Friday, April 27, 2012

friday again??!!

well it appears as though it is friday again. i'm not sure how it arrived so fast, but alas i had better deal with it. luckily i'm finished the cooking for the market... finished so much cooking, i'm having a hard time closing the freezer doors. i don't know what's come over me but i've been cooking like a crazy person for the past couple weeks.

this week was a beefy kind of week. i bought 20 pounds of beef from getaway farm on sunday & turned it into some ultra-retro comfort food.

how kitschy is that?
so it's new-school meatloaf - there's lots of gems hidden inside & has a tangy tomato topping. the sides are fried onions & garlic mashed potatoes and to add to the hilarity, chopped parsley & a sprinkling of paprika. not gonna lie, i'm in love with this one - it's sooooo 50's diner... but better (i hope you agree).
small $9 large $18

i also made a new batch of shepherd's pies. they're tried & true with a tangy gravy, peas, corn, carrots & topped with cheddar-green onion mashed potatoes.
small $9 large $18

so this week i officially went through 20 pounds of beef, 40 pounds of potatoes and 30 pounds of onions... sort of insane, but a great upper body workout!

i also made the two batches of soup that i couldn't get to last week.

disco soup is back! (aka beet, parsnip & pear) 
this version has a hint of fennel & tarragon as well and remains vegan, gluten-free.

i also made a fresh batch of the chicken stew - this one has been pretty popular of late & i'm having a hard time keeping it stocked. so, it's braised chicken in homemade chicken stock with onions, carrots, celery, parsnips, celery root, potatoes, brussels sprouts, peas and herbs.

here are all the flavours:
butternut squash (with curry or without)
roasted red pepper/sweet potato/chipotle/tomato
french onion/beer/cheese
cream of cauliflower
baked beans
vegan chili
seafood chowder
thai chicken & rice
chicken stew
beef stew
beef & barley
mexican pork posole

ummmm perhaps i'll take a break from soup production next week.

here's a complete list of the mains i have stashed away in my freezers as well:

fish cakes & baked beans (serves 2) $15
lobster mac & cheese  small $12.5 large $25
plain or broccoli mac & cheese  small $8 large $16
beef bourguignon $22
chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies  small $10 large $20
chicken & chickpea curry  small $10 large $20
vegan curry  small $9 large $18
bacon strata or vegetarian strata $15

yesterday i was scrolling through some pics of the early days of the little red kitsch'n, i used to roll with max 4 main courses a week and about 6 flavours of soup... oh my how it's grown. no wonder my hair looks like this :)

photo taken @ 1am this morning.

oh yeah, salads!
quinoa: asparagus, green beans, toasted pine nuts, artichoke hearts, arugula, tomatoes, basil, garlic, lemon.
broccoli: red onion, red bell pepper, toasted almonds, raisins, bacon (i'll do some vegetarian too), creamy dressing.
red rice: butternut squash, toasted walnuts, red onion, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, celery, maple, herbs.

today is baking day. mint oreo cheesecakes & butter tarts are back this week. fyi: i won't have any lemon tarts on sunday so if you need a fix, make sure you pop by the market tomorrow. i'm also concocting a new maple/walnut/shortbread square since it is maple season after all.
cupcake flavours:
red velvet-raspberry
chocolate-chocolate or peanut butter

i'm actually having a hard time finding my motivation this morning... i blame the rain. but at least i have these to brighten my kitchen, thanks chelsea.

i had best get cracking, have a catering tonight in addition to market prep... acckkk!
a demain mes amis.

Friday, April 20, 2012


sometimes i forget that i do not have limitless freezer space. logistics are my nemesis. i have lofty goals, but the reality is, only so much stuff can fit in the freezers. this is how my freezers currently look:

and i haven't even finished all of my prep yet. i've had to scratch the chicken stew & beet/apple/parsnip flavours from my prep list this week but i'll have them for next week at the market.

