I’m doing a summer cookbook series for CBC Radio that starts tomorrow. Needless to say, I am quite excited about it. Any excuse for me to research cookbooks at work is pretty amazing.
The first book I chose is Bonnie Stern’s new cookbook, Friday Night Dinners. My friend emily in Toronto (of the Palacsinta) told me about it. Her mother had bought it and she couldn’t stop raving.
Cookbooks instil a certain kind of love in me – I’m sure some of you know what I’m talking about. When I went to pick this up from the library I literally clutched it to my chest and grinned. I was so excited to take it home and browse through it.
Friday Night Dinners is lovely, rustic and cozy, and most of the recipes are simple with easy ingredients and steps. Bonnie Stern’s focus here is on family meals, so the book is divided up into many kinds of dinners. There are different types of ethnic cooking, South African and Australian being the two I found the most intriguing. There are celebration and holiday dinners. And there are a few extras, like Nostalgia Dinner and Al Fresco Dinner. Personally, I love it when cookbooks break away from the standard Soups, Salads, Poultry, Vegetables etc. chapters. It makes the book a lot more interesting to read. And the index is great if you are looking for a specific ingredient.
I made the red lentil soup with caramelized onions, the roasted asparagus, and the green salad with sweet Israeli dressing. All of them were delicious. I never have the urge to make soup, and whenever I make it I find it lacks flavour. This red lentil soup was the opposite. It’s extremely easy to make – a blend of caramelized onions, lentils, carrot, celery, garlic, water and spices – but the taste is deep and full. I think a lot of it is because of those onions. They take time but it’s worth it. A sprinkle of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lemon on top also adds freshness.
There are so many more recipes in this cookbook that I’ve bookmarked to make. But I think they’ll have to wait. The next book in the series is already calling my name. I’ve chosen Everyday Indian by Bal Arneson. It’s also a new book (although I’m not only doing new cookbooks) and Arneson is from Vancouver. It looks very exciting, and I can’t wait to attempt her samosas, her no-butter chicken, and her spice mixes.
You can hear my cookbook series tomorrow and every Monday after that on CBC Radio one (740 am, 93.9 fm) on Radio Active, from 3 to 6. It should be on at about 4:10. I’ll also post the link to the audio file here once it’s up.
Do you know a cookbook you think I should profile as part of the series? Let me know in the comments!