Why Cooking & Eating Together as a Family is so Important

Why Cooking & Eating Together as a Family is so Important 

 

Growing up in the 80’s, supper time was the best part of the day.   We would either skip home quickly or sulk slowly, depending on what was for dinner!   Every kid had their favourite meal, jobs were delegated before and after the meal, and memories were made.  

Now, not only do we encourage eating together as a family (hey–life is busy, it doesn’t happen every night, but we do our best), we also encourage helping out with the meal.   Since starting our Online Cooking Class business, our kids are now exposed to so many different types of food, they see how much fun we have putting dinner together, and naturally have begun to ask to help out.   

Cooking together as a family offers so many benefits that extend beyond simply preparing a meal. These advantages span various aspects of family life, including health, education, emotional well-being, and social skills:

  1. Strengthening Family Bonds:
    • Quality Time: Cooking together allows family members to spend quality time together, where any age can participate.  You can stir something as soon as you can hold a spoon!   
    • Shared Responsibility: It creates a sense of shared responsibility and teamwork, as each family member contributes to the meal preparation.   Even setting the table, clearing the table, and taking turns doing the dishes.  I was actually surprised at how well my 8-year old rocked the dishes, and it made him feel great at a job well done.  

  2. Promoting Healthy Eating Habits:
    • Nutritional Awareness: Involving children in cooking helps them understand where their food comes from and the importance of nutrition, leading to healthier eating habits.  We encourage tasting along the way & trying new foods.  One of our favourite meals this year was our Bibimbap Class.  This allowed everyone to customize their bowl, being in control of what you want to add, and adding new things the next time.   
    • Home-cooked Meals: Families that cook together are more likely to prepare balanced, home-cooked meals, which are typically healthier than processed or restaurant foods.  This is a no-brainer: and cooking from scratch does not need to take hours and hours.   Quick meals such as Creamy Mushroom Pork Chops  and Cauliflower Mac n’ Cheese come together quickly, especially if you’ve delegated some jobs in the kitchen.   What we find is that we can train our palettes: the more whole foods we eat at home, the less cravings for fast food are happening.   Hey, it doesn’t mean the occasional fast food meal doesn’t happen, life is busy.   But when we can opt for homemade vs. store-bought, our palettes thank us.  

  3. Educational Benefits:
    • Practical Skills: Cooking teaches practical life skills, including meal planning, food preparation, and cleaning up.  We’ve taught our kids to properly use a knife starting at a very early age.  Our Knife Skills Class takes you through all of the basics of knife safety.   This, in turn, has lessened the load of lunch or dinner time in our households.   One of our kids LOVES green onions.  Now he can easily get them chopped up for his daily dose of Noodles!   
    • Math and Science: most obviously, cooking involves measurements, fractions, and timing.   We see this mostly in baking, but even simply learning how to properly season with salt can be a scientific lesson: a little at a time to create balance of flavours.  

  4. Emotional Well-being:
    • Stress Relief: Cooking can be a relaxing and enjoyable activity that reduces stress and promotes mindfulness.   This sounds like a dream, but with the whole family in the kitchen, is it really a reality?!  Start small, start simple.  Pancakes are the most popular choice to begin cooking together as a family, and as you progress from there, as everyone gains more kitchen confidence, it can become relaxing.  Or maybe an evening of cooking a slow braised meal, by yourself, glass of wine in hand, is your idea of stress relief (it is ours!).  At least get someone to set the table and enjoy the meal together :).  
    • Sense of Accomplishment: Completing a meal together can give family members a sense of achievement and pride.  Enough said.  When a kid beams with pride after making even a simple salad, the feeling becomes addictive and will only add to the enjoyment of family meal.  Our Junior Chef class is the perfect start to getting kids to help with putting dinner on the table! 

  5. Building Confidence and Independence:
    • Skill Development: Children who participate in cooking gain confidence in their abilities, learning to follow recipes, and make decisions in the kitchen.   Creative experimentation happens with ingredients (whether it goes well or not!), at least they are trying!   A simple ice cream sundae bar is the perfect way to start with little kids, moving on up to creating your own rice or noodle bowl as they get a little older.  Cooking together requires A LOT of communication and cooperation, only enhancing these skills in a practical setting.  
    • Independence: As children become more proficient, they gain independence and the ability to contribute meaningfully to household tasks.   We see this independence move into the real job world.  First part-time jobs can be difficult to get, but by giving them a few real-life skills at home, it has helped to gain employment in the real world!  Problem solving in the kitchen is a reality, as you need to make adjustments to recipes based on timing or ingredients or tastes.  This can only help to translate to problem solving in the real world! 

  6. Learn Cultural and Family Traditions:
    • Cultural Heritage: By far this is one of our strongest arguments for getting families to cook together.  So often we hear of recipes that ‘Grandma used to cook’ but now no one knows how.   Cooking traditional family recipes can be a way to pass down cultural heritage and family history.  Growing up, Perogies and Cabbage Rolls were recipes that we had at every occasion.  We are thrilled to pass these cherished recipes along to both our families, and you!   Cooking special meals for holidays and celebrations reinforces family traditions and creates lasting memories! 

Cooking (and eating!!) together as a family provides so many benefits that contribute to the physical, emotional, and social development of all family members. It encourages healthier eating habits, teaches valuable life skills, strengthens family bonds, and creates lasting memories.   There may be a few spills along the way, but as we always say, you have to eat anyway!   

