Golden Spatula Competition

With only one week to our 2nd Annual Sundown Chowdown, we’re excitedly preparing for another fun night of market being open extra late serving up an appetizing mix of live entertainment, fresh eats, and 10 fantastic food trucks. With so much to sample, there’s a little taste of summer for everyone.

One of the highlights of the Sundown Chowdown is that we host 8 of Calgary’s greatest food critics and writers on site to try the delicious dishes offered by our vendors and the food trucks.  The Golden Spatula Awards are given to our vendors, celebrating tried and true favorites and new, creative dishes prepared specially for the judges.  This year was delicious, as always, and available for you to try too!

The categories and some of the competitors for you perusal:

Best Meat:

Margarita’s: “Cabbage Rolls”

Ana’s Kitchen: “Emapandas with AJI”

Shef’s Fiery Kitchen: “Stuffed Tomatoes with Spicy Ground Beef”

WINNER: Big D’s Smokehouse: “Beef Brisket Sandwich”

Spatula Collage 1

Best Non-Meat: 

Margarita’s: “Blintzes”

WINNER: Hearts Choices: “Vegan Thai Yellow Curry”

Hearts Choices: “Vegan Larb Salad”

2 Greek Gals: “Veggie Pastitsio

Best Gut-Buster:

WINNER: Sandwiched: “Gruush”

Shef’s Fiery: “Butter Chicken Poutine” *not available as a regular menu item

Big D’s Smokehouse: “Pulled Pork Poutine”

Spatula Collage 2

Best Sweet: 

Crazy Pasta: “Amaretto Tiramisu”

Yum Bakery: “Princess Cake”

WINNER: Eclair de Lune: “Passiflora”

Eclair de Lune: “Opera Cake”

2 Greek Gals: “Galaktaboriko”

Jelly Modern Doughnuts: “Eton Mess”

Spatula Collage 4Spatula Collage 3

Most Creative:

Crazy Pasta: “The Mix”

WINNER: Sandwiched: “Nacho Libre”

Ana’s Kitchen: “White Angel Tapas”

Looks good eh?  Get your hands on these incredible treats Thursday – Sunday 9am-5pm!

If you’re planning on joining us for the Sundown Chowdown on Friday, September 6th, we’ll be offering a FREE Shuttle!  Buses will run between Heritage Station (at the passenger pick-up/drop-off) and the Calgary Farmers’ Market from 5-9PM (approximately every 20 minutes). Thank you to our friends at West Island College for providing the shuttles for the evening!

Also new this year: we have will have an outdoor Family Entertainment Area with crafts, music, face painting, balloon artists and more! We will also be hosting the Food Bloggers Bake Sale.

Watch BT Sept 3rd- 6th for a look at the 10 food trucks who will be joining us this year.

Canning Extravaganza!

It’s that time of year when we’re surrounded by incredible local produce at every turn, so much deliciousness we couldn’t possibly eat it all.  So can it!  We’ve received quite a few requests for canning recipes and guides, tips and tricks.  And while we are making every attempt to provide you with stellar answers, we must admit that we are not seasoned canners.  But does that mean we can’t enjoy the process of packing little morsels of summer into jars so we can pop a honey vanilla peach in our mouth in the dead of winter and be transported back to that perfect sunny day with peach juice running down your arm in the park?  No, it doesn’t.  And would we ever suggest that our loyal and fabulous customers shouldn’t try their hand at pickling vibrant green cukes that are meant for a last-days-of-summer-BBQ Caesar?  Never!  No, we believe there’s something beautiful in getting your hands dirty and giving it a go.  So, we rolled up our sleeves and jumped right in.  Strawberry Preserves, Honey Vanilla Peaches, and Dill Pickles… go big or go home right?  Wanna join us?   These are the things you’ll need.

