Tag Archives: cookbooks

Fermentation 101: A Cook Book Club Update

Fermentation is a process that dates back more than 6,000 years, when it was likely used by our ancestors to make alcoholic beverages and preserve food. Fermented foods are enjoying a renaissance.  Examples include making alcohol from fruits and grains, kombucha from tea and sugar, kimchi from vegetables, yogurt or kefir from milk, and sauerkraut from cabbage.

fermentationfort garry

Danielle Nykoluk promoted the benefits of fermented  foods at a recent Taste Buds Cook Book Club meeting at the Fort Gary  Library. Danielle is a founder of The Real Food Revival which offers traditional food skill-based workshops for folks who want more choice and control over their health and the health of the environment. She demonstrated how to make the health-supporting elixirs kombucha (a fermented tea) and kefir (a tangy drink made from fruit of milk) or a fraction of the cost at the grocery store.

What is fermentation? In a nutshell it is the use of beneficial bacteria and yeast to preserve food and beverages. In scientific terms, yeast, moulds, or bacteria convert sugar and other carbohydrates to acids, gases, or alcohol.

Not only does fermentation preserve foods and enhance flavour, fermented foods are good for digestion. Eating these foods actually improves the balance of good versus bad bacteria in the gut. Numerous studies have documented the benefits of eating pre- and pro- biotic foods, which help to improve digestion and regular bowel function, enhance the immune system, ease anxiety and alleviate allergies.

For more recipes and instructions on how to make your own homemade fermented foods such as bread, cheese, yogurt, beer, pickles and other foods, check out these books:

artfermentation

The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Katz

An in depth exploration of essential concepts and processes from around the world by a leading expert in the field.

fementvegetables

Ferment Your Vegetables

A fun and flavourful guide to making your own pickles, kimchi, kraut and more.

fermentedfoods

 

Fermented Foods for Health 

Use the power of probiotic foods to improve your digestion, strengthen your immunity and prevent illness

 

Join the growing movement of home fermenters and get great taste and good health with probiotic foods.

-Jane

Have an Earth Day Treat

Since the launch of Earth Day in 1970 the fight for a clean environment continues with  increasing urgency, as the ravages of climate change become more manifest every day. Fortunately awareness has increased as well and many take action to help relief the pressures on our one and only home. Recycling, taking public transportation, walking, biking, looking for more energy efficient solution in everyday life, reducing consumption and much more has become increasingly more popular. It’s serious business. So it’s time to reward yourself with an earth-friendly treat. Whether you make it yourself or have it made for you, I hope you will find just the right one. And if you do, why not treat yourself more often?

Let’s start with my very favourite book,  150 Best Vegan Muffin Recipes by Camilla V. Saulsbury. My family and I love muffins, not just for their taste but also for their versatility. They come together and bake up so quickly that even people, who are very busy and/or lack baking experience, can whip up a delicious treat in no time. Muffins are great for breakfast, to put in a lunchbox, bring to a sick friend, share at a potluck or donate to a local charity bake sale. In the unlikely event that there are any left they can just go into the freezer to be enjoyed later. There is a muffin for every occasion and every time of year in this wonderful book. You will find sweet muffins to be enjoyed with ice cream or savory ones to accompany a soup or a stew. It doesn’t matter whether you are in the habit of eating dairy, egg, or cruelty free; there will be at least one favourite muffin recipe for you.

If cookies are more your thing, this book is for you.  Vegan Cookies: Invade your Cookie Jar  by Moskowitz and Romero has the most delicious, easy to follow cookie recipes this side of your grandma’s. I can guarantee that nobody will know they don’t contain eggs etc. The excellent instructions make it easy to create fabulous texture and taste, and your cookies will most likely look just like the photos in the book, which are so beautiful your mouth starts to water just by looking at them. This book is proof that vegan baking can be out-of-this-world, mouthwatering delicious. There is also a whole section explaining ingredient substitution, troubleshooting recipe issues, comparing various types of flour and other ingredients, all of which is very useful when experimenting with other recipes. Although, I don’t think you would have to, because this book will keep you busy for a while.

