Food Musings

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

Apres Tennis Steaks

September19

At 50, D is in better shape than he has been in his life.  He goes to the gym three times a week and plays tennis another 1-2 times.  Last night was one of his mid-week tennis dates.  I had the grill all fired up when they guys arrived, D put down his racket and picked up his tongs.

There were three of us for dinner and I had three different steak cuts ready to go.  One was an inside round with very little visible fat or marbling.  The grain of the meat was very compact and dense and so that morning I had prepared a marinade to add some flavour and tenderness.  I had found the recipe on the Canada Beef website in the recipe section and picked up all kinds of other suggestions and tips while on the site.


Jamaican Jump Up Marinade
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Total time: 
 
I used this to marinate an inside round for 8 hours and a sirloin for ½ an hour. We also basted a rib steak on the grill with it.
Ingredients
  • ¼ c steak sauce (I was out and had to use a BBQ sauce and it worked well)
  • ¼ c strong brewed coffee
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1 T minced ginger root
  • 1 T fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • ½ t allspice
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Whisk together in a small bowl.

The steaks that I had purchased varied in price per kg according to the cut.  What proved to be interesting, to those of you managing a grocery budget and thinking that a regular steak dinner might be too extravagant for your family, is that the steak that was the least expensive turned out to be the taste hit of the dinner.  With marination the inside round was certainly as tender as the sirloin and almost as flavourful as the rib steak.  Sometimes, when you are standing in front of the meat section at the grocery store, this is a tricky decision to make, so consult the Canadian Beef website.  The site puts steaks into grilling vs marinating vs simmering categories, so no matter what the cut or how little you spend, you will always be serving up a flavourful and tender steak.

D sliced all the steaks into medallions and we placed a platter on the table.  Beef can hold its own against other robust flavours and so I also served brown and wild rice pilaf, roasted beets, sauteed Swiss chard and pine nuts and a tomato, cucumber and feta salad with a precious stash of pungent olives that I had purchased while in Ireland this spring.

So in spite of the guys working a full day and then playing over two hours of tennis, they had been fortified to take on another day.

Kath’s quote: “People who like to cook like to talk about food….without one cook giving another cook a tip or two, human life might have died out a long time ago.”-Laurie Colwin

Love- that is all.

 

Chicken Mole-Bikinis & Margaritas Pt 3

September18

Mole Poblano is a popular sauce in Mexican cuisine.  It is prepared with dried chilies,  ground nuts and seeds, spices, Mexican chocolate (which is traditional ground with sugar and cinnamon) and a variety of other ingredients including onions, plantain and garlic.  Because of the labour-intensive nature of the mole, it is often made in large batches for special occasions, such as holidays, birthdays and weddings.  Since we were celebrating upcoming nuptials and because Laura never does back down in the face of a challenge, she lovingly prepared this authentic dish.

Laura gave me two recipes which she indicates that she used in combination for her dish.  This version is from the Food Network and is marked “Easy”. (Doesn’t look easy to me-I typically buy the Dona Maria Mole Sauce at the Mexican grocer).


Chicken Mole
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Laura poached the chicken breasts, placed on a bed of rice and then poured the mole over top at serving time.
Ingredients
  • 1 chicken (3-4 pounds) cut into pieces (Laura used boneless breasts)
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • kosher salt
  • ½ c sesame seeds
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ t anise seeds
  • ¼ t coriander seeds
  • 6 dried quajilo chile peppers
  • 4 dried ancho chile peppers
  • 6 T canola oil
  • ¼ c raisins
  • ¼ c whole almonds
  • ¼ c hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 2 6 inch tortillas torn into pieces
  • 1 2.7 oz. disk of Mexican chocolate, broken into pieces
  • pinch of sugar
Instructions
  1. Place chicken and peppercorns in large pot, cover with water and season with salt.
  2. Bring to a gentle simmer over low heat and cook until tender, about 40 minutes.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and set the cooking liquid aside.
  4. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, tossing until golden, about 5 minutes.
  5. Set aside 2 T for garnish and transfer the rest to the blender.
  6. In the same skillet, toast the cloves, cinnamon stick, and anise and coriander seeds until fragrant, about 3 minutes.
  7. Add to the blender.
  8. Meanwhile, add the raisins, almonds, pumpkin seeds and tortilla pieces to the canola oil and cook, stirring, until the seeds and tortillas are golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  9. Add to the blender along with oil from the skillet and cook, stirring, until the seeds and tortillas are golden brown, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add to the blender along with the oil from the skillet.
  11. Add the softened chilies and puree, pouring 2 to 3 cups of the soaking liquid to make a thick, smooth sauce.
  12. Heat the remaining 2 T canola oil in a large pot over medium heat, Add the chile sauce and fry, stirring until thickened, 5 to 6 minutes.
  13. Add 4 c of the reserved chicken cooking liquid and simmer until the sauce starts to thick, about 20 minutes.
  14. Add the chocolate and simmer, stirring frequently, until the chocolate melts and the sauce reduces, about 20 more minutes.
  15. Add the sugar and season with salt.
  16. Add the chicken pieces to the sauce and warm through over low heat.
  17. Garnish with reserved sesame seeds.

