Browsing: Isla Mujeres

Parmesan Crusted Chicken Wings

February22

Earlier this week, we were invited over for dinner with beloved friends. At one time, one spouse from all three couples, worked with each at Winnipeg Harvest (in fact Lee was the founder of the amazing organization).  So once again in my life, food (and the sharing of it), drew me to loved ones.  I had been thinking about this particular appetizer recipe for as long as my count down of sleeps for Isla Mujeres, because Parmesan crusted fish is served a couple of places on the island.

The view from the corner table at the Co-op.

My favourite version is offered up at The Fisherman’s Co-op, right on the water and across from the little hotel where we typically stay.

In the end, D made this batch up and so they tasted even better than usual to me, as I didn’t prepare them.  I have posted this recipe today, in case you want to make them for an Oscar watching evening on Sunday.  In our house on Superbowl Day,  D plants himself in his football watching chair and I fix little treats for he and his quests.  On Academy Awards night, the tradition is reversed and he does the same for me.

Me on Isla (ha, ha, this is J2, my legs aren’t long enough to touch the sand).

This is really me on Isla (with Daughter #1)

Alas, this Oscar night I wouldn’t be with D as I will be spending my first night on Isla…


Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetiser
 
This is really an approximate recipe as it very much depends on your own inclination to Parmesan cheese which can be very rich when partnered with butter and chicken skin.
Ingredients
  • ½ c homemade breadcrumbs (I make my own in big batches and keep them in the freezer)
  • ½ c Parmesan cheese (buy from the deli/cheese section, not the shaker variety)
  • 1 T garlic powder (less if you have to kiss someone (anyone!) when Bradley Cooper is on screen)
  • ½ c melted butter
  • 1 lb. chicken drumettes
Instructions
  1. Mix crumbs, cheese and garlic in a shallow bowl and set aside.
  2. Dip drumettes into the butter.
  3. Press drumettes into the breading, coating all sides.
  4. Place on a lined baking sheet (important to have lined as these are very messy).
  5. Baked at 400 for 25 minutes turning once.

Kath’s quote: “GAWD! I LOVE THIS PLACE!!!!”-new Islaholic- Jackie Savoie

Love-that is all.

Buildings on Isla Mujeres

February11

I have a met a person, whom, as a result of reading my blog, but particularily entries about Isla Mujeres, has decided to spend a month long vacation there.  I know why I love this little place, but will she? This has caused me to do some intense reflection.  What is it about Isla Mujeres?  Is it that I see beauty from a different perspective?  I start this pictoral series with the basics: the buildings.

 

Kath’s quote: “Colour is like cooking.  The cook puts in more or less salt, that’s the difference!”-Josef Albers

Love-that is all.

Happy New Year

December31

On Sundays at Mandatory Dinner for our family, we often go around the table and share three things: 1) the best thing that happened that week 2) the big disappointment of the week and 3) the thing that you are most looking forward to in the week to come.  Last evening over an early New Year’s fondue we changed the framework to be the year.  The reflections were varied from landing a job, seeing Ireland, spending time in Montreal to starting a Fantasy football league, going to a Bruce Springsteen concert and starting new studies and businesses.  The anticipations are equally thrilling like an upcoming family wedding, a baby’s birth, starting grad school and possible travel.  We decided not to share disappointments.

It occured to me that the same could be true as far as food and dining is concerned, so here are my highlights:

