Thursday, December 29, 2011

not cool

i. am. sick.

i figure that with a couple of ear infections, maybe i should just hang out & rest instead of struggling to get ready for the market. i won't be at the market at all this weekend. i'm sorta bummed, it's a lot of work but it's also really fun & a bit of a social outing to go to the market. alas, not this week.


hopefully your cravings will build & the following week will be extra awesome. i have rappi pie planned for next week with some delicious chickens from maple & ewe farm in the valley. i'm pretty excited - my mum is too, she's already ordered a roasting pan worth.

so i hope everyone can get through the weekend without their usual cupcake fix & i plan to be back soon - after these antibiotics do the trick.

happy new year.

ps: if by chance i make a miraculous recovery, i'll be there, promise.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


dear customers,
     i am currently slacking off. it's been awhile since i've been this lazy but i have adopted a sloth-like existence over the past week. i had planned to go to the seaport market this friday & saturday, however i've changed my mind & will only be heading in on saturday from 7am-1pm. i'm sorry but merry christmas to me, this year i give myself the gift of rest (& new rain boots of course).

    this is currently my view & i'm quite all right with it.

i've been a year at this now & it's time for a smidgen of a rest.

    i'd also like to thank everyone for their support during my first year of business. it's sort of amazing how far i've come in the past 365 days. i now know so many more people & have made some great friends along the way. some customers (you know who you are) even gave me christmas gifts & cards - so thoughtful & touching. it's pretty rad, i feel special!

   as repayment, i've decided to not cook a new main course this week - womp, womp, womp sorry folks. i have tons of awesome stuff in the freezer so there'll still be plenty of food but i'm giving myself a bit of a break. i'm still going to make some fresh salads & all of my baked goods of course, but no new mains - sorry.

here's what's in the freezer:

asparagus strata with caramelized onions & foxhill cheese             $15
chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies                                                         small $10 large $20
creamy british seafood pies                                                                         small $11 large $22
braised brisket with blue cheese polenta                                                $23
mac & cheese (plain or broccoli)                                                                small $8 large $16
vegan lasagna                                                                                                $16
smoked salmon quiches                                                                               5 smalls $15 large $17.50
braised pork & sweet potato pie                                                                  $20
fishcakes & baked beans                                                                              $15
shepherd's pies                                                                                                small $9 large $18
sausage & cheese curd penne                                                                      $7.50

see there's tons of stuff.

    hope everyone has been having an awesome holiday & been able to take a breather, chill out & have fun. see you this saturday, aka new year's eve... aka party/dancing/noshing night. may the remainder of your holiday season be grand & your new year's resolutions be to eat more little red kitsch'n food!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

countdown is on

christmas is so close, yet so far away - still so much to be done.
but, yesterday was an insanely productive day. there are fresh batches of maple bourbon, chipotle lime and honey mustard bbq sauces all jarred up. there are plenty of the regular sized jars and this week there are half sized jars as well - excellent stocking stuffers. i'm also putting together jars of dry rubs to accompany the sauces and they will be sold together for $10.

this week also sees the return of the braised pork & sweet potato pies that i did post-thanksgiving. it's braised pork shoulder from getaway farms with onions, ginger & cranberries and then layered with spiced sweet potatoes and pecans - super festive!  $20

the asparagus stratas i did sold out really quickly so i made a fresh batch this week with caramelized onions, foxhill parmesan and fresh herbs. they're great for breakfast, lunch or dinner. $15

and i also made more smoked salmon quiches with goat's cheese & dill. $17.50
last week i sold out of the large ones but don't forget, there are still lots of the minis in the freezer to have on hand for parties - 5 for $15

the salads this week will be:
wild rice - butternut squash, cranberries, red onion, pumpkin seeds, pecans, maple
quinoa - artichokes, asparagus, green beans, garlic, lemon, dill
veggie - broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, red pepper, oregano, dijon

today is baking day, so lots & lots of cupcakes (red velvet, chocolate, vanilla, carrot, gingerbread), tarts (lemon & pecan), brownies, squares, oatmeal cookies and hopefully some cookies for santa if i have time...

i'll be at the market tomorrow & saturday so adjust your schedules and i'll see you there.

Friday, December 16, 2011

weekend menu

it's getting awfully close to christmas & i feel totally unprepared. at least the tree is up.

new mains this week are plain mac & cheese, broccoli mac & cheese (smalls and larges of both) and smoked salmon & dill quiches.
i have mini quiches as well for cocktail party purposes.

there are three salads too.

wild rice: roasted squash, cranberries, seeds, nuts, red onion and maple vinaigrette.
quinoa: asparagus, green beans, artichokes, lemon, garlic and mustard.
sweet potato: bell peppers, cubanelles, cumin, chipotle, cilantro and lime.

i have loads of baking to do today and i'm waaaayyyy behind schedule. cupcakes, brownies, tarts and cookies, oh my! i'm hoping for a bit of a christmas miracle.

a demain.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

cupcake vs muffin

time to tackle the age old question, cupcake or muffin?
i've been ruminating on the subject for awhile now and noted many similarities between the two. both terms refer to delicious baked goods, both can be used as terms of endearment, and conversely, both can be used as insults when belittling people (i personally prefer the term 'muffin' for said purpose)...

