Category Archives: Reviews

Cookbook – Butter Celebrates

Butter Celebrates – Rosie Daykin Shares her Fabulous Sweets

Butter Celebrates, is bakery owner Rosie Daykin’s second cookbook (Butter Baked Goods was released in 2013) and this time she is sharing a year of celebratory recipes. From Valentine’s Day to New Year’s and everything in between, Daykin has recipes for every festive occasion.

If you define celebrations as time with family and friends, full of laughter, love, witty toasts, good music, general chaos and delicious food, as Daykin does, you’ll love this book and the anecdotes that make both a great resource for baking,  and an entertaining read. Full of pretty pictures that inspired me to not only update my tableware, but also get back working on my journey in food photography, Butter Celebrates leads aspiring and advanced bakers through the seasons.

From Heart-Shaped Raspberry Pop Tarts for Valentines Day, Bunny Buns for Easter, and Pumpkin Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts at Halloween, you’ll likely want to bake many of these delicacies out of season.

There’s also a well written section on tips for entertaining, a list of necessities for baking and some ‘gentle reminders’, a list of tips to keep in mind when baking.

Butter Celebrates

For more on Rosie Daykin and Butter Celebrates, check out this interview on CBC’s North by Northwest with Sheryl Mackay.

We recently enjoyed these Brownies and I think they’ll be another batch on the go soon!

Butter Celebrateses

Irish Whiskey Brownies

1 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup dark cocoa
2 1⁄2 cups dark chocolate chips
1 cup butter
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
4 large eggs
1 1⁄2 cups granulated sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
MAKES:  16 bars

YOU WILL NEED:  1 (9- x 9-inch) baking pan, buttered and lined with parchment paper

STORAGE:  These brownies will keep in an airtight container for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. On a large piece of parchment paper, sift the flour and cocoa. Set aside.
3. In a double boiler, or a small heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, melt 2 cups of the chocolate chips and the but- ter, and whisk to combine. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before whisking in the whiskey (that’s fun to say!). Set aside.
4. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and salt until very pale yellow.
5. With the mixer running on low speed, add the melted chocolate and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the dry ingredients and beat again until well combined.
6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the remaining cup chocolate chips.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 25 minutes, or until the brownies are firm to the touch.
8. Remove the brownies from the oven and allow them to cool completely in the pan before cutting.

Cookbook – Grilling with House of Q

BBQ season is all year round in Vancouver, so pick up Grilling with House of Q and continue on grilling!

The secret to good barbecue is a the proper grilling temperature, some great meat and Brian Misko’s new book “Grilling With House of Q”. For good measure a set of his sauces and rubs doesn’t hurt either.

Misko is a competitive BBQ’er, and this book is geared for the home BBQ’er who is looking  to replicate those award winning flavours. It’s full of grilling tips, stores from his travels, and lots of amazingly simple recipes with endless flavour.

The book has everything from appetizers to vegetables and desserts, and is a step by step guide to getting more comfortable with your grill. While there’s lots of classics like ribs and burgers, there’s plenty of innovative dishes such as the Thai-style shrimp stuffed chicken breasts and cedar-planked brie too.  There’s also a section on brines, sauces and spreads, desserts and lots of great grilling and prepping tips along the way. Sit down with this one and have a good read before heating up that grill and making many of these memorable dishes.

Here’s one of our favs!

baconwrappedturkey8292 print cmyk (671x1024)


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The books….and ours….still looked pretty damn edible!

Bacon-wrapped Turkey Skewers

Start these turkey skewers early in the day so the meat has time to marinate before you grill it. Have ready some wooden or metal skewers, or look for more decorative, creative options such as sticks of rosemary.

Serves 4 to 6

2 to 3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 to 2 Tbsp minced fresh tarragon or savory, leaves only
1/4 to 1/3 cup House of Q Slow Smoke Gold BBQ Sauce or your favourite prepared mustard
1 to 2 lbs skinless, boneless turkey thighs, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 lb bacon, cut in thin slices

In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the garlic, tarragon (or savory) and BBQ sauce (or mustard). Shake until well mixed, and then add the turkey cubes. Mix well to ensure the meat is well coated, and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours.

Cut the bacon in half widthwise, and arrange the slices on a clean work surface. Place a turkey cube at one end of each piece of bacon. Roll the bacon around the turkey, and thread 2 or 3 pieces of wrapped turkey on each skewer for a small portion, or 5 to 6 pieces for a larger portion. Before discarding the marinade, make sure each skewer is well coated with the mustard sauce.

