Good things to eat

Posts tagged ‘lamb’

The Nine Course Affair

Speaking of birthdays…….

From time to time, the Chef and I like to put on “special dinners”.  Usually consisting of  a several coarse tasting menu.  He does most of the cooking, while I do the arranging, the shopping, the decor and the clean up.  And if I’m lucky, sometimes I actually am allowed to make a dish or two myself!



First Course:

Seared Tuna, Avocado and Red Pepper Sushi

I have to admit, the Chef does a nice sushi, which is good because I only ever eat sushi at home, what with the shell-fish allergy, eating it in restaurants is just too high risk.




Second Course:

Belgian Endive and Mini Kale Pancakes topped with Smoked Gorgonzola and Candied Walnuts

This was a tasty one.

They don’t show up that well in this picture, but I made mini versions of my famous Kale Pancakes.  Then to add some freshness to it all, they were alternated with leaves of Belgium endive.  Then both were topped with a small slice of smoked Gorgonzola cheese and a chunk of candied walnut.

We often enjoy this as an anytime snack.


endive & kale pancake



Third Course:

Beet Carpaccio Salad with Arugula, Blood Orange and Shaved Boursin Cheese

I really like beets, so I always encourage the Chef to somehow incorporate them into our special dinners.

So on this occasion, he thinly sliced both red and golden cooked beets.  Then topped them with super thing slices of Boursin Cheese, ( I’ll tell you another time about how he does that, because if you have ever dealt with Boursin, you know that slicing it in any way isn’t easy!) slices of blood orange, arugula and then drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette.

Very refreshing.

Beet Salad



Course Number Four:

Halibut  “Fish and Chips”

This was a whimsical item.  The “fish and chips” refers to the halibut being roasted with grated yam on top and then drizzled in a balsamic dressing.   The yams form and nice crust (chips) and keep the halibut moist (fish) and then vinegar on top.




Course Number Five:

Spinach and Pine Nut Stuffed Chicken Breast with roasted Celeriac Puree and marinated Red Cabbage

I hate to be judgemental, but I think this one was my favorite dish of the night.  The chicken was moist and flavourful, the celeriac both sweet and earthy at the same time and the crunch sourness of the cabbage just all really worked well together.  Oh and I didn’t even mention the delicious grainy mustard sauce in the title ( made it too long to look good on the page)!


Stuffed chicken


Course number six:

Shaved Brussel Sprout Salad

I actually got to make this course myself.  It is a favorite of mine to make and to eat and it often shows up on our special dinner menus.  But I can’t take the credit for it.

It is blatantly stolen from the menu at celebrity Chef Michael Chiarello’s Napa Valley restaurant, Bottega.

We tasted it there awhile back and I was determined to recreate it.  But luckily for me, they were generous enough to just post the recipe on-line!

So please do try it out for yourself.  It is surprisingly wonderful.

Brussel sprout salad


Course number seven:

Mediterranean Lamb & Bell Pepper Kebobs with Cous Cous and Kaffir Lime Leaf Scented Demi-Glace

It is a little joke we have with the birthday guest.  Inevitably whenever we go to her place for dinner, she serves lamb!  So it only seemed fitting that there should be a little lamb on her birthday party menu. The startlingly delicious item in this dish was the Kaffir lime leaves.

They don’t really show in the picture but they were in the sauce.  At this point in the evening ( course seven) sticking one’s fingers in the food and pulling out the lime leaves and sucking on them was clearly NOT frowned upon.  What a delightful taste, the tart lime flavour mixed with the luscious demi glaze.




Course number eight:

Cheese & Apple

It seems we were just too delirious by this point to actually remember to take a picture.

We had retired to the lounge for a little reprieve before moving on to desert but just wanted to add this extra little treat to the mix.

Norwegian Ski Queen cheese, is just a delightful thing to try.  Although it is a cheese, it would remind you more of a really rich version of those caramel square candies that we used to get a Halloween. Perhaps those crossed with butter or some other unbearably delicious creamy substance.  You really do need to try it.  We find it in the speciality cheese section of most major grocery stores.

So our eighth course was slices of Ski Queen matched with slices of Ambrosia Apples lightly dusted with fresh cracked black pepper.

Really nice.

( No Photo Available )



Course number nine:

Raw Chocolate Tart topped with Pomegranate accompanied with fresh chunks Pineapple and Chocolate dipped Candied Ginger.

I also got to make this one!

If you have been following this blog for a while, you know that I like to startle people from time to time with my “raw” dishes.  So after a somewhat decadent night so far, I thought why not toss in something a little healthy to end the evening and leave us feeling good about ourselves!?




