Tag Archives: Cookbook Clubs

Cookbooks still #1!


Do you love browsing through cookbooks? You’re not alone! Cookbooks are consistently in the top ten subjects that are checked out at Winnipeg Public Library and are usually in the number one spot. Cookbooks currently make up 11% of Winnipeg Public Library’s non-fiction circulation – more than Psychology at 6% and Diet and Fitness at 4%. Fortunately, there are  a lot of new cookbooks being published and the Cookbook clubs couldn’t be happier! Here’s  a look at some of the new titles available at Winnipeg Public Library.

Cheryl made the Breakfast Crepes and Wonton soup from Cheryl pancakesGwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Easy. Both of the recipes were simple to make and delicious. cheryl soupThis book would make a great coffee table book, as it contains a lot of beautiful pictures of Gwyneth and her family, as well as the food. (A trend we’re noticing with more of the celebrity cookbooks.)

Shirley already owns all of Ina Garten’s cookbooks, so she had to purchase her latest, Cooking For Jeffrey. Rosie also decided to review this cookbook and made Rosie appthe Camembert and Prosciutto Tartines, using tortillas instead of crusty bread – delicious! She also had a look at Alton Brown’s Everdaycook – a really fun book to read. It reads just like Alton talks on his popular TV shows. The Cucumber Lime Yogurt Pops call for 1 tsp. chile powder, but Rosie cut that in half and they still had a nice kick to them.

Star Chef Recipes features several celebrity chefs, with nice pictures and simple, easy to follow recipes. Jackie Chorizo MeatballsJackie made the Chorizo Meatballs, Jackie Stuffed Mushroomswhich can be served as a main course or as an appetizer. The stuffed mushrooms were easy and delicious, but could use a little less Herb d’Provence in them.

The Happy Cook by Daphne Oz tries to do it all – Japanese, Italian, Nadene soupGluten Free – all with a healthy twist. Oz uses a lot of fresh ingredients and offers good substitution options. Nadene made this really quick Kale, Sausage and White Bean soup for her family.


Ed would recommend you check Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook out of the library instead of buying it. Ed chiliThe traditional Texas Chili contains no beans or tomatoes and involves making your own chile powder by re-hydrating dry chiles. It was ok, but Ed prefers the Home Sick Texan’s recipe.

Linda ThaiLynda and Maureen loved Chrissy Teigen’s Cravings. “All of the recipes we tried turned out fantastic and tasty. Chrissy has a refreshingly irreverent writing style with humorous, interesting comments about each recipe. Linda saladShe may be a supermodel but she’s got the appetite of a lumberjack, apparently.” They tried several recipes, including Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Shrimp Summer Rolls, Sweet & Salty Coconut Rice and the butter Lettuce Salad with Blue Cheese and Cayenne Candied Walnuts.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow To Bake Everything by Mark Bittman is true to it’s title, providing lots of information and 2000 recipes! Dianne tried the Cornbread with Cheddar Cheese and Jalapenos and liked all of the different variations Bittman gives for his recipes. She also reviewed Oprah Winfrey’s latest book, Food, Health and Happiness and made the Turkey Burgers, which were well received.

The Happy Cookbook by Marg 1Lola Berry offers a whole foods approach to cooking, with gluten-free recipes, minimal dairy and no refined sugars. Margaret tried the stuffed mushroom caps, which tasted really good…with the addition of some bread crumbs.

After borrowing Angela Liddon’s Oh She Glows Cookbook from the Library last year, I ended up buying it, so I wasn’t surprised that I Carole macaroonshad to buy her second book – Oh She Glows Every day! Liddon provides excellent plant based recipes that have become staples in our house. I recommend the Fusilli Lentil Mushroom Bolognese, with roasted red peppers, mushrooms and Tahini, which adds a nice creaminess and flavour. We’ve also made the Shepherd’s Pie several times and my new favourite – Vanilla Bean Coconut Macaroons.

Well, are you anxious to get cooking? Borrowing cookbooks from the library is an excellent way to try before you buy. Happy cooking everyone!