i can still remember the day i was stuck in a restaurant basement, toiling away on the baked goods for that night's dinner service & listening to 'the debaters' on cbc radio. the topic up for discussion that day was pie vs. cake. the debaters made such eloquent & entertaining points that is really struck a chord, particularly when they became so impassioned by such a ridiculous, hilarious & frivolous topic. i feel the same approach should be applied to muffin vs. cupcake.

 they are so similar yet perceived so differently. clearly my allegiances lie on one side of this argument, but thought i should broach the subject in an objective manner nonetheless.

according to wikipedia, 'a muffin is a type of quick bread that is baked in small portions,' whereas a cupcake is 'a small cake designed to serve one person.' however, there is not much that can classified as bread-like about most north american muffins. wikipedia goes on to say that during the 20th century 'the sugar and fat content [...] increased to the point where the 'muffins' were almost indistinguishable from cupcakes.' i could not agree more.

people often refer to my cupcakes as muffins or ask where they can find a healthy muffin while shopping at the seaport market. this really irks me. the entire notion of a muffin is baffling to me. perhaps it's just the modern, north american interpretation of a 'muffin' that baffles me. english muffins & corn muffins are fine, but the b*****dization of a muffin that's on north american shelves drives me bananas - laden with sugar, fat & very little nutritional value, just a small cake... a cupcake if you will.

so i put on my investigative journalist hat and went looking for some hard-hitting facts, she said while dripping with sarcasm. the first place i looked was the tim horton's website. those folks are pretty insane. first of all, how can you even invent a muffin that has 410 calories, 15 g of fat & 37 g of sugar, and secondly how can you market that as a healthy breakfast option? to put that in perspective, a greasy bacon & egg mcmuffin from mcdonald's has 320 calories & 14 g of fat...

sure if made well, muffins taste delicious. i'm not about to argue that point, but don't fool yourself, muffins are not healthy. muffins do not make a meal. nor do cupcakes. i can appreciate cupcakes though because they do not masquerade as health food. a cupcake is a treat - a cute, delectable treat. as far as i'm concerned a muffin is just a cupcake without frosting and a false, misconstrued sense of identity.

i have one regular saturday customer who religiously buys 2 un-iced carrot cupcakes. we both acknowledge the fact that they are still cupcakes and she considers them a special treat. there are some websites debating what constitutes a muffin, there is even a formula and a heated debate over the addition of fruit. my carrot cupcakes have fruit & vegetables and oil instead of butter but they are still cupcakes even without the frosting.

if you were to buy a muffin from a place like come to fruition (formerly known as super snacks) or gali's healthy kitchen i'm sure that it would be packed with lots of healthy things - fibre, nutrients, antioxidants... however, from most other places it's pretty much super-refined sugar, super-refined flour and butter - not exactly health food.

i have no problem with muffins, i do however, have a problem with pretending to be something that you're not. a muffin is essentially a wolf in sheep's clothing - a secret lair of calories, fat & sugar. whereas a cupcake embraces its lot in life, makes no bones about it and owns up to it's lack of nutritional value.

in conclusion, if you want dessert, buy a cupcake or muffin and if you want something healthy, buy an apple. if you're going to have a muffin you may as well put some frosting on top - it'll make you smile & that's better for your mental health ;) just please don't call my cupcakes muffins.

Friday, December 9, 2011

workin' for the weekend

i. can. not. believe. it's. friday. again.
how the heck did this week fly by so quickly?
i've been super busy with cupcake special orders, 308 south dessert deliveries and two caterings yesterday. needless to say, i'm way behind schedule & have my work cut out for me today.

so far, i've finished a huge batch of seafood chowder. this batch has smoked haddock, sea trout, tilapia (one of the most sustainable fish around) & mussels all purchased at the fish shop. the veggies are celery root from hutten farm, leeks from selwood green & pei potatoes. $7 

i also made up a new vegetarian concoction - asparagus, foxhill parmesran & caramelized onion strata. it's a savoury bread pudding that would be great for either breakfast, lunch or dinner. with a side salad & a poached egg on top it would make a great meal - i sort of want one for myself today... $15

i'm currently in the midst of making british seafood pies. it's been awhile since i've had these on the menu, but they've been very well-received thus far. it's a thick & creamy bechamel sauce with leeks, celery & peas mixed with seafood (the same combination as the chowder) and then layered with lemon-dill mashed potatoes on top. 
small $11 large $22

the quinoa salad will be exactly the same as last week with blanched green beans, artichoke hearts, mustard, lemon & dill. the wild rice salad will have balsamic roasted beets, tomatoes, garlic & lots of fresh herbs.

i also hope to have enough time to whip up some smoked salmon/ dill/ goat cheese & mushroom/ swiss/ caramelized onion quiches, but that remains to be seen, it all depends on how fast i can bake.

i've settled on a permanent rotation of 5 flavours of cupcakes: red velvet, chocolate, vanilla, carrot & banana chocolate chip - maybe now i can experiment with new flavours of frostings... i'll also have snickers brownies, lemon tarts, mint oreo cheesecakes, macaroons, oatmeal cookies and maybe something festive...

in other news, i made the best pie of my life this week.

it's a classic pecan pie but made a bit more festive with dark callebault chocolate, dried cranberries, raisins & the zest of a clementine. maybe i'll make some miniature versions for the market. 

plus i made a signature cupcake for a friend's father's birthday party. the order came in all the way from california & it was super flattering to be thought of for the event.

