Browsing: Food Celebrations

Authentic Chinese Food – Sister #3

January24

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

Hermano’s

January21

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

New Year’s Fondue-Variation on a Theme

January17

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

Christmas “Breakfast”

January11

The 48 hours of Christmas are pretty hectic in our family but when we  make suggestions to skip one of our traditions-we get loud groans and moans.  Don’t mess with Christmas.  The request is made that we start our morning at about 8am.  D puts on a pot of Starbuck’s and there is the option of a liqueur if desired.  This year I served an Italian fruit bread and a homemade banana bread (thanks Lori).  This is accompanied by the Christmas orange that is always in the toe of stockings.

We say a little prayer of thanksgiving for our good health and time together before the youngest starts with a gift from Santa.  Canine Caleb opened this t-shirt that he wore for a week.  If the saying on his chest is hard to make out, it says: “Sorry Santa…I ate all the cookies”.

The next stop is across town at my Mom’s at noon for “Breakfast” and more gift openings.  I use the term breakfast loosely because this is the table laden with food.

Sister #3 co-ordinates the menu every year and my contribution is very small-the sausage rolls you see at the left.  But they too are a tradition that when threatened with elimination, get protests from the gang.  They are so easy to make and freeze well.  They are fun to serve with a winter soup or to fancy up with a mustard dip and take to a cocktail party.  The recipe is from one of my oldest cookbooks:  “Company’s Coming for Christmas”.

Lazy Sausage Rolls

2 cups biscuit mix

1 t onion powder

1/2 c water

pork sausage meat, mild or hot

cayenne pepper

Stir biscuit mix and onion powder together.  Add water.  Mix until it forms a ball.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface.  Knead 6-8 times.  Roll out into a rectangle about 15 x 18 “.

Mash sausage meat with a fork to make it more pliable.  Spread over dough.  Roll up like a jelly roll, beginning at long end.  Slice 3/8″ thick.  Arrange on greased cookie sheet, cut side down, about 1” apart.  Bake in 450F oven for about 15 minutes (but check after 11 minutes).  Makes about 3 dozen.  I make 3 batches.

This little guy is the youngest of our extended family.  Can you see how how much fun Christmas is at Great Grandma’s place?

Kath’s quote:  “In my experience, clever food is not appreciated at Christmas. It makes the little ones cry and the old ones nervous.”- Jane Grigson

somebody wants you to find them

Breezy Bend

January7

When people find out that I write a blog entry every morning, they are surprized that I can figure out what to write about every day.  Actually, the opposite is true for me-I have a long list of topics that I want to get to and sometimes I get behind.  This is my explanation for why I have not yet written about our fabulous office Christmas Party Dinner.  The irony here is that I am self-employed and have no employees.  But after a long career working for other companies which included many truly amazing Christmas parties, I did not want to miss out on the tradition.  So D and I got together with three other female business owners and their significant others.  One friend had her previous Christmas Party at Breezy Bend Golf and Country Club just to the west of the city.  And so it was- we were all set.

Our first course was Roast Rabbit stuffed with lobster and fruit-a rare and pleasantly unique taste.  The soup was a savoury Cream of Butternut Squash with fois gras custard. 

I chose an Angus Prime Steak with butter and herbs for my entree.  I didn’t get a photo to do it justice (note to self-perhaps you should not have that glass of wine until after your official duties are done).  The perfectly grilled steak came with a cone of french fries that arrived standing upright on the plate.  Unfortunately, I was so anxious to tuck in, that I spilled them out before I realized what I was up to.  D on the other hand has more couth than me and did not dig in before I got this photo of his Halibut with molasses glace and pistachio crust.

The salad was this gorgeous assembly of Root Vegetables.

By the time dessert was set to arrive we were having a wonderful time-  getting caught up on various connections, sharing plans for New Year’s and upcoming trips and toasting the success of a satisfying year.  The Chef came out to meet our table and ensure that we had enjoyed our evening.   Chef Klaus had trained with Chef Tony from the St. Charles as a student-a rare honour that my husband D also had the privilege of doing. 

Klaus shared that he got extra inventive with our dessert course, using a “take your medicine” theme.  What fun-a big white pill that was a delightful marshmallow cream, creme brulee in a pill jar and the best of all-a shooter of a fresh fruit puree.  I do have a photo of D and I administering the syringe to each other….maybe some other time. 

Kath’s quote:  “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.”-Hippocrates

somebody is thinking of you

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