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Market-Sourced Ingredients

1 Flat of Strawberries*

1 Case of Peaches*

3 Bags of Pickling Cucumbers*

3-6 Heads of Alberta Garlic (depending on how garlicky you like your pickles)*

*Items sponsored by Souto Farms

2 Heads of Beck Farms Cauliflower from Innisfail Growers

1, 500ml Jar of Nixon Honey from Innisfail Growers

3 Bunches of Dill from Blush Lane Organics

1 Bag of Pickling Spice and 2 Vanilla Pods from The Silk Road Spice Merchant

Canning Equipment Required:

*We purchased a home canning starter kit from Canadian Tire that includes everything you’ll need for years of canning ($50); it includes a 21 quart canner, a rack, jar lifter, funnel, lid lifter, bubble remover, 4 pack collection elite decorative jars with lids, original crystals pectin and recipe booklet AND an instructional DVD for beginners.

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Let’s start with the Strawberry Preserves.  As we stated earlier, we’re not traditionalists when it comes to canning AND we believe when you have such gorgeous seasonal produce, it ought to shine.  So, we did away with the traditional 4 cups fruit + 4 cups sugar, (we want to taste the fruit, not the sugar), and instead opted for the No Sugar Needed Bernardin Pectin.  Our recipe was simple:

1 flat of Strawberries

the black gold of one vanilla pod

juice and zest of one lemon

1/2 cup of apple juice

1 cup of sugar, and

1 package of pectin

*We followed the steps included in the pectin box.

Canning Collage 1

Start by washing the strawberries and rough cutting into smallish chunks.  Add to your pot with the lemon juice, zest, and vanilla.  Bring to a boil, add pectin, and bring back to rolling boil.  Add sugar, stir, return to a rolling boil for 3 minutes (as stated in the pectin instructions).  While all of this is happening on one side of the stove, you should have your mason jars, lids, and metal bands/rings sterilizing in the canning pot on the other side.  Funnel hot strawberries into hot, sterilized mason jars with 1/4 inch head space.  Top with hot, sterilized lid and place ring (or metal band) on (do not over-tighten).  Process the filled jars in your hot water bath (in canning pot) for 10 minutes. The lids will start to ‘ping’ and you’ll know they’re sealed.  As a disclaimer, these strawberries are called preserves, not jam, because they don’t fig up like a traditional jam… but they taste darn good and are perfect on waffles, ice cream, scones… yum!

Canning Collage 2

Now, on to the peaches!  If you’ve been to the market lately, you’ve seen the cases and cases and cases of peaches we have.  They’re fuzzy, sweet, juicy orbs of yum.  And what could be better in the middle of a freak snowstorm than pulling out a jar of honey sunshine to top french toast or make peach crisp or balk at Old Man Winter and eat them with a bowl of ice cream?  While they take a little more effort as they need to be blanched in hot water for 1-2 minutes (depending on how ripe they are), peeled, and quartered before soaking them in water with lemon juice… they’re worth it!  So, here’s what you’ll need:

1 case of peaches

a couple lemons (or the Bernardin Fruit Fresh if that’s your preference)

1 vanilla pod, and

1 500ml jar of Nixon Honey for a light syrup

Start by blanching the peaches in hot water for 1-2 minutes and then transfer to a sink full of ice cold water to stop the cooking process.  You don’t want to cook the peaches, just shock the skins off and seal in some of the nutrients.  Add more ice to the water to ensure it stays nice and cold as you continue with blanching the entire case of peaches.

Now the peeling.  Here’s where you can choose two based on your preference.  You can either half them and remove the pit, then peel the skins away and cut into quarters.  OR, you can peel the skin away and try to keep the slippery little peach in hand while you quarter the fruit away from the pit.  We actually found the latter to be more effective than the former, but it’s a personal preference.  These quarters are far from Del Monte perfect… but should they be?  Our hands made them and that kind of makes them yummier, no?

Place all of the peach slices in a sink of cold water with the juice of a couple lemons (or Fruit Fresh); this will help prevent browning.