Do you have an ice cream machine? If so I highly recommend  Dairy-Free Ice Cream by Kelly V. Brozyna. This book is filled with delicious recipes and gorgeous photos. The Swiss Almond looks great as does the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chunk and the Pumpkin Ice Cream. There are recipes for frozen yogurt made with coconut and cashew milk as well as sherbets and pops. All the bases for dairy-free treats are covered and there are useful hints throughout. If you have experience with making ice cream not using an ice cream machine, many recipes in the book can be modified. With summer not so far off it’s time to start experimenting with some cold treats. But then again, who says that ice cream is just for summer?

Speaking of summer… when it’s blistering hot outside, firing up the oven doesn’t sound very appealing. But it doesn’t mean that you have to forgo cakes, pies, and bars altogether. The book Rawsome Vegan Baking by Emily Euw takes care of all that with no baking involved. Even if you’re skeptical looking at the title, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favour by checking out  this book. Just look at the amazing photographs! Cream cakes, cheesecakes, lava cakes, Black Forest Cake! Need I say more? Even better, these recipes are uncomplicated with easy ingredients and stunning results, which are sure to impress anybody who gets the chance to enjoy one of these wonderful delicacies. Go ahead wow your friends and family! If you like you can also have a peek at Emily’s blog http://www.thisrawsomeveganlife.com/

Chocolate-covered Katie by Katie Higgins. It all started when Katie Higgins, a total chocoholic, developed her own naturally sweet treats and put the recipes on her blog http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/ . Soon millions followed her online and were clamoring for a book featuring  her delicious creations. Katie obliged. And here it is! If you have a sweet tooth, you will be instantly hooked. There is not much more to say other than this book proves that having a sweet tooth can be healthy and there is no harm in having your dessert and eating it, too.

“The environment is where we all meet; where all have a mutual interest; it is the one thing all of us share.” —Lady Bird Johnson. So why not meet and share an earth-friendly treat with somebody this Earth Day? Enjoy!

Elke

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

Summertime Pairings

Summer is upon us and with warmer weather my thoughts turn to good food and reading on the patio. There is nothing more exquisite than relaxing in the sun with a crisp, cool glass of Riesling or a chilled lager and reading a book while your dinner cooks slowly on the barbecue. With this in mind, I offer up some pairings for your literary and gastronomic enjoyment.

Julia Child is one of the best known television chefs and one of the first to bring French cooking into the homes of everyday North Americans. Mastering the Art of French CookingIn 1961, she published, along with Simone Beck and Louisette Bertholle, the first volume of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and volume two in 1970. These marvelous books provide detailed instruction on how to prepare classic French dishes from beginning to end. The book also offers instruction on kitchen equipment and knowledge of ingredients. Julia also had a long running (1962-1973) TV series called The French Chef in which she prepared many of the recipes from her books.

To accompany your French dining experience I suggest pairing with the novel The Two-Penny Bar by Georges Simenon.

TwoPennyInspector Jules Maigret is a fictional French Inspector with the Paris Constabulary. Always with a pipe in mouth and hat on head, he roams Paris, France and sometimes Holland solving various crimes. While on his sojourns he takes time to sit down for a meal or drink whether it is oysters and white wine or a beer from a local pub.

Just before leaving for his holiday, Maigret visits a condemned man who tells him of a murder he witnessed six years before. He also tells Maigret of a bar the murderer liked to visit. This sets Maigret off on a chase that will have him meet an Englishman, haberdasher and coal merchant.

BeerliciousTraveling back across the Atlantic to our own yards, the barbecue is a versatile and fun way to prepare a summer meal.

For those carnivores among you, I offer Beerlicious: The Art of Grillin’ & Chillin’ by Ted Reader. GQ magazine calls Reader the “Crazy Canuck BBQ Kingpin”. Each dish in his book is either paired or prepared with a good quality beer that adds flavour to or accentuates the dish as you eat.  Try the Brooklyn Lager BBQ smoked pulled pork with green apple slaw.

Canadian Living Barbecue CollectionIf essential roughage is more to your liking, Canadian Living’s The Barbecue Collection: The Best Barbecue Recipes from our Kitchen to your Backyard and The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide from Bon Appétit both provide an excellent selection of tasty veggie recipes. From The Barbecue Collection comes barbecued stuffed tomatoes, a delicious mixture of diced tomato, croutons, Parmesan cheese and parsley all stuffed into a hollowed out tomato. The Grilling Book will wow your taste buds with dishes like onion steaks. Thick juicy slices of Walla Walla, Vidalia or Maui onions brushed with a mixture of olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, thyme and Worcestershire sauce.

