Food Musings

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

Anchovies in Positano, Italy



Can you remember ever having a menu ordering accident?  That is to say,  you ordered a dish but realised when it arrived that you had misinterpreted what was stated on the menu and had to eat it anyway?  Exactly this happened to me when my husband and I were dining in Positano Italy this past fall. 

Near the Norman Cathedral of Monreale (Palermo)

Near the Norman Cathedral of Monreale (Palermo)

We started our Italian adventure in Sicily and one evening our host ordered a sumptuous dish in Palermo.  We had just toured Monreale and were in the vicinity of  the Palermo train station when we happened upon Antico Bar and Ristorante in the Piazza Giulio Cesare.  Concetta had ordered anchovy and fennel pasta and the forkful that I tasted was divine-an unusual blending of salty and savoury. 

The Antipasto that night-missed taking a pic of the entrees

The Antipasto that night-missed taking a pic of the entrees

Days later and on our own on the Amalfi Coast we asked Luigi, the wonderful owner of Hotel Le Fioriere in Praiano where his favourite restaurant in Positano was.  With his advice we headed out for Da Vincenzo’s.  

Under the Canopy

Under the Canopy

We did not have reservations but considered ourselves lucky to get a table outside but under a canopy as it had just started to rain.  We began with a calzone and this basil, mozzarella  and tomato salad.   

The Salad Plate

The Salad Plate

Remebering that single taste in Palermo, I ordered the Anchovies and I got just what I ordered but not what I was dreaming of.  

Just Anchovies?

Just Anchovies?

Kath’s quote: “The peasants of Sicily, who have kept their own wheat and make their own natural brown bread, ah, it is amazing how fresh and sweet and clean their loaf seems, so perfumed, as home-made bread used all to be before the war.”-D.H. Lawrencewine heart

La Fiesta Cafecito



La Fiesta Cafecito is owned by Jose and Sonia Valdez who are from El Salvador.  Since Daughter #2 travelled to El Salvador to do humanitarian work a couple of years ago, we were happy to learn more about their regional cooking.  Pupusas are at the top of the list of their signature platters so we knew that would be one of our selections.  But because we love to try little tastes of lots of things we decided to order a combination platter that included two Pupusas, one chicken burrito and one beef enchilada.  The meal started with a chicken tortilla soup which satisfied my craving for a comfort food because I was nursing a cold. 


We are accustomed to this recipe with lime, chiles and cilantro but this was a savoury alternative.  We detected a sprinkling of Tajin Classico in the bottom of our bowl which is one of our regular purchases on trips to Mexico. 


We were quite sure that Jose indicated that we were getting one Queso Pupusa and One Chicarrones y Queso (pork and cheese) Pupusa but when we forked into the non-Queso one, it was definitely filled with Frijoles (beans).  I preferred the Queso one and my bean-loving (and deprived) husband preferred the Frijoles.  The chicken burrito was stuffed with a savoury mixture of onion, rice and chicken.  The beef enchilada though was unusual with a ladle of a “beef bolognaise style” sauce on top of a flaky pastry shell style base.  On top of this sat a wedge of hard boiled egg!  When in Rome….  Daughter #2 returns from South Africa in the next couple of weeks and we plan to return to La Fiesta to recreate her El Salvadorian adventure.

Kath’s Quote: “This recipe is certainly silly. It says to separate the eggs, but it doesn’t say how far to separate them.”-Gracie Allen


Dumplings (Part 2)


About a year ago, my husband brought home a case of won ton wrappers that he had purchased from work.  I have used them to make perogies and ravioli.  But our favourite is this version of a pork dumpling which resembles a pot-sticker.


Combine 1 lb. of ground pork with 1 T grated ginger, 4 cloves of minced garlic, 2 T of finely chopped green onion, 1 T of sesame oil  and 1 beaten egg.  Here’s where I start to improvise.  The recipe calls for 5 c of cabbage and if I have it I use a cole slaw mix.  Today I replaced the cabbage with 2 shredded carrots and 2 stalks of finely chopped celery.  I also added 1 T each of hoisin, fish sauce, oyster and soya sauce. 


