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


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


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


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


Risotto Primavera-a taste of Spring

It’s Saturday morning and the end of a long week. I usually spend my weekends cooking and writing and shooting photos. I will spend some time doing research and finding the right recipe for the evening meal or blog entry. Once it has all come together as a plan, I head out to my local markets to shop for the freshest ingredients.

I am very lucky to live in a neighbourhood that is full of great markets, cheese shops, butchers and fruit stands. Often, I can get whatever I need at the local merchants. In summer we have a farmers’ market in the park where we can get locally grown organic produce and baked goods.

All of this is in the heart of Canada’s biggest city, Toronto.

I have spent the last month taking you on a tour of Italy and writing about regional Italian cuisine. I have really enjoyed making all of the dishes that I featured because I love Italian food for its simplicity and great flavours. Italian cooking is all about the fresh ingredients. I also loved reliving my travels through Italy by sharing those stories. I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as I have.

My last entry in the series is Risotto Primavaera adapted from a new cookbook called The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. The book contains wonderful traditional recipes and great photos of the Tuscan region. Because I used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock it makes a very tasty vegetarian and gluten-free dish. Cooking the peas in the wine and stock made them slightly mushy but full of flavour. In fact, the flavours were so well- balanced and delicious the leftovers were just as wonderful as they were on the first day.

Risotto Primavera

Makes 4 servings


1 cup fresh or frozen peas
3 large carrots, peeled
1 bunch of asparagus
5 ½ cups vegetable stock
½ cup white wine
2 cups Carnaroli or Arborio rice
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. butter
½ cup grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese


Break the asparagus stems where they naturally snap and steam or roast them until cooked but still crunchy.

Slice carrots in diagonal medallions about ¼ inch thick and steam them until cook but still crunchy.

In a large saucepan, heat the stock and wine to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer and add peas.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy 6 quart pot over medium heat. Add rice and onion and sauté couple of minutes , stirring to coat and brown the rice.
Add 1 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Gradually ladle in the stock one ladle a t a time allowing the rice the rice to absorb the liquid as you stir. Keep stirring and ladling in the rest of the liquid and peas until the rice is done, about 20 minutes.
Add 1 tbsp. butter and stir.
Remove from heat and add the zest and lemon juice and Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve rice immediately in large shallow bowls with vegetables surrounding the rice.

Recipe adapted from The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances Mayes and Edward Mayes

Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake

I have been experimenting lately with flourless cake recipes. I have one daughter and a few close friends who are celiacs so I need to expand my favourite desert list to include some gluten free options. I know can always take the easy way out and serve fresh fruit or gelato but sometimes I prefer to bake something special for my guests.

This Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake can be gluten free as long as your use good quality chocolate that is gluten free. This cake is more dense than a traditional flour-based cake because it is made with ground, toasted almonds which I think it add a richness to the texture.



6 ounces good quality Bittersweet Chocolate (70% Cacao)

¼ cup espresso coffee

10 tablespoons butter

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

6 large eggs, separated

¼ teaspoon salt

2 cups almonds, toasted and finely ground


Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-inch springform pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. In the top of a double boiler or in a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water, melt the chocolate and coffee.With an electric mixer and a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until ivory coloured. Add the egg yolks, two at a time. Continue to beat until the mixture is light and airy. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate.In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. With the beater running, add two tablespoons sugar and beat until glossy. Fold the ground almonds into the whites. Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg white mixture.

Pour into the prepared pan. Place in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Bake 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Bake an additional 45 minutes. Turn the oven down to 300 degrees and bake 15 to 20 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave in the oven, with the door ajar, for another 30 minutes.

Cool on a rack. Remove the sides of the pan. Serve sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar.

Recipe from