Monday, January 31, 2011

zen & the art of chicken stock

mondays are my day of rest, and great for new blog entries. here's an overview of some things i cooked up last week, along with a few tips and pointers for those interested in cooking up a storm at home. 

chicken stock:

there are always certain jobs around the kitchen that i inevitably try to avoid because i just plain 'ole hate them - breaking down cardboard boxes, portioning brownies, taking out the compost, piping brown butters & roasting lobster bodies are my least favourite jobs (oh and of course the dishes!). on the other hand there are jobs that i really like doing like making italian meringue, braising meats, getting the meat out of lobster knuckles, searing scallops and making a killer stock.
the base for my thai inspired chicken and rice soup is a money, chicken stock. it may seem like a daunting task but can be done easily and cheaply at home instead of buying those preservative and sodium laden stocks from the grocery store, plus it is so convenient to have around.
the first step is to roast chicken bones. i always like to buy whole chickens (it's way cheaper!), use the breasts for one thing, the legs and thighs for another and wings for another. then just pile all the chicken bones on a baking sheet and roast them until golden brown and delicious and your whole house smells amazing. if this sounds too labour intensive - just roast off the leftover bones from a roast chicken dinner, or even the ones from those pre-cooked chickens...

they look totally disgusting but the smell is totally insane. now you may be thinking to your self, "how the heck do you clean all that crud off the baking sheet?" well all that crud is actually flavour country, which brings me to the art of deglazing. deglazing is just a fancy word for getting all the yummy bits off the bottom of a pan and into your stock, sauce or braise - whatever you happen to be making at the time.
deglazing is accomplished by adding a liquid to a cooked on mess to lift up all the delicious brown bits from the bottom. you could use alcohol (typically wine), another stock or sauce - i had none of those at the time, so i used water - no big deal, i'm sure my french chefs from le cordon bleu would freak out but i'm not concerned. when i taught cooking classes in ottawa i always said "there are no rules in cooking, baking yes, but cooking no." just improvise, use what you have or what you want. it's the technique that counts not the ingredients.

this is what a properly deglazed pan looks like and the taste is ridiculous. it's also a great way to avoid scrubbing pans later on.

ta-dah! very little effort required.
now add the bones, deglazing liquid, aromatics and cold water to a big pot and let it simmer for a few hours until there is no flavour left in the chicken bones and it's all in the stock. since i was using this stock as the basis for a thai inspired soup, i added loads of lemongrass, ginger and garlic, but celery, carrots and onions (mirepoix) are the norm.

it looks a tad like swamp water, but who cares it smells radical! all of the aromatics get discarded - their flavour ends up in the stock so their mission in life is fulfilled - so don't worry about chopping them up all pretty. once the stock is delectable, pass it though a fine mesh strainer and your stock is finished. it's very handy to freeze it in litre portions, ready to pull out and add to soups, stews, gravies, sauces & risottos...just run it under water until a massive ice cube of stock pops out and toss it in to whatever you're making.
for my thai chicken and rice soup i add roasted chicken meat, basmati rice, nappa cabbage, bok choy, red bell pepper, red chillies, green onions, soy and a touch of sesame.

a far cry from those icky looking bones, cooked to oblivion on a baking sheet!

the chicken i've been using is from shani's farm down in the valley and it tastes so good. i've also been buying their organic sausages & pork and i ordered 10 lbs of spareribs this week for my grandmother's garlic spare rib recipe. this is one of my all time favourites and so delicious it even made it's way into the prospect cooks 2008 cookbook.

the page is a little wrinkled, dog-eared and splattered so i'm excited to see the results with shani's pork!

another great purveyor at the market is getaway farm. i have been using their grass fed beef and it is so nice. i've never had a brisket be cooked to fall-apart tenderness so quickly before. now on to the art of...


according to larousse gastronomique, braising is "a moist cooking method using a little liquid that barely simmers at a low temperature on the top of the stove or in the oven."
i love to braise, coaxing the flavour and tenderness out of a piece of meat is a great skill and is so rewarding. off cuts of meat are generally cheaper, tougher and way more flavourful. it just takes a little time and love to prepare them to their full potential.
for the brisket this week i doused it with red wine and aromatics, covered it with foil and baked it at 250 in the oven until it was fall apart and totally addictive - i may have sampled a little too much, all in an effort to perfect seasoning of course...



and this is what it looked like as a completed dish:

i think people are scared of brisket thinking it is a fatty cut, but after it's tender it's easy to "string" the beef (a new acadian term i just learned) and remove any excess fat.

i plan on braising the spareribs until they are fall off the bone for friday's main course. this past week i also had a lot of requests for lobster mac & cheese so i'll be whipping up another batch - also fresh for friday.
i also have to keep up the wide selection of desserts to fill up my display... i wasn't joking when i said the oatmeal cookies would be ginormous.

this week i'm thinking i'll add coconut cream tarts, pecan toffee candy and something festive for super bowl sunday, but we'll see...

