How Tourtière Turned my New Neighbourhood into Home

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.

What ELSE Can I do with Leftover Turkey?


Even though we’ve been featuring all sorts of gorgeous treats around our house for the last few days, sooner or later calmer heads must prevail. So for lunch, we made this delicious Turkey Avocado Salad. Next on the agenda, a long, calorie-burning walk, before heading to another holiday open house…

Pour on the Sweetness

These tasty squares have been adapted from a number of recipes, sometimes called Southern Bars. Or you may have seen them on cans of condensed milk.

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!

War Cake


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.

Classic Christmas Shortbread

20111222-191321.jpg Even if we only have time to bake one Christmas cookie, this is the one. it’s practically foolproof, the recipe can be doubled, kids can help, and it lends itself to a variety of shapes.

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.

I'm Dreaming of a White (Bean) Christmas

20111221-192955.jpg White Christmas? Think what you will about Canada, but in these parts, snow this week is an unlikely prospect. However we did have a wonderful life filled with freezing rain and other niceties today.

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.

Spread a Little Sunshine!

20111220-085450.jpg Happy anniversary! Today we’re giving thanks and celebrating as we enter another year of marriage (31!). Breakfast is Grammy Hergett’s Sunshine Salad…to make it for two, cut the rind off a pink grapefruit and a couple of oranges, and dice the, bite-size. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of sugar or honey and some happy memories. Let stand for a few minutes so the flavours can marry. We added a few frozen strawberries from our summer’s effort, but usually we serve it simply. If you’re also celebrating a December anniversary, congratulations, and blessed be your union.

Veggies Bursting with Colour

20111214-202416.jpg. Don’t you love a meal that looks fussy, but isn’t? Tonight we made Beet Wellingtons (check our recipe page!) and a tasty salad with hothouse greens, tomatoes and mushrooms.

For the dressing, we used some of the red pepper and rosemary pesto we made in the summer, thinned with some wine vinegar.

Tasty, fast and packed with colours. Mmm.

Fast Fennel Chicken

Healthy food! It’s all around us, but with so many tempting treats beginning to make an appearance, being able to cook up a fast feast of healthy food is essential. Today we made a veggie-packed pasta dish.


We started by putting 2 ounces or 60 grams per person of whole wheat pasta on to cook. In the meantime, we diced four skinless, boneless chicken thighs into a sauté pan with some olive oil. As the cooked, we finely diced and added a shallot and a clove of garlic. Next came a carrot, peeled and diced fine, and 1/4 head of fennel, finely diced. While it was cooking over low heat,we ground up about a teaspoon/5 ml of fennel seed, and zested a lemon. we juiced the lemon into a small bowl and got rid of any seeds.

When the pasta was al dente, we drained and tipped into the sauté pan with the lemon juice, zest, fennel seed, a small amount of pasta water if needed, and a couple of tablespoons (10 ml) of light whipped cream cheese. We left it in the pan, covered but off the heat, for about 3 minutes for the flavours to come together, and ate it up. The cooking took less than half an hour, including boiling the water…leaving more time to watch Christmas specials and make some presents.

Cold Comfort, my Friend

20111205-213315.jpg. There’s a forecast of snow tonight, so some cold weather food was in order. And after several days of traveling, comfort food would be even better. Luckily we always have some cooked beans in the freezer. We sautéed some diced pancetta from Plank Road Market with a shallot and any oyster mushroom. Then we added some yellow pepper and celery. The last things to go in were a couple of servings of cooked white beans and some dried thyme from this summer’s garden. The whole thing went in the oven in a covered casserole for the flavours to meld.

We served it with some leftover roast beets, warmed in the oven with a sprinkling of thyme and a crumbling of Ontario feta. Then we settled in to watch the hockey game and A Charlie Brown Christmas (a classic message about how secular consumerism can’t obscure the true meaning of the holiday).

Let it snow!