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Cooking Seasonal

The Lemon Apron Cookbook

Seasonal Recipes for the Curious Home Cook

by (author) Jennifer Emilson

Random House Canada
Initial publish date
Nov 2022
Seasonal, Canadian, General
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2022
    List Price

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Indulge in every post–winter hibernation craving with a whole chapter of fresh spring dishes!

Embrace the unique beauty each season brings with The Lemon Apron Cookbook. These approachable, rustic recipes from cook, baker, and blogger Jennifer Emilson are true comfort home cooking, highlighting the freshest produce any time of year.

Drawing from many sources of inspiration—from her home base of Toronto and her German heritage, to her travels around the world—Jennifer’s varied influences come together in this thoughtful, cohesive collection. The book is organized by season, with an additional year-round chapter for anytime favorites: try the Cinnamon and Sumac Sautéed Brussels Sprouts in spring; the Rose Harissa Lamb Chops with Chili Fregola for a flavorful summer dinner; a hearty autumn Spinach Spätzle with Sautéed Onions and Gruyère; a winter Mincemeat Tart with Citrus Crème Anglaise; or the Detroit-Style Skillet Pizza any month the craving hits.

Whether you’re a long-time follower of The Lemon Apron blog or are discovering Jennifer’s recipes for the first time, this well-rounded cookbook will keep you curious in the kitchen to make the most of your fresh market finds. The Lemon Apron Cookbook is an authentic celebration of the joy of home cooking and eating throughout the year.

About the author

Contributor Notes

JENNIFER EMILSON is a recipe developer, cook, baker, wife, cat servant and creator of the popular and the Taste Canada award-winning blog The Lemon Apron.

Excerpt: The Lemon Apron Cookbook: Seasonal Recipes for the Curious Home Cook (by (author) Jennifer Emilson)

"Mum, what’s for supper?” Without fail, my sister, Anita, and I would ask this question before we left for school each morning. The answer had the ability to make or break our day. If the answer was a tasty one, like chicken and rice (page 46), it would get me through the school day. But if she said, “It’s a surprise,” we eventually learned we would be very disappointed with the result (hello, liver and onions). It took a while for our naive little minds to understand what “It’s a surprise” meant!

We were raised by foodie parents, way before “foodie” was a word—or even a concept. Our parents were born and raised in Germany, and food played a central role in their daily lives. Back then, it was common in Germany for everything to be made from scratch. In my parents’ case, it was a family effort. Everyone, from the kids all the way to the grandparents, had their individual harvesting, preparing, and cooking assignments. As a young boy, my dad would pick mushrooms in the forest— I’d imagine his walks in the woods back then turned into a true Germanic fairy tale with talking animals and all—and clean the casings for sausage-making days.

My parents continued this approach to cooking even after immigrating to Kitchener, Ontario, where I was born. It was normal to find half a pig spread out on the kitchen table of our apartment, ready to be sausage-ified. I still don’t know how they managed to get that carcass into the elevator. I was that girl sitting next to you in the school lunchroom with a liverwurst or garlicky salami and mustard on rye sandwich, at a time when bologna on white bread was the norm.

We later moved out of the apartment to Amherstburg, in Southwestern Ontario. A mini farm and orchard were squeezed into our suburban backyard, with row upon row of fruits and vegetables. This delicious bounty brought hard work, some surprises, and delicious results. When green beans were in season, so were grasshoppers. And filling a bowl meant getting pinged and attacked as those nasty bugs flew out of the branches and leaves. Picking the raspberries out back meant scratches and juice-stained fingers as we checked for worms before popping those luscious berries into our mouths. Beside the raspberry patch was the chicken coop. Yes, we had a chicken coop! We would also smoke fish in an outdoor smokehouse and make wine in oak barrels in the basement (which we raided regularly in our late teens when the house was parent-free!). After we moved out, they (my parents, not the chickens) went on to run a successful bed and breakfast in a small east coast fishing village. Their guests were welcomed with cozy, comforting meals and genial company.

My parents taught us not only an appreciation for where our food comes from but also about our German heritage—though we may have gently teased their teachings growing up (didn’t every immigrant kid go through this phase at some point?). My mum made me wear a dirndl (traditional German folk dress) to school, which was mortifying for an eight-year-old living in a Canadian city. In the kitchen, we helped her make cabbage rolls, preserve peaches for the winter, and glaze fruitcovered German cheesecake Käsekuchen. We inherited the sausage case–cleaning task from my dad. As adults, we developed an even deeper respect for the cuisines, lifestyle, and heritage our parents taught us about. What we made suddenly took on special meaning when we moved away from home.

