Monday, February 27, 2012

vday recap

when i first started on this little adventure & was putting together my business plan, i wanted to do home deliveries a few nights a week... ummm, that didn't quite happen. i honestly had no idea how much work it would be to get ready for the market each weekend. that being said, the home delivery (or office delivery) is something i'd still like to get into... perhaps it will necessitate hiring a weee bit o' help, but we'll see.

the valentine's day delivery was my first crack at it. it was a little harried, particularly given my lack of organizational skills, but i was really pleased with how all the food turned out and the delivery aspect wasn't nearly as hectic as i had feared.

the main issues revolved around packaging & technology. i am clearly not an i.t. wizard. i had quite a lot of help organizing my delivery schedule, finding the most efficient route, and typing up heating & plating instructions. however, on the day of, my printer wasn't working, google maps wasn't cooperating and trying to switch between mac's and pc's was just not happening. not gonna lie, frustrations with technology coupled with an intense time crunch, resulted in me becoming a volcano of rage... but it passed and i got it all done.

ok, so enough griping, back to what's important - the food!!!
it was either squash soup or a roasted beet salad for first course.

the bright squash soup was adorned with the muted tones of spiced maple syrup, cardamom cream and a little crunch from some toasted pepitas. the beets from noggins were dressed with a little balsamic vinegar & acadian maple syrup, then the salad was assembled with organic arugula, candied walnuts and pickled red onions. everything was fresh, never frozen, and individually packaged so the integrity of each ingredient would be preserved. 

mains courses were either beef, chicken or vegetarian. the beef, from getaway farm, was the bourguignon adapted from julia childs' recipe. i love this recipe. normally i can't be bothered to actually follow recipes and normally just refer to them for inspiration, this is my one exception - i still don't follow it to a 't' but it's pretty darn close. it was served with a mash of potatoes, celery root & parsnips with a little roasted garlic & sour cream. i totally recommend adding a smidge of celery root or parsnip to your next batch of mashed potatoes, it just makes something so traditional (and boring in my opinion) a little more modern & fun. 

the chicken was from maple & ewe farm. they're down in the valley and owned by the sister of one of my neighbours - great stuff. i brined, pan seared and then herb-roasted the breasts while making stock with the bones. resulting in a rich chicken flavour, and the lean white meat retaining its moisture through all the cooking & reheating. it was served with blue cheese gnocchi, studded with crispy bacon & wilted spinach. 

i heart blue cheese gnocchi, i first had it during first year university in montreal and i realized, perhaps, i do actually like blue cheese... who knew? fyi - there are a few frozen individual portions of the gnocchi in the freezer at the market... $7.50 and reserved for people in the know ;)

however, i think the vegetarian option might have been my favourite of the day. it was a lasagna of roasted cauliflower, sweet potato and cherry tomatoes with kale, creamy leek bechamel, hearty pasta, goat cheese and ooey, gooey mozzarella cheese. i was a little apprehensive about the flavour combo, thinking it might be a little too wacky, but one of my helpers and i sat down and ate one, and were both pleasantly surprised. i made up a few extras as well - also in the freezer at the market if you're interested ($20).

then it was dessert time. passionfuit tarts, chocolate 'bars', and chocolate mousse filled red velvets.

haha... they look a little hilarious but went over really well. they were topped with raspberry cream cheese frosting & fresh berries. thank goodness everyone liked them... i have an order for 150 on friday... eeekkkk!

the brownies were pretty popular as well and the picture of decadence:

served with white chocolate creme anglaise and fresh strawberries. i've also become addicted to the passionfruit tarts and think they will be regular fixtures on the weekly farmer's market menu as well. 

so i've officially recovered and had so much positive feedback - thanks folks - so it was definitely all worth while. next time, i'll just have to plan a menu with a few less teeny portions of ingredients... but all in all it was no harder than when i first started going to the market, now i could practically do that in my sleep... and i do sometimes ;)

okee dokes, time to plan for this week - roast pork dinner, fish cakes and soooo many cupcakes...

