Food Musings

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

Start with some dough

Seafood Pizza

Seafood Pizza

Another of our family traditions (we are a family who loves traditions) is Friday night pizza night.  We’re rarely order in-if we are heading up to the cottage we may stop and pick one up at Sobey’s on the way out of town or we also love the Oetker thin crust pizzas.  When our kids were young we would make ham and pineapple or triple cheese (so called because even when our kids were very young they were impressed with “gourmet” names to everyday food) it would have mostly mozzarella, a little but of cheddar and Parmesan.  Nowadays we love to experiment.  My husband has mastered a traditional margarita pizza with a homemade sauce: raw mozzarella and fresh basil leaves.  Last night we had a fruita de mare pizza because we searched in Cinque Terre when we were there this fall for the best that my husband had tasted on a previous trip but were unsuccessful.

Disappointing Pizza in Riomaggiore

Disappointing Pizza in Riomaggiore

We bought a frozen seafood mix which included mussels, shrimp, squid and octopus and let it partially thaw.  When the pizza was almost baked we put it under the broil to ensure that the fish was cooked enough but not too much.  The moisture in the fish spread around the pizza top and that makes all the difference in taste.  All it needed was a dash of pepper and a good glass of white wine.

I have a bread maker and make our pizza dough out of the basic white bread recipe on the dough setting.  I actually never bake anything in our maker as I find the shape too odd and also find that the bread sweats in the chamber.  We love our bread to be crunchy on the outside and light and soft on the inside so we have a tendency to make two long skinny loaves out of one batch. There are all kinds of other recipes that I use this basic dough for including submarine and hamburger buns, along with braided breads and pull-apart recipes.  My families’ favourite bread variation is this one:  from one batch of bread dough, roll out two long and skinny loaves.  Along one edge cut the dough with kitchen scissors every ½ inch (but not right through) so that it resembles a comb.  Then pull one piece of dough in one direction and the next in the opposite direction.  It doesn’t really matter what it looks like because the goal is just to create lots of uneven bread surface.  In the mean time melt ½ cup of butter with liberal amounts of dried herbs (fresh are to delicate for this robust taste) we like rosemary, oregano and basil and LOTS of garlic salt.  When the bread comes out of the oven, move to a platter.  Then pour all of the butter sauce directly onto the bread.  Encourage people to pull off a chunk and mop up the additional butter that will have pooled onto the plate.  In our house whenever I make this, my son says it smells like Christmas.

Chicken Lasagna


Lasagna Roll Ups (this version with spinach)

I am on my way to a meeting where the committee gathers for dinner first.  When you think about this-it is a pretty good idea as people can start right after work without worrying about stopping for dinner and then everyone can get home at a decent hour.  Tonight was my turn to provide the main course.  My partner was taking bread, salad and dessert.  I decided to make chicken lasagna.  Everyone who has ever tasted it LOVES it and I am not quick to admit that it comes out of a Campbell Soup Recipe book.

In order to save time and steps I use no pre-cooking required lasagna noodles (12 noodles required) and grated mozzarella (2 cups).  I do also like to use pre-cooked chicken when it is not too dear.  Such was not the case this week.  Here it is:

Set aside 2/3 cup mozzarella for the top.  Combine 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 1 ½ can of milk, 1/8 tsp or nutmeg and another of cayenne pepper.  Set aside.  In another bowl combine 1 egg, 1 small container of ricotta cheese and a package of really well drained frozen spinach.  Set aside.  If not using pre-cooked or leftover chicken, sauté 500 ml of small cubes in olive oil.  In the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan, spread ½ cup of the soup mixture.  Arrange 4 lasagna noodles on top then top with 1/3 remaining soup mixture, ½ the mozzarella and half the chicken.  Repeat layer and end with a third layer of noodles; add remaining soup reserved mozzarella and ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and until hot and bubbling and then let stand 15 minutes before serving.  Serves eight (or a family of five with enough for lunches).

Lasagna is one of those things I rarely order at a restaurant as it is one thing that I think that I can cook as well (if not better).  We rarely have a traditional lasagna instead we enjoy this one or another even more decadent chicken one with hollandaise sauce, in addition to red and white lasagnas, sausage lasagna or pesto lasagna.  We also love lasagna roll ups where you pretty much throw everything that would normally go into the layers into one bowl, spread it along the noodle and then roll from one end.  I pour the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and then dip the roll over onto its side.  This recipe is a breeze if you’re in a hurry and they take less time to cook.

Our favourite place for lasagne in Winnipeg no longer exists.  It was called Luce’s and it was located in the Maples area of Winnipeg.  When the lasagne (or eggplant dish) would come out of the kitchen it looked like a loaf of bread covered in Italian sauce-it was that huge!

Do you favour a tradition lasagne recipe?  Where is your favourite spot for lasagne?  Have you found a bake at home version that is any good?

An Intimate Dinner for 1900


At my daughter's grad at the WCC

We are off to a banquet and guest speaker fund-raiser at the Winnipeg Convention Centre tonight.  Over the years I have been to so many wonderful functions there from Grey Cup bashes to elegant New Year’s Eve celebrations, from Oktoberfest to the grad dinner for my youngest daughter.   New Year’s Eve typically begins with champagne, martinis and hors d’oeuvres.  A lavish multi course dinner is then served followed by dancing to Ron Paley’s big band until midnight (leaving just after ensures us being able to hail a cab home).  One year we stayed downtown at the Fort Garry Hotel-an even more special treat.  The 2009 theme is In the Groove-London Town.  This is our favourite way to ring in the New Year.  Here’s hoping we get to attend this year.

