Spring cookbooks preview: the Canadian edition

It is going to be an incredible year for Canadian cookbooks.

Not only will my new cookbook drop in October (details coming very soon) but there is an every growing list of exciting titles being released from many unique Canadian writers.

An out-of-the-box vegan cookbook, a coast-to-coast ode to Canadian cuisine, a collection of 100 spirited/boozy recipes, a charming baking book from the Prairies and heavy ‘dose of awesome’ from Canada’s most famous food photographer and Instagram celebrity: these are the five cookbooks I am most excited about so far in 2017 and I’m sharing a peek at them here today.

Spring cookbooks preview: The Canadian edition

I tend to really sink my teeth into Spring cookbooks because it is a quieter season than the fall. Springtime offers more opportunity to read the books like novels and explore their recipes thoroughly. The weather is still cold and miserable – there was freezing rain all day today – and I am perpetually heading to the kitchen to get warm and cook up something new.

To be up front, I’d like to disclose that I know most of these authors personally. We’ve all been around the food blogging online water cooler for years (some of us more than others) and I’ve been cheering on these cookbook projects since they were announced. That said, I’d snatch up these titles in a bookstore regardless of prior connections – they are that good.

One more thing to note. A few of these cookbooks have not yet been released, but I have been privy to their pdf versions for several months. This is the only way I have been able to read them all cover to cover in advance, as well as test a handful of recipes from each one.

Ready? Grab a coffee and let’s crack these covers.

The First Mess Cookbook

  • Author: Laura Wright
  • Publisher: Penguin

This gorgeous cookbook serves up 100 creative recipes that feature fresh produce, whole grains and natural sugar alternatives. Laura’s creative recipes are simple with a sophisticated edge, and are sure to inspire home cooks of all kinds, not just the vegans.

I’m a little wary of vegan cookbooks because they all seem repetitive to me (so many avocados and too many chickpeas!) but I was immediately enticed by Laura’s creations. I ended up cooking about 8 or 9 recipes from cookbook, and each one was more delicious than the last.

I’d start my day with her Hot Pink Beet Protein Smoothie (I adore my beets) or a Salted Caramel Date Shake and then serve up Tofu Noodle Soup with Coconut Lemongrass Broth to my family for dinner (twice!). I stayed on the tofu train with nourishing Roasted Chili Basil Lime Tofu Bowls. Amazing. I also fell hard for the Chocolate Macaroon Cookie Truffles (pictured above) – and currently have a stash in my freezer.

The First Mess Cookbook: Vibrant Plant-Based Recipes to Eat Well Through the Seasons is Laura’s debut cookbook from her blog of the same name. One can only hope that there is another in the plans.

Find The First Mess Cookbook on Indigo in Canada and on Amazon in the USA.

Find Laura online at The First Mess.

Feast: Recipes and Stories from a Canadian Road Trip

  • Authors: Lindsay Anderson, Dana Vanveller
  • Publisher: Appetite by Random House

Passionate, funny and inspirational, this cookbook will forever change how you view Canadian cuisine. Road-trippers and friends, Lindsay and Dana capture the essence of our country’s diverse food culture and present it in an inspiring cookbook for a new generation of Canadians.

I started with a simple meal of Moroccan Chickpea Soup, using both Canadian chickpeas and lentils, and served it up with Speerville’s Country Harvest Bread. From there I went straight for the decadent Nanaimo Bars and had absolutely no regrets (pictured above). Also bookmarked to try are the Dark Chocolate-Dipped East Coast Oatcakes and the Wild Boar & Fig Meatballs.

FEAST not only celebrates the cuisine of this vast province, but also pays homage to the famers, fishmongers, foragers, artisans and chefs who provide the bounty of ingredients. Oh, and I have a recipe in this book! Check it out on Page 172.

Doesn’t this book have an original cover? I loved reading about how it came to be.

All the Sweet Things

  • Author: Renée Kohlman
  • Publisher: Touchwood

In her beautiful debut cookbook, Prairie girl Renée writes from the heart, weaving stories and recipes together in a way that convinces us that we too are capable of making magic in the kitchen. It’s as enjoyable to read as it is to bake from, and the vibrant photographs will kickstart your sweet tooth cravings.

