Friday, March 30, 2012

spring has sprung

i've had a little extra spring in my step this week. despite the wicked weather early on, it still feels like spring is here. green things are returning to the market - cucumbers, spinach, mache, and it won't be long until asparagus' return.

in honour of the season i went a little salad crazy. there is a massive quinoa salad this week. it seems i always run out, so this week i planned accordingly. also don't forget, if you'd ever like me to set aside a salad for, just pop by in the morning to place your order (vendors, i'm talking to you!).

so this is what the quinoa looks like this week. it's essentially a greek salad minus the feta. so there's loads of cucumbers from noggins, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, fresh oregano, mint and arugula, garlic, lemon and a smidge of mustard. there's no added oil, just lots of bright, fresh flavours.

the red rice salad will be the same as last week. so the nutty rice is kicked up with roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans, dried cranberries, red onion, sunflower seeds, parsley, sage, maple syrup & apple cider vinegar.

and then, since i was in a spring frame of mind, i made a vegan potato salad. so the potatoes as dressed with grainy mustard, horseradish, tarragon, dill & white wine vinegar and the crunch comes from celery, green beans, radishes, green onions & pickled garlic scapes from moon fire farm - it takes like picnic season.

this week i also filled the freezers. in all honesty, it feels like i've been running all week and just barely managing to get everything done... but i digress. here's a hint at what i made this week:

yes, that's right, a new batch of lobster mac & cheese. but wait, i didn't stop there. i also made plain ones as well as a broccoli-cauliflower version. so they all start the same with foxhill cheese curds, mozzarella, parmesan, asiago & leek bechamel. to give you an idea of how much i made, this is a pic of just the sauce:

not gonna lie, it was a little brutal to stir!
plain small $8 large $16
broccoli-cauliflower small $8 large $16
lobster small $12.5 large $25

i also made a gargantuan batch of seafood chowder. this one is loaded with mussels, haddock, sea trout, smoked haddock, potatoes, leeks, celery & celery root from selwood green and all the seafood i used this week is from peter at the fish shop.

as far as baked goods go, i'm finding it a little difficult to stray from my usual lineup because i inevitably end up disappointing someone. so this week, it's all the old favourites. the snickers are back in their usual form, there are lemon & butter tarts, macaroons, oatmeal cookies, mint-oreo cheesecakes (which i should probably go check on in the oven...) and carrot, chocolate, red velvet, lemon & banana-chocolate chip cupcakes.

this week i also has two custom cake orders. for those of you who don't know, i hate making cakes. i'm starting to mind it a little less, but as far as i'm concerned, cupcakes are the way to go! the reason i'm so late posting this today, was that i had to run into the city to deliver today's creation:

chocolate cake with mint frosting.

wednesday's concoction was a red velvet wedding cake with blueberry frosting and fresh blueberries inside. i also had my first adventures with fondant that day to create pearls to go around the base which i lustre dusted to give them a nice sparkly appearance. and last but not least, piped the couple's name in white chocolate around the border... it took waaayyyy longer than anticipated.

ok time to finish up in the kitchen & continue on with my spring cleaning. oh & look what i spotted in the backyard -

rhubarb! coming soon to a cupcake near you...

Friday, March 23, 2012

what a week.

holy crow how is this march?
sunshine, tank tops, sleeping with the windows open, waking to the sound of birds. it's unreal!
unfortunately this has also been the busiest week in the history of little red kitsch'n, but i did manage to sneak out to chebucto head for a hike on monday.

but otherwise it has been cooking, baking, delivering & running back and forth to the grocery stores and market all week. so far this week, there have been two caterings and a large restaurant order, but my main worry is the dinner for 25 that i have right after the market tomorrow... 

