Category Archives: What’s Cooking at Westwood

What’s Cooking at Westwood: a Second Successful Year of Feasting!

In its second year, the What’s Cooking at Westwood? Cookbook Club met 10 times, reviewed 54 cookbooks, tasted 80 recipes, and drank countless cups of tea. Though the club includes seasoned (pardon the pun) cooks and novices alike, every meeting held a new taste or technique. For a second year, we tried new things and made new friends.

Carla made this delicious Warm Berry Sauce from Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison

Carla made this delicious Warm Berry Sauce from Seasonal Fruit Desserts by Deborah Madison

Our final meeting was a potluck, as it was last year. This year, members had a choice of making their favourite dish from the year or trying a new dish from a celebrated cookbook. In usual What’s Cooking fashion, the final potluck was a wonderful assortment of savory and sweet. We tasted spinach quiche, beer rosemary bread, mandarin orange salad and caprese salad to start. To finish we sampled from peach dumplings, cheesecake brownies and rhubarb hand-pies. It was a wonderful culmination of an exploratory culinary year.

As we enjoyed our final feast, we discussed favourite cookbooks and laughed about the meetings of 2014-2015. Highlights of our discussions were food politics, the food we ate growing up, individual cooking techniques, and in one instance, a “spirited” debate about the “correct” recipe for peanut butter cookies. We are all looking forward to another tasty and exciting year of What’s Cooking at Westwood when we resume in September.

Happy summer cooking!

-Britt

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What’s Cooking at Westwood? Tea Time!

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” – Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

The second year of the What’s Cooking at Westwood Cook Book Club got off to a shining start with an English Tea Party. I polished Granny’s tea service and cutlery and ironed the linen tablecloth. I felt as if I belonged with the downstairs staff at Downton Abbey. One of the members kindly brought china cups and saucers.

The books explained tea ceremonies, etiquette, folklore, and tea growing practices in addition to recipes. Joanna compared a story from Arabian Nights to her tea drinking experience during a recent trip to Turkey.

We samples 3 kinds of savoury puff pastry; chicken and mushroom in Madeira Cream Sauce and Roasted Vegetable with Cheese. Irish Soda Bread was served with homemade apple jelly. We tasted 4 types of cookies; Shortbread, French Macarons, Dulce de Leche, and Pumpkin. We finished with Creamy Blackberry Tarts.

Three new members joined the 10 regulars from last season. I have never participated in a more enthusiastic book club. I anticipate a very interesting year for this book club.

And, yes, tea does taste better when served in a china teacup.

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What’s Cooking at Westwood: a year of cooking done!

The new What’s Cooking at Westwood? Cookbook Club met 8 times, reviewed 57 cookbooks, tasted 60 recipes, and drank countless cups of tea. We ate unfamiliar foods, tried new cooking methods and made some mistakes (see the February blog about eating too much chocolate). I can definitely say we learned a lot and made new friends in the process.

A potluck dinner was planned for the final meeting. As members discussed what they were going to bring the potluck evolved into an ethnic dinner, with members bringing a dish to reflect their cultural heritage. We gathered with our dishes carefully wrapped to keep them warm, waiting to see what delicacies would be uncovered.

The feast began with Japanese Soup, Scotch Eggs, Ukrainian Filled Rolls, Hazelnut Bannock Pie, Latkes and Homemade Bagels.

For dessert we had Scottish Shortbread, Imperial Cookies, Trifle and Brandy Snaps filled with Espresso Cream.

Each member was given a cookbook, containing of all of the recipes we tested during the book club session. As we sampled the food and looked through the cookbooks we laughed about secret family recipes, cooking disasters and the “pastry gene” which seems to skip generations in some families. We are all eager to discover new tastes and trends in September.

