Growing up in Canada fries were almost always offered with brown gravy and in Quebec they go one step further; lovely fresh squeaky cheese curds! Initially I was a sceptic, gravy and cheese together. Certainly not an everyday type of food, and wouldn't the gravy make the fries all soggy? Surprisingly, it all fits together; hot home made crispy fries, squeaky cheese curds covered with a tasty brown gravy. It truly is the perfect accompaniment for a tourtierre quiche or as pictured here, a authentic French Canadian Tourtierre. You can cut the potatoes any way you wish. I prefer a short stubby fry.
2-3 russet potatoes
Fresh cheese curds
1/2 red onion
salt and pepper for seasoning
Wash, peel and slice the potatoes to desired size and shape. Rinse under running cold water and store in cold water until needed.
Slice the onions into ribbons and add to a preheated pan on medium heat with a pat of butter. Season with salt and continue to cook until softened and sweet. Add the gravy and stir checking the seasoning. Keep hot until needed.
Drain and dry the potatoes and add to a deep pot or deep fryer of cold oil. Start heating the oil slowly to 375 degrees. This is a new method I'm trying out called the cold start method and is reputed to create French fries that are lower in calories and is practically fool-proof. Drain the potatoes on paper towels and keep warm until needed.
To assemble, put the potatoes on a warm plate and sprinkle with cheese curds. Serve immediately with individual cups or creamers of the hot gravy and let each person pour the gravy over the fries to maximize the crispy-ness of the potatoes as they will get soggy fast. Enjoy this treat from Canada.
One of the things I looked forward to each year when I was living in Canada was Christmas Eve. Before heading to church for Christmas eve service we sometimes had the fortunate pleasure of eating tourtiere, a French Canadian meat pie. My sister married into a French Canadian family and her mother in law always had tourtiere for the season. Made with a mixture of pork and beef, potatoes and spices the aroma always reminds me of family and friends during the Christmas season right till New Years. There are as many recipes as there are families, lovingly passed down to each new generation and I have my own recipe that I will share with all of you. But I also want to introduce something new and different, a breakfast layered meat pie and quiche. I developed this as a way to combine two great dishes into one unforgettable hybrid. When I first attempted this dish the quiche flowed into the meat creating just a meat quiche. Time for a solution and not backing down I melted a thin layer of cheese on top of the meat to create a barrier. I now could add a quiche Lorraine layer that remained separate making something truely unique and saving calories as a unexpected bonus. Of course you can just make the meat pie without the quiche half; just cover it with a pastry lid. Serve with poutine homefries (Coming soon).
1 pound pork freshly ground
1 pound beef freshly ground
2 russet potatoes cooked and riced
2 stalks finely diced celery
1 medium onion finely diced
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
large pinch ground cloves
1 tsp. savory
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup water
2 cups grated Swiss cheese
12 slices bacon cooked and chopped
1/2 cup milk or cream
1 tsp. Herbes de Provence
salt and pepper
2 deep dish pie crust home made or store bought
Prepare the pie crusts (See below)
To get the best results I recommend grinding your own meat if you are able. Cut into 1 inch cubes and mix the pork and beef together when grinding. It will help if you partially freeze the meat first before grinding.
Boil or steam 2 medium russet potatoes in their skin until a knife easily pierces to the center of the potato. Peal and mash or if you have a ricer; cut in half and put into the ricer cut side down and rice. The skin will be left behind and can be easily discarded. Reserve until needed.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a skillet on medium heat melt the butter and add the garlic, celery and onion. Cook 3 to 5 minutes to soften then add the ground pork and beef and continue to cook until all pink is gone. Add the spices and water and mix to combine. Fold in the potatoes and cool until needed.
Blind bake the pie crusts until just starting to brown. If you have not done this before, don't worry; we just prick the bottom of the crust with a fork about 12 times, cover with some parchment paper, add dry beans to let the crust keep it's shape and put into the oven.
Brush the pie crust with a little beaten egg to help keep it from getting soggy. Split half the meat potato mixture to each pie crust and smooth down. It should come about half way up. Sprinkle a thin layer of grated cheese to cover the meat mixture and melt in the oven for 5 minutes. Beat the eggs in a bowl with the milk or cream and the Herbes de Provence, season with salt and pepper. Add to the pie crusts then add the bacon and cheese. Cook until the egg is fully set covering the exposed crust with foil to protect it from browning too much. Let cool for thirty minutes before serving. Makes two quiches. I sometimes make extra meat and potato mixture and make true Tourtières covering the meat pie with a pastry crust brushed with egg wash. Remember there is twelve days of Christmas and I always try to make some extra. They freeze well, for a great future meal!
There is a great recipe for pie crusts at the Smitten Kitchen. Follow this Link.
One of the most important aspects of Inspiration are ingredients; especially when an ingredient is in season and at its peak. Pick up and smell a tomato when it is ripe and at its peak or almost any other seasonal ingredient and let the fragrance, appearance and taste give you inspiration. Currently here on the coast it is Dungeness crab season and my neighbor gave me some of his extras. My initial thought was to make crab cakes and then inspiration led me to create a benedict that showcases the northwest. The base has to be that great northwest bread, sourdough; then a great lump crab cake, a poached egg and some sort of a sauce. To make things simple I decided to make a simple sauce, mayo, lemon juice and avocado; both that go great with crab.
1 pound fresh cooked lump Dungeness Crab meat
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon cranberry mustard (or substitute Dijon)
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 large egg
½ cup mayonnaise
2 Tbsp. butter
½ cup mayonnaise
1 ripe avocado
4 large eggs
4 slices sourdough bread
Mix the wet ingredients together then gently fold in the crab then the bread crumbs. Divide into four equal portions and form into cakes. I like to use a ring mold. Melt the butter in a medium heat skillet and fry until crispy on one side, then gently flip and brown the second side. Keep warm.
Mix ½ cup of mayonnaise with the juice of ½ lemon then mash in one half of a ripe avocado. Whip until smooth. Poach the eggs until the desired doneness and reserve warm.
Toast the bread and butter. Place the bread on a plate and add a crab cake on top. Place a poached egg on top, season with salt and pepper and top with the avocado mayonnaise mixture. Repeat for the three remaining benedict and serve immediately. Serves four.
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How does a good chef think? What is the creative process a
chef uses to come up with new and exciting dishes? What do I need to know to enable that creative process? These are the questions I want to explore in this series of articles. As a chef and an avid cookbook collector I am drawn towards
ideas and techniques of cooking rather than just a collection of recipes. I believe to grow as a chef, I need to continually learn and hone new techniques along with perfecting each technique I use every day. Whenever I go to a restaurant, whether fine dining, neighborhood pub, avant garde, or even fast food, I continually ask myself how can I do this better, what works and more important, what doesn’t? Feel free to send me comments, ask questions. Together, we can explore and make creative cuisine.
Spending almost thirty years in the computing field, I was able to travel experiencing a wide variety of tremendous cuisine. First I became a foodie, and when the opportunity arose, I was able to attend culinary school following my passion. I work as a part-time private chef and volunteer time at the community café in North Bend Oregon providing affordable meals in a restaurant setting to my community.