Food Musings

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

Authentic Chinese Food – Sister #3


For the past 6 months I have hosted a young lady from Beijing who is in Winnipeg completing university entrance English at U of W and hoping to be excepted to attend U of M when she is done.  After a visit back to Beijing she brought her Mom with her to Canada for a visit.  It was very important to them that her mom be allowed to cook dinner for me.  I was not sure what to expect as she had always told me that they mostly eat at restaurants and take out and just bought their first ever oven. 

I was pleasantly surprised by the array of delicious dishes that were served.  A lovely broth with peas and spiced pork meatballs, shrimp cooked and served shell on in sauce of just the right mix of sweetness and soy, tomatoes with egg, rice with added cornmeal, finely cut potatoes with bacon.  Everything was great and all tasted so good together.  They told me that this meal was not what would be made for a festival, it was more like what we would serve for Sunday dinner. 

So, now it is my turn. I think I should try to cook something “typically Canadian”.  I’m open to suggestions.  I’ll let you all know how it turns out. 

Kath’s quote:  “The gentle art of gastronomy is a friendly one. It hurdles the language barrier, makes friends among civilized people, and warms the heart.”-Samuel Chamberlain



I tried hard to honour D’s birthday request as he had a yearning for some Mexican flavours and we still have a month before we depart for the turquoise Caribbean.  But we couldn’t get into La Bamba because they do not have wheelchair access (shame on them) but he was more than content to try Hermano’s and their South American fare.

And speaking of wheelchair access-with one quick phone call from the car, the owner was at the accessible entrance to escort us to our table.  He came by again later to teach us that one of our favourite winter holiday dishes-ceviche, was invented in Peru.  He also enthralled us with tales about his frequent trips to Brazil and the story of how he has recreated this Latin approach to dinner for us in Winnipeg.

So the wide open spaces, long tables and boisterous atmosphere is not by accident.  South Americans gather as a family to share their day over an evening meal.  This is the goal of our family too and yet with working late, volunteering, late university classes and trying to fit in some exercise, it rarely happens.  Or shall I say, that it does not occur as often as we would like.

We started by ordering a Chilean Merlot (very familiar) but also found a Chilean Gewurztraminer that was lovely.  I professed my love for D over a bottle of Alsatian Gewurztraminer almost thirty years ago….

We ordered just about everything that wasn’t off season from the Tapas menu and were delighted.  The large bread board was laden with Potato Rosemary Sour Dough, Portuguese Pumpkin Loaf and Onion Jalapeno Corn Bread.  They were all distinctive and we concluded that the corn bread was the hit.  But in all honesty, any bread with a scoop of the spinach & basil pesto, or dunked into the white wine juice from the mussels or the garlic butter which accompanied the shrimp, would be delicious. 

food musings

Of the three Empanada’s that were served, I tasted the Chicken and Sausage-a lovely and savoury concoction in a crunchy wrapper. 

food musings

Pipa Camaroes were served “head on” as we recall eating them on seaside vacations.  I was quite adept at lopping off the head with a sharp knife but our Frenchman guest decided to twist his off with his fingers and was sprayed with a red juice-cacbaca perhaps? 

food musings

The grilled chicken skewers with mango salsa were a nice complement to the other seafood items. 

The Calamari tasted particularly fresh which is unusual in the middle of the prairies in the midst of winter.  The tentacle portion was particularly crunchy in its corn crusting.

food musings

Two of the girls were happy to see that we weren’t going to have to eat 13 pounds of mussels when they misread this on the menu: “13/LB”.  I think D&I could and likely have eaten 13 lbs of mussels in the past, thinking back to our honeymoon on Cape Cod where they were served in a big black cauldron (think the witch scene in McBeth).

We also enjoyed what are simply called “chips” on the menu.  OMGoodness-  hand cut potato chips with just a hint of salt.  And there were lots of folded ones which were extra crunchy.  Does anybody else remember the Mr. Greenjeans days when a version of these were served with every order?

