Food Musings

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

A Made in Manitoba Sunday Dinner

December3

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The gang enjoying our Made in Manitoba dinner, including the Wee One.

Beep, J1, J2, Boo and The Frenchman recently had a siblings meeting and decided that this Christmas they are going to limit their gift exchange to home-made, fairly traded or locally produced items. This concept got me musing about the number of excellent Manitoba made food products available on the market.

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Coincidentally, a bulging basket representing the bounty of provincially produced items arrived at my door.

I incorporated as many of the items into one dinner as possible.  Our menu included:

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Chicken thighs marinated and grilled in Danny and Buck’s Honey Mustard BBQ Sauce,

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Naosap Harvest Wild Rice Pilaf

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(prepared with local garlic, mushrooms and a minced stick of Danny’s Pepperoni),

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carrots roasted in Manitoba Canola Oil and then tossed in Wendell Estate Honey,

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crusty loaves of Sleepy Owl Bread washed down with Naughty & Spice Porter from Fort Garry Brewing with

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scrumptious Piccola Puccina’s Coconut Almond Macaroons for dessert.  I received accolades for all the dishes and comments that sips of the porter were like tasting a spicy cookie!

Our offspring regularly depart from our place with left-overs or items that we know that they’ll appreciate.  We sent Hemp Pro 70 flavours home with one for her morning smoothies and Hemp Hearts for granola and salad toppings with another, both from Manitoba Harvest.  Yummy and healthy Zenbars were snatched up by one and D tucked the GORP Clean Energy Bars into his knapsack to help him get through his afternoon slump.

The next morning I ground and brewed organic and fair trade Arabica beans from Green Bean Coffee Imports as I prepared to assemble a fruit crisp utilizing Rolled Naked Oats from Adagio Acres.  A Made in Manitoba basket similar to the one I received would make an excellent Christmas gift for persons on your list.

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Since this dinner, I have met another Made in Manitoba creator: Peter Fehr of Gourmet Inspirations.  I think another themed dinner is in store for my family with this line up of amazing sauces.

Here’s how you can buy the items included in my basket:

Piccola Cucina Macaroons are available at Chocolatier Constance Popp, De Luca Specialty Foods, Generation Green at the Forks, GJ Andrews, High Tea Bakery, Organza, Vita Health Stores

Sleepy Owl Bread Bakery located at 751 Wall St.

Organic Naked Oats from Adagio Acres retail listing http://adagioacres.com/our-retailers

Manitoba Canola Oil, see their blog at http://canolaeatwell.com/

Naosap Harvest Wild Rice, products http://www.naosapharvest.com/Ordering.html

Wendell Estate Honey, where to buy https://secure.wendellestate.ca/

GORP Clean Energy Bars, where to buy http://www.gorpworld.com/wheretobuy

Zenbars, ordering details zenbars.ca

Hemp Hearts by Manitoba Harvest, to buy online http://manitobaharvest.com/category/13/Hemp+Hearts.html

Green bean Coffee Imports, who sells http://www.greenbeancoffeeimports.com/index.php/en/restaurants-and-stores

Danny’s Whole Hog, where to buy http://www.dannyswholehog.com/

Naughty & Spice Porter, more info http://www.fortgarry.com/

Kath’s quote: “You can’t buy happiness but you can buy local and that is kind of the same thing.” unknown

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Love-that is all.

 

St. Aidan’s Cook Off

December1

This weekend I was honoured to be a tasting judge at a fund-raising event with my church family.  To round out my area of expertise (“oh-this tastes good to me!”) were two judges from the previous year: Richard Neufeld formerly of De Luca’s and now at Prairie 360 and Donald McKenzie of Dining with Donald whom interned with our congregation a couple of years ago.  Being a tasting judge is difficult business while at the same time being an absolute pleasure.  The difficulty lies in putting words to what is being tasted, in addition to remaining absolutely neutral and objective in the process.

