Thursday, 10 January 2013

Tourtiere our Christmas Eve Tradition

Written by Linda Gauthier

When I was a child, we never had Tourtiere, my background was English and Scottish with a pinch of Welsh thrown in for good measure, so I grew up eating and having traditional English meals with the occasional foray into the exotic world of restaurant American Chinese food.  However, when I met my husband and we started our own family, my tastes and cooking abilities had evolved substantially.  My husband was born and raised for the first part of his life in Quebec, and as he puts it, when he was 15, he emigrated to Canada. 
However, to me tradition is very important and I was determined that my children know some of his family traditions.  Some, like poutine, have fallen by the wayside.  Neither of us were terribly fond of this concoction, good, though rather stodgy and calorie-laden for my liking.  It has been claimed, by some, to be our national dish.  I'm sorry, but I think we can be far more creative and have far more wonderful dishes to hold up as our national dish.  Chips with gravy and squeaky cheese curds poured over them is good folks, but National Dish??  I say more regional than national.    Rant over!!

However, I found the building of our family tradition around the baking and eating of the Tourtiere on Christmas Eve truly enjoyable, and looked forward to, by all of our family.  So much so that my daughter, who now lives in Newfoundland, cried her first Christmas away because she could not find all the ingredients she wanted for the Tourtiere or my Sage and Sausage Stuffing.
The warmth and memories we all create with our traditional foods brings us closer when we cannot be together, it warms our souls and floods our memories with the smells and tastes of our childhood and happy times.  I'm sure her new traditions, which will evolve with the inclusion of old and new from the people she loves and shares her life with, will become as valued to her as the ones that evolved in our family.


This year I used the Weight Watchers Pastry I wrote about earlier.

The filling for my recipe is as follows:

Because we did not have a lot of family around this year, I made the Tourtiere in small loaf pans that would serve 2 to 4 people, dependent on serving size.  For the buffet, I cut each Tourtiere into 4 small servings. 

Tourtiere ingredients:

for 2 large deep pies or 2 small loaf tins and 1 1/2 dozen deep tarts.

1/2 lb veal                            this year I used ground turkey  in an effort to reduce fat and calories
1/2 lb lean hamburger
1/2 lb pork                            this year I used ground chicken  in an effort to reduce fat and calories
4 large potatoes, grated, pat dry with paper towels keep covered 
    to limit potatoes from changing color.
1 cup grated carrot
sea salt, fresh ground pepper, grated fresh nutmeg to taste.
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp thyme
thickening agent:  flour, cornstarch, tapioca flour etc.  I used a sprinkle of flour over the top of the meat, so that the juices are thickened as it cooks.
Brown your meats lightly, drain oil and grease from meats.
remove from heat stir in your herbs and spices.
let cool slightly add potatoes and carrots
press into pastry shells
top with pastry
seal and decorate give a light brushing with egg wash.
Bake at 425 degrees until brown and golden with meat juices bubbling up through top slashes.

I make a separate gravy from the meat juices for those who like a gravy with the meat.  The Tourtiere is a solid meat pie, with a lovely flavour.  The nutmeg really enhances the meat flavours.  Originally, a Tourtiere was made from wild game, so it would have contained meats like pheasant, venison, rabbit or boar, and grouse or partridge.   I noticed that someone was asking what the weight watchers point value is for Tourtiere.

For a single serving, 17 ww points per pie serving, if you have small servings such as a slice from the small loaf pan it would be 1/2 that. I have been able to ascertain this by adding the ingredient totals and then dividing them by portion. 

Hope you enjoy this recipe, and maybe, just maybe, incorporate it into your traditions.

Thepolarbearblog: Fresh Snow  Photo By Uni_Zoo

Relax, enjoy and relish the memories.

The Taste of the Big Easy

Written by Linda Gauthier


I made this dish for my boxing day feast, as a nod to the fact that, a couple of my guests had lived in Louisiana for a time, and I thought it would be a complementary dish for the rest of the menu.

What is Etoufee? A spicy tomato broth with crawfish or shrimp, served over rice.  A true Cajun comfort food.

crawfish etouffee.jpg

1 pound large shrimp, cleaned
Salt and Pepper, to taste
olive oil
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 pkg Epicure Selections Jambalaya 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley 
2 slices lemon 
1 tablespoon green onions

What’s next:
Season shrimp or crawfish with salt & pepper, set aside.
In a medium saucepan, place oil & saute onion over medium heat until tender. 
Stir in flour gradually, Jambalaya mix, mix well.  Add water, lemon, tomato paste & garlic.  Cook on medium-low for 20 minutes.  Add a little water if it starts to stick. 
Add shrimp & cover saucepan.  Cook for 8 minutes. 
Add green onions & parsley & cook for 2 minutes. 
Serve over rice & you’re ready to do it up New Orleans style!

Pour yourself a cool one, flip on some Zydeco and take a little vacation to the "Big Easy" enjoy.

Cranberry Glazed Ham

Written Linda Gauthier

This is a very simple recipe and basic, but boy, does it taste good!!

Choose your cut of ham.
Make a mixture of Dijon mustard, and brown sugar
Pat the paste on your ham.
Take 1 jar of Epicure selections Cranberry Sauce, or use your own homemade cranberry sauce, (you require a cranberry sauce which is not too sweet)  The Epicure Cranberry sauce is ideal, is slightly tart and has delightful flavour.
Place this over the mustard mixture already on your ham, coat the ham.
Place in pre-heated oven of 350 degrees bake until crispy and juices 
run clear, add additional cranberry sauce through the cooking process.

Food for thought.......

