Food Musings

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

Summer in the City

August8

My TO Brother-in-law graciously indicated that I could stay with them for a weekend last month with the proviso that they would be busy getting ready for a barbecue dinner party that evening.  I volunteered to help out and from the moment that I walked in their door, I was assigned my tasks.  I was so flattered that they respected my skills enough to have me pitch in.  They are both exceptional cooks and their dinner parties are notorious (at the very least, within their own circle of friends).

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We had everything laid out and ready to go by the time a couple of people that were hired to help out arrived.

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Included in the staff were these handsome bartenders, which was such a great idea.  With these gentlemen and another at the barbeque, they were able to relax and enjoy being with their guests.

This was their menu:

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Grilled Beef Tenderloin

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Grilled Pork Tenderloin

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Grilled Teriyaki Salmon

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Grilled Shrimp

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Kale and Asian Pear Salad and Quinoa Salad.  I have the recipes-if you want either (both exceptional), just send me a comment.

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Mushrooms Braised in Red Wine

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Grilled Asparagus, Peppers, Red Onions

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Fruit and Cheese

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Not much to look at but I contributed this sour cream, rhubarb and raspberry pie that I had purchased at the Farmer’s Market in Peterborough that very morning.  Holy, moly was it delicious!

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Neil had baked for a week and his Macadamia Nut Squares, pictured in the middle were to die for!  They were so amazing that I wrapped one up and took it in my carry on luggage home to D.

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The night was fair and the company was intriguing.  The conversation and imbibing went for a number of hours.  Summer in the city-at its finest.

Kath’s quote: “Summer cooking implies a sense of immediacy, a capacity to capture the essence of the fleeting moment.”-Elizabeth David

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

 

 

Head over heel -Seduced by Southern Italy by Chris Harrison

August6

Perhaps like you, I read non-fiction about residing in Europe and traveling there, to live vicariously through the lives of the authors and to anticipate sojourns that I may (or may not) ever get the chance to take.  Rarely do I come across a story about a little known destination that I have visited and loved tremendously, but this is one.  Here is an excerpt in writer Chris  Harrison’s words, illustrated by my photographs of an area in Sicily.

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Guidaloca was shaped like a slice of melon and its water looked just as refreshing.  After dumping towels on the beach, Daniela and Francesco ran for the blue water

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while I scaled the headland on my way to a World War II watchtower.  Built from the stone of the headland, it was perfectly camouflaged, the attraction, no doubt, for the teenage lovers I surprised inside.  Despite their vantage point they had failed to see me coming. It’s little wonder the allied invasion of Sicily was a cakewalk.  …

Kindle Page 80 of 320

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Daniela and I swam in the caves while Francesco trapped crabs, ripped them apart and ate them raw.  Both in Sicily and in Puglia I enjoyed paddling in the placid sea, but have to admit I found unruffled water rather dull after a time.  Having grown up surfing the Bondy breakers, I associate going to the beach with wipe-outs rather than relaxation.  In Australia I took a surfboard.  In Italy I took a book.

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As in Andrano, the second half of the day began around five, when Daniela assumed the role of tour guide and whisked me off to places of interest near Alcamo.

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First up was the ancient city of Erice.  Perched on a mountaintop overlooking the sea, according to legend it was founded over 3000 years ago by the son of Venus and Neptune.

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I should have photographed the town’s eighth-century walls,

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the twelfth-century castle

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the twelfth-century castle and the cobblestone lanes so narrow they must be walked single-file.  But I didn’t.  I had intended to.  I had even bought a guidebook.

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But next to the bookstore I found a pasticceria which sold fruit made from marzipan, a sugary Sicilian specialty.  So I sat on a bench scoffing miniature bananas, an orange, a mandarin and a peach, while watching the sun set on the seaport of Trapini over 700 meters below.

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Next stop was the ancient treasures of Segesta.  Erected in 420 BC, the 36-column Doric temple was billed in my guidebook as “the best preserved Greek architecture site to be found anywhere”. Quite a claim, but one archeologists dispute less than whether or not the Greeks intended to put a roof on the building.

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Another topless attraction was Segesta’s amphitheatre, a primitive arena carved from a rock atop Mount Barbarian,

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venue for summer performances of Greek tragedies other than the Olympic Games.

