Book Review

Cookbook Review : BATCH : Maple Cream Fudge

Oh my goodness.

Where do I begin?

I LOOOOVVVVVEEEEE my copy of Batch by Dana Harrison and Joel McCharles.

I've been following this dynamic duo via their social media channels for a while now, and have always enjoyed what they do, however, their new cookbook, Batch, takes everything to a -

The photography, by Reena Newman and Margaret Mulligan, as well as the charming illustrations by Dana, easily place Batch in the ranks as one of the prettiest cookbooks I own. 

And I own A LOT of cookbooks.

Batch is filled with over 200 recipes for preserving, including canning, dehydrating, fermenting, cellaring, salting, smoking and infusing. 

The recipes are listed by ingredient - 25 in all - arranged alphabetically from Apples to Tomatoes. The recipe I chose, Maple Cream Fudge with Rhubarb Salt sounded absolutely dreamy, but lo and behold, with still-frigid temperatures here in Nova Scotia, we won't have rhubarb available for another few weeks. Luckily, there were alternatives for the Rhubarb Salt recommended at the end of the recipe, so I chose to top my fudge with a sprinkle of Chili Salt. Creamy, sweet, maple fudge, topped with crunchy sea salt and a blast of heat from dried chilis was a wicked combo I'd never have thought of.

I really can't say enough good things about Batch. It's a big, beautiful, hardcover book, filled to the brim with tips & tricks and do's & don'ts, all accompanied by simple, approachable, delicious sounding recipes. I'm dying to make the Cherry Ginger Beer, Penne a la Chili Infused Vodka, Thyme Infused Honey, Honeyed Pear Butter, Roasted Spiced Plum Fridge Jam...

Seriously - I could go on and on.

If you are at all interested in the joy of preserving food, DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR AND BUY THIS BOOK.

Besides, how can you resist a recipe that includes an instruction like this?

'Allow the fudge to cool while you lick the pot.'

Ha! Love, love, love.

Trust me. You REALLLLLLLLLY want your own copy of #BatchCookbook. In the comments below, tell me your favourite memory of making or eating preserves - I'll pick my favourite and Penguin-Random House will send the winner their own copy!

Also - there are 7 other amazing food blogger peeps across the country spreading the Batch love this week - check 'em out (especially since there's a chance to win a copy of Batch on each one) - I'll update daily as their reviews are posted!

Monday May 9, 2016

Getty from www.gettystewart.com made Fermented Dill Pickles

Mardi from www.eatlivetravelwrite.com made Asparagus Relish

Tuesday May 10, 2016

Jan www.familybites.ca made Chili Salt + Interviewed Joel McCharles in 21 Questions

Wednesday May 11, 2016

Amy www.familyfeedbag.com made Quick Pickled Grapes

Thursday May 12, 2016

Valerie www.acanadianfoodie.com made Salt Cured Gravlox

Isabelle www.crumbblog.com made Rhubarb Soda

Friday May 13, 2016

Renee www.sweetsugarbean.com made Fermented Pancakes with Maple Syrup and Dried Blueberries

Food Bloggers of Canada Recap www.foodbloggersofcanada.com 

Giveaway open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway will run from Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 12:01 am to Sunday, May 13, 2016 at 11:59 pm (AST). Winner will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to respond with mailing address.  If not, a new winner will be chosen. Prize value is approximately $35 CDN.

Thank you so much Dana, Joel, Penguin-Random House and Food Bloggers of Canada for inviting me to be a part of the Batch Blog Hop, and for sending me a complimentary copy of Batch. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Sweet Potato Breakfast with Gingerbread Pecan Crisp

Why'd you have to go and make things so complicated?

I wasn't sure why that song had been looping through my head, endlessly, for days on end.

But now I think I know.

I spend so much time and energy thinking about and planning the look of my food photos - choosing and setting up the background, deciding on props, playing with and adjusting light(s), tethering to my laptop, adjusting my tripod, switching out lenses - ugh. The list of small details involved in getting a decent shot goes on and on and on...

Yesterday morning I said, 'Fuck it'.

If you scroll down to my previous post, you'll see I received a copy of Allison Day's gorgeous new cookbook, Whole Bowls. It's a truly lovely book and one of the recipes I'd bookmarked was the Sweet Potato Breakfast with Gingerbread Pecan Crisp. In my mind's eye, I knew that the bright orange of the sweet potato and citrus would be so luscious and vibrant, I should grab my camera and snap a quick shot.

