Irish Stew with a twist.

GL Stew © Ger LawlorToday’s experiment – I try different variations every time I make stew!

  • 1 large onion – sliced
  • 1 head Celery – sliced
  • 4 large carrots- chopped roughly
  • 1.5 lbs stewing beef in chunks
  • 2.5 tablespoons (or so) of flour
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • A good glug of Worcester sauce
  • 1 bayleaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • A handful of mixed herbs, preferably herbes de Provence, or if using ordinary mixed herbs add some extra rosemary. Don’t be mean with them.
  • 1 level tablespoon of cocoa powder – honestly – trust me!
  • Olive oil
  • Hot water
  • 500 ml can of Guinness (optional)

Prep time = 15 minutes.

Cooking time = 2-3 hours

Serves less than 4 as you’ll want second helpings, or 4-6 if you have starters/dessert.

Heat the oven to 150-160 degrees celcius

Take a large cast iron casserole and soften the onions gently, on a low heat in some oil. Set aside. Redden the pan, add some more oil and brown the meat all over, in about three lots. Set aside. Deglaze the pan with some more oil, stirring in the carrots and celery. Turn down the heat. Add the meat and onions back in. Sprinkle the flour and the cocoa powder into the pan until the juices are soaked up – don’t overdo it on the flour, it will thicken. Be careful it isn’t too thin either. The mix should be dry’ish at this point.  Add the hot water (and if you like the Guinness) just until everything is covered – allow for some evaporation in the oven. Add the herbs, bay leaf, Worscester sauce and the Oxo cube. Season with salt and pepper – don’t stint on the pepper. Give it a stir. Put on the lid, pop it in the oven for two hours or a bit longer, until the meat is really tender and the onions and celery have begun to disappear. Check and adjust seasoning as necessary

Serve in soup plates with some nice onion mash – buttery mashed potatoes with half of a small onion chopped finely and mixed through, add a little cream as well if you have it. Put some chopped fresh parsley on top if you want to impress even further.


To make it into a posh Boef Bourgignon, double everything except the celery, leave out the water, Guinness, oxo cubes, Worcester sauce and Cocoa, and cover it with a bottle or two of nice burgundy wine instead. Add some chopped mushrooms and some lardons of fried streaky bacon half an hour before the end. Serve it with rice this way.

P.P.S. A blatent advert: I photograph food for clients.

(and I cook for friends)



A horse of a different colour

  • Saturdays blog post reached almost two thousand people!

Today we’re back to photography – specifically the most eccentric digital camera I’ve ever used.

The Sigma Merrill series of cameras see the world differently than any other camera. They are tiny marvels. Their unique sensors read all of the colours simutaneously, as opposed to filtering out red, blue and green side by side (like the TV screen in reverse). The result is a very different ‘look’ and a sharpness that is far beyond their native resolution. Each of these little wonders has a high grade lens designed to exactly match the sensor. The camera’s output can under certain circumstances match that of medium format equipment costing tens of thousands of euros. I have photographed artwork for a client using it and the colours are just stunning.

And there’s the rub. The cameras are impossibly slow to use. Even when pre-focussed, when you press the shutter it might fire immediately, or it might wait for up to a second – its completely random as far as I can make out. The sensor design means that it can’t be used in anything less than fairly bright daylight without a tripod. The battery lasts about as long as a packet of jelly beans in a creche. That’s all just about forgivable, but what isn’t is that it can take up to five seconds before I can check the image on the cameras screen, and as the files are unlike any others, they can only be processed by Sigma’s bespoke software, which, despite its ability to produce absolutely beautiful files, is one of the most diabolical pieces of code ever written, with a user (un)friendliness from hell.

What kills it completely is the realisation that if the processing power and beautiful user interface of my normal imaging software, the worlds best digital image processing engine:  Capture One Pro could be used on these files, then these little cameras would give a fantastic financial return for a very small investment. And without the back-breaking-ton-of-gear a photographer often has to lug about on jobs. As it is, they are magnificent curiosities: just about useful for landscapes, still lifes, and the odd portrait, with a very patient sitter. Its like seeing a pearl, always just beyond reach…..

I want to sell it, but I can’t bring myself to.

Not, at least until I get a much better main camera system. But instead of a saddling up our horse of a different colour, we’ll postpone dipping into that particular kettle of fish for another day!

If you are up for it, I’ll make you a portrait using this camera – for contact details etc.


All photos are for sale.

In lovely frames too…..


Roll on Spring

It’s been a particularly nasty winter for outdoor commercial photography. Wet wet wet doesnt even start to describe it. Grey skies, wind and of course water everywhere doesn’t make for ease of work. As the wettest winter on record, that means the number of opportunities to complete commissions were fairly limited. And then there are the election posters. Hopefully no more of them for a while, but actually, I wouldn’t be betting on that one!

Bruce Shaw St Pats Drumcondra
St Pat’s Drumcondra on a rare fine January evening and minus the election posters