I am often asked for cookbook recommendations and I have to confess that my answer varies widely from day to day and season to season. Were I to win a lottery, one of the first things I’d go shopping for is several armloads of cookbooks. I love to read them, savour them, revisit them and – quite often – use their recipes as a basis for my own experimentation in the kitchen. While I am a sucker for gorgeous food photography, I also like books that weave a story which enables me to learn about new approaches, a new culture, or new-to-me ingredients. With that in mind, here are a couple of relatively new releases – some local, some global, that I have either purchased, received or still have on my wish list this year:
The Vegetarian Flavour Bible by Karen Page
Billed as the “Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity with Vegetables, Fruits, Grains, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds, and More, Based on the Wisdom of Leading American Chefs” this is an indispensable reference book for cooks both novice and seasoned. The same team’s The Flavor Bible is one of the books I turn to for inspiration several times each week so I am confident that beautifully prepared The Vegetarian Flavor Bible will be similarly well-thumbed. Having experts tell you ‘what goes with what’ (and not only what goes, but what’s good, better and best) saves a lot of time when creating original recipes and I can say from experience it also produces superior results with no wasted money on failed culinary experiments!
Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi
If you haven’t heard of Ottolenghi, you’re missing out on someone who is revolutionizing the way Westerners are looking at vegetables. His bestselling cookbooks elevate veggies from side dishes to centre stage, using techniques and seasonings that are dazzling yet not too complicated for the average home chef. Best of all, the recipes are so unique and packed with flavour that they could easily turn a staunch carnivore into a committed omnivore! The personal stories he adds to each well-written recipe add to the book’s charm and the photos are simply sublime.
The Ultimate Hockey Cookbook by Erin Phillips and Korey Kealey
Erin Phillips and Korey Kealey are very familiar with the juggling act it takes to maintain balance and keep everyone fuelled. Leveraging their expertise as nutritionists and mothers in very active families, Erin, wife of Ottawa Senators defenceman Chris Phillips, and Korey, foodpreneur and creator of the popular enerjive SKINNY quinoa crackers, collaborated to collect a book full of healthy, satisfying recipes from a host of hockey superstars. One of the things I love most about this book, aside from the delicious inspiration, is the fact that it is appealing to young athletes who are eager to explore the vital link between fuel and performance.
Ottawa Food – A Hungry Capital by Don Chow & Jennifer Lim
With a popular blog called foodiePrints (www.foodieprints.com) that is well known by locals and tourists alike, this dynamic duo was approached by a publisher to write their first book. It’s a cornucopia of culinary information, focused especially on the thriving Ottawa food scene. The book is packed with gorgeous photos and stories celebrating all things edible in the National Capital Region and shines a lovely spotlight on some of the hardest working growers and producers who are contributing to make Ottawa a culinary mecca.
Go Barley – Modern Recipes for an Ancient Grain by Pat Inglis and Linda Whitworth
I became a bigger fan of barley after learning of Linda Whitworth’s groundbreaking work to increase the profile of this humble but nutritious grain, grown in abundance in Canada. Considered a superfood, barley is more versatile than you might think, and these 100+ recipes prove it; you’ll find soups, stews, breakfast dishes salads, sweet temptations and much more. You’ll look at barley in a whole new light thanks to this book, and your body will thank you for it.