Food Musings

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

Slow Cooker Island Inspired Beef Stew

November12

Daughter #2 and the Frenchman

When the weather is snowy and I want to get all cozied up, I think about beef stew.  I don’t just want something warm and slurpy, I want something warm and hearty-something that I am sure that I have eaten because I can feel its goodness in my tummy.  And even though I could easily make this recipe on the stove top, I like crock pot stews in the winter, so I can appreciate the aromas in my house all day long.  This recipe in particular is full of unusual spices (unusual for a stew at any rate) like cinnamon and ginger.

We have not seen the sun shine since the beginning of November in Winnipeg and so as I was searching for a new stew recipe to try, I came upon this one on the Canada Beef website.  If I can’t see and feel the sun right now, at least I can remember the feeling with “tropical” recipes.   I served this over a brown rice pilaf and it was a savoury and delicious one bowl supper.

 

Slow Cooker Island Inspired Beef Stew
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Smells delicious while it cooks in the slow cooker
Ingredients
  • 2 T canola vegetable oil
  • 2 lb Stewing Beef Cubes
  • ¼ c all-purpose flour
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, cut lengthwise into eighths
  • 1 t finely grated ginger root
  • 1 c beef broth
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole tomatoes
  • 2 T EACH Worcestershire sauce and paprika
  • 1 t EACH dried sage, crushed & cinnamon
  • 1 bay leaf and cinnamon stick
  • ½ t EACH chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper
  • 1 coarsely chopped sweet red pepper
  • ½ c raisins
  • ½ c green olives with pimento, halved
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in wok over medium-high heat until sizzling hot.
  2. Brown meat in small batches.
  3. Set beef aside; sprinkle with flour.
  4. Add garlic, onion and ginger root; cook for 3 to 4 minutes or until just softened, adding more oil if necessary.
  5. Stir in broth, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan.
  6. Add beef, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, sage, bay leaf, cinnamon, pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  7. Bring to simmer.
  8. Transfer mixture to a 24-cup (6 L) slow-cooker insert.
  9. Stir in red pepper chunks and raisins.
  10. Cook, covered, on low for 8 hours, adding the olives in the final hour of cooking.

Kath’s quote:“Talk of joy: there may be things better than beef stew and baked potatoes and home-made bread — there may be.”
-David Grayson

Love that is all.

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Casa Grande Revisited

November9

Do you recall the scene in Disney’s “Lady and the Tramp” when the canine couple set up behind an authentic Italian restaurant for a romantic feast of their own?  That is exactly what Casa Grande (at 984 Sargent Ave.) reminds me of.  There are red and white table cloths and white candles melting down the sides of old Chianti bottles.  I would not be surprised if an accordion player made the rounds some evening.   In the mean time, Luciano Pavarotti serenades over the stereo system.

We have been dining at Casa Grande for decades (they have been in business for over 35 years) and each time I arrive, the place is packed. Yet it is not one of those restaurants that you hear/see a lot about.  On this early weeknight, we got the last table in the little main floor area.  There have been times that we have dined on the second floor, which I believe is only open on weekends.  Everyone surrounding us seemed to be regulars and indeed one of the servers was hugging and kissing patrons upon their arrivals and departures.

My husband and I sometimes have a difficult time deciding what to order at a place like Casa Grande, so well known for their portion size.  We consider pasta a special treat and are concerned about filling up with too much of it.  But the perfect solution is cheerfully accommodated when we select their largest dinner salad and spaghetti with seafood and we share both.

La Giardiniera Salad is chock full of romaine tossed with onions, tomatoes, green pepper, olives, cucumber, grated mozzarella cheese and house dressing.  Thin slices of mild capicollo (a cross between salami and ham) adorn the top. 

We are thrilled when more slices arrive at the table with a fine dry salami, more olives and spicy marinated eggplant.  This little plate is our anti-pasta which comes with each noodle dish that is served.

When high quality seafood is simply and quickly sautéed, we prefer not to let an overpowering pasta sauce interfere with the delicate taste.   Casa Grande lets you choose the preparation style and I almost always opt for the oil and garlic.  This particular evening, the kitchen was very generous with the garlic.  This became the second reason that my husband and I were glad that we had shared the dish.

I would recommend that you make reservations as you will not want to miss out on this authentic treat.

Casa Grande Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “The strands of spaghetti were vital, almost alive in my mouth, and the olive oil was singing with flavor. It was hard to imagine that four simple ingredients [olive oil, pasta, garlic and cheese] could marry so perfectly.”-Ruth Reichl

Love-that is all.

