06 November 2012

Shiitake mushrooms are not all the same

If there was a contest, I vote Montreal's Chinatown(s) to be the worst Chinatown in North America. For a city this size, Montreal's Asian quarters are sad, especially for the sizeable East Asian population. The Asian supermarkets are overpriced, variety stinks and quality is meh, at best.

Take for example, the sorry state of shiitake mushroom selection in this city.

This is what you get at the local Loblaws chain (which also owns the T&T Supermarket chain):
[These shiitake mushrooms have an extra "i". Also, not much far off from the ones in our Azn groceries, but still...]
You can fool gweilo, but you can't fool a discerning Chinese glutton like me; calling that shiitake mushrooms is like calling Coors Lite "beer". Recommended use for these ones: chopped up in dumpling filling. I don't need to see that poppycock served to me.

And then there's what you can get, for example, in butt[expletive] suburbia from a random Asian grocery store in Markham, Ontario where Asian malls outnumber Tim Hortons franchises:

[Shiitake with distinctive crackles. Crackles on mushrooms are what sprinkles are to cupcakes.]
In Chinese cooking, the most revered grades of shiitake are winter mushrooms (dong gu冬菇, fragrant mushroom (heong gu菇, and white flower mushroom (bak fah gu花菇.

The quality of these mushrooms depend on the season, temperature in which they're grown, humidity, pH levels of the growing medium (often just tree trunks or logs), and all that junk. Winter versions are obviously cultivated in winter when the humidity is lower which helps create the crackled patterns on the cap, and produce meatier caps... mmm meaty.

As you can see from above, there's a discernible difference between good and not so good (usually prices will be a good indicator), which I have outlined below:

  • Very dark cap and stems
  • Little or no floral pattern
  • Small, wrinkled caps
  • Dense
  • Thin caps
  • Long stems
  • Dark gills
  • Light in colour
  • Pronounced floral pattern on cap
  • Light in weight
  • Large caps
  • Thick caps
  • Shorter stems
  • Delicate-looking
  • Pale-coloured gills
Connoisseurs recommend rehydrating dried shiitake in cold (not hot or boiling) water, as hot water will likely "destroy the flavour". I say, "Be a man; do the right thing," but that's just me.

If you're lucky enough to have access to fresh ones (home-grown or in store), you'll probably appreciate the delicate umami flavours more than the dried ones might lack; nonetheless, you should still look for fresh ones that exhibit similar qualities.

(Treehugger posted a step-by-step article on growing shiitake on oak logs. Or you can buy one of these shiitake growing kits from Amazon and have the most disgusting-looking centerpiece in your neighbourhood!) 

15 August 2012

BBQ explorations: in a grilled octopus's garden

My next-door neighbours are hyper-friendly, cacophonous Greeks (five of the 60 000+ of them in our fine city). They literally have barbecued-something eight days a week and as result, they're also experts at adding that fresh charcoal-barbecue smell to my laundry-line wash
However, they always seem to cook the same meats and though their grillades taste pretty good,  I hoped to one-up them by grilling up this octopus platter:
[Grilled octopus. Omnomnomnom.]
... which started off as this critter:
[My eight-legged supper]
Taking off on Peter Minakis' mouth-watering guidelines on grilling octopus (from his ace blog, I forgoed (forwent?) cooking the octopus with a cork because a) it sounds gross, especially if the cork tissue starts disintegrating in the water, b) the wine bottle cork I had lying around might have been hybrid plastic/cork, and c) I don't think a single cork is enough to tenderize an entire octopus*.

Awesome food science writer and author Harold McGee says leave the cork stoppers in the wine bottles when cooking octopus. Sorry Lidia, Mario and the gang... you're still loved regardless.

If you can find fresh octopus, I am jealous. This one came frozen from Mourelatos.
[Octopus underside. Notice the mouth in the centre; this is what you need to cut out, or it will bite you while you eat.]
Grilling octopus is pretty much child's play, though I doubt small childrens (or even squeamish adults) would want to touch this). Seriously... it's not like you have to harpoon it and wrestle it – it's already murdered for you!

Cooking a frozen one just involved thawing, cleaning (cutting out the mouth and eyes), and then dipping the tentacles in simmering water to curl them prior to steaming them. Once they're steamed, they get marinated and then grilled and then eaten.
[Dipping the tentacles in boiling water prior to steaming them makes them curly and cute, like perming them.]
Were my neighbours jealous? They probably would have been if they had seen it (had it not been inhaled by hungry, hungry hippos first). 

