Friday, 22 March 2013


On March 17th, I felt we had no choice but to honour Ireland in our culinary tour.
Being a Sunday, and the last day of March Break, and St Patrick's Day....why not start the day with an Irish coffee? While Shawn and I were in Ireland last fall, I learned how to make Irish coffee at the Jameson Distillery Museum....and of course, we had a half bottle of Jameson in the “bar”.

So, first drag yourself out of bed and put the coffee on to brew. While it is brewing, make yourself as presentable as you deem fit. Pour hot coffee into you mug (a clear one if you have it), about ¾ full. Add a small teaspoon of brown sugar and stir. Add 1oz ( is morning after all) of Jameson Irish Whiskey. Pour some cold cream (½ & ½ works.....full 18% will do if that is all you have....) into your chilled cocktail shaker. Shake it up until thickened, and spoon onto the top of your should look just like a freshly poured pint of Guinness. Go sit by the fire (or window, or back into bed if you must) and enjoy. Repeat as necessary.

I have had these recipe cards that I had picked up at the Guinness museum in Dublin, and I have hung onto to them for the last year and a half, waiting for a reason to use them....well there's no time like the present!

For dinner we had Venison & Guinness Stew with Champ Potato, for dessert Guinness Chocolate Mousse, and of course a couple of pints of Guinness to wash it all down.  The cans of Guinness we get imported from Ireland are not quite the same, but will do.Fortunately, we are expert Guinness pourers....we have certificates somewhere to prove it....AND even an authentic Guinness pint glass that a friendly barkeep in Sligo “gave” Shawn.

Shawn and the boys donned there Irish rugby shirts, Iain broke one of our Jameson glasses (what kind of karma do you get from breaking a glass we so carefully brought home from Ireland with us ON St Patrick's Day?) and we dug into dinner...and then promptly went to bed.

Venison & Guinness Stew
(my variation, inspired by my recipe card)
This recipe fed the four of us dinner and lunch the next day
  • 1 lb of venison, chopped (recipe card called for ½ pound stewing beef)
  • 1-2 large carrots chopped
  • 2 stalks celery chopped
  • handful of white mushrooms, quartered (recipe called for parsnip....who actually keeps parsnip in their fridge?)
  • 1L thick stock (beef....or venison if you happen to have it, we did!)
  • sprigs of fresh thyme & rosemary
  • 1 can of Guinness (ummm.....recipe called for only 200ml, I didn't read that until after)

 Stir fry the meat, add the vegetables and cook until tender, then pour in the Guinness (go ahead, use the whole can, you bought a 4-pack, right?) Reduce by half (will take awhile of you used the whole can, if not, it should take the amount of time it takes you to drink the remains of the can)
Add the stock and herbs and simmer slowly for 1 ½ – 2 hours. Serve with champ potato.....which is really just mashed potatoes with spring onions in them, I made mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream, them added in 3 shopped green onions.

Guinness Chocolate Mousse
Serves 6...generous servings!
  • 10 (yep, 10) eggs, separated (as in yolks from whites, not 4 from 6, or 5 from 5)
  • 350g dark chocolate
  • ¼ lb butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 100ml Guiness (did you use, or drink the whole can from the stew? Better open another one.....)

Melt chocolate and butter, stir in the Guinness. Beat yolks and sugar until light and fluffy.
Beak whites until soft peaks form. Mix chocolate into yolk mixture until well combined. Fold in whites until all is smooth. Transfer to serving glasses and chill.
Was great topped with whipped cream (slightly under whipped) and cherries.

Monday, 4 March 2013


The night we `landed`on Brazil was also the night we landed on Antarctica.......we had started dropping two fingers on the map due to the amount of times we ended in an ocean.  Initially we were going to do Antarctica, we felt up to the challenge. But in the end, the land of ice and snow got the better of us, this time anyway, and we opted for tropical! But never fear, we will be back to conquer the South Pole, we have a plan in the making, and if this winter weather keeps up, we`ll get to it soon.