BadMonkeyTo accompany the flair of a BBQ dish, I am going to suggest a novel by Carl Hiaasen. Many of his novels usually involve the seedier underside of Floridian life and, to me, are never boring. I discovered Bad Monkey by browsing the shelves looking for interesting book covers. Nothing says “read me like a monkey wearing a pirate hat on the front cover. I soon learned of a voodoo lady, really bad monkey, severed arm and former detective on roach patrol (health inspector).

HogfatherFor the last course I have a seasonal selection that comes a little early. I recently reread Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. I think this is one of his best and funniest novels. The story takes place in Pratchett’s Discworld universe and centres on the Hogfather, Ank Morpork’s version of Father Christmas. A group of beings, called the auditors, have hired an assassin, Mr. TeaTime, to inhume the Hogfather. Death, his granddaughter, and Death’s assistant, Albert, join forces to keep the Hogfather safe.

Nigella ChristmasTo help you with your seasonal table, Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities provides a wonderful array of easy and sinfully good recipes to make the season festive. Offering traditional choices such as puddings, roast turkey (my favourite), and plenty of vegetarian options, Nigella also gives advice on cooking ahead to make the holiday season a little easier. Like Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the recipes are straightforward, easy to follow, and (did I already mention?) sinfully delicious.

Andrew

Reading for the Long Weekend

The May long weekend is here! A time for gardening, sunning, camping, hiking, partying, sleeping, cycling, reading, and more (Okay some of that is dependent on the weather!). Whatever you have in mind to do this ‘unofficial’ start of Winnipeg summer, I hope it contains some form of rest. Even when we are trying to relax our mind can easily race — overthinking some troubling  issue or another. I find reading is a great way to leave my usual ways of thinking aside, and focus on another, usually more interesting, narrative. Give regular thinking a break!

But what to read this long weekend? I compiled a random set of books (and movies) that contain only two unifying threads: the title has the word ‘weekend’ in it and the item is borrowable from Winnipeg Public Library. As you may discover, having ‘weekend’ in a title doesn’t guarantee a book about relaxing with a mug of coffee and a purring cat in the sun room. Not that that’s a bad thing. ‘Weekend’ is a portal into many interesting worlds.

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The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray
“Who doesn’t dream of writing a novel while holding on to a day job. Ray and coauthor Bret Norris can help readers do just that, with this proven practical and accessible step-by-step guide to completing a novel in just a year’s worth of weekends.”

index.aspxWeekend Cooking by Ricardo Larrivée
“Indispensable inspiration for weekend chefs. This welcome edition has 140 recipes, with wine recommendations, dedicated to weekend gatherings…The recipes are straightforward yet allow for improvisation.”

learntoplaygolf
Learn to Play Golf in a Weekend
by Edward Craig

“Anyone wanting to take the direct route to mastering golf will appreciate this professional, no-nonsense book. Complete with straightforward, jargon-free instructions, it leads readers through all the basics of the game with the aim of producing competent players in just two days.”

the_long_weekendThe Long Weekend by Julie Ellis
“A group of old friends, who knew each other during the war, are reunited. They are all, in their different ways, involved in the arts. But when the Hollywood big-shot turns up, full of his success, the others start to ponder what they’ve accomplished or haven’t.”

Llearntodrawearn to Draw in a Weekend by Richard S. Taylor
“Perfect for beginners and leisure artists, this book guides the reader from the most basic shapes and objects through to fully developed and varied projects. Readers will find encouraging advice and instruction for a variety of drawing media, including graphite pencils, colored pencil, Conte, pastel charcoal and more.”

mad_weekendMad Weekend by Roddy Doyle
“Dave, Pat and Ben have been best friends since they were kids. They do everything together, and they all love Liverpool FC. On a trip to see their favourite team in action, they have a few too many drinks before the match. But when it is time to leave for Anfield, Ben is nowhere to be found.”


outdoor_wood_projectsOutdoor Wood Products: 24 projects you can build in a weekend by Steve Cory

“…24 projects for the backyard and garden that can be completed with basic DIY tooling, inexpensive materials, and beginner skills — and that should take no more than a weekend to build. (Some) projects are constructed from reclaimed or recycled wood.”

weekend_handmadeWeekend handmade: more than 40 projects + ideas for inspired crafting by Kelly Wilkinson
“…author Kelly Wilkinson encourages readers to celebrate the joy of crafting, both for the satisfaction of making something by hand, and because the finished items serve as reminders of time taken to slow down and create – no matter the day of the week.”

