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Great Food At Home: Family-style Recipes For Everyday Hardcover – Sep 21 2010

1.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Viking (Sept. 21 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670064564
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670064564
  • Product Dimensions: 24.6 x 19.8 x 2.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 1.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #337,683 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Quill & Quire

The authors of 3 Chefs are all highly ­regarded toques. Michael Bonacini co-owns a slew of Toronto-area restaurants, including the top-rated Canoe and the family-friendly Oliver & Bonacini chain. Massimo Capra, owner of Mistura and Sopra, is one of Toronto’s best Italian chefs. Jason Parsons is executive chef at the Peller Estates Winery in ­Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. The three also appear regularly on the television series CityLine. This book collects dozens of their ­recipes, new and from the show.

In terms of value and versatility, this is one of the best cookbooks published in Canada this season. The three chefs work in different but complementary styles that are very accessible to the home cook. Bonacini brings a continental flare, with recipes grounded in hearty bistro-style cookery. Capra, not surprisingly, contributes mainly Italian or Mediterranean-influenced recipes. Parsons steers more toward a New World vineyard style of cooking that emphasizes Canadian ingredients.

The recipes are all splendidly creative but not so esoteric as to alienate, showing how common ingredients can be inventively and tastefully combined. With enticing photography by Ian Garlick, 3 Chefs is the sort of book a home cook will happily return to again and again.

Mark McEwan is one of the most talented and highly regarded chefs in Canada. At restaurants such as Pronto, North 44°, Bymark, and One, he has been a leader in Toronto’s culinary community since the 1980s. In recent years, he has risen to national fame with his Food Network Canada show The Heat, and next year he will appear as head judge on the first season of Top Chef Canada.

With such a distinguished career, it is surprising that Great Food at Home is McEwan’s first cookbook. The volume is an exquisite offering, beautifully printed with dozens of gorgeous photographs by Rob Fiocca, Bill Milne, and James Tse.

The title, however, may be misleading. While the recipes here are indeed great, many of them are beyond the ambitions of the average home cook. Take, for example, Squab Two Ways with Chanterelle-Filled Cabbage Roll and Cauliflower Purée, which starts with the sobering instruction, “The day before cooking the squab, cut off the birds’ heads at the base of the neck.” For most people, that would be a non-starter, never mind that squab (baby pigeons) are not exactly the kind of thing one finds at Sobey’s.

Not all of the recipes are quite so complicated, but there are enough of them to suggest that this book would be more accurately titled Great Gourmet Food at Home. McEwan’s book certainly entices, but its complexity will leave many home cooks on the outside looking in.

With all this gourmet food, we must have some wine. A renowned sommelier in Quebec, François Chartier is virtually unknown in English Canada, even though his book Papilles et Molécules (Les Éditions La Presse) won the prize for Best Cookbook in the World at the highly prestigious Paris Gourmand World Cookbook Awards.

For two decades, Chartier has been working to understand how the interaction of molecules released by food and wine into the olfactory system either enhances or diminishes our enjoyment of both. He identifies certain compounds that exist in wine varieties and suggests pairing those wines with dishes made from ingredients containing the same – or similar – molecules.

It is a fascinating and certainly innovative concept; however, Taste Buds and Molecules is so grossly overdesigned that the reader will face frustration just trying to follow Chartier’s text. The volume’s pages are chopped up by intrusive sidebars, bullet lists, and hand-drawn arrows and charts that look like they have been scribbled on chalk boards; it is very difficult to know which section of text follows which. 

Taste Buds and Molecules is at heart a guide book to pairing food and wine, and gussying it up with affected graphic design only hobbles it.

Review

On Fabbrica, Toronto:“…the quality of ingredients (exemplified by the dough that tastes ridiculously fresh) surpasses most others in the city…As a whole, Fabbrica’s soup, pizza and panini were fresh, authentic and a wonderful surprise from one of Toronto’s top chefs who to date hasn’t been known for this type of food.” - BlogTO.com

“For Mark McEwan, who’s dedicated a lifetime to culinary perfection, whipping up a work-of-art needs nothing more than a spatula and some quality ingredients…McEwan has become one of the country’s top gastronomic moguls.” - Dolce Vita luxury magazine

McEwan is “the closest thing to a star chef that Toronto’s got… the Toronto chef with the flaming red hair is on fire and, guess what, the blaze is about to get bigger - Martiniboys.com

On One, Toronto:“…the restaurant stands tall and confident among its pricey peers…definitely a worthy Yorkville addition.” - Don Ellis

