Turkey and Leek Pie

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

While you’re spending the day prepping for your big turkey feast (or, if you celebrated yesterday, cleaning up afterwards), why don’t you consider what you can do with the leftover bits of that big bird?

I cooked this little baby up after watching a Jamie Oliver Christmas special on the plane home to Ottawa last December, and I served it to the lovely folks at our annual potluck.  It’s super easy, super tasty, and a great way to eat up all that leftover turkey.  And the best part about Jamie Oliver is he’s big on improvisation.  If you watch the videos for his recipes they never end up matching the recipes themselves, and that adds immensely to his charm.

Make sure you have a good package of unthawed frozen puff pastry lying around. I get the President’s Choice brand stuff and it comes in two blocks, which is perfect for our purposes here.

Then you’ll need 2kg leeks.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Leeks are super dirty. My mother told me that as the leeks grow they bury the stems in more dirt in order to keep that stem as pale and tender as possible.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

This means you’ll need to clean them well. I find the easiest way to do so is to cut off the scraggly top ends and then slice the whole thing in half lengthwise. Pop those babies in a sink full of water and swish away until all the dirt is gone. Then give them a good shake to drain out the excess water.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Now, chop up those leeks. Make the pale ends a bit chunkier, but slice the tougher green ends up really thin.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Now, take a large, fat saucepan with a lid and chuck in the leaves of about half a bunch of fresh thyme.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Chop up a couple of slices of nice bacon, add a glug or two of olive oil, and cook that for a wee bit on high to medium-high.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Pour in your chopped leeks and let them cook for about three minutes on high.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Then add in some salt and pepper, pop the lid on, and turn the heat down to medium. Let that cook for about thirty minutes, stirring every 5-10, to make sure nothing sticks.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

While that’s on the go, chop up your leftover turkey. You’ll need about 800g grams of turkey, chopped or torn into big chunks. Light meat, dark meat, whatever floats your boat. I like half and half, because the dark stuff has more flavour. If you have leftover stuffing it will make a great contribution as well. Huck that into your leek pot when the leeks are done.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons flour and stir that to fully combine it with the leeks and turkey.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Then add in 2 pints of stock — turkey, chicken, vegetable, mushroom, whatever you want.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

And 2 heaping tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream (or even plain greek yogurt if that’s what you have).

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Give that a good stir and bring it back to a boil for a minute. Add more salt and pepper to taste if you like, then turn off the heat.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Pour your leek mixture through a sieve into a pot to get some lovely gravy out of this. Removing the gravy now will also make sure your pie doesn’t end up soggy, and if you drain it directly into a pot then you can easily heat it up before you serve it.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Preheat your oven to 375°F and lay your leek mixture out in a buttered 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Dust a work surface with flour and roll out a segment of pastry so that it is a few inches larger than your pan size on all sides. If you just have one piece of pastry, then roll it out so it’s double the pan size (you will then fold one side over the other).

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Crumble some chestnuts and fresh sage leaves over the pastry (or half the pastry if you’re folding).

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Fold the other half on top or roll out the other piece and place it on top of the first and press down a bit to seal the chestnuts and sage inside.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Lay the pastry across your pan and tuck the ends in underneath the mixture on all the sides.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

With a sharp knife score the whole pastry surface diagonally.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

If you wish you can put an egg wash on at this point by beating an egg, adding a pinch of salt, and brushing that over the top of the pastry, but I didn’t bother. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until your pastry is puffy and golden brown. Serve warm with the reheated gravy. It is so excellent.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

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Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 17

This warm bowl of rosy goodness reminds me a bit of my winged red soup from ages ago (which I may try to recreate in the future) and it’s just as easy.  I made a heckuva lot of this, mostly to freeze for Krystopf and Atlas for after the baby comes, so feel free to cut this recipe into thirds for more reasonable servings.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 1

You’re going to need 3 heads garlic;

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 2

3 red onions;

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 4

24 ripe roma tomatoes;

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 3

and about 18 large red peppers.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 5

Preheat your oven to 450°F.  Peel the garlic and cut each clove in half.  Chop up the onions as well and chuck them in a roasting pan (I divided them between three roasting pans).

