IN BED WITH: CHEF MIKE WARD
Formally the Food Editor-in-Chief of Canadian Living (Canada’s #1 food/lifestyle magazine), Mike, our favourite Chef-extraordinaire, will be releasing a cookbook early 2018, he writes and hosts a weekly food radio show, Devour, on SiriusXM and appears regularly on several radio outlets and television shows like Cityline. He is proudly an 'anti food-snob' and is passionate about finding solutions and working with organizations that can and are actualizing the concept of fair and accessible good quality food for people of all economic levels.
1. As you mention in this tutorial, most people love breakfast, but, that can be the tricky part—not everyone has the same tastes. Some like their eggs scrambled, some fried, some with bacon, some vegetarian. It can be tough to please everyone every meal--especially with a larger group and limited time. The 'frittata many ways' concept is perfect for giving everyone what they want without compromising the meal based on your guests' different tastes or having preparing the meal to dominate your morning and afternoon. What are some of your favourite outside-of-the-box frittata topping combinations?
Frittatas or even quiches are what I like to call "crisper cleaners". They're a great opportunity to use almost any vegetable and herb that’s leaning towards the end of its life. Zucchinis, tomatoes, grated potatoes, grated pumpkin and sweet potato, and of course any herb. They're also terrific dishes to use up all of those all little knobs of cheese you have in your fridge door, cheddar, Parmesan, feta, goats cheese... It's almost impossible to go wrong with any combination. Throw your veggies in a pan, beat up some eggs and milk, salt and pepper and you're in business.
2. We noticed that you used oil rather than butter to prepare this dish. Was that based on a taste preference? Or, does oil do a better job of preventing the egg from sticking to the pan so it can be served more easily?
I lean towards olive oil wherever possible because it's a healthier choice. You could also use coconut oil if you wanted to go super clean. No doubt butter adds a little lusciousness though. Personally, my little internal rule is oil during the weekdays, and on weekends I treat myself and toss in a good knob of butter.
3. What is the most common mistake you find people make when cooking eggs?
The most common mistake people make in approaching eggs is cooking on too higher heat. You’ve got to remember eggs are made of two components - the egg white, or albumen, and the yolk cook at different rates. If you're making a frittata or quiche or omelette; any dish where you've beaten the eggs that's not an issue, but if you're poaching or frying, then starting on low heat is always the best.
4. Excellent brunch dish! A fresh take on the traditional crab cake--what inspires your culinary creativity?
I find what often triggers creativity in my kitchen is the necessity of creating a meal out of what’s already in my kitchen. How's that saying go? Necessity is the mother of design. I hate wasting food so the challenge of creating a great meal out of existing ingredients is a lot of fun for me.
5. When executed correctly, poached eggs are fantastic! But, it can be intimidating for novice at-home chefs to poach an egg without using an egg-poaching apparatus. Do you have any pro-tips for us first-time poachers? You make it sound very easy…
The single most important factor in a poached egg is your water temperature. You can certainly add a splash of vinegar, and stir your water so that the whites wrap nicely around the egg, you can also crack your egg into a ramekin so it slides into the water easier, but at the end of the day what's most important is that the water is on a very gentle simmer, enough temperature to cook your egg, but not so rapidly simmering it’s aggressive on the egg. It doesn’t take much practice to get right. And remember it's perfectly okay to remove your egg and gently tap the yolk, you can always put it back in and cook it a little bit more.
6. What's your go-to breakfast in bed for a cozy winter morning?
I got through phases with breakfast where I eat the same thing for a few weeks then get tired of it and move on. Right now I'm big on avocado toast - well toasted Ezekiel bread, a generous splash of olive oil on the toast, half an avocado per slice that I loosely mash with the back of a fork, a generous few pinches of good quality salt, I like Maldon, crack of pepper and a few splashes of Franks red hot, about 4 cups of coffee (yea, it’s a problem i know). I'm good to go.
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