No-Bake Cheesecake: Vegan, Rhubarb, Cardamom? Oh my!

If you have never tried your hand at raw vegan desserts this is an excellent first step! As long as you have a food processor and room in your freezer this cheesecake is even easier than the traditional recipe!
Kaycie took an old recipe from her vegan catering days and infused the market flavours of the season.

But that’s not all…we’ve collaborated with fellow blogger and sister to our own Eats of Asia owner (Jay Del Corro), Kristina Del Corro. We each took photos for each other’s blogs this week. If you like food, photography or books we highly recommend giving her site a gander.

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You will need:

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Equipment
Food processor
Springform pan
Saucepan (for the compote)

For the Crust
1 cup of Medjool Dates from Cherry Pit or Panorama Orchards (pitted and soaked overnight)
1 cup of shredded raw Coconut from Going Nuts
½ cup of raw Pecans from Going Nuts
1 pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt from The Silk Road Spice Merchant

For the Cheesecake Filling
2 Lemons from Cherry Pit or Panorama Orchards
4 cups of raw Cashews from Going Nuts (soaked overnight)
2 1/2 tbs Vanilla Extract from The Silk Road Spice Merchant
4 Tablespoons of Clover Honey from Beeland (substitute for Maple syrup or agave for true vegan)
¾ cup Coconut oil from The Vitamin Cupboard

For the Rhubarb Compote (this makes 6-8 servings of compote)
2 cups of diced rhubarb from Cherry Pit or Panorama Orchards (3-4 stalks)
2-3 tablespoons of the same Beeland honey
½ Teaspoon of Ground Cardamom from The Silk Road Spice Merchant
1 pinch of the same Pink Himalayan Salt from The Silk Road Spice Merchant
1/3 cup of water


Directions:

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1. Make your compote first. This will give it time to simmer-away while you process the other parts of your cheesecake:
a) Combine all ingredients in a saucepan.
b) Cook, covered, over medium-low heat, stirring, until the rhubarb has completely fallen apart. Then to ensure correct consistency cook uncovered until  (about 30 minutes total).
c) Remove from heat to let cool.

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2.  While your compote is simmering you can get started on your crust. In your food processor, combine all the ingredients from the crust list keeping an eye on the texture while you’re grinding everything down. You want to process these items until it looks like a crust. Too much time and it will turn to a paste.

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3. Empty the contents of your food processor in to your springform pan and flatten in to a crust with your hands, spoon, or bottom of a glass.

4.  Now comes the fun part, the cheesecake filling! Combine all your ingredients in the food processor and blend until creamy like cream cheese. Don’t worry if it’s taking a while, this is normal. If the texture is looking chunky add in very small amounts of water while things are running to help the nuts break down better.

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5. Flatten out your cheesecake by gently tapping the pan on the counter.

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6. Dollop your compote on the top of the cheesecake until you have the entire contents of the saucepan emptied. Then, with a butter knife, drag the cutting edge through in a swirling motion to incorporate it in to the cheesecake.

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7. Tap your pan on the counter again to ensure everything is level.

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8. As this is a no-bake cheesecake, you’ll be using freezing as your method to set everything. Freezing this overnight gives it the longest life when serving, but a few hours should be fine if you’re in a pinch.

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9. The only thing left to do now is enjoy your creation! It’s our experience that this cheesecake is a hit on Mother’s Day… just saying.
Whatever your occasion, Bon Appetit!

Simple Asparagus Soup

It’s that wonderful time of year when fresh, local produce really starts rolling in at the market! One of the most anticipated seasonal ingredients making an appearance right now is Edgar Farms‘ asparagus (available at Innisfail Growers).

Unlike many Alberta grown veggies, asparagus is a perennial plant (meaning that it lives for many years, so does not need to be replanted in the spring). Asparagus can be harvested for only a few short weeks each spring, and picking is always completed by the end of June. This allows the plant to store up nutrients to make it through the winter.  Edgar Farms has created an innovative way to harvest asparagus efficiently. See them in action in this video.

