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Roasted Beet Salad with Spiced Chick Peas & Tahini Dressing

Beet salad, generally speaking, does not excite me. It needs textural and temperature contrast, (extreme) freshness and a brush of finesse to stand out from the crowd. Maybe the deli case versions and possibly the beets/chevre/mixed greens restaurant staples are in part responsible. Beets need attention and excitement to really shine.

Beet Salad with Tahini Dressing

I feel like maybe we have stopped thinking about beets and asking where they see themselves outside of where they have been typecast. Is it because they turn everything the colour of strawberry ice cream? Because it is a tricky colour for something that tastes so earthy to pull off. Maybe it’s because they are so intensely sweet….yet savory.

Roasted Beet Salad with Tahini Dressing

The thing is, they are totally worth a bit of a reinvention if it gets you re-interested in them, they are just so good for you. For starters, they are full of the intense pigment, betalain (also seen in pink chard stems and my favourite vacation flowers of the same colour, bougainvillea). They contain anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory powers, promote blood flow and blood purification, and help prevent anemia and constipation. All very good things if you have/had or are hoping to prevent cancer. For optimum health benefits, leave the skin on (you will hardly notice it).

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Creamy Swiss Chard & Sweet Potato Gratin

You know that ceramic dish that you have in your cupboard that is the perfect shape to make gratin potatoes in? We are going to fill it with two entire heads of rainbow chard and a giant sweet potato. Not only that, but it is going to taste so good you are going to want to make it again as part of your holiday dinner. Promise.

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This is holiday comfort food at its finest, and it’s coming from a girl who from the age of six, would circle the buffet eating as many scalloped/mashed/fried potatoes as I could, off of the mound I had scooped onto my plate before I sat down, so as to minimize the potato teasing. I know my comfort food, I now how to eat, and luckily, I also know how to make it comfortable for your insides too. Christmas on the outside and on the inside.

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Years ago, I made a version of this for a usually very health-conscious client who was pregnant and wanted only mac and cheese-style food for her last trimester. Understandable. I made it with full fat cream and gruyere cheese, which, let’s be honest, can make anything taste good. But guess what? This doesn’t taste too far off of that dairy-filled version despite its virginal, dairy-free status. If I had been smarter back then, she would have gotten this version.

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Chanterelles and Parsnip Purée

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From a young age, once I realized that they had very little to do with Cabbage Patch Kids, I paid no attention to Brussels sprouts. Did anyone when they were kids? They popped up at Christmas and Thanksgiving but were pretty easy to ignore. Once I finished cooking school and was working in fine dining, the challenge was to make them delicious (hello bacon, cream, blue cheese, char-grill and sometimes deep fry), and even then it was only for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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The general consensus seemed to be that it took all of the most intense/aggressive flavours and techniques to make them edible. You could have subbed just about any veg into one of those recipes back then and it would have tasted close to the same. It wasn’t about celebrating the Brussels sprouts, it was about making them taste like the other stuff. Secret ingredient fail.

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Indian-Spiced Creamy Kale with Rutabaga

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This week’s recipe stems from putting my foot down last week. Has anyone seen the Planet of the Apes 1? Pretty creepy, right? Did anyone’s spouse try to talk them into seeing the second one (in theatre, no less!)? Well, mine did. He will see any movie marketed towards males, which means that I wind up seeing a lot of them too. Growing up in a house full of girls, I hadn’t seen most shoot’em ups until I was more than old enough to know it was all pretend. Don’t worry though, thanks to my husband, I have been making up for lost time, and have now seen almost every worthwhile (and not so worthwhile) gun-infused/sci-fi weirdness movie spanning the last several decades, and am so much smarter for it ☺

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I read the book The Hundred-Foot Journey a few years ago and was excited when I heard they were going to turn it into a movie (it is all about cooking and food and is sooo visual!). After somehow manipulating my husband into seeing this instead of the talking, giant apes taking over the world part 2, we sat through 122 minutes of mouth watering French and Indian food, coming alive on screen. I’m still drooling just thinking about it. Somehow, we both enjoyed it immensely and were inspired to throw our previous dinner plans out the window and go to our favourite casual Indian restaurant for dinner. And cook Indian-style food for the rest of the week…

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