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.
Pancakes are a favourite for Sunday breakfast and occasionally dinner and I’ve been wanting to get over my fear of the waffle maker (a dead-heavy lawn sale find that I’m always worried about closing on my fingers and worse), so I was excited when Thomas Allen & Son surprised me with a copy of Pancakes & Waffles: Delicious Ideas for Breakfast, Brunch and Beyond by Hannah Miles. (Book mail is the best mail!) Inside are 27 recipes for sweet and savoury pancakes and waffles and their assorted toppings and photographs that’ll make your tummy rumble. Think buttermilk blueberry pancakes with blueberry lime sauce; potato waffles with barbecue beans; orange waffles with roasted plums; and ginger and sesame waffles with steak and dipping sauce. Hungry yet?
My husband’s late grandfather had the habit of starting many of his sentences with “Here’s another thing you didn’t know,” followed by a long ramble about something obscure that I couldn’t possibly have known or cared to know, like how the father of former finance minister Paul Martin got his start in business or any number of things about Napoleon (the man, not the dessert.) Then it made me bristle, now it makes me snicker. Because despite his gruff delivery, he was almost always right. (Maybe not factually correct, but his versions of events were certainly new to me.) And the more I try small things, the more I think, “Here’s another thing you didn’t know.” Like you can make a cake in a couple of minutes and it’s actually really delicious! At least the ones I tried from Suzy Pelta’s Miracle Mug Cakes and Other Cheat’s Bakes: 28 Quick and Easy Recipes for Tasty Treats. Thomas Allen & Son sent me a review copy, and I think you’d like it too.
This time last week I was packing my bags for #LetsGoMaple, a sponsored two-day/three-night trip with 15 other Canadian bloggers to explore Ontario’s Lake Country (Orillia/Rama/Oro-Medonte and area, about a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Ottawa). As someone who struggles with anxiety (social and otherwise), I was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. I needn’t have been. At the risk of sounding sappy, my travel companions and hosts were as sweet and warm as the maple syrup we poured over our pancakes at Shaw’s Sugar Bush. Which made trying small things loom less large, and a lot easier. Come along and see some of the fun and delicious goodness the area has to offer.