So I did.

I chose a bowl from my prop closet, quickly assembled the dish and then photographed it in less than 5 minutes. Set up on the small green table, with no props, from the top of a stepladder, and using one small piece of white foam board to bounce a bit of like back in to the shadows, it's so...

simple.

And I'm so happy about that.

This was a great exercise for me to just let go, relax, and have a quick bit of fun before I sat down and ate the most delicious breakfast ever.

Click here to learn more about Allison and her blog, Yummy Beet, or here to check out her book, Whole Bowls : Complete Gluten-Free Vegetarian Meals to Power Your Day.

Cookbook Review : Whole Bowls : Yogurt Bowl with Cherry Pesto

Whole Bowls by Allison Day is a gluten-free, vegetarian cookbook

I know, I know.

It probably seems a wee bit odd for me to review a gluten-free, vegetarian cookbook, however, after a long winter of indulgent eating, Netflix and lounging, I felt the need to shake things up. 

When I received my copy of Whole Bowls, I went through and bookmarked 19 recipes that I'd be interested in making.

NINETEEN!!!

Dishes like the Sweet Potato Breakfast with Gingerbread Pecan Crisp, the Wine Country Salad with Wild Rice Grape Pilaf and Halloumi or Baked Polenta with Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and Marinara had me drooling, not to mention the desserts - Anytime Peach Buckwheat Crisp, Roasted Pears with Whipped Goat Cheese and Maple Pine Nut Brittle or Mint Chocolate Straciatella Gelato.

I suddenly found myself thinking, 'Hmmm - gluten-free vegetarian eating doesn't sound half bad'.

Now, I'll be honest. I'd not heard of Allison or her blog Yummy Beet until Jan Scott of Family Bites contacted me about participating in a blog hop to celebrate the release of Whole Bowls, but once I cracked open my book, I became an instant fan. Allison doesn't only write beautiful recipes, but she's also an extremely talented food photographer. She shot and styled every photograph in her book! That's my kind of girl! I'm a sucker for great food photography, and I can't wait to work my way through the recipes I've bookmarked.

For the blog hop, I chose to make the Yogurt Bowl with Cherry Pesto and Hazelnut Oil-Toasted Oats (pictured above). I've been eating it for breakfast for the last three days and I have to say - it's fantastic. It takes so little time to assemble and is such a nutritious and satisfying way to start the day. Here, with Allison's permission, is the recipe - 

Yogurt Bowls with Cherry Pesto and Hazelnut Oil-Toasted Oats

For the Toasted Oats - 

1 Tbsp roasted hazelnut oil (I used sesame oil)

1/2 C large flake oats (not instant)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp sea salt

- In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add oats, cinnamon and salt. Toast, stirring often for 3-5 minutes, until fragrant. Transfer to a small bowl.

For the Cherry Pesto -

1/2 C roasted hazelnuts (I used pecans because I love them and had them on hand)

1 Tbsp coconut or cane sugar (I used maple syrup)

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 C frozen, defrosted cherries or fresh, pitted cherries

2 tsp lemon juice or Balsamic vinegar

- In a food processor, pulse the nuts, sugar and cinnamon until finely chopped. Add cherries and lemon juice, briefly blending until mostly smooth, leaving a little texture.

For the Yogurt - 

2 C plain Greek yogurt

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

- In a medium bowl, mix all yogurt ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

- To serve - Dollop yogurt in bowls, swirl in pesto and sprinkle generously with oats. Serve.

A big thank you to Jan and Allison for including me in the #wholebowls blog hop and since you're here, why not take a moment to check out my other blog hop friends?

