Food Musings

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

Lazy Person Perogies

December20

There are so many reasons why I love working from home.  This morning as Daughter #2 flew out the door, she said: “Mom, could you please throw my laundry in the washing machine for me”?  amd I had the time to cheerfully oblige. I took an extra long walk with our old dog as he has a very thick coat and loves the cold winter far more than the balmy summer.  I met a good friend for a long lunch and picked up a few groceries on the way home.  I will be here when the wee one gets dropped off later this afternoon so that Glamma and Poppa can babysit this evening.

But this is also the time of year when I miss the camaraderie of a busy office with silent santas and pot-luck lunches.  Last week when I was at the Global studios they were getting ready for a special group lunch and there were crock pots plugged in and various people arriving with their casseroles full of savoury treats.  I got to peak under the lid of one such covered dish and it looked so good that I made it last evening for home.

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Lazy Person Perogies
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Canadian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
An enormous step is removed by using large shelled pasta as the perogy casing.
Ingredients
  • 340 g package of large pasta shells
  • 3 c mashed potatoes
  • 2 c grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 c cottage cheese (I used the reduced fat variety)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 pound, sodium reduced bacon (might as well cook it all but only use as much as desired and refrigerate the rest for future use)
  • sour cream, as desired
Instructions
  1. Prepare pasta according to package directions.
  2. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a food processor, using a coarse grating blade, shred the cheddar cheese.
  4. Remove and set aside and remove the grating blade.
  5. Mash potatoes with a couple of pulses.
  6. Remove to bowl and mix in egg, cheddar and cottage cheese.
  7. Dice the onion in the processor.
  8. Chop the bacon.
  9. Cook together until crisp, drain & place on paper towel.
  10. While bacon and onions are cooking, stuff the shells by the heaping teaspoonful.
  11. Place open side up into 2 casserole dishes.
  12. Sprinkle onion and bacon mixture over shells.
  13. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.

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Kath”s quote: “In any world menu, Canada must be considered the vichyssoise of nations — it’s cold, half-French, and difficult to stir.”-James Stuart Keate

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Love-that is all.

 

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Mano a Mano

December18

I loved Civita on Corydon Street in Winnipeg, although I didn’t get a chance to dine there very often and now that it is closed, I have regrets.  In its place is another Italian Bistro Called Mano a Mano.  Interestingly, the restaurant name comes from the Spanish and Portugese phrase meanning “hand to hand” and was used originally for bullfights where two matadors alternate competing for the admiration of the audience.  I cannot guess the signficance of this in relation to the special lunch that we celebrated there.  Without looking the phrase’s original up, I assumed that the restaurant would be a hand-made tappas place.  Once I got small plates in my head, I steered the selections to that area of the menu.

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We started with Blistered Snap Peas-perfectly stir-fried with mint (a little bit too light on the chili flakes) but delectable when set aside a drizzle of plain yoghurt and a heavenly mound of fresh ricotta cheese.

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Next up was Gnocco Frito with a Fontina Fondue. Enormous pillows of dough had been fried and then sprinkled with a glistening of salt.  They were fun on their own and extra savoury when dunked into the gooey cheese fondue.

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Somewhere along the way a shrimp cocktail arrived.  I was paying less attention as the conversation flowed and our glasses were continually filled with the lovely Malbec that we had chosen.

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The birthday girl requested Beef Carpaccio and was well pleased.  I appreciated the twists of crispy capers and white anchovies, adding a heady, salty layer.  The thin slices of beef tenderloin were perfect on the thick wedges of homemade bread that tasted as if they had been toasted over an open-flame.

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Last but not least were pan seared scallops which were plentiful even if they were not quite the larger size that I prefer.  The crumbles of ham and tart apple pieces added both sweet and salty tones that I crave.

All of these selections were from their dinner menu as they do not offer a separate lunch menu.  This was explained as a result of them only being open for Thursday and Friday lunches.  Service was prompt which was not terribly surprising as were the only ones in the dining room until two business acquaintances came in to share a pizza.  It might be best to call ahead to ensure that their lunch hours do not change.

The refurbished décor is clean, stylish and warm, but then again, I loved Civita’s décor too.  Theo’s is the name of the bar/lounge area and I understand that they will have their lovely enclosed balcony open again next summer.