Even though we had brought along our traditional Jeanne’s Banana log birthday cake, we couldn’t resit the Tempura Banana split.  Fried bananas is a family favourite-we even make them for late night, “around the fire-pit” snacks.  This version did not disappoint especially because it was served with Eva’s gelato.  Eva’s original storefront was near the end of our street and became the destination of many summer walks.  We think that their Argentinian recipe is superior to the offerings elsewhere on Corydon as they use “real” ingredients not merely the flavouring and colouring of the real thing.

Hermanos on Urbanspoon

D was delighted with his gifts and was a very contented man.  He deserves it: “Cause he’s good, so good, and he treats (me) like a real man should”-Carrie Underwood

love, love will keep us together

Healthy(er) Perogy Lasagna



A version of this recipe has been posted once before, but I had not prepared it myself. I decided to pull the recipe out when D & I were hosting our monthly young families’ group.  I thought that the kids might enjoy it with some veggies and dip and the adults with heaps of salad.  

Now you know that I love my carbs but the combination of fat and carbs seemed a little too indulgent in January especially knowing that I will be on the beach again in a month (travelling-not here in MB).  So I used no fat cottage cheese and sour cream.  The original recipe calls for Velveeta which I never have in my house so I substituted 250 g of Imperial Cheddar Cheese that was a gift to us over the holidays.  I also used a shredded sharp cheddar because I sense that if you use a sharper cheese, you get much more of the taste with less of the fat. I doubled the recipe to make a lasagna for the kids assembled with us in the dining room and another for the parents attempting to have some adult time together in the living room.

1 large onion, chopped

olive oil for sauteeing

250 g Imperial cheddar cheese

500 g no fat cottage cheese

500 g no fat sour cream (thinned with 1/4 c skim milk)

500 g lasagna noodles

1 c sharp cheddar (shredded)

1 lb. bacon, crumbled and cooked until extra crisp (carefully blotted with paper towel to remove all visible grease)

5 lbs. (or more) cook potatoes with the the skin ON

Lightly grease 2 lasagna pans and set aside.  In a large pot boil potatoes until they can be easily mashed; drain.  In a frying pan, saute onions until soft.  In a large pot of boiling water, cook noodles according to package directions.  Add 1/2 onion to half of the potatoes along with the Imperial cheese, mash.  Add the other half onion to the other half of the potatoes along with the cottage cheese and mash. Pour a couple of dollops of sour cream in the bottom of lasagna pans.  Cover with a layer of noodles.


Layer more noodles over one potato mixture, top with 1/3 the sour cream.  Layer again over the other potato mixture, top with another 1/3 sour cream.  Add last layer of noodles, sour cream and top with shredded cheddar.  Cover with foil & bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until edges are bubbly when you peak under the foil.  Remove and let set for 5 minutes (very NB).  Top with crumbled bacon and serve.

Kath’s quote:  “Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food,
For wisdom and guidance, for all these are good, but don’t forget the potatoes.”-
John Tyler Pettee

love illuminates

posted under Entrees | 4 Comments »

Martha Stewart’s German Apple Pancakes


[by Guest blogger Lori]
These are, hands-down, the BEST pancakes I have ever made! What I really love about them is that they’re not cooked on a griddle or frying pan which makes them really easy to make for guests. All the prep can be done first thing in the morning, then thrown in the oven 15 minutes before you’re ready to eat.

We have an annual tradition with my college girlfriends to have a Christmas brunch together. Most years, it’s the only time we see each other all year because we have moved physically far apart. Luckily, family brings everyone nearer for the holidays.

This recipe is from Martha Stewart’s website. For 6 adults and 3 little ones, i made a triple batch (18 pancakes). That was just enough.. So, depending on what you’re serving with the, I suggest making more! I served mine with bacon, a fruit salad (melons, pineapple, blueberries and pomegranate), yogurt and granola.

Here is what you will need:

Makes 6 pancakes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for tin, and 2 tablespoons melted
unsalted butter

5 tablespoons granulated sugar, plus more for tin

2 Granny Smith apples (about 1 pound)

1/4 cup light-brown sugar

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

3/4 cup milk

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting


1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Butter inside each muffin cup of a 6-cup nonstick jumbo muffin tin; coat with granulated sugar. Peel, core, and slice apples into 12 wedges, then cut wedges into 3 pieces. In a medium bowl, toss apples with brown sugar, lemon juice, and cinnamon.

