Pilaf is a term liberally used to simply mean “grains cooked in broth.” There are usually onions, garlic, and spices involved, and the grains are often sautéed in butter or oil before being simmered in the liquid. This getaway-friendly version calls for dried spices instead of fresh, which you can combine in advance to save space in your bags and time in your cooking. Feel free, though, to add fresh diced onions, garlic, or other vegetables if you prefer.
To toast sunflower seeds, in small saucepan or skillet, heat seeds over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until browned and aromatic. Remove seeds immediately from the pan so they don’t burn.
Many variations for ultimate flexibility
Don’t be afraid of the long ingredient list. You can skip pretty much any of the spices––except the salt––or replace them with others that you have on hand, such as parsley, thyme, or paprika. You can also use white or tri-coloured quinoa instead of black; the dark colour gives the dish a more dramatic visual effect.
For pilaf, in medium bowl, soak quinoa at room temperature in 4 cups (1 L) water.
In large pot, rinse and drain lentils, then return lentils to pot and add vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, skimming any scum that rises to top, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Drain quinoa and add to pot with lentils and broth along with coriander, cumin, ginger, garlic powder, bay leaf, salt, and cinnamon. Return to boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Leave covered for 10 minutes.
For vinaigrette, in sealable jar, combine ginger, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, dried cranberries, orange zest and juice, salt, and pepper. Shake to combine. Add olive oil and shake for 20 seconds more to emulsify. Pour over quinoa and lentils and fluff with fork to combine. Top with sunflower seeds and fresh parsley, if using.
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.