Food Musings

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

Clay Oven

January29

Winnipeg has many wonderful Indian restaurants.  Both Taste of India and India Palace have great reputations and I have to admit that for as long as I’ve intended to try them out-I never have.  On the other hand I have enjoyed Ivory, Charisma and East India Company.  On my hit list is Red Fort Tandoor House where I understand they grind their spices daily.

IMG_2347A number of features make the Clay Oven a pleasant choice on a frosty January evening:  it is adjacent to Indigo (where my husband and I spent the rest of our date night), it is next door to a Starbucks where we grabbed a post-dinner coffee and if you have any room left…also next to a Marble Slab Creamery (we did not have any room left).

The decor was surprizingly sleek and comfortable at the same time.  Charcoal walls and fabric dividers (for privacy) set the scene and we nestled into a bench seat lined with tangerine cushions.  We were in a strip mall but you would never know it once inside.murgh-malai-tikka-kabab-1-500x384

The hospitality was outstanding with many cheerful faces bustling around the open kitchen.  And the food….delicious!  We shared a Maharajah Sizzler which allowed us to sample tiger prawns, pan fried scallops, Chicken Tikka and Saffron Malai Tikka with fresh seared vegetables.  We really enjoyed the mint/yogurt sauce for dipping.  It was likely intended for the fish and chicken but the Naan was also enhanced by the flavour.  This is served with Basmati rice and would have been enough for a shared meal.  We also ordered an assorted Naan basket and now have enough left overs for lunch.  I loved the garlic Naan but especially the Mozzarella Naan.  I appreciate the hoppie taste of a Indian beer and was delighted that they offer Kingfisher at the top of their imported list.

The menu starts with a Spice Primer (the benefits of Indian spices)-who knew!  The place was bustling with an equal number of people stopping in to pick up supper to go.

Here’s a version of the Mint Yogurt Sauce:  In a small bowl or blender, stir together 1/2 c plain yogurt, 2 sprigs of fresh chopped mint, 1 t sugar, 1 t salt and 1/4 t cayenne until well blended. Serve immediately or chill for a while to let the flavors come together.
Clay Oven on Urbanspoon

Comfort Food for a Cold

January27

My friend Laura (honourary sister) is an amazing cook.  Yesterday, she posted on FB that she was cooking for her husband because he had a bad cold.  She sent me the links to what she was preparing.  My goodness recipe use has changed…. when I was little everything that was prepared was made from memory or from a hand-written recipe card.  My Mom had the Madame Benoit Cookbook and that was about it.  When I was married in the 80s a cookbook collection was a must: I started with the Joy of Cooking, then the Best of Bridge Series and then by the time I decided to purge I had two complete Time Life Series that had a dozen volumes each.  Currently on my shelves are cookbooks by Canadian Health experts Anne Lindsey and Bonnie Stern. Jamie Oliver’s Italy, another entitled The Food of Italy-a journey for food lovers, The Soup Bible and a wonderful new one Eat Well from Williams-Sonoma.

But as is my style, I digress… Here are the links to her Mexican treats for her ailing husband:  Chiles Rellenos and Sopa de Limachile-relleno

If the chilies pictured here had a crumbling of a “feta” type cheese on top, they would resemble the most amazing Chiles Relleno in the world!  These are consumed at a little place called La Lomita on Isla Mujeres, Mexico.  Here’s their version entitled Ophelia’s Chiles Releno.

Ophelia’s Chiles Poblanos Rellenos (Stuffed Chiles)
Yield: 4 servings    Heat Scale: Mild to Medium
Tomato sauce:
4 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 small onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup water
Salt to taste

In a pan, sauté the tomatoes, half the onion, and the garlic in 1 tablespoon of the oil for 10 minutes. When cool enough, purée the mixture in a blender with the water until smooth. Meanwhile, sauté the rest of the onion in the rest of the oil over medium heat until browned and soft. Add the purée and cook, covered, over low heat for 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

Chiles:
1 1/3 cup prepared tomato sauce
4 poblano chiles, roasted and peeled
12 ounces Mexican white melting cheese (i.e. Supremo’s Oxaca), cubed
16 toothpicks
Canola oil for deep-frying
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, separated
2 tablespoons heavy cream, at room temperature
4 tablespoons feta cheese
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Slice off and reserve the caps of the poblano chiles. Carefully seed and rinse the chiles, keeping them whole. Stuff each chile with the cheese and secure the caps with at least 4 toothpicks each. In a deep pan or wok, heat oil (enough to cover chiles halfway) to 350 degrees F.

While the oil heats, mix the flour, salt and pepper into a shallow bowl. In a separate small bowl whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the yolks to the whites and whisk until blended.

Just before frying, dip each pepper into the egg and then the flour, covering completely. Lightly shake the pod to remove the excess flour, and carefully return to the egg mixture. Use a spoon to cover the pepper with egg once again, and then return to the flour mixture for a second coating. Shake gently to remove any excess. (This “double dipping” will ensure that the flour sticks and provides an extra crispy coating.)

Using tongs, gently place the pepper in the hot oil. Take care, as it will splatter. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until browned. Turn the pepper once and cook 3-5 minutes more, until browned. Take care not to overcook or the cheese will escape. Drain the cooked peppers on a rack over paper towels for a minute.

