As Fresh As You Can Get – Grow Calgary at Market

Back in the day, the completion of a fruitful harvest season meant a huge barn party. The beer flowed freely and the spirits were high from the accomplishments of the growing season. Being able to provide for your family and community was just cause for an epic annual celebration and last night’s FRESH dinner at Market Calgary was no different. The tables were set with simple place settings, accented with vegetables, and set communally so that everyone could visit and chat as if they had lived next door to one another for years. Friends, neighbours, community: We all took part in the harvest celebration and toasted Grow Calgary for a job well done this 2014 growing season.veggies

Grow Calgary is a local organization spearheaded in 2013 by Paul Hughes; local father, food activist, visionary, and all around great guy. He believes that every Calgarian should have access to fresh, local produce and he has figured out a way to provide for thousands of needy Calgarians. Did you know that there are government land holdings and barren future transportation corridors within Calgary that lie fallow until roads are built or in some cases are unused forever? Grow Calgary has begun to petition for the rights to use these unused parcels of land and beginning with a small 4.5 Ha plot near Canada Olympic Park, Paul and his enthusiastic army of volunteers provide produce for the Calgary Interfaith Food Bank. This year the harvest was enough to fill 540 hampers that would otherwise be empty.  This ‘small’ parcel of land near COP is just the tip of the iceberg though. Grow Calgary has requested the use another 254 Ha of fallow land throughout the city of Calgary. For Paul and Grow Calgary, the possibilities are endless and the goal to feed so many Calgarians is ultimately within reach.

paulyhughes

Paul Hughes and Amanda Weightman

The 2014 Fresh Dinner at MARKET Calgary was truly THE dinner of the Autumn season. Final harvest at Grow Calgary began around 10:30 am  and the produce (green onions, garlic, cabbage, carrots, potatoes, parsnips, beets, kale, and salad greens) was on its way in the Grow Calgary truck to the restaurant by 11:30. To ensure the produce arrived in a timely fashion, Calgary Police provided the truck with a two motorcycle escort for the length of 17th avenue. Upon arrival the produce was scrubbed and prepped within the space of hours to provide guests with the freshest dinner possible within the City of Calgary. 100% of the profits from the evening went to Grow Calgary as the restaurant space, service staff hours, and chefs hours (including those of executive Chef Dave Bohati) were generously donated by the restaurant.

DaveBohatiChef David Bohati of MARKET

Upon arrival we were greeted with a glass of Village Brewery’s Village Gardener Ale. The newest member of the Village Brewery family (and only available so far at Fresh Dinner) is a refreshing and delicious ale made with local malt and barley as well as several hop varieties grown in community gardens around Calgary. The starter vodka based cocktail also included beet juice, carrot juice, ginger, and honey from the hives at Grow Calgary.drinksThen we were treated to some freshly baked focaccia bread with garlic and green onions provided by Grow Calgary. The slightly smoked garlic butter was amazing!                                                                                                                                                                                                foccaciabutterThere were trays at the front of the room which showed the ingredients used in our salad course and in the main course. Can you guess what we ate based on these ingredients?ingredientsOur salad had the freshest, most amazing baby greens to be found within our city that night. Chef Bohati had them star in amazing salad accompanied by thinly sliced radish rounds, fresh roasted pumpkin seeds, cranberries, a kale and parsley purée drizzle with a buttermilk, preserved lemon and dill dressing.salad The main course could surely have been called the ‘Carrot Course’. Grow Calgary provided the potatoes and carrots in the gnocchi, the carrots in the carrot and cumin purée, the greens, and the parsnips which were made into delicious chips. Though MARKET is generally a ‘meat-centric’ restaurant, they sure knew how to make those vegetables stars in their own right.

carrot course

I could probably have had another plate of carrot gnocchi for dessert but pastry chef Daniel Ramon surprised us with these carrot cake bonbons.
bonbons

Dessert was also carrot themed: Carrot cake with caramel corn, carrot and fennel purée, and a perfect quenelle of cream cheese ice cream.
dessertAnd the sweetest dish of all? This Grow Calgary honeycomb straight from the hives. It was used throughout the dinner as a natural sweetener as well.
honeycomb

I had the opportunity to sit next to some Grow Calgary volunteers and they were continuously amazed at how the chefs at MARKET had transformed their vegetables.  I think they realized then that all those hours on the barren patch of land scratching in the soil, planting seed after seed, weeding…were definitely worth it in the end.

