Meatballs at a party are always a hit, and these hors d’oeuvres are sure to disappear fast. The eggplant in these vegetarian delights add the “meatiness” reminiscent of their more traditional cousins.
These meatballs are too good to limit to using just as an hors d’oeuvre. Try them for dinner over egg noodles or cauliflower rice.
Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C). Line baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
In small bowl, whisk together ground flaxseed and 2 1/2 Tbsp (37 mL) water and set aside.
In large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp (15 mL) oil over medium heat. Add eggplant and remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) water. Let cook, stirring often, until eggplant is tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to food processor along with bread crumbs, hemp hearts, minced garlic, onion powder, salt, and reserved flax mixture. Process until mixture just comes together and is uniform in consistency. Be careful not to overmix or meatballs will be gummy. Roll heaping 1 1/2 Tbsp (25 mL) mixture into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until meatballs are browned and crisped on the outside.
Meanwhile, make kung pow sauce. In bowl, whisk together soy sauce, sriracha, honey or agave, and sambal oelek.
Once meatballs are cooked, in large cast iron skillet or frying pan, warm remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) oil over medium heat. Add bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in sauce and cook, stirring constantly until warm, about 1 minute. Add meatballs and gently toss to coat in sauce. Remove skillet from heat and garnish with green onion and black sesame seeds. Serve straight from the skillet alongside toothpicks for guests to serve themselves.
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.