Holiday meat pie: Tourtière

If you want to cut to the chase: here’s the recipe!

There’s a traditional winter dish, and especially holiday dish, that causes a bit of confusion and argument in Quebec where I come from: a meat pie called the tourtière.  The first confusion is the number of regional variants (kind of like jambalaya in Louisiana): Quebec is large although the population is small, and back before cars and paved roads and planes, a lot of regional subcultures developed so even cooking can differ a lot from one place to another.  (Continued after the cut.)

Continue reading “Holiday meat pie: Tourtière”


It’s been a rough few years recently.  Like a lot of other people, I was hit hard by the depression/recession that began in 2008.  I stayed afloat as best I could, but by 2010 I found it hard to be grateful, and it was even worse last year.  While I was aware that I still had plenty of reasons to be grateful, I was still finding it hard to feel grateful.  I had to dredge up my objectivity and force myself to acknowledge those I owe thanks to.

It seems a little easier this year.  That’s a little odd, because 2012 has been a shitty year on many fronts; but right now, this minute, I can make a list without having to force myself to write.  (It comes and it goes.)  Pell-mell:

  • I’m grateful to my family and friends.  Without them I would be homeless and destitute.  They’re there when I need them, they cheer me up when I’m hard to cheer.
  • I’m grateful to my cats.  They think they rule the universe, but they still like to cuddle.
  • I’m grateful to my husband for loving me.
  • I’m grateful to great writers that have trapped messages of wisdom, knowledge, hope, curiosity, and imagination within paper pages or even rows of 0s and 1s.
  • I’m grateful to Americans for voting for the future, not for a past that never was.
  • I’m grateful to people who work hard to do the best job they can and be the best people they can be.
  • I’m grateful to artists that offer glimpses of beauty, greatness, or meaning in strange and varied forms.
  • I’m grateful to scientists, medical professionals, engineers and others who push the limits of what can be done to make our lives better, longer, and more filled with meaning.
  • I’m grateful to those who struggle, everywhere on Earth, to bring justice, peace, prosperity and safety to all and to break down barriers between people.

Turkey b’stilla

B’stilla (or bastilla, bisteeya, pastilla or bstilla) is a succulent Moroccan dish — traditionally, a meat pie made with young pigeons (squabs).  I have a recipe here which I have prepared with Cornish game hens before, although it lists chicken as the main meat. However, turkey — and especially brown meat — makes a perfectly lovely substitute.

If you’re using Thanksgiving leftovers, the turkey meat will already be cooked so you can cut cooking time down a bit for the meat filling since the recipe assumes raw poultry.

This recipe includes instructions for mixing your own ras el hanout, which is to Moroccan dishes what curry is to Indian food — omnipresent and ever changing depending on the mix you use.  I’m very fond of it and when I make a b’stilla, I always mix extra ras el hanout and save it in an air-tight container for later use in other recipes — soups, eggs, rice, etc.

The recipe offers an option for making lots of little individual pastries wrapped as finger food, but I’m partial to one big pie — and it’s less work to make!

My new holiday: Kepler’s Day

1859 engraving of Johannes KeplerI am so very tired of anti-reason, anti-science, anti-logic, anti-reality attitudes that I need to treat myself to a bit of celebrating of the very opposite.  I’m sick and tired of people who form a world view and then cherry pick and distort everything they hear and see to support that world view.

These people can be recognized by the fact that there is nothing that we can do or say, no amount of evidence that can suffice to convince them to alter their opinion.  They may change their soda preference or opt for a different vacation spot next year and hold that as proof that they do change and can be open-minded, but they never, ever actually change their mind in regard to their cherished beliefs.

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Turkey Spiral Rolls

And here’s another recipe to use up turkey leftovers!  According to mom’s notes, I think it’s from Five Roses’ La Cuisinière, but if so it’s from an edition older than mine (25th edition revised, 1984).   The dough is actually a shortcake dough, so it’s nice and flaky.



  • 2 ¼ cup (560 mL) flour
  • 4 tsp (20 mL) baking powder
  • ½ tsp (10 mL) salt
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) sucre
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) butter
  • ¾ cup (185 mL) milk
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) water

Mix the dry ingredients together.  Cut the butter into the dry ingredients with two knives or with a food processor, until the mix is slightly friable.

Warm the milk and water together (but not too hot.)

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour about ¾ to ⅞ of the warm liquid.  Mix lightly with a fork until the liquid is absorbed.  Use the rest of the liquid to adjust the texture if needed.

Knead delicately (about ten times) on a lightly floured board. Roll out to ⅓ in. (8 mm) thickness.


