Tomato Braised Lamb Shanks

>> Friday, February 26, 2016

I can’t believe we’re at the end of February! Already we’re nearing the last month Q1 2016! Hopefully everybody is continuing on their wellness journey whether it is eating healthier or taking up exercising.

Healthy and delicious recipes with simple but tasty ingredients are always a key to eating better. Here’s my recipe for Tomato Braised Lamb Shanks, which are perfect cooked the night before and warmed up for a great family meal the next day. The longer the lamb sits in the tomato sauce the better the sauce tastes or if you can’t wait, they’re just as good the day of.

This year to encourage people to continue to eat healthier, Edo Japan has launched their Simple Ingredients, Better Choices campaign and with it I have a Gift Card to Giveaway! Please respond to this post or send me a tweet to enter the draw! Good luck to all and hope you enjoy the recipe!


3 Lamb shanks
1 Onion, diced
2 Carrots, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
5-6 Tomatoes, chopped
1 tin Tomato paste
2 tbsp Sugar
1 bunch Mint leaves
1 tbsp Fresh thyme or dried
1 tbsp Fresh parsley or dried
1 can Chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
Optional: 1 can Kidney beans


Liberally sprinkle salt and pepper over the lamb shanks and set aside to marinate.

In a skillet with some oil, sear the shanks until they become golden brown. Remove from skillet and set aside.

In a separate large pot, heat up some oil and stir in the onions and garlic and let sit until the onions become translucent.

Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir until everything is well mixed.

Place in the lamb shanks, add in the 10 or so mint leaves, thyme, parsley and sugar.

Pour in the chicken stock and add in a bit of water until the lamb shanks are just about covered.

Turn the heat down and let simmer for 60 mins or until the lamb is tender when a fork is inserted.

Optional: Stir in the can of kidney beans and let simmer for 10 additional minutes until the beans come up to heat.

Add salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat and serve over rice or polenta.

Makes 3 servings.


Restaurant Review: Shokunin

>> Friday, February 19, 2016

There has been lots of buzz leading up to the opening of Shokunin, the newest creation by Chef Darren MacLean. I was extremely sad to see DTF (Downtownfood) close last year since it has always been one of my favorite restaurants, so I could not wait to visit his new establishment. Based strongly on traditional Japanese small plates, yakitori (a specialized charcoal grilling technique) and late night ramen, Shokunin definitely tries to bring a bit of Japan to us here in Calgary.

Atmosphere: Edgy dining room with a beautiful feature wall and an open kitchen where you can witness all the grilling action.

Price Range: Mid $10s - $20s

Food & Sake: After perusing the menu we decided to start with a couple small share plates, the first being the Braised Daikon made with 4k farms ground pork, shredded ginger, sesame paste and sansho oil. Served in a broth, I enjoyed how soft and tender the daikon was, literally falling apart when you put your fork in to it. It reminded me of a warming Asian style soup.

Next was the Karage Okamiitsu aka deep fried chicken thighs served with a yuzu aioli. The chicken itself was nice and crispy on the outside while remaining moist and tender on the inside. We didn’t find that the yuzu was quite tart enough and the added extra squeeze of lime over the chicken and aioli really helped round out the flavours.

We couldn’t go to Shokunin and not try their yakitori, essentially skewered meat grilled over traditional Binchotan charcoal which gives it a slightly smoky charred flavour. I found the lingering taste of the charcoal to be lighter in flavour than what I had in Japan which I actually preferred. It wasn’t overwhelming, often the case if not grilled correctly. We ordered the Shiitake and Chicken Thigh to start. The chef also surprised us with the Chicken Neck (deboned) and the Chicken Butt (daily special). I enjoy all types and cuts of meat but not typically the butt, however I was pleasantly surprised! It wasn’t overly fatty, instead the grilling gave it a nice crisp outer layer and the fat added to the flavour. My favorites were the shiitake, chicken butt, chicken neck and then the thigh in that order.

We decided on a couple more small plate items and added the Roasted & Sake Steamed Eggplant with a sweet miso sake glaze and toasted black sesame with negi. The eggplant itself was super tender and falling apart similar to the daikon which benefitted well from the salty sweet glaze.

Our last small plate was the Squid Tempura made with tender Humboldt squid, sansho pepper, ginger salt and served with a side of spicy mayo. I really loved this dish, the Humboldt squid is super tender and the sansho pepper gave it a lingering spiciness that was just perfect. It was vaguely reminiscent of the salt and pepper squid that the chef served at this last restaurant, but I found this dish to be even more memorable.