It was a very successful evening.  Good times all round.

Stay tuned for when the next one happens.  Who knows, YOU might even get invited!


Thumbs up


Lamb and lentil stew

We get good lamb around these parts.

It is my feeling that if you are going to eat meat, then you need to at least eat the best quality of products.  From farms that treat the animals ethically and under the best circumstances.

And I am also of the feeling that you can eat meat, without having to eat a LOT of meat.

This lamb and lentil stew is a perfect example of that.

I started with a fairly small amount of meat, about a pound, cut into bite size chunks and brown them in your Dutch oven in a little olive oil.

Once well browned, all a large onion coarsely sliced and or chopped so that you have nice big pieces.

Stir those in with the lamb meat.  Cook until then are wilted down and even a little brown is okay because it adds flavour.

Then add about a cup of rinsed green lentils and stir them into the mix.

Now add the flavouring.  This is what I used, but feel free to come up with your own:

  • 2-3 minced fresh garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smokey paprika
  • six dried dates finely chopped

Add all of these and mix in well.  Then add:

  • one can of tomato paste

Stir in to coat everything well.

Then add about 4 cups of water or stock of your choice.

Stir well and then put on high and cover till it comes up to the boil.  Then turn down to a low simmer.

The longer you can leave it the better, but keep checking it and adding more liquid if you need it.   Cook until the lentils are tender and you have a nice thick sauce.

We had it on a bed of couscous.

Very comforting.

Lamb Curry review

It was good.  But it wasn’t great.  ( See yesterday’s post if you are just joining us )

I think there could have been too much wine or too much chocolate.  I have NEVER uttered those words before in my LIFE!!

The flavour was good, but just a bit too intense.  Not in a spicy way, but in a just too strong way and I used the proper amounts from the recipe.  But yes, if I made it again I would only use  half of what both those ingredients were called for.

We spent the afternoon at the movies and came home to the warm comforting smell that filled the house!  It smelled great and it looked great.

It wasn’t spicy per say but after a few minutes of eating it, we both noticed that we were sweating!  So it is a great dish for a cold winters night, or if you are warding off a cold!

This would make a great slow cooker dish too by the way.

I was thinking that you could easily substitute chicken or beef for the lamb and if you wanted to make a vegetarian version by using chick peas and sweet potato.

I made up a nice big pot of basmati rice to go with it.  Normally I would never use white rice, you know, the processing and all, but when it comes to Indian food, that’s where I make the exception.  Brown is fine but….

I tossed a couple of whole cloves and a few cardamom pods into the cooking water and then fish them out again when the rice is ready.   Just adds another layer of fragrance to the whole dish.

It was good just a little strong.

But a perfect idea for a Sunday night in Fall.

Lamb curry

Tonight I’m making some  South West Shepard’s Pie  ( click here to see that recipe ) and so I have just added the left overs from this into the chili part of the dish to add some extra flavour.

It’s in the oven baking as we speak.

Lamb curry

To eat or not to eat?  We can go off on a whole debate about whether or not it is appropriate to eat meat or more specifically lamb but we’re all grown ups and you are free to choose whatever it is your are comfortable doing.

My “holistic philosophy” is to try and put the best things for you into your body.  Be that from a nutritional, ethical, spiritual or otherwise point of view.

We are blessed with some very fine lamb in these parts, they lived on nice farms and were ethically cared for so I feel fine that they did this for me.

There, Sunday sermon over.

This recipe is based on a recipe I watched a nice lady on the Food Network make.   Her show is called “Spice Goddess” and her name is Bal Arneson.  Her show is about making Indian food look easy.  So I thought I’d give her recipe called “Once a Month Lamb Curry” a try.

Now as I am always trying to emphasize here, you “do the best you can with what you’ve got”!  You don’t always have to follow a recipe to the T for it to turn out great, especially with things like soups and stews and sometimes things can turn out even better than it was supposed to.

If you don’t happen to have the exact ingredient, then use something similar or something completely different!  It’s OKAY!

Now obviously if you have important dinner guests that you need to impress trying some crazy new thing might not be the best approach, but when you are just trying to please yourself and have a creative time…….do as you will!!

So let’s start the curry, it takes a couple of hours to cook so if I keep talkin it won’t get done!

You will need the trusty Dutch oven.  Get it on the stove and get it heated up.

