The Bowen Island Cookbook Club took a ride on the wild side with recipes from the wonderful Whitewater Cooks series by Shelly Adams in Nelson, BC. We were down to just four members our of our usual seven, but that didn’t stop us having an amazing meal–soup, salad, tart, and dessert. Who needs a main course with food so good?
We met at Helen’s lovely home in the middle of the Island and immediately assembled in her stunning back garden complete with vine-covered pergola overlooking a tree-choked ravine and lovingly tended flower beds. The welcome drink was a Peach Bellini made with pureed peaches and Prosecco — pleasingly bubbly and not too sweet. We all approved.
We started the meal with Caribbean Butternut Squash Soup prepared by Helen from Whitewater Cooks, the first in what is now a series of five cookbooks. Hot, smooth, coconuty, squashy — the soup was a real winner. The recipe called for pouring the soup over chopped fresh spinach. We all agreed that the spinach wasn’t necessary and detracted from the taste and texture of the soup. However, we unanimously declared the soup (sans spinach) perfection with its full coconut/squash flavour and just the right amount of heat for a late Spring evening on the west coast.
Becky wowed us with her take on the Parmesan Tomato Tart that she adapted from the Whitewater Cooks cookbook. A professional chef, Becky took some liberties with the recipe and produced what we all agreed was a seriously flavourful dish. The secret to her success was the slow roasted organic Roma tomatoes that she substituted for the fresh tomatoes called for in the recipe. Layered over goat cheese and basil (torn, not cut), and topped with fresh Parmesan cheese, the roasted tomatoes imbued the tart with a rich, complex flavour. But the real star of the dish was the pastry base. Made with cornmeal, white flour, sour cream, and butter, the pastry was crunchy and rich. We all agreed that it was the cornmeal that really gave the pastry its extra added pizzazz. Becky supplied us with her take on the Tomato Tart.
We were down three members, one of whom was supposed to bring the main course (salmon!) so we made do with my Orchid Lime Salad from Whitewater Cooks with Friends. A wonderful assortment of ingredients that included peanut butter, lime, maple syrup, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger was tossed with crunchy carrots and cucumbers, bean sprouts, and Thai rice noodles. What really made the dish sing was the sweet and salty topping of toasted sesame seeds and slivered almonds tossed in butter, salt, brown sugar, and Chinese five spice. The dish didn’t look very impressive, but the taste was sublime! We all agreed that it would be the perfect dish to take to a pot luck dinner, and was filling enough to be a fine stand in for a main course.
Jacqui baked white chocolate hazelnut brownies from Whitewater Cooks. I am not a huge brownie fan, but these brownies were out of this world. Toasted hazelnuts added crunch to a batter that was not too sweet, even with a drizzled topping of chocolate mixed with caramel. We paired the brownies with a lovely lemon square (not from the cookbook!) made by one of Helen’s daughters.
We agreed to hold our next Cookbook Club meeting over the BC Day long weekend at the beginning of August. In honor of our beautiful province, we decided to make BC Chefs our theme. We are each to choose a dish from a cookbook or blog featuring a BC Chef. With so many chefs to choose from, the results will be as unpredictable and they will be interesting. Stay tuned!