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Monday Review: I Know How to Cook

18 Jan

I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot

Reviewed by Stephanie Dickison

There are few things better than a hefty cookbook that’s alight with possibilities.

One of the best I’ve ever come across is Phaidon’s I Know How to Cook by Ginette Mathiot.

This bible of tradition French home cooking is one of those treasured books that you will continually go back to no matter what the trend or star chef of the moment.

In fact, it’s been a best-seller since its first publication in 1932, so it’s already stood the test of time.  Now that it’s available in English for the first time, just imagine how many years you’ll be relying on it for homemade meals, celebratory party dishes and everyday snacks and desserts. There are more than 1,400 recipes here so it’s going to take you awhile…

The only drawback?  It’s going to take up some room on your cookbook shelf.  But trust me when I say it is damn worth it!

There are many things to love about the book:

The layout – It’s organized by subject and then ingredient, so it’s easy to navigate and also fantastic for those times when you say, “Okay, I’ve got some eggs that need using up.  What can I make for supper?”

The recipes – Despite being a French cookbook, somehow Mathiot has made the recipes accessible,with most of the recipes containing only a handful ingredients and steps. It’s amazing how short the directions are – often just one small paragraph.  For French food, no less!

Nothing too complicated, yet there are indeed fancy dishes to be found.  You can impress your guests without having to spend all day in the kitchen – finally!

The design – The subject pages are colourful and fun images of food, but the photos are what’s going to excite you!  Simple, clean photos showcase dishes such as Eggs with Truffles, Shoulder of Lamb Provencale and Four-berry Gelatin that will inspire you to create dishes that you have thought up until now, were completely beyond you.

The recipes too are laid out spaciously so that you can whip up Creamy Coffee Mousse without feeling overwhelmed or have to squint your way through it.

What I love most about the book is that I’ve always thought that you had to be European or classically-trained or damned patient and have all day to cook French food well.

It turns out that all you really need is a passion for food and cooking and this book, which now resides proudly in my cookbook collection.  I plan on working my way through these classic dishes in the next couple of years.  In fact, I’m going to try for doing one a week.  Why don’t you join me?

I know that we can do it – thank to the lovely Ginette Mathiot and this truly extraordinary book.

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Monday Review: Healthy Sin Foods

9 Nov

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Healthy Sin Foods: Decadence Without Guilt by Dr. Joey Shulamn, DC, Nutritionist

Reviewed by Stephanie Dickison

Although almost half the book is filled with recipes, I would not call this a cookbook.

However, I would call it handy.

See, I think that most of us eating and cooking these days are looking for excitement and variety in our meals but don’t necessarily want to give in to fat and calorie-laden ingredients.

So I can see the enticement of this book – show us the goods and tell us how to make ’em better so we don’t miss the stuff that’s bad for us.

And being a nutritionist, Shulman breaks downs what complex carbs, sprouted grains and powerful proteins are so that you first get yourself eating right.  She also gives you a Healthy Sins Food Grocery List that includes dark chocolate chips, avocados and black cod, so you get go off to the grocery store right away and get started to a healthier lifestyle.

Her list of Top 50 Superfoods are great to add to your pantry and introduce into your diet if you haven’t already.I mean, black beans, mangoes, mint, goat cheese, strawberries and olives and olive oil are all wonderful additions, don’t you think?

But as much as I appreciated being reminded of the healthy benefits of items such as cayenne pepper, garlic and cabbage, they don’t really come across to me as all that sinful.  Her recipes did though:

Goat cheese, dill, and asparagus omlette, Banana strawberry split, Crab stuffed mushroom, Sweet martini mashed potatoes, Egg foo young wrap, Creamy lasagna, Beef tenderloin stack, Chocolate berry pudding, and Frozen lemon berry torte.

Now that’s more like it!

Monday Review: A Pile of Great Cookbooks

26 Jan

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Because it’s been so brutally cold lately, I thought you might enjoy a big, fat pile of cookbooks in which to flip through and review.  It’s as much fun planning a menu as it is creating one, don’t you think?