Asparagus can be enjoyed in many ways and while often viewed as a great side or compliment to a meal, asparagus is the star of the show in this simple soup recipe.

Asparagus x2

Market Sourced Ingredients

Serves 6

Simple Asparagus Soup

2 bundles of asparagus from Innisfail Growers

1 medium onion from The Cherry Pit

3 cloves of garlic from The Cherry Pit

6 cups of chicken (or veggie) stock from The Stock and Sauce Co.

Butter or olive oil

Salt and pepper

Optional garnishes:

Parmesan cheese from Fresh DELIcious

OR

Fresh mint from Terra Farms

OR

Fresh lemon & dill

Ingredients

Roughly chop your onions, garlic and asparagus. No need to get fancy since it will all be going into the blender eventually.

Heat up the butter or olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sauté for about 5 minutes until tender. Add the asparagus and chicken (or veggie) stock to the pot and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until asparagus is cooked. When all ingredients are soft, remove from the stove and puree in a blender (making sure to allow steam to escape through the lid).  When the desired texture has been achieved, pour back into a clean pot and heat through. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Simple as that!

You can enjoy the soup right away or add a simple garnish for some extra flavour. Choose a garnish that you enjoy like mint, lemon and dill, or Parmesan cheese.

Soup x3

My personal favourite was the lemon and dill variation. Just add a splash of fresh squeezed lemon juice and a sprig of dill for an energizing twist. Try the mint if you’re looking for something a little different and refreshing, and you can never go wrong with Parmesan cheese! This soup is super versatile and with slight variations can meet the needs and tastes of everyone in your family.

Don’t forget; local asparagus is only available until the end of June! Enjoy this easy meal before the asparagus is gone. Come down to the Calgary Farmers’ Market to pick up your ingredients today!

Happy Hearts

It was only two and a half years ago that Eahly and Nan arrived in Calgary, eager to put roots down and make this city “home”.  Coming from Vancouver, they were surrounded by a plethora of dietary options, including amazing variety in vegetarian and vegan fare; but found fewer options in our beef-centric city.  Then, one day in October 2011, while shopping at the Calgary Farmers’ Market, they noticed a vacant booth and a seed was planted.  What if?  Beginning on a hope and whim, Eahly and Nan set out to bring more options to vegans (and non-vegans too) and share their passion for healthy, delicious food.  If you’ve ever been by Hearts’ Choices, you will instantly see (and feel) the love that goes into creating and sharing their vegan Thai food.  Driven by Nan’s philosophy: “no good food = no happiness”, every dish they make, whether it be Thai Vegan Curries, Peanut Satay Sauce, or Bamboo Shoot Stir Fry, is handmade with care and intention.  And their high quality, non-GMO soybean vegan products are mindfully sourced from a renowned Buddhist vegan company in Taiwan.

We know it’s easy to turn your nose up at vegan food if you’re a born and bred meat-lover.  Tofu? Tempeh?! Vegan Scallops?!?!  Get outta Cowtown.  But in all seriousness, Eahly and Nan help many families bridge the gap when there is a division in the kitchen.  For example: wife is a vegetarian, husband wants his steak; now they can make one meal for everyone because the vegan fare at Hearts’ Choices can fool even the most discerning palates and satisfies everyone’s needs.  Eahly and Nan believe that their food “helps make their life a little more harmonious and happy”.  That’s what makes them love coming to work every day. It comes as no surprise then that they love when you drop by their booth or send them a photo of your own creation, sharing a part of your heart with them.

Hearts Choices Collage

And now they’re sharing that love with you!  Join them for an evening of food creation and fun as Nan (originally from Thailand) teaches the basics of Thai vegan cooking in a hands-on interactive cooking class.  We recently crashed one of their classes to get our own hands dirty (and our bellies happy!) and were pleasantly surprised to find people of all ages, all levels of cooking experience, even non-vegans soaking up Nan’s knowledge and cooking up a storm.  We couldn’t help but join in too.  The Thai Vegan Larb Salad, Tom Kha Pak (a sweet and sour coconut vegetable soup), and Pad Se-ew (Thai Street Noodles) that we all whipped up were delicious, healthy, and didn’t last long.

