This recipe has an unexpected secret ingredient: cantaloupe. While it may seem a bit out of place among the vegetables, it adds a silkiness and sweetness that plays nicely with the corn and peppers. While I’ve kept the soup simple, feel free to go wild with the garnish. Some crab meat would be a luxurious addition, while some toasted almonds or pecans would give the soup some textural dimension.
Whether watermelon, honeydew, or cantaloupe, here are a few tips to keep in mind when picking the perfect melon. Choose a melon that feels heavy for its size. Avoid any that have bruises, soft spots, or cracks. Smell the blossom end (opposite the stem end): it should smell as you would want it to taste. Choose a melon with a dull-looking rind, as a shiny rind indicates an underripe melon.
Into blender, add cantaloupe, corn, bell pepper, olive oil, sherry vinegar, ice cubes, and a good pinch of salt and black pepper. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper, or vinegar as desired.
Divide among chilled bowls and garnish with diced cantaloupe, corn kernels, and chives. Serve immediately.
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.