I am a huge fan of Chef Michael Smith. I have avidly watched him on Chef at Home and Chef Abroad, own many of his cookbooks and made a point of stopping by his Flavour Shack in Souris, PEI when I was visiting Prince Edward Island this past summer. His cooking and recipes are appealing to me because of their simple ingredients, their versatility and their Canadian flair. Michael Smith’s newest cookbook, Family Meals follows the same lines as his previous cookbooks by offering new and delicious recipes that are not only nutritious, but are family approved – starting with the ingredients, to meal preparation, to the actual eating of the meal.
I use a Michael Smith recipe at least once a week, if not more. His country bread/city bread has become a staple in my house and his meat recipes are some of my favourites because of their robust flavour created without the use of obscure, hard-to-find ingredients. I am looking forward to adding Family Meals’ slow cooker and pressure cooker recipes to my regular Michael Smith recipe repertoire, especially the all-day sausage lasagna and the bacon baked beans. My husband is looking forward to trying the caboose-style pulled pork with honey mustard slaw.
Since receiving my review copy of Family Meals last week, I have tried three of the recipes. Firstly, because it was back to school time I made the cinnamon oatmeal cookies recipe. This cookie recipe is not only flavourful, but it makes a ton of cookies that freeze well too, so you will have homemade school treats ready to go for a few weeks! Then for the first morning of school I made overnight oatmeal jars with last-minute stir-ins. I halved the recipe and it still made enough for a couple of days. My daughter loves cold oatmeal, so this was a perfect recipe for her. I love that Michael Smith gave a variety of different ingredients to choose from and encourages you to experiment a bit too. Thirdly, I made the pizza soup. This soup was a hit amongst everyone in my family and is perfect as an after school meal before heading off to an evening activity.
Like all of his cookbooks, Michael Smith’s Family Meals is well-organized with the recipes broken down by sections and by the type of meal i.e., cook ahead, family meals in minutes, vegetables and whole grains, meatless Mondays, and sweets and treats, just to list a few. The photographs of the food as well pictures of his family go hand-in-hand with the recipes in this book – they are the perfect family meals to not only eat with your family, but also to prepare together. The ingredients are simple to find and are probably already in your spice cupboard and pantry. And what you don’t have in your kitchen, Michael encourages you to pick up the freshest of ingredients at your local farmer’s market.
A great fresh ingredient recipe from Family Meals is the avocado salsa recipe. It’s great with tortilla chips or along side the chili cornmeal salmon recipe also found in the cookbook. Below is Michael Smith’s recipe for avocado salsa (printed with permission from Penguin Canada):
- 2 avocados, scooped and diced
- 2 green onions, diced
- 1 pint (500mL) cherry tomatoes, halved
- A big handful of chopped fresh cilantro, a few sprigs reserved for garnish
- The zest and juice of 2 limes
- 1⁄2 teaspoon (2mL) of salt
- 1⁄2 teaspoon (2mL) of your favorite hot sauce
- 1⁄4 teaspoon (1mL) of toasted sesame oil
- In a medium bowl, combine all the salsa ingredients. Toss and stir, evenly distributing the bright flavours. Chill or set aside until you're ready to eat it!
I highly recommend Family Meals to anyone who enjoys cooking or who wants to start cooking nutritious family meals that won’t break the bank or go to waste. Most of the recipes won’t take all day to make, are fun to make with kids and many of the recipes are made with ingredients guaranteed to please even the pickiest of taste buds… and if you don’t have all of the ingredients Michael Smith even offers you some “Kitchen Tips” with various substitution suggestions.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Michael Smith’s Family Meals from Penguin Canada to review, but the opinions stated in this post are all my own.