If you have a natural affinity to soil or love growing green things Grow Calgary is always looking for volunteers. The season may be over now but they will be looking for people with sunny windows to start seedlings before next growing season. Please visit Grow Calgary to volunteer.

 

MARKET Calgary

College Lane Plaza
718 17 Ave SW Calgary, AB

Hubby’s Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes

I never married a foodie. In fact, I never thought I would ever be a foodie but circumstances and people change. So here we are: two foodies. One (me) fully out and proud, the other (hubby) with his foot still firmly planted in the closet. Oh he’s a stubborn one and reluctant to enter foodie social circles for anything other than the food while I revel in anything and everything to do with food.

He doesn’t cook a lot. I was actually a bit worried the family would starve while I was away at the Food Bloggers of Canada conference last weekend. However, when I arrived back home late Sunday night, there was a home made plate of Spaghetti Bolognese waiting for me on the kitchen island. By all appearances it looks like everything went just fine without me.  With hubby being the bread winner and I the bread maker we tend to have pretty defined roles within this house. Unless it’s the weekend. Hubby is usually the ‘go to’ guy for our weekend family breakfasts. He fries/poaches/scrambles eggs and other proteins, he can make a mean waffle, and he’s definitely getting better on the pancakes. It wasn’t always this way and he definitely did not inherit his father’s pancake talents (they are some of the best I’ve ever had) but it is nice sometimes to re define those house roles once in a while.

On Thanksgiving Monday I got a ‘bonus’ free breakfast day as hubby had the day off. I knew we still had a bit of canned pumpkin purée in the refrigerator and some delicious homemade cranberry sauce that needed to be used up so I already had a plan in my mind and was going to execute it after my shower. Then hubby came upstairs to ask if I wanted pancakes for breakfast. I answered “yes! Pumpkin Pancakes please”. Later, after I was freshly showered and dressed, I went downstairs and found hubby and kid number two already deep into the process of making pumpkin pancakes. All I had to do was grab the cranberry sauce, maple syrup, and leftover whipped cream from the refrigerator. Lucky me!pumpkinpancakes1
Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree

  • 1 egg

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda 

  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pancake topping ideas include: maple syrup, whipped cream, leftover cranberry sauce, toasted walnuts.

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix together the milk, pumpkin, egg, oil and vinegar. Combine the dry ingredients and spices in a separate bowl. Stir into the pumpkin mixture just enough to combine.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. Brown on both sides and serve hot.

NOTE: We found this recipe to be very thick, so thick that we had a difficult time cooking the pancakes through. We decided round two would need 2 cups of milk to think out the batter. Stay tuned for round two! pumpkinpancakes

 

Gone Food Bloggin’

FBC2014Banner

I on my way to Vancouver today to attend the Food Bloggers of Canada (FBC) Second Annual Conference. I heard about FBC about four months into my blogging habit/career/obsession and only because I saw so many blog posts mention FBC2013. I joined FBC right away and I’ve been blown away by the support and friendship I’ve gained because of it.

I’m so excited! I just can’t wait and I know I’m going to meet so many people. Wish me luck and stay tuned for some post conference posts and hopefully some Vancouver restaurant posts.

Sweet 16 Pizza and The YYC Food Blogger’s Pizza Challenge Results

pizzamanImage by Food On Your Shirt

How many times have you heard that ‘patience is a virtue’? Or the saying ‘all good things come to those who wait’? Are these sorts of clichéd phrases even applicable in this day and age of instant gratification? I know that when I do have to wait for something important I find that it is necessary to distract myself and keep myself busy or I will implode.  I kind of felt like that waiting for the results of YYCPizzaWeek. Not only were some of my favourite restaurants taking part in the competition but I really wanted to see how much money could be raised for Calgary Meals on Wheels just by eating pizza September 26 – October 5th. And…of course I wanted to see how my Sweet 16 pizza did in the Food Blogger’s Pizza Competition. So without any further adieu and because I just can’t make you wait any longer, here are the results:

YYCPizzaWeek raised over $8000 for Meals on Wheels and what’s more…YYCPizzaWeek has committed to making pizza week an annual event with all monies raised going exclusively to Calgary Meals on Wheels. How cool is that?

