New publications serve up classics and more, with flair!
I don’t know about you, but I am one of those people who loves to read a cookbook from cover to cover before I bring it to the kitchen to try a recipe or ten from it. I liken it to listening to a new album in the intended sequence, rather than pressing the shuffle button. Cookbooks can take us on all kinds of culinary journeys and I always enjoying experiencing the arc of the story in the way the author wanted to present it. This year saw a delightful crop of new publications and the ones below – some of my favourites – definitely offer that storytelling element, along with fantastic recipes, helpful tips and mouth-watering images. Look for them at your favourite local bookstore and if you’re interested in past gift suggestions, be sure to check the archives on this site.
The Miracle of Salt by Naomi Duguid
An award-winning and widely celebrated Canadian writer, photographer, traveler, and home cook, Naomi Duguid has coauthored six cookbooks, and well as Burma: Rivers of Flavor, her first solo publication. Renowned for her meticulous research and engaging storytelling, her newest cookbook, subtitled ‘Recipes and Techniques to Preserve, Ferment, and Transform Your Food’, is as fascinating and comprehensive as one might expect from her. It’s a delicious trip around the world and through time as she explores how working with salt-preserved and salt-fermented ingredients not only opens up a rich new world of flavors and techniques but also offers cooks the gift of connecting with generations of culinary wisdom. The recipes are superbly written and the photographs are absolutely stunning. Published by Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Company.
Don’t Worry, Just Cook by Anna Rupert and Bonnie Stern
For cooks both novice and expert, there are so many great lessons to be found between the covers of this useful and appealing book by celebrated Canadian food icon Bonnie Stern and her daughter, Anna Rupert. As you work your way through the book, you just might feel like Bonnie and Anna are whispering in your ear, delivering a multitude of tips, tricks and inspiration. Aside from great techniques, substitutions and timesavers, the book’s stories and recipes are intended to encourage increased confidence for those who need it and a love of cooking for all. The recipes are extremely well-written without being too wordy and cover a broad range of flavourful dishes and cuisines, with gorgeous photos interspersed throughout. I recommend buying a copy for yourself as well as a few for gifting. Published by Appetite by Random House, an imprint of Penguin Random House Canada.
Feed These People by Jen Hatmaker
As a longtime fan of Jen Hatmaker’s ‘For the Love’ podcast, I was excited to get my hands on her debut cookbook. As expected, it’s packed with lots of her trademark Southern-inspired humour, plenty of wisdom and, of course, easy recipes that are ideal for feeding family and friends. The chapter titles quickly hit at what to expect, such as ‘Food for Your Picky Spouse or Spawn’, ‘Food for Hippies and ‘Food for When You Have No More Damns to Give’. The vibrant photos are not overly styled, making the whole book feel approachable and authentic. As a talented home cook rather than a formally trained chef, Jen has a knack for making her recipes clear and easy to follow, plus she adds a ton of personal notes and stories that make picking up this book a joy every single time. Published by William Morrow’s Harvest imprint.
Dinner in One by Melissa Clark
These days, so many of us are looking for recipes that are super easy to prepare but deliver big flavour. That’s exactly what you’ll find in the latest book by star food writer Melissa Clark, whose first book, Dinner in French, was a bestseller. She takes the idea of one-pot, one-pan, one-sheet meals to a new level which her no-fuss, streamlined approach to preparation; most of the recipes can be made in less than one hour and won’t leave you with a mountain of dishes to tackle. From sheet pan and skillet dinners to casseroles, desserts and more, the recipe collection offers simple, worthwhile ideas for any day you want to make your life easier and more delicious. The informative tips provided throughout (how to add more vegetables to a dish, easy ingredient swaps, vegetarian options, etc.) add to the book’s usefulness and the colourful photos definitely add to its appeal. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.
Bisous and Brioche by Laura Bradbury and Rebecca Wellman
Even if you aren’t familiar with Laura Bradbury’s delightful “Grape Series” memoirs about her life in France, you’re sure to find lots to captivate you in this, her first cookbook. She teamed up with a friend, photographer and cookbook author Rebecca Wellman, to curate and share a selection of her favourite recipes – many French classics – that have been handed down through her husband Franck’s family or passed on by friends and neighbours. Lovely anecdotes accompany many of the recipes and the moody, atmospheric photos contribute to the effect of making the reader feel like they’ve been transported to an old-world vineyard. Published by Touchwood Editions.
Smitten Kitchen Keepers by Deb Perelman
Whether you first discovered Deb’s culinary capabilities through her wildly popular website (smittenkitchen.com) or one of her first two cookbooks, you’re likely a big fan of her no-nonsense, big- flavour approach to food. In this just-released book, subtitled ‘New classics for your forever files’, Deb offers a collection of essential recipes for meals you’ll want to prepare repeatedly. Most are new but there are a few gems from her website included as well and, as a passionate home cook, she knows how to test her recipes until they’re perfect, helping to earn them the title of ‘keepers’. The brief introduction provided with each recipe and straightforward, concise directions make this book extra-useful and, as to be expected, the photos are truly tempting. Published by Penguin Random House Canada’s Appetite by Random House imprint.