Serves 6 to 8
This dish doubles as an appetizer or a main. Whip up the aioli ahead and refrigerate until ready to pack for your picnic. Slip marinated and skewered prawns into a tightly sealed container and pack on ice to grill on location. It’s a delicious and easy midday snack.
In bowl, place cashews, cover with hot water, and set aside to soak until water has cooled. Drain well and place cashews in high-speed blender along with remaining aioli ingredients. Whirl until blended and smooth, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally. Add some water, if needed, to make aioli nice and creamy. Taste and add more lemon, chipotle, or ground cumin if you wish. Chipotle Aioli can be stored in a tightly covered jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
For prawns, in small food processor or blender, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Whirl until thoroughly blended. Place in large bowl.
Peel and devein prawns, leaving tails intact. Pat dry. Add to olive oil mixture and gently massage into prawns. Refrigerate and marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Soak 6 wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes.
Grease barbecue grill and preheat to medium high. Thread several prawns onto each soaked skewer. Alternate with water chestnuts and chunks of pepper, if you wish. Brush with a little added olive oil, if including vegetables on skewers.
Grill prawns about 5 in (13 cm) from direct heat for 1 to 2 minutes per side. Serve hot or cold with Chipotle Aioli.
Want a speedy traditional Chipotle Aioli with half the fuss? Stir a splash of lemon juice, maple syrup, minced chipotle in adobo sauce and generous pinches of ground cumin into 1/2 cup (125 mL) prepared mayonnaise. Whisk to blend. Aioli can be refrigerated for a few days.
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.