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Other excursions took in the monument to Garibaldi at Calatafimi, which commemorates a famous victory of his Red Shirts over the Bourbons, an as much of Palermo as the heat and our resultant late starts would allow.  We would return to the hill at sundown, to be greeted on the driveway by the scents of dinner, which I must confess, enticed me more than the treats in my guidebook.

Every evening Valeria laid a table in her garden for twenty, to which neighbours would bring food for forty.  A typical feats began with Zia Tina’s antipasti, which include prosciutto with sugar melon, pizza slices, burschette, fried eggplant, zucchini and peppers in olive oil. That alone would have done me.  But Luisa’s primo piatto as net, a daring but delicious mix of baked potato and mussels.  Then Nona Lina’s horsemeat pieces in tomato sauce.  ‘Eat quickly,’ said Antonio.  ‘It was a racehorse.’  The meat was springy, yet surprisingly tasty although I couldn’t heal thinking that I may have been eating something more intelligent than me.  Valeria usually prepared the terzo piatto: kebabs of liver and other animal sundries the origin of which I preferred not to ask.  Fruit followed for those whose arms could still reach further than their stomachs: watermelon, apricots, peaches and figs.  And then came the coup de grace, an onslaught of calories called cannoli siciliani-a sweet comprised of flour, sugar, chocolate and white wine, fried into a wafer in the shaped of a hollow bow tie filled with ricotta cheese and chocolate.  Stuffed, both dinner and desert.

Reading Chris Harrison’s account of this and his time in Puglia brought the agony and ecstasy of Italian ways to life, love it or leave it.  I would like to get a chance to love it please.

Kath’s quote: “They eat the dainty food of famous chefs with the same pleasure with which they devour gross peasant dishes, mostly composed of garlic and tomatoes, or fisherman’s octopus and shrimps, fried in heavily scented olive oil on a little deserted beach.” –Luigi Barzini, ‘The Italians’ (1964)

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Stones collected on Guidaloca.

Love-that is all.

Beach House Kamado (Brined) Pork Tacos with Corn Salsa

August5

Sister #2 had surgery this week and is now recuperating at their home at the lake.  In an attempt to increase her rest time but also give her the excuse for an outing, we have invited them over to our place for dinners this long weekend.  This is easy to achieve since their place is a mere three cottages away with a cut through of the kind neighbours at a 4th house.  At the appointed hour, they (two adults and one beautiful old white lab) mosey on over to assemble in our solarium if the bugs are pesky or el fresco if they have subsided.

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I had a couple of pork tenderloins in the freezer and we often prepare them in a brine, the recipe of which was given to us by Sister #3.  But to mix things up a bit, I saw that my gifted copy of “The Kamado Smoker & Grill Cookbook” written by Chris Grove (Ulysses Press)
had a version close to ours but with a Mexican influence.  Since we all travel to Isla Mujeres together, chilies and cilantro is just our “cuppa tea”.

As is often the case when I am cooking at the Beach House, I had to modify a couple of ingredients to make this dinner all come together-some out of necessity and some because of preference.  We prefer wheat tortillas over corn ones and to be specific whole wheat wraps are our favourite.  The recipe book also recommends having Mexican toppings on hand such as Mexican crema and cotija cheese.  For these I substituted Greek yoghurt and feta cheese.  Regular white sugar replaced piloncillo (Mexican sugar) and other than that my recipe list was complete.  Whether you specifically recreate this recipe or not, the pre-amble for this and every recipe in the book is extremely detailed and helpful for your general reference.

A brine is a simple solution of salt, sugar, and some type of aromatic.  Just remember this one rule and you will be on your way to making your own brines: use 2 to 5 tables of kosher salt per quart of water and equivalent amount ( or less) of sugar.  ….Add whatever aromatics you like.  If they dissolve in water, then you don’t have to heat your brine first.  But a lot of seasonings (such as black pepper) aren’t water soluble, and you need to heat the brine for 5 minutes to release their essential oils.  Then you need to cool it back down to 40 degrees or below to make it food-safe.  To do that, I put one of those blue freezer packs in a zip-top bag and put it in the brine in the refrigerator until the mixture comes down to temp.

