Catching Up With a Dublin Coddle

This a long over due post!  I cooked this meal for St Patrick’s Day weekend.  So yes, I’m behind in my posts.  Tax season is over once more and I’ve been doing a lot of catching up and getting things organised.  It was so nice to have time to be outside and see sunlight.  My office is windowless and joyless.

Since I last posted we’ve been enjoying hosting our exchange student from Denmark.  Who isn’t a fan of Danish food.  What are the chances!?  She loves Italian food but is willing to have me cook some Danish food here and there.  She also fits in at our house very well.  Very smart and a great sense of humour.  It’s turning out to be a fabulous experience for all of us.

Our student arrived on St Patrick’s Day weekend and I wanted share some of our traditions.  But I also needed something that was easy to put together because I was working 6 days a week.  The Dublin Coddle fit the bill.

Dublin coddle 1 2017

Of course I changed the way to do it a bit.  Mainly to make this even easier and quicker to make.  If you are inclined you can cook the bacon prior to assembling but it also works if you don’t.

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.

In an oven proof dish begin layering potatoes, carrots, onions, and garlic, all thinly sliced.

Dublin coddle 2 2107

Then layer thinly sliced sausages and bacon.  I chose chorizo sausage for a bit of heat.  Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Dublin coddle 3 2017

Repeat the layers.  Add beef or vegetable broth.  At this point you can have it more stew like or not.  I wanted it to have a more soup consistency so I added about 4 cups/32 oz of vegetable broth.

Dublin coddle 4 2017

Cover and bake until the vegetables soften.  Remove from the oven and grate fresh cheddar cheese over the dish.  Leave the cover off and bake until the top browns.Dublin coddle 5 2017

Of course I completely forgot to bake the soda bread to go with this.  Only remembered as I was serving the meal.  That would have been a nice pairing.

Now, if you don’t mind, I have a lot of blogs to catch up on.  🙂




Mango Habanero Hot Sauce, Wowza!

I had seen, over the past couple of years, a mango hot sauce on cooking competitions.  I put it on the list in the back of my mind of things to try.  This year we were able to grow habaneros in our garden so it was time to try my hand at it.

The tricky bit is being able to taste test it as it is made so the flavours were balanced.  Habaneros are not mild!  I enlisted my husband in the tasting department.

I did a bit of research and was surprised to find, without fail, carrots were an ingredient.  To me carrots taste more earthy than sweet but I thought it was worth a try.

Mango habenero hot sauce 1 2015

In a sauce pan add 1-2 medium carrots, sliced thinly, half of a small onion, and a couple of cloves of garlic.  Cover with water and bring to a boil.

Mango habenero hot sauce 2 2015

Meanwhile, slice up 3 mangoes and 6 habaneros.

Mango habenero hot sauce 3 2015

Add these to a blender and then scoop in the carrot mixture.  I ended up using about a cup of the carrot mixture.

Mango habenero hot sauce 4 2015

Add a tablespoon or two of lime juice and the same amount of apple cider vinegar.  Blend completely.  If it comes out too thick add water until you get the consistency you need.

Mango habenero hot sauce 5 2015

I made about 5 cups so I canned them using normal canning processing.  Process them for about 5 minutes.  This is hot enough for my husband.  It’s quite something!  I look forward to adding it to recipes.

Asian Meatballs and the Education System

Mind boggling.  That is how I felt last night when we were talking about school.  Both kids had tests yesterday.  Both mentioned how they had to finish them today.  I asked what they meant finishing it a day later.  Apparently that is the norm in our school system.  If you don’t finish it in time that is ok.  This just blew my mind.  Growing up if I didn’t finish a test in the set amount of time that was on me.

This really concerns me because as a parent I want the best education for our kids.  I don’t want education to be a limiting factor to whatever progress our kids make.  Last year the US was ranked 14th in the world when it came to education.  The past couple of years think tanks have mucked about with different ways the kids should be taught without really vetting the programs.  Common core has been a nightmare.  I’m sorry 2+2 does not equal 5!  I get that kids should learn to think through the process and understand how they got to the answer but it is not ok if the answer is wrong.

It is hard for me to understand the overall disconnect between what I see our teachers doing locally and how our students stand vs other countries.  The teachers our kids have, bar one, have been amazing.  They are dedicated to our kids, they work long hours, they work to try to tailor lessons for each student, and communicate with us.  So I have to think our system is held back at the higher level.  For example there is an OK senator who wants to cut funding to the AP History classes because it “teaches students what is bad about America”  It doesn’t promote “exceptionalism”.   Constantly chanting “We’re #1” isn’t leadership, it’s insecurity.

