Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tourtière with Homemade Ketchup

Tourtière is a Québécois (French Canadian) meat pie traditionally served at Christmas. I'm not actually sure where I ate it but I remember having it regularly as a child. I'm guessing at daycare or else, it was store bought, because we definitely never made it at home. I have been craving tourtière since last year. My sister talked about making it for Christmas but she ended up making an Asian influenced meal instead. You need a crowd to make it since it is a whole pie and it is a colder weather dish; Thanksgiving seemed like the perfect opportunity. When I told my sister of my plans, she stated that I should make homemade ketchup to go along with it. She's a bossy one! The tourtière was quite easy to make and everyone enjoyed it. The ketchup was also easy but I thought rather labour intensive.


Homemade Ketchup - makes 1 cup

From Jamie at Home.
The original recipe requires putting the ketchup through a sieve twice. Once was enough for me - this was the step I thought labour and time intensive. I also skipped the cloves because I didn't have any. Add some if you like. My sister thought it was good because it tasted like... ketchup! So is this worthwhile if it tastes like the store-bought stuff? Well, if you're worried about ingredients (which are really not that bad, the weirdest one being liquid sugar), sure. If I made this again, I would add more chili to make it spicier and more interesting.


* ½ large red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
* ¼ bulb of fennel, trimmed and roughly chopped
* ½ stick of celery, trimmed and roughly chopped
* olive oil
* ½ thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
* 1 clove of garlic, peeled and sliced
* 1 fresh red chili, deseeded and finely chopped
* ½ bunch of fresh basil, leaves picked, stalks chopped
* 1-½ tsp coriander seeds
* salt and pepper, to taste
* 1 lb cherry or plum tomatoes, diced roughly
* ¼ cup red wine vinegar
* 2-½ tbsp brown sugar

Heat up the olive oil in a saucepan.
Place all the vegetables, ginger, garlic, chili, basil stalks and coriander seeds into the pan.
Season with salt and pepper.
Cook gently over low heat for 10-15 min until the vegetables have softened, stirring every so often.
Add the tomatoes and ¾ cups of cold water.
Bring to boil and simmer gently until the sauce reduces by half.
Add basil leaves, then purée sauce in a food processor.
Push the sauce through a sieve with the back of a spoon.
Place sauce into a clean pan and add vinegar and sugar.
Turn on the heat and simmer until it reduces and thickens to consistency of tomato ketchup. At this point, adjust the seasoning to taste.

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All of the ingredients that went into the ketchup.

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Putting it through a sieve was a pain.

Tourtière - Serves 6-8
As I mentioned above, this was very easy and quick to make. My sister's fiancé D made pie dough from scratch but you could just use store-bought pie dough. I think any mixture of ground meats can be used, but traditionally pork is used. I bought a tray of beef, veal and pork, and added more pork to it. Again, I didn't have cloves but the recipe did call for it.


* oil
* 1 onion, diced very small
* 1 garlic clove
* 200 g ground beef
* 200 g ground veal
* 400 g ground pork
* 1 potato, grated
* ½ tsp ground cinnamon
* ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
* thyme leaves from 5-6 sprigs, or to taste
* salt, to taste
* ground pepper, to taste
* 2 pie doughs, homemade or store-bought
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 tbsp milk

Heat up oil in a large pan.
Cook onions and garlic until softened.
Add all of the ground meat and all of the spices.
Season with salt and pepper.
Break the meat apart until cooked.
When the meat is cooked and any liquid has evaporated, turn off the heat.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Mix in the grated potato and let the mixture cool.
Place one pie dough into a 9" pie pan.
Add the meat mixture on top, using a fork to even out the surface.
Roll the second pie dough on top and pinch the edges of the crust to seal.
Cut some slits or a hole in the middle, to allow the meat to steam.
Mix the milk and egg yolk together, and brush the top of the pie with it (oops, we forgot this step).
Bake in the oven at 400F for 10 minutes.
Decrease the temperature to 350F and bake for another 20 minutes.