To end the evening we ordered the White Miso Crème Brulee with fresh yuzu peel and black tea walnuts. It’s always a treat to see a savoury ingredient used in a dessert and the miso works well here. The saltiness did a good job of mellowing out the dessert since crème brulees can often become very heavy and overly sweet for me. I found with this version I was able to keep going back for more. The yuzu flavour was again light but it did come through with the black tea walnuts adding the extra textural crunch. The size of this dessert if also perfect for sharing, if you don’t eat it all yourself first!

A main feature aside from their food is their sake menu, specially imported from Japan and can be sampled in its natural form or in their specialty crafted cocktails. The chef suggested that we sample the Kozaemon “Goddess” Junmai sake that evening to pair with our grilled meats. The sake itself was light and smooth, perfect to mellow out the smokiness of the charcoal. I highly recommend trying cold sake if you haven’t done it before. They typically only serve sake warm to mask the lower quality sakes, so like other alcohols sake should ideally be enjoyed slightly chilled.

My Picks: Squid Tempura, Yakitori (Shiitake, Chicken Butt if available)

Overall: The food at Shokunin transported me back to Japan and reminded me all the great flavours I enjoyed while I was there. It was really refreshing to see yakitori done in the traditional method and as I was sitting at the bar looking at all the delicious food being prepared in front of me, I couldn’t help but notice the amazing broth boiling away for their daily ramen and can’t wait to go back and try their ramen noodles (offered after 9pm)!

2016 4 Street SW
Calgary, AB
(403) 229-3444

Shokunin Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Cinnamon Buns Just Like Cinnabon or Cinnzeo!

>> Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and although most find it to be a cheesy Hallmark holiday. I still enjoy celebrating it! There’s nothing wrong with wanting to spend more quality time with the special man in my life. Celebrating can consist of anything from just hanging out together to eating at a fancy restaurant. If you’re like me, Valentine’s Day typically involves food in one form or another.

Recently I was requested by my husband to bake him some cinnamon buns for his birthday instead of a cake. After trying out the recipe that was recommended online that it supposed to make copycat cinnzeo cinnabons, I realized that there was just something still missing from that recipe. The gooey factor wasn’t quite there. So I tweaked the recipe a bit and really enjoy the changes that I’ve made (eg. Lowering the amount of flour used and increased the wet ingredients in the recipe).

I know that I typically stick to pretty healthy recipes and have a healthy version of the cinnamon bun on my site already but every now and again I do indulge and I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. I believe this is would be great for Valentine’s Day
because it’s decadent and indulgent, a perfect way to celebrate a sweet holiday!

Dough Ingredients:

1 cup warm milk
2 1/4 tsp, active dry yeast
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs

Assembly Ingredients:

1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, softened

Icing Ingredients:

1 pkg 8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2-3 cups icing sugar, to taste – based on your sweetness preference


In the warm milk, measure in the active yeast and let sit for 10 minutes to activate. Make sure the milk isn’t too hot or else it will denature the yeast and the dough will not rise. If you’re using instant yeast you don’t have to wait for the 10 minutes for it to dissolve.

In a large mixing bowl, add in the flour, sugar, salt, softened butter, eggs and milk. Mix until everything is combined and let the dough sit for 5 minutes to allow the ingredients to settle.

If you’re using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and let it mix for 10 minutes. If doing this by hand (my favorite method) knead the dough either in the bowl or on a lightly floured counter top for 10-15 minutes until the dough is no longer sticky. Make sure not to use too much flour on the counter top or else it’ll make the dough slightly more dry.

Once ready, put the dough back in the bowl, cover with either a wet paper towel or cloth and let sit for at least an hour or until it’s doubled in size. I let mine rest for up to 2 hours.

While you’re waiting for the dough to rise you can prep the icing.

In a medium sized glass bowl, soften the cream cheese in the microwave. Beat on low until all the lumps have been removed.

Add in the softened butter and beat until combined. Add in the milk and vanilla and continue to mix.

Slowly add in the icing sugar, be careful when you turn on the beater so that the sugar doesn’t get stirred up. I typically add in 1/2 – 1 cup at a time and taste until my desired sweetness is achieved.

When ready, cover the icing and refrigerate until ready to use.

Mix the cinnamon and sugar together and set aside. Butter a 9x13 baking pan and also set aside.

Once the dough has risen to double its size. Place some flour on the counter top and roll out the dough to roughly 16” by 20” rectangle.

Spread the softened butter over the entire rectangle. Sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture.

Pick up one end (long edge) and slowly roll it over. Cut the roll in to 12 equal pieces and place in the baking pan. Cover the dough with a dish towel until they have risen to double their size.

Preheat the oven to 350F for 25-30 mins or until they start to brown on top.

Spread the frosting on the rolls when they’re still warm to allow the icing to melt in to all the nooks and crannies of the cinnamon buns. Save the extra icing for later when you’re ready to eat them.


Recipe makes 12 large cinnamon buns.

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