Pancetta and parmesan spiral bread

Make-ahead marvel for breakfast, brunch…or any meal of the day!

This rich, brioche-style bread is incredibly delicious and super versatile too. While it’s absolutely amazing fresh out of the oven, my taste testers have decided it’s even more delightful the next day, toasted and buttered, possibly with a fried egg on top. No matter how it’s served, it’s a loaf that will be the star of the show at any meal. You can make and bake it all in the same day if you like, or prepare the bread and let it nap in the fridge overnight before baking. It’s terrific made with pancetta, but double-smoked bacon would be ridiculously tasty in this as well. Next time I might even go wild and add some caramelized onions too.


  • 4 cups (17 oz or 480 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) salt
  • 1 cup (250 mL) milk
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) olive oil
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) grated Parmesan
  • 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) diced pancetta or bacon
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) melted butter (to brush on loaf before baking)
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1.25 mL) fleur de sel or coarse kosher salt


  • In a large frying pan, cook pancetta or bacon until crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside to cool.
  • Prepare the dough by putting the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one); set aside.
  • Heat the milk gently in the microwave until it is warm to the touch, but not hot (110F with an instant-read thermometer if you have one).
  • Add the yeast to the milk. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes then add the mixture to the flour and stir into a shaggy dough.
  • Add the vegetable oil and beaten eggs and continue stirring until dough forms a ball. Knead 3 minutes with the stand mixer or turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead by hand for 5 minutes, adding a little flour if necessary to keep it from sticking to the bowl or the counter.
  • Transfer the kneaded dough to a clean bowl that’s been lightly oiled. Cover with a clean towel and let rise 1 hour.
  • Take the dough out the bowl and roll out as thinly as possible to form a large rectangle about 12 × 24 inches (30 x 60 cm). Sprinkle the dough with the Parmesan then the pancetta, leaving a half inch (1.25 cm) border around all of the edges.
  • Starting with a long end facing you, roll the dough up into a tight cylinder jelly roll-style, pinching the seams and ends to seal. Once you have finished rolling the dough, gently coil it into a spiral and place in a 10 inch (25 cm) springform pan that’s been lightly coated with vegetable oil.
  • Brush the coiled bread with melted butter and then cover loosely with plastic wrap and then a tea towel. Let rise again for 45 minutes.
  • NOTE: At this point you can put the shaped, covered bread in the fridge and let it sit overnight instead of having it rise on the counter for 45 minutes. Remove from fridge in the morning when you turn the oven on to preheat.
  • After 45 minutes (or overnight in fridge), preheat oven to 350F.
  • Remove plastic wrap and sprinkle loaf with fleur de sel or kosher salt. Place in preheated oven and bake 35 – 40 minutes, until golden brown on top.
  • Store leftover bread in a plastic bag or airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days, or freeze for longer storage.

Makes 1 large loaf.

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Hearty Lamb Stew

A comforting, flavourful make-ahead meal

So many people mention stew when the topic of comfort food comes up. Warming and delicious, stew can be prepared many different ways with a host of different ingredients. I often make beef or chicken stew, but a yearning for lamb led to this this recipe’s creation and it was a huge hit. I bought a bone-in lamb leg on sale and cut it into cubes myself; if you’re pressed for time, call your butcher and have them do it for you! Serve this with warm crusty bread to mop up the delicious gravy.


  • 4 strips regular or double-smoked bacon, cut in 1/2 inch (1.25 cm) pieces
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) leg of lamb or lamb shoulder (in 1 inch/ 2.5 cm cubes)
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL) flour, seasoned with salt & pepper
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons (15 – 30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) butter
  • 1 pound (454 g) white or cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cups (1 L) low sodium beef broth
  • 1 cup (250 mL) red wine
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Dijon
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried
  • 3 cups (750 mL) potatoes in 1” (2.5 cm) pieces *
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut in 1/2″ (1.25 cm) pieces
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish

*  I like to use a mixture of small yellow and red skinned potatoes, halved or quartered