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Check out the gorgeous colour in this dish, a Tex Mex Chicken.  The chicken was perfectly tender without having that “stewed” texture that sometimes occurs with dishes of this type.  The complexity of flavours were fabulous, but the calibre was so high in the cook off, that this dish was just short of the top three.

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Third place in the savoury category went to Orzo with Shrimp and Feta.  Somehow the cook managed to keep the shrimp firm and juicy which is a tough fete with seafood in a casserole.  The sweetness of the tomatoes was offset by the saltiness of the feta and the orzo provided a toothsome connection.  Delish.

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These ribs took second.  I chatted with the cook after the awards were given out.  She once shared with me that she was an uninspired cook.  OMGoodness, something must have changed all that, because her ribs which are a difficult cut to get just right, were sensational.  The meat itself was firm and tender at the same time.  The sauce was complex and savoury complete with a hint of sweetness and that mysterious essence that bay leaves lend to a recipe.

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The same cook entered in the dessert category with her delectable Lemon cookies.  She won second with these.

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“Savoury” first place went to Zest Pork with Bourbon Mushroom Cream. I tasted the tender pork shoulder first and was impressed with how the choice of lime zest offset the rich tasting pork.  I couldn’t imagine that a sauce could improve the taste but lo and behold when the earthy mushroom and pungent bourbon flavours were paired with the pork, it was absolutely sublime!

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Kema is an Indian dish where in this case ground beef (sometimes ground lamb) is prepared with peas.  This dish took Savoury-People’s Choice.

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This classic treat took third place and People’s Choice in the dessert category.

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Blueberry Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce won the dessert category (this dish had me when I read its name).

The event was a fund-raiser for St. Aidan’s Christian School, located in the heart of Winnipeg’s north end.  The evening provided fun, fellowship, sustenance and a small chunk of money for the school-win, win, win.

Kath’s quote: “The difference between good and bad cookery can scarcely be more strikingly shown than in the manner in which sauces are prepared and served. If well made….they prove that both skill and taste have been exerted in its arrangements.”-Eliza Acton ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ (1845)

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Love-that is all. Thanks to Barb for sending me the image.

 

 

In the Driver’s Seat this Christmas

November27

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I was recently invited to a special pre-Christmas event by Ford Canada which included a luncheon speaker to help us all on the “Road to Wellville” this season.  She had these great suggestions to ease the stress in preparation for the holiday season:

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  • Make sure that your vehicle is in top working order so that it always starts, you never run out of gas, your gas line never freezes and you never get stranded on the highway.
  • Have a family meeting to prioritize events and divide up the task list.  Agree to due dates.
  • Always have healthy snacks available while shopping and running errands to avoid eating unhealthy fast food.
  • Stay healthy by eating extra portions of fruits and vegetables.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with blue-tooth or a voice activated feature, make arrangements via phone while driving.
  • Use the time while your car is warming up to take a few deep breaths and consciously relax.
  • If you send cards, create a spreadsheet of addresses for future card sending.
  • It is okay to say “no” over the holidays.

I really appreciated these hints and added them to my own suggestions for saving both money and time over the holidays:
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  • Have an appetizer exchange instead of a cookie exchange with friends and family.  Appetizer ingredients are more affordable when purchased in larger quantities.  The time to make six dozen is not a great deal more than a single dozen.  Baking off larger quantities is also more energy and cost efficient.
  • Grocery shop in the early mornings when there are no checkout line ups and there are clearance stickers on many entertaining items like dips and pate.  Immediately place these items in the freezer when you get home.  When unexpected company arrives, defrost in the mic, place in a fancy bowl with some crackers and voila!
  • Attend bake sales at community clubs and churches.  You will be supporting your neighbourhood, save time and you can buy a variety of hand-baked items.
  • Stick to tried and true recipes so that you never experience a culinary disaster and have to waste food.  My siblings and our families even have a traditional menu for Christmas brunch so I always know that I will be providing the sausage rolls, so I can shop and cook in advance.
  • Mix up spicy cocktails with apple or cranberry juice and spices, that can be quickly heated up.  The taste is extravagant even though the ingredients are not.  Prepare sangrias and punches so that guests can pour their own and you are not running back and forth to the fridge.
  • Prepare some old school treats like nuts and bolts or peanut brittle instead of purchasing expensive alternatives.  Bowls of popcorn and dried cranberries make a pretty and healthy treat.
  • Shop for your turkey early.  Prices can go up just before Christmas when demand is high.  Use every single part of the turkey including saving the carcass to cook up for soup stocks.
  • Plan your dinner menu in advance, then when your guests ask “What can I bring?”, you can be specific and assign a dish from your list.  This also saves your guest stopping at 7/11 to buy you a box of Turtles that you don’t really need.
  • Get everyone involved in the clean up.  You can assign duties by pulling tasks out of a hat.  In my husband’s family, the guys do all the clean up complete with their annual tea towel flicking fights.
  • When you think that you are getting tired of your left-overs, swap yours with a neighbour.  You’ll get to taste someone else’s cooking and the tastes will be new for everybody.

