Food Musings

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

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.

Bikinis and Margaritas

September12

You are truly blessed if you have someone in your life that will virtually guarantee a fabulous time if you are invited to their home.  My friend Laura and her husband Allan are such people.  And knowing that they love hosting as much as their friends benefit from their hospitality, is like a double blessing.  Their comfortable home is perfect for entertaining, especially when the guest of honour, whose upcoming nuptials we were celebrating, requests a Bikinis and Margaritas evening.

Allan had the blender and freshly cut strawberries set up when we arrived.  He was offering Pink Bikini Margaritas or traditional lime versions.  Seeing as though a cocktail is the closest way I am going to be a associated with a pink bikini, I opted for the former-a delicious way to start the evening.

Laura’s Shrimp Cocktail

We were an assembly of old friends and were comfortable to perch on the stools in front of their cooking island.  I don’t know whether we started with the Sopa de Lima or Mexican Shrimp Cocktail and my photos do not give me any hints as to the order.  (Good thing I stopped with a single margarita).  Let’s say it was the shrimp.

Shrimp Ceviche at the Fisherman’s Cop-op on Isla Mujeres

Laura’s version is the closest thing that I have tasted to the ones that we dream about from the little seafood restaurants lined up on the sandy beach of Isla Mujeres.

Picus Shrimp Cocktail on Isla Mujeres

I am rambling on about Isla because only Laura knows how to make the Yucatan dishes that I long for.  Someone in Winnipeg should seriously hire this talented woman to fashion their Mexican menu for them…..but I digress.

Here is Laura’s Mexican Shrimp Cocktail recipe:

Mexican Shrimp Cocktail
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Cooked shrimp are chilled in a spicy tomato-juice cocktail.
Ingredients
  • lbs. cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 T crushed garlic
  • ½ c finely chopped red onion
  • ¼ c fresh cilantro,chopped
  • 1½c tomato and clam juice cocktail
  • ¼ c ketchup
  • ¼ c fresh lime juice
  • 1 t hot pepper sauce sauce, or to taste
  • ¼ c prepared horseradish
  • salt to taste
  • 1 ripe avocado-peeled, pitted and chopped
Instructions
  1. Place shrimp in a large bowl.
  2. Stir in garlic, red onion and cilantro.
  3. Mix in clamato juice, ketchup, lime juice, hot pepper sauce and horseradish.
  4. Season with salt.
  5. Gently stir in avocado.
  6. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hrs.
  7. Serve in one large bowl or ladle into individual bowls.

Everything about this recipe was so delicious that I poured the nectar onto taco chips, so as not to miss a single taste.

Kath’s quote: “To make people who have no appetite eat, to make the wit of those who have it sparkle, to enable those who want these qualities to find them — this is the supreme science of a gastronome-host.”-Lucien Tendret

Love-that is all.

Speaking of Squash

September11

D is working from the cottage today and I am a little bit jealous.  I have no reason to be,  as he was underneath the cottage early this morning, disconnecting our current plumbing, while I was sound asleep in our cozy bed.  But I am envious about the idea of working from the cottage in September.  So I have done the next best thing and set up on our little back deck in the city and if this drizzle of rain continues, I will move to the gazebo.

But I digress.  I first became acquainted with Pit Pat squash when I found it at the St. Norbert market last autumn. The way I prepared it then did not leave a positive impression upon me but when I received it again as part of my Blue Lagoon Garden share, I simply roasted it in canola oil to have with Gourmet Mac and Cheese.  I LOVED the taste-more flavourful than zucchini, with a nuttiness and slight acidity not found in other squash.  Now of course, I can’t get enough (like roasted beets this summer).

Kath’s quote: “Square meals, not adventurous ones, are what you should seek.”-Bryan Miller

Love-that is all.

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That’s A Lot of Zucchini!

September10

Fall is not officially here but is certainly in the air.  I know this from a number of events: we stayed in the city this weekend instead of venturing out to our beloved Beach House, J1 and J2 arrived right after church for the first Sunday of NFL, Daughter #2 and the Frenchman unboxed the Settlers game for post supper entertainment, I had a yearning for Gourmet Mac and Cheese for dinner instead of our summer barbeque fare AND I have more zucchini in my house than you can shake a stick at (I wonder where this silly saying comes from).

Recently I have tossed zucchini with onion, garlic, tomatoes, fresh herbs and feta and mixed with pasta, served it grilled with most meals, made pencil sticks out of it and fresh carrots to present to a gang of toddlers, whipped up zucchini brownies and dreamed up zucchini and pesto omelets for yesterday’s brunch.

This recipe seems to be the winner (and good thing because my supply is not yet depleted):

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
This recipe is very accommodating for more than the required shredded zucchini.
Ingredients
  • 1½ c flour
  • ¾ c sugar (I used Truvia baking blend)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ½ t salt
  • 1 beaten egg
  • ½ c canola oil
  • ¼ c milk
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 c shredded zucchini
  • ½-1 c chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a sturdy whisk. Combine wet ingredients with the zucchini being added last to a medium bowl.
  2. Pour the wet ingredients into the large bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix just until completely moistened.
  3. Add chocolate chips and lightly mix again.

I had some left over beer/cream cheese icing in the fridge, so I used I smeared them with this last evening and served them for dessert.  If you eliminated the chocolate chips and added some grated cheese, they could accompany a soup or stew.

Kath’s quote: “The first zucchini I ever saw I killed it with a hoe.”-John Gould

Love-that is all.

Laurent Chapdelaine

September7

A week ago I attended the Funeral Mass for a great man on the Winnipeg restaurant scene.  He had silver hair and was dashingly handsome with a witty sense of humour and an unforgettable laugh.  He drove a truck and no, he was not a delivery person for a food-service company.  He was one of those astonishing men who kept the home fires burning while his wife was a successful restaurant owner and hands on manager.  His wife Joan was one of the first restaurant owner/operators on the Winnipeg scene and in the Keg Restaurant system.  I started at the Garry St. Keg just a short time before her.  I watched her rise through the ranks with her amazing attention to detail, hard work and perseverance.  She could not have done this without a special man at home.

Back in the old Keg days it was like we were family and many of us were-five families in particular: the Chapdelaines, the Furlans, the Reschs, the Grisims and my own.  Many of us worked side by side with our siblings and even our Moms (or in my case my future mother-in-law).  We didn’t all end up in the restaurant business but we learned many fundamentals for business success like loving the hard work, enjoying the celebrations and time to play, all the while keeping an eye on the bottom line.

Last Friday there were three generations of Grisims to mourn alongside three generations of Chapdelaines.  D and I have ignited the hospitality fire in our kids and now J1 is a stellar dining room server at The Keg working for one of Joan and Laurent’s children.  You see two of their five children are the General Managers of the Winnipeg Kegs.  Did I forget to mention this? While Joan was spending all those hours in the hospitality business, she and Laurent raised five children!  At one time or another, all the kids and even one of their grandchildren, all worked in the restaurants.

I am quite sure that you love food and restaurants, otherwise why would you be reading these musings?  So next time you are toasting a restaurant or Chef’s success, remember that behind every Joan there is a Laurent.  Perhaps not so big a person as this man was, with such a booming laugh and such a keen wit but someone to keep it all together at home, none the less.

Kath’s quote: “A married couple who enjoy the pleasures of the table have, at least once a day, a pleasant opportunity to be together.”-Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

Love-that is all.

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