Thin Crust Category

1st Place….My friends at 500 Cucina with their oh-so-porky Triple Pig Pizza with runners- up Bocce (Valle Pizza) and Toscana Grill (Bolognese Pizza)

Thick Crust Category

1st Place…Gordo’s Pizza/Bacon Mac n Cheese Pizza with runners-up Lorenzo’s Pizzeria (Veal Scaloppini Pizza) and Christo’s Greek Restaurant (Meatballs of Fire Pizza)

Unique  Pizza Category

1st Place … Bensonhurst Pizza Co./Pizza Carbonara with runners-up Gruman’s Catering and Delicatessen (Classic Reuben Pizza) and Pizza Master Fusion (Samoza Master Pizza)

And  now last but certainly not least…The Food Bloggers!

3rd (and most creative) Donair Pizza by Food Mamma (Fareen)

2nd Twisted Orchard Pizza by Wheat Free Mom (Carrie)

1st MEEEE! my Sweet 16 pizza won!pear chestnut pizza

 

As you can imagine I was beyond being amazed…if you voted I sincerely want to thank you for your vote. It was so much fun being a creative Dish in the kitchen.

 

The Dough (though it has chestnut flour in it, it is still not Gluten Free)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (250 ml) warm water
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) sugar
  • 1 cups (500 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chestnut flour
  • 1 teaspoon (5 ml) salt

Method

  1. In a bowl, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Let stand until the mixture foams on top, about 5 minutes.
  2. In a food processor, it is important to work with the plastic blade or the dough hook. Combine the flour and salt. Increase the speed to medium and add the yeast mixture until a soft ball forms.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for a few minutes on a floured surface to prevent sticking.
  4. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean cloth. Let the dough rise for about 30 minutes in warm and draft-free area. Cut the dough in half.
  5. Use the pizza dough immediately or refrigerate it (less than 48 hours), otherwise place it in an airtight bag and freeze.
  6. This recipe will make two 23-cm (9-inch) thin-crust pizzas or two 20-cm (8-inch) thicker crust pizzas.

 

Bake at 400F for 10-12 minutes.

For the toppings…slice pears thinly with a mandoline or sharp knife. Dredge in sugar and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake at 250 F until caramelized and dehydrated, carefully flipping sides so they dehydrate evenly. I think mine took 40 minutes. For the ‘sauce’ mix 1/2 cup of chestnut purée with 1/2 cup dulce de leche. Add  tsp cinnamon and mix. Spread over baked pizza crusts. Arrange pears over the top and scatter roasted hazelnuts. Then grate chocolate over the whole thing. Enjoy!chestnutpizza

In My Kitchen – October 2014

Is it really October already? It’s still so beautiful outside that I slipped up and entitled this post September 2014 by mistake! There are still so many events and things going on and September was such a fun month I guess I just don’t want to let it go!

There was a local food bloggers pizza competition set to coincide with YYCPizzaWeek. Nine of our local bloggers were given three ingredients to choose from; anchovies, fire roasted tomatoes, or chestnut purée. Some did combinations of the anchovies and tomatoes but I became enamoured with the chestnut purée immediately.  I had an idea for both a savoury and dessert pizza but started creating the dessert pizza first (of course!). When I mentioned the other idea the whole family agreed that I should just go with the dessert pizza.pear chestnut pizzaI made it on my daughter’s 16th birthday so I called it Sweet 16. The base was made with regular and chestnut flour, the ‘sauce’ was chestnut purée mixed with dulce de leche and cinnamon. I candied the pears with cinnamon in the oven, then added toasted hazelnuts and grated cinnamon chocolate over the top.  The competition ended on Sunday and I think we have to wait until October 15 to find out who won.