* According to this study from 2001, enzymes from natural cork stoppers were proven to be able to decompose cellulose and cell walls of other plantstuffs but doesn't mention anything about octopuses. I rest my case.

31 July 2012

Egg tart review: Les Châteaux bakery

(I thought I had done this before, but it turns out I'm going senile.)

This will be the first in my series of egg tart reviews. As a self-professed egg-tart-aholic, I attribute some of my girth to my love of egg-tarts, and the rest of it, I blame my mother.

I start off with a review of a Portuguese egg tart (i.e. not a Canto-style plain egg tart, daan-taat 蛋撻). Portuguese egg tarts (called nata or pastel de nata in their native tongue, and bastardized by us Cantos as po-taat 葡挞) are the cream of the crop.

My auntie Kay from Tdot (also my personal Santa Claus*) always brings me egg tarts when she visits. This time, they were from some place called Les Châteaux (oooh c'est du faux français! [translation: the name is French so it must be fancy]).
[Deformed po-tat from Les Châteaux]
I've never been to this bakery, and frankly, I would probably not go out of my way to go there, especially because it's 5.5 hours away from my place. And also because my review leaves more to be desired...

Texture: Puff-pastry flaky
Flavour: Bland, and crisco-like

Texture: Good and perfectly eggy
Flavour: Unspectacular but not too sweet. Maybe good for diabetics, but I don't have any to test this theory on.

N/A. They arrived in a crushed carton, 6 hours after they were baked. The baker did make an effort to eliminate steam by cutting off two corners of the carton. Yay on him.

No clue. My auntie didn't accept any monetary compensation for them. I will presume she paid upwards of $1 brazillion dollars because she loves me that much.

Final grade
2.75/4. At least they were edible.

Les Chateaux Bakery
3229 Hwy 7
Markham, ON

* Only parents can love these kids singing so off-key. They would all have been fired otherwise.

22 July 2012

When life gives you basil, make lemonade

Lemon and basil are two flavours that, like Oscar and Felix, Balki and Larry, Harold and Kumar, stick to each other's craw, but complement each other despite their differences.

After all, lemon (c. limon) and basil (Ocimum basilicum) sing together on pasta, quinoa, chicken, vinaigrette, AND one can even grow lemon basil  even Mother Nature knew that the felicitous pair of flavours would be awesome.
[Basil lemonade. The floaties are edible: it is just basil and eyeballs. Or ice cubes.]
Gourmet magazine's basil lemonade recipe on, however, had me wondering whether or not this might be a palatable potable. I was (as I ever am) skeptical.

I had just pruned the unruly basil plants in my yard, and needed to do something with them. or they would be relegated to pesto again.
The result, ladies and gentlegerms, is one of the best lemonades this side of Canada. And it's only "one" of the best because I didn't put any vodka in it.

[Lemon, lemon, lemon, lemon, lime.]
Basil makes the lemonade fragrant and because it's infused rather than cooked, the herb's volatile oils are not destroyed.

(Few things I would edit in the recipe though: use slightly less sugar, and trying Thai basil for more punch in the teeth. Sweet basil still works amazors. Winner!)

[Lemon rind strips and basil, post-flavour seepage.]

22 June 2012

BBQ explorations: Sicilian potato pizza

My friend Benny, il Siciliano tells me of a Sicilian pizza that they call pizza bianca con patate (literally "white pizza with potatoes") and how it's one of the best pizzas ever.

And after much rebuffing and then ACTUALLY eating one, I kind of have to agree.

It is, after all, ludicrous to think that putting more carbohydrates on top of baked dough would be delicious. It is like buttering one's bacon, or wearing socks with sandals. But I was wrong... those Italians know their carbs!

[Mostly sicilian potato pizza. Ignore the sausage-tomato-feta section of the pizza on the left; I didn't cook enough potatoes to top the entire dough... Word of advice: err on the side of extra potatoes. You can always use leftovers for science experiments.]

Cooking the pizza on the barbecue ensure that the dough will be awesome (you can still do it in the oven though). And now, assemble your own... here's how!

