The Fall Harvest Series – Waffles, Beignets, and a Garlic Closet at the Leslieville Farmers’ Market!

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In another few weeks, the summer and fall farmers’ markets will be packing up and making way for the indoor markets that will roll out just in time for the winter season and holidays, so I want to post as many fall markets as I can before bidding goodbye.  The past summer was so memorable and amazing because of all the farmers’ market visits I made.  Before this past spring and summer, I had never been to a farmers’ market before.  Bake sales, yes.  Street markets and food fests, yes.  But weekly outdoor markets in eleventy billion different neighbourhoods around the city?  Never. 

I learned so much, met so many sweet people, and even got my mum hooked!  I bought vegetables, bread, and baked goods and made many fresh meals from scratch using all the delicious goodies I brought home from the markets.  Even though summer is over, fall is alive and kicking and there’s plenty of life left in these farmers’ markets!  Many of them are dishing out the apples, plums, apricots, crabapples, broccoli, cauliflower, beans, potatoes, beets, pumpkins, and squash while they still can and some of them are even planning Hallowe’en activities!

I made my first visit to Leslieville market at Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen East last Sunday, and after subscribing to their newsletter since the summer, the trek out was a long time coming.  The Leslieville Farmers’ Market is new to the Toronto market circuit this year and I think they’ve done such a great job  of getting the community involved and making sure there are inclusive activities for everyone. 

The market is full of volunteers, live music is provided and performed by local artists and bands, there are kiddie corner activities every Sunday for the wee ones (think reading and books and food crafts!), and there’s always a group event that brings everyone together.  Whether it’s a book sale or free yoga sessions in the park, the market organizers make an effort to encourage everyone in and outside of the neighbourhood to enjoy everything it has to offer.  Just recently, Leslieville market even hosted a jar swap where everyone brought their homemade sauces, pickled vegetables, jams, jellies, compotes, and preserves and swapped with fellow market-goers!

Highlights of the market: 1) the waffle and beignet table!!  I’m not talking about the frozen Eggo-type kind.  Imagine thick cut, fresh waffles that are like Belgian waffles married with funnel cakes alongside hot, deep-fried beignets tossed in powdered sugar.  Can you say breakfast at the market?!  I love it!  I had already eaten brunch by the time I made my way over, but I’m telling you, those waffles looked to die for.  Highlight two: the baked goods table!  You know I can’t go to a market without ogling this section.  There was a basket of long, crunchy baguettes, carrot cake squares with vanilla icing, chocolate cake muffins with powdered sugar, and the moistest looking chocolate brownies I have ever since.  I didn’t even have to taste one to know it would melt in my mouth.  All I had to do was look at it.  Pillow soft and fudgy.

Highlight numero three: the vegan hot food table!  Not only can you enjoy breakfast at Leslieville, but you can also sit down to a picnic of warm, vegan food provided by Tiffinday Inc., a vegan catering company in Toronto dedicated to delivering fresh and healthy vegan lunches to the city crowd in reuseable, stainless steel containers.  I picked up some delicious lentil samosas to bring back home for my brother, the samosa king and lover of the house, and we shared them and adored them.  Highlight number four: the garlic bulb closet!  No, I’m serious, there was this table that sold mouthwatering homemade hummus dips along with garlic, and the bulbs were categorized and organized by country of origin and type in what looked like a wooden closet, cubbyhole thing on an easel.  It was adorable!

It was a great market to go to and I’m glad I finally did after all these months.  Their last market of the year is on October 30th (the day before Hallowe’en!) so everyone, you have two weeks left to enjoy it!  Take in as much of the fall harvest as you can because winter is nipping at our heels.

 

*****

Leslieville Farmers’ Market is located at Jonathan Ashbridge Park on Queen Street East and Woodward Ave.  Jonathan Ashbridge Park is located in between Greenwood and Coxwell Ave., and can be accessed via public transit by way of the Queen Street 501 streetcar.  The market is new to the lineup of Toronto markets this year and is held every Sunday from 9am-2pm.  The last market of the year is on October 30, 2011.  Visit their website to sign up to their newsletter, to get involved, and to learn more.

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The Fall Harvest Series: Fresh & Farm-to-Table – The Foodie Emporium That is Evergreen Brick Works, Part II

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When a few friends told me Evergreen Brick Works was big and all sorts of awesome, I had no idea it would be THIS big and awesome.  Are there other farmers’ markets in the city that I love to pieces just as much?  Of course.  But Evergreen Brickworks is a different kind of foodie playground.   There’s a certain rustic quality to it, and a very communal, down-to-earth atmosphere that makes you feel welcome and homey.  At the heart of Evergreen is sustainability: sustaining our environment and our communities while at the same time building new relationships through beautiful community green spaces, classes, workshops, and charitable events.  

The connections made between the environment, the people, and the food is just one of Evergreen’s pride and joys.  As the menu at Cafe Belong reads, “Food is fuel, food is medicine, and food is love”.  The food culture connects the global with the local – and vice versa – with its farm-to-table philosophy, bringing some of the best of what other countries have to offer and integrating these transnational and transglobal relationships into our local ones in the marketplace.  You learn so much just by being here.

