Sunday, June 28, 2015

Celebrate!! by Margaret Ullrich - Sangria Recipe

Happy July first!
Happy Fourth of July!
Whichever you’re celebrating, enjoy!!

Yesterday we had a really wet day in Manitoba.
There were tornado warnings and sightings.
There was even a bit of hail.
But the forecasters are saying we'll have perfect weather for July first.

Time to invite friends over for a barbecue before sitting back to enjoy the fireworks.

A bit of bubbly is always nice to have on hand when the gang’s over.
But, remember, it’s summer.
Everyone’s knocking back drinks faster than you can say ‘hydrate’.
It might be a good idea to water the drinks, more or less.

Sangria is perfect for this time of year.
It has something alcoholic, (usually wine - either red or white), and chopped fruit. 
Think of it as a summer version of mulled wine.

You can use whatever fruit you have on hand, such as apples, peaches, melon, berries, pineapple, grapes, kiwifruit or mangoes. 
You can sweeten it with honey, sugar, syrup, or orange juice. 
Seltzer, Sprite or 7 Up can be used to top up the pitcher. 

You can control the amount of alcohol so that the kids can enjoy the sangria, too.
Or you can make a totally alcohol-free pitcher for them.


You can use either red or white wine, but I think white Sangria looks more summery and allows everyone to see the fruit better.

Allow the sangria to mellow in the refrigerator for several hours, or a full day.
Add the soda (if you’re using it) just before serving.
Have on hand plenty of ice to refill the bucket. 
This way your friends can add as much ice as they want, and the flavour won’t get watered down.

For the kiddies you could make sangria from ginger ale, lemon juice, and sugar.
And lots of fruit!


Yield:12 to 15 servings

Cut into thin slices 
2 navel oranges
1 lemon
1 lime
Place the fruit in a large serving bowl.
1/4 Cup sugar
2 - 3 (750-ml) bottles white wine
1 Cup brandy (optional)
Cover and allow the sangria to mellow in the refrigerator.

Before serving add
Seltzer, Sprite or 7 Up (optional)
Have on hand plenty of ice for people to serve themselves.

About the moon this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On July 1 there will be a Full Moon, and appears full for three days.
July’s full Moon is called the Full Buck Moon. July is normally the month when the new antlers of buck deer push out of their foreheads in coatings of velvety fur. 
It was also often called the Full Thunder Moon, because thunderstorms are most frequent during this time. 
Another name for this month’s Moon was the Full Hay Moon.

About the rain we had yesterday, June 27… 

If it rains on June 27, it will rain for seven weeks.

If it rains on St. Peter’s Day (June 29), the bakers will have to carry double flour and single water; if dry, they will carry single flour and double water.
Rain on Peter and Paul (June 29) will rot the roots of the rye.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Oh, Canada! by Margaret Ullrich

1972 Shasta (8 x 11 ft.)
Next week both Canada and the U. S. celebrate being who they are.
Our flyers here are full of July first ads.
And the American channels are running ads for fourth of July sales.
Well, shopping is one way to celebrate, I guess.

We're having one of those wet summers where it seems to rain every weekend, and a few times during the week.
Not great if you're working Monday to Friday.
No big deal if you're retired.

In 1972 Paul and I, with just a little over two months of marriage under our belts, packed all we owned into an 8 by 11 foot trailer and trekked across the trans-Canada highway heading to Vancouver, British Columbia.

We had just gotten our driver’s licences that year.
Hey, we were New Yorkers, and all we knew were buses and subways.
I mean, where could one park a car?

It was quite the adventure.
If you’re thinking of driving across the continent, either north or south of the border, here’s a sample of what you might expect.

You’ve been warned.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Links for Father's Day / Salad / Barbecue / Grilling Recipes

Ah… June in Manitoba!!

Time to be outdoors, live outdoors, eat outdoors!
Time to celebrate - Father’s Day, graduations, whatever.
Make a great salad, fire up the grill and have fun!