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Ok, ground meat does not look appealing but it tasted good, I swear!

Everyone really enjoyed this dish. My sister liked it even better than the turkey and had seconds! I can't wait for another occasion to make it again.

For the rest of the Thanksgiving Menu:
* Mushroom Soup
* Turkey Breast Stuffed with Pancetta & Chestnut Stuffing
* Martha Stewart's Cranberry-Orange Sauce
* Roasted Carnival Squash
* Pumpkin Fritters served with ice cream

Friday, October 23, 2009

Martha Stewart's Cranberry-Orange Sauce

While we made gravy from the stuffed turkey breast, I thought having a cranberry sauce would be a nice addition. Some people just stuck to gravy; I topped my piece of turkey with gravy and added cranberry sauce on the side. It's so quick and easy to make your own cranberry sauce, so why not just make it at home? I liked this recipe because of the added flavours, but for a basic sauce, you just need cranberries and sugar.


Cranberry-Orange Sauce
From Martha Stewart Living, November 2005.
This is a third of the original recipe because I did not want any leftover sauce. Feel free to make more if you have more guests.

* 1 cups fresh cranberries
* ⅓ cup sugar
* ⅓ tbsp finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
* ½ navel orange, peel and pith remove, flesh cut into segments with a sharp knife

Stir together cranberries, sugar and ginger in a medium saucepan.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and cranberries begin to pop.
Add 1 cup of water and simmer, until thickened slightly.
Remove from heat.
Stir in orange.
Let cool.

It's as easy as adding the ingredients into a saucepan!

For the rest of the Thanksgiving Menu:
* Mushroom Soup
* Turkey Breast Stuffed with Pancetta & Chestnut Stuffing
* Tourtière with Homemade Ketchup
* Roasted Carnival Squash
* Pumpkin Fritters served with ice cream

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Mushroom Soup

I had been planning to make mushroom soup before Thanksgiving but never got around to it so I still had leftover mushrooms. In addition, we scored very inexpensive shiitake mushrooms during our visit to St. Jacobs Farmer's Market (we had our eye on the mushrooms and when we returned at the end of the day, the price had gone down!). Therefore, mushroom soup seemed like a perfect starter for our Thanksgiving meal. My sister's fiancé D doesn't like the texture of mushrooms so we figured we would purée it, drawing inspiration from our soup at La Foumangerie.


Mushroom Soup - Serves 8
I made this soup dairy free for my mom and it was very good. However, you could start off sautéing the mushrooms in butter and add cream at the end. I don't have exact measurements but you don't really need it...

* oil (or butter)
* 4-5 cups assorted mushrooms, washed and sliced roughly (we had button, shiitake and oyster mushrooms)
* salt, to taste
* pepper, to taste
* thyme leaves from 5-6 sprigs, or to taste
* 1 cup white wine, or to taste
* 2 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth

Sauté mushrooms in oil in a large pot.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add thyme leaves (you can also add the stalks but remember to remove them before puréing it).
Once the mushrooms are cooked and softened, add the white wine.
Bring to a boil and allow the wine to reduce.
Add broth and bring to a boil again.
Purée the soup in batches and return it to the pot (or use an immersion blender if you have one).
If it's too thick, add some water or more broth.
Taste and adjust seasoning.
Garnish with thyme and sour cream.

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Sliced mushrooms and cooking in wine.

For mushroom lovers, more mushroom posts:
* Bacon & Parmesan stuffed Mushrooms
* Chicken and Mushroom Orzo
* Mushroom Crusted Tilapia
* Mushroom Pita Pizza
* Potato Mushroom Bruschetta

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thanksgiving Menu 2009

There were double the people this Thanksgiving (six in total) compared to last year's, so not only did we double the amount of food but the amount of dishes also! My mom really liked last year's stuffed turkey breast, so we stuck with that recipe. I've been craving tourtière (Québécois meat pie) since last year, so figured this was the perfect occasion to make it.

