Turkey Croquettes

December16

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A week ago Monday my brother-in-law helped us out when we catered the Christmas volunteer dinner for one of our cherished local charities.  On that evening we all enjoyed our fill of turkey with all the trimmings and then we sent all our family who helped us with the dinner, home with left overs. We put our own left overs in the freezer so that we cold serve another special Christmas dinner to our “Young Families” group that we host at our home once a month. On Saturday we were on the way out to our little beach house because the weather was so balmy.  We asked my brother-in-law and Sister #2 over to share the left overs of our leftovers.

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Sister #2 suggested that we switch things up in a couple of ways: we go to their place instead – we affectionately have dubbed their place “Reshmajal” as it will be absolutely splendid when construction is complete. In the meanwhile their “unfinished” abode is far more splendid than ours.  “Splendid” when compared to bare-bones simplicity means that the furnace was temperature programmed as opposed to us needing to continuously stoke the fire in our wood-stove and we got to use one of the two inside bathrooms instead of our outdoor biffy (even on a warm weekend that toilet seat was mighty chilly!)

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In addition, she asked permission to repurpose the turkey into a long-loved family recipe: turkey croquettes. Sister #2 was lovingly instructed how to fashion this recipe by her Mother-in-law who was Italian and married to a gentleman (still ticking and over 90) of German descent.  When I asked them both where the recipe originated, neither could say for sure but suspected that it was through the German influence.  Wikipedia suggests though that the origin of croquettes is actually French.

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As is often the case with family recipes passed along through generations, it is less of a “recipe” than a process or method. So, here’s what you do: take leftover turkey (or ham) and cut super finely to a minced texture.  Prepare a thick béchamel sauce of butter, white flour (this took some effort as neither Sister #2 or I keep white flour in the house) and milk. Mix the béchamel paste with the turkey and then form the mixture into sausage-like tubes. Next the sausages are dipped into an egg wash and rolled in bread crumbs. Lastly, they are fried in olive until crispy and golden brown.

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I love the recipes of generations past as they ensure that no food is ever wasted, a concern that I maintain on a daily basis.  Besides, the results are so delicious! On Sunday evening we took a batch of Hamburger Soup and cheese buns over to Beep’s to share as a family, but the piece de resistance was the leftover turkey croquettes.

Kath’s quote: “Rational habits permit of discarding nothing left over, and the use to which leftovers (and their economic allies, the wild things of nature) are put is often at the heart of a cooking’s character.”-Richard Olney

love

Live simply, laugh often, love deeply.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreaming of Positano

December10

When winter sets in, I day dream about warm weather travel to places I have never been and others I have already been. Today I am remembering our trek to Positano.  On this particular day we were travelling from Sicily up half of the leg of the Italian boot to the Amalfi Coast.  The day started at 5 am with a van ride from the cozy home of our friends in Castellammare Del Golfo to the Palermo train station.  Driving in Palermo is so stressful that I was thinking about a big glass of Chianti by about 6:30 am.

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We had a reservation in a first class car and thought we were set.  Unfortunately another family thought the same and we spent most of the day with people who virtually ignored our existence.  Of course there was the language barrier which was our inadequacy not theirs.  But they held boisterous conversations while we tried to sleep, stretched their legs and leaned on us when they wanted to sleep and passed their shared lunch passed our faces when they wanted to eat.  And they were more accustomed to the heat than we were and thought it was just fine in the confined space without the AC.  But D and I always try to make the best of everything and so we spent the hours staring out the window at the Mediterranean, going for walks up and down the train cars and going up on deck when the train was boarded onto a ferry for the crossing from Messina, Sicily to mainland Italy.

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By 4 in the afternoon we had reached our transfer destination in Salerno- a hectic/crazy seaside town and boarded a bus destined for Amalfi. I mistakenly took a window seat and although the vista is “to die for”, I didn’t particularly want to do so in the middle of our second honeymoon.  The hour long leg was extended because now it was almost the dinner hour and we found ourselves in the midst of Italian rush hour.  Amalfi was even more frenetic and we managed to just barely get onto a jammed bus before departure.  Someone offered me a seat at the back of the bus and D was stuck standing next to the bus driving.  “No worries, it’s only a 20 minute trip” our eyes said to each other.  Minutes later a tremendous thunderstorm rolled in and the bus literally parked on the mountainside.  Once the torrential rain passed we would surely be on our way-but no.