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Picanha - The perfect cut meat to reverse sear!

Picanha - The perfect cut meat to reverse sear 

If you're looking to elevate your backyard BBQ game look no further than the Picanha. Rich in flavour, tender texture, versatile, easy to prepare and a great presentation…do you need more reasons to try this delicious cut of beef. Picanha is lower-to-mid range in price in the steak section at the butcher counter but high in flavour and perfect for feeding a crowd!

What is Picanha?

Picanha steak, also known as top sirloin cap, sirloin cap, rump cap, culotte is a deliciously, flavourful cut of beef that has its roots in Brazil. The sirloin cap is found at the very top of the cow's rump, specifically the hindquarters, and is easily recognizable by its distinct fat cap, which adds both flavour and moisture during cooking. The picanha has juiciness and mouth watering flavour.

How should I cook Picanha?

If you have ever had the pleasure of visiting a Brazilian steakhouse, the picanha is brought to you on a giant skewer and sliced right at the table. When cooking at home we prefer to cook the whole picanha using the reverse searing method. Reverse searing also works really well when you can’t resist the giant tomahawk at the butcher counter. 

You won’t find this cut at any grocery store,  you will need to visit your favourite neighbourhood Butcher shop to find the picanha. We sourced our Picanha from ForeQuarter Butcher Shop 

What is the best way to cook Picanha?

Reverse searing allows the picanha to slow-cook at a low temperature before finishing with a high-temperature sear. Reverse searing starts with gentle, indirect heat to evenly cook the interior of the meat before applying a final sear for a flavorful crust. 

How the reverse sear typically works:

  • Low-Temperature Cooking:    The whole picanha roast is cooked at a low temperature in an oven, smoker, or grill. This slow-cooking process allows the meat to gradually come up to the desired internal temperature without overcooking the exterior. For medium rare we cook the picanha to 135F.
  • Monitoring Internal Temperature:  This is when a good thermometer comes into play. We like using the Meater Probe Thermometer because it keeps us updated with an app on our phone. Cooking the meat to a few degrees below the desired final temperature helps prevent overcooking during the searing phase.
  • Final Sear:   Once the meat has reached the desired internal temperature, it's removed from the low-temperature cooking environment and transferred to a hot grill, skillet, or broiler to apply the final sear. The high heat quickly sears the exterior of the meat, creating a flavourful crust.

We prefer reverse searing for picanha and larger cuts of meats like the tomahawk, thick rib-eye steak or a thick porkchop because it allows the meat to cook more evenly, the meat retains more moisture, therefore,  better flavour development and better control during the cooking process. 

Our recipe for the reverse sear whole Picanha 

1- whole 2-4 lb picanha
Kosher salt
Fresh cracked pepper
Neutral Oil (grapeseed, canola) or Olive Oil if you prefer

  1. Pre-heat smoker to 250F.

  2. Score the top fat cap on the picanha, in a cross-hatch pattern, careful not to cut through the meat. Scoring the fat will help to baste the meat  during smoking and will be rendered crisp when you sear to meat (after the smoking)

  3. Smoke meat until the meat reads 135F (for medium rare) internal temperature on an instant read thermometer. (for approximately 1 hour). We love using the Meater meat thermometer.

  4. Remove the picanha from the smoker. Get your grill good and hot,  sear to render the fat (fat side down). Flip over to brown meat & create a crust. 

  5. Allow the picanha to rest for 20-30  minutes before slicing against the grain. 


Do you need a smoker to reverse sear?

If you don’t have a smoker, prepare the picanha with salt, pepper and score the fat cap. Cooking in an oven (pre-heated to 250F), until an internal temperature of 135F. Sear in a hot cast iron skillet or broil until the fat is rendered.

 

Chef’s Tips:

  • Using a thermometer, in the meat ensures accurate cooking and that you know exactly when to pull the meat off at the right temperature

  • Smoke is attracted to moisture, for a more smoky flavour spritz just before putting on the smoker.

  •  Resting can not be underestimated. Resting your meat allows the juices to redistribute and will keep moisture in the meat when slicing (instead of all over your cutting board)


Prefer Cooking a Picanha steak instead of the whole roast?

The whole cut of picanha is delicious as a whole roast or alternatively, cut picanha into thick steaks, shape them into “c” with the fat cap on the outside and skewer. This is how picanha is served in a Brazilian steak house. You can cook them on high heat or use the reverse searing method.

What should you serve with Picanha?

Best Potato Salad
Chimichurri Sauce
S
avoury Summer Vegetable Crumble


Want to learn more about BBQ? Try one these classes

Pork belly Burnt Ends
Turkey Workshop
Brisket Workshop
Bacon & Ribs Workshop

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All About Quinoa!

The Quinoa Revolution: A Nutrient Powerhouse for Your Plate

In the world of nutrition, there are certain foods that stand out for their exceptional health benefits, and quinoa,  (pronounced KEEN-wah)  is undoubtedly one of them. This ancient grain, native to the Andean region of South America, has been revered for centuries for its remarkable nutritional profile and culinary versatility.  

But does it taste good?  As chefs, our goal is to always make sure even the healthiest of foods taste amazing.   Quinoa has a mild, nutty flavour that pairs well with a variety of ingredients and seasonings. Its taste is often described as slightly earthy or grassy, with a hint of sweetness. The versatility of quinoa allows it to absorb the flavours of other ingredients in a dish, making it a versatile ingredient in both sweet and savoury recipes.

