Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Manitoba Tourtière Pie by Margaret Ullrich

On Sunday we enjoyed a day at Festival du Voyageur.
We were celebrating a very important part of Manitoba’s history.
The festivities took place in St. Boniface, the home of Winnipeg’s French community.
We had a lot of fun and enjoyed some great food including tourtière.


When we moved to Winnipeg in 1975 we learned about Saint Jean Baptiste Day.
In 2014 I posted the recipe for Tourtière, which had been given to me by a neighbour.

Ma regularly served meat pies as a dinner dish when I was growing up.
In addition to the traditional Maltese Corned Beef PieMa would make meat pies using whatever she had in the house.
Both her corned beef and meat pies were very good.


Tourtière is a meat pie recipe which was created in Quebec.
The name comes from the dish in which it was originally cooked, a tourtière.
What went into the dish depended upon what was available locally.
Well, the recipe travelled across Canada and throughout the New England area, and - just as with any really good Maltese recipe - each area added its own special touch.

On the coast, including the New England states, tourtière is made with fish, such as salmon.
In Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean and Eastern Quebec the tourtières are deep-dish meat pies made with potatoes and various meats, including wild game, cut into small cubes.

In Montreal tourtière is made only with finely ground pork. After the meat is browned, water, cinnamon and cloves are added to the filling. 
It is served with any of the following: ketchup, maple syrup, molasses, mango chutney, or cranberry preserves.
Acadian tourtière is a pork pie that may also contain chicken, rabbit and beef.

Here in Manitoba tourtière is regularly served during the holidays in Francophone communities. The browned meat is then well seasoned before being added to the crust.

Basically tourtière is a delicious way for thrifty housewives to use whatever they have on hand.
Now that is something Ma would really have understood!


Hints:

The dough for the crust can be made two days in advance.

Don’t skip chilling the filling. This prevents the crust from becoming soggy. 

The dough that is leftover from trimming can be used to make decorations for the pie.
Either roll flat and use cookie cutters or roll the dough into a rope to make spiral decorations.

To freeze an unbaked pie: wrap well and freeze for up to one month. 
Defrost in refrigerator for 24 hours, then bake.


                        Tourtière Pie

Crust

Cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 Cup solid vegetable shortening
Chill 30 minutes.

Also chill 1/2 Cup water.

In a medium mixing bowl blend
2 Cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
Using a pastry blender, cut the chilled shortening cubes into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, with some small pea-sized pieces remaining.

Sprinkle over the flour mixture
4 Tablespoons cold water
Using a fork stir and draw the flour from the bottom of the bowl to the top, distributing the moisture evenly into the flour. 
Add more water by the tablespoon until the dough is moist enough to hold together when pressed together.
Divide the dough into two pieces, making one piece slightly larger than the other. 
Flatten into 1/2 inch thick disks, and wrap each piece in plastic wrap. 
Chill for 30 minutes, or up to 2 days.

Filling

Finely chop 
1 onion 
1 stalk celery
2 cloves garlic


Thinly slice 

6 mushrooms


Peel and grate 
1 medium potato

In a dutch oven place
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
Heat oil over medium-high heat. 
Add 
1 1/2 pounds ground pork, beef or veal or a combination
the chopped onion, celery and garlic, the sliced mushrooms, and the grated potato
Stirring frequently, cook until the meat is browned, about 10 minutes. 
Add 
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon pepper
Pinch nutmeg
Pinch cloves
Pinch cinnamon
Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Remove the filling from the heat and chill in the refrigerator until cool, about 30 minutes. 

While the filling is cooling:
On a lightly floured surface roll out the larger piece of dough.
Fit the dough into a 9 inch pie plate. 
Spoon the cooled filling into the pie plate. 
Roll out the remaining pastry and place it over the filling. 
Seal the edges, then trim and flute the edges. 
Cut steam vents in the upper crust.
Add the extra dough decorations (see hints).

