Food Musings

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

Mom-We’re Having a Bake Sale at School

October27

There was a time when these words would strike terror into my heart.  This was the “super”-mom time in my life when I worked outside the home and had three very busy kids that needed my lunch making, teaching assistance and chauffeur skills.  I was also overly concerned about what other people would “think” about my contribution and would work hard to find the perfect treat-nutritous yet practical and delicious. 

I have mellowed as I have matured and was flattered when Daughter #2 asked for my contribution to help raise funds to get her to a university conference on social justice and humanitarian assistance.  I peered in the pantry, saw that we had coconut, raisins, pecans and lots of brown sugar and made a bold decision-butter tart slice it is! 

I am fond of mixing ingredients up but not of rolling, shaping, pressing, etc. etc.  I love recipes where you get out your biggest mixing bowl-stir it all up and pour it in a pan.  Such is the case with these (recipe is very easy to double):

Crust:

1 c butter

2 c flour

1/4 c sugar

pinch salt

Filling:

1/4 c butter

3 beaten eggs

2 c brown sugar

1 T baking powder

pinch salt

3/4 c coconut

1 t vanilla

1 c raisins (I always soak mine first)

1 T flour

1 c coarsely chopped pecans

Crust

Cut butter into dry ingredients with pastry blender until crumbly,  Press into an ungreased 9 x 13 pan.

Filling:

Melt butter, add eggs and remaining ingredients.  Mix and pour over crust,  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Cut when cool.

I left them uncut for Daughter #2 to decide if she wanted to package them up by the half dozen or cut and wrap big individual pieces.  Turns out that the way to go now a days is the latter-you sell a large wedge to have with coffee and ask for a donation.  They made close to $300 this way!  That’s my girl.

Kath’s quote:“Eat butter first, and eat it last, and live till a hundred years be past.”- Old Dutch proverb

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Dinner at Deseo Bistro

October26

D was off on a business trip, so it seemed a perfect night to join a good friend for dinner at Deseo Bistro.  I had recently been there for lunch and was salivating over the dinner offerings even then.  We sat upstairs again and the room that was filled with afternoon sun was now warm and cozy, with soft glowing candles and lights from the street.

The only trouble with dining while D was away, was that he was in Banff and asked to borrow my camera because he had never been there before.  This was the panorama outside his hotel window and I am glad that he got a chance to capture it.

 

But drat, my photos taken on my phone, simply to not capture the beauty of the dishes that were set before us because Chef Scott Bagshaw is truly an artiste.

We started with these BC Manila Clams tossed with pancetta, brussel sprout kim chee, chilis, garlic and a splash of white wine.  Served with grilled bread to soak up all of the delicious nectars.

We then shared this Carmelized Pork Belly that was topped with crispy chicken skin and sour pear.  This “loaf” of meat sat upon a flageolet of succotash.  The meat was sublime with the fat melting away like a smooth olive oil.

We had no room for dessert but enjoyed the comfortable visit over an exquisite Riesling that was suggested by Alejandro Moro, the part owner and manager of Deseo.  He also gave us a quick tour of the loving renovations made to the restaurant to become their new home.

Deseo Bistro on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Pork fat rules!” – Emeril Lagasse

Italian Pie

October24

Perhaps the food with the potential to hold the most love is… pie.  D and I sing a silly song about pie that goes like this:  “gonna make a pie from heaven above, gonna be filled with (butterscotch) love”.  In the song, butterscotch can be changed to any ingredient and in this case it would be sausage and spinach and ricotta cheese.

When I am writing here, I refer to the beau of Daughter #2 as the Frenchman.  I know that he is proficient in the kitchen because he whips up amazing things at our place with whatever ingredients he can muster up in the fridge.

This dinner was an invitation to see his newly shared house.  We had set the date more than a week in advance and I think that he used the entire time to plan the evening.  This meant calling his Mom back home for a family recipe, taking the bus to shop and borrowing pans and bowls from our place. 

The meal itself was absolutely wonderful and you could literally taste the love and attention that was baked into the main course pie.  Here is his Mom’s recipe.  It was in my email “in” box even before I had arrived home. 

Italian Pie

The crust:

5 c of flour

¾ c of butter

pinch of salt

1 egg

½ c of sour cream or plain yogurt

½ T of  lemon juice

1 t of sugar

Mix flour, butter and salt together.  Add the egg, the sour cream, lemon juice and sugar. Delicately mix together and add warm water until a ball can be formed. Make sure you don’t work the dough to much or it will become hard when it bakes. Roll out.  Makes enough for the bottom, sides and lid.

Pie:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix 5 eggs, 500 gr of Ricotta cheese, 1 c of Mozarella cheese and 1 c of Parmesan cheese.  Take the skin off of 3-4 Italian sausages, break apart and brown in pan. Cool and add to mix. Add 1 cup of defrosted and drained frozen spinach, and 1 c of Italian ham like Prosciutto. Add the mix in the pie crust and place the upper crust on top. Put of a bit of yellow egg on lid and Parmesan. Bake for 1 hour. 

