Title: The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day
Author: Aimée Wimbush-Bourque
Publisher: Penguin Random House Canada
Price: $32.00 (CDN$)
Available: Bookstores across Canada and online
Penguin Random House Canada has offered me the opportunity to conduct a review of Aimée Wimbush-Bourque’s latest cookbook, The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day . Wimbush-Bourque is a Canadian food blogger and former chef who makes her home with her family in Montreal. Devoted to healthy family-focused food, this is Wimbush-Bourque’s second published cookbook.
The book features a wide collection of 100 varied recipes categorized into seven chapters: Nourishing Breakfasts, Wholesome Lunches and Snacks, Homegrown Vegetarian, Fresh-Air Gatherings, Everyday Suppers, Simple Bites, Staples, and Preserves Pantry. The book has a general table of contents at the front and then each chapter has a more detailed table of contents listing each recipe to be found in the chapter. In addition, an index at the back of the book makes it easy to quickly find a particular recipe. Each chapter is introduced by a 2-page narrative written by the author which lends a personal touch to the book and allows the reader to get to know a bit about the recipe’s creator.
The book is filled with lots of common sense tips to make food preparation easy. For example, there are tips and hints on how to host a soup swap with friends, fridge organization, how to cook pulses and, of interest to families and office workers, information on lunch box renewal. Appealing to a wide audience of home cooks, the book contains a mix of recipes that range from old favorites like strawberry rhubarb pie, harvest corn chowder, and roast beef with Yorkshire pudding to more modern dishes like lentil cottage pie with rutabaga mash, tofu vegetable stir-fry with cashews, Tahini maple tea cookies, Tequila-lime BBQ chicken, and tangy quinoa carrot chicken salad.
The recipes are well laid out with instructions using the ingredients in the order in which they are listed. I found the instructions complete and easy to follow. Each step is clearly delineated and numbered. For the most part, the ingredients would be ones likely to be available in most supermarkets. Each recipe is introduced by 1-2 paragraphs about the dish and several of the recipes contain useful tips at the end.
Full page color photos accompany each recipe on the page opposite the recipe. This is important as it gives a benchmark of what the finished dish should look like. The photos are clean and simple and are not overdone with unnecessary props and styling. This keeps the focus on the food.
The real test of a cookbook comes when you make some recipes out of the book. I selected three: Maple-Roasted Pears in Granola (p. 29), Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal (p. 48), and Butternut Squash Casserole with Apple and Leek (p. 214).
Maple-Roasted Pears in Granola
These pears are super tasty. I used Bosc pears and my own granola. Brushed with butter and maple syrup, roasted, then topped with granola mixed with maple syrup and roasted for a few minutes more, these are yummy treats served with a dollop of yogurt. While these are in the Nourishing Breakfast chapter in the book, I’d gladly eat them any day for dessert!
Brown Sugar Cinnamon Instant Oatmeal
This is an excellent replacement for the individual packets of quick oatmeal. I made a batch of this mix and now have it in a jar in my desk at work. Simply add hot water to the mix, stir, and let sit for a few minutes before consuming. I found it took longer than the five minutes that the recipe’s instructions indicated in order for the water to be sufficiently absorbed by the oats. I should point out that I used gluten-free oats for this recipe and perhaps they may take longer than the regular quick cooking rolled oats to absorb the water called for in the recipe. In any event, I didn’t find it a big deal – I just simply let the oats sit a while longer before consuming.
Butternut Squash Casserole with Apple and Leek
I found this recipe easy to make and an interesting combination of three principle ingredients – butternut squash, apple, and leek. This is a very tasty side dish that would go perfectly with poultry, pork, or beef and I would definitely make the recipe again.
This is a beautifully planned and laid out book and it is one that I simply enjoy reading. The focus is on modern healthy foods for modern, busy families. The book itself is printed on high quality paper giving it a distinctively professional and polished look and feel. In my opinion, this is a lovely collector’s book for anyone with a cookbook collection and is a book that the cook would return to time and again as a kitchen resource tool.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day from Penguin Random House Canada for the purposes of conducting a review of the cookbook. I received no compensation for this review and was under no obligation to provide a positive review. All opinions expressed are purely my own.
The foregoing recipes and photographs were excerpted from The Simple Bites Kitchen: Nourishing Whole Food Recipes for Every Day by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Copyright © 2017 by Aimée Wimbush-Bourque. Photos copyright © Tim and Angela Chin. Published by Penguin, an imprint of Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.