Aimée from Simple Bites made Quick Homemade Harissa

Charmian from The Messy Baker made Smoky Corn and Grilled Peach Salad

Jenny from The Brunette Baker made Anytime Peach Buckwheat Crisp

Heather from The Tasty Gardener made Radicchio with Beets, Sweets and Balsamic Dressing

Louisa from Living Lou made 3-Bean Garden Salad with Asparagus Coconut Dressing

Mardi from eat. live. travel. write. made Roasted Vegetable Bowl with Fried Egg and Goat Cheese

Mairlyn from mairlynsmith.com made Banquet Bowls with Cauliflower Hazelnut Pilaf

Jan from Family Bites made Spring Smashed Chickpea Salad with Curry Mayo

Cookbook Review : Per La Famiglia : Roasted Tomatoes

Jenny Jack, aka The Brunette Baker, gets me. Not only is she one of the friendliest and funniest food blogger connections I have made in my travels, but, when she sent me an email if I'd like to participate in a blog hop for Emily Richards new Italian cookbook 'Per La Famiglia', I mean COME ON. She KNEW I couldn't / wouldn't say no. With my 10+ year experience working in and managing Halifax's (and arguably the Maritimes) best Italian restaurants (il Mercato, Ristorante a Mano and da Maurizio), it was a no brainer to add me to the #PerLaFamigliaBloggers list. 

When my copy of Per La Famiglia arrived, I immediately sat down at flipped through the pages - pages filled with gorgeous warm photography that made me want to make every. single. thing (because let's be honest, I buy and collect cookbooks for the photography - everything else is a bonus). Between the recipes for gnocchi, cannoli, doughnuts and many many other amazing sounding dishes, it was the roasted tomatoes that caught my eye. I looooovvvvveeeeee slow roasted tomatoes. The complexity and depth of flavour that roasting brings out in a tomato is one of the wonderments of cooking to me. I love to eat them by themselves, on polenta, in pasta or rice, on crostini, in salad - the list goes on and on. I have my own method of roasting tomatoes but I was eager to try Emily's version because her recipe calls to slice the tomatoes in halves where I normally do slices. Brushed with good olive oil and fresh chopped herbs, the tomatoes were fantastic and as Emily mentions in the book, freeze well.

Please take a moment and check out the incredible recipes the other #PerLaFamigliaBloggers are making

Jenny from The Brunette Baker is making Ricotta Cannoli

Julie from Dinner With Julie is making Ricotta Spinach Gnocchi

Chrissie from The Busy Baker is making Amaretti Cookies

Heather from The Tasty Gardener is making Squash Hazelnut Rotelle

Britt from My Daily Randomness is making Tiramisu

Libby from Libby Roach is making Nonna Ortenzia's Meatballs

Kristy from She Eats is making Egg and Raisin Bread

Gwen from Devour and Conquer is making Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Butter

Tiffany from Eating Niagara is making Potato Doughnuts

Nancy from Gotta Get Baked is making Hazelnut Chocolate-filled Cookies

Amanda from Once Upon A Recipe is making Balsamic Roasted Pear Wedges with Prosciutto

Nicole from Culinary Cool is making Spinach Ricotta Canneloni

Carole from Yum Yum Factor is making Pickled Eggplant

Christina from Strawberries for Supper is making Baked Pasta with Sausage and Ricotta

We're giving away a sweet prize of a signed copy of Per La Famiglia, a gnocchi board and a 3-piece Microplane Elite Grater/Zester set - enter below for your chance to win! (please note - leaving me a blog comment is mandatory to open Raffle Copter) - 

This giveaway is open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. Void in Quebec. No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway will run from Wednesday, March 23, 2016 at 12:01am to end on Wednesday, March 30, 2016 at 11:59pm. Winner is chosen at random via Rafflecopter. Winner will be contacted via email and given 48 hours to respond.  If not, a new winner will be chosen. Winner selected MUST correctly answer a skill-testing mathematical question. Winner's name will be displayed on Rafflecopter widget. Email address will never be given out to any third party or anyone for that matter. Prize value is approximately $75CDN.

I received a free copy of Per La Famiglia and was asked to share my thoughts in exchange. Thank you very much to Whitecap Publishing for the complimentary book and Microplane for the contest gift set!

Butter Celebrates! Cookbook Review, Peppermint Nanaimo Bars and a Blog Hop

Ok, it's official.

'Butter Celebrates!', the newest cookbook from Vancouver bakery guru Rosie Daykin, is the prettiest cookbook I own.

Rosie Daykin provides over 100 recipes for sweets that home bakers will return to year after year until they become family traditions. Whether you're welcoming a new baby, a new neighbour, or the New Year; sharing Thanksgiving, Hannukah, or Christmas with friends and family; or simply enjoying summer, Rosie has the perfect recipe for every occasion.

