Sunday, September 18, 2011

Farewell to summer

 Though we had a bit of a reprieve today, the weather in Winnipeg has definitely taken a turn towards fall.  Last week, I really wanted something summer-worthy.  Something to remind me of simple dinners at home when it was too hot to really cook.  Or dinners out at the campground using produce bought at the little vegetable stands along the highway.  Can you tell I'm a bit homesick?

Sorry, I got a bit photo-happy with these...
I managed to convince Hubs to come out to the St. Norbert Farmers' Market with me last weekend.  It was a little bit crowded for his liking, but he at least experienced enough to agree with my assessment regarding the perogies.  We ended picking up some beets, corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and fudge.  I really liked the selection of beautiful low-acid yellow tomatoes, and decided to use them in this simple-but-scrumptious salad my mom makes frequently.  It's not even a salad so much as an assembly- sliced tomatoes at the peak of the season, topped with crumbled feta, a drizzle of olive oil, and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  A little fresh cracked pepper rounds it out.  You could add chopped fresh basil, too, but I didn't have any.  Ah well, c'est la vie.

Mum would usually serve this alongside a delicious zucchini fritatta (which I did earlier in the week for a quick supper, thanks to the squash-growing skills of my coworker Terri).  Today, though it went along with a fish-fry supper:

Boiled sweet corn on the cob, blackened red snapper (recipe here), hashbrowns, and pan-fried beet greens with garlic.
Now about those hashbrowns.  My grandmother used to make this "potato pancake" of sorts by adding grated potato to butter in a frying pan.  I don't think there was ever a hard-and-fast recipe.  I do mine by grating potato, then squeezing as much excess water out as I can by hand.  This time, I shredded half an onion in for good measure (it needed to be used up).  I season it with salt and pepper and press it into a small frying pan with a good amount of butter (more goes on top, too, to melt in).  Flip once it's browned and crispy on one side.  It's sort of like the hashbrowns at Waffle House.  Grandma liked to serve it with breaded pan-fried Lake Erie yellow perch; my mom does the same.  Mmm.

As much as I love having Hubs here, sometimes you just need to feel close to your other loved ones.  Can I be blamed for doing it through food?  As it turned out, my mom made a very similar dinner the same night that we had this.  Great minds, I tell ya.

Wishing she could get truly amazing (read: Ontario) tomatoes all year round,

"Tour de Winnipeg"

Just a couple of weeks before The Big Day, I had a lovely visit from my dear friend Andrea and her hubs, Colin.  They were on their own blog-worthy journey: a cross-country move from B.C. back to Ontario, visiting friends along the way.  I was lucky enough to be one of them!  So, I acted as a "Winnipeg Ambassador" and took the lovely couple to the Forks after a delicious meal.

On the pedestrian bridge at the Forks.
Since Andrea and Colin were here for just one night only, I wanted to showcase as much of the culinary diversity of the city as I could.  So, I devised the following menu:
And here's how I pulled it off!

Getting ingredients ready for the pickerel almondine...
Look at those gorgeous filets, thanks to the Gimli Fish Market.  I could link to the recipe, but it was pretty simple: I put the filet on top of a "bed" of sliced red onions and lemon wheels.  Top with paprika, thyme, salt, pepper, green onion, basil, slivered almonds, and dot with butter.  Wrap and bake.
The appetizer: kubasa, pickels, bison burgers, and Bothwell cheese.  Mmm.  I put a hoisin sauce glaze on the burgers as a nod towards Chinatown down on King street.  Colin seemed to really like it!!
Finished fish!  Loosely based on this recipe.  For all you Americans, yes, pickerel = walleye.
Asparagus with goma (sesame) dressing.  I fell in love with this after Deb introduced me to maguro goma-ae, a tuna and avocado salad at her favourite sushi place, Naru.  I found a recipe for it here, and used it to symbolize all the Japanese restaurants in the city (even if they're mostly owned and operated by lovely Koreans...)
Red velvet cupcakes.  What more can I say.  You're all familiar with my recipe, but I made them mini this time.  Portion control!!
Cinnamon buns from Stellas.  Calm down... yes, I know they're not from Tall Grass Prairie.  But honestly, I was at Stella'a already buying some focaccia to represent Little Italy on Corydon, so I just picked them up there.  They were QUITE delish.
Overall, I must say, I was rather pleased with the whole event.  Andrea and Colin are so sweet that they sent me some Irish breakfast tea as a thank you for hosting them (Andrea is an incredibly thoughtful person and also likes to send gifts by mail frequently.  I most recently got this awesome Ravenclaw laptop case from her!!  Isn't she fantastic??)

I always love when people come to visit and see this life I've built for myself out here in the Prairies.  It reminds me that, even though my friends might USUALLY be far away, they're still willing to take the time and see what I'm up to.  It was so much fun having this fantastic couple over... and set the stage for me to develop a "five-point Winnipeg tour" for my parents when they visited!  There was lots of good food involved there, too, including a trip to Fude in the Village... but I digress.

