St. Albert Farmers’ Market

I know I talk a lot about the downtown Edmonton City Market, but one of my other favourite local farmers’ markets is out in St. Albert. Open every Saturday until October 9, the city closes down a couple of streets to traffic so that the St. Albert Farmers’ Market can take over the space.

St. Albert Farmers' Market

St. Albert Farmers' Market

It’s so popular that they even have shuttle buses running to ferry people to the market.

crowds on a sunny day

crowds on a sunny day

more crowds

more crowds

There is a section for food like donuts, popcorn, hot dogs, lemonade, etc. set up right next to city hall.

concession stands

concession stands

While some of the stands are also present at the City Market or the Old Strathcona Market, the St. Albert one has quite a few booths that are unique. The Cinnamon Girl’s booth is always crowded and stock sells out quickly.

Cinnamon Girl

Cinnamon Girl

Fancy Shmancy sells delcious mini brownies of various flavours, as well as a great cookie. I can’t resist stopping here whenever I come to this market.

Fancy Shmancy

Fancy Shmancy

Fancy Shmancy's baked goods

Fancy Shmancy's baked goods

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What I did on my long weekend, part 1

I had a busy, busy Saturday. My adventure started with a short volunteering stint as a “food sample girl” over at the downtown City Market. Saturday was Canada Food Day and to celebrate, the City Market held a number of food demos from chefs. Once the food was made, I helped to distribute the goodies out to the hungry crowd (at least, for the first demo).

setting up

setting up

The first demos were from Chef Brad Smoliak, whose first recipe was Ukrainian Eggs Benedict. Chef Smoliak started off by doing some prep work, including putting the Irvings Farm Fresh pork chops (or, as the Chef called them, bacon chops) in a pan to begin frying.

bacon chops

bacon chops

He made an effort to point out places in the City Market where he had grabbed the ingredients – from eggs to herbs. (Unfortunately I didn’t jot down where everything came from.)

Chef Smoliak talking about herbs

Chef Smoliak talking about herbs

He cooked Mo-Na mushrooms, fried eggs, flipped the chops… the smell was torturing everyone in the audience.

almost time to eat!

almost time to eat!

The final product looked like a giant open-faced sandwich. And it probably could feed at least two people.

the assembled benny

the assembled benny

My duties were over, but I stuck around to catch the second demo where the Chef presented a summer salad.

adding finishing touches to the salad

adding finishing touches to the salad

the salad, complete with edible flowers

the salad, complete with edible flowers

One of the Chef’s last tips was that if you were doing a buffet style party then you might want to pick up some candle votives and utilize them to serve the salad. I’m not sure if I would use votives though, unless you were sure that the vessel was safe to use with food. I’ve seen this technique used in Las Vegas, although they used cups that were smaller, like shot glasses.

salad in a votive

salad in a votive

Also hanging around the market was fellow volunteer Eating is the Hard Part, and Only Here for the Food who was helping to man the Slow Food Edmonton booth.

So what did I do for the rest of the day? Well, if you have been following my tweets then you’ll know. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait for my next post to find out what happened next.

News and events, and the Tostitos contest winner!

Congratulations to Kelly, who won the draw for the 2 bags of blue corn Tostitos and a lovely chip basket! I will be sending you an e-mail. I hope you enjoy them; personally, I find that blue corn chips have a slightly different taste than yellow corn tortilla chips and go really well with salsa, but doesn’t fit as well with cheese.

And now, here’s some news for you:

Asparagus and mushrooms recipe

A trip to the City Market last Saturday netted me a few goodies including two bunches of fresh Edgar Farms asparagus (where I bumped into Sharon from Only Here for the Food when we both raced there to grab some before they sold out), and a 1 lb. basket of mixed wild and domestic mushrooms from Mo-Na Food. I also picked up a small container of morels to experiment with, but more on that on another post. I did think about some fiddleheads as well, but I’ve bought them a couple of weeks in a row and I needed a bit of a break from them.

My farmers’ market bounty inspired to cook up a simple vegetarian dinner.

I snapped the bottom ends of the asparagus and gave them a quick rinse, then popped them into some boiling water for a very quick parboil. I then popped them into cold water in order to shock them and stop the cooking process.