Ingredients called for:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour 
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 pounds lamb shoulder ( I didn’t have shoulder so I used de-boned leg)
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil ( I used olive)
  • 1 red onion chopped ( I only had “plain old yellow”)
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh garlic ( I used five cloves chopped)
  • 2 tbsp grated fresh ginger ( I used about a 2 inch hunk chopped)
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds ( I only had ground cumin)
  • 1 tbsp garam masala  ( I had that!)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste ( I used a whole of one of those small cans)
  • 1 green chile finely minced ( I used one of those thin red ones, but chili flakes would do too)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (WHAT??  Hey whatever, it’s chocolate, I’m cool with that!)
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes ( I used four Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 red pepper seeded and chopped ( I had a small orange one kickin around too so I had both)
  • 1 cup red wine ( Okay.  I feel bad wasting wine in food but sometimes you gotta sacrifice!)
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • Extra water as needed



So it’s a bit of a shopping list of stuff to do but on a Sunday morning I find it therapeutic to chop things.

May I suggest you do all of your chopping first before you get started.  I didn’t and felt quite rushed as things were called for!

Start by mixing the flour, coriander, salt and pepper in a bowl.  

Then chop lamb into bite size cubes ( leave a little fat on but not too much) and then toss into the flour mixture and toss till coated.

Add oil to Dutch oven and when heated add lamb bits a few at a time so they aren’t crowded and give them a tap over the flour bowl before they go to the pot to get off excess flour.

Brown on all sides ( don’t crowd as they say) and then transfer to a different dish while the rest gets browned.  Keep doing this till they are all browned.

Meanwhile back in the pot……

Add the onion, garlic and ginger and stir till they get a nice colour on them.  Then add cumin, garam masala, tomato paste, chile and chocolate chips stir well.  Then into the pot goes chopped tomato, red pepper, browned meat and red wine.

Stir all that in with another pinch of S&P and if you need to add a little water, now is a good time.

Put the lid on and turn down to a medium low heat, like #3 on my stove, and let the magic do it’s thing for about 2 hours.

So that’s where I am with it.  

I will let you know how it turns out!

Meaty muffins?

Okay, you got me!   These aren’t REALLY muffins, they are actually meat balls!  But you’ll see why I call them this.

These are a very versatile item.  They can be a snack on their own, an appetizer or part of meal.

However you choose to use them, I think you will enjoy……assuming meat is your thing.

Start by putting on the kettle and boiling some water.

Then in a heat proof bowl add one cup of bulgar.  ( click here to learn about bulgar )

Once the kettle has boiled, pour water over the bulgar, just enough to cover it, but not drowned it.  Then let it sit for a few minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Then in another bowl:

  • 1 pound of ground meat.  Beef, lamb, pork or in this case I used half pork, half beef
  • 1 egg
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 gloves of fresh garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamatta olives
  • 1 tbsp mint ( fresh or dry)
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • Meat ball mix

Mix all of these up thoroughly and then add the bulgar last.   At this point it is best if you get in there with your hands and squish it all up.  Wear rubber gloves if touching the meat grosses you out.


Get out your muffin tin and then grab balls of the meat mixture and stuff them into the muffin holes, being sure to squeeze them down so they are nice and dense.

Meaty muffins

Pop them in the oven on top of a baking sheet in case they leak for any reason.  Bake at 350 for about half and hour or until they look done, nice and brown on top.

Take them out of the oven and let them cool enough to take them out of the cups.

While they are baking, make up a nice little sauce to go on top.

  • 2 cloves chopped fresh garlic
  • juice of 1/2 fresh lemon ( more if you like it more tangey)
  • 1 tbsp very finely chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • salt & pepper

Mix this up and add a bit of water to thin it out to get the desired consistency.

Drizzle over your meat muffins and enjoy!

Meat balls with lemon garlic tahini sauce




A Day on Salt Spring Island Part 2

After lunch we did the town wander.

There are a multitude of art galleries and interesting shops and all sorts of activities.

Big mobile whirling sculpture thingy

View of the marina

View of the harbour

And there is quite a selection of restaurants as well.

So after we saw all that we could see in town, we headed out into the country side in search of other things to eat.

Salt Spring Island boasts several wineries and is famous for lamb and cheese.

Lamb Farm

I guess if there was ever any sort of trouble, they would do pretty well at sustaining themselves there for awhile.

In FACT, Salt Spring Island has what’s called a “seed sanctuary” .  Which is this place that collects all sorts of seeds, so that if something should ever happen, you know, like an “end of the world” type scenario, then they could start over and be able to grow things again.

If you are interested further in this topic,  check out a documentary called “Hijacked Future”  ( click here to get info on this ).

