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How to pick, peel and use peaches
3  Peach Recipes - The Messy Baker I'm on Kitchener CTV's News at Noon talking about peaches. While they're generously allotting me 5 minutes, the entire news hour isn't enough time to tell you how much I love peaches. And just how much do I love peaches? Last year, I bought an upright freezer to accommodate my lust for Blazing Stars. To keep Andrew happy, I allow the odd batch of homemade Italian meatballs and bag of oven-dried tomatoes to take up precious freezer space, but peaches are the real reason a honking big white box sits in our basement sucking up energy at a horrific rate. Last year I looked at buying and storing peaches. But based on emails and discussions, a few unanswered questions.
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How to Temper Steak
I knew I was missing a step. Despite  learning how to heat a pan to perfection and fire up the grill without burning off my eyebrows, I struggle with producing a medium-rare steak. Oh, technically, I know how to use the palm method to determine doneness, but my results are hit and miss. Turns out the reason behind my inconsistent results is, as always, impatience. I'm too disorganized busy to temper steak. Confession time. I usually grab the steak from the fridge and slap it on the heat. I've even been known to thread ice-cold beef kebabs onto skewers thinking it wouldn't matter because they're small. Wrong. Especially since I don't like well-done steak. Fortunately, Joe at Rouxbe Online Cooking School has shown me of the error of my ways. And just in time for both Canada Day (or Dominion Day for Andrew) and the Fourth of July.
Homemade salad dressing - The Messy Baker
5 Basic Elements of Homemade Salad Dressing

People roll their eyes when they hear I make my own salad dressing. From their reaction you'd think I was weaving my own linen or milling my own wheat. But homemade salad dressing is one of those ludicrously simple items that provides a suspiciously high...