Prepare your grill for direct cooking, low to medium heat. Brush or wipe the grates with oil, if necessary. Place the skewers on the grill, close the lid and cook until the bacon has rendered and crisped. Turn the skewers over a couple of times to cook them evenly and give the meat some colour. The turkey is done when the meat has reached an internal temperature of 165°F, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

To serve, place the skewers on a platter, or plate them individually for your guests.

Brian Misko House of Q

About Brian Misko

BBQ Brian is as an award winning competition cook and now a cookbook author. At the 2014 World Food Championships his team placed first in the rib category as well as being awarded the 2014 Team of the Year by the Canadian BBQ Society. When he is not on the competition circuit, BBQ Brian can be seen providing grilling tips on television, giving demos at national and international trade shows, and developing new products for his House of Q line of BBQ sauces and rubs.

Whitewater Cooks with Passion

As an addict of cookbooks, and an owner of many, I was eager to get my hands on the newest Whitewater Cooks with Passion Cookbook, the fourth in the serious. This book is indeed filled with passionate recipes, and just flipping through the pages reignited my own cooking passion. I’ve whipped up many of the easy to follow and extremely tasty recipes.

Shelley Adams, the author, is the owner of Whitewater Ski Resort and the director of the Fresh Tracks Cafe in Nelson. She’s sharing the innovative recipes she’s become known for at the cafe, a collection of multicultural recipes that span from Indonesian Chicken to the all-Canadian Tourtiere with Homemade Ketchup.

From breakfast to dessert the book guides you with  recipes accompanied by gorgeous photos and serving suggestions. You could cook from this book year-round and your family would never have feasted better.

Be sure to try the Tuscan Beef Involtini with Pancetta and Pamigiano. The result was far tastier than the picture reflects!

Breakfast is easy with the Spanish Frittata. Mix up the veggies for endless combinations.

AND you’ll never want to cook with butter again once you’ve tried this olive oil cake! Well maybe not quite, but it’s certainly shows how moist olive oil is to bake with! I can’t wait to dive further into the book. Really need more nights at home!

Luscious Olive oil cake, marsala blood oranges, mascarpone cream

Luscious Olive Oil Cake

(Whitewater Cooks with Passion, 2014) Serves 8


2 cups all purpose flour
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp baking powder
1 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ cups whole milk
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 ½ tbsp orange zest
¼ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup Grand Marnier or sherry


Preheat oven to 350F

Prepare a 9 inch springform pan with cooking spray on sides and bottom and line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper
Whisk the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder together in a mixing bowl
Whisk together the olive oil, milk, eggs, orange zest, orange juice and Grand Marnier in another bowl
Add the dry ingredients to the wet until just combined
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, until the top is golden brown and skewer comes out clean when inserted
Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let cool for 30 minutes
Run a knife around the edge of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack, remove pan and let cool completely for 2 hours.

Garnish with any type of edible flowers or kumquats and sliced oranges.


Decades of Decadence

decadesWhile the Best of Bridge has always been my go to for old-school recipes, I now have another cookbook on the shelf which is a treat to both read and cook from.  Rebecca Klemke has managed to pen a memoir to her grandmother and a recipe book all in one.  Take more than a few moments to enjoy her writing and anecdotes of her food memories throughout the past few decades in her family kitchen.  There certainly aren’t  any molecular gastronomy techniques or fancy foams between these covers, but experienced and beginner cooks will enjoy her recipes and stellar cooking tips.

Randomly flipping open a page I am taught how to roast poultry, step by step.  Another flip gives me a superb recipe for pizza dough, tips and topping suggestions.  One more flip and I’m making a chilled asparagus and almond soup and another a proper cheese sauce for veggies or a veal wiener schnitzel

These are recipes not to be forgotten and building blocks from which to start or expand your recipe repertoire.  Now get out those saucepans and make a big mess cooking up some love in your kitchen for your very own family, or perhaps some especially deserving friends.

The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker – An Okanagan Cookbook Celebrates the Stars of the Culinary Okanagan

Authored by food and wine columnist Jennifer Schell, the cookbook, The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine & Cheese Maker – An Okanagan Cookbook celebrating the Okanagan’s food culture and cuisine is set to hit bookshelves November 2012.

Described by Schell as a “love letter to all who have created, grown and nurtured our special ‘place’ on this earth”, An Okanagan Cookbook explores the stories and the relationships between the land, the food, the people and ultimately the recipes and tastes which reach the table.