Then we decided to make the trek up Mount Maxwell  (  click here to check it out ).  Well, in the car anyway.  I would recommend if you are going to do this, that you have some sort of 4 x 4 or sport utility vehicle because honestly, that road is the worst!  But the view at the top is quite spectacular.

View from Mount Maxwell

Looking over to Vancouver Island from Mount Maxwell

Finally it was time to head back to catch our ferry.  

What’s strange about the ferry from Vancouver Island to Salt Spring Island is that you pay to get there but you don’t have to pay to leave.  Strange really.

So we wanted to get down to the dock early enough because this ferry isn’t very big and the last one leaves fairly early.

We arrived at Fulford Harbour and found our place in the line up, parked the car and went to look for something to eat.  It had been hours after all!

There is an interesting little area around the ferry terminal with little shops and restaurants.

There is this one really groovy place that sells all kinds of super healthy stuff including books about healthy eating and enviromental type topics.

Groovy cafe

Groovy cafe

Regrettably we didn’t go there.

Instead we went next door to the other place.

Now, anyone who knows the Chef and I, knows that we are pretty good eaters and are pretty open minded about what we will eat and are always willing to give people the benefit of the doubt.

But I gotta tell you, we had some of the worst food that I have ever had in a restaurant in my life!  I mean, we ate it, because we were starving, but it was just awful.

Regrettable food

 Now, maybe they were just having a bad day but I don’t really see how these things could have been any better.  I normally wouldn’t bother saying anything, but they really do have a captive audience at this place so they really need to step up their game.

We ordered a couple of appetizers.  The first item sounded wonderful, some lamb meat balls with a mango dipping sauce. Sounded great and what with lamb being a local favorite, how could you go wrong?  Unfortunately were dry and tasted odd and came with a weird piece of grilled baguette and random loose lettuce.  Perhaps they wanted you to construct your own meatball sandwich?

The second item we ordered was some sort of baked chicken tortilla thing.   I take it back, this one we couldn’t really eat.  It had unfortunate bits of yellow squash and tasteless chicken and then topped with an even more tasteless sauce and then obviously microwaved to death because the tortillas themselves had gone to mush.   Disappointing wouldn’t even begin to describe this one.    Boo!

So please, when leaving Salt Spring Island, I suggest you skip this one.  Bring your own snacks from town!

Finally we boarded the ferry and sailed away.

Sun setting on Fulford Harbour

Pulling away from the dock

Heading back to Vancouver Island

The sun setting on Mount Baker

A day well spent.


Pasta party part II

I’ve rested up a bit and am ready to tell you about the second half of the dinner menu.

This next dish is the result of the previous descriptions.  Here we have the beet linguini in the toasted parmesan basket!  Two birds with one stone so to speak.   And then topped with a roasted celeriac cream sauce.  The vibrant red colour of the beet juice did end up leaching out of the pasta a bit but still managed to keep an interesting colour.

Beet linguini in toasted parma basket with roasted celeriac cream sauce

I was pleased with the texture of the pasta.  I wasn’t sure if it would be gummy after the ordeal of stuffing it through the juicer!  But it actually had a very satisfying feel in the mouth.

With our next course we again took a break from the pasta and went to the “Secondo” or a meat course.  This was tender medalions of lamb topped with goat cheese on a bed of shaved asperagus with a light pesto drizzle and toasted pin nuts. 

Medallions of lamb with goat cheese and shaved asperagus with pesto drizzle

We were approaching delerium by this point.  Even though we did our very best to pace ourselves and as you can see it was reasonable portions, we were really getting full.  But we soldiered on, for the good of the cause.  What was the cause again?

Back to the pasta, this was our last savory course.  This was a succulent  cannelloni stuffed with chicken and mascarpone and baked in a tangy sundried tomato cream sauce.

Unfortunately the picture of this one didn’t turn out at all.  I’d like to blame the camera, but I suspect it had something to do with too much wine.

This was a tastey dish but I have to admit that at this point I was a bit too full to completely enjoy it at the time but it was wonderful reheated yesterday, the bonus round!

By the time we reached dessert I thought I would have to hand out pillows so we could all have a little lie down but we couldn’t up give now!

The dessert was an ice cream scoop of tiramisu with shaved chocolate, strawberry colis and eatable flower peddles that we just “happended” to have.

Tiramisu with shaved chocolate, strawberry coulis and flower peddles

It was actually nice and light and not too sweet and just the perfect last morcel to a splenid meal.

Did you know the purpose of dessert is to signal the brain that the meal has ended so that digestion may begin?  Like that was going to help us at this point!!

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