Father’s Day has changed a bit over the years.
In 2006 I wrote a piece for the CKUW radio show 2000 & Counting - Older & Wiser.
The story got a chuckle from the other hosts and the staff then.
I hope it will get the same today…

I also hope all you Dads will have a great Father's Day!

Here's a collection of some old favourites.
And, hopefully, something that will become a new favourite.

Carmela Soprano's Insalata di Mare / Seafood Salad with Dressing (for 6 or 50)

Carmela Soprano's Insalata Caprese (Mozzarella and Tomato Salad)

Carmela Soprano's Grilled Bruschetta / Grilled Garlic Bread

Carmela Soprano's Salsiccie alla Griglia - Grilled Sweet and Hot Pork Sausages


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Bees, Honey and Flappers by Margaret Ullrich - Bee's Knees Cocktail Recipe

Bees have been in the news lately.
They’re under attack from pesticides and pollution.
Not good for agriculture, and basically, life as we know it.
Yes, they are that important.

The Fort Garry Hotel, at 222 Broadway, is pressing the City of Winnipeg to change a bylaw that would let it house five bee hives on its rooftop this summer.
The hotel said it wants to bring more locally sourced honey to the Winnipeg market.
Right now, beekeeping is only allowed on agricultural land, the city said.

If you’d like to help save the bees, include some of these plants in your garden:
lavender, catmint, sage, cilantro, thyme, fennel and borage
crocus, buttercup, aster, hollyhocks, anemone, snowdrops and geranium
calendula, sweet alyssum, poppy, sunflower, zinnia, cleome and heliotrope

Back to how to use honey…
It’s an ingredient in these recipes:

         (Honey or treacle rings, Maltese Style)

      (Christmas Honey Balls / Doughnuts)

    (Fried choux pastry with sweet ricotta filling and honey coating)

          or Valentine's Day Cream Puff Heart

Honey is also an ingredient in the Bee’s Knees cocktail, a gin, lemon and honey classic that dates back to the Prohibition era. 
Some say that the drink was created because the honey hid the odour and taste of the bathtub gin which was popular with the flappers during that time.

The phrase “bee’s knees” was prohibition-era slang for “the best.” 
Perfect name for the Bee's Knees Cocktail.

                        Bee's Knees Cocktail

Pour into a cocktail shaker filled with ice
2 ounces gin
1/2 to 3/4 ounce simple honey 1:1 syrup
1/2 to 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
Shake well.
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with
lemon wedge or lemon twist

About the moon this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On June 16 there will be a New Moon 10:05 a.m.  The Moon is also at its highest, but you won’t be able to see it.  Really.
On June 18 look to the west after the Sun sets to see the tiny waxing crescent Moon beneath the sky’s two brightest planets: Venus and Jupiter.

On June 21 The Sun will reach its farthest point north of the celestial equator. The Summer Solstice will happen. Summer begins!

On June 25 the waxing moon will pair up with Spica, the 15th brightest star in the sky.
On June 28 the waxing moon and Saturn will be very close together in the night sky.
On June 30 Venus and Jupiter will pair up in the western sky after the Sun sets.

Sounds like they’re going to party in the sky!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Baked Finnish Pancakes / Pannukakku (with and without Apples)

I recently posted the recipe for Finnish Pancakes.
They are a speciality of Hoito Restaurant in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
I got an email asking if there is a baked version.

The Finns are like us Maltese.
They have variations in their best recipes.
A few years ago we sampled a baked Finnish pancake in the Upper Peninsula, which has a huge Finnish community. 

Baked Finnish pancakes isn't like the pancakes served at the Hoito Restaurant.
Finnish Oven Pancakes puff up like a Yorkshire pudding.  
They have a bit of a crust, but they’re still soft inside. 
And they are easier to make and are a nice alternative for breakfast.


