Christmas Cook Books

6 Jan

This Christmas we received a good crop of cook books from friends and family.  I’m looking forward to trying out some of the many recipes they offer.

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Father Christmas (reliably informed by my parents) gave me the Bowes Museum Cookbook.  The Bowes Museum has long been one of my favourite museums ever.  What’s not to like about a French chateau like building on the edge of the perfectly formed town of Barnard Castle, which is home to the iconic silver swan who gracefully bends his head at two o’clock every afternoon? With its wonderful collections of art, costume and decorative art I’ve made many a specific visit to see their scholarly and thought provoking exhibitions on topics ranging from North Country Quilts to the Art of the Table.  The cookbook, which was published in 2012, is an elegant example of a museum successfully showcasing its collections and the talents of its in house chefs for its café.  While the cook book is beautifully illustrated with examples of works of art from the collection, from striking still lives to exquisite embroideries, the recipes are all created by the Bowes resident chefs Ben Parhaby and Hazel Herworth.  The skilful blending of objects from the collection with related recipes produces such pairings as a chocolate brownie recipe illustrated with a porcelain cup and saucer decorated with a transfer print of Liotard’s Chocolate girl and a North Sea crab salad with a striking still life of crabs by 19th century French painter Jean Paul Baptiste Lazerges.  I often feel frustrated by museums whose shops offer little that relate directly to their collections and provide merely generic merchandise that could be found anywhere.  The Bowes Museum Cookbook stands in direct contrast to this trend and is perfect for anyone who loves museums and cooking.

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As recent arrivals in Canada two Canadian cookbooks were welcome additions to our culinary possibilities.  The first was given to us by Emily and Rob and is the Laura Secord Canadian Cook Book, published in 1966 by the famous Canadian confectionery company.  The recipes are divided into ten sections, from breads to meats to vegetables, each with a single colour illustration which depicts a particular part of Canada.  What I particularly like about this recipe book is the fact that each recipe has a short introduction explaining the inclusion of the dish and something of its origins.  These brief anecdotal statements reveal the richness of Canadian culinary heritage from German Mandel Bread (I’m looking forward to trying out this recipe since it involves almonds!) and Fredericton Walnut Toffee to Quebec Salmon Pie and Scotch-Canadian Haggis.

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Ontario produce including blueberry vinegar, cinnamon infused honey and maple syrup which accompanied our Ontario cookbook

The final cookbook we received, from Jim and Zibbie, was accompanied by a beautiful selection of Ontario produce including maple syrup from Prince Edward County, blueberry wine vinegar and cranberry amaretto preserve.  These goodies were especially appropriate since the cook book, Ontario Table featuring the best food from around the province by Lynn Ogryzlo champions the use of locally produced food and highlights the wealth of fresh ingredients available in Ontario from artisan cheeses to fresh fruit.   As well as offering a wealth of recipes using local ingredients the cook book also offers suggestions about where to purchase Ontario produced foods and encourages owners of the cook book to seek out sources of locally produced ingredients.   Recipes range from asparagus leek soup with asparagus from Waterloo County to pecan-crusted rack of pork, with meat from Blue Haven Farm in Wellington.

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Happy cooking in 2013!

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Ontario lamb cooked with potatoes, onions, lemon and rosemary

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One Response to “Christmas Cook Books”

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  1. Kensington Palace Recipes 2 – Jo’s Welsh cakes « maplesyrupandcastersugar - January 19, 2013

    […] that I’m sure that Welsh cakes existed in some form before this, whatever the raising agent.  The Laura Secord Canadian cookbook which I was given for Christmas has a Welsh cake recipe which it introduces by commenting that […]

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