Read on to discover all of the benefits of quinoa, why it deserves a place of honour on your plate and in your dishes, and start cooking quinoa quickly and easily to have on hand in your kitchen,   

Is Quinoa Nutritious? 

This tiny grain is packed with a plethora of nutrients that can nourish your body and support overall well-being.  

  1. Quinoa is a Complete Protein Source: We remember learning about ‘complete proteins’ in chef school.   To contain all nine essential amino nutrients that meat has, we learned that vegetarian foods must be paired together (i.e. whole wheat bread & peanut butter, rice & beans).  But then quinoa came along!  It stands out as a rare plant-based source of complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own. This makes it an excellent option for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking to increase their protein intake.
  2. Quinoa is Abundant in Fibre: Fibre is essential for digestive health, and quinoa delivers a hearty dose of it. A single serving provides a significant portion of your daily fibre needs, promoting satiety, regulating blood sugar levels, and supporting a healthy gut microbiome.  Our Basic Quinoa Pilaf recipe is the perfect side dish to just about anything, and can up your fibre intake in no time, making you feel & perform better!  
  3. Quinoa is Rich in Essential Nutrients: Quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse, boasting an impressive array of vitamins and minerals. It's particularly high in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and folate, all of which play vital roles in various bodily functions, from bone health to energy metabolism. Magnesium alone can help prevent osteoporosis, help to regulate muscle function and prevent cramping and stiffness,  plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels, sSupports mood and mental health and has anti-inflammatory effects which may help reduce inflammation throughout the body. 
  4. Gluten-Free Goodness: For those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, quinoa is a welcome addition to the diet. Naturally gluten-free, it offers a safe alternative to wheat-based grains, allowing individuals with gluten sensitivities to enjoy its benefits without worry.  

Quinoa is Super Versatile! From Breakfast to Dinner: 


One of the most enticing aspects of quinoa is its incredible versatility in the kitchen. Whether you're whipping up a hearty breakfast, a vibrant salad, or a comforting dinner, quinoa can elevate any dish with its nutty flavour and satisfying texture. 

  1. Breakfast: Start your day on the right foot with a nourishing bowl of quinoa porridge. Cooked with almond milk and topped with fresh fruit, nuts, and a drizzle of local maple syrup or honey, it's a wholesome breakfast option that will keep you fueled for hours.  We love it mixed in with our Crispy Granola, full of seeds, nuts, coconut and just a hint of sea salt to bring out all of the flavours.   
  2. Salads: At the top of our list of Why to Cook Quinoa, it has to be for salads!    Quinoa serves as the perfect base for hearty salads as it adds so much in the way of flavour, texture, bulk and colour and is extremely versatile.   Our Number One go-to recipe is our fan favourite Greek Quinoa Salad! It combines cooked quinoa with everyone’s favourite Greek vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, tomatoes….we also love to add the tender leaves and hearts of celery), along with baby spinach, feta cheese and our Red Wine Vinaigrette. We could eat this salad almost everyday!   
  3. Protein-Packed Main Courses: From Stuffed Peppers to quinoa stir-fries, the possibilities are endless when it comes to incorporating quinoa into savoury suppers. Try our Fried Rice recipe with quinoa, or cook and toast quinoa to make for an excellent savoury crust on baked salmon.   Quinoa is a blank slate when it comes to adding flavour:  try cooked quinoa folded into caramelized onions & mushrooms and served with grilled steak!   Its versatility allows it to seamlessly complement a wide range of flavours and ingredients, making it a staple in plant-based and omnivorous diets alike.

Let’s Get Cooking!  Tips for Cooking Quinoa:  


Cooking quinoa is simple and straightforward, but there are a few tips to ensure optimal results:

  1. Rinse Before Cooking: Quinoa naturally contains a bitter compound called saponin, which can impart an unpleasant taste if not rinsed off. Rinse the quinoa under cold water in a fine-mesh sieve before cooking to remove any saponin residue.
  2. Proper Ratio: To cook quinoa, use a ratio of 2 parts liquid (water or broth) to 1 part quinoa. Bring the liquid to a boil, add the quinoa, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender.
  3. Fluff with a Fork: Once cooked, fluff the quinoa with a fork to separate the grains and achieve a light, fluffy texture.

Alternatively, try cooking quinoa using ‘the pasta method’:  Bring a large pot of water up to the boil.  Add enough salt so that the water tastes pleasantly salty.   Add in 1 cup of rinsed quinoa.  Bring back up to the boil (watch carefully so that it does not boil over!) and then reduce the heat to medium or medium-high to maintain a high simmer.   Continue to cook for 12-14 minutes, then drain well through a fine mesh strainer.   Spread out onto a baking sheet to cool,  Now your quinoa is ready to add to your next recipe!   

 

Why we have embraced, and continue to embrace the Quinoa Craze!

 

If after reading this you will likely want a giant bowl of quinoa salad in your fridge at all times!   Cooked quinoa keeps very well:  place your cooked and cooled quinoa in a sealed container and it will keep for 5 days in your fridge, ready to add to your next salad or breakfast bowl,  We’ve even sprinkled cooked quinoa into a fruit smoothie to give it bulk and nutrition!  