Preheat oven to 425°F 
Beat together
1 egg
2 teaspoons water
Brush the egg mixture over the top of the pastry, including the decorations. 
Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. 
Leaving the pie in the oven, reduce the heat to 375°F.
Bake for an additional 45 - 50 minutes, until the pastry is golden.


Tourtiere Pie, in all its variations, is a delicious meat pie recipe.
I still prefer Ma’s Timpana recipe.
As I once said
Maltese cooking is heavy on simple carbs. 
Maltese go beyond simple into downright retarded.
Well, I’m Maltese, not French.


About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

Before sunrise, look south to see the waning crescent Moon, Antares and Saturn form a trio. Antares is the brightest star in the constellation Scorpius. Seeing Antares and Scorpius before dawn signals that the shortest days of winter are behind us.

February 26 –New Moon at 9:58 am.

February 28 – Look to the west at dusk to see the tiny, waxing crescent moon pair up with Venus. Then once night falls, grab your binoculars and try to locate the Mars and Uranus above the pair.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Anna Sultana’s Chicken Pot Pie, February’s Full Snow Moon and The Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon

A little over a week ago ago I posted the recipe for Ma’s Coconut Cream Pie.
It was based on the Impossible Pie that was featured on the box of Bisquick™ a few years ago.
If you're my age I'm sure you remember how popular that was a few years ago.

I got an e mail from a young lady who’d decided to buy a box of Bisquick™ and use that in the recipe.
She’d like to know if Ma had any other recipes that could make use of the rest of the Bisquick™.

Well, of course she did.

Ma had originally gotten a recipe which used Bisquick™ as a biscuit topping for chicken stew.
As with the Impossible Pie, Ma preferred not using a biscuit mix.
I’ll give you the recipes using both, as I did with the Coconut Cream Pie.


If you’d like to make the biscuit topping using Bisquick™:

Do not combine together the oil, milk and vinegar.
You'll just be adding the sour cream and milk for the liquid in this version.

In a medium bowl place
1 Cup Bisquick™
1/4 Cup sour cream
3 Tablespoons milk 
Stir just enough to make a stiff dough.
Spoon the dough in 6 mounds over the chicken mixture.


Hints:

This recipe is a good way to use leftover rotisserie chicken, or cooked turkey or ham.
You can use a can of condensed cream of broccoli or asparagus soup, instead of the condensed cream of chicken soup.

You can also use canned or leftover cooked vegetables. 
A bit more or less of the vegetables - or meat - doesn’t matter.

If your family really likes biscuits, double the biscuit recipe and bake the extra biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet while you are baking the pie.

If you’d like the pot pie with a bit more flavour, add finely chopped scallions or your favourite spices to the meat/vegetable mixture or to the biscuit mix.

If you’d like to reduce the fat content, you can use a can of low fat soup, and skim milk, as well as light sour cream and cheese.
You can also leave out the sour cream and/or the cheese.


                        Chicken Pot Pie


Thaw
3 Cups frozen mixed vegetables (carrots, corn, green beans, peas)

Grease an 8 inch square baking pan

Preheat oven to 375º F

In a measuring cup stir together (this is for the biscuits)
1/4 Cup oil
1/2 Cup milk
1 teaspoon vinegar
Let sit while preparing the pie filling.

Pour into the prepared pan
1 can (10 fl oz) condensed cream of chicken soup 
1 can water
3/4 Cup sour cream
Stir just enough to blend.
Add
4 Cups chopped cooked chicken
The thawed vegetables
1 Cup shredded old cheddar cheese 

In a medium bowl combine
2  Cup flour                               
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
Stir in the milk mixture.
Stir just enough to make a stiff dough.
Spoon the dough in 6 mounds over the chicken mixture.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until the biscuits are golden brown.
Serve warm.
If you'd like more vegetables, a salad or a cooked vegetable would be fine.


About the sky this week, thanks to the folks at The Farmers' Almanac…

February 3 – Midpoint of winter. This is the halfway point between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. First Quarter Moon, 11:19 pm.