it's a combination all of his favourite flavours, so they're a sweet potato (what ?!?!) cake with lots of fresh ginger, then the tops are soaked with a spiced maple syrup & finished with maple cream cheese frosting. it was a brand new concoction, slightly nerve-wracking & a fun way to spice things up.

ok. time. to. bake.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

the spice man

on saturday morning a good samaritan covered my table at the seaport market and i was able to sneak away for a few minutes. i headed over to the brewery market to explore. i had two main destinations: hutten family farm & the spice man - purveyor of epices de cru shipped in from montreal.

the spice man is officially costas halavresos, former cbc host, and a great guy to chat with. i'm no spice guru but i do have have a decent knowledge of all things spicy, however i was completely blown away by the selection he had and his knowledge of each of his wares. 

i could have spent a good couple of hours hanging out and chatting - talking about food is one of my favourite things to do... can ya tell? anyway, what i really enjoyed were the samples of each of the spices & blends to smell and taste before purchasing. i had never even heard of a few of them & i'm a bit of a food nerd so it was nice to chat and learn about new treasures from the far reaches of the world. 

after careful consideration, i made my purchases & i'm pretty pleased with my decisions.

from left to right: a tonka bean, zaatar spice blend, andaliman wild pepper, ethiopian berbere spices & pasilla peppers.

first up is the tonka bean.

i had often heard of them but never actually seen or smelled one. the spice man keeps them in a little jar & encouraged me to open it up and smell the 'bouquet'. it sort of felt a bit like a wine tasting. when asked what i smelled, the answer was 'i can't put my finger on it, but it smells warm & fuzzy.' he laughed and explained that the notes of vanilla, almond, cinnamon & cloves make it well-suited for any application where nutmeg would also do the trick - spice cakes, custards, an extra special holiday eggnog... 

just like nutmeg, it's best just lightly grated using a microplane.

and given the price, i'm going to make sure this bad boy lasts.

then there's the zataar. i haven't seen too much zaatar around nova scotia, but no trip to the middle east store in ottawa was complete without some freshly baked flatbread with olive oil & zaatar.

 it's sort of an odd combination of middle eastern herbs (unique varieties of oregano, thyme, basil & savoury), sumac, sesame & salt. it has a very citrusy & herbaceous flavour that is great for bread and would work nicely with pork, chicken or a firm-fleshed white fish. it's very distinct and adds a certain 'je ne sais quoi' to dishes, just an interesting flavour that's hard to pinpoint. 

then there's the andaliman wild pepper. i had never heard of this & i'm so glad to have found it. it is the most amazing spice i've ever smelled. it's not a hot pepper but more citrusy & fresh.

it's grown in sumatra, indonesia on the shores of lake toba - the largest volcanic lake in the world. what's funny, is that the scent is very reminiscent of something that grows here - i'm not sure exactly what is is but it's a familiar smell from when i'm out hiking... weird, because sumatra could not be farther away. needless to say, this new discovery with be making it's way into most of my cooking from here on out.

ethiopian berbere spices are all the rage these days & the bestseller at epices de cru. 

it's sort of a kicked up version of paprika with lots of spices, cardamom, ginger, fenugreek, allspice & pepper. the scent is incredibly aromatic & the uses are wide ranging - beef, pork, chicken, and i plan on adding some to upcoming curries & chillies.

another 'it' product these days are pasilla peppers. they are dried chilaca peppers and have a wonderful, smokey flavour. they will definitely be making an appearance in my bbq sauces & will add a great southwestern flare to so many dishes.

they can either be ground in a mortar & pestle, stirred whole into a soup, broth or sauce (remove before serving) or rehydrated, minced & stirred into recipes. i feel that rehydration increases the bang for your buck - not only can you use the pepper itself, but the liquid used to rehydrate will be full of rich chilli flavour that can be used as well.

all of the information may seem a little overwhelming but the spice man includes some info & recipes for suggested uses for each purchase. the selection itself can also be overwhelming but there are lots of kits with complimentary flavours or a theme (great gift ideas... nudge, nudge, wink, wink) and can help demystify the expansive world of spices. 

time to go play...

Friday, December 2, 2011

busy, busy

yesterday i started cooking & then i just didn't stop. 

one bbq sauce jarred, one big batch of soup, baked beans, two main courses & two salads later, i went to sleep. i didn't officially have to do it all, but i was just in one of those moods & it's important to strike while the iron is hot. this morning i will be greeted with a massive pile of dishes - i just couldn't bring myself to do them at 1 in the morning - but it's ok because i'll be well stocked up heading into december.

on the menu this week, there is a fresh batch of chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies. the gravy is made from a rich chicken stock using shani's farm chicken. the leeks are organic & from selwood green, then there's loads of broccoli, bacon, herbs & a puff pastry lid.
small $10 large $20

mmmmm.... bacon.

while i was making these, i realized that i haven't done a vegetarian main in a little while so i decided to whip up a veggie version. it turned into a vegetable pot pie - leeks & broccoli with the addition of carrots, celery, mushrooms & green peas. these aren't gluten or dairy-free but they certainly are some hearty, comfort food for vegetarians.
small $9 large $18
ps: i didn't make many & they probably won't make it onto the blackboard (sort of a secret stash) so just ask, thanks.

