Food Musings

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

529 Revisited, Again

January16

Like many of you, I love the Christmas season and especially the excuse to get together for special parties, lunches and dinners.  For me there is sometimes a little bit of a let down when the season is over, especially if I am working hard at keeping my New Year’s resolutions.  One of my suppliers must feel this way too because she invited me out for a Christmas lunch that we celebrated just yesterday-perfect timing.

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529 is often heralded as being one of the more exclusive restaurants in the city.  Indeed, it does feel as if you are dining on someone’s estate or at their private club.  The lunch time menu is very accessible, offering everything that you might imagine from burgers and sandwiches to steaks and seafood.  What the public often chatters about is that 529’s menu is entirely a la carte but at a time of year when I am turning away anything deep fried or carb heavy, this is very much appreciated.  Why pay for fries when they are only going to tempt me and make me feel as if I am wasting food (I scorn food being needlessly wasted).

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As it were, one of the guests at our table never has to worry about over indulging.  He indicates the he has a very high metabolism, eats whatever he wishes and remains perfectly slim.  He went for the burger special which on this day was adorned with brie and apple jam.  I watched as he took his first bite (perhaps a bit too longingly), with meat juices bursting forth and luckily landing on the plate below.  I know that 529’s fries are exceptional as I have taste them before, and I was tempted to reach across the table and nab a couple of his.  Somehow I restrained myself.

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Our host is a careful eater each an every day and a real inspiration to me.  She selected the salmon and spinach salad.  At first glance she was concerned that the fillet was on the small side but it was a very thick wedge which ensured that it could be perfectly cooked.  She managed to portion the salmon so she that she could have a piece with every taste of spinach and was well pleased.

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I order mussels every chance I get.  Our helpful server relayed a message to the kitchen to go heavy on the white wine and easy on the butter.  The result was light but satisfying.  The huge mussels assembled at the bottom of the bowl had benefitted from extra marinating and were exploding with perfumed flavors from the wine and briny ones from the sea.  I was able to enjoy each dollop of sauce with the toast triangles which gilded the plate. We all glanced at the dessert menu and determined what we “would” have had, were we to be ordering and then happily departed ways without experiencing any regrets.

529 Wellington on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quotes: “I’m strong to the finach, ‘cuz I eats me spinach”-Popeye

Love-that is all.

Chew Restaurant

January14

I believe that Winnipeg is a wonderful place to raise a family an was not surprised when I heard the story of Chew Restaurant owners Kristen Chemerika an Kyle Lew and their desire to select an alternate lifestyle for their family than the one that Toronto provides.  I was also not astonished by the quality of their offerings once I read of their culinary pedigrees.  Chew is an excellent addition to Winnipeg’s vibrant culinary scene.

Upon entering the inauspicious storefront, contained in a little retail strip at 532 Waterloo St. (at Corydon), I was immediately struck by the warm but simple décor.  Our servers were equally warm and accommodated us for a quick dinner even though they were chock full with reservations.

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Immediately, a basket of just plucked from the oven bread was placed in front of us with a ramekin of marrow butter alongside. The bread was yeasty and delicious on its own, perfection when smeared with the butter.

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Two enormous seared sea scallops subsequently arrived with a saffron infused cauliflower puree and crispy beet chips for crunch.  The scallop was crusty on the outside and just barely cooked in the middle, which is just the way I like them.  Sister #3 would have appreciated them more had they been left in the searing pan for slightly longer.

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Moving from tastes of the sea, to deep an earthy flavours from the land, next up were roasted mushrooms.  The wild mushrooms were made rich and creamy when the poached egg yolk that was perched on top seeped through the bounty from the forest.

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Total unnecessary, but a delight just the same, were the truffle fries that we indulged in as well.  The hint of precious truffle oil elevated the already memorable fries to a whole new level.  When we return and I am somewhat braver, I may try the other fries on the compact menu, made from slivers of pig’s ear.

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Sister #3 returned for lunch the very next day and shared three items with her lunch companion.  Here’s what she had to say: “Our salad was amazing.  Fresh purple beets along with pickeled yellow beets. The fig vinaigrette off-set the sweetness of the beets and stood up to the saltiness of the halloumi cheese.

