Wednesday, August 10, 2011

relaxin' times



A few weeks ago, at work, I overheard:

Is there anything that Marysol can't do?

The answer: Of course, she can't relax.
(Since then I have also proven that I cannot cut my own bangs, and that time and time again I have no sense of direction)

I cannot relax, it is mostly true, I have to admit. I have always been this way, I need to keep busy, my mind stimulated, I am always hungry for more. If I sleep, it is usually from exhaustion.
My mother joked this weekend that she must have been one of the only mothers who needed to ask her kid to stop studying. I would go on until I fell asleep, books in bed - then as soon as I woke up, I would go back a few chapters/lessons/pages and go at it again...

***
Edgar is on vacation for two weeks. All staff is happily camping, enjoying day trips here and there, getting ready to go back to school for some...
Simon and I are at his family's cottage.

When we arrive at the cottage, the car is usually packed to maximum capacity. Food. Books. Games. Rain boots. Paint. Easel. Stereo system. Notebooks. Computer. Good camera. Extra gas tank. Cooking tools. Lot's of cooking tools. Condiments, every possible farm fresh ingredient, marinated meats, food experiments...
This year, I tried to hold back. The only 'oh my' factor would be the reading box: it certainly weighs as much as me.
I brought all the cooking magazines that collected dust for the past 8 months, I bought the newest issues of Meatpaper, Lapham's quarterly's food issue, Lucky Peach. Also in the box are about 12 random books, some halfway read - a few new ones down already. I am a speedy reader, and a borderline neurotic note-taker.



(I have to say that I miss my camera as I did bring my phone on a kayak trip, dropped it in shallow water, and had to wait a day for it to work again... so no camera for way too long a period of time)
...iphones do not like water. It spazzed out a bit.

Here, I alternate between reading, cooking, taking walks, picking berries, identifying weird moss, spotting cute colored mushrooms, staring at fish, waiting for frogs/fireflies/deer/chipmunks,
Sometimes playing frisbee/badminton/bocci/ultra competitive rummy games. And sudoku. I love numbers & puzzles, having my brain in a knot.

As it's a bit late for berries this year, I went hunting for apples.
With absolutely no grace, I pulled all I could from the tree...
They are tiny & tart apples. I have a liking for sour/bitter, so I was curious of the outcome for such apples as apple butter.

So with the fabulous duo of The Worst Peeler Ever and The Dullest Knife in The World, I cooked some more.



The apples cooked down for about 6 hours with a bit of butter + a drop of water + scotch & maple syrup + salt at the end just to balance.
Delicious on toast with gouda cheese this morning... Just an idea. Apple season is starting!



Yours truly, Marysol, in the middle of nowhere... vive la technologie.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

summer treats.



We started talking summer treats around February.
Trying to forecast how desserts would shift. I was thinking meringue tarts, fruit pies, custards.
Then we pondered... ice cream?
I didn't feel like buying an ice cream maker, it was heavy and took up precious space. And our freezer was so packed with take home meals, it just did not seem manageable.

Ottawa has an ice cream queen. By no means is she an ice queen, Pascale is the most genuine and friendly and warm and lovely lady there is. She makes kick ass ice cream and we wanted some to make our own ice cream sandwiches.

Sadly, then, we were faced with reality: laws that regulate dairy in both our provinces are different (Ontario and Quebec) and her ice cream could not cross the border for resale. And she could not use our cream (from La Laiterie de l'Outaouais) to make ice cream for us... So we set out to make our own.

I tried gelatos. Sorbets. Ice creams. No eggs. No dairy. Vegan. Canned fruits, jams, purées... and kept three basic recipes that worked best, and modified, adjusted, tweaked. Tasted. Tasted. Tasted.

I don't have a sweet tooth per se. I am guessing this is a result of working with sweets a lots, the smell of chocolate baking, especially in a warm environment, usually makes me a tad nauseous. I never really crave desserts or sweets. BUT, if you leave me with a container of ice cream, I usually manage to finish it. Or I leave just a tiny bit not to feel too guilty... Throw in a sour note like citrus, rhubarb, or dear, dear coconut, and you've lost me for awhile.

I said I would share a recipe soon and here you are.



Now, this picture is upside down. Sorry.
I am a bit absent minded. And can admit to being somewhat ADD. I laugh about it now. I have to, staff point it out daily. Very organized, but all over the place.
Also, the instructions are, well, Marysol-like.
I usually memorize everything, but since I now have staff, I need to leave notes. This is how it came out. And, to make thing *worse*, we sometimes do not note everything (Katie and I), like some kind of secret club... Us girls have to keep our secrets right?