Wow, this is a long “weekend” title:

The Citizen Kane crash courseindex-1.aspx in cinematography: a wildly fictional account of how Orson Welles learned everything about the art of cinematography in half an hour. Or was it a weekend? by David Worth
“This book brings to life the 60-plus year urban legend of the infamous weekend between Orson Welles and the Oscar winning cinematographer, Gregg Toland (Wuthering Heights, Citizen Kane). Guaranteed to provoke controversy as it instructs and entertains…”

index-2.aspx60 Easy Suppers: enjoy deliciously tasty recipes for midweek meals and relaxed weekend dishes, shown in over 280 step-by-step photographs by Leicestershire Wigston
“These delicious supper recipes are perfect for anyone with a busy life who enjoys good food without effort. Packed with dishes that are both easy to prepare and easy to serve, this is a highly practical book full of recipes. Chapters include vegetable dishes, rice and pasta, pies, fish and shellfish, and poultry and game.”

index-3.aspxA Weekend with Degas by Rosabianca Skira-Venturi
“The nineteenth-century French artist talks about his life and work as if entertaining the reader for the weekend. Includes reproductions of the artist’s work and a list of museums where works are on display.”

 

index-1.aspxThe Lost Weekend (DVD) directed by Billy Wilder
“The heartrending Hollywood masterpiece about alcoholism, depicting a single weekend in the life of a writer, who cannot believe he’s addicted.”

 

These last two unfortunately are not currently found in WPL’s collection. But I have made requests that they someday will be. They sound intriguing.

Tthe_long_weekendhe Long Weekend by Savita Kalhan
“Sam knows that he and his friend Lloyd made a colossal mistake when they accepted the ride home. They have ended up in a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere with a man who means to harm them. But Sam doesn’t know how to get them out. They were trapped, then separated. Now they are alone. Will either of them get out alive? This gripping and hypnotic thriller will have you reading late into the night.”

the_lost_weekendThe Lost Weekend by Charles Jackson
“So powerful and understanding that many readers will find themselves riveted to their chairs until the end… A mystery story, a horror story and a revelation of the forces that can move a man; a journey into fear, into the abyss.”

 

Enjoy your weekend!
– Lyle

List: Books to read on 3/14/15 at 9:26:53AM

Saturday March 14, 2015 (at least for countries that are willing to write out dates in that order) is “perfect Pi day.” Why perfect? Because at 9:26:53 AM, the date and time match the number pi [π] to nine decimal places: 3.141592653.

Pi day is a day for two things: celebrating math, and eating pie. Why? Because both are awesome! Happy eating, fellow nerds!

[π] : A Biography Of The World’s Most Mysterious Number 

We all learned that the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter is called pi and that the value of this algebraic symbol is roughly 3.14. What we weren’t told, though, is that behind this seemingly mundane fact is a world of mystery, which has fascinated mathematicians from ancient times to the present.

 

Pie : 300 Tried-and-true Recipes For Delicious Homemade Pie 

Pie is the most comprehensive and accessible book ever written on the subject of American pie. An instructive, anecdotal chapter walks home bakers through pastry making how to’s. Answers to questions home bakers want to know. The only resource a home baker needs.

 

Why Pi? 

This entertaining follow-up to DK’s popular Go Figure!, Why Pi? presents even more mind-bending ways to think about numbers. This time, author Johnny Ball focuses on how people have used numbers to measure things through the ages, from the ways the ancient Egyptians measured the pyramids to how modern scientists measure time and space.

 

Pie It Forward : Pies, Tarts, Tortes, Galettes, & Other Pastries Reinvented 

“It’s a conundrum I can’t understand. Someone’s hankering for pie; you can see the pie-longing in their eyes. They want a delicious flaky crust, something with buttery overtones. They want fresh fruit – not a vague whisper of berry in a butter cream, but overt chunks of apple, discernible bites of berry. But it’s just not done. You don’t serve pie at special events like fiftieth birthdays, dinner parties, silveranniversaries, or, God forbid, at a wedding. To which I reply, ‘Bullpuckies.'”

