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Our best cooking tips for making dough and so much more!
When prepping grains (think quinoa, bulgur or rice), enhance their flavour with tea rather than the usual broth or water. Cook with your favourite brew: I prefer a full-bodied tea, such as smoky lapsang souchong, fragrant Earl Grey or aromatic chai, but you can also choose a milder green tea or herbal blend. Before adding the liquid to grains, steep black teas for three to five minutes, green for two to three minutes, and herbal for five to seven minutes—tisanes don't become bitter, so they can take a longer brewing time.
Here's a foolproof way to remove a lingering garlic scent from your hands: Rub your fingers against a stainless-steel object, like your kitchen sink or a spoon, then rinse under cool water. Garlic is packed with sulphur molecules (that's what gives it a lovely taste and a not-so-lovely smell), which scientists say can form a chemical bond with stainless steel.
Out of vanilla? Head to your liquor cabinet—Kahlúa makes the perfect replacement.
Save your parmesan rinds! Store them in the freezer (they'll keep for months), then drop them into simmering soups or sauces for an amazing flavour boost.
The next time you're making dough, instead of using a pastry blender or the two-knife method to cut in cold butter, try grating it over the flour mixture, then tossing to coat. The butter will be more evenly distributed in the flour mixture, resulting in a light, flaky crust.
Tools of the trade
Three must-have items for a well-stocked kitchen.
1. Y-peeler: The wide grip makes peeling easy, plus the blade creates perfect Parmesan shavings and vegetable ribbons.
2. Large canning jar: This kitchen MacGyver doubles as a cocktail shaker and storage for dry goods. It's also a great place to keep fresh herbs—stand your mint or basil leaves in about two inches of water and change the water daily.
3. Kitchen scissors: This gadget is a huge time-saver when it comes to chopping herbs, segmenting a whole chicken or trimming veggies.
Put your slow cooker to work and save time with these 20 easy and satisfying recipes.
Serve this saucy pulled pork as sandwiches: piled high on buns, with bowls of garnishes, such as pickled jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese and thinly shredded red cabbage (or better yet, red cabbage slaw), and let guests build their own sandwiches.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you're feeding a smaller group. Serve over hot steamed basmati rice.
This roast, inspired by a classic Belgian stew, is juicy and tender over mashed potatoes, and the leftovers make the ultimate hot sandwich. Cook the bacon and onion mixture the night before so it's ready to add to the slow cooker in the morning without a lot of fuss.
This beanless regional specialty is a point of pride in Cincinnati, where fierce loyalty divides the city over which restaurant serves the best version. Cooked low and slow, with the distinguishing flavours of cinnamon and cocoa, the meaty, saucy chili is served over spaghetti.
This mild, sweet curry has all the comforting flavours of a curry without too much spice, making it a great choice for the entire family. Serve over steamed rice or with warmed naan bread.
You won't believe how tasty and easy it is to make this classic dish in your slow cooker. A piping bag - or plastic bag - makes easy work of stuffing the manicotti. Serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread for an easy family-style dinner.
A brisket needs to be cooked slowly, so using a slow cooker makes perfect sense. Ensure tender slices by cutting the brisket thinly across the grain.
Inspired by Portuguese caldo verde, this hearty, richly flavoured soup is a yummy way to use up an entire bunch of kale in one go. It freezes well, so leftovers make quick and easy lunches all week. The soup thickens as it stands; thin with water and adjust the seasonings as desired when you reheat it.
My mother, Shu-Lai Fong, makes famous pressure-cooked black bean spareribs. They're the inspiration for this recipe, which is just as delicious but uses a slow cooker. You'll find bite-size bone-in pork spareribs at most Asian grocery stores, or you can order them at your butcher's counter.
