Monday, 19 May 2014

The SoBo Cookbook: Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant at the End of the Canadian Road

The SoBo Cookbook
Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant 
at the End of the Canadian Road
By Lisa Ahier, Andrew Morrison

Trade Paperback, 288 pages

Bright. Colourful. Inventive and Delicious. These are the words I would use to describe my first impressions of The SoBo Cookbook.

It is a book you immediately want to devour. The recipes are both inspired and inspiring. And if I can't actually go live on Vancouver Island then thank goodness I at least have this book.

Crab and Goat Cheese Wontons with Cilantro Jalapeno Dipping Sauce. Killer Fish Tacos with Fruit Salsa. Surfer Noodle Soup. Flaxseed and Ginger Pancakes. Thai Chicken on Roti. Salted Chocolate Bomb with Habanero Berry Compote. There's no doubt about it. This book and these recipes are groovy. And in this world we need all the groovy we can get.

Contents include:
The SoBo Story
Food Philosophy
Cook's Notes

Sandwiches, Burgers & Our Famous Tacos
Appetizers & Snacks (and one very special drink)
SoBo Mains
Staple Recipes

From the back flap:
SoBo (Sophisticated Bohemian) started out in 2003 as a purple food truck in the parking lot behind a surf shop, way before food trucks were cool. Despite its remoteness, it attracted rave reviews from food media across North America, with the likes of Saveur magazine calling it: “perhaps the most exciting lunch stand in North America”. The back of the staff’s t-shirts read: “Quite possibly the second best thing you can do in a parking lot”–and that same fun, authentic West Coast vibe weaves throughout the stories and recipes in this book.

Sobo has since become a destination restaurant, having outgrown its food truck beginnings, with visitors making the pilgrimage to the west coast of Vancouver Island just to taste chef Lisa Ahier’s cooking–which is, to use Tofino slang, simply “killer”. The restaurant’s menu focuses on locally-sourced, seasonally-inspired ingredients from family-owned producers. The dishes are shaped by Lisa’s Tex Mex and Southwestern culinary roots, and her experience gained across several US states, including her stint as executive chef of Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas.

The Sobo Cookbook includes over 100 of the restaurant’s all-time favourite recipes–recipes that have fed surfers, hungry locals, curious visitors and die-hard foodies alike.

Lisa makes fish tacos on CTV News:

Lisa makes ceviche on Global News

LISA AHIER was born in Texas and studied at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. After working in kitchens at sea and across several states, she started the Sobo food truck in 2003 with her husband, Artie; Sobo moved to its current location in 2007. Lisa lives in Tofino, B.C.

ANDREW MORRISON is the editor-in-chief of Scout Magazine and editor of the award-winning Vancouver Cooks Cookbook. Andrew lives in Vancouver, B.C.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Son: A Novel by My Favourite Author, Jo Nesbø

The Son
By Jo Nesbo

Hardcover, 416 pages
Also available in ebook and audio formats

It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love Nordic crime fiction. It is so dark, so complicated, so intelligent and so intense. Must be all that darkness and cold.

And Jo Nesbø is my absolute favourite author in this genre. Well, in any genre.

After being hooked on the Harry Hole series I was excited for his new stand alone novel - The Son.

A young man with nothing to lose loses himself in a dreamy heroin cocoon safe inside the Norwegian prison system. He is serene and knowing. People come to him to be heard. To be forgiven. And to be healed.

But one man's confession rips the dreamworld apart and starts Sonny on a road to discovery, revenge, despair and redemption.

This is an extremely satisfying novel that you will not be able to leave until you are at the end. And then you will be wishing there was another one on its heels.

As long as Jo Nesbø keeps writing, I will always be reading. He amazes me every time.

From the back flap:

A brand new thriller from #1 internationally bestselling crime author Jo Nesbo, which sees a charismatic young prisoner escaping jail to find out the truth about his father’s death.

Sonny is a model prisoner. He listens to the confessions of other inmates at Oslo jail, and absolves them of their sins. Some people even whisper that Sonny is serving time for someone else: that he doesn’t just listen, he confesses to their crimes. Inspector Simon Kefas is a dedicated police officer. Simon has worked for the Oslo police force for years. He’s just been assigned a new murder investigation and a new partner, all on the same day. Both of them knew Sonny’s father. To Sonny he was the man he idolised, to Kirk he was his best friend. Both were devastated when his corruption was revealed. But neither of them knew the truth.

