Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tourtiere - A French Canadian Tradition

Each French Canadian family has their own version of tourtiere that gets passed down from one generation to another. The recipe I've always used is one that has been used for centuries in one family's lineage. Typically this savoury pie, also called meat pie is enjoyed on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. If you're driving through Quebec, you may even find them in grocery stores

Start with the crust:

2 cups flour
1-2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups shortening
2/3 cup ice cold water
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp white vinegar

1. In a medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar baking powder and salt
2. Cut the shortening into small cubes and add to flour mixing with a pastry cutter until it has a mealy texture
3. Whisk together water, egg yolk, vanilla and vinegar. Stir into flour mixture (use about half of this mix initially and add as necessary). Knead dough just until smooth.
4. Wrap in film wrap and chill in the fridge at least 15 minutes prior to rolling.
5. Divide dough in 4 and roll out the two bottoms of pie plates first.

Note: If you don't see yourself making the pie crusts, using a store bought would work.


1 lb medium ground pork
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 onion grated
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
3-5 whole cloves
1/4 tsp each allspice and nutmeg
1 1/2 - 2 cups grated potato, uncooked
2 tsp ground sage (or more if you like it)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a heavy bottom pot, add meat, onion, salt and pepper
2. Bring to a boil and reduce to medium, cooking until the pinkness leaves the meat.
3. Add bay leaves, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg. Mix well and taste. Add sage and grated potatoes and cook on medium until the liqiuid looks mostly absorbed. Take out the bay leaf and cloves.
4. Fill pastry shells. Cover with remaining dough.
5. Finish as you would any pie cut vents in the tops to allow steam to escape and coat pastry with an egg wash.
6. Bake meat pies in a 400 F preheated oven for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 35-40 minutes.

Although this is not my picture, it does show what the inside of the pie looks like when properly cooked. ...and don't forget to serve it with a tomato based condiment; anything from chutney to ketchup.

To everyone getting together for the holidays, all the best to you and yours from Psychgrad and Giz at Equal Opportunity Kitchen!!! StumbleUpon

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peanut Butter Snowballs

My sister is hilarious. It's no secret that her claim to fame isn't in the kitchen and that she'd rather buy it than make it. Auntie Takeout as we call her is no slouch about making suggestions although she'll do it in a diplomatic way. This time, AT sent both Psychgrad and I this link knowing that we'd both be very interested to see it.

As I was browsing through some of the recipes today's post was quick and easy and there are lots of peanut butter lovers in our family. What can it hurt, right? These Peanut Butter Snowballs are a no bake confectionary.

1 cup powdered milk (I used skim milk powder)
1 cup peanut butter (I used light peanut butter)
1/2 cup honey
1 cup raisins
2 cups coconut (I used a combination of unsweetened and sweetened)

Put powdered milk, peanut butter and honey in a large bowl. Add raisins and squeeze about a tablespoon full to shape into little balls. Roll in coconut. Freeze for 10minutes. Serve.

This recipe is a fun one for kids to make. I only had white mini cups but if you have something more festive they can be rock stars in no time.

Going to a cookie exchange and don't have alot of time - this is it!!! 10 minutes and you're done. StumbleUpon

Monday, December 13, 2010


Town has been getting a lot of great reviews since it opened earlier this year. Some restaurants seem to be "Ottawa darlings", at least on the blogging circuit, and Town is one of these places. Naturally, curiousity got the best of me and I had to check it out.
The space is narrow, bright (at lunch time), airy and simple. Tables are situated pretty closely to each other. When tables are practically side-by-side, I feel like I have to avoid looking around in an effort to maintain some sense of intimacy/not intrude on neighbouring tables' limited space.


I visited over a month ago with a couple of friends over lunch. A selection of the full menu is available for lunch in small or large plate sizes. There were some menu items I would have liked to try, but they unavailable for lunch (I wanted to try to the meatballs).

Please excuse the photo quality. Unless indicated otherwise, pictures were taken on an iPhone. Menu items look much better in person.

I ordered a small plate of the Ricotta Gnudi:

Check out Happy Mouth Blog, the source of the above picture

I tried to eat slowly, to make the dish last. The gnudi is topped with a walnut pesto. All together a great dish. Here's the recipe for the dish (homemade ricotta too).

