Live, love, cook! is Emily Richards philosophy and we are very fortunate to have her return to the Calgary Co-op Kitchen Theatre stage. Many of you know Emily from Canadian Living Cooks on the Food Network and during Stampede Emily is presenting for Canota! Eat Well on Monday, July 6th, Wednesday, July 8th and Thursday, July 9th at 8:30 PM in the BMO Marketplace, Hall A.  Emily loves teaching people how to cook so make sure you come by and experience her passion for food.  She will also be putting her expertise to work when she judges the Calgary Police and Firefighter cook-off Wednesday, July 8th at 6 PM. on the Kitchen Theatre stage.

For a full list of presenters on the Calgary Co-op Kitchen Theatre stage please visit the Western Showcase website.

Calgary Stampede (CS): Briefly tell us about yourself and what your typical day looks like.

Emily Richards in the Kitchen

Richards: I am a professional home economist that loves teaching people how to cook and write recipes for various companies and magazines. After I take my kids to school I spend most days either creating recipes first on my computer then take those recipes into the kitchen to cook up and make sure they work and taste great. I’m usually working out of season so my days are filled with plenty of grocery shopping and sharing good food with neighbours, family and friends.

CS: When did you know you wanted to be involved in the food industry?

Richards: I have always loved cooking with my grandmother and mother and knew I wanted to work with food once I was in high school and working in banquet halls. I knew I wanted to help people with food and show them  how to cook it and enjoy all that it had to offer.

CS: What do you love about your job?

Richards:  I love how food brings people together no matter what your knowledge or background is. So when I talk about food or teach people about cooking it brings us all closer.

CS: Do you have a favourite memory of the Calgary Stampede or Kitchen Theatre?

Richards:  I loved when I was at Stampede years ago and how awesome all the people in the Kitchen Theatre were. It was my first time and I was so nervous but everyone made me feel at home and made it so much easier. So excited to be back!

CS: Do you have a recipe you would share with our readers?

Richards: Roasted Red Pepper and Ricotta Crostini Recipe to share from my new cookbook Per La Famiglia.

Emily Richards Famiglia

Basic Crostini

Crostini are very versatile; there are seemingly infinite different toppings you can put on them. I like to cook these until they are lightly golden and still a bit soft in the centre. Always makes it easier to bite into it and not have it shatter. It’s never a good thing to have your food all over the front of your shirt. My Zias would surely ask me to take my messy shirt off so to wash it for me!

Half a baguette, sliced into about 1/2 inch (1 cm) thick slices
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
Brush baguette slices with oil and place on baking sheet.
Toast for about 5 minutes minutes or until they are light golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Makes 20 crostini.

Ricotta and Roasted Red Pepper Crostini

This is an easy appetizer that I’ve made for years. Creamy ricotta cheese provides the background for sweet roasted red peppers. Add some peppery arugula for a different flavour and a salute to the Italian flag—highlighting red, white and green. The toppings work beautifully with traditional crostini or with pan-fried polenta for gluten-intolerant friends and family.

1 batch Basic Crostini, still warm (see recipe)
1 clove garlic, cut in half lengthwise
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) thinly sliced roasted red peppers
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 mL) red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh ground pepper
1 cup (250 mL) ricotta cheese
Fresh small basil leaves (optional)

While crostini are still warm, rub garlic over baguette slices while still warm.  Set aside.
In a bowl, combine peppers, garlic, parsley, oil and vinegar, salt and pepper.
Spread ricotta over toasted crostini. Top with peppers and garnish with basil, if using.
Makes 20 pieces.

Gluten Free Option: I served this up at a friend’s gathering who is gluten free using polenta circles in place of the crostini. They loved it! You can use a tube of premade polenta, slice it and pan fry it in oil then top it with the ricotta and peppers. So easy.