The Missing Ingredient chef’s tip is written by Well Seasoned chefs. To meet our chefs, visit: http://wellseasoned.ca/chefs.
It’s hard to beat the smoky-sweet flavor of fresh corn cooked on a grill. And the local corn will be here before we know it!
Here’s how we do it.
- Pull the husks back from the corn, but leave them attached at the stem. Remove and discard the silks.
- Pull the husks back up around the corn. Soak the ears in a roasting pan or large bowl full of water for 15 minutes. (The water will prevent the husks from burning.
- Grill the corn over medium heat, turning often, until the kernels are tender and the husks are lightly charred, 8 to 10 minutes.
Grilled corn is delicious served with flavored or “compound” butters. Start with the best unsalted butter you can find, add ingredients like chili & lime with fleur de sel, lemon & fresh rosemary with black pepper, sun dried tomato & smoked sea salt. The combinations are endless & are a great way to add some incredible flavor to your corn and other dishes! They also freeze really well if you happen not to use the whole batch at once. Happy Grilling!
Chipotles are jalapeño peppers that have been dried by a smoking process that gives them a dark color and a super distinct smoky flavor.
They are spicy, but not crazy-burn-your-face-off spicy, they add heat and a ton of flavor to lots of different recipes but a little bit goes a long way, start with small amounts and add more to taste.
Use as a condiment or an ingredient. Add to mayo for a quick spread on sandwiches and burgers, add a smokey note to soups, chili and stews, mix into your hummus or squeeze onto cream cheese for a simple dip.
Easy Appetizer: Cherry Chipotle Borsin
- 1 package Boursin cheese
- ½ cup of your favorite cherry Preserves
- 3 tsp. Olo’s Chipotle paste
Heat preserves for 30 seconds to melt, then mix in Olo’s chipotle paste to taste. Pour over Boursin & serve with crackers.
Perfectly Roasted Chicken
Never underestimate the power of a roast chicken! In fact, it is so useful – we suggest you roast 2 at once so you can used it for sandwiches, salads, and quick meals all week long.
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Place the rack in the lower-middle of the oven.
- Rinse & pat the chicken dry with paper towels, getting the chicken as dry as you can.
- Rub the chicken with olive oil, be generous, the oil will help the skin crisp & become golden.
- Sprinkle generously with the SZEGED CHICKEN RUB.
- Place the chicken, breast-side up, in the pan.
- Lower the oven to 400°F and roast the chicken for 50 minutes.
- Check the chicken – when it registers 165°F in the thickest part of the thigh, the wings & legs wiggle loosely & the juices run clear.
Once finished cooking, transfer the chicken to a cutting board and let it rest for about 15 minutes. Carve the chicken & serve. Pick any remaining meat off the bones and save it for other meals
Tahini – A Pantry Staple
Tahini, also known as sesame seed butter. It resembles peanut butter but is thinner in consistency. Open the jar & give it a good stir to redistribute the oil. Tahini isn’t just for hummus!
- Dip raw veggies in it – for a simple snack, make a quick tahini dip. Add lemon juice, salt, and a dash of hot sauce for extra zip
- Tarator sauce – add 4 cloves minced garlic to ½ cup tahini, ½ cup lemon juice & ¼ cup freshly chopped parsley. Pulse in a food processor until combined. Drizzle over roasted chicken or steamed veggies. (warning – this is seriously addictive!)
- Give your balsamic dressing a break – try a tahini based dressing. In a blender combine ½ cup tahini, ½ cup olive oil, 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp. lemon juice & 1 tbsp. freshly grated ginger. Blend & serve over fresh greens.
An open bottle, is an empty bottle! Balsamic reduction isn’t just for salad. We know you will find a million ways to use this but in case you need a little inspiration;
- Add a squeeze to your tomato soup.
- Use a little in your braising liquids; it adds a deep, rich, slightly sweet element.
- Mix with your best olive oil, whole roasted garlic cloves & fresh herbs – serve on a plate as a bread dipper with fresh foccacia bread.
- Drizzle over ice cream.
- You MUST try a balsamic reduction on fresh strawberries!
- Generously drizzle over oven roasted sweet potatoes.
Olive Oil Instead of Butter
Drizzling olive oil on vegetables or using it in salad dressings has become commonplace in most kitchens, but that’s just the beginning. Mediterranean cuisine calls for drizzling fresh olive oil on almost everything; it is kept on the table as a condiment to drizzle on bread, soup, cooked fish and meat, vegetables. Olive oil is an easy and delicious substitute for butter in baking. Try your favorite cake baked with olive oil instead of butter; you’ll get a moist cake with fewer calories.
