Thursday, December 02, 2010

Cookbook: Chatelaine: Modern Classics by the editors of Chatelaine

Chatelaine has been one of Canada’s leading women’s magazines for over 80 years. As far as I know, food has always been a component of their mix and it certainly has in the time I’ve been familiar with the magazine, which is probably more years than I care to admit! As a result (of their years, not mine) their recipe archives must be stuffed full of kitchen-tested material. And as a result of that they periodically publish a very good cookbook. Chatelaine: Modern Classics is certainly one of those.

The focus here is on “bringing together the no-fail recipes that Canadian women want, to make their lives easier ... perfect for every day of the week.” In other words: food that goes together quickly, looks great on the plate, isn’t expensive and that everybody likes. In still more words: the recipes everybody is looking for. And, actually, they’ve done a terrific job with this one. I would say that, in many ways, this is among the best family cookbooks I’ve seen. The food is appealing, it’s clearly described, the photos included are good and very illustrative and the book does a very good job of hitting a broad swath of the food tastes of its potential readership.

My own favorites from the book: the Cheddar and Chipotle Shortbread Crisps were a little tricky to make, but well worth the effort. The Warm Curried-Potato Salad is likely to become one of my staples. (It’s incredibly easy and impressive: the sort of combo I can not resist.) The Perfect Prime Rib really was and the Savoury Sesame-Tofu Cakes offer a great vegetarian take on the traditional meat entree. And for something really different, Curried Catfish with Coriander Cream (though I used tilapia fillets, the suggested option) was an incredibly simple -- and ultimately somewhat elegant -- preparation and flavor combination that I would never, ever have thought of. There are many, many others: 250 recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner in all. Chatelaine: Modern Classics is a remarkably good book. ◊

Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.

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