Cookbook Review & Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart from Vegetables First

 
I recently received a free copy of Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable - Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée from  Appetite by Random House  to review.

I recently received a free copy of Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable - Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée from Appetite by Random House to review.

This cookbook warmed my heart for several reasons. First, as a Canadian, I absolutely loved watching Chef Ricardo on TV. His show, Ricardo & Friends, was one of my go-tos; rarely missing an episode. Such an inspiration as a budding foodie at the time!

Second, it is stated right up front that the book isn’t meant to be a vegetarian cookbook. Rather, it is about making vegetables the leading role and the meat or seafood (where included in some of the recipes) a supporting role. I love this idea so much. Since the start of last year, I’ve been trying to focus my cooking on incorporating more vegetables. More meatless meals, and more unique side dishes of veggies. I find this book such an inspiration for meal ideas! I also know many friends that in the same boat as me on this too and would definitely recommend this cookbook to start.

Lastly, Ricardo dedicates this cookbook to farmers. If you’ve been following my Instagram stories and posts you’ll also know that I’ve meeting more and more farmers since last summer. I’ve been learning about the farming practices of how our produce is grown and what it really takes for the vegetable to make to my plate. Farmers are the real hero! Supporting local agriculture is important to not only our health, but the health of our plant and everything that depends on it to thrive. Eating local can change the world.

This cookbook is beautiful and artful as the vegetables that inspired the book. Recipes are fully tested, straightforward and approachable—each listing the preparation and cooking time, as well as the servings and how well it freezes. I especially adore the additional sections on how to use even the wilted unused parts of the plants for making broths, soups or purees, as well as storages tips and shelf life of most veggies.

When flipping through the book, the asparagus tart stood out the most to me. At the time I had a handful of asparagus spears ready to eat in the garden. The first ever harvest too! It also let me practice my tart making skills. The recipe was so easy to follow and came together perfectly. I decided to make mine into three smaller tarts, topping with some slivered almonds and grated cured egg yolks I had on hand too.

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ASPARAGUS AND GOAT CHEESE TART

Excerpted from Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable Forward Recipes by Ricardo Larrivée. Copyright © 2019 Ricardo Media. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

CRUST

  • 1/4 cup (35 g) toasted hazelnuts

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) unbleached all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup (75 g) whole wheat flour

  • 2 tsp thyme leaves

  • 1/8 tsp salt

  • 6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut

  • into cubes 2 tbsp (30 ml) 35% cream

FILLING

  • 4 oz  (115 g) fresh goat cheese

  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) 35% cream

  • 1 lb (450 g) mix of blanched vegetables (wild asparagus or thin asparagus cut in half lengthwise and sprouting broccoli) (see note)

  • 2 tbsp (30 ml) olive oil

  • 1 tbsp (15 ml) white wine vinegar

  • Chopped, toasted hazelnuts, for serving

CRUST
In a food processor, chop the hazelnuts with both flours. Add the thyme and salt. Mix to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the butter is pea-sized. Add the cream and pulse until the dough comes together.

Place the dough in a tart mould 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter and with a removable bottom. Press the dough evenly on the bottom and sides of the mould. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

 With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).

Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell. Bake for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

FILLING
In a bowl, combine the goat cheese and cream. Season with salt and pepper. Spread evenly across the bottom of the cooled tart shell.

 In another bowl, combine the vegetables with the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the vegetables on top of the cheese. Sprinkle with hazelnuts and serve.

 NOTE Wild asparagus is not technically asparagus but is marketed under that name. You can find it in select grocery stores in the spring. Sprouting broccoli is also sold under the names broccolini. In this recipe, it can be replaced with rapini or broccoli.

PREPARATION 30 MIN
COOLING 1 H
COOKING 25 MIN

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Cookbook Review & Matcha Tea Cookies from Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen

 
I recently received a free copy of Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers from  Appetite by Random House  to review.

I recently received a free copy of Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers from Appetite by Random House to review.

Ask me what I want to eat when I’m not in the mood to cook and I’ll say ‘pho’.

Vietnamese cuisine holds a soft spot in my heart. Some of my closest friends are Vietnamese, and I’ve enjoyed countless evenings at their dinner table eating their family’s dishes.