We traveled to our Province’s capital city, Edmonton to take in a football game and for the sweet 16 year old to attend Edmonton Comic Conference. We got her a ticket and photo opportunity with one of her favourite actors, Mads Mikkelsen, as a surprise for her birthday. She was pretty excited! I was excited about the game and visiting some foodie places. We had a delicious lunch at Tres Carnales taqueria and went to Duchess Bake Shop the next day. Duchess bake shop is definitely a destination for foodies in Edmonton. Not only does it have the most perfectly delicious cakes, croissants, and other baking but it also has a ‘provisions’ section where you can buy many ‘hard to find’ baking items. I found some Stirling Creamery euro style butter that I really want to make into croissants…but I am petrified!
buttaI’ve been oogling these canele molds on Amazon but I’m too cheap to pay for them plus shipping. Duchess Provisions only had three in stock so it looks like I may be making a return visit. Aren’t they pretty? I have a thing for copper….084On the way out of town we stopped at the Old Strathcona Market for some fresh locally grown produce. I even got my hubby to eat fresh Brussels Sprouts. brusselsproutsI have been keeping a look out for more whole grain and non GMO flours because I’m finding that I have a wee bit of an intolerance. Here are three that I have bought recently: 007Buckwheat flour from Homesense which I mean to make crepes and pasta with, Anita’s cake and pastry flour from Duchess Provisions, and the Soft White Wheat Flour from Gold Forest Grains. So far I’ve used the Anita’s flour for my most recent apple pie.applepie

I’ll admit it…I’ve been waiting for October to come around for some time now because soon I will be in Vancouver for the Food Blogger’s of Canada annual conference! I get to meet bloggers from all over Canada and eat some amazing food provided by Ned Bell, Executive Chef at Vanvouver’s Four Seasons Hotel. This is my first conference so I was surprised to hear that there will be all sorts of swag involved from many of the FBC2014 Sponsors. This includes a really sweet chef’s knife from Chicago Cutlery that they sent directly to us as pre-conference swag. 089I could go on because it’s been a busy month but I’m going to have to stop eventually. There are many more In My Kitchen posts from around the world to gawk at…all you have to do is head over to Fig Jam and Lime Cordial for the official participants list.

Mmmmuffins. Cranberry and Walnut.

It was the text no self respecting food blogger mother ever wanted to receive.text.jpbUmmm…what?! Here I am at home ready at your beck and call (or text!) and you want MUFFINS FROM COSTCO!!!? I just can’t even. Ugh. Teenagers!

Well I showed HIM that I could make muffins. I made two kinds:  mac n cheese and weiner muffins for an after school snack with his friends and some amazing cranberry and walnut muffins for his breakfast.002

I’ve sort of been on a flour buying binge lately. In the last two weeks I’ve bought chestnut flour (which I used for my Sweet 16 Pizza dough), buckwheat flour (which I plan on making crepes with, YUM!), a lovely cake and pastry blend sold at Duchess Bake Shop, and a soft white wheat flour from Gold Forest Grains Inc.  I’m particularly excited about the last flour as it is from a small family farm which produces and mills organic heritage and ancient grains. They sell their products online and at the Old Strathcona Market in Edmonton.  

For this recipe I decided that I would replace some of the unbleached white flour with chestnut flour. I’ve come to appreciate the bit of nutty flavour and interesting texture this flour can give and I knew it would be great in these muffins. I want to make myself perfectly clear that these are not your ordinary muffins. You can’t just throw the ingredients into a bowl, stir until moist, then bake them up. Nope. These are, shall we say, ‘Advanced Muffins’ and I only warn you about the recipe now because I found out they were a pain in the ass about halfway through making them. No, I do not read the recipe through and then proceed with the baking. I just bake and sometimes it’s a problem. That said, these are just amazing tasting muffins with great texture which stayed soft and moist even the following day for breakfast. muffins

Cranberry Walnut Muffins (from America’s Test Kitchen)

Ingredients

STREUSEL TOPPING (you could probably cut this part in half as I had a lot left over after I topped the muffins as much as I could)

  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, softened
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts

Process flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, and salt in food processor until mixture resembles coarse sand, 4 to 5 pulses. Add walnuts and process until pecans are coarsely chopped, about 4 pulses. Transfer to small bowl; set aside.