Each recipe is not just tablespoons of this and cups of that, but a story of the history and biography of the people who put the food on your plate.  With more than 120 contributions from the region’s best chefs, winemakers and food producers, An Okanagan Cookbook brings together the remarkable traditions and kitchen innovations of the Okanagan Valley that is quickly establishing itself as a culinary destination.

A beautiful Citrus Sockeye Salmon from Chef Liam McNulty of Nk’Mip Patio Restaurant accompanies the story of the Okanagan Nation Alliance and their efforts to return the Sockeye Salmon to Okanagan Lake, giving readers and cooks the inside story behind this not so standard ingredient.

Spot Prawn Risotto with Organic Greens from British Columbia Restaurant Hall of Fame Chef Bernard Casavant highlights the greens supplied by innovative urban farmer Curtis Stone.  While Chef Bernard works wonders with the spot prawns, a provincial delicacy known around the world for their sweet delicate flavor, the final dish is dressed with greens from Green City Acres, a hodgepodge of high quality, high producing gardens that Curtis Stone has transformed from the front and back lawns of property owners scattered around the city of Kelowna.  This seasonal dish has a suggested wine pairing with the legendary winemaker Howard Soons’ Sandhill ‘Small Lots’ Viognier.

Jennifer Schell is at heart a farmer and a passionate champion and supporter of the Okanagan’s vibrant farming and wine industry.  With The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine and Cheese Maker – An Okanagan Cookbook, she has created a culinary journey through the valley while sharing the stories and camaraderie of the chefs, winemakers and food producers who work together creating a memorable experience.

The Butcher, The Baker, The Wine and Cheese Maker – An Okanagan Cookbook is available for purchase throughout the Okanagan in November 2012, or you can order your copy by visiting



Tongue Twisters – Gord Martin

Digging back in my library (published in 2003 and still very relevant)  this cookbook is all about intense flavour combos and cross-cultural cuisine that Chef Gord Martin’s Vancouver restaurants Bin 941 and Bin 942 are so well known for.  Mainly appetizer and tapas style recipes, this guide to entertaining will have your guests raving about your culinary abilities.  A fan of halibut? Try out the 3-citrus Halibut Ceviche, Grilled Volcanic Salt-Rubbed Halibut or the Halibut Brandade.  Of course there are many recipes for a variety of other ingredients, such as Tropical Fruit Kebabs, Venison, BBQ Chicken and Cheesecake with Banana Foster Sauce.

Chapters include:
Traditional Dinners
Grazing: Cocktail Parties
Comfort Food for Rainy Days
The After Party: Hangover Food
Leftovers: What Tastes Better the Next Day
One on One: The Intimate Dinner for Two
Marco Polo: The Spice Trade, not the Silk Road
Contemporary Holiday Cooking
Tricks of the Trade
Pantry Raid

In a Pinch

Effortless Cooking for Today’s Gourmet
By Caren McSherry

Having friends over for dinner doesn’t have to be a big production. With In a Pinch, Caren McSherry will show you how to make a 5-star meal in nothing flat.

Gone are the days of 3-day preparations, obscure cooking utensils, and clean-ups that last longer than the meal. With In a Pinch, you’ll impress your friends with restaurant style dishes without even breaking a sweat. This is the new era of cooking! Now you can use high quality ingredients from specialty grocery stores to make quick and easy meals that make you look like a star!

Impress your friends with:

  • Fresh Fig and Prosciutto Rolls
  • Duck Taco Bites
  • Grilled Chili Lime Pork Tenderloin
  • Mini Almond Ice Cream Tartuffi

Four Chefs One Garden – new cookbook from Vancouver’s great chefs

Four Chefs One Garden

Umberto MenghiMichel JacobTojoVikram Vij

The Story

In her unique debut, Vancouver native Evaleen Jaager Roy traces one year spent in her terraced, oceanview garden and in her kitchen. Organized seasonally, the sumptuously illustrated book weaves together backyard gardening tips with recipes from the city’s leading chefs, including one-name superstars Umberto and Tojo. But while Four Chefs One Garden is a practical resource, it is also a personal story of coming home. Jaager Roy took a long sabbatical from an international career to start her garden and the book documents her quest to slow down and reconnect with the people and places she loves on the West Coast.