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 6

Chop up the tomatoes and red peppers and put them in the pans as well.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 7

Drizzle with olive oil, dust with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 8

Roast the vegetables for 25-35 minutes, or until they are soft and starting to char.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 12

Meanwhile, bring a pot with about 2 litres stock (chicken, vegetable, whatever) to a boil.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 10

When the vegetables are ready, chuck them in the broth and give it a good stir.  Add several dashes of Tabasco Sauce and remove it from the heat.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 14

Have a go at it with an immersion blender and then season with salt, pepper, and more Tabasco as desired.  Serve hot (or cold).  The flavour intensifies over a couple of days and it freezes great.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 15

O Canada: Quebec Three Bean Soup with Bannock

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When you type in searches for French-Canadian soups on the internet you get a plethora of results.  “Plethora” is one of my favourite words.  That and the Spanish “desafortunadamente,” which gets me every time.

Jess sent me this beauty, passed down from the Iroquois nation.  I decided, however, that the ingredients were slightly too close to the hodgepodge I made earlier, and I want to give you guys some variety.

There are also a ton of recipes out there for a yellow split pea soup that is quintessentially French-Canadian.  Turn the peas green and you get pea soup from the Maritimes.  Thicken it up a little and steam it in a wee bag and you get pease pudding from the Atlantic.

I dislike all pea soups.  Sorry.  You won’t see one here.

If you happen to Google “French-Canadian bean soup” you get further interesting results.  Apparently, Arthur Flegenheimer (who went by the name of Dutch Schultz), was a rum-runner and all-out nasty mobster during Prohibition in the US in the early part of the 20th century (as a bit of Canadiana for you, pretty much all the contraband booze smuggled onto American soil during that time came from Canada, which wasn’t really into teetotalling).  Anyway, while using the men’s room at a New Jersey hotel, Schultz was repeatedly shot.  It took him about two and a half hours to die of his wounds, and when the police arrived to arrest the dying man, one of the officers recorded his words.  One sentence involved “French-Canadian bean soup.”  Who knew?  These words have been turned into all sorts of literature, most notably that of Hunter S. Thompson.  Weird stuff.

But we’re making soup here, not discussing books.

I cobbled together a recipe from here, here, and also from Jess’s suggestion above.

Preheat your oven to 400°F.

First, I got myself some local fall vegetables, some sweet potatoes and an acorn squash.  Use whatever squash you like.  Or none at all.  Soups are pretty fluid, both conceptually and literally.  Ha.  Ha.

Slice up your squash and remove the seeds.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Slice up some sweet potato too.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Roast them until they’re browning at the edges and fragrant, about 45 minutes.  Remember to flip them every once in a while.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Meanwhile, drain and rinse 3 cans of beans.  I used romano, white kidney, and chickpea.  Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) seem to be consistent throughout these recipes, so I would make sure to use that one.  But other people use cannelini beans and lima beans and whatever else they have on hand.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up an onion.  I have two halves of a red and a white so I’m going with that one.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Chuck the onion in a large saucepan with some minced garlic and some dried herbs, such as basil, and sauté until tender.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Dice up some carrots and celery and add those to the mix.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Plop in the beans as well.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add 1 can diced tomatoes.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

When your roasted vegetables are ready, peel off their skins, cube them up, and chuck them into the pot. Don’t fret too much about cutting up the squash super small — it will fall apart and smush itself as it simmers in the pot.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Cover with vegetable or chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and allow to simmer for 30-40 minutes.

Now for the bannock.  As a child, on every field trip we went that involved learning some aspect of Canadian history (the Goldrush, the Fur Trade, the Potlatch, the Salmon Fishery …) we ended up making bannock on green peeled sticks over a campfire.  Every.  Time.

As a result, bannock in my mind will forever taste of ashes and stick.

But you can make it in a skillet too.  To avoid the taste of raw stick and ash.