Winnipeg’s Culinary Arts Programs

November8

I have a friend who is an instructor with the Winnipeg Technical College Culnary Arts Program.  On her teaching days, when her time over lunch is limited, I will meet her at the College to grab a bite together.  Not only is this time effective but I get to enjoy a delicious meal at a really reasonable cost.  The last time that we met, we missed the last portion of succulent looking chicken wings.  Instead, we opted for cheesy quesadillas.

In anticipation of our last lunch, K sent me the proposed lunch specials a week ago in a text.  A baked salmon fillet and angel hair pasta topped with a tequila lime compote.  I sent her this text in reply: “you had me at tequila”.  The fish and pasta portions were generous and although I had to add a pinch of salt, the taste was light and fresh.

I have taught blogging for the Louis Riel School Division and have had to attend meetings at their complex.  This is no hardship as they too have a Culinary Arts Program.  I have only tasted their baked goodies but I can give them high marks.  I have seen their food artistry exhibited at the food-service trade shows and they boast some very talented young chefs.

When my Mom was still able to lunch with friends, she and a couple of neighbours liked attending the monthly gourmet lunches put on by Kildonan East’s Culinary Arts Program.  Check out the menu for their next event:

Seafood Phyllo Napoleon
Saffron Cream Sauce & Tarragon Oil
Cornish Game Hen
Bulgur & Dried Fruit Stuffing
Oven Roast Root Vegetables
Luscious Berry Shortcake with Lemon Mousse

Being a foodie and an educator myself, I can’t help but boast about the culinary education programs that Winnipeg has to offer. I am sure that there are others, these are the only the ones that I am personally aware of. These schools not only provide an invaluable hands on education, but diners are treated to an affordable, nutritious and delicious culinary experience as a bonus.

Kath’s quote “I strongly believe that culinary love is not about having a French Passport, but about what you feel”-Albert Roux

Love-that is all.

News Cafe

November7

If there was one single building where my personal worlds collide, it is at the News Cafe on Albert St.  Just this morning I was at an event hosted by the Advertising Association of Winnipeg entitled The Future of Traditional News Media according to Dan Lett.  I was interested in attending because my original and primary profession is as a Media Planner and what was said will help me make more educated choices on behalf of my clients.

But, ironically it is because of the changing face of traditional media, that I have had to reinvent myself as a blogger and social media expert.  The irony lies in the evidence that social media has had direct impact on traditional media especially because on line “news” deliverers are being provided content by “non-journalists” (of which I am one).  Just before I left my car for the presentation, I checked my email messages to find that the Huffington Post has picked up another one of my blog posts.  Much of the presentation was about the existence of platforms such as the Huffington Post and how they have developed an appetite for consumers wanting their news for “free”.  You can imagine what a challenge this is for the business model of an organization like the Winnipeg Free Press.

For me, my toast is buttered on both sides: I benefit from the good fortune that providing content for social media provides and I benefit by promoting the advantages that are delivered by traditional media to my clients. In addition, Dan Lett explained that the News Cafe is actually creating opportunities in journalism that never would have existed without the cafe, such as the inertia to build community and hear authentic anecdotes from politicians and celebrities that never would have been revealed in other realms.

AND The News Cafe serves food of course, which is another convergence of this whole scene and once again where my professions intercept.  Admission to the event included these delicious breakfasts (well at least I know that my ham and cheese omellette was delicious).  My breakfast dates let me photograph their plates too.  Imagine what it is like to dine with me…

 Kath’s quote: “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society.  We can brutalize it.  Or we can help lift it to a higher level.”-William Bernbach

Love-that is all.

Chicken Paprika

November6

There are times on Sundays when I enjoy getting supper ready in advance in case I have an afternoon commitment.  Such was the case this weekend when I was able to prepare this chicken dish right after lunch.

Just before all the kids arrived home I through the vegetables in the oven to roast and made a pot of broad egg noodles and another of brown rice.  Good thing I did, because this dish was such a big hit that even a double batch was completely consumed.  The sauce in particular was absolutely delicious when poured over the pasta or rice.

Chicken Paprika
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
 
When no fat sour cream is used this dish is a low fat option.
Ingredients
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts, sliced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 T butter
  • 2 T paprika
  • ½ t salt
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 1 T flour
  • 8 oz. no fat sour cream
Instructions
  1. Saute chicken in canola until pink disappears, remove from pan and set aside (about 10 mins).
  2. In the same pan, saute onion in butter until translucent (about 5 mins).
  3. Season with paprika and salt.
  4. Add chicken stock, bring to a slow boil and then reduce heat to simmer.
  5. Mix flour with sour cream and then whisk into chicken stock mixture.
  6. Add chicken back to the skillet and continue to cook until chicken is heated through and the sauce thickens slightly.

Kath’s quote: “Its all about quality of life and finding a healthy balance between work and friends and family.” -Phillip Green

Love-that is all.

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