I’m drawn to the simple, but complex flavours of Vietnamese cuisines. The sweet, the sour, the salty and a dash of love all come together to make a meal that brings people together.

In her cookbook, Kim Thuy, described how their family uses food as a tool for expressing their emotions. I can definitely relate. Since I can remember, food has been the centre of my family’s gatherings. As an adult, I don’t call my parents or siblings all that often. But give it a couple of weeks, and I’ll have the urge to have everyone over for dinner to share a meal and catch up.

I love how each chapter of this cookbook is dedicated to members of Kim’s family. Recipes are laid out a simply and are easy to follow. Starting with the fundamentals and leading into soups, bowls and stir-fries, vegetables, grilled and fried, slow cooking and desserts and snacks. At the end there’s a Vietnamese food and wine pairing recommendation as well as music pairing! I’ve never seen before in a cookbook and was very intrigued.

The book is beautifully photographed and elegant. As a food photographer, I’m drawn to cookbooks with photography that can tell a story. This cookbook hits that one every note. I can’t wait to cook my way through it.

The first recipe I wanted to try was Nathalie’s Matcha Tea Cookies. I think I was craving something sweet at the time. My go-to cookie is white chocolate & macadamia nuts. These matcha tea cookies are made with toasted pine nuts and white chocolate. I instantly knew I was going to be fan. They did not disappoint. I also love that the recipe can be frozen. I already have half a batch waiting for me when the next sweet craving hits!

Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers

Matcha Tea Cookies

NATHALIE’S MATCHA TEA COOKIES

Excerpted from Secrets from My Vietnamese Kitchen: Simple Recipes from My Many Mothers by Kim Thuy. Copyright © 2017 Editions Libre Expression. Translated from the French by Sheila Fischman. Recipes translated by Marie Asselin. Appetite by Random House edition published in 2019. Food Photography by Sarah Scott. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Makes about 48 cookies ~ Prep time 20 minutes + 2 hours resting ~ Cook time 9 to 12 minutes

  • 2 cups (250 g) all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp (5 g) baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp (2 g) baking soda

  • 2 Tbsp (6 g) matcha tea powder

  • 2/3 cup (150 g) salted butter, softened
    1 cup (220 g) brown sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup (70 g) toasted pine nuts

  • 7 oz (200 g) white chocolate, chopped

  • Wax paper or plastic wrap

1—Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and matcha tea powder together. Set aside.

2—Cream the butter using a hand mixer or a stand mixer.

3—Add the brown sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4—Add the eggs and beat to combine.

5—Mix in the flour mixture in three batches, beating well after each addition.

6—Add the pine nuts and chocolate and stir just to incorporate.

7—Divide the dough into four portions and set each portion on a piece of wax paper or plastic wrap.

8—Shape the dough into 2-inch (5 cm) diameter rolls. Wrap well in the wax paper or plastic wrap, twisting both ends to seal shut.

9—Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

10—Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C).

11—Slice each roll into 10 to 12 cookies. Place the cookies on parchment paper–lined baking sheets.

Bake for 9 to 12 minutes, depending on whether you like a softer cookie or a crisper one.

Using sushi mats to shape the dough into rolls will enable you to create perfectly round cookies.

 The cookie rolls will keep refrigerated for up to 1 week, or frozen for up to 6 months. Thaw the rolls in the refrigerator for 24 hours before slicing.

Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
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Matcha Tea Cookies
Matcha Tea Cookies
 

Cookbook Review & Wine Gums from Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse

 
I recently received a free copy of  Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts  from    Appetite by Random House  to review.

I recently received a free copy of Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts from Appetite by Random House to review.

I didn’t think it was possible to top The Art of Living According to Joe Beef, and yet here we are. With more recipes and more off the wall ideas to make you fall madly in love all over again, Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse: Another Cookbook of Sorts nails it. I mean there’s a recipe for soap!

There’s a chapter insert dedicated to the cellar and features recipes for canning and preserving. While the apocalypse is metaphorical, I’m a firm believer in knowing how to cut it on your own sans grocery store (at least for a day or two). The insert had me instantly transported back to my Grandma’s cold room filled with shelves of pickled veg and preserved fruit. Although my Grandma wasn’t making pickled pork butt or deer necks mind you. Other chapters are dedicated to over the top Sunday dinners, PBS cooking shows, Joe Beef and Liverpool House restaurants, as well as the history of Montreal and Quebec’s Christmas in July traditions.

