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Globe’s 20 Best Cookbooks of 2013

CanadianCraftBeer.web4Every review, gift guide, and media mention means a lot to a cookbook author. Even with such a long schedule — most of the recipes in my book have only been tweaked in minor ways since last February — it’s impossible to forget how much work went into creating the book and then to see someone take the time to read it, cook from it, and write about it or talk to me about is a truly rewarding experience.

I have a full list of the equally-appreciated media mentions for The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook over on, but I’d like to draw attention to one with this post. I was particularly honoured to be included in Chris Nuttall-Smith’s “Twenty cookbooks that will inspire greatness” both because I respect Chris as a critic and because so many of the other books on the list are by authors that I hold in very high esteem. I’m not just reading from a script when I say that it is a pleasure to be included in their company.

Print the list or clip it from the paper and head into your local bookstore. Chris is right that that is very much part of the whole cookbook experience. (more…)

Almost Famous Chef Competition Cookbook

I was particularly pleased two years ago when I won the competition to be the blogger judge for the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef Competition Canadian regional competition. It meant sitting on a judging panel with James Chatto and Claire Tansey, but also getting to meet and talk to some of Canada’s best aspiring culinary talent.

As part of this year’s programme a collection of the recipes from the 2011 and 2012 entrants has been published as a free e-cookbook. I had a chance to spend some time reading and cooking from the book and want to share my thoughts about it.

Culinary school students–especially when they enter competitions–seem to choose recipes that lean towards the fancy and French. For better or worse, that means no tacos. And it also (generally) means a central protein, supporting starch, and vegetable only as garnish. A minority of the recipes break this mold, but for the most part this is a lineup of classics that we don’t often see recipes for.

The 13 main recipes cover uncommon meat options like bison, duck, foie, and cod. We’re also introduced to cool and unusual techniques like tea-smoking for scallops and flavoured rice. (more…)

Book Review: The Farm

Cover for Ian Knauer's The Farm

Ian Knauer’s The Farm: Rustic Recipes for a Year of Incredible Food adds another to the popular stack of cookbooks that are based on seasonal cooking. His story is a personal one that deeply connects him to the small farm that has been in his family for more than 200 years.

Reading through the book I found myself devoting more time to the personal anecdotes that he has sown between the recipes. The ones about his grandfather–who presented his daughter-in-law (the author’s mother) with “five squirrels and a bucket of weeds” as the makings of dinner–do an especially good job of illustrating how the connections with people and places can be wound together. Bite-by-bite memories of sandwiches shared ¬†and preserve jars opened made me want to keep reading well beyond the sections of recipes that are in-season now. (more…)

Almost Famous and $150 giveaway for Lee

This time last year I had the pleasure of judging the Canadian regional for the S. Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef competition. They’ve generously given me another opportunity (like last year) to give away a gift certificate to a Toronto restaurant. You can find details on that at the bottom of the post.

As well, they connected me with Cole Nicholson, one of the George Brown culinary students who is competing this year. It was obvious from our discussion that Cole is taking his entry seriously and putting in the time at six a.m. practice. Between that and the support he gets from his coaches and other instructors at George Brown I wouldn’t be surprised if he matches Jean-Francois Daigle’s success from last year and repeats for GB. (more…)

Serious Eats and Mourad: 2 cookbooks that travel

A passion for travelling often comes with an equal passion for tasting food from various cultures. Luckily, cookbooks are cheaper than airplane tickets.

Today I have two cookbook recommendations that are both authentically set in culinary traditions different–one definitely more distinctly–from ours.

The population of the United States has never been so obese and thanks in part to that frosted-tipped, sunglasses on the back of his head Food Network host never as self-conscious of its popular food culture. Happily, we have Serious Eats to be, well, more serious about covering America’s burger joints, old-time pizza parlous, and, yes, diners. (more…)