Cook by the Book: Canada – From Coast to Coast

Vegetables and cheese


What do you think of as “Canadian” food? Do bacon and maple syrup top your list? How about bannock, poutine, butter tarts or Nanaimo bars? Our country is very diverse, so it’s hard to come up with one food that is quintessentially Canadian. We’re also very fortunate to have access to pretty much any food we want, any time of the year, from West coast salmon to East coast potatoes.

Here are the results of our culinary journey across Canada:

cherylfishAnita Stewart’s Canada contains great stories aboutCheryl cheesecake Canada and would be a wonderful book for new cooks or newlyweds. Cheryl made several recipes, including a salmon dish and this decadent cheesecake, full of eggs, sour cream and orange and lemon zest, which was amazing.


Dianne thought Homegrown by Marilyn Smith was an excellent cookbook. The Cranberry Maple Butter tarts were delicious, especially while still warm. They were a little on the sweet side, so she would use less sugar, next time.


Lynda and Maureen had fun with You Gotta Eat Here, Too! They’ve eaten at Lynda burritoseveral of the restaurants that have been featured on the show, including The Fiesta Mexicana Lynda pizzaRestaurante y Cantina, which is famous for their giant Burrito Guadalajara –  the pico de gallo really makes this dish.  The Mango Tango Chicken Pizza from Mickey’s Dragon Pizza was fantastic.

carole tart1I chose John Catucci’s first book,  You Gotta Eat Here!  and tried Dottie’s Delicious lemon tart.  The filling is a lemon curd with a hint of basil. I used a gluten-free coconut crust, from Canadian Living Magazine,  instead of the usual pastry crust. This TV show has been very successful and it’s great to be able to re-create some of these restaurant favourites in your own kitchen.

Jackie thought The Dietician’s of Canada Cook Jackie Greek Chickenwould be perfect for a beginner cook, as it contains a lot of general information. The Greek Chicken was a tasty, easy dish, that she would make again. The Turkey and wild rice soup was a good, hearty soup that calls for ground turkey, but Jackie Turkey Wild Rice Soupmight be better with shredded turkey.


Grandma’s Kitchen reminded Iris of her own mother’s recipes and uses ingredients that you probably already have in your cupboard.

Ed Michae_smith 003Ed was very happy with Michael Smith’s Back to Basics and his “pan-rushed” cooking method – a restaurant technique for getting food out fast. It involves searing the meat, making a sauce, then putting the meat back in the sauce to simmer.


 Winnipeg Cooks is a wonderful new cookbook Rossita saladshowcasing our own city’s talented  chefs. Rossita made this colourful Roasted Beet Salad.


Sharla made the French Onion soup from The Soup Sisters, not realizing you Sharla onionneed to cook the onions for 40 minutes. The end result was worth it and the cheese toast was also a big hit, so she made it again to go with the Hamburger Soup. Sharla tomatoThe tomatoes were a little over-powering in this recipe, but nothing a little milk and hot sauce couldn’t fix.


Next month we’ll be hosting the “Bean Team” of the Manitoba Pulse and Soybean Growers and learning about nutrition and the delicious possibilities of how to cook with pulses, for International Year of the Pulse. Please contact the Osborne Library at 204-986-4775 for more information.






It’s Freezing! A Cook Book Club Update

This gallery contains 8 photos.

It’s that time of year when the piano recital is back to back with the hockey game, Aunty Paula and Uncle Joe need to be picked up from the airport and your boss wants that project done “yesterday”. What’s for supper?! … Continue reading

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!


Cookbook Love and Hate

gillmorIn their quest to explore the library’s vast cook book collection, The Taste Buds Cook Book Club held an open meeting at Fort Garry Library with special guest speaker Alison Gillmor. Alison tests recipes in her small but well used galley kitchen for her weekly Winnipeg Free Press column Recipe Swap.  She spoke from the perspective of an enthusiastic but (in her words) occasionally incompetent home cook on the topic of “Cookbook Love and Hate” and investigated what makes a really good cookbook and what separates flash-in-the-pan trends from tried and trusted cookbook classics.

