Jerusalem – A CookBook

October23

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We invited a friend of ours to dine with us recently. We know that she loves Ethiopian food but I confess that I have not mastered those culinary skills. She has also been to Palestine recently so I pulled out my beautiful Jerusalem Cookbook. I have only prepared a couple of recipes from the book so I looked at the occasion as a great excuse. She was familiar with the book, not because she has cooked from it but because she read it like a regular non-fiction work instead of a cookbook. The narrative reads that beautifully.

Every single ingredient that I purchased for the dinner was from the produce department. I pulled a bag of shrimp from my freezer and a can of clams from the pantry.

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I prepped everything that afternoon. The sweet potatoes and eggplants were ready for roasting, the red peppers and onions were ready for sauteing and finishing the sweet potato dish, the tomatoes and oregano were ready to submerge and then bake the shrimp.

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The sweet potatoes called for fresh figs that are already out of season so I substituted them for little jewels of pomegranate.

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The recipe indicates that you leave the potatoes unpeeled and although I was skeptical of this, they were perfect. The dish was completed with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. The spuds were even delicious cold.

The shrimp baked with clams, tomatoes and feta were also a hit. I mixed the leftovers with a pasta a couple of days later and it too was exceptional. Perhaps my new tomato sauce recipe will simply include oregano and sugar as this one did.

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If you are a regular visitor to this space, you will know that I love eggplant. Pictured above are the scored eggplants ready for roasting with Chermoula. Confession time…I misread the directions of the recipe and baked these with the topping that I had prepped in advance, when in fact they were to be roasted “bare naked” and you were to spoon the topping on after they came out of the oven. Unfortunately some of the raisins got too well cooked in the process. I had tasted the topping before I had baked it and knew that it would be fabulous on its own.

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I didn’t have Bulgar so I used a mixture of a variety of rices (brown, wild, long grain) which had been pre-cooked in my rice maker. To this I added pre-soaked raisins and slices of green olives for that sweet and salty combination that I love. Fresh tastes came from ribbons of fresh mint and cilantro. A silky olive oil and generous squeezes of lemon added the acidity and finished the dish beautifully. I made this up on a Sunday night to enjoy for lunches for a busy week.

I sent our friend home with leftovers as the recipes were of generous potions. She returned the container with a gift and this note:

In Kenya, I learned one does not return a plate (or container) to its giver, empty. I share with you my sister’s wonderful Masala Chai jelly-the bite comes after the fact! but so good. And a little memento of Jerusalem.

We enjoyed a taste of the jelly yesterday on our toast. And so the circle of giving and sharing was complete.

Kath’s quote: You don’t have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces — just good food from fresh ingredients.” – Julia Child

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PEI Trip Day Three

October22

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We were enthralled with the various cruise ships that appeared in Charlottetown harbor every day of our stay. It meant that when we were waiting for food or ice cream, or joined others on a food tour, we met people from all around the world. They were all loving Charlottetown and PEI and even with our short visit, we could certainly see why.

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Vintage buildings housing restaurants and shops are everywhere in the downtown area, making it a delightful place to stroll and browse.

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In the morning en route to the Sunday market, I hopped out of the car to get a photo of low tide. These canons remain from time gone by, aimed right at the narrow mouth of the harbour.

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We did quite a bit of walking that morning so we restored our energy levels with Lobster Rolls and fabulous fries from the Chip Shack. The lobster mix was plentiful but short on mayo, celery and green onions as we prefer. We continued our quest for the perfect Lobster Roll.

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For dessert we walked a short distance to Cow’s Ice Cream, reported to be the best ice cream in the world. I could happily attest to this with my choice of vanilla ice cream mixed with salted toffee and chocolate covered potato chips!

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We sat here for a spell to savour every single lick.

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The afternoon turned into a bright and sunny one so we walked the neighbourhood again, admiring the fine homes.

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I could never tire of being so close to the ocean.

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A quick drive to the country foretasted what we would enjoy the following day. The rolling hills dotted with trees (some of them cypresses) sure reminded me of Tuscany.

Kath’s quote: “I go running when I have to. When the ice cream truck is doing sixty”. -Wendy Liebman

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PEI Trip Report Day Two

October16

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After leisurely coffees on the front porch, we piled into M’s gorgeous car to hit the local Farmer’s Market. I loved the car so much that a picture of me kissing it was captured!

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I was fascinated by these PEI potatoes. I asked the growers if they had removed the potato eyes to make the product easier to prepare. “No” they said. “They grow that way!”

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Peppers were plentiful in all shapes and sizes.

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A beautiful sea of sprouts.

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The colourful carrots also caught my eye.

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We also went “home” with some delicious gluten free bread as well as a product we had never previously heard of -PEI Potato Garlic Jam. We haven’t found a use for it as of yet.

We intended to visit the PEI Shellfish Festival on the Saturday of their four day run. Tickets that we had purchased for a “Signature Experience” included admission to the Festival itself. Our intent was to visit the site until the time came to hook up with the tour leader . I will be frank, we were surprised when we arrived at the festival grounds that the entire event took place in one tent, it was a very large tent, mind you.

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We visited the stalls and then found a spot to drink our Clamato Caesar and Moosehead Beer.

