Potatoes: A Recipe and Tips for Roasting

Here is a recipe and some tips for roasting potatoes. This dish is extremely versatile. I often make these as a snack or as a side dish.

Plated Potatoes


  • Yukon Gold Potatoes | 1/2 inch thick slices.
  • Olive Oil.
  • Salt.
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper.

It does not get much simpler than that.

Potato Ingredients


  1. Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place potatoes in some salted cold water in a pot on high heat.
  3. Once brought to a boil, reduce heat to a low simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Drain potatoes well and transfer to large bowl.
  5. Toss in salt and olive oil until the outsides of the potatoes are coated in a starchy paste (1-2 minutes).
  6. Quickly remove baking sheet from the oven, drizzle olive oil on the baking sheet and arrange the potatoes evenly before putting back in the oven.
  7. Bake until potatoes are crispy on the outside (around 20 minutes flipping after 10 minutes).
  8. Adjust seasoning and then finish with black pepper and/or herbs.
  9. Serve immediately.

Why boil the potatoes most of the way?

Boiling Potatoes

Gently simmering draws sugars and starch towards the surface of the potato. This will help the caramelization in the oven.

Why toss the potatoes roughly?

Tossing the potatoes roughly increases the surface area. It does this by roughing up the surface and creating imperfections. This speeds up the evaporation. Caramelization can only occur after the surface water content has evaporated. This also increases the rate at which fat can be absorbed.

Why Yukon Gold?

The cooking method relies on water evaporation in order to create a crispy exterior. Yukon gold has enough moisture that it won’t dry out completely even though we’ve maximized the evaporation rate. We therefore end up with a crispy exterior and a creamy interior.


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Bacon Cooking Methods: Microwave vs Stovetop vs Oven.

There are very few documented cases of people not liking bacon. I’ve witnessed it convert weak vegetarians and it features in a lot of people’s ideal breakfasts.

I’ve been arguing with a friend about the best way to make bacon for years. He maintains that microwave bacon is the best. On the other hand I’ve been trying to convince him that bacon cooked in a pan is much better. After years of back and forth I decided to take a closer look at the most popular ways bacon is cooked. Spoiler alert: we were both wrong.

Microwaved Bacon

Bacon in the Microwave


Because of the nature of how microwaves cook, your bacon will turn out less greasy than it would in a pan. This however might not be a good thing depending on how you look at it. The dehydration as it cooks in the microwave helps create a crispy texture throughout. This is most preferable as a garnish or in salads as opposed to just eating it on its own as we often do for breakfast.

Shredded Bacon

The most obvious benefit to cooking with a microwave is speed.


This speed however means that it is harder to time the cooking of your bacon. This problem of inaccuracy is exacerbated by the fact that it is hard to see into some microwaves. Although its impossible to not dehydrate the bacon at all, completely dehydrated bacon is too often the product of the microwave method.

This is probably because we’d rather dehydrated jerky bacon than soggy bacon. The problem is that one changes into the other in a very small window of time.

Undercooked Bacon

Another issue with microwaving bacon is the fact that you can’t add any flavours by way of a marinade or anything like that.  It simply will not take on any of the marinade flavour in the short time that it has to cook. The marinade will also be reduced far more than desired in a microwave. The same issues with timing apply to the marinade as well.

Stovetop Bacon

Bacon in the Pan


In my opinion, the benefit of speed that the microwave provides is not worth the inaccuracy. That is why the best thing about cooking bacon on a stovetop is the fact that it is the most accurate method.

The process happens slowly and in front of your eyes the entire time. It is very easy to get bacon to the exact doneness that you want with this method.


Although this was my preferred method for many years, I would always be annoyed by the fact that you could only cook so many pieces of bacon at a time.

More importantly, the fat curls when heated and makes it very difficult to get even cooking. Most of the time you have large portions of the bacon soggy from the steaming that occurred because of the curling while other parts would be burned if cooked any longer.

Curled Bacon

Turning down the heat on the stove for a much longer cook fixes the issues of curling a bit. This however further fuels the problem of not being able to cook that many pieces of bacon at a time.

Oven Bacon

Bacon in the Oven


Lets start off by addressing one of the weaknesses that the stovetop had. You can cook way more in the oven at a time.

More importantly, because of the fact that the oven provides heat from every direction as opposed to the stovetop, it allows for the bacon to be cooked evenly even if the fat curls.

