Square Meals from Cupcakes Squared
Back when Robin Ross was attending design school in the ‘70s she paid her expenses by catering—specifically, vegetarian catering. There was her riff on Shepherd’s Pie that she naturally called Shepherdess Pie. A non-meat loaf that’s instead a Veggie Loaf. And quiche, of course; we’re talking the ‘70s, remember?
Well, fast forward to the Teens. Ross, still a beautiful graphic designer, has been successfully operating Cupcakes Squared in Pt. Loma for almost 10 years. But she’s been noodling with those old recipes and updated them to sell at her retail shop for the past year—and now at the North Park Farmers Market.
Her quiche, which features vegetables seasonal that week, currently is filled with tomatoes, spinach, and zucchini. And it’s gluten free.
The Veggie Loaf, with carrot, onion, and zucchini, gets its shape and texture from bulgur, cheese, and walnuts. She mixes up the flavor with the addition of onion, mustard, pineapple (!), and tomato, as well as garlic and caraway seeds. It has the texture of a classic meat loaf, as well as an interesting bite and nuttiness from the addition of the walnuts.
And then there’s the Shepherdess Pie. I really enjoyed this—what mashed potato lover wouldn’t? But instead of filling it with lamb, Ross has made it vegetarian—and gluten free. Instead of meat, there are Portobello and crimini mushrooms and a walnut reduction. There’s onion, butter and buttermilk, sour cream, garlic—and just a hint of heat thanks to some sriracha. It’s truly the ultimate in comfort food and perfect as the days grow cooler. Pair it with a salad made from the ingredients shoppers can pick up from the farmers at the market and all of a sudden dinner is ready in about 20 minutes.
Each of these three main courses will serve two (if you’ve got a ginormous appetite) to four for $15. Ross includes directions for heating them either by microwave or toaster/conventional oven. Just remove the lid and keep the food in the black container and you’re good to go. Can’t use it all up immediately (for those of us in single-person households this could be an issue)? Wrap them well and freeze.
Ross has also been selling vegetarian tamales at the bakery. “The idea is to have a healthy, family-style dinner ready to go,” she said. “I just want to bring in fresh seasonal food. I’m at the farmers market now because I wanted to bring them to another neighborhood. If it works out with our schedule and they sell well then I’ll consider other markets.”
While the focus is on these meals, Ross, of course, has dessert ready for customers to take home, too. This past week she had big squares of brownies (with and without nuts), chocolate chip cookies, and a Lemon Hibiscus Lavender blondie square, along with a few cupcakes, naturally. Soon, she said, she’ll expand to include seasonal quick breads.
You can find Ross at the North Park Farmers Market at the western edge of the market. The market itself is located along three blocks of North Park Way from 30th St. to Utah and operates on Thursdays from 3 to 7:30 p.m.