from the freezer i have:

fishcakes & baked beans (for two)    $15
lobster mac & cheese      small $12.5 large $25
braised brisket over blue cheese polenta     $23
curried chicken & veggies with basmati rice    small $10 large $20
shani's farm pork tourtiere    $20
getaway farm beef shepherd's pie    small $9 large $18
vegan lasagna    small $8 large $16

the salads also got some major makeovers this week. i hope no one is too alarmed but i was getting a little tired of making the same ones every week - but i did keep them vegan & gluten-free.
the quinoa salad is loaded with blanched green beans, artichoke hearts, garlic, lemon, oregano, dill & whole grain mustard. and the wild rice has turned technicolour! it's filled with roasted beets, sweet potatoes & celery root, pumpkin seeds, toasted pecans, red onion, sage and maple.

this week also sees the return of thai chicken & rice soup. it uses the same chicken stock as the pies, basmati rice, nappa cabbage, celery, carrots, red peppers, green onions, ginger, garlic, lime, cilantro & chillies. if you're feeling a little under the weather, then this one's for you.

and i wasn't really planning on it, but i decided to make a new batch of baked beans. next week is looking a little insane so i wanted to get as much done as possible this week.

other soups in the freezer are:

cream of cauliflower
potato, leek & parsnip
beef stew
seafood chowder
curried butternut squash
pumpkin, ginger, cardamom
beet, parsnip & pear
vegan stew
vegan chilli
miso mushroom
tomato, roasted pepper, sweet potato

today will be baking day. i have a feeling that mini cupcakes are going to be quite popular this week...(they were mentioned in the chronicle herald)... red velvet in particular. the other flavours with be vanilla with blueberry frosting, carrot with maple cream cheese, banana chocolate chip with chocolate buttercream, chocolate with mint frosting & some double chocolate for good measure. i'll also have cookies, squares, brownies, rolls, tarts & macaroons and if time permits, sponge toffee & peppermint meringues.

this week i also had lots of fun: the wooden monkey, trivia night, PRINCE & i decorated my nook at the market. the overall theme of the market is 'family christmas' and as a child of the 80s, i decided to deck mine out in all the tacky, 'gawdiness' of that decade - it's hilarious & not even finished yet... today the lights & ornaments go up!

best get to work - hope to see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

dumping day

yesterday was 'dumping day'. it's officially the day that lobster fishermen on the south shore can set their baited traps so they can start hauling them today on the first day of lobster season.

i like lobster. i also like watching all the action from inside where it's warm.

yeah that's the view from inside my living room!

anyway, i live in a fishing village & i have prime real estate for watching all the 'goings on' of dumping day. there were a few helicopters out, the coast guard was there is full force inspecting permits, and as the day progressed i watched the number of traps on the docks dwindle.

as far as i'm concerned, lobster fishermen are some of the hardest workers out there. the seas are pretty dangerous at this time of year, the water is cold and the lobsters are unbelievably vicious before they have their bands on.

yesterday the fishermen were blessed with awesome weather.

calm seas & no wind make for a pretty amazing dumping day. but alas, the north atlantic is not always so forgiving & cooperative. today the wind had picked up, but at least it's not cold yet.

this is still pretty tame, but the lobster fishermen brave seas all winter that are completely ridiculous.

as a business owner, i'm always concerned with the bottom line, but at the same time i think people should be rewarded for risking their lives and harvesting one of the best local products around. it's such a shame that the lobster market has bottomed out - these folks deserve more for the work they are doing and the risks they are taking. 

buy local & buy direct whenever possible... & don't complain about the price of lobster - it's totally worth it.

Friday, November 25, 2011

weekend menu

sorry i'm a little late posting this today... but i was running around all morning & dropping off mini cupcakes to the festival of trees luncheon. i knew it was a big event but holy camoly that place was radical! the trees were all so 'blinged' out, the decor was amazing & there were tons and tons of cakes. my little mini cupcakes looked so cute and amateurish next to all the elaborate, fondant covered creations... but i'm sure that tasted awesome, and that's what really counts!

and the trees... the trees were so beautiful... and intense.

this one was my favourite colour scheme.

this one was mostly edible - those are cookie ornaments, super cute!

yeah that's right, shoes as ornaments!

and this one was my favourite of them all...

a candy creation from sweet jane's.

now i'm definitely in the christmas spirit, i wish i didn't have to bake all day & could start decorating instead. but alas, the cupcakes, cookies, tarts, squares, rolls & brownies won't bakes themselves.

cupcake flavours this week are chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, carrot & banana chocolate chip. i'll have the toffee, chocolate, nut squares, lemon meringues, snickers brownies & oatmeal, cranberry, white chocolate chip cookies as well.

the quinoa salad got a minor makeover from some whole grain mustard & dill, and the wild rice salad has all the usual suspects.

the fresh option this week is a curry. it's loaded up with braised shani's farm chicken, cauliflower, sweet potatoes & butternut squash, green beans, coriander and lime. this batch of basmati is kicked up with coconut milk, cardamom & kaffir lime and i don't think i'll ever cook just plain rice again.
small $10 large $20

from the freezer there's lots of tourtieres, shepherd's pies, lobster macs, braised brisket, vegan lasagna & fish cakes & beans. there's a few small chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies floating around but they are in very short supply - i'll make more for next week.