Books reviewed by Stephanie Dickison

Susan Mason’s Silver Service: Elegant Savannah Cuisine

Susan Mason and Barrie Scardino

There is something so spectacular about Southern cooking, but “upper crust” Southern dishes?  There are not enough words to describe my excitement.

Although I didn’t know of Ms. Mason before this, her story is an interesting one.  Her high-end catering has taken her to Savannah movie sets and catering private parties for stars.  Her personal tales are interwoven throughout the pages, along with more than 80 recipes, 100 illustrations and neat catering tips like making a tree out of strawberries.

The star stories might impress celebrity hounds but it’s the oyster stew and reetzi beetzi (rice and peas) recipes that I can’t get enough of.

There are dishes designed for dinner, garden and cocktail parties, among other things, but you’re gonna want to make these a part of your regular routine.  I’m talking about Silvia’s Chicken Pot Pie, Susan’s Tomato Pie, Seafood and Artichoke Casserole and Heywood’s Jalepeno Cornbread.

And I haven’t even told you about the desserts yet.  They are beyond belief.

Nobody Does It Better… Why French Home Cooking is Still the Best in the World

Trish Deseine

People have the impression that French cooking is extremely difficult.

It isn’t.  It just sounds that way because they say it in French.

And while there are a few techniques that might take a little trial and error on your part, it is actually a fun cuisine to tackle.

Except for the pigeon.

Pastilla Pigeon is a recipe that I won’t be making anytime soon.  Well, I will, but I’m going to make it with chicken.  I’ll even make it with rabbit.  But I just can’t do pigeon.

I hope the French will forgive me.

But things that sound all fancy like Lobster in Vanilla Butter or Crayfish Poached in White Wine are way easy to do.

I mean think about it – Crudités are just raw veggies and Endives Braisees are just braised Belgian endives.  Chances are you’ve done more exquisite things using leftovers and the sad condiments at the back of the fridge.

The book is beautifully done with exquisite photographs to entice and inspire you and the recipes are dead easy to follow.

So if you’re anything like me, stop being intimidated of French cooking and have a blast in the kitchen.

And go ahead and use pigeon.

I mean, I’ve had horse, sweetbreads and fish eyes.  How bad could it be?

The Festive Food of America

Martina Nicolis

I am fascinated by classic American food.  It is so distinct and often comforting.  So when I came across this little book, I knew it was a must-have for my cookbook shelf (plus the photos are amazing).

Yet it is not solely a book of recipes, but a look at America’s most festive occasions, festivals and holidays, so you not only learn a little history but you can make Bourbon Baked Ham on Kentucky Derby Day and Vinegar Pie for Harvest Dinner.

I know, I hadn’t heard of it either, but according to the book, “On the South Dakota praries, the Harvest Supper was an annual event for homesteaders who attended church for a rousing sermon, to give thanks for the harvest and enjoy the frontier fare contributed by the ladies of the country.”

So I am incorporating some of their holidays into my own.  This year I’ll be celebrating Mardi Gras with Oysters Creole and King’s Cake, the Shaker Strawberry Feast and Avocado Garlic Soup.

What’s that for you say?

The Gilroy Garlic Festival of course.  You’ll want to add this one to your repitoire.  But you’ll have to read about it first.  Because the first thing people will ask you when they get the invite is, “What the helcis this?”

Complete Traditional Recipe Book

Sarah Edington

This is obviously a book that you will want to keep close to you.  Like your Joy of Cooking and other cookbook basics that are stained, smeared and with pages clotted with syrups and sauces.

Books like this are meant to be used over and over, handed down through the generations.  These are meant to get dirty.

Things as basic as Fish and Chips, Country Vegetable Soup and Mayonnaise are included, but you may be stumped by a few dishes.

That’s because this is a British basics cookbook so you might not be familiar with Cock-a-Leekie or Dame Alice soup.  And what the heck is Cullen Skink you might be wondering?  Or Ashby Statutes?  I’m half British but even I don’t know what Damson Snow is!

