Celebrate St. Patty’s with a Traditional Irish Stew

Although it is 78 here today, we still think we need a Luck o’ the Irish celebration…a pint (or two) of guinness and a wee bit of chocolate guinness cake (the best one..ever, ever, really…ever…link below!).

This stew cold not be more simple.  I also stirred together a batch of cheddar chive Guinness quick bread.

  • 3 large baking potatoes, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 2 lb (900g) boneless lamb shoulder, cut into 1½ in (3.5cm) pieces
  • 3 large onions, sliced
  • 3 carrots, thickly sliced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Large sprig of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2½ cups lamb stock or beef stock


1. Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Beginning and ending with potatoes, layer the lamb, onions, and carrots in a large, heavy french oven such as Le Creuset, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper. Tuck in the thyme and bay leaf. Add the stock and cover.

2. Bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake 30–40 minutes more, until the potatoes are browned and the meat is very tender. Serve hot.


Beef and Potato Stew

Substitute boneless beef chuck for the lamb.

I made this last year and could not wait to make it again this year.  It really is the best ever Chocolate Guinness Cake  I have every tasted.  Today was the perfect reason to make it again!

Design Sponge’s In The Kitchen with Katie Davies Chocolate Guinness Cake

Seeing Green image by/via seebyseeing.net.  Stew and Guinness image by Jpatokol via Wikitravel.


Cherry, Chocolate and Orange {HEART} Scones

I {HEART} these orange, cherry and chocolate scones! Gooey chocolate, chewy cherries, orange zest and cocoa base.  Oh my…these have moved to the top of the scone list!  A keeper for sure!

Really easy, really tasty and a perfect breakfast for a lazy sunday morning. Pop them in the oven, a cup (or two) of espresso, a lazy morning and best of all, an easy breakfast in bed!

And, with Valentine’s Day tomorrow I just couldn’t resist cutting them into hearts.  Too cute.


Cherries by John Loo

Chocolate Chips…

Choco Chips By Ayelie



Inspired by Bon Appetit, 2/2002.


  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 1/2 cup miniature dark chocolate chip
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. With a pastry blender or a large fork, cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Mix in the orange juice to form a dough.
  3. Turn out the dough on a floured surface. Pat or roll into a 9 inch circle about 1/2 inch thick. With a 2 1/2 inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out 12 scones, pushing the dough scraps together for the last few, if necessary. Transfer the scones to the baking sheet.

Heart Scones Ready for Baking

  1. Bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Move to wire racks to cool.

Add a little mint, a chocolate square and serve!

Melting chocolate, chewy cherries, zest of the oranges…I could eat these every day!

Linked to:

Cookbook SundaysRecipe Swap SundaySeaside Valentine’s PartyPotluck SundaySundays at One, Not Baaad Sundays, Saturday Swap, Sweet Saturday, Seasonal Sundays, Mouthwatering Mondays, Sumos Sweet Stuff, Something I Whipped Up, Sweet and Savory, Made By You Monday, Your Recipe, My Kitchen, This Weeks Craving.

{Some Photos Creative Commons Attribution 3.0}

Seduced By Chocolate ~ Quadruple Chocolate Cake

Photo by EverJean

They say a picture is worth a thousand words and well, when it comes to chocolate, I think they are right.

Photo by EverJean

Chocolate…glorious chocolate!

Mexico Chocolate by EverJean


Photo by EverJean

All of this chocolate does lead somewhere…..to a dreamy decadent quadruple chocolate loaf cake!

Cocoa, chocolate chips, chocolate syrup and chocolate shavings…this is what chocolate dreams are made of!

What else can I say?  Make!  Eat!  Indulge!  I did and I don’t have one ounce of chocolate guilt.

Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson:


  • 200g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 50g cocoa
  • 275g caster sugar
  • 175g soft unsalted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
  • 80ml sour cream
  • 125ml boiling water
  • 175g dark chocolate chips (unless you’d prefer milk)


  • 1 teaspoon cocoa
  • 125ml water
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 25g dark chocolate (from a thick bar if possible)