then for soups, etc:

curried butternut squash
pumpkin, ginger, cardamom
beet, parsnip & pear
vegan stew
vegan chilli
lentil veggie
roasted red pepper, tomato, sweet potato & chipotle
cream of cauliflower
potato, leek, celery root & parsnip
miso mushroom
baked beans
beef stew
seafood chowder

ps: the first 6 are vegan & gluten free.

there's a new batch of maple bourbon bbq sauce all packaged up & sesame ginger is in the works... but i'm waaayyyyy behind schedule so it remains to be seen if it makes it to the market tomorrow.

time to get crackin', see ya tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

holiday meal planner

with the first snowfall under our belts, thoughts are quickly turning to christmas. i'm not gonna lie, yesterday i found myself humming carols around the kitchen. as of tomorrow, it's one month away. luckily for me, my christmas is pretty stress free. i don't have to cook anything for a single holiday meal & i can take care of most of my christmas shopping at the seaport market while i'm 'working'. i realize for most people this is not the case and that's why yesterday i started thinking about a holiday meal planner.

with so many holiday gatherings and special meals, wouldn't it be nice to just go to the freezer and grab a little red kitsch'n concoction to alleviate some of the pressure? i think so... but i guess i'm a little biased! i'll also be putting together some little holiday packages of sauces & rubs, sweets & hors d'oeuvres for gifts and cocktail parties.

not everything is ready just yet, but over the next couple of weeks i'll be making it all, so just check the weekly menus for availability. if you'd like to reserve something just shoot me an e-mail at

so here's what i was thinking yesterday:

christmas eve: my family always eats acadian rappi pie & seafood chowder. but a tourtiere or lobster mac & cheese would be nice as well.

christmas morning: after all the insanity it's nice to have a hearty, no-brainer breakfast. how about a roasted butternut squash, maple & pecan strata or a quiche: lorraine, smoked salmon or florentine?

christmas dinner: i don't want to mess with tradition, but it could be nice to bring a side of festive wild rice salad or quinoa salad. and for all the vegans out there, having a vegan lasagna on hand would ensure your choices aren't limited to steamed veggies (i'm also thinking of a 'christmas-y' vegan main, but it's not finalized yet...).

boxing day: growing up, boxing day was always considered a day of rest. maybe fry up some fish cakes & baked beans for breakfast or pop in a chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pie or a shepherd's pie for an easy supper. or maybe just have some healthy soup for a bit of a cleanse.

potluck supper: curried chicken & chickpeas, braised pork & sweet potato pie, or creamy british seafood pies are always crowd pleasers & a nice change from turkey.

cocktail party: these can be the most overwhelming and stressful of all. hors d'oeuvres i've always been successful with are mushroom & goat cheese triangles, savoury southwestern sweet potato pies, thai inspired mini crab cakes, individual smoked salmon & dill quiches and asian chicken dumplings. 

desserts: mini cupcakes, lemon meringues, peppermint meringue kisses, bite-sized brownies, chocolate truffles & individual cheesecakes round out any spread... or become the spread themselves. if you'd like to order these by the dozen i need at least 48 hours notice - thanks!

new year's eve: some years we'd just have a big pot of chilli or seafood chowder on the stove, but for a more substantial meal a creamy british fish pie, tourtiere, or lobster mac & cheese would do the trick. or if it's just a quiet dinner for two, a braised beef brisket with mushrooms, shallots, kale & blue cheese polenta would definitely do the trick - with a big glass of red wine.

new year's day: probably another day where fish cakes & baked beans would be handy to have in the freezer or a hearty strata to start the new year off right.

january: vegan soup!

also fitting with the holiday theme - don't forget to check out my mini cupcakes at the festival of trees luncheon being held at the world trade & convention centre tomorrow. all proceeds support the mental health foundation of nova scotia.

ps: this weekend i will also be accepting donations of incredibly gawdy, tacky & kitschy christmas decorations from the 70s and 80s that are too embarrassing to be hung in your own home & would otherwise be headed for the trash... there's a little competition at the market & i want to have the most eye catching table around!

ok, time to cook.

Friday, November 18, 2011

weekend menu

it's official - i'll be all alone at the market this weekend... she said while quietly sobbing... maternity leave & the demands of a full-time job, have stripped me of my helpers. please be patient... i'm scared.

so on the menu this weekend i have a fresh batch of shepherd's pies - getaway farm ground beef, peas, corn, cheddar-green onion mashed potatoes.
small $9 large $18

i also have tourtieres - shani's farm ground pork, herbed pastry, warm spices.
$20 - 9 inch pie

there's a new batch of chipotle lime bbq sauce and maple bourbon as well.

i'm going to make the rice salad the same as last week - pears, pecans, walnuts, cranberries, red onion, maple, pumpkin, seeds.

the quinoa salad will also look the same.

last weekend i also noticed that the thai chicken & rice soup wasn't selling as well as usual... then i also noticed that i had forgotten to write it on the list. so here's a complete list of what flavours i have:

thai chicken & rice
beef stew
seafood chowder
roasted red pepper, tomato & sweet potato
vegan vegetable stew
curried butternut squash
pumpkin, ginger & cardamom
potato, leek, celery root & parsnip
cream of cauliflower
baked beans

there's a lentil soup in the works & vegan chilli as well. i'm having some space issues so it remains to be seen if i'll have them finished for tomorrow...