Apparently, bannock is a Scottish flatbread, stolen from the Romans so very long ago.  If you squint your eyes you can kind of see how the Latin panecium can be bastardized into the Gaelic bannock.  Sure.  But remember that so many different cultures make a form of flatbread.  It’s some form of grain or bean flour plus water and heat and boom – flatbread.   The First Nations people of Canada, in the course of their various interactions with European settlers (good or bad), adopted and adapted bannock such that it is also recognized by many to be part of a bunch of First Nation food traditions.  Because it’s bread.  Everyone eats bread.

Some recipes for bannock use dried milk powder and shortening to fluff up the bread, but I firmly believe that this should be a flatbread, made with the barest minimum of ingredients.

So.  Dry ingredients.  Mix together 1 cup flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 tablespoon sugar, and a pinch of salt.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Add enough water to form a dough and mix thoroughly. This will be dependent on the moisture content of the air and your flour. I added probably half a cup to this one. You want the dough to be slightly tacky.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Divide the dough into appropriate serving sizes and flatten into patties.  Feel free to wrap a patty around a stick and shove it into a fire.

Or you can slip the patty onto a hot buttered skillet and fry, flipping halfway through, until both sides are golden brown.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

Serve with honey, butter, jam, salsa, soup, spaghetti … whatever you want. It’s bread.  It’s flexible.

Three-Bean Soup with Bannock

More Words on Bannock

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Family Oven: Bannock

M.E.C. on Bannock

WikiHow on Bannock

Tofu Feature Month: Tofu-Spinach Calzones

Tofu Spinach Calzone

[Note from Photographer’s Ego: Yes, I know these pictures fail to follow that number one rule of food photography: use natural light!  I will be building myself a light box soon, not to fret.]

This will be our final tofu recipe for you folks for a while.  Our digestive systems are not used to so much soy and they have unequivocally had enough.  The Pie especially so.  Poor man.  Pity him that his wife cooks new things for him on a regular basis.  Tsk.

The last time the Pie and I attempted calzones, we ended up with floor pizza.  I was determined to get it right this time.  The recipe below, with some modifications, comes from the Savvy Vegetarian, and it’s pretty easy.  The dough is nice and stretchy, and I could definitely use it again for a calzone with a different filling, which is exciting!  The yield for this is 10 hand-hold-able calzones, and I halved it (because there’s only the Pie and myself — Gren doesn’t get people food).

For the dough:

In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon granulated sugar in 1 1/4 cups warm water.  Stir in 2 teaspoons active dry yeast and allow that to sit for 10 minutes.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Or until it gets all foamy.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

In a larger bowl, add 1/2 teaspoon salt to 3 cups flour and mix well.

Rub in (exactly how it sounds) 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Rub it between your fingers until there are no large clumps left.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Stir the water/yeast mixture into the flour until it forms a shaggy ball.  Make sure to get all the floury goodness at the bottom of the bowl.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

On a floured surface, knead the ball for about 10 minutes.  The more you knead it, the tackier it will get, so you will need to add more flour on occasion.  Also, keep in mind that the more you knead it, the more elastic it will be (because you worked all the gluten together).  You want your dough to be nice and stretchy.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover it with a clean cloth and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

For the filling:

Dice up 1/4 cup onion, and about 8 mushrooms and toss them in a frying pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons minced garlic.  Sauté until soft.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

In a small bowl, mix up 1 tablespoon flour, 1 tablespoon powdered vegetable stock, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil, a pinch of cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Toss that on the vegetables in the pan and stir it around.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Plop in 16 ounces fresh baby spinach (you can use frozen spinach, if you thaw it and drain it first), as well as 2 12-ounce packages of firm silken tofu and a dash of soy sauce.  You can break up the tofu before you toss it in, but it gave me something to do while I waited for the spinach to wilt.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

I had some leftover chèvre, 8 ounces worth, so I tossed that in as well.  So if you’d like to add that to this recipe, chuck in 8-16 ounces goat’s cheese and stir it around until well-incorporated and completely melted.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Remove the mixture from the heat.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Calzone Assembly and Baking:

Preheat your oven to 425°F.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Punch down your dough.  Literally.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Divide it into 10 equal parts, rolled into balls (remember, my recipe is halved, that’s why you only see five).