Let’s be clear. The recipes aren’t from your conventional cookbook collection. Some recipes I find more thought provoking than a sense of wanting to run out and cook it tomorrow. While other recipes I want to make ASAP, but it’s not the most practical to attempt financially. I’m probably not going to cook horse, however, I would sell my left foot to be able to make the Gateau Renverse aux Truffes-just once. Yet, there are several I can’t wait to dig into. Chaga ghee has me super curious, and I know I would love to take a stab at making smoked apple cider vinegar for fun. I think that might be the point. Have fun.

This cookbook is so much more than a simple collection of recipes. It’s a humous reflection of our food culture, and nudge to reconnect to the kitchen, our families and things that grow in the backyard. So if you’d like some entertainment and a slap in the face to get off your phone and spend quality time with good people, good food, oh and good wine, this book is for you!

Speaking of wine. I naturally started with the Wine Gums recipe. I was having some issues with my candy molds, and opted to make the recipe into a small wine gum bundt cake. Who wouldn’t love a wine cake?? Promptly served with friends while watching hockey of course.

Wine Gums Joe Beef

Wine Gums

Excerpted from Joe Beef: Surviving the Apocalypse by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson. Copyright © 2018 by Frédéric Morin, David McMillan and Meredith Erickson. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

We grew up on Maynard’s wine gums (favorite flavor: cassis).

Wine gums are on our dessert list, mostly at Vin Papillon but sometimes at Joe Beef: a little plate of six to eight wine gums per table to end the meal. We have experimented with many different wines and all have worked. It seems reducing wine with sugar is fail-proof.

Vanya was once dared by a tedious wine fan to blind taste our wine gums:she nailed three out of five.

You will need: One or more silicone chocolate/jelly/ candy molds

  • 8½ sheets (17 g) leaf gelatin

  • 1 cup (250 ml) wine

  • ⅓ cup (70 g) sugar

  • ⅛ cup (25 ml) liquid pectin

  • Natural food color (optional)

1. Plunge the gelatin sheets into a large bowl of cold water and let sit for 10 minutes until softened.

2. In a small saucepan, combine ½ cup (125 ml) of the wine and the sugar. Warm until the sugar has dissolved, about 5 minutes on medium heat. Do not bring to a boil.

3. Pick up the gelatin and gently squeeze it, removing the excess water. Place the gelatin in the pan, whisking until dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pectin and whisk some more.

4. Pour in the remaining ½ cup (125 ml) wine and stir. Transfer to a small jug or other pouring vessel.

5. Place your wine gum mold(s) on a sheet pan. Carefully pour the wine gum mixture into the individual cavities all the way to the top. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill for 6 to 8 hours.

6. When ready to serve, take a toothpick and carve around the top edges of each gum, as you would with a knife to unmold a cake, then push the individual cavity inside out to release the gum. This enables you to get that true wine gum form, perfected. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container. Best eaten fresh.

Note Tasting jokes aside, we suggest these varietals for your gum-making adventures: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Merlot, and Savagnin.

Wine Gums Cake Joe Beef
 

Cookbook Review & Salmon Gravlax from The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge

 
I was invited by  Penguin Random House Canada  to review the recently released  The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge.  So they sent me a free review copy—but even better, they want to send one to you as well! I’ll be running an Instagram contest where one of my lucky followers could win a copy of this beautiful book. Be sure to check out my  Mushroomsandthyme  feed for details on how to enter. (Note: open only to entries with a Canadian mailing address. Contest closes July 1, 2018).

I was invited by Penguin Random House Canada to review the recently released The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge. So they sent me a free review copy—but even better, they want to send one to you as well! I’ll be running an Instagram contest where one of my lucky followers could win a copy of this beautiful book. Be sure to check out my Mushroomsandthyme feed for details on how to enter. (Note: open only to entries with a Canadian mailing address. Contest closes July 1, 2018).

