Cook, Share and Celebrate Family-Style 

Reviewed By Naomi Bussin

I eat what I like. I cook what I like to eat. Even with my vast array of cookbooks, I gravitate to the same foods time and again. This month, I decided to switch it up. I found a great book but the recipes that I chose are not typical “Naomi” recipes.  Here’s how it went. 

Hearth & Home is a cookbook from Chef Lynn Crawford and her partner in life and business, Chef Lora Kirk.  Most recently of the late Ruby Watchco, Lynn Crawford is a well-known chef in Canada and beyond thanks to gigs on the Food Network. This cookbook is about the meals that Crawford and Kirk cook at home for their daughters, friends and family. I was really impressed by the variety of recipes in the book, which are globally influenced and varied in complexity.  

In light of my decision, I did not make Mushroom Bolognese with Pappardelle or Jerk Chicken Curry with Coconut Rice or Dukkah Trout with Hummus and Tomato Mint Chutney. I did not make Brussels Sprouts, Bacon and Toasted Fregola or Cannellini Beans, Kale and Tomato Ragout. I didn’t make Lora’s Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting either.

I have never cooked and rarely eat duck, so I made Five-Spice Duck Breast with Red Wine Cherry Pan Sauce. Same for Honey-Garlic Ribs, which I made with a side of Apple and Fennel Cabbage Slaw. Parsnips are low on my vegetable hierarchy so I made Harissa-Roasted Parsnips with Whipped Feta, Pistachios and Rosemary Honey. Pineapple is similarly ranked as a fruit, so I made Pineapple Rum Cake.    

Success!  The directions were clear, the recipes were not overly complicated and everything turned out well. My favourite was the parsnips, as crunchy as French fries. Their sweetness was a delicious counter to the salty feta and pistachios. The duck with the fancy-but-simple pan sauce was like a restaurant dish, with complex flavours throughout. The ribs were sweet and salty and fell off the bone, no doubt because I cooked them for longer than recommended. I doubled the sauce and would triple it next time. The slaw was acidic and bright.  The pineapple cake was tasty – a little dense but I didn’t follow the recipe exactly so it could be me.    

Some recipes are “cheffy” (with multi-components), but adaptable. Some call for ingredients that are tasty (bacon, cream) or techniques such as deep frying. But everything in moderation, and there are plenty of healthy choices. I substituted yogurt for cream in my whipped feta; I couldn’t help myself.  

I will return to my faves, but I ate some different foods and learned some new techniques. This book has something for everyone, and I recommend that you check it out.     

Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and an accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.