Cedar + Salt, Vancouver Island Recipes from Forest, Farm, Field and Sea

It often surprises me how easy it can be to take for granted, or even forget, just how incredible this island is. Sometimes it is a visitor who helps to put a fresh take on it and lets us see what surrounds us. And sometimes, it is a book that stops us in our tracks and makes us remember how lucky we are to call this island home. If you find yourself in need of a little nudge towards gratitude, our friends at Touchwood have done it again and produced another stunning cookbook celebrating all that Vancouver Island has to offer. Cedar + Salt, Vancouver Island Recipes from Field, Farm, Forest and Sea was released on October 8, and we are fortunate to be able to give you a peek here at eatmagazine.ca.

Award-winning local cookbook author and owner of Olive the Senses, Emily Lycopolus, has teamed up with editorial food photographer DL Acken once more. While Acken was the photographer for Lycopolus’ earlier cookbooks (The Olive Oil & Vinegar Lover’s Cookbook, Italy, Greece, Spain and Syria for Olive Oil & Vinegar Lovers), in Cedar + Salt she is co-author, and the duo take turns introducing recipes and providing compelling backstories to different ingredients.

The book opens with lush, evocative photos that, along with the poetic introductions by both authors, conjure up childhoods spent in nature, picking blackberries, fishing, exploring, tasting. The book is divided into four sections—field, farm, forest, and sea—with recipes showcasing island-grown ingredients harvested from each of these four zones. Even if you already feel well acquainted with this island’s bounty, there will be something here to surprise you. Each recipe puts a spotlight on different island ingredients, gently encouraging us to reach for locally grown and milled red fife flour, learn a bit about the island’s history as the home of BC’s first dairy cooperative, or introducing the traditional Indigenous name for Pacific smelt (oolichan or candlefish). All these details contribute to a book that is generous in sharing knowledge and respect for the different ecosystems that feed us

Some recipes are more suggestive than prescriptive, such as the Summer Bounty Veggie Platter (p 56), offering a well-curated combination of summer veggies to create an impressive platter. The writing is friendly and accessible, while the accompanying photographs inspire. The recipe for Deep-Fried Zucchini Blossoms with Ricotta, Mint and Sugar Snap filling made me regret only admiring zucchini blossoms in market stands this summer, and not being brave enough to try cooking with them yet, a mistake I will have to wait until next summer to correct.

The section on forest includes a beautiful hand-drawn introduction to some of the island’s wild mushrooms, and a reminder to forage with guidance from an experienced guide, while the section on sea provides a similar introduction to the oysters of Vancouver Island. A helpful resource section at the end of the book includes lists of seasonal farmer’s markets, farm-to-table restaurants, and offers a table of substitutions and replacements, making it accessible to cooks and bakers who may not have access to all the listed ingredients.

This is a thoughtful cookbook – one for our time, when the food we eat is not just about achieving the best flavour and long-lasting sustenance (though of course those considerations remain a constant), but also when the ingredients we reach for and the food businesses we support are a reflection of how we value our community and how we treat the planet. It offers a quiet call to action and reminds us of the importance of supporting our local food economy. We all have something to gain by strengthening food security on this island we call home, and this beautiful book demonstrates that this is certainly not a hardship. As DL Acken writes, “This Island is vast in flavours, rich in ingredients and culinary innovation—and it’s all right here, just waiting for you to enjoy.”


Aged Cheddar, Smoked Ham, and Apple Galette

This galette is a delicious combination of sharp aged cheddar, salty ham, and sweet apples. You can sub in any of your favourite cheeses, but I prefer the smooth depth of a good, aged cheddar. Paradise Island Cheeses are a big favourite of mine. Serve this with a green salad for a delicious lunch or topped with a fried egg for a special breakfast treat

Serves 6–8


1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp thyme leaves
½ tsp fine sea salt
½ cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
5–6 Tbsp cold water
1 large egg
1 Tbsp milk


1 Tbsp salted butter
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
¾ cups milk
2 Tbsp grainy mustard
2 cups grated aged cheddar cheese
1 cup (1-inch) cubed smoked ham
2–3 large baking apples, cored, cut into ¼-inch slices (peel left on)
1 tsp grated lemon zest
Flaked sea salt and cracked black pepper

To make the pastry, place the flour, thyme, and salt in a food processor. Pulse once to combine. Add all the butter and pulse a few more times until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is cut down into pea-sized pieces. Add the cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time, pulsing in between to bring the dough together.

Dump the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form it into a disc. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the filling, first melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat and add the flour. Stir to combine and cook until the flour begins to brown and has a slightly nutty aroma. While whisking constantly, add the milk and continue to stir until the roux thickens. Remove from the heat and add the grainy mustard. Set aside.

In a large bowl, place the cheese, ham, apple slices, lemon zest, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss lightly just to combine.

Place the dough on a well-floured work surface and roll it into a 12-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet.

Spread the mustard roux over the middle of the pastry, leaving a 2-inch-wide border along the perimeter. Top with the cheese, ham, and apple mixture. Fold the bare edges of the dough in towards the centre to form a rustic crust.

Make an egg wash by beating the egg with the milk. Brush the crust with the egg wash and bake the galette for 25–30 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Remove the galette from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 5–10 minutes before serving.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Reprinted with permission from Cedar + Salt by DL Acken and Emily Lycopolus, 2019 TouchWood Editions. Copyright © 2019 by DL Acken and Emily Lycopolus.

Cedar + Salt
Vancouver Island Recipes from Forest, Farm, Field and Sea
DL Acken and Emily Lycopolus
Touchwood Editions, 2019

Written By:

Rebecca Baugniet is a freelance food writer and editor living on Canada’s West Coast with her husband and their four children. The author of three published cookbooks, Rebecca has also written for EAT Magazine and for Montréal ...

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