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Chef Bruce's Irish Feast

Chef Bruce Wood of Bruce's Kitchen on Salt Spring Island, and NXNW's resident chef presents an Irish Feast with everything from soda bread to champ and home made Irish Cream!

Click 'read more' for his Irish Feast Recipes.

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Lamb shanks braised with Salt Spring Porter

Veal shanks can be substituted for the lamb if you do not like lamb. The long slow cooking renders the lamb meltingly tender and concentrates the flavour of the sauce. Traditional Irish stew is more of a brothy affair rather than thick gravy. I like this approach since the flavours seem to shine through and the dish is not as heavy.

4 lamb shanks
one half-cup flour mixed with sea salt and freshly milled black pepper & 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
2 tbsp. butter + 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cups fresh pearl onions, peeled
3 oz. double smoked bacon, cut in ¼"cubes
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 cups Salt Spring (or other local) porter
2 cups lamb or beef stock
2 branches fresh thyme
2 branches fresh rosemary
8 juniper berries                 
2 bay leaves
2 cloves ~ tie the herbs and spices in a cheesecloth bundle and reserve

Pre heat the oven to 325 degrees F.
In a heavy bottomed pan large enough to hold the shanks in one layer, melt the butter and olive oil. Dust the lamb shanks with the seasoned flour and place in the hot pan. Brown the shanks well on all sides and remove from the pan. Add the onions and bacon and cook until the bacon is crisp and the onions are nicely coloured. Add the garlic and stir well. Add the porter and stock and bring to a boil. Add the shanks back to the pan; add the sachet of spices and place in the preheated oven.
Cook the shanks for 2 hours, or until the meat is pulling away from the bone.
Remove from the oven, discard the sachet and serve the shanks hot with the champ and plenty of sauce.


Champ is a fine example of a dish that celebrates the sum of its ingredients. You need nice floury potatoes, fresh green onions, and lots of good butter. When I was a kid and we weren't feeling well my mom would make mashed potatoes with a soft boiled egg. She was prescribed a bottle of Guinness a day when she was nursing (for the iron) hence my love for stout and potatoes.

1 lb. floury potatoes, baking or Yukon golds work well
one half cup buttermilk
3 green onions, cleaned and thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly milled black pepper to taste
4 tbsp. unsalted butter

Cook the potatoes in enough water to cover until well cooked, drain and reserve. While the potatoes are cooking heat the buttermilk with the green onions. Whip the potatoes with the milk/onion mixture and season to taste.
Make a mound of the potatoes on a plate and press a dimple in the top. Place a pat of butter in the dimple and serve the potatoes with the lamb shanks.

Irish soda bread

This is a quick and easy bread to make for supper. Be careful not to overwork the dough or it will be tough and the gas from the baking soda will escape.

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
1 cup oats
1.5 tsp. Baking soda
1.5 tsp. Sea salt
2 cups buttermilk
1 tbsp. melted butter

    Pre heat the oven to 425 degrees F
In the workbowl of a food processor pulse the oats until they are the consistency of coarse cornmeal. In a bowl combine the oats, flours, salt and baking soda and mix to combine.
    Add the buttermilk and mix with a wooden spoon until just beginning to come together. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead just until the dough comes together. Keep in mind this not a yeast raised dough so be gentle.
    Divide the dough into two even balls and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cut a deep cross in the dough and brush with the melted butter. Place a bowl over the dough and bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Remove the bowls, turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook a further 10 minutes. The bread should sound hollow when thumped with a finger. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack, covered with a damp tea towel. (this will keep the crust from getting too hard)
Enjoy warm with butter or chevre or jam or...

Homemade Irish crème liquer

When used in desserts this is just as good as the real thing.  It is good in eggnog at Christmas time.

1 tin sweetened condensed milk
1 3/4cups Irish whiskey or rye (I find Wiser's deluxe rye works very well)
4 egg whites
1 cup 35% crème
2 tbsp. chocolate syrup
1 tbsp. strong coffee
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2tsp. almond extract

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Place in a clean glass bottle and refrigerate for one week before using. The liqueur will keep in the fridge for one month.

Irish chocolate potato cake

The idea of mashed spuds may seem odd at first but they give they the cake a moistness and density that is qwuite lovely.

1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups white sugar
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup cold mashed potatoes
1 cup milk
4 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. Baking powder
1/2tsp. Baking soda
1/4tsp. Salt
pinch each cinnamon and nutmeg

    Pre heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9" cake tins.
    Cream together the butter and sugar and beat in the eggs. Beat in the melted chocolate, then the milk.  Stir in the mashed potatoes, and fold in the flour mixture.
    Divide the batter between the two cake tins and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool 5 minutes in the pans. Turn out onto a cake rack and cool. Use as desired.

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