Wondering what the best way might be to tackle the quintessential Manitoba beet,

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Waffle Weekiversary

Yes, "weekiversary" is not really a word.  But I'm well-known for abusing the suffix -iversary.

After an absolutely whirlwind 7 day period (which began with gettin' hitched and contained a two-day inter-province road trip avec UHaul), I figured Hubs and I deserved something a little special for breakfast.  Among the many things we'd moved from Windsor, I found the Belgian waffle maker that my mother graciously "loaned" me... and that I haven't given back.

Her loss, clearly.
I have great memories of these waffles.  They'd make an appearance for birthday breakfasts,  the morning after a girls' night, or on lazy Saturday mornings.  I credit our Aunt Sue with introducing them to us many years ago during a family visit.  We all loved them (and it was relatively simple for us kids to "help" by pouring in the required amount of batter).

So, I took it down from the top of the cupboards and got crackin'.  Initially, our family just used prepared boxed pancake batter... but I always found those waffles to be a bit too heavy and cake-like (plus, I haven't bought pancake mix since I learned how simple it is to make batter fresh).  I graduated to using a recipe from my mom's "Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery", a truly behemoth ~20-volume hardcover set from the 1970s.  While tastes in haute cuisine and food photography have certainly changed since that day (thank goodness!), it still contains a wealth of good basic recipes.  Alas, I have no such thing here... Internet to the rescue!!

You know I'm thinking of Mom when I break out the math symbols...
I found this batter recipe at; it showed promise (and saved me the step of whipping egg whites separately, which can be a pain).  The waffles were, I kid you not, PERFECT.  Crisp on the outside, but soft and fluffy and moist on the inside with a perfect golden brown colour.  You can't beat these puppies.

It was all I could do to take pics before devouring.
So, we ate them in a very standard fashion.  I mixed up some Dream Whip (yup, I'm that lazy... but honestly, I love the flavour of the stuff!), made a quick mixed berry syrup from some frozen fruit, and poured the syrup over.  Mmmm.  A lovely sit-down breakfast for us newlyweds!

Hubs' creation... with an extra quarter of waffle for good measure.
 The only problem: this recipe made 6 waffles.  We are only two people... and we weren't QUITE that hungry.  The solution?  Dinner waffles!

This isn't your Aunt Sue's waffle, that's for sure (though she has excellent taste and would more than likely approve!)
Savoury waffles aren't a new thing.  I remember seeing (probably in that same encycolpedia), a recipe for waffles & chicken à la king.  The Southern combo of waffles and fried chicken with syrup and gravy also works here.  I had been perusing Nemmie's back entries again, and came across her huevos rancheros post... and the inspiration hit.

Fried eggs...
Plus black beans with bacon, onions and spices...
Get that waffle in there...
Top with some shredded cheese and broil until melted...
...aaaaand top to your heart's content.  Mine has avocado, diced tomatoes, black beans, green onions, more shredded cheese, cilantro, and sour cream.
Hubs doctored his with a liberal dash of habañero hot sauce.  Very appropriate.

Deliciously messy.

I'm stuffed!!
These were absolutely FANTASTIC.  I couldn't even eat my whole dinner waffle; I took the rest to work the next day for lunch (and got some puzzled looks from my coworkers... So worth it).  I've since made "real" huevos rancheros (with tortillas instead of waffles) and those were also delicious.  I think they'll become a new staple!

Different carb for the base, but same basic idea.  Yummy!!
Wondering if she can convince enough people that waffles are the traditional one-week wedding gift,

Wedding bells and Honeybees...

I am probably the worst blogger on the face of the planet.  However, I feel I do have a fairly legitimate excuse...

That's right!!  Hubs is officially my husband now!!!  A few more pics, courtesy of the lovely Crystal of Canadian Captures Photography (can't resist giving her a plug...)

 And since this is, of course, a food blog, time to display the cake!  Top tier: red velvet and cream cheese filling (in the freezer for our 1 year anniversary).  Middle tier: lemon cake with lemon filling (which I regrettably didn't get to taste!!).  Bottom tier: chocolate chip cake with chocolate filling.  Mmmm!!!

It's hard to imagine that we managed to move Hubs from Windsor to Winnipeg just two days after the wedding so that I could be back to work on the Wednesday following.  I feel like we're only just settling down now! 

The nice thing about wedded bliss: Hubs actually does about 40-50% of the cooking.  His skills are getting better every day!  He basically just stir-fries things, but you can definitely go far with that technique.  It's absolutely fantastic for those days when I get home from work and feel like doing NOTHING.  In the old days, I would have just eaten hummus with a spoon for dinner... but now, I have a culinary partner in crime!  Granted, he leaves "fancier", more involved things to me... like the dishes I've made since moving home that are waiting to be posted here!  So stay tuned, ladies and gents.  Now that our weekends are our own, I'm sure I'll be grabbing the laptop and posting more often!

About to go make a Sunday dinner worthy of Grandma's table,