Spiced lamb meatball stew with orzo and vegetables

A hearty meal that’s both healthy and flavourful

I often find myself craving particular dishes or ingredients because characters in a book I am reading are enjoying them. Recently, a novel set in England fostered in me a keen desire for lamb meatballs, and thus, this dish was born. It’s a super flavourful meal that is surprisingly quick to prepare; the lamb meatballs provide a beautiful pop of flavor and texture and the tender vegetables blend perfectly with the brothy orzo (pasta). You can shape and cook the meatballs ahead of time and refrigerate until just before serving time; the vegetables can similarly be prepared ahead of time.

lamb meatball stew with pasta



  • 1 cup (250 mL) soft breadcrumbs (about 1.5 slices of fresh bread, crusts removed)
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) white wine
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) freshly ground coriander seed
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) finely minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) finely minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) salt and pepper
  • 1 1/4 pounds (600 g) lean ground lamb

Vegetables and orzo

  • 2 cups (500 mL) unooked orzo pasta
  • 4 cups (1 litre) chicken stock
  • 1 cup (250 mL) water
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped Spanish onion
  • 4 large plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, halved and sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon each (1.25 mL) fresh ground pepper and kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) dried red pepper flakes
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Crumbled feta or grated mozzarella (for garnish)

lamb meatballs with pasta


  • Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place a wire cooling rack on top. Set aside. Preheat oven to 375F.
  • To make the meatballs, place the breadcrumbs in the bottom of a large bowl. Add white wine and massage it in with clean hands until the breadcrumbs are thoroughly dampened.
  • Add the ground coriander seed, rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper and ground lamb to the bowl and combine well with your hands. Shape into small meatballs (1 inch / 2.5 cm) and place on wire cooling rack set over lined baking sheet.
  • Bake meatballs in preheated oven for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside (transfer to a bowl and refrigerate if not assembling dish within the hour).
  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.
  • Add the tomatoes, zucchini, tomato paste, basil, red pepper flakes salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add meatballs, reduce heat to medium-low and cover. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, while orzo cooks.
  • In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock and water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  • Do not drain the cooked pasta as you want the broth in the finished dish.
  • Transfer pasta and cooking liquid to a large bowl. Add the tomato and meatball mixture and toss gently to combine.
  • Spoon into individual bowls; top with cheese and sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 4 – 6.



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Brown butter salted caramel blondies

Rich flavour and chewy texture a standout combination!

I love all things chocolate but have to say that few treats can beat a good blondie, in my opinion. Rich and satisfying, blondies share the chewy texture of brownies, but rely simply on butter and sugar for their distinctive flavour. As an experiment, I tried making a batch this week with brown butter and it was a huge hit with my eager taste testers. Of course, the addition of salted caramel baking chips may have swayed them a little too; they were the same testers who devoured a whole pan of oatmeal shortbread squares with salted caramel chips. This recipe is delicious with regular melted butter, but I highly recommend taking a few extra minutes to brown the butter. You’ll be glad you did.


  • 3/4 cup (185 mL) salted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) baking powder
  • 2/3 cup (180 mL) salted caramel (or butterscotch) baking chips


  • Line a 9 x 13 inch baking pan with parchment paper, being sure to leave some paper hanging over the sides as handles. Set pan aside. Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Melt butter in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Stir constantly to cook the butter until it turns light brown in colour and gives off a bit of a nutty aroma, about 3 – 5 minutes. Note that it will foam as the water in the butter evaporates so it will be tricky to check the colour unless you lift some of the mixture up from the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to burn the butter and as soon as it has browned, transfer butter to a heatproof bowl and let cool to lukewarm (you can speed this up by putting the browned butter in the fridge, but do not let it solidify).
  • In a large bowl (use a stand mixer if you have one), beat together brown sugar and brown butter. Add eggs and vanilla and beat again until well blended.
  • Combine flour and baking powder then add to brown sugar and butter mixture. Beat until blended.
  • Add salted caramel baking chips to the batter and fold in with a wooden spoon or flexible spatula.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan and spread so it fills the pan evenly.
  • Bake 23 – 25 minutes until top is glossy, just beginning to crack and feels firm to the touch.
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 1 hour in the pan. After 1 hour, lift out of pan using parchment paper handles and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • Cut into squares and serve.
  • Put leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.

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All about apples

So many delicious possibilities for this versatile fruit!

