Thursday, August 27, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Grilled Sturgeon with Lemon Caper Sauce & the Sturgeon Moon

This Saturday, on August 29, we'll be seeing a full moon that is called a Sturgeon Moon.

I know I usually post a drink recipe when full and new moons are coming.
But, I posted the recipes for two Whiskey Sour recipes a few days ago in honour of National Whiskey Sour Day.
So that’s my booze contribution for this week.
This is a G rated food blog after all.

In honour of the Sturgeon Moon I’m posting a sturgeon recipe Ma had clipped, adjusted and forwarded to me.

Time for a disclaimer:
No sturgeons were injured in making this post.
Yes, I know the recipe calls for sturgeon.
Tell that to my local butcher/fish monger.

I live in the north end of Winnipeg.
There are limits to what I can find in my local stores.
I’m over 65 and I’m not about to waste what time I have left searching for a fish.
I’m just cooking a dinner, not going on a mythical quest.
Captain Ahab’s obsession for Moby Dick always struck me as a bit compulsive.

Back to my local butcher/fish monger…
He explained that sturgeons are at risk of total extinction.
They are slow growing and slow to mature.
So they don’t make many babies.
Especially since a ton of their eggs are made into caviar.

I also got an education on how they make caviar.
It ain’t pretty.
They stun the fish and extract the ovaries.
Ovaries are where ovaries usually are, so, yes, we’re talking blood.
Or they do a C section, as if that makes a difference.
This is very painful and stressful for the fish.
No fooling.
A kinder method involves making a small cut in the fish’s urogenital muscle.
Most caviar makers aren’t all that touchy feely.

The kindest way to eat caviar is to buy a caviar substitute made from seaweed.
Your vegetarian guests will love you forever for serving it.

Sturgeon can also be a problem if you’ve invited your Jewish friends.
Sturgeon have ganoid scales instead of the permitted ctenoid and cycloid scales. 
While all Orthodox groups forbid the consumption of sturgeon, some conservative groups do allow it.
Don’t give your Jewish friends the third degree.
Play it safe and don’t serve them sturgeon.

In England and Wales, the sturgeon, along with whales and porpoises, is a royal fish.
Every sturgeon caught in those countries is the property of the Crown.
Remember what they did in Robin Hood’s day to peasants who shot the king’s deer?
Queen Elizabeth's job has been hard enough, what with her kids and all.
Don't push your luck.  
You might not catch her on a good day.

This recipe calls for something hefty, like a mackerel or tuna.
You can also use skinless, boneless chicken breast.
Which is always available, and is often on sale.
That’s what Ma did.

Maybe her butcher/fish monger gave her the same guilt trip.
The north end of Winnipeg is just the Canadian version of Queens.
Anyway, Ma liked finding another caper sauce recipe.
The butter base was a little change from her caper sauce with olive oil.

Chicken breast can be eaten with a clear conscience by your Jewish friends.
Your vegetarian friends won’t like it, but at least the Queen won’t have you arrested.


On the off chance you actually find sturgeon in the store:
It is a meaty fish that can be served baked, fried, smoked, or grilled. 
Its flesh won’t flake when it’s done. 
Don’t overcook it because it will just become tough with a more fishy flavour.

The grill should be 4 inches from the coals.
Prepare a medium hot fire in a grill, either charcoal or gas.
Or preheat the gas grill or broiler.
When the grill is ready, wipe the grilling surface with a towel soaked in vegetable oil to coat the grill plates.

You can also serve the sauce in a gravy boat.
Some folks don't like lemon or capers.
No problem.

                        Grilled Sturgeon

Serves 4

Lightly coat with extra virgin olive oil
4 sturgeon fillets, about 1/2 pound each, skin removed 
Season with
salt and pepper to taste

Place the fish on the prepared grill.
Do not move or disturb once placed on the grill.
Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side. 
Remove from heat, cover, and let rest.

                        Lemon Caper Sauce

Place in a small pot
4 Tablespoons butter
Melt butter over medium heat.
1 small clove garlic, grated or minced
Sauté for about a minute.
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
zest from 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon capers
Sauté for another minute.
Remove from heat and add
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

Place the sturgeon fillets on a serving platter.
Spoon the sauce over the fillets.
Serve immediately with lemon wedges.

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

August 29 – Full Sturgeon Moon at 2:35 p.m.  The visible moon is fully illuminated by direct sunlight. Although 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.
It is also called "Corn Moon", "Red Moon", "Green Corn Moon" and "Grain Moon”.

August 30 – The Moon will be at perigee, meaning it’s nearest point to Earth in its orbit. Because perigee comes less than a day after the Moon is at its “full” phase, many are calling this a “supermoon.”

