donderdag 28 november 2013

Great Food at Home - Mark McEwan

“I've wanted to write a cookbook for many years ... chock full of great restaurant recipes, of course—but ones people can duplicate at home without taking the day off.”—Mark McEwan

Celebrity chef Mark McEwan is widely recognized for his distinctive style of cooking that captures the essence of classical cuisine with nuances of contemporary flavours. Regardless of the lofty accolades—his restaurant North 44 has been named the best in Toronto by Gourmet magazine for three years running, and Bymark was anointed as enRoute magazine's New Restaurant of the Year—McEwan loves the simple pleasures of cooking good food at home.

Great Food at Home is full of recipes that all home cooks can make with ease—a go-to cookbook that will be spotted in people's kitchens years from now, well thumbed and sauce-stained. Illustrated with full-colour photography, it includes McEwan's favourite recipes. Basics aside, a lot of the recipes reflect simple, rustic fare—from a summer's plate of seared perch fillets with charred tomato risotto to a wintertime venison stew with mashed potatoes. Great Food at Home is comfort food simply at its best.

I'm a big fan of Mark McEwan, The Heat and pretty much anything he does, so I immediately jumped at the chance to check out his new cookbook. I jumped even higher when I was invited to the cookbook release party at his downtown Toronto restaurant Bymark. Not only was the wine flowing, but the space was amazing (held at Bymark's bar, a dramatic space surrounded by gigantic skyscrapers), and to top it all off, they were serving recipes from the book.

• Oxtail Empanadas
• Truffle Pizza
• Lobster Poutine
• Mini Bymark Burgers (watch the video of him discussing the secret to the burger's success)
• Lobster Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
• Apple Crostata
• Beignets

And yes, Mark was there chatting with everyone in attendance. He also took some time to address the whole crowd and say a few words the book; he even poked some fun at his bicep-flexing cover shot.

From listening to Mark speak, to reading the acknowledgments in Great Food at Home, one thing is perfectly clear: he attributes his successes to the people who gave him opportunities in the industry and the people who support his businesses today. He truly comes off as grateful for everything he's got going for him.

I guess we should get around to actually talking about the book, right? Mark McEwan packs this book full of fine ingredients: lobster, foie gras, truffles, morels. These are definitely some special occasion ingredients, but a lot of these recipes don't necessarily have to be special occasion meals. If you like to cook, you'll welcome the opportunity to experiment with new ingredients in familiar dishes like gnocchi, lasagna, pizza and spaghetti.

If you're intimidated by these ingredients, reading through the easy-to-follow instructions will put you at ease. Additional substitutions, tips, suggested accompaniments and suggested wines will help you put it all together. A lobster grilled cheese sandwich with tempura-battered onion rings and chardonnay is most definitely in my future.

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