British Columbia from Scratch: Recipes for Every Season, written by Denise Marchessault and Caroline West, features the region’s diverse local foods presented in new and unique ways. Highlights include Crab Cakes with Cilantro Mint Sauce, Coffee Ice Cream, Cranberry-Fig Pulled Pork, Raspberry Truffle Cakes, Smoked Duck with Autumn Salad, Gnocchi in a Parmesan Sauce with Roasted Tomatoes and Fennel, Pear Soufflés with Cardamom and Ginger, Winter Salad with Sesame Dressing, and Nutty Caramel Cream Puffs.
Denise Marchessault was born in Cowichan Valley on Vancouver Island and currently lives in the Lower Mainland. She was classically trained in French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and holds Le Grand Diplôme. She is now a cooking instructor, writes food articles, and develops recipes.
Caroline West grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to Vancouver Island in 2009. She originally worked in magazine publishing at Vogue Australia. She is now a photographer and regular contributor to Vogue Living and Qantas The Australian Way.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Whitecap Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own.
Chapters are divided based on season: Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter- with each chapter having savoury and sweet sections.
For development of the book, Denise and Caroline explored British Columbia season by season and found ideas based on their travels. I particularly enjoyed the detailed writings of the various ingredients and their impact on each particular season. You will learn about the fall harvest celebrations throughout the province including the harvest of cranberries at the Topcoat Farms in Pitt Meadows, how to purchase and work with White Spot Prawns, the foraging of mushrooms in the ancient rainforest along the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, one of the largest fruit-growing regions in the country: Thompson-Okanagan, and more.
For beginners, the last chapter covering fundamentals is incredibly helpful. It includes recipes and tips for a variety of basics like eggs, doughs, pasta, butters, sauces, stocks, and dressings. The focus here is making everything from scratch.
The photography and prop styling are provided by Caroline West with food styling by Denise Marchessault. Every single recipe includes at least one beautifully styled full page photo of the finished dish. A few, like the Ratatouille Pie, also contain step-by-step photos. One of my favorite photographs in the book is of the Patchwork Tarts- mini tarts topped with a decorated assortment of fresh fruit. There are also plenty of beautiful photos of the British Columbia landscape. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric. Every recipe includes a headnote with background information, its inspiration, tips, and storage.
This book is a great pick for those wanting to create meals to impress. It is particularly perfect for Valentine’s Day ideas, intimate meals, or dinner parties. The recipes focus on local, unprocessed ingredients used in a simple manner (but not always quickly) for spectacular results. Dishes featuring seafood, fresh fruits, and vegetables are plentiful. There are also a variety of recipes for those with a sweet tooth, but no beverages. As a note, the dishes are a unique presentation of local ingredients. They do not focus on the traditional and historical recipes from British Columbia. Most of the items can easily be found in the average American grocery store. Some ingredients that may be difficult to find include chickpeas, fish sauce, fresh seafood, star anise, hazelnuts (this one was actually took three stores to locate), oxtail, and lamb shanks.
This Frittata with Red Onion Relish is perfect for breakfast, brunch, or even a light dinner. It is entirely customizable with a variety of suggested fillings based on whatever leftovers you may have in your refrigerator. Evan chose to fill our frittata with grated Parmesan cheese, leftover pasta, and finely chopped spinach. I loved the combination.
The red onion relish was an easy yet wonderful accompaniment. I made it right before assembling the frittata, but it can be prepared and refrigerated up to 2 weeks in advance.
I used an 8 inch cast iron skillet to cook the frittata. Having a well-seasoned cast iron or non-stick pan is essential.
I also made Hazelnut Honeycomb, Buttermilk Roasted Chicken, Mushroom and Wine Ragù with Handcrafted Pasta, and Root Vegetable Terrine (not photographed).
Hazelnut Honeycomb is a type of sweet candy with a honeycomb-like texture in the center. This particular recipe includes roughly chopped hazelnuts folded in the sugar, honey, and corn syrup mixture. The addition of baking soda after the sugar reaches a certain temperature gives it that famous texture. I love the idea of crumbling it over ice cream.
Buttermilk Roasted Chicken was an incredibly simple meal full of flavor. Pieces of chicken are marinated overnight in a seasoned buttermilk mixture, then coated in flour, browned in the skillet and baked until cooked through. This one was Chad’s favorite.
The Mushroom and Wine Ragù with Handcrafted Pasta was my personal favorite. A variety of mushrooms are simmered in a creamy wine sauce and served with homemade pasta. It is definitely a delicious comfort meal.
I made the Root Vegetable Terrine for Christmas Eve dinner and completely forgot to photograph until it was halfway gone. I loved the thin layers of potatoes and sweet potatoes with Parmesan cheese and cream. It was a huge hit with the whole family including the kids.
Frittata with Red Onion Relish
Adapted from British Columbia from Scratch
Red Onion Relish:
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups (625 ml) sliced red onion, about 3 onions
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) kosher salt
1/2 cup (125 ml) red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons (30 ml) honey
1 tablespoon (15 ml) Clarified butter or half unsalted butter/half vegetable oil
1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped onion or shallots
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2-1 cup (125-150 ml) cooked and seasoned filling
1/4-1/3 cup (60-80 ml) cheese (crumbled geta, grated cheddar, Parmesan, or goat cheese)
Red Onion Relish
Roasted carrots, peppers, cauliflowers, or potatoes
Diced potatoes, pasta, or rice
Diced ham, chicken, bacon, or sausage
Diced olives, cooked mushrooms, or marinated artichokes
Handful of herbs and/or finely chopped spinach
To make the red onion relish: In a large skillet, drizzle the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and use tongs to coat them and arrange in an even layer. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, into; softened, 10-12 minutes. Add the vinegar and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Stir in the honey and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid has evaporated. Serve warm or at room temperature. If preparing ahead of time, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
To make the frittata: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
In a nonstick skillet, heat the clarified butter (or butter/oil) over medium heat. Add the onions or shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 2-3 minutes. Pour in the beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper. Add the cheese and desired fillings evenly over the eggs. Partially cover and cook undisturbed until the edges become firm, 3-5 minutes. Remove the cover and place in preheated oven until just set. Serve immediately with red onion relish.