased. If you're lucky -- and not a purist! -- you may get another half day out of it, but that's really the most you'll ever get out of a fresh baguette.
My solution? Given that my love for baguette knows no bounds (blame it on me being French!) I like to always have some on hand, but I rarely get around to finishing an entire baguette in the span of a day. For those times, I simply freeze leftovers to be enjoyed later. You can also purchase a baguette with the intent of freezing it so you know you'll always have some readily available for later. Here's how to do it!
To freeze your baguette, cut it in half crosswise and tightly wrap in aluminum foil. The fresher the baguette the better the results so if you can score a warm-from-the-oven baguette from the store, do so!
To thaw, preheat your oven to 450F. Once its reached that temperature, turn your oven off, and bake the unwrapped bread in the oven until it is thawed, which takes about 12 minutes (depending on the size of your bread). Photography by Jennifer Bartoli
How one woman found love with someone who had lost it.
After my husband and I separated, I didn't think I would ever fall in love again. I had two little children and couldn't imagine being in another relationship. I felt unlucky in love, as if perhaps I didn't deserve to be happy. Besides, I hadn't dated in 15 years and, now, didn't know where to begin. But six months after I separated, a mom I'd just met called to ask if I'd be interested in going on a blind date with her friend James*, a single dad who had recently lost his wife to cancer.
By then, every single person I'd met had baggage, including me, so it never occurred to me that dating a widower would be different from dating anyone else. I didn't even really consider the possibility that a first date might lead to a second. But from the get-go, I could tell James was different. The conversation flowed easily, he was funny and interesting…we ended up going on that second date, then a third. When he asked me to date him exclusively a few weeks later, I was ecstatic— but a few months into our relationship, something weird started happening. There were a series of days when, inexplicably, he wasn't himself. He was quiet and sad and didn't want to talk.
I knew what it felt like when a man wasn't interested in me anymore—that's how my marriage had ended. So when he would clam up and be distant, I had a familiar sickening feeling. We met for a drink at a quiet neighbourhood bar, where I cut to the chase. "I'm sorry, James, but I don't know what to do when you won't talk to me. I can't do it," I told him, too sad to drink my wine. I hoped ending things would spare him the trouble of dumping me and spare myself the pain of having yet another person leave me. I was beside myself: I couldn't believe things were ending when everything had been going so well.
Only now, James was ready to talk. "I've mentioned that my wife died two years ago, and I'm sorry for not being able to communicate with you better. Certain days of the year are hard for me, and I've just got through some very difficult back-to-back anniversaries," he explained, his eyes fixed on his lap. "Some days, I don't want to talk, but I'm feeling better again and I don't want you to take it personally. I'm just trying to cope as best I can; it has nothing to do with you. I really like you and I like where this relationship is going."
He looked up into my eyes and stretched his arms across the table. His warm hands enveloped my own. It hadn't occurred to me that he was going through a rough patch; because of my own history, I assumed it was something I had done. I didn't yet know enough about his life or about grief to understand his personality or the dates that would be difficult for him. When he communicated his feelings, I felt as though I understood him, like we were connecting on a deeper level. I realized then that this man was different kinder, deeper, stronger and more compassionate—than anyone else I was likely to meet. As a newly single mother struggling to get back on my feet, I had my own set of issues and insecurities; dating a widower on top of it all wouldn't be easy, but I had fallen in love. I had to try.
My situation isn't as unique as you might think. In 2016, about 1.83 million widowed people were living in Canada, and many of them are finding their way back onto the dating market. According to research conducted by the Pew Research Center in the United States, 19 percent of those who are currently divorced, separated or widowed report using online dating. In fact, Match.com saw an 8.3 percent increase in the proportion of widowed users in Canada from 2015 to 2016.
Rebecca Cooper Traynor, a Toronto matchmaker who founded Match Me Canada, has seen a similar trend. "I'd say that about 10 percent of my clients are widowers," she says; most of them are 55 and older, but some are only in their 30s and 40s. And at the same time as this group has become more interested in dating, she has also seen a shift in perceptions about them. "I've noticed that my other clients are more open to dating a widower now than when I started my business eight years ago," she says. "Some people are tired of dating divorcés and hearing about their anger and resentment on a date. They want to meet someone in a different space, someone who knows how to love."
A delicate balance As in any relationship, James and I have challenges—but some of the things we face are specific to his widowed status. For example, in the five years since we went on our blind date, I've learned to give James space on significant dates, such as on his late wife's birthday, their wedding anniversary and the day she died. Since our near-breakup early on, I've marked those days on my calendar so I can call to say I'm thinking of him and see if I can help. Being in tune with your partner's needs is often the best thing you can do, says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor with the Nova Scotia Health Authority in Halifax. "Ask your partner what you can do to make those tough days better. Your awareness itself can be a lovely gesture. Maybe you don't need to be involved and you can give your partner the space he or she needs to continue that grief work," he says. "That can be a gift in and of itself."
I've also learned that, contrary to the proverbial "five stages of grief," how we mourn doesn't fit into easy steps. In fact, the psychiatrist who first identified those stages, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, never intended them to apply to the living—her research was on people who were facing their own deaths. In other words, watching for signs of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance is no way to tell whether a mourner is ready to move forward.