I’ve loved cooking with apples since I was a young child. Helping my mom make applesauce, dozens of pies, apple jelly and loads of loaves didn’t seem like a chore because I knew I’d get to enjoy eating these delicious treats all winter long. When my own kids were little, I loved taking them apple picking and they always had fun afterwards choosing what we would make with the beautiful fruit we brought home. However much we picked, it never seemed to be enough! Here are some of my favourite apple recipes developed over the past few years. I’m off to the orchard now to stock up so I can make each of these dishes again and again.

apple picking

Mini shortbread apple tarts with salted caramel

Mini tarts with a shortbread base, spiced apples and salted caramel

Caramel-apple skillet cake

Caramel apple pan cake

Kale salad with apples and cheddar

Kale salad with apples

Sweet apple salad

a nutritious, delicious meal in a bowl

Pickled apple slices

Caramel apple muffins

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Japanese-style seaweed salad

A make-at-home version of a restaurant favourite!

It’s amazing how tastes change over time. A generation ago, you’d never have found little kids in North America devouring dried seaweed as a schoolyard snack, but it’s all the rage now. I love that seaweed has become a mainstream product, not only because it’s super tasty but also because it’s a nutritional powerhouse, packed with vitamin C, iron, calcium, fibre and more. Seaweed salad is also all the rage right now in Japanese restaurants and it’s super easy to prepare at home. As an added bonus, you won’t be ingesting yucky food colouring and other preservatives typically added to commercial seaweed salads to give them their unnaturally bright green colour. Homemade seaweed salad is a healthy alternative but it’s advised to consume in moderation given the levels of iodine that are naturally found in seaweed. If you enjoy making simple Japanese dishes at home, you might like these Sushi Salad Spoons or fun Sushi Nachos as well.

Japanese-style seaweed salad

At most health food stores, you can buy packages of different varieties of seaweed – the only one to avoid is toasted nori which is what’s typically used for sushi. I used wakame, arame and pretty purple dulse and it was a great combination of colours and textures. You might also find bags of seaweed salad mix which includes several varieties and would be a great choice.

dry wakame arame and dulse for seaweed salad

Wakame, arame and dulse make a great combination of dried seaweeds to use in salad.


  • 1 1/2 cups loosely packed dried mixed seaweed, chopped or torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger root
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use tamari for gluten-free version)
  • 4 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon white sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup slivered green onions (scallions)
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds

Seaweed salad


  • To soften the seaweed, soak it in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes.
  • While seaweed soaks, make the dressing. Put the ginger root, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sugar and salt in a jar with a tight lid. Shake to blend well.
  • Drain the water off the seaweed and squeeze out excess moisture with your hands. Dry the bowl (or use another one) then put seaweed in the bottom. Drizzle 2/3 of the dressing to start, toss well and taste. Adjust seasoning if needed and add more dressing, just a bit at a time, until the seaweed is well coated but not soggy.
  • Sprinkle green onions and sesame seeds over top and serve immediately.

Makes 4 small servings.

Japanese style seaweed salad

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Tempting, tasty tomatoes: a recipe roundup

A few ideas for a favourite fruit (or vegetable)!

That whole ‘tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable’ thing has always been a bit of a brain-bender for me. I mean, I get the science behind it; botanically speaking a fruit is a ripened flower ovary and it contains seeds. By this definition, tomatoes, plums, zucchinis, and melons are all classified as fruits. Regardless of how you choose to classify them, tomatoes are delicious, nutritious and farmers’ markets across the land are bursting with them right now!  Here’s a roundup of some of my favourite tomato recipes. I plan to make all of them this weekend! Just click on the titles below to access the recipes.

Fresh heirloom tomato salsa with cucumber and avocado

Heirloom tomato salsa


Chèvre and chive stuffed tomatoes with crispy prosciutto

Tomato salad with basil and brie


Tomato and goat cheese tarts

Tips for preserving tomatoes

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20 minute red curry vegetable soup

A twist on traditional vegetable soups – perfect for autumn!

Ever since I made this fantastic shrimp curry a few weeks ago, I’ve been craving the gentle heat and fantastic flavour that red curry paste brings to any dish. After scooping up some impossibly fresh cauliflower at a Farmers’ Market the other day, I was eager to see how well it married with the curry flavour. Good news – it’s a match! You could easily play around with different vegetables in this soup, making it a great ‘clean out the fridge’ kind of dish. It takes just 20 minutes from start to finish but you could shave off a little time by prepping all the vegetables the night before. I have eaten this soup with and without rice in the bottom of the bowl and while it’s delicious both ways, the addition of hot, cooked rice definitely makes the meal a little more substantial. If you’re not into rice, cooked quinoa, farro, cracked wheat or barley would all be good substitutes.