Larb CollageIf you’ve ever wanted to learn more about vegan cooking or you’re just interested in exploring Thai ingredients and dishes, you can join Eahly and Nan in their upcoming class (hosted April 7th).  Classes run approximately 3 hours, and include all the equipment, ingredients, and teaching required for you to create 3-4 delicious dishes while learning the basics of Thai cuisine with lots of cooking and eating along the way.  Do you have to be a Vegan to enjoy this opportunity?  Absolutely not!  In fact, it is perhaps the most reasonably priced Thai cooking classes in the city.  So… can you throw chicken in the Tom Kha Pak?  Yes!  Will Nan and Eahly frown upon it?  Never.

In the upcoming April class, you can look forward to making:

  • Vegan Pad Thai
  • Vegan Pumpkin Stir Fry (Eahly’s favorite!)
  • Vegan Pad Phet No Mai (Spicy Bamboo Shoots)
  • Thai Cucumber Salad

Sounds yummy doesn’t it?  Get your tickets before they’re sold out!  And don’t forget to swing by Hearts’ Choices the next time you’re at the Calgary Farmers’ Market; say hi to Nan and Eahly, try one of their many samples, and show them some love.

Like them on Facebook or Follow them on Twitter.

Grey Cup Grub

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, even though our local Stampeders weren’t able to pull out a win last weekend, that we’re all pretty excited for the Grey Cup around here.  Call us football fans or food fans or… both!

Whether you’re hosting your friends or heading to a party, you wouldn’t want to fumble on the opening kickoff and show up without food, right?  And with everyone else rushing to the frozen snack aisle like a possessed linebacker… *ahem* we mean flocking to the grocery stores last minute to stand in long lines, we’d like to share some of the incredible (and tasty) things you can find right here in one stop.  Ready?  Huddle up, we’ll be your Grey Cup party quarterback.

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Whether your guests have the appetite of an offensive lineman or punter, who doesn’t like a meatball sub?  With Spragg’s Meat Shop carrying some of the best ready-to-go meatballs around, this is an easy throw-’em-in-the-crockpot and slap-’em-in-a-bun (from Yum Bakery of course) meal for the game.

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Looking for something a little on the lighter side for a delicate wide receiver?  Prawns with cocktail sauce is a huge crowd pleaser and Blu Seafood has some incredible treats from the sea.  In addition to the best tasting prawns we’ve had (in our land-locked region), they also have some excellent crab cakes, salmon burgers, and seafood brochettes that are party-ready with very little prep.

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More of a meat-lover, kill-the-running-back, kind of defensive lineman?  Silver Sage Beef prepares a killer burger (slider and full-sized), they do up a damn good chili, and if you prefer beef in your subs, they also have prepped meatballs.  Not a bad selection.

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And what’s a Canadian party without a Caeser? Edgar Farms (part of Innisfail Growers Co-operative) is famous for their asparagus; we wait, not-so-patiently, for it to arrive on the shelves every June and Elna Edgar makes some mean pickles.  What’s better than a spear of pickled asparagus poking out of the signature drink Canadians love so much?  Nothin’.

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We know not everyone who has ever dawned shoulder pads and a helmet is a big ol’ meat lover, so why not offer them a lighter, equally delicious option?  Kin Sushi has a great selection of ready-made combos and they take larger orders for platter.  They also make a killer miso soup to warm everyone up.

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While we’re talking about healthy alternatives to your Grey Cup party, Cherry Pit has an impressive, and tasty, selection of ready-made salads, roasting vegetables, and made-to-order platters that will suit just about anyone’s dietary preferences or restrictions.

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You may be hosting friends and family in your home for the big game, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have some great bar-style snacks at their fingertips.  Going Nuts has a massive selection of nuts of all kinds and flavors that will keep them coming back for more.