August 31 – Neptune will be at opposition.  Nothing personal.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Whiskey Sour Recipe - Margaret Ullrich

It’s been one of those summers here in Manitoba.
Sometimes it’s been too hot, or too rainy, or too windy, or too something to do anything.
This weekend it’s been too rainy and windy.

On August 24 it’s National Whiskey Sour Day.
After we looked out the window, we decided to celebrate early.
If you also live in Manitoba, maybe you’ll think that’s a good idea, too.
Can’t fight Mother Nature.

The first mention of a Whiskey Sour was in a newspaper published in Wisconsin in 1870.
The state of Wisconsin isn’t far from Manitoba.
Maybe they were having one of those summers, too.

You might also like to try the Ward 8.
It is based either in Bourbon or rye whiskey, with both lemon and orange juices, and grenadine syrup as the sweetener. 
Do not add the egg white to the Ward 8.


Whiskey Sour can be served either straight up or over ice.

Some people add a dash of egg white.
If you add that, it’s called a Boston Sour.

Some recipes call for Gomme syrup.
It’s easy to make a simple syrup.
Boil 1 Cup water.
Stir in 1 Cup sugar.
Store in fridge.

                        Whiskey Sour

Serves 4

Pour into a shaker
crushed ice
3/4 Cup whiskey
1/2 Cup lemon juice   (4 lemons)
1/2 Cup lime juice    (4 limes)
2/3 Cup simple syrup 
Strain into an ice filled old-fashioned glass. 
Garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice.

                        Whiskey Sour #2

Pour into a shaker
1 1/2 ounces whiskey
1 1/2 ounces lemon juice 
3/4 ounces simple syrup
Pour into an ice filled old-fashioned glass.
Garnish with a cherry.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Perseids and the Milky Way - Long Island Iced Tea Recipe by Margaret Ullrich

Summer is just zipping along.
Here we are in the middle of August.
In a couple of weeks the kids will be back in school.
Tonight the Perseids meteor shower will begin.
In a couple of days you’ll be able to see the Milky Way.
Time to create a few summer memories.

While the kids are oohing and aahing, you can sit back and relax with a nice drink.
The kids have been home for a couple of months.
You've earned it.

August 16 is National Rum Day.
In honour of that, you could go all pirate-like and knock back a few slugs, while singing Sixteen men on a dead man’s chest.

But maybe you should save that bit of fun for when the kids are in school.
You don’t want to give them any ammunition for when they do ‘Show and Tell’.

Long Island Iced Tea has rum in it.
Along with a few other things.
Think of it as a way of using leftovers.
You’ll have a bit more change to buy the kiddies’ school supplies.
Aren’t you being wonderful!!

Some Long Island Iced Tea history…
It may have started with a drink invented in the 1920s during Prohibition, by an "Old Man Bishop" in Long Island in Kingsport, Tennessee.  
It was then perfected by Ransom Bishop, Old Man Bishop's son. 
This drink included whiskey and maple syrup, and varied quantities of the five liquors.

The Long Island Iced Tea appears in literature as early as 1961.
It's also called Texas Iced Tea, Georgia Iced Tea, Tokyo Tea, and Three Mile Island.

Back to the meteor shower viewing with the kiddies…
Make some regular iced tea for them and they’ll never know.


Some recipes call for 1/2 ounce sweet and sour mix instead of 1/2 ounce lemon juice and 1 teaspoon sugar.

Some replace the cola with actual iced tea, or add white crème de menthe. 
Some restaurants substitute brandy for the tequila. 

                        Long Island Iced Tea

Shake with ice
1/2 ounce light rum
1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce tequila
1/2 ounce triple sec (or other orange-flavored liqueur)
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
Strain into a chilled highball glass filled with ice.
Top with cola (leaving 1/2 inch space at top of glass)
Gently stir and garnish with a lemon wedge or spiral.
Serve with a straw. 

                        Long Island Iced Tea #2

Shake with ice 
1/2 ounce rum
1/2 ounce gin
1/2 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce triple sec (or other orange-flavored liqueur)
1 ounce lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
Strain into a chilled highball glass filled with ice.
Top with cola (leaving 1/2 inch space at top of glass)
Gently stir and garnish with a lemon wedge or spiral.
Serve with a straw. 

About the meteor shower and the moon…
According to the Farmers’ Almanac:

August is often regarded as “meteor month” with the appearance of The Perseids Meteor Shower. Viewing will be nearly ideal this year, as the Moon will be heading toward the New phase so it won’t be so bright.