 

Quinoa is more than just a trendy health food—it's a nutritional powerhouse that deserves a permanent spot in your culinary repertoire. So, join the quinoa revolution and savour the goodness of this ancient grain for a healthier, happier you!

 Make Quinoa and all the elements of an amazing Salad Bar with our On-Demand Cooking Class!  Cook along with us with our SALAD PREP CLASS!   

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Our Top Ten Kitchen Tools!

Our Top 10 Kitchen Tools

The tools we love need to be multi-purpose, take up little space & crafted with quality!

This article includes affliate links. We receive a small commission on purchases from these links.

When it comes to cooking often as chefs we say that the ‘knife is an extension of your hand’.  While this no doubt is true (more on that later), we definitely have at ten ESSENTIAL tools we have close by us in the kitchen, the ones that seem to get used over and over again.   

  Our favourite kitchen tools generally meet a few requirements: they are multi-purpose (ie. you won’t see a garlic press listed below, it’s good only for one thing), take up little space and are crafted with quality. 


This list of our most used ‘smaller’ kitchen tools are work horses in the kitchen.   We’ll get into our favourite cutting boards, small appliances etc. in another blog.  

These tools help us be more efficient in the kitchen, zip through recipes quicker and have more control over your recipe!  

1. The Microplane!  A 'grate" tool!

 The ‘Microplane’ Zester/Grater: A compact zester or grater is perfect for adding citrus zest or grating cheese, chocolate, or spices.  This kitchen tool has become a must-have for many home cooks and professional chefs alike. It's a type of rasp-style grater that features small, sharp notches that create finely grated results, perfect for zesting citrus fruits or grating hard cheeses.   

We love the Microplane zester for their razor-sharp stainless steel blades, which don't rust and are dishwasher safe!. They come in various designs and colours, but the Classic Series Zester is particularly popular for its ergonomic design, non-slip handle, and the fact that it's made in the USA.  

The Microplane zester is not just limited to citrus and cheese. It can be used for grating chocolate, ginger, garlic, nutmeg, truffle, spices, nuts, and more.

Its versatility makes it a valuable addition to any kitchen.  So, if you're looking to add some zest (pun intended) to your cooking, consider investing in a Microplane zester. It might just change your life… or at least your culinary creations!

2. Mini Whisks

These small, handheld whisks are ideal for whisking eggs, dressings, or sauces in small bowls or containers. 

Here are some of the many uses for this compact kitchen tool:  

  • Dressings and Sauces: Whisk to emulsify vinaigrettes, marinades, or sauces, ensuring all the ingredients are well-combined.  We love the mini whisk here for smaller & thicker recipe sauces such as our Korean Gochujang Sauce or our Ginger-Scallion Sauce. 
  • Hot Drinks: Whip up a frothy cup of hot chocolate, matcha, or even a homemade latte with a mini whisk.  Try our ‘Cappuccino at Home!’ : A mini whisk is the perfect tool for creating velvety, foamy milk for your coffee drinks or hot cocoa.  
  • Baking: use it to blend dry ingredients for cakes, cookies, or bread.  
  • Cocktails: Mix and muddle cocktails with a mini whisk to incorporate flavours and create a smooth, well-blended drink

3.  Fine Mesh Strainer

Sometimes called a sieve or chinois, a fine mesh strainer is a versatile and essential tool in the kitchen. Here are some reasons why it's so important:

  • Sifting Dry Ingredients: When baking, using a fine mesh strainer to sift dry ingredients like flour, cocoa powder, and baking soda helps remove lumps and aerate the mixture, resulting in lighter, more consistent baked goods.
  • Straining Liquids: Use a fine mesh strainer to remove solids or impurities from broths, sauces, or gravies, ensuring a smooth and silky texture.  It is essential for our Miso Ramen Recipe!  
  • Draining Pasta and Grains: A fine mesh strainer can easily drain cooked pasta, rice, or other grains without losing any of the smaller pieces down the drain.  Try making our recipe for Pasta Carbonara, the fine mesh strainer allows you to remove the pasta, leaving the precious pasta cooking liquid in the pot.  
  • Rinsing Fruits and Vegetables: Use a fine mesh strainer to rinse fresh produce under running water, removing dirt, pesticides, and debris.
  • Sifting Powdered Sugar: A fine mesh strainer is perfect for evenly dusting cakes, cookies, and desserts with a light coating of powdered sugar.
  • Making Smooth Purees or soups, such as our creamy Sunshine Soup. 

4. A Vegetable Peeler

  • A vegetable peeler is a crucial kitchen tool. We prefer Swissmar peelers they have sharp blades, ergonomic handles, &  the razor-sharp blade that's perfect for peeling hard fruits and vegetables.  We love the ‘Y’ peeler for so much more:  Creating Uniform Slices: Vegetable peelers can create thin, uniform slices of fruits and vegetables, which can be essential for certain recipes such as preparing many of the vegetables for our Bibimbap!. We use our sharp peelers to make beautiful vegetable ribbons for salads, stir-fries or appetizers, such as our Asparagus & Goat’s Cheese Crostini!   Vegetable peelers can also create decorative garnishes, such as thin curls of carrots, cucumbers, or zucchini, adding visual appeal to your dishes