My contribution to the evening was a simple watermelon and feta salad.  I prepared three c of watermelon balls, covered with 1/2 small red onion slices and 1/2 c of crumbled feta and drizzled balsamic vinegar over all.

Kath’s quote (I was searching for Mole quotes and found this one -wrong kind of mole but…): “Their [watermelons] cleansing action you can discover for yourself; just rub them on dirty skin. Watermelons will remove the following: freckles, facial moles, or epidemic leprosy, if anyone should have these conditions.”-Galen (129-216 A.D.)

Love -that is all.

 

Sunday Dinner to end a “Be Well” Weekend

September17

I arrived home from my weekend at Be Well Camp (details of our full itinerary in future posts) hosted by the Manitoba Canola Growers with two expectations: 1) I would have to hustle to get MSD (Mandatory Sunday Dinner) on the table and 2) dinner conversation may focus around what I had learned on my weekend away and that eating more items which had been produced by provincial growers and processors (no matter what the cost) was going to be my new mantra.

Imagine my delight when I walked in the door and was told to go directly to the dining table as dinner was being served.  There were purple and blonde beets from our Blue Lagoon crop share, wild chanterelle mushrooms which had been foraged from the Belair Forest where our beach house is located, wild rice linguine, and live, rope grown mussels simmered in canola oil, a splash of wine and local herbs.  I know, I know the mussels came from PEI but if Manitoba was adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, we would have enjoyed Manitoba mussels instead.

I added two loaves of bread for dipping into the broth produced by the mussels.  One loaf was left over from my weekend breakfast basket which had been assembled by Chef Mary Jane Feekes of Benjamin’s in Selkirk MB and the other had been purchased a top of a hill at the Asessippi Autumn Feast.  The wheat had been milled, formed and baked in 45 minutes right before my eyes.

Our family is crazy about Floating Leaf brand rice blends and pasta that we have been tasting over the summer.  Floating Leaf is a Winnipeg producer of Shoal Lake Wild Rice and the linguine is made from stone ground wild rice flour, durum wheat semolina and farm fresh organic free run eggs. The artisan pasta is thinly rolled and slow dried at room temperature. When handled thusly, the unique nutty flavour of the rice is maintained.

For dessert we had the heavenly heart shaped cookies that had been made for us by the Kracher family of Freefield Organic Farms and pumpkin scones that the Frenchman had just whipped up (recipe in a future post).

I feel so blessed to have been invited on my weekend, but also to come home to a family who already “gets” the importance of from scratch-cooking with the best that Manitoba  has to offer.

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)

Love-that is all.

Magic Sushi 2

September14

We take dining recommendations from everywhere now a day, don’t we?  Newspapers, magazines and on line have all become trusted resources.  But I believe that the best endorsement is still made by a family member.  After all, they understand our likes, dislikes and the importance of food in your daily lives.  So when my nephew recommended “all-you-can-eat” sushi at Magic Sushi 2 (562 Keenleyside) recently, we responded immediately.

Daughter #2 and the Frenchman, who know sushi better than I, cautioned me en route that this place could not possibly serve the exotic maki sushi that we have come to enjoy, at the $10.95 “all-you-can-eat” price.  We were all delighted to be proven wrong.