Here are some topping ideas…
If you added the sugar to the batter top with:
Powdered sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice
A handful or two of fresh or frozen berries
A sprinkle of brown sugar and / or a drizzle of maple syrup
A dollop of fruit jam
A drizzle of caramel sauce over apples sautéed in butter  
A dollop of sweetened whipped cream and / or Nutella

If you didn’t add the sugar, top with:
Sausage gravy and chopped green onions
Beef or chicken stew
Cooked mushrooms and / or Gravy

                        Baked Finnish Pancakes

Serves 4-6

Preheat oven to 400 F

Beat together
3 1/2 Cup milk
1 1/2 Cup of flour
6 eggs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon sugar (optional)

Melt in a 9 x 13 inch pan
1/4 Cup butter
Add the mixture and spread in the pan.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
Serve topped as desired.

                        Baked Finnish Pancakes II

Serves: 4

Place in a medium bowl
4 large eggs
1 Cup flour
1 Cup milk (whole milk works best)
1 pinch of salt
4 Tablespoons sugar, optional
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
Beat together, until the mixture is smooth.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 300 F

Place in an 8- or 9-inch cake pan or 10-inch pie plate
4 Tablespoons (1/2 of one stick) butter, cut into four pieces
Place the pan or pie plate in the oven.
After the butter has melted, remove the pan from the oven.

Preheat oven to 400 F

Pour the batter into the hot pan.
Return the pan into the oven. 
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes.
The oven pancake will puff up and be a deep golden brown. 
Test by quickly inserting a knife in the centre of the pancake. 
If the knife comes out clean, the pancake is done.
Remove the pan from the oven.
Cut the pancake. It will deflate some.  It’s supposed to do that.
Serve topped as desired.

                        Baked Apple Finnish Pancakes

Serves 4-6

Preheat oven to 425 F

In a small bowl combine
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 Tablespoons sugar
Set aside.

Place in a 9 x 13 inch pan
2 Tablespoons butter
Place in oven to melt the butter.
Remove pan from oven and add
4 Cups apples, peeled and thinly sliced
Toss to coat.
Bake in the oven for five minutes.

While the apples are baking, place in a medium bowl
6 eggs
1 Cup milk
2/3 Cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Beat together until smooth.
Remove the pan from the oven.
Pour the egg mixture over the cooked apples. 
Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the pancake.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pancake is puffed and browned.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hoito Restaurant’s Finnish Pancake Recipe, a Thunder Bay Favourite

Last month Paul and I were in Thunder Bay, Ontario, attending the 2015 TLR Convention.
TLR stands for Thousand Lakes Region, which is a division of the National Model Railroad Association, an organization with members in both the United Staes and Canada.

The convention had been organized by Frank Gerry and his son, Paul.
They did an excellent job and a great time was had by all.

The convention was a chance for us to get together with other model railroaders.
Four members of the Winnipeg Model Railroad Club - Ian Plett, Neil Carleton, Paul and I - received awards at the banquet.
We also attended clinics where we learned more about the hobby.
Local model railroaders allowed us to see their train layouts.

Thunder Bay is quite an interesting place.
We toured Resolute Forrest Products (a paper mill) and the Bombardier Transportation Plant, where they make standard railroad cars.
One evening we toured the Thunder Bay Historical Museum.
Paul Shaffer, the bandleader on The Late Show with David Letterman, is originally from there, but we didn’t visit his house.

Along with seeing Thunder Bay’s tourist sites we also sampled some of their delicacies.
When we signed in there was a platter of Persians on the desk.
Persians, a cinnamon bun pastry with pink icing, originated in Thunder Bay.

Many made a point of trying the Finnish pancakes at the Hoito at 314 Bay Street.
The Hoito Restaurant is in a historic building which was completed in 1910.
The building was initially used by the Työkansa Finnish Publishing Co., and by the Finnish Society Restaurant, and the Finnish Labour Temple.
It is popularly known as the Finnish Heritage building. 

