Friday, 13 July 2012

Entertaining Made Easy with The Best of The Best and More!

The Best of Bridge series has been a culinary institution in Canada for over 30 years. What started as an actual bridge game with outstanding food, fun, and sisterhood turned into the backbone of Canadian cooking and entertaining manuals.

These new books, The Best of The Best and More and The Rest of The Best and More contain the much-loved classics as well as a slew of new recipes, reflecting the changes we have seen in cooking over the years. As the Ladies from Bridge pass into retirement, they welcomed a new Bridge friend, Sally Vaughan-Johnson; food writer, cooking professional and culinary whiz; to work with them in updating and modernizing some of the dishes (less canned soup, for instance) and adding some new dishes as well with the ethnic ingredients that are now widely available.

All the recipes have been multi-tested by both the Ladies and Sally and only the favourites made it in the book. They are happy to say "Our motto remains: 'Simple recipes with gourmet results' and, as our loyal fans have come to expect, the recipes work and the one-liners will keep you smiling."

Keep reading to find the history of the Bridge Ladies, as well as a few sample recipes to enjoy in your own home. Happy cooking!

The Best of the Best and More
With Over 70 New Recipes!
from The Ladies of the Best of Bridge
Spiral-bound, 304 pages

About The Ladies of the Best of Bridge:

In 1975, at a weekend getaway, eight women friends had an idea: Since a consistent highlight of their decade-old bridge group was the food they prepared and shared together, perhaps they should think about writing a cookbook. This spur-of-the-moment notion was the impetus for The Best of Bridge, which went on to become one of the most successful brands in Canadian publishing.

From the outset, "The Ladies of the Best of Bridge," as they like to be known, had a unconventional vision of how their business would be run. It would be a partnership of equals, a celebration of friendship and -- perhaps most of all -- it would be fun. The bank manager who approved their first loan warned them they would never stay friends. They vowed to prove him wrong.

More than 30 years and three million copies later, the ladies are enjoying the last laugh. In addition to creating a phenomenally successful business, they have remained close friends with fond memories of all the good times they've shared. "We had a lot of fun," they say now. "And the media loved us because we were just regular mothers who showed up wearing matching aprons. Sometimes people were astonished that the recipes actually worked, which amazed us because we knew what we were doing."

Not surprisingly, from time to time, life intervened to rock their idyll. "Like a large family, we've experienced everything -- divorce, major illness and deaths," they comment. Not only have they lost parents, husbands and children, two of the partners are deceased.

But the brand lives on -- not only in kitchens, but also in the hearts and minds of Canadians from coast to coast. Written in a welcoming style, the recipes are easy to execute, yet produce "gourmet" results. Their unique approach, which includes jokes to keep cooks smiling, has ensured a faithful following. Best of Bridge recipes are staples at potlucks across the country, and the generation of children raised on them is now cooking for themselves. "We get lots of mail from people looking for specific books to give to their adult kids," the Ladies report. "They want to make dishes that were always served at family celebrations. Our recipes have become part of their domestic traditions."

The Best of Bridge is more than a company. It's an institution that is deeply interwoven into the fabric of Canadian life. But more than that, it's a testament to the spirit and wherewithal of eight exceptional women whose collective head for business is matched by their commitment to each other. As the Ladies would say, "You should have these books. We've tested, tasted and revised. We promise you'll love every recipe." 

Shrimp 'N' Beer (Page 70)


3 Lbs.    Shrimp In The Shell    1.5 Kg
4    Garlic Cloves, Peeled    4
6    Allspice Berries    6
1 Tbsp.    Red Pepper Flakes    15 Ml
1    Bay Leaf    1
6    Sprigs Fresh Parsley    6
2    Sprigs Fresh Dill    2
12 Oz.    Beer    341 Ml
    Salt & Pepper To Taste

Lemon Butter Dipping Sauce
1⁄2 Cup    Butter    250 Ml
    Juice Of 1⁄2 Lemon
1 Tsp.    Worcestershire Sauce    5 Ml
    Salt & Pepper To Taste

To cook shrimp: combine all ingredients in large pot and cover. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let the shrimp simmer 2 minutes. (don't overcook!) Then remove from heat and drain.

