REVIEW – Michael Smith, Family Meals (Penguin Canada, 2014)

17 Aug

9780143184119_FULL

Full disclosure: the Gourmandes at YYZ don’t have kids so we don’t know what it’s like to have to navigate the different preferences in tastes, dietary restrictions, or how to include everyone in the cooking process. We bet it would be challenging.

We last reviewed Michael Smith Back to Basics in December. It was clear that he had special insight into working efficiently in the kitchen. He also knows how best to keep things running smoothly in his home kitchen. Some recipes, for example, like the “Weekend Pancakes” (p.12) have the tasks broken up for each individual kid in the family. Result: no fighting. I bet these tips would help you put your friends to work for a weekend brunch or dinner party. Eh, Cherry? He also offers organization and planning strategies that will make it easy to incorporate  healthy food options into any hectic work week.

The book is divided in “breakfast”, “lunch”, and dinner-type meals with a substantial section on “meatless” options. There’s a great section on slow/ pressure-cooked meals, which features classics like lasagna and “Rosemary Apple Braised Chicken” (p.144).  The lunch section was especially intriguing. Kids (or big kids like us) would LOVE the idea of a “tuna chip seaweed sandwich” or “lettuce wraps” in our lunch box.

Tested Recipes

Barley Kale Tabouleh

The Barley Kale Tabbouleh (excerpt here) salad is simple, elegant and so fresh tasting! It’s the perfect side dish to brighten up your favourite protein. I’m a fan of tabbouleh with a conventional smoother texture than in this salad but the use of kale and barley (as Michael says, you have “whole grain responsibilities” as a family chef) is so on trend.

Weekend Pancakes These are fluffy and healthy as 2/3s of the recipe consist of whole wheat/ whole grains. I also enjoyed using honey as a sweetner. The best part of this recipe: strategies on how to minimize the amount of dishes so that you don’t dirty every bowl and whisk in the kitchen … which is how *I* tend to make pancakes.

The recipes in Michael Smith’s Family Meals are mostly quick (except for the slow cook chapter), delicious, and satisfying meals. As I leafed through this book, I couldn’t imagine any tiny people revolting against their parental units over this food! There’s no sneaking in greens here or dressing up food to make it “friendly for kids.”  Kids, like people, respond to good food prepared with some precision and love. FYI: this is how you start raising your own gourmandes.

Thanks to Penguin Canada for making this review possible!

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