But that’s part of the fun for me – that path of discovery of new ingredients and perhaps finding a recipe that will become a family favourite!

This book is a wonderful foray into British history but I’m working on making it a part of my present.

I’m going to make my fella Bubble and Squeak – Doesn’t that sound like fun?

I think it sounds much better than plain ol’ potatoes and cabbage.

Back to the Family: Food Tastes Better Shared with Ones You Love

Art Smith with Michael Austin

Art Smith is best known as being Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef, but with this new book, he should be commended on doing something greater – bringing comfort Southern foods to the table to share with your friends and family.

It is a touching book but it is the recipes that will have you swooning – Pickled Green Tomatoes, Breakfast Casserole with Ciabatta, Iris’ Creamy Vegetable Chicken Noodle Soup and Tomato Pie

Whole sections on grits, hotcakes, biscuits and fritters and soup as a meal!  These are the kind of recipes that I search for and not many people write about.  They are too entangled in arugula, Malpeque oysters and venison.  I mean, this man thought to include recipes for brines and aromatics.

I love that Art writes about the food that moves him, but Southern and comfort foods move me like no other.

I’m off to make Strawberry Pretzel Surprise.  Wanna come over?

Monday Review – Seriously Simple Deck

19 Jan

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Seriously Simple Deck: 50 Recipes for Simply Delicious Meals by Diane Rossen Worthington

By Stephanie Dickison

While I am all for spending a number of hours in the kitchen, chopping and shredding, sauteing and blending, I’ve got to admit that with all this cold weather and trudging through the snow everyday, sometimes you just want to put something together quickly and hunker down with a good book or settle on the couch with a thick blanket and a movie recommended by a friend.

That’s why I love the Seriously Simple Deck.  It’s like a saving grace for those days where you don’t want to spend time flipping through your recipe books and cards.  You just want to whip something together and get on with your day.

But do not for one second think that “simple” means boring.  Oh no!  Diane has created dishes that will have your mouth watering and guests wondering how you managed such a great meal in such a short amount of time.  These are fun and modern dishes on easy-to-read cards with sumptuous photos on the back.

When thinking about dinner tonight, how about Tuna Tartare with Cucumber-Avocado Relish to start, Island-Style Braised Short Ribs with Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes and Carrots, Crispy Scallion-Potato Pancakes and Warm Chocolate Pudding Cakes?

Diane has also included recipes for “basics” such as Pistachio Pesto, Balsamic Syrup and Chipotle-Garlic Puree to name a few.  These are the most exciting basics I’ve seen in a “simple” recipe collection in a long time.

Oh, and she also manages to add wine recommendations along the way.

Diane, where have you been all of my life?

The way she is able to pull off making these seemingly sophisticated recipes in a simple manner is due to what she calls her “guiding principles.”  Diane says, “Straightforward techniques are fail-safe: High-heat roasting, broiling, grilling, braising, high-heat reduction, and immersion blending are techniques I use again and again.”

In a world where “true” cooks use slow cooking methods to bring out the taste of food, it is awfully refreshing to hear Diane’s take of making good food quickly.

I have been doing this for 20 years, but somehow I was made to feel like simple and fast meals were less than something that took hours to make.

And now I have 50 new recipes to add to my arsenal!

Let’s see, now that I have dinner all planned out for tonight, what shall I do tomorrow – Poached Salmon Nicoise or Veal Ragout with Pasta tonight?

Now deciding what to make is a true pleasure.  And dead easy to execute.

I could get used to this.

Monday Review: Sunday Soup

12 Jan

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Sunday Soup: A Year’s Worth of Mouthwatering, Easy-to-Make Recipes by Betty Rosbottom

By Stephanie Dickison

One of my favourite things about Fall and Winter is making soup on Sundays.

I started this tradition many, many years ago.  I don’t know what kicked it off, but it remains a big part of my weekend.

