Beet, Red Onion and Endive Salad for a Meat Free Monday

I love going to my local bookstore. I try to spend an hour each week browsing through the various sections, seeking out what’s new and finding a treasure to bring home, I particularly love the food and wine section where I can see the latest cookbooks.

Last week I was wandering through aisles when I stumbled upon The Meat Free Monday Cookbook. I am ashamed to admit that I did not know much about this campaign until I started to read the book. Meat Free Monday is a program that was started by Paul McCartney and his family to create awareness about the environmental impact of the meat industry. Their theory is that if we all stopped eating meat for one day each week we could save money, eat healthier and have a positive impact on the environment by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with livestock production.

The book provides 52 weeks of menus that include a breakfast, a packed lunch, a dinner, a side or a dessert recipe. Each of the weeks are segregated by the four seasons. contributors to the book include celebrity and chef supporters like Mario Batali, Yotam Ottolenghi, Kevin Spacy, Twiggy, Woody Harrelson,  and others.

I know many of you already skip meat once a week and many are vegetarians. I had already decided to cut down on my meat consumption as part of my commitment to a healthier lifestyle. I am not ready to give it up completely; at least not yet, but this book has certainly made me think harder about the idea.

That said, I am still constantly looking for great recipes and this book is a wonderful source. The recipes look so fresh and inviting and the photographs by Tara Fisher are beautiful.

This Beet, Red Onion and Endive salad is one of the most delicious salads I have ever had. I made it as a starter course for dinner last week and we ended up having second helpings before moving on to the main course because it was so good. It would make a great dinner or lunch entre.

Beet, Red Onion and Endive Salad

Ingredients

5 golf ball-size beets, trimmed of stalks and leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 cup pecans
2 tablespoons clear honey
2 red onions, cut into wedges
3 garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled
2 ripe pears, quartered, cored and sliced
2 heads of endive trimmed into separate leaves
1 large handful of arugula
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled

FOR THE DRESSING

5 tbsp. walnut oil
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place a large piece of foil in a small roasting pan, put the beets in the middle, season and drizzle with half of the olive oil and the red wine vinegar. Wrap the foil over the beets and seal tightly, Roast the beets for 1 hour or until tender when tasted with the point of a sharp knife. Remove from the roasting pan, unwrap and cool.

Put the pecans in the roasting pan and drizzle with the honey. Stir to coat then roast for about 10 minutes until sticky and glazed. Remove from the roasting pan and cool the nuts on a plate.

Put the onions on a baking sheet, add garlic cloves, drizzle with the remaining olive oil, and roast for about 30 minutes until tender and starting to caramelize.

To make the dressing, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skins into a small bowl. Add the remaining dressing ingredients and gently whisk until just combined. Peel the beets and cut into wedges. In a large bowl, layer the beets, onion, pears, endive, arugula, crumbled feta, and honey coated nuts. Generously drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe from The Meat Free Monday Cookbook contributed by Stella McCartney

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Blueberry Crumb Squares with Icewine

The last time that I was in the Niagara region, I found a beautiful cookbook called The Ontario Table. This book was availalble at the local wine shops in the vineyards but is also available online. The book features local harvest, local produce, and stories of local growers and suppliers from across Ontario. 

The photography in this book is outstanding, making it a delight to read. It also features some wonderful recipes that I plan to try out over the summer. I plan to visit some of the featured growers to taste what they have to offer.

This recipe stood out as a modern version of the classic blueberry squares. I could not resist using the Icewine because it is my favourite sweet dessert wine. As it turns out, I was right. The Icewine was a perfect compliment to the fresh blueberries. The squares were amazing!

Blueberry Crumb Squares with Icewine 

Ingredients

1 cup (250ml) sugar
2 ½ cups (645 ml) all-purpose flour
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 ¼ cups (310ml) unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp. (5ml) baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 cups (1l) fresh blueberries
1 tbsp. (15ml) sweet white wine (I used Icewine from Ontario)
½ cup (125ml) sugar
3 tsp. (15ml) cornstarch

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees f.

Grease a 9 x 13 inch pan. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the butter and then the beaten egg. Divide mixture in half and add baking powder and salt to one half. Pat this half of the dough into the prepared pan.

In another bowl mix the blueberries with the sweet wine to completely coat them. Stir together the sugar and corn starch and sprinkle over the wet berries. Spoon the berry mixture evenly over the crust.  Crumble the remaining half of the dough over the berry layer.