Mano A Mano on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Nobody really likes capers, no matter what you do with them. Some people
pretend to like capers, but the truth is that any dish that tastes good with capers in it tastes even better with capers not in it.”-
Nora Ephron

Love-that is all.

 

Barley Brothers

December13

The anticipated opening of Barley Brothers was a big deal in our family.  As many of you, my devoted readers know, J1 has been working hard to complete his Brewmaster Certification which I am pleased to announce, he has!  J1 is a passionate man and when he is not thinking about his gorgeous wife and beautiful new baby, he is focussed upon every thing about beer (unless his beloved Giants are playing).  He let us know when the invitations to the “dry” runs were posted on Facebook and we all marked down the date.  J1 ensured that we were in the parking lot a half an hour before the doors opened so that we would be first through the doors.  We achieved this, and settled into an enormous booth where he could survey the happenings at the bar and greet all the other beer enthusiasts that he suggested drop in that evening.

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I love what is happening in the beer industry right now and when J1 suggests something that he knows that I will like, I appreciate the taste.  But after I have one, I am ready to go back to my libation of choice-red wine.  So I am not even going to attempt to comment about the Bad Batch, Fort Garry Pumpkin, BR Scottish Heavy, Bulwark, Island Larger, BR Life of Chai, Humulus, Noche, Portage & Main or Brocton IPA that arrived at our table that evening.   You can go to Untappd to read everything you might need to know about our choices.

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I will leave the beer tasting to the experts and talk about something that I am an aficionado of-the food.  The anticipation for me was that Noel of Hermanoes, Corrientes and Carnavale was opening another establishment where I could enjoy his delectable fare.  The sausage platter seemed a fitting choice with our beer selections and we appreciated the differences in the variety of sausages and the potato salad.  The style served was my preference: vinegary and savoury especially because of the inclusion of bacon.  D prefers the mayonnaise and hard boiled egg potato salad version and so I rarely make this style at home. Yum.

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The hot pretzel was fun but at $9, I would not likely indulge again.

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The Perogies were excellent.  Once again the inclusion of sautéed bacon really made the dish.

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We loved the peppercorns in the gravy of the poutine and the cheese curds (when we discovered the nuggets), were authentic but the fries were a bit of a bust especially when compared to the excellent poutine offerings at other establishments in the city.

I will note that because this was one of the inaugural runs for the kitchen and the staff there was a 50% Grand Opening discount on our food.  With the discount, I think that the value quotient was intact.  When I go back, as the guys in my family consistently do, I might be more discerning about service levels and food quality now that they have had a couple of months to work out the kinks.  I really hope that this concept succeeds and takes off and wish them no ill well.

Barley Brothers on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:

“He that eateth well drinketh well,
he that drinketh well sleepeth well,
he that sleepeth well sinneth not,
he that sinneth not goeth straight through Purgatory to Paradise.”

William Lithgow (1582-1645)

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Love-that is all.

Tips for Holiday Entertaining

December11

In case you missed me on Global Winnipeg News this morning with Derek Taylor, here are the time and money saving tips that I shared with him (and more from my list):

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1)      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.

 

2)      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!

 

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3)      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.

 

4)      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.

 

5)      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.

 

6)      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.

 

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7)      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.

 

8)      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.

 

9)      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.

 

10)   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: “Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.”-Mary Ellen Chase

Love-that is all.

The Last Christmas in our Family House

December9

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The Three Sistas and our Mom

Our family is all about tradition.  My almost 87 year old Mom is the matriarch of our family and the instigator of most of our traditions.  This year she will not be counting the heads of her enormous brood and sending her eldest to the bank to withdraw a sizable amount that she tucks into envelopes so that we can treat ourselves in which ever way we wish, she will not be setting up her little Christmas tree that simply gets brought upstairs from the basement and plugged in and she will not be ordering perogies, kielbasa and prime rib roasts and making lists of all the other dishes that will be assigned out.  The good news is that Mom survived a devastating illness this past fall and will be here to celebrate with us, arriving by taxi cab to her own home.  The bitter sweetness is that Mom will no longer live in our family home as she will soon be paneled for a nursing home and our family house of almost 60 years will be sold.  So this will be our last Christmas together on Linden Avenue.