As a side note, some things Katie and I do truly are secrets. Take for example our Mexican style pulled pork - Katie does the rub, and I do the sauce. I am not quite sure of what she does, and she does not know what is in my sauce. Perfect. Our secret is safe.

I can share a little something about cookies as well...



We changed our cookies a few times. testing if they freeze well. If they are soft enough, not overly sweet. I found that adding honey made them softer, easier to bite into. If you freeze them, it is easier to pat down the ice cream to form the sandwiches.


This is our Orangette, yes, a clin-d'oeil to that beautiful blog. Chocolate cookie, fudge and orange gelato.

I try to make a fresh batch of cookies as often as possible and I assemble the sandwiches in the morning, so that they have less 'boogie time' with the freezer.


Juliette: fresh simmered apricots, pureed, with a sweet swirl of raspberries. The cookie is lemon honey.

If you ever want to attempt the ice cream, and need explanations, leave a comment. I will answer the thread.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

hi.


Photo credit M. Sunderland. He makes awesome jams.

So, it's been quite awhile.
And many of you asked when I would write again.
If I would write again.
Why I didn't write anymore...

But no one asked as kindly as A.
She came in the shop today, and said she missed me. The blog me.
Not the little girl running around and making food. Whisking lemon curd and trying to get things out of the oven at the same time.
Not the one serving you. Foaming your latte. Bringing you water.
Not the one doing dishes. All sweaty, scrubbing, polishing.
Not the one smiling behind the counter. Explaining what today's take home options are.
Because for A, that is not the real me.


The fake or the real me? The tired today me. Smiling at A, no makeup, bad ponytail. Gazpacho stain running down the back of my tshirt, accidents happen.

She asked if I felt there were different Marysols for different people.
Of course, she knew. But she wondered how people who have never read the blog perceive me.
I responded that a majority of the customers don't even think I am the owner.
And I don't mind. I like seeing the surprised look on their face when staff point at me.
I have always been an observer. I tend not to speak much and love to analyze.
I also love to listen, always shy to share.
But I guess that over the years, I have shared much on this blog. And some have gotten used to it, and it seems odd that I am so quiet.

So what is it that people want to know?
How has this blog inspired you?

I hope to have inspired whimsy. Taking yourself too seriously is rarely a good thing. Many people in the industry feel a need to prove themselves and forget to have fun.



We have a nice garden at work. I take silly pictures there too.

I hope to have inspired creativity.

Never stop marveling at the beauty of nature. Take the time to observe.



Gardens and flowerbeds are so full of color and treasure. White poppyseeds are fantastic in salads. We use them for weekend brunch.



We go through a lot of green papaya per week. We Ooooogled at this one for about 10 minutes. Usually the seeds are all white, these were painted perfection. A quiet palette, calm but still so noisy.

How about a few pictures of the past few months...



Zoé putting away the sandwiches... I do admit that we feel quite ordinary doing sandwiches every single day, and we wish we were doing fancier. Owning a restaurant and being so close to customers I now realize that I can't switch it up every single day as I hoped I could. People come back for favorites.
One day, my wish is to have a very small menu that changes daily. Elaborate and tasty evenings. Maybe that will have to be in another location...

For now, given the space we have, the neighborhood we are in, we focus on making the weekend breakfasts as tasty, beautiful and scrumptious as possible. People are ok waiting for these, no weekday lunch rush.



Poached eggs are always a hit.



But so are heart shaped eggs for kids.



People heart french toast and bread puddings.



I especially like picking the strawberries.



And I am really excited about this weekend's breakfast.
Dutch Baby Pancakes. Fluffy, crunchy, airy, sweet, not too sweet, buttery, tart, gooey...

Oh, and life outside of work? And how I am doing? How's it going so far? Because I guess that is what you want to know... Well, I am still a wee bit tired.

But I can now have a bit more of a life because I have extraordinary staff.



My girls are incredible. And so is Phil (ladies, please note that his kitchen skills are prrrretty good.)



Friends are fabulous and it is always a treat to have time to see them. Cheers to all of you.



