Cook books that keep on giving

Foodies rule! And those of us who love food want to read about it. Cuisine Canada’s list of 2010 Canadian Culinary Book Award winners provides some choice reading – and cooking! Here are some of my favourites.

Why not give the foodies in your life a gift they’ll be able to keep opening all year long? Prices are list prices; check at your favourite bookstore or online for savings of as much as 40 percent.

[attach]3247[/attach]Atlantic Seafood: Recipes from Chef Michael Howell, by Michael Howell, Nimbus Publishing. $25.

Nestled in Nova Scotia’s gorgeous Annapolis Valley, Tempest just keeps winning awards as does its chef/owner, Michael Howell. A James Beard-invited chef and leader of Slow Food Nova Scotia, Howell is renowned for his commitment to using fresh, local ingredients which, he says means he often spends “as much time explaining to patrons why I don’t have Atlantic salmon on the menu as I spend cooking the sustainable seafood that is on it.” His book approaches seafood from a cultural as well as an ethical perspective – not a guilt trip, just an eye-opener. Engagingly written, the recipes and technique tidbits he offers are remarkably useful to cooks of all experience levels.

[attach]3252[/attach]Fresh with Anna Olson: Seasonally Inspired Recipes to Share with Family and Friends, by Anna Olson. Whitecap Books. $29.99.

Blessed with the bounty of Niagara, television chef Anna Olson has always encouraged viewers to seek out their own local, seasonal ingredients. Her new book offers recipes that make the best of the offerings of farmers markets and home garden. It’s all about the seasons and the community in her kitchen. This is a cookbook that helps you to make the ordinary extraordinary.

[attach]3249[/attach]Vancouver Cooks 2: Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia, Douglas and McIntyre Publishers. $40.

In the English Canadian Food Culture category, top prize went to the second volume from the Chefs’ Table Society of B.C. A celebration of Vancouver’s world-class dining culture, this compilation of creative recipes from the city’s most innovative chefs is nonetheless intended for the home cook. Divided into four sections – local food, international flavours, emerging talents and pioneering chefs – it also offers helpful wine pairing notes, fascinating chef profiles, mouth-watering photography, and, oh yes, a foreword by Vicki Gabereau. Royalties from the sale go to the Chefs’ Table Scholarship and Bursary Fund.

[attach]3250[/attach]French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating, by Laura Calder. Harper Collins. $39.95.

Laura Calder won her first food competition at the age of six, and in 2010, her Food Network show, French Food at Home, won the James Beard Award. Now her elegant new cookbook has captured gold in the Cookbook Category. French Taste takes the mystique out of contemporary French cuisine, and her recipes make elegant French food accessible. While conveying real pleasure in shopping, cooking, eating and entertaining, she also inspires readers – both the accomplished and the less assured – with confidence in the kitchen.

Tony Aspler’s Cellar Book: How to Design, Build, Stock and Manage Your Wine Cellar Wherever You Live, by Tony Aspler, Random House Canada, $32.99.

[attach]3251[/attach]Silver in the same category went to Tony Aspler, who explains in simple language how to put together a home wine cellar. The book follows him as he builds up his own condo cellar and even offers tips from wine celebrities about how they built theirs. Ideal for burgeoning oenophiles, there’s information about the wine regions and what they offer as well as food pairing advice. And you have to love Aspler’s unique style: “Wine gets ‘bottle shock’ when first introduced to the container in which it will spend its life, rather like an unsuccessful first date that turns into a lock-down arranged marriage.”