Both of my companions ordered a small plate of orecchiette:

We all had room for dessert, so we decided to try one of each of the dessert options:

The desserts were cute -- they're all served in a mason jar (an idea I think I might steal). Bottom left is the buttermilk panna cotta, with a raspberry reduction. Bottom right is the rice pudding with pistachio brittle. At the top is the chocolate budino with whipped cream and homemade granola. After sampling a bit of all three, we agreed that the chocolate dessert was the best. Luckily, it was the dessert I ordered.

I'd say that the service was average. The waitress appeared to be working a lot of tables, so she had little time to do more than the minimum. We all enjoyed our meals, but felt that the price for a lunch was pretty hefty. I just checked my Visa account -- between the gnudi, dessert, and tip (only drank water), my bill came to $24.47. The food is definitely good, but the price would be a deterrent for going back regularly.

Town on Urbanspoon StumbleUpon

Thursday, December 9, 2010

President's Choice Holidays - Part IV

If you're not recognizing this logo by now you're not Canadian. AND... if you're not Canadian, I'm sorry - you're missing out on a great year for new entertaining products. If you're American and planning a trip to the great white north, remember to bring a cooler and ice packs for take home goodies.

Package 2 of 3 arrived filled with frozen goodies. I'm not sure how many of the packages went but it was a gutsy effort to logistically send them out, packed in dry ice and make sure everything went where it was supposed to go without incident. I really have to commend our contact Laura for making sure it was relatively seamless. She was diligent in follow up and a plesure all the way through. I suspect she's sitting back now and saying "whew, thank goodness that's done".

Let me share package contents with you and my own personal thoughts about favourites and how to incorporate them into making the holiday season less stressful.

Red Velvet Cheesecake as an opener is sure to grab your attention. Although I've made red velvet cakes before, I can honestly say that tasting this one has encouraged me to perfect my own recipe. This cake is a party in your mouth and I generally don't like cheesecakes finding them dense and oh so rich. This one is sweet but not dense. I took this cake to a party in my building and couldn't find it about 10 minutes after I put it down. Enough said!

I had already talked about the Beef Bourginon previously and loved it.

It didn't take long to make the decision that this would be dinner. There's a substantial enough amount in the package for two average eaters and one hearty eater. I suspect this one will be in the top 5 of best new frozen entrees for this season; restaurant quality with braised beef pieces, baby carrots, pearled onions, root vegetables and mushrooms in a red wine reduction, demi-glaze with bacon. I really doubt my mother had this type of option available to her when we were growing up.

If beef's not your thing, think about Roasted Chicken in Merlot Sauce or Creamy Tarragon Pan Fried Chicken.

Friends stopped by and we took out the newest Hors D'oevre collection. PC took familiar ingredients and designed new fillings and shapes. Flavours include Chicken Sausage Roll, Swiss, Gruyere and Smoked Ham Boats sprinkled with parsley (no less), Roasted Sweet Potato and Goat's Cheese Rolls sprinkled with paprika; and Apple, Smoked Gouda and Carmelized Onion Lattice Roll.

The absolute favourite in this collection is the Roasted Sweet Potato and Goat's Cheese Rolls. Every flavour is easily distinguished and the combination is delicious. We challenged each person to tell us what was in the french puff pastry and since many are foodies, it was fun and interesting to see how refined peoples' pallets are. Each box has 40 pieces and warms up really quickly in the oven.

French Souffles... authentic .... imported from France ... not possible. Yes possible. We took out a couple of ramekins, buttered them well and dropped in premeasured cubes of frozen souffle pieces, put them in the oven and within minutes we had a taste of richness that I've only seen in restaurants. You can make the mini size or full size of either the Emmental Cheese Souffle or the Smoked Salmon & Dill Cheese Souffle.

We're having a drop in event this weekend and I've saved these dry seasoned rotisserie style chicken wings for the event. There's a goodly amount in the package and after all, who doesn't love chicken wings. Grey Cup, Superbowl, New Years, a beer and wings get together - fussy to make from scratch, easy to warm up.

If you're not drinking the beer, this alternative is really addictive;

Smoked salmon is really popular during the holidays. PC has come out with another smoked fish - Smoked Wild Albacore Tuna. The meat texture is more delicate than salmon. I'm serving a combination of both smoked salmon and smoke tuna on pumpernickle squares and rounds with a dollop of room temperature creamed cheese and a garnish of dill. This appetizer is the #1 baba approved and is a must do at any family function.

