19 June 2009

Ricardo Larivee Speaks to Me With Falafels

Falafels withTarator bi Tahini Sauce
If you have been following More Than Burnt Toast you will know I have started a weekly feature to highlight Canadian Chefs. Through your TV networks, or perhaps on other blogs, or even just right here on More Than Burnt Toast you may have heard of some of our Canadian chefs. For those of you who haven't, I hope you will find it interesting to see what our chefs are up to, a little about their history and how they came to love what they do. For the next few months I will be featuring one of our Canadian chefs each week. There will be some chefs you have heard of and adore and some lesser known who are up and coming. As the ninth installment in my Canadian Chef series I introduce you to:

Ricardo Larrivee

In the 1980s, Ricardo's love for food brought him to the Institut de tourisme et d'hotellerie du Quebec (ITHQ), Quebec's top hospitality institute where he had his sight set on working in the hotel business. He couldn't see his life in an office and like most of us the daily grind of restaurant work failed to satisfy his culinary inventiveness and exuberant personality, and he turned to communications, studying in Ottawa.

For Ricardo food is something to be shared, celebrated and enjoyed!!!!! He says, "Because I didn’t know anybody, I was inviting people every weekend to my house just to get to know people and to have friends. And, people knew that at the station and they always said, “If Ricardo invites you, you have to go, the food is very good.” The director of the station heard it and he called me and said we need somebody to talk about international food." His culinary inventiveness earned him his first position as a food reporter, at CBC radio in Regina, Saskatchewan for one summer.

Caught in the massive CBC layoffs Ricardo returned to his home province of Quebec and started over to combine his two passions. He shared his enthusiasm and his recipes while working as a food reporter for television, radio, and newspapers. For 12 years Ricardo was a household name in Quebec and left his mark on numerous shows including Saveurs de saisons, Menu a la carte, Pêché mignon, Secrets de famille, Indicatif présent, Christiane Charrette, and Beau temps pour s’étendre, in addition to appearing on Saisons de Clodine on the TVA television network. He also delighted readers with his column in the lifestyle pages of the daily newspaper La Presse.

In 2002 he launched a new cooking show on Radio-Canada television as well as his magazine. They are both simply called.... Ricardo. Once again he met with resounding success. The Edmonton Journal's Judy Schultz called Ricardo "Quebec's answer to Jamie Oliver."

The rest of Canada "met" Ricardo with a "Food and Lifestyle" report on HomeRun, a CBC Montreal afternoon radio show hosted by Bernard St-Laurent. We now see him daily on his widely acclaimed Food Network show Ricardo and Friends where he brings his exuberant love of cooking to all of our kitchens with a diverse selection of well-tested recipes. He cooks up meals for his family and friends from his home in Quebec. His warmth, humour, charisma and ability to connect with his guests and the audience come across immediately on the screen. It’s the “friends” part that gives the show the real twist, because in every show there’s always his real friends...people that either work with him or that he's known for over 20 years.

The element that makes Ricardo and Friends a unique show is that it focuses not only on recipes and cooking but on an examination of food, the manufacturing of food, the various local traditions and the stories behind the traditions. Each episode offers a one-of-a-kind culinary adventure. Ricardo says; "I want people to be excited about food and cooking because food is the one thing in this world that unites us and brings us together. Food is an important part of how our culture and the cultures of other countries is defined.”

In this era of the chef as a celebrity, it is refreshing to come across someone like Ricardo Larrivée. Ricardo is a passionate man who believes that food and the sharing of food can result in positive changes in our society. And he is willing to put everything he has into pushing for those positive changes by opening his heart and his home to his viewers.

He and his wife have three little girls which are a part of everything that he does since they shoot the show at his home. He says, "They are always around and can feel that they are directly a part of the celebration of food and culture that is going on around them."

His first cookbook Ma Cuisine week-end came out in 2004 and provided us with unique dishes for any occasion, from fancy dishes to serve a boss to quick and casual dishes to whip up in a flash for family. In his second book Ricardo:Meals For Every Occasion his energy and enthusiasm for food and cooking will leave you feeling inspired!!!

Ricardo is one of my favourites with recipes like Cheese in Puff Pastry with Fig Sauce , Cheese Nougat, Cream of Brie Soup and my favourite dessert for the holidays Crunchy Chocolate Chestnut Cake !!!

When Oscar Wilde said: “Find a job that you love and you will never work a day in your life,” - Ricardo Larrivée was definitely listening!!!!

His recipe for falafel is different from my usual recipe with the addition of bulgur, but it is so good!!!!!! I have made it several times in the past and would like to share it with you again. I serve it with Almond Pistachio Rice and Fattoush.

