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It’s been awfully quiet around here.

I decided that I’d posted enough mopey posts, and life is actually pretty great.  Life update: I moved to a new apartment and have a delightful part-time room-mate.  I made it through the first semester of nursing school and I’m excited to be going back in January for my maternity rotation!

Now I’m in San Francisco for the holidays and having a blast with family and friends.

Tonight’s dinner is my family’s traditional Christmas dish: Tourtiere.  But this time we’re eating it as the main part of Christmas-eve dinner (as per my traditional French Canadian heritage) as opposed to as part of actual Christmas dinner which is how we usually eat it.  For the last ten or so years, I’ve made Tourtiere for my family.  I usually make about a dozen pies.  We freeze them and give them away as presents to family and friends for their holiday dinners.  My family is all back in Victoria this Christmas, so they won’t have any of my tourtiere, and I just made the one pie today.  I can’t wait to eat it.

Over the years, the recipe has evolved.  I use ideas from Canadian Living and from friends who make tourtiere and from my Grandmere’s recipe.

Want to try it?  I think it’s delicious all year round (and I usually stash a few pies in our freezer for later dates), and Peter prefers it with ketchup, which I think is ridiculous.  Here’s today’s version of the recipe for you (alter as needed!)   Also, the pie below hasn’t been cooked yet.  I stuck it in the fridge so that I can cook it later. They keep well frozen if you wrap in tin foil and then in a plastic bag.  Add an extra 30 minutes to the cooking time if cooking from frozen.

Makes enough to serve 8 or so.

1 1/2 cups cubed, peeled potato

1 lb lean ground beef

1 lb lean ground pork

2 c sliced mushrooms

3/4 c finely chopped celery (about 3 stalks)

3/4 c chicken stock

1 1/2 onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon savory

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 bay leaf

1/4 cup parsley

1 batch of pastry for a 2 crust 9″ pastry:

2/3 c shortening

1 tsp salt

2 cup flour

3 – 4 Tbsp water

In a saucepan, boil the potatoes in salted water until tender.  Drain and mash.  Set aside.

While the potatoes are cooking, in a large saucepan, saute the meats over medium-high heat, (don’t stir too much, you want it pretty lumpy.  My mom used to get mad at me for poking it too much) until no-longer pink.  Drain off the fat.

Add the mushrooms, celery, stock, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, savory, thyme cloves, cinnamon and bay leaf (NOT THE PARSLEY!) to the meat.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover and simmer until there is almost no liquid left.

Pull out the bay leaf, stir in the potatoes and parsley and let it cool.

Make the pastry by cutting the shortening into the flour and salt.  Using a fork, gently toss in the water and mix gently until the pastry comes together in a ball when you squish it with your hands.  Roll out 2/3 of the dough between two sheets of wax paper.  Put in the 9″ pie plate, spoon in the meat mixture.  Roll out the rest of the pastry and top the pie with it.  Flute the edges.  Cut steam vents (I like to make it look festive by cutting the shape of a snowflake.  Brush with milk or an egg wash for an extra-golden crust.  Bake at 400 F for about 50 minutes until golden brown.

Serve (with Ketchup if you really want).  Enjoy!  Merry Christmas.

-a

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I feel like the city of Vancouver is trying to make it up to me for giving me such a rough start to my time here.

This autumn has been beautiful.  It has only rained a little bit and never for more than a few days in a row.  I keep expecting endless rain, wet feet, rain coats and umbrellas, but Vancouver has been sunny and crisp.

UBC doesn’t seem to spend much time raking leaves and as a result the colours have been piling up on the ground.  I frequently swish through the leaf piles and my heart sings a little.  Speaking of which, I had a great time playing in some leaves with one of my nieces this weekend.  Another advantage of being in Vancouver is how much more I’ve been seeing my family!

My big news this week is that I’m moving away from UBC!  Kits will soon be my new neighbourhood and I can’t wait to be closer to people I know and places to discover.  As a result, I need to use up my groceries in the next few weeks so I don’t have to move them.  The more I eat, the less I have to pack!

So, this autumn and move bring you today’s recipe: Autumn Squash Soup with ginger, carrots and apple

 

 

Ingredients:

1 butternut squash

1 Tbsp olive oil or left over bacon drippings

1 onion

2 cloves of garlic

2 carrots

3 Tbsp ginger

1 Apple

2 cups of broth

salt and pepper to taste

Start by taking a butternuts squash and cutting it in half.  Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits.  Don’t bother peeling it.  Put it face down on a tin-foil lined cookie sheet.  Stick it in the oven at 350 (I don’t bother preheating) and let it roast until it is dents in when you poke it with your oven mit.  About half an hour to 45 minutes

Heat up some oil or left-over bacon fat in a heavy bottomed saucepan (I had some leftover bacon drippings in my fridge that I’ve been meaning to use up).

While this is cooking, take an onion and chop it up.  Don’t be fussy about making it small.  A rough cut is fine.  Put it in the pot with the oil.

Chop up a couple of cloves of garlic.  Throw those in to the pot too.

Let that cook until softened.

Chop up a carrot (or two) and toss that in with the onions.

Grate about 3 Tbsp (or about 3 inches) of ginger.  Put that in the pot with the onions, garlic and carrots.  Add 1 – 2 cups of broth.

Let this simmer until the carrots are soft.

Peel and chop up an apple.  Put that in the saucepan

By now the squash should be done.  Take it out of the oven and scoop the flesh out of the skin into the pot with everything else.

TURN THE HEAT OFF!  (Let your soup cool down for a sec.  You’re going to blend it in the pot.  Splurts of boiling hot soup on your skin is a bad thing)

Now take an immersion blender and blend your soup.  Is it too thick?  Add some water or some more broth (I had run out of broth, so I added about 1 and a half cups of water.  Broth would have been tastier.)  Blend it to a texture and thickness that you like.

Now season with salt and pepper to taste.  I used some salt with some blended-in herbs de provence, and it was delicious!

Want to make it heartier?  I added half a cup of cooked quinoa to the soup after I blended it.  I like the texture and it adds some protein.

TADA!  Autumn soup.

 

For those of you in San Francisco, the weather over the next couple of days is going to be beautiful and warm.

Which always makes me think of Arnold Palmers (or half-and-half or lemonade iced tea)

So here is a re-post from learningtogarden (my old blog) of how to make it at home.

Half and Half

8 cups of water

4 tea bags

1 cup sugar

1 cup of lemon juice

In a big pot on the stove, bring the water to a boil.  Remove from heat and add tea bags.  Wait between five and ten minutes.  Depending on how strong you like your tea, or how long you forget about it for.  Stir in the sugar.  It should easily dissolve because the water is still hot.  Stir in the lemon juice.  Let the whole concoction cool to room temperature, put into a jug and put in the fridge.

If you have some handy (which I do), throw in some mint for extra deliciousness.

Enjoy!