I don't think I've been to many holiday parties and not found a tray of cheeses and crackers. This one is great value for dollar, six (6) varieties and plentiful. Really, it's all you'll need for that big tray. We keep these around all year long; great as a snack and a quick prep when the mahjong group comes.

You've got the snacks and now you need a good cup of coffee all around (except for the tea drinkers of course). This 100% Hawaiian coffee is medium and balanced and left me asking for a second cup. I suspect this is the coffee that most people would consider their every day coffee. If you want something that's more full-bodied, the 100% Columbian Supremo should fill the bill, or the 100% Kenyan that has an interest berry and citrus flavour. The 100% Sumatra is the wake up coffee that's bold and intense with earthy undertones.

Although the mini melts came earlier (first package), I had to go to my local Loblaw store and get all the flavours and you'll soon be seeing posts of the holiday baking using these products.

Freezer bags was something I really didn't expect and welcomed with open arms. The size is bigger than a lunch bag size and smaller than a large freezer bag size - perfect!!! I admit it - my freezers are FULL of things packed in freezer bags.

Gift Box #3 arrived on December 1st and was an envirobag full of a number of items individually packaged. I love presents and I especially love trying to guess what's in the packages before I open them.

I don't think any explanation is really necessary with these items. Each and every one is fabulous, giftworthy and symbolic of so many of the foods I think of when I think of the holidays.

Thank you President's Choice for the opportunity to sample the new products and also for including a gift card for my future shopping and sampling.

Stock your freezers - you won't be sorry. StumbleUpon

Friday, December 3, 2010

Knitting Update

Just a quick break from regular food blogging...
There's nothing like the birth of a friend's baby to motivate you to finish that knitting project you had in mind as a baby gift. In this case, the motivation to finish the project was even stronger since the sizing is meant for a 3-6 months old.

This pattern comes from Close Knit in Stratford, Ontario.

A big THANK YOU goes to Janette at Close Knit for helping me out with some questions about the pattern. You know you're dealing with a patient person when she is willing to exchange multiple emails with a person in a different city, knit a portion of the pattern, take pictures and send them to a complete stranger. Makes me want to go back to Stratford, just to visit the knitting store.

Next up is a shawl pattern I saw at Close Knit. You can find the pattern here. I'm switching things up a bit and am going with a thicker wool that I got while in Cape Breton from Bellemeade Farm. I really hope I have enough wool! This could be a hard lesson to learn since it would be nearly impossible to match the hand-dyed wool.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ginger Molasses Cookies

When I was checking out the daily Top 9 on Foodbuzz for November 26th,I happened to see a recipe for Ginger Molasses cookies from Gingerbread Bagels". Lindsey calls these her favourite cookies and I can so understand why. They're so rich in flavour with a great consistency; I knew I would love them as soon as I read the name. Ginger! Molasses! Oh yeahhhh!!!!

Lindsey finished her cookies off with icing sugar. I opted to leave them without the extra topping. The trick to the punch of these cookies is to make sure you have the freshest of the freshest cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

Ginger Molasses Cookies aka Lindsey’s Favorite Cookie
(adapted from allrecipes)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice
2 Tablespoons sugar
powdered sugar for dipping tops of cookies in

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, set aside.

Sift together 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl with the paddle attachment (a handheld mixer works fine) mix together 3/4 cup of softened unsalted butter and 1 cup sugar.

Add 1 large egg and mix it up!

Now add in 1/4 cup unsulfured molasses and 1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed orange juice. Mix to combine.

Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until almost combined. Using a spatula/mixing spoon, fold the ingredients together in order to incorporate them.

Pour about 2 Tablespoons of sugar on a plate. The sugar will be used to roll the cookie dough balls in.

Scoop balls of cookie dough using a cookie dough scooper or a Tablespoon. Roll the balls of cookie dough in the sugar.

Place the cookie dough balls on the baking pan and using the palm of your hand, press the cookies to flatten them a bit.

Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool for a couple of minutes on the baking sheet. Tranfer the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Pour some powdered sugar on a plate. Dip the tops of the cooled cookies in the powdered sugar. Shake off the excess powdered sugar. StumbleUpon

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Banana Oat Muffins

R claims that he's not a foodie. In fact, he tries to convince me that he's just as happy with kraft dinner as a gourmet supper. I think it's all just a big front to avoid doing the dishes or encourage the use of fewer dishes (note to self: never buy a house without a dishwasher ever again).

