Monday, March 17, 2014

Irish Lamb Stew with Irish Soda Bread

"Leprechauns, castles, good luck and laughter.Lullabies, dreams and love ever after. Poems and songs with pipes and drums. A thousand welcomes when anyone comes... That's the Irish for you!"

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I am far from Irish, but I do really love an Ireland inspired lamb stew, so I cooked up an easy-peasy supper for tonight complete with a fool proof recipe for a quick Irish Soda Bread baked in a cast iron frying pan. 

You may notice the repetition of the number 4 in this recipe - that's for good luck - unless of course you have found your very own 4 leaf clover...

P.S. And don't be afraid to crack open a Guinness or two, which will go brilliantly with this meal!

Here's how its done:

Irish Lamb Stew


1.5 pounds boneless lamb leg, cut into cubes ( I used 2 lamb leg chops)
4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, washed, trimmed, de-sanded and sliced into 1" slices
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" rounds
1 can diced tomatoes, with liquid
4-6 cups low-sodium beef stock
1 cup dry red wine
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp steak spice
Pinch of red chilli flakes
4 small bay leaves
4 potatoes peeled and cut into 2" dice

Sea salt and pepper to taste
Chopped parsley for garnish

  1. In a large Dutch oven, heated on medium-high, fry bacon until lightly browned; add lamb cubes and continue to brown. Add onion and saute until onion is translucent; add carrots and leeks and continue to saute for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add red wine to de-glaze the pan; add tomatoes, beef stock, thyme, steak spice, chilli flakes and bay leaves; stir to combine.
  3. Bring to a boil and add potatoes; reduce heat and simmer on medium-low for about 1 1/2 hours, until meat is fork tender; adjust seasoning.
Note: when using lamb leg, the meat will start out very tender, then become a bit tough once its cooked to well-done at the saute stage. But after the 1 1/2 hour cooking time, the meat will be very tender again. You may substitute lamb shoulder in this recipe and cook it the same way.

Serves 8

Irish Soda Bread


1 cup milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/8 cup unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat four
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sesame seeds
1 tsp poppy seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Grease a cast iron skillet with butter; set aside.
  2. Measure milk into measuring cup; add vinegar and lemon juice and stir to combine; let stand 10 minutes until curdled.
  3. In mixing bowl, blend flours, salt and baking soda; add melted butter and curdled milk mixture and stir with wooden spoon just until combined.
  4. Turn out onto floured cutting board; dust lightly with flour and shape into a mound, smoothing the top; gently lift into cast iron pan; sprinkle with seeds; bake at 400 F for 25-30 minutes, until top is lightly browned and toothpick inserted comes out clean; cool on wire rack.
*(adapted from a recipe on

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

Friday, March 07, 2014

Awesome Feature on the Real Women Of Philadelphia Web-site Today

Three years ago I entered a contest hosted by Kraft Canada called the Real Women of Philadelphia. After joining the site as a member, I met an incredible group of women and eventually we formed an alliance called 'The Canadian Cookies'.

Today Philly Canada has featured us on their web-site, telling the story of how we met and who we are.

I am so grateful for this amazing group of women, who have become some of my best friends!

(From left to right - Miriam Borys, Lyndsay Wells, Elisa Squazzin-Hendricks, Candice Meghan and me)

Our group consists of 12 ladies in total, from the West Coast to Ontario. Many of us have already met in person, but my dream would be for all of us to be together one day under the same roof to celebrate our amazing friendship. This photo was taken at one of our 'West Coast Cookies' reunions. 

Check us out HERE

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Cremini Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

This mushroom soup is so easy to make - you will think twice about opening one of those canned or packaged varieties.

I used two packs of Cremini mushrooms (baby Portabellas) for this recipe as I prefer the deep flavour they impart over white or brown button mushrooms. I added a generous 'splash' of my favourite Port, some instant chicken bouillon, some herbs and spices and a handful of wild rice grains and voila - I had a restaurant menu-worthy soup to die for. 

