Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Tandoor House


A tandoor is a clay oven that is used in many parts of the world but particularly in India.  The delicious unleavened naan bread utilizes this “appliance”. My favourite naan, resists the teeth when a bite is pulled away, but is soft and yielding when chewed.  The little spots of char, produced when the dough touches the heat, adds the finishing, satisfying touch.  At the Tandoor House garlic naan can also be requested. When a restaurant claims that they have the best “Tandoor” in town, I am assuming that the word describes a style of cooking as well.  Word definitions aside, I am more than fond of Indian cooking as I love the complexity of a curry and the exotic results when applied in various manners to chicken, potatoes and my all time favourite-eggplant!

On the day of my visit, I was accompanied by a colleague who had to make contact with a student who was volunteering at the restaurant.  I can speak highly of Tandoor House’s willingness to participate in projects which benefit the greater community.

My lunch date tasted goat for her first time but decided that the Butter Chicken was her preference.  In fact she declared the dish to be “wonderful-in fact the best that I have ever tasted”.  She loved it to such an extent, that she placed a to-go order to take home, to feed her family that evening.


I was a bit less adventurous and passed up the goat for the Tandori Chicken, Curry Chicken, Zucchini and Eggplant, somosa and both potatoes and rice (carb lover that I am).  These were all available on the lunch buffet.  I understand that a dinner spread is also laid out in this way.

We were delighted to meet the owner and understand that he also has a second location on Pembina at Ebby, in a building where my office was once located.  What a small world.

Tandoor House on Urbanspoon

Kath’s Quote:

“This curry was like a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony that I’d once heard…..especially the last movement, with everything screaming and banging ‘Joy.’ It stunned, it made one fear great art. My father could say nothing after the meal.” – Anthony Burgess


Love-that is all.

Food = Love



Hello Readers.  I have some lovely news: our first grandbaby was born this past weekend and life seems to have an entirely different meaning as a result.  The Wee One burst into our lives with an urgency which had me thinking all about food: “What will we serve the family members that are coming over for a impromptu celebration?” and “Do I have enough groceries to get cooking for the freezer?”  But most importantly, I was praying that the Wee One would learn to latch and would be a good nurser.

While pregnant, J2’s tummy went straight out in front and many of us concluded that she was carrying a sturdy little boy.  The opposite turned out to be true.  Wee One has the littlest face and a long, strong neck. I have yet to see her legs totally unfurled and they seem impossibly long.  It is no wonder that J2’s tummy entered a room ahead of her, as those legs and knees have been pointing the way.


Whenever I think of her feet, I have to suppress a little giggle because they seem almost as long as mine are now.  I have ridiculously short feet.  D often refers to them as my “Yubba Dubba Do” feet because they look like I used them to stop Fred Flintstone’s car!  Wee One has the graceful feet of a dancer, just like her amazingly beautiful Mom.


I have yet to hear about what her second night on this earth was like.  Her first night though was a long one for her and her Mommy and Daddy.  J1 was so exhausted that he managed to sleep in spite of the ruckus that Wee One was making to exercise her singing voice and make her presence known.  I understand she and J2 finally slept at 6 am and that all she wanted was skin to skin contact with her Mom and to nurse all night long.  In spite of J2’s own exhaustion she lovingly accommodated.


Here she is telling me a thing or two!

Last evening when we went back to the hospital and got to hold the little miracle again, we heard her piercing cry in full force.  J2 has trying to get a little bit of rest behind a drawn curtain, but giggled every time Wee One squawked, sounding like an exotic bird.  I would not be surprised if J2 spent another long night, giving literally of herself to Wee One.  If there was ever a more natural Mommy and Daddy and this earth, I have yet to meet them.  J1 and J2 are approaching their exhaustion with good humour and tenderness for each other.

I could sit here and enjoy my first thoughts on this, but there is so much to do: stock the fridge of the new parents, keep on cooking for their freezer and ensure that all that they have to be concerned about is giving the Wee One as much nutrition and love as she can absorb!

Kath’s quote: …a little child, born yesterday, A thing on mother’s milk and kisses fed… –Homer


Love-that is all.

Vientiane Thai Restaurant


I am always amazed and surprised by all of the little family places that grace Winnipeg’s neighbourhoods.  I had a hankering for Thai food recently and discovered Vientiane Restaurant in St. Boniface.  The charming little place shares the strip mall with Lovey’s Barbeque another place I have only recently tried.  The dining room has been painted a passionate red which is a strategic choice, as red enhances human metabolism, thereby stimulating our appetites.

Tom Kha Gai is one of my favourite dishes from Thailand and when translates simply means: Thai Chicken Soup, but oh, this is no ordinary chicken soup.  The fresh tastes of lime and cilantro are fused with chicken, veggies and coconut milk resulting in a balance of spicy, sweet and sour!  I have tried to concoct this soup at home but find that I do not always have the essential ingredients of galangal and lemongrass in the fridge.


A mango salad complemented the complex soup tastes.  Shredded mango is doused in lime juice and tossed with chilies and then garnished with peanuts and dried shrimp.  All of this is places on an enormous, frilly lettuce leaf.


Pad Thai is another of our “must haves” and the version served ay Vientiane is just slightly different than any I have tasted before.  I understand that there are as many versions of this recipe as there are Thai chefs.  Pad Thai is the assembly of noodles, peanuts, garlic, chilies and bean sprouts and is the countries’ national dish.  The prime minister of Thailand made this street food popular during the late 1930s as part of his campaign to reduce domestic rice consumption and increase nationalism.  Who knew?