Butter to Olive Oil Conversion Chart
|1 teaspoon||3/4 teaspoon|
|1 tablespoon||2 1/4 teaspoons|
|1/4 cup||3 tablespoons|
|1/3 cup||1/4 cup|
|1/2 cup||1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons|
|2/3 cup||1/2 cup|
|3/4 cup||1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon|
|1 cup||3/4 cup|
Hot cocoa always sort of takes us back to arriving home after a big day on the slopes with the toboggan, the whosh, whoosh, whoosh of snow pants trudging up the driveway. A steaming mug can totally take the edge off any Canadian winter day. BUT, hot cocoa isn’t just for kids and it isn’t just for those with a love of dairy. Behold, the evolution of hot chocolate!
Here are a few ways to mix things up this winter at your house;
- Instead of using milk, use a can of coconut milk. Heat it up, whisk in the cocoa mix as the package directs. Rim your mug with melted chocolate and toasted coconut & maybe add a little coconut rum.
- Try almond milk for a change of pace, heat it up – add the cocoa mix and a splash of Rumchata or Baileys Irish Cream. Top it with a marshmallow or three, just for fun!
- For the egg nog lovers why not try a little hot chocolate nog. Heat the egg nog gently over medium heat, add the cocoa and a splash of rum. Top with a little zest of fresh orange.
But, whatever you do, we beg you, don’t make hot cocoa with water!
What can you do with Mulling Spice? Our mulling spice is a fragrant mix of Star Anise, Cinnamon, All Spice, Cloves, Candied Ginger, Cranberries and Black Pepper. Classically it is used to make mulled wine or cider BUT we love to infuse some maple syrup & pour it over fresh waffles on Christmas morning!
Mulled Maple Syrup
Place 2 cups of maple syrup in a small sauce pot. Turn heat on low. Add 2 tablespoons of the mulling spice to the pot. Add a generous piece fresh orange rind, cut with a vegetable peeler and simmer for 15 minutes. Strain off the spices and transfer to a serving pitcher – serve warm.
Store in refrigerator up to 2 weeks. Serve warm with pancakes or waffles.
- Orange Peel From 1 Orange
- Lemon Peel From 1 Lemon
- ½ cup Maple Syrup
- 8 cups Unfiltered Apple Juice
- ½ cup Dark Rum (optional)
Place ¼ cup of the mulling spice, orange peel, and lemon peel in a medium saucepan. Pour in maple syrup and apple juice, then bring to almost a boil. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in the rum – strain and serve in mugs.
Chinese Rice Wine
Rice wine is a rich-flavoured liquid made from fermented glutinous rice. Aged for ten years or more, rice wine is used both in drinking and cooking (the rice wine used for cooking has a lower alcohol content). Unlike European wine, which is made by fermentation of naturally occurring sugars in sweet grapes, rice wine is made from the fermentation of rice starch that has been converted to sugars. The process is somewhat similar to the mashing process used in beer and whiskey production. Rice wine is available in Asian specialty stores or sections in supermarkets but avoid buying the ones with added salt if possible.
While the flavour is not the same – a dry white wine or sherry can be used as a substitute for Chinese rice wine in marinades & sauces BUT, it is quite inexpensive & store it in your pantry after opening for about a year.
We prefer the Shaoxing brand of rice wine, if you can find it, buy it, it is very good.
How many times have you gone to bake cookies or a cake & realized you forgot to take your butter out of the refrigerator & it is rock hard? You are probably incredibly impatient, just like us and end up turning to the microwave and accidentally melting it.
Rather than waiting for it to soften, simple grate the butter on your box grater – the same side you would use to grate your cheddar cheese. Spread out the fluffy shards of butter on a plate and they’ll soften up even before you have the rest of your ingredients measured out.
If you are making biscuits, scones or a pie crust simply add the frozen grated butter to your recipe for amazing results.
Sweetened Condensed Milk (SCM)
We think you should always have a can or two of sweetened condensed milk in your pantry. Sweetened condensed milk is a mixture of milk & sugar that has been heated until about 60 percent of the water is evaporated. The resulting product is thick, sticky and ultra sweet. Sweetened condensed milk should not be confused with evaporated milk, that is a completely different product. Evaporated milk has no sugar added, so it’s basically unsweetened condensed milk.