The Perseids are named after the constellation Perseus, which is in the area of the sky where the shower appears. Look for the constellation Perseus in the northeast, near Cassiopeia, which looks like a large letter “W.”  The shower’s peak occurs around August 12, and  will be visible through August 22. 

The meteors are created by the dusty trail left behind by the comet Swift-Tuttle as it orbits the Sun. The particles burn up in our atmosphere, becoming meteors, also known as “falling” or “shooting” stars.

The meteors can be seen with the naked eye. The best time to observe any meteor shower is during the early morning hours, between 2 and 5 a.m., but meteors will be visible any time after dusk, with a sharp upturn in activity around 11 p.m. Observers can expect to see as many as 60 meteors per hour during this shower.

August 14 - New Moon - no moon to see.  
Because the Moon is in its New phase, it will be dark, making it the best time for the kiddies to view the Milky Way. 


Saturday, August 8, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Grilled Vegetables with a Garlic and Herb Spice Mix, Maltese Style

It’s been a really hot summer here in Manitoba.
We’re used to a dry heat, and the humidity is really getting to us.
On the bright side, folks with gardens are beginning to harvest their crops.
Our gardens have been doing well, even though we've had a few hazy days due to the forest fires in the western provinces.

If you’ve been using your grill for cooking meat it seems a shame to run into the kitchen to cook the vegetables.
And salads can get a bit boring.
Why not share the grill space with the veggies?
Add a bit of oil and spices and the grilled vegetables will wow your family and guests.

Don’t let the kosher salt discourage you from making this spice blend.
Kosher salt is just a big grained salt, so it gives a bit more of a salty flavour.
If you’ve ever eaten a pretzel, you’ve eaten kosher salt.

If you don’t want to buy kosher salt, you can use regular salt, just use less (maybe a quarter to a half of the amount in the recipe) since the smaller grains of regular salt fill the measuring cup more densely.
Taste and see if you’d prefer it saltier.
If it tastes too salty, add a bit more of the other ingredients.


You can use other vegetables, too, just be sure to cut them the same size and allow the denser vegetables, such as potatoes, a longer cooking time.

Start with a very hot grill and keep the lid open to prevent them from steaming.
if the vegetables steam they will just get soft instead of browning.

Allow the vegetables to rest so that they will dry out and brown better.
While they are resting, give the grill a wipe so you'll have a nice clean grill top.

The grilled vegetables can be served as a side dish or added to a salad.
Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.

                        Grilled Vegetables

Serves 6

Cutting at an angle, slice into pieces 1/4 inch thick
2 zucchinis
Place the slices in a large bowl and set aside.

Split and remove the seeds from
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
Slice into wedges and add them to the bowl.

Drizzle over the vegetables
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil 
Toss the vegetables to coat.

Sprinkle over the vegetables
2 Tablespoons Garlic and Herb Spice Mix
Toss the vegetables to coat.
Allow the vegetables to rest for 30 minutes.

Preheat BBQ to 400º F to 500º F

Using tongs, place the vegetables directly onto the grill. 
Reduce the heat to medium-high and allow them to cook, uncovered, for 6 minutes.
Turn the vegetables, and allow them to cook, uncovered, for another 6 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the grill and place them on a serving platter.
Sprinkle with a light dusting of Garlic and Herb Spice Mix.

                        Garlic and Herb Spice Mix

Makes 2/3 Cup

In a medium bowl combine
1/4 Cup dark brown sugar
1/4 Cup kosher salt
1 Tablespoon pepper
2 Tablespoons dried garlic
1 Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
1 Tablespoon dried basil
1 Tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Stir with a wooden spoon.
The mix can also be used on meats.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Anna Sultana’s Roasted Potatoes and Vegetables, Maltese Style

I’ve been watching shows like Property Brothers and Love It or List It.
it’s amazing to see what young couples now expect in their first home.

When my parents and I immigrated to America in 1950 we shared an apartment with Pop’s brother, his wife and their two children for two years.

The apartment had a kitchen, a bathroom, a living room and two bedrooms.
My cousin is a month younger than I am, so we shared a crib.
No, the bathroom did not have two sinks.
The kitchen did have its own stove.

Ma used to tell me about how Grandma would send her to the baker's with anything that needed an oven, such as their Sunday roast and the vegetables.
Then, after a few hours, Ma would return with the hot roasted meat and vegetables, along with a few loaves of fresh bread. 
After Grandma had added a few spices, and did a few last minute touches, another Sunday dinner was ready. 

Ma appreciated having an oven in the house.
She did miss the gossip, though.

                        Roasted Potatoes

Cut into wedges
1 pound potatoes
Put them in a large bowl
1/2 Cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon dried rosemary
Place the potatoes in a large roasting pan.

