Arriving back at the house, we busied ourselves with cleaning out foods from the fridge, in preparation for all the upcoming meals at the homes of friends and family. Today’s lunch: chicken and white bean soup, with oatmeal batter-bread. Instant warmth!
Christmastime at our house always involves tourtière, usually on Christmas Eve, after Mass. The year we moved to the walkablefeast Neighbourhood, I went shopping at Royal Beef for my ingredients. I didn’t see any ground pork, so I asked the butcher. And do you know what he asked me? “Are you making tourtière ?” and ” What mix with the beef, 50-50? Because I can just make that up for you.”
Those are the sort of touches that make you know you’re at home, even if your “real” home is miles away. And they’re also what make you want to be a small shop shopper, and turn in your big box membership forever.
One year, our kids dubbed them “Cavity Squares“, because they are so incredibly sweet. We know they have too many calories (we could also call them calorie squares). But they never fail to please, and someone always asks for the recipe. Your teeth may not thank you, but you’ll definitely keep your dentist in business!
There is nothing quite like an old family recipe for the holidays. They may not quite conform to our modern dietary habits ( we rarely use lard in our house any more). But our grandmothers knew a thing or two about frugal eating that we would do well to take on board. This tremendous, versatile cake was the result of wartime rationing, when butter, milk, and eggs were rare commodities. The good new is that it tastes so delicious those things will never be missed.
Since we’re not big on fruitcake, we like to add some red and green cherries to this, during the festive season.
1/2 c / 125ml cornstarch
1/2 c / 125ml icing sugar
1 c / 250ml flour
3/4 c / 175ml butter
Sift the dry ingredients together. Blend in the butter with a wooden spoon if you must, but clean hands are more fun! You can also use a food processor. As soon as it forms a dough that stays together, it’s done. If it’s too pliable, chill for half an hour.
Roll out with a floured rolling pin to 1/4″ or 1/2cm, and cut with cookie cutters, or roll into balls and flatten with something textured, like a butter press or the bottom of a fancy glass, dipped in flour. You can also shape it in a log, roll in colored sugar or nuts, chill for half an hour, and slice. Decorate with sugar, cherries (or not).
Bake on an ungreased pan (parchment is good for cleanup but not necessary) at 300F for 15-20 minutes until lightly golden. Remove to racks immediately to cool. Break at least one so as to force a taste test. Smile.
The cupboard is pretty bare…shopping is tomorrow. So we made a great warm-up dinner. For two, we cooked 3 ounces/90 g of whole wheat spaghettini. At the same time we sautéed a red onion in some olive oil. We chopped and tossed in a couple of small pepperoni. Then we added a 2c/500ml jar of diced tomatoes, put up in the summer. When it was simmering, we added 2c/500ml cooked white beans from Better Bulk (check our recipe page for baking beans). After the pasta reached al dente, we stirred it into the sauce, turned it to low, and simmered for 4 or 5 minutes. We served it with some thinly-sliced basil on top, and a nice glass of Cab-Shiraz.