“The store’s grocery lines are impressive: McEwan boasts an exclusive line of (excellent) Belgian chocolates, and gets its macaroons delivered fresh three times a week. You could eat a different imported, bronze-dye-extruded Italian pasta every night for a month from McEwan’s grocery shelves.” - Globe and Mail

“Besides Mark McEwan…precious few chefs have the skills and the moxie to morph into a manager.” - Globe and Mail

“This excellence as a food city owes something to its stellar chefs in their luxe pleasure palaces – such as North 44…” - Globe and Mail

“This meatloaf, from Mark McEwan’s new cookbook Great Food At Home, is just delicious.” - Bonnie Stern

“The Beretta Organic double-smoked bacon bought at McEwan Fine Foods for a French green lentil dish makes a mockery out of supermarket bacon… Reading Great Food at Home is much like going to cooking school. You’ll discover the best way to make onion rings, how to cure salmon, how to make pasta, and the best way to mash potatoes.” - Jennifer Bain, Toronto Star

“Yorkville’s hottest scene, the wraparound patio out front of the Mark McEwan-helmed resto in the Hazelton Hotel has been celebutante central since it opened with considerable fanfare in time for last fall's film fest.” - NOW magazine

“One’s duck confit…is easily one of the best in town.” - Starred review of One (NNN, or Excellent)

“Mark McEwan…has managed to offer suburbanites something more interesting than the unholy trinity of the Montana-Jackass-Pickle boxes… Fabbrica is a much-needed addition to the Don Mills dining scene.” - Eye Weekly magazine

“…a brilliantly executed beef tenderloin with seared foie gras…is, without a doubt, manna for meat-lovers…Hey, when Mark McEwan puts his name to anything, one expects it [to] be flawless.” - Alan A. Vernon and Sean Kelly Keenan

“One of Toronto’s finest restaurants in the heart of uptown Toronto, North 44 has become a benchmark in Toronto and across Canada for its elegance, impeccable service and exceptional cuisine.” - Food Network Canada

North 44: “beautiful food presentation…smooth-as-silk service…love at first bite.” - Zagat Survey, 2001-2002

North 44: “Within the ultra-stylish multi-tiered space, combinations of lights and shadows, food and wine, play in a magical decor of mirrors, mosaics and flowers. Dinner is an event to be celebrated and remembered. Exotic ingredients combine with flavourful herbs and spices, rather than relying on heavy sauces…Desserts are irresistible.” - 1999/2000 Toronto’s Fifty Best Restaurants

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Format: Hardcover
I was very disappointed by this cookbook. The title Great Food at Home implies that the recipes would be manageable by the home cook. Instead the ingredients are not ones that you would readily find in the typical grocery store. A specialty grocer would stock the items but at considerable cost. This is not a cookbook that most people would get much use of.
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Format: Hardcover
Mark McEwan is a restauranteur and celebrity chef based in Toronto. He's the owner of four restaurants, a catering company, and an upscale grocery store, as well as head judge on Top Chef Canada. Suffice to say, he has had a long and successful history but has waited until the last few years to release his first cookbook, Great Food At Home.

Judging by the title, one would expect the book to be full of home style recipes, with a twist worthy of McEwan's pedigree. For someone whose entire life has been professional cooking, is it really that simple to write a cookbook for home cooking? Given the results of the book, perhaps it actually is.

Cookbooks these days are more than just a collection of recipes. The good ones tend to take you on a journey, seen through the chef's eyes, with the chef guiding you along the way. While the recipes do have headnotes, there isn't much beyond describing what's in the dish. There's no insight into McEwan's thoughts about the dish, how it came to be. The prose has no soul and makes for a less interesting read. It's also written in a strange way that is less conversational in tone, and more in a stilted, awkward manner which detracts even further any personality the prose might have had.

Great Food at Home is divided into several small sections comprising a half dozen or so recipes each: Passed Appetizers, Soups, Salads, First Courses, Sandwiches, Pasta and Risotto, Fish and Shellfish, Meat and Poultry, Vegetables and Side Dishes, and Desserts.
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Format: Hardcover
The ingredients are often not easily available. Also this is an ugly book. There are no pretty food photos here.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9bc91588) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9a22d8dc) out of 5 stars Sometimes great food, but definitely not at home July 11 2012
By guysgottaeat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Mark McEwan is a restauranteur and celebrity chef based in Toronto. He's the owner of four restaurants, a catering company, and an upscale grocery store, as well as head judge on Top Chef Canada. Suffice to say, he has had a long and successful history but has waited until the last few years to release his first cookbook, Great Food At Home.

Judging by the title, one would expect the book to be full of home style recipes, with a twist worthy of McEwan's pedigree. For someone whose entire life has been professional cooking, is it really that simple to write a cookbook for home cooking? Given the results of the book, perhaps it actually is.

