A help­ing hand with home-cook­ing

‘Best of Bridge Home Cook­ing’ fea­tures a good va­ri­ety of easy-to-fol­low recipes

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FOOD - From My Kitchen Mar­garet Prouse

Of all the “Best of Bridge” books I have ex­plored, the 2015 Home Cook­ing vol­ume holds the most ap­peal for me be­cause it con­tains a gen­er­ous se­lec­tion of recipes that match up with my cook­ing pref­er­ences.

This sur­prises me a bit, as recipes were de­vel­oped and cho­sen dif­fer­ently for this book than for the early “Best of Bridge” ones. Julie Van Rosendaal de­vel­oped some of the recipes es­pe­cially for this book, but the ma­jor­ity were sourced from nine other (non-”Best of Bridge”) pub­li­ca­tions, by three au­thors.

The ta­ble of con­tents lists break­fast, breads and muffins, snacks, spreads and dips, soups, sal­ads, sand­wiches, lunches and light sup­pers, one-pot din­ners, pizza, pasta and noo­dles, meat­less mains, fish and seafood, chicken and turkey, pork, lamb and beef, side dishes, desserts and sweet treats.

I ap­pre­ci­ate that many of the dishes in this book can be pre­pared in ad­vance. There are a num­ber of slow cooker dishes, and in some cases the au­thors iden­tify pre­lim­i­nary steps that can be done up to two days early, re­duc­ing prepa­ra­tion time on serv­ing day and eas­ing the be­fore-din­ner rush.

Dishes in “Best of Bridge Home Cook­ing” are in­spired by culi­nary tra­di­tions in­clud­ing, but not lim­ited to, Mediter­ranean, In­dian and Ital­ian. I was happy to find a num­ber of wellsea­soned veg­e­tar­ian dishes: nu­tri­ent-dense, tasty and easy on the pock­et­book — wel­come as peo­ple worry about ris­ing food costs.

The recipes are easy to fol­low, with in­gre­di­ents and in­struc­tions printed in stan­dard­ized “Best of Bridge” for­mat. I en­joyed mak­ing and eat­ing all that I tried with the ex­cep­tion of the De­lec­ta­ble Ap­ple-Cran­berry Co­conut Crisp. For my money, ap­ple cran­berry crisp baked in the oven has bet­ter tex­ture and colour than this slow cooker ver­sion, which turned out ane­mic and un­der­cooked.

I did have to re­duce the bak­ing time from 12 to 10 min­utes when mak­ing the Scrump­tious Oat­meal Cook­ies, but I sus­pect that my oven is slightly hot­ter than it should be.

When mak­ing the fol­low­ing lentil soup for our two-per­son house­hold, I cut the recipe in half and used a smaller slow cooker. Served with Ched­dar Corn Bread made from an­other recipe in the book, it was a hit.

The sea­son­ing was per­fect for my taste, the cayenne pro­vid­ing just enough heat and the lemon juice bright­en­ing the flavours. I ad­mit that, while I toasted the cumin seeds as di­rected, I did not grind them.

Af­ter the dish cooked on low for about eight and a half hours, the lentils were firm (though cooked) and held their shape.

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