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Our sandwich was guanciale, baby greens, marinated tomato and herb aioli but our waitress described it well as an Italian version of a BLT.  The tomatoes looked like hierlooms to me and were bright with flavor and very juicy. Guanciale is an italian bacon which was delicate but delicious.

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I was glad that we ordered a side of pecan smoked bacon as it added even more yummy bacon flavor to our lunch.  I had thought there might be a sweetness to the bacon but there wasn’t.  It was thick cut and obviously cooked a long time over pecan flames, making it crispy and full of flavour.  K said it reminded her of farm bacon. ”

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Chew places a banana muffin alongside your bill instead of the typical after dinner mints.  I think that the little treat is so thoughtful, kind of like receiving a goodie bag when you were little and left a birthday party.

Chew on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “But I will place this carefully fed pig Within the crackling oven; and, I pray, What nicer dish can e’er be given to man.” –Aeschylus, ancient Greek poet

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Love-that is all.

 

Wild Rice & Quinoa Cakes

January13

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I was given a very thoughtful gift this Christmas.  It was a basket of Manitoba food products.  The one that I was most excited about was the organic wild rice from Horseshoe Lake.  The lake is located in an isolated area in central Eastern Manitoba in the pre-Cambrian shield.  We used to holiday at Nutimik Lake in the Whiteshell, so the rugged rocky landscape and the pristine lakes are familiar to me.  I learned that the company has been a family run business for over 50 years and that owner Gus Carlson built one of the very first Manitoba wild rice processing plants.

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Wild rice is low in calories and fat, and high in protein and natural fibre.  It also contains a wide variety of minerals and vitamins such as riboflavin and niacin.  I decided to punch up the protein even more by adding quinoa to the recipe and was very happy with the results.  The texture of the rice and therefore the cake is firm and chewy and the rice retains a nutty quality.  When mixed with celery, green onions and minced ginger the result is a complex combination of flavours.  If you think that the ginger might be too much of a surprise, try switching in out with lots of chopped garlic.

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Wild Rice & Quinoa Cakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Canadian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 c cooked quinoa
  • 1 c cooked wild rice
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ c whole wheat flour
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 " piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • ¼ c chopped pecans
  • canola oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Throw everything in a bowl and mix thoroughly (I used my hands).
  2. Scoop out using a shallow measuring cup that will create the patty shape.
  3. I used a flat no-stick grill that I sprayed with canola oil but more oil would create an even crispier texture.
  4. Cook on one side on a hot grill about five minutes.
  5. Press down with a egg lifter to flatten the patty even further before flipping.
  6. Cook on second side until they reach desired crispiness.
  7. Serve with regular or no-fat sour cream.

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Kath’s quote: “rice is the best, the most nutritive and unquestionably the most widespread staple in the world.” –Escoffier

Love-that is all.

 

Confessional Follow Up #1

January9

A week has past since my New Year’s Confessional and I thought that an update was in order.  I’ve been out walking more frequently, started Zumba again and cooked and cooked and cooked.  I  have cooked up some successes and some flops.  I go to extremes.  It is probably enough that I am consuming only what I have made from scratch.  I have filled the larder with whole grains, beans, lentils and nuts, eliminated white flour, white rice and white pasta. Where I have gone over-board is that I have attempted to also reduce sugar and fat.  This is where some of my flops come in.  Moderation would do the trick.

The hits:

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Baked Potato with Tuna Salad and Lemon Mayonaise

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Salmon Fillets in Rice Paper Wrappers, Carrot Salad with Moroccan Dressing

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Ingredients for Oatmeal Banana Muffins

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Wheat Berry and Grilled Corn Salad

Other hits (with no photos): Quinoa Chocolate Chip Cookies, Five-Grain Muffins, Low Fat/Low Salt Nuts & Bolts

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The flops:

Nick Malgieri’s Fudge Brownies (ingredients above)-I replaced the sugar with Monk Fruit in the Raw, yuck.

Asiago Drop Biscuits -don’t think my oven had pre-heated and they spread all over the pan.

