Tourtière

2012-12-21 19.56.31

I recently spent a week with my grandmother.

She is old. She wobbles when she walks. And her hands are losing strength more quickly than she would like. Consequently, she ends up eating a lot of frozen foods, forgoing health for convenience.

Not that I can blame her. Sometimes I have trouble making toast in the morning, let alone a meal that incorporates every possible food group (wine counts, right?). So when I offered to go spend a week with her and cook her some healthy meals, I naively assumed that she would actually LET me do the cooking. I ate so much processed cheese that now I’m even avoiding oranges. Let’s hope it’s a temporary aversion.

The one thing I did manage to make for her was a tourtière. Originally, I used this recipe from the Food Network, but I’ve tweaked it to meet my personal preferences. I generally like heavily spiced foods and I found the Food Network recipe to be too mild for my tastes.

Pastry

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup cold butter, chopped into bits
  • 1/2–1 cup cold water

Combine dry ingredients and add chopped butter. Mix butter into dry mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Large chunks of butter are ok (and even encouraged!). Add water 1 tbsp at a time until mixture holds together in a ball. Cut in half and refrigerate. Makes enough for 1 double-crust pie.

Filling

Ingredients:

  • 1–1 1/2 cup mashed potatoes, sans butter
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 lbs extra lean ground beef, pork, or combination
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup apple cider or beef stock*
  • 1/2 cup water, if needed
  • 1 egg for glazing (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook potatoes until well done. Mash roughly and set aside.

Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add enough butter to grease the bottom and sauté onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Add ground meat and cook until no pink remains.

Once the meat has cooked, add the peas, the mushrooms, and all the spices at once. Stir until well combined and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the cider or beef stock and water (if needed) and the bay leaves and let sit until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add the mashed potatoes to soak up the remaining liquid and set aside to cool.

While mixture is cooling, roll out pastry dough. Fill a 9-inch pie pan or springform pan with the filling and top with pastry and brush with egg. Make sure to cut steam holes in the top.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 40-60 minutes or until pastry is a golden brown. Let cool at least 10 minutes before serving.

*One time, I was out of beef stock and apple cider, so I decided to use rum. It was delicious, but lacked in salt. If you use a low-sodium liquid, make sure to up the salt quotient.

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Georgian Bay Apple Pie

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Mmm, apple pie.

Who doesn’t love the smell of tart apples, cinnamon, and pastry fusing together to form a delicious, crispy slice of heaven.

I remember apple pie being a rare treat growing up. My mum would make it for Thanksgiving and Christmas and very occasionally on request. My very favourite part was the crust—perfectly crisp and flaky and buttery to the last bite. Once I had been taught how to make the perfect pastry (the recipe can be found here at Smitten Kitchen), my mum gave me her coveted recipe. It was like I had been entrusted to my family’s entire wealth, which I will now share with you.

This pie is too good to keep closeted away.

Ingredients

Pastry for deep 9-inch double-crust pie

For brushing:

  • 1 tbsp light cream
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar

Filling:

  • 8 cups sliced, peeled apples
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp coarsely grated orange rind (approx. 1 orange)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 1/2 tsp butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a large bowl, toss apples, sugar, flour, rind, nutmeg, cinnamon, and orange juice. Spoon into a prepared pie shell and dot with butter.

Roll out top pastry. Moisten the rim of the shell and cover with top pastry. Trim edges and fold under to make a thick crust and flute it with your fingers. Brush lightly with cream and sprinkle with sugar.

Cut steam vents in the top of the crust and be sure to put a pan under the pie while it’s in the oven. Otherwise you will have sticky sugary goo on the bottom of your oven that will tend to aggravate your fire alarm.

Bake at 425 degrees F for 20 minutes. Then, reduce heat to 375 F (190 C) and bake for 35-40 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and a knife stuck in the steam vent meets minimal resistance. Let pie cool on a rack and top with whipped cream or cheddar cheese.

2013-09-16 21.29.02