Food Musings

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

Top Ten Reasons Why I Love Canadian Beef

May19

According to Wikpedia,  Letterman’s Top Ten List  was created as a way of mocking the lists which appeared in People magazine.  My list is not a mockery…

10.  Buying local means supporting the cattle industry right here in Manitoba-I come from a long line of agrologists and grew up wandering around the livestock section of the Royal Winter Fair in Brandon with my Dad.

9.  We are a busy, busy family and as long as I remember to take a couple of cuts out of the freezer in the morning, beef is quick and easy to prepare.

8.  We love The Keg Steakhouse and Bar.  D and I met there many years ago and we go back on a regular basis to catch up with old friends and sink our teeth into a baseball sirloin or their melt in your mouth prime rib.

7.  Ground Beef is so economical.  I buy the value packs and then subdivide it into chubs for the freezer.  The less lean grades are less expensive and we have a healthy (and frugal) manner to prepare it.  I saute up garlic, onions etc, in a separate pan from the ground beef.  Once the beef is finished cooking, I place it is a colander and rinse it with a spray of very hot water.  The fat is washed away and then I tossed it with the veggies that have been cooked up separately.

6.  Since there is a diabetes risk in my family, I am trying to consumer more protein and less sugars and carbohydrates.  Beef is a perfect protein source.

5.  I am just slightly anemic and beef is a fabulous way to boost up my iron-I even feel less tired after I eat it.

4. We honour so many special occasions with beef.  From the Superbowl to

the Academy Awards.

I got to celebrate  Mother’s Day with two families this year.  On Saturday, D invited the kids over to hang with me in our yard that was full of blossoming trees.  The next day, I was served up another Mother’s Day dinner at the cottage.  This one was lovingly prepared for my sister and I by her husband: smashed potatoes, grilled asparagus, mushrooms and steak-oh my!

3.  Steak & Toppers-Last year for my birthday D prepared medium rare New York steaks and then one topping of a balsamic tomato salsa and chevre and another of grilled shrimp in a hollandaise sauce.  My birthday is coming up soon-what beef dish will he make me this time?

2.  Teriyaki Beef Kabobs-they were requested by Daughter #3 for her birthday supper this weekend.  D is going to make the sauce from scratch this evening and marinate them for 24 hours before skewering them with veggies for the grill.

And the number 1 reason why I love Canada Beef (drum roll please):  I was the recipient of their scholarship to attend Eat Write Retreat in Washington, DC earlier this month.  I learned so much from the presenters and other participants and can’t wait to return next year!  A life changing experience for me…

Kath’s quote: “Beef is the soul of cooking.”-Marie-Antoine Carême

Daughter #2’s Favourite Salads

May17

While I am on the topic of Daughter #2’s birthday, the Frenchman totally surprized her with a birthday barbecue dinner where we assembled for our mandatory Sunday night family supper and a number of her bestie old friends and new school friends were also invited.

You know that you have done a pretty reasonable job raising a child when you see the people that she has chosen to surround herself with.  Every single one of them: engaging, intelligent, creative, demonstrative and authentic.  They all have hearts for social justice on a global scale-this generation is about to change the world!

But I digress.  I volunteered to make her favourite salads knowing that some guests might need to fill up more than others since it was a pot luck invite.  Here are the recipes:

French Potato Salad

2 lbs. small red and white new potatoes

hard cooked eggs to your liking, we start with 4

3 T chopped fresh parsley

2 T chopped fresh dill

4 green onions, chopped

1/3 c finely chopped red onion

Dressing:

1/3 c red wine vinegar

3/4 olive or canola oil

2 t Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced

freshly ground black pepper

Boil potatoes until just tender.  Drain and cut according to your liking (various preferences in our family from almost mashed to almost whole).  Hard boil eggs for 12 mins., cool, peel and slice.  Place both into bowl with remaining salad ingredients.  Combine dressing ingredients, mix well and toss with warm potatoes.  Add freshly ground pepper.  Salad should marinate in dressing for several hours in refrigerator.