autumn cauliflower soup with red curry paste


  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) canola oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup / 125 mL)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (250 mL) thinly sliced sweet potato
  • 1 1/4 cups cauliflower florets
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) freshly grated ginger root
  • 1 – 2 teaspoons (5 – 10 mL) Thai red curry paste (or more, to taste)
  • 1 can (14.5 oz / 400 mL) coconut milk *
  • 1 cup (250 mL) halved snap peas (strings removed)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped sweet red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) coarse kosher salt
  • chopped fresh coriander leaves (garnish)
  • Lime wedges (garnish)
  • Optional: 1 cup (250 mL) hot cooked rice, to serve

* or one 50 gram packet of powdered coconut milk dissolved in 1  1/2 cups (375 mL) hot water

red curry soup with vegetables


  • Put oil in a large, broad pan placed over medium heat. Add the onion and sweet potato and sauté, stirring often, for 4 minutes, until sweet potato is beginning to soften.
  • Add the cauliflower and ginger and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
  • Add the curry paste and coconut milk and cook, stirring continuously, until curry paste is completely dissolved, for 2 – 3 minutes.
  • Add the snap peas, red pepper and salt. Stir, reduce heat until mixture is just simmering and cover pot. Let cook 2 – 3 minutes until cauliflower is tender.
  • Taste and adjust curry powder and/or salt to suit your tastes.
  • Ladle soup into warm bowls (put rice in the bottom of each bowl first if you want to make the dish a bit more filling). Top with coriander leaves and large lime wedges.

Makes 2 generous servings.

quick red curry vegetable soup

Posted in Asian, Cauliflower, Paula Roy, red curry paste, Soups and stews, vegan, Vegetables, Vegetables, vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Feast of Fields Ottawa’s most delicious fundraiser

Don’t miss out on the event of the season!

Last year, the retooled Feast of Fields event delivered one delightful surprise after another, all evening long. It felt like a fabulous cocktail party, with some of Ottawa’s most talented chefs serving up the tastiest bites in a chic, urban setting. Wondering where the fields come in? It’s the connection these chefs, and us – their lucky patrons – enjoy with Ottawa’s thriving organic, sustainable food scene.

The event’s roots go back to 1996 when it was staged by Canadian Organic Growers. It’s moved on from that earlier form and on September 13, 2017, Feast of Fields will for the second year be raising funds in support of Carefor, a registered not-for-profit agency that works tirelessly to keep families together longer at home by providing home health care and community support services. From nursing to personal care, assisted living options and respite services to support caregivers and families with loved ones living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, Carefor services continue to meet the needs of local communities including Ottawa, Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Valley.

The Chef lineup is extremely impressive this year; it includes:

  • Chef Marc Lepine, Atelier
  • Chef Joe Thottungal – Coconut Lagoon
  • Chef Stephen LaSalle, Andaz feast + revel
  • Chef Jesse Bell, Albion Rooms
  • Chef Warren Sutherland, Sutherland Restaurant, Bar and Coffee House
  • Chef Harriet Clunie, Beechwood Gastropub
  • Chef David Neil, The Piggy Market
  • Chef Ryan Edwards, Salt
  • Chef Jason Laurin, Essence Catering
  • Chef Kyle Mortimer-Proulx, La Maison Conroy
  • Chef Jeff Stoveld, Top of the Hill Bakery
  • Chef Georges Laurier, C’est Bon Cooking
  • Chef Ric Watson, Ottawa Mission
  • Chef Eric Patenaude, Todrics
  • Chef LeRoy Walden, Detroit Soul Food
  • Chef Nick Barolo, Chef at Large
  • Chef Joey Boileau, Senate Sports Tavern

Feast of Fields 2017

If the calibre of the food served at last year’s event is any indicator (and I am confident that it is), we’re in for a seriously tasty evening. The best part? Tickets for this shindig are only $65 and you get a $20 tax receipt to boot!

“We are excited to welcome guest to come celebrate the bounty of fall with us,” said organizer Robin Duetta. “In addition to exceptional dishes made with outstanding organic and sustainable foods, there will also be wine and beer on offer. Most importantly, all funds raised at Feast of Fields support Carefor’s dementia care programs and services so everyone who attends will be helping to make a difference in the lives of caregivers and their loved ones living with dementia in our community.”

Click here to purchase tickets and get ready for a delicious evening on September 13. Feast of Fields will be held at Jean Pigott Place in Ottawa City Hall and doors will open at 5:30 pm. I hope to see you there!

Feast of Fields Tweet

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