  • 1 ½ cup (375 mL) cooked turkey, chopped fine
  • ⅓ cup (80 mL) olives, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp (3 mL) paprika
  • ⅓ cup (80 mL) onion, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped parsley
  • Milk

Preheat the oven to 450’F (230 C).

Mix the turkey, olives, salt, pepper, paprika, parsley, and onion.   Wet slightly with a small quantity of milk.  Spread evenly over the rolled-out dough.  Roll tightly (like a jelly roll cake).  Cut in 1-in. (2.5 cm) thick slices.  Place each slice flat in a greased muffin tin.  Bake in the preheated oven for 15 à 20 minutes.

Serve hot with gravy or a white sauce.

Quantity: 15 rolls.

Bon appétit !

Day After Thanksgiving Turkey Pho

In advance of next week’s Turkeypocalypse, I’m still lining up recipes to deal with delicious leftovers.  How about a complete change of cuisine after all this traditional American cooking?  Pooks088 has a recipe for fragrant, lovely turkey pho that includes making your broth from scratch from the turkey carcass; WinnieAB has an alternate version you can use if you’ve already made the broth, with a little kale for added greens.  And the nice thing is, it’s easy to make (get it started, let it simmer, strain and add noodles.)  It will also make you feel virtuous after all this rich food!  Make yourself a cup of cà phê sữa nóng as a treat!

Turkey Divan

Edit: Ack!  I had the wrong link, but it’s fixed now.

Another recipe from Margot Oliver’s La Bonne cuisine, part of my big turkey recipe blitz leading up to the holidays.  To be honest, I’m not exactly sure how to properly translate “divan” in this case, since we’re obviously not building meat furniture.  Anyhow, the recipe looks nice, is tasty, and is not difficult to make, so enjoy the turkey divan!  Plan on using those big slices of meat from the breast.

Saturday brunch: Soufflé omelette

This is what I made for brunch today.  I often use variations like this one on the Spanish omelette technique, because the result is always beautiful and tasty.  You can vary the base to suit your fancy and what’s in your pantry.


  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 spicy smoked sausages, diced in small bites
  • 1 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 green bellpepper, diced
  • 6 to 8 oz. (170-225 g) cherry tomatoes, chopped coarsely
  • 1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried herbs of your choice (thyme, oregano, basil, sage, etc.)
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) chopped parsley
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) cumin


  • 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated, at room temperature
  • ¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) cold water
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) flour


Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C).

In a large, thick-bottomed oven-safe pan with high sides, heat a splash of oil, just enough to get the sausage started; they will release their own fat and the vegetables will cook in it.  Cook the sausage for 3-5 minutes, then add onion and bell pepper.  Cook on medium heat while stirring, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley, herbs and cumin. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the egg whites into a light meringue. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks with the salt until frothy, then add the water and flour. Fold the egg whites into this mix.

Pour the egg mix on top of the sausage and vegetable mix. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until set. Avoid opening the oven door or stomping around the stove while baking; this would cause the eggs to collapse.

Cut in wedges and serve topped with grated cheese and garnished with chopped tomatoes and sprigs of parsley.

Turkey Pot Pie

This generous turkey pot pie recipe, part of my big turkey recipe blitz leading up to the holidays, comes from Margot Oliver’s La Bonne cuisine.  It makes two big pies, so it’s perfect for a holiday party.  The sage crust is optional, but adds a nice complementary flavour (if you’re in a hurry, you can always use store-bought frozen crusts.)

The best way to make the broth is from the carcass of the original turkey.  However, in a pinch you could use chicken broth.  All in all, the dish requires a good amount of work and planning, but the pies can be prepared a day in advanced and baked at the last minute.

Happy Holidays 2012

I’ve made my annual vaguely-solstice-related list of holidays to celebrate. Corrections and appropriate additions are appreciated. Enjoy your holidays!


13 – Diwali
15 – Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year)
17 – Life Day
22 – American Thanksgiving
24 – Day of Ashura

Nov.27-Dec.24 – Advent


? – Holiday
6 – National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women (Canada)
8 – Bodhi Day
10 – Human Rights Day
8-16 – Hanukkah
21-25 – Pancha Ganapati
21 – Winter Solstice
23 – Festivus
24 – Christmas Eve
25 – Christmas
25 – Natalis Invicti
25 – Yule
26-Jan.1 – Kwanzaa
26 – Boxing Day
31 – New Year’s Eve
32 – Hogswatchnight


1 – New Year’s Day
5 – Twelfth Night
6 – Epiphany