The thing is, that my repertoire is really small.  I can make some amazing soups, but only a limited few.  And as the winter drags on, I start to crave more variety.

That’s why I am besotted with Sunday Soup.  It has seasonal soups with a reasonable amount of ingredients that are easy to prepare and yet, they are simply sublime – and much better than anything I could come up with on my own!

There are many reasons to love this book:

1.  This is one of the few cookbooks, soup cookbooks no less, that actually says it’s okay to use store-bought broth!  I know!  How incredible is that?  I know my lovely Co-Editor Chris will be flabbergasted that people do such things when making it from scratch is so easy, but I am one of those folks at the supermarket with a cart full of veggies, meat and a few tetras of broth.  Please don’t hold that against me…  And I am grateful to the authors for their Shortcut Chicken or Beefstock Recipe that gives life to store-bought broth.  This makes me feel a little better about not being as authentic as others.

2. The photos are enough to start your saliva glands go into overtime.  I dare you to look at the photos and not crave a big steaming bowl of homemade soup!

3.  The simplicity of the ingredients and the recipes means that you can make one or two soups in an afternoon or evening and have enough to eat through the week.  This means, more time doing what you want to do instead of hovering over complicated recipes, trying to figure out how to deglaze a pan or braise leeks.

4.  Unlike most soup cookbooks, Rosbottom has given thought to what we eat with our soup and included a vibrant selection of salads, toasts and sandwiches.  What a fantastic idea!

5.  The combinations selected for each season are intoxicating.  Take a look:

FALL – “Cool Nights” Chili with Chicken, Corn, and Chipotles; Fall Brodo with Acorn Squash, Swiss Chard, and Bacon; Wild Mushroom Melange; Pumpkin Soup with Toasted Walnuts and Rosemary; French Lentil Soup with Garlic Sausage

WINTER – White Bean Soup with Chorizo and Kale; Cauliflower Soup with Crispy Prosciutto and Parmesan; Cream of Chicken and Fennel Soup; Ribollita – The Tuscan Minestrone; Celery Bisque with Stilton Toasts; Tomato, Dill and White Cheddar Soup

SPRING – Cream of Parsley Soup; Carrot Soup Scented with Sesame and Chives; Spring Risotto Soup; “Just Greens” Soup; Emily’s Springtime Salmon Chowder; Watercress Soup with Pan-Seared Scallops; Thai-Style Lemongress Soup with Shrimp

SUMMER –Avocado Soup with Fresh Tomato Salsa; Icy Cucumber Soup with Smoked Salmon and Dill; Victorine’s Gazpacho; Cold Curry Creams; Chilled Melon Soup – Two Ways; Zucchini Vichyssoise; Summer Squash Minestrone with Pistou.

Mmmm!

And guess what I did yesterday?  Yep, I made soup for my fella and I – and not my usual Curried Butternut Squash Soup or Minestrone.  And now we’ve got exciting lunches or dinners for throughout the week as well.

I am so inspired by these delectable dishes that now I want new big and deep soup bowls to enjoy them in!

Monday Review: He Said Beer She Said Wine

15 Dec

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He Said Beer She Said Wine by Marnie Old & Sam Calagione -DK Books

By Stephanie Dickison

If you are looking for a fun, offbeat foodie present this holiday season, this book certainly fits the bill.

He Said Beer, She Said Wine guides you on pairing all types of foods with beer and wine – something that will come in handy with all those hosting gigs you’ve got coming up these next few weeks.

Marnie Old, an esteemed sommelier, and Sam Calagione, owner of the renowned craft brewery DogFishHead are the experts, but they let you know what to look for in simple, easy to understand language.  This means that you’ll be able to not only learn the guidelines, but you’ll be able to navigate the wine and beer landscape on your own soon enough!  They also make sure that the book comes across as a fun guide for beginners and not a heavy-handed serious tome for seasoned oenophiles.  Marnie and Sam introduce themselves and give you their philosophies in a very lighthearted fashion, with step-by-step instructions.