Use the time that you save to reflect on the meaning of the season and take the money that you didn’t spend and pay it forward, you will be richly blessed.

Kath’s quote: “I don’t like the turkey, but I like the bread he ate.” A three-year-old’s reaction to her Christmas dinner.
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Love-that is all.

Seafood Paella

November24

I had the good fortune to travel to the Spanish island of Majorca many, many years ago.  I still remember the people and the beaches.  The clearest memory was of the seafood.  We had been travelling through Europe that spring and had arrived back in England where we still had another week of vacation before we flew home.  The time was May and although it had been warm and pleasant in Greece and Italy, Britain was suffering through a late and miserable spring.  Instead of enduring the rain and gloomy skies, we decided to see if we could find an affordable warm spot to spent the dwindling days of our vacation.  We went back to the travel agency that had booked our original tour and trusted them to point us in the right direction.  Our spending money had dwindled as well and upon arrival, we decided that we would find a market and stock up on fruit, cheese and lunch fixings and only dine out once a day.  On our second day we longingly watched people stream into the dining room and inquired about lunch details.  Lo and behold, we were booked into an all-inclusive without even knowing it and were missing out on our three meals per day!  That lunchtime, we were served a cold whole lobster salad and from that moment on, the seafood meals came in a continuous stream.

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Friends for 40 years

The same friend that I traveled with that spring. now lives in Toronto and she told me about a paella party that she and her husband had attended.  Supposedly a huge paella caldron was set up in the yard of their friends and they got to watch and participate in the preparation of this famous dish.  It has been years since I’ve enjoyed paella in Winnipeg but understand that both Hermano’s and Bonfire Bistro include it on their menus.

This past weekend, we dined at the home of good, good friends.  She is Italian and an amazing cook.  I know that we would have loved anything that they put in front of us.  To our delight, it was their favourite paella recipe.  She showed me the Anne Lindsay Heartsmart cookbook that her recipe came from but unfortunately it was not one that I had in my Anne Lindsay collection.  I have had the pleasure of meeting and being cooked for by Anne, a very long time ago (about the same time as this European adventure) and I remember the time (and the food) fondly.

I searched on line to try to find the recipe and could not come up with anything.  I found instead this one that looks to be pretty close.  It is from the Epicurious website and is credited to Claudia Roden-The Food of Spain.

