TIPS & IDEAS

TIP OF THE MONTH

Don’t know which oil to choose? Corn oil is ideal for high-heat applications, Canola is a great all-purpose option, while vegetable oil is best for low heat or baking applications.

Meats

Scoring the skin on a ham adds to beautiful presentation. Cut ¼ deep crosswise into 1 to 2 squares to create classic diamond shapes.

Meats

Before cooking, let the ham sit at room temperature for about an hour.

Meats

When serving ham, allow for ½ to ¾ lb per serving for bone-in ham, and ¼ to ½ lb per serving for a boneless ham

Seasoning

Make springtime burgers with ground lamb. Season with dill, mint or rosemary and top with chopped fresh tomatoes and feta.

Storage

Store lamb for 1-2 days in the refrigerator, or freeze for up to three months. Thaw slowly in the fridge a day or two before cooking.

Cooking

Let the cut determine the cooking technique. For tender cuts like a rack, chops, loin, sirloin or leg it’s best to broil, roast, grill, pan fry or sauté. For less tender cuts like shank or shoulder roast it’s best to braise or stew.

Baking

Don’t fill er’ up! Fill cake, muffin and bread tins only about two-thirds or three-quarters of the way up leaving enough room for the batter to expand and rise as it bakes.

Seasoning

Spice secrets: Dried spices lose their potency and freshness over time, so the spices from last year's cookie bake-a-thon may need to be replaced. Buy small quantities of less-used dried spices in the bulk section to prevent waste, and always date new bottles of your tried-and-true spice cabinet favourites.

Baking

Keep the oven door closed. Let the oven do its job and resist the temptation to frequently check on your baked goods while they’re baking. Opening the oven door lets heat out and changes the air pressure of the baking environment, which can be detrimental to the final product. If you must, spy using the oven light!

Baking

Choosey chocolatiers. The best chocolate contains only cocoa butter and no other fats. Read the label; if the chocolate contains vegetable oils, it isn't the best quality chocolate you can buy.

Baking

Cakes love a little warmth. Make sure all of your ingredients are at room temperature before starting the process. Cold ingredients won’t trap and hold air bubbles efficiently, and air bubbles are what give cakes their grandiose height. Quick tip: Warm cold shell eggs in a bowl of hot tap water for 10 minutes.

Baking

Crusts like cold. For flaky pie crust, ensure all of your ingredients are super cold to keep the butter and other fats from melting. Chill the bowl, freeze small pieces of butter, use ice water and a machine (not your warm hands) to blend ingredients and work in the coolest corner of your kitchen.

Baking

Bake in advance. As a time-saver, you can make pie crusts and cookies in advance, then freeze and bake straight from the freezer. We love slice and bake cookies for feeding holiday crowds. Baked, decorated cookies can also be frozen.

Baking

Best butters. Use unsalted butter for baking so you can control the amount of salt in your finished product. Hungry for flakier pastries, higher cakes, chewier cookies and better flavour? Use European-style butter, which has a higher proportion of butterfat to water and starts with the best quality cream.

Baking

Measured success: Because flour settles and compacts in storage, stir before measuring. Then, spoon into your measuring cup and scrape excess off with the back of a knife. Resist the urge to tap the cup on the counter or to shake it to level; both methods will pack the flour and you'll end up with more flour than the recipe calls for.

Baking

Right tools for the job. For dry ingredients (i.e. flour and sugar), use measuring cups and spoons that can be leveled off for exact measurements. Better yet, measure dry ingredients by weight so you can skip the leveling all together. Liquid ingredients need glass or plastic tools with a pouring spout.

Baking

Keep crumbs out of cake frosting by spreading a "crumb coat" a thin layer of frosting over the cake. Frost the final amount of frosting over the crumb coat and decorate.

Baking

When serving a large round cake to a crowd, cut a circle in the center (place a small bowl on the cake and trace around it). Then cut the outer ring into slices. You'll have nice square pieces that fit on a plate, instead of long wedges that drop off the edge. You can cut the small round middle into pieces too. This works well for wedding cakes.

Baking

Unfrosted cakes will keep up to two months in the freezer.

Baking

Always let cake layers cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting them onto a rack. Bundt or tube cakes need at least 15 minutes of resting time.