And I swear I am taking care of myself. I eat my tofu, drink my carrot juice. I try to go swimming as most I can. (So that I can keep eating as much bacon as I want and drink as much cream as I wish thank you. I am not perfect, and I am enjoying this.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

bunnies and eggs



when i was younger (well, maybe still) i was fascinated by cadbury cream eggs. (and bunnies. and i want a bunny soooooo bad. i want a bunny.)
what a delight when a friend sent me a recipe to make them myself!

you should definitely attempt these at home.
they do take time, patience, but they are well worth it.
one thing that may have made it a tad more difficult is the fact that i added a bit more corn syrup (oh, and honey) so that the center would be less stiff.

here is the recipe that was sent to me.

i omitted the orange blossom water, but substituted with finely grated orange zest... and brandy.
the chocolate i used has a slightly higher cocoa percentage, and i tempered it. if you want a nice finish, this step is important.

you will need to be patient, then work quickly. the 'softie' on the inside, as soon as it is taken out of the freezer, thaws. work in small batches. unless you have liquid nitrogen, then it all becomes much easier. ha ha. wow, that would be awesome and perfect.

dear grapefruit bars bakers - i changed the recipe again... to ensure even baking, i now cook the grapefruit 'appareil' in a double boiler, slowly, until it slightly starts to thicken.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ideas in Food + Atelier



I don't write about other people's food often.
I have to admit that I am hard to please.

I had a fabulous dinner last night.
You must:

go to atelier.
read ideas in food.
follow foodie prints here and here.

It was more than just a meal, it was a visual exploration. I want to one day do food this beautiful.
I took the time to think, and smell and admire. I ate 15 courses even though it was about 3 hours before my usual 'dinner time'

I had a great 'date', my most fantastic moment was when Don served me pieces of the whole fish to share family style - it is great to reconnect with the person in front of you and stop staring at your plate. It is also fantastic to look up at the person across you and simply smile, no words needed, because you are both blown away by it all.

It was also heartwarming to meet chefs who are still humble. I have been following Alex's blog for awhile and was a fan of atelier before it even opened, I love people who are adventurous, curious. It just gets your imagination flowing and obviously makes you smile.

**ps. will send a massive email with grapefruit bar recipe, had no idea i would get such a response!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Two hands & one heart per human.



Where to start?
It has been more than a month since I have last posted. How long since I have posted a recipe? A good picture? Thank you for being so patient, I know a lot of you have been wondering how I am.

I should start by saying that I am good.
My mum was a tad sick and I took some time to be with her. I thought I was losing my mum and I am so thankful that she is well again. Thank you for saving her heart.

Things happen that make you think differently. Have you ever stopped and looked at a stranger and wondered what their life is? What are they presently living as they are driving that car? Why are they smiling so much, or why do they look so sad? Life just goes on, whatever you are going through. I walked a long hospital hallway and sobbed openly one day. The other, I watched a friend cry and could do nothing more than put a hand on her back, a few soft strokes in her hair and a hug. If only there was a window into other people's lives to understand them better.

Music plays a big part in my life, nowadays and always.
What does this have to do with food? It influences my moods. My thoughts. It inspires. I have a 'song phrase' for many moments in my life. Good and bad. (umm. good and sad)

This was a very Tori month.

Desserts at the shop went from a very reasonable amount per day to 'how can my two hands produce this much?'



Full display in the morning, empty at the end of the day. You can't hope for anything fresher - and I would not want it otherwise... I come in early every day and do it how it should be for any pastry shop.

(insert here Tori singing 'baker baker, baking a cake, make me a day, make me whole again...)

I love doing desserts. I secretly wish this was my job, 8 hours a day.

And how to do all day brunch without thinking of 'here in my head' - Tori sings: breakfast, any hour, it could save the world...

Brunch has been getting busier since xmas. Familiar faces. Oooohhh and aaaahhh. Camera phones. Lineups.
But when breakfast gets too intense, for tooooo long, I hear Tori singing Slayer's 'raining blood'

All this silliness aside, I have to admit that it is hard keeping all the pieces together.
Take-home food has really been taking off. Need to produce more. More.

These delicate king oyster and bok choy dumplings I loved...



Thinking of the take-home food, the day-to-day menu, the desserts, the brunch, soups, salads... Then putting in orders, shopping, cooking, accounting, paperstufffff, taking pictures, returning emails, cooking some more. And most of this as there are people in the shop, talking to me, eating in front of me. Radiohead surrounds me and I keep replaying 'In Limbo' - Nowhere to hide, trapdoors that open, I spiral down.. I lost my way... I lost my way.

But then I have these great moments. I make people smile.
I make myself smile.

These little sweets made their first appearance this week and it was love.


Nutmeg beignets filled with lemon curd and rolled in cinnamon sugar.


Grapefruit bars (email me for the recipe!)


Honey fig and blood orange cheesecakes.

Other things that make me smile? The fact that Lynne and Katie eat potatoes as no one is watching. That means that they really want them. I love you ladies. ( I think Lynne kept those in her apron pocket... )

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lucky




Today is Edgar day.
The anniversary of my father's death. We celebrate peanut butter cookies, and blueberries in all forms and big juicy steaks. Je pense à toi papa.

