After almost 40 years of writing food articles and cookbooks and serving as food editor for Canadian Living magazine, she accepted an invitation from James Lorimer, president of Formac Publishing in Nova Scotia, to edit a book that was dear to her heart.
Baird's task was to go through 30 cookbooks Formac had published in the past 25 years and select 400 iconic recipes from Maritime chefs, home economists, dietitians and home cooks.
“The people of the Maritimes are so generous not only with their hospitality but with their knowledge,” said Baird in an interview when “Best Recipes of the Maritime Provinces: The Best Tasting Recipes From Home Cooks and Leading Chefs” (Formac, $29.95, paperback) was recently released.
“They are very happy to share their food and their recipes and it bespeaks the kind of welcome that you don't get everywhere.”
While food editor of Canadian Living, Baird often travelled through the provinces on assignments and said she always enjoyed her trips to Eastern Canada.
“All the Maritime provinces are beautiful and some are really stunning,” she says. “They have lots of hidden treasures like wineries where you can hop on a shuttle bus and visit the various vineyards and taste wines as you go along.”
Many of the 400 recipes Baird chose for the book are a blend of old and new.
Readers will find Rappie Pies, an Acadian dish derived from the French word for "grate," referring to the method of grating potatoes for the top layer of the pie. This simple peasant fare can be made with nearly any meat, shellfish and, in the old days, sea birds.
Yet she also chose more contemporary favourites such as smoothies and cream cheese crab cakes.
Because of its nautical surroundings, there are plenty of unique recipes using lobsters, clams, mussels, scallops, salmon, oysters, haddock and halibut.
What really made Baird’s not so little job memorable was “the glorious time enjoying the stories behind the cookbooks and loving to see what they reflected.”
Here from the book is a recipe from chef Chris Profit of The Old Fish Factory Restaurant in Lunenburg, N.S. He was inspired by its reputation as a home to rumrunners and the town’s abundant supply of fresh salmon.
1 boneless, skinless salmon fillet (about 250 g/8 oz)
75 ml (1/3 cup) pure maple syrup
50 ml (1/4 cup) dark rum
30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
Salt and pepper, to taste
Melba toast rounds
Rinse salmon fillet and pat dry. In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, rum, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Place salmon in a shallow pan, drizzle with maple syrup mixture and refrigerate for 12 hours, turning several times.
Drain salmon and bake in a 180 C (350 F) oven until fish flakes when tested, allowing 10 minutes per 2.5 cm (1 inch) of thickness. Chill, slice and serve with Melba toast.
Makes 6 servings.