It also does not take up space on the stovetop and only takes 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the perfect amount of time for you to make eggs, toast, and coffee. You just have to set a timer and forget about it.


Oven Cooked Bacon

It is hard to find a con for this method. If you really want to get nitpicky I guess it’s not as fast as the microwave.

Bottom Line

I thought microwaved bacon shined with regards to convenience and the stovetop was how you got the best results.

It turns out the oven is only marginally slower than the microwave and if you are cooking a big enough batch it can actually be faster than the microwave.

It also provides you with the best results. It is no wonder why oven cooked bacon is now my preferred method.



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Vietnamese Braised Pork Belly


  • Trimmed Pork Belly – cut into 2 inch cubes.
  • Coconut Juice
  • Whole Thai Chillies
  • Ginger
  • Scallion
  • Shallots
  • Brown Sugar
  • Sesame Oil
  • Juice of one clementine
  • Soy Sauce
  • Fish Sauce
  • Salt and Black Pepper


1. In a medium heated pot, slowly fry off the shallots in sesame oil.

2. Move the shallots to one side of the pot and make a light caramel with brown sugar.


3. Brown the pork belly in the brown sugar and deglaze with clementine juice.


4. Add coconut juice, ginger, thai chilli, fish sauce, and soy sauce.


5. Simmer on low for about two hours (or until falling apart to a firm touch). Make sure to stir occasionally.

6. After turning off the heat, sprinkle on scallions to let them soften from the residual heat.


7. Serve over steamed rice.

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Cooking Fried Rice (Some Key Tips)

To make life easier for yourself before cooking anything, its best to prepare all the ingredients first. In french cuisine this is called mise en place which means putting in place. This practise is particularly useful when making things like fried rice.

The actual cooking time for fried rice is quite short so its next to impossible to prepare things while you go.


Mise en place

Usually, I pick ingredients for fried rice based on what I have left over in my fridge. It is a great way to get rid of the produce you’ve yet to use. For the best results however, its ideal to use the freshest and most vibrant of ingredients.

I often like to use fermented products for seasoning because they add a lot of savouriness without making the dish even heavier than it already is. Soy sauce, fish sauce, and Sriracha are my favourites.


Photo by Irvin Mai

Some key tips for making fried rice.

1. A good trick is to use refrigerated rice. If the rice is freshly cooked it has a tendency to stick together and become mushy if fried right away.

2. Cook each ingredient separately. Each ingredient takes a different amount of time to cook. It is pretty hard to time everything if you are cooking it in one pan/wok.

3. Cook the rice last and fold in the rest of the already cooked ingredients.

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Using Salad Dressings

Taste buds are always looking to be stimulated. Salad dressings are a great way to make this happen. Some salads are one dimensional in terms of their flavour profile. This is particularly true with simple leafy green salads. Leafy salads are generally bitter but are not much else. Making a complementary salad dressing for these leafy greens would at least involve some sweetness, sourness, and saltiness. The making of each salad dressing will depend on each salad but here is an overview of some of the more popular salad dressing components.

1. Fat.


Photo by Irvin Mai

If your salad is mostly crisp vegetables, it’s likely that it lacks mouthfeel. This is where fat comes in. If you’ve watched the food network you’ve probably been conditioned to think that olive oil is the first ingredient in any salad dressing. Any fat however, can add mouthfeel, body, and luxuriousness to salads. It is most convenient to use various oils however one of my favourite fats to use in a dressing is brown butter.

2. Acidity.


Photo by Irvin Mai

Whenever there is fat you’ll want acidity to cut through it. I always feel unsatisfied when I eat a burger without pickles or at least an acidic condiment like ketchup.

3. Sweetness


Photo by Irvin Mai

This is not as essential as the first two but people generally like salad dressings that have an element of sweetness to them. The same can be said for spices. Dijon mustard is one of the more popular ways to add spice to dressings.


Boston Lettuce, Red Onions, Tomatoes, Radishes dressed with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar, Dijon Mustard, Maple Syrup, Salt, and Pepper.



Kidney Beans, Corn, Avocado, Tomatoes, and Dill dressed with Avocado Oil, Lemon, Cumin, Smoked Paprika, and Salt, finished with Dill.



Broccoli, Red Pepper, Yellow Pepper, Corn, and Shallots dressed with homemade lemon aioli and finished with grated gruyere.

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My Favourite Three Ingredient Omelette

There was a time when I used to make an omelette every day for breakfast. Those days are long gone.