In 1918 the Hoito Restaurant was established in the lower part of the building to offer hearty meals at low prices to the Finnish bushworkers. 
In the 1930s dinner there was 25 cents.
In the 1960s it was $1.00. 
Today it is a café style restaurant with home style food, featuring many Finnish dishes, including Finnish Pancakes.
Thank you, Darlene Granholm, head cook at Hoito, for the pancake recipe.

Having a hectic morning?
Don't have a griddle or cast iron skillet?
Just want something a little different?
Want something to jazz up a bit of leftover stew?
Try Baked Finnish pancakes!


If your batter is too runny, mix in a bit more flour.
If your batter is too heavy, simply add more milk.
I heard that some folks add a teaspoon of grated orange peel to the batter.
Well, not at the Hoito.

If you don’t have a griddle, a cast iron pan is recommended.
Pour in about 1 Cup batter, enough to cover 3/4 of the bottom.
Tilt the pan to cover bottom evenly, making one pancake at a time.

The Finnish way of serving is rolled up with fruit jams or jellies and a dab of butter.
Some people serve them dusted with confectioners’ sugar.
Or topped with syrup and berries.

Want fruit but don’t have berries?
Sliced bananas also go well with the pancakes.

These pancakes can also be used as crepes. 
You can serve them stuffed with cooked shrimp, scallops or chicken and rolled up.
They can be topped with any white cream sauce. 
Steamed asparagus in the crepes served with Hollandaise sauce is nice. 

                        Hoito Restaurant’s Finnish Pancakes

Serves 4-6

Place in a large bowl
5 eggs
6 Cups milk
Lightly whisk together.
2 teaspoons salt
4 Tablespoons sugar
Slowly mix in
3 Cups flour
You want it not too runny or too heavy.

Heat griddle to 350º - 400º F
Melt in griddle
1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine.
Add batter a half ladle at a time, making circles. 
Let brown on one side.
When bubbles appear on top, flip the pancake over. 
The colour should be golden brown on top and medium brown on bottom.  
Remove to warm plates and keep warm.
Repeat, re-buttering pan now and then, until all of the batter is gone.

Serve hot plain, or with strawberries and whipped cream.
Or with fried eggs and bacon. 

The Hoito Restaurant way is to serve them stacked and doused with pancake syrup.
A dab of butter is always good.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Strawberry Tart and Lemon Curd, Maltese Style

In the last post I mentioned how strawberries are served in some countries.

Well, Maltese have a favourite strawberry dessert, too.
We serve strawberries in a lemon curd filled tart.
Strawberries… lemon… perfection!

In Malta there is a Strawberry Festival every year in Mgaar in April.
Why not create your own strawberry festival?


You could substitute lime juice and zest for lemon to make lime curd.
But a lemon or an orange curd would work better in this dessert.

After you add the juice it will look curdled.
Don’t panic - it will smooth out as it cooks.

Covered tightly and refrigerated, the curd will keep for a week.
In the freezer it will last for two months.

The lemon curd can also be used as a spread over shortbread, toast or English muffins.
It is also good as a filling for cakes and tarts.

About the crust…
For variety, you could use ginger snaps, digestives or sugar cookies.

Don’t have mascarpone cheese?
Ricotta or cream cheese would also work.
You can also use raspberries, blackberries or whatever you have on hand. 
Peaches or apricots also go well with the curd base.

Hey, we’re Maltese.
We use what we have!

                        Lemon Curd

Makes about 2 Cups

Place in a large mixer bowl
3 ounces (6 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 Cup sugar
Beat 2 minutes.

Add, one at a time, beating after each addition
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
Beat another minute.
Mix in
2/3 Cup lemon juice

Pour the mixture into a medium, heavy-based saucepan.
Stirring constantly, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth.
Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, 15 minutes. 
The mixture should thicken and leave a path on the back of a wooden spoon. 
Don't let the mixture boil.

