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Everyday Flexitarian

The truth is, a lot of people eat meat and would have a hard time removing it from their diets completely. Awareness is growing, however, and many meat eaters are mindful of where and how their meat is raised. In addition, there is a growing number of people who are eating more vegetarian meals because they recognize the health and environmental benefits. We can put these people under the category flexitarian—that is, those who have moved closer to being vegetarian but who sometimes consume meat, poultry, or fish. And it’s also people who identify themselves as meat eaters but replace meat with meat alternatives for at least some meals. This can mean two to four (or more!) meatless meals per week. It is estimated that 30 to 40 percent of the population of the United States and Canada are flexitarian, and the numbers keep growing. In this book, we carefully consider how we use meat in recipes and in our diet. Our take on cooking puts the focus on humane stewardship of animals and land, on quality meat, and on smaller amounts of meat. We reappraise the amount of animal protein that should be served with a meal, positioning meat as just one of the ingredients rather than as the central one. Meat is better savoured. We both agree that one eats and drinks not just for sustenance. We have written a book for people who cook with passion, not for technicians of the table. In our cooking classes, seminars, and workshops, we meet a lot of flexitarians. And they’re always looking for recipes that combine time-saving strategies, affordable ingredients, and great taste. We wanted to write a cookbook with recipes that could serve both the vegetarian and the meat eater.

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Gourmet Recipes to Help You Get the Most From Your Panini Press
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Rose Reisman's Family Favorites

Rose Reisman's Family Favorites

Healthy Meals for Those Who Matter Most
also available: eBook
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Friday Night Dinners

Friday Night Dinners

Menus to Welcome the Weekend with Ease, Warmth and Flair
also available: Hardcover
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100-Mile Diet Dinner

Serves 8

Although I always buy local meat and poultry, and I try to buy local produce as much as possible, I had no idea what I was in for when I agreed to host James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith (authors of The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating) at my book club. We take a lot for granted when we use rice, sugar, olive oil and lemons, for example. In the end even James and Alisa found it hard to believe that we had cooked the entire dinner with local ingredients (though I have to admit we extended the range to 150 miles at times).

It was an eye-opening exercise. We managed to chase down local canola and soybean oil, learned that the largest salt mine in the world is in Goderich, and found a great flour mill in Arva – all close to Toronto.

The challenges of eating locally vary depending on where you live. Everyone has to make compromises, and don’t forget, “almost” all local is good, too.

My biggest tip for cooking locally? Keep your ingredient lists short. Or have a 100-mile potluck dinner, so everyone can share the fun and aggravation!

Except for the kale, which should be sauteed just before serving, this entire menu can be prepared ahead.

Smoked Trout Spread

In southern Ontario, trout is the only local fish that is commercially available year round, although fresh whitefish, pike, perch and pickerel are also sometimes sold (Rick Blackwood of Mike’s in Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market is a great source of information about local fish).

We made our own mayonnaise using local oil, but you could use yogurt, instead.

Serve this with bread or crackers.

8 oz (250g) smoked trout, bones and skin removed
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp (25mL) chopped fresh chives
2 tbsp (25mL) chopped fresh dill
1/2 cup (125mL) mayonnaise or yogurt, approx.
Salt to taste
Apple cider vinegar to taste
Sprigs fresh dill or chives for garnish

1. In a food processor, combine trout, celery, chives, dill and 1/4 cup (50mL) mayonnaise. Process on/off until mixture just holds together, adding more mayonnaise if necessary. Add salt and/or apple cider vinegar to taste.

2. Serve garnished with fresh dill.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375 ml)

In a food processor, combine 2 egg yolks, 1 tbsp (15mL) apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp (5mL) dry mustard and 1/2 tsp (2mL) salt. With machine running, very slowly add 1 1/4 cups (300mL) vegetable oil through feed tube. (You can also do this in a bowl with a whisk, adding the oil drop by drop at first and graduating to a thin stream.)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups (375mL).
Braised Lamb Shanks with Wine and Herbs

Although this recipe contains tons of garlic, the long cooking time makes it unexpectedly mild and sweet. You can serve the lamb shanks on the bone or remove the meat in chunks (to avoid scaring guests with what looks like a huge hunk of meat).

Peel fresh tomatoes by cutting out the core, cutting a cross on the bottom and blanching for 20 seconds in boiling water. Cool under cold water and remove the skins, or use a soft skin peeler.

8 lamb shanks, trimmed
1 tbsp (15mL) salt
2 tbsp (25mL) vegetable oil
3 onions, coarsely chopped
12 cloves garlic, peeled
2 cups (500mL) dry red wine
2 lb (1kg) fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped, or 128-oz (796mL) can plum tomatoes, with juices
1 tbsp (15mL) fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp (2mL) dried
2 tbsp (25mL) coarsely chopped fresh parsley, optional

1. Pat lamb dry and sprinkle with salt.

2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown lamb well on all sides, in batches if necessary (this will take about 10 to 15 minutes). Remove from pan.

3. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook for a few minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil and cook for 5 to 8 minutes, or until liquid is reduced by about half.

4. Add tomatoes and thyme and bring to a boil, breaking up tomatoes with a spoon. Return shanks to pan. Place parchment paper directly on surface of lamb. Cover with lid and cook in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until meat is very tender.

5. Remove shanks from pan. Skim any fat from surface of sauce and discard. Puree sauce in a food processor or blender and return sauce to pan.

6. Remove lamb from bones in large chunks and return to sauce. Heat thoroughly. Garnish with parsley, if using.

Makes 8 servings
Caramelized Apple Crêpes with Maple Syrup

Local maple syrup and apples are legendary in Ontario. If you don’t have maple syrup, use honey, which is available locally in most places. I find most apples are good for cooking if they are very apple-y and not too tart or crisp.

2 tbsp (25mL) butter or vegetable oil
6 cooking apples, peeled, cored and cut in wedges
1/2 cup (125mL) maple syrup
10 cooked crêpes (pages 272—273)

1. Heat butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add apples and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until lightly browned.

2. Add maple syrup and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, or until apples are tender and caramelized.

3. To assemble crêpes, place crêpes, nicest side down, on a work surface. Divide apple mixture among crêpes. Roll up and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

4. Before serving, warm crêpes in a preheated 350°F (180°C) oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

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