Welcome to the Canadian Living Test Kitchen bulletin board. This is our space to write about the foodie world -- stories we are working on, tasty new food products and must-have utensils that spark our imagination. We'll report new cooking tricks (and occasionally lessons learned) that come from the day-to-day testing and developing of recipes you find in the magazine. And, as we discover the hottest new restaurants, chefs and gourmet and farmer's markets, you'll be among the first to know.
Nov. 28 kitchen quips: Tips for a cookie exchange
Planning a cookie exchange? Here's a few tips to see you through;
• Early in the holiday season, invite friends and neighbours (ideally six to eight) to a cookie exchange.
• Ask each person to bring a big batch of homemade cookies. Determine how big the batch by the number of people, figuring on one dozen per person. In other words, if there are six people, bring six dozen cookies.
• Make sure no one is making duplicate cookie recipes. Ask guests to avoid anything too fragile or buttery. Sturdy cookies will be easy to transport. Decorated cookies and those with sugar glazes or sticky fillings should also be avoided.
• Each person should have enough copies of her cookie recipe for everyone.
• Ensure that everyone brings containers to pack and take cookies back home in.
• Have plenty of waxed paper on hand for layering and packing cookies.
• Have a few beverages and snacks on hand while guests arrive and settle in.
• After initial socializing, begin the cookie exchange with all of the cookies organized buffet-style on a table. Guests circle the table, putting a dozen of each cookie variety into their containers.
• Advise guests not to pack crisp cookies with soft ones, otherwise the crisp ones will absorb moisture and soften.
5 great cookie exchange cookie recipes to try:
These treats are perfect for a cookie exchange -- they are easy to make, keep (or freeze) well and can be decorated prettily or enjoyed plain and simple.
Nov. 11 foodie diary: Quality java
Lately we've been drinking a lot of coffee in our attempt to find some really good brands that are also grocery store available. Several are good enough for those times when you can't get to the specialty shop (or just want something special to impress your coffee snob friends). Here are two terrific Canadian brands worth picking up.
KICKING HORSE organic coffees are shade-grown under the rain forest canopy, which provides shelter to flora and fauna, as well as good water quality and health conditions for farmers. Look for delicious whole bean blends in their attractive black packaging. Try Kick Ass (dark but smooth), Three Sisters (individually roasted blend of Central and South American beans with a touch of South Pacific) and their very tasty, water-filtered Decaf.
VAN HOUTTE's single origin coffees in the silver packages represent some of the greatest coffee-producing regions of the world: Costa Rica (light roast, sweet and aromatic); Guatemala (dark and smoky, yet smooth); Kenya (dark, floral and tangy) and Sumatra (dark and rich). Plus there's Mexico Fair Trade Organic (medium roast with light bitter notes and a little acidity). Each pre-ground pouch has a unique personality with satisfying flavour and depth.
Appliance pick: Our friends at KitchenAid have lent us their new Pro LineTM 12-Cup Coffee Maker (shown on this page). Besides having a great industrial look, the coffee is hot and very tasty. And its second warming plate and glass carafe come in handy when entertaining.