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Of course we had to have food to go along with our libations so D scouted out some mussels and fries.

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As we ate our late breakfast, Chef Lynn Crawford gave a seafood cooking demonstration. Actually she had members of the audience do the cooking as she supervised. There were some hilarious results to this.

So it was not long until we left the festival grounds and hooked up with our exceptional Experience PEI tour guide for a three restaurant shellfish tour of the waterfront.

The first stop was Lobster on the Warf where we could smell the saltiness of the bay.  Our tour guide first took us to the retail area where we learned more about PEI Lobster including how to determine a male lobster from a female one.  The attached restaurant was bustling with their late lunch crowd.

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Our first taste was of Malpeque oysters. They are PEI’s most famous oyster and are grown wild in Malpeque Bay. Their taste was briny but not overly so and they easily slid down our open throats. The correct manner of this was demonstrated by one of the managers of the Lobster on the Wharf. The oysters came with a wedge of lemon and a couple of unique sauces.

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The second seafood offering at Lobster on the Wharf was of both soft shell and quahog clams. These too were served with a wedge of lemon and salty melted butter for dipping. Both varieties are native to the eastern shores of North America from Prince Edward Island to the Yucatán Peninsula.

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A short walk along the harbour took us to Peake’s Quay where scallops were the shellfish offering. If you wish to know what a scallop shell looks like, think of the logo of Shell gas stations. We are purists where scallops are concerned, loving when they are allowed to caramelize in a hot pan of butter. Peake’s Quay’s version were bacon wrapped and good too.

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Our last stop on the tour was right next door at Brakish which you might think was an odd name for a restaurant. Blue mussels were the shellfish offering there. Next to scallops, mussels are our favourite as their subtle flavoured flesh take on whatever they are cooked in be it white wine, garlic and/or fresh herbs. Remember though, this was our second feed of mussels for the day!

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PS What did we have for supper that evening? Pan fried scallops!

Kath’s quote: “I like seafood in general. I feel when you have really good quality Canadian seafood; you don’t really need to do much to it. It’s just some of the best in the world. It also has this kind of briny, salty quality to it, that you don’t have to season much. You can use the natural flavours of the ocean to your benefit”.- Chuck Hughes

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Clementine, Winnipeg 2018

October15

Down the stairs of a former Princess St. warehouse sits one of Winnipeg’s shining stars. Clementine is open for breakfast and lunch and for every one of the numerous times I have visited, it has been packed. On weekends you have to be particularly patient. It has always been well worth the wait. The morning I was at Clementine recently, two owners of other successful Winnipeg restaurants were noshing there as well.

I was accompanied by a friend from Toronto. He had a bit of a tough time deciding on his order as he thought everything looked amazing. When he indicated that he was torn between the Turkish Eggs and the Fried Chicken on Toast, I jumped in and suggested that we get both to share.

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One of the perfectly cooked poached eggs of the Turkish dish was topped with a glistening tablespoon of zhoug. The Middle Eastern sauce was made from green chilies, garlic and cilantro resembling a pesto. Both eggs were cradled by a silky hummus and served with a side of sour dough toast. The dish was spicy perfection.

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If you enjoy crispy but greaseless fried chicken, you will love Clementine’s version. The chicken crackles as you cut into it and was perfectly offset by the chipotle crema, pickled red onions and spicy sambal syrup.

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My lunch mate didn’t entirely eat his half of the chicken. I was tempted to do so as well as finish off the Baby Red Potatoes with honey and lemon aioli. In fact I could eat an order of those potatoes myself with nothing else!  I love Clementine’s potatoes.

The dishes were a little tricky to divide up but when you are sharing with a good friend, it really doesn’t matter, does it?

Kath’s quote: “I have made a lot of mistakes falling in love, and regretted most of them, but never the potatoes that went with them.”-Nora Ephron

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Sushi Ya, Winnipeg 2018

October11

Recently a friend texted me suggesting that we meet up for sushi at a restaurant on Corydon that she had forgotten the name of. When I responded “Sushi Ya”, she thought that I was exuberant about her food choice but in fact I was telling her the name of the restaurant! Kind of like the “who’s on first” routine by Abbot and Costello…

Our family have long been fans of this cheap and cheerful sushi spot. Typically when noshing on sushi we each order a roll or two to share all around. Our favourites have been the Winnipeg Dream Roll and any other roll that comes with “crunch”, that is toasted panko flakes. Their Vegetable Tempura Platter was another hit with us. One of my lunch mates was a regular customer and the owner kept sending complimentary treats over to our table.

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On this day, three of us chose our own lunch boxes. These are often called Bento Boxes. The selection included a sushi or tempura box as well as a number of teriyaki choices. The latter struck my fancy and I enjoyed teriyaki shrimp with California roll, gyoza (dumplings), salad and rice. The $12.95 price was great value and I didn’t feel like I had to have a nap after lunch. My lunch mates enjoyed their teriyaki boxes as well.

Kath’s quote: “I’ve sat in sushi bars, really fine ones, and I know how hard this guy worked, how proud he is. I know you don’t need sauce. I know he doesn’t even want you to pour sauce. And I’ve seen customers come in and do that, and I’ve seen him, as stoic as he tries to remain, I’ve seen him die a little inside”-Anthony Bourdain

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