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Foodie Guides

From cookbooks aimed at saving you time without sacrificing flavour to Anthony Bourdain's last food-inspired travel guide, we take a look at the top books about food. / BY Kim Honey / May 7th, 2021

This spring’s crop of food books will inspire you to crank up a campfire, get out your sheet pan and dust off your cast iron. 

Obsessive Book Buyers: Zoomer editors have carefully curated our book coverage to ensure you find the perfect read. We may earn a commission on books you buy by clicking on the cover image.

1Sheet Pan EverythingRicardo Larrivée

Food Network Canada star Ricardo Larrivée jumps from the frying pan onto the sheet pan with his foray into the one-dish meal craze with Sheet Pan Everything. The Quebec chef and TV personality says cooking on a baking tray concentrates flavours, minimizes clean up and, because the pan is made of metal, allows for finishing off under the broiler, which adds more flavour from caramelization. It’s also a time saver, with Perfectly Broiled Striploin Steaks ready in 10 minutes and Warm Greek Chicken Salad in 20.

Ricardo being Québécois, there is Vegetable and Sausage Poutine but also other surprises like paella (the rice is cooked separately and tossed in for the last 10 minutes), raclette and even tiramisu. Vegetarians get some love with Asparagus Quiche, Cauliflower Tacos and Glazed Tofu, Edamame and Vermicelli Bowl.

Ricardo even tells you not to panic when your sheet pan goes “boom” in the oven and warps; the thermal shock will subside when the metal cools, and it will revert to its usual flat shape.

2Liv B’s Easy EverydayOlivia Beirmann

I’m not a vegan, but after checking out this Halifax blogger and YouTube star’s second cookbook, I want to make the London Fog Sheet-Pan Cake with Vanilla Buttercream, inspired by Olivia Beirmann’s favourite coffee-shop treat, an Earl Grey tea made with steamed milk and vanilla syrup. Liv B, as she is known, averages a million monthly views on her YouTube channel, where she made a vegan version of the viral TikTok feta-and-pasta dish. “Vegan on a budget, simplified” is the tag line, and this collection of 100 sheet-pan, one-pot and five-ingredient recipes contains treats like Sheet-pan Pot Pie made with vegan puff pastry and tofu, which allows for “a great topping-to-filling ratio,” and a very intriguing recipe for Creamy Carrot Shells, where cooked carrots and cashews are whirred into a smooth pasta sauce with sautéed onion and garlic.

3Cook, Eat, Repeat: Ingredients, Recipes, Stories Nigella Lawson

It’s been 23 years since Nigella Lawson published How to Eat, and she has blown off the “celebrity chef” label ever since. “My qualification is as an eater,” she says. Her 13th cookbook is billed as the story of her life, featuring 150 recipes the British TV personality turns to repeatedly, including Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, the Lasagne of Love and, the latest addition to her repertoire, Fish Stick Bhorta, a fried fish-finger hash inspired by a British-Bangladeshi journalist’s tweet and tweaked with pickled red onion. There are also essays, including odes to the anchovy (“the bacon of the sea”), rhubarb, and brown food (Marrowbone Meat Sauce and Boudin Noir Meatballs). I tried her version of Jim Lahey’s famous no-knead bread, once with water spiked with lemon juice and once with pasta water, and both turned out bakery-window worthy.

4Road Trip CookingArno and Mireille van Elst

Just in time for pandemic camping and cookouts, this Dutch couple – who run a catering business called the Holy Kauw Company – weigh in with Road Trip Cooking and some ingenious hacks. In Paper-Bag Breakfast, grease from the bacon keeps the bottom of the bag from catching fire, while eggs cracked on top get sprinkled with curry powder. The bag is pierced with a stick and slung over the campfire for a five-minute meal.

They bake bread from a mix in empty bean cans, make instant coffee in a hollowed-out orange and even seal the ingredients for a deconstructed apple pie in tinfoil and put it on the engine block for an hour while they drive their camper van to the next pit stop. Grilled veggies and meats are staples, but who ever thought of tying up a whole trout in wet newspaper with some thinly sliced fennel and dill? For the record, that’s dinner in 15 minutes.

5Eat With UsPhilip Lago and Mystique Mattai

Married Toronto couple Philip Lago and Mystique Mattai – who run a blog called Chef Sous Chef – advocate mindful eating, where all your senses are engaged. “Pay attention to the way your hand feels on the knife, the sound of ingredients hitting the pan … the visual appearance of the finished dish, and the final taste that awaits you at the dinner table,” they write in the introduction to Eat With Us: Mindful Cooking to Make Every Meal an Experience. The recipes are organized around themes like comfort food, dining al fresco and lavish meals for celebrations, and range from Maple Nut Stovetop Granola to Fully Loaded Chicken Soup with ground chicken meatballs to Sparkling French Onion Soup made with three kinds of caramelized onions deglazed with sparkling wine. There’s a lot for vegans and carnivores alike, but I have my eye on a simple strawberry cake made in a cast-iron skillet.

6World Travel: An Irreverent Guide Anthony Bourdain and Laurie Woolever

The late, great food explorer may be gone, but Anthony Bourdain is far from forgotten. His final book, co-written with Laurie Woolever, contains classic Bourdain quotes as well as reminiscences from friends and family. Although it’s not a cookbook, World Travel does satisfy two pandemic-era cravings: travel and restaurants.

Woolever, co-writer on Bourdain’s last cookbook, 2016’s Appetites, says in the foreword she had just one meeting with Bourdain in his Manhattan apartment about the project months before he died by suicide in June 2018, and he was busier than ever, shooting episodes for his wildly successful TV show Parts Unknown.

The book is an atlas and a travelogue, organized alphabetically by country, so you can quickly flip to Canada, for example, and find 17 pages on Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto, with tips on where to eat, sleep and shop. It’s fun to flit from place to place, checking out where you’ve been and where you want to go, adding far-flung locales like Mozambique, Laos and Uruguay to your bucket list. It’s a fitting tribute to the man who put bad boy before chef in his bestselling 2000 memoir, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and went on to captivate the world as he ate cobra hearts in Saigon, raw seal eyeballs in Northern Quebec and sheep’s testicles in Morocco for his TV shows A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations and Parts Unknown.


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