Browsing: Sister #3’s Recipes & Reflections

When two Cultures Come Together-Sister #3


Spending time on Isla Mujeres every winter, I have tried to learning about the history of her people and of course their food. Years ago I took a cooking class in Puerto Morelos.

The chef taught us what foods are indigenous to Mexico like corn, beans, squash, turkey, and chocolate, and what foods were introduced through colonization. It was fascinating to learn how the people incorporated these new foods, that are now staples of the cuisine, such as rice, wheat, chicken, beef, pork, and herbs and spices like cinnamon and cilantro. Of course there is much more to colonization than the introduction of new foods.

Last year I had the opportunity to go to the Mayan World Museum in Merida to learn more about the tragic history of how the Spanish tried to erase the Mayan people and culture. 

The story is similar in my home country of Canada. The Scottish, English, and French tricked the indigenous people into surrendering their land and later tried to destroy their culture all together. 

At first, relationship was a beneficial partnership. With the two cultures coming together the Métis nation was born. My mother’s family is Métis. A mix of indigenous and European blood. Like the Mayans, the Métis too took the food that was brought by the colonizers and incorporated it into the cuisine. 

Today, February 19th is Louis Riel Day in my home province of Manitoba. Riel was a strong (and a bit crazy) Métis leader who helped create our province. So I thought I would celebrate him and Métis history by making some fry bread while I’m down in here in Mexico.

Fry bread is a version of Bannock, a staple of Métis cuisine. A play on the British scone, it became popular because the ingredients traveled well and it could be made over a camp fire. Fry bread is a decent fried version of bannock. I apologize in advance if you become obsessed with this bread. Here’s the recipe. 

Fry bread

1 cup all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt 

1 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk 

1/4 cup sugar 

1 teaspoon cinnamon 

In a mixing bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add in milk and mix using a rubber spatula. Turn out dough onto floured surface. Sprinkle more flour on top and knead five to six times. Form into ball, return to bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour. Mix together sugar and cinnamon for topping. 

When dough is ready, heat in inch of oil in a cast iron frypan to 350 degrees. Roll out dough, I just use my hands, into a 1/4 inch thick circle. Cut dough into four portions. Take each portion and ensure it is consistent thickness. Cut a small hole in the middle of each portion. This will help the bread stay flat while frying. When oil is ready, cook one piece at a time for approximately 3 minutes per side or until golden brown. Be sure to place in the dough away from you to avoid splashing oil. Remove from oil and while still hot sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Serve hot. 

Kath’s quote: “We are Métis.  We are neither First Nations nor Inuit, nor are we European immigrants to this land. Instead, we are the middle-ground between camps; the compromise between differences and the dawn that separates night and day. We are not half-breeds, but the children born of a marriage between two very different worlds…. To be Métis is to be blessed with the best fruit of not one, but two family trees. We are not “half” of anything, but doubled. Being twice blessed, we are likewise proud, strong and determined.”

-Terry St. Amant

Love never fails.

The Day of Love and Friendship-Sister #3


I’ve never been a big fan of Valentine’s Day. In most of North America it’s a very commercial event focused on romantic love. It’s a day where you pay twice as much for roses than other days and it’s impossible to get a dinner reservation at a decent restaurant.

Most years on February 14th I am in Mexico, where they celebrate “dia del amor y la amistad”, the day of love and friendship. A much more inclusive recognition, that makes me very happy.

Last year, my sister and brother-in-law were on the island and bought me flowers.

Doug made dinner for Kath and I and it was a fabulous day. There are so many kinds of love, and I appreciate that in Mexico they value friendship as well as romantic love. 

Of course one of my love languages is food. And a favourite dessert of mine, and everyone I’ve made it for, is chocolate lava cake. I think it’s the epitome of love. 

Chocolate Lava Cake


4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped

10 tablespoons butter, cut into cubes and softened

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3 large eggs

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder 

1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened coco powder


Place the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a bowl set over a saucepan of hot water over low heat (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water).  Stir occasionally until the chocolate melts; remove from the heat.  

When the chocolate is smooth, stir in the butter and sugar until smooth.  Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and cocoa.  Beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until the mixture is pale and has a thick, mousse-like consistency, about 5 minutes.

Fill six ramekins 1/2 full and cover each with plastic wrap.  Freeze for at least 3 hours.  NOTE: The ramekins can be filled and frozen up to 3 days in advance.