5. The Asian Spider

Ah, the "Asian Spider" kitchen tool!   Also known as the  "Spider Strainer," also known as a "Wire Skimmer." It's a traditional East Asian utensil that resembles a shallow wire-mesh basket attached to a long, typically bamboo,  handle. The Spider Strainer is commonly used in Asian cooking for a variety of tasks, such as removing hot food from boiling liquids or hot oil, draining foods, scooping up noodles, dumplings, or other delicate items. Its unique design allows for easy and safe handling of hot food, as the long handle keeps your hands away from the heat.  It’s a toss up likely between this and the Microplane as to what gets used most in our kitchens!   Here’s why we love the Asian Spider:  

    • Essential for removing noodles from boiling water, getting them right into your bowls of broth or sauce, such as with our Dan Dan Noodles or even with Homemade Italian Pasta.  
    • Removing boiled eggs from hot water
    • Removing vegetables from blanching water, like our kid’s favourite Broccoli.
    • Frying foods like tempura, wontons, and our classic Fish & Chips.

    6.   Kitchen Tongs

    Having a good pair of tongs in your kitchen is essential for a variety of tasks. This may seem like an obvious one, but so often we’ll step into someone’s kitchen and a GOOD PAIR of tongs is not at the ready.  Like a knife, the tongs are also an extension of a chef’s hand.  Here are some features to look for when selecting tongs:

      • Material: Look for tongs made from durable stainless steel.  Silicone is fine, (heat-resistant and easy to clean), but it they can be slippy, especially if you’re cooking over a hot BBQ or frying pan.  We definitely recommend stainless steel when turning over foods in hot oil, such as our Panko-Crusted Fish sticks!  
      • Length: Choose tongs with a length that suits your needs. Longer tongs (usually around 12-16 inches) are ideal for grilling or cooking over high heat, while shorter tongs (around 9-12 inches) are better suited for general cooking tasks.
      • Grip: Ensure that the tongs have a comfortable and secure grip.  Some tongs feature silicone or rubber handles, which can provide a better grip and help protect your hands from heat.
      • Locking Mechanism: Many tongs come with a locking mechanism, which allows you to close and store them easily, taking up less space in your kitchen drawers.  
      • Scalloped or Flat Edges: Tongs with scalloped edges can help you grip slippery or delicate foods more easily, while tongs with flat edges are better for flipping and turning larger, heavier items

      7. A flat-sided wooden spoon

      • 7.   A flat-sided wooden spoon is a unique kitchen tool that combines the features of a spoon and a spatula. Its flat edge is ideal for scraping, flipping, stirring, and serving, making it incredibly versatile in the kitchen.   One of the benefits of using a wooden spoon is that it's gentle on non-stick cookware, so you don't have to worry about scratching your pans. Plus, they're usually made from natural, eco-friendly materials like sheesham wood or teak.   A flat-sided wooden spoon can be a game-changer in your cooking routine:  it is our primary go to for: 
      • Breaking down ground beef or other meats, such as beef for Tacos
      • Scraping up the ‘fond’ on the bottom of our pots and pans after searing meat or vegetables to help us Deglaze the pan
      • Perfect for sweating mirepoix 

      For our Thai curry recipe, nothing else breaks down that palm sugar better! 

      8. A mandoline
        The Japanese mandoline!  If you're looking for a tool that can slice fruits and vegetables into beautifully consistent, thin pieces, the Japanese mandoline is a game-changer. Unlike bulky French mandolines, Japanese mandolines are lighter, smaller, and easier to use, making them perfect for home kitchens.   One of the most popular brands is the Benriner mandoline which has been around since 1940. We’ve both had ours since chef school!  It features a super-sharp blade that sits at a diagonal angle for better control and accuracy. And because of their compact size, Japanese mandolines are great for kitchens with limited space.  Just be aware that the blade is extremely sharp, so make sure to handle it with care and follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe use. From Coleslaw to Hot Pink Pickled Cabbage to Crispy Fried Shallots, the Japanese mandolin is never far out of reach.  

      9. A portion scoop

      A Portion Scooper: from Meatballs to Cookies, tasks are done quickly, cleanly and evenly!  Portion scoops are handy tools designed to help you measure and portion out food consistently and efficiently. 

      A portion scoop is ideal for a variety on tasks in the kitchen:

        • Proteins: Use a portion scoop to measure and portion out ground meat for burgers, meatballs, or meatloaf.  You’ll be amazed at how quickly you can do this now!  
        • Starches: A portion scoop can help you consistently measure and serve rice, mashed potatoes, or quinoa.
        • Desserts: Use a portion scoop for cookies, ice cream, or cupcake or Muffin batter to ensure each serving is uniform.   Portion scoops are typically made from stainless steel, making them durable and easy to clean. They usually feature a spring-loaded handle that allows you to release the food easily.

        10. The Wüsthof Fish Spatula

        The Wüsthof Fish Spatula, also known as a slotted fish spatula, turner, or what we lovingly refer to it as (and every other restaurant chef): The FISHULA!   It's a versatile kitchen tool that's not just limited to flipping delicate fish fillets—although it does that incredibly well. 

        The fish spatula features a long, narrow head that's designed to easily slide under foods without crumbling, making it perfect for flipping and serving a variety of dishes like burgers, hash browns, and even cookies. Plus, its sharpened edge is great for portioning and serving casseroles or lasagna.   Made from high-quality materials like high-carbon stainless steel and synthetic polypropylene, the Wüsthof Fish Spatula is durable, sturdy, and easy to clean. 