Sicilian potato pizza
  1. Heat the BBQ grill to about 450° F (230° C) or hotter. If you have a pizza stone (rectangular or round), use it, but don't touch it when it's hot.  
  2. Assemble the pizza. I made mine rectangular because that's the way Benny said it was done; if you don't listen to il Siciliano, you might get hurt. Finish it with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper.
  3. Improvise how to get your pizza onto the [expletively] hot pizza stone. Or use a wooden pizza paddle, if available. 
  4. Cook for about 10 min, or until the dough looks cooked. I can't be held responsible if you burn your pizza because if your barbecue grill hates you like mine does, it might just do it to spite you.
(On that note, my barbecue grill is on its last legs from excessive use. If anyone would like to kindly donate a nice one to me, I wouldn't say no!)

31 May 2012

Try this: Chocolate from Newfoundland & Labrador (also called Chocolateland, Canada's 10th province)

Some of you might know me as being curmudgeonly, sourfaced, and the resident naysayer (I love these terms of endearment).

However, when you get chocolate gifts like these, directly from St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador by the Newfoundland Chocolate Company, one can't help but melt over the adorable hand-drawn depictions of Canadian maritime streetscapes.

I mean, just look at them... wouldn't you want to live in a cute little house like this filled with chocolate? I don't even like chocolate and I would, just so I could pull a Homer.
Newfoundland Chocolate Company chocolate bars
[Newfoundland Chocolate Company chocolate bars: Extra Smooth, Island Almond and Wildberry. I would eat those houses. Oh yeah, I already did.]

And the chocolate was good too. 

(Thanks, Tara!)

08 May 2012

Garlic ginger onion sauce for Chow's (lame-looking) Hainan-style chicken and rice

The best thing in the world is Hainan chicken rice (海南雞飯, sometimes called Hainan oily chicken rice by ignorant translators).

It's not the best thing in the world because of the poached fresh and flavourful chicken with an inverted mound of steamed chicken-infused rice... It is the best thing in the world because of the accompanying dipping sauces.
[Ugly platter of Hainan chicken rice and some overcooked gai-lan (Chinese broccoli); I stepped out to watch Jeopardy! for 2 minutes and that's how they got overcooked. Alex Trebek is a riveting host.]
Hainan chicken rice is often served with just two sauces -- three, if you're lucky! Usually, it's some variant of a chili sauce, some watered down version of nam pla, straight-up pounded ginger, oyster sauce mixed with soy sauce, and/or (my fave) minced garlic with ginger and onion and chilis (if I had children, this one would be the one getting all the Ghostbusters toys it wanted).

Cooking the chicken is a slightly arduous a process; most of the time is spent waiting, but this chicken dish is well-worth the wait.

I won't get into details about cooking the chicken and rice, but if your Canto is good, you can probably figure it out with the help of Hong Kong celebrity master chef, Master Chef Ko (sometimes he's called High Master but it has nothing to do with drugs).

Here's my take on my favourite one...

Garlic, ginger and green onions dipping sauce
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh ginger, finely chopped (~1 inch piece) (NOT processed)*
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh garlic, finely chopped (NOT minced or pressed)
2 Tbsp (30 ml) green onions (spring onions), finely chopped
1 tsp (5ml) chopped, fresh red chilis (or more if you're a masochist)
1 Tbsp (15 ml) fish sauce (nam pla) or soy sauce if you are a fish-hater
1/2 tsp (2 ml) to 1 tsp (5ml) salt
1/4 cup (75 ml) vegetable oil 

* You don't want to process the ginger or garlic because the juices will dissipate. Best to hand chop them. Or if you have no hands, ask someone who has hands, or a slapchop doodad.
  1. In a medium heat-proof bowl or mason jar, mix the ginger, garlic, onions, fresh chilis together with the salt. 
  2. In a small frying pan or saucepan, heat the vegetable oil until hot but not smoking. When ready, pour the hot oil over the mince mix. It will be hot, so don't get any oil spattered on you. 
  3. Serve with your chicken or eat straight out of the bowl.
I realise that I need Chinese chicken carving lessons from Fat Auntie, so spare me the criticisms. I get hassled enough at home.

24 April 2012

Witch's brew: blue tea that might cause hallucinations

Now, I'm no stranger to tea, but this one called Palo Azul (literally "blue stick") that my friends in the Neths found in Guatemala piqued my interest, mainly because it makes you poop money was obtained through a mysterious tea witch and also turned blue when prepared.

[Palo azul prepared for consumption. No fancy filters used! Photo by François M.]

I asked them about this intriguing demon concoction -- which turns out to be a diuretic, and also used a cheap way of duping dope testing (especially useful for those avoiding military service conscription).

Here's an excerpt of my interrogation session with Lin and François.
Chow: Tell me more about where and how you got a hold of this tea...
Lin: When I went to visit Guatemala with my friend Nerea last October on holiday, we were relegated to indoor sight-seeing as the weather was horrible and somewhat dangerous, and we were apparently sitting ducks between two hurricanes in adjacent countries. We went to visit an indoor market in Antigua to find some Pericón tea, which I had had everywhere in Guatemala but couldn't find in the supermarkets.

At the market, we were directed to the farthest end where a woman (whom I would describe as a "herb witch") was peddling all sorts of branches, leaves, resins, barks and some unidentifiable, organic looking objects. To my disappointment, she had no Péricon tea, however she offered me another kind of infusion: branches with small leaves and an indistinguishable but rich and fragrant aroma. I bought some of the branches, and while she was packing the "tea", my eyes caught sight of wooden cubes and asked her what they were for (assuming she would come up with a story on a Mayan ritual). Instead, she nonchalantly mentioned the cubes were used for infusing, so I decided to try them as well. While packing the cubes, she told me that the cubes had to be boiled until the water would turn light blue. Light blue?! But I already told her I would buy them...
François: What she said.

[The wooden cubes and the infusion. They look like Duraflame firestarter and probably smell like them.]

CDid the tea witch have large fang-like teeth, googly eyes and smell like a retirement home? 
L: The smell of the tea witch was camouflaged by the smells of the rotten fruits and veggies of the stalls around her, not to mention the Mayan incense lit in her own stall.
CWhat convinced you that this was a good idea? Did the witch put a spell on you?
L:  It was probably the intrigue of the cubes and the way to prepare them. I did, however wait about five months before I felt it safe enough to try to try the tea. On that particular evening, we were at home with five people, including one physician. We applied a first-in-human procedure, in which one person drank the tea in sitting position, and maybe 15 minutes later, a second person drank the tea. The other three persons present were observers with a phone within reach.

CHow did you prepare this tea? What did it tea taste like?
L: We put about 500 mL of cold water in a pot, added a cube, and started to boil the water on a gas flame. As the water heated, the cubes started to imbue the water with a yellow colour. In phase II, the water became brown. Then, after approximately 10 minutes, the surface of the water started to get a mystical shine, which became more and more blue. This is the point where we poured the water in our cups, and went to the laboratory setting. The taste of the tea is not tea-like. It tastes mild, not very characteristic and not bitter. [Chow note: Lin is a scientist.]
F:  Rather bland, considering how it looks. Think something between a neutral watery taste and some vague forest-floor flavour.  It leaves a bit of film in your mouth. It's ever so slightly, subtly oily... And you know that blue stuff has to coat all your organs on the inside, right?

C: Uh, okay... Did you have the urge to urinate frequently afterwards? 
L: In the adverse events, no diuretic effects were reported. [Chow note: Again, Lin is a scientist.]
F: It didn't make me rush to the pissoir... probably similar to regular tea in this regard (i.e. modest urge-inspiring effects).

C: Did you pee blue?
F: Nope. The blue found another way of escaping. Or it is still in me...
CWhat did you start hallucinating after drinking the tea? 
L: We actually believed the infusion looked blue!
F: (Chuckle).

C I read that people drink this tea to help them pass drug tests... Was there any plans to join the army or navy or some other organization requiring clean urine samples?
L: No comment.
F: Hell, don't all boys?

CWhat did you do with the tea you didn't drink? You can be honest and say that you watered your plants with it...
L: We still have some cubes left, and after having started doing clinical experiments, plant experiments would indeed be a very interesting next step to take.
F: I just had another cup of this blue devil-witch drink a while ago, after letting it breathe (in a pot on the table top) for 2 days. I'm still breathing.
Special awesome thanks to François for his mad photography skills and for loaning the photos for this post. (P.S. He is for hire if you live near the Netherlands.)

24 March 2012

Fun with bacon crafts

Ideal for a casserole/savoury pie topper or camping blanket, try weaving bacon.

[A bacon weave, soon to be the next girl scout achievement badge.]

(Inspired by craftster.)

18 March 2012

Phyllo fanatics' fresh fixation

Sometimes, the very thought of phyllo pastries (made of phyllo dough, filo, phyllo pastry leaves, börek, pâte phyllo, etc) makes my arteries preemptively clog up, or my blood pressure spike.

Often in Greek and Middle Eastern traditions, each fine layer of fragile dough is slathered with melted butter or oil to make them crispy, often resulting in rich, flaky, rich and deliciously full-bodied, and buttery rich (my heart just hiccuped writing that).

