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2020 Taste Canada Award Winners
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2020 Taste Canada Award Winners

By 49thShelf
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Celebrating the best in Canadian food writing! Congratulations to all the winners. And now we're hungry...
Chop Suey Nation

Chop Suey Nation

The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada's Chinese Restaurants
edition:Paperback
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Why it's on the list ...
Winner: Gold, Culinary Narratives
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Lost Feast

Lost Feast

Culinary Extinction and the Future of Food
edition:Hardcover
also available: eBook
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Excerpt

 

To understand these culinary extinction threats, imagine a feast. It can be any feast: a Las Vegas buffet, a family holiday dinner, a South Pacific pit BBQ, or an Indonesian rijsttafel, the classic meal of many small dishes, served for special occasions.  Imagine a meal with many dishes and more food than can possibly be eaten at once. There are two things in that feast, aside from a great deal of hidden labour. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of species of plants and animals, a sort of culinary menagerie. There is also a huge body of culinary knowledge, the accumulated knowledge of growing, harvesting, processing and preparing foods handed down and improved upon over generations. A feast is a bit like a book, but a tasty book we read through eating. Now imagine that the dishes start to disappear one by one. The raspberries for the waffles, the sage on the Thanksgiving turkey, the poi or the pisang goreng. Gone. Slowly the table becomes less interesting, less captivating, and as each species disappears, the accompanying cultural knowledge vanishes with it.

This is the paradox of the lost feast. Even as we enjoy a time in which food is cheaper, more diverse and more available than ever before, the spectre of extinction threatens to radically challenge how we eat. In fact, it is already happening.

 

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner: Silver, Culinary Narratives
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Let Me Feed You

Let Me Feed You

Everyday Recipes Offering the Comfort of Home
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

From the Introduction
I’m sure that, for some of you who have gotten to know me through my previous books, it might be hard to imagine me outside of the bakery. Even those who know me personally are probably quicker to associate me with cake and pie than meatloaf and soup. I am, after all, the “Butter Lady.” But bakers, like all humans, can’t live on sweets alone. And my passion for baking really stems from my passion for all food, and for using food as a way to connect with others. I find that offering someone a meal, a snack, or simply a cookie is like starting an edible conversation when the chaos of everyday life prevents me from finding the words. Popcorn and grilled cheese sandwiches were a way for me to make small talk with the older boys when I was young, just as a big piece of lasagna and a glass of wine ask Paul to tell me about his difficult day now. Remembering to prepare India’s favorite dinner every year for her birthday is just one of the million ways I tell her I love her, and so much tastier than words alone. Cooking for others has always been my way of communicating and demonstrating how I feel, and in a world chock-full of different skill sets, it’s quite literally what I can bring to the table.

My hope is that you’ll find the recipes in this book as delicious and satisfying as they are straightforward and achievable. I truly believe that even the most novice cook can find success with my recipes—for if cooking is a language, I try to avoid the big words. Given how busy everyday life can be, I don’t believe that a comforting home-cooked meal should complicate it further. So I’ve got my fingers crossed that somewhere on these pages, you’ll discover a favorite new dish (or two, or three . . . ), and that you will be inspired to set the table, call for those you love to join you, and start a conversation of your own.

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner, Gold, General Cookbooks
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Duchess at Home

Duchess at Home

Sweet & Savoury Recipes from My Home to Yours
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

Introduction

If somebody had told me 25 years ago that my life would be what it is now, I wouldn’t have believed them. Baking has always been with me, but never would I have imagined that it would become my career and life’s work.

As a teenager, I didn’t excel at anything specific and my grades at school weren’t great, but I did know what made me happy—it was the time I spent at home, baking. I cherished my mother’s copy of Company’s Coming Desserts and looked forward to the holidays when I would be helping her make treats. I thought of becoming a pastry chef, but was encouraged to go to university instead. Yet even after several years of study, I was still really only thinking about pastries—and slowly but surely, my skills and confidence in the kitchen were improving.

At 24, I decided that I was going to open a pastry shop. It took six more years for Duchess Bake Shop to finally come into being and nothing could really have prepared me for what it would be like. Overnight, I went from being a home baker to a small-business owner, with all the stresses and responsibilities that come with it. At first we worked 20-hour days, seven days a week. Doing payroll, paying bills, and bookkeeping were all skills I had to learn on the fly. Those first three years were the most exciting and the most difficult of my life.

With the flurry of the Bake Shop, I completely stopped baking at home. It was when Jacob and I had our children, Benoît and Rose, that I realized how much I missed it. I’m at my happiest when I’m in my home kitchen baking for my family.

It’s been five years since Duchess Bake Shop was published. In that cookbook I shared the recipes for our most popular pastries at the bakery and tried to bring what we do in a professional kitchen within reach of the home baker. But when I bake at home, the things I tend to make are more often a reflection of me as a person. My French-Canadian heritage, my passion for France, the traditions passed down in my family, and the things I grow in my garden all influence what I like to bake at home.

All of the recipes in this book are truly ‘me,’ each chapter representing an important part of my life. From old family recipes to new creations, this collection is my heart in a book. I hope these recipes will become your family favourites as well.