Thursday, January 27, 2011

quick update

i only have one lobster mac & cheese (it's a large) left for the weekend - the rest were pre-ordered. also, the brisket main tomorrow is gluten free, the gnocchi is made with just potatoes and cornmeal instead of flour. i also have two sizes of shepherd's pie, large will be $14, thanks!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

menu for the week

after picking up a few more items and talking about local and sustainable fish i've now decided on my final menu for the week. here goes:


red wine braised getaway farm beef brisket, cornmeal and potato gnocchi in a foxhill cheese parmesan black pepper sauce with shiitake and cremini mushrooms and spinach - fresh for friday                 $15

crispy skinned trout from the fish shop, with lemon, basil cous cous, olive & caper caponata, and roasted ratatouille of fennel, peppers, zucchini and japanese eggplant - fresh for sunday                             $15

shepherd's pie with wild wind farm beef, cheddar, white root vegetable puree, peas and corn        $7.50

frozen entrees

lobster mac and cheese with noggins leeks, oven dried tomatoes and foxhill cheese curds sm$8 (serves1) 
                                                                                                                                          lrg$15 (serves2)

bbq chicken with homemade chipotle lime sauce, noggins sweet potato, lime and cilantro mash, black bean and corn succotash, and cheddar, jalapeno cornbread muffin                                                  $12

acadian rappi pie with shani's farm braised chicken, caramelized onions, pei potatoes and crispy salt pork
                                                                                                                                            sm$5 (serves1)
                                                                                                                                          lrg$15 (serves4)

panko crusted salt cod fish cakes and molasses baked beans (serves 2)                                           $10

baked penne with marinara, shani's organic sausages, caramelized onions, roasted red peppers, swiss chard, and foxhill cheese curds                                                                                                        $7.50

frozen soups, stews and chowder $5 each

curried butternut squash (vegan and gluten free)
beet parsnip and dill (vegan and gluten free)
roasted red pepper and tomato (vegetarian and gluten free)
potato, leek and bacon (gluten free)
thai inspired chicken and rice (gluten free)
clam chowder
beef stew
beef and barley

bbq sauces $7.50 each

chipotle lime, maple bourbon, sesame ginger, honey mustard - i always have samples with pretzels so feel free to pop by and give them a try


snickers brownies (gluten free)                                                                                                            $3
lemon meringue tartlets                                                                                                                        $3
ginormous oatmeal, cranberry and white chocolate cookies                                                                $2
red velvet cupcakes                                                                                                                             $2
chocolate, coconut macaroons                                                                                                             $2
pumpkin spice and maple mini cupcakes                                                                                             $1
sponge toffee (gluten free)                                                                                                                   $1
hand-rolled dark chocolate truffles (gluten free)                                                                                  $.50

i'll also always have a bread of some soft, be it sweet rolls, savoury tea biscuits or garlic foccacia....

phewf, i have a fair bit of work to do i think. hope to see you at the market on friday and sunday and contact me if you'd like to place an order for delivery on fridays or tuesdays - i think $50 minimum but we'll see...

thanks for reading my blog!

ps: the spacing looks right when i write the posting but not when i publish it, oops - i'll work on that.

Monday, January 24, 2011

hooray! i just figured out some more technology stuff. now i'll be able to post photos of the food as i prepare it so customers will know what's inside all those foil containers in the fridge. 
here are some photos from the market last weekend. my table is slowly taking shape. i also discovered the joys of ebay today. i would like to get some more antique cake stands, apothecary jars and cloches - i just need to make sure i don't go overboard because it all has to be trucked into and out of the market each day....
 these are my 'snickers' brownies and probably my best seller - gluten free, dark chocolate brownie base, dulce de leche mixed with nuts and peanut butter, this week they were toasted peanuts and pecans.
 i have four flavours of bbq sauce/marinades/dips for the time being - chipotle lime, maple bourbon, honey mustard and sesame ginger. i would also like to add a marinara, curry, thai peanut, and general tso's. i just need to get a ph meter to test the sauces and then figure out their shelf life and jarring requirements - i feel like such a scientist!
 i love my logo. jeremias from eighty six graphic design probably wants to murder me because i am so nitpicky but a lot of people have complimented me on it so it was worth it - now i just need to finalize the sauce jar labels... he's already done about 12 revisions...
 i like sugar!
 these mini cupcakes have also been a big hit. the base is pumpkin spice cupcake with a layer of pumpkin cheese cake baked right on top and then finished with a maple cream cheese icing. for a buck a pop they're the perfect one bite treat for market goers.
as i cook up a storm this week i'll make sure to photograph my progress. i need to whip up batches of thai chicken and rice and curried butternut squash soup, shepherd's pie (wild wind farm beef), baked beans and lots of sweets.
i've planned the menu for this week as well. for friday i will have braised getaway farm beef brisket with a red wine jus, mushroom gnocchi alfredo and wilted spinach. on sunday i'm going to do a crisp striped bass with olive and caper caponata, ratatouille and and lemon, basil cous cous. i'm also thinking homemade skor bars, chocolate macaroons, and cranberry oatmeal cookies - but there are only so many hours in a day so we'll see how it goes...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

