Friday, August 26, 2011

it's that time of year again

late august is prime time for locavores. the selection at the market is phenomenal at the moment & two of my favourite things - heirloom tomatoes & corn - are in season. i made some mid week canapes for a function & one highlighted the beauty of tomatoes. they were little tomato tarts with kale, roasted garlic bechamel & foxhill parmesran cheese.

to make sure the tomatoes don't release too much moisture and reduce the crusts to mush, i like to toss them with some herbs, shallots and olive oil and roast them at a super low temperature to eliminate some water & concentrate the flavours.

this week i also made a giant vat of corn & potato chowder. for this one i stripped the kernels from the cobs & used the cobs to make a corn stock and extract all of the flavour from the vegetable. when taking the kernels off a cob, people often stand it on end and cut down. the trouble with this is that when the kernels tumble down to the work surface, they have a tendency to scatter & wind up on the floor. why not just lay it down in the first place?

this way you spend less time hunting for rogue kernels and ensure they all wind up in the pot.

just cover the cobs in the pot with water, herbs of your choice and let it simmer for about 30 minutes and you'll draw all of the lovely flavour out of the cobs instead of it winding up in the compost.

for months now, i have been waiting for corn to come into season for this exact purpose. for this chowder i made an onion & celery base.

hit it with the corn stock, added cubed potatoes, simmered until they were done and then finished it with a little cream and the fresh corn kernels. for this one i didn't stray from the original, because with corn chowder you just don't need to.

this week i also made a fresh batch of fish cakes (perhaps my favourite batch to date... and my brother's as well), even more fish pies, sesame ginger & chipotle lime bbq sauces and then yesterday i went international.

korean bbq short ribs on the left, butter chicken on the right in their respective marinades.

the kind folks at getaway farm meat mongers (aka graeme) cut short ribs 'flanken' style for me to replicate traditional korean bbq. however, that is where the tradition ends. i marinated them in soy, garlic, ginger, rice vinegar, sambal, miso... overnight and then grilled them ultra quick. 

post marinade.

these caused the neighbours to come sniffing around the backyard.

these are not your typical fall apart slow cooked ribs - but i dig it. they're served with a side of dipping sauce, sticky rice & quick, homemade kimchi.

then there was the butter chicken. i decided to grill before braising it to get a bit of char - since i don't exactly have a tandoor oven in my little kitchen... yet anyway.

then it hit the pot with loads of garlic, ginger, tomatoes, spices, chickpeas & coconut milk. i let it mellow overnight and now i'm going to adjust the seasoning, add some citrus & cilantro and pack it up with some cardamom scented basmati rice.

here goes with the menu:

korean bbq short ribs (getaway farm), sticky rice, kimchi $22

curried chicken (shani's farm) & chickpeas, basmati rice small $10 large $20

fish cakes & baked beans $15

creamy british fish pie $22

lobster mac & cheese small $10 large $24

grilled chicken, sweet potato mash, black bean & sweet corn succotash $24

quiche lorraine (1 left) $17.50

quinoa jambalaya, chorizo, chicken, shrimp $20

shepherd's pie (getaway farm) small $7.5 large $18

sausage & cheese curd penne $7.5

i have three salads this week. first is the southwest-style sweet potato salad with red onion, peppers, celery, cilantro & lime. second is the quinoa but i took it in a moroccan direction this week - roasted peppers, tomatoes, olives, lemon, harissa vinaigrette. and finally there is a beet salad with greens, pecans, pickled shallots and tiger blue cheese. all $5 each.

there will be the usual arsenal of baked goods as well.

also, i'm catering on sunday and still working on the logistics of being in two places as once... hopefully i can be at the market on sunday but there's a possibility i may not be... just come tomorrow if you can.