The Thanksgiving menu is outlined below, with individual posts to follow in coming days:

* Mushroom Soup
* Turkey Breast Stuffed with Pancetta & Chestnut Stuffing
* Martha Stewart's Cranberry-Orange Sauce
* Tourtière with Homemade Ketchup
* Roasted Squash and Brussel Sprouts
* Steamed Green Beans
* Pumpkin Fritters served with ice cream

My plate was definitely full!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Chaussons aux Pommes (Apple Turnovers)

We have already determined that my mom spoils me by cooking great meals when I visit. I like to repay the favour and try to spoil her when she visits. She does not make easy, always trying to come in the kitchen and help. She also has specific likes and dislikes. One thing she loves are apple desserts, such as apple pie, apple crumble and chaussons aux pommes (apple turnovers).
Funnily, she loves apple McDonald's apple turnovers so I thought I would make some for breakfast. I got the perfect compliment after my mom bit into one and stated that they taste just like McDonald's! Thanks Mom!


Apple turnovers are very easy to make once you've purchased puff pastry! You can buy puff pastry made with butter or hydrogenated oil. The latter is not good for you but makes for a good vegan version (or if your mom dislikes dairy). I love turnovers and my only complaint when buying them is that there is never enough filling. I learned why when I made them: it's hard to fit a lot of filling!

Chaussons aux Pommes (Apple Turnovers) - Makes 4 turnovers
Adapted from Laura Calder's Chaussons aux Pommes and
I reduced the amount of apples from the original recipe since I had leftover filling. However, eating the filling on its own is pretty good. My sister also ate her turnover with some added filling. Finally, it would be great on French toast or vanilla ice cream!

* lemon juice
* water
* 2 apples (I used Golden Delicious)
* 1 tbsp vegetable oil or butter
* ½ cup brown sugar
* ½ tsp cinnamon
* ½ tbsp cornstarch
* ½ (200g) package frozen puff pastry
* 1 egg yolk + a bit of water

Add lemon juice to a bowl of water.
As you peel and slice your apples into small pieces, add them to the water to prevent from browning.
Drain the apples.
Cook the apples in some vegetable oil (or butter if your mom enjoys dairy...!).
Add sugar and cinnamon, and mix them in until apple pieces are coated.
Stir together the cornstarch with 1/2 tablespoon of water.
Pour the cornstarch mixture in - this will help thicken the apple mixture.
Cook until sauce has thickened and apples are cooked.
Remove from heat to cool down.
Meanwhile, if you bought the puff pastry in a block like I did, use a rolling pin to roll it down.
Cut four squares out of the puff pastry.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the apple mixture.
Fold the pastry in half, either to make a rectangle or a triangle. (I made them into a rectangle so they'd look like McDonald's...).
Cut some slits to allow the steam to come out.
Mix the egg yolk with a bit of water, and brush the mixture over the turnovers.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425F, then another 10-15 minutes at 375F until puffed and lightly browned.

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Doesn't that apple mixture look awesome?

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Turnovers before and after baking.

For another apple recipe:
Mini Apple Tarte Tatin

Sunday, October 18, 2009

St. Jacobs: Oktoberfest Sausage and Apple Fritters

I always struggle to find ideas about what to do when my family visits. This time, I thought we could head to St. Jacobs. St. Jacobs is a little town near Waterloo (home of RIM and blackberry) known for its Mennonite community. There's a farmer's market and the town has a quaint strip for shopping.


The market was surprisingly busy. I guess it was not such an original idea to come to St. Jacobs on Thanksgiving weekend. The St. Jacob's Farmers' Market also includes a flea market. We just walked around the farmer's market and looked at the various produced offered.

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Then when we started to get hungry, we headed to the food stalls. As we drove in near Waterloo, there was a lot of unexpected traffic. Then we saw the Oktoberfest signs and it all made sense. Nearby Waterloo hosts the largest Oktoberfest outside Germany. I have never attended Oktoberfest but I thought I should at least have an Oktoberfest sausage! My sister and I shared a sausage. It was good, but nothing special.

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Oktoberfest sausage topped with sauerkraut.

