Food Musings

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

Stella’s at Plug In – Portage Ave.


Earlier this summer, I taught a class for the University of Winnipeg in the Buhler Building on Portage Ave.  I only ventured out once to try and pick up some lunch and ended up coming back late for my own class.  So I was excited to see that a restaurant had leased the space and had started building and installing equipment.  Now I will admit that the noise of construction was sometimes difficult to lecture over top of.  So I was eager to reap the benefits of the distraction that my students and I suffered through.

I had dropped in once previously to pick up a coffee and had a glance at the menu.  I knew that I would return because the dinner prices were so reasonable and they had my favourite Chilean Merlot as their house wine.

I chose the pesto shrimp linguine with slivers of red pepper.

My companion selected this gorgeous curried chicken.   

Stella’s service was very caring.  Both of our dinners were exceptional tasting and really well priced for a downtown dinner date.  Many fellow diners were on their way to the Jets Game that night but stopped first for a bowl of chili and toast.  I also saw a number of  “all day” breakfasts leaving the kitchen and heading to the tables of hockey fans.  I’ll have to keep Stella’s in mind for a pre-game supper on a cold winter night. 

Stella's Cafe at Plug In on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “Wish I had time for just one more bowl of chili.”-Last words of Kit Carson



I have known Chef Osten since he was a toddler.  The family were good friends of good friends of ours and we would gather for kids’ birthday parties and the like.  More recently, his Mom and I have become close friends and I have gotten to follow his culinary pursuits from a very unique perspective-through the recounting of his proud parents.  Born into a family of creative persons, it is no surprize that Osten is a creator of art too.  Food art….my favourite kind.

I have tasted the fare from the Broadway Wasabi location as it is available at many retail outlets but I have never had the pleasure of dining there.  I always admired the courage and foresight that they opened on West Broadway way before the area began its regentrification.  I’ve also never had the experience of visiting Wasabi’s Osborne location.

So even though I can’t compare locales, Wasabi-Sabi is stunning with its soothing decor and comfortable seating.

Laura (one of my lunch dates) is my Asian food mentor-together we have created an “A” list of dim sum items, Vietnamese bowls and what little I know about Thai cuisines, she has taught me.  So I was content to sit back and let her do the selecting.

We started with a house blend of green teas which were thirst quenching and retained a nutty quality. 

Next up were the mandatory edaname beans. 

Then came Spicy Mango Prawns. Tempura shrimp and mango tossed with an unusual take on chili sauce-it was creamy.  I even ate the bed of greens and the crunchy wrapper that they were place upon.

We couldn’t get enough of the tempura shrimp and selected it again in the White Dynamite.  This time the shrimp was enhanced by avocado, spicy mayo, tobiko (fish roe), sesame seeds and sprouts.  All this was wrapped in a thin radish crepe-hence the white take on a dynamite roll.  A sushi newbie dining with us, loved the surprize of the fish eggs popping in her mouth.

Prairie Fire arrived on the same platter.  A spicy tuna, wrapped with grilled vegetables and tempura for crunch.

We could have been done at this point but my sushi mentor didn’t want me to go without the piece de resistance-East meets West.  Laura knows how much I love both lobster and salmon.  This roll is the exquisite  marriage of both spicy, succulent east coast lobster and west coast salmon.  To add sweetness and creaminess, mango and avocado are wrapped inside a soy sheet and yuzu (a citrus flavour) infused tobiko sits on top. 

To describe all the choices as delicious would be such a gross understatement.  We feasted on them with our eyes and tasted them slowly and with reverence.  Art-no other way to describe it!

 Wasabi Sabi on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “All art is autobiographical; the pearl is the oyster’s autobiography.”-Federico Fellini

Texas Roadhouse-Grand Forks


Sister #3 and D know the best way to prepare back ribs.  They must be slowed cooked with just a little bit of moisture so that the fat melts away and they fall off of the bone.  So when Sister #3 says she knows a really good place for ribs-she knows what she’s talking abut. 

When we arrived at The Texas Roadhouse for a late dinner and there was still a wait for the dining room.  A gang of handsome (somewhat tipsy) guys encouraged us to stay with their declarations of great food and so we did.  The wait was not long at all and as soon as we sat down, we dug into the peanut pails and cold beer. 

Not long after the just made buns arrived to tide us over.  I was not so inclined to these as I have a salty/savoury tooth and these were sweet and then accompanied by a cinnamon/sugar butter.

A wonderful salad arrived next with chopped egg and grated cheddar-almost a meal in itself.


 When the platters of ribs and loaded baked potatoes arrived, we were glad that we still had appetites. The ribs were bursting with flavour and oh-so tender.  I was happy that we had only ordered half racks ( and I still took half home for a “heading-home” snack the next day).

Me and my carbs…the baked potato was extraordinary.  How could this be-it was just a potato, you’re thinking?  The skin had been rubbed with olive oil before baking so instead of just enjoying the chees/ bacony inside, I loved the crunchy skin as well.  And we all know that the skin is where the vitamins are, right? 

Our server was a university student transplanted from the Twin Cities.  He was enthusiastic about his work and taking care of us.  When we saw staff walking around with the declaration: “I love my job” on the back of their t-shirts, we believed them.