What’s Cooking at Westwood? is TO BE CONTINUED…

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Kathleen

What’s Cooking at Westwood? Too Much of a Good Thing

The recent gathering of the “What’s Cooking at Westwood?” cookbook club reviewed chocolate cookbooks. We assembled around the table, which groaned under the weight of cakes, brownies, cookies, cheesecake and even beans. I think we proved that you CAN have too much of a good thing. Halfway through the meeting a member whispered to me, “I’m going to get chocolate sweats!”

In addition to recipes, many of the books we reviewed contained nutritional, historical, and cultural information. We really enjoyed this exercise, and several of us renewed various titles or swapped with other members to try even more recipes.

A couple of slightly negative comments were made about Brownie points : over 100 outrageously delicious and easy recipes based on North America’s favourite dessert, including “items were very rich, and the recipe used expensive ingredients.”

The new taste of chocolate : a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes evoked additional feedback such as “great cultural information, but the recipes call for very specific, hard to find, ingredients,” as well as “this book is interesting, but not very practical.”

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Brownie points : over 100 outrageously delicious and easy recipes based on North America’s favourite dessert
The new taste of chocolate : a cultural and natural history of cacao with recipes
Chocolate: a healthy passion
Chocolate sensations: over 200 easy-to -make-recipes
The ultimate encyclopedia of chocolate : with over 200 recipes
Real chocolate : sweet and savory recipes for nature’s purest form of bliss
The complete chocolate book : 100+ how-to photos and tips from Canada’s
most-trusted kitchen 

Kathleen Land – Westwood Branch

What’s Cooking at Westwood? Seasonal Delights!

Cookie Cookbook

How do you know your Cookbook club meeting is a success? When you have to find a larger table to hold all of the food!

For our December meeting, we decided to concentrate on holiday cooking. We covered appetizers, brunch, main dishes and of course, desserts.

4 Ingredient Christmas Cookbook

Elaine made Ricotta Prosciutto Pies from the 4 Ingredients Christmas cookbook. She found the title a little misleading since there are many more than 4 ingredients in some of the recipes. She also made Walnut Cream Rugelach from  Taste of Christmas Cookie Cookbook and Inspiration for the Season.

Christmas with Paula Deen

Ellen was interested in the biographical stories accompanying the recipes in Christmas with Paula Deen. She was a little disappointed in the fact that so many recipes used prepared foods such as cake mixes and canned soups but was happy with the Applesauce Cake and Blueberry Muffins she made. Elaine found this book’s size a little awkward to handle and keep open but the recipes were good.

Joy of Cooking Christmas Cookies

Jessica made 4 types cookies and one brownie recipe from the Joy of Cooking: Christmas Cookies and said the recipes were delicious. Each recipe was accompanied by great photograph, good cooking and storage tips, but 2 of the doughs were hard to handle.

Gluten-free Holiday Baking

Joanna was pleased with the Almond Jelly Roll from Gluten-Free Holiday Baking and will be making this recipe regularly.

Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook

I made several recipes out of the Betty Crocker Christmas Cookbook and would make all of them again. As is typical of Betty Crocker books, this book had good explanations for beginners, plentiful photographs, alternative ingredients and serving suggestions.

Margaret tested several recipes in the 2012 edition of Taste of Home Best Christmas RecipesTaste of Home Christmas and was not impressed by the taste of the Cherry Cake which was made by adding ingredients to a cake mix. She shared the more successful Chocolate Biscotti and Chocolate Raspberry Cream Cheese Brownies and highly recommended the 2013 edition of this book.

Olga is an experienced cook but learned a new technique for fluffy scrambled eggs and tasted truffle oil for the first time in the Linguini from Christmas with Gordon (Ramsay). Olga commented that the mixture of imperial and metric measurements and Ramsay’s British terminology were a bit of a challenge but she liked the end results. She warned us that this book is full of butter and cream and not for people who are watching their fat intake.

Here’s some pictures of the food we made:

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We ended the evening with full stomachs and new recipes to try. I think every one of us come away from the meetings having learned something new, either from a book or another book club member.

Kathleen