The premiere issue of Ricardo, which will be in stores Monday, features stories on Thanksgiving entertaining, cranberries, potatoes, planting fall garlic, top 10 cuts for grilling and ideas for dinners that will create leftovers to tote for lunch the next day. To satisfy Larrivee's sweet tooth, he has included a recipe for the ultimate chocolate chip cookie and a feature on apple pie to take advantage of the fall harvest, with tips on pastry making.
Each issue in the food-dedicated magazine will include timely tidbits such as trends on seasonal ingredients and wines to try, restaurant picks and travel tips from across Canada, along with columns on wine and entertaining.
The magazine is the latest jewel in the crown of Ricardo Media, an empire that extends to TV programs, a website, the French magazine and cookbooks. Larrivee has more than 1,600 episodes of the daily cooking show "Ricardo" under his belt on Radio Canada. "Ricardo and Friends" aired on Food Network Canada and Global. He is working on another television project, but he says the topic is under wraps.
His winery in South Africa produces a Shiraz and a Sauvignon Blanc that are currently available in Quebec though Larrivee hopes to expand to other provinces next year, and his line of cookware is in stores across Canada.
Larrivee, who is chairman of the board while his wife, trained nutritionist Brigitte Coutu, is president, said the couple decided they wanted to do everything in French and English.
"I didn't want to do a translation. I wanted that people feel that it's not a foreign magazine that's done here," he said in an interview from his Montreal office.
"There is no food magazine made in Canada. We always buy magazines from Europe, from the United States, from England, from anywhere. But there is no food magazine like America has with Gourmet or the French have with Elle a Table. I always wonder why we are not exporting or doing things around food because we are crazy about food," he says.
The magazine is intended to appeal to all ages and situations. "They want to solve their weekly issues about what we'll have for dinner, what is going to be my lunch, but we also entertain on weekends so we need a couple of things that are just fancier, not more complicated, just fancier. So we try to answer to these demands and because we have so many letters and comments because of the TV and everything we do we kind of have the feeling of what people want towards health, toward gardening, everything that they want surrounding their family."
The English magazine will be published six times a year, eventually increasing to eight issues annually.
The plan is to have 50 to 60 recipes in each issue, and Larrivee says he and his staff ensure the recipes are easy to follow to inspire confidence among home cooks.
"We practised that for 13 years in French. Getting how to write a recipe, what is the secret? I always say I don't have many qualities. But I'm a bit like Celine Dion. 'I know how to write a good song,' I was quite often joking either with her or Rene (Angélil), her husband, you know how to write a song or to pick one. I know how to write a recipe and when you look at it you get this sense of security. When you look at it you have to feel that you're able to do it. You look at the pictures it gives you this extra push, then I'm doing it."
In his introduction to the first English issue Larrivee, 47, pays tribute to family — he and Coutu have three daughters — and how food shapes special occasions. He also explains how his wife's diagnosis of breast cancer seven years ago and subsequent battle changed their perspective.
"Now I can talk. For years I wasn't able to talk about it because I was always very emotional about it," he says.
"We said we're lucky because we're having a great and successful life in Quebec. We're making enough money to do what we want. We could retire probably younger than the average of our friends. So what do we do with the rest of our lives and we said, 'OK, we'll get out of this dark period and we'll focus on what really drives us — our children, our family, our friends.'"
Here is a recipe from the first issue of Ricardo to try.
Beet Carpaccio With Grapes and Walnuts
Ricardo Larrivee says this recipe is ideal for entertaining without going overboard. "It surprises people, it's fresh, you can prepare it ahead of time. I like that too."
Available in some supermarkets, red walnuts have a reddish kernel and are somewhat sweeter in taste. They are otherwise the same as any fresh walnuts.
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking: 1 hour and 15 minutes
2 medium red beets, unpeeled
50 ml (1/4 cup) chopped arugula
15 ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh chives
10 ml (2 tsp) chopped fresh dill
250 ml (1 cup) seedless red grapes, halved
Lemon juice, to taste
Olive oil, to taste
50 ml (1/4 cup) red or regular walnuts, toasted and crushed
Salt and pepper, to taste
Place beets in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer gently for about 1 hour or until beets are tender. Drain and place in cold water until completely cooled. Peel and slice thinly with a mandolin. Set aside.
In a bowl, toss arugula, chives and dill. Set aside.
Line 4 plates with sliced beets. Garnish with grapes. Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with herb mixture and nuts. Season with salt and pepper.
Makes 4 appetizers.
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