my favourite dish

rappi pie has always been something i look forward to around the holidays. it is a labour intensive acadian dish but so worth the effort. today i remembered just how much work when i made 26 of them in my conventional oven - the ginormous propane convection oven has yet to be hooked up. apparently the gas company isn't very familiar with the regulations for installing commercial appliances in residences... thankfully i had a little help and guidance in the kitchen and the use of my parents' oven across the street, especially since i was also baking lemon tarts, chocolate brownies, red velvet cupcakes, roasted beet salads, and rosemary scones. the work is now finished and hopefully everyone at the market tomorrow is just dying for a taste of acadian deliciousness!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

menu this week

i just finished all of my shopping for friday and sunday at the market, so now i can confirm the upcoming menu for this week.

lobster mac & cheese - local lobsters, foxhill cheese curds, oven-dried tomatoes and panko/parmesan crust
              small                     $10
              large                      $18
              full meal deal        $15 (includes a dinner roll, steamed broccoli, rapini and asparagus, and a sweet of your choice)
this will be fresh for friday but i'm sure i'll have some for sunday as well...

acadian rappi pie - pei potatoes, shani's farm braised chicken and caramelized onions
             small                      $8
             large                      $15
             full meal deal        $12 (includes an herb scone, warm pickled beet, cranberry, dragon's breath, and walnut salad and a sweet of your choice)

for those of you not familiar with rappi pie, here's a little explanation:
the name rappi is based on the french word raper which means 'to grate'. the pie is not a technical "pie" as it has no pastry crust but the potatoes create an even better one. all of the moisture is extracted from grated potatoes and then they are rehydrated with chicken stock. the entire dish is layer upon delicious layer of potatoes, shredded chicken meat, caramelized onions and finished with some crispy salt pork. this is one of my favourite meals of all time and a neighbour taught me how to make it a few years ago, it takes a lot of work but it is soooo worth it in the end! if you have time on sunday definitely drop by to pick some up.

my soups for the week are:

curried butternut squash (vegan)
thai chicken, lemongrass and rice (shani's farm)
classic beef stew (getaway farm)
potato, leek and bacon (my garden)
creamy, clam chowder (oceanwise)
beet, parsnip and dill (vegan)
roasted red pepper and tomato (vegetarian)
beef and barley (wild wind farm)
baked beans (vegetarian)

the desserts are getting a teensy bit of a shake up this week too:

red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
snickers brownies
dark chocolate, hand-rolled truffles
lemon meringue tartlets
maple and pumpkin cupcake/cheesecake hybrids
old school sponge toffee

i also just whipped up fresh batches of maple bourbon and chipotle lime BBQ sauces, so add that to the honey mustard and sesame ginger and i've got four in total.

from the freezer i have bbq chicken dinners, salt cod fish cakes and beans and baked penne with shani's farm chicken and foxhill cheese.

geez louise, that's a wide selection. i'm finding it a little difficult to decide what to truck in to the market each day. it seems like the fish cakes and beans have been my best seller so far, but i'm always stressed trying to make the best decisions when i pack my coolers in the morning. i've also decided that i need a bigger vehicle - who'd have thunk a subaru forester would be too small, thank goodness i didn't get a sedan!