Our tradition begins with a Christmas Eve dinner of Prime Rib roast.  The time spent together is not long as we have many family members who work in health care,  not for profit organizations and in retail, so Christmas eve is often a full working day.  As soon as dinner and dessert is served, the left overs packaged up and everything is tidied up, families start to depart for their various churches for Christmas eve services.

The church which we attend is right in our neighbourhood and so many years ago, we commenced another tradition, where the clergy of the church come over to our home to spend the time between this second service of the evening and the last, which is a midnight candle light one.  We share an egg nog, craft beer or glass of wine and have a nibble of something before they head back to church and my husband and I start filling Christmas stockings and placing the “Santa” gifts under the tree.

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Is it present time yet?

On Christmas morning we are typically up by 7 am and my husband makes coffee with Bailey’s and Kahlua that we use to warm up, before we tackle our gift giving.  Before we start, we always say an individual prayer of thanksgiving for our health and love and the gifts that we are about to receive.   Gift giving goes in order from youngest to eldest and we draw out the process by hugging and kissing the giver before the next gift is given out.

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Someone always gets the gift of music, so we put on our new cds while we tidy up the wrapping and try on a Christmas sweater and then we are off to be with my siblings and their families again.  We gather for Christmas brunch at my Mom’s house and have enjoyed the exact same menu for many, many years: six quiche- sausage, seafood and Lorraine, cinnamon loaf, banana muffins, sausage rolls, fruit salad, hash brown potato casserole, chocolate milk, juices, and left overs from the night before.

Once lunch is consumed and the coffee pot is poured out, we find a spot for our gift exchange.  We start with the youngest again and go around in our enormous circle until each family member has a gift chosen especially for them.  We always draw these names after Thanksgiving dinner and sometimes there is a gap in clarity because the names were drawn so long ago.  So when it is someones turn to receive a gift, there is sometimes a hesitation before the giver recalls that it is their responsibility.  The heightened tension increases the air of anticipation and hilarious results often occur.  In fact on more than one occasion I have remarked on my way home that my face and tummy hurt from laughing.  Imagine, being a part of a family of 35+ who get along fabulously, rarely quarrel and love to assemble together to bless each other with gifts and laugh until it hurts.

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Some years we gather again later that day at someone elses home.  Last year my son and his wife hosted and this is only a portion of the gang that were seated in their dining room.

Here are my famous sausage rolls that I contribute each year.  They are such a hit with certain family members that my niece requested that they be served for her wedding breakfast.  I have modified the recipe over the years but it originally came from a seasonal cookbook entitled  “Company is Coming for Christmas”, a Canadian cookbook, published in 1996 and written by Jean Pare.  I get such a chuckle over remembering some of her recipes like the one for Caesar Salad: rip up a head of romaine lettuce and toss with Caesar salad dressing and croutons, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese!  I kid you not….

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Lazy Sausage Rolls
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer, Brunch
Cuisine: Canadian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 36
 
Ingredients
  • 2 c biscuit mix
  • 1 t. onion powder
  • ½ c water
  • 1 lb. pork sausage meat, mild or hot
  • ½ t. cayenne pepper
Instructions
  1. Stir biscuit mix and onion powder together.
  2. Add water.
  3. Mix until it forms a ball.
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
  5. Knead 6 to 8 times.
  6. Roll out into a rectangle about 15 x 18 inches.
  7. Mash sausage meat with a fork to make it pliable.
  8. Spread over dough.
  9. Roll up dough like a jelly roll, beginning at long end.
  10. Slice ⅜ths inch thick.
  11. Arrange on greased baking sheet, cut side down, about 1 inch apart.
  12. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes (checking after 11 minutes)
  13. Makes about 3 dozen appetizers.
  14. Variation: Brush tops with beaten egg.and sprinkle with poppy seeds. sesame seeds or parsley flakes.Bake as above.

Kath’s quote: “No language can express the power, and beauty, and heroism, and majesty of a mother’s love. It shrinks not where man cowers, and grows stronger where man faints, and over wastes of worldly fortunes sends the radiance of its quenchless fidelity like a star. “— Edwin Hubbell Chapin

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Love never fails.

 

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