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Poutine, etc.


My son is a great cook.  I think it is because he has always seen his Dad move with ease in the kitchen.  He makes killer omelets and breakfast potatoes. He also does strange things like put a layer of potato chips in his sandwiches.  He’s all about texture and crunch he proclaims!  Today he made me poutine for lunch.  His were very good if not authentic.  Because it was all that we had in the house, he used beef gravy where I prefer a peppery chicken or turkey gravy and he topped them with grated mozzarella, whereas everyone knows that fresh cheese curds are the way to go.poutine

The first time I had ever tasted a cheese curd was in the food barn (more like an arena) at the Minnesota State Fair.  They were served at room temperature to be soft, slightly oily, slightly salty and oh so delicious.  That was also the first time I had ever had a corn dog (not my cup of tea) and the first time that I saw Kenny Loggins in concert (but now I’m aging myself).

According to Wikipedia poutine was invented in 1957 in rural Quebec, when a customer ordered fries while waiting for his cheese curds from the cheese factory in Kingsey Falls.  The owner is said to have exclaimed ça va faire une maudite poutine (“it will make a damn mess”), hence the name. The sauce was allegedly added later, to keep the fries warm longer.

I don’t know of a restaurant in Winnipeg that makes their poutine with fresh cheese curds.  I do know of many that have perfected the French fry.  My recent indulgence was at George’s on Henderson Hwy. this weekend.  Served in a bag, crunchy on the outside and soft and potatoey on the inside with malt vinegar and lots of salts-yum.

Where is your favourite fry place?  Do you know who makes poutine with fresh cheese curds?  Where do you buy cheese curds for home cooking?

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?

Chicken Lasagna


Lasagna Roll Ups (this version with spinach)

I am on my way to a meeting where the committee gathers for dinner first.  When you think about this-it is a pretty good idea as people can start right after work without worrying about stopping for dinner and then everyone can get home at a decent hour.  Tonight was my turn to provide the main course.  My partner was taking bread, salad and dessert.  I decided to make chicken lasagna.  Everyone who has ever tasted it LOVES it and I am not quick to admit that it comes out of a Campbell Soup Recipe book.

In order to save time and steps I use no pre-cooking required lasagna noodles (12 noodles required) and grated mozzarella (2 cups).  I do also like to use pre-cooked chicken when it is not too dear.  Such was not the case this week.  Here it is:

Set aside 2/3 cup mozzarella for the top.  Combine 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 1 ½ can of milk, 1/8 tsp or nutmeg and another of cayenne pepper.  Set aside.  In another bowl combine 1 egg, 1 small container of ricotta cheese and a package of really well drained frozen spinach.  Set aside.  If not using pre-cooked or leftover chicken, sauté 500 ml of small cubes in olive oil.  In the bottom of a 13 x 9 pan, spread ½ cup of the soup mixture.  Arrange 4 lasagna noodles on top then top with 1/3 remaining soup mixture, ½ the mozzarella and half the chicken.  Repeat layer and end with a third layer of noodles; add remaining soup reserved mozzarella and ½ cup of grated Parmesan cheese.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes and until hot and bubbling and then let stand 15 minutes before serving.  Serves eight (or a family of five with enough for lunches).

Lasagna is one of those things I rarely order at a restaurant as it is one thing that I think that I can cook as well (if not better).  We rarely have a traditional lasagna instead we enjoy this one or another even more decadent chicken one with hollandaise sauce, in addition to red and white lasagnas, sausage lasagna or pesto lasagna.  We also love lasagna roll ups where you pretty much throw everything that would normally go into the layers into one bowl, spread it along the noodle and then roll from one end.  I pour the sauce in the bottom of the baking dish and then dip the roll over onto its side.  This recipe is a breeze if you’re in a hurry and they take less time to cook.

Our favourite place for lasagne in Winnipeg no longer exists.  It was called Luce’s and it was located in the Maples area of Winnipeg.  When the lasagne (or eggplant dish) would come out of the kitchen it looked like a loaf of bread covered in Italian sauce-it was that huge!

Do you favour a tradition lasagne recipe?  Where is your favourite spot for lasagne?  Have you found a bake at home version that is any good?

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?

Fancy Sandwiches


Yesterday was the first wedding shower to honour the long time love of my son.  It was a lovely afternoon in November and was a pleasure to be in the company of women.  Her bridesmaid’s put out a beautiful spread of spinach dip, cheese and fruit, veggies and caramel popcorn.  For dessert they had a pumpkin cheesecake and a banana chocolate torte.  After some visiting and nibbling, we opened presents and then played wedding party games.  This was a great way to get to know everyone further.

sandwichtrayWhen I got home the guys watching football in the basement TV room shouted up “Did you bring home any shower sandwiches?”  This was asked even though I had made chicken fingers and pizza before I left home.  Alas the fine art of fancy sandwich making is gone.  I learned late in life-being taught by my sister in law for my Mother’s 80th birthday-luncheon and tea.  The last time I had fancy sandwiches at a restaurant was when my sisters and I took my Mom out to a Mother’s Day Tea at Pine Ridge Hollow just outside Winnipeg by Bird’s Hill Park.  There are some tea places in the Winnipeg that may serve fancy sandwiches but I have yet to sample them.

My sister’s favourite are the cream cheese rolled around a maraschino cherry.  I love the salmon but also one that I was taught to make which was one layer of egg and one layer of devilled ham.  The only time I have imbibed recently is at a luncheon after a memorial service.  These events are often catered by Rae and Jerry’s Restaurant (but I had heard that they actually outsource them). You used to also be able to order them at the Paddlewheel Restaurant in the downtown Bay store.

Do you know of a restaurant that serves fancy sandwiches?  What is your favourite place to have them catered?  Have you had a fancy sandwich which was untypical of the ones usually served in Winnipeg?

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