I curled up one morning with a hot cup of coffee, a snuggly kitten and my brand new copy of Butter Celebrates! to choose the recipe I wanted to make for the #ButterBakedBloggers Blog Hop. The front cover of Butter Celebrates! is gorgeous - soft shades of baby pink, pastel peach and mint green. The inside cover left me with the warm and fuzzies as I feasted visually on a Nanny-style pattern of blue vintage flowers. In fact, the entire book is replete with luscious full-colour photos, heartfelt writing, delicious sounding recipes and the promise of '... a year of sweet recipes to share with family and friends'.

Rosie is a wonderful writer and even though really, you're only reading tiny black letters strung together on a page, she has a way of inviting you in and making you feel welcome. Her tone is warm and friendly and as I was reading, I could picture myself hanging out with her, eating cake.

'I like to remind everyone who works at Butter as often as I can that we aren't just making a cake, we are making someone's birthday cake or wedding cake or bar mitzvah cake. This is so much more than cake. This is someone's life and we've been included.' - Butter Celebrates!, page 2

For the #ButterBakedBloggers Blog Hop, I was tasked with choosing one recipe to make from Butter Celebrates! (just one?!) and, as soon as I saw the Peppermint Nanaimo Bars, I knew that was the recipe for me. Nanaimo Bars have been on my 'must make' list for a while now, and, it may sound kind of dumb to say, but, until I read Rosie's recipe, I thought all Nanimo Bars were made with Bird's powdered custard. Turns out, REAL Nanaimo Bars are made with butter, icing sugar and whipping cream - three of my favourite things! The directions were easy to follow and the bars were a cinch to make. Once they had set in the fridge, I cut them into bars and packed them up in a Pyrex container to take to a family birthday party. As soon as the lid was lifted to reveal the layer of crushed candy cane sprinkled on silky chocolate, the gloves were off and the birthday party-goers were battling it out, jostling for position to get to the bars.

Family verdict? 'Please make them for every family function we have from now on'.

I guess that's a good sign?

Long story short, Butter Celebrates! is a gorgeous book with sweet treat for every occasion. Heck there's even a bonus section at the end with tips and ideas on packaging and wrapping your treats as gifts! It would make a great addition to your cookbook collection, or that of someone you know that loves to bake.

Please take a moment to check out the rest of my #ButterBakedBlogger friends that are participating in the Butter Celebrates! Blog Hop! -

Jenny from The Brunette Baker is making Guinness Cake with Pretzels

Heather from The Tasty Gardener is making a Cookie Feast with FOUR different kinds of cookies!

Christina from Strawberries for Supper is making 'Hostess' Cupcakes

Robyn from Planet Byn is making Orange Gingerbread Cake

Gwen from Devour and Conquer is making Christmas Panettone

Meg from Sweet Twist of Blogging is making Lemon Loaf

Libby from Libby Roach is making Gingerbread Guys

Jan from Family Bites is making Animal Cookies

Tessa from Style Sweet CA is making Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

Mardi from eat.live.travel.write is making Champagne Cupcakes

Jacquee from I Sugar Coat It is making Eggnog-less Bars

Amanda from Once Upon A Recipe is making Banana Pecan Caramel Cake

And hey! While you're at it, why not enter to win this awesome prize pack of a personally signed copy of Butter Celebrates! and a box of goodies from Rosie's bakery in Vancouver! To enter, follow the Rafflecopter prompt below.

This giveaway is open to all legal residents of Canada who have reached the age of majority at the time of the contest in the province or territory in which they reside. Void in Quebec. Winner must answer a skill-testing question. No purchase necessary to enter. Giveaway will run from Wednesday, November 25, 2015 at 12:01am to Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 11:59pm. Winner will be contacted via email and name will be displayed on Rafflecopter widget. Email address will never be given out to any third party or anyone for that matter. Prize value approximately $125.

***Sorry - if you want the Nanimo Bar recipe, you'll have to buy the book!***

The Canning Kitchen : Hot Dog Relish, a cookbook review and a giveaway!

Damn I love hotdogs.

I know. I know.

I KNOW WHAT THEY ARE.

AND I DON'T CARE.

I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE THEM.