Another amazing event that foodies and winers love to attend is the annual Winnipeg Wine Festival which supports Manitoba Special Olympics.  The gala dinner is when WCC chefs truly outdo themselves with course after course of exquisite food.  It is all served with white gloves and the wine array is staggering.  My husband and I have chosen many of our favourites wines from the samplings of this evening.  Unfortunately there was one occasion when an ice wine was accidentally poured down my shoulder but no one can really say if it was the server’s error or my blurred judgement from over imbibing.

There are 1900 persons that are attending this evening’s event.  How they manage to get any food to the table hot is beyond imagination.  If the food is not to satisfaction there are many wonderful restaurants right in the area including many favourites such as: the East Indian Company Pub and Eatery, Ichi Ban and One Night in Bangkok.

What is your favourite Winnipeg Convention Centre event?  What is your favourite restaurant in the vicinity?  Do you ever attend the Winnipeg Wine Festival?

Fancy Sandwiches


Yesterday was the first wedding shower to honour the long time love of my son.  It was a lovely afternoon in November and was a pleasure to be in the company of women.  Her bridesmaid’s put out a beautiful spread of spinach dip, cheese and fruit, veggies and caramel popcorn.  For dessert they had a pumpkin cheesecake and a banana chocolate torte.  After some visiting and nibbling, we opened presents and then played wedding party games.  This was a great way to get to know everyone further.

sandwichtrayWhen I got home the guys watching football in the basement TV room shouted up “Did you bring home any shower sandwiches?”  This was asked even though I had made chicken fingers and pizza before I left home.  Alas the fine art of fancy sandwich making is gone.  I learned late in life-being taught by my sister in law for my Mother’s 80th birthday-luncheon and tea.  The last time I had fancy sandwiches at a restaurant was when my sisters and I took my Mom out to a Mother’s Day Tea at Pine Ridge Hollow just outside Winnipeg by Bird’s Hill Park.  There are some tea places in the Winnipeg that may serve fancy sandwiches but I have yet to sample them.

My sister’s favourite are the cream cheese rolled around a maraschino cherry.  I love the salmon but also one that I was taught to make which was one layer of egg and one layer of devilled ham.  The only time I have imbibed recently is at a luncheon after a memorial service.  These events are often catered by Rae and Jerry’s Restaurant (but I had heard that they actually outsource them). You used to also be able to order them at the Paddlewheel Restaurant in the downtown Bay store.

Do you know of a restaurant that serves fancy sandwiches?  What is your favourite place to have them catered?  Have you had a fancy sandwich which was untypical of the ones usually served in Winnipeg?

Kid Food

One of our little visitors

One of our little visitors

Once a month we invite four young families over right after work on a Friday evening.  We all sit down to a family dinner of soup or pasta.  We have booster chairs set up on dining room chairs and other portable high chairs all around.  The kids are learning some table manners like “may I be excused” and “thank you for dinner” but mostly it is the hands into mouth kind of experience that I miss from my family’s younger days.  This past Friday I made spaghetti and you can imagine the fun (and the mess).  I bulked my from scratch sauce up with some extra vegetables and Abby who seemed to enjoy it (for the most part) was able to pick and flick every little shred of spinach that she came across.  We finished with oreos smeared with peanut butter and a banana slice.  The parents go and have coffee and an adult conversation and we take the kids downstairs for a play.  The parents love the hour without worrying about the little ones and my husband and I love the pseudo Grandparent time-so everyone is blessed.

Another Little Guy

Another Little Guy

When our family was growing up we loved to go to the Old Spaghetti Factory.  We’ve have to put a halt to the number of sough dough bread loaves that we consumed before the pasta actually came.  The kids usually ordered spaghetti and meatballs but D&I had a special favourite.  We had the Manager’s favourite which was half white clam sauce and half burnt butter and mizithra cheese.  We blend it all together and it was absolutely delicious.

We still have many favourite places for pasta, as Winnipeg has a large number of great places to choose from.  Our favourites are Mona Lisa (at the end of our street), Tomato Pie and Colesseo.  I leave it to my gang to order new and different things-I have fruita de mare or clam sauce almost everywhere I go.  At Tomato Pie my choice is not on the menu but they are very accommodating.  From my guess at the recipe they sauté purple onion and garlic in a good olive oil add the clams and perhaps some white wine and then a bunch of fresh parsley-yum.

Shopping for authentic Italian ingredients is also lovely in Winnipeg.  Our favourite is De Luca’s on Portage Ave. as we used to live in the Wolseley area and it was a stroller walk away.  We typically pick up their olive bread, fresh mozzarella, Italian sausage and some good olives.  We are ever searching for the exact ones we had in the bar at our hotel on the Amalfi coast.

at Luigi's in Prariano Italy

at Luigi's in Prariano Italy

When we asked the proprietor Luigi he said they were “small, round green” and the quest goes on.

Do you have a favourite Italian restaurant? A favourite place for Italian groceries?  A favourite pasta recipe?

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