Pre-heat the oven to 400º F

Sprinkle over the potatoes
1/4 Cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon  pepper
Cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the foil and bake for 1 hour or until potatoes reach the desired colour.

                        Roasted Mixed Vegetables 1

Grease a large cookie sheet
Preheat oven to 350º F

Put in a large bowl 
1 eggplant, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
2 marrow, sliced
2 tomatoes, quartered
1 large onion, quartered 
3 garlic cloves, chopped 

Combine in a small bowl 
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Sprinkle the spices over the vegetables.
Drizzle over the vegetables
2 tablespoons olive oil 
the juice of 1 lemon 
Mix well.

Put the vegetables on the baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Take the pan out and turn the vegetables so they roast evenly.
Bake for 45 minutes.
Take the pan out and check if the vegetables are done.
Return to oven if you'd like them more cooked.
Serve hot, warm or cold.

                        Roasted Mixed Vegetables 2

Grease a large baking dish
Preheat oven to 375º F

Place in prepared dish 
2 to 3 eggplants, rinsed
4 to 5 onions
5 to 6 potatoes, quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Pierce the eggplants with a fork.
Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
When the eggplant feels soft, remove pan from the oven.
The eggplants’ skin should be wrinkled.
Let cool 15 minutes.

Peel the eggplant and slice.
Put the slices and onions in a large bowl.
1/4 Cup olive oil
1/3 Cup wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 Cup parsley
Mash all ingredients together.
Cover and place in the refrigerator.

Serve cold on couscous or pasta, with grilled or roasted meat or fish.
It can also be served as a meal eaten with bread, anchovies, tuna and olives. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Anna Sultana's Anise Cookies, Maltese Style

About seven months ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s Christmas Cookies.
I’m very pleased to see how popular that post has become.
I know those cookies are a nice light dessert.
But, wow… almost 1700 hits!!
That’s a lot of cookies!!

It’s time for another of Ma’s cookie recipes.
Anise cookies are always good.

Anise and anisette were staple items when I was growing up.
A bottle of anisette was always kept in the house, right next to the wine.
Some of my Sicilian relatives added anisette to their coffee.
Ma made sure she always had both wine and anisette on hand.
A bit of booze always helped when the family gathered.

Anise has a licorice flavour and is often good for whatever ails you.
At the end of feasts the Ancient Romans served cakes with aniseed as a digestive.
They knew what they were doing.
Anise is also taken as a digestive after meals in India.
It has also been used to treat menstrual cramps and colic.

A bit of trivia…
The Biblical anise mentioned in some translations of Matthew 23 is actually dill. 


Ma always used anise for these cookies.
If you don’t have anise, you can use lemon, orange or any flavour you want.
When making the icing use a liquor, juice or water instead of the anisette.
They won’t be the same, but they’ll still be good.

If you prefer you can shape the cookies in this way:
Cut a small piece and, by hand, roll it into a thin, long strip about 1/4 inch thick.
Cut the strip into sections about 1 inch long.
Connect the two ends by pressing them together with your fingers to form a circle.

Or you can roll it in your hands to form a log and then twirl it into shape. 

                              Anise Cookies

Makes about 6 dozen cookies


Grease 4 large cookie sheets

In a medium bowl sift together
4 Cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl place
1 Cup sugar
1 Cup butter
Mix at medium speed until light and fluffy.
Beat in, one at a time
6 eggs
1 teaspoon anise flavour
Gradually add
the flour / baking powder mixture.
Mix at a low speed until the dough is firm. 
Knead and if necessary add flour to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.
Pinch off about a tablespoonful of dough.
Roll it into a rope and coil it into a circle on a cookie sheet. 
Repeat with the remaining dough, placing them 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets.

Preheat oven to 350º F
Bake cookies 15 minutes until lightly golden.
Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.


Combine in a medium bowl
1 1/2 Cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 Tablespoons anisette
Stir, adding more anisette as needed, until creamy.

Place wax paper under the wire racks to collect the dripping icing.
Dip the cookies into the icing and place them on the wire rack.
Repeat the process for the remaining cookies.
Sprinkle over the cookies
rainbow coloured sprinkles

Here are some more anise recipes:

Anise Speculaas, German Christmas Cookie

Mrs. Kekelia's Anise Springerle, German Christmas Cookie

Anna Sultana's Biskuttini tar-Rahal #2 (Village biscuits / Maltese Style Cookies)

Anna Sultana's Qaghaq ta' l-Ghasel (Honey or treacle rings, Maltese Style)

Anna Sultana's Qaghaq tal-ghasel #2 (Treacle Rings, Maltese Style)

Anna Sultana's Imqaret (Deep-fried Date Slices, Maltese Style)