from the freezer i also have:

chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies  small $10 large $20

fish cakes & baked beans  $15

lobster mac & cheese  small $12.5 large $25

braised brisket with blue cheese polenta, kale, mushrooms, shallots  $23

curried chicken & chickpeas with basmati rice  $20

sausage & cheese curd penne  $7.5

today is baking day.

oatmeal, white chocolate chip & dried cranberry cookies
chocolate, coconut macaroons
cupcakes galore - chocolate, vanilla, red velvet, carrot & brown sugar/cinnamon
lemon meringues
sweet rolls (milk rolls)
mint oreo cheesecakes

i'm also donating lots of cookies to a charity event tomorrow so the oven will be working overtime today...

and i'm off to the races.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


this weekend some customers paid me some very nice compliments & gave me that warm, fuzzy feeling inside. it's one thing to receive compliments from family & friends, but it's a whole 'nother story to receive them from people i don't even know.

over the past fews weeks, i've noticed a few faces coming back time & time again - my newest regulars. this weekend they made me very happy. they told me how they had replaced ordering in or picking up takeout, with my food. or that, my product may be a teensy bit out of their price range but they still buy it every week to have delicious food to look forward to.

when hammering out the details of this business and figuring out the positioning of the brand, i wanted it to be a replacement for restaurants or the dreaded frozen food aisle. the value is added by not dealing with the hassle of shopping, cooking or cleaning up and coupled with all of the time that saves. also, by sourcing many ingredients locally and preparing them with care, hopefully (fingers crossed), the end product is something that people wouldn't typically whip up on a thursday night.

one customer told me that the food she purchased from me wasn't something that she could even find in a restaurant in halifax... yay! that was exactly what i was going for. and when you think about it, it's cheaper as well. my main courses range from $7.50 - $12.50 per person. that's much less than i would expect to pay when eating out, compounded by saving on tip & marked up wine.

don't get me wrong, i love eating out - not having to do any work, enjoying the ambience & being looked after. and i understand that the restaurant industry is brutal - there is an 80% failure rate. the margins on food are slim, the overheard is steep and the industry is extremely competitive. i wish them well and i would love to see the restaurant industry in halifax prosper & grow, but i also realize that not everyone has the time or the disposable income to eat out every night and that is where i tried to position my product.

i love to cook, i love to bake & i love dreaming up new concoctions. the compliments i received this weekend reaffirmed that i'm doing an ok job at it and filling a need within the local market.


Friday, November 11, 2011

weekend menu

i'm no vegan, but it's sort of fun experimenting, concocting & coming up with new vegan main courses. this week's dish is a vegan lasagna. the tomato sauce is chock full o' stuff: onions, garlic, peppers, mushrooms, celery, carrots, zucchini, eggplant, olives, and tomatoes of course. it will be layered with noodles, and a tofu/ nutritional yeast/ swiss chard & kale mixture to replicate the spinach & cheese layer. 
assembly takes place today, but the components are done & i'm quite pleased thus far. perhaps i should become a vegan... yeah right ;)
small $8 large $16

i also made a fresh batch of chowder this week. this one is super hearty and loaded up with mussels, salmon, smoked & regular haddock, potatoes, celery, onions, leeks, celery root & dill. this batch turned out extra stick to your ribs - perfect for abominable days like today!

the wild rice salad has even more treats in it this week: pears, roasted pumpkin & butternut squash, walnuts, pecans, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, cranberries, sage, red onion & maple - i may have gotten a little carried away.

and the quinoa salad is courtesy of lynne. you may remember lynne from the summer - avid baker, food blogger, volunteer extraordinaire... well she's back for the long weekend and diligently chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, artichokes, sundried tomatoes & roasted peppers for the salad yesterday. today it will be dressed with herbs, lemon & kicked up with handfuls of baby arugula.

her return also means there will be extra baked goods on my table this weekend. perhaps some lemon squares and an oreo/toffee/coconut/creamy/chocolatey slice of decadence... i'm also in the midst of battling with some peppermint meringues - baked meringues and humidity are not a match made in heaven. if i come out on top, i'll have these cute little gems tomorrow;

but no promises, i'm at the mercy of mother nature & this epic storm...

 and i guess it's been awhile since i posted a thorough list of freezer contents, so here goes:

lobster mac & cheese - leeks, tomatoes, panko, foxhill curds, parmesan bechamel
small $12.5 large $25

broccoli mac & cheese - leeks, garlic, foxhill curds, old growler, panko
small $8 large $16 (very few left!)

braised beef brisket - blue cheese polenta, kale, roasted shallots, mushrooms, beef demi
large $23

chicken, leek, broccoli, bacon pies - shani's farm, puff pastry lid, herbs, rich gravy
small $10 large $20

shepherd's pie - getaway beef, peas, corn, cheddar-green onion mashed potatoes
small $9 large $18

curried chicken & chickpeas - steamed basmati rice, coconut, cilantro, butternut squash
large $20

fish cakes & baked beans - salt cod, savoury, molasses, maple syrup
4 fish cakes & 500 ml beans $15
ps: i've had lots of questions about the fish cakes. so, when cooking:
- heat up 1cm vegetable oil in the pan
- panfry the fish cakes from frozen
- it should only take about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side until the panko is golden brown
- transfer to a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 15 mins or until hot inside
- good luck

sausage & cheese curd baked penne - shani's farm italian sausages, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, kale, parmesan marinara
small $7.5 large $15

there may also be one small vegan moroccan pumpkin stew with almond/sumac quinoa in the freezer at the market but i'm not 100% - i burned through that one pretty quick!