Tofu Spinach Calzone

On a floured surface, roll each ball out into a 6″ round.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Divide the filling into 10 equal parts and place each portion on a round, slightly to one side.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Wet the edges of the dough with your finger and fold over each round to make a half circle.

Squish down the edges with your finger and crimp with a fork to seal them.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Place the calzones on a baking sheet.  You can brush them with oil and sprinkle them with salt if you like, for a crusty, salty top.  I chose to cook ours on our pizza stone, which I put in the oven when I turned it on. Cut two diagonal slices in the top of each calzone to let the steam escape.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Bake for 15-25 minutes, until the dough is golden brown and the filling bubbles up through the holes.

Tofu Spinach Calzone

Be careful, they’re HOT!

Tofu Feature Month: Corn and Tofu au Gratin

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

This quick and warm meal comes just in time for the start of school and our rainy season here in Newfoundland.  So while the wind howls outside our windows, averaging 75km/h (on a relatively calm day), and the rain patters through the holes in our leaky roof, we can curl up after a long day at school with this comforting little casserole.   I pulled it from Metro’s recipe site, and modified it a bit because I can’t find chipotle purée anywhere (hint, hint: stocking stuffers, people).

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Chop up about 1/2 a small onion.

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

In a large skillet, heat about 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat.  Chuck in your chopped onion and 2 teaspoons minced garlic and sweat that stuff for a minute or so.

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

Next, crumble up 1 (1lb) package firm tofu and dump that into the pan.

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

Add in 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons chipotle seasoning (chipotle purée if you can get it), 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and the leaves from 4 sprigs of fresh thyme.

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

Also add 1 12oz can of corn, drained (you could probably use thawed frozen corn, too). This is the world’s best can opener, by the way. We got it at Lee Valley. You should get one.

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

Then add 1 cup vegetable broth.

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

Stir that around and reduce for 5-10 minutes, or until all the liquid has been absorbed or evaporated.

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

Transfer the whole shebang to a baking dish and top with 7oz crumbled chèvre (goat’s cheese).

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

Bake until the cheese is melty (chèvre doesn’t get all runny, so you have to keep an eye on it), about 10 minutes, and serve right away.  Fantastic reheated the next day as well.

Spicy Corn & Tofu Gratin

Tofu Feature Month: Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu

I FINALLY found silken tofu in St. John’s.  I’ve been looking for it for what feels like forever.  In celebration of my recent discovery, and the Pie’s insistence that he needs to slim down in time for Kristopf’s wedding next July, I have decided to honour the long-standing request of my friend Danger K and start finding new ways to cook with tofu.  You might know Danger K: she recently got married (on our wedding anniversary, no less), and she and her husband planned a big fancy wedding by begging, bartering, and borrowing everything they could.  Their expenses out of pocket?  About two hundred bucks.  You can read about the process on their blog, Project Priceless.  So they’re a little bit famous back in Ottawa.  And I can say that I knew her when.  We went to high school together.  In fact, she had a huge crush on one of my brothers (DON’T DENY IT DANGER K I HAVE PROOF).  Not that I’m going to hold that against her or anything.

Mapo Tofu

So.  Cooking with tofu.

My previous experiences cooking with tofu (not in eating it, just cooking it) focused mainly on tossing cubes of it into Broccofu, Peanut Butter Spaghetti, or the occasional stir-fry.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but’s not using tofu in all its myriad manifestations.  This fall, the Pie and I aim to change our ways, and this recipe is the beginning.  September will be a sort of Tofu Feature Month.

Mapo doufu (mapo tofu) is a traditional spicy dish from the Sichuan province of China and involves sautéing tofu pieces in a suspension of a paste made of beans and chilis.  What I found particularly interesting about this dish is that I normally think of tofu as a protein-replacement for meat, but this recipe calls for a combination of tofu AND beef or pork.  Very unique (for me, at least).