Friday, February 24, 2012


i know, i know, i have been seriously neglecting the blog of late. but it's not my fault, blame suzanne collins... the author of the hunger games. i read the trilogy in 8 days... yes, i am a nerd... so that took up most of my spare time... it's like it took over my life actually.

i promise to still revisit the valentines day of deliverance (ha!). and i've had some recent adventures discovering little gems around the city, providing a plethora of products i didn't realize we could get our hands on here in halifax... stay tuned.

there was also an unexpected catering this week. got the order on tuesday afternoon to cater thursday at noon... but i got it done! here's the vegan option of roasted garlic hummus, bibb lettuce, cucumbers, roasted red peppers, pickled red onions and carrots on the seed bread from the la have bakery.

yummers. i was really impressed with the bread too - i've been looking for something totally chock full of seeds and finally stumbled across this one. it's going to be my new 'go-to.'

there's actually a fair bit of vegan going on around here this week. the new main course this week is a vegan curry with basmati rice & quinoa. the curry itself has a ton of ingredients: garlic, ginger, potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, cauliflower, red pepper, green beans, zucchini, spinach, chickpeas & tofu... i may have gotten a little carried away. it's super spiced but not super spicy.
small $10 large $20

then there are the vegan salads. i'm going to keep them exactly the same as last week - i sold out!
4-bean: sprouted beans & lentils, green beans, red pepper, celery, red onion, dill, parsley, dijon.
quinoa: artichokes, asparagus, arugula, lemon & garlic.
wild rice: roasted sweet potato, walnuts, cranberries, sunflower seeds, herbs, maple dressing.
and they'll look like this:

i also made a new batch of hearty chicken stew - not vegan at all! with maple & ewe farm chicken, potatoes, turnips, parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts, peas & herbs. the last batch was a pretty hot commodity so i'll keep this one in the rotation for a spell.

which leaves the baking - today's mission. i will most definitely be baking another batch of the banana-chocolate chip cupcakes with peanut butter frosting. it didn't take long last saturday until this was my last one.

i'll make a double batch today so i'm not baking until the wee hours tomorrow, post-market.
there will also be the usual red velvets, chocolates, vanillas (might actually be coconut...) and carrots. they look like a veritable cupcake army once they're all baked & lined up on cooling racks.

this week the snickers will be back to normal. i also have two flavours of cheesecake - gluten-free, lemon, blueberry, gingersnap and the tried & true mint oreo. tarts will be passionfruit and butter. cookies will be the usual, and macaroons will be macaroons.

this week i also defrosted my freezer at the market & inventoried all the stuff i had crammed in there. i was actually a little surprised with how much stuff i had jam-packed in that trusty thing. i have lots of chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies, vegetarian lasagnas, vegetable pot pies, lobster mac & cheese, and fish cakes & baked beans. but i'm running low on shepherd's pies, beef bourguignon, chicken curry, asparagus strata, chicken & stuffing pies and creamy british seafood pies... which i guess is a good thing. hopefully i can run out of a few things this weekend so my blackboard reads a little less like a novel & a little more like a menu.

okee dokee, the kitchen beckons.
a demain.

ps: i won't have meringue tarts on sunday so make sure to get yer fix tomorrow.

Friday, February 17, 2012


this week has been pretty helter skelter. the valentine's extravaganza has thrown my schedule totally off & i honestly can not even believe i'm heading back to the market tomorrow morning.

that being said, my baking is going phenomenally well today! oatmeal/cranberry/white chocolate cookies are done. all 5 flavours of cupcakes are done. brownies are done. passionfruit tarts are done. butter tarts are done. macaroons are done. cheesecakes are in the oven right now - gluten-free lemon/gingersnap/blueberry and mint/oreo. after this i just have to finish my dinner rolls, they're rising right now, and make frostings.
by the way, cupcake flavours are vanilla with strawberry, carrot with vanilla, red velvet with raspberry, banana chocolate chip with peanut butter, and chocolate with chocolate.

