This stuffed eggplant is built upon layers of Middle Eastern flavours: smoky freekeh, tender chickpeas, and a herbal tahini sauce. The quick-pickled raisins add a sweet vinegary pop.
Salting eggplant before cooking enhances the flavour by allowing eggplant to sweat out its bitterness and breaking its spongy texture.
In small bowl, combine raisins with red wine vinegar, 2 Tbsp (30 mL) warm water, and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt. Set aside for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain.
Cut eggplant in half lengthwise. Season flesh with salt and set aside for 20 to 30 minutes to allow eggplant to “sweat.” Pat dry with paper towel.
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C), and line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat. Place eggplant halves, flesh side up, onto baking sheet, and brush with 2 tsp (10 mL) oil. Roast until tender and the browned flesh is easily pierced with paring knife, about 35 minutes. You want the flesh to be silky and not spongy.
In medium-sized saucepan over medium, heat 2 tsp (10 mL) oil. Add onion and 1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt; heat until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add two-thirds of the garlic and heat for 1 minute. Place broth or water and freekeh in pan, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, covered, until freekeh is tender and broth has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. Set aside, covered, for 5 minutes and then fluff with fork. Add chickpeas, drained pickled raisins, carrot, and pistachios to pot and stir everything together.
In small bowl, whisk together tahini, lemon juice, remaining minced garlic, and za’atar. Whisk in water, 1 Tbsp (15 mL) at a time, until thin consistency is reached.
Arrange roasted eggplant on serving platter, flesh side up. With the back of a spoon, push the flesh down to create a cavity. Spoon in freekeh filling. Drizzle on tahini dressing and scatter on parsley.
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.