  • Our year started on Isla Mujeres where the food literally sparkles in your mouth and is expertly prepared (and so affordable) such as pork chops and beans at Fredy’s, breakfast at Rooster’s, fruita de mare pizza and pasta at Angelo’s & Brisas Caribe, chiles relleno at La Lomita, Tino’s weekend ribs, and literally everything at Basto’s Grill.
  • Teaching in Thompson Manitoba.  I shared my knowledge of food and beverage service with them and learned a couple of things of my own like the beauty of the north and that good food is not only found in major cities, discovering Nanny’s Diner and Santa Maria Pizza.
  • Travelling to Ireland, noshing on mussels and pork belly at an ancient pub in Galway, walking to a five star restaurant in a thatched cottage in Adare, lunching at The Falls Hotel in Ennistymon (near the cliffs of Moher),  trying bangers & mash and shredded duck salad in Limerick and purchasing cider, scones and black and white pudding to eat at our gorgeous villa.
  • Writing for the community newspapers and my first time visits to Sonya’s, Luda’s and Magic Sushi 2. The food was amazing but the people who run these little places even better.
  • Winning the opportunity to attend a Foodie Conference in Washington, DC.  I met fascinating people that helped me improve my blog, toured a gorgeous city and got to eat at The Old Ebbitt Grill and my first time at a “raw” restaurant..
  • Spending the summer at the lake and loving the crepes, poutine and burgers at Le Gouter in Albert Beach in addition to our own family brunches and barbeques.
  • Loving our garden share and roasting beets and carrots and Jerusalem artichokes into the fall.
  • Travelling to western Manitoba with the Canola ladies to meet farmers and producers and feasting on the amazing local specialties at our field lunches and dinners.
  • Heading to another food bloggers conference in Toronto and walking the board walk at the beach with delicious wraps in hand, even though it was late October.
  • Loving the incredible restaurants within walking distance of our house: Inferno’s and Pizzeria Gusto on Academy and Bonfire Bistro on Corydon.
  • Celebrating birthdays and holidays at Deseo’s, Rudy’s and Hermanoes.
  • Trying other places for my first time like the Modern Taco Company, Saigon Jon’s Kitchen, Corrientes Argentian Pizza and the new fish house at Terrace in the Park.
  • Food-styling for a number of top Canadian chefs and especially working alongside Chef Michael Allemeier.
  • Cheering on the Manitoba Culinary Team that won silver in Germany this fall and celebrating Chef Osten Rice’s win at the gold plates.  Osten is the son of a good friend and I have watched his culinary rise to success over the years. 

I am off to Isla Mujeres and Thompson again in the next couple of months.  I have already booked D’s birthday dinner at The Promenade and I was thinking that it was high time that we walked to Fusion for an upcoming dinner (perhaps Valentine’s). I will be travelling to the Hockley Valley Resort in rural Ontario (where Top Chef Canada was filmed) for another food bloggers event and then look forward to time again at our beach house.  There are no plans as of yet for the fall but we are always on the watch for deals to Europe and hope to get to Spain soon.  AND most of all continuing to cook for my family and friends to demonstrate to them how very much I love them.

Happy New Year…I wish all my readers good health, happy hearts and joy in food.

Muah-Kath.

Love-that is all.

MTC Modern Taco Company

December24

I feel that it is appropriate that I set the stage here.  I do not profess to be skilled in any way to produce delicious Mayan fare (I leave that to Sister #3 and BF Laura).  But I have been traveling to the Yucatan for over 20 years and I have sojourned to Isla Mujeres (which is a culinary gem) for eight consecutive years.  When we do so, we live like the locals, purchasing our fresh ingredients in the markets and dining primarily at loncherias.  There is not a single multi-unit restaurant on the island and we hope that it stays that way.  There are some ex-pats who have brought along their spins on Mexican recipes, but we find ourselves gravitating to the food from the locals.  So what I am saying is, we know good Mexican food!

I have tasted great Mexican food in my travels to Minneapolis, New York and else where in Canada.  Surprizingly, Saskatoon has a couple of really good places.  Restaurants in Winnipeg have earnestly tried and there are a couple of dishes that I enjoy at a couple of spots, but we just can’t seem to get it perfect.  By “perfect”, I mean with just the right amount of cilantro so that the flavours sing in your mouth balanced by just enough fire provided by the abundant variety of chilies and freshly squeezed lime juice, that I think makes everything taste better (even my beloved French fries).

Suffice it to say, the bar is set very, very high.  We have watched with interest as the Modern Taco Company has renovated a little place in our neighbourhood that has been a German bakery and then The Frenchway Cafe.  Last weekend as D was out walking the mutt, he saw a line snaking out the front door and we knew that the long awaited spot had opened.  Someone offered to hold onto the dog, so that he could go in and have a look around.  Since we didn’t have any plans for dinner that evening anyway, we called Sister #2 and husband and made a date.

The place has been absolutely transformed but looks vaguely familiar.  It has the same flow as Unburger and Saigon Jon’s for instance.  You enter the premises and look up towards the menu boards (including a long list of cervesas and tequilas) before placing your order at the counter to the front of the open kitchen.   The place was busy but we managed to get a table so I plunked down to reserve it.  I love watching my food get prepared so next time I may opt to sit at the stools that face the grill.

