Friday, May 25, 2012

friday frenzy

oh joy, it's friday again...
i have tgim's (monday) not tgif's. today will be a busy day, as i'm sure it is for most market vendors.

however, this week i'm actually organized! i made a ton of stuff yesterday and it's already all packaged up & in the freezers. that means all i have to worry about today is baking & salads - not too shabby.

this week i made a batch of beef bourguignon that was difficult to lift in & out of the oven. i keep selling out of the bourguignon dish the minute i make it, so i doubled the quantity this time... maybe, just maybe, i'll have it for two weekends at the market.

there's braised beef and bacon from getaway farm, red wine, mushrooms, herbs, kale, organic carrots & white spring turnips from selwood green and it's served with either parmesan polenta or spring leek mashed potatoes.
smalls $11 larges $22

i ran the potatoes through the food mill & they looked pretty rad - food mills are super annoying but also make the best mashed potatoes, and therefore worth the frustration.

after all that meat madness, i figured i should make something vegan. the tofu tagine i made a couple of weeks ago sold out in one day. since then pretty much everyone who had it came back & told me they would totally eat that one again. so i made it again.

i swear i will adopt a new flavour profile soon, but i'm still obsessed with the flavours of morocco. the sauce for the tagine is tomato based with lots of garlic, ginger, fennel seed, sumac, coriander, dates and citrus. then it's loaded up with tofu, roasted cauliflower, sweet potatoes, den haan tomatoes & kale. it's served with harissa quinoa studded with olives, toasted almonds & green onions.
smalls $9 larges $18
it looks like this:

the salads this week are quite similar to last week.
the sweet potato salad was a big hit last week and sold out before lunch on saturday - i also stashed a little away for myself mwahahaha. so there's cumin, a smidge of chipotle, green onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds & lots of lime.
the quinoa salad will have local asparagus, local tomatoes, local cucumbers, radishes, celery, arugula, dijon, lemon & a medley of fresh herbs.
the broccoli salad will have toasted almonds, red bell peppers, red onion, bacon (i'll do some up vegetarian), sunflower seeds & dried cranberries in a tangy dressing.

then there's the baked goods. apparently last weekend was the last weekend at the market for a major cupcake purveyor... i'm not sure how (or if) this will affect my business but i'm going to bake extra today just in case. 
flavours will be:
vanilla with vanilla
carrot with maple
red velvet with raspberry
rhubarb with strawberry
banana with peanut butter
chocolate with chocolate (or mint)

there will also be oatmeal cookies, haystacks, maple walnut shortbreads, lemon meringue tarts, snickers brownies and i think two types of cheesecake. the sour cherry-raspberry combo from last week was really popular. but i also liked how these turned out:

they're the gluten-free rhubarb cheesecakes i made for bramoso pizza this week. so if all goes according to plan i'll have both at the market tomorrow.

and with that, i'm off to the races!

ps: as i'm sure you've all heard, the coop has been dissolved and the lease for the market surrendered over to the halifax port authority. don't be alarmed. everything will continue to run as it did before. i'm sure we'll see lots of changes coming down the pipeline but for now it will be business as usual.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the black thumb

this year my garden is not going to suck. i can feel it.

this assertion is based on a few things:
1. i didn't procrastinate planting until mid july
2. i'm focusing on root vegetables rather than attempting to grow tomatoes 50 feet from the north atlantic
3. i have a sneaking suspicion mother nature will be kind this summer to make up for last year
4. i'm considering actually weeding it once or twice 

last year my garden was sad & pathetic, due to my 'black thumb' but this year i vow to turn it green. it's already almost all planted... i have the sunburn to prove it...

but it's not very often that conditions are perfect for attacking a major project like this, so i had to capitalize on the opportunity. it was a holiday monday, the sun was actually shining in prospect all day, sans fog & gale-force wind; i didn't have to do any cooking or baking; and my helpers/parents were both home to lend a hand/do the majority of the work.

several wheelbarrows full of last year's weeds had to be ripped out & then the tiller run through the earth a few times... not gonna lie, this part was not fun, good upper body workout, but not fun. it's also why i have a newfound commitment to weeding this summer.

then it was row making time. after careful measuring, figuring and discussion of the optimal footpath to planting surface ratio, the rows were staked off, mounded, raked & patted down. i wish i could take full credit for this but alas i cannot.

then it was planting time - this part i can take full credit for.

there's potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, rutabagas, broccoli, kale, butternut squash, cucumbers, garlic & chives. the entire first row is reserved for transplants of herbs & salad greens that i plan on picking up at the market this weekend. no gonna lie, pretty pleased.

i picked up all of the seeds during seedy sunday at the seaport market.

now if it all just grows like crazy, i'll be able to save so much money and supply the business with loads of things i've grown myself... horray!

last night i made cheesecakes with my first rhubarb harvest. i was lucky enough to inherit a pretty mature rhubarb patch when i moved in, it's crazy red.

and is sort of taking over the world at the moment...

it will definitely be making several appearances in my desserts over the next little while and hopefully a bunch will make it into the freezers to make spring last all year.

the garlic is also coming along quite nicely.

no scapes just yet, but i'm keeping my eyes peeled.

the only downfall was that i needed to buy a new pair of vans yesterday.
i think these ones:

will now be relegated to the garden.

Friday, May 18, 2012

it's a beautiful day in the neighbourhood

awaking to sunshine & blue skies is such a treat. after being mired in by the fog for a few days, today is glorious. 

motivation enough to work like a crazy person all morning so i have time to go for an afternoon hike...

i'm also in a stellar mood because i picked up two bronzes in the coast's best of food survey, for best stall at the market (prepared food) and best local food blog. thanks so much for reading & thanks so much for voting & thanks so much for buying my food & thanks so much for supporting my business... ummmm thanks a bunch!

i'm also almost done cooking for the week - squeeee!!! this week i restocked all of my best sellers.
i made a ginormous batch of chicken, leek, broccoli & bacon pies this week... it required standing on a stool to stir the pot. this batch is even better than usual because i used a bunch of smokey, belly bacon from getaway farm - it made such a delicious difference.
small $10 large $20

there's also a new batch of chicken stew. i have been having the hardest time keeping this one in stock, it has definitely become the #1 bestseller in the soup category. so there's homemade chicken stock, braised chicken, potatoes, celery, carrots, parsnips, celery root, white turnips, leeks, peas, herbs and a squirt of lemon to brighten it all up.

i made more chowder too. this batch has quahogs, mussels, smoked haddock, regular haddock & eco-certified salmon from the fish shop. the veggies are: potatoes, leeks, celery, celery root, onions and it's finished with fresh lemon & dill.

there's also a new batch of beef stew. it's finished, but in all honesty, i don't know where i'm going to put it - the freezers are full! this is going to require a pretty intense game of tetris... anyway, it's made with getaway farm grass-fed beef, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, celery, peas, sage, rosemary and it's in a rich beef stock.

per usual all soups, stews & chowders are $7 each for a 500ml container and all of the flavours are listed on my freezer door at the market.

then i went a little crazy on the salad front. 

they are all started but nowhere near finished so if i'm behind schedule one might get scrapped... but if all goes according to plan i will have four salads for the market this weekend.
the first is the quinoa. this week it will have artichoke hearts, green beans, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, lemon, garlic, dill & dijon.
the second is wild rice. this week it will have roasted butternut squash, toasted walnuts, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, arugula & maple.
the third is sweet potato. this one is a favourite of mine & the folks over at fruition. it's roasted sweet potatoes with bell peppers, pumpkin seeds, green onions, cumin, lime & cilantro.
the fourth is broccoli. this week it will have raisins, toasted almonds, red onion, red bell pepper & a creamy dressing.

i'm making smaller batches than usual, so if you want one in particular then pop by early to reserve it, please & thank you.

