We enter December on a high. Twyla Campbell and I are delighted with the sales of her first book, Maps, Markets and Matzo Ball Soup: the inspiring life of ChefGail Hall. With over 1000 copies available in the marketplace at bookstores, retail stores and on-line, the book made the Edmonton best seller list for three weeks. Without the support of a big-budget promotional program this is a real achievement.
Many people have eagerly read the book and several book clubs have taken it on as their discussion choice. The comments are all positive with even guys admitting that they had tears as they read it. It is an inspiring look at a life well-lived.
Our hope is that in January every friend, client or follower of ChefGail has two copies of the book: one that they bought themselves and a second copy they received from a thoughtful friend. If you have ten or more friends who should receive this book for Christmas you can get a discount by buying them through the website www.Q32.ca. Orders will be delivered locally in a prompt manner. Requests from further afield will be mailed.
And cooks on your gift list will appreciate the accompanying recipe book. It contains all the recipes in the book (plus two extra) and is printed with a coil binding so it lays flat for use in the kitchen. Not available in stores you can order the recipe book at the on-line link.
If you enjoyed the recipes in ChefGail's memoir Maps, Markets and Matzo Ball Soup, you might be looking for more. Another of ChefGail's recipes is posted on the Q32.ca website every Monday morning.
You can also scroll through previous posts to find something interesting for dinner. This week the recipe is Phyllo Strudel with Chicken, Smoked Bacon, Pine Nuts and Goat’s Cheese with sun-dried tomato sauce. Click on this link to review it.
The memoir of Chef Gail Hall is about a life well lived. Her personal life as an entrepreneur and living with cancer is inspiring for anyone with an illness. Her vision, life and energy never wavered until her body finally gave out. The debilitating effects of cancer never caused her to pause and she lived with the disease in an exuberant manner.
Many people will want to read the book because of the 30 recipes in the book. Each recipe includes a story about the ingredients, the history or the origins of the dish. From Pisco Sours to Green Chili Stew, they were all favourites of Chef Gail and her clients, students or friends. All the recipes are also included in a spiral bound recipe book that lays flat for use in the kitchen and protects the big book from kitchen splashes and stains. You can buy the recipe book on-line from the website Q32.ca. The book will appeal to anyone who has a kitchen.
Finally, Gail was a true entrepreneur who followed in her father's footsteps and started two award winning companies in Edmonton. The book contains 13 business Insights that reflect the business practices of Gail's enterprises. This book will appeal to anyone who has a business and be an inspiration for anyone who wants to start one.
Kitchen users, business owners or anyone with an illness would love to receive Maps Markets and Matzo Ball Soup as a gift.
Osoyoos at the south end of the Okanagan is the warmest place in the valley. It attracts a year-round vacation crowd who enjoy the sights, recreation and wineries in the area. For a destination resort town it is lacking in fine dining. The Watermark is attempting to fill the void and there are remarkable restaurants at some of the wineries but locals (who spend all day at the hotel) are reluctant to return to their workplace for a social evening meal and whine about the lack of choice. Jojos is a small coffee shop where we had a simple breakfast made with local ingredients but other choices are chain restaurants that only serve food that comes off the wholesaler`s truck. The town is ripe for an investor to back a young creative chef who can build a career based on the abundant produce and products of the area.
After breakfast, I meet Chef Natasha and chat about the Watermark’s food focus at this new resort (it opened in November 2009): seasonal, locally sourced foods are front and centre. Chef’s dishes are always finished with homemade chutneys, sauces, mustards, marmalades, infused honey and jams – a highly regarded trademark. I can’t wait to try her locally sourced charcuterie platter this summer! Chef Natasha has graciously provided the following two recipes:
Our culinary tour to Argentina and Chile was amazing. Memories of fantastic grass-fed and finished beef in Argentina paired with lots of Malbec wine. Chile's seafood and Carmenere wines were delightful. One of the cooking classes we did was an empanada cooking class. These beef filled turnovers paired with a salad make a great meal and they freeze well. So, download the recipe, make up a grocery list and get a few people together with some Malbec wine, of course and have your own empanada making cooking class!
