Christmas Traditions

Traditions abound at holiday time and for many, the rich, spicy aromas emanating from the kitchen are an important and cherished part of Christmas.

In Quebec, « tourtes », or tourtières, are a rich part of the province?s history, with recipes brought over from France in the early 17th century. These recipes were then adapted to reflect the meats, spices and vegetables available in ?New? France. Tourtière is still prevalent in Quebec and has become tradition in French Canadian households at Christmas.

The classic tourtière, however, is finding its way outside la belle province and is becoming a holiday staple across the country. The secret to a good tourtière say experts, in addition to spices, is lard. Lard gives pastry and baked goods a lighter and flakier crust because of its type of fat crystals and their ability to resist rapid melting during baking.

This creates layers of flour and fat, resulting in a wonderful flakiness. In Canada, Tenderflake is the most popular brand of lard and is now non-hydrogenated, the first product in the lard and shortening category to carry this claim.

Following are recipes for tourtière with some modern twists from the Tenderflake Kitchens: Savoury Chicken and Goat Cheese Tourtière A Sophisticated Countryman?s Tourtière (makes one tourtière)

Prepare pastry for one double crust pie, following instructions below. For additional pastry tips please visit www.mapleleaf.com/consumerproducts/allotherbrands.

Tenderflake Perfect Pastry

2 cups cake and pastry flour 500 mL

OR

1¾ cups all-purpose flour 425 mL

3/4 tsp salt 3 mL

3/4 cup Tenderflake non-hydrogenated lard 175 mL

4 to 5 tbsp cold water 60 to 75 mL

Directions

1. Mix together flour and salt.

2. Cut in Tenderflake lard with pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse oatmeal.

3. Gradually stir water into Tenderflake mixture, stirring constantly with a fork. Add only enough water to make dough cling together.

Filling:

½ lb boneless chicken breast, cut in strips 250 g

1 tbsp olive oil 15 mL

6 tbsp goat?s cheese (or one 3 oz. small roll), crumbled 90 mL

1/3 cup chopped or thinly sliced carrots 75 mL

1/3 cup chopped or thinly sliced leeks 75 mL ¼ cup sliced celery stalks 50 mL ¼ cup fresh green peas 50 mL ½ cup thinly sliced zucchini 125 mL

2/3 cup thinly sliced mushrooms 150 mL

1 egg, lightly beaten

Directions: Roll out half of pastry and fit into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate, leaving an overhang.

Brown chicken in a frying pan in olive oil.

Add vegetables and stir-fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon into prepared pie shell and sprinkle with goat?s cheese. Trim edge of pastry even with pie plate.

Roll out remaining pastry and place over filling; trim edge to ½-inch (1.5 cm). Fold underneath bottom crust, brush with a beaten egg and seal and crimp edge. Cut steam vents on top.

Bake in preheated 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Helpful Hint: When making fruit or meat pies, place on a baking sheet and centre on the oven rack closest to the bottom of the oven. This may help to prevent a soggy bottom crust.

Bountiful Seafood Tourtière à La Gaspésie

Prepare pastry for one double crust pie, following instructions below. For additional pastry tips please visit www.mapleleaf.com/consumerproducts/allotherbrands.

2 cups cake and pastry flour 500 mL

Filling:

1 cup uncooked, peeled shrimp 250 mL

1/3 cup diced, uncooked pollock 75 mL

½ cup raw Atlantic salmon, cut in large cubes 125 mL

1/3 cup chopped leeks 75 mL

1/3 cup shelled, uncooked mussels 75 mL

1 cup fish stock (chicken stock could also be used) 250 mL

2 tbsp all purpose flour 25 mL

2 tsp chopped chives 10 mL

Directions: Roll out half of pastry and fit into a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate, leaving an overhang. In a frying pan, over medium heat, soften leek in dab of Tenderflake lard. Add the seafood and fish stock and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and gradually stir in flour. Return to heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Stir in chives and spoon into prepared pie shell.

Roll out remaining pastry and place over filling; trim edge to ½-inch (1.5 cm). Fold underneath bottom crust, seal and crimp edge. Cut steam vents on top.

Bake in preheated 400ºF (200ºC) oven for 25 to 35 minutes or until pastry is golden and filling is bubbly.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Pastry

Prepare pastry for one double crust pie, following instructions below. For additional pastry tips please visit www.mapleleaf.com/consumerproducts/allotherbrands.

Tenderflake Perfect Pastry

2 cups cake and pastry flour 500 mL

OR

1¾ cups all-purpose flour 425 mL

3/4 tsp salt 3 mL

3/4 cup Tenderflake non-hydrogenated lard 175 mL

4 to 5 tbsp cold water 60 to 75 mL