To rise back up the ranks, kids need to have positive learning experiences while being prepared for the real world.  They need to stop being let down by those who forget separation of church and state actually exists, to be allowed to actually learn science and the truth about history, and to know that 2 + 2 doesn’t equal 5.

We are fortunate that our kids love to learn and seek out ways to learn new things.  But not all kids have that support.

We did have a nice meal to go along with the enlightening conversation.  I was in the mood for meatballs and wanted an Asian flair.  And guess what my husband found at the co-op?

Asian meatballs 1 2015

Galangal!  How cool is that?  In a bowl I mixed up a half pound of beef with a few tablespoons of freshly grated galangal.  I found it to be very dry and flaky.  I also added chopped chives and couple of teaspoons of amino acids.  Otherwise known as gluten free soy sauce.  Then roll the meat into meatballs about an inch to an inch in a half in diameter.  In a skillet heat up a few tablespoons of peanut oil.

Asian meatballs 3 2015

Brown the sides of the meatballs then finish off in an oven heated to 350F/175C.  Meanwhile, saute chopped veg of your choice.  I did up peppers, scallions, garlic, carrots, and mushrooms.

Asian meatballs 4 2015

I messed up on the portion of sauce vs the portion of rice noodle.  I made enough sauce for two people but enough noodles for 4.  So I would double what I’m putting here.  Otherwise the dish ends up bland and trust me, the sauce wasn’t bland!  I added 2 tablespoons oyster sauce, a couple of teaspoons of amino acids, a few splashes of fresh lime juice, and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes.  Bring to a simmer and add a cup of homemade chicken stock.  Reduce down a bit then add the meatballs.

Asian meatballs 5 2015

Cook the rice noodles per the directions then serve with the meatball sauce.

Asian meatballs 6 2015

Next time I make this I will definitely increase the sauce because the flavour was amazing.  Just wish the rice noodles hadn’t dulled it down.

Carrot Ginger Soup

The sun will be starting it’s journey back our way today.  This makes me happy.  I’m not a fan of the shorter days.  After getting tired of not being seen walking the dogs we bought them LED lights to hang from their collars.  They are super bright so that should help with the close calls trying to get across the roads. Luckily they don’t seem to bother the dogs and they have an added benefit of lighting up the area they are sniffing so I can see if they are about to eat something they shouldn’t!

With all that has been going on the past few weeks I lost track what was in the fridge.  I have a bad habit of buying ingredients when we already have them because I don’t see them in there!  At some point we bought a bunch of carrots and I needed to use them up.  I have been wanting to try a carrot soup.  It’s funny growing up the only way I liked carrots was raw.  But tastes change.

I should say I only liked organic ones.  I don’t know what it is but conventional carrots are always dry to me and not as sweet.  I know for most things the taste difference isn’t huge between organic and conventional but things like tomatoes and carrots I find a big difference.  Organic carrots seem to have more water and sweetness to them.

I found this carrot soup recipe that looked really good and adjusted it to the number of servings we needed.  Their recipe said it would be 8 servings but I made what I thought was enough for 4 but it was really closer to 8 so who knows how much soup the original recipe would have made.

Carrot ginger soup 1 2014

Finely chop a 1/4 of a large red onion and saute in about 2 tablespoons of butter.

Carrot ginger soup 2 2014

While the onion is cooking peel and slice 3-4 medium sized carrots.  You want at least two cups of sliced carrots.  I think I ended up with nearly 3 cups.  Add them to the onion and stir well then add 2 cups of homemade chicken stock.  As it is coming to a boil grate about 2 inches of fresh ginger into the soup, season with salt and pepper, then stir well.  Simmer until the carrots are tender and cooked.  This took about 45 minutes for the carrots I had.  Then use an immersion blender or a regular blender to blend all the ingredients.  Put back on the heat and add 1/2 a cup of heavy cream.

Carrot ginger soup 3 2014

Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed and warm up as needed.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

Carrot ginger soup 4 2014

Full of flavour without much difficulty.  I discovered a few days later that it was very good cold as well so I will be having this in the summer as a light meal or a first course.  If I had some I would have garnished this dish with chives and the chive flowers.  Another thing to add in the summer when the garden is flourishing.  6 more months!  Not that we’re counting or anything.  🙂

Something New to Grill – Carrots!

I love grilling season and have tried several things when it comes to veg.  The normal things like corn, peppers, onions.  Love grilling mushrooms but I came across a post by Farm to Table Life for grilled carrots

I was intrigued.  And as they said in their post, why haven’t I tried this before?  And I’m also wondering what else I can grill. 