Paris Chocolate by rvacapinta


  1. Take whatever you need out of the fridge so that all ingredients can come to room temperature.
  2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 3/170°C (converted to 340F), putting in a baking sheet as you do so, and line a 900g loaf tin (mine measures 21x11cm and 7.5cm deep and the cooking times are based on that) with greased foil – making sure there are no tears – and leave an overhang all round. Or use a silicon tin.
  3. Put the flour, bicarb, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream into the processor and blitz till a smooth, satiny brown batter. Scrape down with a rubber spatula and process again while pouring the boiling water down the funnel. Switch it off then remove the lid and the well-scraped double-bladed knife and, still using your rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips or morsels.
  4. Scrape and pour this beautiful batter into the prepared loaf tin and slide into the oven, cooking for about 1 hour. When it’s ready, the loaf will be risen and split down the middle and a cake-tester, or a fine skewer, will pretty well come out clean. But this is a damp cake so don’t be alarmed at a bit of stickiness in evidence; rather, greet it.
  5. Not long before the cake is due out of the oven – say when it’s had about 45-50 minutes – put the syrup ingredients of cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. You may find it needs a little longer: what you want is a reduced liquid, that’s to say a syrup, though I often take it a little further, so that the sugar caramelizes and the syrup has a really dark, smokey chocolate intensity.
  6. Take the cake out of the oven and sit it on a cooling rack and, still in its tin, pierce here and there with a cake tester. Then pour the syrup as evenly as possible, which is not very, over the surface of the cake. It will run to the sides of the tin, but some will be absorbed in the middle.

  1. Let the cake become completely cold and then slip out of its tin, removing the foil as you do so. Sit on an oblong or other plate. Now take your bar of chocolate, wrapped in foil if you haven’t got much of its wrapper left, and cut with a heavy sharp knife, so that it splinters and flakes and falls in slices of varying thickness and thinness.
  2. I’ve specified a weight, but really go by eye: when you think you’ve got enough to scatter over the top of the loafcake, stop slicing. Sprinkle these chocolate splinters over the top of the sticky surface of the cake.
Serves: Makes 10 generous slices

Tarte Tatin ~ Don’t Jugde a Dish by the Picture (Gutsy Cook Club)

Oh boy, where do I start with this?  I love blog cooking clubs and participate in a few.  For the most part, I haven’t had any issues.  But that was all going to come to a crashing end.  The newest selection from the Gutsy Cook Club was going to bring me down.  Bring me down hard.

What was the dish, you ask?   A Tarte Tatin.  Yes, a Tarte Tatin.  Really, caramel, apples, pastry crust and a flip on to a plate.  Sounds simple huh?  Well, not so quick.  I made two, yes 2 !  I think I have truly produced the ugliest Tarte Tatin in the world.

It started off well…I mean, peeling and coring apples is so simple.  Making a crust is a breeze.

It looked great out of the oven…golden and bubbly caramel.

And then the flip.  Oh no…this won’t do.  It simply won’t do.

But is has to.  This was version 2.  Having said all of that (and thanks for putting up with the whining), it was FANTASTIC!  Really, it was excellent. My husband ate half of it after dinner and the other half today for breakfast!  A real ugly duckling with a swan waiting to break free.

PS.  Wondering why the recipe isn’t posted?  The group cooks from The Illustrated Kitchen Bible and posting recipes is frowned upon, copyright and all plus we want to see more gorgeous books from Victoria Blashford-Snell.  Join the group by clicking on the Gutsy Cook Club link above.

Italian Chicken Bell Pepper Soup ~ Quick and Light

Need a simple, quick and healthy dinner recipe?  This is it…my go to chicken bell pepper soup!  Sweet bell peppers, garlic, mushrooms, chicken, capers…tasty, light and super quick.  Really, try it.
Serves 4
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 orange and red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (more or less to your taste)
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken broth (I use Better Than Bouillon)
  • 1 can Italian style diced tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons capers
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (leftover or rotisserie chicken from market)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese


Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add bell peppers, onion, garlic, basil, fennel seeds and crushed red pepper and sauté until vegetables are just tender, about 10 minutes. Add carrots, canned tomatoes and broth. Simmer until carrots are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Increase heat to high and bring soup to boil.  Add chicken and capers and cook just until heated through, about 2 minutes. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.  Ladle soup into bowls. Serve, passing cheese separately.

Linked to:

Beef Bourguignon ~ Barefoot in Paris

A birthday dinner.  A request.  Beef Bourguignon.  Simple. Comforting. Delicious!  Oh and the house smelled wonderful when the birthday boy walked through the door.  And what would a birthday be without a classic French Almond Pear Tart?  It wouldn’t…you will have to stay for dessert!

Adapted from Barefoot in Paris: Easy French Food You Can Make at Home.