Let’s get started on the syrup.  We opted for a light syrup as we wanted all three ingredients to shine equally and not be overpowered with a cloying honey sweetness.  We use 1 cup honey to 4 cups water (and used this ratio 3x times to fill all of the peach jars).  Heat water, honey, and seeds of the vanilla pod together until boiling.  Pour honey syrup in hot, sterilized jars stuffed with peaches (pack them in, but don’t squish ’em) with 1/2 inch head space.  Top with hot, sterilized lid and place ring (or metal band) on (do not over-tighten).  Process the filled jars in your hot water bath (in canning pot) for 25 minutes. (Ensure that all jars are covered by at least one inch (2.5 cm) of water; cover canner and bring water to full rolling boil before starting to count processing time).  ***Remove jars from water bath without tilting and place them upright on a protected work surface. Cool upright, undisturbed 24 hours; DO NOT RETIGHTEN screw bands.

Peaches can be enjoyed a mere week after… they do not require a long steep time like pickles.

Canning Collage 3

Ok pickle time!  So pickling is dead simple.  By this stage, we were a well-oiled produce-prepping, jar-sterilizing canning machine.  We decided to pickle cucumbers, cauliflowers, and green beans, though other great options are carrots, asparagus, beets, onions, or jalapeno peppers.  Here’s what you’ll need:

3 Bags of Pickling Cucumbers

3-6 Heads of Alberta Garlic (depending on how garlicky you like your pickles)

2 Heads of Beck Farms Cauliflower

3 Bunches of Dill

1 Bag of Pickling Spice

Start by washing (gently scrubbing) the pickling cucumbers.  Slice how you prefer; we chose to do them two way: spears in quarters and coins.  Wash and cut cauliflower.  Peel garlic.  Place mason jars, lids, and metal bands/rings in the canning pot to sterilize while you’re making the pickling brine.

Our brine is made up of:

4 cups water

2 cups apple cider vinegar

1 cup white vinegar

1 cup coarse pickling salt

1/2 cup white sugar

*Some may find this brine too strong; you may choose to add more water but do not over-dilute the brine as this will affect the crispiness of the pickles.

Bring the brine ingredients to a boil.  Drop 4 cloves of garlic, a few fronds of fresh dill, and approximately 1 tbsp of Silk Road Pickling Spice into jars.  (We used 1 tbsp in 500ml-1L jars, and 2 tbsp in larger jars).  Pack your vegetables of choice into hot, sterilized mason jars and pour hot brine over them with 1/2 inch head space.  Top with hot, sterilized lid and place ring (or metal band) on (do not over-tighten).  Process the filled jars in your hot water bath (in canning pot) for 5 minutes.  Pickles will require approximately 4 weeks of fermenting time before they’re at their best.

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We sure got a lot done!  So, do you need to do all three of these in one day?  Absolutely not!  In fact, it’s a pretty aggressive undertaking.  We do, however, think you should take a stab at one of them.  There is a plethora of delicious canning recipes out there; you can find some of the ones we love on our Pinterest Canning Board.

What will you be canning this year?  Do you have an interesting recipe to share with us?

*A quick note on processing times: times will vary depending on the altitude you live at.  For the purpose of our recipes, we have stated altitude-appropriate times for Calgary, Alberta.  If you live elsewhere, you can consult this very useful altitude chart from Bernardin.

Honey Thyme Glazed Trout

If you’re a fish-lover, there are few things more beautiful than fresh, wild Steelhead trout or a deep red Ahi steak or a glistening halibut filet….. *ahem*  we may be fans of the beauties showcased at Blu Seafood.  There’s nothing quite like perfectly crisped-skin trout fillets; with a flavor so delicate that they really don’t need much to make a delicious (and healthy) dinner.  This recipe is dead simple with only four main ingredients:  a squeeze of orange, and a dollop of honey, and fresh sprigs of thyme, it lets the trout shine and takes all of 12 minutes.  And, with the outstanding selection of ready-made salads and grilling vegetables from Cherry Pit, a complete meal can be whipped together in less time than calling for take-out.


