The Main (Recipes)

By Anthony Sedlak


Published by Whitecap Books

(NOTE: available through

After testing this cookbook I can honestly say that Anthony Sedlak is my new favourite chef. His book entitled The Main: Recipes is a wonderful collection of well thought out dishes where each meal idea revolves around one particular ingredient (such as apple cider vinegar, aged cheddar cheese, mushrooms). His style is uncomplicated, and even though you might be intimidated by the photos of such professional looking food don’t be fooled – every recipe I tried was straightforward and easy. The dishes just look like it took days and a culinary degree to put together. How great is that for impressing your dinner guests?!

At first I have to admit I was a little skeptical about this book. The only thing I knew about Anthony Sedlak was that he was 23 years old when he won Foodnetwork Canada’s Superstar Chef Challenge and became the host of his own show a year later. And really, how could someone so young be accomplished enough to publish a cookbook let alone have their own television series?! And I wasn’t the only one with doubts: Mr. Spock was even more skeptical as Anthony is young, cute, and not from White Rock.

But then we started watching his show (also titled The Main) and instantly became fans of his approach to food, his easy, relaxed style, and the obvious passion he has for cooking. Despite the fact that I was now a fan, I was too intimidated to test any of his recipes which looked fantastic but I thought would be way over my culinary head. It wasn’t until I bought the cookbook that I decided to take the plunge, and what a happy surprise it was to realize that the recipes are surprisingly easy while tasting absolutely FABULOUS!!!

A fellow North Vancouverite, Anthony began working in the food industry at age 13 and hasn’t looked back since. Often described as the “lovechild of Jamie Oliver and Anthony Bourdain”, he won the silver medal representing Canada at the 2006 Hans Bueschken World Junior Chef Challenge in New Zealand, has worked at London’s famed La Trompette restaurant, and continues to host Foodnetwork Canada’s The Main. Anthony’s newest endeavor is at the newly opened Corner Suite Bistro De Luxe in Vancouver, where he is the Executive Chef. Hopefully Mr. Spock and I will be able to dine there on our next date night. Anyone interested in babysitting?!

I will be DEFINITELY moving this book to my little VIP shelf above the stove, the highest honour a cookbook can hope to achieve in my kitchen. Every single recipe I’ve tried has been a success, including the French onion soup, Asian-style chicken, and scalloped potatoes. One feature of this cookbook that really appeals to me is the section before each meal where Anthony gives a timeline for preparing all of the dishes, a tool that I found very helpful in reducing kitchen stress and ensuring everything is ready at the same time.

In conclusion, I have to say that I’m actually having a hard time letting go of this book. But as Mr. Spock keeps reminding me, I have many other cookbooks lining my shelves and waiting to be discovered!

To read my interview with Chef Anthony Sedlak, click here.

Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Cannelloni

RATING: 4 out of 5

RicottaTHE TEST: When I’m really hungry and feeling a little raw from life, there’s nothing better than a plate full of yummy pasta to pick me up and fill my stomach with comfort. Especially baked pasta, which in my mind is synonymous with family and casual entertaining. There is no fussing and mucking around. Just time spent enjoying each other’s company while warm wafts of amazing aromas come from the oven.

The day I tested this recipe we had my sister-in-law and her boys over for dinner, which shows just how much I trust in Anthony Sedlak as it is a cardinal rule in our house not to try a new recipe when you have guests over. But I figured it’s family, and besides I had complete faith in this cookbook. But I have to admit I started to panic when I saw the pitiful amount of spinach in the frying pan! Immediately my mind went into damage control mode, and I began wondering about a dinner back-up plan because there was no way this was going to be enough food. Taking a deep breath I pressed on, knowing we had a drawer of take-out menus should the need arise. Adding the ricotta mixture to the spinach did nothing to alleviate my concerns, and even the quantity of Béchamel sauce looked skimpy. By now I was breaking out in a nervous sweat, memories of past lasagna attempts where I ended up with a pan full of tomato sauce and not much more flooding my mind.

I doubled up on the amount of tomato sauce, as in the instructions Anthony mentions that if you use dried cannelloni tubes (which I did) that you will need more sauce and a longer cooking time. By the way he does include a recipe for making your own pasta from scratch, and yet in his recipe preamble he doesn’t make you feel in anyway inferior should you take the easy way out with premade pasta. Thanks for not judging Anthony!

This recipe was surprisingly easy to throw together, even the Béchamel sauce (which I have always considered to be a difficult culinary feat achieved only by French people) came together easily. While making the tomato sauce I was confused as to if I was supposed to leave it chunky or puree the mixture. In the end I kind of half-mashed the sauce, still leaving it with a chunky texture but making it more malleable than if I had left it alone. By the time I put the pan into the oven, I was genuinely surprised to learn that the quantities had indeed been perfect! I had not run short of spinach-ricotta filling, the Béchamel or tomato sauce. Whew.

