Browsing: Food Celebrations

Christmas Birthdays


A good friend of mine celebrates her birthday on December 14 and she has always felt that the day gets lost in the Christmas rush.  Perhaps that is why I have tried to make a special fuss for her over the years.  I worked with her husband last year to totally shock her with a 50th birthday party in her own home and also designed her 40th which we entitled “Stuck in the middle with you.”  Each guest was requested to bring a pair of panties which we strung on clotheslines.  It was reminiscent of an old commercial by Fruit of the Loom as we are all in the advertising business.  One year we had a prime rib lunch.  Another (when she was dieting) a South Beach Spa lunch.

Hey I'm missing the birthday girl!

Hey I'm missing the birthday girl!

Last year I hosted a sushi lunch at my place complete with miso soup and edamame beans.  We had the sushi catered from Sushi Ya which is my fav place in Winnipeg for my regular sushi fix.  I love the flower garnishes , the freshness and quality of the ingredients  and the price!  We took my 82 year old Mom there for sushi and she exclaimed “What other weird food do you think that I would like?”  My sisters and I made a commitment to get her out for weird food on an ongoing basis.

Sushi Ya Platter

Sushi Ya Platter

To make a long story, even longer we went to the Lobby Restaurant on York. It is owned and operated by an old friend of sister #3.  The decor is very trendy and urban -more like Toronto or New York and the food is divine.

Football Food


Football and food go hand in hand in our family. There is a gang assembled to watch NFL every Sunday. At the cottage in the summer we watch the CFL at “the big cottage” which is owned by my brother and Mom. At the latter there is an open invitation and you bring along a munchie and your chosen beverage. If my niece is there for the weekend it means Miss Vicky’s chips and some exotic beer or cocktail as well.

On this night we were invited to another brother’s home to watch the CFL final-the Grey Cup. It was an exciting and close game and so there was less interest in noshing than usual. I took along a dip for pre-supper nibbling. I had found some spreadable chevre at 50% off this week and so I’ve plopped it onto a plate and roughed up the surface. I then mixed a balsamic glaze with some honey and poured that over top. Toasted almonds go onto of that. When we arrived, I cut up a green and a red apple and put the slices all around the cheese. It was a big hit. Sister #2 took her famous hot mushroom dip. ml1204_sip_fd08_bacondip_xlThis is truly addictive and very rich for the old digestive system but remains one of my all time favourites: cook ½ lb. of bacon until crisp. Drain and reserve 2 T of drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon and set aside. Add ½ lb. of sliced fresh mushrooms, 1 finely chopped onion and 1 clove of minced garlic and cook over medium heat until tender and most of the mushroom liquid has evaporated (about 6-8 minutes). Mix in 2 T flour and a dash of pepper. Reduce heat and add 4 oz. of cream cheese (cut into smallish pieces) and ½ c cottage cheese. Also add 2 t Worcestershire sauce and 2 t Soya sauce. Stir in ½ c of sour cream and the bacon. Serve with a solid cracker as this dip is heavy with good things.images

Another football favourite is La Cocina’s Hot Hamburger Dip. La Cocina is a Manitoba company that makes the best tortilla chip that I’ve ever tasted. It is airy light and salty. The chip is more fragile for dipping but this keeps me from going over board (will power would also do the trick). We also like to scatter the chips over a Mexican dish or salad (a good use for the last ¼ of the bag). I digress…the Hot Hamburger Dip recipe is: Brown 2 lbs. of ground beef and 1 chopped onion. Add ½ lb. of cheese (processed like Velveeta is best but we rarely have it in the house). Then add 1 can tomato soup and 1 can of mushroom soup as well as ½ a chopped red pepper and another ½ chopped green pepper. This is where you can experiment by adding other peppers, celery, carrots, etc. Finish with 2 t chili powder and ½ t garlic salt. Simmer 20-30 minutes and serve in small bowls or in a crock pot.

Lunch Out


I have a lunch meeting today and I was this close….to having a clubhouse sandwich at Rae and Jerry’s.  The location has been changed.  Typically when you order Winnipeg’s famous Clubhouse you are compelled to share or take half home for dinner.  Besides Rae and Jerry’s, my favourite is at a little downtown lunch bar called to Wagon Wheel.  At the latter turkeys are roasted through the night to assemble the freshest tasting Club you can imagine.  Of course the tomatoes have to be at their prime as well.  I prefer really meaty and less salty bacon and the mayo has to be liberally slathered on.  There was a time in Winnipeg one another triple decker sandwich was at the top of my list.  It was served at Harman’s Drugstore lunch counter at the corner of Portage Ave. and Sherbrooke St.  The ingredients were a stack of back bacon, asparagus spears and melted cheese.

There are other good lunch selections at R&J’s like their prime rib sandwich.  They slow roast a log up in the morning and then slice it very thinly so that the fat cap is evenly distributed through the sandwich.  Oh my.  This institution is also has liver and onions on it as one of the daily specials.  A tradition that has carried on for years and years.  I always loved the aroma of the same dish when I was growing up at home but I never could bring myself to have more than a taste-the texture not feeling right in my mouth.

In truth R&J kinda weirds me out.  It is so unchanged that you feel stuck in a time machine.  The red fortrel clad waitress actually call you doll and hon.  And they still serve tomato juice as a first course!
Rae & Jerry's Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

Prime_rib_roastIt has been a family tradition in year’s past that my extended family serves prime rib on Christmas Eve.  It is very strange for me to think of meatless menus for Christmas Eve when ours has roast beef, kubasa and cabbage rolls stuffed with more beef.  The beef goes into the oven early in the day and is carved right before serving.  The next day a slice of left over roast on a fresh bun is a treat for anyone who couldn’t make the night before.

Do you remember Harman’s Drugstore?  Where is your favourite place for prime rib or clubhouse sandwiches?  Do you attempt Prime Rib at home?

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.

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?

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