Cookbooks—A Roundup

Written by Chris McDonell


The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook by David Ort

Pimentos & Piri Piri Portuguese Comfort Cooking by Carla Azevedo

 Setting a Fine Table Historical Desserts and Drinks from the Officers’ Kitchens at Fort York edited by Elizabeth Baird & Bridget Wranich


CanadianCraftBeer.web3_I requested a review copy of The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook as much for the title as for anything else, trusting that with a credible author such as David Ort (particularly well known in Toronto for his online contributions to Spotlight Toronto) and the subject matter at hand, eatdrink readers would, well, eat this up. To my surprise, the Whitecap Books publicist sent a couple of other books to us as well. The trio was compelling enough that I thought we should highlight all three.

If “Beer Can Chicken” is as adventurous as you’ve gone with cooking with beer, Ort’s book will be an eye-opener. While he also has plenty of pairing suggestions, almost all of the 75 different recipes presented include beer as a key ingredient. As promised, he sticks to genuine craft beers from across the country, recommending specific brands for each recipe. With national distribution of craft beer what it is (and maybe it is a good thing that every region has specialties that only locals can easily find?), Ort also suggests an import that might be more easily acquired, as well as describing the type of beer. I appreciate his recommendations, but I also like that there is enough information that I can confidentally substitute an Ontario product such as Denison’s Weissbier (Wheat Beer) if I can’t get my hands on his first choice for a weissbier to go with his New England Clam Chowder, Vancouver Island Brewery’s Beachcomber Summer Ale.

Each recipe is presented with some background information on the dish, placed in the context of the craft beer theme. Some of the recipes are brilliantly simple, such as using equal parts lager and water when cooking basmati rice, and for the more complex recipes Ort offers nicely detailed instructions full of interesting tidbits about beer and the other ingredients along the way. This is a great crash course in bierology for the neophyte while offering plenty for aficionados as well.

Recipe from The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook © 2013 by David Ort. Published by Whitecap Books. All rights reserved.

Soba Salad with Sriracha Dressing

Soba Salad, with Sriracha Dressing, from the Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook

Soba Salad, with Sriracha Dressing, from the Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook

Recommended Beer: Schwarzbier or black lager
Dark 266, Cameron’s Brewing (Ontario)

Serves 4
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Sriracha Dressing

2 Tbsp (30 mL) sunflower oil
2 tsp (10 mL) toasted sesame oil
2 tsp (10 mL) Sriracha
4 cloves garlic, minced
¾-inch (2 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
¾ cup (185 mL) black lager
1/3 cup (80 mL) soy sauce
¼ cup (60 mL) maple syrup
3 Tbsp (45 mL) rice vinegar
1½ tsp (7.5 mL) cornstarch
juice of 2 limes


For the dressing, heat the oils in a medium saucepan over medium heat until they start to shimmer, about 3 minutes. Add the Sriracha, garlic and grated ginger and sauté until fragrant, only about 1 minute. Pour in the beer, soy sauce, maple syrup and vinegar and whisk to combine. Bring the dressing to a simmer.

Meanwhile, prepare a slurry from the cornstarch and 2 tablespoons (30 mL) of cold water. When the sauce is shimmering, pour in the cornstarch slurry and whisk to combine. Continue to gently simmer for 5 to 7 minutes so that the liquid reduces slightly and the cornstarch thickens the sauce. Take off the heat, whisk in the lime juice and refrigerate the dressing.

Soba Salad

1 lb (500 g) soba noodles
½ red onion, cut in thin, short slices
1 carrot, peeled and grated
¼ head napa cabbage, cored and thinly shredded
½ English cucumber, quartered, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp (15 mL) sesame seeds
¼ cup (60 mL) cashews
¼ cup (60 mL) cilantro leaves
1 avocado, pitted, sliced and peel removed

For the salad, follow the instructions on the package for cooking the soba noodles. Set a large colander in your sink for draining the cooked noodles. Do not overcook the noodles. Taste a noodle 1 to 2 minutes shy of the prescribed time. As soon as they don’t have any raw-noodle crunch in the middle, remove the pot from the heat and dump the noodles into the colander to drain. Run cold water over the noodles and once they’re no longer scalding hot, toss the noodles so that all of them are exposed to the cold water. Drain thoroughly.

Combine the noodles and vegetables in a large serving bowl. Garnish the salad with sesame seeds, cashews and cilantro. Pour between half and two-thirds of the dressing over top and toss to coat.

Serve the salad with the sliced avocado on the side and the remaining dressing as a dipping sauce.


