This week I have been lucky to have received a gourmet Canadian cookbook, Fresh & Local: Straight from Canadian farms to your table, by Craig Flinn, foreword by Michael Smith.
About the Book
Fresh & Local is a beautifully illustrated and creative book, created by Craig Flinn, owner of an eatery in Halifax called Chives where he serves locally grown, in-season dishes. He has developed a deep respect for the people who produce the ingredients he finds as he scans the back roads of Nova Scotia seeking out farms, fishermen and cheese makers for his bistro. All dishes in this book have been used at Chives over the years. Canadian Cook Flinn is very inventive and creative in presenting his recipes according to the seasons plus every ingredient is is obtainable in season at quality grocery stores and markets across Canada. Flinn’s good friend and celebrity chef Michael Smith has written some nice words about Craig Flinn and his bistro in forward to this fabulous book. Take your taste buds for a walk through our Canadian seasons, while preparing some fine dining, east-coast style, with a touch of European flare.
This book makes me want to fly down to Halifax, find this bistro, and engage first-hand in the delicious menu that Chives has to offer. I love the feel of passion Flinn has for cooking displayed on the pages. This book is for the skilled cook, who wants to impress and create and present excitement to the dinner table. I love the descriptive titles; Ginger and Sesame-glazed Duck on Sticky Rice with Pak Choi, and Intense Carrot and Ginger Soup, or Italian Peasant Soup with Berkshire Pork Sausage and Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, which I am going to make with Ira Stoll’s heirloom free-range Berkshire Pork smoked sausage. I think I will use the Hot Italian or Garlic sausage. Free-range Chicken Pub Pie, Acadian Sugar Pie or Warm Chocolate Cake with Bumbleberry Sauce will surely impress a crowd of hungry friends. I particularly love the “Basics” chapter at the back of the book, where one can find simple recipes for pizza dough, white sauce, roasted garlic purée, chicken stock and other staples for any good kitchen. My mouth watered just looking at the pictures!
HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD WITH BOCCONCINI, BASIL, AGED BALSAMIC VINEGAR AND OLIVE OIL
This is undoubtedly my favourite salad. Heirloom tomatoes are locally produced, non-hybrid varieties that have not been commercially produced in large quantities. Using beautiful heirloom tomatoes in this salad adds tremendous colour and a sweetness that you do not get with most mass-produced tomatoes. This salad is inspired by the traditional Insalate Caprese of Italy.
- 2 lb. heirloom tomatoes (mixed varieties)
- 3 x 2-oz. balls fresh bocconcini (fresh baby mozzerella)
- 30 leaves of fresh basil
- 2 T chopped chives
- 6 T aged balsamic vinegar (minimum 10 year)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 T fleur de sel
- several grindings of fresh black pepper
Slice, quarter or halve the different tomato varieties. This will add texture and visual appeal. On 6 small plates assemble tomatoes. Tear bocconcini cheese into small pieces and set on tomatoes. 1 oz per plate. Add fresh basil leaves, about 5 per plate. Garnish each salad with a sprinkle of chopped chives, 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with fleur de sel and fresh pepper. Serves 6
I would most likely use less salt which Flinn calls fleur de sel, but I can hardly wait to try this easy quick salad.
Don’t miss the opportunity to win this book this week. As always you will have to leave a comment, however; this week please add to your comment what your CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) box has done for you and your family. Has it helped you to eat better, planned your weekly meals in advance or just plain fun to get every week? Good Luck!
Purchase your copy from your local book store or find it in the library or visit online at amazon or chapters indigo.
Congratulations to our winner Ashley. I know she will love trying some of these gourmet dishes at home! Happy Cooking! I wish to thank all for those wonderful comments!
Julie’s description of the book is making my mouth water, so the actual cook book itself must be off-the-charts amazing! The Chives restaurant sounds great; it brings to mind that we need more restaurants like this in London. Actually, I’m not sure we even have one restaurant dedicated to serving local dishes. I know some incorporate a few local ingredients, but it would be amazing to have a 100% local food restaurant. And it could go the extra mile by serving 100% organic as well 🙂 I would love to try out some of the recipes Julie mentioned, especially the duck dish. Mmmmm!
As for what the farm box has done for my wee family (Chris & I), it has encouraged (or maybe forced is a better word!?!?) to try new vegetables we would never purchase at the grocers. The most amazing revelation is that I now like green beans, peas & squash! I NEVER ate those things before, when purchased at the grocers, but Mervin & his family grow the most delicious produce. While shelling the peas, I usually pop the raw ones in my mouth, I just can’t wait to taste them. And yes, I have even munched on the pods too – which taste really sweet (not sure if you’re supposed to do that)! Anyways, the point is, the farm boxes have given us a richer selection of meals to choose from & they are always delicious, healthy and (mostly) organic!
I vote that Sarah wins this book! Selfishly….as Gareth and I would like to eat whatever she cooks from this book 🙂 I don’t think either of us are ready for a book for ‘the skilled cook’. We definitely eat better when we go to Sarah’s for din.
Ooo… my husband and I went to Nova Scotia on our honeymoon five years ago and ate at Chives while in Halifax. It was fantastic!