Monday, January 17, 2011

learning about computers...

so marysol has now explained to me how to properly upload photos so they don't turn to ? icons! now you can properly see the initial design of my sauce jar labels, the front and back of my business card, and a highly embarrassing photo taken of me while catering a function in ottawa. thanks marysol!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

it's all happening...

my business cards are in, very exciting! now i won't feel like such a schmuck when people ask for them and i don't have any. and the graphic designer did about 7 revisions on my label today as well. here is the initial layout, after a few more tweaks it will be perfect - to me anyway!

i've also decided that deliveries on tuesdays and fridays will be in the cards - i think for $50 orders or more. the first delivery worked out quite well and i think people are definitely into the convenience factor.
i'll be at the market tomorrow from 8-4 and then i will sleep. for tomorrow i've gone southwest style. i have grilled, free range, shani's farm chicken covered in both my chipotle lime and maple bourbon bbq sauces and a 'secret' spice rub. it comes with sweet potato puree (noggins farm) with lime, cilantro, jalapeno and green onions, honey & cheddar cornbread muffins, and black bean, corn, pepper, and red onion succotash. it may be my favourite meal thus far in the history of little red kitsch'n.
marysol (from sheeatsbears and edgar) had the cutest little cornbreads for a catering, i used her recipe as a jumping off point and added a few tweaks - honey instead of sugar, buttermilk instead of regular, a hint of orange and a few spices... they turned out awesome! thanks marysol for the inspiration.
i'm about to go and put the finishing touches on my fat-free, vegan, beet, parsnip, carrot and dill soup. it's sort of like the cabbage soup diet but way awesomer (in my opinion)! then finish my labels for tomorrow, pack up my bins and contemplate doing the dishes... probably not going to happen tonight, but it's the thought that counts...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

first delivery tomorrow

another productive day in the kitchen has resulted in two new vegan/gluten free soups - and one is fat free, highly unusual for me... now when the nice lady who sells the vegan baked goods wants to buy something i'll actually have things she can eat!
i've also been busy shopping to add some "kitsch" to my kitsch'n. i found the cutest, old school Tootsie Roll lunch box, fun magnets, more gingham and serving dishes, not to mention some new outfits reminiscent of a 50's housewife. gotta love biscuit, and pretty little things boutique - maybe a little too much, oh dear.
so tomorrow marks an exciting development, i have my first delivery. thanks to my cousin melissa, all the ladies at the lab have placed their orders and paul will deliver to the hospital while i man the booth at the market. it's great, i know what to prep and can make better use of my time. i'd love to do this for more workplaces - now i just need to figure out how...
ok, hopefully there is no snow storm tomorrow and the market is teeming with people cause i've made tons of food!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

prepping like a madwoman!

just finished organic beef and barley soup, curried butternut squash soup, radical chicken stock, dark chocolate brownie, savoury bread puddings and the dishes!


so i have sort of figured out Twitter... the account is set up and I think it's linked to this blog... oh dear. anyway the address is @littleredkitsch so check it out - i have 0 followers right now - hilarious!
now it's time to make copious quantities of soup - snowstorms will do that I guess.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


So I have finally gotten around to starting a blog. My kitchen has been up and running for almost a month now and I'm starting to make friends with the other vendors at the market so it's getting easier to source the types of ingredients that I'm after. The business cards have been ordered and now I just need to figure out Twitter....
I'm selling my products at the Seaport Farmer's Market on Fridays (10-6) and Sundays (8-4). Until I can afford a cute little retail shop I'll also be sending my boyfriend out on deliveries, probably on Mondays and Fridays, but we'll see what works best. If you happen to be in my neck of the woods, you can always knock on the door and pick up dinner too!
The basic idea is that I want to be your one stop shop for dinner and items to stock your pantry and freezer. Everyone wants to eat local, organic and sustainably but don't necessarily have the time, so that's where I come in. Here's a list of what I will be selling this week at the market -


roast Shani’s organic pork loin, caramelized onion sauce, swiss chard, savory apple bread pudding, herb roasted fingerling potatoes (Friday)                                                          $12
grilled organic chicken breast, chipotle lime BBQ sauce, sweet potato mash, black bean and corn succotash and cheddar jalapeno cornbread (Sunday) $12
lemon meringue tarts $3
dark chocolate truffles $.50
“Snickers” brownies $3
individual apple crisps $3
maple and pumpkin cupcakes $1
(I can also make full sized pies and crisps for pre-orders)
salt cod fish cakes and baked beans (serves 2) $10
sausage and roasted red pepper baked penne with organic sausages, caramelized onions and Foxhill cheese curds (small)$7.50
shepherd’s pie with Getaway Farm’s beef, peas, corn and cheddar & green onion mashed potatoes $7.50
roasted red pepper and tomato soup (vegetarian) $5
chicken and rice soup $5
beef and barley soup $5
curried butternut squash soup (vegetarian) $5
potato, leek and bacon soup $5
clam chowder $5
beef stew $5
bbq sauces:
chipotle lime $7.50
maple bourbon $7.50
honey mustard $7.50
sesame ginger $7.50

This is what my business card will look like once it's printed, hooray!
Anyway come visit me at the market or place an order, I'm also available for small caterings and private cooking classes...
Hope to see you soon!