Grilled carrots 1 2014

Mix a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, and some chopped rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper.  Wash and dry the carrots.  Lightly coat the carrots with the marinade.  Heat the grill to about 350F/175C.

Grilled carrots 2 2014

Grill until it is cooked the way you like.  Some like them firm like I do and some like it cooked much softer.  Do turn them as they cook keeping in mind that smaller ones will cook faster.

Grilled carrots 3 2014

Serve immediately.  I really enjoyed this and will make it again. And the colours really pop.  What do you grill that might be unusual?

Leftover Roast Chicken? Soup Is On Of Course!

I know it’s not very original to make homemade chicken soup after doing a roast chicken but it tastes so good!  My husband has conference calls every Tuesday evening and we usually do pizza but I wanted to do something different.  Soup was perfect because I could make it early then it was ready when he was done.  I’m usually very hungry by then!  So is he to be honest.

Over the weekend I made an Apple Sage Roast Chicken and there is still quite a bit of chicken on it.  I need to use more of the chicken so I can use the bones to make stock.  As it is a local farmed chicken it is a little more expensive than store bought so I use everything.  Which you should do anyway but the motivation is a bit higher!  And with the USDA stating China can muck about with our chicken and not label it as such I am more grateful than ever I can get local meats!  Honestly what were they thinking?

Chicken soup is one of those super easy meals to make and if you have leftover gravy from the roast even better.  Half your work is done for you.  During the week that is perfect.

I prepped the ingredients first as it only takes a few minutes to get everything in the pot.  I cut off the chicken from the roast and chopped up 4 cloves of garlic, half an onion, a carrot, and some pearl mushrooms.  The mushrooms are local and I hadn’t seen them until recently but they have a light flavour.

Chicken soup 1 2013 Chicken soup 2 2013

Heat up some olive oil in a pan and saute the garlic and onions for a few minutes then add the chicken.  Cube some potatoes.  Ours came from one of the small bins of potatoes growing in our garden.  It’s funny how small some will come out but I still use them.

Chicken soup 3 2013 Chicken soup 4 2013 Chicken soup 5 2013

Add in the potatoes and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes then add just over a cup of leftover gravy.  Add water until the veg is covered.

Chicken soup 6 2013

Bring to a boil and simmer til the potatoes are cooked through.  This takes less than 15 minutes to throw together.  And because the gravy was full of flavour so was the soup.

Chicken soup 7 2013

We served it with my husband’s homemade rosemary bread.  It was so good.  I love it when he makes bread.  🙂


Cottage Pie

I’m a firm believer in that people should make what they will of recipes. After all they are the ones that have to eat them.  So not a lot irks me when it comes to food.  Except maybe this bit.  People calling cottage pie shepherd’s pie.  So indulge me a moment as I’d like to get up on my soap box.  Ahem, here we go.  Shepherd’s pie is made with lamb.  Easy to remember as sheep get herded by a shepherd.  Shepherds don’t herd cows.  Therefore a shepherd’s pie doesn’t have beef in it.  Which is why it is generally known as cottage pie.  Thank you, I will climb down now and put the box away.

I made this last night as it was a raw day.  Well miserable in fact.  It was supposed to snow and instead we got a cold pouring rain that wasn’t quite freezing but nearly there.  So it was a good night for comfort food.  This is also a quick dish to make if you aren’t overly particular about presentation.   Now if you want presentation you need to check out Conor’s Cottage Pie.  Epic.  🙂

To start I chopped up carrots, garlic, onion, and mushrooms.

Cottage pie 1 2013

In a bit of olive oil I saute the carrots, garlic and onions.

Cottage pie 2 2013

Once the onions are a bit translucent I add the beef to brown.

Cottage pie 3 2013

I used our veg broth for this.  In hindsight I probably should have used 1/2 cup but I used 3/4 cup of broth.  I added the mushrooms, 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, and a good squirt of stone ground mustard and brought it to a simmer.

Cottage pie 4 2013

In the meantime boil potatoes for the mash to go on top.  Once they are cooked I added a healthy pat of butter and enough milk to make it smooth.  I wanted it to be easy to put over the beef.  I also added some grated Jarlsberg to mix in along with a bit of salt and pepper to taste.  And yes I do keep the skins on.  Adds colour and keeps the nutrition with the potato!

Cottage pie 6 3013

As it was just my husband and I the dish was kept pretty rustic.  I divided the beef mixture into two bowls for us.

Cottage pie 7 2013

I spread the mash over the beef and shredded more Jarlsberg over the mash.

Cottage pie 8 2013

Stick it under the broiler until the cheese is melted then it is ready to serve.