Just before serving time, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Place oven rack in the center of the oven.

Bake the frozen desserts until the outer edges of the tops are set, but the centers are still moist and shiny, usually 10 to 11 minutes. Remove from oven.

To serve, invert each hot portion onto a serving plate and serve warm. I like to serve with raspberry coulis and good quality vanilla ice cream. 

Raspberry coulis


½ cup sugar

3 tablespoons water or orange juice

12 ounces frozen raspberries thawed

1 tablespoon Grand Marnier liqueur (optional)


Combine sugar and water (or orange juice) in a 1 cup (or larger) microwave-safe cup or bowl. Stir to combine. The mixture will be very thick.

Cook in the microwave on high power for two minutes. Stir for 5-10 seconds to ensure that the sugar crystals are dissolved.

Combine the raspberries and hot syrup in a blender container. Blend until the mixture is smooth and pureed.

Pour puree through a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium-size bowl. Stir and push on the solids with the back of a rubber spatula until all of the liquid has been extracted. This will take several minutes as the mixture will be thick.

Discard the seeds. Add the liqueur, if using and stir to combine

Makes 6 servings

Kath’s quote: “More like a chocolate molten lava cake. A dessert so sinful, so luscious, so filled with inner heat it made a girl want to lick each and every crumb right off the plate.“-Julie James

Love never fails.

Cooking at home in Mexico-Sister #3


You guys know I am passionate about food.

I love to cook. It’s my happy place. It’s where I find my Zen. So it only makes sense that some of my favourite time spent on my winter vacation is in the kitchen. This year I am staying in two different places, for a month each. They both have small kitchenettes. They are pretty basic.  They both feature full size fridges, microwaves, coffee makers, plates, glasses, and cutlery. That’s it for one of the kitchens, the other also has a double gas burner, toaster, blender, pots, pans, and cooking utensils. Over the years we have accumulated a few supplies that allow me to cook in either location.  It can be tricky to cook for a big gang with limited tools, but somehow I’ve managed.

Another favourite way to spend my time is food shopping.

The open air markets are full of fresh produce native to the area.  I’ve gotten to know the Mexican products pretty well and know enough Spanish that I can manage to find what I’m looking for. (Unlike our trip to Prague where my sisters and I came home with buttermilk for our coffee). Because our budget is tight, we eat at home a lot. We often start the day with fruit, yogurt and toast but for a treat, I like to whip up omelets or French toast with tropical toppings.  We usually pack a lunch and snacks for the beach. So far this trip I have made most of our dinners at home.  

Recently I made lime chicken with Mexican oregano, rice and carrots. A play on a lemon chicken dish I often make at home.  Its nice to have home cooked food, and the fresh ingredients make everything delicious.  

Lime Chicken


2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

3 tbsp flour                 1 tsp Lawry’s seasoning salt

1 tbsp oregano             3 tbsp oil

Juice from 1/2 a lime


Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Mix together seasoning salt and flour.  Toss chicken in seasoned flour.  Heat oil over high heat. Shake off excess flour off chicken and add to hot pan. Turn element down to medium-high.  Brown all sides of chicken and cook through, about 4 minutes.  When chicken is finished cooking, squeeze lemon juice over top and let reduce and coat chicken for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with oregano and serve.  

Kath’s quote: “To me, food is as much about the moment, the occasion, the location, and the company as it is about the taste.” – Heston Blumenthal

Love never fails.

Easy Appetizers by Sister #3


My favourite way to eat is small portions with a big variety. It’s why I enjoy tapas and dim sum so much. But making a number of little dishes can be a lot of work.

Recently my dear friend Donna retired and a few of her past work friends got together to celebrate with drinks and small bites. The hostesses of the night provided a charcuterie and I was asked to make a couple of Donna’s favourite appetizers. The easiest of which is my Korean pork in phyllo cups. They are ideal for a party where you don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen.

The cups are made ahead of time and can even be frozen. The pork filling is cooked earlier in the day and then microwaved, mixed with a few pre-cut fresh ingredients and spooned into the cups to serve. They are delicious hot, but also nice at room temperature so can be left out for a while. Here’s my recipe. Hope you enjoy. 

Phyllo Cups

frozen phyllo pastry                avocado oil spray

Thaw phyllo dough according to package instructions.  Place a layer of phyllo on work surface, lightly spray with oil. Place second layer on top, lightly spray and top with final layer.  Keep remaining dough covered with a damp towel to prevent drying.  Cut phyllo into 3” x 3” squares. Spray cups of a mini muffin pan. Place a square phyllo into each cup.  