I was literally standing by the olive oil table talking to the sweet lady for 10-15 minutes, as I sampled some bread, olive oil, and balsamic and took notes in my notebook while she explained all these wonderful things about olive oil and balsamics.  Things like what to look for on a bottle’s label to determine authenticity (“made in” versus “product of”, import information, etc.), what colour of bottle to look for (dark!), the names of the oils depending on how many varieties of olives are used (one olive variety = monocultivar), and how the age of the olives affects the notes and taste of the oil (the older the more grassier). 

I have never been so informed about olive oil in my life and it was amazing because I came away with so much more knowledge than I came in with.  And I think that’s the beauty of being here.  You take a little something with you every time you come and go and you open yourself up to a world of foodie exploration.

There are so many different components that make it a wonderland to explore and play in and its sheer size, alone, makes it unique and special.  The Saturday farmers’ market (which, in my humble opinion, should be renamed to “giant food mansion barn paradise thing”) emphasizes homegrown Ontario farming and food, and local food businesses with farmers and producers of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and cheese, local bakers and bakeries, butchers, fishmongers, and restaurant business owners coming together under one barn roof.  This market was open and spacious and just plain HUGE.  It was like a fresh food flea market in a barn!  Not only were there tables upon tables of farmers selling their produce, but there were samples to try, grills being fired up for hot lunch food, and live music.  You could literally outfit your entire refrigerator and kitchen after a day here.

The menu of fresh, local food and produce draws hungry foodies to Cafe Belong, a beautiful, airy cafe and rustic dining hall.  Sit down with a coffee, baked good, or meal where the food is fresh and seasonal.  Menu items include dishes such as tomato salad with barley ($12), cured fish with grilled fennel ($14), summer squash with smoked duckand seasonal berries ($15), steamed lake fish ($18), braised lamb ($19), sweet and sticky pork with apples ($17), vegetarian pot barley with mushrooms and rainbow chard ($16), and vegan moroccan chick pea stew ($15).  End (or begin!) your meal with something sweet from the cafe, like a spiced heirloom pumpkin tart, a fresh baked apple pie, a blueberry scone, or one of Cafe Belongs many cookies, muffins, and oat bars. 

The gardening and planting area encourages and provides us with the tools to be our own farmers and producers of food and finally, the marketplace, with its local and global gourmet eats, reads, and gadgets, is a mecca of food and shopping goodness.  There are shelves and tables with cookbooks (local, sustainable food, vegetarian and vegan food, raw food, preserves and canning, baking cookbooks, and so much more), olive oils and balsalmic vinaigrettes, jams and preserves, mustards, curries, pickled vegetables, coffees, teas, local artwork, handmade craft items, and kitchen accessories.

The cookbook junkie in me was going craaazy and everything was so festive with all the seasonal decorations sitting on the tables and hanging on the walls.  I can’t even imagine what the marketplace is going to look like when the holidays roll around in December!  And that’s another thing I love about Evergreen, that it’s cyclical, relevant, and timely.  When you’re here, you feel like you’re in the thick of everything important that’s happening in local food culture and you grow with them as you see and learn more.

This first visit was a fabulous one and I am so excited about making another one closer to the holidays in the winter.  I’m happily enjoying fall while it lasts (it feels like the shortest season out of the four sometimes!), but a big part of me cannot wait to see what’s in store later on this year.  Enjoy the photos and I’ll have Part III for you guys tomorrow.  Baked goods ahoy!

*****

Evergreen Brick Works is located at 550 Bayview Ave.  The farmers’ market takes place year-round every Saturday from 8am-1pm.  If taking public transit, there is a free shuttle bus that operates 7 days a week beside Broadview subway station, as well as the 28A Davisville TTC bus that runs on Saturdays from 8am-3pm between Evergreen Brick Works and Davisville subway station.  Click here to learn more the site, their events and programs, and how to get here by bus, bike, car, or foot.

The Fall Harvest Series – Apple Lemon Poppy Seed Teatime Muffins!

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Happy Friday everyone!  I am so excited to officially start the Fall Harvest series and I can’t wait to show you all the photos and posts I have planned for the next week or so.  I’m starting the series off with some homemade baked goods because I really think it epitomizes what fall comfort is all about: the warmth and love of homemade food, chilly mornings warmed up by some yummy baked goods, and lots of fall harvest fruits and colours.  Introducing my beloved apple lemon poppy seed teatime muffins! 😀  They’re so perfect for breakfast, an afternoon tea, or just for a midday snack to tide you over until dinner.  Stuffed with juicy chunks of apple, they show off one of fall’s best loved fruits.  As well, it just so happens that our Jewish friends are currently celebrating Rosh Hashanah (Jewish new year) and apples are one of the several foodie symbols of sweetness and prosperity for the new year, so this recipe  nicely performs double duty!

