Thursday, December 29, 2005

Who said stockings were for children only?

Even though my sister and I are real grown-ups, we still receive a well-stocked Christmas stocking each year. Yes, we get toys... only now, they are kitchen toys.

So, this year, in addition to the traditional clementine and candy cane, we got a julienne slicer (Oxo GoodGrips), a nice cookie sheet for me and a nice serving spoon and paring knife for my sister, a goat's milk hand cream - you have to wash your hands often when you cook, so you need to moisturize - and the little gadget on the picture (Trudeau), which attaches on the side of a pot and holds your spoon while your dish cooks away. Yippie! No more messy spoon on the stovetop!

Thanks Santa! I promise I'll be good again this year!

Monday, December 26, 2005

La tourtière


3 cups flour
1 cup room-temperature shortening
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup ice-cold water, plus a little more if necessary

Mix flour, shortening and salt until it resembles coarse meal.
Make a well in the centre and add water.
With a fork, work the flour/shortening mixture into the water. Add water if necessary. Do not overmix.
Divide dough into balls, flatten and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
Makes enough dough for about 2 double-crust pies.
The tourtières are double-crust pies. Brush the top crust with milk to make it shiny and golden coloured.

Meat mixture

Enough oil and/or butter to cover the bottom of the pot
3 1/4 lb ground pork
1 lb ground veal
1 lb ground beef
1/2 onion, very finely chopped
Approximately 1 cup hot water or hot chicken broth
2 potatoes, cut in small pieces, cooked and then mashed
Clove, cinnamon and allspice - starting with 1/8 tsp each and increasing to taste - the meat mixture is very subtly seasoned, all the spices blending together
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and/or butter. Brown the onions, add the meats a little at a time and stir vigorously.
Add water slowly.
When the meat is cooked, add the cooked potatoes.
Season to taste.
Let the meat mixture cool before making the pies.
Cook the pies at 350F until the top crust is nicely brown.

Makes enough meat for 5 or 6 meatpies.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Joyeux Noël!

I'm visiting my family here in Québec, Canada, and it is wonderful to see everybody!

Our tables are filled with "victuailles", enough for an army (when there is only six of us). Tourtières (French Canadian meat pies) take center stage. They are surrounded by ragoût de pattes de cochon (pig's hock stew), turkey, and, bien sûr, la bûche de Noël.

My mother spent hours cooking up everything and I wish I had been with her. I heard about it all over the phone, during one of our many Saturday morning conversations. Oh well... one day I'll have a family and I'll be cooking up a storm for them.

The traditional French-Canadian recipes will follow shortly. Joyeux Noël à tous!