Constantly Cooking’s 2020 cookbook gift guide

A roundup of releases by talented Canadian chefs!

I’ve fallen back in love with my cookbook collection the past few months, likely as a result of increased menu planning (to decrease trips to the grocery store). After donating many books that I realized I hadn’t reached for in years, I was pleased to have some room on the shelves for a few additions. I selected five new or new-ish publications by Canadian chefs; all are beautiful, useful cookbooks and several of them were recent winners at the 2020 Taste Canada Awards. Many of you will likely find one or more of these cookbooks to be great for gifting (even to yourself) and in Canada, they’re likely available at your favourite independent bookstore.

Let Me Feed You by Rosie Daykin

While she first made a name for herself thanks to her charming Butter Bakery & Cafe in Vancouver, Rosie Daykin is so much more than just a talented baker. She describes herself as a ‘natural-born feeder’ and in this, her third cookbook, Rosie skillfully encourages readers to rediscover the simple pleasure of cooking for those you love with more than 100 delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and, of course, dessert. The recipes are intended to be, as she says, “straightforward and achievable”, producing beautiful, flavourful dishes that prove home cooking doesn’t have to be complicated. Gorgeous photos and loads of humorous anecdotes throughout the book add to its appeal. Let Me Feed You was recently named the gold winner in the general cookbooks category at the 2020 Taste Canada Awards and is available in hardcover and e-book formats.

Baking Day by Anna Olson

I met Anna Olson a few years ago while we were both working at Canada’s Baking and Sweets show and I can confirm that she absolutely deserves her title as ‘Canada’s baking sweetheart’. As evidenced by her multiple successful shows on the Food Network, Anna’s passion for baking coupled with her warmth and patience make her – and her many cookbooks – essential resources for home bakers. Her eighth and latest book, Baking Day, offers over 120 scrumptious ideas, both sweet and savoury, designed to encourage people to spend time in the kitchen with their families. Anna’s ability to create easy-to-follow recipes makes her books ideal for bakers of all skill levels or time constraints; the recipes are individually flagged as simple, more advanced and complex. I love that the table of contents includes a photo of each recipe, for convenience. She also offers modifications for allergies or dietary restrictions. Available in e-book and hardcover formats.

Oven to Table by Jan Scott

Also a gold medal winner at the 2020 Taste Canada Awards, in the single-subject cookbooks category, Jan Scott’s Oven to Table cookbook offers over 100 tasty one-pot and one-pan creations. I first became a fan of Jan through her popular Family Bites food blog and have always found her recipes informative and inspiring. By focusing on one-pot and one-pan cooking in this, her second book, Jan simplifies the prep, cooking and cleanup processes by emphasizing the use of six basic cooking vessels including the sheet pan, skillet, baking pan, Dutch oven, casserole dish and roasting pan. With easy-to-find ingredients, streamlined techniques and loads of helpful tips, the book offers a blueprint to easier, more successful meals, both both novice and seasoned cooks alike. One of the best things? These recipes reduce cleanup time too! I also like how practical, flexible and adaptable her recipes are, depending upon the size of group you are trying to feed, dietary preferences and even seasonal ingredient availability. Available in paperback and e-book formats.

The Hunter Chef by Michael Hunter

Well-known hunter and respected wild-game chef, Michael Hunter, grew up in the great outdoors and has always respected and been inspired by the endless bounty available in the wild to aficionados of hunting, fishing and foraging. His skill as a chef and recipe developer is evident in the over 100 recipes and accompanying butchery guides in The Hunter Chef, complemented by extremely skilled food and landscape photographs. The book is an ideal resource for those who love the great outdoors and want to make the best use of ingredients harvested there. Those who have dined at his renowned Antler Kitchen + Bar in Toronto will appreciate the opportunity the book offers to gain insight into the expertise and passion of this popular chef’s work and better understand why he has been invited to cook at culinary festivals around the world including the United States, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Russia, and Brazil. Available in e-book and hardcover formats.

Coconut Lagoon by Joe Thottungal and Anne Desbrisay

Coconut Lagoon and its sister restaurant, Thali, are two of the most popular restaurants in Ottawa, Canada and its chef/owner, Joe Thottungal, one of the city’s most generous citizens. Recently honoured with an award for philanthropy, Joe’s cookbook also won gold in the best regional cookbook category at the 2020 Taste Canada Awards. Focusing on the exquisitely-flavoured cuisine of his birthplace, the southern, coastal state of Kerala in India, the book demystifies Indian food for home cooks and offers delicious alternatives to the Punjabi-inspired dishes of Northern India with which North Americans are likely more familiar. The book’s 80 recipes include many vegetarian, gluten-free and dairy-free options. Although a confident cook, I wasn’t brave enough to tackle preparing Indian dishes prior to reading this book but I am now! The supplied ingredient guide plus Joe’s helpful and interesting descriptions for each recipe make this book even more useful and enjoyable. Available in paperback.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

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