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We’re not sure we’ve ever been to a party of any kind that doesn’t have at least one dip as part of the snack/appetizer buffet.  The Stock & Sauce Co. has a vast and varied selection of dips from pâté  to pesto, tapenade to tasty dips, even a chocolate mousse that’s incredible on strawberries, these certainly won’t disappoint your guests.

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If you want a more traditional party spread, nachos or as mainstay as you can get when it comes to sporting events.  Los Chilitos Taqueria makes salsa and chips fresh daily and are quite addictive if we do say so ourselves.

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We’re on a dip roll, we’re not stopping now!  2 Greek Gals has you covered for bruschetta, antipasto, traditional Greek fare like melitzanosalata and tzatziki and some pretty martini-perfect olives for the women that are watching the game with the men.

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Martinis for the women, wings for the men?  Not a bad trade.  Wild Fire Wings has an extensive menu of hot-to-take-home or take-and-bake wings from the common buffalo to the not-so-common dill pickle or garlic & parm.  They use organic Sunworks Farms chicken and they have a buy 3lbs, get 1lb free deal.  Say wha?!  Touchdown!

Meat & Cheese Collage

If you’re hosting a slightly more sophisticated crowd that prefers wine and cheese with their long bombs and 50 yards running plays, Fresh DELIcious offers a selection of import and local cheese and meat that could give any large deli a run for its money.  And they often have Thursday deals, so don’t count them out of your Grey Cup shopping.

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And while we’re challenging you not to leave any market stone unturned… we think you should try to slip in these vegan spare ribs from Hearts Choices.  Lighter than a full meat platter, and just as tasty, we think most people would be hard pressed to point out the vegan option in your party spread.

So there you have it!  A dozen quick and easy, one-stop shopping pick ups right here at the market and a drink garnish too!  So whaddya say?  Skip the long grocery lines and visit our vendors for a Grey Cup party that’s unlike all the rest.

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.

Eggplant Caviar

Eggplant Caviar 1Inspired by the new French Market Cookbook by Clotilde Dusoulier, featuring what’s ripe and in season to create vegetarian recipes with a French twist (many of which are gluten-free and dairy-free), we’re making Caviar d’Aubergine aux Olives Noires this week.  Doesn’t that sound decadent and impressive?  Whether you’re a culinary king, a Calgarian, or a Canadian, there’s something to celebrate this weekend with our 5th Annual Chili Cook-Off here at the market, the Calgary Stampede, and National BBQ Day.  And because each of those events comes with its own set of indulgences, we decided to offer a lighter recipe that can be added to any dinner party or backyard BBQ to impress your guests.

Eggplant is that vegetable.  The one you dreaded as a child, the one that hits the table for a special occasion but is loved by few, the one that’s pigeon-holed for being difficult to perfect.  But, eggplant is also beautiful and silky and healthy.  And this recipe is wildly easy and delicious too!

Roasting is a foolproof method for cooking eggplants, but with the heat of our summer and BBQing in our blood, we’re going to throw these on the grill.  Clotilde Dusoulier purées the flesh of her roasted eggplant to a “marvelously silky spread to serve with slices of baguette, on sandwiches as a spread, or even on a bowl of warm rice”.  We think this tapenade-style delight would be marvelous on quinoa, warm pasta, pita, or even as a vegetable dip.

Market-Sourced Ingredients

Serves 6-8

2 small graffiti eggplants from The Cucumber Man

2 garlic cloves, cut into slivers and 1 Lemon from Souto Farms

12 Kalamata olives from 2 Greek Gals

1 cup of chopped fresh flat leaf parsely from Terra Farms

Sea Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil

Roast or grill the eggplants a few hours in advance.  Use a knife to pierce half a dozen slits in each eggplant and stuff with the garlic slivers.