Bon appétit!

—Giselle

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner, Silver: General Cookbooks
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Coconut Lagoon

Coconut Lagoon

Recipes from a South Indian Kitchen
edition:Paperback
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Why it's on the list ...
Winner, Gold: Regional/Cultural Cookbooks
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Burdock & Co

Burdock & Co

Poetic Recipes Inspired by Ocean, Land & Air
edition:Hardcover
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Excerpt

Preface

Tonight is the sturgeon moon. I get a text from Julie, our manager at Burdock & Co:

hannah says sturgeon moon nite time to let go
of all that burdens you
write it down & submerge
it underwater :)
meet u later?

Yes.

I share the new plan with Gabe and Clea. We are out tonight in Chinatown, feasting and yelling at each other over the noise of the crowded restaurant. Gabe is one of my oldest friends and she now runs Harvest Community Foods, our sister restaurant, and Clea has taken up the task of editing this book. Tonight they are working to get my story out of me. And anyone who knows me knows I hate talking about myself.

Kevin (life partner, business partner, broth transporter, wine deliverer, architect) keeps reminding me I have a great story, and maybe I do, but for me it’s a process, more of a collection of spaces and moments, flavours and techniques that, when stitched together, become what I do, who I am.

From my first naive adventure going out ocean fishing, or discovering thealternative reality of botanicals, or planting gardens, building a bakery, working at great restaurants across the city—all these seemingly disparate events have led to what Burdock & Co is today, and to me sitting in a very loud restaurant trying to write a cookbook!

Julie’s text (thankfully) gives us a new mission for the night, and we escape onto Pender Street. We hatch plans to submerge our burdens. The closest body of water? False Creek. Paper? The sticky notes we’ve been writing recipe ideas down on all night. How do we get the paper to sink? Tie it to a rock.

Halfway to False Creek we stop at Campagnolo Upstairs on Main Street because 1) Gabe needs to pee, 2) while we’re here we might as well have another drink, and 3) we’re waiting for Julie, who’s getting off her shift at Burdock. It’s a precious night off from the restaurant for me, and my fatigue from the week is lifting. I write down my burden(s). It’s a list.

Julie arrives and I ask for butcher’s twine at the bar. The bartender laughs, but returns with four neat lengths of string. We tie our papers around rocks that we picked up on the way, and head out into the end-of-summer night.

We are giddy, happily drunk, walking through the empty streets. This is Vancouver to me, this nexus of Downtown Eastside grit, Chinatown refusing to give up, condos sprouting everywhere, dingy Main Street bars. Harvest is just around the corner on Union, and Burdock is up the hill, past the viaduct.

At the water, a gang of teenagers loiter under the constellation of Science World. A family down the way lights paper lanterns that lift off across the galaxy skyline of Vancouver city lights.

Julie pulls a jar of wine out of her bag and we all take a drink, then throw our burdens into False Creek, wondering if this drunken moon ritual will work. The rocks sink and the lanterns keep rising over us, over Vancouver, one by one, fat, slow stars, competing with the moon.

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner, Silver: Regional/Cultural Cookbooks
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Oven to Table

Oven to Table

Over 100 One-Pot and One-Pan Recipes for Your Sheet Pan, Skillet, Dutch Oven, and More
edition:Paperback
tagged : quick & easy
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Excerpt

 
INTRODUCTION

ONE PAN, MANY POSSIBILITIES

This book couldn’t come at a better time. With an increase in obligations and digital distractions that tempt us away from the kitchen, a healthy, home-cooked meal is one of the sacrifices many are making. Fortunately, there’s a satisfying solution to help home cooks make stress-free, mess-free, and tasty meals a reality: one-pot or one-pan cooking.
 
The roots of cooking, from both an anthropological point of view as well as a personal one, began in one pot. Although scientists continue to hotly debate which group of people first mastered fire, it only stands to reason that they cooked most of what they ate in one pot simply because so few other tools were available. In my own starter kitchen—a small and ill-equipped one at that—it never occurred to me to own multiple cooking vessels. My student budget was tight and supplies were limited, but that didn’t stop me from dishing up grub to tables full of friends and fellow housemates. Today, I rely heavily on one-pot cooking for its convenience in helping me feed my brood of boys. With a husband and three sons at my table, all of whom unquestion­ably eat more than three times a day, making a meal in just one pot is what saves my sanity, not to mention my time.
 
Of course, families aren’t the only ones in need of these simplified cook­ing methods. My mom is a single working woman with a ninety-minute com­mute each day. Her commitment to eating well is reinforced when she can get dinner on the table in a timely manner. Not to mention, one-pot cooking lends itself well to a speedy cleanup, as fewer dishes inevitably crowd the kitchen sink. My oldest son—soon to be a university student in charge of making most of his own meals—is a devout one-pot cook, because good­ness knows if he had to rely on multiple cooking vessels to get food into him, he’d likely be living off of PB&Js for the next four to eight years. And let’s not forget about newlyweds and empty nesters, two demographics potentially also in need of mealtime simplification. One group is likely busy building their careers and has limited time for complex daily cooking projects, while the other group could be ready to scale back the amount of time they spend in the kitchen after decades of nightly meal making.
 