I know I’ve been on a cookie baking kick for months (check out the Cookie Jar!), happily baking my way through Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen foodie murder mystery novels.  I thought it would be fitting to do muffins though and I’m so glad I did.  The muffins turned out even better than I expected because they’re so fragrant, so moist, and just bursting with flavour, and they taste even more amazing the day after they’re baked and even a few days after that!  The flavour just seems to intensify and they’re wonderfully yummy.  The lemon makes these muffins smell and taste divine, the apple gives the muffins its interior juiciness, and the poppy seeds give the muffins a great texture and appearance.  They come out with lovely golden brown tops and there’s a special ingredient in the recipe that I think really heightens the flavour and moistness: yogurt! 

I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit what I had on hand though so there are some differences between mine and the one in the recipe and book.  It actually includes a recipe for mint syrup to drizzle over top of the muffins, but I wasn’t feeling it so I didn’t make it.  You’ll see why I think mine are even better than the ones in the book based on the changes I made 😉  And the book in question is my beloved apple cookbook!  I bought this at the Blue Banana market in Kensington Market and I love it because it helps me, as a person with apple and fruit allergies, learn how to cook and do different things with apples other than biting into them raw.  Yay for baked apple goods!

Recipe for Apple Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins (yields 18 tea muffins if apples are cut into chunks, 12 if apples are finely chopped)

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature (1 stick)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (*Deb’s note: I didn’t have any plain yogurt so I used a small container of vanilla and a small container of vanilla cinnamon, and just eyeballed it to make the total amount 1 cup or 250 ml.  Because I was using vanilla flavoured yogurt though, I only used half the amount of vanilla extract the recipe called for).
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped (*Deb’s note: I didn’t have any Granny Smith apples, so I used two small Red Delicious apples instead).

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line a 12-cup muffin or cupcake pan with paper liners (*Deb’s note: I had to line 18 spaces when I realized I had more batter because of the larger cuts of apple I had).
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, poppy seeds, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  • In a separate medium bowl, beat butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating well between additions.  Add lemon zest, yogurt, and vanilla extract, beating until well combined.
  • Stir in flour mixture, mixing until just combined.  Fold in apple.  Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling each cup 3/4 full. 
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until tops are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean (*Deb’s note: Mine baked for 20 minutes because my oven at home runs a little hot).
  • When muffins are ready, transfer to a wire rack and let stand 10 minutes before taking muffins out.  Let cool and enjoy!

*****

Recipe adapted and taken from Sarina Jackson’s Apples.  New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2010.  Photographs taken by me.  The recipe can be found on page 46.

Pumpkins, Squash, Apples, and Plenty of Fall Sweet Eats & Comfort Food – The Fall Harvest Series on Ate by Ate!

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Just like the seasons, our tastes and preferences change as we grow up.  I used to love summer, not just because of the summer-vacation-from-school angle, but because I genuinely enjoyed all the things I got to do during this time.  Things like going swimming every week and playing sports outside and wearing shorts.  However, I’m 26 now and over the past few years I’ve done a complete 18o, for many reasons!  The humidity started wreaking havoc on my skin, I had to start wearing a hat nearly every day I was out because heat and sun exposure would give me migraines, and all in all, my enthusiasm for the sunshiney, beachy season just wasn’t where it used to be.  I longed for the crisp, cool air of the fall season to brush against my cheeks, to simaltaneously take photos and kick up the gorgeous fallen leaves, and to completely delve into fall comfort food, markets, and activities. 

Fall is my favourite season now and I know I’m not the only one super excited about it!  I know fall officially started last Friday, but here in Toronto the temperatures have still been seasonably warm and on some days, hot, hot, hot – there was a humidex this past Monday!  Temperatures aside, my giddiness over fall is still very much intact and I cannot wait to wear chunky sweater knits, scarves, boots, fuzzy shoes (I have a very cute pair of flats with fuzzies around the collars!), and long-sleeved cardigans.  My camera is waiting with baited breath for all the leaves to change colour and because I’ve been looking forward to fall so much, I’ve already gotten a head start on the fall harvest and comfort food noshing 😉

Since I started Ate by Ate on the last day of November last year, I didn’t get a chance to do anything fall-related for the blog or to show you all some of my favourite fall photos so here’s some to get the ball rolling!  The first three were taken from Main Street Unionville on a gorgeous fall day several years ago with the obligatory feet in leaves shot 😀  I am BEYOND excited to start my Fall Harvest series now, and to show off some amazing fall foods and meals around the city.  I have so many ideas and so many things I want to do – go to an apple orchard, attend as many farmers’ markets as possible before the seasonal ones close up show for the year, and of course, indulge in some special fall eats and treats.  There are some amazing fall menus being put out by a number of places and so many shops are creating their own special versions of some classic sweets and desserts.  I started brainstorming fall food over a month ago to prepare for this series – think pumpkin, squash, apples, maple, chilies, stews, soups, and LOTS of fall inspired drinks and desserts!

This Fall Harvest series is one that I’ve been looking forward to for quite some time so I hope you all enjoy it as I embark on a week-long journey of posts leading straight up to Thanksgving!  I’m hoping I can extend it to make this into a 2-week series, but it’s really going to depend on the amount of baking I can do and the number of markets I can get to.  The Fall Harvest series starts first thing tomorrow and you’re going to looooove it (well, at least I hope so!) because it’s yummy and baking related!  In the meantime, here are some of my favourite fall photos.