My personal cooking journey really began in Toronto, where I have lived for over 25 years. Before then, I never really had to cook on my own much. My mum could take the most meager ingredients and turn them into a meal fit for royalty. My sister became a pastry chef. Why would I take up space in such a talented kitchen?! But when I was thrust into the big, cruel world all on my lonesome (it wasn’t quite as traumatic as all that!), there was no one to share the kitchen with. There were my roommates, but it’s not like they were going to make my mum’s Sauerbraten (German pot roast)—they were Jamaican, after all (but I was served up the best goat curry with dumplings). If I was nostalgic for my mum’s potato pancakes or Marmorkuchen (marble cake), I had to learn how to actually make them. I can’t tell you how often I was on the phone with her, trying to nail down a recipe. I was also a server at restaurants, where I picked up tricks while watching the chefs and cooks work their stations. And when my sister and I were living apart, even during the days of snail mail, we would devote pages and pages of letters to planning recipes, meals, and celebrations inspired by our work and travels (we also inherited the traveling gene from our parents). It was all worth it. The more I cooked at home with this new knowledge, the more my confidence grew.

While I wasn’t trained by the Cordon Bleu or a pastry school, my tenacity (the fancy word for “stubbornness”!) got me to where I am today. Even when a recipe got the better of me, I would try and try again. Like my first pie crust. It sucked. So I experimented with different recipes and adapted my method until I figured it out, which made me a much better baker. I will happily admit to seeking help from cookbooks and websites (and even recipes on the sides of cereal boxes!) through the years. Those recipes influenced my cooking, and eventually my own recipes. I fell in love with everything related to cooking and baking, and I soon ventured into cooking recipes from cuisines that were new to me.

This is where Toronto stepped up. Almost every street is home to a different culture and restaurant scene, and there are many specialty grocers. And my neighbors were a great source of cooking knowledge. I’d walk down the hallway to my apartment, enjoying the intoxicating aroma of curry or other spice blends, knowing it was only a matter of time before I’d be knocking on doors and asking for a cooking lesson! What a great way to explore rich and flavorful cuisines that warm the heart. Much of my cooking style is influenced by living in this bustling and energetic city. Then I met Jim. You know the saying “some people live to eat, and others eat to live”? This quickly became a reality for us. Jim is a prairie boy who grew upon simple pot roasts and mashed potatoes (which are great, of course!), and his idea of foreign cuisine was Canadian Chinese takeout, so eating alongside my foodie family was a startling experience for him. Through the years, though, he embraced it all. These days it’s Jim who will suggest going out for Ethiopian, Persian, Pakistani, Moroccan, or Palestinian food.

However, he has never been one to hold back his frank opinions. Once, when we were first dating, he came over late and asked if I had any dinner leftovers. I gladly warmed up a plate of potato pancakes with sautéed bacon and onions, with sour cream on the side. The onions, bacon, and sour cream were vacuumed up, but most of the pancakes remained. He said it was because he’d never had potato pancakes before. I suggested they might be an acquired taste. He proclaimed, “You mean I have to eat these again?!” He figured that if he didn’t say anything, he’d be stuck eating something he didn’t like for the next 20 years. But I appreciated his frankness (and still do!). Now he is willing to try, and hopefully enjoy, almost everything, but at the same time he keeps me grounded, not letting me get overly fussy with trying to fuse all the cuisines into new dishes. If it gets two thumbs up from Jim, I know for sure it will be a hit with all of you!

And that’s where The Lemon Apron blog, which partially started thanks to our cats, Phineas and Zelda, comes in. They have their own Instagram account (Jim is still jealous that they have more followers than he does!). Through the years, I’d post the odd dinner dish or pie, amidst a sea of cats sleeping, wrestling, or grooming themselves. Eventually followers around the world started asking for the recipes, which I’d happily email to them. Then they requested a cooking blog. Around the same time, my mum’s health started failing. My sister and I realized that if we wanted her incredible soul-soothing recipes to live on, we would need to follow her around the kitchen and write them down—all of my mum’s recipes were in her head. Asking how much paprika was needed turned into her filling a spoon, handing it to me, and saying, “Till it tastes like this.” I shadowed her, taking note of every move she made. I soon had a respectable collection of recipes, and starting a blog was a way for me to preserve them.