here's what i have accomplished thus far:
baked beans - molasses, maple, vinegar, tomato, worchestershire. vegetarian but not vegan. 
vegan chili - chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, bell peppers, corn, lime, cilantro, chipotle. a little bit of heat but nothing crazy. very hearty! gluten-free.
lentil/bean/veggie - i made this batch sort of a hybrid of the vegan stew & the previous lentil veggie soup. there's onions, carrots (noggins), celery, green beans, zucchini, kale (selwood), basil, lentils, white beans in a tomatoey broth. vegan, gluten-free.
carrot/apple/ginger - carrots (noggins), apples (boates), ginger, cardamom, turmeric, green onions, lime, maple syrup, cilantro. also the subject of my last blog post. vegan, gluten-free.
thai chicken & rice - braised chicken in homemade chicken stock with ginger, garlic, sesame, lemongrass, lime, chillies, cilantro, basmati, peppers, carrots, celery, snow peas, bean sprouts & asian cabbages. clearly not vegan but still gluten-free.
beef & barley - getaway farm beef browned off & braised to create a rich beef stock with lots of onions, garlic, carrots, celery, fresh herbs & pearl barley.

also in the freezer there's:
seafood chowder
mexican pork posole
french onion with beer & cheese
beef stew
cream of cauliflower
butternut squash (with curry or without)
roasted red pepper, tomato, sweet potato & chipotle
and maybe a chicken stew if my memory serves me correctly

all soups, stews, etc are packaged in 500 ml containers and cost $7

last week i also made a fresh batch of the chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies. they didn't make it into last week's blog but i put a quick mention of them on my facebook page... and then i sold them all. so i'm in the midst of making another batch for this weekend. now i just need to find somewhere to put them... as usual smalls are $10 and larges are $20

as a quick aside, last week i bought i few packs of chicken bones from cheryl at shani's farm. for $12 i was able to make about 15 litres of concentrated, homemade chicken stock. pretty reasonable i think & so much better than the garbage in the stores! so that's the base for the chicken pies and the thai chicken soup.

ok for salads this week, i will have quinoa of course. this week's concoction will have asparagus, tomatoes (den haan), green beans, artichokes, lemon, dijon, dill and maybe a few other surprises. the rice salad is also back. this week it's a combination of red rice & wild rice with roasted squash, nuts, seeds, cranberries, red onion & a splash of maple. and finally, i've been getting lots of requests for the broccoli salad to return. this one is not vegan, but it's still gluten-free. so it's broccoli with red onion, toasted almonds, raisins, red peppers & bacon (but i'll pack up some vegetarian ones as well).

ok time to bake, and run deliveries all afternoon... let the caffeine consumption begin!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

soup spectacular

this morning i am tired.
i was up until 1 making soup.
oh, what a jet-set life i lead...

don't get me wrong though. i love making soups & stews & chowders & chillies. there's just something so therapeutic and rewarding about taking some humble ingredients, investing a little time & effort, and transforming them into something so satisfying & flavourful.

yesterday, i finished 4 vats & today i'd like to finish another 4. i've been trying to turn over my inventory & let the selection of flavours dwindle, but this is the week that i completely stock up again. yesterday i finished a new batch of vegan chili, baked beans, lentil/bean/veggie and carrot/apple/ginger. and on today's agenda, there's thai chicken & rice, beef & barley, beet/apple/parsnip, and chicken stew - time permitting.

i find that i get the most comments on the pureed soups, mainly people wondering how to get such a smooth texture. now, it's not quite 'rocket surgery' but the answer is technology. here's a little break down using the carrot/apple/ginger as example:

for all soups, and most things really, i start by sauteing the flavour base. for this soup, it was onions, garlic & ginger. at this point, i use medium heat, take my time, and really coax the flavours out of the ingredients. it's now that i add any dried spices as well, they benefit from a long cooking time and it's best to cook them in a bit of fat (vegetable oil in this case) to really bring out the flavour.

for a pureed soup you don't have to worry about chopping everything precisely, it's all going to wind up in the blender anyway, so don't waste too much time at this stage. once the onions are translucent add the rest of the ingredients - carrots, apples, tomato paste, water... and simmer until everything is nice & soft.

then it's off to the blender. word to the wise, do not fire a hot soup in the blender, slap the lid on tight & whizz away. it will explode soup all over you, the walls, the floor, the ceiling, all of your clean dishes in the rack... trust me. remove the little piece in the top of the lid & hold a kitchen towel over the opening. or wait until it cools. or use a stick blender in the pot - like the one i gave myself for christmas ;)

next step is to pass it through a fine-mesh strainer aka 'chinois' using a 1 ounce ladle to really push it through.

