You might know by now that I’m smitten with Lynn Crawford. I loved her way back when she started on Restaurant Makeover. But my love of her work was solidified the first time I stepped foot in Ruby Watchco, her exquisite restaurant in Leslieville, here in Toronto. Everything about it (the staff, the menu, the ambiance, the family-style, rustic approach to food) resonates with me. If you were a visitor to the city, I would recommend that you make your way to Ruby Watchco, as I happen to think it’s one of the best in the city. I could talk at length about how the Ruby staff work with local farmers and growers, create a new menu daily based on what’s fresh, available, and in season, and approach food like they would be feeding their families each night. So when I saw that Lynn had put out another cookbook (her first was Pitchin’ In) I knew that I had to get my hands on it. At Home with Lynn Crawford is reflective of the style of food that is served at Ruby Watchco, but made a little bit more accessible to the home cook.
The book is divided into sections with names like Morning Sunshine, In a Bowl, In the Oven, and Eat, Drink, & Get Happy, to name a few. And within most sections, you’ll also find sub-sections that open you up to a unique range of recipes. For example, in the breakfast/brunch section, there are, of course, breakfast-y recipes like Chocolate Coconut Crunch Granola Eggs Française with Leeks and Artichokes. But there are also sub-categories for things like Jams and Jellies (e.g., Maple-Bourbon Peach Jam), Breakfast Honeys (e.g., cinnamon honey), Breakfast Butters (e.g., Chocolate Espresso Butter!!), and Breakfast Spreads (e.g., Sweet Orange and Mascarpone spread). The breakfast section is my favourite! Can you tell?
Though breakfast is my most cherished meal of the day, the book is not all about the morning fare. So far, I have eaten the fragrant Indian Spiced Lentil Salad, which is beautifully flecked with raisins, almonds, and cilantro. And I’ve hovered around the kitchen preparing a wintery salad while Lynn’s warm and comforting Stout-Braised Beef Stew (made with grass-fed beef from our CSA) simmered away on the stove. And, of course, these sweet Heirloom Carrots with Honey-Thyme Butter have also made their way into our kitchen. (Truth be told, they were so tasty that I stood eating them with a fork from the pan after I did this shoot.) Next up for me will be the Slow Baked Beans with Maple Syrup, the Charred Broccoli with Lemon Garlic Butter, and the Warm Spiced Olives.
The book is replete with family-style meals, snacks, desserts, and drinks that are a distinct step up from your average family-oriented cookbook. The food is good, hearty, and down-to-earth. Though vegetarians beware: unique, high-quality meat recipes are a big part of the book’s focus. It’s also important to note that these recipes tend to fall more in the good, rather than the good for you, category. That said, for me this is the kind of book that I love to cook from when I have people over or am looking for a special treat.
And how exciting is it to cook like Lynn Crawford?! These carrots are an easy way to feel like a superstar in your own kitchen. Bonus: Carrots tend to be enjoyed by most people because of their sweetness and ease of preparation. These are no exception—quick and delicious, they make a great addition to any meal. With American Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, they make a lovely side to a traditional turkey dinner. If you’re vegan, just sub the butter for more olive oil. Enjoy!
- 1 bunch heirloom carrots (about 5 carrots), cut into ¼-inch (5 mm) rounds
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp honey
- Leaves from 5 sprigs thyme
- Half fill a medium saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Add carrots and blanch for 3 minutes. Drain well, Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet to cool slightly.
- In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, heat oil and melt butter. Add honey, carrots, and thyme; sauté until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately.