Toronto confection masters

20 Sep

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We love to brag about the incredible talent we feature in our gift baskets. In previous stories, we have showcased a sampling of artisans from BC (3 Brilliant BC Mompreneurs)  and from Alberta  (Artisans from the Heart of Alberta). In the story below, we are highlighting three fabulous Toronto confectioners featured in our newly-curated Canada gift baskets. Please stay tuned for more stories about our artisans from Ontario and all across Canada.

David H. Chow – Engineer-turned-pastry chef

David has a dynamic approach to chocolate and pastry. In his previous life, he was an engineer. If you look at his work over time, you can see the thought process that could only originate from the mind of an engineer. David explores his craft like an art and a science that flows and evolves. We can never predict what David will try next. The only constant variable is that he is continually recognized as one of Toronto’s top pastry chefs and chocolatiers.

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Over the past decade, David has cultivated a unique style that has sent ripples all over the world. His legendary status does not change his child-like curiosity and warm demeanor. You can visit his Toronto shops and explore his repertoire. You can also sample his delightful products in our Canada gift baskets.

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Laura Slack Chocolate – Edible art

Laura Slack creates edible art. She has been a baker since childhood and she has trained professionally throughout her life. From gorgeously designed chocolate bars to large chocolate skulls, you can rely on Laura to please your eyes, palette, heart and mind.

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The packaging and structure of Laura’s confections demonstrate the top-shelf quality. When you experience her products, you will taste the thoughtfulness and expertise that she pours into each hand-crafted creation. You can find Laura’s incredible products in our Canada gift baskets. You can also find her Lion’s Paw liquid salted caramel truffle on the dessert menu at Nota Bene Restaurant.

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Roselle (Steph & Bruce) – French-inspired desserts

These two lovebirds met while honing their craft in France. Their collaborative style is rooted in French traditions and their experience is international. Steph and Bruce have both worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in Europe and Asia.

 

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Roselle was created with a lot of heart and soul. It was a dream that floated through their minds during travels abroad. This dream then landed back in Toronto where they created a venue for their creations. You can visit their shop in Toronto and find their delightful creations in our Canada gift baskets (below).

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{recipe} sprouted Canadian-grown chickpea falafels

19 Aug

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

When Shira McDermott and Janna Bishop created GRAIN, they stimulated new conversations about Canadian-grown grains. From wheat berries to chickpeas, these products have captured the hearts and minds of local chefs.

 

Our team loves combining brilliant local chefs with delicious local products. We are grateful for the thoughtful recipes that emerge. This new falafel recipe is our third post that features GRAIN. Our first post was by Chef Charles Macurdy featuring Canadian quinoa stuffed squash with sage brown butter.

 

Our second post featured Chef Annabelle-Choi (below) in an interview by Jasmine Lukuku. This post captured Annabelle’s story, her love of GRAIN and her legendary charcoal sourdough. We are delighted to share Annabelle’s incredible falafel recipe featuring sprouted Canadian chickpeas by GRAIN. 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Sprouted Chickpea Falafels

Ingredients

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

1 cup sprouted chickpeas*

 

1/2 medium onion, diced

 

1 clove garlic, crushed

 

1 tbsp parsley, chopped

 

2 tbsp cilantro, chopped

 

1/4 tsp cayenne

 

1/2 tsp ground cumin

 

1/2 tsp ground coriander

 

1/4 tsp ground cardamon

 

1/2 tsp baking powder

 

3 tbsp water

 

1/2 tbsp all purpose flour

 

4 tbsp grape seed or canola oil

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Directions

1)  In a food processor or meat grinder, process sprouted chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley and cilantro just until mealy but not completely blended, as you want enough texture in your falafel and not just a ball of mush. Transfer into a medium mixing bowl.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

2) Next, mix your spices together in a small bowl and sprinkle over your falafel mix, using a wooden spoon to mix in the spices.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

3) After you have mixed your batter, cover with cellophane and rest in the fridge for about an hour.  This will help create some structure to your falafel balls during frying.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

4) Have a sauce pan or a deep sautéing pan on your burner over medium to high heat, add your oil and let it come up to frying temperature.  Make sure the oil does not come to a smoking point. If this happens, take it off your element and let it cool slightly, and lower your temperature.  

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

5)  Using an ice cream scooper, a spoon, or your hands, create 2 inch balls and place them gently into the hot oil.  Press down slightly on each ball with the back of your spoon or a spatula.  After a couple minutes or so, flip them to the other side and continue to dry until golden brown.  This should take about 6 – 8 minutes.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

6) Transfer fried falafel balls to a wire rack to cool down, so they can continue to crisp up.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

7) After a 5 min rest, you can eat them right away, or fridge them and bake when you are ready to eat them!

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

How to Sprout Chickpeas

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

To sprout chickpeas, take dried chickpeas and soak overnight, making sure you leave double the amount of room/water as the chickpeas will more than double in size.  Next day, drain and rinse chickpeas, place in a mason jar and use a leftover lemon bag and the jar lid to create a screen.  Turn over the jar and tilt it into a bowl overnight.

 

The next day the chickpeas should have what looks like a start of a white tail.  If not, rinse and drain again a couple times, and leave it for another day on your counter tilted with the mouth at the bottom again.  

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

We hope you enjoy experimenting with sprouted Canadian chickpeas! They are packed full of protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

You can find GRAIN in various gourmet food shops in Vancouver. You can also find these fine products in Saul Good Gifts: Kitchen sink and Superior staples (below).

new home gift vancouver

About the Photographer

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Leah Villalobos Bartok is a mother, hiker and lifestyle photojournalist. She has a unique ability to document stories and capture personalities.   

 

View more of her work on Instagram: @photogbyleahv and browse through her site www.photographybyleah.ca 

 

Artisans from the Heart of Alberta

08 Jun

In Alberta, there is a burgeoning local business movement. The momentum is driven by awareness, trend, logic and an appreciation for good products made by good people. The folks at Launch Calgary are promoting knowledge to empower shoppers through their Made in Calgary campaign (below).

 

made in calgary

Image via @launchcalgary on Instagram

 

When you “spot the dot”, you know you are supporting a business that is born and raised in Calgary. When you shop locally, up to 25% more money stays in the local economy. This campaign gives local businesses “a home ice advantage”. Their website is full of fascinating facts and great resources, such as the info below. You can check out the made in Calgary campaign: www.madeincalgary.org and follow their movement on Instagram: @launchcalgary

 

made in calgary

Image via www.madeincalgary.org

 

At Saul Good Gift Co., we also love shining the spotlight on brilliant local talent and strengthening local economies. We are excited to celebrate some of Alberta’s best artisans with two newly-curated gifts: The Calgary confidential and Big sky Alberta. Each gift shares a story of passionate artisans who are contributing to the momentum of Calgary’s local business community. In this post, we are highlighting three women who create delicious products for our Calgary gift baskets.

 

Canada Sweet Shop

canada sweet shop market

 

 

Dannah knows that her calling in life is candy. She started out when she was six years old. She has vivid memories of making candy with her mom at Christmas time. She would help butter the pans, measure ingredients, sort the peanuts, and of course taste the finished product!

 

When the recession hit in 2008, candy became a necessary source of revenue for her family. By the age of eighteen, Dannah dove into the business component of artisanal livelihood and soaked up all necessary knowledge she needed to get to the next level.  

 

 

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Over the years, the Canada Sweet Shop has grown. Dannah now has a commercial kitchen in Strathmore, Alberta and a solid crew of amazing staff. The products she makes include the old fashioned Peanut brittle and English Toffee that are featured in our Calgary gift baskets and Canada gift baskets. She also makes old-fashioned buttery caramel popcorn and many varieties of peanut brittle and nut free brittle. Dannah’s commercial kitchen produces candies that cater to food sensitivities.

 

 

Real Treat Kitchen

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Jacqueline is keeping it real in the Rocky Mountains. Her talent for cookies is flourishing with Real Treat Kitchen. These scrumptious morsels are packed full of whole organic ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible.

 

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From Highwood Crossing flour to Vital Green Organic dairy, each handmade cookie tells a delicious local tale. She takes inspiration from “fond memories, places travelled, and pure fantasy, playing with flavours and textures, telling a story with every cookie”.

 

 

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Real Treat cookies are thoughtful creations that are delightfully different: Salted caramel shorties with fennel, Dark chocolate with smoked pecans, Lemon sablés with herbs de Provence and Breakfast cookies. In our gift baskets, we feature the Double dark chocolate with a twist (house-candied lemon).

 

 

Crave Cupcakes

 

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Carolyne McIntyre Jackson and Jodi Willoughby are sisters who created Crave together. Their decadent creations are inspired by fresh ingredients and family recipes. They learned the art of baking on their family farm in High River, Alberta. Growing up in a busy kitchen inspired an appetite for simple, sweet indulgences made from scratch. It also inspired the creation of Crave Cupcakes.

 

 

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The first Crave Bakery opened in the Kensington neighbourhood of Calgary, Alberta. Using their Grandmother’s chocolate cake and their Mom’s Vanilla cake recipes, they went to work serving the best cupcakes they knew how to bake. They use only real butter, they crack every egg by hand and they bake fresh every day. You can find their delicious caramel popcorn in our Calgary gift baskets.

 

 

Calgary Gift Baskets 

 

Calgary confidential

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This gift features some of Calgary’s finest candies and confections (and one from Edmonton for good measure). It was put together for people who like to keep tabs on the lesser known gems in the town they call home.

 

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Big sky Alberta

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It seems like everything in Alberta is a little bit bigger. So we filled this Rocky Mountain-sized gift basket with a massive selection of perfectly crafted confections from Calgary and Edmonton.

 

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Celebrating BC Jam Masters

01 Jun

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

In BC, we are blessed with an incredible selection of lovingly handmade jams. From the Gulf Islands to the Rocky Mountains, there are numerous jam masters cooking up potent preserves with juicy local fruits. In addition to the fresh ingredients, there are jam recipes in BC that can be traced back through multiple generations. Handmade local food tells us stories about our diverse local culture. When we share these foods together, we build community.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

Our team at Saul Good Gift Co. had recently been searching for a jam to go into our gourmet gift baskets. This process has been extremely difficult. There are simply too many amazing options! In order to find the right jam, we asked local artisans to submit their jam for a contest. After selecting four finalists that we adore, we asked folks from our community to help us decide. We gathered at the Capilano Tea House in Vancouver BC. Attendees sampled jams on bannock and sipped handcrafted tea.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

This jam tasting event was attended by a variety of folks from our community. There were bankers, lawyers, financial planners, real estate developers, property managers, web developers, food bloggers, chefs, nutritionists, coffee roasters, local business enthusiasts…and a toddler. It was a great mix of people who offered a diverse range of input to help us decide.

Saul Good BC Jam Contest Finalists

East Van Jam 

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East Van jams are a work of art. The jars are adorned with a variety of fun characters and the product quality is superb. Natalie captures the experience of fresh local BC fruit that is gathered seasonally. She keeps the sugar low so that you can enjoy wholesome goodness while keeping your blood sugar levels on an even keel. Indulge deeper into the narrative here: East Van Jam  You can also salivate over fresh Instagram photos: @eastvanjam

 

 

SaltSpring Kitchen Co. 

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The anchor on the jar of Saltspring Kitchen Co. jam is an appropriate symbol. Melanie is an anchor for the perpetual momentum of island artisan excellence. She is a pro with her products and she paints your palette with both sweet and savory ingredients. These jams are fun to combine with other gourmet foods. Check out the Pairing Guide here: SaltSpring Kitchen Co.  and follow the island vibes on Instagram: @saltspringkitchenco

 

 

 

 

  kitskitchen

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The kitskitchen’s  claim to fame is their nourishing local soups. They are rooted in a mission to make lifestyles healthier and easier. In their soups and jams, they allow the organic ingredients to speak for themselves. The goodness of their products seems to soak into your cells and make them smile. You can learn more about their offerings: kitskitchen and follow them on Instagram:  @kitskitchen 

 

Le Meadow’s Pantry 

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At an early age, Geneviève fell in love with harvesting and foraging. Her jam style is influenced by her lineage and her travels in Europe. Le Meadow’s Pantry cooks classic jam using a traditional copper pot method. Learn more about Geneviève’s creations: Le Meadow’s Pantry and follow her on Instagram: @lemeadowspantry 

 

 

 

 

 

We are excited to find opportunities to include these jams in customized corporate gift programs. For our year-round gourmet gifts, we have selected Le Meadow’s Pantry Blueberry Honey Jam. Based on the feedback we received, it is ideal for a wide audience. 

Jam Tasting Slideshow – Photography by Leah Villalobos Bartok

About the photographer

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Leah Villalobos Bartok is a mother, hiker and lifestyle photojournalist. She has a unique ability to document stories and capture personalities. You can view more of her work on Instagram: @photogbyleahv and browse through her site www.photographybyleah.ca 

 

 

 

Chef Annabelle Choi’s charcoal sourdough made with local grains

05 May
Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Annabelle Choi is a talented chef and baker based in Vancouver. She was trained at Ballymaloe, the world-renowned cooking school located on an organic farm in Ireland. She’s known for her sourdough bread making workshops; events that sell out within hours of being announced.

 

We met up with Annabelle on a sunny spring afternoon in the kitchen of Elysian Coffee to talk about her approach to cooking and her love of Canadian-grown products by GRAIN. The series of photos below capture the process of making her legendary charcoal sourdough. 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

How did your education at Ballymaloe inform your food philosophy?

 

Ballymaloe was one of many things that helped me understand the significance of honouring where our food comes from…before it even hits our cutting boards as chefs. The 100-acre organic farm and surrounding natural permaculture illustrated what it means to respect the art of terroir, and how it’s so essential to stay humble in one’s craft, as we’re just mere instruments trying to communicate the true work that is done before it even reaches our hands.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

 

What are your favorite local grains to work with when making baked goods?

 

I usually exclusively use GRAIN for their legumes & wheat grains, and Anita’s Flour for my bread making needs when I’m doing large orders.

 

 

 

How did you discover GRAIN products?

 

It’s hard to pinpoint as it feels like GRAIN has always been my go-to grain provider, but I think I started using their products right as they started reaching out to wholesale clients. Shira (co-founder of GRAIN) would come into Matchstick Coffee Roasters where I founded an all natural bread program at the time, and we got to geeking out over bread and legumes. I used them for one of my first pop-up dinner events for Kinfolk Magazine, and I was hooked!

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

Do you notice a difference in quality between local grain and legume products and the mass market products?

 

Definitely. When you have a smaller, localized purveyor who cares about their community, consistent quality, and customer relationships, you get a product that doesn’t need much manipulation if at all to create beautiful tasty dishes.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

Mass produced bread products have a list of the following: Whole wheat flour, water, wheat gluten, high fructose corn syrup, contains 2% or less of: soybean oil, salt, molasses, yeast, mono and diglycerides, ethoxylated mono and diglycerides, dough conditioners (sodium stearoyl lactylate, calcium iodate, calcium dioxide), DATEM, calcium sulfate, vinegar, yeast nutrient (ammonium sulfate), extracts of malted barley and corn, dicalcium phosphate, diammonium phosphate, calcium propionate (to retain freshness)… I don’t know about you, but the latter just scares me as I can’t even pronounce half of it.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

How do you approach working with an unfamiliar ingredient?

 

I research first, then play, then dial it in. Usually, someone has done a lot of work trying to figure out where that ingredient came from, and what it’s original purpose was in the natural world. I think if I can first understand that, then I can best honour its potential as an inspiring part of a dish or product.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Have you ever had a kitchen disaster that resulted in a great new creation? A happy accident?

 

Oh man, those situations are ones that I think chefs/cooks both hope and fear for haha. I’ve definitely had my share. Most start with me looking sad at first at the object of my initial failed attempt, but then pushing myself to be creative so I don’t create waste, which usually results in happy, interesting outcomes or at the very least, lessons learnt!

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

Do you have any Vancouver food heroes?

 

One of my all time favourite chefs to have collaborated and eaten with was Jesse McCleery out on Galiano Island. He is co-owner of Pilgrimme Restaurant and is one of my local food heroes as he truly respects where his ingredients come from. Jesse is incredibly humble about his work, where the dishes really celebrate the terroir and aren’t overly plated/precious.

 

Another would be Kris Barnholden from Latab Restaurant in Vancouver. Kris has an excellent palate, considerate and well-thought-out menus where he also celebrates the narrative of his ingredients quite beautifully.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

 

Your sourdough bread making classes are very popular. What are your students most surprised to learn about the bread-making process?

 

Yes, it’s pretty exciting to see so many folks interested in all natural sourdough! I think what most students find surprising during the class is the amount of time and work that is needed for one batch of bread. As someone who personally celebrates the process in all things, I think it’s a very important lesson to learn for folks who are leading busy lives, and are used to modern conveniences. It kind of puts things into perspective and calls on a simpler time when life wasn’t always dictated by money as a means of currency. I think understanding the narrative, from ingredients to the transformation of a simple grain, can become inspiring and worth pursuing.

 

 

Annabelle’s charcoal sourdough (below). 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

What advice do you have for the novice home cook who would like to include more local grains in their diet?

 

Start small, and give into the fear that it might f-up at the first try, and just go for it. I mean, if you can boil water you’re already past the novice stage when it comes to grains. Just remember that grains need to be broken down in some way to make the nutrients available to you, whether that’s by soaking, sprouting, or fermenting.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

How can our readers find out about your upcoming workshops and events?

 

The best way to find out about upcoming workshops and events are to head over to my Instagram or Twitter account, @annabellechoistudio, or check out my Facebook page: Annabelle Choi Studio. I also encourage those who are looking to sign-up for bread workshops specifically should email me to be put on the waitlist, as they sell out fast: info@annabellechoistudio.com.

 

We want to give a big THANK YOU to Elysian Coffee for lending us their kitchen and to Shira from GRAIN for providing products for this photo shoot. 

 

You can find local GRAIN products in Saul Good Gifts: Kitchen sink and Superior staples (below).

new home gift vancouver

 

About the author

Jasmine

 

Jasmine is a professional sweet tooth who spends much of her time baking, eating, photographing and writing about treats.

 

She co-founded chocolatecodex.com to share her love of fine chocolate with the world. Follow Jasmine on Instagram: @chocolatecodex

 

 

 

About the Photographer

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 8.55.34 PM

 

Leah Villalobos Bartok is a mother, hiker and lifestyle photojournalist. She has a unique ability to document stories and capture personalities.   

 

View more of her work on Instagram:  @photogbyleahv and browse through her site www.photographybyleah.ca 

 

Cooking is not a Spectator Sport

08 Mar

Homemade-bread

 

Cooking is what makes us human. It can help us connect to ourselves, our community and our culture. Yet it feels like cooking has become a spectator sport. Cooking shows continue to draw ratings and we spend our free moments drooling over food photos on instagram. We embrace the idea of cooking yet shy away from the act. We innately understand the deeper value of a home baked loaf of sourdough slathered in locally made jam, yet the making of bread and jam seem more like hobbies than valuable life skills.

 

Best-selling Author Michael Pollan and Oscar winning director Alex Gibney have teamed up to bring us Cooked, a 4-part documentary on Netflix. Cooked champions the idea that cooking at home is a step towards a healthier food system. Over the years we have created a culture of convenience; we have outsourced cooking to free up time. This trade off has not served us well. Michael Pollan has written extensively on this subject in his books The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. In Cooked, rather than tell us what not to eat, he urges us to focus on enjoying the process of preparing food. Cooked asks us to slow down and get our hands dirty.

 

 

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Fire, water, air and earth — Cooked shows us the surprising ways these elements can transform humble ingredients into nourishing food. Through the magic of big-budget film production, we circle the globe and visit a diverse cast of food advocates, scientists, makers and cooks; each one bringing something special to the table. One stand out character is a Benedictine nun/microbiologist with a passion for artisanal cheese making. It’s makers like her who have taken on the task of preserving and documenting traditional processes.

 

There are a number of reasons for the reluctance to fully embrace the kitchen; cooking takes focus, skill, planning and time. It’s not efficient and we have come to value efficiency. If we want to embrace cooking, we have to approach it from a different angle. Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore, instead it can be a creative collaborative event or a solo meditation. Cooking can be entertainment. Cooking can be fun

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Not convinced to step into the kitchen? That is okay! We don’t all have the time (or desire) to make our own chocolate, pasta or preserves. Fortunately, there are many wonderful artisans, bakeries, and restaurants dedicated producing high-quality food. Saul Good Gift Co. is committed to supporting these small-batch makers by including them in our locally sourced gift baskets. They may not be home cooked, but they are made with the same level of integrity and thoughtfulness. Your support allows these makers to serve their communities as conservators of traditional domestic arts.

 

There are many lessons to be learned from Cooked, but one major takeaway is that food—lovingly made by hand— feeds us in more ways than one.  

 

 

 

About the author

Jasmine

Jasmine is a professional sweet tooth who spends much of her time baking, eating, photographing and writing about treats.

 

She co-founded chocolatecodex.com to share her love of fine chocolate with the world. Follow Jasmine on instagram: @chocolatecodex

Canadian Craft Chocolate is on the rise

02 Dec

We are delighted to share this guest post by chocolate expert Jasmine Lukuku.

 

 

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Photo from East Van Roasters

Canadian Craft Chocolate

There is a revolution happening in the chocolate industry, Craft Chocolate is on the rise. The vast majority of commercially available chocolate is manufactured by a handful of large European and American companies. In the past, small chocolate businesses would buy pre-made chocolate from these large companies, melt it, flavour it and repackage it under their own labels.

 

Unfortunately, many of the large companies supplying this pre-made chocolate have well documented histories of exploitation in cacao growing regions such as West Africa and Central America. This is the chocolate industry’s dirty secret.

 

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

What is a chocolate lover to do? Fortunately, there is a growing community of chocolate makers committed to ethical sourcing of cacao. They are buying beans directly from growers or trusted brokers and making their own chocolate from the bean. Transparency is important to these makers and they are not afraid to share their sources with consumers and other chocolate makers. This is chocolate you can feel good about purchasing for yourself or as a gift.

 

chocolate - evr

Photo from East Van Roasters

 

The first time you try Craft Chocolate, you may be surprised. Cacao Beans can taste drastically different depending on where they are grown, how they are handled after harvesting and how the chocolate maker chooses to roast and process them. Craft Chocolate makers delight in highlighting the unique characteristics of the beans. You can liken this to the terroir of wine. When I host group chocolate tastings, we often go through a variety of bean origins so we can compare characteristics.

 

We are lucky to have some amazing Craft Chocolate makers in our own backyard. Canada is home to some of the industry’s pioneers as well as talented newcomers. If you are looking for a great chocolate gift or want to treat yourself to something special, I recommend the chocolate makers below.

 

Sirene Chocolate

sirene chocolate

Photo from Sirene Chocolate

 

Chocolate Maker Taylor Kennedy has been scooping up international awards for his well-crafted bars. His genius Tasting Pairs combine two varietals of single-origin chocolate in one package. You can find Sirene’s cheery and sophisticated bars in several of Saul Good’s Gourmet Gift Baskets.

 

Palette de Bine

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

This Québec based maker is all about the details. Founder Christine Blais crafts elegant, small-batch chocolate from such diverse origins as Vietnam, Trinidad and Belize. The wood-grain patterned bars are packaged in simple kraft card stock with a letterpress logo. The look is simple, rustic luxury with a dose of Canadiana. They make a perfect chocolate gift!

 

Palette de Bine chocolate

Photo from Palette de Bine chocolate

 

Soma Chocolate Makers

soma chocolate

Photo from Soma Chocolate

 

If you find yourself in Toronto, you need to pay a visit to one of Soma’s chocolate cafes. Cynthia Leung and David Castellan have been making chocolate since 2003; that makes them trailblazers in the craft chocolate community. They are lauded around the world for both their bean-to-bar chocolate and their innovative confections. Their CSB Chama bar won a Silver Medal in the World Finals of the International Chocolate Awards.

 

Organic Fair

organic fair chocolate

Photo from Organic Fair Chocolate

If you love flavoured chocolate bars, look no further than Organic Fair’s impressive selection. The Sakura bar with candied ginger and sundried cherries is a personal favourite. This Cobble Hill, BC based operation makes bars that are the perfect size for snacking. They also offer a vast selection of Fairtrade pantry goods and spices.

 

East Van Roasters

evr - chocolate

Photo from East Van Roasters

 

Vancouver residents can get in on the bean-to-bar chocolate action by visiting East Van Roasters. This chocolate cafe is a social enterprise designed to provide training to women living in the Ranier Hotel. Stop in and see how chocolate is made while sipping on a house-roasted coffee paired with some hand-rolled truffles. East Van Roasters’ bars are available in select Chocolate Gift Baskets from Saul Good.

chocolate gift basket 

About the author: 

Jasmine co-founded ChocolateCodex.com as a way to share her enthusiasm for chocolate. She spends much of her time baking and photographing her creations for theblenderist.com and collaborating on design and branding projects with her partner Chris at pleaserxvp.com. Follow Jasmine on instagram: @chocolatecodex

Jasmine

 

Top 3 tips for corporate gifts

30 Oct

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christmas gift baskets

It’s easy to give a nice bottle of wine or a fancy box of chocolates, but how do you make your corporate gifts stand out from the rest? 

 

Over the past ten years, we’ve learned a lot about what it takes to make people feel special. Our team has customized corporate gift programs for some of Canada’s most successful brands. We love getting to know our clients, their value proposition and their culture. It allows us to inject a piece of their DNA into their gift program.

corporate christmas gift basket

One way to enhance that sense of meaningfulness and appreciation is by telling a good story. Not a story like Moby Dick, but rather a story that connects the gift giver, the recipient and the gift.

 

Our gifts tell a good story

Our gifts tell a good story

 

 

Your brand is the narrator of the story you are crafting.  Tasteful customization of your gift program is a superb way to keep your company in the spotlight without overshadowing the recipient. Here are 3 ways to give gifts that tell a good story.

 

office party throwdown

 

1) Put your brand center stage

 

Once we have clarified the needs of your gift program, we can help you customize branded ribbons for your gift boxes. As the gift recipient digs into the sensory delights of their gift, they will be thinking of your brand.

packaging_-_gift_boxes_custom_ribbon_print

 

Our focus is and always will be on ensuring the gift recipient feels super special and genuinely appreciated. But we never loose sight of the fact that your brand belongs at the centre of the memorable gift giving experience.

 

2) Personalized messages go a long way

 

In our previous posts, The Business Value of Thank-you and Investing in Appreciation, we discussed the tangible value of appreciating your clients, employees and colleagues. Research has revealed that a thoughtful thank-you is essential to strengthening your professional relationships. It is important to take the time to personalize your message and be clear about why you appreciate the recipient.

 

corporate gifts vancouver

 

3) Full circle giving is a darn good story

 

The Saul Good Gift Co. was created as a way to make a positive difference through business. We wanted to offer an alternative to the wasteful nature of gifts that are wrapped in excessive packaging and full of less-than-special stuff. Each of our corporate gifts demonstrate the delicious beauty of sustainability, local purchasing and social responsibility. The recycled cardboard gift boxes feature hand drawn maps of local Canadian cities. The products are all locally handmade and the gifts are assembled by a social enterprise.

 

We’d love to facilitate a gift program that tells the story of your brand. If you would like to get started, you can download our 2015 gift guide and apply for your corporate account. We look forward to following up with you! 

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[Recipe] Canadian Quinoa Stuffed Squash with Sage Brown Butter

07 Oct
Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

A Lighter Take on Fall Comfort Food

 

With Fall, we enter comfort food season. And what is more comfortable on Thanksgiving than a good old-fashioned sage bread stuffing? Some of my most cherished food memories involve sitting down at the holiday table and diving into my mother’s homemade bread stuffing. Gravy, turkey, cranberry sauce, everything else was a means to that comfortable, aromatic goodness.

 

However, that same comforting goodness also tends to make you feel heavy and tired. It also doesn’t make for much of a meal, should you have any vegetarians at the table. Think of the recipe below as a solution to both problems. With the profound aromas of leek, brown butter, and sage, this dish has many of the warm, comforting qualities of an old-fashioned bread stuffing without the heaviness.

 

And for the vegetarians at the table, this dish is packed with protein. Canadian Golden Quinoa by Grain boasts 6 grams of protein per serving and cooked chickpeas offer 15 grams of protein per cup. So this dish allows vegetarians to savour the autumnal comfort of Thanksgiving dinner while also enjoying balanced nutrition.

 

Quinoa Stuffed Squash with Sage Brown Butter

Ingredients

1 Kabocha squash, about 5 pounds

1 tsp butter

Generous pinch Vancouver Island Sea Salt

1/3 cup onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tsp butter

1 bay leaf

1 ½ cups Canadian Golden Quinoa by Grain

1 ½ cups vegetable stock

Pinch Vancouver Island Sea Salt

1/3 cup butter

1 ½ tbl fresh sage, sliced fine

¾ cup leeks, diced fine

1/3 cup carrots, diced

1 bay leaf

1/3 cup raw cashews

1/3 cup raw pistachios, shelled

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 cup cooked chickpeas

1 tbl red wine vinegar

Vancouver Island Sea Salt to taste

Fresh cracked pepper to taste

Directions

1)       Preheat your oven to 350F. As it heats, take the squash and slice off the top, about an inch below the stem, so that it will make a nice bowl. Scoop it out, place a teaspoon of butter inside and season with a generous pinch of Vancouver Island sea salt. Place the squash on a parchment lined baking sheet and place into the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the butter has melted. Then take the squash out of the oven, spread the melted butter around the interior with a pastry brush, flip the squash upside down, and place back into the oven until roasted, about 45 minutes.