        We love this tool because it can handle both delicate and heavier items without wavering or losing its strength.  It is a one-time, lifetime purchase!  So, whether you're a fish lover or just looking for a versatile spatula for your kitchen, the Wüsthof Fish Spatula might just be the perfect choice for you! 

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          How our On-Demand Cooking Classes Work

          Our on demand cooking classes are a unique way to master any recipe at home.  More than just reading a recipe from a book, when you have two chefs guiding you step by step it's almost as if they are in your own home kitchen!  Our On-Demand Cooking classes give you solid dinner and recipe ideas, allow you to get more accomplished in a shorter amount of time, with results you never thought possible.  Save money and make better food at home with the guidance of an On-Demand Cooking Class! 


          With over 100 classes to choose from, start with the category of recipes you are looking to make.  We've got meals ready in under an hour, dinner party Ideas, accessible classes for the junior chef in your life, weekend projects, our favourite desserts and more.  All recipes are tried, tested and true–not only by us, two chefs AND moms, but by our global community of home cooks who have been taking our classes for almost 15 years!  


          Once you’ve chosen a class you are automatically sent everything you need to know for a recipe for success:  


          1. A detailed Ingredient List including handy links to ingredients.  Our shopping list is broken down into three categories: Produce, Protein/Dairy, and Pantry.  This allows you to easily glance at it, see what you might already have, and what you need to shop for.   You’ll find links to some of our favourite spices, dry goods and equipment on this list.  
          2. Our handy Cooking Guide: this is your side-by-side companion while you cook and your key to accomplishing the recipe(s) in an organized and efficient manner.  The Cooking Guide is how chefs think about how they are going to bring together a meal.  It contains step-by-step instruction on what to start when, how to chop everything, what do while something else is cooking, when to check on something in the oven… all with the ingredient amounts clearly listed on the right hand side of the page.  It’s easier to view than always referencing a recipe and is there to help you bring together the dish with success.  
          3. The Downloadable On-Demand Video!  Our On-Demand Cooking Classes bring two chefs into your home kitchen with education, entertainment and encouragement along the way.   Chefs Jody & Kirstie teach from their set-up kitchen complete with multiple cameras and professional lighting for ideal viewing.  In any given class you’ll see more than once what is happening with constant recapping, check-ins and purposeful pauses.  Better still, if you need to pause the video to catch up on chopping or answer the door, you’ve got that power!  You will feel like you’ve got two chef friends helping you get dinner on the table!  
          4. The Recipes: with a picture for every recipe, serving sizes, prep time and cook time, you’ll have the recipes now for life for your future reference.   Again, these recipes are MORE than tried and tested by us, they are loved by many across the globe!  


          So by now you’ve chosen your class, purchased the necessary ingredients and you are ready to cook!  Press play on the video and gather your equipment along with Chef Jody’s guidance.  We get you started on everything: if you need to preheat your oven or BBQ, any alternatives or substitutions and any ingredient divisions necessary before starting the class.  Now it's simply time to cook along, pause if needed and enjoy the results!   


          There are so many advantages to our On-Demand Cooking Classes including:  


          Convenience and Flexibility:

          • Flexible Scheduling: You can take the class at any time that fits your schedule. 
          • Pace: Learn at your own pace. You can pause, rewind, and rewatch lessons as needed.

          Accessibility:

          • Location Independence: Participate from anywhere in the world, eliminating geographic constraints.
          • Wide Range of Options: Access to a vast variety of cuisines and techniques that might not be available locally.

          Cost-Effective:

          • Lower Costs: Often less expensive than in-person classes due to no overhead for the venue.  Moreover, you can get the whole family involved in the process!   Click HERE for more on why you should cook (and eat!) together as a family.  
          • Cooking at Restaurant Quality At home: You will spend less money on going out to eat as you’ve now mastered how to make take-out worthy meals at home!   

          Comfort of Home:

          • Familiar Environment: Cook in your own kitchen with your own tools and ingredients.  Learning your own ‘dance moves’ in your own home kitchen will make you a more efficient and confident cook.  
          • Less Intimidating: A more relaxed and private setting can be less intimidating for beginners.
          • Unwind and destress:  Cooking (or baking) can be an effective way to relieve stress. It’s an opportunity to be creative, stimulate the brain, and even connect to the people (or places) you aren’t able to visit. Click HERE for more on the connection between cooking and stress.   

          Ongoing Support:  

          • Chef Friends for Life!  Chefs Jody & Kirstie are now your chef friends for life.  Share your results, ask questions (via email or ….) and tell us what you would like to learn!  
          • Digital Materials: Access to more downloadable recipes, video tutorials, and other learning resources.
          • Community of Cooks: You are now part of a larger online group of home cooks!  From our daily Instagram tips & tricks to our live forums to share experiences and tips, you will feel supported as you continue your journey as a competent home cook!  

          Improve your cooking and make meals with your family today!  Click HERE for all of our On-Demand Cooking Classes!  

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          For the Love of Tiramisu

          There are many reasons why you should make Tiramisu!  For us,  it is a no-bake dessert that can be fully customizable depending on your tastes.  We love that you can control the sweetness, the look of it, and make it your own!   Better still, the backbone of Tiramisu relies on prepared ‘lady finger biscuits’, so this dessert comes together quickly and easily.  With little special equipment and easy to find ingredients, make this dessert for your next party!  