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I had done my research and knew that it was feast day to celebrate the saint of Prairiano’s (10 minutes from Positano) home church.  What we didn’t know though was that there is only one road in and out of town and that the road that we were planted on was temporarily closed so that the townspeople could enjoy their procession to the church carrying their saint and the ensuing fireworks.  D tried to converse with the bus driver to determine how far from the town we were because now that 20 minute bus ride had taken and hour and a half.  When we finally arrived in town we determined that we had been one mountain curve away and could have walked it in five minutes.  Ah well, when in Rome…..

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By this time we were so frazzled that we glugged the champagne that D had arranged would be chilling in our room and set out to find some supper.  Our first choice was a famous place that was very busy and I was so overheated by the humidity and champagne that I insisted that I would have to sit at one of the tables by an open window.  Because they were set for four and we were only two, we were refused and so we declined.  The owner was exasperated with us and made his frustration quite known to the rest of this diners. We had created quite the scene. Our second choice was close and we knew by our research that they served on their rooftop terrace.  But of course, it was closed due to the storm that had just passed but the lovely owner of La Strada could totally see my distress so she pulled a table next to an open window and brought me my own fan!

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We shared a Quarto Pizza and Fusilli with langostino and asparagus.  The taste of the food was amplified by our day’s events, so to describe it as delicious and satisfying is such a gross understatement.  By the time we wandered back to our hotel for a Limonciello our whole psyche had been transformed.  We were in an ancient town with views of Positano from our window.  The rain had stopped and stars were making their appearance. We booked this perfect hotel here on this website. We highly recommend its use. Easy to navigate and perfectly trustworthy.

Kath’s quote: “One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” ~Luciano Pavarotti

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Love-that is all.

Our Tradition to Kick off the Christmas Season

December9

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Last evening J1, J2, Boo, The Frenchman, Sister #3, SUM, Jon Boy and Dona, joined D and I to cater the annual Christmas dinner for the volunteers of a local charity which we hold near and dear to our hearts. D shops and roasts turkeys for the entire week and Sister #3 and Dona had just put on the Winnipeg Harvest Volunteer Dinner the day before, serving 150! It was the 20th year that Sister #3 had worked on that dinner.

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We began by serving Kale, Brussels Sprout, Cranberry Power Slaw in a Poppyseed Dressing, family style to the tables with an assortment of freshly baked Harvest Bakery Buns. Then we set up a food station to serve the volunteers their turkey dinner. D has been catering this dinner for 17 years and somehow manages to make it fresh, new and delicious for the attendees. This year’s menu included:

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Mashed Red Skin-on Potatoes

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“Jerusalem” Sweet Potatoes with figs (recipe included in this link).

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Wild Rice & Quinoa Harvest Stuffing

Wild Rice & Quinoa Stuffing
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 apple, cored, peeled & chopped
  • 200g package Floating Leaf Wild Rice & Quinoa Harvest Stuffing
  • 1 Floating Leaf vegetable package (included)
  • 1 Floating Leaf cranberry package (included)
  • 1½ cups broth or water
  • 2 cups cubed cornbread
  • 2 tsp pine nuts (optional)
  • salt & pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Melt unsalted butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions, garlic & apple, and sauté 4 - 6 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add Floating Leaf Wild Rice & Quinoa Harvest Stuffing, Floating Leaf vegetable package, Floating Leaf cranberry package, and 1½ cups broth or water. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, spread cubed cornbread on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 15 -20 minutes until crisp & golden.
  5. When Floating Leaf Wild Rice & Quinoa Harvest Stuffing is cooked, add the cornbread and mix well.
  6. Butter a 9x13 baking dish.
  7. Place stuffing in prepared dish, top with pine nuts, season with salt & pepper, then cover with foil & bake in preheated oven for 30 mins.