How to cook dried beans - The Messy Baker
How to Cook Dried Beans
How to cook dried beans - The Messy Baker Last month, I looked at how to debone a chicken as a faster-than-you'd-think way to save money and reduce salt in your diet. This month, the money-saving, salt-smashing culinary technique deals with how to cook dried beans and legumes. And no, the kitchen reno hasn't made me lose all sense of proportion. The biggest objection I hear about cooking your own beans is, "But it takes soooo long!"  Well, yes and no. Sure soaking and boiling takes time, but you don't have to stand there and keep watch. Your active time -- picking out stones, pouring water, draining -- is only a few minutes. The beans can soak while you sleep and cook while you do other things. Like laundry. Hmmm. Not sure that scenario helped my case. Anyway, if you look at the amount of labour involved, cooking your own beans -- even chick peas -- isn't all that time consuming. Just think of them as a stock item you always have on hand and not a single ingredient for a specific meal. I've been cooking and freezing big batches of beans for more than a year now and not only notice they taste better than their canned counterparts, the texture is far less mushy. This won't matter in a pureed bean soup, but a bean salad? Why it'll turn you into a food snob. The videos below, courtesy of Rouxbe Online Cooking School, run for less than 7 minutes combined and provide all the information you need about soaking, cooking and testing beans.  The only trick I can add is to freeze them in 2-cup batches, since this is approximately the amount in a can of beans.
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How to Butcher or Debone Chicken
See those pretty crystals? They're salt. Yes, we need this essential element to live, but the average Canadian consumes three times the daily recommended dose. Spend a few minutes Googling "high-sodium diet" and you'll likely consider tossing your fleur de sel out the window. Fortunately, this isn't necessary. I was talking with Dawn Thomas, the voice of Rouxbe Online Cooking School.  She says their site doesn't label recipes low-sodium (or low-fat for that matter) and doesn't plan to. Why not? It's unnecessary. Once you learn proper cooking techniques you control these factors. So over the next few weeks I'll be devoting the occasional post to simple ways to reduce the salt in your diet. And as a special bonus, you'll find you're saving money. We'll start with deboning chicken. An easy place to start shaving that salt lick from your diet is at the butcher counter with plain old fresh chicken. If you learn to debone chicken yourself, you'll avoid sodium-laced seasoned meats and have plenty of bones for homemade stock -- low-sodium, tasty, rich stock. Deboning chicken stars with a sharp knife. I buy bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts. As soon as I get home, I debone them and freeze the bones for stock. Now, I know a lot of you are thinking this is time consuming. Initially, I thought so too, but I got out my timer. Deboning a whole chicken breast (that's left and right side, so two pieces) took me exactly 4 minutes 8 seconds. And I don't even have a proper boning knife. Cubing the chicken breast took and additional 1 minute 15 seconds each breast. In just over 6 minutes I had enough boneless, skinless chicken cubes for two mains. Money saved? At least 10% of the cost of the boneless version. I went to my butcher (Valeriote's Market on Yorkshire for those who wonder where I get gigantic, local chicken), and he kindly indulged me in a true comparison. He weighed a 3.3 pound whole skin-on, bone-in chicken breast and calculated the price. It cost $11.55. He then skinned, deboned and weighed the same chicken breast again. This time the cost was $12.82.  By buying bone-in chicken, I saved 10% on my meat bill AND had bones for stock. Plus, I had the option of keeping the skin on, which is essential for some recipes like Roasted Lemon and Cilantro Chicken, which I often make it with chicken breasts alone. Want to save more? Buy a whole chicken and butcher it yourself. Seriously. It's not that hard. With a bit of practice "Easy as deboning a chicken" will become part of your lingo. To help you on your deboning journey, once again, I turn to the good people at Rouxbe Online Cooking School. They've kindly provided videos that will reduce the intimidation factor.
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How to Roast Vegetables
[caption id="attachment_2470" align="alignnone" width="640"]A Trio of Roasted Vegetables - The Messy Baker Sweet Potatoes roasted with rosemary[/caption] I got a bit carried away. I was experimenting with roasted vegetables for today's CTV appearance and ended up making five variations. I just couldn't make up my mind which version I liked best, so I made them all. Well, almost all. Having recently posted about Herb-Roasted Potatoes I felt I could skip this one and try some less obvious options. While I know that steaming is the most healthy option, I think of it as more of a summer technique. Light, bright vegetables suit the sunny weather. But during the dull, grey days of winter? I require more depth of flavour, more variation. And roasted vegetables are the ultimate free-style side dish. Not only does roasting caramelize the natural sugars and make the dish delightfully sweet, the options are almost limitless. You can roast almost any vegetable, combine them in any way you like and season them as the mood fits. Just follow the basic steps and you can't really go wrong. To properly roast vegetables you need a:
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How to Keep Your Vegetables Colourful
How to Keep Vegetables Colourful When Cooking  - The Messy Baker So far so good on the weekly veggie post resolution. Spicy Green Beans and a pumpkin-based soup have kept me right on track and feeling all smug. This week? Well, it's a bit selfish, but I decided to turn to the experts at Rouxbe Online Cooking School once again.  One of the biggest turn offs for me as a photographer healthy eater, is dull, colourless food. Who wants to eat grey broccoli or jaundiced cauliflower? Not me. Turns out the way you cook a vegetable can be just important as how long you cook it. And of course, one method won't cover all vegetables. What works for green won't work for red. Or yellow. So, want emerald beans? Brilliant Brussels sprouts? Ruby red beets? Here's how.
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How to Make Beef Stock

Last week, when I posted about homemade French Onion Soup (shown on the left), Cheryl of 5 Second Rule politely asked if I had a recipe for beef stock. Well, Cheryl, I do -- only it's more of a technique than a measure-and-pour recipe. Stock is...

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How to Make Creme Fraiche

Look what I did! Pretty isn't it? This is just my maple squash soup and a drizzle of crème fraîche. I got so excited by the possibilities, I played with my food. While the heart was fun, it was a bit on the simple side. So I...

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