The restaurant has been open for four years and is owned by Xuejun Xia and his wife.  On this day, he was behind the counter and looked as busy as an air traffic controller, answering the phone and controlling the flow of guests in and out of his restaurant.  I asked him if he was happy with his business and he gave me a smiling shrug.

Vientiane on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I will stop loving you when an apple grows from a mango tree on the 30th of February”-unknown

Love-that is all.


Strawberry Pie



When my Mother-in-law offered up a bucket of strawberries that she had just picked and then I found that rhubarb was being delivered in my garden share hamper, I knew immediately that I would combine the two and make a crisp or a platz.  D had other ideas.  He thinks that rhubarb overpowers the delicate taste of freshly picked strawberries and I now know that he is correct.  I have to guard against being overly frugal.  I am constantly trying to “stretch” ingredients, even free offerings.  D thinks that it is his American heritage that has instilled his love of pie.  Perhaps too, because his Mom makes the best darn pies I have ever tasted.  Living up to her legacy and his memories is a challenge, but one that I am happy to take up.



I will admit right here that I take one major short cut.  I often pick up frozen pie crusts when they are on sale.  This way I can quickly take advantage of fresh fruit when it is offered up.  There is no way that I could ever recreate D’s Mom’s crust (or Sister #3’s for that matter), so I do not even try.  The rest of the recipe is D’s Mom’s though.  It is as easy as pie (tee hee) to throw together.



Strawberry Pie
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
  • 1 (9 inch) pie crust, baked
  • 4 c fresh strawberries
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • ¾ c water
  1. Completely fill the bottom of a baked pie shell with the choicest strawberries.
  2. Mash remaining berries and combine with sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot.
  3. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch and water.
  5. Gradually stir cornstarch mixture into boiling strawberry mixture.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer mixture until thickened, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  7. Pour mixture over berries in pastry shell.
  8. Chill for several hours before serving.


Kath’s quote: “Strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries thrive here. From these they make a wonderful dish combined with syrup and sugar, which is called ‘pai’. I can tell you that is something that glides easily down your throat; they also make the same sort of ‘pai’ out of apples or finely ground meat, with syrup added, and that is really the most superb.”An immigrant living in Beloit, Wisconsin, wrote to friends back in Norway (November 29, 1851)


Love-that is all.



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The Little Mexican Cooking School-Chilies & Lunch


Last but not least at our culinary adventure at The Little Mexican Cooking School in Puerto Morelos was our study on chilies.  As was explained to us at the school:


The chili pepper works as a catalyst in Mexican Food, having been served for centuries to modify flavours of a basic country diet, and with the corn and the black beans, it creates a good nutritional balance.  The chile has helped give the Mexican people the ingredients for their best biological development and kept them healthy since pre-Hispanic times.  The lack of essential amino acids makes corn an incomplete protein, but beans contain those in abundance, so together they are a high quality protein.  The chile also contributes vitamin A and C.  As a general rule the littler ones are spicier than the big ones.

Chef Christobal patiently explained the different varieties of chiles utilized in Mexican dishes but I still could not copy them down quickly enough so I found this cheat sheet:

Serrano: A small, fresh, green hot chile. Used for spice and flavor in cooking and as a garnish.

Jalapeño: Larger than a serrano, though still small. This fresh green or red chile is probably the easiest to find in America. The ripe red version is sweeter; the green version can be spicy.

Poblano: A dark green, medium-sized fresh green chile often roasted and stuffed.

Habanero: A tiny, lantern-shaped fresh chile of extraordinary heat. Interchangeable with the incendiary Scotch Bonnet.

Chile de arbol: A small, red dried chile. It’s the chile used for the dried red chile flakes in the spice section of the market.

Chipotle: A medium-small, wrinkled, dried brown chile with a unique smoky flavor reminiscent of bacon. It’s the dried, smoked version of jalapeño.

Chile negro, or pasilla: A long, narrow, dark brown dried chile used for grinding into moles.

Ancho: A medium-sized, wrinkled, brown dried chile with a mellow, earthy, sweet flavor. It’s the dried version of the poblano.


With this explanation, the theoretical part of our training had concluded but the demonstration of technique was still ahead.  And the best part was that we also had a great deal of tasting to come.  At our first little break, Chef Christobal demonstrated the versatility of chili powder by paring up a fresh pineapple, slicing it and serving it with a glistening of sea salt and chili powder-so refreshingly different.




Then we prepared our own pico de gallo and guacamole.


Another ancient Mexican technique was demonstrated to us with “stone” soup where a lava stone is heated and then placed into a soup bowl to finish cooking the ingredients.  This was one of the courses of our lunch finale for the day.


Our main dish was roasted pork and apples.


Dessert was a creamy rice pudding.


Perhaps you have not incorporated learning into your vacations as of yet.  The Little Mexican Cooking School is a great excuse to change all that.  The setting is comfortable and the little touches of the day, a real pampered treat.  You meet wonderful like-minded people and get to share an amazing meal and libations with them.  Isn’t that what vacations are all about?  Well for me, they are and I am looking forward to returning to the school when we next vacation in the area.

Kath’s quote: “The smell of roasting meat together with that of burning fruit wood and dried herbs, as voluptuous as incense in a church, is enough to turn anyone into a budding gastronome.”-Claudia Roden

Love-that is all.

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