Pimentos-and-Piri-Piri-Portuguese-Comfort-Cooking-Paperback-L9781770501904With Pimentos & Piri Piri, Carla Azevedo has revisited her cookbook from over 20 years ago, Uma Casa Portuguesa, and completed an almost epic survey of Portuguese comfort food. Azevedo was born in Toronto to parents of Italian origin, but her husband had a Portuguese background, and she developed a serious passion for Portuguese cooking. A trained chef and journalist, she combined her education and interests and produced a worthy first book that was part of her own learning process about the cuisine. Now a teacher, and with a couple of decades of experience, Azevedo’s new book substantially updates, revises and expands her earlier cookbook. Pimentos & Piri Piri (or “pepper pepper”) has the heft of a box of Portuguese tiles, which serve as a design motif throughout the book.

While sparsely illustrated, this cookbook is chockablock full of helpful suggestions, caveats, and enthusiasm for its subject, with 330 well-detailed recipes included. Divided into useful sections such as “Soups” and “Poultry and Game,” the book reflects Portugal’s traditional reliance on the sea for sustenance (particularly in the Azorean region) with separate sections for “Fish” and “Seafood.” No aspect of comfort food is neglected, from “Breads” and “Desserts” to “Sauces and Sweet Spreads.”

Azevedo includes a comprehensive introduction to the “Essentials of Portuguese Cuisine,” but this is a book geared to a North American audience, embracing the reality that the large migration of Portuguese immigrants over the past 50 years or so, and myriad global influences, have led to an evolution in Portuguese cooking. Azevedo often makes note of traditions that may be best left in the past, opting for improved methods and flavours that enhance a dish. Hers is a creative approach, yet she also appreciates and embraces the nuances in regional Portuguese cooking, particularly the dramatic differences between even “traditional” dishes in the Azores and on mainland Portugal. While we’ve chosen a familiar Portuguese recipe here, Pimentos & Piri Piri includes a wonderfully broad range of Portuguese cooking.

Recipe from Pimentos & Piri Piri: Portuguese Comfort Cooking © 2013 by Carla Azevedo. Published by Whitecap Books. All rights reserved.

Puff Pastry — Massa Folhada

Flaky, buttery puff pastry is the base for countless Portuguese sweets, savoury pies, and tartlets. Puff pastry is not difficult to make, but it is time-consuming. Frozen pastry is an acceptable shortcut.

Makes 1½ lb (750 g) dough

3½ cups (875 mL) all-purpose flour
pinch fine salt
1¼ cups (310 mL) cold water
11/3 cups (330 mL) butter

In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the water and stir briskly with a wooden spoon until the dough holds together. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured board. Using your hands, knead until the dough is smooth. Cover and let rest for 20 minutes.

Roll out into a 16 x 10-inch (40 x 25 cm) rectangle about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Set aside.

Place the butter on a floured board. Using a floured rolling pin, pound the butter until 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Fold the butter in half. Continue pounding and folding, sprinkling the board with enough flour to keep the butter from sticking, until the butter is soft and pliable but not melting (if it gets too soft, refrigerate it for 20 to 30 minutes). Carefully roll or pound the butter into approximately a 12- x 6-inch (30 x 15 cm) rectangle. Set aside.

Place the dough on a lightly floured board with the short end toward you. Place the butter in the centre of the dough, leaving about a 2- inch (5 cm) border on all sides. Gently fold one-third of the dough rectangle over the centre; then repeat and fold the other side one-third over the centre. Using a rolling pin, press the short ends together to seal. Roll out the dough lengthwise into a 24- x 12- inch (60 x 30 cm) rectangle (you will be able to see flecks of butter when the dough stretches out). Fold the dough into thirds; press the short ends together to seal, and rotate the dough. (If the butter begins to melt and the dough becomes difficult to work with, refrigerate for 20 to 30 minutes in between rolling out the dough.) Wrap the dough in waxed paper, place on a baking sheet, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, refrigerating for 30 minutes each time. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

 Custard in Puff Pastry Shells  Pastéis de Nata

When making the sugar and liquid reduction, to prevent the crystallization of the sugar, do not use a spoon to stir; instead, swirl the pan over the heat occasionally.

