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Laura Calder's "French Taste" named Canada's Best Cookbook


Laura Calder's book "French Taste: Elegant Everyday Eating" has been named the top English-language cookbook at the 2010 Canadian Culinary Book Awards.

Homerun's Web journalist Tanya Birkbeck spoke to her about her favourite cookbooks, what she loves and hates about France, and how she went from being a loner on the playground to being an international author and broadcaster.

What is your favourite cookbook, other than your own?

The Laura Secord Canadian Cookbook, books by Elizabeth David and M.F.K. Fisher. I like old books. Actually, my real favourite cookbooks are the homemade ones you find in people's homes.

Today is National Bundt Pan day. Do you have a favourite bundt cake recipe?

I don't even own a bundt pan. Call me up when it's springform pan day.

That's your favourite type of cake pan?

They are very versatile. You can use them for tarts as well.

You are staying in Montreal right now. Where did you dine last night?

At home. I'm staying with friends. But this morning I did have breakfast at Nick's Café on Green Avenue.

What are you having for dinner tonight?

I'm cooking. I'm going to go to the market and figure it out along my way.

You have lived in France. Besides the food, what is your favourite thing about France?

I love the beauty. How people dress. The décor. They just have an eye for good things.

What do you dislike about France?

The bureaucracy. I can't stand it.

Today Facebook is launching a new e-mail messaging system. Will you use it?

No. I don't trust Facebook. I don't feel secure.

Texting, e-mailing, instant messaging. What do you use the most?

E-mail for sure, because I write.

Today the CBC is launching an "It Gets Better" video on YouTube. That's a movement that started in the United States and is now in Canada. It's where adults who were bullied when they were younger send the message that even if things are tough when you are in school, they really do get better. Were you ever bullied? What message would you have for kids who are having problems with bullying?

I was definitely a loner. I was always off on my own. There are always problems with little girls on the playground. But it made me independent and resilient. In a way, I'm still out on my own, doing my own thing. The experience when I was younger gave me strength. But it's still too bad people can't be nicer, though.



1 large fennel bulb
zest and juice of 1 lemon
zest of 1 orange
3 tablespoons (45 ml) toasted pine nuts
olive oil
fleur de sel and freshly ground peper

-Cut the stalks from the fennel and discard, saving a good handful of the green fronds
-Chop the fronds and toss into a bowl
-Use a vegetable peeler to peel any discoloured bits off the bulb, then halve, core and slice paper-thin, using a very sharp knife
- Add to the bowl
- Over the bowl, grate the citrus zests
- Over the bowl, squeeze the lemon juice - to taste
- Add the pine nuts, drizzle oilve oil and season with salt and pepper
- Toss, taste and adjust the seasonings
- Serve immediately

Listen to Sue's interview with Laura Calder

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