 Written by Linda Gauthier

I say Eggplant, you say Aubergine, whatever you call it, it's darn good and good for you!!!

Here is the food,

Eggplant Au Gratin with Baby Spinach


1 med size eggplant
1 jar Italian tomato sauce
2 tbsp Epicure Sun Dried Tomato
1/2 of a medium cooking onion
2 c spinach (washed and stems removed)
1/2 c to 1 c grated Pecorino  Ramano cheese  amount depends on your taste


  1. Slice eggplant into slices 1/2 inch thick
  2. Sprinkle 2 tbsp Sun Dried Tomato over Eggplant
  3. Chop onion finely
  4. Sprinkle over eggplant
  5. Place spinach over eggplant
  6. Pour tomato sauce over mixture
  7. Place in pre-heated 375 degree oven
  8. Bake for 15 minutes
  9. When bubbling, remove from oven and top with half of the cheese replace in oven continue to bake, aprox 15 minutes more. 
  10. Remove from oven once more, sprinkle rest of cheese,place in oven to melt 5 min.   
  11. It is now ready to serve.     
  12. This dish is a total of 13 ww points.

Here is my finished dish, served with roasted beet, red onion and orange salad, topped with toasted walnuts and Epicure Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing.

And now for the thought:

I have been having a real hard time getting back into the routine of writing, so yesterday I sat down and had a talk with myself, and self gave me a few interesting answers to my questions.

I have realized that I require structure.  I knew I was a list maker and a to-do person, but I had not actually come to the realization that it was a personal requirement for most activities in life.
When I sat down to give myself a shake and ask myself what the heck was going on, these where the answers I came up with:

a) I had not sat down and made a list of goals, or created a menu to start the month off with... "So?" you say.  Well, what I was doing was floating around, drifting like a leaf in a puddle of water, not having any particular direction to focus on, the result being that I was just bopping from here to there with no particular goal and achieving nothing.   
Realization #1;  Meandering not good, keep focused and on track.

b) I also realized that I was beginning to think I had reached my goal and I was relaxing.  What I was actually doing, was returning to old habits.  I had been too confident that I had my new lifestyle down pat.  Wrong!  Old habits, lifelong habits are comfortable, and easy to fall back into.  Until you are sure of them and have a firm handle on them, you must remain vigilant.  I am not saying that this applies to everyone, but to me, it certainly does.  It's like seeing that old boyfriend and all the old feelings and the warm and fuzzy memories start up, but you forget about how wrong you were for each other, the pain it caused you.  Remember the pain and you'll be better off.
Realization #2;  Over-confidence is not a good thing, keep your confidence in check, if you're going to splurge, okay, but be sure you have your return back to schedule plan in place.

c) This isn't a diet that you follow for a period of months, days etc, it is a change, a permanent change in lifestyle, and therefore has to become part of you.  I have to view it as the way things are, not a temporary situation to deal with and then move on.  I have to look at food and my behaviours, being sure to recognize why I am craving something or falling back into my old ways.  What I have to recognize is why do I want this, am I really hungry, or am I bored, or thirsty, or mad with myself or my husband, or is it something else entirely?

Realization #3;  Recognize my demons and don't try to bury them with food, face them and meet them head on.

d) When I truly look at myself and the barriers I sometimes place in front of me, it is as if I am deliberately testing myself.  Setting myself up to fail, instead of forgiving myself and moving on.  One slip does not make me weak, one indulgence does not make me any less determined, but when I allow the slips and indulgences to continue and to mount up, to undermine my determination, they do become a weakness, followed by, in my case, at least acceptance that "yeah, you can't change, that's the way you are; you were born to be this way; who are you kidding? you will always be overweight."

Realization #4;  Get rid of the whiny little kid voice that sometimes likes to ride on my shoulder and undermine my resolve.

So, the outcome of the conversation with "self" is; she gave me a swift kick in the posterior and said to smarten up, and get on with it, so here I am.  Sounding a little crazy, but I am here, and I am getting back on this horse, so I guess the morale of the story is the following quote from Albert Einstein: 

Not that I could ever be compared to Einstein, but "self" sometimes seems to know a few things.  If only I would listen to her more often.

Have a great day, and remember it never hurts to sit down and have a serious talk with "self".  We all know what is right for us, we have just forgotten how to listen to our "self" and sometimes need to hear the hard truths which no one else will tell us.

Talk to you soon.

Preserved Lemons a taste of Italy

Preserved Lemons

I can't imagine my kitchen with out them now....

Preserved Lemons


4 lemons or 6 lemons depends on size
1/2 cup Himalayan Pink salt
1 tsp dried crushed red pepper
4 springs fresh rosemary     Note:   I chose to omit the rosemary and the chilies
1 cup fresh lemon juice


Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil; add lemons. Boil 5 minutes; drain. Run lemons under cold water until cool enough to handle.  Discard water.
Cut lemons into wedges press pulp of lemons to release juice save juice in small cup.
Pack lemon wedges with pink salt, red pepper, and rosemary in a medium bowl. Pack into a jar. 
Pour lemon juice over lemon wedges to cover. Seal jar, store in cool dark area, turning and shaking  jar once everyday.
Chill at least 3 days or until rinds are soft and pliable. Store lemons in refrigerator up to 1 year.

Tip: Stir finely chopped pieces into hot or cold dishes for a burst salty, lemony flavor.  Be sure not to use the salty pulp just the rind, rinse and remove pulp then finely chop preserved lemon, adds a wonderful taste to soft cheese, chicken, pork, rice let your mind run wild tastes wonderful in couscous and a million other dishes.