3 books for home cooks: Jamie Oliver, Lauren Toyota, and Vancouver's Tessa Sam all release new cookbooks

Five-ingredient meals, vegan comfort food, and sugary desserts show up in recent releases that foodies will love

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      You might not need another cookbook, but if you want one, a few recent ones are worth adding to your collection.


      Jamie Oliver dedicates his latest cookbook to his five kids.

      5 Ingredients: Quick & Easy Food

      There’s no denying the appeal of five-ingredient meals, but what makes this book stand out from the pack is that it comes from one of the globe’s most influential, inspiring, and approachable celebrity chefs, Jamie Oliver.

      Here, in his ultra-friendly, uber-casual way, the father of five shares recipes for everything from a Crazy Good Pork Burger and Gnarly Garlic Brussels to Hot-Smoked Salmon Frittata and Thai-Style Crispy Sea Bass.

      Don’t be fooled; some recipes may have a short shopping list but will nevertheless require some patience and practice, even when their names imply otherwise, like Easy Rustic Gnocchi (with asparagus and fresh thyme).

      But you’d be hard-pressed to call the majority of the dishes challenging to prepare, which fits with Oliver’s mission to get more people in the kitchen and eating wholesome meals. And how can you resist a respected chef who includes a recipe for Frozen Banoffee Cheesecake? Pick up a jar of dulce de leche, some cream cheese, overripe bananas, dark chocolate, and a package of Hobnobs cookies, and you’ll be the host with the most.


      Vancouver's Tessa Sam shares sugary secrets in Sweet Bake Shop.
      Blush Wedding Photography/Instagram.

      Sweet Bake Shop: Delightful Desserts for the Sweetest of Occasions

      Vancouver’s Tessa Sam is the founder of Sweet Bake Shop, where she not only makes all kinds of beautiful treats for weddings, parties, and private clients, but also teaches baking and decorating workshops and shoots videos for her YouTube channel.

      Even if your final creations are not quite as aesthetically pleasing as the ones she posts on Instagram, Sam shares all sorts of tips and words of encouragement, reminding readers that everyone starts somewhere. Practice makes perfect, or at least better.

      She tops French Cupcakes with Macarons and adorns Double Chocolate Cupcakes with Vanilla Meringues. Her Pretty Pastel Pony Cookies are sugar-cookie perfection. Overnight Oreo Party Popcorn is every tween’s dream, and Sprinkly Chocolate Cake Doughnuts are a (slightly) healthier version than traditional fried ones.

      Sam’s favourite recipe? Hands-down, Vanilla Birthday Cake. Decorated with pink vanilla frosting and sprinkles, it’s her go to-when she has a sugar craving.


      Lauren Toyota's Vegan Comfort Classics is all about indulging.
      hot for food/Instagram.

      Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face

      Toronto’s Lauren Toyota is a former MuchMusic VJ and MTV Canada host whose YouTube channel, hot for food, took on a life of its own when she started it a number of years ago.

      Her first cookbook is not intended as a guide to eating a well-balanced vegan diet. In fact, It’s a lot more fun than that, with recipes for indulgent vegan comfort foods. Examples? French Toast Coffee Cake, Herb-Loaded Sausage Rolls (made with onion, mushrooms, navy beans, kale, and much more), See Food Chowder (which contains mushrooms, potatoes, cashews, soy milk, hearts of palm, among many other ingredients), Mushroom Fettuccine Alfredo, and Waffle-Topped Cottage Pie.

      Toyota has also come up with recipes for treats like Apple Fritters, Fudgy Brownies, and Raspberry Funfetti Pop Tarts. And while she intentionally and unapologetically didn’t include too many salads or raw-vegetable sides in the book—“comfort food really needs to be warm!”—there are those for Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad, Southwest Chop Salad, and Banh Mi Bowl, to name a few.

      As with her online work, her book helps shake the notion that vegan diets are by definition dull.