DUCHESS BAKE SHOP
Yes, it’s true—Edmonton has a fine patisserie. It is called Duchess Bake Shop and it is thriving. Some considerable part of its success is attributable to its sizeable selection of (yes, still) trendy macaroons—the mainstay flavours (lemon, pistachio, salted caramel) always complemented by a perpetually rotating offering of originals (black sesame, black licorice, pumpkin pie, etc.). And it is macaroons that feature on the cover of its elegant new cookbook. The recipes included for duplicating these—and their super-sized brethren, “macarons gâteaux”—are painstakingly thorough. But it is the accompanying step-by-step photographs, matched to each important phase of every foundation recipe, that make this book such an asset for the amateur pastry chef. Like the shop, the Duchess book is focused on the best-loved classics of French pastry, reproduced dutifully rather than with a twist. And for home cooks just starting to get serious in the pastry kitchen, this is ideal (learn how to make this basic bûche de Noël this year, and maybe next year—maybe—you can tackle Patrice Demers’). From puff pastry to pâte à choux, éclairs to Paris-Brest, pastry-shell making, crimping and lattice tops—and even a good tartiflette—it is all here, spelled out in easily followed recipes and visual guides that all but guarantee success. It is a comprehensive but manageable collection of French pastry essentials.
Ned Bell thinks about fish a lot. His passion and expertise in sustainable fisheries is rooted in his recent stint as Ocean Wise executive chef for the Vancouver Aquarium. Long before that, though, he had asserted himself as a superb seafood chef, most recently over six years as executive chef at the seafood restaurant YEW, at the Four Seasons Vancouver. His two joint imperatives (saving fish, eating fish) are not mutually exclusive. And in these pages, he shares his highly informed path to doing it right. The species are mostly West Coast and all certified sustainable, but in his hands this does not feel limiting (think ling cod, sablefish, halibut, Dungeness crab, butter clams, skate, sturgeon and various species of Pacific salmon, just to start). He wants you to cook more of it so goes to great lengths to explain how to do it right— from storage to filleting, and to explaining what makes some fish grill-appropriate and others better for searing. His recipes are approachable, contemporary, possessed of a characteristic West Coast lightness (smoked sablefish and apple chowder, say, or sardines with preserved lemons, herbs and butter lettuce). They often veer into Canadiana (salmon with sushi rice and maple miso glaze, or baked oysters with maple Béarnaise, or even a Caesar with seaweed vodka and prawns), but never gratuitously. Trendy and healthful sea greens make frequent appearances (there’s even a “(sea)weed brownie”). Seafood aficionados should not do without it.
Davin de Kergommeaux, Appetite by Random House, $25.