thankfully i've got a pretty good handle on my prep for the market already.
there are two new flavours of strata on the menu this week. for those of you who aren't familiar with them, a strata is a savoury bread pudding with lots of eggs & deliciousness. they can be eaten for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or cold out of the fridge if you're me) but should be paired with a light salad or other veg to make them a complete meal. both flavours start with a base of caramelized onions and foxhill parmesan cheese but one option has roselane smoked bacon & the other is vegetarian with broccoli & cauliflower florets.
small $7.5  large $15

i also made two new batches of soup this week. the first is a roasted red pepper, sweet potato, tomato & chipotle. it's one of my favourite flavours of soup & i toned down the spice level this time so it has a broader appeal. there's lots of southwestern flavours, like cumin, cilantro & lime, in this one too. the second, is a hearty beef stew. i had planned on making a small batch, but there's just something about making stew... needless to say, it grew to epic proportions and i needed to stand on my stepping stool to stir it! it started off with lots of getaway farm grass fed beef, and then got loaded up with onions, celery, turnips, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, brussels sprouts, peas and herbs.
as usual all soups & stews are $7

oh yeah, i almost forgot, i made a new batch of chicken & chickpea curry this week too. it's a smidgen different than the last batch - i added cauliflower and didn't use black rice. i just spaced out last week & didn't package any smalls so this entire batch was made into smalls ($10) so that's back on the menu.

there are also three salads - $5 each:
quinoa - cucumbers, tomatoes, kalamata olives, red peppers, oregano, arugula, herbs, lemon, garlic, dijon
red rice - roasted butternut squash, sunflower seeds, pecans, red onion, dried cranberries, sage, arugula, maple, apple cider vinegar
broccoli - bacon, toasted almonds, red onion, raisins, garlic, creamy dressing (not vegan, or vegetarian for that matter, but i had a request...)

which leaves the baking. the snickers brownies won't be making an appearance this week, instead they will be the 'chocolate bars' that i had around valentine's day, comme ca:

butter tarts will also be back, along with the usual suspects: cranberry, oatmeal, white chocolate chip cookies, mint-oreo cheesecakes, macaroons, lemon meringue tarts, hello dolly's, and cupcakes galore.

ok time to get crack-a-lackin', see you this weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

weekend update

so the freezers are slowly but surely getting restocked.

this week saw the addition of a chicken & chickpea curry. i put it with a homemade rice blend of basmati & organic black rice. there's also sweet potato, cherry tomatoes, red peppers, lime & cilantro. 
there are only larges & will be $20.

then there is a brand new concoction - braised pork shoulder with ginger & garlic, served with sesame roasted broccoli and rice. the sauce has lots of soy, brown sugar & vinegar so it's quite tangy and a riff on my grandmother's recipe for spareribs that i grew up on - sort of 'boneless' ribs if you will.
smalls will be $10 & larges $20

there's also lots of vegan curry, shepherd's pies, a few vegetarian lasagnas, mini smoked salmon quiches, and fish cakes & baked beans. the beans will be happening throughout the day along with jarring of a new batch of maple bbq sauce.

there are also three salads.
the wild rice is back with roasted sweet potato and the other usual suspects.
the 4-bean remains unchanged, i just can't bear to part with it.
the quinoa is full of olives, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, basil & arugula.

i had better boogie, i have all of my baking to do today & would like to have everyone's favourites ready by tomorrow morning: snickers, cheesecakes, cupcakes, cookies, tarts & squares.

see you in the morning... hopefully on time!

Friday, March 9, 2012


dear wind, please go away.
it is absolute insanity out here today. fingers crossed i don't lose power like this time last week... at least i don't have an extra 100 cupcakes to bake today. but here's how everything turned out last week:

and it took this much frosting:

5 kilos!
needless to say, i was pretty relieved when it was all said & done.
this week, i also baked a vegan cake for 40 people. yes, vegan! with the help of some balsamic vinegar & orange zest, it turned out pretty well. i was also able to make some faux 'butter'cream by using earth balance vegan butter. it was definitely a first in this little kitsch'n but it's something nice to have in my arsenal... many thanks to shelagh.

ok so for the market this weekend, i have a fresh batch of shepherd's pies with getaway farm grass-fed beef of course.
small $9 large $18
just so there's no confusion - larges are double the size of smalls & packaged in 9-inch pie plates, smalls are more of an individual sized portion but for richer dishes they can sometimes be stretched to two portions.

this week i also have a new salad. it's organic black rice with lots of cucumber, bell peppers, lime, cilantro & ginger. it has a bit of kick from some sambal oelek and lots of tang from rice wine vinegar. vegan, gluten-free as usual.
the bean salad is pretty much unchanged.
the quinoa salad is returning to its origins. lots of mediterranean flavours - kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, basil, garlic, arugula, roasted red peppers, cherry tomatoes...

ok off to the kitchen. let the baking begin!
& hopefully throughout the day it goes from this:

to this:

& my house doesn't blow away...

