For the Seasoned Chef

Ideas for advanced cooks.
Published February 27, 2018

It’s time to get out of your comfort zone and try some new takes on old favourites. Whether you’re redoing wine and food pairings or you’re intrigued by new methods of cooking familiar standbys, take this opportunity to get excited about being in the kitchen again.

Rethink wine tasting: Wine tastings are a fun way to learn about wine, try new varietals, and it’s a great way to develop your palate. Branch out and away from the world of wine and try using spirits, fortified wines or even some of your favourite kombucha instead.

  • Scotch whisky and a selection of aged cheddars and plain nuts (free from salt or sugar).
  • Dessert wines (icewine, botrytis-affected wine, moscato) and salty blue cheese with dried apricots.
  • Port or sherry and Marcona almonds, Manchego cheese, and quince paste.
  • Vodka and caviar (for special occasions), pickles, and smoked salmon.
  • Kombucha and pickled beets or watermelon and citrus sorbet.

Jump on the sous vide train: If you’re at all interested in foodie culture you’ve undoubtedly heard of (and probably tasted) foods that have been cooked via the sous vide method. Sous vide involves gently cooking vacuum-sealed food in water until it reaches the exact desired temperature. Sous vide setups are becoming increasingly feasible and affordable for home cooks.

  • Eggs: A search on any social media site will tell you how many people are completely obsessed with eggs cooked via the sous vide method. Yolks hold their shape and become buttery soft and are total perfection when sprinkled with shichimi (a Japanese condiment containing sesame seeds, nori, red chili pepper and poppy seeds).
  • Steak: Steak that has been cooked using the sous vide method should be finished off on the stove top or grill to sear the outside. Sous vide steak has incredible texture and it just as delicious with minimal seasoning as it is with a brightly flavoured chimichurri sauce or crumbled blue cheese.
  • Pickled vegetables: Sous vide is a surprisingly effective way to gently cook homemade pickled vegetables (carrots, watermelon radish and shallots are particularly tasty). Rather than stinking up your kitchen with the intense smell of vinegar the sous vide method is contained and can be made in under 20 minutes.
  • Simple syrups: Simple syrups take on a whole new dimension of flavour when they undergo the gentle heat of the sous vide method. Use the same 1:1 ratio of sugar to water as you normally would, adding any extra ingredients to the sous vide bag. Experiment with different edible flowers, citrus, spicy peppers, and even herbal tea bags.

Try out a new food trend (even if it seems outrageous!): Trying out new trends in food and cooking is a fun way to learn new skills and try ingredients that might be foreign to you. As long as it isn’t harmful to your health (ahem, raw water) it’s fair game!

  • Plant-based foods: Plant-based foods have definitely been the radar of plenty of foodies for a long time and vegan recipes and restaurants are still on the rise in terms of their popularity. Instead of relying on analog meat products (say goodbye to rubbery veggie dogs) chefs and home cooks alike are creating original recipes inspired by global cuisine that won’t leave meat eaters feel like they’re missing out.
  • Insects as ingredients: Insects are an efficient and cost-effective form of protein and they’re slowly beginning to appear in more and more grocery stores across Canada. If the thought of eating insects sounds totally unappealing consider adding freeze dried and ground up crickets to your smoothie. It looks exactly like protein powder but contains plenty of healthy omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein.