Stay home, get cozy and cook up some of this delicious Canadian comfort food this season
1. Gather by David Robertson
I’ve already taken many cooking lessons with chef Robertson at the Dirty Apron Cooking School and have cooked my way through his first release, The Dirty Apron Cookbook. Now Robertson is back, giving us lots of tips in this latest cookbook, Gather, such as why stocks are the foundation, how to buy and cook seafood, plus barbecue secrets. Braised beef short ribs are elevated with a coconut, lemongrass, ginger and curry sauce; spaetzle gets healthier with kale and zucchini; and there’s a great recipe for fruit-filled hand pies. You’ll find lots of great comfort food to enjoy in this treasure and as you cook through the recipes, your methods will vastly improve.
2. Cedar Salt by DL Acken and Emily Lycopolus
I just took a cooking class featuring recipes from this book with its author, Emily Lycopolus as part of the In My Kitchen cooking class series, and the recipes were both delicious and easy to make. The book is divided into sections titled: Forest, Farm, Field and Sea, referring to where the ingredients come from, and takes a journey through Vancouver Island’s culinary offerings. We made a chocolate seafood bark, butter-roasted delicata squash, pasta from scratch, and red-fife wheat crepes with prosciutto and brie—and I’ll be cooking these all again at home.
3. Peace, Love and Fibre by Mairlyn Smith
Mairlyn Smith is a professional home economist and the queen of fibre, and she knows her stuff when it comes to cooking great, healthy, fibre-rich food. This one came out earlier in the year, but I just had to throw it in here as it’s been the book I've used the most often. There are lots of choices to vary recipes if you are an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan. The summer chickpea salad was my go-to this summer; the eggplant lasagna stacks are a fabulous way to devour readily available local eggplant; and the rhubarb crumble is far better that any I’ve had. The Mayan hot chocolate and peanut butter cocoa snaps make the perfect treat too. You won’t feel deprived with this one and your digestion will surely improve as you up your fibre intake.
4. Dirty Food by Julie Van Rosendaal
Dirty Food is a response to “clean eating,” the overly hyped term that author Julie Van Rosendaal got tired of hearing everywhere. She proposes that food should be there for your nourishment and enjoyment and eaten in good company—and we fully agree. Smothered chicken comes with a dose of creamy mushroom sauce; deviled eggs are jazzed up with all-dressed chips; the sticky buns are divine; and the saucy chocolate pudding is a quick way to serve a decadent dessert. Eating dirty never tasted so good!
5. Burdock and Co by chef Andrea Carlson
Just by looking at the glossary, you can tell there’s something different about this cookbook. Items listed include cattails, elderflower blossoms, lobster mushrooms and black garlic, inspiring adventurous cooks to expand their pantry and discover items off the beaten path. The book guides you through recipes that have appeared at Burdock & Co restaurant under the watchful eye of chef Andrea Carlson, and the ingredients and methods taught will elevate your home cooking. This is a book to tuck into on a cold winter night and just read, as Carlson's storytelling skills are just as strong as her culinary ones. Flipping through, you’ll find recipes such as roasted asparagus with preserved bergamot and chili shio koji (it looks divine!), and I’ve had the miso caramel duck leg in the restaurant and am so pleased I can now recreate it at home. There are also some tasty cocktails to set the mood including my favourite, the Cherry Cherry Bang Bang.
6. Living High Off The Hog by chef Michael Olson
If you are a pork enthusiast, this will be your bible. Chef Michael Olson shares over 100 recipes for one of my favourite meats, and there’s more than just ribs in this guide to cooking up everything from soup to the whole roasted beast. Try the Mexican Chorizo Taco Mix for taco night, the Pork-A-Leekie Pie, made with his wife’s (Anna Olson) pie dough, and the Pork Schnitzel for an easy mid-week meal.
7. Kosher Style by Amy Rosen
We have treasured Rosen’s cookbooks before and this one will also be within reach when it comes to recipe ideas. There are “100 Jewish recipes for the modern cook” included and they all look delicious. There are notes on eating kosher and a glossary of Jewish terms to guide you, as well as a list on what to keep in your pantry. Kosher Style then dives into brunch and smears (don’t miss the bagels and homemade cream cheese), soups and such, noshes and sides, and then goes on to mains, sweets and some suggested menus. I'm thinking her cabbage rolls will be on the menu this week.