However, at Melina's Phyllo Bar, your heart can rest easy: the pastries here are ace, and perfectly crispy without being overly oily.

Following our intense ninja vampire-hunter training, my buddy Leo and I headed over to this cozy shop in the armpit heart of Mile-End to fill our tummies.

[Leek pie (prasopita), it's vegan, but all Greek to me! Wakka-wakka....]

Here, phyllo pastries are treated like members of the royalty — adored as the centre of attention, yet unassuming and delicate; both the savoury and sweet fillings are tasty. The phyllo is slightly thicker than store-bought phyllo, but if you've ever tried to make phyllo, you know it's the work of a demon spawn... Joanna, the amazors co-proprietor, says it's a secret recipe for which she pretty much has exclusivity   and not made commercially, so suck it to all those creeping restaurateurs looking to try to muscle in on Melina's phyllo. She's got two armed ninja bodyguards watching over her!

[Spanakopita: feta and spinach and half-eaten, thanks to Leo.]

[Background: photo collage of Melina Mercouri, the modern muse of Greece and also shop's inspiration. Oh, and Leo in the foreground, burping.]

[Leo tried to hide the entire bougatsa (semolina custard pastry) in her mouth from the prying eyes of pedestrians on Parc avenue. It worked.]

After the pastries are all hidden in your stomach, you can chase it all down with a variety of espresso-based drinks. I chose to wash my phyllo pastries down with a Greek soda concoction called Ivi (owned by Pepsico, of course); Melina's is the first in this province to carry this product.

[Ivi uncarbonated orangeade, a taste of nostalgia. Remember when you had school events, and they always served that orange drink from the giant yellow and red drink dispenser cooler from McDonald's? That's what Ivi is, and it brings a tear to my eye.]

Chow and Leo ninja-refuelling rating for Melina's = 4 ninja stars.

Melina's Phyllo Bar
5733 ave. du Parc
(514) 270-1675 

27 February 2012

Hanging out with my pal Char Siu

Everyone who knows Char Siu knows that there's no fooling around when it comes to barbecue. Steve Raichlen doesn't hold a candle to char siu (sorry, Mr. Raichlen).

Char siu, or Chinese barbecue pork 叉燒 (literally "fork roast" but can also mean "stabbing burn"*) is scientifically proven to be everyone's second favourite meat, and is eaten year-round, in steamed buns (bao ), in sandwiches, topped on ramen, or stand-alone (not only at Chinese New Year).

Contrary to tradition, the beautiful roast red colour on char siu is often a result of red food colouring, the CHEATERS way of getting that awesome colour. Cheaters, as we know, get turned into pillars of shame, and end up on Jerry Springer with illegitimate twins.

The REAL way of getting the red is using red fermented bean curd which lends to the flavour and the red colour without artificial colours. You can also be a lazy doof and buy the jar of char siu marinade which doesn't taste as good. Up to you if you want to be a doof.

[This is how I roll. The medium-fatty pork loin version of char siu.]

As is customary for enterprising Asian food mart merchants, CNY foodstuffs prices are jacked up prior to the holiday. I wasn't about to pay $10/lb for a sliver of delicious barbecued pork, so I made my own from pork loins. The loins were, IMO, not fatty enough for my taste but plenty good on flavour. Opting for more of an authentic roast, I hung the char siu to roast in the oven, just like the big boys do!

[Suspended animation: char siu roasting on makeshift hooks in my convection oven. Looks weird, but so do bodybuilders.]

Chow's Char siu 
Marinade (for ~3 lbs pork)
1 Tb (15ml) light soy sauce
3 tsp salt
4 cloves garlic
1 Tb (15ml) chopped ginger
2 stalks green onions
1.5 Tbs (22ml) five-spice powder
3 Tb (45ml) honey, corn syrup, or maltose
2 cubes red bean curd
1 Tb (15ml) rice wine

1 Tb (15ml) honey
  1. Salt your meats and let it sit at least 30 min. This is always important
  2. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for the marinade.
  3. Score your meats (optional) by making very shallow slits perpendicular to the grain of the meat, as so.
    [I was told that scoring cross-grain on one side of the loin would keep it from curling. Who cares about it curling when it all goes into your stomach!]
  4. Marinade your meats in the marinade (minimum 4 hours, recommended overnight in fridge, while letting warm up to almost room temperature prior to cooking).
  5. If roasting in a tray and rack, first cover the rack in aluminium foil, pierce a few holes in the foil, and then lay down a few chopsticks at intervals on the foiled rack. Lay the meat over the chopsticks so that it is basically propped over the foiled rack.
    If you roast them hanging, make sure you place a tray at the bottom of your oven to catch the delicious char siu drippings which will be lost to you forever because it's no longer edible.   
  6. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes in total for a 3lb roast, testing at 20 minutes for doneness. When near done, paint the honey glaze all over the meat (flip if required). 
  7. When done, remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Slice thinly and eat while your gluttonous family members are still watching television
* When I was subjected to Rorschach tests, I always saw demon dophins. 