To prepare sauce: heat butter in a saucepan until almost bubbling. Stir in lemon juice and Worcestershire, salt and pepper to taste.
Serve shrimp hot, in the shell. Spread out the newspaper on your patio table and let your guests "peel 'n' eat". Serve sauce individually to 8 happy guests.

Excerpted from The Best of The Best and More Recipes from The Best of Bridge Cookbooks
© 2012 / Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

Grand Slam Finale (Page 267)
A Best Of Bridge Tradition!

1 Cup    Vanilla Wafer Cookie Crumbs     250 Ml
    (30 Wafers)
1⁄2 Cup    Toasted Almonds, Finely     125 Ml
1⁄4 Cup    Butter, Melted    60 Ml
4 Cups    Fresh Strawberries    1 L
12 Oz.    Good Quality White Chocolate    340 G
4 Oz.    Cream Cheese    115 G
1⁄4 Cup    Sugar    60 Ml
1⁄4 Cup    Orange Liqueur Or Frozen     60 Ml
    Orange Juice Concentrate
1 Tsp.    Vanilla    5 Ml
2 Cups    Whipping Cream    500 Ml
    Cocoa Powder

Combine wafer crumbs, almonds and butter. Press into bottom of a 9" (23 cm) springform pan. Wash, dry and hull berries. Reserve a couple for garnish. Cut a few strawberries in half, lengthwise, and press flat sides all around side of springform pan. Arrange whole berries, points up, on crust. Chop chocolate and melt in double boiler or microwave. Cool slightly. Beat cheese until smooth, then beat in sugar. Mix in liqueur (or juice) and vanilla. Slowly beat in chocolate. Whip the cream. Stir about 1⁄3 of cream into chocolate mixture and fold in the remainder. Pour over berries, shaking pan gently to fill in between berries. Refrigerate at least 3 hours (overnight is fine). Remove sides and bottom of springform pan. Dust with cocoa and garnish with reserved strawberries.

Excerpted from The Best of The Best and More Recipes from The Best of Bridge Cookbooks
© 2012 / Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

The Rest of the Best and More
With over 100 New Recipes!
from The Ladies of the Best of Bridge
Spiral-bound, 324 pages

Chicken Lettuce Wraps (Page 78)

3⁄4 Cup    Hoisin Sauce    175 Ml
11⁄2 Tsp.    Rice Vinegar    7 Ml
1 Tbsp.    Liquid Honey    15 Ml
2 Tbsp.    Water    30 Ml
1 Tbsp.    Fresh Lime Juice    15 Ml
2 Tsp.    Sesame Oil    10 Ml
1    Large Garlic Clove, Minced    1
1 Tsp.    Freshly Grated Ginger    5 Ml

2    Boneless Chicken Breasts    2
1⁄3 Cup    Grated Carrot    75 Ml
2    Green Onions, Diagonally Sliced    2
1 Cup    Dry Steam-Fried Noodles    250 Ml
1⁄2 Cup    Unsalted Peanuts, Chopped    125 Ml
1    Head Iceburg Lettuce, Separated     1
    Into Whole Leaves, Core Removed

In a small saucepan, over medium-low heat, blend sauce ingredients. Set aside to cool. Poach chicken in a small amount of water until no longer pink. Cool. Cut each breast in half horizontally and then dice to about 1⁄4" (6 mm).
In medium bowl, toss chicken, carrots and onion with enough sauce to coat. Let stand for 15 minutes. Add noodles and peanuts, gently toss with more sauce to coat.
To serve: set out lettuce and chicken mixture. Let guests wrap their own. Serve extra sauce on the side.

Excerpted From The Rest Of The Best And More Recipes from The Best Of Bridge Cookbooks
© 2012 / Reprinted with Permission. All Rights Reserved.