Friday, March 2, 2012

weekend menu

happy friday.

here's a little tidbit from last weekend: when i sat down on sunday night to organize my $ from the weekend, i came across this...

i'm not sure that this little note was intended for me, but i'll take it. i thought it was pretty cute!

ok, this week there is a fresh batch of fish cakes on the menu... i made 150 last night. i always make huge batches, because while i do like the flavour, i do not like the scent of salt cod permeating every nook of my house. as always they are $8 on their own and $15 when combined with baked beans.

the other main course this week is a pork dinner. it's a very lean pork loin that was brined, seared & then oven-roasted. it's served with a hash of caramelized onions, shaved brussels sprouts & honeycrisp apples, scalloped potatoes, and a mustard/maple/horseradish sauce. this is some hardcore comfort food and perfect for a blustery day like today.
small $11 large $22

in the freezers there's:
vegan curry small $9 large $18
vegetarian lasagna $20
asparagus strata $15
veggie pot pies small $9 large $18
chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies small $10 large $20
chicken & stuffing pies $10
chicken & chickpea curry $10
lobster mac & cheese  small $12.5 large $25
plain mac & cheese $8
shepherd's pie small $9 large $18

i'm running with the same three salads as the past couple of weeks (quinoa, wild rice, 4-bean). there will be a few minor changes here & there, but nothing too earth-shattering. i think next week will see a big shake up though... stay tuned.

today is baking bonanza day. brownies, tarts, cookies, macaroons, red velvets, chocolate, vanillas, carrots, and banana chocolate chips. but it's going to be even more intense than usual - i have an order for 100 chocolate mousse filled cupcakes for tomorrow night. which means, i need to get in the kitchen asap!

see you tomorrow & sunday... if i can ever decide which colour of tights to wear...

Thursday, March 1, 2012

best of...

today the coast's best of food 2012 reader's survey came out. now i don't want to seem desperate & pathetic, but the little red kitsch'n seems to qualify for a number of categories:
fish cakes
use of local ingredients
locally-produced packaged product
stall at the market

i'm very thankful for all of my loyal customers and regular readers but attracting new customers would really help me grow & realize the goals i have for this business. i think there is no more effective marketing than the unbiased opinions of customers and therefore think the results of this poll have great influence on halifax spending patterns.

it's also a great time to spread the love to the other vendors at the seaport market. last year schoolhouse gluten-free, and getaway farm meat mongers won the best stalls at the market, which was great. people who invest money into the market to make well-organized, 'put-together' stalls and shops, benefit the market as a whole and make it a more welcoming place and should be rewarded for it.

places like the fish shop, norbert's good food, foxhill, the kind cookie, java blend, bramoso, fanari's and the seaport bread company... will also be making up my list of responses.

and it's not just the market, i'm all about small, local businesses. when i first moved back and was trying to get a handle on the best restaurants around - this poll was the first place i consulted. i was really alarmed by the number of chains that made the list. i hate chains! every once in awhile, i'm convinced to head to one and every time i am categorically disappointed and shocked that these marvels in mediocrity are successful.

it's places like obladee wine bar, two if by sea, the bicycle thief, the coastal cafe, chez tess, the wooden monkey, brooklyn warehouse, 308 south, chives, fid & jane's (to name a few) that deserve local support and local $'s. the restaurant industry is a pretty brutal one, with an 80% failure rate within the first two years. i always prefer to keep my bucks local so these little places can thrive instead of being shut down by the sprawling, behemoths of bayer's lake.

ok time to quit ranting and fill out my survey. hope the little red kitsch'n makes your list of responses...