The pleasure of a delicious meal and a good read — that was the idea behind a literary cookbook featuring recipes from some of Nelson's finest chefs, along with their reading recommendations.
Pairings is a stunning 144-page full-colour cookbook published by the Nelson Public Library to raise funds for the library.
It's the second project of this kind for the Nelson Public Library. In 2010, the library partnered with the Kootenay Co-op to provide the cookbook Seasonings, which has since raised $45,000 for the library.
"All the costs of the library keep going up, but our budgets don't necessarily, so it made a huge difference for us," said Anne Degrace of the Nelson Public Library, who edited Pairings.
"When [Seasonings] sold out I wanted to come up with something that was a little bit different. It was fun to work with the motifs of reading and eating."
The chefs featured in the book describe books that mean a lot to them. A Thai chef, for example, listed the first book he read in English: Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck.
The chefs were also asked to provide recipes that came not from their regular menus, but ones that would be offered on special occasions.
"So what you get in the cookbook is not necessarily the standard fare, but the things the chefs themselves love," Degrace said.
One recipe (provided below) is a banana habanero cheesecake from Mike Hesla, a chef at Nelson's Cantina Del Centro, a Mexican restaurant.
"The great part about being in a Mexican restaurant is that you can work with a lot of different tropical fruits," he said, describing his zesty dessert.
He said the habanero chilli pepper is "just enough to make your mouth tickle, and it's in the background so it's not overwhelming."
Hesla's book recommendation is food critic Ruth Reichl's memoir Garlic and Sapphires:The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise.
Banana habanero cheesecake recipe
Banana Habanero Cheesecake
- 500g cream cheese, fully softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 vanilla bean
- 1 cup overripe banana, microwaved until soft
- ½ fresh habanero chili, or less, finely chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup corn syrup
- 2 Tbsp honey
- ¼ cup water
- 1 Tbsp baking soda
Whipped Crème Fraîche
- 1 lb strawberries
Slice the strawberries 1/8" thin. Arrange half of the berries in a single layer on parchment. Keep the other half raw. Bake for 45 minutes at 175'F. Check berries occasionally and remove slices as they dry.
- 1 cup chocolate cookies, crumbled
- ¼ cup mint, small leaves
- zest of 1 lime
To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled: Nelson Public Library publishes cookbook with special recipes from local chefs