  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven or heavy, oven-safe pot placed over medium heat until crispy, stirring often. Once cooked, transfer to a small bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving bacon fat in pot.
  • Put flour, salt and pepper in a small plastic bag. Add meat cubes, 10 or 12 at a time and shake in bag to coat with flour (you’ll need to hold bag closed as you shake).
  • Put Dutch oven back on medium heat and carefully remove lamb from flour bag, tapping off excess as you work, and add to hot pot. Don’t overcrowd the meat in the pot or it won’t brown nicely.
  • Remove each batch of meat to a large bowl when nicely seared before adding more to pan.
  • When lamb is all browned, add a bit of oil to the pot if it looks dry and sauté onions for 3 – 5 minutes, stirring often. When onions are translucent, add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Transfer the onions and garlic to the same bowl as the browned lamb.
  • Add the butter to the pot along with the sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until mushrooms have released their moisture and are just starting to get a bit crispy.
  • Return bacon, lamb, onions and garlic to the pan.
  • Add broth to pot and stir gently to release the browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add red wine, Dijon, tomato paste and thyme and stir again.
  • Cover pot and bring the mixture to a boil then add in potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil again then cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Let cook for 1.5 hours. Check once or twice and add a few tablespoons of water or red wine if the liquid has evaporated somewhat and the meat is not covered.
  • Note that the stew can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 48 hours until ready to reheat and serve.
  • Just before serving, remove pot from oven and taste, adding add salt and pepper to your liking. Serve hot, garnished with parsley.

Serves 4 – 6.

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Goat cheese and caramelized onion puff pastry palmiers

The fabulous appetizer that pulls a disappearing act!

I could not believe how fast these little treats got devoured when I served them to my book club recently. They’re the perfect thing, really – crisp and light and full of flavour. I love that you can prepare them ahead of time and tuck them in the fridge so they’re ready to bake right before you serve them. Palmiers are traditionally made in sweet versions (though I prefer them in savoury form) and get their name because apparently they are shaped like palm leaves. There are so many different ways you can fill them, but I love the simplicity of goat cheese and caramelized onions. You can play around with different flavours of goat cheese (I used a cranberry version for my book club and it was terrific) or you can add in fresh herbs or even a drizzle of honey. Palmiers are best eaten the day they are baked and they’d be ideal for a brunch or even a baby or bridal shower.


  • 1 large Spanish onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed but still cold
  • 5 ounces (140 g) goat cheese (plain or flavoured)


  • Caramelize onions by combining with olive oil in a large saucepan. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring often, for 3 – 4 minutes, or until onions have softened. Reduce heat to medium low; cover pot and cook 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid and increase heat to medium-high then cook, stirring constantly, for 4 – 5 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  • Roll lightly floured puff pastry out between two sheets of parchment paper to form a rectangle approximately 9 x 14 inches (22.5 x 35 cm).
  • Scatter caramelized onions across the pastry, leaving a small gap down the centre.
  • Repeat with the goat cheese.
  • Working on one long side, roll the puff pastry into a cylinder, just until you get to the middle of the sheet.
  • Roll up the other side.

  • Wrap the cylinder in parchment paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until ready to bake (within 12 hours).
  • To bake, preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Slice the cylinder of filled dough into 1/4 inch (.6 cm) slices and lay them out on the parchment-lined sheet.
  • Bake for 16 – 18 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and beginning to brown.
  • Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes approximately 30 palmiers.


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Edible gifts featured on Shepherd’s Fashions Coffee Talk

Five fabulously tasty treats you can share over the holidays!

Today, more than ever, consumable gifts are so stylish. When you take the time to prepare edible gifts in your own kitchen, the family and friends with whom you share them will appreciate that you care about them and want to offer something to spice up their holidays. Be sure to take a few extra moments to package them up prettily and your treats will make an even more impressive impact. I encourage you to think beyond cookies as there are loads of great options for edible gifts. I’m delighted to share five of my favourite giftable recipes, all of which are super easy. They are featured in a fun video segment called Coffee Talk with Marlene Shepherd and Kathie Donovan. Watch our talk here: Click on the Edible Gifts category on the right hand side of the screen to access more ideas!

Click on the titles to link to the recipes:

No-bake lemon coconut squares

Pickled Apple Slices

Festive maple snack mix

Mushroom seasoned salt

Festive Pretzel Bites

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Festive maple snack mix

A sweet-salty-spicy treat!

