Friday, May 31, 2013

another week bites the dust

this week i didn't cook nearly as much as usual. i've been getting busier & busier every week at the market, but i've also been cooking like crazy so i was able to rely on my inventory this week & focus on things outside of the kitchen.

i did restock a couple flavours of soup... just in time for soup weather to finally be over... womp, womp, womp. despite the recent heat, i've been eating a ton of soup, trying to add more vegetables to my diet. this week i made a new batch of the curried butternut squash & the roasted red pepper, tomato, sweet potato & chipotle. these are probably my two favourites, they both have some nice spice, lime & cilantro - a few of my favourite things.

so what have i been up to all week then if not cooking up a storm?

eating out, learning how to use a lawnmower, stacking wood & getting sunburnt.

a couple of new restaurants just opened up. i've been tracking their progress on twitter for months and it was great to try them out. i went to edna on sunday after the market & it was really great. i think that this will be my new go-to spot. unfortunately i didn't take any pics but i'll be back soon to properly document everything. then i went to two doors on monday for lunch.

another great place. more on the casual side, moderately priced and a place that you can frequent & not just reserve for a special occasion.

then it was yard work time. this week i used a lawnmower for the first time in my life. sort of hilarious & embarrassing but something that i'm proud of. my yard is basically a big hill down to the ocean, so this was a workout to say the least. perhaps mowing the lawn will help cut down on my gym fees over the summer...

then the upper body workout continued with stacking wood. i've had 2 chord of wood sitting in the yard for quite some time & am finally making a dent in it.

it's a bit of a pain but will be pretty useful over the winter.

there was also tons of weeding to be done... there's still tons of weeding to be done.

but, i have help!

this is krista. she is a jane-of-all-trades and has been helping me in the garden, doing dishes & some prep work, and organizing all of my paperwork!!! yahoo, it really is amazing what four hands can accomplish instead of just two. she's a lifesaver & is helping me find more hours in every day.

i'm still running around like a crazy person though. i've gotta boogie to the city - on a friday afternoon?!?! not cool. but i have all of the baking done already. there are all of the usual suspects & lots of extras cupcakes for a few special orders this weekend. i skipped banana-peanut butter this week because all of the special orders are for nut-free kids' birthday parties, so better safe than sorry.

also, bad news, planet organic has been backordered on goat butter for two weeks now :( the goat's milk fudge this week is made with cow butter. hopefully they'll restock soon & if anyone knows another supplier of goat butter, please let me know.

acckkk gotta run. all the salads will be the same as last week. hope to see you all over the weekend!

Friday, May 24, 2013

cats & dogs

well it's official, this weather is really starting to get to me. the fog is thick as mud here in prospect village and i'm reminiscing of the hot & sunny days in southern ontario. i guess despite the fact that this gloomy weather is depressing, it's a good thing for business - people are still in winter mode & craving warm, comforting food.

this week i restocked the chicken, leek & bacon pies - it doesn't get much more comforting than that. this batch is with root vegetables again (turnips, parsnips, celery root, carrots & potatoes) instead of broccoli. there's shani's farm chicken, peas, herbs and a sauce made from intense homemade chicken stock.

that was one big pot of goodness. i had to stand on a chair to be tall enough to stir. then lifting it from the stove to prep table was slightly frightening! but on the up side, i won't have to make chicken pies again for some time :)

small $10 large $20

i've been running with the same salads for a couple of weeks now. it seems when i switch it up, it throws people off a little but once all the fun summer veggies start returning to the market, there'll be a bit more variation.
sweet potato: avocado, tomato, bell pepper, lime, cilantro
broccoli: bacon, almond, cranberry, sunflower seed, red onion
beet: wheatberry, goat cheese, balsamic, pear, radicchio, arugula

the quinoa salad will be quite spring-y this week. it's getting asparagus, radishes & cherry tomatoes, and this week i'm throwing in blanched fiddleheads & ramps.

ramps are perhaps my favourite vegetable. they are in the allium family, grow wild in the woods, and have a delicate garlicky/oniony flavour. they are called l'ail de bois in french (wild garlic) but are also often referred to as wild leeks. all i really know is that they're delicious and these are the first ones i've gotten my hands on since moving back to nova scotia. jason pelley from pelley foods was my source & hopefully there'll be lots more coming down the pipeline.

