Friday, June 3, 2005

St Lawrence Market - Part One

Check out the Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins at the end of the post.

Growing up and living most of my adult life in Montreal, I associate the word market with the Jean Talon Market and to a lesser but similar degree, the Atwater Market which was closer to home, so more convenient to get to, but never had that Jean Talon market vibe, which is more ethnic and just plain bigger!!!

I loved the riot of noise and color, the overwhelming number of farmer vendors with their mountains of perfect looking fruit, vegetables, flowers, herbs and honey. Each vendor had huge bushel baskets of their produce and appeared to be able to feed the entire world. On the far side of the market there were shops to buy the freshest fish, meat and poultry and everywhere was a cacophony of Italian, Spanish, French, English, Greek and every other language you can think of.

Coming to Toronto I had heard about the St Lawrence Market, and naturally had to check it out. Well to be honest, I was disappointed and confused. First, no one told me about the North building with the local vendors selling fruits, vegetables and honey as well as those selling delicious homemade pies, cakes and cookies (it's best to go there from July on). I was surprised that, in the south building, there were only three vendors selling fresh produce and each resembled a grocery store rather than a market. Don’t get me wrong, the produce is fresh and there is a wide variety, but it’s not a “market”.

The south building is huge with two floors of vendors. The Toronto Star did an article that mentions some of my favourite spots. Just thought I’d add my spin. I can’t imagine going there without stopping at Scheffler’s Deli & Cheese.

There’s always a line up at the cash so you know it’s excellent. My husband usually groans and waits out in front of it with my other parcels. They have my favourite pitted Nicoise olives (along with 20 other kinds), wonderful antipasto like cheese stuffed peppers, slices of roasted eggplant wrapped around sundried tomatoes and cheese

and, in my humble opinion, the best roasted artichoke hearts in the city. They also have four types of pesto, tapenade, hummus, eggplant and spinach dips. Then there’s the shelves and shelves of oils, vinegars and other condiments, too many cheeses to count from local fresh curds to an amazing variety of imported cheeses. You can't miss the refrigerated cases of salamis and other deli meats. However, if you want to chat about what goes with what, go during the week. The staff is very approachable and love to discuss what would go best with whatever else you’re serving and to tell you about the different types of cheeses and salamis (tasting is expected!!!) Just in case you don’t find what you’re looking for, head over to Alex Farm Products with their unbelievable selection and knowledgeable staff. They’re at the back of the building.

One thing that impressed me when I first went to the St Lawrence market was that there were lots of vendors that DON’T sell food

and my personal favourite is PlaceWares, kitchen specialists. They sell every gadget you can imagine. I counted five different sizes of ice cream scoops, cool muffin paper cups ( I bought some red minis and green foil regular size for my jalepeno corn bread muffins (recipe at the end of this post), baking dishes, pots, pans, cutting boards, coffee makers, cookie cutters and even little paper frills for roasted chickens and lamp and veal chops. You HAVE to check them out. I couldn’t list all the things they carry even if I tried. The staff is warm and friendly. It’s really a pleasure to browse and buy.

Over the next few days I’ll be sharing more of my favourites from the market. In the meantime, here’s the JalapeƱo Corn Bread recipe I mentioned. It’s great with all the antipastos from Scheffler’s.

Mini Jalapeno Corn Muffins
Makes 4 dozen muffins

Hands-on time: 10-15 minutes
Total baking time: 30 minutes

1 stick unsalted butter, melted
¾ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
½ cup sour cream
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp coarse salt
3 large jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
1/3 cup frozen or canned corn niblets (drained) (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F

2. Whisk together buttermilk, eggs and sour cream in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, brown sugar, salt, jalapenos (and corn, optional).

4. With a rubber spatula, quickly and lightly, fold buttermilk mixture into cornmeal mixture until well combined. Quickly fold in melted butter.

5. Line mini muffin tins with paper liners. Fill each cup with muffin mixture. Bake until tooth pick comes out clean and dry, about 12-13 minutes per batch.

6. Turn out onto cake rack to slightly cool before serving.

Tips & Variations
Buttermilk substitute:
Combine 1 cup milk and 1 tbsp lemon juice and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

Regular muffins: If you want to make regular sized muffins, this recipe will make 1 to 1 ½ dozen muffins. Bake for about 25 minutes. Follow the same tooth pick test for doneness.

Classic Cornbread: lightly grease an 8x8” square Ovenproof or glass cake pan and line with parchment paper so the cornbread won’t stick. Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.


Anonymous said...

(From Malaysia) Hi Ruth . . .

I'm Mimi's father and super-impressed by your blog - a subject (blogging, that is)I'm just starting to learn about.

Could you email me?

There are a couple of questions I'd like to ask.

Once again - your blog is (truly) super . . .

Regards . . . David Gellman

Anonymous said...

jalepeno corn muffins....mmmmmmm!