**Falafels with Tarator Bi Tahini Sauce**
For the Falafel

250 ml (1 cup) dried chickpeas
125 ml (1/2 cup) fine bulgur
60 ml (1/4 cup) all-purpose, unbleached flour
10 ml (2 teaspoons) baking powder
10 ml (2 teaspoons) salt
Vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 onion, coarsely chopped
8 cloves garlic
Juice of one lemon
60 ml (1/4 cup) curly-leaf parsley
60 ml (1/4 cup) cilantro
10 ml (2 teaspoons) ground coriander
5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground cumin
5 ml (1 teaspoon) ground cinnamon
2 1/2 ml (1/2 teaspoon) cayenne

Tarator Bi Tahina Sauce

Juice of one lemon
30 ml (2 tablespoons) tahini (sesame paste)
1 clove garlic, chopped
15 ml (1 tablespoon) Dijon mustard
5 ml (1 teaspoon) toasted sesame oil
1 x egg yolk
180 ml (3/4 cup) vegetable oil
Water, about 45 ml (3 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper

For the Falafel: Place the chickpeas in a large bowl. Cover with cold water. Soak overnight at room temperature. Drain well.

Place the chickpeas in a large pot. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain well. Let cool.

In a bowl, combine the bulgur, flour, baking power and salt. Set aside.

Heat the oil, setting the fryer to high.

In a food processor, finely chop the onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro with the lemon juice. Add the chickpeas and spices and process until puréed. Add the bulgur mixture and pulse until a smooth dough forms.

For each falafel, shape 30 ml (2 tablespoons) of dough into a ball with your hands or two spoons.
Fry the falafel in batches of 6 to 8 until golden brown, about 5 minutes.

For the Tarator Bi Tahina Sauce: In a bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, mustard, sesame oil and egg yolk. While whisking constantly, add the vegetable oil in a thin stream, alternating with the water. Season with salt and pepper.


Lisa Orgler generously agreed to create an art piece from one of YOUR food photographs and donate it to be auctioned for Art Auction with a Twist over at BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine . Her love for food, art and journaling have brought her to blogging to combine all of her loves and driven her to create art from food creations. On her blog Lunchbox Project Lisa reaches out to fellow bloggers to create a masterpiece from your own photography. The winner was Hummus and Roasted Pepper Sandwich by Hopie of Hopie's Kitchen!!!! She has created a 5" x 7" original illustration. It's currently on the Ebay auction block until June 24, 2009. To bid please visit here...or go to http://www.ebay.com/ and type in #220436850908 in the search box. The money raised will go to the School Meals Programme of the World Food Programme. Hope to see you there!!!!!

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author/owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Yay for Ricardo! He's pretty great, and he is BIG here in Quebec.

    Love the series, keep it up!

  2. They look delicious! That's a dish I really enjoy!



  3. I grew up on boxed falafal mix, but when I tried to make it from a box last year it was TERRIBLE. So I'm ever so thankful for an honest to goodness recipe!

  4. If his personality is anything like his photo, he's definitely a fun-loving, dynamic guy. He just oozes personality.

    Interesting addition of bulgar to falafel. My first instinct was, "Huh?" I'm not a fan of bulgar. Then I realized I'm not a lover of chickpeas either, but I still lovel falafel (I guess the key to liking chick peas is all in how you cook them), so I would definitely try falafel with bulgar.

  5. I just made my falafel last night! Delicious :D

  6. thanks for sharing this recipe. i love falafel and knowing it has personal touch makes it even better!

  7. I love falafals...and that Ricardo...he's one cutie!

  8. I love this recipe Vall really love, and I use a lot bulgur to ccok is so nice!! xGloria

  9. I simply LOVE lebannese m'zes... I love kebabs, aubergine caviar, hummus, keb'es, and more ... but I have never tried to do falafels.

  10. I love that cheese with fig sauce too! I like Ricardo, I enjoy the emphasis on local produce he makes on his show. I really like the set of his show Ricardo and Friends :)
    Thanks for this feature!
    I'm a huge fan of falafel, but must admit I had never heard of them made with bulgur... oh well, another excuse to make falafel again ;)

  11. Val sorry for not visiting lately as you know I was busy with the shifting etc.Belive me when I say that I can finish that yummy platter in seconds.Falafels are so healthy too.

  12. if i could have international cuisine more often, this is the kind of things i'd have - falafesl and all manner of vegetarian burgers

  13. Wow, Ricardo has beautiful teeth! So white and straight... I'm jealous!

  14. AnonymousJune 22, 2009

    I have been seaching for falafel recipes all day! Yours sounds the best by far, THANKS!! Awesome pictures and Site!

  15. Val I just tweet that you are featuring Ricardo this week. Love that Chef. I have to try his falafels. Thanks.

  16. I remember this episode and he does make a good falafel. Ricardo seems to handle many different cuisines, with skill.

  17. Those falafels look good. I like the use of the cinnamon in them.

  18. I had the great pleasure of meeting Ricardo at the Montreal launching of his new cookbook. Find out what his epicurean pleasures are … http://www.tourisme-montreal.org/Blogs/Epicurean-Life/Montreal-Food-by-Ricardo-Larrivée


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