Cooking at My House

by John Bishop

Published by Douglas & McIntyre

160 pages, 1999

Canadian Living Cooks Step by Step

by Daphna Rabinovitch

Published by Random House Canada
224 pages, 1999

ISBN: 0679309241


The Girls Who Dish: Seconds Anyone?

by Karen Barnaby, Margaret Chisholm, Deb Connors, Mary Mackay, Caren McSherry-Valagao, Glenys Morgan, Lesley Stowe

Published by Whitecap Books

209 pages, 1999

The Wine Lover Cooks

by Tony Aspler & Kathleen Sloan

Published by Macmillan Canada

176 pages, 1999



Read a review of the instant cook by Donna Hay


Cooking for the Holidays

Reviewed by Linda L. Richards


No matter what the true meaning of the holidays looks like for you, a big part of everyone's holiday seems to be food. In fact, between the time we sit down to gobble turkey at Thanksgiving and indulge in goose or something richer to help bring in the New Year, many of us will be struggling to get into the new jeans we got for Christmas.

Just in case you think this article is intended to help you avoid seasonal expansion, I'd best hurry to set the record straight. I'm a huge supporter of deep and rich seasonal feasting: bring on the trimmings and leave the calorie counters at home. Or, if home is where you're staying, here are a few new books that will help you prepare the treats and meals that will contribute to the expansion of your friends and family. Truly: the gift that keeps on giving.

What sort of grub do well known chefs prepare for the hungry mouths in their own homes? Cooking at My House is John Bishop's well executed answer. The owner of Bishop's, one of Vancouver, British Columbia's best known and priciest restaurants (it was rated Vancouver's Top Restaurant in a recent Zagat Guide ), the restaurant is best known for simple sophistication. In Cooking at My House Bishop lives up to this reputation. As he writes in the introduction:

Whether it's for my family or the restaurant, I want it to be right. I want to see people's faces and their reactions. Steam rising off a big bowl of corn on the cob or steamed clams, people reaching, smiling, anticipating, sopping up a sauce, enjoying -- that's what it's all about for me.

All of the recipes included in this beautifully produced book speak volumes about simple elegance. Cooking at My House would make a good addition to your personal cookbook library both for entertaining and everyday meals.

New Food Fast

by Donna Hay

Published by Whitecap Books

192 pages, 1999

ISBN: 1551109786

New Food Fast is -- quite simply -- the most beautiful cookbook I've ever seen: and I've seen lots! Everything about the book is perfect: incomparable food styling, great and appetizing photos and a clear and straightforward approach to food. Essentially, what author Donna Hay has done is reinvent the very heart of the cookbook. And unlike other meager and poorly executed attempts to do just that, Hay's approach is completely new and original: a breath of fresh air in a genre that's been long ready for it.

Hay is just the author for this task. A contributing food editor to marie claire in Australia, at 29-years-old she is already the author of two internationally bestselling cookbooks. If I'm any judge, New Food Fast will make it three.

New Food Fast 's very thorough break down of kitchen activities would make it an ideal choice for a new or inexperienced cook.

New Vegetarian Basics

by Nettie Cronish

Published by Random House Canada

276 pages, 1999

ISBN: 0679309780

For those whose idea of a holiday meal doesn't include animal matter, Nettie Cronish's New Vegetarian Basics would be a good choice. Flipping through the pages of New Vegetarian Basics gives one a wonderful sense of homecoming: if you happened to have been raised in a household rich in vegetarian cookery classics. The little woodcut illustrations are charming and have a homespun look about them, there's a section at the back of the book for your own notes. Even the typography looks somewhat organic. Book design aside, Cronish has brought her expertise to the issue of what constitutes a basic in the contemporary vegetarian kitchen. A solid book to have in the house everyday, holidaying vegetarians will be delighted to find a recipe for Tofu Turkey with Stuffing, Mushroom Gravy and Cranberry Sauce. A good selection of appealing vegetarian appetizers make the book a good choice for meat free entertaining.

Culled over many years from the pages of Canadian Living magazine, Canadian Living Cooks Step by Step by Daphna Rabinovitch is a solid choice for the new chef that wants a bit of hand holding through the process of meal creation. Old and new classics are included in Step by Step in addition to well chosen photographs that illustrate -- step by step, of course -- the techniques required to prepare the indicated meals. The resulting book is one part cookbook, one part cooking school and one part irreplaceable reference to many recipes in all categories of food preparation.

The Girls Who Dish: Seconds Anyone? is a sequel to a regional cookbook that proved very popular when it was published in 1998. A compilation of recipes from seven of Vancouver, B.C.'s top professional chefs who also happen to be women. (No word yet if Whitecap is planning a Boys Who Dish sequel.) Though the book is of special interest to anyone who hails from the region -- the chef's bios read like a VIP list of Vancouver cuisine's finest -- the recipes included would be of interest to anyone with a strong interest in good food of a (mostly) elegant nature. Though, in the main, the recipes spring from what has cheerfully become known as "West Coast Cuisine" -- there is much call for things like asiago cheese, rare mushrooms and even truffle oil -- care has been taken to make the recipes easy-to-follow and entirely comprehensible. If things like Rack of Lamb with Sun-Dried Cherry Sauce or Porcini-Dusted Sea Bass with Balsamic Brown Butter sound like must-prepares for your New Year's Day feast, then this is the book for you.

Wine Uncorked

by Fiona Beckett

Published by Willow Creek Press

144 pages, 1999

Ready to put out your holiday spread, but not quite sure what wine will go nicely with what? Wine Uncorked by Fiona Beckett is the book that will answer the questions. Subtitled A practical introduction to tasting and enjoying wine , Beckett's no nonsense and down-to-earth approach makes this a great choice for the beginning or wannabe sommelier. Not simply a "what wine goes with what" sort of book, in Wine Uncorked Beckett brings us a full wine course including a section on finding the wines you like; how to taste and enjoy various varietals; how wine is made; how to order wine in a restaurant; some tasting terms and more. Though others have attempted books on this topic, Beckett's approach is simple without being simplistic. She delivers on her topic very well. The result? I defy the neophyte wine enthusiast to come away from reading this book without learning a great deal about the subject at hand.

For those with less of a commitment to learning about wine who nonetheless want to know they're serving the correct Cabernet with their camembert will benefit from The Wine Lover Cooks. Aside from an informative introductory chapter that deals with wine/food pairing in a very general way -- laying the foundation for what is to come -- there is more focus on food in this book than on wine. Refreshingly, as well, not every recipe in the book calls for wine. Rather, each chapter name is a wine varietal and the recipes included in that chapter are for meals that will suitably accompany that wine. So, the chapter entitled Chenin Blanc describes recipes for Fritto Misto and Scallops and Fettucine with Chives; the chapter on Nebbiolo includes recipes for Hunter's Rabbit, Osso Buco, Torta Rustica and so on. And, in a logical and orderly way, each chapter begins with a description of the varietal including a tiny bit of history, a taste profile, "synonym" wines, where one might find the best expression as well as acceptable substitutes. | December 1999


Linda L. Richards is the editor of January Magazine and the author of the Madeline Carter novels: Mad Money, The Next Ex and Calculated Loss.