Everyday for the past few months I’ve woken up to coffee and toast. I believe my coffee addiction has resulted in my inability to make anything more complicated than toast first thing in the morning. At the very least its destroyed any desire to.

I figured I’d give it a try today. To make things easier on myself I stuck to a relatively simple omelette.


  • Eggs.
  • Gruyere.
  • Chives.
Omelette Ingredients

Photo by Irvin Mai


  1. Whisk eggs in a bowl.
  2. Grate the desired amount of gruyere and then some (for snacking).
  3. Heat butter in a pan until it starts to brown.
  4. Toss in eggs and agitate for 10-15 seconds.
  5. Let eggs cook until 30 seconds from completion.
  6. Sprinkle on gruyere.
  7. Kill the heat and fold the omelette in half.
  8. Transfer to plate or cutting board and cut in half.
  9. Garnish with chives and freshly ground black pepper.

Photo by Irvin Mai

The result is a delightfully tender omelette with just-melted gruyere. The chives work well as a garnish providing a suggestion of an oniony bite. This compliments the richness of the omelette and cheese.

I used to add a lot of ingredients to my omelette. Over the years I’ve found that my favourite things to eat are generally minimalistic. I can’t think of anything I could add that would enhance this omelette.

A common mistake I used to make was culinarily jumping the shark. Sometimes you just have to recognize that you have the perfect game going. Think of how amazing sashimi can be.

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Microwaves: The Coolest Appliance You Have

Microwaves are super popular. Nearly every home I’ve been in recently has one. People usually associate microwaves with convenience as they are far and away the fastest way to heat most food. Unfortunately, they’ve long been shunned by the culinary world. High end classically trained Chefs have turned their nose up at the notion of microwaved food on television. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen a Gordon Ramsay shame someone for even having a microwave. I’m not sure if this is done because old school Chefs do not understand how a microwave works or for another reason but its caused the general public to think microwaves are incapable of producing delicious food.

How it works


Photo by Tech-Kid

Microwaves essentially work by producing electromagnetic waves that interact with polar molecules (mostly water) in food. By causing these polar water molecules to oscillate at a ridiculously high frequency, the electromagnetic waves increase the temperature of the food by using the food itself.


Photo by Irvin Mai

Why its better

The classic technique for boiling or steaming vegetables or any other food item is to wait until the water is as hot as possible before dropping the food in. This is because the longer the vegetable stays in the water, the more flavour and nutrients dissolves into the water. In fact, slowly simmering bones or vegetables is exactly how you extract the most amount of flavour when making a stock. Water can only exist in a liquid state up to 100 degrees celsius so there  is a limit to how fast an ingredient can be cooked. Therefore, there inevitably is going to be some flavour and nutrients lost.


Photo by Irvin Mai

Microwaves aren’t perfect but they cook food faster than any other method and the water that is cooking the food is inside the food itself so the flavour and nutrients is not extracted. This results in the most vibrant and nutritious result unmatched by alternative classic cooking techniques.


Defrost Microwave

Photo by Irvin Mai

Have you ever tried cooking something in the microwave from frozen? If you have you probably remember because the result is quite startling. If you haven’t, what happens is parts of the food ends up being fully cooked while other parts of the food remains completely frozen.

This is because of the fact that frozen water has a different atomic structure than liquid water. Frozen water does not interact with the microwaves. The liquid water ends up cooking food near these molecules very quickly while the rest of the food is untouched. The defrost setting is simply the magnetron in the microwave oscillating between being on and off. This allows for small increments in cooking around the liquid water molecules which in turn provide enough heat to melt the frozen parts of the food. This allows for more even heating than the standard microwave setting.

Hopefully this has shed some light on the microwave, an appliance that has been grossly misunderstood for years.

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The Benefits of Sous Vide Cooking

Sous Vide is a cooking technique in which an ingredient is heated at a consistent temperature in a water bath. Since the heat can be precisely controlled, the end results can accurately and consistently be predicted.


Photo by Hana Dibe

Why Sous Vide?

1. Timing

Anova Sous-Vide

Photo by Hana Dibe

Traditional cooking techniques involve using heat that is much hotter than the ideal internal temperature of the food. Think about how hot an oven, barbecue, or a frying pan gets compared to the temperature of food that is edible.

This means that timing is crucial. With traditional cooking methods, the surface of the food is always hotter than the internal temperature. When food is taken off the grill or the pan to rest and wait for the cooling of the surface, the center becomes warmer.