First a bit about the flour I use:
This recipe features flour from Sunny Boy in Camrose. For many, the name Sunny Boy is synonymous with Sunny Boy Cereal – a cereal that many Canadians grew up with. It’s a type of porridge that was formulated back in 1929, by Mr. W H Byers who owned a flour mill in Camrose. He used local grains to first produce whole wheat flour and then started producing Sunny Boy Cereal. In 2008, Patricia and Brad Shapka purchased Sunny Boy. Thank goodness that they did, as Sunny Boy was struggling financially and could have disappeared. Not only have the Shapka’s increased the product line, they also produce, store and distribute their products from Camrose – quite a change from how grain products historically have been handled – and that’s usually been, shipping grain out of province for processing, storage and shipping it back into province for retail distribution, resulting in huge travel miles from seed to table.
unny Boy products include regular and organic hot cereal, whole wheat pancake mix, organic whole wheat pancake and waffle mix, complete buttermilk pancake mix, and my favourite -- organic whole wheat flour and organic unbleached all purpose flour. A variety of the products are available at Planet Organic, Sobeys, Safeway, Save-on Foods and Costco. Each store may carry different products.
Keeping up with recipes gleaned from my recent culinary tour Argentina and Chile, here is a recipe for empanadas -- a dish that is synonymous with both counties. I’ve made these empanadas using Sunny Boy Organic all Purpose Unbleached Flour that I purchase at Planet Organic.
Good bakeries seem to be sprouting up all over town -- as they should. We are on the prairies, known for our fields of grain. Breadland Organic Whole Grain Bakery in Oliver Square is a hidden gem. The bakery was started by husband and wife, Csaba and Agnes Nemeth, both European master bakers who came to Canada from Hungary in 2004. They opened Breadland Organic Whole Grain Bakery in mid-May of 2007.These two bakers have over 30 years of European experience between them and they are the co-creators of the Royal Hungarian Baking Guild, a group that thrives to bake traditional European breads using traditional centuries-old methods. Breadland is a fully organic, because Csaba and Agnes believe in the values of organic farming as well as promoting an environmentally and economically sustainable lifestyle. And they have a wonderful vision of improving the lives of our customers with products and education that support health and well-being.
Breadland Organic Whole Grain Bakery produces over 70 different products made from five different grains: spelt, kamut, rye, brown rice, and unbleached white flour. They work with four different sour dough starters — spelt, rye, brown rice (for the gluten-free products) and unbleached white.Baking starts at 4 am 6 days a week to create beautiful breads, buns, sweet and savoury pastries. They also have a few seats at the bakery, so can have a light bite, such as soup and sandwich.The bakery is located in Oliver Square (west side) at 11642 – 104 Avenue. Breads are also available at Planet Organic and Earth’s General Store.
It may be the prairies, well-known for its fields of grain and grazing cattle. But did you know we do first rate smoked salmon hre as well? The recipe I've created uses gorgeous smoked salmon from Sgambaro’s Signature Foods. This Edmonton business specializes in producing fresh, never frozen, smoked salmon. It’s owned and operated by Roberto Sgambaro, a professional chef. In1 995, the concept of Sgambaro’s was born under the name Experience Gastronomique. In 2004, Roberto captured the Grand Prize in the Edmonton Region Venture Prize competition. This gave Roberto the opportunity to expand his business operations. His company produces Atlantic cold smoked salmon (also known as lox), gravlax (cured), salmon sausage, salmon pate, salmon jerky and a mustard sauce. Products are avaialble at the Italian Centre and Italian Bakery, Bon Ton bakery, the Grapevine Deli n St. Albert, Paddy’s, selected Sobeys and at Sunterra.
Did you know that even in the cold of winter, Alberta's local producers are growing greens and herbs in greenhouses. The next time you reach for a package of herbs, why not source out some local ones?
One of my favourite producers is West Country Herbs and Morinville Greenhouses. This business is about 5 miles north of Morinville. It was stated in 1974 by Alissa and Jim Marles. Son Greg Marles and Susan Chinn are also involved in operations. They began by growing and selling bedding plants and in 2002 added fresh greens and herbs to their repertoire.
In the summer you can get bedding plants, container gardens and potted herbs. In the winter months greens such as arugula are available and throughout the year they sell fresh herbs including Italian parsley, cilantro and my favourite, basil. They are also looking into growing micro greens, which has become a hot trend among chefs.
West Country Herbs and Greenhouses have a booth at the Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market, sell at the Italian Centre and also sell on line through the Good Food Box, a local food distribution company.