Browsing: Food Celebrations

When you get dealt a lemon…..

December10

Have I mentioned that I don’t like to bake?  The task of making six dozen somethings to exchange with beloved friends seemed simple enough.  I was persuaded to prepare the recipe for Lime Coconut Shortbread that I shared here a couple of weeks ago.  Things didn’t go swimmingly.

I knew that I would have difficulty rolling out and cutting the shortbread as I often do,  so I was prepared to take on the modified version of rolling the batter into balls and flattening with a sugared flat surface.  But even that proved too daunting for me.  The dough would not bind and I’d be damned if I was going to chuck it out and start again when I had invested in so much butter (have I mentioned that I’m very frugal?).

In the end I pressed the mixture onto a huge cookie sheets and then cut the dough into sqaures when the pan came out of the oven.  I then glazed them with a lime frosting and sprinkled on more coconut.  They taste delicious-not melt in your mouth like a whipped shortbread but surprizingly zesty because of the lime and crunchy due to the coconut.

They have been delivered to Sister #3’s in time for the exchange and that is a big check mark on my Christmas to do list.  My sage advice to share with you?  When you are baffled by a recipe-improvise!  No one but you will know what the picture in the recipe book looked like.

Kath’s quote: “God bless us, every one!”-Tiny Tim in Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

Cookie Decisions

November25

An honourary sister is already making shortbread for our cookie exchange so I can’t make this amazing recipe that was shared with me.  I still don’t know what I’m going to make but  this recipe looks so good that I didn’t want you to miss out.  Being a lover of all things tropical-this shortbread version has lime and coconut!

Zesty Lime Shortbread

dough:

1/2 c flaked coconut,

1/2 c sugar

2 T finely shredded lime peel

1 t vanilla

2 1/2 c flour

1 c butter, cut into pieces

lime glaze:

2 c icing sugar

 1/2 t finely shredded lime peel

1 T lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  In a food processor combine coconut, sugar, lime peel and vanilla.  Cover and process until coconut is finely chopped.  Add flour, cover and process with one on/off pulse to just combine.  Add butter; cover and process until mixture starts to cling.  Transfer to an extra large bowl (dough will appear dry).  Knead dough until smooth.  Shape dough into ball; divide in half. 2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough portion to about a 1/4″ thickness.* Using desired 1 1/2-2 ” cookie cookies (I think you should make heart shaped ones-jmho), cut out dough.  Place cut outs 1″ apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  3. Bake in a pre-heated oven for 15-17 minutes or just until bottoms start to brown.  Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.  Repeat with the remaining dough portion.  Prepare the lime glaze by mixing the ingredients in a small bowl and adding just enough water (2-3 T) to make a glaze of spreading consistency and sprinkle with additional grated lime peel.   4.  Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container.  Store at room temp for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months and be careful of the midnight freezer cookie monster.

Coconut palm outside our kitchen window-Isla

*(or if you prefer {like me}, shape the dough into 1″ balls instead or rolling and cutting out dough.  Place the balls of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Dip the bottom of a glass in sugar and flatten each ball to about 1/4″ thickness.  Bake as directed). 

Kath’s quote:  “My mother didn’t really cook. But she did make key lime pie, until the day the top of the evaporated milk container accidentally ended up in the pie and she decided cooking took too much concentration.”-William Norwich

Love warms.

Remembering Summer

November22

Who’s having more fun?

It snowed this weekend and I mean all weekend.  There are things that I like about the snow…big fluffy flakes that meander instead of falling straight down, snow angels and the reflected light from Christmas lights and moonshine.  But truth be told, I detest winter driving and my car-starter that my husband went to so much trouble to get me is not working and the arrival of winter means that I have to start wearing socks.  So just for one last time, I choose to reflect upon summer and especially one special picnic that I put together at the end of June.

D&I host a young families group, one Friday a month in the winter.  Our first summer wind up, we all went up to our cottage but as our numbers are ever expanding (by families and by babies) we wouldn’t all fit in to our 500 sg. ft. cabin this year.  So I arranged a picnic at Assoniboine Park instead.  The Park is very close to us and regular visits have been a part of our family life for 25 years. 

Families brought along various toys and contributions for the supper and it was easy and so relaxing.  After a big long play on the expanse of green space, we assembled under the trees for our dinner.  Afterwards we created a cavalcade and walked over the footbridge to Sargent Sundae on Portage for another family tradition.

The simple plans turned into a highlight of my summer and it is so lovely to remember the bright green of the new leaves on this particular day. 

