Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Strawberry Jam Sunday Loaf

This week we made Marion Cunningham's Sunday Loaf, a breakfast bread with strawberry jam folded right into the batter AND a strawberry jam glaze on top. 

If breakfast happens to be your favourite meal of the day as well, and if you happen to have a bit of strawberry jam around, we recommend you try this loaf. It is very easy to make, looks gorgeous (don't you think?!) and its flavour is rich and comforting. The recipe is from Cunningham's The Art of Breakfast, but it can also be found online here. All you bakers out there, if you try this, let us know what you think. We always love to hear from all of you. Happy baking (and eating.)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Summer Strawberry Jam

Let's just say that this year, the weather was not ideal for strawberries. For the entire month of June, it rained  (you know, just in case you haven't noticed.) This means that strawberries were incredibly juicy  (hum...waterlogged) and though they were still sweet, the first ones didn't have that tang and deep flavour that strawberries need to have to make great jam. 

Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, it was Summer in Vancouver and we saw some sun. Which means the berries saw a little sun too and we have the sun to thank for the delicious flavour our beloved strawberries had last week.  

So, as jam makers, this is what we do. We pay attention to the weather, try berries all over the place, as many as we can, and then we make phone calls to farmers. When all is right, we get up bright and early and do our thing (we literally saw a bird getting a worm that day...)

A short strawberry season means not everyone got the strawberry fix they need. This is precisely why we can fruits and vegetables, isn't it? It is so we can enjoy that delicious fresh berry taste in the Fall and Winter as well. 

Strawberry Jam seems to be everyone's favourite flavour.   Even the most sophisticated chef palates we know just crave straight up Strawberry Jam.  Sometimes,  it's the simplest flavour that can be the hardest to achieve. To get the Sticky Spoon stamp of approval, we needed to find the right balance of sweetness and were aiming for that fresh, ripe, red, juicy strawberry flavour, not the overcooked, overstewed, oversweetened berry jam that can often be found.  We adapted our tehniques, tested again and again until we were happy and felt we did strawberries justice. They have had a rough year so they deserve it.   We are delighted with the results and love its chunky strawberry texture. 

As usual, we made a huuuge mess of the production kitchen, complete with foamy explosions of strawberry goodness all over the stovetop. And the wall. And the floor (sorry Buca boys--- we scrubbed extra hard this time!)

Before we could even spread the word that our Summer Strawberry Jam was being made, before we could put stickers on the jars, we had friends and coworkers ordering from us. It's almost like they had been waiting for it to be ready, which makes us feel really good about what we do (a waitlist!)

As for pairing suggestions, we recommend with a spoon, straight from the jar (piece of bread optional.) Summer Strawberry Jam, straight up. However, if you happen to have a piece of vanilla cake around, and perhaps a little ice cream, it does make a mean shortcake (to be kept in mind in Winter, when tasty local strawberries are months away and you crave a little summertime berryness.)  If you are one of those people whose favourite jam flavour is Strawberry, please email us and we shall get a jar to you. You can visit us at the Vancouver Farmers Market in the West End on Saturday, July 21st from 9am to 2pm. We will also be attending the Shangri-La Hotel Farmers Market on Sunday, July 29th from 11am to 2pm, hosted by Chef Wayne Harris on the third floor patio.  Have a wonderful sunny weekend.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Very First Market at The Shangri-La

Last week, we attended the very first mini Farmers' Market hosted by Chef Wayne Harris of Market Restaurant at The Shangri-La Hotel. The event was put together in collaboration with our friends at the Vancouver Farmers Market and we were so happy to have been included. Being the first event, and a small one, we did not know what to expect, but we had a wonderful time. Here are a few photos of our day.

The day started out perfectly, with valet parking for our old beat up van, an elevator up to the patio to carry our many boxes and bins and best of all, cappucinos handed to us upon arrival. That is a pretty civilized market. Setting up our table was that much easier and we were left with a little time to socialize with other vendors.

It is always so nice to be surrounded by amazing local produce and goods made by hand by friends and fellow vendors.

I am posting photos of these tasty baked goods by Beaucoup Bakery even though I am brutally disappointed that I did not get to take any home.  I had planned a dinner for that night, which included a variety of Beaucoup Bakery desserts. I probably should have let Jackie know right away, that is before she sold out of absolutely everything she made that day! Oh well, I won't make that mistake again, trust me... 


And speaking of tasty baked goods, check out these Caneles de Bordeaux from French Made Baking, possibly one of the best things I have ever eaten. To be fair, this photo doesn't do these little guys justice but no photo can, they are that good. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, with just the right amount of sweetness, richness and vanilla. Oh my.

Then "our guests" arrived. They started pouring in right at 11am and just kept coming for the entire three hours we were there. There wasn't a boring moment and we loved it. The event included live music, wine tastings, canapes and mocktails, all of this on the beautiful third floor patio of the Shangri-La Hotel.  How very civilized!

 The fabulous Jay Jones, master of all things drinkable, created a  virgin cocktail based on our Rhubarb Jam with Ginger and let's just say he nailed it;  every component of the jam could be tasted in his drink and everyone was full of compliments--- about the drink AND the jam! 

Markets are always a lot of fun for us. We must thank Chef Wayne and his talented crew for creating fantastic little bites for all to try and we are grateful to Roberta from Vancouver Farmers Market for her hard work preparing this event. We feel privileged to have been a part of this market and hope that we are invited again. Thanks to everyone who stopped by, sampled our jam, chatted with us and gave us feedback. We hope to see you again!