The moment you lay eyes on The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge you are instantly transported to the ocean and the welcoming embrace it imparts on your soul. It’s the first cookbook that made me stop dead in my tracks from rushing to open the book and flip through the recipes and photos in a mad frenzy. The texture of the front cover draws me in instantly. I’m running my hands over the front, my mind even more curious as to what I’ll find inside.  

From reading the charming introduction and history of the Wickaninnish Inn you understand the connection of the cover. The wood grain that graces the cover is embossed to replicate the texture of the hand-adzed cedar posts and beams of the Inn, hand carved by master carver Henry Nolla using traditional First nations tools.

The recipes are compiled from many of the chefs who have led The Point restaurant since 1996. From Chef Justin Labossiere’s Dungeness crab and mascarpone ravioli in saffron pasta, to Chef Matt Wilson’s Tuff Session Sourdough Bread and Chef Rod Butters’ shellfish potlatch. All recipes that you can now make in your home kitchen!

It’s this attention to detail and thoughtfulness to weave the history of the restaurant, the Inn, and the tiny surf town of Tofino, B.C. on the west coast of Vancouver Island, throughout the book that makes it so remarkable. The beautiful photography of Makito Inomata that flows alongside the recipes takes the book to a whole other level.

The cookbook also includes several cocktails that I’m dying to try as well—‘cedar-infused rye whisky’, ‘foraging through the woods’,  ‘huckleberry liqueur’ spark instantly intrigued me. Not to mention, the last chapter of the cookbook, the Pantry, is a hidden gem. The Pantry details the vinegars, oils and preserves that are needed in some of the recipes. Leek oil, dill oil, strawberry jam, apple butter and cured egg yolks to name a few. For those that love to experiment in the kitchen, these pantry items are sure to inspire beyond the recipe they are called for. 

Admittedly, I have yet to visit Tofino. It’s been on my wish list of places to see within Canada. After reading this cookbook, it’s definitely jumped up several spots on that list!

Recipes that have left me inspired to recreate, include:

  • Sunflower seed cheese

  • Mini beef tartare burgers

  • Mushroom tortellini

  • Root vegetable torte

  • BBQ beach oysters

At the top of the ‘I MUST TRY THIS!’ list was the salmon gravlax recipe, which is detailed below. I’ve never made gravlax before, but have been curious about it for a long time. You’ll find me eating smoked salmon almost every Saturday breakfast, served over grilled sourdough, an over easy egg and all the fixings—a little treat to kick start the weekend. For some reason I had it in my mind that gravlax would be difficult to tackle or turn out successfully. I always talked myself out of making it. However, it was surprising easy, and with a little planning ahead of time, really easy to make for a brunch gathering. Completely in love it the results.

Salmon Gravlax

Wickaninnish Salmon Gravlax

Picture British Columbia’s west coast and thoughts of salmon won’t be far behind. Executive Chef Barr’s recipe for a simple but flavourful gravlax makes the most of the bountiful and sustainable wild fish. Perfect for canapés or as part of a seafood charcuterie platter, this is one party dish you will make again and again.

  • 1 cup (145 g) salt

  • 1 cup (200 g) sugar

  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange

  • Finely grated zest of ½ grapefruit

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

  • Finely grated zest of 1 lime

  • 1 Tbsp (5 g) toasted fennel seeds, crushed

  • 2 sprigs dill, leaves only, chopped

  • 1 side fresh coho or sockeye salmon

In a small non-reactive bowl, combine all the ingredients, except the salmon, and mix well. This is the cure.

Remove the pin bones from the salmon. Rub the cure onto both sides of the salmon, making sure the flesh is completely covered. (You may not use all of the cure mixture.) Wrap the salmon tightly in plastic wrap and store on a tray in the fridge for 6 to 8 hours.

Rinse off the cure, then put the salmon back on the tray and leave it uncovered in the fridge to air-dry overnight.

Slice the salmon thinly, being sure to leave the skin behind. Serve with crackers, bread, cream cheese, capers, red onions, and pickles.

Excerpted from The Wickaninnish Cookbook: Rustic Elegance on Nature’s Edge by Joanne Sasvari. Copyright © 2018 Wickaninnish Inn. Photography © Makito Inomata. Published by Appetite by Random House®, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Salmon Gravlax
Salmon Gravlax
Salmon Gravlax
Salmon Gravlax
Salmon Gravlax