A Look Back and Forward (Plus a Recipe)

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dear Family, Friends, and Readers,
As we close 2011, I look back on the year with great appreciation that you have found my little corner of the cyberworld. And that you have stuck with me these past eight months, through errors I’ve made in recipes, my sometimes rabble rousing on food issues, and perhaps (I think) one too many soups. I hope you have tried some of my recipes, and I’m always appreciative when someone comes back with a tip or comment. Please know, I, too, learn from your experience as well!

I always get excited with the start of the new year; the landscape seems so open to possibilities. At the end of each year, I sit down and write not necessarily resolutions, but what I call goals on things I’d like to work on in the coming year. Stepping out of my box is what I say, and 2012 will be no different. Along with life goals, I also have goals in the kitchen so, fingers crossed, once a month I will do a recipe I’ve been wanting to try and which will be a challenge; something out of my usual realm. A couple of years ago I did this and had a blast. The first month I made Julia Child’s Boeuf Bourguignon (rich and delicious), the next month a five-course Chinese New Years dinner for four (total success except for one dish!).

So in that same vein, remember the saying, “be careful what you wish for?” One of my wishes this holiday was to have The Essential New York Times Cook Book, by my idol, Amanda Hesser, under the Christmas tree. Santa heard my wish. With more than 1,000 recipes and about 20 pounds (following my surgery, I’m not supposed to be lifting anything more than a milk jug; this is very close to my 20 pound limit; to read, I have to prop it on a pillow!), you won’t be following “Chris and Amanda” this year, but I am going to tackle dozens of these recipes, all except veal and lamb. Chapter One is “Drinks, Cocktails, Punches, and Glogg,” so this can’t be anything but fun! I am making a pledge, though, to be faithful and follow the recipes to a T, none of my usual straying. Stay tuned, I’m sure you’ll see some recipes from this cookbook in 2012!

And so ends another year. Again, my heartfelt thank you for everything this past year. And for a little something extra, enjoy the recipe for Tortiere. This French Canadian holiday meat pie is a New England staple, Vermont and New Hampshire in particular, at tables this time of year. I take no credit for this pie; I asked my friend, Kathie Glasserman, for her mom’s recipe. This is authentic, really delicious (it got lots of compliments!), and extremely easy. Listen or read the story on National Public Radio that they did on Tortiere last Friday if you are interested. Serendipity, I was making my pies when the story was on!

Enjoy and Happy New Year!

Tortiere (a la Mom Burke)  
If you are pressed for time, you can do this in two steps like I did; make the mashed potatoes the night before, and the pies the next day. And also, this is easy to double, which I did.

3-4 large potatoes
1 small onion, diced
½ pound ground beef
½ pound ground pork
1 ½ cups water
Ground sage, cinnamon, and/or cloves, to taste
Pie crust, two, for top and bottom

1. Wash and peel the potatoes. Cook them up as you would if you were making mashed potatoes. Place in a large bowl, mash, adding nothing, and set aside.
2. Heat a little bit of oil in a large skillet and add the onion when warm. Add the water, then meat. Make sure there is enough water to cover the meat. Bring the meat mixture to a boil. Cook 20 minutes or until the water is mostly absorbed. Add the mashed potatoes and stir. Add the seasonings, plus salt and pepper, to the taste you like. (Unfortunately, I didn’t have any ground sage, so I made it with just cinnamon and cloves and it was delicious.)
3. Add to the prepared pie crust, place the top crust, and add some vents to allow the steam to rise. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees, lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 40 minutes.

Cook’s note: I made these Friday evening, baked them, then had them in the fridge for a couple of days. Heated at 300 for about 30 minutes on Christmas day, they were perfect. You can also freeze, then bake.

14 thoughts on “A Look Back and Forward (Plus a Recipe)

  1. Chris, my Mom would be so pleased to have her recipe out there for everyone to enjoy. It was a staple in my house growing up, and I make at least two each Christmas (one for my brother, and one for me!) with my Mom’s spirit right there in the kitchen with me . . . they turn out perfectly every time!!

    • It’s interesting the different variations out there. As I was making it, the chef in the NPR story was using different spices than what I was using! I’m sure any and all variations are delish! Happy New Year to you and John! 🙂

  2. I, too, love your blog as I love you, dear daughter. The tortiere you made for Christmas was scrumptious. I am indeed a fortunate mom to have daughters who like to cook. Happy New Year.

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