Kath’s quote:  “I doubt whether the world holds for anyone a more soul-stirring surprise than the first adventure with ice cream.”-Heywood Campbell Brown

Love endures.

Peasant Cookery

November12

How do two foodies celebrate their last evening together before one of them goes on a vacation?  By finding a new restaurant to try of course.  We had intended to visit this establishment when it was Oui and almost went to celebrate our last wedding anniversary.  But the Urbanspoon reviews were not glowing and when we are acknowledging a special event, we want “glowing”.  So I am not surprized that there has been a change in culinary direction.  I understand that the previous menu was very daunting for the kitchen and this simplified version should ensure stellar dishes from the chef.  Some of the former favourites have found their way onto the Peasant menu.  Simple, well prepared, tasty food is what we are all about and looked forward to tucking in.

We were sat immediately by a really personable fellow and he accurately predicted that we would enjoy one of their round booths.  The decor has not changed immensely and we loved the high ceilings and two walls of windows.  A lovely glass of wine was recommended and a wonderful baguette basket was delivered.  Bread and wine, a simple and yet so satisfying combination that have sustained generations and indeed civilizations.

Thinking ourselves to be poutine aficionados, we couldn’t resist sharing an order.  My husband and I discovered cheese curds together at the Minnesota State Fair which does not just contain a food concession but an entire arena designated to local food preparation  (AND we saw Kenny Loggins in concert that night so I was in heaven).     

The Peasant version of poutine is authentic using a made from scratch gravy and a fairly generous numbers of curds.  But on this night they salted the fries before the toppings were added and even though I love salty foods, it was a bit much.  Next time I think we’ll try a pate.

Remembering my recent trip to NYC where I sampled the most amazing fried chicken at  The Redhead, I was excited to repeat the treat or at least determine if the dish lived up to my Grandma’s recipe.  I would crown her the Queen of Peasant Cookery. 

Although the chicken underneath the crunchy coating was tender enough, I guess my standards were too high as something was off.  The chicken seemed to have been braised or boiled first to tenderize it whereas in my mind a marination works best.  The coating was over salted and also seemed to be overcooked.  And even though I did not finish my portion, the two little drumsticks and thighs did not warrant the price tag (in our humble opinion).  The coleslaw was just okay and the warm potato salad had way too much mustard for our liking.

BUT D’s pork chop was divine!  Well trimmed,  juicy, tender and perfectly cooked to medium.  The accompaniments too were well selected and prepared and lucky for me, D was prepared to share.  I sliced the left overs up for a sandwich the next day and it too was delicious.

So I wish WOW! Hospitality all the best with this concept and know that having peeked into the wine bar and loving the ambience, we will be back.

Peasant Cookery on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote:  “A married couple who enjoy the pleasures of the table have, at least once a day, a pleasant oppurtunity to be together; for even those who do not sleep in the same bed (and there are may such) at least eat at the same table.”-Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

Let love be multiplied.

The Food Studio

October29

If you are looking for a unique Christmas party location this year or a place to host a corporate event, The Food Studio on Roblin Blvd is the perfect solution.  Upon arrival, you feel as if you are being invited into the main floor of someones home.  You are greeted with a glass of wine or specialty cocktail and there were three appetizers already set out for tastes.  I understand that the preparation of the guacamole, tempera asparagus and mushroom bruscetta were demonstrated by the Chef for the early birds.

That is what is unique about this culinary experience-you are encouraged to participate in a number of aspects of food preparations for the evening…..caramelizing the apple slices for the soup garnish or cutting the cucumber strips on a mandolin for the salad.  Or you can sit back and watch all the kitchen flurry occur around you and pick up a few tips on the way…how to make a disposable piping bag, the secrets to cooking a stuffed roast,  taking the mystery out of crème brulée and seeing where to cut a cucumber strip to make a cup on the plate for the roasted vegetable salad.   I always gravitate to the kitchen at a dinner party anyway and this is exactly what it feels like.

At one point, we were encouraged to find our designated seat in their dining/sun room and dinner was served.  A creamy soup of squash (and we thought -potato) garnished with the carmelized apple and a squiggle of cream.

Next came the roasted vegetable salad and then the roast pork loin with a cranberry bread stuffing and simply steamed local vegetables.  The crème brulées arrived with chocolate biscotti.  The perfect ending to a perfect evening celebrating new friends and the bounties of the harvest.

Chef Peter Ecker made it all look so easy but fun at the same time.  I recognized his badges that I am guessing would mean he is on the Manitoban and Canadian Culinary team.  We were in very good hands.

Kath’s quote:  “Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”-Francois Minot

Let love be multiplied.

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