          Tiramisu, put simply,  is a chilled dessert with heavenly layers of creamy mascarpone cheese, delicate ladyfinger biscuits soaked in coffee, and a hint of cocoa.   Let’s dig deep into this dessert, starting with the history, outlining the ingredients & preparation, and the variations of this iconic Italian dessert.

          The Origins of Tiramisu:

          Tiramisu, which translates to "pick me up" or "lift me up" in Italian, is believed to have originated in the Veneto region of Italy in the 1960s or 1970s. While its exact origins are shrouded in mystery, Tiramisu's popularity quickly spread beyond Italy, becoming a beloved dessert in kitchens and restaurants around the globe.

          One popular tale suggests that tiramisu was created by a clever pastry chef in the town of Treviso. It is said that the chef developed the dessert as a way to impress his customers with a unique and flavorful creation. The energising treat that is tiramisu can be attributed to one of its main ingredients: coffee!  

          Another story attributes the invention of tiramisu to the city of Siena, where it was allegedly served to give a boost to weary travellers passing through.  Makes sense!   

          Regardless of its exact origins, tiramisu gained widespread popularity in Italy during the latter half of the 20th century and eventually became a beloved dessert around the world. 

           

          Key Ingredients:

          No matter what variation you may put on tiramisu, here are the essential ingredients to have on hand.   Many of these ingredients are staples in our home kitchens, save for the mascarpone, which we explain below.  

          1. Mascarpone Cheese: This rich and creamy cheese provides the luxurious texture that defines Tiramisu.   Mascarpone cheese is a creamy, rich, and indulgent Italian cheese that hails from the Lombardy region of Northern Italy. Mascarpone is made from fresh cream, which is heated and then coagulated with the addition of an acidic substance, such as lemon juice or citric acid. The resulting curds are then drained and the creamy curd is collected and gently pressed, creating a smooth and velvety texture.   Compared to other cheeses, mascarpone has a high fat content, typically around 60-75%. This high fat content contributes to its luxurious mouthfeel and rich flavour.   It also has a delicate, slightly sweet taste with a mild tanginess that pairs beautifully with both sweet and savoury dishes.     Because of its versatility and creamy texture, mascarpone is not only used in desserts like our beloved Tiramisu but also in savoury dishes such as creamy pasta sauces and risottos. 
          2. Ladyfinger Biscuits: also known as Savoiardi in Italian, these biscuits are delicate, finger-shaped sponge biscuits that are popular in a variety of desserts.   They are  light and airy and have  a dry and porous texture, which makes them perfect for soaking up liquids like coffee or liqueur without becoming overly soggy.    Ladyfinger biscuits are typically made from a batter consisting of flour, sugar, and eggs. The batter is piped into long, slender shapes before being baked until they are lightly golden and firm to the touch. The resulting biscuits are crisp on the outside and soft and sponge-like on the inside.    These light and airy biscuits serve as the perfect sponge for soaking up the coffee and liqueur mixture.  See below for Gluten Free option!   
          3. Espresso Coffee: Strong brewed espresso adds a bold and robust flavor to each layer of Tiramisu.   We’ve also used strong coffee, so there is no excuse not to make this if you don’t have espresso on hand!  
          4. Cocoa Powder: A dusting of cocoa powder on top using a fine mesh strainer makes you look like a professional pastry chef!  
          5. Eggs and Sugar: Whipped egg yolks and sugar create a light and fluffy zabaglione, adding sweetness and structure to the mascarpone filling.
          6. Liqueur (Optional): While not traditionally included in all recipes, a splash of Marsala wine or other liqueur can enhance the depth of flavour in Tiramisu.  Our version contains the popular coffee liqueur, Irish Baileys!   

          Basic Method:  

          Creating Tiramisu requires just a few simple steps and some tips and tricks for the perfect dessert.   We love the simplicity and repetition of putting this dessert together.   This is just an overview of the method. Click HERE for the full recipe & class!  

          1.  Prepare the coffee: Brew a strong batch of espresso or coffee and allow it to cool to room temperature.
          2. Make the mascarpone filling: In a mixing bowl, combine mascarpone cheese, whipped egg yolks, and sugar until smooth and creamy.
          3. Assemble the layers: Dip ladyfinger biscuits into the cooled coffee and liqueur if using, and arrange them in a single layer at the bottom of a serving dish.
          4. Add the mascarpone mixture: Spread a layer of the mascarpone filling over the soaked biscuits.
          5. Repeat: Continue layering the soaked biscuits and mascarpone filling until you reach the top of the dish.
          6. Chill and serve: Refrigerate the Tiramisu for several hours to allow the flavours to meld together, then dust with cocoa powder before serving.

          Variations and Creative Twists:

          While the traditional Tiramisu recipe remains a timeless classic, there are countless variations and creative twists to explore:

          1. Fruit Tiramisu: Add fresh berries or sliced fruit between the layers.   This is especially beautiful in the summer months using local strawberries!  
          2. Chocolate Tiramisu: Incorporate layers of chocolate ganache or grated chocolate for an extra indulgent treat.  Even easier, add 1 or 2 spoonfuls of good quality cocoa powder to your mascarpone filling.   
          3. Vegan Tiramisu: Substitute dairy-free alternatives such as cashew cream or coconut yogurt for the mascarpone cheese to create a vegan-friendly version.
          4. Gluten Free Tiramisu: GF Lady Fingers are available here.  Using these will give you an amazing Gluten-Free dessert!   
          5. Tiramisu Cake: Transform the classic dessert into a layered cake by stacking alternating layers of sponge cake and mascarpone filling.
          6. Individual Tiramisu Dessert Trifles: in small dishes layer the filling and garnish with lady fingers.  