Place 1 t of filling in the centre of each wrapper.  Wet edges with your finger and fold and seal.  Hold in a single layer on tray that has been covered with wax paper.


Drop by small numbers in boiling, salted and oiled water.  Boil for approximately 3 minutes or until they start to float to the surface.  Remove 1 and break open to check doneness before removing the rest.  They can be eaten at this stage with hoisin, peanut and sweet chili sauces as an appetizer or added to an oriental soup.  You can also add one more step and saute them in oil if you are a pot-sticker lover.

P.S. I still have half a case of wrappers in my freezer, if you’re interested in some. 

Kath’s quote: “Am I alone in thinking it odd that a people ingenious enough to invent paper, gunpowder, kites and any number of other useful objects, and who have a noble history extending back 3,000 years haven’t yet worked out that a pair of knitting needles is no way to capture food?”-Bill Bryson


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Dumplings (Part 1)


The first dumpling that I ever tasted was made by my Grandma Felicia.  She was a little Polish lady and my Dad says I am most like her.  When I reach for another helping of potatoes or noodles, my husband remarks “That’s my little Polak”.  Her dumplings had a prune inside and she served them with hot butter and cinnamon and sugar. 

Dumplings Previous to Boiling

Dumplings Previous to Boiling

My second dumpling exposure was when my husband owned a family restaurant.  One of their weekly specials was chicken stew with dumplings which he thinks had an Austrian origin. The technique was really unusual because the raw dumpling dough was dropped right on top of the stew and then covered.  The steam from the stew would cook the dumpling.chicken_stew-thumb

The first time I had Chinese dumplings was when my husband and I had just begun our family life.  We took our new born daughter with us for dim sum and I had taken her to the Ladies Room to change her diaper.  When I returned, the table was covered with food, we ate and were back in the car in 10 minutes!  Needless to say, we had to learn the fine art of dim sum dining.   When the kids were still little I would buy dim sum in Chinatown (The Oriental Market on King St.) and take it to the lake for a special dinner.  My son would ask for more of the pork dumplings by saying “Can I have more of those little brains?”

 My Chinese Dumpling recipe in Part 2.

Kath’s quote: “The fricassee with dumplings is made by a Mrs. Miller whose husband has left her four times on account of her disposition and returned four times on account of her cooking and is still there.”- Rex Stout


Butternut Squash Soup



I have just started cooking with Butternut Squash and I will admit that I intended to make a ravioli but I got lazy and made this soup instead.  I was glad that I did-it was a lovely supper soup and the left overs were good both cold and hot.  It will become one of my soup staples. 


Cook 2 chopped onions in 2 T of butter until soft (about 5 mins.)  Add 3 c peeled, seeded and cubed butternut squash and 1 1/2 c cubed potatoes.  Pour in chicken stock until veggies are completely submerged (about 3 c).  Add 1 t paprika and set to a boil.  Lower and simmer about 35 mins. until veggies are soft to the fork.  Pour the soup into a blender and process until smooth.  Return the soup to the pan and stir in 1/2 c milk.  Adjust s&p and reheat on low. 


I’m the kind of person who is too transparent.  When someone says “Oh, I love that purse”  I have to tell them that it is a Kate Spade but I picked it up at my favourite second hand store for $3.99….why do I do that?!  So just in case you think that foodies don’t have food accidents-this is a pic of my soup that I left on low and went back to my computer to get some more work done.  I had an explosion of butternut squash!

Kath’s quote: “The secret of success is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake those, you’ve got it made.”-Groucho MarxBEST-heart-Doirs-love-heart-hearts-srce-more-cool-stuff-herz-my-favs-Love-My-images-Herzen-sex-romantic_large

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