Rotini & Mediteranean Veggie Salad

2 c uncooked rotini

12 asparagus spears chopped into 2 inch pieces

Dressing:

3 T white wine vinegar

1 T grainy dijon mustard

1 T honey

2 T coarsely cut fresh dill

1 tsp finely cut capers

1 garlic clove, smashed & chopped

S&P

1/3 olive or canola oil

 

1 c halved cherry or grape tomatoes

1/4 c pitted & coarsely chopped kalamata olives

1 T roasted pine nuts

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and add rotini.  Cook for about 15 minutes until el dente, adding asparagus to pot during last 2 mins.  Drain both in a colander, rinse with cold water and set aside.

To Prepare dressing:

In blender or food processor, combine vinegar, mustard, honey, dill, capers, garlic, S&P.  Slowly add oil and continue to emulsify.

Place pasta and asparagus in large bowl and toss with dressing.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving and gently toss in tomatoes, olives and pine nuts.

There were other lovely treats contributed to the dinner including Sam’s amazing sushi and J2’s Chocolate Trifle with real (not instant) chocolate pudding-oh my!

Kath’s quote: “To remember a successful salad is generally to remember a successful dinner; at all events, the perfect dinner necessarily includes the perfect salad.”-George Ellwanger

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Casa Grande Revisited

May15

With so many amazing restaurants on my must try list in Winnipeg, it is rare that we dine at a single place with regularity, even if it is one of our favourites.  But since Casa Grande is the special spot of Daughter #2,  she selected it for her family birthday celebration.

We all started with their delicious house salad again and the Frenchman shared his olives with us-can not get enough of them!

I choose exactly the same dish as my last visit-the seafood spaghetti.  This time I switched things up and ordered the scallops.  The scallops were succulent and meaty and added more protein than the baby clams.  The kitchen also obliged me by going really easy on the olive oil and the juice of the scallop was enough to make every twirled forkful, a delight.

The birthday girl ordered the same dish that her Dad had ordered previously so I did not take another photo of it.  It looked exactly the same as when D ordered it-fancy that.

D selected this loaf of lasagna.  Hearty and authentic was the way he described the dish.  His portion was so huge that he enough to share with Daughter #1.

The Frenchman chose the penne. He tried so hard to leave a helping on his plate for his lunch the next day but that proved to be difficult and he was drawn by one more forkful on repeated occasions.

Daughter #1 choose the gnocchi and was the only one not overly impressed.  It was not that there was anything wrong with the dish, just that when she has selected gnocchi at other restaurants, she has enjoyed it more.  She put this down to misordering and will simply select something different next time around.  D was willing to share his lasagna with her.  Unfortunately for her, I was enjoying my spaghetti too much to offer her any (I am not always a perfect Mom…).

The servers at Casa Grande who we are getting to know us quite well by now, overheard us making reference to a birthday and brought out a dish of ice cream (and five spoons) to celebrate.

Casa Grande Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kath`s quote: “Once again, my life has been saved by the miracle of lasagna.”-‘Garfield’ (Jim Davis)

Casa Grande

May14

My husband and I have been together a very long time and he is a very thoughtful partner.  Anticipating a week that he was going to be out of town, he asked me out for a Saturday night date.  It was a tough decision to figure out where we wanted to go.  We have a long list of  “want to” visits.

Every so often, we get a yearning for real Italian food.  By “real” I mean, not the Olive Garden version, that was in fact lined up out the door as we drove by.  There are many authentic Italian restaurants in the city but one of our favourites has become Casa Grande on Sargent Ave.  Our youngest was jealous when she heard our destination because it is her and the Frenchman’s “place”.

We were escorted to the second floor which I recall from long ago being more like an eating balcony.  Our server was over quickly to light our Chianti bottle candle and offer us the menu.

The Frenchman had suggested their house wine which was Giacondi Sangiovese Merlot.  I am not accustomed to many Italian merlots but found it to be a lovely dry, earthy flavour to offset our menu selections.

I started with the antipasto plate which was little morsels of capicola, salami, a firm and nutty cheese, tomato, olives and an extra dose of marinated eggplant with a liberal sprinkling of red pepper flakes.

D had a light Italian salad including shards of what I thought might be the same cheese.