          Make it Now!  

          There is a reason why some desserts have simply stood the test of time.   Tiramisu stands as a testament to the timeless allure of Italian cuisine. Whether enjoyed as a comforting indulgence or a show-stopping dessert for special occasions, Tiramisu never fails to captivate with its irresistible blend of flavours and textures. So why wait? Treat yourself to a slice of Tiramisu today and experience the magic for yourself!  

          Click HERE for our On-Demand Tiramisu Cooking Class complete with step-by-step instructions, ingredient list & our own tried & true recipe!  

           

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          Why you should take a Live Online Cooking Class!

          We need to eat to survive, and have been cooking food for ourselves,  for our families and for our communities for millennia.    Convenience foods were introduced post war,  there was a societal shift in how and when we would eat our meals (think: The TV dinner!)  and cooking  from scratch became a little bit of a lost art form.   Fast forward to 1993 with the dawn of the Food Network and now chefs were celebrities,  everyone wanted to cook amazing food and but did not really know how.   We all wanted to unlock the mystery of how to make homemade pasta,  Beef Wellington, or Butter Chicken.  But unless we went to Chef School for several years and took on a grueling apprenticeship,  this just wasn't possible.    Until now.   Cooking schools are everywhere all over the world to feed our need to eat better food.    


          Both online and in-person cooking classes have their own sets of advantages. We started as an in-person cooking class business, and have evolved to the global online business we have today.   Do we miss the former?   Do we think one style of learning is better than the other?   The choice between them depends on personal preferences, learning style, and practical considerations like schedule, location, and budget. Online classes offer flexibility and convenience, while in-person classes provide more of an interactive, and social learning experience.  Because we have experience with both, having taught thousands of ‘student’s’, the feedback we have acquired is that when it comes down to becoming a better home cook, learning in your own home kitchen is key.  We often talk about the dance moves in a kitchen: only you know the dance moves in your home kitchen and it is important to learn them and practise them!  


          In this article we're going to give an overview of  what our Live Online Cooking Classes look like when you join,  why you should take one to improve your own home cooking and how you will feel after just one class!    


          When you join one of our Live Online Cooking Classes, it means that we are teaching you in real time how to cook, via zoom, in your own home kitchen.  You choose a class from one of our Upcoming Live Online Cooking Classes, which is 8-12 weeks of upcoming classes.   We teach at 12pmEST & 5pmEST, about twice a week.  (Click to find out more about our Upcoming Schedule,  Adding Ingredients and Watching the Recording).    And by ‘we’, it’s Chefs Jody & Kirstie teaching you together.  No dead air, fun facts and banter decorates the class, and multiple camera views with recaps and repeats ensure no cook is left behind.  


          There may be anywhere from 10-100 other people online, but that does not affect the experience.   We begin every class with a welcome and overview of the upcoming dishes we will prepare, we go over all of our equipment and ingredients, and any other housekeeping or class set-up necessary for a successful class.   


          With all of our classes you are armed with our handy ‘cooking guide’.   This is a step-by-step companion while you cook, with all of the ingredient amounts listed on the right, and the steps on the left.  Not exactly a recipe, it's basically a ‘how-to’ of getting dinner on the table in the most efficient and timely way possible.  


          Going through the steps of the recipes is well-paced and thoroughly explained.   Feel free to ask questions in the chat, or unmute yourself to ask a quick question.  ‘Cameras on’ is more fun (we really can see your shoulders crunch up when you are whisking and can remind you to relax!) but it is totally optional.   Again, with two chefs and multiple cameras, if you missed a step the first time, we always recap the key elements of any dish.   


          As class wraps up, we always show you our ideal plate presentation or as we lovingly refer to it, ‘the model citizen’ and encourage you to share yours as well!  


          At the end of every class you will feel accomplished, confident and super excited to share your meal with family and friends.   You will gain new dance moves in your home kitchen you never thought possible.    The quality of a simple weekday meal will be improved tenfold, with tips and tricks from Chefs Jody & Kirstie– things you don’t necessarily always get while reading a recipe.  We reinforce time-honoured cooking techniques, the ‘lost art’ that we so desperately need to come back into our lives.   


          After class you will automatically receive a fully downloadable set of recipes, as well as the class recording to make re-creating the recipes a breeze!  


          In summary, choosing to take one our our Live Online Cooking Classes provides you with the following: 


          • Improved cooking skills in your own home kitchen, using your own equipment.  
          • Confidence when approaching many recipes by breaking down recipes in an organized and efficient manner.  
          • Answers to questions and tips on techniques you may not always find in a written recipe.   
          • Real-time access to two highly qualified chefs during the class AND after!  We are now your Chef Friends for Life and welcome any correspondence on your cooking questions, anytime.    
          • Great value:  For the fraction of the cost of going out to eat or attending an in-person class on your own, our Live Online Cooking Classes will benefit you and your family for years to come.  
          • A feeling of accomplishment after you have cooked a meal entirely from scratch, possibly with new and exciting ingredients.   

          Join us today to start your
          at-home cooking journey!  












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