Cookbooks these days are more than just a collection of recipes. The good ones tend to take you on a journey, seen through the chef's eyes, with the chef guiding you along the way. While the recipes do have headnotes, there isn't much beyond describing what's in the dish. There's no insight into McEwan's thoughts about the dish, how it came to be. The prose has no soul and makes for a less interesting read. It's also written in a strange way that is less conversational in tone, and more in a stilted, awkward manner which detracts even further any personality the prose might have had.

Great Food at Home is divided into several small sections comprising a half dozen or so recipes each: Passed Appetizers, Soups, Salads, First Courses, Sandwiches, Pasta and Risotto, Fish and Shellfish, Meat and Poultry, Vegetables and Side Dishes, and Desserts. Starting from the beginning of the book, one begins to suspect that this might not be a typical "at home" cookbook: in the first three sections alone, one will have already come across four lobster recipes, one containing foie gras, and others containing items that are fairly expensive or less commonly available (sea scallops, oxtail). In the recipe for Lobster Salad with Bacon and Blue Cheese, McEwan states that it's a play on the Cobb salad, given a new voice because there is "almost nobody who doesn't believe that lobster is better than chicken". Whether true or not, the fact remains that if a cookbook's main trick is to simply substitute a more luxurious ingredient, it's not going to be a very good "at home" cookbook. The use of luxury or less common ingredients is a running theme throughout the book.

But in a way, the book is a bit bipolar. There are the recipes with luxurious ingredients, which I personally feel isn't within the scope of an "at home" cookbook. And then there are recipes like Wilted Greens, or Grilled Green Asparagus, which are exactly what you think they are. They are so simple that their inclusion is almost comical. There are many recipes which are at one extreme or another, neither which I think are what people are looking for in a book with this title. Isn't there anything in the book that hits the sweet spot?

It turns out that there is. I obviously didn't cook every recipe, choosing about a dozen to get a feel for the recipes. The Corn Bisque with Foie Gras Crostini is quite tasty, but the crostini was an unnecessary luxury upgrade. The lentil salad recipe is a terrific recipe - delicious, easy to prepare with a thoughtful combination of ingredients well within reach of the average home cook. Asian-Glazed Pork Belly takes some time, but is inexpensive to make and delivers a tasty result. This is the kind of thing I'm looking for - an accomplished chef's spin on ingredients for the masses, to make great food at home.

Not everything I tried was a hit. The aforementioned Lobster Salad was very heavy, the blue cheese and dressing drowning out the delicate lobster. Chicken Noodle Soup was not a recipe worthy of McEwan's pedigree. The Rigatoni with Braised Lamb Shank took a while to prepare, and while not that bad, was one note and not worth the time and effort. In short, keeping in mind that a dozen recipes is not a very large sample, the results were hit and miss.

In the end, though I'm sure there are more tasty recipes in the cookbook beyond what I cooked, I'm left with the feeling that this just isn't a cookbook for "great food at home". Great food? Maybe, in some of the recipes. But given the ingredients, and in some cases, the technique, perhaps this book would be better suited marketed towards the more ambitious amateur, rather than someone looking for a weeknight dinner. As an "at home" cookbook, Great Food At Home, as McEwan likes to say on Top Chef Canada, "completely misses the mark."
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99bbbe94) out of 5 stars Restaurant Quality Meals for Half the Cost of Eating Out Oct. 18 2014
By vjvl51 (Vickie) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I purchased the paper version after attending a seminar with Mark. This is the type of cookbook that I really love in that Mark takes the ordinary and elevates it to something special. For instance, most of us know what a poutine is - fries with gravy and curds on top. It's a very basic dish, enjoyed by many. Mark elevates it to fine dining quality - lobster poutine with home made French fries. Mark's recipes reflect the level of food served in his restaurants - calling for fresh herbs, good quality (home made) stock, "old-school smokehouse bacon", heritage tomatoes, etc. Yes, you probably can substitute the "normal" ingredients with the loss of flavour and texture but if you are planning on doing that, then this cookbook is not for you as you will be disappointed.

This cookbook is designed for the home cooks that want a challenge, that want to elevate their cooking to the next level. This cookbook is going to be one that I reach for when I want to prepare that "special" meal - that restaurant quality meal that you can make at home for half the cost.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99deb5ac) out of 5 stars I am sure it would have been a nice book Sept. 18 2014
By Mary Erika Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I cannot say whether it is a good book since it was not formatted correctly for my Kindle. What text I could see was in a small box and not readable. This was borrowed from the library so I will just return it.


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