Bonnie Stern Book Club, November 12.

Every year, Bonnie Stern of Cooking with Bonnie Stern ( selects a certain number of authors and their books. She reads the books, marking all the food passages in the text. Then she concocts recipes that go with the books. The walls of her enclave on Erskine Avenue in Toronto have many authors pictured with food and/or books. People sign up for the dinners, the authors speak, and then we eat. Bonnie provides the recipes for the dishes. which I’ll insert here when I get them in e-form. It’s a labour of love for Bonnie.

On November 12, the reader/eaters assembled at the BonnieCastle  and undertook to eat our way through the themes of YOTF. (Someone has to do it.) Bonnie had excelled herself, paying meticulous attention, not only to The Year of the Flood, but also to Oryx and Crake.

We began with  Elderberry Sangria (see Chapter 9 of YOTF), continued with some lovely cheeses, and – for others – some mini-Not-So-SecretBurgers, made with Cumbrae local and organic beef. Next came some delicious Wild Mushroom Bruschetta, in a tribute to the Gardeners’ mushroom-growing. (No psychedelics though.)

While all this munching was going on, I spoke about food in YOTF, dividing it into Vegetables, Fruits, and Meat and playing the appropriate Hymns from the CD (“The Holy Weeds,” for vegetables; “The Peach or Plum,” for Fruit; and the Predator Day Hymn, “The Water Shrew That Rends Its Prey,” for Meat.) We then spoke of many things, though I didn’t tell What Happens Next or What Becomes of Zeb.

Next, the main food event began, with a fantastic Ancient Fruits Gardener Salad (see Pollination Day, just before Chapter 49); and then we had some 100% Real Fish Sticksof the kind Jimmy in Oryx and Crake would have liked, served with lentil “caviar” and Heritage Carrots of many colours. We talked some more while the dangerous-dessert  Happicuppa Walnut Roll was being prepared. At the end, I gave out some CDs to interested parties, and we staggered home, blessing the food we’d just eaten. Thank you, Bonnie and Co.!

For Bonnie’s inventive and witty recipes (when did you last eat a witty recipe?) see below:



“God’s Gardeners ate a lot of mushrooms, both dried and fresh and lived in buildings where they did not have to pay rent like an old cheese factory which still smelled faintly of cheese.”

1 lb (500g) mixed wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

2  cloves garlic, finely chopped<

2 tbsp (25mL) olive oil<

1/2 tsp (2mL) salt<

1/4 tsp (1mL) pepper<

1 tbsp (15mL) fresh thyme leaves<

1 tbsp (15mL) white truffle oil – optional<

8 oz (250g) riopelle, Brie or goat cheese<

16  slices baguette<

2 tbsp (25mL) olive oil or butter<

1 tbsp (15mL) chopped fresh tarragon<

1. Cook mushrooms and garlic in olive oil in a large heavy skillet until any liquid evaporates. Season with salt, pepper and thyme. Add truffle oil if using.<

2. Trim rind off cheese if it is too strong.<

3. Brush bread on one side with olive oil or butter. Grill or broil about one to two minutes per side until crusty on the outside but still chewy on the inside. 4. Spread oiled side with cheese and top with mushrooms. Sprinkle with tarragon.<

makes 6 to 8 servings<



No one really knew what strange things were in SecretBurgers! But we know what’s in our burgers – meat  from Cumbrae Butchers.<

1 lb (500g) 100% ground pure steak<

1  egg<

1 tsp (5mL) salt<

1/2 tsp (2mL) pepper<

2  cloves garlic, minced (or one head roasted garlic)<

1/4 cup (50mL) breadcrumbs<

1/4 cup (50mL)  tomato sauce<

2 tbsp (25mL) Worcestershire sauce<

chipotle ketchup*<

16  dinner rolls<

1. Combine ground steak with egg, salt, pepper, garlic, breadcrumbs, tomato sauce and Worcestershire.  Shape into 16 meatballs. Flatten ball slightly.<

2. Just before serving grill burgers to medium.<

3. Serve in dinner rolls topped with chipotle ketchup.<

* For chipotle ketchup add 1 tbsp (15mL) pureed chipotle chiles to 1/2 cup (125mL) ketchup.<

makes 16 mini burgers<



In The Year of the Flood, God’s Gardeners eat many wild greens and herbs. They also keep honey bees and make their own vinegar. For this salad, we used Cookstown Greens’ organic salad mix of more than 40 greens, herbs and floweres and made a honey vinaigrette.

16 cups (4 L) organic mixed greens

2 apples, halved, cored and sliced

1/2 cup (125 mL) pomegranate seeds

4 fresh figs, quartered

8 Medjool dates, halved

1 cup (250 mL) honey-coated walnuts or roasted walnuts


3 tbsp (45 mL) apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp (15 mL) honey

1 tsp (5 mL) salt

1/4 tsp (1mL) pepper

1/2 tsp (2mL) Dijon mustard

1 small shallot, finely chopped

1/2 cup (125mL) extra virgin olive oil

1. For dressing, whisk vinegar with honey, salt, pepper, mustard and shallot. Whisk in olive oil. Season to taste.

2. Toss as much dressing with greens as needed. Top salad with apples,pomegranate seeds, figs, dates and walnuts.

Makes 8 servings



In the cafeteria at Helthwyzer High, they serve fish sticks with only 20% real fish sticks. Ours are all fish! Atwood confirmed that Jimmy in Oryx and Crake would have loved them.

