Fixing drinks has never been my domaine, but look out world, ’cause that’s about to change. Thanks to Running Press, I have everything I need to transform from a cocktail dunce to a cocktail diva in Ladies Who Drink: A Stylishly Spirited Guide to Mixed Drinks and Small Bites by Anne Keenan Higgins. Small in size but mighty in know-how, the lighthearted guide takes readers through the basics and beyond: from home bar essentials (including liquors, tools and glasses) to party-planning tips, to cocktails and nibblies for every occasion. (Think Backyard Barbecue, Ice-Skating Party, A Trip to Margaritaville, and Sunday Brunch Bloodies.) Served with a splash of mixology history and infused with charming illustrations of ladies who lunch (and sip!) looking oh-so-chic and you’ve got a practical and pretty starter for anyone new to the bar.
In my house, jams and jellies rarely see more than a side of toast, but last week’s inspired bites at Fauna Ottawa have me looking at our favourite jewel-toned spreads in an entirely new light. Bonne Maman invited Fauna chef Billy Khoo to think outside the jar for an exclusive tasting featuring the company’s preserves. Here’s a look at the dishes we sampled. Maybe they’ll inspire you too!
Fall always feels like a great time to turn over a new leaf (pun intended), and if you’re thinking of cleaning up your diet Paleo-style like me, Ready or Not! 150+ Make-Ahead, Make-Over, and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo is a fantastic (and fun!) place to start. Released at the beginning of August, this second book from the husband-and-wife duo behind the award–winning Nom Nom Paleo website and cooking app offers an incredible variety of nourishing whole-food recipes and meal plans that encourage readers to eat as broadly as possible. Recipes are organized by degrees of readiness: Get Set! (Kitchen staples to buy or make ahead of time and have on hand like All-Purpose Stir-Fry Sauce, Cauli Rice and Grain-Free Tortillas); Ready! (Make-ahead meals for when you have ample time to cook, like Chinese Chicken in a Pot, Buffalo Cauliflower Things, and Orange Cream Tart); Kinda Ready! (Turn leftovers and pre-made components into quick and tasty meals like Mexican Watermelon and Cucumber Salad, Naked Salmon on a Hot Pan, and Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Egg Muffins); Not Ready! (Simple, speedy meals ready in 15 to 45 minutes like Simple Egg Drop Soup, Cantonese Crispy Chicken Thighs, and Chicken Curry in a Hurry) and Beyond Ready! (Weekly dinner plans and shopping lists to make the most of your time and ingredients). All in a comic book format with step-by-step photographs, charming illustrations and family-friendly humour that isn’t too corny. (It is grain-free, after all.)
Samin Nosrat’s love affair with cooking may read like a fairy tale, but her approach to good cooking has less to do with magic than it does with science. Learn the four basic elements or “cardinal directions”, Samin says, and you’ll find your way to dishes that satisfy as much as they delight. Her first book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking, distills lessons learned in 15 years of cooking (Samin got her start at Alice Waters’ famed Chez Panisse), teaching and writing about food, here in an approachable, richly illustrated guide that encourages readers to be curious, have fun and taste (and taste again!) along the way.
No rain, no flowers. • In her first book, Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table, thirty-something writer, photographer, and natural wellness blogger Lily Diamond shares recipes for 80 nourishing vegetarian and vegan dishes and DIY beauty products made all the more magical for the moving stories of heartbreak, healing and joy she serves alongside. Chapters are organized by the aromatic herbs and flowers discussed within — in the first section it’s basil, cilantro, fennel, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme; in the second section, lavender, jasmine, rose and orange blossom. Tips for sourcing, storing, pairing, and infusing into oils, honey, sugar and salt make for a comprehensive and approachable guide that encourages readers to play. Lily is as down-to-earth as they come, and her voice, her brand of wildness “that tends to manifest in quiet river skinny-dipping, or playing fast and loose in the kitchen, or not wearing pants all day, or singing to Beyoncé at the top of my lungs” charmed me as much as her recipes.
Like a lot of people trying to feed a family on a budget, we tend to stock our pantry with the same things week after week. We know what will get eaten, what probably won’t, and how long our favourite dishes will take to prepare. We shop with a list, pick up what we need, and generally ignore the rest (unless something’s on super sale, which I cannot resist). But when Toronto-based Gourmet Trading reached out to me last month, I was reminded that there’s a whole world of foods and flavours available to explore and enjoy. Gourmet Trading has been bringing that world to Canada for nearly 30 years as an importer and distributor of specialty foods. They sent me a selection of products from one of their top-selling brands, Maine’s award-winning Stonewall Kitchen, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how well they went over. Will they be new pantry staples? Read on and see.
I need someone to have a baby. Or a birthday. Or a bar mitzvah. Or maybe we’ll just make up our own occasion because there are so many fun, festive and new-to-me ideas in Elise Strachan’s Sweet! Celebrations: The Ultimate Dessert & Party Planning Companion and I want to try them all. Simon & Schuster Canada sent me a copy to review so here’s the skinny including the couple of treats I tried — one quick and easy no-bake, one a bit more persnickety that I turned into a no-bake — and both super cute and delicious.
I don’t know how some people don’t like vegetables (and there are plenty out there!), but I’m convinced that any number of recipes in Alice Hart’s Good Veg: Ebullient Vegetables, Global Flavors — A Modern Vegetarian Cookbook just might bring them around. The key to satisfying vegetarian cooking (and one can assume, eating!) is in the contrast, Alice says — the balance of flavours, textures and temperature will elevate any meat-free meal. The U.K. author’s careful consideration to contrast and balance is evident throughout the book, which comprises some 200 recipes for mornings, grazing and gatherings, as well as “quick”, “thrify” and “raw-ish” meals. It’s aimed at “keen and interested” home cooks who want to make the most of the fresh produce available and in turn, discover new ways with fruits, veggies and grains that they’ll want to make again and again. Think Coconut-Chia Strawberry Bowls, Corn Tortillas with Avocado and Charred Scallions, Eggplant and Sweet Potato Lasagna with Walnuts, and Vegan Chocolate Mousse with Walnut-Sesame Brittle. Hello!
Remember the story of the little red hen? Everybody wants to eat the bread, but nobody wants to help bake it. That’s what it’s been like around here the past week, only everybody wants to eat the cake, but nobody wants to
get off the ipad and help make it. Or do much of anything else. I asked my daughter to give me a hand with this photo and what did I get? “What was I BORN for? Helping with PHOTOS or LIVING?” Yeesh. If you’re looking for me later I’ll be over here stress-eating hunks of this maple pecan cake. It’s from Lola’s: A Cake Journey Around the World. Thomas Allen & Son sent me a copy to review and they’ve got another one for one of you lucky ducks.