While she rarely buys cook books her collection consists of inherited or gifted titles, some swag and some purchased from the sale bins at Home Sense. Due to a lack of space she ruthlessly culls on a regular basis. Books that do make the cut are well designed with glossy photographs because we “eat with our eyes first.”

Here are a few books that have earned a spot on Alison’s shelf:

feastFeast: Food That Celebrates Life by Nigella Lawson

Gillmor is a fan of Nigella’s unctuous, sensuous, earthy approach which conveys her emotional connection with food. Lawson shares what is primal and timeless about feasting. “I am not someone who believes that life is sacred, but I know it is very precious,” she writes in the last chapter about funeral feasts which include comfort food like meatloaf and “heavenly potatoes” to remind the bereaved “that life goes on, that living is important.”

pedantIn The Pedant in the Kitchen Julian Barnes asks “Why should a word in a recipe be less important than a word in a novel?”  Annoyed by vagueness in trendy cookbooks, he wonders what is a “a wineglass full,”  “a glug,” “a drizzle,” “a knob”?  Barnes goes on to chastise a certain young English cook (ahem) for his woolly instructions and general bashing about in the kitchen. While not a cook book, it does give helpful kitchen hints along with witty food writing.

masteringAlison inherited Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child  from her mother and keeps it  for sentimental reasons. Other than “grown up, sophisticated” dishes like beef bourguignon, chocolate almond cake and coq au vin she rarely cooks from it. She fondly remembers her mother’s hostess book which chronicled menus and guest lists, a useful practice that should be revived.

bittmanHow to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is the “hip Joy of Cooking.” While not inspirational (there are no illustrations to make your mouth water) it is a reliable, trusted, go-to reference for making the perfect omelet or pot roast.


bitterBitter: A Taste of the World’s Most Dangerous Flavor by Jennifer McLagan investigates that complex, sophisticated and adult taste. McLagan has previously researched other misunderstood food groups like Odd Bits which explores nose-to tail cookery and Bones, a reaction to the boneless skinless chicken breast.

As for Alison’s own Recipe Swap column, some of the most asked for recipes include Belgian Bakery meat pies and tortes, Tea Cozy gingerbread, and Tec Voc  butter tarts. While not much of a gadget user, Alison does have a fondness for her ice cream maker, kitchen scale and cast iron frying pans.

In honor of the Queen of “12 Days of Christmas Cookies” the evening culminated with a tea party and sampling of the Taste Buds’ Christmas Cookies. But that is “food” for a future column!


Cook by the Book: Soup’s On!

Vegetables and cheese“To feel safe and warm on a cold, wet night, all you really need is soup.”
Laurie Colwin

Soup: the ultimate comfort food. It warms you up on a cold winter night and even has the power to fight the common cold. You can make it as simple or as complex as you like and it’s very adaptable. You can also throw it in the slow cooker or let it simmer on the stove all afternoon, while you attend to more important things – like that book you just picked up from the library.

Some very creative people have come up with great ways to share their love of soup – from Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers, providing care and comfort with hot bowls of soup to women and children in shelters, to “Soup Nights” popping up in neighborhoods across the country. Soup Night is all about building community, through soup. Once a month, one house on the street hosts a soup night, making large quantities of soup. The neighbors provide the salad, bread and dessert and also their own bowls and spoons. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your neighbours and helps people feel less isolated: “Soup night has become a way for people to come together when it’s cold outside, and it’s created a community on this block in ways that no one could have anticipated.” (Jessie Mindlin, Portland).

There’s also the Soup Peddler, David Ansel, from Austin, Texas, who started delivering soup on his bicycle and became so popular that he had to hire a whole fleet of bicycle peddlers to keep up with demand.