Have a recipe that calls for SCM but you don’t use it all ? No problem! An open can will keep in the fridge for about a month, even longer in the freezer. Just be sure to transfer the leftover liquid out of the can & into a clean jar so it doesn’t taste “tinny”. For a treat, stir leftover SCM into your iced coffee with a pinch of cinnamon, add it to a marinade for pork or chicken, just as you would sugar or honey. Or simmer the condensed milk on low heat over a double boiler until the liquid turns dark & thick, turning it into an incredible dulce de leche – chill & you will be putting on absolutely everything!
Paprika: sweet vs. smoked
Paprika is a fine powder made from grinding the pods of various kinds of Capsicum annuum peppers. Used for flavour and colour, it is the fourth most consumed spice in the world! It is often used in dry rubs, marinades, stews, chillis, and as a garnish. Depending on the variety of pepper and how it is processed, the colour can range from bright red to brown and the flavour from mild to spicy.
Although generally less intense that Hungarian paprika, Spanish paprika ranges from dulce (sweet and mild) to agridulce (bittersweet and medium hot) to picante (hot), depending on the type of peppers used (round or long), whether the seeds are removed, and how they are processed. In Spain’s La Vera region, farmers harvest and dry the chilies over wood fires, creating smoked paprika or pimentón de La Vera.
Smoked paprika is intensely smoky and is frequently used in paella and dishes where you want a deep, smoky flavour. A little goes a long way, so have some fun & experiment with it but until you are used to it, less is more!
Hot Weather Cold Brew Coffee Trend!
Cold Brew Coffee isn’t just another cup (or bottle) of coffee! The cold-press coffee uses coarse-ground beans, that are soaked in water for 15 hours at room temperature. The grounds are then filtered out of the water after they have been steeped. The result is a coffee concentrate that is often diluted with water or milk, and can then be served hot, blended with ice or served with other ingredients like chocolate. Cold brewed coffee naturally seems sweeter due to its lower acidity. Because the coffee beans in cold-press coffee never come into contact with heated water, the process of leaching flavour from the beans produces a different chemical profile from conventional brewing methods.
There are also high levels of caffeine in a cup of cold brewed coffee compared to hot brewed coffee.
Applying BBQ Sauce
BBQ sauces are generally meant as finishing sauces, not as marinades or simmering sauces. Most BBQ sauces contain some type of sugar and sugar will start to burn at about 265 degrees. Since most grilling is done at much higher heat, saucing your meat too early will lead to flare ups and the increased chance of burnt food.
Apply the sauce at the end of the cooking time, just long enough to heat it & “glaze” the meat without burning it.
As a BBQ best practice, you should pour the amount of sauce you think you will need into a cup or small bowl and dip your basting brush into the cup or bowl. When you are done, throw the extra sauce out. Never put it back in the bottle. Another good strategy is to serve the meat without sauce & allow your guests to apply it at the table as a condiment however they like.
BBQ Sauce isn’t just for glazing meat – try it as a base on a pizza crust instead of traditional tomato sauce, top it with grilled chicken & veggies, some jalapeno jack cheese and fresh cilantro!
Boil your potatoes with fresh herbs
As spring appears slowly, in different part of the country – one of the first veggies available are those delicious little, new potatoes. They are SO good on their own and hardly need a thing but for a change of pace, when boiling your potatoes, throw in a few whole sprigs of fresh herbs and let them simmer in the water along with the potatoes – when the spuds are fork tender, drain them and toss them with some good extra virgin olive oil, salt & cracked pepper. Try it with a few stems of thyme and fresh tarragon, you will be surprised at how much you can taste the herbs in the cooked potatoes.
This is such a simple, easy idea, and one that can perk up any plain boiled potatoes. You could also try boiling your potatoes with a generous handful of fresh rosemary, then whipping them into mashed potatoes with a generous amount of butter, a sprinkle of black pepper & a little freshly grated lemon zest. You are limited only by your imagination!
Liquid smoke is a seasoning ingredient for various types of food that benefit from smoky, mesquite accents. The product is created by gently smouldering different types of wood under controlled conditions in a retort, which is a type of large oven. The smoke is then collected into molecules of water vapour and chilled rapidly so that the water molecules carrying the smoke condense into liquid. The liquid smoke is then piped into oak barrels to age, and after the aging process, it is filtered and bottled for sale.
Because liquid smoke flavour is so strong, only a few drops are normally used at a time, and they are typically added to marinades, never on to the meat or veggies directly. For foods that are a liquid base, that you will consume entirely, you just need to add about 2-4 drops per 8oz. So, in a bowl of chili or soup for example, you would add about 2-4 drops to the bowl. In a marinade, that you aren’t going to reduce & use, we suggest going a bit stronger to 12-15 drops per 8oz of marinade. It is easy to over-do. Less is definitely more until you are used to it. Experiment & have fun with it!