Won ton soup started us off and even though the dumpling looked mighty lonely in the bowl, the clear broth was surprizingly rich, likely from the inclusion of a shirred egg.  Edaname beans were tossed in a glistening sea salt and Shrimp & Vegetable Tempura came from the appetizer section of the menu.  The latter included sweet potato, onion ring, and thick white potato slices.  Potatoes done any style are my weakness and these were delicious.  The tempura was obviously, carefully watched when plunged into the fryer because the cooking was perfectly timed with not a hint of greasiness.

We initially ordered three rolls:   Dynamite (with shrimp and avocado), Philadelphia (smoked salmon and cream cheese) and Crunch Sake (salmon and tempura vegetable on the inside and additional tempura crunch on the outside).  The ingredients all tasted sparkling fresh and each portion is rolled to order.

We might have stopped here but the “all-you-can-eat” challenge was too thrilling to ignore.  So, we chose another three:  Totally Crazy (deep fried with cheese and assorted fish), Tuna (our only selection from the “Regular” Maki Sushi section) and the Spider (soft shell crab tempura & veggies).

By this time we were more than satiated.  The restaurant interior is calm and clean with lovely, homey touches.  The charm is matched by the smiling, courteous servers who take obvious pride in the restaurants’ offerings.

As with all “all-you-can-eat” establishments there are guidelines that are clearly stated to keep the family in business and ensure that food is not being needlessly ordered and not consumed.  Therefore, a left over charge of $1. per piece is assessed along with the declaration “love food, hate waste”.

Magic Sushi and Wok on Urbanspoon

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

Love-that is all.

Sopa de Lima-Bikinis & Margaritas Part 2

September13

In my humble opinion, the quality of a soup, determines the skill of the cook.  This is one reason why a vichyssoise or a bouillabaisse do not often find their way into many households. This is also true of my favourite Mexican soup-Soupe de Lima (Yucatan Lime Soup).  The balance of the broth, vegetables and chicken must be exactly right along with the trickier ratio of chicken stock and lime juice.  I have posted my version on this site previously.  Believe me, it does not hold a candle to this version.

Laura had everything simmering on the stove as we arrived along with the strips of fried tortillas.  I often cheat on this step and serve it with thin La Cocina tortilla chips on top-passable in a time crunch but going to the extra trouble, like Laura did, is well worth the effort.

She spooned out little bowls so that we wouldn’t fill up.  This made every sip, particularly precious.  I could eat it by the vat…..

Sopa de Lima
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer or Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • ½ c vegetable oil (I would recommend Canola oil)
  • salt
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ t dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 8 c chicken stock or canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 3 limes, juiced (about ⅓ c)
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Instructions
  1. Cut the tortillas into ¼ inch strips.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and, when very hot, fry the tortilla strips, in small batches, until lightly golden and crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Season with salt, to taste.
  5. Repeat until all tortilla strips have been fried.
  6. Set fried tortilla strips aside and reserve the vegetable oil.
  7. Transfer 1 T of the reserved oil to a large saucepan and add the chopped onion, celery, carrot and pepper.
  8. Cover over medium-heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes.
  9. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and Mexican oregano and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  10. Add the tomato and season lightly with salt.
  11. Cook, stirring, until tomato is softened and has released its liquid and the mixture is nearly dry, 4 to 5 minutes.
  12. Add the chicken stock and chicken breasts and bring to a boil.
  13. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
  14. Remove chicken from the soup and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  15. Allow soup to continue simmering.
  16. When the chicken has cooled a bit, shred into bite sized pieces and return to the pot along with the green onions and lime juice.
  17. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through and the soup is piping hot.
  18. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and ladle the soup into wide soup bowls, with a handful or tortilla strips added to each bowl.
  19. Garnish with avocado and cilantro and serve immediately.

Ahh, refreshing and warmly satisfying at the same time.  The only version that I have enjoyed as much as this was concocted by Lynn and Tom McGrath when they owned the beautiful Casa O Restaurant on Isla Mujeres.

I had forgotten that I was a redhead in those days….

I first dined there on my very first trip to Isla Mujeres in 2005,  when the three sisters celebrated Sister #2’s birthday.   Casa O’s added a hint of cinnamon  and fresh mint.  Let me know if you want me to publish this version.  Supposedly it was a favourite of Paul Newman’s!

Kath’s quote: “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”-John Ruskin

Love-that is all.

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