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Variations on a Sangria Theme

June23

Sangria is perfect for hot summer days.  The basic recipe below can be altered any number of ways, but provides a good base for your own ideas and innovations.  Traditional sangrias are made with red wine but there are lots of options with white wine too.  Let your imagination run wild.  (I have to admit…after a few afternoon batches my recipes become quite unrestricted in terms of ingredients and ratios.  But no one seems to complain).

 

#1 Basic

1 bottle dry red wine

1 T sugar

Juice of 1 large orange

Juice of 1 large lemon

Large orange and lemon sliced thin

2 medium peaches – peeled, pitted and cut into chunks

1 cup club soda

Combine all ingredients except club soda and chill overnight.  Add club soda just before serving and serve ice cold.

#2  Spicy

1 bottle red wine (your preference but a Spanish Rioja is nice)

1 lime, lemon and orange cut into wedges

2 T sugar

2 t hot sauce

1 shot of rum

2 L bottle of citrus flavoured soda (I like Fresca, pink grapefruit etc.)

Pour wine into a pitcher and squeeze the juice from the fruit wedges into the wine.  Toss in the fruit and add rum, sugar and hot sauce.  Chill overnight.  Add soda just before serving.

Easy Sangria

Marinate 1 each sliced lemon, lime & orange overnight.  Add or substitute berries, grapes, melon, mangoes or pineapple if you like.  Upon serving, fill a tall glass with ice and mix half of the wine/fruit mixture with 7 up.

Kath’s quote:Wine is the most healthful and most hygienic of beverages.”-Louis Pasteur

 

June21

My Papa was a foodie before the word was ever uttered.  One winter (40 years ago) he tried to perfect flat crust pizza dough.  Another time he spent months experimenting with the qualities and flavour varieties of sesame oil. 

His own palate was quite simple- grabbing a plain bun and a piece of sausage for lunch, biting into a ripe pear and not gulping down his coffee until it had reached room temperature.  The only food I ever knew him not to like was celery. 

My habit of making “refrigerator soup” i.e stirring up a pot of whatever is in the fridge comes from my Dad.  He would make amazing hams with intricate marinades and glazes from whatever he found when scrounging around the fridge; one time using up my Mom’s chokecherry jelly, the next time starting with maple syrup. 

He loved steaks pan-fried in butter and would cook one up on a Saturday afternoon for his lunch.  My twin brother and sister and I would sit across the table like little birds waiting for the parent to drop food into their mouths.  Daddy would cut a big bite off for himself and then shave a tender one for one of the open mouths.  It was his turn next and then one of ours after that.  And so it went until the treat was done.

My Dad went to heaven to meet up with his two little brothers in 1997.  I still remember the aromas of his cooking, his crisp and dapper look as he left each morning for the office, his easy ability to cry and the simple and yet eloquent motto he always repeated- “that’s okay.”  It has been 13 Father’s Day’s without you on earth but you are with me every day.  I love you Daddy.

Kath’s quote:  “The fact is that it takes more than ingredients and technique to cook a good meal. A good cook puts something of himself into the preparation — he cooks with enjoyment, anticipation, spontaneity, and he is willing to experiment.”-Pearl Bailey

Crab Rolls

June18

D and I once drove from Quebec City to Provincetown, Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  Our first night was in Rockport Maine.  We were very excited about our first feed of seafood and chose a restaurant way out on the end of a pier.  The restaurant was an octagon shape like a gazebo and everyone including us, had a view of the sunset. When it was time to order, we were intrigued by what the menu highlighted as their house specialty –crab rolls.  When we inquired with our server what these were, here’s how she described them; “Oh, it’s like a crab salad on a hotdog bun. I don’t know what the big deal is”.  Needless to say, we made another selection.  I don’t remember if we stopped again for seafood along the way, but it wouldn’t have mattered because we were just not tempted to try a crab salad on a hotdog bun.

 

On one of last days on the Cape, we went whale watching.  It was about noon and we decided to order something for lunch on board.  The selection was poor (a can of tomato soup), so we dashed off the boat, as it was still loading and went to a little stand near the pier.  No-all they have are crab rolls!  We begrudgingly ordered one each.

OH MY GOODNESS!  They were one of the tastiest seafood meals we had on our two week trip.  The crab was so fresh it felt like it would dance in your mouth and the bun was just baked and soft and sweet, but the outside was crusty and chewy.  We thought we had died and gone to sandwich heaven.

Later that afternoon, when we got off the whale watching boat, we went back to the stand and ordered two more for our dinner.  I think we came back the next day for lunch too.  If you work in the hospitality industry…take note.  It may be a boring, old sandwich to you but to a tourist or new customer, it may be their little taste of heaven.