Market-Sourced Ingredients

1 Steelhead Trout Fillet from Blu Seafood

2 tbsp Honey from Buzz Honey

Fresh Thyme from Terra Farms

Juice of half an Orange from Cherry Pit

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Sea Salt

Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Your Choice of Prepared Salad or Vegetable Sauté from Cherry Pit

Cherry Pit Salads

Quickly whisk together a mixture of orange juice, honey, fresh thyme, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper.

Rub the salmon with oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in hot pan, skin side down, approximately 6-8 minutes.


Gently flip and continue to cook for about 3 minutes.  Flip back onto skin side and brush the tops of the fillets with a few remaining minutes of cook time.  *Do not brush skin side of fish with the honey-thyme glaze as this will cause it to burn terribly.  Take care not to overcook the fish.

Serve skin side up over whatever incredibly easy (and yummy) Cherry Pit side you chose to enjoy; serve the remaining glaze on the side.

Trout Collage

Alternatively, if you’re more of a grillin’ kinda gal or guy, this trout can be done on the grill (just be sure to oil the skin well to prevent it sticking to the grates).


Summer Vegetable “Ceviche”

Another long weekend is upon us and it’s sure to be a great time to BBQ and entertain in the great outdoors.  But by this time in the summer in Calgary, you’ve probably eaten your fair share of beef on a bun, burgers, corn dogs, and all sorts of other not-quite-so-healthy-or-appetizing meals.  Some of you may be looking for ways to break the Stampede-induced fried food cycle, get back on the farm-fresh wagon, or just try a new side to go with your perfectly grilled steak.  Well, we have a vibrant and zippy ceviche-esque salad marinated in lime juice dressing that is a beautiful accompaniment to whatever your little grilling hearts desires; a surprisingly tasty potluck side, or even a no-meat Monday dish.  Any way you slice it, it’s going to be yummy.

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Market-Sourced Ingredients

1 cup freshly shucked garden peas from Innisfail Growers Co-op

1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced from Souto Farms

1 small red onion, thinly sliced from Souto Farms

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 2 ears) from Souto Farms

2 B.C. nectarines, cut into thin wedges from Souto Farms

1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes from Cherry Pit

1 scallion, thinly sliced from Cherry Pit

2 fresh limes from Cherry Pit

1 large purple bell pepper, finely julienned from Gull Valley Greenhouses

1 pint cherry and sun kissed yellow tomatoes, halved from Gull Valley Greenhouses

1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley from Terra Farms

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Sea salt

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The real beauty of this recipe is that if you can slice and dice and squeeze a lime, you can nail this great salad.

In a large bowl, whisk the zest  of one lime and the juice of two limes with the olive oil, jalapeño and diced red onion; season the dressing with salt to taste. *If you’re not a huge fan of spice, just add 5 or 6 jalapeño slices.  If, however, you like it hot, use the whole jalapeño.

Now comes for the veggie prep…. shuck your peas, slice the corn off the cob, cut the nectarines into thin wedges, and slice up the avocado, pepper, tomatoes, and cucumbers.

Gently fold all the vegetables together with the spicy lime dressing.

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Refrigerate the “ceviche” for at least 2 hours.

Fold in the parsley and scallion just before serving and serve the salad chilled.  We chose to enjoy a lovely Silver Sage Beef grilled flat iron steak.  This salad, though, is a perfect pairing to sautéed fish, seared scallops, or grilled chicken.  Heck, you could even swing by Blu Seafood for some of their incredibly sweet prawns and toss them right into the salad for a real ceviche. This can really be paired with just about anything or be enjoyed on its own and is sure to impress.

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The salad can be refrigerated for up to 8 hours.