Cambodian Lemongrass Chicken with Holy Basil (Cha Kreung Satch Moan)

For the Kreung:
3 stalks lemongrass, bottom 4 to 5 inches only, outer leaves discarded, sliced into thin rounds (65g once sliced)
One 3-inch knob galangal, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (35g once sliced)
Two 4-inch knobs fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (25g once sliced)
12 makrut lime leaves, preferably fresh, sliced very thinly crosswise
1 small shallot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds (25g once sliced)
5 medium cloves garlic, peeled (25g)
1/2 cup holy basil leaves, very tightly packed (12g; see note) or Thai basil leaves (25g)
For the Stir-Fry:
1/2 cup (120ml) vegetable oil, divided
2 pounds (900g) boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 3 breast halves), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, divided
One 3-inch piece fermented mudfish (prahok) (35g), cut in half, divided (optional)
2 teaspoons (10ml) Asian fish sauce, divided
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cube (6g) chicken bouillon, such as Knorr, crumbled to a powdery consistency, divided
1 cup holy basil leaves, very tightly packed (40g), divided
4 jalapeños (150g), stemmed, halved, and seeded, then cut on a bias into 3/4-inch strips, divided
Kosher salt

For Serving:
Steamed white rice

For the Kreung: Using a large granite mortar and pestle, combine lemongrass, galangal, turmeric, and makrut lime leaves and grind to a smooth but slightly fibrous paste. These are the toughest, most fibrous ingredients in the paste, so it will take 5 to 10 minutes for the paste to form. Once the paste has formed, add shallot and garlic and pound again to smash them into the paste, another 3 to 5 minutes longer. Add basil to the mortar and pound until it is fully incorporated into the paste.

For the Stir-Fry: In a wok, heat 1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil over medium-low heat until shimmering. Add roughly half of the kreung to the wok, stirring and scraping constantly with a wooden spatula to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the pan and burning. At first, the paste will snap and pop as it begins to release moisture. Continue stirring until all visible moisture has cooked off and the paste has thickened and darkened slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Increase heat to high, then add half of the chicken to the wok, along with 1 piece of mudfish (if using) and cook, stirring, until chicken is coated in the kreung and has turned white on the surface, 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in half of fish sauce, sugar, and bouillon and scrape browned bits from the bottom of the wok (some may still adhere). Stir in half the basil. Once basil has wilted, reduce heat to low and add half of jalapeño slices, cooking until warmed through but still crisp. Season with salt to taste.

Scrape contents of wok into a serving bowl and discard fermented fish. Rinse and dry wok, then repeat with remaining oil, kreung, chicken, and other ingredients.

Serve stir-fry right away, passing steamed white rice at the table.

Chicken with Garlic, Chilies, and Peanuts

2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided
4 5- to 6-ounce chicken breast cutlets, pounded to an even 1/4-inch thickness
Ground black pepper
3 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
4 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts reserved separately
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons salted butter, cut into 2 pieces

In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and the chicken, turning to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Pat the cutlets dry with paper towels, then season with pepper.

In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.

Add the chicken in a single layer and cook until well browned on both sides, 4 to 6 minutes total, flipping once halfway through. Transfer to a platter and tent with foil to keep warm.

Allow the pan to cool for a couple minutes, then add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the garlic, ginger, pepper flakes and scallion whites. Cook over medium, stirring, until the mixture is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Off heat, add the sherry, the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce, half the peanuts and any accumulated juices from the chicken.

Return to medium and cook, scraping up any browned bits, until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Off heat, add the butter and stir until fully incorporated. Pour the sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle with scallion greens and the remaining peanuts.

Dodo (Fried Plantains)

4 medium ripe, deep-yellow plantains (about 2 pounds)
1 small red onion, peeled and halved
Canola or other neutral oil, for frying (about 3 cups)
1 lime, zest removed in strips and julienned, plus 1 tablespoon juice
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
Kosher salt

Cut off the tips of each plantain. Use a sharp knife to create a slit in the skin along the length of each plantain, carefully making sure not to cut into the flesh. Remove and discard the skin by peeling it apart. Slice each plantain in half lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch pieces.

Thinly slice one onion half, then transfer the slices to a medium bowl. Quarter the remaining onion half lengthwise, and pull the layers apart.

In a large, deep skillet or sauté pan, pour 1/2 inch oil and heat over medium. When hot, add the larger onion pieces and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove and discard the cooked onion.

Working in batches to avoid crowding, fry the plantains, stirring halfway through, until browned and caramelized at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.

