If you look through my Cookbook collection (it might take a while!) you will quickly notice that it is a very British collection of cookbooks. For most of you that won't come as much of a surprise since you know I am Scottish and only moved to Canada 7 years ago...however for those of you in America and Canada (and of course around the world) there will be a lot of authors you have never heard of that I take for granted, so this month it was lovely to be able to review a Canadian book, and one that is close to home for me.
Whitewater Cooks with Friends is the third published cookbook by Shelley Adams (Whitewater Cooks and Whitewater Cooks at Home), who is the previous owner of Fresh Tracks Cafe at Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, BC. Although Adams has now retired from running the Cafe this book is the result of some gentle persuasion and a reminder from her daughter and friend of Shelley's mantra that “great recipes are meant to be shared!” Here Shelley has teamed up with her friends to collaborate on a fantastic selection of their favourite recipes that they have shared together throughout the years.
As soon as I started reading through this book it reminded me of one that I would hope to find in a holiday cottage or cabin.....You know – the type of book that you find (and perhaps hadn't heard of) and then sit down and become immersed in and know that as soon as you get home you have to buy it (because you've just spent the last week cooking from it)! It is homely and comforting and full of recipes that you are just desperate to make. A lot of the recipes serve 6 or more so it is also a book that is ideal for entertaining especially since they aren't complicated or time consuming recipes. In the end I managed to try out 6 recipes.
The tested recipes:
- Orchid Lime Salad
- Thai Steak and Soba Noodle Salad
- Bodega Style Brie on the Barbecue
- Jann's Grilled Asparagus Wraps with Crema di Balsamico
- Paella Chowder
First up for the taste test was the Orchid Lime Salad. I couldn't resist the beautiful name of this dish and the accompanying photograph sealed the deal as a 'must make' recipe! As soon as I read through the list of ingredients I knew it would be a big hit in our house (despite the fact there was no meat involved for hubby!!). This dish is full of fresh, vibrant Asian inspired flavors that gently dress the delicate rice noodles and crisp julienne vegetables which are crowned with a deliciously sweet and salty, crunchy nut and sesame seed topping, which finishes the dish off perfectly. It was a big hit! I did half the recipe as it serves 8 but even halved I would say it serves 4 generously.....possibly even 5 depending on your appetite but no matter what it certainly won't stay around for long!
So major success with recipe number 1 and I was excited to try recipe number 2 which was another salad. Next on the chopping board was the Thai Steak and Soba Noodle Salad. The ingredients for this recipe included some spicy chilli (lovely!) so I thought it would make a perfect Friday night meal for hubby and I once Wee One was in bed. It did not disappoint! It did take a little longer to prepare as there were a few more components to this salad, however each step was straightforward enough. I was a little hesitant at the amount of garlic and ginger for the marinade as 4 tbsp once grated/crushed is a lot of garlic and ginger, however it didn't overpower at all in the final flavour (it just took a bit of time to grate it all!). I also added some extra chilli to the final garnish which wasn't included in the recipe but was in the accompanying photograph and of course I can never resist the opportunity to add extra chilli! The finished salad was delicious. There were so many different flavours but together they worked perfectly. I did have far too much dressing but I just kept it for another day. At first I wasn't sure if the soba noodles were really necessary but once I tried everything together and gave it a proper taste they actually were really good and as hubby said “made the dish a bit more substantial”. Another win for the recipes.
Next up and there was no resisting the Bodega Style Brie on the Barbecue. It looked so unbelievably good and being a huge fan of Brie (and all of the other ingredients!) it had to be tried. Honestly, everyone that likes Brie has probably had some form of baked brie in their time....perhaps with some roasted garlic and crostini on the side....Well this has roasted garlic but it also has rocket (arugula) beautiful vine-ripened tomatoes, capers and toasted pine nuts!! Is your mouthwatering yet? Well mine was so like I said I had to try this recipe....only problem was that hubby hates raw tomatoes so I had 2 options. I could either make it for him and tell him to suck it up and just scrape the tomatoes off his side (and listen to him mutter under his breath!) or I could wait until he wasn't home and greedily enjoy it all to myself.....I went for option number 2! Since the recipe serves 6-8 I thought I better not be too greedy though and adapted it slightly using a small (or as I prefer to say 'individual') round of brie. I quartered the rest of the ingredients which was the perfect amount for topping this particular brie. That being said this recipe is so straightforward that it really is just a case of assembling some delicious fresh produce so it was easy to adapt. What this recipe is really about is the flavours and it is full of them. The beautiful fresh tomatoes and slightly acidic capers cut through the rich, creamy and molten brie. The rocket (arugula) has a lovely bright peppery touch and the pine nuts add a wonderful crunch and texture contrast. All in all a major success.....Without any question of doubt I will be making this over and over and next time we have guests over for dinner this will definitely be making an appearance on the menu!