for soups there's:
seafood chowder
beef stew
thai chicken & rice
baked beans
vegan chili
curried butternut squash
pumpkin, ginger & cardamom
beet, parsnip & pear
roasted pepper, tomato & sweet potato
miso, mushroom, udon & choy
potato, leek, celery root & parsnip
cream of cauliflower

jeepers - i've got a lot of stuff! thanks to my new freezer at the market, i can produce to my heart's content! next week i'm already planning a bean extravaganza - new batch of chili, lentil/bean/veggie soup & a braised pork dish with a hearty bean ragout side... and maybe a vegan version too... oh & maybe my first batch of tourtieres to kick off the holiday season...

this week i've also escaped the kitchen a few times - dinner party of phad thai & homemade rice wraps, dinner @ the wooden monkey, and then dinner @ brooklyn warehouse last night. thus far everything has been fab & i'm kicking myself for not taking pictures so i could blog about it all. tomorrow should see a trip to obladee for cheese & charcuterie after the market so i'll try to be on top of it for that one.

hopefully the weather clears & everyone comes out to the market in droves this weekend - see you there!
saturday 7am-4pm
sunday 8am-4pm
under the stairs, behind the line up for le vendeenne :)

Friday, November 4, 2011

weekend update

it's been a busy, busy week thus far & my countdown to monday is on!
yesterday involved a lot of running around but it was worth it. i provided some super cute goodies to a charity event & i was really happy with how they turned out.

yay! i'll definitely be making these again, and i think they would make excellent wedding favours, just sayin'...

so, the menu this week features some serious comfort food - i've been cooking like i'm about to head into hibernation.

there are two new main courses.
one features red wine braised, getaway farm beef brisket. it's in a rich sauce with lots of garlic, herbs & homemade beef stock. the veggies are poached shallots, mushrooms & kale and it's served on a bed of soft polenta with some hits of creamy, blue cheese. this one serves two & is $23.

the second main is an oldie but a goodie - chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies. the chicken is from shani's farm. it's braised until super tender, then shredded and mixed in with melted leeks, garlic, celery, broccoli & a rich gravy. then the whole dish is topped off with a puff pastry lid. there are two sizes, small (individual) $10 and large (for 2) $20

i also made a fresh batch of roasted red pepper, sweet potato, and tomato soup. it has a lot of southwestern flavours - chipotle, lime, cilantro, cumin and has a fair bit of heat. this one is vegetarian but not vegan.

there's also a new batch of curried butternut squash soup. this one has lots of lime leaves, lemongrass, ginger & coconut milk. it's done, but not pureed & packaged yet. whether or not i have it at the market tomorrow depends on how the day goes today...

on the prep list today is a fresh batch of baked beans, finishing up the quinoa & wild rice salads and, of course, all of my baking. throw in catering a lunch and you understand the insanity that i can look forward to for the rest of the day...

better get started... womp, womp, womp.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

midweek market

yesterday i headed down to the seaport market to take care of my shopping for the week.

it was completely dead - i think the slowest i've ever seen it.

i just don't understand why. i do a fair bit of food shopping and the grocery stores are always packed, the big boxes are all extremely packed & the product just doesn't compare.

i for one, would never in a million years buy fresh fish from the supermarket - it gives me the willies. and it really irks me when i get to the checkout and the teenage cashier has to ask me what half the produce items are. and call me crazy, but it's sort of nice to have steaks custom cut for me.

maybe i don't shop like most people, but i like to buy things from people who know what they're talking about and are passionate about their product. you can develop relationships, talk cooking & recipes, and trust the product that you're purchasing.

even if i wasn't selling at the market on saturdays, i still wouldn't buy my product that day. sure there are more vendors, but there are also more crowds to battle, crowded parking lots and a certain level of anxiety & stress about the market. don't get me wrong, it's still a fun vibe & a great social outing but not the environment where i want to get my errands done.

parking sometimes gives me a panic attack, but there was ample parking right in front of the door yesterday. later on i had to venture out to bayer's lake as well. en route i battled way more traffic & the parking lots were filled with really bad drivers. with parking right outside the doors i was able to shop to my hearts content and run it out as i needed - something that's not really possible on the weekends.

i bought so much product that i had to make three trips out to my car just to drop things off. i really should have taken a picture of the trunk of my car. from noggins i bought loads of broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, kale, butternut squash and apples. from foxhill i bought some different blue cheeses and was able to chat about their characteristics in cooking. from getaway farm meat mongers i got hot italian sausages (sooo good!) and beef bones to make a stock. and from seablooms i got a really interesting bouquet of flowers for a friend who just opened a new business.

the fish shop, selwood green, steve-o-renos, cheelin, wrap so d, etc.... were all open. so there were lots of options for coffee, lunch, veggies, fish, meat, cheese & sweets. i just don't get it. the product is much nicer, the parking is less stressful, the staff is more knowledgeable yet there's no one there...

ok enough ranting for one day. 

today i am channeling julia child & doing a take on her famous boeuf bourgignon. i'm using brisket from getaway farm & adding kale from noggins to add some more nutrients and serving it with blue cheese polenta instead of mashed potatoes. i'll also be whipping up a fresh batch of chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies.

i need to get a jump on the week so i have time to deliver sweets to the handsmade for helping charity event tomorrow, cater a lunch on friday and prep some nibblies for a friend's baby shower on sunday - oh & get ready for the market of course!

and don't forget that the market is open during the week & there is always lots of beautiful product to be found there.