This is why when a roast is the perfect temperature when it’s taken out of the oven, it’s well overcooked by the time it’s sliced into.

With a water bath that is set to the exact internal temperature of the food, the surface and the internal temperature are always at equilibrium. The water bath is also at that temperature so there is no danger of ever overcooking.

Sous-Vide Ready Vacuum Packs

Photo by Hana Dibe

This means that one can have horrible timing without worrying about the result of whatever is being cooked.

What is even more convenient is that food can be cooked in advance and stored in the fridge until mealtime. This can take a lot of pressure off during busier times, like finals season.

2. Simplicity

Sous-Vide Torch Finishing

Photo by Hana Dibe

Cooking sous vide often requires a finishing step. It’s usually desirable to alter the surface texture on something cooked sous vide, like a steak.

A crunchy and deeply coloured exterior is one of the hallmarks of a great beefsteak, so an additional finishing step is required to achieve this after the sous vide cooking process. This can be done in various ways whether it be in the pan, under a broiler, or even a torch if you are feeling fancy.

3. Precision

Sous-Vide Steak

Photo by ChefSteps.

Everyone has a preference for how they like their steak. The difficulty lies in describing your preference to whoever is cooking the steak.

Everyone’s interpretation of popular steak adjectives like “rare”, “medium”, or “well done” is different. One person’s medium might be another person’s medium rare.

Although these adjectives have a degree of ambiguity, it’s pointless to be more specific when using traditional cooking techniques.

This is because even within one cooked steak, one can find areas that are cooked to a different degree of doneness. The center is invariably less done than the areas near the surface.

Not Sous-Vide Steak

Photo by Jessica Spengler

Quantitative measures allow us to be specific about the level of doneness we prefer. The ability to precisely control these measures allow even someone with little to no culinary skills to be more consistent than the most masterful of professional chefs using traditional cooking techniques.

Photo by ChefSteps

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Cutting Boards 101: What makes a good cutting board?

This article is reposted from Spoon University of Guelph.

If you don’t normally require a microwave when cooking, it’s a safe bet your cutting board gets a lot of use. Too often, cutting boards are warped, split, flimsy, or just dulling your knives at a ridiculous rate.

What makes a good cutting board?

1. Stability

Cutting Board

Accordion Slices. Photo by Cheryl Ching

Nothing is more annoying than a board that doesn’t sit flat on your table. Even a slightly uneven board means that your knife can never make perfect contact with your cutting surface. The most flimsy boards have your vegetables rolling all over the place.

2. Durability

A good board should last you a long time. You can get the plastic OXO Good Grips cutting board, which will last you forever for $25. It doesn’t make sense to buy a $10 cutting board if it means you’ll have to buy another one in a year’s time.

It’s also annoying when wooden cutting boards split or warp since they are relatively expensive. If something that is $25 can last forever, you are going to want your much more expensive wooden board to do so too.

3. Not damaging to your knife

If you’ve put money into good knives it doesn’t make sense to use a cutting board that dulls your knife. Glass cutting boards have been shown to significantly dull knives after as few as 10 slices. Marble boards don’t do too much better.

You Only Need 2

Wood and plastic are the two most popular choices in terms of materials. Whatever you end up going with, it is still recommended that you own at least two boards; one for fruits and vegetables and one for raw meats. Cross contamination will ruin your day.

Suggested Materials


Cutting Board

Wooden Cutting Board. Photo by Cheryl Ching

There are many types of wood, as well as many different construction methods. In the end it’s up to you. It’s really your choice whether you want a “softer” board or a “harder” board.

Softer woods result in your knives sinking into the wood or being “gripped” more. Harder woods feel great under your knife but are sometimes more susceptible to cracking.

Another thing to think about is the fact that wood absorbs the smell of the liquids it absorbs. This is especially true with fats. This is why many opt to exclusively cut fresh fruits and vegetables on their wooden boards.


Cutting Board

Plastic Cutting Board. Photo by Cheryl Ching

Plastic boards are the most popular material. A good plastic board is very durable, requires little to no effort to maintain, and in some cases are dishwasher safe. They are the best material in terms of convenience and cost. The only con is that they don’t feel as nice as wood.

Most people prefer to cut raw meats on a plastic cutting board because it does not absorb the smell of liquids and they are easy wash.