Kath’s quote: “There was an Old Person of Hyde,
Who walked by the shore with his bride,
Till a Crab who came near,
     fill’d their bosoms with fear,
And they said, ‘Would we’d never left Hyde!'”-
Edward Lear  (1812-1888)

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Lobster Dumplings with Chile & Cilantro Accents

June17

 My friend Laura brought this recipe unassembled to my place for a  summer lunch and we showed the rest of our co-workers how to form and steam the dumplings.  This dish is expensive to make and very time consuming and it is worth the investment of both.

Friends & fellow foodies-Allan and Laura

1 ½ lb. live lobster

6 c loosely packed spinach leaves (about 8 oz.)

1/3 c chopped jicama

2 whole green onions, minced

½ lb ground chicken

1 T finely mined fresh ginger

2 T thin soy sauce

1 T dry sherry

¼ t freshly ground white pepper

40 won ton skins, preferably round

Cornstarch for dusting

Sauce:

2 c whipping cream

½ c white wine

2 t dark sesame oil

½ t salt

Large pinch saffron

1 T very finely minced fresh ginger

Garnish

¼ c Thai chilli sauce

½ c chopped fresh cilantro

Over highest heat, bring 4 inches of water to a vigorous boil in a large pot.  Add the lobster, head first, then cover the pot and steam until the lobster turns bright red, about 6 minutes.  Remove the lobster from the water and cool to room temperature,  cut the lobster in half lengthwise with a heavy knife or poultry scissors.  Remove all the meat.  Cut the lobster meat into pieces small enough to fit inside the dumpling.

Thoroughly wash the spinach leaves.  Ina 2 ½ qt. saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a vigorous boil,  Add the spinach and turn it in the boiling water until it wilts, about 20 seconds.  Transfer the spinach to a colander to drain, then rinse with cold water and drain again.  Using your hands, press all of the water from the spinach, then mince.  In a large bowl, combine the lobster, spinach, jicama, green onions, chicken, ginger, soy sauce, sherry and white pepper.  Mix with your fingers until thoroughly combined.

Within 5 hours of cooking, fold the dumplings: if the won tons are square, trim into circles.  Add 2 t filling the centre of each won ton skin.  Moisten the edges with water and fold the won ton in half over the filling., then pinch the edges together firmly.  Moisten each end of the dumpling , then touch the ends together so that the dumplings look like caps.  Place the dumplings in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with non-stick cooking (parchment) paper and dusted with cornstarch.  Refrigerate uncovered.

Make the sauce: in a small bowl, combine the cream, wine, sesame oil, salt and saffron, then refrigerate.  Separately set aside the ginger and garnishes. 

Last minute cooking: Bring 6 litres of water to a vigorous boil,  add the dumplings and give them a gentle stir.  When the dumplings float to the surface, after about 3 minutes gently tip them into a colander to drain.

While the dumpling water is coming to a boil and the dumplings are cooking, place the sauce in a 12 inch sauté pan.  Bring to a rigour boil over high heat and cook until the sauce thickens enough to lightly coat a spoon, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the mined ginger.  Taste & adjust seasonings, especially for salt & pepper.  Transfer the dumplings to a bowl, add the sauce, and toss gently.

Place the dumplings and sauce on a heated platter.  Garnish the edge of the sauce with dots of chile sauce.  Sprinkle on the cilantro and serve at once.

Kath’s quote: “A truly destitute person is not one without riches, but the poor wretch who has never partaken of lobster.”-anonymous

Market Analysis

June10

Although the St. Norbert Market just outside Winnipeg is officially open, I understand the produce trucks have not moved in as of yet.  The vegetable harvest will be hard to predict this year as the rain is plentiful but the sunshine scarce (or up until now that is).  I intend to go anyway as I love the home baked and home processed goods that the market has to offer.  Just thinking about it, takes me back to our market day in Nice.

Olives in one direction and olives in the other-more varieties than I have ever seen.

Sea salt mixtures-who knew?

I thought honey from clover was the norm-I was wrong.

The most beautiful marzipan-every creation a work of art.  Too beautiful to eat.

Candied fruit of every imagining.

Spices from around the world-this area was mostly curries.  We bought Herbs de Provence in a herb grinder at the next table.

Focaccia.

Varieties of raisins and other dried fruit.

Edible flowers.

A morning to remember forever and always.

Kath’s quote: “The difference of a single day is perceptible. Vegetables can only be tasted in perfection, gathered the same day.”-John Pintard (1759-1844)

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