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Beach House Kamado (Brined) Pork Tacos with Corn Salsa
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 to 6
 
Ingredients
  • 2 pork tenderloins, trimmed of silver skin
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • Taco toppings as desired ( such as Mexican crema, cilantro, Cjojita cheese)
  • For the Brine:
  • 1½ qts distilled water
  • 5 T kosher salt
  • 4 T rated piloncillo (Mexican sugar)
  • 1,2 t ground dried chile
  • ½ t dried oregano
  • ½ t dried minced garlic
  • ½ t dried minced onion
  • For the corn salsa:
  • 1½ c corn kernels, drained if using canned
  • ½ c black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ c diced red onion
  • 1 poblano chile fire roasted, peeled and seeds removed)
  • ¼ c chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice from 2 lime, preferably grilled
  • 1 t kosher salt, or to taste
  • ¼ t ground cumin
  • ¼ t ground black pepper, or to taste
  • ¼ T sugar
  • For the rub:
  • 1½ t seasoned salt
  • 1½ t chili powder
  • ⅓ t granulated garlic
  • ⅓ t dried oregano
  • ½ t ancho chile powder
Instructions
  1. Mix the bine ingredients together in a medium saucepan and bring to a strong simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from the stovetop and let rest for 15 minutes. Cool to 40 degrees by putting an ice bag in the brine and placing it in the fridge or freezer.
  2. Remove the ice bag and place the pork in the brine. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. In a bowl, mix together all the salsa ingredients. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired, Refrigerate until ready to serve,
  4. setup your Kamado for direct heat and preheat it to 450 Fahrenheit.
  5. Stir the rub ingredients together in a small bowl.
  6. Remove the pork from the brine. Rinse, dry thoroughly, and season with the dry rub.
  7. Place the tenderloins on the main grill grate and close the dome lid. Grill, turning every 5 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees, about 25 to 30 minutes.
  8. while you let the meat rest for 5 minutes, wrap the tortillas in a single tack in foil and warm them on the grill for about 20 seconds per side.
  9. Slice the meat thinly and serve on he corn tortillas along with the salsa and any other topping you wish.

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More tips from this excellent reference cookbook:

To get an extra boost of flavour, try grilling citrus ingredients for marinades and cocktails.  Cut them in half and grill direct, cut side down, over high heat for 2 to 3 minutes.

OMGoodness-the refreshing lime taste went to an entirely new level.  A fabulous tip that we will use often.

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The tacos were served to rave reviews along side grilled pitty pat yellow squash and sautéed coloured swiss chard. A meal that was huge on flavour, low on fat and best of all -full of protein, nutrients and anti-oxidants to help my amazing sister heal.

I love this new cookbook in my repertoire.  The next step will be acquiring a Kamado Smoker & Grill!  Here’s what the book’s publicist had to say about it:

Designed to do everything from slow smoke at 250 degrees to flash sear at 700 degrees, the kamado-style grill is the most versatile and powerful backyard cooker. Are you ready to become a Kamado Pro?

Introducing “The Kamado Smoker and Grill Cookbook,” the first all-encompassing guide to the wildly popular egg-shaped ceramic cooker currently blowing up the world of barbecue.

This cookbook is organized into 52 tutorials that combine a valuable kamado cooking technique with a delicious recipe that are sure to transform you from casual griller to kamado masterchef!

You’ll learn the steps and secrets to perfectly grilling Cajun Strip Steak, smoking Hickory Smoked Chicken, brick oven baking Wood-Fired Pizza, salt-block grilling Tropical BBQ Tuna, and so much more.

With gorgeous full-color photographs as well as loads of tips and tricks, this is a must-have manual for anyone (like Dad!) looking to spend their summer enjoying tasty barbecue!

Kath’s quote: “Cookery, or the art of preparing good and wholesome food, and of preserving all sorts of alimentary substances in a state fit for human sustenance, or rendering that agreeable to the taste which is essential to the support of life, and of pleasing the palate without injury to the system, is, strictly speaking, a branch of chemistry; but, important as it is both to our enjoyments and our health, it is also one of the latest cultivated branches of the science.”-Frederick Accum (1769-1838)

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Love-that is all.

 

 

 

Beach House Brussel Sprout Breakfast

July30

When I am tasked with regularly cooking up brunch items for weekend breakfasts at the beach house, I try to stretch my repertoire passed bacon, pancakes and eggs.  On this particular weekend, I had lugged along a bag of Brussel sprouts and then ran out of opportunities to cook them for dinner.  At a Beach House you have to be flexible and use your fresh ingredients when they are at their maximum.  As a result, this dish was born.  J2 thought that it tasted like the Brussel sprouts on the Segovia menu and I couldn’t think of higher praise than that.