MUFFINS

  • 1 cup (6 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup chestnut flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted and cooled
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon (7 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray 12-cup muffin tin with baking spray with flour (or use muffin cups). Whisk flours, baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt together in bowl; set aside.
  2. Process toasted walnuts and granulated sugar until mixture resembles coarse sand, 10 to 15 seconds. Transfer to large bowl and whisk in eggs, butter, and milk until combined. Whisk flour mixture into egg mixture until just moistened and no streaks of flour remain. Set batter aside 30 minutes to thicken.

CRANBERRIES

  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar

Pulse cranberries, remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and confectioners’ sugar in food processor until very coarsely chopped, 4 to 5 pulses. Using rubber spatula, fold cranberries into batter.

TO BAKE

Using rubber spatula, fold cranberries into batter. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally among prepared muffin cups, slightly mounding in middle. Evenly sprinkle streusel topping over muffins, gently pressing into batter to adhere. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 18 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in muffin tin on wire rack, 10 minutes. Remove muffins from tin and cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

muffins2


Tres Carnales – Weekend Away in Edmonton

Even though we only live 3 hours away I couldn’t remember the last time we had visited our Province’s capital city as a family. I think it’s been at least 10 years since I’ve been to Edmonton and lately I’ve been reading that their culinary scene is starting to heat up. Literally. I’ve seen the drool worthy photos from friends visiting Edmonton’s city centre taqueria, Tres Carnales and I couldn’t wait for the day when I would finally try their authentic Mexican street food myself.

You may or may not know that I am a CFL football fan, in particular I am a Saskatchewan Roughriders fanatic (okay I’m a bit crazy when it comes to the Green and White!). When I saw that they would be playing in Edmonton against the Eskimos, I jumped at the chance to purchase tickets for hubby, myself, and kid number one. Kid number two wouldn’t be caught dead watching football but she came anyway because it just so happened that Edmonton Comic Expo was that same weekend. My original plan was to leave Calgary early enough so that we could have lunch at Tres Carnales and see her off at the train station.  I got a little (okay a lot!) irritated when hubby said he had to work ‘just a few more hours’ because even though it was Friday I had kept the kids home from school so we could leave early. When we left hours later I decided to keep with my original plan and it was hubby’s turn to get irritated when he found out he wasn’t getting lunch until we got to Edmonton. Luckily Tres Carnales was located about two blocks from our hotel and we were able to get our food and eat in under 40 minutes.

I hadn’t read any official reviews of Tres Carnales so I didn’t know what to expect. We arrived around 3:30 (by this time everyone was irritated) to find the place about half full. I had heard about how busy this place can get so maybe it was a good thing we were there mid afternoon. It didn’t take long to order and receive our food which was a good thing because that allowed us to get back to my ‘original plan’ in no time.

We couldn’t really pass up the opportunity to have guacamole. The chips were nice and freshly fried with just the right amount of salt and the guacamole was exactly how I make it at home.  It was almost gone when the server brought our tacos to the table.

guacamole

Kid number two was planning on having tacos from the a food truck at the Comic expo so she opted for a bowl of nice hot Pozole Rojo. The chicken/chili broth was a perfect match for the chilly weather outside. When I saw the cabbage in the broth I thought it looked like a spicy Mexican version of borscht.

souptrescarnales

I chickened out and got the Pollo Tacos. The chicken meat was fresh and with just the right amount of heat for me even though I did add some salsa verde as well.  I was really hungry so I was worried that these tiny tacos wouldn’t be enough for me but they ended up to be quite filling.pollotacos

The guys both ordered Tinga Mixta; Chorizo and Pulled Pork Tacos with potatoes. I had one and it was a bit too spicy for me. Also, be forewarned, don’t wear your best shirt to Tres Carnales; these little tacos are quite juicy…hubby ended up having to change his shirt when we got back to the hotel. chorizoporktacosAnother cool thing about Tres Carnales is that they make a daily aguas frescas; refreshing mostly fruit flavoured water. When we visited it was Mango agua fresca and it was delicious. It would be great to try the horchata some time.trescarnales

I think we may have just hit it lucky with the timing on this one (thanks hubby!) as it can get a bit busy and confusing in here at peak times. Our visit to Tres Carnales was a great start to our time in Edmonton…if only the Riders had come to prepared to play football it would have been perfect!
Tres Carnales Taqueria on Urbanspoon

10119 100A Street Edmonton AB

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