Friday, August 19, 2011

as promised...

it's 12:05 & that means friday is officially over... thank goodness.

for the weekend i have lots of fresh options & i restocked a ton of old favourites.

the fresh main course for the week is a grilled chicken breast with a southwest spice rub & a touch of chipotle lime bbq sauce. it comes with a side of sweet potato mash & black bean/ fresh corn/ bell pepper succotash. it's enough to serve 2 & costs $24.

i also restocked the shepherd's pies. it's the usual with getaway farm beef, peas, corn, & cheddar-green onion mashed potatoes. smalls are $7.5 and larges are $18.

creamy british fish pies are also back. this batch is with mussels, sea trout, salmon, smoked haddock, peas & lemon-dill mashed potatoes. it's enough to serve 4 and costs $22.

there are three fresh salads this week & all are vegan - very odd for me...
the first is a fingerling potato salad with yellow beans, celery, radishes, lots of mustard, a little horseradish & tarragon.

next up is the quinoa salad - this week it has cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers, grilled zucchini, lemon, basil & dill.

and last but not least is the classic, marinated vegetable salad... aka my lunch tomorrow.

there are new batches of seafood chowder & baked beans as well.

and for some reason i decided to make 6 flavours of cupcakes and 6 flavours of icing today: vanilla, lemon, caramel, carrot, red velvet & chocolate cupcakes with vanilla, blueberry, dulce de leche, caramel, raspberry & chocolate frosting.

ok good night, see ya tomorrow.

Friday, August 12, 2011

mother of pearl

yet again it's been a doozy of a friday.
do much prep, so many baked goods, so little fridge space... but it's all done & put away - yahoo!

this week i have rotisserie chicken. it's a mixture of light & dark meat; enough to serve two with leftovers  (probably); comes with a side of homemade bbq sauce; & costs $20 per package.

there are also southern-style crab cakes with corn, peppers, herbs, lemon & a cajun spice blend. i ran out of room & had to freeze several packages, but there are a few fresh that i've already crisped up. they come 8 per package and cost $16.

there are 3 fresh salads to accompany the proteins as well - all $5 each.
the first is a creamy blue cheese potato salad with lovely new potatoes from noggins, radishes, celery, herbs & green onions.
the second is a mediterranean pasta salad with grilled zucchini & corn, roasted peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic & basil.
and last but not least is the trusty quinoa salad - this week it has cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, dill, tarragon, basil, mint and lots of lemon.

i also made fresh batches of maple bourbon & honey mustard bbq sauces.

due to lynne's influence there is also an inordinate amount of sweets again this weekend -
cookies & cream cheesecakes
peanut butter, caramel & banana cheesecakes
pecan, raisin & chocolate shortbread squares
chocolate coconut macaroons
lime & raspberry meringue tarts
snickers brownies
oatmeal, cranberry & white chocolate cookies
lime cupcakes with blueberry frosting
rhubarb cupcakes with strawberry frosting
chocolate-chocolate cupcakes
carrot cream cheese cupcakes
and of course - red velvet with raspberry frosting cupcakes

okee dokee see ya in a few hours!

Friday, August 5, 2011

lime juice is the new salt

see it there? 'tip no. 1 lime juice is the new salt (p.62).'

this little phrase inspired lynne & i to begin a baking blitz.

we'll have:
 cranberry lime & white chocolate bar cookies with a graham cracker crust
blueberry-lime cheesecake cupcakes with an oatmeal crust
lime meringue tarts with fresh berries (reminiscent of the cover shot)
lime cupcakes
lime meltaways...

and on & on it goes - perhaps we got a little carried away...

lime has also made it's way into the savoury fare.
yesterday i made a new batch of thai chicken & rice soup with a tart lime finish ($5).
there will also be southwest style pulled chicken ($10) brightened up with fresh lime. it will pair nicely with the newest concoction - sweet potato salad with bell peppers, cilantro, chipotle & lime of course ($5).

i've been on a major 'picnic kick' all summer so there will also be creamy potato salad (like last week), quinoa salad & marinated vegetable salad - all $5 each.

all i can say is, i sure hope everyone loves lime as much as the twisted chef & i do.

i'll have most of my regular range of baked goods as well but it's fun to switch it up a little, and so much easier to do with an extra set of hands around!

see ya at the market :)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the localest of lunches

yesterday the twisted chef & i enjoyed a ridiculously delicious, al fresco lunch in the backyard.

near everything was purchased at the seaport market. it really is quite handy to work there and be able to do all my shopping at the same time.

