dimanche 29 novembre 2009


Tourtière is a traditional French Canadian pork pie usually served on Christmas Eve. When I spent Christmas visiting friends in Ottawa, we would buy a very good one ready made from Sasloves in the Byward Market. It makes for an easy main course after winter days of shopping, visiting, tennis playing or other activities when you don’t have time to cook. Tourtière is traditionally served with chilli sauce but my friend, Anne, serves it with tomato butter, a richer tastier option.

I make this mini-version of tourtière and freeze it in preparation for holiday gatherings.

Mini Tourtières

Makes about 24 tourtières


15 mL (1 Tbsp) butter

500 g (1 lb) ground pork (or a mixture of ground pork and beef)

50 mL (1/4 cup) finely chopped fresh parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

25 mL (2 Tbsp) all-purpose flour

1 mL (1/4 tsp) ground cloves

50 mL (1/4 cup) strong beef stock


375 mL (1-1/2 cups) all-purpose flour

1 mL (1/4 tsp) salt

150 mL (2/3 cup) cold unsalted butter

45 mL (3 Tbsp) approx. cold water


1 egg, beaten

10 mL (2 tsp) water


Melt butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add pork; cook stirring constantly to break up the meat. Stir in parsley, garlic, onion and celery. Cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in flour, cloves and stock; cook, stirring until mixture thickens. Process pork mixture in a food processor fitted with a metal blade using pulse motion for 3 or 4 seconds or until finely ground. Transfer to bowl, cover and set aside.


In food processor, combine flour, salt and butter. Process with pulse motion for a few seconds. Sprinkle with water and mix until soft dough forms, adding up to 15 mL (1 Tbsp) more water if necessary. (Alternatively, place flour and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with water and mix until soft dough forms.)

On lightly floured board, roll out half the pastry 3 mm (1/8”) thick. Use 7.5 cm (3”) round cookie cutter to cut circles. Place in 5.5 cm (2-1/4”) muffin tins. Fill with pork mixture. Roll out pastry scraps and cut into circles 1 cm (1/2”) in diameter; place on top of pork mixture.


In small bowl, beat together egg and water.

Brush small pastry circles with egg wash and bake in a preheated 220°C (425°F) oven for 25 minutes. Let cool slightly and remove from tins.

Freeze tourtières, uncovered, in single layer on baking sheets. Do not thaw before reheating.

To reheat: Preheat oven to 220°C (425°F). Bake frozen tourtières in a single layer on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes or until sizzling.

dimanche 22 novembre 2009

Lemon Walnut Tea Loaf

Darkness falls so early at this time of year and my thoughts are starting to turn to Christmas or more specifically Christmas baking. Of course this could also have something to do with being reunited with my KitchenAid mixer after a long while too! Since it is a bit early to start Christmas preparations, I decided to make this simple but delicious lemon walnut tea loaf to use some of the wonderful fresh walnuts from Onsdorf, in the Trier-Saarburg region of Germany, that were thoughtfully given to me by Helga.

Lemon Walnut Tea Loaf
Makes 1 loaf

125 mL (1/2 cup) butter, softened
160 mL (2/3 cup) sugar
2 eggs
500 mL (2 cups) flour
7.5 mL (1-1/2 tsp) baking powder
1.25 mL (1/4 tsp) salt
80 mL (1/3 cup) milk
125 mL (1/2 cup) chopped walnuts
30 mL (2 Tbsp) grated lemon zest
Lemon Glaze (see below)

Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F).

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy; beat in eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; stir into batter in thirds, alternating with milk. Stir in walnuts and lemon zest. Pour batter into greased loaf pan. Bake for 55 - 65 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare Lemon Glaze. Brush loaf with lemon glaze and leave to cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Lemon Glaze
60 mL (1/4 cup) fresh lemon juice
45 mL (3 Tbsp) sugar

Place lemon juice and sugar in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat and stir until slightly thickened. Remove from heat.

dimanche 15 novembre 2009


Truffles are the pungent, rare, mysterious and much coveted mushrooms that grow underground. Truffles are born when the right combination of tree (notably oak, chestnut, hazelnut or willow), mushroom spore and environmental conditions (limestone soil, rain at the optimum time and quantity, favourable temperatures) exist. This does happen in nature but in very limited areas. Traditional truffle hunters in the forests of France and Italy guard their troves with utmost secrecy lest others catch on to where to find these rare delicacies. Truffle cultivation is developing and the theories on the best way to produce viable crops have changed over the last decade. The success rate is improving.

The most renowned and sought after truffles are of the ‘tuber melanosporum’ variety (also known as Périgord truffles). These come from the south of France, and in a limited way in Italy and Spain.

In northern France, in the Bourgogne, Champagne and Lorraine regions, it is the ‘tuber uncinatum’ or Burgundy truffle that adapts to the northern European climatic conditions. Harvesting truffles is relatively simple as they grow near to the surface. Finding them is another matter. For that you need a pig or a specially trained dog. Traditionally it was pigs that found the truffles. They are naturally attracted to the smell of truffles but the challenge is to keep them from eating them before you can get them into the basket. Dogs do not have the natural instinct to eat truffles and can be trained to find them successfully.
This weekend, on my first trip with Slow Food Luxembourg, we went to La truffière de St-Remy-La-Calonne in the Meuse department (Lorraine region) of France. We were met and given the guided tour by the very knowledgeable and welcoming M. Michel Garzandat.

Afterward, we were treated to a delicious lunch of truffle specialities – truffle butter, pâté, scrambled eggs then the main course of chicken with truffle cream sauce and mashed potato with truffle followed by brie with truffle. A truffle lover’s heaven, I can assure you!!

Truffière de Saint-Remy
14bis, rue André Maginot – 55160 Fresnes-en-Woëvre
+33 3 29 87 30 63

The Truffière is located in the Lorraine region of northeastern France - approximately 40 km from Metz, 20 km from Verdun and 100 km from Nancy.

Truffle Butter

250 g (8 oz) butter (unsalted, half-salt or salted)
60 g (2 oz) truffles, finely diced
Salt, to taste

Mix butter, salt and truffles with a fork. Serve over bread, toast, rice or pasta.
The butter will keep in the freezer for 3-4 months.