Introducing: The Market Kitchen
One of the best kept secrets in St Lawrence Market is the Market Kitchen. Many market shoppers don’t even know that this unique space exists – quietly tucked up in the west mezzanine (north-west corner) of the south market right above Paddington’s Pump and Churrasco of St. Lawrence (home of everyone’s favourite Portuguese chicken). This ultra-cool event space and cooking school was created in collaboration between the City of Toronto and the St. Lawrence Market Tenants’ Association, and outfitted with state-of-the-art appliances, sponsored by Miele.
Besides being a venue for weddings and corporate team building sessions, we run our own cooking programs, such as ‘Shop the Market’ cooking classes where we tour eager cooks around the market to purchase ingredients, then bring them back to the kitchen to prepare a three course meal; and our special Chef Series, where local chefs prepare a wine pairing menu while you watch. (The 2012 line-up is coming soon.)
We have just posted our cooking workshops schedule for January-March 2012, and this year, our focus is on ‘cooking with confidence’ – like learning to combine seasonal foods with chic pantry ingredients, adapt chef’s tricks for everyday cooking, and entertaining on a budget (both time and money).
Through this blog, we will share recipes and keep you posted about what’s happening in the kitchen. For example, every Saturday morning between 9:00-10:00 am we have a free cooking demonstration and tasting. In December, we will be presenting appetizers that are tasty, easy-to-make yet still economical, like this Warm Goat’s Cheese in Grape Leaves (one of three recipes demonstrated by Chef Alison Kent last week) – made with ingredients all purchased here in the market. We bought cheese from one of our cheesemongers, grape leaves and roasted red peppers down in the basement at Domino’s Foods, olive oil from our friends at Acropolis Organics in the north market and then sliced up a fresh Portuguese stick from Carousel Bakery to serve alongside. A tip from Alison: if you are serving this at a drop-in style party that lasts several hours, make three small versions rather than one large one so that you can swap out a fresh, warm ones several times over the course of the party rather than have one big one that gets eaten away and messy looking. Though the grape leaves are edible, they are used here to flavour the cheese and provide a pretty presentation when peeled back to serve.
Baked Goat Cheese in Grape Leaves
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
10 drained preserved grape leaves
½ cup roasted sweet red peppers, coarsely chopped
10 oz log soft goat cheese, chilled
Cracked black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Rinse grape leaves under cold water; pat dry and cut off any tough stems.
Line an 8-inch round ovenproof shallow dish with grape leaves, shiny sides down, overlapping to cover bottom and sides (and letting some hang over edge). Cover bottom with red peppers.
Cut goat cheese into ½-inch thick discs. Overlap in circular pattern on red peppers. Crack pepper over top; drizzle with about 2 tbsp of oil. Fold over overhanging leaves to enclose cheese, placing more leaves on top, if needed. Brush with oil. Bake in 350°F for 20 minutes or until oven cheese is hot and leaves are darkened slightly. Let stand for 5 minutes before peeling back leaves to serve.