Rather, many grief specialists champion the "companioning" philosophy espoused by author, counsellor and educator Alan Wolfelt. They believe that the process is individual and that bereaved people tend to know when they are ready to move forward. According to this model of grief, mourners have six needs that must be met in order to reconcile their loss: acknowledging the reality of the death; embracing the pain of the loss; remembering the person who died; developing a new self-identity; searching for meaning; and receiving ongoing support from others. But this isn't a checklist and there's no time frame for completion, or a particular order in which they must happen.
"The companioning model of bereavement distinguishes between grieving—the internal experiencing of pain—and mourning, which is the outward expression of that pain," says Maureen Theberge, a psychologist at Viewpoint Counselling Psychology in Calgary. "Grief isn't something you 'get over' any more than you 'get over' love, but those who can mourn well will have a better outcome for moving forward. Having a way to remember the dead, to honour and acknowledge them, especially when the mourner has children, can be healing. It's meaningful and may offer comfort."
Finding your way For the first few years, James commemorated special days only with his close family, but recently, I've been invited to participate by attending an annual memorial service and being with his family to remember his wife's birthday. I'm happy to support him in this way, much as he has supported me through my divorce—but the truth is, it can be hard for me emotionally. Sometimes, I'm sad for days afterward. I want to weep thinking about what an unfair loss James, his family and his wife suffered. I can't imagine what it must have felt like for his wife to be diagnosed with a terminal illness as a young adult, to hear she was going to die. But I've come to understand that grieving is a healthy sign. Even if the process hurts, it brings James' family and friends together. I've seen how remembering and celebrating his wife provides them with strength to continue on. We have been companioning without realizing it.
As much as I grieve with James and his family on sad days, I've also had a hard time coping with his loss on great days. It's embarrassing to admit, but sometimes, I've felt guilty for dating James. I've seen his late wife's beautiful photos, can sense how wonderful she was and feel how much she was loved—how much she still is loved. I've dissolved in tears, overwhelmed that James and I are on a romantic vacation together when he should have been with the love of his life, his wife. How was I ever going to fill her shoes? How would I measure up? What if I couldn't?
As difficult as these feelings are, experts say they're normal. Unlike dating a divorcé, Theberge says dating a widower can feel threatening because the person's partner didn't choose to leave; rather, "death tore them apart." Logically, however, jealousy doesn't help. "It's irrational," says Theberge. "You are not in competition with the deceased. Your relationship is new and unique."
Just because those feelings are irrational doesn't make them any less real, and it's important to deal with them, says Ellis. He suggests looking within at why you're feeling insecure. "We are each responsible for our self-esteem and self-love. Take stock, find out what's hurting and share it with your partner, but not in an accusing way," he says.
Overcoming feelings of insecurity isn't easy. As Ellis says, "You have to learn to integrate the presence of the deceased in a new relationship the way you don't in divorce. With divorce, you're out; with death, you've got to come to terms with the fact the other person is still loved and recognized." But while the challenges are different, "it doesn't mean you can't have a successful relationship."
Talk therapy In order to do that, though, you have to communicate. I knew I had to tell James how I was feeling, but it was difficult to have that conversation, to admit my insecurities. Tears streamed down my cheeks and I felt awash with shame. But James was patient and loving and told me his wife wanted him to be happy. Talking to him made me realize I couldn't change his past, but I could have a future with him—and I was helping him move forward, which is what his wife wanted.
Over time, I've grown to believe that we don't have only one soul mate for life. It's possible to love more than one person. When you have a second child, after all, you don't stop loving the first; you make more room in your heart. And now I see that grieving is good, that talking about fears and sadness can be healing. I know not to compare, not to think of myself as an inadequate replacement for the woman he really wanted.
James and I know too well that life can be fleeting. We understand that time is precious. We are taking things slowly—not rushing to combine families or get married—but when I look into his eyes, when I hold his hand on good days and bad, I know we are moving forward together.
Success factors Five tips from the experts for building a healthy relationship with a widower.
1. Communicate, even if it hurts, says Suzanne Farmer, a psychologist (candidate register) at Cornerstone Psychological Services in Halifax. "There will be times when your partner will think about his deceased spouse and miss her; there will be times when you might feel threatened or hurt. You have to be able to communicate these feelings."
2 Be open-hearted and understanding. "Sometimes your partner might experience bursts of grief, and you have to let him be sad and feel his pain. It's normal. It's not a judgment about you," says Calgary-based psychologist Maureen Theberge.
3. See your partner as a whole person. His experience of loving someone and having that person die is just part of his story.
4. Be ready for sudden mood swings. "Sex and emotional intimacy can sometimes trigger upwellings of grief and emotion," says Roy Ellis, a grief counsellor in Halifax. The best way to prepare yourself for the possibility is to have discussions about intimacy in advance.
5. Be open to a new life. "Your partner will never 'get over' the loss— he will be forever changed—but it doesn't mean life can't be beautiful again," says Theberge.