White bean cassoulet

As Christmas day approaches, we have already been stuffing ourselves with the abundance of desserts, drinks and rich meals over the holiday season.  It , therefore, only seems appropriate to have a cleansing meal before the gluttony of Christmas day begins. Bean cassoulet has been a tradition in our family for several years but I wanted to take out the fat component  of traditional  bean stews composed of duck confit and pare it down to its flavour and hardiness.  I combined several recipes to come up with this tasty and relatively fast meal which is really a show stopper its own right. I like to buy chorizo lamb merguez for its spiciness , flavor and leanness but you can substitute any sausage you like.  What makes this cassoulet particularly unique  is it’s spinach walnut pesto and parmesan crostini instead of the traditional bread crumb topping.


White bean cassoulet
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Recipe type: french
Serves: 6
  • 3 Tbls olive oil
  • 20 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 1 herb bouquet tied with string: 4 stems of fresh rosemary,4 stems of fresh oregano( or 1 tsp of dry)8-10 fresh stems of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups drained cooked great northern white beans or any firm white bean(approx. 3 cups dried soaked beans overnight and cooked for an hour)
  • 8 cups of chicken stock
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 4 links of spicy merguez or chicken sausage
  • ½ cups spinach pesto
  • 6 slices of diced bacon
  • 4 diced tomatoes
  • Garlic crostini:
  • 1 baquette
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese
  • spinach pesto:
  • ½ bunch spinach
  • 5 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts
  • 11/2 cups olive oil
  • ¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place the rack in the middle
  2. Heat up creuset or dutch oven pot on the stove and add diced bacon to cook until crisp
  3. Add diced onion, garlic, carrot,celery, herbs
  4. Add cooked beans along with 8 cups of chicken stock and white wine
  5. Stir in diced tomates and bring to a simmer on the stove
  6. Once bubbling, place in preheated oven to bake at least 2 hours until liquid reduces by at least half
  7. Grilled sausage:
  8. Lay out sausage and prick with a fork and cook under broil for approx. 10 mins. for colour.
  9. Cut sausages in half and place on top of stewing beans an hour into baking time.
  10. Spinach pesto:
  11. Chop spinach and add to blender
  12. Gradually add olive oil until well blended
  13. Add garlic,walnuts, cheese , salt and pepper
  14. Combine all ingredients in a blender until pureed smooth.
  15. Put in a bowl and leave to rest
  16. Garlic parmesan crostini:
  17. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  18. Slice baquette into 24 slices
  19. Drizzle bread with olive oil
  20. Spread crushed garlic onto each slice and sprinkle with parmesan cheese
  21. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until bread is browned but not burnt
  22. Remove from the oven and set aside until beans are ready
  23. Continue to check beans until almost all the liquid has been absorbed.
  24. Sometimes this can take up to 3 hours depending on how well cooked the beans are.
  25. Remove creuset pot from the oven and serve beans with sausage placed on top, a dollop of pesto with a crostini placed on top.

Baked gluten-free apple cider doughnuts


I’ve made a lot of gluten-free cakes and all too often, they tend to be dry and flavorless. This recipe is a nice surprise with great texture and flavour.  I found that the buttermilk  in this recipe really helps to moisten these beauties and the apple cider was a great flavor component.  They are very reminiscent of a traditional cake doughnuts and when you add a little coconut glaze with sprinkles, they look just like the real thing!  Don’t forget to get yourself a doughnut pan so you can bake these in the oven.

gluten-free apple cider doughnuts
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Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4
  • 2 cups apple cider or juice
  • ½ white sugar
  • ¼ room temp butter or coconut oil
  • ½ buttermilk
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla
  • 2 cups of flour(see below)
  • 2 tsp of baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp salt
  • gluten-free flour blend:
  • makes approx. 3 cups
  • 11/4 cup brown rice flour
  • ¾ cup sorghum flour
  • ⅔ cup tapioca starch flour
  • ¼ cup potato starch
  • 2 tsp psyllium husk
  • coconut cream:
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • ½ brown sugar
  • Bring to a boil and then simmer until thickened
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Premix flour and set aside
  3. Place apple cider in pot and reduce by half and set aside
  4. Spray doughnut pan with non stick spray
  5. Cream butter and sugar
  6. Add eggs and mix on low
  7. Mix in reduced cider, buttermilk and vanilla
  8. In a separate bowl, mix flour with baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and salt
  9. Add liquid mixture to flours just until smooth
  10. It should have the consistency of thick pancake batter
  11. Use a tablespoon to scoop into pans
  12. Bake for 10 minutes until doughnuts spring back when touched
  13. Remove from the pan and let cool on a wire rack
  14. Repeat to make 12 doughnuts





I discovered this recipe in River cottage-veg by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I modified the recipe slightly, making it simpler to make and added a little more heat and vinegar by adding hot pickled banana peppers. This appetizer spread is best made a day or 2 in advance to allow the flavors to mellow . Store in covered containers in the fridge and it can last for weeks. It’s best served  at room temperature and is delicious on dried crostini’s for a dinner party. This makes approx. 2 cups.