Bake for 50 minutes or until slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares. Make about 16 squares.

Recipe from the Ontario Table by Lynn Ogryzlo, Photography by Jon Ogryzlo

Mixed Berry Galette


SUNDAY SWEETS

This is a lazy weekend. Maybe it is because I have been running around so much these past few months. So much so; that the winter has passed me by in a mere blink. I plan to spend my Sunday cooking and spending time with my children. My three daughters are all adults now so spending time with them is like spending time with friends.

I also have one grandson who is 14 months old. He is so adorable. He just has to smile at me and I am putty in his hands. One of my close friends refers to him as the little man in my life and I just laugh.

I continue to work on my baking skills even though I am busy. I want to look back on this year as the year that I rediscovered my love of baking. Of course; I will continue to try out some unique and delicious cooking recipes, as well.

This recipe is from Baking With Julia, a cookbook written by Dorie Greenspan that features recipes from the television series by the same name. Julia Child described it as “a remarkably full course in the art of baking”. Thank you Julia and thank you Dorie for this lovely book.

Mixed Berry Galette

Ingredients

½ recipe Galette Dough, chilled
1 ½ cups mixed fresh berries (I used blackberries, blueberries and raspberries)
1 tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. cold unsalted butter

Directions

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and roll into an 11-inch circle that is about 1/8 inch thick. Since the dough is soft, you will need to lift it now and then and toss some more flour under it and over the top. Roll the dough around the rolling pin and transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

Spread the berries over the dough, leaving a 2 to 3 inch border. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the sugar over the fruit and drizzle with honey. Cut the butter into slivers and scatter it on top of the fruit. Fold the uncovered border of the dough over the filling, allowing the dough to pleat as you Iift it up and work your way around the galette. Dip a pastry brush in water, give the edge of the crust a light coating, and sprinkle the crust with the remaining teaspoon of sugar.

Bake the galette for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and crisp. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the galette rest on the sheet for 10 minutes. Slip a wide spatula or a small baking sheet under the galette and slide it onto the cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature, cutting the tart with a pizza wheel or a sharp knife.

The galette is best eaten the day that it is made.

Recipe from Baking With Julia written by Dorie Greenspan

Galette Dough

Ingredients

3 tbsp. sour cream (or yogurt or buttermilk)
1/3 cup ice water
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
7 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 6 to 8 pieces

Directions

Stir the sour cream and the ice water together in a small bowl, set aside.

Put the flour, cornmeal, sugar and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade; pulse to combine.

Drop the butter pieces into the bowl and pulse 8 to 10 times, or until the mixture is speckled with pieces of butter that vary in size from bread crumbs to peas. With the machine running, add the sour cream mixture and process just until the dough forms soft, moist curds.

Remove the dough from the food processor, divide in half. And press each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 2 hours.

The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for a day or two, or it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Thaw, still wrapped, in the refrigerator. It is convenient to roll the dough into rounds, place parchment paper between each round, freeze them wrapped in plastic, this way you will need only 20 minutes to defrost a round at room temperature before it can be filled, folded into a galette and baked.

Recipe from Baking with Julia written by Dorie Greenspan

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

SUNDAY SWEETS

I am in love with Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table”. Every time I open this cookbook I remember my trips to France and the wonderful food that can be found in that glorious country. From the patisseries in Paris, to the fields of Provence and the seaside villages of the southern coast; France is filled with culinary delights and extraordinary experiences. There is a reason that France has been a world leader in fine cuisine for centuries. The art of cooking and enjoying great food is in the hearts and souls of her people.

For my next baking adventure I really wanted to make Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake from Dorie’s book. This is a recipe that Dorie wrote after watching her friend bake this amazing cake without a recipe. I think it will soon be called Dorie’s Apple Cake since it has turned into a modern day classic.

This cake is so delicious and easy to bake. The abundance of apples and hint of rum add a burst of flavour to its coffee cake like texture. I did not have an 8 inch springform pan so I used my 9.5 inch springform pan. Mine turned out a little shorter and wider than Dorie’s but nonetheless, it was delicious.

I will definitely add this one to my favourite recipe collection and bake it often.

Marie-Hélène’s Apple Cake

Ingredients

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of salt
4 large apples (if you can, choose 4 different kinds)
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tbsp. dark rum
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Directions
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan and put it on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and put the springform on it.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in small bowl.