Next, we were very excited to have apple fritters! This is what I associate St. Jacobs with! There was a long line waiting outside. My sister and I waited for probably 45 minutes, at the amusement of our family. Apple fritters are made up of fresh apple rings that are deep fried, then coated with cinnamon and sugar. They are made from scratch and when people come in to buy them by the dozen, it's a slow process! But we thought it was worth the wait!

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Line for apple fritters!


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Our reward for waiting!

We got a half dozen apple fritters, and one serving with ice cream. We inhaled those apple fritters very quickly compared to our wait. The cooked apples had softened and the dough was piping hot, a perfect combination with the ice cream. If you do come to St. Jacobs, you must have some apple fritters!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies Faceoff

My sister's fiancé D asked what treat would be awaiting when he and L arrived on Friday night before Thanksgiving. I had a specific treat in mind! After watching At The Table With... Elizabeth Falkner, I took out her book Demolition Desserts from the library. In it were tempting desserts, from delectable cookie recipes to elaborate desserts, requiring several components.


On the show and in the book, Elizabeth boasts that her brother deems her chocolate chip cookies the best and I thought I'd try it out! I made a batch at my friends Superfly and T, and they were a hit! In the book, following the Chocolate Cookie Recipe, is the recipe for Chococolate2 Chip Espresso Cookies, which looked equally delicious. I thought I would make both recipes and have a chocolate cookie faceoff! I followed the chocolate chip cookie recipe, baked half and added ingredients from the second recipe. I like both recipes equally, while my sister preferred the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. I think the key ingredient is the brown sugar!

Chocolate Chip Cookies - Makes 3 dozens
I recently heard a great tip that for all dessert recipes, the sugar can be cut by 10%. I would agree since I tend to find desserts too sweet. Follow this tip according to your own sweet tooth!

* ½ cup butter, softened but still cool
* ¾ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
* ½ cup granulated sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
* ¼ tsp kosher salt
* 1-¼ cup plus 3 tbsp (7 oz) all-purpose flour
* ½ tsp baking soda
* ¼ tsp baking powder
* 8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped the size of chocolate, or bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1-½ cups)

In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter, brown and granulated sugars until smooth but not overmixed.
Add the egg, vanilla, and salt and stir just until combined.
Sift in the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and stir gently just until combined.
Add the chocolate and stir just evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes (I didn't actually follow this step - too anxious to bake!).
Scoop 1 tbsp of the dough and set them on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
(At this point I baked 12 cookies and set aside 6 tbsp of dough.)
Bake for 10 minutes.

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This is the batch I made at my friends' a few weeks ago.

Chococolate2 Chip Espresso Cookies
From Elizabeth Falkner's Demolition Desserts.
Because I didn't want two batches of cookies I made the second chocolate chip cookie recipe by adding ingredients to half of the first one (did that make sense?).
It doesn't follow exactly Elizabeth Falkner's recipe but I think it's close enough.

* ½ chocolate chip cookie dough recipe above
* ¼ cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1 tbsp finely ground espresso (I just used coffee I had)
½ cup white chocolate chips

Mix the cocoa powder and espresso (or ground coffee).
Sift cocoa mixture onto the dough and stir gently just until combined.
Add the white chocolate chips and mix again.
Scoop 1 tbsp of the dough and set them on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
(At this point I baked 12 cookies and set aside 6 tbsp of dough.)
Bake for 10 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Faceoff
I thought combining both recipes onto one cookie would literally create a cookie faceoff. You can bite one side, then the opposite one and compare!

6 tbsp of chocolate chip cookie dough recipe above
6 tbsp of chococolate2 chip espresso cookie dough recipe above

Cut each tablespoon of cookie dough in half.
Combine two ½ tbsp of each recipe to make one cookie.
Set them on parchment paper lined baking sheets.
Bake for 10 minutes.

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A faceoff cookie combines the best of both worlds!

