Cookbooks are my addiction. I have them everywhere in my house and I read hundreds every year. I cook from many of them, not as much as I would like, but I almost get more joy from pouring over the pages and imagining the results, and that way there is no mess to clean up! 2022 was a stellar year for cookbooks, many having been penned during the pandemic, so their creators had extra bandwidth to create something extra special. Here are my picks for the top Canadian cookbooks I was able to get my eyes on this year in alphabetical order. —Cassandra Anderton
The Artful Pie Project by Denise Marchessault and Deb Garlick: Whether you are a seasoned baker, or just beginning your journey into pie making, The Artful Pie Project will provide you with the knowledge you need to produce a wide array of beautiful pies. Marchessault is a cooking class instructor, and she really knows how to break down the steps into bite-size pieces (pun intended) that enable you to master these recipes. Deb Garlick’s photos and illustrations alongside the recipes add character to this charming cookbook. You’ll master pastry as you cook through sweet and savoury pies with everything from galettes to pastry dumplings and slab crumbles. I’m drooling over the Blueberry Cream Cheese Turnovers and the Roasted Vegetable Tarts could easily become a staple in your recipe repertoire.
Canada’s Best New Cookbook by Amy Rosen: It would be hard to leave this one off the list, given its title, but the book is actually named after the Air Canada Awards for Best New Restaurants, and it certainly does deserve a spot here. Canada’s Best New Cookbook is a collection of stories and recipes from the two decades of Air Canada enRoute searching the country for great meals. From Miso Oysters from Tofino’s SoBo to Cod from Newfoundland’s Fogo Island Inn, the book travels from coast to coast celebrating Canada’s best.
Canada’s Food Island, Farmers and Fishers of Prince Edward Island: This book is dedicated to all the farmers, fishers and makers of PEI and is a beautiful celebration of these artisans. I yearn to return to PEI, to revisit this abundant island and fully explore the food scene here. Canada’s Food Island transports me to the Island, igniting my desire to travel there further. The photography, text and recipes dive deep into the essence of the fishing and farming community. Ranging from recipes and stories of mussel and potato farmers to tips and tricks with oysters and beef, this glorious collection would be welcome on your coffee table while also very useful in your kitchen.
Don’t Worry, Just Cook by Bonnie Stern & Ann Rupert: I’ve cooked from Bonnie Stern’s cookbooks since I can remember cooking, they’re all gems that have stood the test of time. In Don’t Worry, Just Cook, Delicious, Timeless Recipes for Comfort & Connection Stern and her daughter Anna Rupert, take you through the steps to simply make all-day breakfasts, soups, starters, side dishes, breads, and vegetarian, fish and meat mains, as well as drinks and desserts and cookies. The recipes take everyday ingredients and elevate them with unique flavour combinations and the addition of just the right amount of various spices. The Nut-And-Seed-Crusted Fish with Brown Butter, Grilled Corn Salad with Cauliflower and Broccoli and Hazelnut Cake are calling my name.
Langdon Hall A Cookbook Jason Bangerter & Chris Johns: Langdon Hall is currently ranked No. 5 in Canada’s 100Best and it’s by far one of the most special Inns I’ve visited in Canada. Chef Jason Bangerter’s exquisite cuisine is motivated by the seasons, and he grows and forages many ingredients served at the restaurant. In Langdon Hall A Cookbook Bangerter walks us through techniques while sharing stories of the ingredients. There are dishes you may need a bit of a cooking background to accomplish, while others are simpler. The photography is stunning, and we are currently craving the Spiced Shrimp Fritter, Squab Poached in Duck Fat, and the Truffle Soup.
My Thali by A Simple Indian Kitchen by Joe Thottangul with Anne DesBrisey: The second cookbook from award-winning Ottawa Chef Joe Thottangul, My Thali is a gorgeous collection of South Indian cooking focusing on thalis, meals of many small dishes sometimes served on a plate sharing the same name. The book begins with a section on equipment, Indian spices, pantry items and produce, before diving into “Essentials”, the spice blends, gravies, pastes, and fried flavour bombs that bring the book’s recipes to life. Thottangul then divides up the chapters into Rice, Dals, Vegetables, My Thalis, Fish, Poultry and Meat, Breads, Snack and Crunchy Things (don’t miss the Potato Bonda, fried potato balls), Condiments, Sweets and Drinks. The collection of 85 recipes ranges from raita to dal and curries and is supplemented by heart-felt stores from the chef’s homeland, Kerala.
New Indian Basics by Arvinda and Preena Chauhan: The mother-daughter duo behind Arvinda’s Indian Spice Blends now presents us with a treasure of a book full of classic and modern Indian recipes, New India Basics. The recipes range from everything from brunch to dessert, are clearly presented, and there’s even a guide to spices, lentils and beans, cooking Basmati rice, and menu suggestions. Yes, there are staples such as Butter Chicken and Naan, but there are also many innovative dishes including Maple Tandoori Salmon and Chai-Spiced Apple Buckwheat Pancakes. This cookbook is bound to spice up your life!
Where the River Narrows by J-C Poirier with Joe Alvaro Kent: If you have been fortunate enough to dine at Vancouver’s St. Lawrence Restaurant, you will have experienced Chef Jean-Christophe’s divine cuisine. Where the River Narrows pays tribute to Quebecois and French cuisine with recipes from his famed restaurant as well as his kitchen at home with classic dishes and bistro favourites. Take your time with the Introduction, it’s darling and gives us a glimpse of who Chef Poirier is, before diving into the sections on Quebec, Classic French, St. Lawrence, Home Cooking, Chef’s Essentials, and Menus. We’re working on mastering the Pate en Croute au Canard et Noisettes (Pate in Pastry) but would be just as happy cooking and eating the Chaudree au Ble d’Inde et Palourdes (Corn and Clam Chowder) or the Saucisses Toulouse et Lentilles en Vinaigrette (Toulouse Sausages and Lentil Vinaigrette). There are many accessible recipes here, but you may need to up your exercise regimen if you cooked from this decadent book every night.
Yawd Modern Afro-Caribbean Recipes by Adrian Forte: Top Chef Canada star Adrian Forte dishes out Caribbean classics adding his own special flair in Yawd, the name of his pop-up restaurant and this stunningly photographed cookbook. Forte explores the key ingredients of Afro-Caribbean cuisine in the intro and then presents “Essentials” a chapter on sauces, paste and marinades that add that certain something to your recipes. There are plenty of vegetarian options, lots of seafood and delicious desserts such as Sticky Ginger Pudding and Rum Raisin Ice Cream.