i have a love-hate relationship with my chinois. i love the results it produces - perfectly smooth texture, creaminess without adding cream... you get the gist of it. i hate cleaning it. i despise doing the dishes in general, but this piece of equipment takes it to a whole new level! and the jury is still out on how i feel about the physical effort it requires - sometimes i'm thankful for the upper body workout and sometimes i just wish it was easy... but i still use it because nothing else with give you that perfectly smooth texture.

if you're looking to invest in one for your kitchen, they have them at big eric's, russell equipment & advantage to name a few.

once it's all whizzed up, it's time to adjust the seasoning. i kept this soup vegan & gluten free. so to balance things in the end i find a splash of maple syrup, a dash of vinegar or a squeeze of lime and a few fresh herbs really brighten up the flavour and help balance everything out. cream & butter can sometimes be a bit of a crutch so cooking this way makes it much more bright & exciting.

ta-dah, finished product:

soup spectacular part deux commencing in t-minus 10 minutes.

Friday, April 13, 2012

friday again

the weeks are just flying by!

friday is here yet again. that means i have lots & lots of cupcakes to bake today. chocolate, carrot, red velvet, lemon & banana chocolate chip. they've become the standard 5 flavours. maybe next week i'll have something new, and feel free to pop by my table and give me some suggestions!

today i'll also be making oatmeal, white chocolate chip & dried cranberry cookies, macaroons, snickers brownies, passionfruit tarts and lemon squares (something new!).

this week will also see the return of the 4-bean salad with sprouted lentils, mung & adzuki beans, fresh green beans & a dill-dijon dressing. the quinoa salad will be seeing the addition of artichoke hearts, basil & arugula, but otherwise will be the same as the past couple of weeks. the vegan potato salad has also been a hit recently so that one, i'm going to leave the same.

it was a meat-heavy week here in the little red kitsch'n. i have fresh batches of the asian-inspired pulled pork & boeuf bourguignon in the works.

on that note, i had better boogie to the kitchen. see you over the weekend - bottom of the stairs right in front of selwood green. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

holiday menu

everyone always asks, 'what's your favourite thing to cook?'. i find this to be a very difficult question to answer, since i love cooking so many different things. that being said, there is something about making a ginormous holiday spread that makes me happy.

well guess what... there happens to be a holiday this weekend. and it's one of the best. as a girl with a pretty intense sweet tooth, easter has always been a favourite. so, i've made an easter extravaganza for the market this weekend. everything is packaged in either soup containers or the small, individual packages.

so there's:
baked ham (grandma's recipe) with pineapple, mustard & cloves   $7
sweet potato casserole with a pecan crust   $7
potato-bread dressing with savoury & sage   $7
parsnip, celery root & potato puree   $5
brussels sprouts with bacon   $3
baked turnips   $3

for portioning, everything is enough to feed two people when eaten as a side.

there are also three salads this week.
the red rice would be a great addition to an easter meal. it has lots of holiday flavours like toasted pecans, cranberries, savoury, roasted sweet potatoes & butternut squash, and a hint of cinnamon.
the potato salad was also a hit last weekend so i've decided to make it again. it has green beans, radishes, celery, pickled garlic scapes and a vegan dijon dressing.
then the quinoa will be another mediterranean concoction - cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, red onion & fresh herbs.

i thought about making pies for the market this weekend, but have decided that cupcakes are more fitting with easter - with their pastel-hued frostings and colourful sprinkles.

doesn't this just scream easter?
 this weekend i'll have vanilla, lemon, red velvet, banana-chocolate chip & chocolate.

there will also be the usual array of other treats - cookies, macaroons, snickers brownies, mint-oreo cheesecakes, hello dollies & tarts. i think it's looking like a lemon & a passionfruit sort of week.

ok time to begin the baking bonanza.
see you over the weekend - i'll be there both saturday & sunday. oh & i nearly forgot, there's an easter egg hunt on sunday at the market for all the kiddies, so make sure to come check it out!