Jo Nesbø’s books have been translated into forty-seven languages. He is the author of the Harry Hole series, the latest of which is Police, as well as Headhunters and several children’s books. He has received the Glass Key Award for best Nordic crime novel. He is also a musician, songwriter, and economist and lives in Oslo.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Delicious! by Ruth Reichl

A Novel by Ruth Reichl
Hardcover, 400 pages

I love Ruth Reichl. I first saw her in a glimpse of the movie Garlic is as Good as Ten Mothers on my little black and white set my friend's father built for me out of scrap TV parts. She has such a presence, so much going on in that mind of hers. I have never forgotten her.

In fact her memoir-type books - Tender at the Bone, Garlic and Sapphires, and Comfort Me with Apples are some of my favourite books.

Ruth seems to have a way of using all her senses all the time and opening us up to the true meaning of sensuality. Colours are brighter, flavours have stories, scents contain magic.

Delicious! is a novel, but you can certainly spot semi-autobiographical elements all through the book. And that is a good thing - it is the Ruth Reichl that we adore.

It reads a little like a fairytale. Ruth takes your hand and brings you along with her in the story and I found it uplifting and comforting at the same time.

From the back flap:

In her bestselling memoirs Ruth Reichl has long illuminated the theme of how food defines us, and never more so than in her dazzling fiction debut about sisters, family ties, and a young woman who must finally let go of guilt and grief to embrace her own true gifts.

Billie Breslin has travelled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is suddenly shut down, the colourful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine’s deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the “Delicious Guarantee”–a public relations hotline for complaints and recipe inquiries–until further notice. What she doesn’t know is that this boring, lonely job will be the portal to a life-changing discovery.

Delicious! carries the reader to the colourful world of downtown New York restaurateurs and artisanal purveyors. And from the lively food shop in Little Italy where Billie works on weekends to a hidden room in the magazine’s library where she discovers the letters of Lulu Swan, a plucky twelve-year-old, who wrote to the legendary chef James Beard during World War II. Lulu’s letters lead Billie to a deeper understanding of history (and the history of food), but most important, Lulu’s courage in the face of loss inspires Billie to come to terms with her own issues–the panic attacks that occur every time she even thinks about cooking, the truth about the big sister she adored, and her ability to open her heart to love.

Ruth Reichl

Ruth Reichl is the bestselling author of Tender at the Bone and Comfort Me with Apples. She was editor in chief of Gourmet magazine for ten years. She lives in New York City with her husband, son, and two cats.

Friday, 2 May 2014

300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes

300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes
Brittles, Caramels, Chocolates, 
Fudge, Truffles & So Much More
by Jane Sharrock
Paperback, 320 pages

Recognize any of the words on the ingredient list on candies these days? No. Me neither.

Which brings us to a good point - here we are making great meals at home, why not make delicious candy at home as well? With real sugars and butters and readily recognizable ingredients found in the local grocers or bulk store and not in a lab somewhere.

Homemade candy make a great present or host/hostess gift and are delightful for a special gathering. Or even to show someone how special they are. Sure you could give them a Mars bar, but homemade fudge or spiced nuts for example? Much better.

With 300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes, you will learn how to make all sorts of classic homemade candies from beginner to advanced and everything in between. You'll learn cooking and handling and shaping techniques, the stages of cooked sugar and the wonders it can turn into at different stages of heat.

You can even look up recipes by skill level. Start with easier if you wish and progress to more challenging candy. There is a trouble shooting guide if something doesn't go as planned.

Please don't forget to share the fudge with me. I like fudge. With red wine. What?

Candy recipes include:

• Old-Fashioned Cooked Candies
• Old-Fashioned Hard Candies
• Clusters, Patties and Pralines
• Divinities, Nougats and Similar Candies
• Old-Fashioned Candy Rolls
• Old-Fashioned Chocolate Fudges
• Balls and Shaped Candies
• Chocolate-Coated Candies
• Candied and Spiced Nuts
• Popcorn Candies and Fruit Candies

Old-Fashioned Pastel Butter Mints, page 207, Mints
At one time, these creamy pastel butter mints were just as essential to a proper Southern wedding as having a bride and groom. Traditionally served in a crystal bowl or silver compote, the mints were placed between the white wedding cake and the equally essential bowl of roasted cocktail nuts. We Southerners have loosened up a bit the past few decades, but not enough to stop loving this old-fashioned candy.