 Custard in Puff Pastry Shells — Pastéis de Nata— from Pimentos & Piri Piri

Custard in Puff Pastry Shells — Pastéis de Nata— from Pimentos & Piri Piri

Makes 12 Pastries

¾ cup (185 mL) granulated sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) water
1 cup (250 mL) cold whole milk
1 ¼ cup (310 mL) whipping cream
2 tsp (10 mL) finely grated lemon zest
one 2-inch (5 cm) cinnamon stick
2 Tbsp (30 mL) cornstarch
3 egg yolks 
1 egg
1 lb(500 g) Puff Pastry (see next page)
Ground cinnamon

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water. Boil over medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes or until the sugar is reduced to about ¾ cup (185 mL) of syrup. Set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, heat ¾ cup (185 mL) of the milk, and the whipping cream, lemon zest, and cinnamon stick until hot. Set aside to cool briefly.

In a deep skillet, combine the cornstarch and remaining ¼ cup (60 mL) cold milk. Gradually add the hot milk and cream. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking until the mixture comes to a boil. Continue cooking for about 1 minute, until thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and egg until well blended. Gradually add the prepared sugar water, followed by the milk and cream mixture, and beat for about 1 minute or until well blended. (Be careful not to form too many air bubbles in the batter or it will not bake well.) Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve just before using.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out one-half of the puff pastry into a 12-inch (30 cm) square about ¼ inch (6 mm) thick. Cut out six 4-inch (10 cm) circles. Press each circle into a muffin tin (wet fingers will make this easier) and prick all over with a fork. (If the pastry gets too soft, refrigerate for 30 minutes before continuing.) Repeat with the remaining puff pastry and refrigerate until muffin pastry shells are cold. Fill the shells three-quarters full with the custard filling.

Set the oven rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the tarts in a preheated 450 F (230 C) oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbly with a few flecks of golden brown. (If the tarts are browning too quickly, cover them loosely with foil.)

Immediately sprinkle the tarts with a few drops of cold water and then sprinkle with cinnamon (the water helps the cinnamon stick). Let stand for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the muffin tins and carefully remove the tarts (clean the knife in cold water and dry it off after each tart has been removed). Let the tarts cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour (this allows for the bottoms to cool and the custard to set).

Although these tarts are best eaten the same day you make them, you can reheat day-old custard tarts (store-bought and homemade) in a 350 F (175 C) oven for a few minutes. Sprinkle cinnamon and icing sugar and eat immediately.


Setting a fine table baird wranichSetting a Fine Table is both history book and cookbook, making “Historical Desserts and Drinks from the Officers’ Kitchens at Fort York” accessible to modern day cooks. The War of 1812-era Fort York is a national historic site near the lake in downtown Toronto, and operates as a living museum by the City of Toronto. A variety of educational programs run year-round, and the culinary history of the fort comes alive through the work of Bridget Wranich and the Historic Foodways Programme, with invaluable assistance from the Volunteer Historic Cooks, which includes renowned food writer Elizabeth Baird as a member. Baird and Wranich have edited some of the volunteers’ years of challenging work of understanding the typically cursory recipes from 200 years ago. Archaic ingredients, techniques and implements have been decoded, and the recipes refined to reflect historic accuracy in taste and texture, then written out using today’s language and tools. Since visitors to the Fort York kitchens most frequently request the sweet recipes, Setting a Fine Table follows that direction, helping the reader connect with Canada’s past through recipes.

Recipe from Setting a Fine Table: Historical Desserts and Drinks from the Officers’ Kitchens at Fort York © 2013 by City of Toronto; editors Elizabeth Baird and Bridget Wranich. Published by Whitecap Books. All rights reserved.


Today, mackeroons (now spelled macaroons) are a meringue made with coconut, but until the mid-19th century they contained finely chopped or pounded sweet almonds.

Mackeroons, from Setting a Fine Table

Mackeroons, from Setting a Fine Table

Makes about 80 mackeroons. 

3 cups (750 mL) whole blanched almonds
4 medium egg whites (½ cup/125 mL)
2 tsp (10 mL) orange flower water
2 cups (500 mL) superfine granulated sugar

Line 2 rimless baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a food processor, chop the almonds, scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time, until they are the consistency of very coarse sand with some slightly larger pieces. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, beat the egg whites with the orange flower water until soft peaks form. Add the sugar about 2 Tbsp (30 mL) at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle the chopped almonds over the egg white mixture and fold in to distribute evenly.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls (6 mL) about 1 inch (2.5 cm) apart onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake in the centre of a 325 F (160 C) oven until they are dry to touch, but still white, and lift easily off the parchment paper, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Let cool on the pans on a rack.

(Make-ahead: Layer in airtight containers. Store at room temperature for a few days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.)

Chris McDonell is Publisher of eatdrink.

About the author

Chris McDonell

Eatdrink founder and publisher Chris McDonell brings integrity and a widely diverse background in publishing to the task of making Eatdrink a vital part of the food and drink scene in Southwestern Ontario.