The book includes seasonal recipes from acclaimed French chef Michel Jacob, Italian celebrity chef Umberto Menghi, sushi master Hidekazu Tojo and Indian fusion pioneer Vikram Vij. Each seasonal section also features interviews and horticultural tips from some of the West Coast’s leading gardeners, including Brian Minter of Minter Gardens. Lush photography shows the march of Vancouver’s changing seasons both in the garden, where spring rains lead to summer roses and in the kitchen, where Tuscan salads give way to spicy winter curries.

The Details

Angelique TulipsFour Chefs One Garden
ISBN 978-0-9864781-0-9

($1 from the sale of every book will go to feed women and children living in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver through the YWCA’s Crabtree Corner Family Resource Centre. The centre serves over 30,000 meals anually to families in need.

Four Chefs One Garden is available at Avant Gardener, Barbara-jo’s Books To Cooks, Chapters (Broadway, Langley, Metrotown, Park Royal and Richmond locations), GardenWorks, Gourmet Warehouse, Hagar Books and West Van Florist.

Araxi and Blue Water Cafe win Gourmand World Cookbook Awards

araxi-cookbookA note from TopTable proprietor, Jack Evrensel:

“Cookbooks may take years to compile and months to edit, but their real joy comes when you bring them home, and just cook.”

Our entire Top Table team is delighted to share with you that our two recently released cookbooks, Araxi: Seasonal Recipes from the Celebrated Whistler Restaurant and Blue Water Cafe Seafood Cookbook have won Gourmand World Cookbook Awards for Best Chef Book in Canada and Best Seafood and Fish Book in Canada respectively, joining West: The Cookbook, which won Most Innovative Cookbook in Canada in 2008.

This great news came to us just yesterday from Madrid, and we wanted to let you know right away.
Araxi and Blue Water Cafe will now be entered in the Gourmand Best in the World competition, with the results announced at the Paris Cookbook Fair on February 11th, 2010.
I would like to especially acknowledge the efforts of chefs James Walt and Frank Pabst, each of whom spent many hours relentlessly testing their recipes, and making them accessible for the home cook.
Wishing you and your family a warm and happy holiday season.

With best regards,

Jack Evrensel

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C Food Cookbook from C Restaurant

From the restaurant the Globe and Mail calls “the most original and exciting fish and seafood restaurant this country has ever seen,” comes a highly anticipated cookbook by owner Harry Kambolis and executive chef Robert Clark.

C Food brings the bold avant garde concepts of C Restaurant to the printed page in a stunning book full of images and recipes that are guaranteed to inspire. The book challenged executive chef Robert Clark, owner Harry Kambolis and photographer Hamid Attie to see ingredients from a different perspective. The result is an artful cookbook that is equally perfect for any kitchen or coffee table.

The book also showcases C Restaurant’s commitment and passions, which go far beyond the aesthetics of the plate. From its inception, C has led the way in serving sustainably harvested seafood from local waters and using ingredients that are homegrown. Sustainability is at the forefront of every menu created and the restaurant prides itself on its ability to serve up ethical luxury.

Readers will be inspired to think beyond conventional recipes like: Bayne Sound Scallop with Coriander Grapefruit Jelly and Pacific Oven Roasted Halibut with Parmesan Tuile and Arugula Puree.

Limited editions of the book are available for purchase from C Restaurant (604-681-1164) and Barbara-Jo’s Books to Cooks (604-688-6755) beginning in late October. Other retailers like Chapter, Amazon will be releasing the book in late November.

C Food is already receiving international accolades with invitations to events like the International Festival of Culinary Photography held in Paris each year.

Robert Clark is a graduate of George Brown College’s culinary training school. After apprenticing with some of Canada’s finest chefs, including Jamie Kennedy, Marc Thuet and John Higgins, Robert helped to open the celebrated Star Anise Restaurant before being recruited to C Restaurant in 1997. He proudly promotes Vancouver as a world-class culinary destination by participating in events in international culinary hubs like New York, Hong Kong, San Francisco and Beijing. As a founding board member of the Chefs’ Table Society of B.C., Clark’s belief in the importance of supporting a sustainable food system is being realized with the support of his fellow members. He works tirelessly to create new initiatives that bring local farmers and fishermen closer to the table.

Harry Kambolis is the owner and proprietor of C Restaurant. He has led the restaurant to win Vancouver Magazine’s Seafood Restaurant of the Year award for ten years in a row, as well as garnering countless additional accolades. A passionate environmentalist, Harry is currently collaborating with Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program and aims to make C Restaurant a flagship of sustainability.

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