Thursday, December 15, 2011

La Tortière that is Sure to Please!

This flavourful recipe is one that is brought together from the traditional Jehanne Benoit ‘Canadiana’ cookbook from 1975 as well as the ‘Canadian Living’ classic cookbook published every year.  To every French Cook comes a different blend of herbs but the concept comes from France where ‘la tourterelle’, a tiny bird would be the main ingredient of this dish.  By the way, the carrier pigeon in Canada became extinct due to the intensive hunting of to make this meat pie.
3 medium potatoes
2-3 lbs of lean ground beef combined with pork
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large golden onions
1-2 carrots
6 cloves garlic
1 stalk celery
6 cups sliced mushrooms
3 tsp. thyme
2 tsp. sage
1 tbsp savory
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ c. chopped fresh parsley

Peel potatoes in a separate saucepan.  Drain and mash them until smooth.
In a deep skillet, cook onions, garlic, celery and mushroom and set aside.  Cook 3 lbs meat thoroughly.  Add chicken stock and stir in parsley.  Finally add chopped carrots and potatoes.
For Pastry:
Mix flour and salt in a separate bowl.  Blend in lard into flour mixture until it is the size of small peas.  Prepare beaten egg, cold water and vinegar up to one cup, and add to flour mixture.  Make into a large mass without working the dough, and finally divide it into 6 balls of dough.  Place into the fridge to cool (makes 3 pies).  
Make lower shell, add mixture.  Make top shell of pastry.  Bake in a hot oven at 425 degrees for 15 min.  Reduce heat for 45 min. at 325 degrees until done.  Enjoy.

Peasant Risotto

I was charmed by this dish with its delicious flavour along with high protein value.  Rice and beans are the basic ingredient but this time, it is not Mexican but European in style. Remember to be generous with herbs as the flavours will be enjoyable in this simple but hearty one bowl meal. It's shamelessly inexpensive reminding all of us that with some planning and preparation, food can be good, clean and 'fairly inexpensive', a new twist on the Carlo Petrini's adage of 'Good, Clean and Fair' in his pivotal book called Slow Food Nation. By the way, this would be a great meal after skating or hockey practice, so make a large batch as this recipe offers and freeze to enjoy later.
1 tbsp olive oil 15 ml
6 slices of bacon
3 cloves garlic
2 cups arborio rice 500 ml
2 cans navy beans 1 L
soaked and drained
1 onion finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped sage 15 ml
salt to taste
4 cups chicken broth 1 L
3 cups chopped swiss chard, 
stems removed 750 ml
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 125 ml
Heat oil in a large dutch oven, adding ham, garlic, onion until they are browned. Add rice, beans and sage. Add the warm broth and bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for approximately 30 minutes.
With the cover on the dutch oven and the risotto on a slow simmer, add the grated Parmesan cheese to thicken. Add water if necessary to prevent sticking.  Finally place the shredded swiss chard in the pot to steam for 5 minutes. Stir one last time and serve generous portions in bowls. This freezes very well. Serves 8.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Flower Pot Pannetone

This adaptation to the traditional Italian Sweet bread commonly served at the high holidays of Easter and Christmas, is one that is very flavourful and attractive and will bea welcomed part of your festive winter celebrations. Flower pots are an ideal baking container allowing a slow, moist heat throughout, and are inexpensive to purchase. I found that this recipe allows for 6 high-domed loaves in prepared pots 4.5in. to 5.5 in. (10-40 cm.) large. They conveniently stack away after use for storage. I also prefer to use dried fruit rather than candied, so I made it with dried cranberries, apricots and golden raisins. Try your own mixed fruit blend.
3/4 c. golden raisins 175 ml.
1/2 c. dried apricots 125 ml.
1/2 c. dried cranberries 125 ml.
8 c. approx. all purpose flour 2 L.
1 c. granulated sugar 250 ml.
3/4 c. warmed milk 175 ml.
4 1/2 tsp active dried yeast 2 pkg
6 eggs
6 egg yolks
1 tbsp orange rind 15 ml.
1 tbsp lemon rind 15 ml.
1 tbsp vanilla 15 ml.
1 1/2 tsp salt 7 ml.
1 1/2 c. softened unsalted butter 375 ml.
In a small metal bowl, combine all dried fuit and sprinkle 2 tbsp (25 ml.) of the flour to coat and set aside. Prepare the yeast by adding 1 tsp (5 ml) sugar into another bowl, warming milk, adding it to the sugar, mix and let stand for 10 minutes. Whisk together eggs, citrus rinds and vanilla and add yeast mixture.
In a large bowl, blend together 4 cups (1 L.) flour, remaining sugar and salt. Blend in the liquid mixture into the flour and stir sufficiently. Add the balance of the flour. Turn out the dough on a floured surface and knead for approximately 8 minutes adding more flour if needed. Finally dust with flour and let rest for 5 minutes.
Flour dough to a large thick pancake and add the dried fruit. Fold over once and close the seal. Knead 3-5 minutes to sufficiently blend in the fruit and place covered in a greased bowl in a warm place for 1 1/2 hrs so that it is doubled in size.
Grease each flower pot and add a small pice of aluminum foil to each bottom to avoid burning the base. Line each pot with parchment paper letting it pass the top by approximately 2 in. (5 cm.). Punch down dough, and turn it out on a floured surface. Divide into 6 mounds and place into the bottom of each pot. Make a cross-like cut on the top of each loaf.  Allow the dough to rise again for about an hour-1 1/2 hrs. Bake at 350 degrees (180 degrees C.) for 30-40 minutes. Remove, let cool for a few minutes and remove from their pots. Wrap when cool and will keep for approximately 2 weeks. They make for very attractive gifts and happy holiday baking!