5 tbsp (75 mL) butter

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) panko breadcrumbs

2 tbsp (30 mL) chopped wild herbs (thyme, sage or rosemary)

salt and pepper to taste

2 lb (1 kg) boneless, skinless, fresh halibut fillets, cut into 2 oz (60

g) pieces

2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp (5 mL) kosher salt

1/4 tsp (1mL) freshly ground black pepper

1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add breadcrumbs and cook gently untillightly toasted. Add herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Cool and place in alarge shallow dish.

2. Rub pieces of fish with olive oil, salt and pepper. Dredge with crumbs onall sides. Place fish in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

3. Roast fish in a preheated 425F (210C) oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or justuntil cooked through.

Makes 6 to 8 servings



At Scales and Tails where Ren works, Caviar and Champagne were considered “loyalty snacks” for girls who had gone above and beyond with high rolling clients. These beautiful beluga lentils look like caviar. For a vegetarian version omit the bacon and use 2 tbsp (25mL) chopped smoked sun-dried tomatoes from (Cookstown Greens) instead – add them with the olive oil and onions in step #3 and cook  about 5 minutes until softened. We used double smoked bacon from Cumbrae Butchers.

1 1/2 cups (375mL) black beluga lentils (or tiny du Puy lentils)<

1  onion, cut into chunks<

2  sprigs fresh thyme<

1  carrot, cut into chunks<

1  rib celery, cut into chunks<

4  strips double smoked bacon, diced<

1 tbsp (15mL) extra virgin olive oil<

1  onion, chopped<

1  clove garlic, finely chopped<

salt and pepper to taste<

1. Cook lentils in a large saucepan just covered with boiling water for 20 to 25 minutes until tender. Drain well and rinse with cold water.<

2. Place bacon in a large deep skillet and cook until crisp. Remove bacon and reserve. Discard excess fat. Return pan to heat. Add olive oil. Add onions and garlic and cook gently until tender about 5 minutes.<

3. Add lentils and heat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in reserved bacon.<

makes 6 servings<



Organic, heirloom vegetables would be God’s Gardeners first choice and drizzling them with honey makes them irresistible.<

3 lbs (1.5kg) carrots, cleaned and cut in half lengthwise if large, preferably heirloom varieties in many colours<

2 tbsp (25mL) olive oil<

1 tsp (5mL) salt or to taste<

1/4 tsp (1mL) freshly ground black pepper<

1 tbsp (15mL) fresh thyme leaves<

1 tbsp (15mL) honey<

1. Toss carrots with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and honey. Spread in a single layer on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.<

2. Roast in a preheated 400F (200C) for 30 to 40 minutes until caramelized and tender.<

makes 6 to 8 servings<



This cake was inspired by the novel’s Happicuppa coffee franchise and the walnuts and berries that God’s Gardeners ate.

6 eggs, separated

3/4 cup (175 mL) sugar, divided

1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) ground toasted walnuts

1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder

Coffee buttercream:

3/4 cup (175 mL) butter

1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar, sifted

1 tsp (5 mL) pure vanilla extract

1 tbsp (15 mL) coffee extract or more to taste

Chocolate sauce:

1/2 cup (125 mL) whipping cream

4 oz (125 g) semi-sweeet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 tbsp (15 mL) brewed espresso or strong coffee (optional)

2 cups (500 mL) mixed berries

1. Lightly butter a 10×15-inch baking sheet and line with parchment paper.

Butter and lightly flour parchment.

2. Beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup (125mL) sugar until very light. Add vanilla.

Combine nuts with baking powder and stir into egg yolks. Whip egg whites

until light and gradually beat in remaining sugar. Fold into nut mixture.

Spread on prepared pan. Bake in a preheated 350F/180C oven for 15 to 16

minutes. Cool.

3. For filling, whip butter until very light. Beat in icing sugar. Add

vanilla and coffee extract.

4. Loosen cake from pan. Dust with icing sugar. Turn cake out onto parchment

paper. Spread cake with filling and roll up lengthwise. Refrigerate. Serve

cake at room temperature.

5. For sauce, heat cream. Pour over chocolate. Allow to rest for 2 or 3

minutes and then stir until smooth. Stir in coffee. Cool.

6. Drizzle cake with sauce and garnish with berries.

Makes 8 servings



1 Comment

Filed under 1, YOTF Tour Blog

One response to “Bonnie Stern Book Club, November 12.

  1. Pingback: Paula Deen hit by flying ham, Moscow’s favourite vodka comes to Canada, cooking up Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood | Read All About It |

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s