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Spring is in the air with March food favourites

Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's Day, lamb with mint sauce for spring and Easter prep--there's much food fun in store for March.
vegetable soup
Tastes of spring--fresh vegetable soup, Irish soda bread and lamb with mint sauce. Enjoy! Photo: Metro Creative Connection

Juicy, tender lamb is coated with a crisp, herb-infused crust in our Panko Crusted Rack of Lamb with Fresh Mint Sauce. Our sauce combines aromatic fresh mint with savoury beef broth and tangy malt vinegar, complementing the meaty roast lamb rack.

Crusted Rack of Lamb with fresh Mint Sauce

1/2 cup (125 mL) Panko or coarse dry bread crumbs

2 Tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh mint

2 Tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley

1/2 tsp (2 mL) grated lemon peel

1/4 tsp (1 mL) chopped fresh thyme

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt

1/8 tsp (0.5 mL) freshly ground pepper

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 racks of lamb (8 ribs each)

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tbsp (15 mL) oil

2 tbsp (25 mL) Dijon mustard

Fresh Mint Sauce (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). To prepare coating, combine first 8 ingredients (panko through garlic) in a pie plate; set aside. Sprinkle lamb with additional salt and pepper.

2. Heat oil in a large ovenproof nonstick frypan over medium-high heat. Add lamb and sear until browned on both sides. Remove from heat.

3. Brush mustard over meaty portion of each rack of lamb. Working with one rack at a time, place lamb, mustard-coated side down, in coating, pressing lightly to adhere. Return lamb, bone side down, to frypan.

4. Roast for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 135 – 140ºF (57 – 60ºC). Transfer lamb to a plate and tent with foil. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving. The final temperature should be 140ºF (60ºC) for rare lamb. Roast lamb longer to reach desired doneness. Serve with Fresh Mint Sauce. Serves 4

Fresh Mint Sauce

1 cup (250 mL) beef broth

1/3 cup (75 mL) malt vinegar

2 Tbsp (25 mL) sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped fresh mint

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Combine broth, vinegar and sugar in a small saucepan.

2. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add mint. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or cold. Makes about 1 1/4 cups (300 mL).



3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp granulated sugar

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins

1 1/4 cups buttermilk

1 tbsp salted butter, melted


Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Stir in raisins.

Combine buttermilk and butter; stir into flour mixture until blended.

Knead 1 minute. Shape into a round loaf, 2 inches thick.

Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Using a sharp knife, score an “x” in top of loaf, cutting 1/4 inch deep.

Bake until loaf sounds hollow when tapped, about 45 minutes. Cool on a rack. Yield: Makes 1 loaf



Roasted Vegetable Soup

2 1/2 cups chopped onions (1 inch)

2 cups cubed peeled rutabaga (1 inch)

2 cups cubed peeled yellow potatoes (1 inch)

1 1/2 cups cubed carrots (1 inch)

1 1/4 cups cubed peeled parsnip (1 inch)

1 cup cubed peeled turnip (1 inch)

4 cloves garlic, peeled

3 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme, crumbled

2 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried rosemary, crumbled

2 Tbsp canola oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 Tbsp salted butter

2 bay leaves

1 can (5 1/2 oz/156 mL) tomato paste

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup maple syrup

8 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Plain Greek yogurt

Grated orange peel


1. Preheat oven to 425°F.

2. Combine onions, rutabaga, potatoes, carrots, parsnip, turnip, garlic, thyme, rosemary, oil, 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in large bowl; toss until coated.

3. Place vegetable mixture in a single layer in a non-stick foil-lined large rimmed baking sheet.

4. Bake, stirring once, until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, about 30 - 35 minutes.  Remove and discard thyme and rosemary.

5. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add roasted vegetable mixture and bay leaves; sauté for 4 minutes.

6. Add tomato paste and wine; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes.

7. Add maple syrup and cook, stirring, until liquid is reduced by half, about 30 seconds.

8. Add broth and cayenne pepper; stir to combine.  Bring to a boil.

9. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat; remove and discard bay leaves.

10. Purée mixture in batches in a blender, filling blender no more than half full for each batch.

11. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.

12. Serve topped with Greek yogurt and orange peel.  Yield: Serves 10 as a starter.


2 cups (500 mL) chopped onions

1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh lime juice

2 Tbsp (25 mL) grated fresh ginger

2 Tbsp (25 mL) oil

2 Tbsp (25 mL) paprika

2 tsp (10 mL) chili powder

2 tsp (10 mL) garam masala (recipe follows)

2 tsp (10 mL) salt

1/2 tsp (2 mL) cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

12 skinless chicken thighs

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 Tbsp (25 mL) oil

1/3 cup (75 mL) butter

1 1/2 cups (375 mL) whipping cream

1 cup (250 mL) water

1/3 cup (75 mL) tomato paste

2 Tbsp (25 mL) packed brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 mL) ground cashews

1/4 cup (50 mL) chopped fresh cilantro

1. To prepare spice paste, place onions through garlic in a food processor. Process until almost smooth. Set aside.

2. Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add chicken in batches and brown on both sides, adding remaining oil as necessary. Transfer chicken to a plate. Drain off excess fat from pan.

3. Reduce heat; add butter to pan and heat until bubbly. Add spice paste and cook, stirring, for 3 – 4 minutes or until fragrant. Whisk in cream, water, tomato paste and brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until mixture is thickened. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pan. Stir in cashews. Simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through. Sprinkle with cilantro. 

Serves 6. 

Cook's Note: Garam masala is a spice blend used throughout India. The blend has many variations, but some common ingredients may include cardamom, coriander, cumin and cinnamon. Garam masala can be found in the ethnic section or spice section of some grocery stores. Recipe follows. 


1 tsp (5 mL) cardamom

1 tsp (5 mL) coriander

1 tsp (5 mL) cumin

1 tsp (5 mL) turmeric

1/2 tsp (2 mL) freshly ground pepper

1/4 tsp (1 mL) cinnamon

1/4 tsp (1 mL) cloves

1/4 tsp (1 mL) nutmeg

Combine all ingredients. Store in airtight container.