This hearty sauce is best served over a short pasta with lots of nooks and crannies it can tuck into and cling to. This ragu also makes a delicious lasagna filling when layered with sheets of fresh pasta and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Cost: $2.15/cup
There are few things more comforting than a bowl of rich, creamy seafood chowder. Sweet, licorice-like fennel naturally complements the seafood. Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread and a simple green salad for a complete meal.
Chorizo sausage and flavourful spices make this chili a real treat to come home to. Stirring in chopped herbs at the end adds a welcome touch of freshness.
Slow-cooked then quickly finished on the grill, sweet and sticky glazed ribs are guaranteed to impress your guests. Pork side ribs are also called St. Louis–style ribs, but back ribs are equally delicious.
Finally a flavourful risotto that doesn't need any stirring! Dried mushrooms work perfectly to create an earthy aroma, we've used dried porcinis here as they're readily available, but any dried mushroom will do. Hearty pot barley makes adds a healthful twist and doesn't become overly mushy - even after 8 hours.
Sweet honey and tender shallots mellow the typically strong flavour of lamb shoulder. Serve with roasted potatoes and steamed greens for a complete meal.
We've swapped beef broth for chicken broth and onions for tender leeks but kept all the flavour in this lighter version of classic French onion soup. When you get home, just toast the baguette, broil the cheese and enjoy!
This veggie-loaded chili is so hearty that even meat lovers will ask for seconds. To freeze it, cook as directed, but don't add the mushrooms. Cook them separately and add to the chili after reheating it. Serve with crusty bread to soak up every bit of sauce.
Inspired by the traditional Mexican tacos served with spicy thin pork slices and pineapple, this slow cooker version features pork shoulder broken into tender bite size chunks. If you don't want to serve these as tacos, try serving the pork on top of steamed white rice instead.
This all-in-one meal is a roast version of classic beef and barley soup. The barley thickens the cooking liquid to make a delicious gravy.
Using stewing beef instead of ground meat adds delicious bulk to this otherwise classic chili. Serve as is or use it as a topping for baked potatoes.
We may be approaching the end of award season, but Hollywood’s biggest night is still to come. It’s time to get ready for the Academy Awards (or whatever other big event you have planned).
Touted as the biggest night in Hollywood, stars will spend months primping and perfecting their appearance in anticipation of the Oscars. Even if you’ll be spending Oscar Sunday nestled on the couch instead of stepping out on the red carpet, you can probably appreciate the effort that goes in to looking good for a big event. Whether it’s walking down the aisle, a milestone birthday or even just an event with lots of photograph opportunities, there are occasions in our lives that we want to look our best—and pull out all the stops. The last thing you want is to be stressed out about your appearance instead of enjoying the big day.
We spoke to Victoria Radford, a makeup artist and esthetician whose handiwork you’ll be able to spot on the Oscar red carpet. Her advice? “You always look the most beautiful when you look like yourself—just enhanced. It’s important to start the process early, rather than making major changes the week before.” The the best move you can make is to give yourself plenty of time to amplify your appearance and account for some time-off. Just don’t forget to enjoy the process; remember, getting ready is half the fun.
6 months before: Consult an esthetician and hairstylist
Ideally, you want to be almost ready by the time you sit down in the makeup chair. What does this mean? Radford compares it to going to the gym: if you decide you want a 6-pack, you’re going to need to plan ahead. The same goes for skincare and hair — envision how you want to look and develop a personalized plan going forward.
Talk to your stylist about what you’d like to achieve. If this means growing your hair out long remember remember to be realistic and make note of your lifestyle. If your beauty routine is pretty low maintenance, don’t opt for hair extensions or a bob that requires heat styling every day. If you have curly or frizzy hair, Radford recommends an in salon Keratin treatments. Keratin combats frizz by bonding together all of the frizzy particles. It also prevents the hair from breaking, which is great for growing your hair out.