Eggplant Caviar 2

Oil each eggplant and season with sea salt and pepper.  Roast at 350°F, flipping them to prevent burning, until completely soft, about 45 minutes.  Set aside to cool completely.

Halve the eggplants lengthwise and with a tablespoon, scoop out as much flesh as possible with the garlic cloves.  It’s ok if a little skin comes with it.  Put it all in a food processor or a blender, adding the olives, the juice and zest of one lemon, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste, and a dash of your favorite hot sauce (if that’s the way you roll).  We added Marash Chili flakes from The Silk Road Spice Merchant for their slow heat and slight acidity.

Eggplant Caviar 3

Process until smooth.  Taste and adjust the seasoning to wow your family and friends.

Dollop on fresh baguette; we prefer the bread grilled to give that crunch to balance out the silky eggplant. 

Eggplant Caviar 4

Tip: younger, smaller eggplants which are sweeter are preferable.  Regardless of the size, pick eggplants that feel heavy, have a smooth and shiny skin, and a stem-end “hat” that looks green and fresh.

Vegan Glory Bowl

Originally from the Whitewater Cooks and named after the “Glory Bowl” run at Whitewater Ski Resort in Nelson, B.C., this already famous vegan dish is not only easy, it’s downright delicious too.

You’re a true beef-loving Albertan at heart eh?  “But I’m not vegan” you say. Vegan schmegan! This healthy meal can be thrown together in 20 minutes (as long as it takes the rice to cook) and is so yummy, even our beef-loving taste-testers said “holy crap this is good!” Don’t be fooled, and don’t let people tell you tofu is gross, weird, or yucky; they’re wrong. The vegan tofu found at Hearts Choices is tasty; light and fluffy, and full of flavour. Vegans and meat-lovers alike enjoy the non-GMO foods found at Hearts Choices, and heck, Nan and Chris are just so darn nice.

The Glory Bowl dressing is pre-made with care and sold for those who are short on time, and they do a bang up job. Or you can pick up the individual ingredients to whip it up yourself.

The dressing itself is made from just six ingredients and combined in a food processor. Extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, tahini, wheat free soy sauce, garlic and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a great item for vegans as it’s not animal derived yet gives a taste that’s often described as cheesy, nutty, savory, and “umami.”

This is our version of the Glory Bowl, and it’s mighty tasty.

Market Sourced Ingredients

1 bowl of Glory Bowl dressing and 1 package of Vegan Tofu from Hearts Choices

1 bag of Sesame Ginger rice from The Spicy Assistant

1-2 red beets, 4 medium-sized carrots, spinach, an orange, and 1 bunch of scallions (green onions) from Cherry Pit

1 bag of Sliced Almonds from Going Nuts

Start by making the rice as instructed in the packaging (this is as easy as pouring water into a pot and stirring the rice). Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Glory Bowl Ingredients

While the rice is cooking, grate the beets and carrots separately either in a food processor (as shown) or on a tried and true box grater.  Add the juice of half an orange to the carrots and a dash of salt.  Leave the beets as is.

Grating Collage

To toast the almonds, place them in pan on medium heat (with no oil) and toss until they start to get some color. Be careful, burned almonds aren’t so great. Set aside when golden.

Almond Collage

To grill the tofu, simply heat a pan to medium with a little olive oil. Place tofu in hot pan and turn when golden (about 2-3 minutes on each side).

Tofu

The bowl itself is best when layered, so start off with a portion of rice or quinoa from The Spicy Assistant and pour on a bit of the dressing. Next, add grated beets and carrots, slivered toasted almonds, spinach, and grilled tofu. Now, add a little more dressing on the top and voilà! a glory bowl. Yes! It’s that easy!

This dish can be varied greatly, adding whichever greens you would like (arugula, micro greens, crunchy bean sprout mix, etc). We added a healthy sprinkling of green onions.

Finished Glory Bowl

So, to all of the meat-lovers out there, we challenge you: come see Nan and Chris, try their truly surprising vegan fare.  Then, whip up this Glory Bowl… and just try to not go for seconds.