We try local cooking in Toronto with a cookbook review.
There is nothing quite like Ontario in the summer; the sparkling lakes, bared toes, everything green again and of course the bounty of fruits and vegetables that didn’t fly on planes or drive across continents to get to our plates. Inspired by all the colourful produce around me, I excitedly opened up Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s cookbook, River Cottage Veg.
It’s All About Seasonal, Sustainable and Ethical
A British broadcaster, writer and campaigner, Hugh became known here early in the 2000’s when TVO broadcast his popular River Cottage cooking series. A devotee of all that is seasonal and ethically raised, Hugh was an early advocate of the locavore movement that has finally hit the mainstream here. River Cottage itself is now a food mecca in Britain offering dining, courses that include fun things like beekeeping, and signature wines and brew.
Hugh’s first cookbook, The River Cottage Cookbook came out in 2001 and there have been several prizewinning books since. I personally own The River Cottage Family Cookbook which I use all the time and, River Cottage Meat which is a fantastic guide to sustainable meat-eating. My favourite now though has to be this River Cottage Veg book. The photography by Simon Wheeler is lush and colourful, with a photo accompanying every recipe – something that I find essential in a good cookbook. The recipes are varied and downright mouth-watering. I have read it several times, bookmarking all the things I want to make, compiling ingredient lists and planning trips to the farmers’ market.
Cooking in Toronto
We eat mostly vegetarian dishes at home and I love putting out a variety off plates so that everyone can pick and choose what they’d like. It’s also easier to let the kids get involved when making veggie dishes as you aren’t worried about them handling raw meat. So far we’ve had the chachouka, which is a North African pepper and tomato stew with eggs baked on top, the dal, and the quinoa with zucchini that included caramelized onions, parsley and pine nuts – SO delicious. I now have my eyes (and stomach) on the roasted eggplant boats, the squash and walnut toastie, the baby beet tarte tatin, the kale and onion pizza and the chocolate-beet ice cream. The ice cream is the most intense, lush red you have ever seen.
At 400 pages long with 200 recipes, the book has something for everyone – meat eaters, veggies, kids, those who just love to eat and those who just love to read cookbooks. Pick it up at your local bookseller and be sure to check out the River Cottage website too when you’re ready to do some cooking in Toronto.
The River Cottage Cookbook
Appetite, Random House