There is a beer primer, wine primer, pairing each with different foods such as cheese, vegetables, poultry and desserts.  But my favourite part is the last one – The Great Debate at Home.  This is where they give instructions on hosting your own beer versus wine party and have the most wonderful recipes for you to make at home and have a photograph and description of both a wine and a beer that pairs beautifully with the dish.

For the parties that we are having this season, I’m going to make the Fig Compote & Red Onion Confit, Vegtable Samosas and Merluza Salsa Verde (or Cod with Green Sauce).

And now thanks to this book, I’ll be able to pair them beautifully.

And just think about how much fun that will be – and how many different wines and beers you’ll get to try along the way!

It’s the best kind of homework, wouldn’t you say?

Monday Review: Salad Days

8 Dec

salad

Salad Days fromThe Australian Women’s Weekly

By Stephanie Dickison

I know that many food outlets and publications will be focusing on comfort food cookbooks at this time of year, but I am still craving salads – almost as much as during summer months.  And there are heartier, bolder salads that are just as suitable in winter months, so I thought I’d share this book with you.

First of all, the photography and layout is gorgeous.  It has the clean Donna Hay look that so many British and Australian magazines and books have.

Secondly, the salads are to die for – there are starters, sides, mains and dressings, along with a glossary and conversion chart.  There are 100 recipes that have been tripled tested, which means that you can make these quickly before an event or party and know that it will turn out just right.

This week I’m going to make a number of the starter salads: Crab and Green Papaya, Avocado and Prawn, Fennel and Ruby Red Grapefruit.  At this time of year, along with wanting the creamy comfort of shepherd’s pie, mashed potatoes and roast chicken, I also want piquant, sour and fresh tastes that bring my tastebuds alive.

These ought to do it.

The best thing about this cookbook, along with the variety of salads that it offers, is that each salad’s ingredients are pretty minimal, yet the recipes are quite decadent, restaurant-quality.  So I can make the Beetroot Salad  with Honey Balsamic Lamb without feeling intimidated or beyond my limits.

This is one of those cookbooks that you go back to time and time again no matter what time of year.

I’m off to make tonight’s dinner – Thai Beef Salad with Chili and Lime.

I can’t wait!

Monday Review: Food 2.0

17 Nov

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Food 2.0: Secrets From the Chef Who Fed Google by Charlie Ayers, DK Publishing

By Stephanie Dickison

The basis behind Charlie’s cooking at Google was, he says “I want to help people eat better.”

When he was hired at Google back in ’99, it was to create food that would energize people, stimulate them and introduce healthy, organic and sustainably-sourced food into their diets.

That’s quite a lofty list – trying to persuade programmers and computer folk to eat well AND eat local.

But Charlie made over the office cafeteria into a feast for the eyes and stomach, all the while serving healthy food, including at least 2 raw salads a day.  He says that “You can save time and enzymes by eating raw foods,” and offers 5 easy ways to go raw.

In Food 2.0, Charlie lays out what every cook should have in their pantry, with fun and interesting options.

In fact, the book is laden with helpful hints and tips, whether you are a cook just starting out or an avid foodie who never leaves the kitchen.  The whole first half of the book is actually just information – what condiments to stock, how to freeze meats and broths, and why you want to invest in a rice cooker.

The second half is all recipes, which is what I am most excited about.

And in keeping with the pro-health lifestyle that Charlie writes about, the recipes begin with yogurt, smoothies and fresh juices and shakes.  The Wake-Up Shake-Me-Up Power Shake with black tea, rice milk, honey and strawberries?  Now that’s how I want to start my day!

And for lunch, I’m going to make his Dragon Breath Noodles with fresh egg noodles, peanut butter and chili flakes!  Don’t worry, I’ve got gum for afterwards…  And then there’s the Apple and Brie Quesadillas, Seattle Jim’s Pea Salad and Silicon Valley Split Pea Soup.  This is what lunch should be like every day – fresh, invigorating and yet so very healthy.