While the asparagus cooled, I cleaned and roughly chopped up my mixed mushrooms, diced a couple of garlic cloves, and chopped up another six portobello mushrooms that I had bought at Costco and added that also to the mix. I stir fried the whole lot with about three tablespoons of margarine and reduced the heat to a medium high temperature.

stir-fried mushrooms

stir-fried mushrooms

Once they cooked through, I splashed in about a tablespoon and a half of shao hsing Chinese cooking wine and added salt and pepper to taste (very little salt, as the cooking wine has salt in it already).

I then started plating. First, some drained asparagus. Then, spoonfuls of mushrooms. And to top it all off, scoops of the sauce over the whole thing.

asparagus and mushrooms

asparagus and mushrooms

Simple, fresh, nutritious and delicious. Great with a side of brown rice, or maybe some roasted potatoes. Myself, I toasted some whole grain bread and dipped it into the sauce until it soaked everything up.

Alternatives to the Chinese cooking wine include soy sauce, cooking sherry, or oyster sauce.

A warning – the amount of mushrooms that I cooked were enough to make at least 6-8 servings. I had plenty of leftovers.

News and links

I know there’s lots of other things happening around town, but Sharon at Only Here for the Food already does such a great job of recording all that already. So instead today you get links that I stumble upon and find at least mildly interesting.

Kale chips

The kale I’ve seen in grocery stores over the summer has been limp, pathetic and unappealing. So last weekend when I saw some gorgeous kale at the Sundog Organic Farm at the City Market, I immediately grabbed two bundles. They were $4 per bundle, but seeing that the bundles were quite large they ended up being only slightly more expensive than kale sold at the grocery store and much more healthy looking.

I stuck some in a soup (this one, but without the beans). And the rest went towards my kale chips experiments.

kale chips

kale chips

I’ve seen kale chips on many blogs, and I was dying to try it out myself. I tried varying some of the measurements but I’ve found that keeping it simple is best. I made about four trays that night. And another two the next day. They’re horribly addicting! And once you master this version you can try variations like adding dried chili flakes, or making salt and vinegar chips.

Kale chips

Ingredients
2 tsp olive oil per baking tray
One bunch of kale leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Wash your kale, rip or cut into potato chip sized pieces, and dry throughly. The more dry the leaves are, the better. (I spun them in a salad spinner, and then ended up leaving them to air dry for a while.)

Preheat your oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit/180 Celsius.

On a lined baking sheet, spread out a single layer of kale leaves. Drizzle approximately 2 tsp of olive oil over the leaves. This may not look like a lot, but any more than this and your end product may be too oily. To be honest, I don’t even measure anymore and just eyeball it.

Very lightly sprinkle the leaves with salt.

Pop the baking tray into the oven for approximately 10 minutes. The kale will turn a rich forest green colour during the baking process, but don’t take them out until they start to just turn brown around the edges! If you take them out too early the kale won’t be crispy.

Once the leaves start browning, remove from the oven and enjoy. You can add more salt at this point if you think you need it, but I find that less salt makes these taste better.

How do you know that they’re done? Try picking one up. If it’s crisp enough they will crumble in your hand if you’re not careful because they are very fragile and similar in texture to deep fried parsley.

City Market feature – Don Carmelo

One of my favourite stalls at the City Market, Edmonton’s downtown farmers’ market, is the one from Don Carmelo.

They started off selling various jars of their Venezuelan guasacaca, an avocado salsa, which I fell in love with a couple of years ago at A Taste of Edmonton when they sold pupusas topped with this lovely sauce. (Makes a great dipping sauce for roasted chicken!)

Don Carmelos guasacaca

Don Carmelo's guasacaca

And then they started selling their pupusas at the market as well. Yum! Went I walked past their booth last week, I saw that they had added tamales and had to order one to try. Pricey at $5 each, it was served with a cute wooden fork. I added a moderate amount of guasacaca roja, and dug in. A little bit of chicken and some vegetables made up the filling for the corn masa outside. It was pleasant tasting and very warming on a cold day, but I have to say that I’m glad I had a lot of sauce on there as it helped boost the flavour. I think next time I’ll stick with the pupusas, if only due to the cost.

Don Carmelos tamale

Don Carmelo's tamale

This Saturday is the last market day of the year, so if you want to grab some for yourself you’d better make sure to stop by. They do have a store/restaurant on the south side (which I haven’t had a chance to visit yet) where apparently you can buy these items all year round. I think it’s rather interesting marketing as they do get a bunch of business from their stall at the farmers’ market. I have wondered why they don’t seem to push their restaurant more though.

Don Carmelo
booth at the City Market,
or at their permanent location over at 4220-66 Street
Edmonton, AB