Peel the apples, cut them in half and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1 to 2 inch chunks.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they’re foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and when it is incorporated, add half the melted butter, followed by the rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it’s coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and spread evenly.

Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it’s fully opened, make sure there aren’t any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper, and invert it onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.

The cake can be served warm or at room temperature, with or without a little softly whipped, barely sweetened heavy cream or a spoonful of ice cream. Marie-Hélène’s served her cake with cinnamon ice cream and it was a terrific combination.

Recipe from Around My French Table by Dorie Greenspan

Chef Lynn Crawford Returns to Her Roots

Last night I had a great time at Toronto’s George Brown College, School of Culinary Arts. I was attending a book signing event for George Brown College Alumni, Chef Lynn Crawford’s new cookbook, Pitchin In. The book is a wonderful compilation of the recipes and food ingredients that Chef Lynn experienced while filming her TV show, Pitchin In. The book is filled with beautiful photos, and loads of wonderful recipes that I cannot wait to try.

The evening was filled with laughter and excitement while Lynn graciously shared her experiences while filming the show and throughout her extensive culinary career.  The room was filled with young chefs in training and fans of Chef Lynn who came from all over Ontario in spite of a winter storm.

Lynn has such an enormous passion for food and for people who her excitement is contagious. She may be Canada’s top female chef but talking to her is like talking to a neighbour or a friend. She has the charismatic personality that makes you feel happy to meet her.

Chef Lynn started her culinary career in Toronto after training at George Brown College. She went on to gain international acclaim during her 24 year years with the Four Seasons Hotels which included time as the Executive Chef in both the Toronto and New York City hotels. She has been seen on the Food Network on Restaurant Makeover, Iron Chef America, Pitchin In and recently as a judge on Top Chef Canada.

She returned to Toronto in 2010 to open her restaurant Ruby WatchCo and her gourmet store Ruby Eats in Toronto’s trendy Riverdale/Leslieville area. I have not yet been to Ruby Watchco but I do plan to go soon.

Special thanks to our hosts for the evening, The Cookbook Store.

Chilled Tomato Soup with Feta and Olives

I have been spending some time going through my cookbooks lately. I look for ideas of what to make or I look at the photographs for ideas on styling and props. At least that is how it all starts.

As I find dishes that I have made in the past the memories of those meals start to seep into my thoughts and the whole thing becomes a walk down memory lane. It is like looking at your grandmother’s best cookie recipe and instead of thinking about what you need to do to make them you remember yourself as a child, helping her stir the gooey mixture in the bowl. You remember the anticipation while the fresh baked cookies cooled and the sweet, chewy sensation that you had when you were finally able to try one.

I recently purchased a coobook called Harvest to Heat which I am certain is going to be the source of many magical dinners and memories for me. It is a compilation of recipes from America’s chefs, farmers and artisans that creates an appreciation for the wonderful food that is being produced locally.

This recipe was contributed by Chef Daniel Boulud. The orginal recipe called for hot sauce but I prefer my soups to be milder. The flavours are amazing.

Chilled Tomato Soup with Feta and Olives

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

3 lb. ripe tomatoes (preferably heirlooms)
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
½ c. thickly sliced leeks (white part only)
¼ c. diced fresh fennel
¼ c. diced celery
1 large red pepper, split and seeded
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
Bouquet garni (2 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, and 2 sprigs fresh basil tied together with butcher’s twine)
1 tbsp. tomato paste
3 c. chicken or vegetable broth
Celery salt
Kosher salt and pepper

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the fresh tomatoes for 1 minute. Drain well and when cool enough to handle, slip off and discard skins and seeds. Roughly chop the tomatoes, put in a bowl with their juices and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, leeks, fennel, celery, red peppers, garlic and bouquet garni. Cook until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken or vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and simmer for 20 minutes. Add the chopped fresh tomatoes, return to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Remove the vegetable-broth mixture from the heat and let cool. Transfer to a large bowl, cover, and refrigerate until cold, about 1 to 2 hours.

Remove and discard bouquet garni. In a food processor or blender, puree the soup (in batches) until smooth. Season to taste with celery salt, kosher salt and pepper; cover and chill until ready to serve. The soup will keep in the refrigerator, tightly covered for a few days.

To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls or one large serving bowl and garnish with feta, olives, basil, and a drizzle of olive oil.

Original Recipe by Daniel Boulud from Harvest to Heat by Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer