Friday, November 23, 2012

small business saturday

today was all about hoopla. black friday is essentially the sabbath day for retail giants. tomorrow is 'small business saturday,' albeit much lesser known, but hopefully it brings lots of folks out to the market & downtown halifax in general... there's a sale at biscuit that i'll probably have to check out post-market...

ok back to business! it is a reasonable hour on a friday night & i'm finished all of my prep! the first christmas miracle of the season.

so first up - i made a ginormous batch of chicken parmigiana this week. this one is always a big hit and one of my faves to make. there's something very zen about making an epic marinara sauce and letting it simmer and come together all afternoon. there's buttermilk marinated chicken in a panko crust, parmesan marinara with spinach, fettuccine, basil & loads of cheese.

small $10 large $20

i also made a new vegan tagine this week. per usual it incorporates lots of moroccan flavours - sumac, ginger, fennel, coriander, lemon, olives, dates & harissa. this batch is loaded up with spice-roasted pumpkin...

... red peppers, tofu, tomatoes & swiss chard. it's served with harissa quinoa that's studded with almonds and citrus. not the most photogenic dish of all time, but i'm pretty satisfied with the flavours :)

small $9 large $18

there are three salads on the menu this week.
i'm still going strong with the tried & true broccoli salad.
this version of the quinoa salad has green beans, artichokes, lemon & pinenuts. it's seasoned up with a plethora of herbs - basil, dill, parsley, tarragon & arugula - and is super bright & fresh.
i also brought back the sweet potato salad, complete with bell peppers, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, green onions, cumin, lime & the most perfect avocados ever.

oh yeah, it went against every fibre of my being, but i skipped the cilantro in the sweet potato salad. it seems that the cilantro-averse population in halifax is growing exponentially. it won't happen often, but this week i caved to your demands.

i also made a double batch of maple bourbon bbq sauce this week. i'll have lots of larges (500ml $7.50) & smalls (250ml $5) at the market this weekend. i'll probably make a few different flavours heading in to the holidays - last year they were pretty popular for stocking stuffers.

all of the sweets are the same. i may be stuck in a bit of a rut. i'll mix it up soon, promise. i see eggnog cheesecakes in my very near future...

hope to see you at the market over the weekend.

ps: i'm now set up to accept visa & mastercard... but my card swiper thingy hasn't arrived yet so i'll have to key everything in... please bear with me :)

Thursday, November 22, 2012


well it appears that december is just around the corner... sigh, tear, sniffle, wimper... and with it the holiday season. this year the #shift10 conversation on twitter is already trending as people make the concerted effort to shift at least 10% of their holiday spending to local businesses.

last night i already fulfilled my 10% at the vintage pink treasures jewelry sale.

but i still have plenty of local shopping to do.

the coast is also promoting a 'buy local pledge.' you take the pledge online to spend at least $100 locally this holiday season and you're entered into a draw for 1 of 6 $500 gift certificates to shop at supporting local businesses - i've donated little red kitsch'n gift certificates and if you look real close at the posters around town you can see my little logo!!!

Baby buy buy buy

holiday craft shows are another great way to keep your bucks local. a lot of the big shows just aren't my scene, but i have chosen to participate in a couple smaller ones that you may not have heard of.

i went to the halifax crafters show last christmas as a shopper and fell in love with everything. this year i'll be there as a vendor but fear i will immediately spend every cent of my earnings on all of the treasures there.

i will also be at the east coast momma collective show.

i figure the frozen foods and ready-to-go salads are great for busy new moms.
you'll also notice that both these shows are happening at the same time... and also at the same time as the seaport market. as i have not yet been able to clone myself, i have enlisted the help of a team of ladies to help me be in three places at once. i personally will be at the halifax crafters show, but will have friends working the other two tables. i'll still be making all the food myself & will have a wide array of my products at each location so don't be alarmed when you don't see me at the market.

it will be a logistical nightmare - 3 sets of signage, 3 table displays, 3 times the baking, 3 bins of packaging & incidentals... - but i've been prepping like a crazy person so that next week i just have to bake, make salads (& sandwiches), and organize instead of cooking.

i'll post a full menu tomorrow but *spoiler alert* chicken parm is back on the menu this week.

a demain.

Friday, November 16, 2012

le sigh

what a week! i have a feeling i'm going to be saying that every friday for about the next six weeks. this year i vowed to be ready for the holiday rush and that's what has been keeping me busy.

my inventory is at crazy levels right now; i'm trying to figure out how to be in three places at once; and i got new signage & gift certificates done up.

the gift certificates will be available as of tomorrow, they have no expiry date, they can be made out for any denomination, and they make an excellent gift ;) next on my to do list, get my visa & mastercard setup straightened out...

ok back to food. this week i focused on replenishing the classics.
there's a new batch of beef shepherd's pie with getaway farm beef, peas, carrots, corn & cheddar mashed potatoes.
small $10 large $20

there's also a new batch of the asian-inspired pulled pork with soy, ginger, garlic, sesame, chillies, roasted broccoli, bean sprouts & rice.
small $10 large $20

i also made a new batch of the hearty chicken stew with shani's farm chicken, rutabaga (that i grew myself mind you)...

 ...carrots, parsnips, sprouts, herbs & this batch has noodles instead of potatoes per request from a chicken stew aficionado. 
$7 for 500ml

the salads are broccoli, 4-bean & quinoa. the broccoli and 4-bean are the usual but the quinoa has gone back to mediterranean this week with olives, artichokes, fennel, tomatoes, basil, arugula & oregano.

there's the usual assortment of cupcakes, squares, cookies, rolls, brownies and cheesecakes with the addition of the streusel-topped apple tarts i made for thanksgiving. they'll be topped with a dollop of maple whipped cream.

oh yeah, on top of all this, i'm catering for 60 on monday (acccckkkk!!!!) so i may have to duck out a little early on sunday from the market to prep. make sure to come early.
ok time for sleep!

Friday, November 9, 2012

comfy food

since the weather is getting colder, i've really been enjoying cooking up lots of stick to your ribs comfort food. there's something really nice about having a pot simmering away on the stove all day, perfuming the kitchen and developing loads of flavour.

this week i made two of my favourite things - beef brisket & a curry.

the brisket is loosely based on a dish that was on the menu at a restaurant where i worked years ago. it was called 'snails & tails' and combined braised oxtails, escargots, pears, sundried tomatoes & fresh pasta in a blue cheese sauce. it sounds revolting but it worked, was incredibly popular & we even served it at the national gold medal plates competition. however, my version does not include snails. it's red wine braised beef brisket from getaway farm with lots of caramelized onions & garlic, pears, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, kale & celery leaves.

then it's topped with blue cheese mashed potatoes. i added a little flare with parsnips & celery root. there's beautiful fresh celery root at selwood green right now.

it's a pretty ugly vegetable, but geez louise it has great flavour.
small $10 large $20

next up is a vegan curry. i think curry may be my favourite thing of all time to make. this batch is chock full of goodness. i started off with a ton of garlic, ginger & onions, then cooked off all of my spices, and added potatoes, sweet potatoes, roasted cauliflower, green beans, tomatoes, spinach, kale, coconut milk, citrus & cilantro. it's paired with a blend of basmati rice & quinoa. it's vegan & gluten-free.

small $9 large $18

there's also a giant batch of carrot/apple/ginger soup in the works. it cooked all day yesterday but i still have to puree & package it up today. it's the same as usual with lots of cardamom, citrus, lemongrass. all soups are $7 for a 500ml container.
here's a list of current flavours:
curried butternut squash
white bean, lemon & kale
vegan vegetable stew
roasted pepper, tomato, sweet potato & chipotle
beet, parsnip & pear
black bean & corn chili
baked beans
seafood chowder
hearty chicken stew
beef stew

this week i'm scaling back salad production a bit - they didn't sell so well last weekend... i'm still eating leftovers :( there will still be 3 flavours but i just won't make as much.
the quinoa will be the same as last week (i'm obsessed) - cucumbers, peppers, grated carrots, curry, lime, cilantro, peanuts, sriracha.

the broccoli will be the same as usual with almonds, sunflower seeds, bell pepper, red onion, dried cranberries, double smoked bacon & a creamy dressing. every week i always make a few without bacon for vegetarians too.
then there will be a 4-bean salad with fresh green beans, cucumber, celery, bell pepper, dill, parsley and a garlic-dijon dressing.

today is baking day. the current spread i've been rocking has been pretty popular of late so i'm sticking with it. oatmeal cookies, dinner rolls, mint-oreo cheesecakes, snickers brownies, maple walnut shortbreads, hello dolly's, lemon meringue tarts & cupcakes. the bakers half-dozen is still in effect: 7 minis for $6.

alrighty off to the kitchen. see you over the weekend.
saturday 7am-4pm
sunday 8am-4pm... but i usually show up late ;)

Friday, November 2, 2012

well looky here...

a real live blog post - hooray!
it's been a couple of weeks since my last post, apologies, time has just been getting away from me. This week definitely necessitates a blog post though - i have been cooking up a storm.

this is one of the THREE freezers i filled this week.

there are fresh batches of salt cod fish cakes, 'thanksgiving pies' (which i described in my turkey day blog post) and chicken/leek/broccoli/bacon pies.

they're pretty much a staple on the menu, but here's a refresher nonetheless: double-smoked bacon starts things off, then i add sliced leeks and cook them down with celery and herbs until they're super tender, then stir in some flour to thicken things up and whisk in lots of homemade chicken stock (made from roasting the bones i pick up from shani's farm). let the mixture come to a simmer, then add in the chicken meat. i use chicken thighs which i first roast and then shred removing any fat/gristle/bones - also from shani's farm. remove from the heat, add in the broccoli, divide into serving dishes, cool & then top with puff pastry. it's good, homey comfort food, perfect as the weather is starting to change.
small $10 large $20

in addition to a few old favourites, there are two new main courses on the menu this week - variations on the same theme. the base is rice cooked up with cumin, coriander & chipotle. then it's topped with my back bean & corn chili. the first version then gets a layer of pulled pork seasoned with a chipotle (not too spicy) sauce and is finally topped with cheese & green onions.

small $10 large $20

then i made a vegan version. the first two layers are the same, instead of pulled pork there is roasted butternut squash & cherry tomatoes, then it gets topped with dairy-free daiya 'cheese' and green onions.

small $9 large $18

here's a full list of main courses in the freezer at the moment:
fish cakes & baked beans   serves 2   $15
spinach & artichoke strata   serves 4   $15
thanksgiving pies   small $10   large $20
chicken, leek, broccoli, bacon pies   small $10   large $20
curried chicken & chickpeas   small $10   large $20
lobster mac & cheese   small $10   large $20
beef bourguignon   small $10   large $20
beef shepherd's pie   small $10   large $20
chipotle pulled pork   small $10   large $20
vegan southwest rice & beans   small $9   large $18
vegan shepherd's pie  small $9   large $18

ummmmmmm i have NO idea how this is all going to fit on my blackboard... i may have gotten a little carried away...

i also packaged up the black bean & corn chili on its own ($7) and ideally i'd like to make a fresh batch of seafood chowder today... if i can find somewhere to put it.

the salads this week will be broccoli, quinoa & root vegetable.
the broccoli is the usual with bacon, almonds, red onion, red pepper, sunflower seeds, cranberries & a creamy dressing.
the quinoa will be a version i used to make with carrots, cucumbers, celery, peanuts, ginger & cilantro in a curry dressing.
the root vegetable will be a grated slaw with lots of cabbage, carrots, parsnips, fennel & sprouts in a whole-grain mustard vinaigrette.
per usual they are $5 for a 500ml container.

hopefully everyone isn't too 'sugared-out' post halloween & still has lots of room for cupcakes. this week there will be vanilla-blueberry, red velvet-raspberry, carrot-maple, banana chocolate chip-peanut butter, chocolate-chocolate or mint and pumpkin spice-vanilla to choose from.

ps: last weekend my pumpkin cupcakes actually won the pumpkin pie contest at the market squeeeee! so i'll be keeping them around for a few weeks. make sure to pop by & give one a try.

okee dokee time to get baking... and salad making... and chowder making... sigh.
see you in the morning!