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I love using my Mom’s mandolin for jobs like this.  My kids always called Brussel sprouts, baby cabbages.  They actually ate them as youngsters.

Check out this nutritional info about Brussel sprouts (from http://www.brussels-sprouts.com/): They are a very good source of many essential vitamins, fiber, and folate. They are especially high in Vitamin C. They, along with their other cruciferous cousins, have been shown to have some very beneficial effects against certain types of cancer, as they contain many different ingredients that are believed to help prevent the disease.

Beach House Brussel Sprout Breakfast
Author: 
Recipe type: Brunch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
Brussel Sprouts for breakfast? Don't knock it until you try it.
Ingredients
  • 1 strip bacon, chopped
  • 1 - 1½ lbs. Brussel sprouts, sliced by hand or on mandolin
  • ¼-1/2 c pecans
  • 2-3 T maple syrup
  • eggs, 2-3 per person
Instructions
  1. Sautee bacon until crisp over medium high heat.
  2. Add sprouts and cover.
  3. Do not be tempted to turn these too over, you want the sprout to caramelize in the pan.
  4. When the leaves are tender to taste add the pecans and maple syrup and allow flavours to blend, likely another 5 minutes.
  5. Line the bottom of large soup bowls with sprouts.
  6. Keep bowls warm in oven.
  7. Baste/fry eggs and as soon as the top is cooked, immediately place a top the sprouts.
  8. Serve immediately.

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The combination of pungent sprouts, salty bacon, nutty crunch, sublime maple syrup and the rich oozing of the egg yolk make this one a keeper in my mind.

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Kath’s quote: “We kids feared many things in those days – werewolves, dentists, North Koreans, Sunday School – but they all paled in comparison with Brussels sprouts.”-Dave Barry

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Love-that is all.

The Wee One is One

July29

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The past year has been an amazing one for our family.  One year ago today, the Wee One was born with a bit of a ruckus that I am so pleased is long forgotten (well, perhaps not by her Mom).

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She has made each day of our lives rich with purpose and meaning.  We are so blessed that she (and all our family in fact) live only minutes away from us, so we intercept on a regular basis.  We love to babysit and especially our most recent times with her at the Beach House.  J1 brings her into our little bedroom in the morning so that J2 can catch a little bit more sleep.

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D has always been a fun and affectionate Daddy but he is absolutely transformed as a Poppa.  He can’t stop kissing and hugging her and he is mesmerized by every little thing that she does.  In truth, we all are.  We talk about her over dinner and are fascinated by her every move when she is with the family.

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The Wee One will perform official duties a the flower girl for Daughter #2 and the Frenchman this fall.  Can you imagine?

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Most profoundly is watching her being nourished and grow-both her beautiful little body and her incredible mind.  She has a huge vocabulary and loves books and roll-playing.  She has a quick wit and loves to tease and surprize us.  She is long and lean and has a super-strong core, being able to pull herself to a sitting position for months now.  Her mouth full of big teeth (genetically gifted to her through D’s side of the family) has meant that she has been biting and chewing food with ease.  Plain Greek yoghurt and garlicky hummus are two of her favourites but she also loves the cheerios out of my homemade nuts and bolts mixture and French fries (just like her Glamma).

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Her birthday celebration was her first taste of coconut cream cheese icing.  She resourcefully discovered the best way to attack conquest.

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People ask us if she is ever sad and although it is rare, she was unhappy about something going on here.

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She loved the texture of the frosting and spread it all over her body like her mom does with a massage cream when she is getting ready for bed.  She is being whisked away for a refreshing bath at this moment.

She is so social and loves being with her enormous family and all of J1 and J2’s friends.

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With her Auntie Beep

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and her Auntie Boo. The Wee One already knows that food=love and delights in sharing her favourite tastes.

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With her many second cousins

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and her Uncle B and only first cousin.

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We are so blessed that her other grandparents are our best friends and we share in the joy of her in our lives.

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This was their special birthday gift to her.  They are a family who loves to celebrate life with food too and this seems to me the most appropriate gift.

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Here are two of her great-grandmas.  My Mom hired a cab to drive her from the Misrecordia in Winnipeg.  Love was in abundance.

Kath’s quote: “I know why families were created with all their imperfections. They humanize you. They  are made to make you forget yourself occasionally, so that the beautiful balance of  life is not destroyed”.-Anais Nin

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Love-that is all.

 

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