some ramps made their way into a creamy blue cheese & ramp dip i made for the public engagement session at the market this week. i forgot to take pictures but there's a nice one on the market facebook page. the other dips were olive & roasted red pepper tapenade; artichoke, parmesan & sundried tomato; and a curry & coriander hummus. there were crackers, veggies, cookies & of course mini cupcakes as well.

needless to say, that put me a bit behind schedule this week. i have a lot to get done today! i think i'll shrink my cupcake selection from 8 flavours to 7 to make up for it (no lemon-blueberry this week), but hopefully nothing else falls by the wayside.

well i hope to see everyone at the market this weekend - it really is the perfect rainy day excursion.
& i'm off to the races.

Friday, May 17, 2013

the freezers are full

it has been a pretty productive week around here thus far. so much so, that i can barely shut the freezer doors.

last week i had several requests for lobster mac & cheese to return to the blackboard. my brother also changed the tires on my car and requested one as payment - not a bad deal - so i figured it was time to whip some up. this dish is quite an undertaking and i procrastinate as long as possible in between batches. cracking 16lbs of lobster isn't something i want to do everyday... not anymore at least, i used to do 20lbs two or three times a week when i worked at the whalesbone in ottawa - yarf!

so the lobsters are from my neighbour joe. he brought them round to the kitchen door yesterday afternoon - pretty handy.

then i made a leek bechamel sauce with lots of roasted garlic & parmesan cheese. i mixed in the pasta, oven roasted cherry tomatoes, a touch of lemon zest, loads of mozzarella cheese & 10 bags of foxhill cheese curds. here's the finished product:

i made a few of them...

small $12 large $24

for the lobster-averse among us, i've also packaged up some plain mac & cheese. there's the leek bechamel, roasted garlic & all the cheeses, just no roasted tomatoes, lemon & lobster.

small $9 large $18

the other main course i made is braised beef brisket. this will probably be the last braised brisket for quite awhile as i transition things to the bbq for the summer. the beef is from getaway farm and i braised it for 12 hours in red wine with root vegetables & herbs. then when it was almost finished, i added diced pears and tomatoes. it smelled & tasted amazing!

i made a batch of blue cheese gnocchi for the side. i started out with a leek bechamel again, but added sauteed creminis, finely diced celery, basil, parsley & creamy blue cheese. it's served with wilted kale & spinach as well. i'm pretty pleased with this one.

small $10 large $20

ok no time to talk about salads and sweets as i have to go & make them all. just rest assured that there will be lots of both at the market this weekend.

hope to see you there!

Friday, May 10, 2013

last minute blurb

well, this post is a bit late coming but i hope a few of you get a chance to read it before the market tomorrow.

i survived last weekend. it went really well thanks to the help of krista, jenna & femke. i was exhausted but it was worth it. crafters was another great time. everything from the other vendors, the music, the organizers & the decor made it great. that plus the most epic lunch of all time care of the food wolf & jitterbug sodas.

it's called a 'k-dog' with kimchi, bacon, green onions & special sauce. paired with a watermelon-mint soda it was the perfect fuel to get me through the day.

so after last weekend, i decided to take it a bit easier in the kitchen. i made a new batch of seafood chowder (that just went in to the freezer & might not be completely frozen by the time i head to the market). and i also whipped up a new batch of vegan vegetable stew. i haven't made this one is ages but lately have had lots of requests for it. it's tomato based & then packed with veggies: onions, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, celery root, green beans, zucchini, corn, cherry tomatoes, kale & fresh herbs. when i posted the pic to twitter & instagram the caption was 'just in time for beach season,' this stuff is uber healthy & great if you're working on your beach bod ;)

as for main courses, i have 1 vegan lasagna left, just a couple large chipotle chickens and moroccan meatballs and the four-cheese lasagnas are in short supply. there are lots of shepherd's pies, vegan curries, mushroom udon dishes, chicken parms and sweet & sour meatballs left. and i will actually remember to bring fish cakes with me tomorrow so those will be back on the menu.

ok then there are lots of salads - quinoa, beet, sweet potato & broccoli. they are all pretty much identical to last week.

