All Lit Up Test Kitchen
You would think after coming back to work after a stomach-expanding holiday break the last thing we would want to do is prepare and eat a big meal together, but what can we say, we love to eat! (Seriously, we have a whole treat table in our office.) We’re in a unique position here at All Lit Up, working with so many publishers from all across Canada—we’ve gotten a very close look at all the delicious regional cookbooks being published every season. While our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs or our capacity and talent to actually create some of these dishes, we finally decided it was time to try some of them out for ourselves.See more details below
You would think after coming back to work after a stomach-expanding holiday break the last thing we would want to do is prepare and eat a big meal together, but what can we say, we love to eat! (Seriously, we have a whole treat table in our office.)
We’re in a unique position here at All Lit Up, working with so many publishers from all across Canada—we’ve gotten a very close look at all the delicious regional cookbooks being published every season. While our eyes are always bigger than our stomachs or our capacity and talent to actually create some of these dishes, we finally decided it was time to try some of them out for ourselves.
The ALU Test Kitchen was born.
Now we don’t actually have a kitchen in our office so each of us on the ALU team picked a cookbook and a recipe to make at home (we did double up on one of the books but the results were totally worth it). Then we brought the final products to the office so we could feast together on our collective efforts.
Note: We have a few allergies in the office to work around so some recipes were avoided altogether and sometimes ingredient substitutions were made.
Here are the results:
We started off our meal with a delicious lentil soup from In Grace’s Kitchen: Memories and Recipes From an Italian-Canadian Childhood by Vince Agro (Wolsak & Wynn). Agro grew up in Hamilton, Ontario and was able to capture both his mother’s recipes and an era within the pages of this book.
This hearty soup with Swiss chard and green lentils was a perfect starter for a winter feast that included two gluten intolerants having to eat something from an Italian cookbook.
Next we’ll move on to the salad course. We had two different salads to taste, both very different yet equally delicious.
We’ll start in the west, with Prairie Feast: A Writer’s Journey Home for Dinner by Amy Jo Ehman (Coteau Books). Bacon lovers take note: you can feel somewhat good about eating lots of bacon because it comes in salad form. There’s lettuce so it has to be healthy, right?! But seriously, BLT in a Bowl was so good, I had seconds.
Prairie Feast has plenty of other fantastic recipes for those nostalgic for the prairies. Ehman spent a year eating locally, indulging in her love of food and re-discovering flavours of her youth, and the result is a funny and yummy collection of stories and recipes.
We move on to Windsor, Ontario and the Rino’s Kitchen: Cooking Local in Windsor & Essex County cookbook by Rino Bortolin (Biblioasis) to a salad that has almost reached mythical proportions amongst ALU staff after having a similar salad three years ago. It is the watermelon salad.
This would typically be something you would eat in the summer but because of the aforementioned mythical status of such a salad amongst our team, we couldn’t not include this in our feast.
And Rino’s version of the salad doesn’t disappoint. The mix of watermelon and feta is set off rather well with a Honey-Dijon vinaigrette.
On to our main course, a shrimp & egg fried quinoa stir fry from
Rock Recipes: The Best Food From My Newfoundland Kitchen by Barry C. Parsons (Breakwater Books). Parsons is the author of the popular blog of the same title, posting new recipes daily. The cookbook includes some of his most popular recipes as well as many new ones. After trying this stir fry, we could definitely see why it made the cut into the cookbook as we were fighting over the leftovers the next day.
To accompany our stir fry we had a side of mushy peas from another Newfoundland cookbook, Island Kitchen: An Ode to Newfoundland by Chef Mark McCrowe with Sasha Okshevsky (Creative Book Publishing). This classic dish had a modern twist with a dash of fresh mint that brought these peas to a whole new level.
After such a satisfying meal there wasn’t room for much else but no feast would be complete without at least one dessert. So we made some adjustments to our suddenly tighter fitting pants and attacked a whole plate of chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake bars from Rock Recipes. It was a tough job but it’s for the blog so we had to try at least one. Of course it didn't stop at just one; we're lucky we're so polite when it comes to taking the last one of something or it could have gotten ugly.
All in all, a very satisfying meal with a mix of unique and classic recipes from across the country. And we discovered so many more recipes as we browsed these books that we’ll have to try this again in the future. You know, for another blog post; it’s all for the blog.
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