Sometimes cookbooks are sent to me and I have no clue what kinds of recipes I’m going to find. Such was the case with Jillian Harris and Tori Wesszer‘s Fraiche Food, Full Hearts cookbook, which was sent my way back in September. I kind of knew who Harris was because my husband and I often enjoy watching Love It Or List It Vancouver and I knew she was born in my home province of Alberta. But as I walked home with a few moms after the morning school drop-off I realized I was woefully behind on the times. It felt like I had been living under a rock because I had never heard of Wesszer’s blog, Fraiche Nutrition, and I had missed the boat with Harris’ segue into recipes and food. Thankfully, I could rely on the wonderful women I see at the school each morning because they filled me in on everything I missed from those cute rompers to everything Fraiche.
I think Harris and Wesszer’s popularity is due in part to their honest and positive approach to life and food. A few of the moms have told me that they appreciate how genuine Harris seems on her social media, and that she often discusses topics, such as pregnancy and postpartum, in order to promote a wider conversation. Many of the people I’ve talked to also appreciate that there’s a benefit to Wesszer being a registered dietitian. Fraiche Food, Full Hearts is all about what’s dear to them — feeding and nourishing their loved ones. Their culinary roots trace back to their beloved Ukrainian Granny who inspired a love of cooking in them. And, I was pleased to see that they added many Ukrainian-based recipes into the cookbook. As a person born into a big Albertan-Ukrainian family I could related to their food and stories. Surprisingly, I found that some of the recipes differed from the ones my own Baba made — they make their Kutia by first oven-roasting the wheatberries before boiling them and then serve it with cream once the wheat berries have finished cooking, for example. I found that when I was making their recipe for Granny’s Borscht I had to veer from the recipe and sauté the onions before adding the water because it’s just the way my family makes their borscht. When I served the soup to my family and had my first spoonful it tasted just as it always does — like home.
Fraiche Food, Full Hearts is all about food, family, and home. The recipes throughout the book work for both easy, weeknight meals or those special family celebrations and holidays. Although it doesn’t really say it in the book, most of the recipes are vegetarian/vegan/gluten free and there are no meat dishes (save for a few fish recipes). Harris and Wesszer have done an excellent job creating non-meat versions of classic meaty favourites — pot pie, Wellington, and Bolognese. When (Canadian) Thanksgiving rolled around I made the Mushroom Wellington (because, despite what people believe, it is not okay to serve people side dishes just because they don’t eat meat). I can’t speak for other vegetarians, but I often find comfort in recognizable dishes — take their recipe for Veggie Pot Pie. Just as creamy and hearty as it’s poultry counterpart — I think I even preferred the biscuit topping (tender and flaky) to the more traditional puff pastry crust.
There aren’t many things my husband and daughter won’t eat. Cauliflower is one of these things, but since I enjoy it, I’ve been scouting out recipes that might change their minds. Taco Tuesday was the perfect opportunity to try out the recipe for Coconut Cauliflower Tacos w/ Pineapple Salsa. While I’m not a huge fan of deep-frying food at home (I don’t care for the mess), these tacos looked so good I decided to take a chance. Reminiscent of breaded coconut shrimp, these vegan tacos were a big hit! Served with the salsa and their Spicy Lime-Garlic Aioli (vegan as well) it was a nice change from the more bean-y variety I normally serve. I think my daughter preferred this kind — she really enjoyed the crunchy coating with the tender middle.
My daughter and I also made the Black Bean Coconut Brownies and the Vegan Caramel Sauce last Friday. This recipe is great for younger kids to help with as it is made entirely in the blender and little hands do an excellent job of scattering the coconut and chocolate chunks over the batter. Unlike a traditional brownie recipe this one is a flourless version that relies on the black bean and eggs for its structure. Not overly sweet, with a distinctly fudgy texture these brownies were a nice change. We made sure to serve them with a drizzle of the Vegan Caramel Sauce.
I’ve found this to be a very cookable cookbook — easy to source ingredients, well-written recipes with detailed steps and photos. The recipes are divided into 9 chapters: Celebration Menus, Breakfasts, Appetizers + Snacks, Salads + Soups, Main Dishes, Veggies + Sides, Desserts, Drinks, and Vegan Substitutes. Throughout my time cooking for this review I’ve been very fortunate to have a friend who’s also been cooking from Fraiche Food, Full Hearts and been willing to share the things she’s made with me. I was able to try the recipe for the Garden Bolognese and I found it to be so delicious! It’s definitely a recipe I’d love to make for my family, and I’ll do as Harris and Wesszer suggest — batch cook a double portion to freeze. It seems like the perfect hearty meal to have on hand.
With this review the publisher has given permission to include a recipe for me to share! So, I’m posting the recipe for Pink Pasta which I’ve made for my family. My daughter who adores anything pink really loved the wow-factor of eating something pink for supper, and I really appreciated how easy this recipe was to make. Unlike a traditional cream-based sauce this sauce gets its richness from soaked cashew nuts. Roasted beets add the beautiful colour and earthy sweetness and, the whole sauce benefits from a few bright splashes of lemon juice. While we’re not a dairy-free family, I did take this opportunity to try their recipe for Vegan Parm, which is a mixture of seasoning, cashews, and nutritional yeast flakes.
As they speak much about their large “clan” in the introduction, they point out how cooking for larger groups can be a fraught experience if there are many dietary needs or restrictions to consider. I feel that what Fraiche Food, Full Hearts offers is a way for everyone to enjoy a meal (stress-free) together. This book offers useful menus and some tips for hosting, as well as giving home cooks easy, manageable recipes that are delicious. If you’re curious to see how I’ve enjoyed Fraiche Food Full, Hearts with my family then, click on my custom Instagram hashtag #eatworthyfraichefood or my dedicated Facebook post.
Please note, as with all of my reviews, this post contains no affiliated links. All links are provided for interest sake.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Penguin Canada for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.