British Columbia·RECIPE

Giving a cookbook this year? Here is one idea with a B.C. focus

A lot of cookbooks will be given out this season. Here is one gift ideas from our food columnist.

Check out one cookbook that focuses on B.C. ingredients

British Columbia From Scratch: Recipes for Every Season, by Denise Marchessault, includes soup recipes too, like butternut squash soup. (Denise Marchessault/Facebook)

A lot of cookbooks will be given out this season, and if you plan on giving one to the foodie in your life, On The Coast food columnist Gail Johnson has some picks for you.

There are a lot of options from well-known chefs, she says: Anthony Bourdain's latest is good, if full of filthy language, as is the latest from the Thug Kitchen crew. There's also Chetna Makan's book, which focuses on baking Western-style treats with an Indian twist.

But her local highlight is British Columbia From Scratch: Recipes for Every Season, by Denise Marchessault.

"It's a beautiful book to look at as it showcases and celebrates everything this province has to offer, from fresh fish to Fraser Valley potatoes to juicy cranberries to Okanagan apples," Johnson said.

The book is divided by season so foodies can dive right in with winter recipes like Swiss chard and ham strada, "A layered casserole that would be a really nice breakfast or brunch dish during the holidays."

For a sample of what the book has to offer, check out this recipe for poached pears in Port.

Poached Pears in Port

Makes four pears


  • 3 cups (750 mL) ruby Port
  • ½ cup (125 mL) sugar
  • 4 small ripe but firm pears, peeled, with stems intact
  • ¾ cup (185 mL) balsamic vinegar


  1. Pour the port and sugar in a saucepan large enough to fit the pears snugly. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Submerge the pears in the port, cover with a lid and simmer on the lowest setting for 30 minutes. Cool the pears in the port and place in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours.
  2. On the day you plan to serve the dessert, remove the pears from the port, cover and set aside. Strain the port through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean saucepan. Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer uncovered over medium-low heat until the liquid has reduced and reaches a syrup-like consistency. This can take up to one hour, depending on the size of your saucepan (the larger the pot, the faster the reduction). You should be left with about ¾ cup (185 mL) sauce. If the sauce becomes too thick, thin with a bit of water.
  3. Serve the pears drizzled with a bit of sauce, with extra sauce on the side.