As for you complexion, a good morning and evening skin care routine is a great starting off point. Your skin cells renew themselves every 28 days, so to get your skin to reaching J.Lo glow levels consider going for a monthly facial in addition to having a rock solid skin care regimen. If you are looking to add volume or minimize wrinkles using injectables like Botox or Restylane, Radford insists that you do tiny tweaks over time, think of it as a sprinkle, instead of everything all at once. If this is your first time, leaving six months before the big day will ensure that any adverse reactions (either allergic or personal due to not liking the result) won’t ruin your look.
Photography by Marie Rainville
3 months before: Think about your brows
If you’re a chronic over-plucker and looking to grow out your brows, discuss with a brow technician what your ideal brow shape is. We spoke to Lexi Miles, the founder of WAXON Waxbar, who insists that your entire face changes when you have a great brow. Three months gives you three appointments to restructure your brows.
One month before: Test out beauty looks
Now is a good time to try out makeup and hairstyle looks that you think you’ll want to embrace on the day of the event. Try other beauty treatments like lash and brow tinting or eyelash extensions at this point. You’ll be able to make sure that it’s the effect you want and that there’s no allergic reaction, which sometimes can be caused by the dye or the glue.
Image provided by Vita Liberata
Two weeks before: Decide if you want a tan or a wax
If you’re after a more bronzed appearance, never get from the harmful UV rays, instead pay a visit to a professional for spray tan, or try to do-it-yourself at-home. Just make sure to pick the right tone for your skin: Light is for the fair skin, medium works for more golden skin, and dark is best for deeper and olive skin tones. Bonus: A faux-glow can also blur stretch marks and cellulite.
Miles recommends waxing before you get your sunless tan. “Waxing is a natural exfoliant,” she says. “Your tan will adhere to your skin a lot deeper and will last a lot longer. We would recommend at least 24 hours before you get a spray tan.” Just make sure to go to a wax specialist—they will help reduce pain and give you a better quality experience. How you care for your skin pre and post tan is key in determining how long your bronze lasts; Waxon's On the rocks is a 2-in-1 product that will both exfoliate and hydrate skin to ensure there's no patchiness.
One week before: Touch-ups
Book a facial or go for a chemical peel; they’re a fantastic way to eradicate dead skin cells, comedones, blackheads and plump up skin with hydration which will lessen the appearance of fine lines. It also get's the blood flowing, helps with lymphatic drainage, leaving your pores looking more refined and your skin buoyant. Now is also a good time to do final colour touch-ups. Spend the week giving your tresses extra nourishment in the form of hair masks, and avoid heat styling it so your hair will be extra healthy.
The day before: Do the things you love, again
The day before, organize a day of pampering and spend time touching up your treatments from previous outings. Whatever results you loved—spray tanning, waxing, eyelash extensions, tinting—do it as close to the occasion as possible, so they’re freshly done and looking as close to perfect as possible.
Grab someone close to you, like a friend or your mother, and schedule an appointment for a mani and pedi. It's the perfect way to de-stress, have some girl time and bring you one step closer to looking primed and polished.
Kenneth Willard/Trunk Archive
Day of: Get ready to knock ‘em dead
At this point, you’re nearly finished and there shouldn’t be much left to do. Although it sounds like overkill, it you want that red carpet celeb glow schedule in one last facial; but for those who can't make it to the salon employ a bio cellulose sheet mask that will provide as much last-minute nourishment and hydration as possible. Our favourite, the 24K Gold Mask by Victoria Radford, is formulated with colloidal gold, which takes down inflammation and encourages cellular renewal by using the same material treated on burn victims.
Want to take the all-over-glow up a notch? From Gwyneth Paltrow to Rihanna, every red carpet regular uses Prtty Peashun; a skin-firming lotion with a tint of colour for that conceals imperfections and enhances muscle definition. After that, play some music, pop some bubbly and it’s time for hair and makeup.
As always, the most important part is to relax and have fun. Feeling beautiful and confident is the goal, so enjoy whatever blessings you’re celebrating! And remember that your friends and family love you no matter what you look like.