Two cutting boards stood out after America’s Test Kitchen’s rigorous tests were performed. For the wood category, the Proteak edge grain cutting board faired best. The OXO good grips plastic cutting board won the plastic category.

Ultimately, everyone values different things, but at $25, the OXO good grips plastic cutting board is the best reason to not have a crappy board.

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The only two knives you need.

This article is reposted from Spoon University of Guelph.

Knives are often sold in sets, but who actually uses them all? Even culinary school can be done with two. So two for the rest of a non-professional cooking life is plenty. There are much better—and fun—ways to blow money than buying a bunch of knives to take up space in your kitchen.

Why Good Knives Are a Must

The most important thing about a knife is how sharp it is. I’d prefer a cheap, sharp knife over an expensive, dull knife every time. Sharp knives are actually much safer than dull knives. Dull knives often slip on foods, like tomatoes, and it’s only a matter of time before they slip onto fingers.

It is also commonly found that after one gets used to cutting with a dull knife, their cutting technique involves a lot of downward pressure, making the case of the knife slipping all that more dangerous.

Sharp knives never slip, since they always break the surface of whatever is being cut. This inevitably leads to less downward pressure in one’s cutting technique. Even if an accidental cut occurs, the pain is less noticeable.

It is good to note that all new knives are sharp and that any knife can be sharpened. It may seem counterintuitive, but this is actually one of the reasons why the regular home cook may benefit even more from investing in good knives than a professional cook.


Takamura R2 Petty 5.9″(paring) being sharpened on a Naniwa Professional (Chosera) 1000 grit stone (sharpening stone)

Although all knives come sharp, some dull quicker than others. Since the average home cook doesn’t know how—or even want—to sharpen their knives, investing in a good knife with relatively resilient steel will ensure a safer and more enjoyable chopping experience.

The Only Two You Need

Chef’s Knife


Mcusta Zanmai Pro Damascus Pakka Wood 8.2″(chef’s knife)

Your chef’s knife is your workhorse. This is the knife you’ll use for 90% of your tasks. If you could only choose one knife, this would be it. It’s the one you’ll be chopping, slicing, and even smashing with.


Takamura R2 Petty 5.9″(paring)

This is the knife you’ll use for those hard-to-reach places or for cutting jobs that a chef’s knife might feel too big for. Most people use theirs for mincing garlic, pitting strawberries, cutting up fruits, and peeling the skin off things like ginger and onions.

What To Look For

If you are going to put money towards a knife, it’s good to know what that money is getting you. The two most important things to look out for are comfort and the blade material.



Mcusta Zanmai Pro Damascus Pakka Wood 8.2″(chef’s knife) shredding lettuce

You’ll be holding your knife pretty often for the next few decades, so you might want to pick something that feels nice to hold. This means that it’s safest to buy the knife in stores where you can try it out or at the very least hold it.

It’s ultimately up to you, but larger hands generally call for larger handles. A lot of people advise to go with an 8-inch chef’s knife, however it’s more important to pick the knife that feels most comfortable.



Peeling an apple with a Takamura R2 Petty 5.9″(paring)

For a home cook, a good quality stainless steel knife is the way to go. It’s easy to take care of and it’s extremely durable. This means that your knife will stay sharp longer.

Where To Look

Knives Collection

Naniwa Professional (Chosera) 1000 grit stone (sharpening stone), MAC Black Ceramic Honing Rod (honing rod), Takeada Stainless Aogami Super Banno Bunka 6.8″, Takamura R2 Petty 5.9″(paring), Mcusta Zanmai Pro Damascus Pakka Wood 8.2″(chef’s knife), Kanehide Hankotsu 5.9″(boning knife), Tojiro DP Serrated Bread 8.5″(bread knife).

Unfortunately, there aren’t many places in Guelph with a good selection of high quality knives besides Casual Gourmet. If you want a second opinion and are willing to travel, Toronto is home to Nella Cucina; they supply to a lot of restaurants in Toronto. If you are feeling particularly fancy, Toronto also have Tosho and Knife.

Another option is to order knives online. It’s a bit of a gamble in terms of how it’s going to feel in your hand, but it’s convenient and the prices are often the best you’ll find. You can find most knives on Amazon.

A popular trick is finding the knife you want in a store and ordering it on Amazon for a better deal. If you want something ultra high end, Chef Knives To Go and Chubo Knives have pretty great selections.

What makes a good knife may be personal, but anyone that’s had one will say it’s invaluable. Once you get your hands on one, you’ll never go back.


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