Vitamin C-rich piquillo peppers do double duty in this dish. Their triangular shape makes them perfect for stuffing with a tasty tuna filling, and they also make for a scrumptious sauce when paired with hazelnuts and garlic. A small amount of honey helps to balance out the smoky flavour. When paired with a salad, this dish easily serves two as a main meal, but it will stretch to a few more as part of a tapas-style meal.
Piquillo means “little beak” and refers to the small triangular shape of the pepper, which is perfect for stuffing. These peppers, originating in northern Spain, are sold in cans or jars and have little heat but a deep sweet and smoky flavour compared to regular jarred peppers. Sodium levels can vary between brands, so look carefully at the label when choosing if sodium is a concern.
If you can’t find piquillo peppers, look for sweet red peppers, which often have the same shape. Jars labelled “roasted peppers” will often contain a pepper larger than piquillos. If you decide to use these instead, simply slice the pepper to make a flat surface and roll the stuffing mixture inside.
Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
In small bowl, with fork, mix together tuna, parsley, lemon zest and juice, and black pepper. Set aside.
Remove whole peppers from jar and set aside 6 to be stuffed. In bowl of food processor, place remaining peppers with hazelnuts, olive oil, paprika, garlic, sherry vinegar, and 1 tsp (5 mL) honey, and pulse to blend into a sauce. The texture will not be completely smooth.
Add about 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of sauce to tuna mixture and stir through. Spoon remaining sauce into small baking dish to make a base for stuffed peppers.
Stuff tuna mixture into 6 piquillo peppers and place them on top of the sauce in baking dish. Drizzle with remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) honey and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
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.