Recipe number 4 and I opted for a soup although this Paella Chowder could definitely be eaten as a meal in itself, which is exactly what I did serving it for our evening meal rather than a lunch dish. It is brimming with all of the classic ingredients you would expect to find in a Spanish Paella but it has been transformed into a delicious, vibrant soup. A recurring theme to this book is that all of the instructions are incredibly straightforward and to the point so there are no confusing, overly complicated recipes – a big plus for a cookbook! This recipe despite having a fair amount of ingredients is no exception, however there were a few extra steps involved (cooking the chicken and sauteing the sausage) that aren't included in the actual steps of the recipe. I have to admit when reading through the recipe I was a little heartbroken at the idea of having to puree the rice in the soup and I'm assuming the author was probably aware of that reaction since she did include a note at the bottom saying that pureeing the rice leads to a smooth and rich texture.....she wasn't wrong! The soup was exactly that – rich, silky smooth and completely delicious. I used Sherry (could use sherry or white wine) and I have to say as it was cooking, the smell of the sherry and saffron literally transported me to Spain in one deliciously aromatic sniff! This soup is delicate with the saffron yet hearty and filling and won't disappoint. My husband liked it so much he had 2 bowls so another win for what is quickly turning out to be a fantastic cookbook!
Normally when I review cookbooks I only really manage to test 4 recipes before I have to post the review, however for his book I was able to make a couple more recipes that I just couldn't resist so next up was Jann's Grilled Asparagus Wraps with Crema di Balsamico which I have actually now made a few times. They are seriously simply but absolutely delicious and the addition of the Crema di Balsamico is a lovely finish that just elevates the recipe. It's perfect for this time of year when Asparagus is just coming into season and I definitely recommend it for a different way to serve asparagus (plus you can assemble it all in advance and just finish it off on the BBQ or Griddle pan when you are ready to serve).
As well as the tested recipes above I also made Tana's Tomato and Red Lentil Bisque pretty much the day after I received the book(!), however I didn't have quite the right ingredients and therefore substituted a few things so didn't include it in the actual 'tested recipes' section. That being said if you are trying to decide what recipes to try you have to try this one – it is fabulous! Spicy, Indian inspired hearty soup it is perfect for lunch served with some Naan bread on the side. It makes a huge pot so unless you are feeding a crowd I would suggest making the recipe as stated and then just freezing some for a rainy day (which we know will happen!).
There is a definite summery feel to the book and there are a lot of recipes that I will make once the weather has turned and we can bask outside in the sun dipping our feet into cool water, sipping on a chilled glass of wine! A lot of the recipes come from times when Shelley and her family have been on holiday so there are lots of anecdotes and memories of their own trips to the cabin which in turns makes you feel a sense of nostalgia and a longing for those summer days full of good memories and of course delicious meals shared with family and friends. Some of the recipes that I have bookmarked for future are......
- Prosciutto Wrapped Scallops with Basil Aioli and Honeydew
- Seafood Raviolis with Lemongrass Sauce
- Prawns Saganaki
- Gazpacho in a Glass with Dungeness Crab and Avocado Salsa
- Pat's Tuesday Night Pasta Sauce
- Monica's Cedar Plank Salmon
- Cashew Lamb Riblets with Saffron Curry Sauce
- Pulled Pork Enchiladas with Mole Sauce
- Toffee Crunch Lunch Box Cookies
- Classic Coconut Cake
- Laura's Caramel Corn
This book definitely gets my seal of approval and I would happily recommend it, or more so give it as a gift which for me is the ultimate compliment to a cookbook! It is filled with meals that you just want to make that are straightforward and easy to follow. Some of the ingredients are sourced locally from where they live but with a little research or light searching of your local supermarket aisles you are bound to find something similar. That being said some of those more localised ingredients are optional extras in a lot of the recipes so you won't be stuck if you can't find them. After reading Whitewater Cooks with Friends all I can say is thank goodness for Shelley's mantra.....Great recipes are meant to be shared and I am delighted that she shared them with all of us in the wonderful book! Next time I go away on holiday I will definitely be taking this book with me and in the meantime I'm off to buy her first two books!