Can 1Can 2Can 3Can 4

THE RESULTS:Since it appears that I have rambled on quite a bit in the test section, I will keep this short and sweet: the cannelloni rocked! What I loved the best about this dish was that it didn’t pretend to be anything else. In no way did the recipe try to disguise itself in more pretentious clothing until you no longer even recognized it as cannelloni. The dish was a perfect combination of classic flavourings, the way I like my pasta to taste. If I was to make one suggestion for possible improvement, it would be to add another element to the filling. My sister-in-law thought crab would be a nice touch, while Mr. Spock recommended the addition of ground beef. Personally I thought some sautéed mushrooms would partner well with the spinach, adding a nice meatiness to the dish while still keeping it vegetarian.


By the end of the meal I found myself feeling so confident I think I’d like to try it again using fresh pasta sheets. As for making my own pasta from scratch? Who knows, perhaps by the time this blog is fully underway I may feel inspired to give it a try!

Slow-Cooked Tangy Short Ribs

RATING: 4.5 out of 5

THE TEST: Mr. Spock and I have wanted to master short ribs for a long time, therefore when we saw this recipe we immediately wanted to give it a try. So I sent my hubby off to our local butcher. Not surprisingly, he came home all knowledgeable about the world of ribs. According to the newly educated Mr. Spock, the proper terminology for the specific cut of ribs needed for this recipe is called “kalbi”, which is often used in Korean BBQ.

Short Rib

Heeding Anthony’s warning that these finger licking ribs would disappear in no time, we ended up doubling the recipe. Good thing too! As soon as people heard we were making short ribs, suddenly places at our dinner table became scarce. (Looks like I’ll have to get over my fear of testing new recipes with guests over!)

Apple Cider Vinegar

Because of the large amount of ribs I was working with, I ended up browning them in small batches to ensure each piece got nice and crispy before transferring to the oven. This was a bit time consuming, but it did give me an opportunity to incorporate the mise en place concept. (Yes, that is an example of me using jargon but I couldn’t help myself…I just heard this term for the first time and had to throw it in my post! Translated this phrase means ‘everything in its place’, and involves not only prepping all of your ingredients but having your work space cleaned and ready to go as well).

As I write this post and look back at the photos, my mouth is already beginning to salivate! The smell alone as the sauce simmered was tantalizing, the combination of the sweet and tangy virtually irresistible. The hardest part of this recipe? Waiting an hour until they were done!

Demerara Brown Sugar

THE RESULTS: My three-year old summed up the success of this recipe the best: just before going to bed she asked if we could “please make that yummy meat again but not have anybody over so we could eat it all ourselves.” Good idea!

The meat was tender and the sauce absolutely delicious. The combination of the sweetness from the brown sugar, the richness of the meat, and the acidity of the apple cider vinegar made this a phenomenal dish.

*Click here for a copy of the recipe for Slow-Cooked Tangy Short-Ribs

Slow-Cooked Tangy Short Ribs

World Famous Burger with Homemade BBQ Sauce and Cabbage-Celeriac Coleslaw

RATING: 5 out of 5

Cabbage-Celeriac ColeslawTHE TEST: The level of deliciousness these burgers ooze from the photos made the recipe a natural choice for testing. Plus for a long time I have wanted to experiment with celeriac, but always thought this celery flavoured root would be difficult to prepare. To my surprise, it peeled easily and sliced well. The smell of celery was pretty intense (good thing I happen to like that particular vegetable) and despite numerous washings, my hands held the odor for the rest of the day.

I assembled the cabbage-celeriac coleslaw the day before making the burgers, which saved on time. If I had prepared the homemade BBQ sauce beforehand as well, I would have been laughing in the leisure time department (the sauce keeps for up to a week in the fridge).

While reducing the apple cider vinegar for the BBQ sauce, the pungent acidity of the vinegar was overpowering and lingered in our kitchen for the rest of the night. However, once the ketchup, chipotle peppers and molasses were added along with the spices, the sauce really began to smell like BBQ. Mmmm…

The burger mixture came together very quickly and easily, and with Mr. Spock manning the grill my work was soon done!

GrillHomemade BBQ Sauce

THE RESULTS: Simply put, this burger blew me away. The flavour of the patty alone was amazing, holding the perfect amount of seasoning without losing the beef taste. The BBQ sauce had some nice heat although Mr. Spock found the spice too distracting from the overall burger, and the smokiness from the chipotle peppers and bourbon paired wonderfully with the beef. The crunch from the coleslaw provided a great texture, and it also added a nice creamy coolness to counteract the spice from the sauce. The addition of aged white cheddar cheese completed this burger, giving it a welcome sharpness.

In my opinion this burger goes hand in hand with wine and linen napkins rather than beer and paper plates. Mr. Spock agreed that it was definitely more on the gourmet side, but found this a nice departure from the usual burger.

(As a side note, I think this BBQ sauce would work well with ribs or even basted on a rotisserie chicken).

World Famous Burger