Christmas Leftovers and Lingering Thoughts

Boxing Day Snow TrekChristmas has come and gone yet the holidays are still with us. We have New Years and a week to share with family and friends. My farmhouse is littered with wrapping paper, holiday gift bags and bows. The empty stockings are hung up on the fireplace waiting to be stored away until next year. It was an exceptional Christmas in the country with record snow fall, freezing temperatures and the fight to keep the drive way clear enough to get out from under the snow. Even the enormous Ford F350 got stuck. My Cuisinart meat slicer was a complete bomb and I am planning to exchange it for a modern pair of snowshoes. The forests were full of powder snow and the Christmas day walk was truly a trek in a winter wonder Christmas Cakesland.  On the other side of the story Toronto was hit with blackouts in freezing weather and most of my relatives ended up in hotels and  are  now returning home to empty out their  fridges and freezers of food that spoiled.

Here on the farm, my fridge is full of the remains of the day – I have my marsala marinated ham joint, turkey with herb and lemon stuffing, my famous mashed potatoes, roasted mushrooms, gravy, stock, peas, edamame and cauliflower gratin -and oh yes a spinach herbed goat cheese dip.  Last night we were pooped and ate the wild rice while watching the Farm house in WInter copyweather update. More snow in the forecast!

Every year brings the same dilemma: What to make with this miss mash of left-over food. The Chef in me lays in bed and dreams about what to make with the food in my fridge. I truly enjoy planning and plotting to convert my leftovers into something magical … Turkey pot pie with a crown of puff pastry or turkey shepherds pie? I could make turkey soup or navy bean soup and then I thought about Cassoulet. Cassoulet is a rich, slow-cooked casserole originating in the sMe on SnowShoesouth of France, containing meat, pork skin and white beans. The dish is named after its traditional cooking vessel, the cassole, a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides. I thought about coming up with an updated version- I do not have duck or goose fat about nor the sausages -but I am a clear fan of traditional peasant food, or to be more precise the practicality of how this classic dish evolved and how many versions of it exist from region to region. There are legends and rules in haute cuisine that determine how the dish should be made. I believe that this dish, like so many others of its kind were a way to assemble an assortment of leftovers to create a robust dish.

Snow TrailToday I am planning to make a Classic turkey pot pie. I love this comfort food and it is one of the best ways I know to make great use of the leftover turkey, stock and gravy.  I use the turkey fat skimmed from the stock for the base of my blonde roux that will combine with the stock to make up my velouté. If there is left over gravy which rarely happens, I add it to the velouté.

Turkeys on the marchI was a Chef at the Arcadian Court in Toronto and its chicken pot pie was famous. It had very basic ingredients and I still prefer it that way – they used whole par boiled parisienne potatoes- feel free to do the same if you wish.

Happy New Year and all the best in 2014!


Chef Elizabeth


pot pieCHEF NOTES Remember – Always  season your food  to your taste. Add any combination of fresh herbs in the intensity that suits your palate. Cooking is about breaking the rules … baking is a different story. I only use puff pastry on the top of the pot pie- you can do a traditional two crust pie. I prefer the flavour of a  very basic turkey pie- but feel free to add vegetables of your choice-;For instance 1 cup of sauteéd mushrooms or  green beans are a couple of  good choices. If you have extra stock you can intensify the flavour of the dish by parboiling the carrots and the potatoes in the stock. The deeper the flavour of the stock the richer the flavour of the pie.

Prep time: 20 min Cook time: 35 min Total time: 55 min Servings:  6


1 box frozen pure butter puff pastry

Do ahead:  Thaw puff pastry and the roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 1/4-inch thick square or rectangular larger than the dimensions of your baking dish (or dishes) by about 3 inches on each side. Transfer to a baking sheet, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. At this point you will cut the dough leaving an extra amount to hang over the dish. To do this; remove chilled dough from refrigerator, and place on a cutting board. Place your intended baking dish directly onto the dough, with the opening side down. With a sharp knife, cut around the dish so that you have an even 3 inches around the dish on all edges. Return the dough to the baking sheet, wrap tightly with plastic, and chill for an additional hour.

Turkey Pot Pie FillingFILLING 1/3 cup turkey fat or butter. 1/3 finely cup finely  chopped onion 1/3 cup  finely chopped celery 1/3  cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt 1  teaspoon freshly ground  pepper 1 3/4 cups chicken broth  – (I use my homemade stock) 1/2 Tablespoon fresh thyme or marjoram – or to taste 1/2  cup whole milk or cream infused with 2 Bay leaves and 3 sprigs of thyme 2 1/2  cups  cooked turkey – in large cubes or shreds- 1  cups rinsed  frozen green peas 1/2 cup parboiled carrots 1 cup of cubed and parboiled russet  potatoes.

1  Heat oven to 400°F. Prepare a deep dish casserole by lightly buttering the bottom and sides.

2  In 2-quart saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in flour, salt and pepper until well blended. Gradually stir in broth and infused milk, cooking and stirring until bubbly and thickened. Let cook for 5 more minutes. Adjust seasonings at this point.

3 Stir in turkey and mixed vegetables. Remove from heat. Spoon turkey mixture into prepared casserole dish or crust-lined pan.

4 Finish the Puff Pastry- Prepare your egg wash by combining 1 egg with 1 tsp. milk or cream. Remove dough from refrigerator and brush surface evenly with egg wash. Invert dough and place directly over the casserole, pressing lightly to seal overhanging crust to the side of the dish. Brush top surface of dough with egg wash. With a large round pastry tip or other small round object, cut a small circle in the centre of the pastry, removing the pastry circle. This allows the steam to vent. You can use left over pastry to create decorative cut -outs for the crust.

5  Transfer dish to a baking sheet lined with foil or parchment (to catch any boil-over!). Bake for 10 minutes then cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent crust from burning, and continue baking for about 25 minutes more, or until filling is bubbling and crust is golden. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestions:  Serve this with some of your cranberry sauce on the side, a mixed green salad with a lemon herb vinaigrette and a crisp glass of Joel Gott or Hess Chardonnay.

Shortbread Cookies

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