on to desserts:

i made a cake this week & i think it was my best buttercream frosting job thus far... i've been working on my technique ;)

it's a chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and raspberry cream cheese frosting and fresh raspberries hidden inside.

for the market i will have snickers brownies, sour cherry cheesecakes with a graham cracker crust, passionfruit meringue tarts, chocolate macaroons & oatmeal/white chocolate/dried cranberry cookies.

i also did a trial last week of the maple walnut squares i have been working on. they got rave reviews with most people having seconds, however, they were really messy, too messy for me to have on the table. i've made a few adjustments and if all goes according to plan i will have them tomorrow.

oh & i can't forget the cupcakes:
vanilla with vanilla
chocolate with chocolate or mint
red velvet with raspberry
carrot with maple cinnamon
banana chocolate chip with peanut butter
rhubarb with blueberry 
apparently i make 6 flavours a week now... oops.

i also have cupcake orders for two weddings tomorrow, yes two! what was i thinking? at least the weather's supposed to be stellar for the happy couples.

best get to baking, a demain.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

vanilla with vanilla?

this is an unusual sight at my table at the market, it is a straight-up vanilla cupcake with vanilla frosting. normally i try to mix up the flavours and am constantly trying to figure out fun, new flavour combinations. but ya know what? i took this photo on sunday, around noon, and this was the very last vanilla with vanilla to be had.

apparently vanilla is a pretty popular flavour. who knew? granted, it is the most popular flavour of ice cream, and of course, it's a pretty popular scent for cosmetics, candles, lotion, laundry detergent... wait a second, why has it taken me so long to realize that perhaps, vanilla with vanilla would be a pretty good seller?

to my mind, vanilla is sort of a 'default' flavour, a synonym for 'plain' if you will. i use it in every recipe and it's just sort of a jumping off point for me. according to wikipedia (intrepid research, i know) 'it is used to enhance the flavour of other substances, to which its own flavour is complementary.'

it just seems so boring to me. with a world of flavours out there it just seems like i could be doing so much more. but maybe when something is as tried and true as vanilla, you don't need to mess with a good thing. and, i guess when the majority of my cupcake customers barely even clear the top of my table, i have to keep the flavours pretty basic. 

not gonna lie though, i ate a mini one on saturday & i have to admit, it was pretty satisfying. i think i'll keep it in rotation for awhile. i can always play around with the other flavours. on that note, i'm off to the backyard to see if the rhubarb will be ready to make its debut this weekend in a batch of cupcakes...

Friday, May 11, 2012

mother's day weekend

so not only is it mother's day weekend, it's also halifax open city weekend. in all honesty i have no idea what to expect at the market tomorrow & sunday... and i may or may not be a little frightened.

in preparation i baked more cupcakes today than ever before. this week i have six flavours:
red velvet-raspberry
banana-peanut butter
last week the pineapple-coconut cheesecakes were also a big hit (i think the most facebook comments about a single item to date), so of course i had to make them again. i'm also sending over some teeny, tiny versions of them to the shym (supportive housing for young mothers) dinner tomorrow night at the nscc's waterfront campus theatre.

also on the sweet side, i have the snickers brownies of course, a new version of the hello dolly's, maple walnut squares, cookies, macaroons & double the # of lemon meringue tarts as last week since i ran out so fast.

then on the savoury side, i have a new vegan dish - two weeks in row!

it's a tofu dish with lots of crunchy veggies in a spicy-peanuty-misoy sauce. there's sesame, green onions, lime & comes with a side of basmati & wild rice. the spice level isn't knock your socks of hot but also not for the faint of heart... if that makes any sense.
smalls $8  larges $16

i'm also in the midst of making another main course. when i'm done it will be moroccan turkey (from sweet william) meatballs in tomato sauce with caramelized onions, roasted peppers, kale and lemon-almond quinoa. i don't know what it is but i'm obsessed with the flavours of morocco right now, so there's lots of sumac, lemon, dates, olives & cilantro.
smalls $10  larges $20

the salads this week are also in varying stages of production.
the potato in finished and has celery, green onions, radishes, cucumbers, dill, tarragon & lots of whole grain mustard (vegan & gluten-free).
the quinoa is almost finished and has asparagus, green beans, artichokes, lemon, garlic, basil (vegan & gluten free).
and the broccoli salad isn't quite there yet, but when i'm done it will have bacon, almonds, sunflower seeds, green onions, red bell pepper & a creamy dressing (i'll make a few vegetarian ones too).