plus, it doesn't even look like a bomb went off in the kitchen, like it normally does at this time on a friday!

after all the baking, i still have to put the finishing touches on this week's salads. there's wild rice with roasted sweet potato, cranberries, red onion, candied walnuts & herbs; quinoa with shaved asparagus, artichokes, lemon & garlic; and, 4-bean with sprouted beans and lentils, fresh green beans, red bell pepper, dill & dijon.

there are two new main courses this week. the first is the return of beef bourguignon... i think it might be my new favourite thing to make (especially since my pearls are fixed & i can pretend i'm julia). it's just so rewarding when you follow all the steps and put it in the oven to braise, then 3 hours later, voila it's perfect!
for this batch i only made larges - $23

the second option is a vegetarian lasagna. i had been thinking of this concoction for quite some time but was a little apprehensive that the flavours might be a little too unconventional. but don't worry, i sat down and ate one & i really, really liked it! it's totally 'cheesetastic' with stringy mozzarella and creamy goat cheese, there's a leek & roasted garlic bechamel for the sauce and the veggies are roasted sweet potatoes, cauliflower, tomatoes & kale.
i only made larges of these too - $20

these are both items that were on the valentine's day menu & i just made extras to be ready for this weekend. so about that whole valentine's thing... i survived... by the skin of my teeth... but i survived. if i do this again in the future, i now know that it takes about ten times longer than i think to package everything up & don't rely on technology... i almost threw my printer in the ocean! early next week i'll do a proper blog post about the whole shebang, i just needed a few days to recover from it first ;)
ps: i'm totally exaggerating, it wasn't that bad... i only had 1 meltdown...
here's a sneak peak of what it all looked like before heading out the door:

ok, back to the grind. see you over the weekend - i'll be there on sunday too this week.

Friday, February 10, 2012

valentine's weekend

Be Mine Valentines Day

four more days folks. i'm not entirely sure, but i have a sneaking suspicion cupcakes are going to be quite a hot commodity this weekend. for this weekend i've decided to keep the flavours pretty traditional & valentine's day themed. there will be:
double dark chocolate
milk chocolate with strawberry frosting
red velvet with raspberry cream cheese frosting
vanilla with vanilla
cinnamon heart - they'll be in the cake & the frosting
and they will all be decorated with my brand new, super awesome lip sprinkles!

in keeping with the valentine's day theme, there will also be passionfruit meringue tarts in lieu of lemon. i'm also making large heart-shaped sugar cookies with chocolate messages piped on topped. hopefully, they survive the drive to the market in the morning unlike the bunnies i made for easter last year which were all decapitated by the time i got there... and people with gluten intolerances need some lovin' too. i'll have some ginger, lemon, blueberry cheesecakes with a gluten-free gingersnap crust, a brand new concoction.

there'll be the usual suspects as well: chocolate coconut macaroons, snickers brownies, hello dollies, dinner rolls and maybe raisin butter tarts depending on my timing.

don't worry, it's not all sugar, there are new mains, fresh batches of soup & hearty salads on the menu as well.

this is the new batch of curried chicken & chickpeas. not gonna lie, pretty pleased with how this one turned out. there's loads of garlic & ginger, sweet potato, cauliflower, green beans, cherry tomatoes, lime, cilantro & coconut and served with cardamom scented basmati rice. it's gluten & dairy free.
small $10   large $20

the second main is a vegetable pot pie (vegetarian but not vegan). there's leeks, potatoes, celery, carrots, parsnips, turnips, green beans, kale & herbs in a rich bechamel sauce and topped with a puff pastry lid. 
small $9   large $18

the freezers are also at critical levels with new batches of white bean/lemon/kale soup, seafood chowder & baked beans.

the salads this week are:
quinoa with asparagus, artichokes, garlic, lemon & herbs
bean & lentil with fresh green beans, red onion, celery, dill & dijon
marinated vegetable with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, celery, red pepper & oregano
they are all vegan, gluten-free & $5 each.

yeeesh that's a lot of stuff. fortunately yesterday was an incredibly productive day and today is looking a-ok thanks to my new secret weapon in the kitchen...