We started with  a spicy tomato & roasted jalapeno soup garnished with pico de gallo and avocado crema

and tortilla chips, with more pico de gallo & guacamole.

We also added a side of slaw with jalapeno vinaigrette.

For our mains, we choose tequila shrimp, composed of grilled shrimp, slaw and  chipotle crema,

pulled jerk chicken, caramelized pineapple, cilantro.

You can order a single variety for a trio or

a platter of three of a kind.

The tacos taste fresh, with high quality ingredients.  You can tell that the tortillas themselves are freshly made. Do they taste exactly like the ones that we enjoy while on vacation?  Of course not, but they are pretty darn good.  And besides we would have to have our toes in the sand and be sitting under a palapa on the Caribbean to replicate that taste.

Modern Taco Company on Urbanspoon

Kath’s quote: “One morning, as I went to the freezer door, I asked my wife, ‘What should I take out for dinner?’ Without a moment’s hesitation, she replied, ‘Me.'”-anonymous

Love-that is all.

 

Sopa de Lima-Bikinis & Margaritas Part 2

September13

In my humble opinion, the quality of a soup, determines the skill of the cook.  This is one reason why a vichyssoise or a bouillabaisse do not often find their way into many households. This is also true of my favourite Mexican soup-Soupe de Lima (Yucatan Lime Soup).  The balance of the broth, vegetables and chicken must be exactly right along with the trickier ratio of chicken stock and lime juice.  I have posted my version on this site previously.  Believe me, it does not hold a candle to this version.

Laura had everything simmering on the stove as we arrived along with the strips of fried tortillas.  I often cheat on this step and serve it with thin La Cocina tortilla chips on top-passable in a time crunch but going to the extra trouble, like Laura did, is well worth the effort.

She spooned out little bowls so that we wouldn’t fill up.  This made every sip, particularly precious.  I could eat it by the vat…..

Sopa de Lima
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer or Entree
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • ½ c vegetable oil (I would recommend Canola oil)
  • salt
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ t dried Mexican oregano, crumbled
  • 1 large tomato, peeled and chopped
  • 8 c chicken stock or canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 1½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 3 limes, juiced (about ⅓ c)
  • 1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Instructions
  1. Cut the tortillas into ¼ inch strips.
  2. Heat the oil in a medium skillet and, when very hot, fry the tortilla strips, in small batches, until lightly golden and crisp, 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  3. Transfer to paper towel lined plate to drain.
  4. Season with salt, to taste.
  5. Repeat until all tortilla strips have been fried.
  6. Set fried tortilla strips aside and reserve the vegetable oil.
  7. Transfer 1 T of the reserved oil to a large saucepan and add the chopped onion, celery, carrot and pepper.
  8. Cover over medium-heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, about 4 minutes.
  9. Add the garlic, bay leaf, and Mexican oregano and cook, stirring for 1 minute.
  10. Add the tomato and season lightly with salt.
  11. Cook, stirring, until tomato is softened and has released its liquid and the mixture is nearly dry, 4 to 5 minutes.
  12. Add the chicken stock and chicken breasts and bring to a boil.
  13. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer and cook until the chicken is just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes.
  14. Remove chicken from the soup and set aside until cool enough to handle.
  15. Allow soup to continue simmering.
  16. When the chicken has cooled a bit, shred into bite sized pieces and return to the pot along with the green onions and lime juice.
  17. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through and the soup is piping hot.
  18. Season the soup, to taste, with salt and ladle the soup into wide soup bowls, with a handful or tortilla strips added to each bowl.
  19. Garnish with avocado and cilantro and serve immediately.

Ahh, refreshing and warmly satisfying at the same time.  The only version that I have enjoyed as much as this was concocted by Lynn and Tom McGrath when they owned the beautiful Casa O Restaurant on Isla Mujeres.

I had forgotten that I was a redhead in those days….

I first dined there on my very first trip to Isla Mujeres in 2005,  when the three sisters celebrated Sister #2’s birthday.   Casa O’s added a hint of cinnamon  and fresh mint.  Let me know if you want me to publish this version.  Supposedly it was a favourite of Paul Newman’s!

Kath’s quote: “When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.”-John Ruskin

Love-that is all.

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