Bake in the center of a 400ºF oven for about 5 minutes or until golden. Let cool on a rack.  

Korean Pork

1 tsp oil                                   1 large clove garlic, diced

1/2 tsp grated ginger               1/2 lb lean ground pork

1/4 cup red pepper, diced       1 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp hoi sin sauce                 1 tsp sesame oil

1/2 a carrot, shredded             1 green onion, finely sliced

6 leaves fresh mint, finely chopped

Heat oil over medium high heat. Sauté garlic, diced peppers, fresh ginger and ground pork, cook 8 – 10 minutes. Add soy sauce, hoi sin sauce and sesame oil. Take off heat and mix in shredded carrot, chopped green onion, and chopped mint. While mixture is hot, fill phyllo cups and serve.  Meat can be made ahead of time. The when ready to serve, heat in the microwave, stir in the fresh ingredients and fill cups.   

Kath’s quote: “My heart flutters with anticipation. If this was the appetizer, dinner might darn well kill me!”-Michelle A. Valentine

Love never fails.

For the love of Asian Food-Sister #3


People often ask me, “what’s your favourite cuisine” and I always respond “to cook, or to eat?”  When I went to Red River College I was trained in classic dishes, mostly French, some Italian and British, with a bit of German, as all my instructors were German. We never expanded into Asian food. It was the 80s and it just wasn’t part of the curriculum or culture. So I’m most comfortable cooking the food I was trained in, especially French food. But when I think about the food I love to eat, then my mind leaves Europe behind and heads strait to Asia.

Growing up, our family ate a lot Canadian Chinese food.  Sweet and sour shrimp, honey garlic chicken balls, fried rice and egg rolls. In fairness that was all that was available on the restaurant scene in my city at the time. But years on, as more restaurants opened, we began to expand our dining repertoire. My sisters and I enjoyed taking our Mom out to try new foods.

We all discovered a love for Vietnamese, Thai and dim sum. When we first took Mom to a sushi restaurant, thinking it was the first time she would have ever tried it, as sushi restaurants were new to our city at the time, I asked her what she thought of it. She responded “it was good, but not as good as what they used to serve Dad and me at the Japanese Consulate.” I had no idea that because my father had done some work for the Canadian government working in Japan, he was invited to a few receptions at the consulate located in Winnipeg.

During my career I was fortunate to work with people who introduced me to excellent Asian restaurants, tucked away in Chinatown and the core area. Double Greeting Noodle House, and the New Hong Kong Snack House became my go to lunch spots in the 90s and 2000s.

While working at CancerCare Manitoba I met my friend Liz who knew all the best restaurants and introduced me to a ton more. This weekend Liz and I tried a new restaurant just blocks away from my home, Hello Asian Fusion. Owned by three fellows from Hong Kong so I had high expectations. Liz had their Helloman seafood noodle soup and I had the wonton soup, but added beef satay.  We were not disappointed.

Beef Satay Noodle Soup


2 litres chicken broth
1 ¼ cup Hoisin sauce
½ cup Korean Barbeque Sauce
¼ cup Satay Peanut Sauce
1 teaspoon tomato paste
2 teaspoon chili oil
Sriracha hot chili sauce (optional)
2 pounds thinly sliced beef tenderloin

16 oz package rice stick noodles

Toppings: Use as few or as many as you wish

Bean sprouts

Shredded carrot

Finely diced peppers
Chopped green onions
Chopped peanuts

Fresh cilantro

I slice the beef when it is partially frozen to ensure I get nice thin pieces. In a large soup pot add chicken broth, Hoisin sauce, Korean BBQ sauce, Satay sauce, tomato paste, peanuts, chili oil, hot sauce and beef. Cook until the beef is no longer pink and the soup is nice and hot.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Turn off element and add rice noodles. Stir and cover with lid.  Stir a few more times returning the lid each time.  Noodles should be done 6-8 minutes or until tender but slightly firm and chewy.

To serve: In a large soup bowl place desired amount of noodles. Add soup. Eat as is or top with your choice of bean sprouts, shredded carrot, finely diced peppers, chopped green onions, chopped peanuts, fresh cilantro.

Kath’s quote: “I just love Chinese food. My favourite dish is number 27.” ~ Clement Attlee

Love never fails.

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