The dinner options are just as exciting – Lamb Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce, Snapper in a Yogurt Coat and Filet Mignon with Crisp Bacon, Seared Polenta and Wilted Spinach Salad.

I am not afraid to say that there are bits of drool on some of these here pages now.  I was trying to decide what to make for dinner.  I think it’s down to the Wild Salmon and Warm Beet Salad, but it’s still early.  I may yet go with Spinach Latkes and a salad or start all over again.  The photos and layout make it completely enjoyable to flip through over and over.

For some reason, maybe because he worked at Google and that says to me big corporation and lots of computers, I was expected a very different book – a more straight-ahead cookbook of standard recipes (read: boring and expected).

But this is a lively, very of the moment book with a lighthearted, yet easy-to-follow guide of fresh recipes that are good for you and lots of advice that may just change the way you cook – and the way you eat.

This is a great gift for the upcoming holidays.  And you might just want to go ahead and order yourself a copy while you’re at it…

Monday Review – How to Cook Everything & Bon Appetit’s Fast Easy Fresh

10 Nov

How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food, 2nd Edition by Mark Bittman & The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh: 1,100 Quick Dishes for Everynight Cooking by Barbara Fairchild

By Stephanie Dickison

They arrived at my doorstep with a big enough thud that the cat and I both jumped.  A big box containing two looming cookbooks meant that I was going to have to rearrange the bookshelves -again.  These were the mightiest cookbooks I’d ever seen outside of my lovely food and cooking encyclopedias that I cherish so deeply.

The one good thing about their size and weight is that really, if you are just starting out or are looking for big, basic cookbooks to cover a little bit of everything, these have got it.  All of it.

And while I know a lot of you have your own go-to cookbook like The Joy of Cooking, I’m highly recommending these.

They are so vast in knowledge and so easy to use and follow that really, no kitchen should be without them.

Here are my thoughts on each one:

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A little while ago, I told you how much I loved Mark Bittman’s Recipe Cards.  Well, the book, How to Cook Everything, 2nd Edition, just knocked my socks off.  Really.  I mean, it’s got everything: illustrations that you can follow along with, like tying meat or preparing tomatoes.  Easy-to-make recipes that are neither tired or repetitive (unlike my roster of dishes).

And here’s the best testimonial of all – On Saturday night, I stopped by the grocery store to get meat.  I had been to 2 others, but hadn’t seen anything of excitement.  However, at my third stop, I came across a fairly good sized beef tenderloin roast for $5.86.  Now, I had only ever made 2 roasts before this, so it’s not something I usually get, but it was so inexpensive and beautiful that I couldn’t resist.  However, I had no idea how to cook it.

That is, until I got home and turned to page 735, where the Roast Tenderloin with Herbs recipe awaited me.  I marinated the meat for only an hour as my Mom had stopped by for a visit.  It turns out neither Mom, me or my fella have roast beef outside of weddings and funerals, so I felt a little pressure for it to turn out well.

The recipe was an easy mixture of oil, balsamic vinegar and herbs and the only thing I had to do was check the meat with a thermometer after 20 minutes.

Folks, while it is not the best roast I’ve ever had, it was absolutely wonderful.  And I truly couldn’t have possibly done it without this book.  Later this week I’m going to tackle 22 Picnic-Perfect Salads and How to Season Simply Cooked Seafood.

This is my new cooking bible and yes, you can borrow it anytime…

bonappetit

The title, The Bon Appetit Cookbook: Fast Easy Fresh: 1,100 Quick Dishes for Everynight Cooking says it all, doesn’t it?  It’s from Bon Appetit, so you know it’s trustworthy (and probably anything you make from this will be better than if you’d gone it alone) and it’s all about making quick and easy dinners, which let’s face it, at the end of the workday, can be one of the most challenging meals to make and make well.

I mean, I would never in a million years think to make Crabmeat, Corn and Cumin Salad in Endive Spears, but doesn’t that sound absolutely lovely?  And what about Oaxacan Chicken Mole?  That sounds much better than the usual roast chicken breasts that I make!