Remove the curd from the heat.
Stir in
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Scrape the curd into a bowl. 
Press plastic wrap onto the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming.
Chill the curd in the refrigerator. 
The curd will thicken as it cools. 

                        Strawberry Tart

Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven.
Butter the bottom of a 10 x 3-inch springform pan.
Preheat the oven to 325º

The Crust

Combine in a small bowl
1 1/4 Cups graham wafer crumbs
1/4 Cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 
Press the mixture over the bottom of the prepared pan.
Bake 8 minutes.
Place on a rack to cool about an hour.

The Fruit

Clean, hull and halve  
1 pound strawberries (see above)

The Filling

Place in a large mixer bowl
8 ounces mascarpone cheese
1 Cup lemon curd
Mix until light and creamy.

Spread the mixture over the cookie base.
Top with the prepared strawberries.
Refrigerate to set.

Before serving dust with
Confectioners' sugar

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries, Maltese Style

Doubtless God could have made a better berry, 
but doubtless God never did. 
So said William Butler.

And he was so right!

Strawberries should be in season all year round.
One serving is an excellent source of vitamin C.
So take that, oranges!
It is also a good source of manganese, folate, vitamin K and other vitamins and minerals.

Strawberries are high in Omega-3.
Eating strawberries may decrease cardiovascular disease risk.
They have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Studies have associated eating strawberries with lower rates of hypertension.
Strawberries may lower LDL cholesterol levels, and total cholesterol.
They help reduce the inflammation in digestive tract and bowel disease.
They are rich in iodine and help the thyroid function properly.
They can decrease the spikes after high sugar and high fat meals.

And they taste so good!!
Strawberries and cream is a popular dessert at Wimbledon. 
In Sweden, strawberries are served on Midsummer Eve. 
In Greece, they are sprinkled with sugar, dipped in brandy, and served as a dessert. 
In Italy, they are used in desserts and are a popular flavouring for gelato.


Feeding a large crowd?
This is an easy recipe to increase: 
One ounce of chocolate will cover four large strawberries.
A hundred strawberries?
Twenty-five ounces of chocolate will do the job.

Want to get fancy?
You can drizzle melted white chocolate over the chocolate after it has cooled.
You can also reverse the colour scheme, using white chocolate for the dipping and drizzling semi-sweet, dark or milk chocolate.

You can also dip one side in a dark chocolate, and the other side in white chocolate.
You can substitute chocolate chips for either the dipping chocolate or the drizzle.

The strawberries can be stored in the refrigerator up to six hours before serving.
If they are stored too long the berries can get soft spots.

                        Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries

Wash and allow to dry thoroughly
16 large fresh strawberries
Do not remove stems.
Set aside.  Do not refrigerate.

Cover a cookie sheet with waxed paper.

Place a heatproof bowl in a saucepan of simmering water.
In the bowl place
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
Stirring occasionally, cook until the chocolate is almost melted.
Remove from heat and stir until smooth.

Dip the bottom half of each strawberry in the chocolate.
Place them on the cookie sheet.
Allow to cool at room temperature.
Refrigerate the strawberries until the chocolate is firm. 

They can be served with an angel food cake or a pudding dessert.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Strawberries and Gardening by Margaret Ullrich - Strawberry Daiquiri Recipes - Virgin and Not

We seem to be having one of those summers in Winnipeg.
Frosty nights last week had people grabbing blankets.
Both for themselves and for their gardens.
Oh, well, we’ve had worse.

I’m starting my second month as an official senior.
I now have a Winnipeg Transit senior I.D. card.
A regular adult bus ticket is $2.25.
I can now use the senior fare bus tickets.
They cost a mere $1.13 each.
That’s half price!
Winnipeggers dearly love any and all bargains!

There will be a full moon tomorrow night.
The Algonquin tribes called the June full moon a Full Strawberry Moon.
In Europe people called it the Rose Moon, a Mead Moon and a Thunder Moon.
As this is a food blog, I’ll elaborate on the Strawberry Moon.