Friday, October 28, 2011

c'est l'halloween

happy halloween! today i am stressed mostly about my costume & what to have for the trick-or-treaters and not so stressed about being ready for the market this weekend... it's a bit odd ready.

yesterday, i had the volunteer kitchen brigade show up (thank you, thank you, thank you!). who needs candy when you have free labour? anyway i am way ahead of the game & we accomplished so much. 35 lobster mac & cheeses, 180 salt cod fish cakes, a vat of miso mushroom soup, quinoa salad, wild rice salad & a brownie... oh and the dishes, miracle of all miracles!

this batch of lobster (from the fish shop) mac & cheese is like the original, so no broccoli, but lots of leeks & roasted cherry tomatoes, foxhill curds & parmesan bechamel with a panko crust.
large $25 small $12.50

the fish cakes are the usual: salt cod, potatoes, onions, celery, savoury, green onions & lemon. the salt cod comes from the newfoundland store. i love that place - lots of weird things to explore & the friendliest people around.
fishcakes & baked beans (serves 2) $15

the miso mushroom soup is a brand new concoction. i love miso! i hate mushrooms but i actually like this soup... i made a mushroom stock with lots of dried mushrooms & ginger, then added sesame, chinese 5-spice, udon noodles, shittakes, oyster mushrooms, creminis, cilantro, lime, siracha (not a lot) and bok choy.

the other soups i have at the moment are:
seafood chowder
beef stew
thai chicken & rice
cream of cauliflower
potato, leek, celery root & parsnip
beet, parsnip & pear
pumpkin, ginger & cardamom
bean, lentil & veggie
baked beans
vegan chili

i think next week will see the return of both the curried butternut squash and the roasted red pepper, tomato & sweet potato.

the quinoa & wild rice salads are the ones i have been rolling with lately - i just substituted roasted sweet potatoes for roasted pumpkin in the wild rice one.

so as far as halloween goes, it will be noticeable in the cupcakes, cookies, brownies & cheesecakes. the red velvets will be getting a bit of a makeover... and i got some fancy new cupcake liners, sprinkles & candies. it should be a fun day of baking!

i think the trick-or-treaters in my neighbourhood (village) will get some super tricked out cupcakes as well - complete with business cards so the parents know it's legit.

ok to the kitchen i go... i need to finish early so i can decorate my little corner at the market & finish carving my pumpkin... it's a liger!

Friday, October 21, 2011

pumpkin fest

this sunday, october 23rd, there will be a pumpkin festival at the seaport market. pumpkin cooking demos, a giant pumpkin, pumpkin carving contest & an after-hours pumpkin walk... lots o' family fun. to get in the swing of things, i cooked up some pumpkin stuff yesterday & will bake up some pumpkin stuff today.

i was a little apprehensive to deal with them, i'm used to simply splitting them, removing the seeds, roasting them with pumpkin pie spices & pureeing them for desserts - or carving them for halloween. but instead i treated them like i would a butternut squash & it was surprisingly easy.

first off, i peeled them...

then, diced...

then roasted...

these ones were destined for a wild rice salad. it also has pumpkin seeds, toasted walnuts, dried cranberries, red onion, sage & a maple vinaigrette.

there is also a pumpkin-centric vegan main course. this one has sort of a moroccan flare. i roasted the pumpkin with cumin & sumac.

then added it to a rich stew of onions, garlic, ginger, harissa, dates, lemon, cauliflower & cilantro and is served with toasted almond quinoa. large $15 small $7.5

i also have a pumpkin, ginger & cardamom soup in the freezer.

on today's prep list: mini pumpkin-maple cheesecakes, pumpkin tarts & pumpkin spice cupcakes. 

and to complete to whole pumpkin theme...

a new orange outfit! and sara of vintage pink treasures is making me a new orange necklace... i may have gotten a little carried away...

but don't worry, there are all of the usual treats as well. yesterday saw the largest batch of shepherd's pie i have ever endeavoured to make.

15 larges & 20 smalls - no gonna lie, it was quite the upper body workout! large $18 small $9

there's also a quinoa salad with kalamata olives, artichokes, tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted peppers, basil, oregano & arugula.

and lots of frozen goodies as well:

salt cod fish cakes & baked beans
mac & cheese - broccoli or plain
braised chicken in ratatouille with parmesan polenta
sausage & cheese curd penne with kale
chicken leek & broccoli pie (just smalls left)
braised pork & sweet potato pie
creamy british fish pie

& soups:

cream of cauliflower
vegan vegetable stew
bean, lenti & veggie
potato, leek, celery root & parsnip
beet, parsnip & pear
curried butternut squash
cream of broccoli (1 left)
vegan chili
baked beans
seafood chowder
beef stew
thai chicken & rice

okee dokee better get to work. see you this weekend & make sure to check out the pumpkin festival on sunday - lots of other vendors will have pumpkin themed goodies as well!