This is how its made:

Cremini Mushroom and Wild Rice Soup

4 Tbsp unsalted butter
2- 8 oz packs fresh Cremini mushrooms, wiped clean, stems trimmed and sliced
1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp smoked Paprika
3 Tbsp instant chicken bouillon (I use 'Better Than Bouillon' paste - low sodium)
8 cups water or vegetable stock
1/4 cup Port ( so it was more than a splash...)
1 bunch fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp Tamari (or soy sauce)
1/4 cup uncooked wild rice
2 Tbsp coffee cream

Parsley for garnish


  1. Heat butter in a stock pot on medium heat, add garlic and onions; saute until onions are translucent - *be careful  not to burn the garlic or it will taste bitter.
  2. Add mushrooms and continue to saute, about 10 minutes, stirring to combine.
  3. Add paprikas, salt and pepper, Tamari and Port; add stock (bouillon paste mixed with water or stock); bring to a boil; add rice and reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer for 45 minutes or until rice is cooked. Whisk in cream. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley.
Serves 6-8

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Ode to Germany: Rustic Bratwurst and Savoy Cabbage Stew

Today I want to celebrate my German roots. When you attach the word Germany to a culinary experience, what comes to mind...? Sausage of course!

I had a pack of 10 Brats in the freezer and a head of savoy (that deep green curly-leafed cabbage) in the fridge as well as the usual staples I keep on hand, like carrots, potatoes, onions and garlic. The key to a really good broth here, is in getting a nice 'caramelization' on the onions and garlic and in adding thyme and smoked paprika.

Once you get all of the ingredients nicely amalgamated into your Dutch (or German) oven, it then goes into the oven to simmer into one delicious rustic stew. This is a rustic dish, so the less uniform the pieces are, the better.

Here's how its done:

Rustic Bratwurst and Savoy Cabbage Stew


1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
10 bratwurst, uncooked and cut into random pieces (1/3's and 1/4's)
3 strips bacon, fat trimmed and chopped
2 Tbsp smoked Paprika
1Tbsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 can canned diced tomatoes with some liquid
1/2-3/4 cup low sodium vegetable stock
4 large potatoes, peeled and cut into random pieces
1 medium sized head savoy cabbage, outer leaves separated, washed, tough ribs removed and torn into random pieces; inner cabbage leaves separated and torn, if needed.
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish


  1. In large Dutch oven, heat butter and oil over medium-high heat; add onion and cook until transparent; reduce heat to medium and add garlic; cook until onions and garlic are caramelized, about 12 minutes.
  2. Add bacon and sausages and continue to cook until lightly browned (careful not to burn the garlic); drain the fat.
  3. Add smoked Paprika and thyme, salt and pepper, canned tomatoes and 1/4 cup vegetable broth; stir to blend; place potatoes on top and cover with cabbage; sprinkle with additional salt and pepper.
  4. Cover with a tight fitting lid and place in a preheated 325F oven for 1 hour; after 1/2 hour remove lid and gently fold ingredients over to blend cabbage and liquid with remaining ingredients; add more broth if needed. 
  5. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley, rustic bread and a beer, if you fancy!

Monday, March 03, 2014

Silly time with my furry friend

Living in Vancouver, BC we don't get much snow, at least in the city anyway. Well it snowed hard last week (I know for those of you who live in other parts of Canada - and the rest of the snowy winter world 10-15cm is nothing to write home about) but for me it is always a special treat when it does snow and actually sticks to the ground!

With that, I took my furry friend Cooper out for some fun in the fluffy white stuff - a hike near Grouse Mountain and some playtime for Cooper (and it turns out me, too).

When I told Cooper that I had special doggy treats waiting at home for him, he couldn't help but lick his chops - here is a 'selfie' of us goofing around...

And if you have furry K9 friends at home, here is a great simple and healthy recipe for my doggy treats you can make at home...

Garlic And Cheese Doggy Snacks

1 1/2 cups buckwheat flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried rosemary leaves, crumbled
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup low fat cheese
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock

Blend dry ingredients including cheese. Add moist ingredients and mix well, first with a spatula and then by hand. When dough is well blended, divide in half and roll each half out to 1/4" thickness. Use doggy bone or heart shaped cutters in various sized depending on the size of your dog.

Bake at 300F for 30 minutes for small biscuits, 40 minutes for large biscuits; they should be firm to the touch and golden brown. Yield depends on size of cookie cutters. Approximately 36 small and 22 medium biscuits.

Bon Barketit!