Chestnut-Mushroom Tourtiere

I come from the land of poutine and tourtiere.

However, both regional “delicacies” have experienced emotional-ostracism, and have, virtually, been shut out of my life.

As delicious as they may be, the poutine is just too dirty to actually be enjoyed, and, my meat-abstinence has relegated the tourtiere to a permanent spot on the bench.

How’s that for Quebec-culinary-pride?

Never one to be more than a partial stick-in-the-mud, I have devised strategies that have allowed for me to partake in our local specialties: oven-fry poutine with mushroom gravy (oh boy, too good) and this, equally-delicious, vegetarian tourtiere.

This “meat” pie has a delicious taste, a wonderful texture, and the innards actually look fairly reminiscent of meat.

Perhaps if I were to have recently woken from a long nap, stumbled to the dinner table, and groggily taken a bite of this pie, it is highly possible that I might be duped into thinking that I had just consumed ground animal; hastily regurgitating it into my napkin. (sorry to have put you through that visual, it was, perhaps, unnecessary…)

If sorta looks like meat, sorta tastes like meat, sorta smells like meat…must it be meat?

All I’m trying to say, in my incredibly-roundabout way, is that this delicious alternative to tourtiere will please carnivores and vegetarians alike.

Serve it with vegan gravy for a wonderful, comforting, treat.

Chestnut-Mushroom Tourtiere

Adapted from Reader’s Digest

Ingredients
1 (15g) package dried mushrooms (I used shiitake)
8 oz (250g) cremini or white mushrooms
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced
1 leek (white and light green parts only), thinly sliced
2 carrots, diced
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage (or 1 tsp dried)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp black pepper
300g vacuum-packed, cooked & peeled, chestnuts
2 eggs, beaten
2, 9-inch, deep-dish pie shells (either homemade or store-bought), I made half-wheat pie dough for this recipe

Directions
1. In a small pot, heat 1 cup of water until boiling. Remove from the heat and place the dried mushrooms in the pot to soak in the hot water. Let stand for 15 minutes. Reserve the liquid and transfer the mushrooms to a food processor. Add the cremini mushrooms and pulse until chopped.
2. In a large skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Cook the celery, leek, and carrot in the butter-olive oil mixture until softened, stirring often, about 4 minutes.
3. Stir in the chopped mushrooms, sage, salt, allspice, and pepper; cook until the mushrooms are softened, about 4 minutes.
4. Stir in the reserved mushroom liquid and cook until almost all the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow it to cool slightly.
5. Pulse the chestnuts in the food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir them into the mushroom mixture, along with all but 1 Tbsp of the beaten egg.
6. Beat 1 tsp of water into the remaining egg.
7. Spoon filling into one of the pie shells; lightly brush the edge with some of the egg wash. Top the filling with the remaining pie crust and pinch the edge together and flute with a fork to seal.
8. Brush the top of the pie with more of the remaining egg wash. Cut 2-3 steam vents in the top crust.
9. Bake in the bottom third of the preheated oven until deep golden in colour, about 45 minutes.
10. Remove from the oven and let stand at least 10 minutes before cutting into wedges.

This time, I turned this recipe into individual pies, rather than a 9-inch version. Both have been done, and both are fabulous.

Easter Chocolate Bark

Sometimes (ok, often) chocolate is the solution to all of life’s ailments.

…but not all chocolate a) is created equal, or, b) does the trick.

This chocolate bark, however, will help heal deep, emotional, wounds better than bi-weekly trips to the psychiatrist’s office.

Seriously. It is that therapeutic.

This recipes calls for 2 lbs worth of chocolate plus the chopped Easter eggs to sprinkle on top. Uhh, sold.

However, where the two whole pounds of chocolate won me over, the realization that half of that was to be melted white chocolate, left me skeptical. I’ve never been a huge fan of white chocolate, unlike my father who, claimed that white chocolate was his most favourite kind…I guess that my skepticism was reinforced by the very fact that his white chocolate bunnies from the previous Easter would still be in the fridge as we were hunting for our new, and undeniably fresher, eggs.

He was “saving it”…saving it for what? I always wondered. Secretly, I assumed that he was saving it until it magically morphed into a dark chocolate bunny.

Anyway, enough with the digression.

The white chocolate in this recipe totally won me over and was a truly lovely compliment its dark-chocolate-neighbour, upstairs.

Although this chocolate is the best therapy around, and will keep you out of the psychiatrist’s office, too much of it will land you in the physician’s office from a bark-induced-sugar-coma.

…so, be warned, and enjoy responsibly.

Easter Chocolate Bark

Adapted from Tutti Dolci

Ingredients
1 pound white chocolate chips
1/2 pound dark chocolate chips
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup mini Easter eggs (such as Mini Eggs or Eggies), chopped

Directions
1. Lay a large piece of parchment paper on top of a solid cutting board. Make sure that your cutting board will fit in your fridge.
2. Place white chocolate in a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until glossy and smooth. Pour melted chocolate onto parchment and spread into an even layer. Chill in the refrigerator until set, about 25 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and leave at room temperature while melting remaining chocolate.
3. Place dark and semisweet chocolate in a double boiler or in a heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Slowly melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally until glossy and smooth. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Pour melted dark chocolate over white chocolate layer; carefully spread with an offset spatula into an even layer.
4. Quickly sprinkle with chopped eggs (the white chocolate will start to harden the dark chocolate fairly quickly, so don’t mosey here). Chill in the refrigerator until completely set, about 1 hour.
5. Carefully lift parchment paper and place bark back on the cutting board; trim away any ragged edges (if desired), then use a sharp knife to cut into squares, or just break into pieces. Pack in an airtight container with wax paper between layers; store at room temperature or in the fridge for up to 1 week.