Food Musings

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

Pizza Bianco


I am fascinated by the variety of pizzas in the world.  Indeed, referring to pizza is like referring to a sandwich.  I suppose the variations are endless.  Here’s an excerpt from my favourite food read from over the summer:  “Keeping the Feast” by Paula Butturini.

She writes: “And every Easter Sunday, a totally different sort of pizza, one meant to break the long Lenten fast, appeared on our breakfast table.  It had a double crust like a calzone, but it was flatter and wider, shaped like a foot-long strudel.  My grandmother called it “pizza gain”, and Anglicized version of pizza chine (KEE-nah), which in itself is dialect for pizza ripena, filled pizza.  “Pizza gain” was stuffed with many of the foods that we could not eat during the forty-day Lenten fast: proscuitto crudo, dried sausage slices, fresh runny cheese, and hard grated cheese all mixed together with endless fresh eggs from cousin Josephine’s farm.  We would cut into them on Easter morning and on every subsequent morning until they were gone, a treat so rich that two slim slices would make a meal.  I loved the Russell Stover’s pecan-studded caramel egg that my grandmother arranged to have appear in my Easter basket every year, but I would have traded that egg away in a heartbeat for a whole “pizza gain” of my own.”

We are fond of a pizza variety that doesn’t really taste like pizza at all.  I call it Pizza Bianca because it is made with entirely white ingredients:  Alfredo sauce, chicken, roasted garlic, grated mozzarella and crumbled feta cheese.  I assemble these things on top of a homemade pizza crust, not really caring how thinly I’ve rolled out the dough. 


It makes a great “stand around in the kitchen while eating your supper” dish.  I made it this past weekend when we called upon the Daughter #3 (daughter-in-law)’s folks to help with a painting project at the new house.  In fact, they virtually handled the entire project by themsleves.  As my dear Dad used to say “many hands make light work”.

Kath’s quote: “My idea of feng shui is to have them arrange the pepperoni in a circle on my pizza.”-Unknown

The Nook


We have bought a second house in our old neighbourhood of Wolseley.  Two of our three kids were born in Wolseley before we moved across the river.  One of the fun things about this process is discovering new neighbourhood haunts.  Our first venture was for Sunday brunch and we decided on The Nook.  The placed was jammed and we took that as a good sign.  

The Nook has been there for eons and I have driven by on my route downtown thousands of times.  It was my first visit inside and I was impressed by the comfy booths and rows of windows.  The staff was so pleasant and helpful.  They pour a great cup of coffee.

Parking is not plentiful and it was apparent by the comings and goings that people arrived at the diner on foot.  So it was likely that we were surrounded by our new neighbours and were duly impressed.

Some of us were still in breakfast mode, while others choose from the lunch menu.

Mom #2 (my Mom-in-law) and I had the perfectly cooked easy over eggs with crispy hash browns (they couldn’t guarantee this from the kitchen since they were so swamped).

Daughter #3 ordered blueberry pancakes with a side of bacon and hash browns (that’s my girl!).

The guys had a Denver,

a Reuban

and a Burger and all were well-pleased with their choices.

The Nook Diner on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote: “Your first job is to prepare the soil. The best tool for this is your neighbor’s motorized garden tiller. If your neighbor does not own a garden tiller, suggest that he buy one.”-Dave Barry

Scalloped Oyster Casserole


D works in the food-service industry and every once in a while he comes home with a purchase from a sale when “dead stock” items are sold to staff members when they have not been successfully sold to customers.  Now because I am the daughter of an Agrologist who specialized in livestock, the term “dead stock” is taking some time to get my head around.  But in the mean time, cooking up some of these items are stretching my culinary skills-and that is a good thing.

Last week D came home with a case of frozen oysters on the half shell.  We love oysters and were excited to give them a try but these in their “raw” state did not live up to ones that we have had at Fat Tuesday parties or our visit to New Orleans.  How could they?  The poor little guys were miles away from their natural habitat and our main complaint was their saltiness.  Well they are salt water creatures, for heaven’s sake, it wasn’t their fault. 

So last night I thawed about three dozen and then removed them from their shells.  Even though my recipe suggested that I reserve the oyster juice, I intentionally discarded it and gave the oysters a quick shower in warm water as well.

Then I followed this recipe and ta da, success.

