Food Musings

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

Guest Blogger Sister #3: New York City – New Discoveries

February27

I can honestly say that I didn’t have a bad meal the whole time we were in New York.  Here are a couple of highlights of new discoveries made this time around.

Matt’s Grill W55th Street at 8th Avenue

After an early morning to participant in the live audience of the Anderson Cooper show, we were three hungry travelers looking for some sustenance.  We found it just a short jaunt away at Matt’s.  What you would expect from a neighbourhood place, the bar takes up a good chunk of the room and locals greet the waitresses like old friends as they pull up a bar stool for a quick lunch.  We all selected sandwiches and fries.

D had the egg salad which was topped with ham and a slice of cheddar, I had the chicken wrap with bacon, avocado and tomato and

B had the grilled Portobello mushroom topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato and roasted onions.

Now a days there are so many Food Network shows about food trucks, and so many of them happen to be in Manhattan, I knew I had to visit at least one of these roadside vendors on this visit.  B and I took a day to ourselves to shop and found ourselves in Union Square Park at lunch time.

There were plenty of trucks to choose from but we decided on Patty’s Tacos for our lunch.

We skipped the famous cow’s tongue tostados and ordered corn tamales stuffed with chicken mole

and the cheese sincronizada (much like a quesadilla but made with two flour tortilla like a grilled sandwich.  This was served with a refreshing tossed salad.  We found a park bench to enjoy our food and watch the passers by.

Patty's Taco Truck on Urbanspoon

On the night that we were headed to the East Village to see Stomp we decided to go to the Ukranian East Village Restaurant for dinner, as it was located next door to the Orpheum Theatre. It was nice to have something a little different, which at the same time reminded me of home.

I enjoyed the wiener schnitzel that was crisp and tasty, topped with a fried egg and served with mashed potatoes and vegetables,

B tried the varenyky (AKA perogies) and D enjoyed the beef brisket with potato pancakes.  Our entrees came with salad and delicious bread so there was way too much food all around.  But what else would you expect from a Ukrainian kitchen.

Ukrainian East Village Restaurant on Urbanspoon

The last little gem we discovered was Uskudar Turkish restaurant at E 73rd and 2nd.  Unfortunately we were all so tired that night that we cancelled our reservation and I instead ran down to the restaurant and ordered our dinners to go.  When the food arrived I was so hungry that I forgot to take out the camera and snap my photos.  As a result I can’t even remember what exactly we had.  I know there was a Sheppard’s salad, humus, lamb kabob, cheese pie, but the details are blurry.  One thing for sure, it was yummy and one of my favorite meals of the trip. That may have something to do with my affinity for Turkish food. I guess I just have to go back and do a better job of keeping track of this meal next time.

Usküdar on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “We are a family who start discussing our next meal before the one in front of us is fully consumed.” -Sister #3

Love-that is all.

Pizza 21st Century

February26

There was a little pizza joint that I would notice on the way to visit my Mom in EK.  She reported that the pizza from there was wonderful and I always intended to give it a try.  But unfortunately, by the time I was ready, it had closed its doors.  My big brother reported that they had re-opened on Academy Road.  In the mean time, I had spied a place that boasted freshly made pasta as well as pizza on one of my many neighbourhood walks with our big old dog.  Could the place I spotted, be one and the same?  Sure enough, big brother confirmed that it was.

This is one of our fellow Jets’ fans.  I tried 4 times to get the top of his head in my picture but as soon as I would position him for the photo, he would start walking towards me, so that he could see the results on my camera. 

With the NHL schedule having started up again, I am often looking for a quick supper idea to eat while watching the game, especially if it is scheduled to begin at 6 pm as many often are.  So I placed an order to pick up and headed out the door a half hour later to explore Pizza 21st Century on Academy and Centennial Ave. I came home with two steaming hot pies but my husband was detained at the office so I let my daughter dig in and quizzed her on what she thought.

She tried a piece of both the Meatlover Madness and the Mediterranean and her personal favourite was the latter.  She appreciated that the crust was nice and crispy (I learned that there is no oil used in the making) and that the sauce had an intense tomato flavour but was light enough that it did not over-power the distinctive toppings.  In her mind the best pizzas are constructed with the toppings on top of the cheese layer with just another sprinkling of cheese over all.  She thought that Pizza 21st Century really understood this concept and loved the topping to cheese ratio.  She added that there was every kind of meat represented in each and every bite of the Meatlovers.