Greased muffin tins

2) Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add apples and saute, turning occasionally, until caramelized, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove pan from stove; let cool 5 minutes.

Caramelized apples

3) Divide caramelized apples among prepared muffin cups. Set aside.

Divide apples into muffin tins

4) In the bowl of a food processor (I used my Kitchen Aid mixer), combine flour, salt, 5 tablespoons granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons melted butter, eggs, and milk; process for 3 minutes. (That’s a lot of sugar!  I wouldn’t normally even make a recipe with this much sugar, but hey, it’s the holidays! I’d like to attempt substituting apple sauce for some of the sugar in the future.)

5) Pour batter over apples. Transfer tin to oven; reduce heat to 400 degrees.
Pour batter over apples

6) Bake until pancakes puff up, about 15 minutes. Remove tin from oven; invert onto a flat work surface. Dust with confectioners’ sugar; serve immediately. (One batch of my pancakes stuck to the pan, which made for a few ugly ones.. so be sure to do a good job greasing your pans and/or use good quality non-stick pans)

And the final result? Delicious!  I was so caught up with getting everyone fed, that I forgot to take a final photo, unfortunately. But I can assure you that these are a hit with guests.  I also forgot to mention the whip cream!.. I whipped my cream the night before and forgot it in the fridge.  The pancakes are delicious without — but I can just imagine how much better they would have been with even more sugar!! 

Kath’s quote:  “I know the look of an apple that is roasting and sizzling on the hearth on a winter’s evening, and I know the comfort that comes of eating it hot, along with some sugar and a drench of cream… I know how the nuts taken in conjunction with winter apples, cider, and doughnuts, make old people’s tales and old jokes sound fresh and crisp and enchanting.”-Mark Twain

You’ve got a friend

posted under Recipes | 3 Comments »

New Year’s Fondue-Variation on a Theme


Fondue means “to melt” so I suppose our New Year’s tradition wasn’t strictly speaking a fondue this year.  We had reached our capacity at the dining room table so I divided the courses between an appetizer course in the living room, main course in the dining room and then back to the living room for dessert.  I also knew that our oil pots would be at capacity so I made a couple of dishes to nibble on while the veggies and meats were sizzling. 

I chose a Chinese New Year theme, as a vegetarian was staying with us over the holidays and we incorporated her tastes into our tradition with a selection of tempura items.  Turns out they were the big hit and we will always do our fondue veggies this way. Sister #3 provided an entire bag of decorations from her New Moon party.

We started with a spicy appetizer made from melted Bothwell red pepper cheese and red wine with white and whole wheat baguettes.  I usually make my own bread but on this occasion I discovered that the Superstore in our neighbourhood sells them for a buck each and better yet-they were hot when I bought them!

This photo is an illustration that you can set a pretty table very inexpensively.  I use a plastic table cloth when we fondue and I got everything in the 50% off Christmas section. 

I had the kids cut and prep veggies.  We enjoyed sweet potatoes, asparagus, Spanish onions, red peppers and shiitake mushrooms-the mushrooms being THE hit.  We mixed the coating from egg, flour and milk and then rolled everything in panko flakes for crunch. 

I also put together a curry fried vermicelli dish and this quickly assembled salad from broccoli slaw, sugar peas, edamame beans and a creamy sesame dressing.  Chicken, beef, pork and shrimp were seasoned in a variety of marinades.  Remember to drain the proteins well, so that you don’t have an oil explosion at your table.

Our guests Linda and Jessie brought a beautiful selection of wines including an Australian Riesling that we are officially in love with.  I meant to open the champagne with the dessert course but we opted for the Manitoba blend of loose tea from Cornelia Bean instead.  I usually use Toblerone bars for chocolate fondue but the grocery was out and had not had time to restock so instead I purchased pure milk chocolate chips which we melted with cointreau.  We dipped our favourite selection of fruit pieces but I also put out shortbread and almond biscotti and these too were a new hit. 

Kath’s quote: “People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.”-unknown

feel the love

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