Using one of six groups of cooking vessels—skillets, sheet pans, Dutch ovens, everyday baking pans, enamel roasting pans, and stoneware casserole dishes—my one-pot creations are designed to bring a complete dish to the table using easy-to-source ingredients and a variety of foolproof cooking techniques. From stir-fries to stews and cobblers to casseroles, this collection of down-to-earth recipes brings ease, comfort, and bold flavours to everyday home cooking. Flexible and endlessly adaptable, preparing food in one pot not only saves time, both in the prep and post-meal cleanup, but also allows for smart seasonal cooking. The dishes included in this book are prepared or served in a single pot, pan, skillet, or casserole dish and emphasize the versatility that can be created with just a few pieces of humble cookware.
 
Speaking of cookware, the good news here is that you probably have most of these items in your kitchen cabinets already. Oven-to-table pieces like Dutch ovens, sheet pans, skillets, and casserole dishes are essential when it comes to feeding a busy family or hosting a gathering. Roasting pans, while perhaps less common, should be considered essential, as they are practical for so much more than roasts. They can be used to bake French toast or roast a complete chicken dinner, and they lend themselves well to cooking a vari­ety of side dishes. Not only do most of us not have enough space to store the pots and pans we need for cooking plus an additional set of dishes for serving food, it can be a hassle to transfer everything just to make the table look fancy. Instead, these pieces are ready to leap from stove to centrepiece in an instant. Most of these items are just as comfortable on the daily dinner table as they are at a holiday feast, and these recipes will not only streamline the meals you make, but also satiate the people you share them with.
 
My hope is that Oven to Table will show less experienced cooks just how easy it is to create simple, wholesome meals, while inspiring more seasoned ones to try their hand at new recipes and simplified techniques. Uncomplicated food can be the best to eat, the most fun to share, and certainly the most enjoyable to cook.

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner GOLD: Single-Subject Cookbooks
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Modern Lunch

Modern Lunch

+100 Recipes for Assembling the New Midday Meal
edition:Hardcover
More Info
Excerpt

From the Introduction

Life is too short to eat a bad lunch. Yet, in our culture, the midday meal is a forgotten opportunity to reinvigorate ourselves with food that makes us happy and energized. It has to be fairly quick and easy, and that often means resorting to convenience foods. There seems to be no middle ground: it’s either buy lunch or pack something sad. So I’m here to help you formulate and practice new rituals (I know some of you are already on your way!) to make homemade, balanced, and delicious lunches materialize. I’m not suggesting that you have to cook a from-scratch, freshly prepared sit-down meal every day—it can be just as special when prepped ahead (your new “leftovers”), especially with a touch more attention and creativity put into the ingredients used, presentation, and packing than what we’re used to. I promise, the reclamation of lunch is simple!

Like most kids, I found discovering what was in my packed school lunch a thrill. My parents would send me to school with sandwiches of iceberg lettuce, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise on squishy whole-wheat sandwich bread, alternating only with peanut butter and honey or peanut butter and banana (which I still really enjoy). After the main course, there was always a treat of some kind, usually a small bag of cookies or chips, and a piece of fruit. And it was all stowed away in worn (clean yet always oddly cloudy) plastic containers that circulated between my older brother, me, and finally my younger sister, until they were retired to the recycling bin when they became officially too warped to snap shut.

As my eating preferences have changed, so have my lunches. However, the midday meal continues to have a hint of delicious nostalgia for me, not simply for the food but for the community it builds. Breakfast and dinner are often family affairs, while lunch is a break in our day when most of us are connecting with friends, colleagues, or someone who happens to be enjoying their meal on the same park bench. I’ve made friends with strangers by simply asking, “What’s for lunch?”

Lunch is a meal that needs a fresh coat of paint, a meal that deserves the same respect dinner receives, while still embracing the casualness of breakfast. To me, the story of lunch as it’s enjoyed today has yet to be told. Yes, it’s a break in the day to replenish the body and mind, even if you’re devouring a cup of noodles “al desko,” an Oxford English Dictionary-defined word (you’re welcome!). It’s a way to travel and taste a range of global flavors, all without a plane ticket. A homemade lunch saves you money, helps you eat healthier (made easier still with the recipes in this book), and gives you a swift boost to reenergize your day. And it’s a meal where the lighting is just so perfect for capturing a photo to share on Instagram (I do, @allisondaycooks). But it can be more than this, too. I’d like to introduce you to the “modern lunch.”

A modern lunch is special, simple, (mostly) make-ahead, healthy, share-worthy, community building, money saving, colorful, and delicious. It culls inspiration from world cuisines, is adaptable to your personal taste and pantry, and is always satisfying. It can be enjoyed at your desk, in the lunchroom, on a bench outside, at home, on the road, on a picnic blanket, in the car, at a set table, or on your lap in front of the TV. A modern lunch can be about connectedness: it’s a time to put yourself out there, socialize, and make new friends or bond with old ones. Done with intention and meaning, the modern lunch should get you excited about a quality midday meal!

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Why it's on the list ...
Winner Silver: Single-Subject Cookbooks
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