Ah… strawberries…
They’re at their best right about now.
For maximum flavour, don’t wash them until you are ready to eat or use them.
They’re great as is, or you could top them with whipped cream.
Or serve them in a Strawberry Daiquiri.

Daiquiri is a cocktail whose main ingredients are rum, lime juice and sugar.
It is similar to the grog British sailors drank from the 1740s onwards. 
By 1795 the Royal Navy daily grog ration contained rum, water, 3/4 ounce of lemon or lime juice, and 2 ounces of sugar.
Yo ho ho!

The daiquiri was supposedly invented by an American mining engineer, named Jennings Cox, who was in Cuba at the time of the Spanish–American War.
Daiquirí is also the name of a beach and an iron mine near Santiago, Cuba.

The drink was enjoyed by writer Ernest Hemingway and President John F. Kennedy.
It became popular in the 1940s, after wartime rationing had made most strong booze hard to get from Europe.
Because of Roosevelt's Good Neighbour policy it was easier to get rum from Cuba. 
So rum based drinks, once strictly for sailors and down-and-outs, became fashionable.

There are other daiquiri variations:
Daiquiri floridita – with maraschino liqueur
Hemingway daiquiri – or papa doble – two and a half jiggers of white rum, juice of two limes and half a grapefruit, six drops of maraschino liqueur, without sugar
Banana daiquiri - regular daiquiri with a half a banana
Daiquiri Mulata - made with rum and coffee liqueur

Many alcoholic mixed drinks made with finely pulverized ice are called frozen daiquiri.
They come in a wide variety of flavours made with various alcohol or liquors.
Another way to create a frozen fruit-flavoured daiquiri is by using frozen limeade.


A bag of frozen sliced strawberries from the freezer section works just as well for the virgin daiquiris.

If you are freezing fresh strawberries:
Clean them by rinsing, removing the green stem, and slicing for 1/4 inch wide pieces. 
Place them on a lined baking sheet, and freeze them for 4 hours, or until frozen solid.
You’ll need 4 Cups of berries for this recipe.

                        Strawberry Daiquiris

Combine in a shaker with ice cubes
9 parts white rum
5 parts lime juice
3 parts strawberry syrup
Shake well. 
Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with a strawberry

                        Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris

Place in a blender:
1/2 Cup lime juice
1/2 Cup diced pineapple, fresh or canned
1/2 Cup dark brown sugar
Blend these together on high, until the sugar is dissolved. 
Test this by rubbing a bit of the liquid between your fingertips. 
You shouldn’t be able to feel any sugar granules.

4 Cups frozen strawberries
1 1/2 Cups soda water
Blend the berries by starting on low, and work your way up to high. 
If the mixture is too thick, pour in some soda water until it begins to move.
Once blended, pour the daiquiri into 
4 – 8 oz glasses
Garnish with whipped cream (optional)
Add a straw and serve.

About the moon this week…
According to the Farmers Almanac:

On June 2 there will be a Full Moon. The visible Moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Though the Moon is only technically in this phase for a few seconds, it is considered “full” for the entire day of the event, and appears full for three days.
June’s full Moon is called the Strawberry Moon. 

On June 4 the Moon and the planet Pluto will appear very close in the sky.  Also, after the Sun rises, look for a daytime Moon.

About your garden…

If it rains on the feast of St. Medard (June 8), it will rain forty days later; but if it rains on St. Prottis (June I9), it will rain for the next forty days.
Rain on St. Barnabas’ Day (June 11) is good for grapes.
If St. Vitus’s Day (June 15) be rainy weather, it will rain for thirty days together.
If it rains on St. Peter’s Day (June 29), the bakers will have to carry double flour and single water; if dry, they will carry single flour and double water.
Rain on Peter and Paul (June 29) will rot the roots of the rye.

Now you know.