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Green Beans tossed with Roasted Almonds and Red Pepper

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and of course turkey, gravy and cranberry sauce which you can see by this plate, isn’t necessarily the star of the show.

Desert was Pineapple Upside Down Cake with Pineapple Rum Glaze but I was too busy eating mine to remember to take a picture of it.

Our favourite portion of the evening is when the assembly invites us to join them for taper lighting and the singing of Silent Night.  Last evening there was a profound silence before we blew out the candles-a time to contemplate the real reason for the season.

Kath’s quote: “I am going to church, Watson. I believe such attendance was a prominent element of the Christmas season before the giving of gifts and the consumption of certain fowl became de rigueur?”
-Sherlock Holmes, by J.N. Williamson

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Love-that is all.

 

 

Tallest Poppy

December8

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J1, J2 and the Wee One were recently at the Tallest Poppy as I was writing about it for the Canstar Community Newspapers. You may have already read about the amazing food, but if not, read below.  In the mean time as more and more community restaurants open up especially in places like Wolseley, I wanted to share my thoughts about restaurants whom are inviting to children. If a restaurant claims to be accessible to all residents of a particular area and since children are often what binds a neighbourhood together, this makes good sense both from a business perspective and a social one.

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High chairs and booster seats are very much appreciated by family members. More than anything though, some kind of acknowledgement from the server is essential-after all the server will be interacting with every other person at the table. In addition, some kind of interchange as other staff members assist at a table is very appreciated. These go along way to put the parents or grandparents at ease. A little portion of food brought right to the table (with permission from the adults) will make everyone’s dining experience more pleasurable. The Keg Steakhouse +Bar brings out a little plate with a packet of crackers and a couple of orange and strawberry slices-a fabulous gesture. Accommodation of a toddlers’ appetite by dropping off a side plate, for the adults to share with the child, is also a nice touch. When a child is older with more discerning tastes or dare I say is “picky” some flexibility from the kitchen is greatly valued. When Danielle and Alex were at 7 1/4 she once told me that they would whip up anything that a child desired as long as they had the ingredients already stocked in the kitchen. They would also let kids use the chalk at the blackboard. These are little things that go a very long way.

But to our time at The Tallest Poppy. Our server actually did not acknowledge the Wee One but every other staff member did and for this reason (and the food of course) we know that we will return and be there often. I got a real chuckle over Talia’s comment at our table: “I’m not kid crazy but yours is a keeper!”

I have long been a fan of Talia Syrie and have followed her around Winnipeg from Tallest Poppies’ first location on Main St. to her stint at Neechi Commons and now to Tallest Poppies’s newest home at Sherbrooke and Westminster in the Sherbrooke Inn.  Talia and her business partner Steve utilize fresh, whole ingredients and whips them up in a simple, wholesome fashion delivering robust flavours.

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The revamped space at the Sherbrooke Inn is spacious, comfortable and funky and totally in keeping with the laid-back vibe of West Broadway and Wolseley.

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Her chosen staff members exude the spirit of the neighbourhood too, but in an efficient and bustling manner which means that your coffee cup is always full and hot meals are delivered without delay.

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We selected three breakfasts and when the plates were delivered, we spun them in a circle so that we could all savour the kitchen’s offerings.  First tastes were of Chilaquiles where a nest of crispy corn tortillas baked in salsa, cradled eggs and feta cheese.  The flavour was great but the hard edges of the tortillas were uncomfortable to the morning palette.

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I panicked when we found out that the Double Stuffed Breakfast Potato was not available that morning and ordered the Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs.  For some reason it didn’t click that I was ordering beef for breakfast.  The perfectly cooked over-easy eggs, delectable hash browns and toast made from fergasa bread kept me content without the steak.

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J1 has been intrigued by the inclusion of chicken and waffles popping up on menus of late.  He indicated that he had always been tempted to sample the unusual combination but had resisted until that morning.  The moist, tender southern fried chicken perfectly paired with the Belgian waffles.  We agreed that the fruity syrup completed the dish; regular syrup would have just added sweetness.  The berry syrup contributed a bit of acidity as well as sweetness, which was exactly what the combination required.  My taste was reminiscent of a little bistro in the Gramercy neighbourhood of Manhattan dubbed The Redhead.  Next to my Grandma’s, the best fried chicken I have ever tasted.

