In the testing kitchen with Lucy Waverman
“This is why you can’t say just ‘squash’ in a recipe,” says the Toronto food writer Lucy Waverman as she and her two recipe testers sample vegetables in the kitchen of her Forest Hill home. In front of us are three bowls containing three different varieties: the visually pleasing (but watery and stringy) acorn squash, the smoky (but bland) delicata and the unanimous favourite, the buttery hubbard squash.
Even though her new cookbook, A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen, is being released next week, Waverman is spending the afternoon concocting new recipes and getting her assistants to make sure her recipes are easy to follow. This shouldn’t be a hard task; the recipes in her new book all involve less than 10 steps and are written in bullet-point format. Highlights include a doughnut bread pudding and a six-step roasted duck with cherries.
“I think it has to do with being a cooking teacher in the past, so I know how to break it down for people to understand,” she says, scooping up some hubbard squash. “This book is a menu cookbook, so it’s split up by months and holidays because people want to know what to make with that chicken.”
Oddly enough, the Scotswoman has a section on Chinese New Year with steamed grouper and dan dan noodles. “I love Asian food,” she says. “If you were to ask me what I’d like for dinner, I’d choose Chinese food. Peking duck is just genius.”
Like all recipes, those in her new book were concocted through improvisation, or, in Waverman’s case, using whatever she has in the fridge. Sometimes she simply wakes up in the morning with the urge to make a specific item—say, an upside-down pear cake—and that becomes the next recipe for the day.
“I think we’ve come to the end of the chef cookbook. I took a 30-second look at the Momofuku cookbook the other day and thought, I’ll have to go find some special pork. I’m never going to make this.”
A Year in Lucy’s Kitchen, by Lucy Waverman, Random House, available on Oct. 13, $35.