To serve, ladle 1/3 cup prepared tomato sauce on a plate and place a chile on top. Garnish with ½ tablespoon heavy cream, 1 tablespoon feta and ½ tablespoon chopped cilantro.LaLomita

I have to get on with my day so I’ll leave Sopa de Lima for another time.

Bonfire Bistro

January26

IMG_0323I love the taste of char and anything cooked on an open fire.  I drive my husband crazy when I asked for my wieners and smokies burned on the barbecue in the summer.  This obsession dates back to my childhood when we would celebrate summer birthdays at the “pits” before Bird’s Hill Park was built just north of Winnipeg.  My Dad would choose our sticks and then carve a point to spear the wiener or marshmallow.  The buns also got toasted on the fire and there was always a jug of A&W root beer to wash it all down.

My love of food cooked on an open fire was wonderfully satiated by Pasta la Vista-a favourite but now defunct Winnipeg restaurant.  There is a great place that we go to in the summer at the Manitou Lodge in Pine Falls, which is not far from our cottage.  They cook most of their selections on the open fire, including the bread that is hot, soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside.

So it is quite natural that I would love having lunch at the Bonfire Bistro.  I met with three old friends-one who had just arrived that morning from Toronto.  IMG_0326

This was one of their delicious salad offerings.

IMG_0324And this was one of the half pizza and salad specials of the day.  The salads were oh so garlicky and the pizzas delicious.  The mushroom is illustrated here.  I had a spicy sausage that was even better.

The Bonfire Bistro is owned by the same gentleman who has Cafe Carlo and Burrito del Rio.  This Mexican restaurant in Osborne Village has been on my hit list for a long time and tomorrow is the day!
Bonfire Bistro on Urbanspoon

Winnipeg Winter Wedding

January25

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The January Wedding of our son and his long time love took place in a winter wonderland.  Although the weather had been mild of late, there had been a fresh sticky snow that had clung to the trees.    To be prepared for pictures they had booked the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature.

They had a cocktail reception at The Academy which in our opinion is the perfect venue.  It had comfortable booths close to a small stage for speeches and video presentations.  This area was the ideal place for some of the older guests to sit.  The bar is beautifully lit and very inviting so a number of family members congregated there.  The dance floor is at the far end and was set up for the live band.  The younger guests assembled here at high cocktail tables.

The appetizers were well prepared and came out before the wedding party arrived.  19167_440979195286_530215286_10850736_5756438_nAfter speeches there was milk and cookies.  A tiny melt-away favourite of the bride’s made by her Mom (I promise to share her recipe here) and the groom’s pick of Winnipeg’s famous  Imperial Cookies.

Manager Brian Allison and the staff were very accommodating.  They even had an AV person available for all the technical aspects of the evening.  Special mention must be made to John the Bartender who was the epitome of what Winnipeg hospitality was all about.

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Glee Club

January21

The girls 2Sister #3 has a group of GFs thast get together on a regular basis over over the winter for themed dinner parties.  The format is kind of like “Dinner and a Movie” and they’ve watched “Joy Luck Club” and had Chinese Food, “Shirley Valentine” and had Greek food, Chocolat and had fondue and most recently they watched “Julie and Julia” and cooked from Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking“.

Beef BourgSis #3 was host and made the entre of Boeuf Bourguignon.  Below is a copy paste from Oprah.com.

Cheese course was a selection of berries and Bothwell Cheeses.Chesse course

The dessert course was Julia’s Chocolate Almond CakeChocolate Almond Cake

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil or cooking oil
  • 6 oz. bacon
  • 3 pounds lean stewing beef , cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 sliced carrot
  • 1 sliced onion
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 3 cups full-bodied, young red wine , such as a Chianti
  • 2 to 3 cups brown beef stock or canned beef bouillon
  • 1 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme
  • Crumbled bay leaf
  • Blanched bacon rind
  • 18 to 24 small white onions , brown-braised in stock
  • 1 pound quartered fresh mushrooms , sautéed in butter
  • Parsley sprigs

Directions:

Remove rind from bacon, and cut bacon into lardons (sticks, 1/4 inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and bacon for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts of water. Drain and dry.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Sauté the bacon in the oil over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon. Set casserole aside. Reheat until fat is almost smoking before you sauté the beef.

Dry the stewing beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Sauté it, a few pieces at a time, in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the bacon.

In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the sautéing fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with the salt and pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly with the flour. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat and return to oven for 4 minutes more. (This browns the flour and covers the meat with a light crust.) Remove casserole, and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in the wine, and enough stock or bouillon so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs, and bacon rind. Bring to simmer on top of the stove. Then cover the casserole and set in lower third of preheated oven. Regulate heat so liquid simmers
very slowly for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Set them aside until needed.

When the melt is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan. Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms over the meat.

Skim fat off the sauce. Simmer sauce for a minute or two, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons of stock or canned bouillon. Taste carefully for seasoning. Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables. Recipe may be completed in advance to this point.

For immediate serving: Covet the casserole and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in its casserole, or arrange the stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles, or rice, and decorated with parsley.

For later serving: When cold, cover and refrigerate. About 15 to 20 minutes before serving, bring to the simmer, cover, and simmer very slowly for 10 minutes, occasionally basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce.



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