He even sent extra pie home with us to feed Daughter #3 who is under the weather.  Yes, he’s a keeper.

Kath’s quote:  “Pie, pie, gonna make a pie, gonna make a pie with a heart in the middle.” -from The Waitress

Lunch at La Cantina de Mona Lisa

October19

The media business is a close community.  Many people that I work with, I have known for almost twenty years.  In some cases, I am now collaborating with a second generation of media representatives.  But it is highly unusual when virtually 100% of persons gathered at a restaurant for lunch are from one business community.   Such was the case though, at La Cantina de Mona Lisa.  Hot 103, QX 104, CJOB, Power 97, CTV TV and Global TV were all represented by the tables in the room.  This all proves the point that not only am I an appreciator of good food but so are the people that I call friends.

When you travel in Italy and it is around the lunch hour, you might walk over to a market and buy a small, fresh loaf of bread.  You would break this open and find yourself at the cheese truck and request a creamy portion of unripened mozarella.  Continuing along to the meat stall you might ask for a wavy, thin slice of poscuitto ham.  Before you were done, a slice of grilled eggplant or red peppers may be to your liking so you would search those out.  In the end, you would have the freshest, sandwich, piled high with the best ingredients.

This is I think, the experience that Joe Grande is trying to recreate for his customers at La Cantina.  My sandwich was full of sliced chicken breast and a sauteed green vegetable that was think spinach but had a name like broccoli.  Help me out here folks-what would it be called?  It was served on a huge wedge of water bread.  I asked for an add on of grilled eggplant and was in heaven.

One of my lunch dates eats gluten free and she remarked that the same sandwich, when made with their gluten free bread-was the best gluten-free sandwich she had ever had at any Winnipeg restaurant.

My second date had five, cute little buns stuffed with a spicy sausage and cheese.  She called them her pac-man sandwiches.  We also ordered a Bocconcini and tomato salad to share.  Each of these ready to serve offerings are the flat price of $5. and an add on like the eggplant is an additional $2.  What a deal!

Joe was willing to let me behind the counter to photograph what was left of their lunch offerings (they make small amounts, so that everything is freshly made each day)-a Calabrese sausage sandwich and a anti-pasto plate.

When Joe let me into the kitchen there was one staff member, thinly slicing proscuitto ham and another making fresh pasta.

 

These are the trays that the pasta dries on.

Buon appetito!

Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “When you become a good cook, you become a good craftsman, first. You repeat and repeat and repeat until your hands know how to move without thinking about it.”-Jacques Pepin

Viva for Vermicelli Bowls

October18

It must seem as if I go out for lunch an awful lot but the truth is that I do not.  Because I work from home, I’m able to grab some left overs or heat up some soup and so I likely go out for lunch, less often than someone who works downtown.  When I have lunch out though, I make sure that I get somewhere that I have never been before (or not lately at least). 

Such is the case with Viva Vietnamese Restaurant at the corner or Sargent and Spence Street.  I’ve enjoyed dining at Viva for what seems like decades but I have never gotten to go for lunch.  On this day, when I arrived at 11:45 the dining room was already full of business and trades people who obviously know of Viva’s popularity with the lunch crowd.  

 

When my lunch dates arrived, they were craning their necks to see what was in all of the steaming bowls that were being whizzed past our table.  I led the way by ordering a large ($1.50 more) grilled pork vermicelli bowl. 

I was followed by an order of the same with grilled pork and shrimp.

And then a third “deluxe” with pork, shrimp, spring roll, etc. 

Sorry, I must admit that I wasn’t paying very close attention by this point because we always have so much to get caught up on when I am with this particular couple of girlfriends who also happen to be business associates.  So when we are not talking kids, and house renos and winter holidays, we actually talk about projects that we are working on together.  

We started with rice rolls that were so delicious with their dark peanut sauce that we were tempted to request another order.  Luckily, we saved ourselves to dig into the lunch bowls.

Viva’s version is not loaded with vegetables as I have enjoyed it elsewhere, but is delicious none the less.  Lots of protein and soft, fluffy noodles and without a trace (or so it seems) of fat.  The sauce that was served along side,  was a light chili sauce.  I am accustomed to having the dish with a sweetened fish sauce, but I enjoyed this version tremendously.

The gentleman serving us was all alone and very busy.  But between his efficiency and that of the kitchen, the lunch crowd was in and out in no time and well taken care of in between.

Viva Restaurant Vietnamese & Chinese Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:“There are may of us who cannot but feel dismal about the future of various cultures. Often it is hard not to agree that we are becoming culinary nitwits, dependent upon fast foods and mass kitchens and megavitamins for our basically rotten nourishment.”-M.F.K. Fisher

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