For other cookie recipes:
* Chocolate Chip Cookies
* Ginger Snaps
* Hazelnut Chocolate Biscotti

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rice with Braised Shrimp Heads

Ok, this dish might sound weird (my mom asked me not to post it because we would look odd!). As I mentioned in my previous post on wonton soup, I was trying to clean my freezer and used up some frozen shrimps. While doing this, my mom found a bag of shrimp heads. That's because when I made baked shrimp toasts this summer, I accidentally bought whole shrimps with heads on (don't ask why I bought shrimps when I clearly had some in the freezer - this is why my freezer needed organizing!). Not wanting to waste, I figured I would do something with the heads, but never did. So my mom took it upon herself to cook them.


This recipe is exactly the same as the tôm kho (braised shrimps), except we only used shrimp heads and we did not have to add lobster paste. Shrimps heads added tremendous flavours and a beautiful orange colour. We cooked a bit of rice to throw in with the heads and sauce. The rice also turned a nice orange colour and was very tasty.

Orange colour from the shrimp heads.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Wonton Soup

While my mom visited, she asked me what I wanted for dinner. Yes, I've said this before and I'll say it again: I am totally spoiled! It's been getting colder and it was rainy. Soup is the perfect meal for such weather and I had a sudden craving for wonton soup. It was also a perfect choice because I wanted to clean my freezer and so I was able to use up some of the frozen shrimp I had.


Wonton Soup - Makes about 50 wontons

I rarely make this dish on my own because I thought it was rather involved. However, it wasn't too time consuming. A package of wonton wrappers makes a lot of wontons, but you may as well make a large number of wontons, freeze them and then enjoy them whenever you want. While I used ground pork and shrimps, these could easily be substituted for ground chicken or turkey, or other seafood like scallops.

150g ground pork
12 shrimps
2 tbsp onion, minced finely
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground pepper
2 tsp sesame oil
a package of wonton wrappers

Add all of the ingredients, except the wrappers, into a food processor and blend until the meat mixture becomes a paste.
Add 1-2 teaspoons of the meat mixture onto the middle of the least floured side of a wrapper.
Fold the wrapper in half, two opposing corners together, to make a triangle (refer to pictures below).
Gather both sides and squish together to make a little dumpling.
Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan.
Add 5-6 wontons and cook until they float (about 2 minutes) on medium-high.
Once they are cooked, soak them in cold water so they don’t stick.

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Wonton wrappers and ingredients for the filling.

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Adding the meat mixture on a wrapper and folding it in two.

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Gathering the wrapper to make a perfect little package!

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Wontons can be frozen in a bag for later. Cooking them in water.

Wonton Broth
Broth for wonton soup is just a Vietnamese chicken broth (actually, my mom used turkey bones from our Thanksgiving turkey!), with the added flavour of dried shrimps. If you already have broth in the freezer like I usually do, just heat it up and add a handful or so of dried shrimp. Turn off the heat. Let the shrimp flavours seep in for 15 minutes and remove them (according to my mom, leaving them there too long can result in a fishy broth). You could also skip the dried shrimp like my sister does.

Putting Wonton Soup Together

Wonton soup can be enjoyed as a meal; adding noodles and some vegetables help bulk it up. It can also be served as a starter, just serve a few wontons in a bowl of broth.

chicken broth
vegetables of your choice
(thin carrot sticks, bok choy and shiitake mushroom slices are great)
cooked wontons
egg noodles
sliced char siu pork, optional (Chinese BBQ pork can be purchased at Asian grocery stores)
green onion, sliced, as garnish
coriander, as garnish

Heat up the chicken broth.
Add vegetables of your choice into the broth until cooked.
Meanwhile, spread a handful of noodles onto a plate and m
icrowave for a minute (this will prevent the noodles from getting soggy).
Place the noodles and cooked wontons in a bowl.
Spoon the hot broth into the bowls.
Add the vegetables and char siu.
Garnish with green onion and coriander.

Shanghai bok choy.

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Cooking noodles and heating up wontons.

For other soups that can be served as a meal:
Chicken Bean Thread Noodle Soup
Crab and Tomato Soup
Lemongrass Chicken Soup