Leave a wedge of this satisfying meat pie out for Santa, along with carrot sticks for the reindeer, of course! Karen Schneider / For The Forecaster

Making tourtières this time of year brings out my inner mémère. This meat pie is a delicious Christmas Eve supper that can be made ahead, saved for Christmas morning to have with over-easy eggs, or enjoyed on Boxing Day. Pies can be whipped up and frozen before baking to give as gifts, too.

Karen Schneider cooks and writes in the village of Cundy’s Harbor. You can reach her at [email protected]

I know people who like to slather their tourtière with ketchup, but I have to have cranberry-orange relish with mine. Not only does the relish lend a burst of fresh glitzy flavor to the plate, but it gives me a nostalgic, homey feeling. Make extra because this concoction is also delicious stirred into a bowl of yogurt, swirled into a smoothie, or even spread on toast. A ruby-colored jar of this deliciousness is also another great gift idea.

Cookies are meant to be given at holiday time as well. This sour cream cookie recipe was handed down by my great-great aunt Clara, a diminutive woman who graced us with her presence during the holidays. Brought to our house by my grandparents, she was escorted to the dining table where she presided in grand splendor wearing her black velvet dress complete with lacy collar. Yes, we all held her in high regard and, to this day, I treasure her recipes.

These cookies are fine enough on their own, especially if you add a dash of freshly grated nutmeg to the batter. The icing is all my idea, however, and I do believe Aunt Clara, who was known to nibble a square of chocolate every evening before bedtime, would approve.

Happy Christmas to all!

Our Tourtière

1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 egg, beaten, for glazing crust
Pastry for a double-crust pie

Flaky sea salt for finishing (optional)

Cook potatoes in a pot of water until tender, about 12 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup of the potato water. Mash the potatoes and set aside.

In a large, deep skillet, cook onion, garlic, beef and pork over medium heat until no longer pink. Drain off excess fat. Add bay leaf. Combine seasonings in a small bowl and add to the meat mixture.

Add reserved potato water. Stir and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed. Remove the pan from heat, remove bay leaf, and stir in mashed potatoes. Adjust seasonings.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spoon meat mixture into pastry-lined, 9-inch pie dish. Brush the outer edge of the pastry with beaten egg. Place top crust and seal edges. Brush with egg wash and cut vents.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Yield: 8 servings

Cranberry-Orange Relish

1/2 cup walnuts or pecans
1 (12-ounce bag) fresh cranberries
1 navel orange, unpeeled and cut into chunks
1 apple, (Fuji or Gala), cut into chunks
1/3 cup honey 
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier liquor (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8 to 12 minutes, until lightly toasted. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, blend cranberries, orange, and apple until all ingredients are finely chopped. Add nuts and pulse until roughly chopped.

Transfer relish to a serving bowl. Stir in honey and orange liqueur. Chill at least 2 hours. Yield: 9 servings

Great-great Aunt Clara’s Sour Cream Cookies, embellished

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup melted butter
2 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla
4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup sour cream
Icing and sprinkles (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine sugar and butter until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and beat until combined. Fold in sour cream. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes until slightly browned at the edges.
Cool on wire racks, ice, and add sprinkles. Yield: 2-3 dozen

Vanilla Icing

1/2 cup butter
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons milk
Cream butter with an electric mixer, blend in sugar. Mix in vanilla and milk until smooth.

Fudge Icing

1/2 cup butter
5 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons milk
1 pound confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in cocoa and milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

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