it starts off with some garlicky old growler from that dutchman. they're pretty 'halifamous' for their dragon's breath blue - but i prefer the old growler and hammer & chisel - so, so good. this past week i was also introduced to their smeerkas - think cheez whiz but not sketchy - it'll blow your mind.

next there is charcuterie from ratinaud. we went with the rabbit & pork rillettes. i've blogged of him before, but it is so good that it necessitates a second go-round. his wares can also be found at obladee wine bar - aka the perfect place for a little after-work decompression.

then there was beet relish from the naked pickle. on saturdays he's set up in the cruise corridor & you just can't miss him - very charismatic. i found the beets worked particularly well with the rillettes & dijon - this relish will also elevate your burgers to epic proportions.

coupled with the tangy pepper jelly from pat's preserves - it was magic. they make a great line of products with an authentic nova scotia flare - they're at market on the weekends (& i think friday but i'm not 100%) beside heppy's (delicious) and schoolhouse (also delicious).

for some more tang we had kalamata olives, hot dijon, sour gherkins & caramelized onions (chez moi) - i'm a nut for condiments. devising the perfect concoctions of meats, cheeses & accoutrements to make a perfect sandwich is an adventure in & of itself and such a fun way to eat.

then we rolled into the protein provided by getaway farm/meat mongers. medium roast beef & porchetta arista - melt-in-your-mouth delectableness. normally i just get epic steaks from them but have been branching out a little lately. the dill sausage blew my mind the other week - beef & dill, who knew?

and last but not least is the 5 grain bread from la vendeenne. i can't decide whether they are a blessing or a curse, friend or foe - the lineup is so long that it blocks my table on saturdays... but it also ensures a captive audience... dear bread buyers - please check out my product, thanks!

oh, and still last but not least, it was all arranged on a cherrywood board purchased at market from ironwood bowls. everything displayed on it just looks that much better. 10 foot butcher block prep surface here i come!

eating with a food blogger just makes you appreciate everything that much more. the fact that we're both snapping photos at the same time over the same shot just makes my day.
i love food.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

when it's nice, it's real nice

occasionally it feels as though summer has arrived in prospect village, and when it does, it's fabulous. i harvested all of my rhubarb, bought some cherry tomatoes and fennel at the market & just sort of experimented in the kitchen last week.
that's the beauty of summer - things are in season, there's selection, wicked variety & everything is just delicious. the tomatoes made their way into a quinoa salad, rhubarb is in cupcakes & also in the freezer for some 'special-request wedding cupcakes' in late august, the fennel made a bright & refreshing slaw & it was all fab.

when i decided to quit my jobs & move home to start this thing up - one of the main draws was the proximity to the ocean. being stuck in the city, in a hot kitchen, sweaty & angry is not how i like to spend my summers. seriously, cooking on the line in 40 degree weather is not fun. being back here means i can take quick breaks & they're not in a parking lot but instead i can jump in the ocean or go for a hike...

yeah - that's my hood.

summer also means i can embrace the beauty of bbq. i love bbq!
i was on a food network show called road grill. it was a wee bit cheesy... to say the least... but i sure learned a lot. previously i was just accustomed to burgers, dogs, steak & chicken breasts... but now i can rotisserie, smoke & indirect cook.

which means i can now bbq any cut of meat or poultry. off-cuts of meat are the most flavourful, however they do require more effort than a premium cut - but so, so worth it. this week was pulled pork - aka a pork shoulder or blade roast. i got mine from getaway farm/meat mongers in the market - cut to order & totally radical.

buy your meat local. it tastes a bajillion times better!

these bad boys make a mean pulled pork sandwich. they're buttermilk biscuits, loaded up with parmesan cheese. i love foxhill 'parmesran' cheese (parmesan has now gone the way of chamagne - appellation controlee). it has a sharp bite coupled with a great meltability - totally uncharacteristic of a parmigiano reggiano - but really great to cook with... check it out.

this past weekend was also perhaps the craziest cupcake insanity of all time. 

this is only round 1 - i think i went through about 3 kilos of frosting this weekend...

thankfully, i have a friend in town - she loves to bake & she's the twisted chef. this week we are concocting a fanciful lime inspired baking explosion - i'm so stoked!

ok time to start the cycle again - plan, shop, bake, package, clean.... and on & on again.