Would love to try the rotisserie chicken next time but the hand cut steaks look pretty tempting too.

Texas Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “Was I catching the contagious enthusiasm of this Canadian? Was I truly euphoric at the sight of fresh-grilled pork?”-Professor M. Aronnax in Jules Verne’s ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea’

Mexican Village-Grand Forks


Five of us travelled together to NYC last summer and we were trying to recreate the fun times with another stateside adventure.  Now Grand Forks is no New York City (sorry Grand Forkians, Winnipeg ain’t no Toronto either), but we still managed to have a nice rest, great shopping, fun times and good food.

We were heading for Mi Mexico to find that it was no longer open.  We’d done Paradiso, many times before so we landed at Mexican Village.  The waitress glanced at the clock over our heads as we arrived (it was 8:40) so we knew that we were being considered fashionably late diners. 

Cold Coronas and our food was out in a flash and that was lovely as we had worked up a thirst and an appetie at Gordman’s.

 A couple of sisters had the combination platter,

another fajitas

and I the chicken tortilla soup (very different from the recipe that I make in that I couldn’t make out the chicken and I’m not accustomed to a cream base) 

and a seafood enchilada (if you call crab flavoured pollock seafood). 

We were surprized that we got our choice of gravies because we didn’t recall gravy on anything when we dine in Mexico-mole sauce yes, gravy no.  It was explained to us that gravies were actually sauce variations.  Must be a North Dakota thing….

Mexican Village on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “I come from a home where gravy is a beverage.”-Erma Bombeck



My children are very innovative gift givers and they know that I treasure experiences more than things.  This year for Mother’s Day, my youngest gave me a Mother/Daughter Cooking class.  I eagerly anticipated our samosa making adventure which she booked through the City of Winnipeg Leisure Guide.

Unfortunately, I did not know in advance that I would require special permission to take photos during the class and so all I have are the end results.  The photos would have been fun because all 11 of us took turns rolling out, shaping, filling and browning 2 varieties of samosas along with the preparation of Tamarind Chutney.  Some of us were more proficient at this process than others-but they all turned out delicious in the end.

I can’t wait to make these for a special event.  Like perogies or Chinese dumplings there are many steps and a considerable time commitment, not something you would just whip up for a snack. 

Here are the recipes that we used:

Potato with Pea filling

4-5 large potatoes

4 T oil

1 t cumin seeds

2 t salt

1 t red chili powder

1 t roasted cumin powder

1 T fresh ginger (grated) or powder

2 handfuls of frozen green peas

1/2 c lukewarm water

Half boil potatoes, strain & let cool.  When cooled, dice into small pieces.  Heat the 4 T of oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Add the cumin seeds & fry until they are lightly browned.  Remove from heat; add ginger to fried cumin , mixing well.  Place the pan back on medium heat, add potatoes & other ingredients, mix well, then add water, cover & let cook for approximately 20 minutes,  When vegetables are soft add the roasted cumin powder, mix well, remove from heat & let cool (make sure all the water is evaporated). 

Meat with Mixed Vegetable filling

400 grams ground meat, we used chicken

2 c mixed vegetables

1/2 thinly sliced onion

1 small thinly sliced tomato

2 T cooking oil

1 T grated ginger

1/2 t garlic powder

1 1/2 t chili powder

1 1/2 t salt

1 t cumin powder

1/2 c water

1 t roasted cumin


Heat oil in frying pan on high heat.  Add onion and chili powder,  Reduce to medium heat when onions are limp, add tomato and stir fry.  Add ground meat; mix very well with onion and tomato.  When water has evaporated, let cool on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes.  Make sure all water has evaporated sand meat is fully cooked.  Add roasted cumin powder and mix well.  Set aside mixture to cool.

The Dough

3 c flour

1/2 c cooking oil

1 t salt

1 cup warm water (added 1 T at a time if mixture is too dry)

Mix oil & salt in flour.  Slowly add water to the flour, knead well to make dough.  When this is ready, form into 12 balls.  Using a little flour on a cutting board or clean level counter top, roll it out to thin round circles.  Cut circles in half.  Take one half in your hand, close the edges together of the cut side with a little water.  You should now have a cone in your hand.  Put 1 T of the filling inside the cone.  Using a little water close the open edges tightly.  Continue the same process with the rest.  Heat the oil in a deep fryer on high heat.  Once the oil is heated reduce to medium heat and place 4-5 samosas in the oil.  Fry on medium heat until golden brown.  Drain oil.  Makes 24 pieces.


Tamarind Chutney

1/2 c tamarind concentrate

1 c sugar

1 t salt

1/4 c cooking oil

1 t chili powder

1 c water

1 t roasted cumin powder

Mix all the ingredients (except for the cumin powder) together in a saucepan on medium heat.  Bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Once a thick consistency has been reached the sauce is finished.  Remove from the heat & add 1 t roasted cumin powder.  Let cook & serve with samosas.  You can store the sauce in a jar in your fridge for a few months. 

Kath’s quote: “Playwrights are like men who have been dining for a month in an Indian restaurant. After eating curry night after night, they deny the existence of asparagus.“-Peter Ustinov

 Thank you Boo-love you forever.




posted under Appetizers | 2 Comments »
« Older EntriesNewer Entries »