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Recipe type: appetizer
Serves: 6
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 6 chopped tomatoes or 1 14 oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 stalks of celery finely diced
  • 2 TBLS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 TBLS honey
  • 1 TBLS dark chocolate powder
  • 2 TBLS capers
  • 2 oz. pitted kalamata olives
  • 2 large TBLS diced pickled banana peppers
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Chop eggplant into rough 1 inch cubes and add to medium size hot pot with olive oil
  2. Fry the eggplant for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally until golden and tender
  3. Add onion, celery and garlic and continue to stir for another 5 minutes
  4. Add tomatoes , olives,capers, coco,balsamic,honey,olives and honey
  5. Cover with a lid and continue to cook and stir occasionally at least 30 minutes. You want to ensure all the eggplant is well cooked along with the rest of the veggies.
  6. Remove pot from the stove and use a stick blender to chop and blend a few times
  7. You don't want to over mix this as you still want texture.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste and add chopped banana peppers and leave to cool.
  9. Once cool, place in a sealed container in the fridge until ready to serve
  10. Serve with diced parsley.


Ginger syrup

I’ve been big into homemade preserves lately and absolutely love the flavour of ginger.  I came across this ginger syrup recipe from Saveur magazine and was very impressed with the results. I love the peppery bite this syrup has with the added black pepper. I modified the recipe by adding more sugar and  found I had to boil the syrup down considerably to get a nice thick consistency of maple syrup. This could be used on pancakes, to moisten cakes, on ice cream or even added to sodas.


Ginger syrup
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Recipe type: condiment
Serves: 4
  • 1 6 inch piece of ginger
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 11/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  1. Peel and slice ginger and add to 2 qt pot
  2. Add sugar, water and peppercorns and boil.
  3. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until almost reduced in half (30 minutes)
  4. Chill overnight, then strain into a glass or plastic bottle
  5. Refrigerate



Watermelon Gazpacho

Ever wonder what to do the rest of the gigantic watermelon you bought that doesn’t fit in the fridge and you can’t seem to consume fast enough ? The trend has been watermelon gazpacho and what a delight. It is such a nice flavor and perfect for the summer heat when served chilled. This recipe is modified from several I found online and really works well with a grilled main course.

Watermelon Gazpacho
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Serves: 4
  • 1 large tomato rough chopped
  • 1 tsp dried chilis depending on preference
  • 4 cups rough chopped seeded watermelon or whatever fits in your blender
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 TBLS minced onion
  • ½ cucumber seeded and rough chopped
  • 2 TBLS minced fresh or dried dill
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  1. Put all ingredients into blender. Pulse until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste and as many chilis as you like depending on the heat you like. Pour into bowls and serve with crumbled feta and minced cucumber and watermelon to garnish. It's even better served chilled.


Crusted cod with mustard caper sauce

Although I’ve cooked cod and other white fish a multitude of ways including battered fish and chips,  I find the best results come when it’s breaded and seared. This gives the fish a nice crunch and also holds it together better.  The easiest and pretty fool proof way is breading it first in flour, then egg and then a Panko bread crumbs. I modified the recipe to gluten free using rice Chex cereal and found the results to be equally tasty. Rice Chex cereal works well as a Panko replacement. Just grind it up in the blender and you have your crumbs ready to go.  Try serving this with quinoa and steamed chard as  a great summer dinner.

Crusted cod with mustard caper sauce
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Recipe type: gluten free dinner
Serves: 4
  • 4 6 oz fillets of cod
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup rice Chex cereal
  • salt and pepper
  • Mustard caper sauce:
  • 2 TBLS whole grain mustard
  • 1 TBLS capers, drained
  • 1 TBLS chopped or dried tarragon
  • 4 TBLS olive oil
  1. Take out fillets and dry completely with paper towel
  2. On three separate plates, place flour, beaten egg and ground Chex cereal
  3. Add a small amount of salt and pepper to each plate
  4. Heat pan to medium high heat
  5. Place fish first in flour and then completely in egg
  6. Let egg drip off and press firmly into Chex crumbs until completely covered
  7. Place oil in pan and place fish crumb side down
  8. Cook approx 4 min until crispy brown
  9. Gently turn over and cook another 2 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets
  10. Carefully remove the fish from the pan.
  11. In a separate bowl, mix together mustard capers, tarragon and olive oil
  12. Place heated quinoa as your base , stack with steamed chard and top with breaded fish
  13. Add mustard caper sauce over the top of the fish and your done.


Gluten free pasta dough

I’ve tried many gluten free pasta recipes online, and this recipe from Epicurious is by far the most authentic. The corn flour adds the tooth and flavour of semolina flour and the xanthan gum and guar gum hold it together. I’ve tried it without xanthan gum but it really needs it if you want to put it through a pasta machine.  You can mix and match your gluten free flours( is. brown rice instead of quinoa) but I would keep the potato starch for it glutinous properties.  You can purchase all your flours from Bob’s redmill and remember it’s fine corn flour NOT corn meal which will not work at all. Serve with some puttenesca sauce or meatball sauce and you’re done. Delicious!

