There are about as many flavors of honey as there are flowering plants. From the sweet floral aroma of lavender to the dark slightly bitter chestnut flowers, each imparts a distinct characteristic to honey. All over the world honey is recognized as nature’s sweetener and the bees who produce it are responsible for a vast majority of our crops. For cooking and baking, nothing beats honey for its complex, delicate and subtle flavors.
Angelo Prosperi-Porta is a well-known Sooke chef and author of the Flavours of Cooper’s Cove Guesthouse (2010) and the newly published Honey, Everyday Recipes for Cooking and Baking with Nature’s Sweetest Secret Ingredient.
“I’ve always cooked with honey and in Flavours, my last book, I used a handful of recipes using honey. I’ve always enjoyed the result from it. It has more flavor and dimension,” said Prosperi-Porta.
Honey is trending right now and is consistently popular, said Prosperi-Porta. “It really got me started on what I can do different with honey.”
It started with Bob Liptrot from Tugwell Creek Honey Farm and Meadery who taught Prosperi-Porta the technical end of bees. This translated to sections in Honey which enlighten people on the role bees play.
“One-third of what we grow is dependent on bees,” said Prosperi-Porta.
Not only does honey add an amazing flavour to foods it is also natural medicinal aid. It may help people with allergies, it boosts energy, is an immunity system builder and is great for hangovers and sore throats. Prosperi-Porta even includes a recipe for throat lozenges.
In the book, Prosperi-Porta tantalizes us with warm chocolate almond crepes with raspberry honey butter, Canadian whiskey and honey-cured salmon, braised beef short ribs with Bing cherries and balsamic glaze and cherry hazelnut tiramisu. There is something containing honey for each course or each meal of the day. The recipes are easy to follow and the many colour photographs further encourage one to try the recipes. One of his favorite recipes is fresh fig and brie bruschetta, as a starter for a casual summer meal. He recommends using honey in barbecue sauce as it adds a nice shine and texture. Roast root vegetables with honey.
“Use your imagination and if it doesn’t work – try it again. Don’t be afraid to experiment.’
Food has always been a passion for him. He grew up in an Italian family where “food was the center of everything.”
“I grew up with what my mother and other family members still do,” he said.
Prosperi-Porta ran a B&B on the edge of Cooper’s Cove for 17 years and now wants to explore further options. He taught cooking classes in Lucca, Italy, going back every year since 2006. Those years are what led him to write his first cookbook, The Flavours of Cooper’s Cove Guesthouse. He’s worked all across Canada, with many stints as a camp cook in far flung places like Nunavut and Shepherd Bay. He’s literally been out in an ocean of ice, has watched the caribou walk by and drilled six feet through ice to get water. These jobs were not about gourmet food, they were about feeding the working men – no special molds and no cream sauces – just hardy food appreciated by those who ate it.
It took Prosperi-Porta three years to finish the book and he’s happy with it. Copies can be obtained from most larger bookstores in Victoria and in Sooke at the Sooke Region Museum, Tugwell Creek Meadery and the Reading Room. If unavailable at any of those locations it can be ordered through Amazon at Barnes & Noble.
“I hope people enjoy the recipes and learn how bees operate and where honey comes from,” said Prosperi-Porta.