Dried hominy is basically naked kernels of corn. Corn kernels are prepared by removing the skins after soaking them in a weak lye solution to remove their hull, bran & germ changing the flavour & releasing the niacin, making this slightly processed grain healthier than simple dried corn or cornmeal.
We gave you 2 ways to cook with Hominy in your delivery and invited you to visit our website for a recipe for Pozole. Here it is:
Quick & Easy Pozole
- 4 pounds fresh pork butt (shoulder), cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 1 onion, quartered
- 10 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups cooked hominy
- 3 tbsp. mexican chili powder
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Chopped cilantro, chopped red onion, chopped jalapeño and lime wedges, for serving
In a large soup pot, bring the pork, garlic, onion and water to a simmer. Cover and cook over low heat until the pork is very tender, about 2 hours.
Transfer the pork to a large bowl. Strain the broth into the bowl; discard the garlic and onion. Return the pork and broth to the pot and skim any fat from the broth. Stir in the hominy, oregano, chili powder and cayenne and season the broth with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Ladle the pozole into bowls. Serve with the cilantro, red onion, jalapeño and lime wedges.
Galangal is found in Thai, Indonesian, and Malaysian cooking. It’s a rhizome – an underground creeping stem of a plant that sends out shoots to create new plants. Ginger is also a rhizome, and at first glance you might mistake fresh galangal for fresh ginger, although they are related, they aren’t the same thing.
In your chef’s tip card, we invited you to visit our website for a recipe for Zesty Turkey Burgers. Here it is:
Quick & Easy Pozole
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 lb. ground turkey thigh
- 1 tbsp. galangal paste
- 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 fresh jalapeno, finely chopped
- Zest & juice 1 lime
- 4 tbsp. prepared peanut sauce
- 2 large carrots, grated
- ¼ of a small green cabbage, sliced
- 1 small red onion, sliced
- 1½ tbsp. olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 4 fresh ciabatta buns, halved, sliced & toasted
Preheat your BBQ to medium-high/400 degrees. Heat ½ tbsp. of the oil in a pan & sauté the onion for 5 minutes, adding the garlic for the last minute. Spoon into a bowl with the turkey, half the cilantro, the galangal paste, half the chopped chili, salt & pepper and lime zest. Mix to combine & then shape into 4 patties.
Brush burgers with ½ tbsp. of oil, then BBQ for 4-6 minutes on each side, until cooked through. Spoon the peanut sauce onto the toasted ciabatta halves and top with the burgers.
To make the slaw, in a bowl, mix the carrot, cabbage, red onion and remaining jalapeno & cilantro, then pour over the lime juice, stir to combine. Serve on top of the burger, inside the bun.
Our 2014 year end tips: hot ideas for any cook!
- Warm up your juicing citrus – When juicing oranges, lemons and any other citrus fruit for vinaigrettes, cocktails, juices, or seasoning foods, don’t juice them cold! You won’t get nearly as much juice.
- Don’t cook cold meat or fish – Bring meat & fish close to room temperature before cooking. If you start cooking cold food, the outside will cook much faster than the cold inside, leaving you with raw meat in the middle and overcooked meat on the outside.
- Toasty Grains – Toast grains like quinoa or couscous in a dry pan before cooking to bring out their nutty flavour. Cook them with whatever flavours you’d like them to absorb; chicken broth, almond milk, herbs, or spices.
- Hot pans work best – To get a good sear on meats or other foods, use a heavy pan and heat it up before adding your oil . Once the oil is shimmering , add your ingredients. Cold food in a cold pan is almost always a bad idea!
What was the best tip you learned in 2014? Share your tips on Facebook! #tmicheftips
Baking with Candy Cane Bits
You can have SO much fun this season and add the quintessential flavour of candy cane to your Christmas baking.
- For Candy Cane Bark, melt 2 lbs. of white chocolate, stir in the candy cane bits & pour onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Cool & break into chunks. Try not to eat it all at once!
- Dip your favourite sugar cookie or shortbread cookie into melted chocolate & then dip into the candy cane bits for garnish.
- As your favourite chocolate cookies come out of the oven, while they are still warm – press some candy cane bits into them so they stay crispy.
- Use candy cane bits to rim the edge of your martini glass for your favourite chocolate martini or sprinkle them into the whipped cream on top of your hot chocolate.
Tell us how you use your candy cane bits on Facebook!