My favourite thing about this cookbook is the recipes never include more than a handful of ingredients and instructions, so I can actually make pretty fancy fare in a short amount of time, which is really what I strive for most every night I cook.  And now thanks to this cookbook, I can actually rev up my own standbys.  So instead of my usual steamed spinach, I’m going to make Pesto Creamed Spinach and instead of my usual orzo, I’m pumping it up to Carrot Orzo.  Sure, they are simple changes, but I find that these suggestions and ideas really get me out of my usual cooking rut and go-to items.  It helps keep things exciting in the kitchen and I remain excited about cooking and making dinner every night, which I’m sure you know can be a challenge at times!

I am so excited by all of the new possibilities that I’m off to get some ingredients for dinner tonight!

These are the best books and really, a must have for anyone who spends anytime at all at the stove.  And hey, they’ll make the very best presents this holiday season.  I mean, there are recipes in each of these to please everyone!

Monday Review: Dinner at Your Door

3 Nov

Dinner at Your Door: Tips and recipes for Starting a Neighbourhood Cooking Co-Op by Alex Davis, Diana Ellis and Andy Remeis. Gibbs-Smith

By Stephanie Dickison

In these tight economic times, I think that preparing meals at home and sharing meals with friends, family and neighbours will become a part of our routine, just as more people will take transit, stay in to watch movies and generally cut back where they can.

But that doesn’t mean that it has to feel like a sacrifice.  In fact, I think that this getting back to sharing meals and stories around the table is a good thing!

So when I received Dinner at Your Door, I thought – this is absolutely the perfect time for this!

The premise of the book is this:

“We love to cook. But every night? No way! On the other hand, we don’t want to eat out or have frozen pizza. On the nights we don’t cook, we want something delicious-a balanced meal with quality ingredients. Come to think of it, what we really want are home-cooked meals made by somebody else and delivered!
Welcome to co-op cooking, possibly the best idea since Pyrex with a lid. With the plan set up by Dinner at the Door, you cook one fabulous dinner a week and have two or three equally sensational meals delivered to your door, hot and ready to eat. If you love to cook but the pressure of doing it every night gets you down, a dinner co-op is for you. Instead of slamming together three or four 30-minute dinners a week, you can take your time crafting one superb weeknight meal and enjoy receiving the other meals automatically.”

So basically, you and a group of friends, family members and neighbours – anyone who lives in a close proximity – sets up a dinner co-op where you all cook and share the food that you make.  And it’s pretty easy when you think about how much effort it is to cook for two – think about how little extra it is to cook for say 6!

And the benefits of setting up a co-op are plentiful – you get to try new foods, dishes and ingredients, you get exposed to new ideas and presentations and you get a couple of nights off to spend with the kids or read that book for your book club or whatever it is that you want to do, but can never find the time for.

This book goes through everything you need to know – questions to ask yourselves and others before becoming involved, what to do when someone leaves the group, options on delivering the food and forms and worksheets to use.  It really is the bible of setting up a neighbourhood cooking co-op!

But what I like most about the book is how approachable everything is.  Normally, I would have never considered doing such a thing, but the damn book makes it seem like you’d be crazy not to – after all, these are the few steps you need to take! I really think that this book could not only change the way we eat and cook, but our lives.

And the recipes – oh my God, the recipes!  Not only do I want to make these dishes, but I can’t wait to share them with friends and neighbours!  Check out the first recipe – Avocado and Grapefruit Salad with Chile Maple Pecans.  I am making that this weekend for sure!  And there’s:

Spinach & Edamame Soup with a Touch of Cream

Salmon with Fresh Strawberry Relish

Hunter Chicken with Artichoke Hearts

Cobb Sandwich on Fresh Bakery Bread

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Orange Chipotle Glaze

The photos are tremendous and the book is laid out so really all you need to do, is follow their guidelines.

I’m off to write cards to friends and neighbours to kick off my own neighbourhood co-op.  Thanks to this amazing book, I actually feel like I can do this!

I’m so excited!