I just wanted to say that I feel so lucky to be surrounded by incredible and generous people.
Since I have begun the Edgar adventure, I have met handfuls of wonderful people.
And I am having fun in many aspects of my job, I get to bake tons.
Yes, TONS - yesterday we sold out of almost every dessert and we must have had about 14-16 kinds. I hopped to the mixer and made cakes and brownies and macaroons and and truffles and more cookies. All is full again this morning. (Very excited that the lime coconut cake make a second guest appearance this week!)

I get to work and meet with exceptional people that I now consider friends.
A great big hug to Lynne for yesterday. Everyone, please end out very positive waves to my friend the twisted chef.
Katie, you rock. Point final.
Aaron and Kirsten, no words. well, maybe. bacon+avocado+blue cheese = heaven.



oh, and we did huevos rancheros!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February Cold (isn't scaring anyone!)



Well, I thought it would be less busy after xmas, but no!

We have had our biggest weekends so far, I guess the word is getting around about brunch, and pastries, and great coffee.

I got these nice new ceramic glasses for hot chocolates and lattés.



My favourite french toast of the past month or so... sauteed honey apple, sauvagine cheese, maple syrup and crispy maple-pepper chicken skin!



I try to be creative and change it up every week. The same for the egg option... I have been swinging with the eggs cocotte for awhile but we will switch for huevos rancheros next weekend, I am soooo excited! I went to a great tiny latin store today and bought beautiful homemade sausage and fresh white cheese to crumble.



Once more, I made ribs and the sandwiches just sell like mad! Again, I try to be creative with the paninis and wraps - and people usually go for it. The only one that was not getting as much love was a spicy grilled tofu wrap. I loved it though: lemongrass, ginger, chili, lime and full of veggies, fresh cilantro. I wasn't sad to have those for lunch!



Soups and soups and soups and soups. I can't believe how much soup we sell. In the past couple of weeks, my favourites have been onion soup (ultra comfort!), chicken thigh and white bean & harissa split pea. I will try to picture the split pea and share the recipe this week! It is tomorrow's soup along with Celery Root, Fennel and Potato.



Take home meals are starting to take off. I have been doing a lot of chicken, people don't seem to go for beef as much... The stuffed chicken breasts are a sure hit, so is the curry. I guess I make Saveurs des Monts very happy with people's chicken cravings!



Tender chicken thighs with soft eggplant, full of thai basil, cilantro... heaven.

Desserts change a lot - I knew I could not limit myself to just a few. I have been really fond of upside down cakes lately as well as brownies. The banana caramel cream pie made a comeback! People were asking for it, one girl even spotted them from outside and came in, smiling: is that what I think it is?



I am thinking of stuffing my brioche this week, I am getting a bit tired of the spiral look ... maybe dulce. Or lemon curd.



Speaking of desserts... Valentine's day is just around the corner!!! I made a ton of tiny truffles. I still want more because I didn't do a spicy one yet and it makes me sad.



And little sugar cookie hearts. Pepto bismol color. ha ha.



I can't wait for Valentine's day. Not because I really like the holiday, but because I will be volunteering at BelFiore for their busiest day of the year! Yup, me at the cash with Teena and Stacy and many many rose thorns. There better be a lot of you opening the door to that exceptional shop, because there are a lot of deserving peeps out there!!

Here are a few ladies that have a piece of my heart this week:

Marie-France @Le Local (a store you NEED to discover)
Jacqueline aka TheSoupJackie @StoneSoupFoodWorks (because she makes soup all the time and is fabulous!) She has a blog and shares great recipes and tips!
Denise @Heaven's to Betsy (because she sews beautiful aprons and has a ton of fun nic nacs.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Minis



I have fallen in love with minis these past weeks.
These two minis are now regulars: blueberry crumble and reine-élizabeth.
Actually, this is nothing new. I love all things small. They make me smile.
I dream of a party where all my friends dress up and we eat finger foods for hours...



This other mini is my mum's favourite cake: marzipan. I did a dark chocolate buttercream for it.
And there was a bigger version...



I have been varying the brioche a bit lately. My favourite of the week was sauteed green apples in caramel. Yum.



And Simon's favourite sweet treat was no doubt the white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie. Here it is with the ever popular chocolate ginger cookie.



My crush though is the french toast. I admit that I did not eat it yet, maybe that is why we are still in this courtship phase...



No worries everyone, I still have not started uploading pictures on another website. My plan was to do it all with my phone... but blogspot is not yet ready for that in Canada it seems. We might try wordpress, or Simon might be able to finalize the website soon - I was hoping for a little corner of ever changing pics. You can always check out twitter (@chezedgar) or befriend edgar on facebook for the weekly menus.
 
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