23 January 2012

Deep-fried Lunar New Year treats: Crispy Sesame Flower aka Dragon Cloaca

It's that time of year again, where old and young Asian kinfolk bring together their bickering over a family supper table. Yes, it is Chinese New Year today.

Aside from the traditional gut-busting home-cooked Chinese gastronomy the eve, there is also no shortage of Chinese tradi-superstitions, to which I don't really adhere; here's a shortlist of some CNY buffoonery:
  • Cleaning your house on the new year (that's what domestic helpers are for).
  • Avoiding the use of scissors or knives (so all haircuts happen before CNY mean barbers and salons gouge clients for 10x the normal fee).
  • Eating as many sweets as you can stomach before your teeth fall out.
  • Giving money in the form of red pockets is auspicious, especially if they're for me. 
However, stupidstitions aside, here's one deep-fried tradition I did honour for year 4710, or the Year of the Dragon: crispy sesame flowers (花, cheoi mah fah). They resemble nothing less than the anus of a dragon (mostly because my handywork is sub-par... sue me). 

[Crispy sesame flowers; definitely not flower-shaped, rather, they're like three-dimensional Möbius strips.]

The recipe is the same as the one used for Smiley Face Nuggets with a slight variation: a smidgen less sugar and the addition of one cube of red fermented bean curd (乳, "southern fermented bean curd"for each cup of flour used.
[Red fermented bean curd. Again, the Western translations here are stupid; ridicule liberally.]

[Before the magic red fermented bean curd is mixed in the dough.]

Once mixed in (you might need a bit more flour), roll it out, cut into 2-inch strips and like a plastic surgeon, make an incision in the middle parallel to the long edge, and then thread one end through the incision. Deep fry the flipped dragon anuses doughthings until golden, and drain on paper towels.

[Rolled out and ready to go.]

A recipe using (1) one cup of flour will yield about 2.5 cups of deep-fried biscuits and raise your LDL cholesterol by 20 points.

Gung hei fat choi 恭喜發財! 
(P.S. My resolution this year is to clean my potty mouth. So far, it is not happening.)

17 January 2012

Tourtière abberation by Chow

Whatever I'm going to write now about tourtière will probably receive some eyebrow-raising and some harsh poo-pooing from any bonne dame de région* but maybe not...!

This is a tale of the birth of a French-Canadian meat pie that was born out of wedlock and raised with love; this is the Chow tourtière made from pork, potatoes and chicken hearts.

[Diminutive version of the meat pie designed for loggers.]

Chicken hearts, though they might be the ugly duckling of the meat world, are (as Subordinate Chow put it) "the most tasty meat in the world until someone told you it was chicken hearts."

Traditionally served as a sleep-inducing meal (réveillon) on Xmas and New Year's eves, it is a perfect sedative for holiday church masses (if the actual mass doesn't put you to sleep first). Les québécois were pretty resourceful folk back in the day, and used whatever meats were local and available to them to make tourtière. (Perhaps I might not be off the beaten track after all.)
This aberration tourtière involves stuffing a double pie crust with a mix of ground chicken hearts and ground pork, with diced potatoes, onions, salt and pepper, herbs (thyme, bay leaf, oregano) baked in a deep dish pie plate (or double the recipe and bake in a cast iron Dutch oven for that extra authenticity no one really cares about unless it means more food).

[Keep the meat and meat grinder cold and your work will be cut out for you.]

The fact that there are not only one but two types of tasty animals in this dish means it's twice as tasty; my math is good.

(Take heed, vegetarians and vegematarians: skip the dead animals and use ground hazelnuts, seitan, ground chickpeas, lentils, TVP (textured vegetable protein), chopped mushrooms, and/or caramelized onions, or combination of all of them.)

May 2012 bring you new tidings of glee in the form of good food and drink! Now for the REAL new year celebrations...

* old bat from Quebec boonies.