and since it's mother's day this weekend, i made extra cupcakes. flavours this week are:
red velvet-raspberry
banana-peanut butter
paleo chocolate-coconut

tonight was also the SHYM gala (supportive housing for young mothers) through the YWCA and i sent along some spring-y treats in pink in green. hopefully they're being gobbled up as i type this.

oh & if you're in a need of a mother's day gift - why not a little red kitsch'n gift certificate? a night off from cooking sounds like a great gift to me. they're available in any denomination and redeemable at the market, on caterings, deliveries or special orders.

ok, back to the kitchen to finish up some odds & ends before bed. hope to see you all over the weekend.

ps: it's open city tomorrow, make sure to check the map & get in on all the fun downtown - i'm hoping to catch a few things after the market!

Friday, May 3, 2013

the weekend to end all weekends

i can not believe that tomorrow is may 4th. i've been anticipating/dreading this weekend for quite some time now. halifax crafters coupled with the seaport market means it will be a logistical nightmare with double the baking, double the salads, double the table displays... you get the picture. it's a lot of work.

don't get me wrong though, i'm really excited to be at halifax crafters again. it was such a nice change to be there for the christmas show. ckdu will be there all weekend taking care of the tunes. the food wolf will be set up outside - i'm pretty amped to try their grub. and the array of crafters is pretty epic - i sense a shopping spree in my near future. don't forget, it's in the olympic centre on the corner of cunard & hunter (just before windsor). it's open from 10am-5pm both saturday & sunday. oh and admission is FREE so come by!

as for my table at the market, my friends jenna (yes, another jenna) and femke will be holding down the fort on saturday and krista will be taking care of business on sunday. don't be alarmed when it's an unfamiliar face, all the food is the same. also, please be patient. i wrote some crib notes with descriptions of every menu item for them - but there are FORTY FOUR menu items!!! also, i'll have the credit card stuff with me at crafters so i won't be able to accept plastic payment at the seaport this weekend (unless you're there really early in the morning when i'm there setting up the table), sorry for any inconvenience.

i'm also catering a reception for ~40 on sunday for some of my best customers. thankfully i can drop the food off early in the morning so it fits in with the rest of this wacky weekend. it'll be a couple of cakes, cupcakes, rolls, sweet potato salad & baked ham.

yup that's three hams! i slow roasted them in a mustard glaze for 6 hours last night, they'll probably get another couple of hours today. they smelled ridiculous & it was quite the upper body workout getting that roaster in & out of the oven.

as for market cooking, this week i made another batch of beef shepherd's pies. it seems like i just made some, but this one is definitely my best seller and really a staple on my menu. as always the beef is from getaway farm. it's in a tangy sauce which is predominantly my homemade bbq sauce - a maple bourbon & chipotle lime combo. the veggies are peas, carrots, corn, onions, celery & mushrooms and the whole lot gets topped off with cheddar-green onion mashed potatoes.
small $10 large $20

this week also felt quite springlike & my bbq came out of hibernation. it's that time of year again when thoughts turn to slow smoking & high heat grilling. so, i made a new flavour of bbq sauce. it's caramelized onion, mustard & beer, featuring garrison's irish red beer.

this sauce is more tangy than sweet and will work particularly well with beef. there's a touch of horseradish and the spices are reminiscent of montreal steak spice.
250ml - $5   500ml - $7.50

there's also a fresh batch of carrot, apple, ginger soup to round out my soup selection. it's both vegan & gluten-free. it's seasoned with cardamom, star anise and a touch of lime & coconut. this one is very light and refreshing.
500ml - $7

there are 5 varieties of salads this week. the sweet potato will be in short supply because most is heading to the gig on sunday. the other flavours are beet, quinoa, baby potato & broccoli.
beet: wheatberries, balsamic, asian pear, raddichio, arugula, goat cheese
quinoa: asparagus, cherry tomatoes, olives, garlic, fresh herbs, citrus
new potato: green beans, celery, radishes, dijon dressing, dill, parsley
broccoli: bacon, almonds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, red onion, red pepper

the sweet selection is virtually identical to last week.

ok, time to go show this prep who's boss! hope to see you all over the weekend :)