2 cups    confectioner’s (icing) sugar    500 mL
1 cup    cornstarch    250 mL
2 cups    granulated sugar    500 mL
3⁄4 cup    water    175 mL
1⁄4 cup    butter (do not use     60 mL
1⁄4 tsp    cream of tartar (or     1 mL
    2 tbsp/30 mL cider vinegar)
    Food coloring as desired
10    drops peppermint oil (or     10
    1⁄2 tsp/2 mL peppermint

•    Skill Level: Advanced
•    Makes about 50
•    Large rimmed baking sheet, buttered
•    2-quart heavy saucepan
•    Candy thermometer

1.    In a flat container that can be sealed, combine the confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch, mixing well.
2.    In heavy saucepan, bring the granulated sugar, water, butter and cream of tartar to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan. Remove the lid. Cook at a rapid boil, without stirring, to 265°F (129°C). When the temperature is nearly 265°F (129°C), drop in a few drops of food coloring, tinting the mixture to a light pastel color.
3.    Remove from the heat. Quickly add the peppermint oil and turn onto the prepared baking sheet to cool. As soon as the candy can be handled, knead by hand until it can be picked up and pulled. Pull or stretch the candy until it is firm. Stretch the candy into a rope about 1⁄2 inch (1 cm) in diameter. Using kitchen shears, snip the rope into 1⁄2- to 1-inch (1 to 2.5 cm) pieces, letting the pieces fall into the confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch mixture. Store the mints with the sugar mixture in the airtight container until the mints soften and become creamy, 2 to 3 days. When the mints have softened, turn the mints and the sugar mixture into a sieve, shaking the sieve to remove the excess sugar. Store the softened mints in an airtight container at room temperature.

Cook’s Note
When pulling and stretching the candy, dip your fingers into a little cornstarch to prevent the candy from sticking.

Courtesy of 300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes by Jane Sharrock © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.

Blue Ribbon Turtles, page 200, Balls & Shaped Candies
Simply delicious.

72    pecan halves    72
36    soft caramels, unwrapped    36
2 to    semisweet chocolate,     60 to
4 oz    chopped    125 g

•    Skill Level: Novice, Easy
•    Makes 18 pieces
•    Preheat oven to 325°F (160°C)
•    Large baking sheet, lined with aluminum foil, foil buttered
•    Double boiler

1.    Place the pecans on the prepared baking sheet, arranging the pecan halves in X-shaped groups of four. Press the caramels by hand until slightly flattened. Place 2 caramels on top of each cluster, lightly pressing the caramels into the pecans. Heat the clusters in the oven 5 to 8 minutes or until the caramels soften. Remove from the oven and place the baking sheet on a wire rack. If needed, use a buttered spatula to spread the softened caramels over the pecans. Cool.
2.    Cover a large countertop area with waxed paper. Remove the clusters from the baking sheet and place on the waxed paper.
3.    In the top pan of a double boiler over hot but not boiling water, melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth. Brush the tops of the clusters with the melted chocolate. Let stand until the chocolate is firm. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Cook’s Note
The chocolate may be melted in the microwave if preferred.

Courtesy of 300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes by Jane Sharrock © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.

Lollipops, page 57, Old Fashioned Hard Candy
To liven up your lollipops, try decorating them with a few multicolored sprinkles while the candy is still warm.

2 cups    granulated sugar    500 mL
2⁄3 cup    light (white) corn syrup    150 mL
1 cup    water    250 mL
1⁄2 tsp    food coloring of choice     2 mL
1⁄2 tsp    oil flavoring of choice     2 mL

•    Skill Level: Advanced
•    Makes about 12
•    2 large baking sheets, buttered
•    2-quart heavy saucepan
•    Candy thermometer
•    Lollipop sticks

1.    In heavy saucepan over medium heat, bring the sugar, corn syrup and water to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to boil. Cover and cook 2 to 3 minutes to dissolve the sugar crystals on the sides of the pan. Remove the lid. Cook, without stirring, to the hard crack stage (300°F/149°C).
2.    Remove from the heat. Quickly add the coloring and flavoring, stirring only until mixed. Let the candy cool for about 5 minutes or until starting to thicken. To check if it’s ready, spoon a small amount onto the prepared baking sheet. It should flow and spread slowly rather than spreading very quickly to a thin disc. Once the candy is ready, quickly drop from the tip of a large spoon onto the prepared baking sheet, making certain the drops are round. Press a lollipop stick into the edge of each lollipop before it hardens. If desired, spoon a little more of the candy on top of the stick to cover. Press any decorations into the lollipop at the same time. Loosen the lollipops from the pan before they get too cold or they will crack. To store, wrap the cooled lollipops in cellophane or waxed paper.

Courtesy of 300 Best Homemade Candy Recipes by Jane Sharrock © 2014 Reprinted with publisher permission.