Narrowing down a menu for Brazil was difficult......simply so many options! In the end, I decided on the national dish, Feijoada (a black bean & meat stew); and I was not going to use canned beans, I have not had success in the past with dried beans, but I was determined to make it work.  Which meant I had to start the night before. And they turned out great!
The menu for our Brazilian dinner:
Drink: Caipirinihas
Appetizer: Acaraje (black eyed pea fritters)
Main: Feijoada (Brazilian black beans)
Dessert: Quindin

A trip to the LCBO to pick up a bottle of Cachaca (ka-sha-sa) and then a trip to the grocery store for some limes, a coconut, black beans & black eyed peas and I was ready to go.  Cachaca is a liquor made from sugar cane, we decided it was something like a cross between rum and any rate it sure packs a punch!
To make a Caipirinihas wash and cut a lime into chunks. Put the lime into a glass, sprinkle with sugar and muddle to release the juice. Add 2 oz of Cachaca, stir, top with ice and enjoy...carefully. This just might replace my gin & tonics in the summer....

Our appetizer of black eyed pea fritters (Acaraje) with shrimp & onion filling did not work out so well, I think that my batter was too wet perhaps. At any rate, Shawn was able to rescue them, and they turned out more like a dense cracker (or bread) which we served the shrimp & onion on top.

Before bed the night before `World Wednesday` I put the black beans on to soak.  The recipe I was `following` called for 8 cups, but considering I wasn`t feeding a soccer team, I opted for 4 cups (this still proved to be ALOT!)  I had found many recipes for making the Feijoada, but still had to adapt the recipes to what I had on hand. Finding Brazilian salted cured beef (carne seca) proved difficult in Kingston. And although this whole tour is supposed to be about trying new things, I have to draw a few lines, and pig snouts, ears and tongues is one of those lines! So, here is my revised Feijoada, for the Canadian kitchen
Feijoada Canadiana
4 cups dried black beans
1 pound venison (to see how we acquired our venison, check out my other blog!)
1 pound pork ribs
1/2  lb chorizo sausage
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp oil

The night before, soak the beans in a large pot with water to cover at least 3-4 inches. The next day, drain the beans place in a large pot with enough water to cover 3 inches. Bring the beans to boil of medium heat.
Meanwhile, cut all the meat into 1” pieces, and cut the ribs into 1 or 2 rib sections.
Add all the meat and bay leaves to the beans and simmer for a couple of hours, stirring from time to time, adding water if necessary, until the beans are tender.
Chop the onion and garlic. Saute them in a pan with the oil until soft and golden brown. Add 2 ladles of the beans and mash them. Put this mix back into the pot, and simmer for another hour or so (until you're ready to eat!) It should have a creamy consistency when done.
Serve over a mound of rice.
 For dessert I chose to make Quindin, a coconut custard like treat. It could be made as one large “cake” but I liked the idea of the bite sized ones I found, here is the recipe: (it made my co-workers got to try some the next day)

8 tbs melted butter, plus more for greasing the pans
1 1/3 cup sugar, plus more for dusting
14 (!) egg yolks and 1 whole egg (at room temperature)
1 tsp coconut flavouring (I did not have any, so omitted this)
½ tsp vanilla (I used a full tsp)
1 2/3 cups fresh or frozen finely grated coconut, unsweetened (I used a fresh coconut that I cracked and put the meat in my food processor to grate see my new found method of cracking a coconut, check out my Jamaica stop)

                     With a pastry brush, paint inside the molds of 2 mini-muffin pans.
                     Sprinkle sugar over the molds
                     Preheat oven to 350
                     Cream butter and sugar until creamy
                     Add eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition, the batter should be smooth
                     add coconut and vanilla
                     fold in fresh coconut
                     put each muffin pan inside a baking pan, and almost fill each mold with the coconut batter
                     pour hot water into the larger pans so that the muffin pans are sitting in a water bath, be careful not to splash water into the batter (I placed the pans in the oven before pouring in the water)
                     bake for about 15 minutes, until they are firm to the touch and light golden brown
                     Let cool for 15 minutes (do it for real....if you pull them out to early, they don't hold their shape and you get a pool of custard on your me) To remove them, run a knife around the edge to loosen and gently lift them out.