Mapo Tofu

A note on substitutions:  this recipe calls for chili bean paste, a spicy gooey mixture of fermented soy beans and chilis (I’m thinking like a super-hot miso).  I didn’t have such a thing, so I used black bean paste instead with the chilis, which is why my sauce isn’t that signature reddish colour.  The recipe also requires the use of rice wine, which, not being a wine-drinker, I also don’t have, so we used rice wine vinegar instead.  Finally, the recipe I used made little sense and required some serious moderation, so I haven’t linked you to it.   I wasn’t a huge fan.

Start by making up enough rice for two people.

Mapo Tofu

Drain and pat dry one block soft tofu (I used extra-firm silken tofu because I wanted to see what it was like).  Cut it into 1″ cubes.

Mapo Tofu

Slice up 4-5 green onions and save about 1/4 of the green tips (sliced) for garnish.

Mapo Tofu

In a skillet or wok over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and sauté 4oz ground beef or pork until cooked.  Drain and set aside.

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.  Add 1 teaspoon minced ginger, the green onion that isn’t what you saved for garnish, 2 whole dried chilis, and 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns (Sichuan if you’ve got ’em).  Cook that for about a minute.

Mapo Tofu

Add the ground meat back in, as well as 3 tablespoons chili bean paste, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, and 2 teaspoons brown sugar.  Cook that for another minute or so, just so everything can get acquainted.

Mapo Tofu

Add in the cubed tofu as well as 1/4 cup vegetable stock (or beef, or pork) and let that simmer for 15 minutes.   Stir occasionally, but don’t let the tofu fall apart.

Mapo Tofu

When it’s nearing done, dissolve 1 tablespoon corn starch in a little bit of water and pour that in as well.  Stir gently until it thickens.

Mapo Tofu

Serve over rice and garnish with the remaining green onions.  SPICY!

Mapo Tofu

Newfie Miso

I have been craving miso soup for forever and a half.

From what I’ve read, miso soup is characterized by a stock of dashi, which is composed of dried fish and/or seaweed and/or mushrooms, into which softened miso, or fermented soybean paste, is suspended.

The rest of the ingredients are up to you, really.  Traditionally the ingredients are limited to two or three items, chosen for their contrast: items that float versus items that sink, contrasting colours, textures, shapes, and flavours.   But you can put in whatever you want.I had a fun time at the Magic Wok Grocery this afternoon and I went a little crazy with possible ingredients. In this case, though, I wanted to limit myself, so I picked out preserved turnip (rather salty and crunchy), which I cut into slivers:Kai-lan, or Chinese broccoli, which is both sweeter and more sour than regular broccoli, if that makes any sense.  It’s called ‘broccoli’ for that little vestigial flower thing at the top.Also it’s nice and crisp.  I chopped it into small pieces and sort of julienned the stalks:Dried mushrooms.  Nuff said about those.  I bought all sorts of weird fungus, but I decided to take it easy on my first try and went with a western medley:A nice dark soba (buckwheat noodles) which I broke in half for easier eating:Dashi is non-existent here, so I decided to McGuyver up my own.  I used a combination of powdered vegetable stock and dulse flakes.  It’s the dulse that makes this recipe into a Newfoundland recipe, as the stuff is harvested right off the coast here.  The dried mushrooms I added to the stock early so that their essences could mingle as well.

Here is what I did.  I’ll try to quantify things for you, though I mostly just went with “some” and “a little”.

Start with about 4 cups water.  Add in 2 heaping tablespoons powdered vegetable stock and bring to a boil.Reduce heat, plop in about 3/4 cup dried mushrooms and 2 tablespoons dulse flakes and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.  This is so your mushrooms can absorb all the water they need.Add 1/4 cup slivered preserved turnip.  It gets less salty once it’s in the soup.About ten minutes before serving, chuck in a small bunch of soba.Five minutes before serving, add in about 1 1/2 cups chopped kai-lan.Dissolve about 1 1/2 tablespoons miso (I used the hatchi variation) in the broth (it’s easier to do this if you scoop out some of the broth and mash it into that first) and serve hot.

Miso is meant to be made up fresh each time, but I hear that leftover soup is also good cold.  I  could be wrong but I’m taking it for lunch tomorrow so we shall see.