Cooking School

Yum! September 2005

By: Canadian Living

Author: Canadian Living

Cooking School

Yum! September 2005

By: Canadian Living

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.

Sept 24 Foodie diary: Foodie flicks and the recipes they inspire
Every year, we watch for foodie flicks at the Toronto International Film Festival. This year, the darkly funny -- and somewhat unnerving -- Danish film Adam's Apples takes the cake.

Adam is an ex-con who leaves prison to "help" Ivan, an optimistically delusional preacher, at his small country church. Upon arrival, Adam is asked to set a goal for his stay. "To bake a cake," he answers sarcastically. Ivan takes Adam literally and appoints him to tend the rectory apple tree, with the revised goal of producing an apple cake. The ensuing relationship between the two men is both humorous and intense as the convict sets a new ambition for himself (to break the preacher's faith) while unwittingly contending with the many tribulations of the apple tree and moving ever closer to his "cake."

In food-themed stories, redemption usually occurs through cooking (or eating) and somehow this film brings us to that moment while taking us on a journey that seems completely hopeless. Adam's Apples is an unusual film that will inspire you to reconnect with the world through baking (perhaps our Scandinavian-inspired Apple Cardamom Cake is a good starting point). Watch for the movie at repertoire cinemas and rental stores.

Test Kitchen tip of the week:
Which are the best cooking apples? Different apples have different purposes and, often, the tastiest ones to eat (such as Fuji and Red Delicious) are too sweet for baking. Others (such as MacIntosh and Royal Gala) break down easily and are better suited to sauces and spreads. For baking, we prefer Cortland, Idared, Northern Spy and Spartan apples -- but our absolute favourite pies are made with a combination of these apples.

Click here to meet the Canadian Living Test Kitchen Staff.

Sept 12 Foodie diary: An end-of-summer lunch in the Test Kitchen
Recently, contributing editor Andrew Chase brought in some of his abundant harvest of heirloom tomatoes for us to enjoy for lunch: dark and meaty Black Krims, sweet and juicy Persimmons and tart, firm Green Zebras. We thickly sliced these perfectly ripe, brightly coloured tomatoes, sprinkled them with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, slivers of fresh basil and extra-virgin olive oil.

As fortune would have it, we also had two delicious examples of fresh goat cheese in the Test Kitchen: soft, creamy and mildly goaty unripened cheese from C'est Bon Cheese Limited near St. Mary's, Ont., and the delicate-curd, sweet milk-flavoured St. John's Fresh Goat Cheese from the Portuguese Cheese Company in Toronto. With the addition of marinated olives and some crusty Calabrese bread, we had a near perfect end-of-summer lunch. Ah, the joys of working in the Test Kitchen.

Test Kitchen tip of the week:
To celebrate the Toronto International Film Festival (once again in full swing), here are five essential foodie films that will inspire you to cook (or at least head to the nearest restaurant).

Eat Drink Man Woman - Despite losing his sense of taste, a master Chinese chef creates fantastic feasts for his three grown daughters.
Like Water for Chocolate - The story of a passionate Mexican cook who infused her cooking with her emotions, yielding unusual results.
Big Night - Culinary genius and substantial egos spawn fabulous food (and fights) in an Italian-American restaurant. (Reminds us of some chefs we used to work with).
Mostly Martha - The romantic clash of personalities and cooking styles between Italian and German chefs.
Tampopo - A postmodern look at Japanese food culture and the quest for the perfect bowl of ramen.

Sept 6 Foodie diary: Everybody salsa!
At this time of year, readers often ask us how to preserve their garden's bounty. Sadly, freezing isn't always the best solution: vegetables with high water content (such as onions, peppers and tomatoes) become waterlogged, losing texture and flavour after thawing. Canning is the best way to enjoy these vegetables throughout the winter, especially when cooked into a ready-to-use sauce such as Peppy Salsa. This Test Kitchen favourite is flavourful, adaptable to mild or spicy palates and easily doubled for sharing (though Test Kitchen manager Heather Howe makes a batch every year with the best intentions of giving the jars away but finds her family cannot part with a single one).

Tips for great salsa:
Peppy Salsa is indeed peppy because the recipe calls for three kinds of hot peppers, each with a varying degree of heat. If you prefer a mild salsa, just reduce the amount of hot peppers or use milder ones (see below). However, if you like it hot then by all means, kick it up a notch.

Jalapeño peppers add green, sweet pepperlike flavour with mild to medium heat. Taste a bit of one to determine its heat and use more or less accordingly. Six to eight jalapeños make about 1 cup (250 mL) seeded and chopped peppers.

Cubanelle peppers are hot! If you prefer mild salsa, reduce the amount of peppers by half or use banana peppers instead. One cubanelle pepper makes about 1 cup (250 mL) seeded and chopped peppers.

Banana peppers have a sweet-spicy flavour and add a pretty yellow colour. Two banana peppers make about 1 cup (250 mL) seeded and chopped peppers.

To replace the garden freshness of Peppy Salsa with a smoky richness, add 1 can (200 g) chopped Chipotle peppers. These smoked chilies add spice as well as depth of flavour, so for a mild salsa, scrape out their seeds and reduce the jalapeño, cubanelle and banana peppers by at least one-half; for spicy salsa, use the full amount but try a combination of all three.

Test Kitchen tip of the week:
The spiciness of hot peppers comes from the seeds, and recipes such as Peppy Salsa often call for removing seeds so the final flavour is not overpowered by heat. However, scraping out the seeds releases oils onto your fingers that will really burn about an hour or so later. When working with hot peppers, it is important to protect your hands with plastic or latex gloves and not touch your eyes.

When I make this salsa at home, I chop the hot peppers after everything else is ready. Then I thoroughly wash my cutting board, knife, counter and hands to remove all the oils so that I don't accidentally get the oils on myself or on other food.

Click here to meet the Canadian Living Test Kitchen Staff.

Aug 29 Foodie diary: Test Kitchen insider scoop PLUS gin spin
Our most commonly asked question is, "How do you get a job like that?" If working in the Canadian Living Test Kitchen would be your dream job, here are a few things you should know. Our staff and contributors are a mix of home economists, chefs, food stylists and nutritionists, all with formal education from university or college and lots of experience working in restaurants, developing recipes for commercial products and writing cookbooks. Cooking is our passion and we upgrade our skills constantly through courses, reading and lots of experimentation. If you want to know more about the inner working of the TK, how recipes are developed and the exciting stories in the pipeline -- stay tuned.

Test Kitchen tip of the week:
The hot days of summer are waning, but if gin is your preferred warm-weather drink, there's still time to try Hendrick's gin. It is extremely aromatic with floral and citrus and comes in a cool, squatty bottle. I like it with tonic and twist of lime (about $40).
- Gabrielle

(Gabrielle Bright is the associate Food editor at Canadian Living Magazine.)

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Cooking School

Yum! September 2005