Typically a composed salad, Niçoise also works as a toss-ahead option for people who live for texture in their salad bowl. With spring-fresh asparagus, tender new potatoes, sweet-fiery Peppadew peppers, and a punchy pesto dressing, it’s a salad to look forward to all day long. For your protein, you could swap out the egg for chunks of high quality canned tuna. Look for Peppadews in the deli section of grocers, but if unavailable you can use roasted red peppers.
Boil your eggs and you risk rubbery whites, chalky green-tinged yolks, and clingy shells, giving you cooked eggs that look like they’ve been in the path of a meteor shower. Your hack for perfect hard-boiled eggs every time is to give the orbs a steam bath—yolks will remain creamy and sunnier than a Caribbean vacation, while shells will effortlessly slide off the just-set whites.
When cooked and then cooled for several hours, the digestible amylopectin starches in potatoes convert into the hardened resistant starch amylose. Resistant starch is digested by the micro-bugs in your colon, so it acts as a prebiotic. This means that beneficial bacteria feed on it, increasing their population numbers to improve the gut microbiome, which, in turn, may benefit your digestive and immune health.
In medium saucepan, bring 1 in (2.5 cm) water to a boil. Add steamer basket to pan and place eggs in basket in a single layer. In medium bowl, place ice cubes and water. Steam eggs for 15 minutes and then immediately transfer eggs into bowl filled with ice water. Let rest for 20 minutes. Gently break shells in a few places and then start peeling from the bottom end where there is an air pocket. Slice eggs in half.
In large pot of cold water, place potatoes and then bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp (5 mL) salt to boiling water and boil potatoes, with lid ajar, for 10 to 15 minutes, just until potatoes are fork-tender.
With slotted spoon, remove potatoes from pot and set aside in colander to drain. In medium bowl, place ice cubes and water. Add asparagus to pot and simmer until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove asparagus from water and immediately place in ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain well.
Slice cooked and cooled potatoes in half. In large bowl, add potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, Peppadew peppers, olives, and capers; gently toss everything together. Stir together pesto and red wine vinegar. Toss with salad. Tuck in halved eggs and serve.
Tourtière is, for me, the dish that best represents Québec. It can be traced back to the 1600s, and there’s no master recipe; every family has their own twist. Originally, it was made with game birds or game meat, like rabbit, pheasant, or moose; that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it with venison instead of beef or pork. Variation: If you prefer to make single servings, follow our lead at the restaurant, where we make individual tourtières in the form of a dome (pithivier) and fill them with 5 ounces (160 g) of the ground venison mixture. Variation: You can also use a food processor to make the dough. Place the flour, salt, and butter in the food processor and pulse about ten times, until the butter is incorporated—don’t overmix. It should look like wet sand, and a few little pieces of butter here and there is okay. With the motor running, through the feed tube, slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball—again don’t overmix. Wrap, chill, and roll out as directed above.
My love of artichokes continues with this classic recipe, one of the best ways to eat this interesting, underrated, and strange vegetable. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the flavour and texture of fresh artichokes are, by far, much superior and definitely preferred.
Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.