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I look forward to returning for lunch and dinner when the chicken is featured in another couple of dishes.  I anticipate cosy evenings spent in their lounge.  Since all three of our brood live within walking distance of the restaurant, this is sure to occur very, very soon.

The Tallest Poppy on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The age of your children is a key factor in how quickly you are served in a restaurant. We once had a waiter in Canada who said, ‘Could I get you your check?’ and we answered, ‘How about the menu first?'”-Erma Bombeck

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Love-that is all.

Christmas at Earl’s

December5

I asked J1 to be my date to this invited evening at Earl’s on Main.  Earl’s does a tremendous job of keeping in touch with Bloggers (we are now calling ourselves “Curators”) and the local media.  In fact, Earl’s does many things very well.  I am surprised over and over again by the lengths that they go to in order to get a dish exactly right.

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Case in point: The Royale with Cheese Burger created by Chef David Wong is described as containing smoked cheddar, dry cured bacon, portobello mushrooms and house ketchup.  When in fact local Earl’s Chef Matt Frost has shared with me that first they griddle a shredded cheese blend with a daily house-baked brioche to make a cheesy bun to which they add mushroom ketchup, tomato aioli, tomato relish (all made from scratch in house), mild yellow banana peppers, lettuce on onion.  Topped with said bacon and house made applewood smoked cheddar slices. The patty is ground chuck and Certified Angus Beef.

Even the smallest bite produces a veritable explosion of complex flavours and textures.  I suppose that this is what occurs when a chef of Dave Wong’s stature goes about making a burger. Some background on David: he works full time in Earl’s Test Kitchen. He is an award winning chef from Vancouver, most recently as Executive Chef of the Fairmont Pacific Rim and the award winning restaurant ORU. Dave has too many awards and medals to even list but Earl’s would say (and I would agree) that his Gold medal win as part of Culinary Team Canada in Basil, Switzerland and representing Canada at the  Bocuse d’Or held in Lyon, France – are two of the most prestigious culinary awards in the world.

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That evening we tasted the burger in a slider presentation as well as a Crispy Tuna Sushi Cones assembled from tempura crunch, Japanese mayonnaise, pickled ginger and tobiko (flying fish eggs).  The satiny tuna contributed to an over-the-top taste.

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Matt confided with us that he eats an order of Tuna Tostados every day for lunch. Chili rubbed albacore tuna, cilantro aioli, avocado and jicama slaw are all perched upon crisp corn tortillas. No wonder Matt!

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Although the appetizers were sensational, my boy needed some additional sustenance and Matt recommended the Kung Pao Noodle Bowl where vegetables, garlic ginger soy, roasted peanuts, mama Wong’s (I am assuming Dave’s Mom’s recipe) hot sauce are tossed together in a wok.  I was too full to have more than a nibble but J1 gave it accolades.

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We had worked up a thirst with all the delectable ingestion and there were Holiday libations for us to try. I expected a warm and savoury drink when the Cabin Fever arrived at the table but J1 explained to me that it would likely be a take on a Moscow Mule because the blue tin cup that it was served in is a traditional presentation for a Moscow Mule.  In addition to the standard ginger beer and bitters that makes a mule a mule, Crown Royal and port had been included.  The icing sugar frosted pine cone contributed both beauty and flavour.

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We didn’t catch all ingredients of the Clover Club cocktail but detected raspberry juice, Smirnoff and egg whites.

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The extra artistry of the drink was a seasonal touch.

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Before we waddled out into the winter night, we indulged in one last treat: hot Gingerbread with salted caramel sauce.  Ohh my.  I am not a sweet lover but this desert is not to be missed.  The cakey bread was full of deep, earthy tastes and when coupled with

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the salted caramel sauce (we were sent home with a sample of the sauce) was the perfect crescendo to a enjoyable evening.

Earls Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Had I but a penny in the world, thou shouldst have it for gingerbread.”-William Shakespeare

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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