 

Alligator Pie 

Alligator pie, alligator pie, 
If I don’t get some I think I’m gonna die.
All the favourites you remember from your own childhood are recaptured in this collector’s edition: “Wiggle to the Laundromat,” “Bump on Your Thumb,” “Peter Rabbit,” “Psychapoo,” “Billy Batter” and all the wonderful poems you treasured as a child are here for your child to love, too.

 

The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book: Uncommon Recipes From The Celebrated Brooklyn Pie Shop 

This stunning collection features more than 60 delectable pie recipes organized by season, with unique and mouthwatering creations such as Salted Caramel Apple, Green Chili Chocolate, Black Currant Lemon Chiffon, and Salty Honey. With its new and creative recipes, this may not be you mother’s cookbook, but it’s sure to be one that every baker from novice to pro will turn to again and again.

 

The Pie And Pastry Bible 

The Pie and Pastry Bible is your magic wand for baking the pies, tarts, and pastries of your dreams — the definitive work by the country’s top baker. More than 300 recipes, 200 drawings of techniques and equipment, and 70 color pictures of finished pies, tarts, and pastries.

 

Sir Cumference And The Dragon Of Pi : A Math Adventure 

Sir Cumference, Lady Di of Ameter, and Radius are back in their second Math Adventure! This time, a potion has changed Sir Cumference into a fire-breathing dragon. Can Radius change him back? Join Radius on his quest through the castle to solve a riddle that will reveal the cure. It lies in discovering the magic number that is the same for all circles.

 

175 Best Mini-pie Recipes : Sweet To Savory 

Mini pies are one of the most popular trends in baking, leading the way in the mini-dessert craze. Everyone loves these adorable, fun-sized desserts and savory morsels that are perfect whether on the go, hosting an elegant party or just snooping for after-school snack ideas.

 

Cinnamon, Spice & Warm Apple Pie : Comforting Baked Fruit Desserts For Chilly Days.

Nothing beats a home-baked fruit dessert served warm from the oven. Whether bubbling up with delicious juices, fragrant with spices, or encased in crisp buttery pastry, fruit desserts are comfort food at its very best.

Operation Tender Trap

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Without Valentine’s Day, February would be …well, January.  Jim Gaffigan

Can you feel the temperature rising as the countdown to Valentine’s Day begins? As a special agent for the Federal Bureau of Love your mission is to show your partner and/or family how much you really care. With less than 2 weeks to prepare an ambush you need some ammunition for your love arsenal.

Did you know that preparing food for someone is a significant act of love? Why not cook up an intimate dinner for your dearly beloved(s)?

Showcase your talents by fashioning a festive setting. Candles, flowers and wine are the usual suspects but you need to sell your artistic side and create a “tablescape”.  Decide on a pink and red theme. Borrow vintage floral patterned plates or scout thrift stores for mismatchedto make the table setting less fussy and more fun.

Enlist your children, nieces and nephews (because it’s their special day too) and construct homemade hearts to scatter over the table. Find lots of ideas for making delightful cards, love tokens and more lovely things for friends and family in:

valentinethings

Valentine Things to Make and Do  

 

 

 

Proclaim your passion with a perfect menu that says “Je t’adore”. Consult some of the following cookbooks:

valentinetreats

Valentine Treats: Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family

 

 

celebrate     Celebrate! by Sheila Lukins

 

 

 

handmadegatherings

Handmade  Gatherings by Ashley English

 

 

 

Set the mood and stock up your CD player with sexy standards from crooners such as Sinatra or modern troubadours like Buble.

sinatra

buble2

 

 

 

 

Search Naxos music database for “Valentine Classics” or Hoopla for streaming music by hot new artist Sam Smith . Beware because this may lead to dancing, what George Bernard Shaw called the  “perpendicular expression of a horizontal desire.”

But can a heartwarming meal, bouquet of flowers or even a kiss convey the depth of your devotion? Cap it all off with the power of words and compose a sonnet dedicated to your heartthrob. Or recite a sure fire love poem from Love Poetry Out Loud 

lovepoetry

Give in to the schmaltz. Resistance is futile.

Jane

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!

Jane

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)

Directions:

  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:

-Carole

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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