February 7 – The large waxing gibbous Moon will appear inside the very large asterism that we in the Northern Hemisphere call the Winter Circle, sometimes called the Winter Hexagon. 

February 9 – The large waxing gibbous Moon will be just 4 degrees from the Beehive Cluster, also known as Praesape, and M44.

February 10 – February’s Full Snow Moon at 7:33 p.m. Learn how February’s full Moon got its many names in this short Farmers’ Almanac video

February 11 – The Penumbral Eclipse of the Moon. This eclipse favours the northeastern United States and eastern Canada, where the Moon enters the Earth’s outer (penumbral) shadow soon after moonrise. 
For the rest of the United States and Canada, the eclipse will already be underway as it rises. The Moon will be passing through the southern part of the Earth’s shadow and at maximum its upper limb will come tantalizingly close to the much darker central shadow (the umbra). 
So at maximum, a subtle, but perceptible dimming will be evident along the Moon’s upper limb. 
Moon Enters Penumbra: 5:34 pm
Maximum Eclipse: 7:45 pm 
Moon Leaves Penumbra: 9:53 pm
Magnitude of the Eclipse: 0.988

Friday, January 27, 2017

Happy Year of the Rooster, 2017 / Chinese New Year Traditions

Kung Hei Fat Choy!
Happy Chinese New Year - the Year of the Rooster, the Fire Rooster, to be exact.
The Rooster brings surprises in both adventures and romance.
The festivities will end with  the Lantern Festival, which happens two weeks from now on the 15th day of the first month.
Plenty of time to party hearty!!

A New Year always means a new beginning. 
To celebrate properly one should have paid off all debts, purchased new clothes, painted the front door, and gotten a new haircut.
Maybe trying a new recipe counts, too.

Homes are cleaned before the beginning of the new year.
So give the place a quick once over.
And put away all cleaning equipment before New Year's Eve because good fortune may be swept away if you are tempted to clean on New Year's Day.

Firecrackers are set off on New Year's Eve to welcome in the New Year.
Flowers are an important part of New Year decorations. 
Red is a key colour, as it symbolizes a bright and happy future.
Homes are usually decorated with special red and gold banners, to represent happiness and prosperity.

There are many different traditions observed over the New Year period:
 • Decorate your house with apricot and peach blossoms, 
                 symbols of new beginnings
 • Share a New Year’s feast: enjoy uncut noodles, symbol of longevity, 
                 and fish and chicken, symbols of prosperity
 • Traditional dishes are steamed rice pudding, long noodles, and dumplings
 • For luck, wealth, good health, and a long life eat oranges and tangerines
 • For happiness and wealth eat persimmons
 • Do not cut your hair or use sharp knives or scissors on New Year’s Day 
                 as you may cut off good fortune
 • Wear red to scare away evil spirits and bad fortune
 • Give red envelopes to friends and family for good luck and prosperity

About food...
 • Many people avoid meat on the first day to bring good luck in the New Year. 
 • Day seven is the birthday of human beings, and long noodles (for longevity) 
                 and raw fish (for success) are eaten. 
 • On the 13th day, people eat rice congee and mustard greens
                 to settle their stomachs.
 • The 14th day is spent getting ready for the Lantern Festival on the 15th night
                 and eating some leftovers. 


Your behaviour on New Year’s Day sets the tone for the year.
No pressure.
Just so you know… the Year of the Rooster is
 • the Best Year for: Dragons
 • an Amazing Year for: Rooster, Ox, Snake
 • a Good Year for: Tigers, Rats
 • a Mixed Year for: Pigs, Goats, Monkeys
 • a Difficult Year for: Dogs, Rabbits, Horses


Sometimes the year of the Rooster is called the year of the Phoenix or the year of the Chicken. Two recipes that might suit the chicken theme, Italian style:




About the ‘do not use sharp knives on New Year’s Day’ rule…
Maybe you should pick up some chicken parts.
Better to be safe.