Scalloped Oyster Casserole

1 lb. freshly shucked oysters

1 c cream (I used 1% milk with good success)

1/2 c butter, melted

1/2 t worchestershire sauce (I doubled this as we LOVE worchestershire)

1/4 t salt (I eliminated)

dash of pepper

2 1/2 c crunched soda biscuits (I used Italian bread crumbs to further reduce the sodium)

2 T butter, cut into slivers for topping (I eliminated, thinking that 1/2 c was quite enough)

Generously butter a glass 7 x 11 baking dish (metal will not produce the crusty brown bottom).  Melt butter & add worcherstershire, salt and pepper.  Place a layer of crumbs in bottom of dish, then layer 1/2 the oysters, pour 1/2 of the melted butter mixture over the oysters (stir butter just before or seasonings will have settled).  Repeat the layers one more time.  Dot with cold butter.  Pour cream (or milk) over top and bake uncovered immediately at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until top is browned and crunchy.

Kath’s quote: “As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”-Ernest Hemingway

Bacon Jam-My Latest Obsession


I first tried this crazy concoction this summer at The Keg on a hot dog and have obsessed about it ever since.  A friend made us a jar for our Labour Day Weekend at the beach house.  She also gave Daughter #1 the recipe which I have attempted to secure a couple of times.  When we are together, we get focused on other tasks and then I forget to follow through.  I typically remember that I am recipeless when I am riding down to the main floor of her block in the elevator-drat!  

So I did what everybody else does now a days, I Googled the recipe and know that the one that I have posted here contains most of the same ingredients.

Bacon Jam

1 lb. smoked bacon (or use regular bacon and liquid smoke)

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 medium onion sliced

3 T brown sugar

Tabasco sauce (according to taste)

1 c coffee

1/4 c apple cider vinegar

1/4 c maple syrup

Black pepper to taste

extra water

Fry the bacon in batches until lightly browned and beginning to crisp. Using a light touch, cut into 1″ pieces. Transfer the bacon, onion and garlic into a heavy based cast iron pot and add the rest of the ingredients except for the water. Simmer for 2 hours adding 1/4 of a c of water every 25-30 mins or so and stir. When ready, cool for about 15-20 mins and then place in a food processor. Pulse for 2-3 seconds so that you leave some texture to the “jam”.

Here are the ingredients that I assembled for the sandwich lunch that I made with the precious stuff that weekend: chicken, havarti, portebella mushrooms, grilled peppers, mixed greens, tomatoes and chipata buns.

Ta da!

 Kath’s quote: “And the Quangle Wangle said
To himself on the Crumpetty Tree,–
‘Jam; and Jelly; and bread;
Are the best of food for me!”-
Edward Lear

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Little Saigon


There is something particularly near to my heart about a family run restaurant.  I suppose it is because our kids have been encouraging D to open one of our own and we just have not has the gumption to do so.  There are toddler toys evident at Little Saigon and I got a glimpse of the newest generation when we were there last week.  Apparently Mom and son are the principals. 

Mom took my order for two Vermicelli Bowls to go when I was on my way to meet my own Mom last week.  She asked me on the phone if I wanted an order of spring rolls and when I declined, she said “no, worry, on the house”.

The very next night I was back again and Number One son took care of us.  In fact, when my sisters and I take our Mom out for dinner, he is almost always our waiter.  We go often with Mom, as parking right out the back door is almost always available and the space is very open and accessible. 

On this night D and I were being treated by a good friend of ours to thank us for our previous hospitality.  A case of paying it forward, as it were.  We had an all-inclusive meal for 4: an appetizer, a soup and four main course dishes to share all for one price ($49).  We started off with Salad Rolls with sliced shrimp apparent through the thin rice paper wrapping. 

Vietnamese Spring Rolls are accompanied by a smooth and creamy peanut sauce and once again Number One son declared “they are on the house”.

Next up was Sweet and Sour Soup.  I love all kinds of Vietnamese Pho (soup) but had never sampled this one-absolutely delicious.

The sizzling chicken in satay sauce, declared on the menu that it would be spicy but we did not find it too hot.

We also enjoyed the beef, ginger and green onions.

The combination seafood and BBQ pork is an old favourite.

The star of the evening, for this and occaisions when we take our Mom was the Salt and Pepper Breaded shrimp with the shell off.  The breading is both salty and sweet and we can’t get enough of these.  Even the shreds of green and red pepper that the shrimp are laid upon to serve them, are delectable.

Little Saigon Restaurant on Urbanspoon 

Kath’s quote: ““Food responds to our soul’s dream as to our stomach’s appetite.”-Joseph Delteil

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