Both were served with garlic toast that we used like crostini as we placed our antipasto treats atop of the crunchy, garlicky bread.

I knew that I was going to select the seafood spaghetti but did not know if I should choose the mussels, clams, scallops or shrimp.  As I often like to do, I let our server decide for me and I was delighted by the buttery fresh clams that arrived still on the half shell.  The unadorned spaghetti with a simple garlic and olive oil toss was perfectly satisfying without being overwhelming.

D on the other hand, might have been overwhelmed. Daughter #2 suggested that he order the carbonara and even though it was not the tradition recipe that we are accustomed to, he was delighted with the addition of a cream sauce, mushrooms and caramelized onions.  The pancetta added richness to an already rich concoction but he loved every single bite.  It did mean that we had to go for a long walk when we got home, but that was not an issue.  It was a beautiful evening, the sun was setting and we love our neighbourhood.

Casa Grande Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Kaths quote: “Everything you see I owe to spaghetti.”-Sophia Loren

Read A Good Book Lately?

May10

Cookbooks are an interesting medium.  I love getting them as gifts.  I will set aside time to pour over them and then my imagination takes over: which guests will I prepare it for? when shall I try the dish on my family? do I have the ingredients in the house right now? etc. etc.

My cookbook collection is so well used that I now have to keep many of the worn and torn books in cardboard magazine holders on my bookshelf (which is actually the space around my micro-wave when I converted the first humongous one that we received as a wedding gift to the more practical and streamlined variety of today).  In truth, I would like to eliminate my microwave altogether and fill the entire space with cookbooks, but that is another story…

Over the years I have had my favourites, in the 80’s I cooked almost entirely from the Best of Bridge Series and still refer to them from time to time.  In the 90’s my cooking “lightened” up and Canadians Bonnie Stern and Anne Lindsay became my premiere resources.  During these times I also subscribed to Time Life  Cookbook Series and had two entire collections.  But like encyclopedias, their usefulness seemed to diminish.  More recently, my largest collection is of Jamie Oliver books. The first one was a gift to me by J1 and J2 (my son and daughter-in-law).  I love when my kids try to teach their old momma new tricks.

I can’t get rid of a beloved cookbook-they become like family photo albums for me.  Like a collection of memories, I believe they deserve a permanent position on my bookshelf.

This weekend and Eat Write Retreat, I was gifted with three books.  The first was written by Michael Natkin and contains vibrant vegetarian recipes.  Michael spent part of the weekend with us and was an inspiration to us all.  I am trying to adopt the attitude that if most of  the world can cook creatively with beans,  lentils and more veggies, then so can I.

One of the weekend’s creators-Robyn Webb is the author of the second book: The Diabetes Comfort Food Cookbook.  This one is close to my heart for two reasons.  Comfort food is what I am all about, in fact, I am learning to find other means of comfort (like walks in the park and bubble baths) so that I will turn to food for solace, less often.  In addition, diabetes is rampant for us in Manitoba and has penetrated into my own family.  So far I have kept it bay and intend to continue to do so.  Interestingly, when my youngest flipped through my new cookbooks, she found this one to be the most appealing.  So Robyn is successfully enticing a new generation of foodies.

The last one that I lugged home from Washington in my carry on bag (for fear that the weight of my books would necessitate an extra checked baggage charge)  is a collection of recipes by bloggers with this dedication: “To food bloggers everywhere.  Thanks for leading us back into our kitchens”.  This is a collection of easy weeknight meals.  Midweek cooking is everyone’s challenge isn’t it?  Putting wholesome and nutritional meals in front of our families when we are just dashing in the doors ourselves, can be a frustrating experience without some great resources (like this one).  A collection of bloggers recipes….I think that I maybe onto something!

Kath’s quote: “When treasures are recipes they are less clearly, less distinctly remembered than when they are tangible objects. They evoke however quite as vivid a feeling-that is, to some of use who, considering cooking an art, feel that a way of cooking can produce something that approaches an aesthetic emotion. What more can one say? If one had the choice of again hearing Pachmann play the two Chopin sonatas or dining once more at the Cafe Anglais, which would one choose?”-Alice B. Toklas

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