Hamilton chefs' favourite holiday recipes: Carolyn Vaughan of 541 Eatery

In this latest in a series of December columns, food blogger Chanry Thach goes in search of Hamilton chefs's best holiday recipes. This week its Carolyn Vaughan of 541 Eatery and Exchange.

Each week in December Hamilton food blogger Chanry Thach features a holiday recipe from a local chef

Carolyn and her son James at 541 (Carolyn Vaughn)

Each week in December, Hamilton food blogger Chanry Thach features a holiday recipe from a local chef.

Nothing says holiday cooking like something that makes you feel mushy and warm inside. This week's recipe has the holy trinity of awesomeness as it's three main ingredients: Yep; beer, cheddar and potato (We threw in a fun popcorn recipe as well, if you're feeling fancy with your garnish).

Chanry Thach

This week I'm chatting with the Chef of 541 Eatery & Exchange, Carolyn Vaughan.

Vaughn started her career in wineries and boutique hotels in Niagara, then serendipitously landed the role at 541 when she enquired about making a donation.

541 volunteer David Ahara helped create this week's recipe. (David Ahara)

She's also championing the new 541 Community Kitchen. This larger kitchen space will host free community cooking groups, and will provide the necessary tools and support for healthier lifestyles and better food security in the community. 

Like the heart and soul of 541 Eatery, this soup was a collaborative effort between 541 Volunteer David Ahara and Vaughan. Ahara is a software engineer by day and volunteer cook three times a week at 541. 

Look out for more info in the new year about 541 Community Kitchen. 

Drop by our station anytime this month with a food or cash donation for Hamilton Food Share, part of CBC's annual charity drive.

This holiday season, help us support Hamilton Food Share as part of CBC's Sounds of the Season campaign to aid local food banks. You can donate food or cash at our 118 James N. station during business hours  You can also donate online here.

ahara soup (Chanry Thach )

Potato, Cheddar, and Beer Soup


2 tblsp butter

2 tblsp Olive oil

1 medium onion chopped

1 celery rib chopped

1 diced clove of garlic

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes sliced thin (like you would for scallop potatoes)

3 cups chicken stock 

1 cup stout beer (preferably Guiness)

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

pinch of paprika

whole nutmeg

2 cups white button mushrooms

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

6 ounces of dill and garlic cheddar cheese (or any other herbed cheddar cheese) - grated

1/2 cup warmed 35% cream

A few strips of cooked bacon - crumbled


Start by sautéing the mushrooms with1 tblsp each of butter and olive oil, dried rosemary, and a pinch of Kosher salt. Cook until mushrooms are light brown and soft - set aside.

Then, sauté the onion with 1 tblsp each of butter and olive oil for about 10 minutes.

Add the celery and continue for 5 minutes.

Add the onion and celery to a pot with the stock, potatoes, beer, garlic, and thyme. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer with a lid partially covering the pot. 

Cook for about 15 minutes or until you can smash the potatoes against the side of the pot easily.

Blend the soup using a blender or food processor in 3 batches adding a third of the cheese each time. Return blended soup to a warm pot and add the mushrooms and cream. Add the paprika and worcestershire - warm through for about 5 minutes.

Grate a pinch of whole nutmeg at the end and salt to taste -  garnish with crumbled bacon and Dill Pickle Popcorn.

Vegan Dill Pickle Popcorn

Coconut Oil Popcorn:

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1/3 cup popcorn kernels

Heat coconut oil in a heavy-bottomed 3 quart saucepan until shimmering.  Quickly add the popcorn kernels all at once, cover and cook over moderate heat while shaking the pot frequently.  Continue to cook until kernels stop popping - approximately 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and pour popcorn into an extra large bowl (this makes about 8 cups of popcorn).

In a spice grinder, combine the following:

1/2 Tbsp kosher salt

1/2 Tbsp coriander seed

1/2 tsp dry dill weed

1/4 tsp powdered garlic

1/4 tsp mustard seeds

1/4 tsp citric acid

Pulse until seeds are finely ground and all is mixed well.  Toss with coconut popcorn.