Cooking class: French Canadian Christmas

lots of chopping to do

Why do we do this to ourselves? We go straight from work, spend two hours chopping, two hours plating and serving, another hour cleaning up, and constant dishwashing throughout. Then we go home and collapse on the couch for an hour because we’re too wound up to sleep, but we still have to get up at 5 the next morning. Hmmm….

 Because we get to help cook things like this?


This was a class with one of our favorite chefs, Peter Belknap of the Oyster Creek Inn. As usual, starvation was not an issue, the guests were kept entertained and the help (us) was kept hopping. The theme was “French Canadian Christmas,” so the food had a certain pork-fat-and-butter thing going on. We put on our CDs of Matapat and Le Vent du Nord and got cooking.

plating at Gretchens

potted meat and biscuit

First course was an exciting nibbles plate, with potted meat, pickles, crudites, a hot cheddar biscuit and a slab of butter. This was sort of unbelievably good. And rich.

pastry fish

Second was a seafood chowder, with clams and scallops, served with an adorable puff pastry fish on top.

Lastly, and most fillingly – a tourtiere (or rather, four tourtieres), served with mustard, celeriac remoulade, and roasted root vegetables with maple syrup (to make it Canadian, eh?) The tourtiere was made with ground meat (beef? pork?), onions, potatoes, carrots, and a good helping of pork fat from the top of the potted meat, and the crust was very rich.

tourtiere and veg

The meat pie course nearly did in the audience – we had to hand out foil at the end so people could take their food home. I was feeling like I might never eat again – fortunately, I’ve gotten over that now.

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