One of our own Cookbook Club members has been working on soup recipes for two years, with her sister. They want to create a compilation of 52 soups – a different soup to try each week for a year. Here is Tanise’s favourite French Onion soup recipe:

FRENCH ONION SOUP – makes 6 servings

1/4 cup butter
1 tbsp. olive oil
4 ½ lbs. onions, peeled and sliced
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. sugar
6 ¼ cups beef stock
1 ½ tbsp. all purpose flour
2/3 cup sherry
Salt & Pepper
Gruyere cheese, shredded
Day old bread slices or sliced baguette (optional)


  1. Melt butter with oil in a large pot. Add onions and stir to coat them.  Cook over medium heat until onions begin to soften (20 or more minutes depending on the size of the pot).
  2. Stir in thyme. Reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook the onions for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are very soft and golden yellow.
  3. Uncover pot, increase the heat slightly and stir in the sugar. Cook until the onions start to brown (15 to 20 minutes).
  4. Increase heat slightly, stirring frequently, until onions turn a deep, golden brown (30 minutes).
  5. Bring stock to boil in another pot. Stir the flour into the onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add the hot stock and sherry. Season soup. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. For those who like the bread slice in their soup, put a piece of day old bread or baguette slice into the individual onion soup bowl. Cover with the soup and top with shredded gruyere cheese. Put under broil and broil until cheese is bubbling and melted.

Additional Comments:

  • This soup yields a thick soup. Those preferring more broth in their onion soup are advised to use 7 cups of broth.
  • A large soup or stockpot is needed for this recipe.  Vegetarians can replace the beef stock with a hearty vegetable stock that has a deep flavour (attained through somewhat caramelizing the vegetables before adding the water).

If you’re interested in the history of soup, check out An Exaltation of Soups by Patricia Solley. It has soup recipes for just about every occasion you can think of – from celebrating marriage to honoring the dead, and is also full of interesting stories, poetry and quotes.

Here’s the rest of the cookbooks that Cook by the Book tried for Soup’s On night, with our photos of the finished product. Mmmmm!

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And the links:


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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Salons, Pubs and Supper Clubs


World Book defines a salon as “a gathering of fashionable people.”

“During the 1700s wealthy Parisians built townhouses with elegantly decorated salons. The hostess usually invited writers, philosophers, politicians and aristocrats. These French salons became famous for their brilliant conversation.”

While the salon perished along with the idle bourgeoisie after the French Revolution, it has seen a revival in the form of book clubs. When the ultimate salonniere — Oprah — led the charge to rejuvenate the book club into a televised version, her impact turned the once solitary experience of reading into a vibrant social activity, and book clubs flourished in the living rooms of North America. Literary culture became popular culture.

book clubIn the early twentieth century, the book club was an opportunity for women who were denied formal education to engage in literature groups that helped them to escape the isolation of domesticity. But in our hectic modern lives, reading a prescribed book is just another item on the to-do list, and titles like How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read, although tongue in cheek, begin to take on serious meaning.

In the Maclean’s article “The busy woman’s anti-book club”, Sarah Lazarovich argues that the book club has become a “tyrannical time suck” for busy women. Lazorovic formed a Ladies Short-Form Media Auxiliary where members gathered around a laptop to share Youtube videos, MP3 clips, and Google searches, which generated free-flowing discussion that required little preparation.

albumsundaysSimilarly, members of Classic Album Sundays gather in pubs to listen to an entire album and discuss it over pints. Listening to an entire album takes a little over an hour, surely less of a commitment than reading Anna Karenina, the first of Oprah’s picks.

clubAnother take on the traditional book club is The Philosopher’s Table, a hybrid of a supper club and a graduate seminar. Guests are invited to the host’s home, assigned a thematic dish, and share music, philosophy, and traditional cuisine from a particular culture. Choose a philosophical topic and it comes matched with a dinner menu, music, and discussion questions. Enjoy lamb meatballs and tzatziki, and the simple pleasure of life in Epicurus’s Greek garden. In this version of a salon you get music, social connection, and nourishment for mind and body. Multi-tasking at its best.

Foodies who like to talk about their culinary creations can join one of Winnipeg Public Library’s two Cook by the Book Clubs (meeting at Osborne or Westwood). Members are invited to choose a recipe from selected cookbooks and share the outcome with the group. Results are delicious, entertaining, and inspiring!

And, if a conventional book club still sounds good to you, WPL offers many to choose from.

In a world with little time and less social contact, these forms of the 21 st century literary salon are an opportuntiy to meet with like-minded souls at your library, pub, coffee shop, or living room, and rekindle the cultural conversation.


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