Seafood Paella
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Spanish
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste or finely chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • ½ t sugar
  • salt
  • 1 t sweet paprika
  • a good pinch saffron threads
  • 4 cleaned small squid, bodies sliced into ¼-inch-wide rings, tentacles left whole
  • 2 c medium-grain Spanish paella rice or risotto rice, such as Arborio or Carnaroli
  • 3 c fish or chicken stock, plus more if needed
  • 1 c dry white wine
  • 12 jumbo shrimp in their shells
  • 16 mussels, scrubbed and debearded
Instructions
  1. Fry the onion in the oil in a 16-inch paella pan until soft, stirring often.
  2. Stir in the garlic, and before it begins to colour, add the tomatoes.
  3. Add the sugar, salt to taste, paprika and saffron, stir well, and cook until the tomatoes are reduced to a jammy sauce and the oil is sizzling.
  4. Add the squid and cook, stirring, for a minute or so.
  5. Add the rice and stir well until all the grains are coated.
  6. (You can prepare the dish to this point up to an hour in advance).
  7. Bring the stock and wine to a boil in a saucepan.
  8. Pour over the rice, bring to a boil, and add salt to taste (even if the broth tastes a bit salty, it will not be salty when it is absorbed by the rice).
  9. Stir well and spread the rice out evenly in the pan (do not stir again),
  10. Cook the rice over low heat for 18 to 20 minutes, moving the pan around and rotating it so that the rice cooks evenly.
  11. Lay the shrimp on top after 10 minutes and turn them when they have become pink on the first side.
  12. Add a little more hot stock toward the end if the rice seems too dry and you hear crackling frying noises before it is done.
  13. When the rice is done, turn off the heat and cover the pan with a large piece of foil.
  14. Steam the mussels with a finger of water in a pan with a tight-fitting lid. As soon as they are open, they are cooked.
  15. Throw away any that have not opened.
  16. Arrange the mussels on top of the paella.

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Toni’s version did not include squid but did include Italian sausage, chicken and clams.

Kath’s quote: “Do not overcook this dish. Most seafoods…should be simply threatened with heat and then celebrated with joy.” –Jeff Smith

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Love-that is all.

 

Manitoba Chicken

November21

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I live a wonderful life.  Unexpected invites give me particular joy.  Recently one came from a foodie friend who asked me to join in at a Chef’s Table (Chef Brent Barna of Pine Ridge Golf Course to be specific) featuring Manitoba Chicken and De Luca Fine Wines.  How could I refuse?

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I was pleased to be sitting with my friends Robin a.k.a. PegCityGrub on one side and Getty Stewart on the other.  Over dinner and wine, we had an opportunity to get caught up on life and our mutually favourite topic: eating in Winnipeg!

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First up was chicken (of course) which had been slowly poached in a garlic and thyme broth and then encircled with foie gras.  The treat was subtle but delicious, made even more so when paired with a Canadian Riesling from Chateau des Charmes a family vineyard that D and I had the good fortune to visit one beautiful fall.  I am happy to know that Chateau des Charmes wines are now available in Winnipeg at De Luca Fine Wines.

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Mulligatawny has long been one of my favourite chicken soups (second only to Sopa de lima y pollo).  I appreciated Chef Barna’s light touch with the curry so that flavours of coconut and apple could shine through.  The soup was married to a fine Lingenfelder Gewurztraminer which next to Rieslings is my favourite white wine.  I was one happy girl.

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This jerk spiced boneless chicken thigh accompanied by watermelon salad adorned with queso fresco of bison mozzarella was my favourite dish of the evening.  The jerk spice was beautifully offset by the sparkling tastes of watermelon, lime and cilantro.  A Croatian Primitivo (a.k.a. Zinfandel) was sipped with this course and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this wine as I usually go more heavier and drier red wines.

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The main was  a classic chicken breast supreme served with a nutty barley pilaf, braised bok choy and ginger coriander sauce.  I appreciated that the breast had been seared and oven roasted with the skin on but that the it was so easy to remove.  Truth be told, I love to indulge in poultry skin because it holds all the seasonings and much of the flavour but a skilled chef can transfer all that yumminess into the meat, which is what Chef Barna was able to achieve.  The coriander ginger sauce was a light touch of heaven.  This grand dish was paired with a Chilean Pinot Noir.

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An amazing dinner deserves an equally amazing dessert and Constance Popp’s chocolate cake was spectacular-not too sweet but rich and dense with glistening chocolate and if that was not enough, there were shards of chocolate too.

Good company, excellent food, well chosen wines, what could be better?

Kath’s quote: “Often, admiring a chef and getting to know him is like loving goose liver and then meeting the goose.”-George Lang

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

 

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