today i'll be party rockin' through my prep list!

don't forget, i'm skipping the market on sunday so make sure to stock up tomorrow & get your orders in if you'd like valentine's dinner delivered to your door.
see you all tomorrow.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

countdown is on

valentine's day is almost here. 

i'm a little scared but mostly excited about the three-course meal deliveries. it's actually all i can think about! my days are now filled with planning my route to avoid rush hour traffic, writing grocery lists to make sure i don't forget anything, tallying up prep lists to stay organized, and finding fun craft supplies to give everything a festive flair.

this is just a quick reminder that orders have to be in by february 11th, just so i have time to buy all of the supplies. and if you've placed an order but haven't finalized your selection then it's time to get that in too, please & thank you.

i also feel a bit discriminatory. as a single gal myself, i shouldn't be ignoring that entire sector of the population. so if you'd like to order this for 1, then far be it from me to deny you your valentine's day wish. just cut the price in 1/2 and we'll make it work.

unfortunately, since i have so much cooking & baking to do to get ready for tuesday, i won't be heading to the market this sunday. i think it's best for my mental health if i just focus on saturday & then go into intense valentine's day preparations. don't worry, i have lots of festive things planned for the market this weekend too, including: heart-shaped short bread cookies with chocolate messages piped on top, fancy little lemon/ginger/blueberry cheesecakes (gluten-free), cinnamon heart cupcakes, lots & lots of chocolate and everything will be getting a bit of a valentine's day makeover... don't worry, no bacon cupcakes this week.

and for those of you not ordering in & planning a night on the town, think 308 south by tarek's on quinpool road. i'm not sure if i've ever blogged about this before, but i supply them with all of their desserts. for their prix fixe menu on valentine's day i'm making a special little heart-shaped red velvet cake drizzled with dark chocolate, served with a cream cheese sauce and fresh berries. it's big enough for two & designed for sharing....rrrrrrromance.

okee dokee time to hit the kitchen. baked beans, white bean & kale soup, roast pork dinners, curried chicken & chickpeas, vegetarian pot pies & seafood chowder await.

Friday, February 3, 2012

friday frenzy

most people look forward to fridays. the end of the work week, the beginning of the weekend, that sense of excitement and the possibilities that await over the next two days. i on the other hand, hate fridays. all of my baking, finishing up some main courses, tweaking & packaging salads, washing a mountain of dishes, prepping for a weekend catering, organizing all the bins of packaging & delivering a special order cake are all the things i have to look for to today... oh & the most difficult task of all: picking out my outfits for the weekend!

this week was a chicken week. i have two new main courses.
the first, i did post thanksgiving & it went over really well. it's sort of a thanksgiving dinner turned on its head. it's chicken, gravy, carrots, peas & herbs on the bottom layer and then the top layer is potato-bread stuffing with celery, onion, savoury & dried cranberries. the end result is that you get a complete thanksgiving dinner in one bite.
small $10   large $20

the second is a fresh batch of one of the most popular menu items - chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies. the bottom is braised chicken meat with lots of bacon, melted leeks, a little celery & loads of broccoli and brought together with a rich sauce with homemade chicken stock with flaky puff pastry on top.
small $10   large $20

there are three fresh salads this week.
quinoa - harissa, roasted red peppers, olives, almonds, lemon, parsley, cilantro
wild rice - roasted squash, walnuts, cranberries, celery, sunflower seeds, maple, pear vinegar
bean - sprouted lentils & beans, fresh green beans, red pepper, dill, dijon vinaigrette

today i've got cupcakes on the brain. there will be the usual suspects - red velvet, chocolate, carrot, banoffee. but instead of regular vanilla, in honour of super bowl weekend - i'm going to try my hand at bacon cupcakes...

stay tuned & pop by the market this weekend.
saturday 7-4pm
sunday 8-4pm

ok time to rock!

ps: i'm out of seafood chowder & have no time or space to make a fresh batch. apologies, but i promise to have it next week.