I plan on focusing on what I have gained instead of my usual doomed missions regarding what I have lost.  I have gained energy and am sleeping well.  I am not as winded as I bundle up and lug the dog along for his walks.  My appetite has shrunk but I am still craving salty snacks. I have enjoyed being alone this past week and only fixing a small something as my appetite dictates. One week down, 51 to go!

Let me know if you want any of the recipes mentioned above.

Kath’s quote: “Without wishing in the slightest degree to disparage the skill and labour of breadmakers by trade, truth compels us to assert our conviction of the superior wholesomeness of bread made in our own
homes.”-
Eliza Acton

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Love-that is all.

 

“Antonia & Her Daughters” by Marlena de Blasi

January8

I have read many non-fiction books by Marlena de Blasi: “That Summer in Sicily”,  “A Thousand days in Venice”, “A Thousand Days in Tuscany”, and “The Lady in the Palazzo”.  I have been absolutely enthralled by them all.  De Blasi, a chef and food writer, is an ex-pat American who marries a Venetian and relocates to Italy.  Her food narratives make my mouth water.  I typically don`t create a post on a book until I am finished reading it but I came upon this yummy lunch description last evening and just had to share.

This excerpt is from Pages 163-166 of the Kindle edition

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I step out of the terrace traffic into the greater choas of the kitchen.  At one of the five-burner stoves, Luce tosses plump pink chicken livers in butter and olive oil, sears them over a fast flame.  Her thumb over the mouth of a litre bottle of vin santo, she splashes the livers with dry-sweet wine, tosses the mass into a grand marble mortar. Cheeks flushed, laughing aloud at something Filipa recounts from half a hectre away, she is an alchemist grinding a wooden pestle into the steaming pluck of twenty chickens, keeping rhythm while pinching in sea salt and capers, lemon zest chopped fine as powder.  Never breaking stride, she drops in bits of cold, sweet butter and droplets of cognac, pounds it all to a rough paste.  A two-kilo round of charred-crusted bread she slices thinly, lays the pieces on a grate over white ash in a deep, flame-scorched hearth.  The bread grilled on one side only, she deftly drags the untoasted side through a bowl of rich warm chicken broth and lays the bread, broth side up, on a tray.  She smears the paste smoothly over the bread.  Right palm upraised, she balances the laden tray on it, ports it to an iron-legged, stone-topped table set outdoors on the flags.

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I wander over to Filippa as she works through a small mountain of artichokes, trimming the leaves, scraping the dead chokes-barely formed on these beauties-and peeling the nearly foot-long stems.  Into each here she presses mint leaves, crushed unpeeled cloves of garlic, thin slices of lemon, piles them into a huge copper bacinella, pours in white wine, water, oil, heaves in more mint, sea salt, covers the pot and turns up the flame.

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They won`t take long at all.  Let`s drink some wine, she says.

On the oak dressers placed here and there against the veranda wall there are tureens of thick faro soup with new potatoes, blue and white oval platters of red wine-vinegar braised chicken and Filippa’s borlotti mousse, its final decoration a great tangle of fried sage leaves.  A wheel of young, still creamy pecorino sits on a marble near a glass bowl of caramelised peaches and another of fresh ones, some still on their leafed branches.

A tavola, tutti a tavola, invites Antonia, though she still stands- a hand folded on her hip-in front of her place at the head of the table.

From the speckled green jugs of wine passed about, everyone pours for someone else.  Àlla nostra.  Alla nostra.  To us.

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Giorgia arrives with a copper tray, the sausages, charred and crackling from the fire and laid on a bed of wild rosemary branches.  At the last it`s Filippa and Luce-each one holding a white cloth to a handle of the steaming bacinella of gorgeous purple-leafed artichokes.  They set it down in front of Antonia’s place.  A stack of shallow soup plates before her, she takes one, places as artichoke in it, spoons on some of the lemony, winey broth from the pot, pours thick green oil over it from a two-litre anfora, passes it down the table.

Buon appetito echoes like a prayer.

De Blasi has swept me to Tuscany even though I am alone here in my little house on the frozen prairie.  My evenings pass with pleasure as I imagine eating artichokes at a table with my sisters. I will keep you posted as my reading concludes (my next Italian adventure has already arrived to my Kindle).

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

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Love-that is all.

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