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Sunday, August 13, 2023


1.HEARTY CAST-IRON AND SKILLET COOKING; 101 easy-to-make, feel-good recipes (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2023, 152 pages, ISBN 978-1-4971-0386-3 $22.99 CDN softbound) is by Anne Schaeffer, who has also written cookbooks on campfire meals, Dutch ovens, crock pots, tailgating, Amish baking, and many other topics. All of the preps here can be cooked on the stove, in the oven, and/or grilled over a fire – using the Dutch oven, the skillet or cast-iron pan. Once heated, these pots maintain even cooking temps. And the cookware lasts forever, even through to the next generation plus one. They are all highly recommended for campfires, grills, and other open flame sources. Typical preps here include breakfast (bacon and potato pancakes, frittatas), lunch (tuna noodle casserole, one pot shells and meatballs), dinner (fajita enchiladas, chicken marsala), and desserts (peachy raspberry pie, cherry-cream roll-ups). I like that the type face is large so that it is easy enough for seniors to read. Also, the idea of one pot or pan appeals to the male chef for its tidiness; consequently, the book has advantages for the guys. Ingredients are only listed in Imperial measurements, and there is no table of metric equivalents. Recipe directions include instructions for all three heat sources. Quality/Price rating is 88 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures Writing.

2.COOKING WITH BEER AND BOURBON (Fox Chapel Publishing, 2023, 136 pages, ISBN 978-1-4971-0389-4 $20.99 CDN softbound) is by Hunter Reed. It's loaded with 124 preps that include beer or bourbon (or both) as a major ingredient. He gives us 10 different beer types and 3 different bourbon types, plus he notes non-alcoholic, gluten-free, and vegan options. The book is arranged by course or plate (moving from sides, snacks, sauces, soups, to chilies, BBQ, sweets), but also within each section there is an arrangement of light to heavy flavours from the beer and bourbon. Thus he starts with beer battered fried mozzarella sticks as appetizers and move through the book to no-churn toffee and stout ice cream and bourbon choco-sicles. It's also a guy book in that most of the food (Irish beef stew, beer party meatballs, jalapeno cheddar beer bread) is what guys eat and drink with beer and bourbon. A readable typeface is very useful, although the print of the index is very tiny. Ingredients are only listed in Imperial measurements, and there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures Writing.

3.THE GROUNDS CAFE; seasonal dishes from Murray's Century Farm (Boulder Books, 2023, 165 pages, ISBN 978-1-989417-60-7 $34.95 hardbound) is by Nick Van Mele, who also did the recipes, with contributions from the Murray family. The book goes into the importance of community, co-operation, and the interdependence they all share in producing good food. The Murrays arrived in Newfoundland in 1820 and the Century Farm began in 1860. In 2017 Murray's opened The Grounds Cafe, a farm-to-fork restaurant. This book is a collection of recipes from that restaurant. Readers will enjoy reading about the growth of the farmers, foragers, foodies, family and friends over the years up through to the modern times. Lots of memoir material and photos. It's arranged by season, beginning with spring. Each has a section of about a dozen recipes. Spring includes "spring harvest salad", oyster mushroom and chive tartlet, buckwheat noodle bowl, handmade pasta with nettle pesto and cured radish. Summer brings tomato tart with basil pesto and mozzarella, charred zucchini and fennel soup, and a summer salad. The chill of fall produces tomato jam, squash risotto, apple butter, and a warm fall harvest salad with roasted pumpkin. Winter invites beet frites with garlic aioli, Cuban-style calzone, BBQ parsnip, and curried potato and root-veggie samosa with onion chutney. Delicious all round. With a shakshuka prep and veggie posters from Murray Meadows Farm this book really details the rural life in Newfoundland. Ingredients are only listed in Imperial measurements, and there is no table of metric equivalents. But, for a change, the index entries are large enough to read. Quality/Price rating is 90 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures Writing.

4.BIBIMBAP & other Asian-inspired rice & noodle bowl recipes (Ryland, Peters & Small, 2023, 160 pages, ISBN 978-1-78879-555-5 $25 USD hardbound)
is largely by Louise Pickford, a food writer-stylist currently based in France with 15 or so cookbooks to her credit. Five other Ryland food authors' recipes are from Atsuko Ikeda, Jackie Kearney, Kathy Kordalis, Jenny Linford, and Uyen Luu. The book attempts to lay out plans for ease of preparation of rice and noodles: one-pot dishes in soups, salads, and stir-fries based on dishes from Korea, Cambodia, Burma, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia. Korea's Bibimbap is the iconic dish (fried egg on top of rice, seasoned veggies, kimchi, and gochujang sauce). Indeed, "bibim" means mixing and "bap" means cooked rice. The dish is often used as a base for many one bowl rice/noodle dishes. Pickford arranges her book by need: the first section is "easy does it", followed by "fresh & cool", "soul satisfying", "warming spice", and "umami rich". As a tested Supertaster, I headed for that last chapter first. She's got BBQ pork noodle bowls with dipping sauce, wild garlic miso pork stir fry, mushroom udon, an ultimate banh mi rice bowl [I didn't miss the baguette at all], and duck red curry over rice – among others. This is a great looking book with all the RP&S food photos in place. Ingredients are mainly listed in Imperial measurements with some metric volumes, but there is no table of metric equivalents. Quality/Price rating is 89 points by Dean Tudor of Gothic Epicures Writing.

Dean Tudor,  Prof Emeritus T'karonto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) School of Journalism
Treasurer of Wine Writers' Circle of Canada

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