What non-foodie goes to La Bottega or Nicastro's on a weekly basis to buy ingredients for his lunch? He meticulously crafts these sandwiches as part of his night time ritual. First, slice the bread in half (either rosemary buns or small baguettes...I think they're called saroli).

Then, a layer of genoa capocollo. The meat is topped with havarti cheese with caraway seeds. All of this is topped by pickled eggplant and mustard.

Here is R's sandwich mid-way through:

Sounds pretty extravagant? Personally, I think he's trying to recreate Dirienzo's sandwiches. For those you who aren't from the Ottawa area, Dirienzo's is the name of an Italian corner store that serves amazing sandwiches (think lineups outside of the door at lunch time) for a very reasonable price. Here are some pictures from Dirienzo's:

It doesn't stop there. What "I'm not a foodie" lunch is complete without its very own homemade baked good? Yes. That's right. We have a stash of home baked good for R to choose from for lunch. When the supply of muffins (frozen after being baked) gets low, R scours the internet for recipes.

Last time the freezer stash was low, we had a bunch of carrots to use up after my friend the rabbit found a way to eat through the fencing around my garden (next year, metal fencing).

So, he went with Martha Stewart's Carrot Cupcakes (minus the icing). Sorry -- no pictures of the finished product. They were good, though I'd cut back on the sugar next time.

This time, we have an abundance of overripe bananas (I regularly throw overripe bananas straight into the freezer -- good tip to avoid fruit flies). R spent a good 30 minutes comparing recipes for banana, oatmeal and raisin muffins, and decided to go with this one.

Banana Oat Muffins

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup mashed bananas

Combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, soda, and salt.
In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Stir in the milk, oil, and vanilla. Add the mashed banana, and combine thoroughly. Stir the flour mixture into the banana mixture until just combined. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper bake cups, and divide the batter among them.

Bake at 400 degrees F (205 degrees C) for 18 to 20 minutes.

Verdict: Easy to make, but just okay in the flavour department. StumbleUpon

Friday, November 26, 2010

President's Choice Holidays - Part III

Let's Talk

Our American peeps have now watched the parade and enjoyed Thanksgiving Dinner. I hope it was a great one for all. Today there are two groups of people; those who are brave enough to hit the stores for Black Friday for the greatest shopping extravaganza in the U.S. and those who are busy making turkey soup and figuring out what to do with the leftovers from yesterday's dinner. Maybe some are doing both. Thoughts and plans now take a shift to THE holiday season. In the EOK household, the planning is in full swing. President's Choice , for me has been the helper to a "friend in need" when it comes to the planning. The next gift that I opened was a package of these oh so practical baking pans. I'm loving them and relinquished half my stash to Psychgrad who apparently loves them too. They're a perfect 9x9 size, silicone lined and reusable and in a pinch I would use them in a recipe that calls for an 8x8 pan.

The next day along came a Canadian classic; Butter Tart square mix. Butter tart anything (squares, tarts) has always been a big favourite in our family. Of course, the mix was talking to me ..... "make me, make me". I poured myself some of the PC Cranberry and Ginger Ale (it's incredible alone or even mixed with alcohol) and started to put it together.

.... so I did. I didn't exactly time it but it sure didn't take long for them to disappear. I used the 9x9 pan here even though it called for an 8x8 and they turned out just fine.

The price I saw them at my local Loblaws store was $3.00 and I knew that having these in my cupboard was a necessity. Beyond my own pantry, I began thinking about how many gifts could be sent from Canada to expats and non Canadians to give them the flavour of Canada. They're cheap, light weight and would travel well. My Australian family would love these as much as I love receiving Lamingtons from them.

The next day along came Belgian Chocolate Cake Mix. Hmmmm...squares, petit fours, a quick dessert with ice cream - so many possibilities and they can be done within an hour start to finish.

.... and - if you just want to have them on hand, the next day's sampling is a box of freezer bags to put them in and have them ready when company drops by. I like the size of these bags and plan to also use them to package a Nuts n' Bolts recipe I do every year. If you're doing home made, you can create your cookie mixes for gifting and keep them in the freezer ready to package when needed.

These mini peanut butter chips (if I don't snack them all before I bake) are creating combinations with white and dark chocolate. I'll throw some in with my nut mixes as well for an interesting variation.

I've been away for a few days and have just received the second President's Choice package. Stay tuned - you won't believe what's coming in my next post!!! This is the time of year that the best of the best is found in our grocery stores. The freshest products, the newest releases - Enjoy!!! StumbleUpon
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