 

2)       As the squash cooks, place 2 teaspoons of butter into a medium-sized pot, along with the diced onion, minced garlic, bay leaf, and a nice pinch of Vancouver Island sea salt. Sweat over medium-low heat until the onion is transparent.

 

3)       Add the vegetable stock, bring to a simmer, and then add the golden quinoa. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed all of the moisture. Fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork, replace the lid, and set it aside.

 

4)       Heat a large pan and add the remaining 1/3 cup of butter. Cook the butter over medium heat until it has finished sizzling and the solids begin to brown. When your brown butter is ready, the milk solids will have taken on a medium brown colour and the butter will give off a sweet, nutty aroma. Remove the pan form the heat, so as not to let it burn, and add the sage.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

5)       Once the sage has finished sizzling, about 5 or 10 seconds, add the leeks, carrots, bay leaf, and a nice pinch of Vancouver Island sea salt. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and sweat until the leeks are transparent and the carrots soften, about 5 minutes.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

6)       Add the cashews, pistachios, and cranberries, stir to combine, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and cook until the liquid has evaporated.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

7)       Add the chickpeas and quinoa, stir to combine evenly, and heat the entire mixture through. Season to taste. Flip your cooked squash upright by grabbing the parchment paper underneath it to lift it gently from the pan.

 

8)       Fill your squash with the finished quinoa mixture, garnish as desired, and serve.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

This recipe serves 6-8 as a side dish or 3-4 as a main course.

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

 

Total cooking time: 90 minutes

 

This blog post and recipe were created by writer and chef, Charles Macurdy (below)

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Lovable local dry goods – Vancouver Island Salt & Saskatchewan Quinoa by Grain

07 Oct

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Eating local is not all about produce and protein. Sometimes, the most pleasant surprise comes in the form of a locally produced dry good you may never have considered was locally available. 

 

Here are two beautiful, Canadian products which not only boast lower carbon footprints than their imported counterparts, but they also give you a different look at some familiar staples. 

 

Canadian Golden Quinoa by Grain

If you don’t think that you like quinoa, it’s probably because you have only experienced other varieties. The usual white commercial quinoa tends to get mushy. This can make it hard to use because the texture and flavour are working against you.

 

Golden quinoa is a much different product. When cooked, it retains a nice tooth. While it’s not exactly crunchy, neither does it get mushy by the time it’s cooked through. In that sense, the texture is reminiscent of red quinoa.

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

At the same time, golden quinoa also has a pleasant, nutty flavour. The flavour and aroma are distinct from that of red quinoa, even though the textures are similar. Canadian farmers have been cultivating their unique brand of golden quinoa for years, resulting in a product which cooks and eats like no grain you have ever tasted.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

Because it remains fluffy when cooked, golden quinoa substitutes perfectly for cous cous. Not only is this a high protein alternative with a lower glycemic load, but its nutty flavour adds an earthy dimension that cous cous never would.

 

Vancouver Island Sea Salt

 

When you taste this salt, you taste the west coast. If you have ever gone swimming in the ocean here, you will recognize its flavour in this sea salt.

 

One of the first things you will notice about Vancouver Island sea salt is that it appears clumpy. Its texture is due to the unique profile of nutrients found in British Columbia’s waters. When you harvest sea salt, those delicious impurities remain in the salt and leave it feeling almost like wet sand.

 

 

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah

 

 

So, while it does not pour like ordinary table salt, neither does it taste like ordinary salt. You can almost taste the entire coastline, kelp-lined shores, and dark green waters of British Columbia. A few grains on your tongue and you have the taste of a summer day, emerging from the ocean after dunking your head below the waves.

 

This also makes it the perfect choice for seasoning some of our beautiful local seafood. What better to season a fresh salmon fillet than salt extracted from the very water where it swam? Its unique, briny character also pairs well with vegetables and fits into almost any savoury application. 

 

You can find these products in our Kitchen Sink new home gift basket (below)

 

Kitchen Sink - New home gift basket

 

 

You can play with these dry goods and make the delicious seasonal entree below: [Recipe] Canadian Quinoa Stuffed Squash with Sage Brown Butter

Photo Credit: Photography By Leah