In a major way, the blog—named after my first apron, which had lemons on it—is a tribute to my mother, her skills, and the recipes and dishes of her homeland. I’m also grateful to my dad, and the many grandmas, nonnas, neighbors, and other guardians of cultural cuisines who have been my teachers along the way. The blog has flourished as I continue to experiment and share recipes inspired by mum, my German heritage, my travels, and my efforts to find fresh ways to use ingredients found in local markets.

Then came the cookbook. When I set out on this journey, I wanted to create a cookbook you would use all the time. A cookbook that becomes dog-eared, its binding cracking and its grease-stained pages coming loose from overuse. The recipes here are ones that Jim and I actually eat on a regular basis. Ones that got Jim’s seal of approval. In fact, he regularly voiced his opinion on what should be in the book, like the Spiced Savoy Cabbage Rolls (page 194). I tried to listen, but I insisted on sneaking in some others, such as my mum’s steak tartare recipe (page 94). There are some family favorites (like on page 43), and you might recognize some beloved recipes from the blog, such as the French Onion Soup (page 177). I’ve updated all the blog recipes to make them fresh and worth exploring again!

These recipes also embrace the unique beauty each season brings. While we can obtain just about anything we want at any time of the year, I’d rather have Cocoa and Red Wine–Braised Short Ribs with Herbed Polenta (page 197) in the middle of winter than the middle of summer, wouldn’t you? Also, eating what is local and in season means we get to taste fresh ingredients the way they’re meant to taste. So I’ve divided this book by season, but if you’re craving a dish and you have all the ingredients to make it, do it! Enjoy that bright summer salad (page 83) with the cozy winter tourtière (page 199)! I included a Year-Round chapter (pages 215 to 261) too, since Jim and I also enjoy recipes that aren’t really dependent on a specific fruit or vegetable being available. And bonus, they will satisfy any cravings you have—like pizza (page 241), which should be enjoyed all year round!

These recipes aren’t difficult. Truly. I’ve divided them into easy steps so you can enjoy the process of making them. They have also been made and tested in our condo-sized kitchen—so yes, they are all doable in any kitchen, no matter how small (see page 13)! The ingredients are easy to source too (see page 7). All too often we as a society tend to purchase all our cooking ingredients from only one grocery store. If it isn’t there, we just do without. But there is a whole world of flavor just waiting to be explored. And it may be just around the corner from where you live. I hope you will explore your own city, big or small. There are sure to be gems waiting to be discovered.

Ultimately, I hope this book will keep you company and get you cooking if you are new to the kitchen or give you some fresh ideas if you’re an experienced cook. So the next time a loved one asks, “What’s for supper?” you’ll have an answer they’ll daydream about.

Love, Jennifer

Editorial Reviews

“I’m so excited to have a copy of Jen Emilson’s long-awaited debut, because she’s my kind of foodie: she pours the joy of cooking into every delicious creation and truly cooks from her heart. The Lemon Apron Cookbook is overflowing with great ideas! If, like me, you’ve been wanting nothing more than to sit at her dinner table, here’s the opportunity to do that—right in your own home.”
Teri Turner, blogger, podcaster, and bestselling author of No Crumbs Left

“I’ve long been a fan of Jennifer’s lush recipes and warm prose, and now I can enjoy her offerings in book form! With recipes that draw influence from around the world, this is a collection that belongs in every kitchen.”
Alanna Taylor-Tobin, award-winning author of Alternative Baker and creator of

"The Lemon Apron Cookbook is a glorious celebration of thoughtful, seasonal recipes everyone wants to eat! Jennifer's warm, witty stories and personal style will make you feel welcome in her very own kitchen. Five stars all around!"
Emilie Raffa, bestselling author of Artisan Sourdough Made Simple and creator of

“Jennifer’s passion for fabulous food leaps off the page and right into your kitchen. Her debut cookbook will become a classic on your shelf and in your heart. I want to make every recipe in this stunningly beautiful cookbook.”
Mairlyn Smith P.H.Ec., award-winning cookbook author and media personality

"Be careful not to drool on the pages of Jen's new cookbook! The mouthwatering photos and flavor combinations made it nearly impossible for me to decide what to make first. I had to stop myself from devouring the whole plateful of Grilled Halloumi with Pomegranate, Lemon, and Mint. So easy, so delicious!"
Greta Podleski, bestselling author of Yum & Yummer and Looneyspoons