When I was contacted by Food Bloggers of Canada to write a review of Amy Bronee's new cookbook, The Canning Kitchen, I was intrigued, because as you've seen here and here, I love small batch canning. When I received my copy of Amy's book and saw a recipe for Hot Dog Relish?

I said, 'OH. HELL. YES'.

But I was nervous too. 

I mean come on - I thought EVERY OTHER BLOGGER in the FBC Canning Kitchen Blog Tour was going to want to make HOT DOG RELISH. Imagine my delight when I found out I got my first choice! 

And yes.

It was delicious. Think the perfect blend of relish and mustard but made with fresh, seasonal ingredients - no gross chemicals or preservatives - just real food that you can, for the most part, grow yourself. 

So, listen.

Amy's book is super pretty, but then what else would you expect from Penguin Random House Canada? They're legit yo and this time around is no different. Amy's book is the perfect size for using in the kitchen - not too big, not too small - and, it's full of bright colourful photographs to show you what your finished recipe should look like.

But the best part?

The stories.

The stories are what sold me - make me want to try more of the recipes. Amy's stories are chock full of nostalgia that made me feel like I was right in the kitchen with her, chopping vegetables, sweating over a hot pot of water, waiting for the lids to pop.

Ok ok, but let's get real.

I'm always pretty honest on here and so, I do have a teeny tiny complaint (I swear, it's super teeny tiny). You see, the batch of relish wasn't as small as I thought it would be, especially since it's in a book called 'The Canning Kitchen : 101 Simple Small Batch Recipes'. I cut the Hot Dog Relish into 4 - only made a quarter of the recipe - and it still made two full Mason jars of relish. If I had made the whole batch I'd have had about 8 jars. I guess I just feel like 8 jars isn't really the smallest of batches.

But I digress.

Amy and Penguin Random House Canada have been kind enough to give me a copy of Amy's book to give away to one of you! Woohoo! All you have to do is leave me a comment below and tell me what kind of recipes you're planning to, or would like to, put up in jars this summer.

Are you more into sweet? Amy's got a recipe for Strawberry Sundae Sauce in her book that I'm DYING to try. Or would you be more into savoury, like the Hot Dog Relish I made? Let me know, and I'll choose my favourite comment to win a copy of The Canning Kitchen

UPDATE - SEPTEMBER 19, 2015

I've chosen a winner!!

I just loved the mental image of Nicole and her mum learning

how to make antipasto with the lovely Italian couple.

Nicole J. - When I was 10 my family moved to B.C. into a townhouse that was owned by a lovely Italian couple who taught my mom and I how to make and can Antipasto. To this day I still remember the huge endeavor it was with 6 women working together to clean, chop, cook and can as well as the amazing aroma that lingered for days. Now as an adult I live in a tiny condo in Toronto so I simply don't have the space to can like that however I'd love to give small batch canning a try.

And hey, while you're at it, check out my cohorts in the FBC Canning Kitchen Blog Tour

Anita of The Organic Experiment is making Zesty Pizza Sauce

Bridget of Bridget's Green Kitchen is making Apple Butter

Janice of Kitchen Heals Soul is making Sweet Thai Chili Chutney

Jenny of The Brunette Baker is making Strawberry Rhubarb Jam

Jeanine of Faithfully Gluten Free is making Pink Lemonade Jam

Julie of Try Small Things is making Thick Cut Orange Marmalade

Megan of Food & Whine is making Strawberry Jam

Tiffany of Eating Niagra is making Blueberry Lime Jam

Michelle of The Tiffin Box is making Sour Cherry Jam

FYI and yada yada yada - I was given a free copy of The Canning Kitchen by Penguin Random House Canada Limited for review. I don't mess around when it comes to this stuff - if I didn't like it I would tooooooooootally tell you (or not write the blog post) - it's that simple. Contest closes 11:59pm AST Monday August 31, 2015.

One more thing - You may recall I took a photo workshop with Gina Weathersby last summer and it. was. amazing. Luckily, I've been able to maintain contact with Gina and am constantly inspired by her. Recently, she challenged a group of us to re-create the cover of one of our favourite food publications. I didn't choose a cover but instead decided to use a Donna Hay photograph as inspiration for theme, mood and overall tone of my Hot Dog Relish shot, so if my pic feels a little familiar, here's why:

SO FUN.