Steaming fish in parchment-paper packets, also known as cooking en papillote, is a classic technique that allows you to cook all your vegetables and fish at the same time in a quick, easy, and convenient way. Flavours of lemon, garlic, and spicy dried chili make this a simple, yet showstopping meal.
Wild-caught Pacific halibut has Ocean Wise and Marine Stewardship Council certifications and is fished using longlines, which is a more selective method of fishing that results in less bycatch.
Involve family or guests in the prep and have everyone make their own packet. Once you’ve mastered the technique, it’s easy to change up the ingredients. Make sure you select vegetables that will cook at the same rate as the fish.
Preheat oven to 400 F (200 C).
For chili oil, in small bowl, combine olive oil, garlic, and chili flakes. Zest lemon and add to bowl, reserving remainder of lemon.
In large bowl, toss kale with approximately 3/4 of the chili oil mixture and allow to stand for about 15 minutes.
From half of reserved zested lemon, cut 4 thin slices, crosswise, and then cut slices once more so you have 8 half-moons. You should now have 8 half-moons and just over half a lemon. Set aside while you assemble fish packets.
Cut parchment paper into 4 pieces measuring approximately 20 x 14 in (51 x 37 cm). On large work surface, lay parchment pieces out flat and place 1/4 of kale in centre of each piece. Top with a portion of halibut, season with salt and pepper to taste, and arrange tomatoes around each piece of halibut. Divide and drizzle remaining chili oil and squeeze juice from remaining half of lemon over each piece of halibut. Finally, top each piece of halibut with 2 lemon half-moons. Seal packets by folding long edges of parchment toward centre, rolling and crimping up edges.
Place sealed packets on large baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 12 minutes. To serve, either let everyone dive into their own packet or, for a more formal presentation, open packets and, with a large spatula, sweep contents of each packet onto individual plates. Garnish with chopped chives, and enjoy.
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.