My mom’s savoury nuts ‘n bolts were a highlight of the holiday snacks menu when I was growing up. I loved every component – the Cheerios, pretzels, peanuts and Shreddies, not to mention the tangy sauce that got drizzled over and baked in, making the house smell amazing. I still have a huge soft spot for this classic mix, but I’ve had fun coming up with some new varieties to spice things up. My new favourite is this maple-cayenne-cardamom infused variety. If needed, you can use gluten-free pretzels and Chex cereal. This mix makes a fantastic hostess or teacher gift …. and you might want to make a double batch as it tends to disappear very quickly.


  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 1/2 cups small pretzel twists or sticks
  • 1 1/2 cups wheat squares (Shreddies) cereal
  • 1 cup raw almonds
  • 1 cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup raw whole cashews

• Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
• In a small bowl, combine canola oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, ground cardamom, salt and cayenne. Stir to blend well.
• In a very large bowl, gently combine the pretzels, cereal and nuts.
• Drizzle the maple syrup mixture over top and gently toss until everything is evenly coated.
• Spread the mixture evenly onto the lined baking sheet.
• Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring gently every 5 minutes. Mixture should look dry and be a deep golden colour when done.
• Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet.
• Serve immediately or store in an airtight container.

Makes 6 cups.


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Mushroom seasoned salt

A delicious way to add flavour to lots of dishes!

The subtle, earthy and rich flavour that mushrooms, yeast, truffles, anchovies, strong cheese and other elements add to foods is called umami. It’s often called the fifth flavour (after salty, sour, bitter and sweet). This mushroom-infused salt is super versatile and offers an easy way to infuse a pop of umami to such things as eggs, salads, roasted vegetables and more. If you want to make it even more flavourful, you can spice up mushroom salt by using smoked kosher salt, and/or adding a few pinches of ground pepper, dried garlic flakes or dried red chili flakes to the blender.


  • 4 dried shiitake mushrooms (available in the international food section of most large grocery stores)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) coarse kosher salt 


  •  In a sturdy blender or food processor, pulverize dry mushrooms until they are in very small pieces (about the size of coarse salt).
  • Add salt to the blender or processor and pulse for 10 – 20 seconds until the mixture reaches a fine-grained consistency.
  • Transfer to clean jars with a tight lid and store in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Makes approximately 2/3 cup (160 mL)

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Chocolate dipping spoons

An edible holiday gift the kids can make!

These spoons – perfect for stirring extra deliciousness into a mug of hot chocolate, steamed milk or coffee – were one of our favourite teachers’ gifts for years. Easy enough for the kids to make themselves, they looked so pretty packaged up with a gift card for a coffee shop or (ahem) ‘other type of beverage’ store. My kids were so proud to deliver something they had handmade, and I know they were appreciated by the recipients too. Look for metal spoons at your favourite thrift store, dollar store or hardware store if you would prefer them over plastic. The recipe calls for white and dark chocolate chips but you can use also milk chocolate, mint chocolate or salted caramel baking chips to make these festive dipping spoons.


Dark chocolate spoons:

  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon (.65 mL) chili powder
  • Coarse (sanding) sugar
  • 12 metal or plastic spoons

White chocolate spoons:

  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) vegetable oil
  • Crushed peppermint candies
  • 12 metal or plastic spoons


  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a microwave-safe glass measure or sturdy mug, carefully melt dark chocolate chips on medium power, stirring every minute or so until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
  • Add cinnamon, chili powder and vegetable oil to chocolate mixture and stir well to blend (the oil will make the chocolate smoother and easier to dip).
  • Dip a portion of each spoon’s bowl into the chocolate mixture (you don’t want the coating to be too thick).
  • Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet and immediately sprinkle with coarse sugar.
  • Let stand about 10 – 15 minutes until set.
  • Repeat the above process in a clean vessel with the white chocolate chips; stir in vegetable oil and dip the remaining spoons. Immediately after dipping, sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies and let set.
  • Wrap spoons individually in small candy bags and tie with a ribbon or butcher’s twine, labelling with instructions to use as a stirring spoon for coffee, hot milk or hot chocolate.

Yield: 2 dozen.

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