There are no tables to eat your supper in the restaurant but there is plenty of parking in the back and so you can zip in and out in no time.

I was pleased to meet Vlado and his wife Duubravka, who proudly indicate that they are from Croatia.  When you look at a map of the Mediterranean, it is no wonder that Vlado knows his stuff as his former country is one of Italy’s closest neighbours (geographically speaking at least).  I came home with a variety of his fresh pastas that I am going to cook up this evening.  Next time we will order one of the Premium Pizzas-either the Supreme with fresh arugula or the Margarita featuring fresh mozzarella di buffalo cheese.  Hmmm, when do the Jets next play an early start game?

Pizza 21st Century & Fresh Pasta Store on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners.”-Johnny Carson

Love-that is all.

Canadian Beef to the Rescue

February25

I will not be frequently posting “live” as I am this day, because even bloggers need to take a holiday, wouldn’t you agree?  But here I am in my land of bliss, the kind of place that you care for so much that you want to share it with everyone that you love.  But sometimes, logistically, this does not work out.  So here I am without D or my the rest of my brood.  Thankfully I am with most of the rest of my siblings so I am content.  More than content, in fact, I am ecstatic for the blessing of being back on Isla Mujeres once again.

Sweet Dreams on Isla Mujeres

In the days when our family was young, we didn’t get a chance to go on winter holidays.  There were a couple of exceptions for special anniversaries and so over the course of our first fifteen years of marriage, we visited Cozumel and Hawaii.  This took considerable co-ordination on our part to have various people to stay with the kids so that they could maintain their school and extra-curricular activities.  Even though there are far less logistical issues to deal with now that only our youngest is at home, we still want her fairly convenient lifestyle to be maintained while she is busy with university and her work.  She will also have extra dog walking responsibilities as our big old Samoyed collie  is arthritic and blind and will not take care of his personal toileting unless he is lead on a leash.  So because she is still my baby girl, I wanted to leave the kitchen well stocked for her convenience and sustenance.

Daughter #2 is a great cook but not particularly experienced in the kitchen (I kind of hog the room).  Everything that she takes on, tastes delicious, but she is not confident when looking in the fridge for what can easily be assembled with success.  But as luck would have it, on Friday afternoon a package arrived containing a gorgeous new sauté pan from T-fal and six varieties of Hamburger Helper. 

 

Daughter #2 was elated.  This would take the guess work out of what to pull out for supper (as long as she remembered to thaw the ground beef first). 

There was a beef sale at Sobey’s this weekend so I was able to pick up a value pack which held six portions for $13.80.  I thought that was a great deal for a variety of meals; and Daughter #3 can save the gift card that I left for her from Sobey’s, for little treats like sushi and in-store made pizzas.  Even though my kids are independent adults, I am still their Mom and I am blessed to think that I always will be.

 Kath’s quote: “It is the (North) Americans who have managed to crown minced beef as hamburger, and to send it round the world so that even the fussy French have taken to le boeuf hache, le hambourgaire.”-Julia Child

Love-that is all.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Wings

February22

Earlier this week, we were invited over for dinner with beloved friends. At one time, one spouse from all three couples, worked with each at Winnipeg Harvest (in fact Lee was the founder of the amazing organization).  So once again in my life, food (and the sharing of it), drew me to loved ones.  I had been thinking about this particular appetizer recipe for as long as my count down of sleeps for Isla Mujeres, because Parmesan crusted fish is served a couple of places on the island.

The view from the corner table at the Co-op.

My favourite version is offered up at The Fisherman’s Co-op, right on the water and across from the little hotel where we typically stay.

In the end, D made this batch up and so they tasted even better than usual to me, as I didn’t prepare them.  I have posted this recipe today, in case you want to make them for an Oscar watching evening on Sunday.  In our house on Superbowl Day,  D plants himself in his football watching chair and I fix little treats for he and his quests.  On Academy Awards night, the tradition is reversed and he does the same for me.

Me on Isla (ha, ha, this is J2, my legs aren’t long enough to touch the sand).

