Sunday, November 18, 2012

Icelandic Lamb Soup

From the land of volcanoes and Scandi-babes comes one of Iceland's famed recipes: Kjötsúpa. No idea what this means?  You are not alone.  Kjötsúpa is a lamb soup. Not sure why, but this dish made me realize just how much my taste buds have evolved. I wouldn't have touched it as a kid. Lamb was stinky and root vegetables were gross. Ok, ok, I would have touched it, because I wasn't allowed dessert unless I ate my main course first. Anyways, I hope you savour this lamb-based broth and simple combination of ingredients as much as I did. Root vegetables are definitely in season in Alberta, so finding turnips, potatoes and carrots was a snap. I even managed to find some Alberta lamb too!

Now here's my attempt to shamelessly plug this soup: Pick up a crusty loaf of French bread, ply it with chunks of cold butter and pour yourself a glass of red wine to enjoy it with. This combination just might make your cold winter evening a little less chilly. 

Adapted from:

Serves 8


  • 6 cups water
  • 2.5 kg lamb shank(s), bone in
  • Dried onions and other herbs (I used an onion soup mix...might be cheating)
  • Half a large onion, diced
  • 5 carrots, cubed
  • 3 small turnips cubed
  • 3 medium yellow or white potatoes, cubed
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Bring to a boil the water, lamb and onion in a large saucepan and once boiling, reduce heat to simmer. Add the herbs and dried onions and let simmer for forty minutes. Add the carrots, turnips and potatoes and cook on low heat for thirty minutes, or until the vegetables have softened. Removed the lamb shanks and trim the meat off the bones. Discard the bones and add the lamb pieces back into the soup. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Maple Beef Tenderloin with Chocolate Red Wine Jus & Leek & Potato Mash

Yes it tastes as good as it looks; even better actually. The recipe was a finalist in the San Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef's Competition in Toronto. That I learned from the blog I pilfered this bad boy from. The recipe intimidated me at first, but it looked so good I figured that even if I didn't get it just right, it would be delicious.  As expected, I didn't reach the pinnacle of perfection here: the potatoes were a bit lumpy, I didn't have juniper berries for the beef marinade and my wine wasn't exactly a Meritage variety. I'll get there. At least I'd like try getting there and I'm going to enjoy the journey of making this again with all the right ingredients and a potato ricer, my father's secret for perfect mashed potatoes. At this stage in my culinary journey, I just felt fulfilled attempting it. Now I also feel fulfilled having eaten it!


Serves 8 

Beef Tenderloin

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 T chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 kg of beef tenderloin
  • Pinch of salt and freshly ground red pepper

Chocolate Red Wine Jus

  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup of dry red wine
  • 2 cups of beef stock
  • 90g of dark chocolate (90% cocoa)
  • 1 T red wine vinegar

Leek & Potato Mash

  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1 leek, white and light green part, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 T chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 625 g of Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup warm milk

Beef Tenderloin

In a large dish, combine the maple syrup, thyme and garlic. Add the loin, turning to coat evenly and let marinate for fifteen minutes. Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper on all sides. Place the loin on a rack in a roasting pan, and roast the meat at 450F for ten minutes. Reduce the heat to 275F and continue cooking for one hour. Let stand for about five minutes before slicing. 

Chocolate Red Wine Jus

In a saucepan heat the butter on medium-high heat and saute the carrot, onion, leek and bay leaves, stirring occasionally for about ten minutes, or until softened. Add the wine and simmer for about five minutes or until reduced by half. Add beef stock and simmer for about ten minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine sieve or cheese cloth into a clean sauce pan. With the sauce pan on medium heat, whisk in the chocolate and melted butter. Once blended, add the red wine vinegar and set aside. 

Leek & Potato Mash

In a non-stick skillet, heat a tablespoon of butter on medium heat until melted. Add the leeks, stirring occasionally and let cook for ten minutes. Stir in the parsley and salt and set aside. Bring the potatoes and thyme to a boil in a large pot of water. This should take about twenty minutes. Drain well and mash until smooth. Add the remaining butter and milk stirring well to combine. Finally, fold in the leek and parsley mixture so that it's all combined. Set aside and keep warm.

To assemble, spoon a few tablespoonfuls of the leek and potato mix onto a plate. Place the tenderloin slices on top and drizzle the jus on the side or overtop of the beef.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quinoa & Pea Spiced Croquettes

In the quest for snacks, I've decided to get a little creative. I'm tired of humus and vegetables, fruit or whatever I usually snack on. If these croquettes were a little more gluey, they'd be easy treats to pack. Add a little Sriracha and/or sour cream to them for some extra kick.

The original recipe did not include an egg, but I added it part way through my patty making process because I needed a binding agent. I'm not sure how the original chef made it happen without one. If you don't feel like making these into patties, this also acts as a nice hash. Grill a little fish or meat of your choosing and serve it on top.

Adapted from:

Serves 4

  • 2 russet potatoes, peeled, chopped and mashed
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 cup peas fresh or frozen
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 t ground cumin
  • 1 t garam masala
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for frying


Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan. Add the garlic and saute for a minute and then add the peas, mixing well with the garlic and oil. Pour the pea mixture into a bowl and wipe the pan clean with a paper towel and return to low heat. 

Add the potatoes, quinoa, cilantro, cumin, garam masala and salt to the peas and mix well. Form the mix into little patties or croquettes and set aside.

Pour about two tablespoons of oil in the fry pan and bring the heat up to medium-high. Once the oil is hot, place about four of the croquettes in the pan and cook each side for about four minutes, flipping gently as needed. Repeat with the remaining croquettes and serve warm with Sriracha sauce and a little sour cream.