Gluten free pasta dough
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Recipe type: dinner
Serves: 4
  • ⅔ cup corn flour
  • ½ cup quinoa flour
  • ½ potato starch flour
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 yolks from large eggs( keep the whites for merigue or sponge cake)
  1. Sift all flours
  2. Add xanthan gum, guar gum and salt and stir in
  3. Put eggs and yolks into the bowl of dry ingredients
  4. Mix by hand until well blended (about 3 minutes)
  5. The dough should be firm yet pliable like play dough
  6. If you are using a pasta machine , cut the ball of dough into quarters and roll out each piece of dough to about ½ inch thickness. If you cover the rolling pin in potato starch flour , you can roll directly. Otherwise, you can use 2 sheets of parchment and roll it in between
  7. Once rolled flat, run it through the pasta machine and keep increasing the setting.
  8. I didn't go to the lowest setting as I found it was just too thin
  9. For fettuccine, using the fettuccine setting on the pasta machine. You can also handcut
  10. For ravioli, cut the rolled out pasta into 2 inch squares pieces
  11. Add a dollop of filling to each and brush the edges with egg wash. Put a square on top and crimp the edges. A ravioli cutter can be useful
  12. Keep the drying pasta on a sheet of parchment with potato starch mixed in so it doesn't stick
  13. Add to boiling water and cook for about 3 minutes
  14. Gently remove from the pot..no need to rinse and add your favorite sauce.


Gluten free nut bread

I came across this recipe in the Bob’s Redmill cookbook and was interested in the texture and high nut protein of this bread. What’s great about it is it’s easy to make without bothering with yeast and resembles black russian rye in density. If you don’t have all the nuts on hand, you can just use sunflower and pumpkin seeds. The chia, eggs, flax and psyllium are what hold this together so nicely .This is a great after school snack with a little cheese and will fill your kids up quick. If you want to go another step, you could also slice this up thinly and double bake it to make crackers. This is a delicious winner.

Gluten free nut bread
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Recipe type: gluten free bread
Serves: 4
  • 4 eggs
  • 6 TBLS psyllium husk
  • 4 TBLS chia seeds
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup raw unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 2 TBLS buckwheat or brown rice flour
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 TBLS olive oil or coconut oil
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  2. Whisk together eggs and oil
  3. Add all other ingredients and stir until well mixed.
  4. Let stand for 10 minutes for seeds to absorb moisture
  5. Push parchment paper into 9 x 5 inch pan
  6. Scoop in mixture and press down flat with a spatula
  7. Bake for 30 minutes
  8. Remove parchment and bread from pan and bake another 30 minutes on rack
  9. Let cool completely before slicing





Easy borscht soup

Beet borscht is such a delicious, colorful comfort soup packed with vitamins and flavour.  I like to buy the whole beets with leaves and stems for more flavor and texture. If you can’t find them with the leaves, you can always add some diced kale for a little green. My son loves this soup which is a good sign. It’s delicious every time.

Easy borscht soup
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Recipe type: soup
Serves: 6
  • 3 whole beets with leaves
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 sticks of celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • ½ cup of French or puy lentils
  • natural vinegar
  • 1 can whole or diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • dill and thyme
  • chicken ,beef or vegetarian stock
  1. Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to a heated soup pot
  2. Add minced onion and garlic and stir until browned
  3. Add chopped carrots, celery, potatoes
  4. Peel beets and cut into ½ inch cubes and add
  5. Chop up washed leaves and stems and add to pot
  6. Add 6 cups of stock
  7. Add ½ cup lentils
  8. Add salt, pepper and minced spices
  9. Add 1 can of tomatoes
  10. Add 2 or 3 TBLS of natural vinegar depending on how you like it
  11. Leave to simmer for about 40 minutes
  12. You can add cooked garlic sausage or beef if you like
  13. Finish with a little dollop of sour cream


Plantain chips with spicy yogurt dip

If your looking for an easy snack super high and potassium and you like a taste of the Carribean, these tasty chips are for you. I like to buy my plantains green as they’re much lower in sugar and easier to cut and prepare. The spicy yogurt dip is the perfect compliment to this starchy snack. You won’t be able to eat just one!

Plantain chips with yogurt dip
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Recipe type: snack
Serves: 4
  • 3 green plantains
  • ¼ melted coconut oil
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • 1 tsp carribean hot sauce
  • 1 tsp honey
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees with rack in the middle
  2. Cut off top and end of each plantain and score the fruit skin just touching the flesh.
  3. Gently pull away the peel so your plantain is clean and ready to go
  4. Slice the plantains approx. ¼ thick on a diagonal
  5. Melt ¼ coconut oil and toss the fruit until well coated
  6. Add ¼ tsp salt
  7. Lay parchment or silpat on cookie sheet and lay down chips without touching
  8. Cook approx. 20 mintues per side until browned and a little crispy.
  9. Dip:
  10. Mix yogurt, caribbean hot sauce with a little honey