This is a colourful and unique appetizer that will get your guests talking! By baking the pumpkin and prepping the sauce in advance, it comes together quickly; make this the first dish on and off the barbecue for grill night or before Thanksgiving dinner.
If the weather is lousy for grilling, ensure the pumpkin is fully fork tender after baking. Finish in the oven on broil for 3 to 5 minutes to achieve a golden crispness.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Cut pumpkin in half at stem and scoop out seeds. Cut each half into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on size of pumpkin, and place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until slightly fork tender but not mushy.
Meanwhile, combine sauce ingredients in bowl. Refrigerate to allow flavours to meld until ready to serve.
Heat barbecue to medium heat. Place baked pumpkin slices skin side down on grill. Cook until pumpkin is fully tender with a fork, but try to avoid charring skin, as it is edible. Flip and cook for 2 minutes to add some grill marks. Place on cutting board and cut into halves or thirds (two-bite pieces), depending on size of pumpkin. Drizzle with cheese sauce 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.