This is really me on Isla (with Daughter #1)

Alas, this Oscar night I wouldn’t be with D as I will be spending my first night on Isla…


Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser
 
This is really an approximate recipe as it very much depends on your own inclination to Parmesan cheese which can be very rich when partnered with butter and chicken skin.
Ingredients
  • ½ c homemade breadcrumbs (I make my own in big batches and keep them in the freezer)
  • ½ c Parmesan cheese (buy from the deli/cheese section, not the shaker variety)
  • 1 T garlic powder (less if you have to kiss someone (anyone!) when Bradley Cooper is on screen)
  • ½ c melted butter
  • 1 lb. chicken drumettes
Instructions
  1. Mix crumbs, cheese and garlic in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  2. Dip drumettes into the butter.
  3. Press drumettes into the breading, coating all sides.
  4. Place on a lined baking sheet (important to have lined as these are very messy).
  5. Baked at 400 for 25 minutes turning once.

Kath’s quote: “GAWD! I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!!”-new Islaholic- Jackie Savoie

Love-that is all.

Siloam Mission-Love Beyond Imagining

February21

The weather had warmed up to -32 with the wind chill this morning. I was a little bit ticked when my remote car starter didn’t fire up my van for me. This meant that my toes were cold as I started it up in the old fashioned manner. I was so ashamed of my arrogance as I remembered this moment when I arrived at Siloam Mission. Imagine having to line up for a warm bed and a hot meal?  Hundreds of people do so each day at Siloam. I was there at Daughter #2’s urging as the Frenchman is now employed at Siloam and she had heard so many great things about volunteering in their kitchen.

And she was absolutely correct! From the moment I was greeted by a volunteer co-ordinator and introduced to Kitchen Managers Corrie and Chris, I was so impressed. The time passed so quickly as I learned new kitchen techniques and got to work alongside dedicated volunteers including an entire crew of students from the University of Western Ontario who had given up their reading weeks to spend the time as volunteer kitchen assistants!

As I arrived, the breakfast service was just commencing.  Because of the cold, Chris wanted all of the patrons to have a bowl of something hot so porridge was served with toast, peanut butter and fruit.  Hot coffee is unending.  Chris thought that French toast would be nice for tomorrow and he happily mentioned that there are times when he can serve the patrons scrambled eggs or omelets from Burnbrae Farms. I met the good folks from Burnbrae at a bloggers event in Toronto; they will be happy to know what joy ther donations bring.

I was on lunch detail with the rest of the crew.

On the menu was a choice of turkey noodle or mushroom potato soup, a slice of pizza (generously provided by Little Ceasars pizza), a freshly made ham sandwich and a sweet.  In the summer months, Siloam substitutes the soup with a salad.  One of the dessert choices was my favourite Mennonite treat of blueberry platz.   I was tasked with slicing the ham and then took my place on the sandwich assembly line.  The Western team made quick work of the sandwiches because Chris had promised them that he would teach them how to make pasta from scratch to be the “noodles” of the turkey soup.

They were an enthused bunch and kept remarking how they couldn’t believe that they were in a “soup” kitchen and not a multi-starred restaurant.  This is what I was most impressed with.  Chris could cut cooking corners and used packaged stocks filled with additives and excessive salt but he painstakingly made the stock from scratch to ensure the quality.  In addition, from scratch cooking is truly the best use of food and monetary donations and Chris and the folks at Siloam must intrinsically know this.  Of course, “from scratch” methods cannot occur every day, but as often as Chris has the volunteer resources to do so.  Everything is carefully used BUT when I say everything, quality is never compromised.  A volunteer preparing the lettuce for the sandwiches asked Chris if she should use the lettuce if it was discolouring and he responded “the rule of thumb is-we don’t serve it to our patrons, if we wouldn’t eat it ourselves”.

Another of my tasks was slicing up pulled turkey for the soup.  Chris explained how the roasting of 150 turkeys has already commenced for Easter dinner and that every single bit of the bird is utilized.   Turkey necks and wings had been roasted the day before to make the nutritious (and tasty) stock.  When the sandwich line was cleared away, Chris began his pasta making session.

All of these steps went in place, to produce this delicious and nutritious soup.  Why go to this much trouble?  Because food=love and the patrons of Siloam are loved beyond their wildest imaginations.

Our Frenchman and Chris.

Do you have a not-for-profit food focused charity that deserves a special mention in this blog space?  Let me know and I would be happy to visit them.

Kath’s quote: “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” –Matthew 25:35

Love-that is all.

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