Tuesday, 8 December 2009

I Love Canadian Chefs! Cookbook Review - Fresh with Anna Olson

Fresh with Anna Olson
Seasonally inspired recipes to share with family and friends.

Anna Olson is a Food Network Canada sweetheart. Originally born in Atlanta, Georgia, Anna and her family moved to Canada when she was a young child. She had started out studying politics and sociology and went into the field of banking, but when she realized that she was happiest in the kitchen, she enrolled in the prestigious culinary program at Johnson and Wales University in Vail, Colorado.
When she returned to Canada, she settled in beautiful Niagara and went to work in the kitchen of the Inn on the Twenty. After some time as a line cook, she was promoted to pastry chef. It was here that she met and fell in love with head chef Michael Olson. A foodie fairytale come true, they have been inspiring and encouraging each other, and us, ever since.
Her latest cookbook, Fresh, is a celebration of the seasons. In a style that is becoming more popular lately, the book is divided into the four seasons with an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients.

I had actually made this Roasted Vegetable Tart over a year ago when it was the featured dish on Food Network Canada's website. Light and flaky phyllo dough is layered, not with butter, but with roasted garlic oil for a flavour sensation. The butternut squash and sage are lifted nicely by the red pepper, fennel and feta. A very pretty dish, great for guests.

This Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut Milk and Ginger was just the thing to keep us warm now that the cold weather has settled in. The flavours are Thai in nature and the contrast of sweet and heat is lovely.

I just had to make her Devilled Eggs. I had a craving. The recipe is a classic one, nothing too out of the ordinary - but there is something about devilled eggs that is so irresistible. I added some paprika to this one, when I realized that we were trying to take pictures of white eggs on a white plate. I love the tang and bite that the capers give, they will definitely be on my devilled eggs from now on.

The Sweet and Salty Trail Mix had a great balance of flavours. I ended up packaging it in several small baggies for my commuters to grab quickly on the way out the door. So much healthier than a pre-packaged granola bar! The balance of the sweetness of the dried fruits and maple syrup was beautiful with the deep spices and flaky salt. I will be making this often.

And a recipe that I thought was brilliant was the Beet and Goat Cheese Terrine. Thinly sliced cooked beets are made into a mould for deliciously flavoured goat cheese. The terrines are turned out onto some mixed greens, here I have used baby arugula and spinach. Next time I will slice my beets thinner, so they conform to the ramekin shape better, but the flavour was out of this world.

Anna has a lovely little bakery, Olson Foods + Bakery in Port Dalhousie, that hubby and I always stop at when we tour the Niagara wine region in the summer. And, while I don't care for her representing the faux sugar product Splenda, the product thankfully does not show up in her store, shows or books.

Some of the other recipes that I have bookmarked are:
  • Smoked Salmon Crepe Torte
  • Homemade Tortellini with Fennel Cream
  • Blueberry Sticky Buns
  • Fruit and Nut Muesli
  • Honey Oat Roasted Pears
  • Frisée Salad with Warm Camembert
  • Walnut Brie Strudel
  • Three Cheese Pasta Bake

It's going to be a delicious season!