ok i had better finish up all this stuff and mentally prepare myself for tomorrow.
see you then :)

Friday, May 4, 2012

switchin' it up.

so these are some pineapple-coconut-cinnamon cheesecakes. they're in the oven right now. i've been mixing it up a bit lately.

there are also maple-walnut shortbread squares this week, snickers, butter tarts, lemon tarts, hello dollies & cupcakes. the cupcake flavours are: red velvet, chocolate, banana, carrot & snickerdoodle. cinnamon has become quite prevalent this week, what with cinco de mayo & all :)

on the savoury side, i have a new vegan tofu tagine with harissa quinoa.
small $9 large $18

there's also a braised chicken dish with ratatouille, couscous & lentils. ultra healthy, ultra fresh.
large $20

i also made a new batch of fish cakes. so it's pretty classic with salt cod, mashed potatoes, summer savoury, panko, lemon & green onion.
4 for $8. in combo with baked beans for two $15.

salads are up next on my prep list - quinoa, red rice & broccoli. acckkkk too much to do. but on a lighter note, tomorrow is halifax crafters. so much stuff to blow my hard earned $$$ on :) but well worth it!

k gotta rock & roll. see ya tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


today, post-catering (which i'll get to) and pre-prep, i took a few minutes to rifle through all of my freezers. sometimes it's a little tough to keep track of everything that i have in stock, and that is exactly what i have done of late.

this is just a small section of one of my four freezers... yeesh. i've already bought all of the supplies for this week, so i'll still be prepping like a fool so nothing spoils, but after this week i think i'll slow it down a little and focus on the salads and sweets heading into the warmer weather, oh & bbq sauce can't forget that!

today i actually remembered to go to staples as well, to buy label paper & ink for my printer. not only did i label all of the soups in my freezer at the market, but i'm now well equipped to have directions clearly adhered to each take home meal & my bbq sauces marked as well - sorry, i've been letting that fall by the wayside lately.

so, today i catered a lunch. i concocted a new vegan dish & a new chicken dish. they're both really healthy, fresh & flavourful and for once i planned ahead and made extra so i can package up a few of each to have on hand at the market.

the vegan dish is a complete invention - i've labelled it a 'moroccan tofu tagine'. i'm calling it moroccan because i used harissa, fennel seed, lemon, ginger, dates & sumac but there is nothing traditional about it. there's tofu, sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, spinach and cilantro in a zesty tomato sauce with a side of quinoa.

the chicken dish is more mediterranean inspired. it's also in a tomato sauce but this time there's braised chicken thighs, eggplant, zucchini, red peppers, olives, basil, oregano & a smidge of parmesan cheese. this one is served with lemon-garlic couscous.

after running through all of my inventory, i've noticed that i have the hardest time keeping the chicken & pork dishes in stock so those will be my focus in the near future. also, as it's warming up outside, i want to get away from the stick-to-your-ribs comfort food & lighten it up as bikini season is fast approaching. if you have any suggestions or requests please, please, please let me know. either post a comment here or on my facebook page, or tweet me, or visit me at the market, or write me a letter... i actually got a letter in the mail from a customer yesterday, it sort of blew my mind a little! anyway, i'm a very collaborative cook but that's a little difficult when you work alone in a kitchen at the edge of the earth, so any outside influence is greatly appreciated.

okee dokee back to the kitchen & brainstorming cinco de mayo dessert ideas... if only i could set up a mini deep fryer and serve warm cinnamon sugar churros, alas the health department wouldn't take too kindly to that. i'll figure something out!

happy wednesday.