Highlighting Black Cookbook Authors

2 Great New Publications

By Jamie Bussin and Naomi Bussin

On Episode #149 of THE TONIC Talk Show/Podcast we chose to highlight new cookbooks written by black authors in an effort to help recognize and combat racism. In this way we hope to be real, and not merely performative, allies. Naomi considered how she chooses the books that she reviews for the magazine and the talk show and how barriers to publication and success can be broken. Either of these cookbooks would make terrific holiday gifts. But you can also tune into the show when Naomi is on in November to hear her Holiday Cookbook Guide for other ideas. This is an excerpt of the interview.

Vegetable Kingdom, by Bryant Terry:  This is a vegan book that is inspired by the flavours of the African diaspora. The author has written previous cookbooks. In this, and in his previous books, he includes a playlist; music to go with each recipe. This book is organized by vegetables, as opposed to appetizers, mains and dessert. Each section starts with easy recipes that get progressively complicated or that can be combined to create main courses. Previously when writing about vegan cookbooks I’ve snuck in butter and cheese here and there when trying the recipes. With this book I really tried to keep it vegan and with the integrity of the recipes and they were excellent. I made a dish of Faro and Kidney Beans with Burned Scallions; which was a riff on the classic dish of red beans and rice and was very flavorful. We also tried Oven Roasted Zucchini with Collard Peanut Pesto (although we swapped in Dinosaur Kale for the Collard Greens – the pesto was a showstopper), as well as Panko Crusted Cauliflower and Coconut Curry. It was interesting as we roasted the cauliflower with a panko breadcrumb and arugula (substituted for parsley) mixture separately from the curry. Although we expected the cuisine to be spicy, it actually wasn’t.

New World Sourdough, by Bryan Ford: The author has been on the Food Network as a judge. He also runs a blog called “ArtisanBryan.com” This is his first cookbook. I found the book to be super interesting as I have other bread baking cookbooks and I’ve covered sourdough before. I mostly think of sourdough as a rustic loaf that might have some cheese or herbs in it, but is otherwise plain. But he points out in his book, that it is just one kind of sourdough and that all over the world, sourdough starter is used to bake bread and other dishes. The book focuses on the breads of Latin America. He has the rustic bread recipes but he also has recipes that I had otherwise not seen. You don’t have to be an experienced sourdough baker to use these recipes. Once you understand how to deal with the starter, it’s just a bread with additional mix-ins. I did find that having other books that are more precise with measurements helpful to me, but these recipes do stand alone. I did make a rustic bread from this book, a whole-wheat sourdough, because I wanted to see how it compared. And it was great. It has a wonderful texture and crumb even though I used mostly whole wheat flour. I also made Coco Rugbrod – which is the author’s take on Pain de Coco, a classic Honduran breakfast bread. It’s pretty dense, with whole wheat flour and coconut milk and coconut quinoa. My bread had a little difficulty rising (which sometimes happens) but had great flavour. I will definitely try it again.

Naomi Bussin is a lawyer, mother of three and an accomplished cook. Food is her favourite subject and she reads cookbooks in her spare time.