7 cookbooks that savour all the flavours of autumn

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      After summer’s beachside picnics, road-trip pit stops, and campfire cookouts, fall’s crisp days and cool temperatures bring home chefs back to the kitchen. The current batch of new cookbooks runs the gamut from healing foods and family dinners to citrusy fish and patriotic sweets.


      Seductive sustenance

      Gourmet Warehouse founder Caren McSherry’s seventh cookbook, Starters, Salads, and Sexy Sides: Inspiring Recipes to Make Every Meal an Occasion, puts the spotlight not on a meal’s main event but what to serve with it. Warm olives with grilled lemons, wild and forbidden rice salad, eggplant rolls with roasted garlic and balsamic glaze, and roasted butternut squash with fried halloumi are among the dishes that will have people swooning.

      None of McSherry’s dishes are overly complicated, and the local culinary maven (who is as bubbly as a bottle of Champagne) also shares recipes for superior staples such as Parmesan tuiles and fig, garlic, and onion jam.


      Fin-to-tail flavours

      Long before he joined the Vancouver Aquarium as executive chef of Ocean Wise, Ned Bell was passionate about sustainable fish and seafood. As the founder of Chefs for Oceans, he’s done much to raise awareness of healthy seas and responsible seafood choices, even riding his bike across the country for the cause. He shares his depth of knowledge in Lure: Sustainable Seafood Recipes From the West Coast.

      If cooking with items such as sablefish, geoduck, mussels, scallops, sardines, crab, or sea greens seems intimidating, Bell breaks things down to a manageable level, with educational species profiles and dishes that are as approachable as they are delicious. The collection ranges from halibut burgers with blueberry relish and salmon with beets three ways to sturgeon with savoury kelp cream and mussel-and-maple chowder with caramelized fennel and pollen.

      There are ocean-infused baked goods, too: try the (sea)weed brownies and kelp-and-smoked-sea-salt scones.


      Sesquicentennial sweets

      The Redpath Canadian Bake Book: Over 200 Delectable Recipes for Cakes, Breads. Desserts and More comes from this country’s first sugar company. You’ll find instructions on how to make classically Canuck treats such as pouding chômeur (“poor man’s pudding”), butter tarts, and cappuccino-spiked Nanaimo bars as well as delicacies that speak to global influences on our national cuisine: Linzer torte, baklava, macarons, paska (an eastern European bread), tiramisu, brownie Belgian waffles, churros with chocolate sauce and cajeta (caramel), and more.


      Garden-variety baking

      You can go old school with batches of sandwich cookies and buttermilk biscuits, or you can turn to fresh produce for a new take on baked goods. Ken Haedrich shows how in

      You’ll find recipes for all sorts of morning breads (butternut-squash crumb muffins and stuffed spinach-and-feta-cheese scones, for instance), quick breads (like honeyed-parsnip tea bread and sun-dried-tomato-and-tarragon soda bread), and “crusty entrées” (such as roasted-beet, spinach, and feta-cheese flatbread and collard-greens calzone). There’s stuff for the sweet tooth in the family here, too; we like the sound of rosemary-lemon shortbread and fresh-mint Oreo cheesecake.


      Super seasonal veggies

      Never mind the four seasons. Portland chef Joshua McFadden has been called a “vegetable whisperer”, and he shows why in Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables. He cooks with every part of the plant, from root to leaf, and he presents all types of produce at their peak in these 225 colourful, creative recipes.

      Among the many highlights are raw-asparagus salad with bread crumbs, walnuts, and mint; roasted radishes with brown butter, chili, and honey; roasted fennel with apples, Taleggio cheese, and almonds; and preserved eggplant, an unconventional pickle that adds an intriguing flavour to meatballs or pasta.


      Bridge club

      Remember the Best of Bridge cookbooks? They’re still some of the best, the original ladies having launched their successful series in 1975. The tradition continues with a new trio at the kitchen counter: Elizabeth Chorney-Booth, Sue Duncan, and Julie Van Rosendaal recently released Best of Bridge Sunday Suppers: All-New Recipes for Family & Friends.

      You may miss the handwritten recipes, but the cutesy sayings are still there, and so are dishes that are wholesome, flavourful, easy, and fun. Among them: grilled-steak bibimbap, “streamlined” beef bourguignon, cheesy seafood lasagna, spring-greens risotto, and Saskatoon pie.


      Seriously silly creations

      It’s hard to find a kid who doesn’t like Rice Krispies squares, and Jessica Siskin takes things to a whole new crazy-cool level with Treat Yourself! How to Make 93 Ridiculously Fun No-Bake Crispy Rice Treats. Using food colouring, icing, sparkle gel, and other baking ingredients, she walks you through everything from “cheeseburgers” to “sushi” made out of the breakfast cereal.

      Then there are desserts in the shape of a gumball machine, a menorah, the Eiffel Tower… You’ll be the hit of the PAC bake sale with these sweet snacks.

      Caren McSherry will appear at a Whistler Writers Festival event on Friday (October 13). See whistlerwritersfest.ticketleap.com/ for details.

      Follow Gail Johnson on Twitter @yvrfitfoodie.