Renee’s recipes are accessible for the novice, and yet there is enough variety in the recipes to entice the more experienced home baker. I baked up her Buckwheat and Olive Oil Molasses Cookies, which are little spiced dairy-free delights and were gobbled un in a flash by my crew.

All the Sweet Things: Baked Goods and Stories from the Kitchen of SweetSugarbean is collection of both familiar and inspiring new desserts, this book is sure to become a Canadian classic.

Eat Delicious

  • Author: Dennis Prescott
  • Publisher: Collins

I believe I can safely say that you have never seen a cookbook like Eat Delicious from Maritime dude and former-rocker Dennis Prescott. It is every bit as visually stunning as his Instagram feed – but expands the dialogue so we really get to hear the author’s voice. And he is funny. And true. And eagerly wants to change up your dinner plans with his inspiration for “a daily dose of awesome”. Sign me up, Dennis!

We dove right into the pasta chapter and on a recent Sunday evening I served my guests a fragrant Crispy Pork Belly Linguine sauced with a roasted garlic cream and finished with lemon zest and fresh herbs. The table practically fell silent in appreciation.

The kids and I explored the pizza chapter next, although they are equally enthusiastic over the chapter dedicated to noodles. For years I’ve admired Dennis’s flawless pizza technique – and now I have all his secrets in my kitchen.

Eat Delicious is much more than a pretty book. With warmth, humour and gorgeous photography, this cookbook packs plenty of inspiration between its covers for every sort of celebration.

Cooking with Cocktails

  • Author: Kristy Gardner
  • Publisher: Countryman Press

Author Kristy is so enthusiastic and so bubbly in this book that you might find yourself wondering why you’ve waited so long to combine good food and good drinks together – literally. With dramatic photography, quirky good humour and imaginative recipes, she effortlessly guides us into a whole new world of flavour pairings.

Just the other morning I prepared her Mezcal Pan Asparagus & Perfect Poached Eggs for a lazy Sunday breakfast and discovered a combination of ingredients I never would have put together, right down to the garnish of lime juice and salt. Delicious!

I love that Cooking with Cocktails includes a fish chapter. Fish and seafood recipes are frequently left out of cookbooks in favour of another dozen chicken dishes – and we personally love seafood. If you’re not convinced that booze and seafood is a good combination, try the author’s Parchment Baked Grappa Halibut, Gewurztraminer Thai Mussels or Sake to Me Scallops. I want to make them all.

This post is entirely all my own opinions. I was not compensated in any way. A few publishers sent me a complementary cookbook, but other books I happily purchased out of pocket. 

Which cookbooks are you enjoying these days? I’d love to hear any that are inspiring you to get in the kitchen.

About Aimee

Cooking has always been Aimée's preferred recreational activity, creative outlet, and source of relaxation. After nearly ten years in the professional cooking industry, she went from restaurant to RSS by trading her tongs and clogs for cookie cutters and a laptop, serving as editor here at Simple Bites. Her first book, Brown Eggs and Jam Jars - Family Recipes from the Kitchen of Simple Bites, was published in February 2015.

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  1. I’ve had The First Mess on hold since I saw that it was being ordered, but I’m still #45 in line, same with Feast!
    Thanks for the list, the other two I hadn’t heard of, so I put those on hold as well. There are so many great cookbooks coming out right now.
    I’ve been going through the Make It Easy cookbook after that delicious lemon pound cake link you had (that I’ve made twice as gluten-free, and was *amazing*) and have made a couple other things (the Asian soup / pho was a family hit!). Although she’s not Canadian, I am looking forward to Joy the Baker’s new book, Over Easy.

  2. Thanks for all these great reviews, I always love a new Canadian cookbook!

  3. Thank you for this post! I have had “Feast” sitting and waiting in my Chapters Indigo shopping cart for a week or so, but wanted to find another great cookbook to add to get free shipping 🙂 Now I have some great options! And how long until your next cookbook is released?

  4. I kinda want all of these, which is rare when I see a bunch of books reviewed. These all look so great! And Canadian, yay!

  5. These are fun but I’m pumped about YOUR new book. Your first is one of my favorite go-to’s and the stories/pictures are amazing. I can’t wait to see what book #2 has to offer!!!

  6. Those books look amazing! I’m adding them to my wish list right away 🙂
    Thank you for a Canadian edition, it’s always nice to be able to read cookbooks from home 🙂

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