There's much more to the culinary fabric of a place than just restaurants. Every year, cooks and chefs publish cookbooks that tell stories about the foods, the ingredients, the people and the recipes that matter to them. This year, we've seen cookbooks that share everything from chef-driven recipes to family-favourite comfort foods, and all of the bits and bites in between. One thing they all have in common is their desire to showcase the Canadian ingredients and techniques that make up our country’s distinct food landscape. Here are 10 of our favourites.
"Brown Eggs and Jam Jars" by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque
When you combine the perspectives of being raised and living on a rural homestead, having worked in professional kitchens, and being a mom to three young kids, and you’ve got Aimée Wimbush-Bourque’s Brown Eggs and Jam Jar cookbook. It’s jam-packed with family stories and the seasonal comfort foods that accompany them. Homey treats like maple butter tarts sound like the perfect way to connect food and family.
"The Canning Kitchen" by Amy Bronee
Canning and preserving don’t have to be daunting undertakings. The Canning Kitchen is proof that with the right ingredients and basic skill set, you can easily preserve seasonal ingredients to enjoy throughout the year. From recipes like pickled green beans to raspberry cocoa jam, it’s hard to choose a favourite.
True North by Derek Dammann and Chris Jones
True North is chef Derek Dammann’s (of Maison Publique in Montreal) ode to Canadian cuisine. Divided by region, the chapters of the book not only help you create recipes with what’s in season, but also determine what ingredients are best sourced from what places. While the Pacific lends itself to offerings like smoked oysters, the Field chapter is dedicated to pork and other land creatures. It’s a cookbook that challenges the notion that Canada is lacking its own, distinct food culture, that’s for sure.
"Homegrown" by Mairlyn Smith
Mairlyn Smith is on a mission to get all Canadians eating better and with the release of her cookbook, Homegrown, she is well on the way to doing just that. It’s filled with recipes made from Canadian ingredients that are approachable and easy to make. With winter settling in, it’s the perfect time for a big batch of beef and barley stew or the meaty French pie, tourtière!
"Seven Spoons" by Tara O’Brady
Tara O’Brady’s beautifully written stories and gorgeous photography have earned her blog, Seven Spoons, a well-deserved internet following. With the release of her cookbook of the same name, you can now flip through page upon page of her favourite recipes accompanied by stunning pictures. If the luscious fig toasts on the cover don’t sell the book to you, I don’t know what will.
"Montreal Cooks" by Jonathan Cheung and Tays Spencer
Montreal has an incredible food scene and with the release of Montreal Cooks, you can try your hand at making some of your favourite restaurant dishes at home. Whether you are after Jeffrey Finkelstein’s (Hof Kelsten) to-die-for bread or Antonio Park’s (Park and Lavanderia restaurants) delicious seafood, you don’t have to make a trip to Montreal to taste recipes from 40 of the most sought after chefs in the city.
"Per La Famiglia" by Emily Richards
Italian food is centred around family and celebration. Mix in a bit of Canadiana, as Emily Richards has done in her latest cookbook, and you’ve got everything you need to embrace your inner Italian. Plus, recipes for pasta, gnocchi, and other carb-laden delights will provide you with all of the energy required to survive the harsh, Canadian winter. Time to hibernate with this one.
"A Taste of Haida Gwai" by Susan Musgrave
The archipelago of Haida Gwai is known for its abundance of seafood and emphasis on fresh local products. Susan Musgrave, the owner of Copper Beech House bed and breakfast, shares some of her favourite Haida Gwai inspired recipes in her first cookbook, A Taste of Haida Gwai. From recipes like spruce tip mayonnaise to rose spit halibut with wild rose petals, the book will take you on an impromptu trip to the Pacific Northwest.
"Winnipeg Cooks" by Robin Summerfield
Winnipeg might not be thought of as the epicentre of Canada’s culinary scene, but it is home to several restaurants that could be considered some of the best in the country. In Winnipeg Cooks, some of the city’s top names in food share their stories and recipes. It might even inspire you to travel to Winnipeg to taste some of the dishes for yourself.
"The Ocean Wise Cookbook 2" by Jane Mundy
The second installment of the Ocean Wise cookbooks, which aims to raise awareness about sustainable fishing practices through chefs' recipes, this book is educational on many levels. In addition to learning how to make some of your favourite seafood dishes from some of the best restaurants in the country, you will learn about different species, bycatch and how to find sustainable seafood.