Irish Stew Meatballs (Gluten Free)

Ready for another of my “round food that is at least vaguely Irish themed” recipes from our St. Pi-trick’s Day Party?

I love Irish Stew. When done properly, it’s such a simple dish, but with a lot of good, “clean” flavor. It’s a hearty meal that really lets the individual flavors take the spotlight: Perfectly cooked carrots and parsnips, at just the right level of tenderness… fresh parsley, good meat. Yum!

As Irish stew may be, well, Irish, there’s nothing “round” about it, aside from the bowl it’s served in. I decided I’d create a meatball, themed around the flavors of Irish stew.

Oh, these were fabulous… and pretty much flew out of the crock pot they were served from! The carrots, parsnips, and parsley added a ton of flavor to the meatballs, the texture was great, and it all came together perfectly.

While these were specifically designed to be gluten free (though you’d NEVER know it, to taste them!), feel free to substitute “normal” crackers and flour, if gluten isn’t a concern.


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The Best Shepherd’s Pie Ever! (Gluten Free)

Ok, so “best ever” is a pretty big claim to make, but I feel pretty secure in making the statement.

As an Irish Canadian, I’ve eaten my fair share of Shepherd’s (Cottage, to be more accurate) Pie. As a chef, I’ve tinkered with the recipe many, many times. I’ve done a “Thanksgiving Leftovers” version. I’ve made a cottage pie with moose meat, partridgeberries, and wine. Boeuf bourguignon hybrid pie, cottage pie with caribou meat… yeah, you could call me a connoisseur!

So, when I say that this is the best ever – know that there’s a lot of experience behind the claim!

First, a quick distinction: The vast majority of what people call “Shepherd’s Pie” is actually “Cottage Pie”. Cottage pie that uses lamb for the meat is “shepherd’s pie”. Sheep, shepherd… you know. This recipe was developed to be a shepherd’s pie, but was changed to a cottage pie at the last minute. After a morning of shopping for ingredients, I chose convenience over nomenclature 🙂

Anyway, that little bit of pedantry aside…

I created this cottage pie for our recent “St Pi-trick’s Day” party. As every food had to be Irish themed and round, I sized this recipe around a 12″ round cake pan, big enough to serve our party. Should you want to be a bit more traditional with it, and make it up in two 9 x 13″ pans.

In keeping with the Irish theme, I didn’t make this “American Style” – you’ll notice there is no creamed corn, and no cheese. Instead of the more common choices of corn and frozen peas, I decided to go more “Irish Canadian” with it, using carrots, parsnips, and turnips – a very popular set of veggies on the East Coast of Canada, which is heavily Irish. For many/most people out that way, those root vegetables are served at least weekly, as part of “Sunday Dinner” – very traditional. If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, getting these veggies ready will be a snap. If you have to grate them by hand – trust me, it’s worth the effort in the end!

As an additional nod to the Irish-Canadianness of it, you’ll notice the use of savory. Savoury, as we spell it back home, is an extremely popular herb in east coast Canadian kitchens… for good reason. The savoury that grows in the hills of Newfoundland is the best savory I’ve ever had. It’s commonly used in soups, on poultry, in stuffing/dressing, on pork… yum. If you’re a foodie and have a chance to get your hands on some Mt. Scio brand savoury… send me some, too!

While shepherd’s pie really isn’t anything elegant to look at, no matter what the ingredients, this one has an elegant taste to it. The use of the root vegetables in combination with these seasonings provides an awesome merge of flavors… truly, I think I’ve come up with the ideal cottage pie here!



St Patrick’s Day Pizza Recipe

Whoa! I’ve really neglected the blog recently… sorry about that! Racing to get the main areas of the house organized and cleaned up. No small task, considering that the dining room was still being used as temporary storage for everything that belonged in the kitchen. As we have enough of the shelves done to move forward, I’m re-populating them with everything that’s been in the dining room. It may not sound like much, but it’s a lot of fussy decision making, as much as anything. The new cabinetry layout is completely different from the old one, so I need to figure out where I want everything to be.

Anyway, the big cleaning rush is on account of our “St Pi-trick’s Day” party this weekend. Just finished the menu up last night – it’s going to be GOOD! For the uninitiated: My husband’s favorite “holiday” is Pi Day (He’s a major math nerd), while my favorite is St Patrick’s Day (Irish Canadian, here!). Usually, we celebrate the two together, ON Pi day. Loads of pi trivia, round foods, etc… with a heavy Irish theme running on top of it. Just finished our menu last night – it’ll be awesome!

If you’re looking for something unique to serve for your own celebrations this time of year – I’ve got the recipe for you! Behold: St Patrick’s Day Pizza!

I created this recipe for our pi day celebrations a few years ago, and it’s been a March staple for us ever since. It’s basically the result of wondering “What’s the best way to combine the two themes, in one epic main dish?”. Well… now you know!

This recipe starts with a flavorful, tender beer based rye crust, and continues with (Canadian style) colcannon, one of our favorite things ever. Top with some corned beef, cabbage, and Irish cheddar… there you have it. St Pi-trick’s Day perfection!


St Patrick's Day Pizza

St Patrick's Day Pizza

Colcannon Recipe (AKA Caulcannon)

I had forgotten that today was the official start to fall, when I rolled out of bed. Something about today’s crisp, chilly air awoke something in me, though.

Massive. Colcannon. Craving.

At first, I thought it was a bout of ADD. I had resolved to work on my tornado book today, and had to go through emails, blog posts, and tweets to compile a comprehensive timeline of everything that’s happened since May 22. Yup – about as much fun as it sounds.

I sat down to my computer, and I thought… “Man, you know what would be awesome now? Colcannon. Just a massive bowl of piping hot colcannon. Mmmmm…”

I tried to turn my attention to what I was doing, but even a few hours later, the craving roared for attention. I decided to cave in and make some. I messaged my husband to let him know, and ask for an opinion on how much to make. That convo:

Me: I have decided that I need to make colcannon. How much?
Me: A little or a ton?
Husband: Ton!!!!!!!!!!!
Husband: !!!!!!!!!!!

Yep. We kind of adore colcannon here… as you may have guessed from his copious use of exclamation points! 🙂 (more…)