Cottage pie 9 2013

My husband, who isn’t normally a huge fan of cottage pie, enjoyed this one.  🙂  And it was lovely with red wine.

Turkey Stock

As it is for most people the holidays are a crazy time for our family.  I made this turkey stock a month ago and am only getting to post about it now!  With the exception of the veg broth I use in a lot of recipes we cook with homemade stock.  It’s less expensive, I know what goes into it, and the sodium level won’t rocket your blood pressure.  Reading labels can be so frustrating at times.  The amount of sodium in the processed foods is scary.  And I love salt!  This recipe works for turkey, chicken, duck, and even goose though I haven’t tried goose yet.  It’s on the list.  😉

You will want a large pot, especially if you are doing this with turkey.  We used our brew pot which holds a few gallons.  It was deep enough if I broke up the turkey a bit.  Cut off most of the meat.  Some meat is ok.

Turkey Stock 1 2013

Add an onion quartered and a large carrot which has been peeled and cut into large chunks.  These were our last carrots from the garden.  I also added a few crushed cloves of garlic.

Turkey Stock 2 2013

We had frozen some celery from our garden.  It worked out quite well for this application.  You want the green leaves of the celery for a tasty stock.  I don’t understand why the stores seem to insist on selling celery with the leaves chopped off.  There is so much flavour in the leaves!  It’s a main reason why we grow our own celery.

Turkey Stock 3 2013

Add sea salt and pepper to taste then fill the pot up with water.

Turkey Stock 4 2013

Bring to a boil then simmer for 2-3 hours.

When this is nearly done prep the jars by sterilizing them for 10 minutes in boiling water.  Then fill the jars with the stock.  I know a lot of people spend time skimming the stock and removing fat but given the amount of fat versus the stock amount this is a relatively low fat stock.  As is works very well for us and our recipes.

Turkey Stock 5 2013

While I am filling the jars I turn the heat on the water I used for the jars all the way down and toss in the rings and lids.  You don’t want to boil the lids.  Once the jars are filled I put the lids and rings on.  I tightened then put them back into the water and bring to a boil.  Once boiling I process for at least five minutes.

Turkey Stock 6 2013

Once that is done I remove and tighten any rings that are loose.  Then I let cool.  I swear to you I took pictures of the final product.  I can not find them anywhere!  I checked my camera and my phone.  Nada.  They will probably show up down the road.  🙂

Roast Vegetables

The last bit that I did for the Sunday Roast was to do up some roast veg.  I have to apologise about the photos.  I have an excellent camera and lately I must be rushing and so some photos have been coming out a bit blurry.  As in this post.  I need to slow down!

We grow a wide variety of veg in our garden.  For this dish we have parsnips, white carrots, red carrots, and Brussels Sprouts.  As we had our first frost already it was perfect timing for this dish.

I roasted these in the same oven as the roast beef.  I put a pan with olive oil into the oven to heat the oil.  I then peeled the parsnips and carrots and chopped them into small chunks.  I cut the Brussels Sprouts in half.  Toss the parsnips and carrots in the olive oil and pop into the oven.

When the veg is about halfway done I then added the Brussels Sprouts.  Roast until cooked.  My husband and I had a discussion afterwards about whether it would be better to boil or microwave the veg a bit beforehand so they roast more evenly.  I will be trying that next time.

I pour a bit of gravy over the veg to serve.  Again the gravy is the same as with the Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.  To round out the meal I also served roast potatoes.

Chicken Eggrolls

So the other day I was standing in the middle of the kitchen suffering from the equivalent of writer’s cramp.  Cooking cramp if you will.  I could not think of what to make for dinner!  I had defrosted a small chicken breast so I needed to use that but that’s as far I could get.  Have no idea how long I stood there.  Finally inspiration hit!  We still had some oil out to use for frying and I was in the mood for fries.  So I decided to whip up some eggrolls.  It would let me use some leftover veg we had cut up earlier in the week.  All I had to do was grab some scallions from the garden.

I sliced up the chicken breast into small pieces.

Then I sliced the carrots, peppers, and scallions from the garden plus some mushrooms.  I added olive oil to the pan and sauteed the chicken for a minute or so then added the veg.

Next I splashed in some soy sauce, rice vinegar, lime juice, and some ground ginger and sauteed until cooked.

Now the eggroll wrappers have been thawed and frozen a few times so they weren’t easy to handle at this point.  Time to get new ones!  But I spooned some of the mixture onto the wrap in the center.

I roll it up and use water to seal the edges.  I find it works really well and you don’t have to waste a whole egg.

Fry until golden brown and serve with your favourite sweet chilli sauce.