  • 1 tablespoon good olive oil
  • 8 ounces dry cured center cut applewood smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck beef cut into 1-inch cubes
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1/2 cup Cognac
  • 1 (750 ml.) bottle good dry red wine such as Cote du Rhone or Pinot Noir
  • 1 can (2 cups) beef broth (I always use Better than Bullion)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 pound frozen whole onions
  • 1 pound fresh mushrooms stems discarded, caps thickly sliced


Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven. Add the bacon and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is lightly browned. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon to a large plate.

Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. In batches in single layers, sear the beef in the hot oil for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove the seared cubes to the plate with the bacon and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

Toss the carrots, and onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper in the fat in the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add the Cognac, stand back, and ignite with a match to burn off the alcohol. Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with the juices. Add the bottle of wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat. Add the tomato paste and thyme. Bring to a simmer, cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and place it in the oven for about 1 1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are very tender when pierced with a fork.

Combine 2 tablespoons of butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew. Add the frozen onions. Saute the mushrooms in 2 tablespoons of butter for 10 minutes until lightly browned and then add to the stew. Bring the stew to a boil on top of the stove, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste.

To serve, toast the bread in the toaster or oven. Rub each slice on 1 side with a cut clove of garlic. For each serving, spoon the stew over a slice of bread and sprinkle with parsley if desired.

It’s About the Spices!

I love spices, I collect spices, I use spices.

Enter Istanbul.  There was no question that I would wander the aisles and stalls at the Spice Market.  The sights, colors and aromas!  No question that I would pack the suitcase with little bags of spices. All types of spices.  No question at all.

What I didn’t know was that I would bring back pistachios, dates, figs, teas, manti and a wonderful spicy red pepper paste used during our culinary class (and lunch) with Eveline at Cooking Alaturka.  Eveline and her chef were the most gracious instructors providing all the “ins” and “outs” of the Spice Market.  Right down to the stall where she buys her red pepper paste.

I am dreaming of Istanbul today…and yes, my spices need replenishing!

In honor of my beloved SPICES,  on my plate today is Spicy Red Chicken MeatBalls and Pistachio Cardamom Cake.

Istanbul Spice Market

Spice Market Front Entry

Spice Market

Spice Market

Spice Market

Amazing sweets at little shops and the market.

Turkish Sweets

Turkish Delight

Turkish Sweets

Turkish Sweets

Spicy Red Chicken MeatBalls ~ Based on Eveline’s Spicy Red Lentil Balls substituting 1 pound ground chicken breast for Bulgar and lentils.

Turkish Spices

Saute Chicken Balls

Spicy Turkish Chicken Meatballs with Orzo

Spicy Turkish Chicken Meatballs with Orzo

My only regret of the evening was that I did not jot down the ingredients as I created this dish.  Red pepper perfection…my husband asked for it again soon….so…will make a recipe card for round two.

Dessert was perfect….spicy and nutty!

Pistachio Cardamom Cake ~ Adapted from David Lebovitz’s Ready For Dessert.

Pistachio Cardamom Cake


2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 g) unsalted or salted butter

1 teaspoon sugar

3/4 cup (60 g) sliced almonds, preferably unblanched


3/4 cup (95 g) shelled unsalted pistachios

1/4 cup (35 g) plus 3/4 cup (110 g) all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons cardamom seeds

1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup (200 g) sugar

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).

To make the topping, melt the 2 tablespoons (1 ounce/30 g) butter in a 9-inch (23-cm) round cake pan set directly on the stovetop over low heat. Once melted, remove from the heat and let cool briefly. Sprinkle the 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over the melted butter, then add the almonds, tilting and shaking the pan to distribute them evenly. Set the pan aside.

To make the cake, in a blender or a food processor fitted with the metal blade, pulverize the pistachios with the 1/4 cup (35 g) flour until as finely ground as possible. Transfer to a small bowl.

Crush the cardamom seeds in a mortar and pestle or seal them inside a sturdy plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Add the crushed seeds to the pistachio mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a bowl by hand), beat together the 1/2 cup (4 ounces/115 g) butter and 1 cup (200 g) sugar on medium speed until very light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until completely incorporated.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3/4 cup (110 g) flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir it into the butter-egg mixture. Stir in the pistachio mixture just until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan by dropping 4 or 5 mounds on top of the almonds. Carefully spread the batter into an even layer, trying not to disturb the almonds. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the sides of the cake to help loosen it from the pan. Invert the cake onto a serving plate. Let cool completely.

Cardamom, Pistachio and Almonds

Crushed Cardamom

Last Egg into Batter

Pistachio Cardamom Cake

Linked to: Wanderlust and Lipstick

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