At Home with Emily Lycopolus

A Note from the publisher

We’re living in an unprecedented moment in history, and it’s been amazing to see how people are pulling together to support one another. Here at TouchWood we’ve decided to ask our authors what has been keeping them busy during a time when we’ve all been asked to stay home to Flatten the Curve.

Meet Emily

Hi Friends! I’m Emily Lycopolus. Food lover, author, recipe developer and now a new mom. These days I am incredibly blessed to be holed up at my parents’ property on Salt Spring Island. My husband Steve works at a local pharmacy, so when word went out that he would be sixteen times more likely to catch the bug that’s traveling around at lightning speed … we decided it best for us not to be under the same roof, in hopes to keep our three-month old and myself as healthy as possible.

I’ve always believed that limitations only enable creativity. Since running to the grocery store for the one ingredient I forgot to buy isn’t an option, my days in the kitchen are now spent creating with what happens to be in the bottom of the crisper or hidden in the cupboards. This fall, I published my seventh cookbook, Cedar and Salt, along with Danielle Acken, my co-author. She makes the most delicious pot pies (check out the recipe below), and the best part about them is that they are flexible! Last night I found just the right amount of leftover roast beef, root vegetables in the fridge and flour in the bag to make one for dinner. This house is stuck in the 70s so forgive the orange counters! My dad keeps promising a kitchen renovation is coming, and now we have extra time to design it. Silver linings to self-isolation!

This is definitely not how I envisioned our spring, although did anyone? Steve was supposed to start his parental leave last week and I had book signings, educational dinners and workshops planned all over North America. It was going to be a fun time to travel, to share time with Steve and our little one, soaking up the warm spring sun and adventuring together. As that’s far from reality now, having everything cancelled and Steve called back to work, I’ve spent time grieving what would have been and finding the blessings in disguise.

The kitchen has always been such a source of comfort to me, and creating with food to feed my family brings such joy. In these odd and challenging times, when I’m unsure whether if or when to check the news, my solace is in front of the stove, digging through a cupboard, and “inventing something to eat out of nothing,” as Steve always says.

When it’s sunny, we spend our time preparing the garden for planting, cleaning up the yard, keeping Cedrik, our pug, busy with sticks to fetch and being all too impatient about spring’s arrival. On the rainy days, I have made roasted lemon, lemon bars, and played with a sourdough starter. Finding time to work on projects that I’ve wanted to make time for, but haven’t; my mom taking the time to knit a little sweater for our girl; sharing quality time as a family (something we haven’t done in over a decade); having extra hands to help with babe, allowing me to play in the kitchen—these are all the blessings, the silver linings to this unique chapter. These days and weeks we will always remember, and if I have my way, we’ll remember them fondly, smile at the conversations we had around the table, filled with nourishing, tasty, albeit creative food.

Valley Farmer Pot Pies

excerpted from cedar and salt

The first food I can remember eating is my mom’s chicken pot pie; it was warm and comforting and would come to define homey comfort food for me as I became an adult. My dad, who’s English, instilled a love for a steak pie in me, and my husband is obsessed with all things pig, so we have a lot of pork going through the kitchen. Luckily, with all of the beautiful pasture-raised meats that are reared here on Vancouver Island, I’m spoiled for choice when it comes to using all these meats as pie fillings. I couldn’t decide which variation to give you, so I’ve included options for using beef or pork as well as chicken. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is your favourite. —DLA



  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1 cup unsalted cold butter, cubed
  • 1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
  • 1 Tbsp white vinegar
  • Milk, for brushing

Beef filling

  • 6 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened, divided
  • 1 small cooking onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup dark porter beer
  • ½ lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1½ cups diced cooked steak or ground beef
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup pearl onions, blanched and peeled
  • Fine sea salt and cracked black pepper

To make the pastry, place the flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse twice just to combine. Add the butter in one addition and pulse for a few seconds at a time until the butter is the size of peas. Add ice water and vinegar, and pulse again until the dough just begins to form. Add more ice-cold water, 1 Tbsp at a time, if needed. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using your hands, form the pastry into two discs. Wrap the discs tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

To make the filling, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 Tbsp of the butter and then add the chopped onions, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring, just until the vegetables begin to soften, 8–10 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan and set aside. In the same pan, melt the remaining 3 Tbsp of butter over medium heat and then add the flour. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 5–6 minutes, or until the flour begins to brown and has a slightly nutty aroma. Slowly pour in the broth, whisking constantly to combine.

Bring the broth to a boil over medium heat and add the potatoes and bay leaf. Return to a low boil, cover, and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender. Stir in the chicken, peas, onions, and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 375°F. On a well-floured work surface, roll out the two discs of dough into 12-inch circles and line a 9-inch pie plate with one of them. Pour the pie filling into the crust. Brush around the edges of the dough with milk and cover with the second sheet of pastry. Crimp the edges and brush with milk. Cut three or four 1-inch slits in the top of the pastry to allow the steam to escape.

Bake for about 50 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Leftovers can be stored, tightly covered, in the fridge for 3–4 days.


Recipe and image excerpted from Cedar and Salt by DL Acken and Emily Lycopolus. Recipe image by DL Acken.

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