While the plantains are frying, toss the sliced onion with the lime juice, red-pepper flakes and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Let marinate, at least 10 minutes.

Toss the fried plantains in the bowl with the pickled onion mixture while still warm. Add the lime zest and season to taste with salt. Serve immediately.

Beef Suya

1 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs, sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1/4 cup peanut oil, plus more for grilling
2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade ground suya spice blend (see Note), plus more for serving
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
Kosher salt
2 medium plum tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch strips, seeds discarded
1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
1 lime (optional)
1/4 cup toasted peanuts, chopped

Lay several strips of meat on a piece of plastic wrap, leaving about 1/2 inch between each slice, and top with another piece of plastic wrap. Pound the meat strips with a rolling pin or the bottom of a heavy frying pan until 1/8-inch thick. Repeat this process until all the meat has been flattened. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 1/4 cup peanut oil and 2 tablespoons suya spice blend with ginger and garlic. Add beef, toss to coat and season with 2 teaspoons salt. Cover with plastic wrap, and let marinate in the fridge for 4 to 12 hours.

Heat a gas grill or grill pan over medium-high, and brush with peanut oil.

Skewer the beef pieces on 12 individual presoaked wooden or metal skewers, wiping off any excess marinade. Brush the meat generously with more peanut oil and set the skewers on a baking sheet.

Working in batches if necessary, grill the beef skewers until meat is cooked through and lightly charred on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer the skewers to a platter and sprinkle with more suya spice blend. Repeat until all the beef has been grilled.

Place the tomato and onion slices in a bowl and squeeze lime juice all over. Season with salt and allow to sit for 10 minutes. Strain any excess liquid.

Top skewers with red onion and tomatoes, sprinkle with toasted peanuts, and serve with additional suya spice, for dipping.

Tip
To make suya spice blend, combine 1/4 cup dry roasted peanut powder, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons ground cayenne, 2 teaspoons hot paprika, 2 teaspoons onion powder, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon fine sea salt. Makes about 1/2 cup.

Jollof Rice

FOR THE OBE ATA:
1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red habanero chile, stemmed
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil

FOR THE JOLLOF RICE:
1/2 cup canola or other neutral oil
2 medium red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
3 cups parboiled long-grain rice (such as Carolina Gold or Uncle Ben’s Original), basmati or jasmine rice (about 1¼ pounds)
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 fresh bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock

Prepare the obe ata: Working in batches if needed, combine all the obe ata ingredients except the canola oil in a blender and purée on high until smooth. The liquid from the can of tomatoes should suffice, but you can add up to 1/4 cup of water if necessary to get the purée going. (You should have about 3 cups of purée.)

Heat the 2 tablespoons canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add the purée and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced by about a third of its original volume, 18 to 20 minutes. (It should make about 2 cups. Obe ata can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Prepare the rice: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the 1/2 cup canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium until shimmering, about 1 minute.

Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove half the onions to a plate and set aside.

Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, turmeric and smoked paprika, if using, and toast, stirring occasionally, until turmeric is fragrant and tomato paste has deepened to a dark red color, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the obe ata sauce and bring to a simmer over medium heat. The habanero oils love to disperse in the air, so you may want to turn on your stovetop fan or open a window while simmering the obe ata.

Stir in the rice, thyme and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the stock and cover with a lid. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook until rice is just tender, 35 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and let sit, covered (no peeking) for 15 minutes. Uncover, fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the reserved sautéed onions. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Serve warm.

Grilled Duck Breasts with Raspberry

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 quart blackberries
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Ten 6-ounce boneless Pekin duck breast halves, with skin
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder

In a medium saucepan, boil the vinegar over high heat until reduced by half, about 7 minutes. Add the blackberries and cook, stirring very gently, until they are just softened, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the blackberries to a bowl. Boil the liquid over high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Carefully pour the accumulated juices from the blackberries into the saucepan and boil for about 30 seconds longer. Season the reduction with salt and pepper and pour it over the softened blackberries.

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Using a sharp knife, score the duck skin in a crosshatch pattern. In a small bowl, mix the ancho powder with the coriander, cumin and mustard powder. Season the duck breasts with salt and pepper and rub the spice mixture into the skin. Grill the duck breasts skin side down over moderate heat until lightly charred and crisp, about 3 minutes. Turn the breasts and cook for about 4 minutes longer for medium-rare meat. Transfer the duck to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes.

The blackberry sauce can be refrigerated overnight; reheat gently before serving. The spice-rubbed duck breasts can be refrigerated overnight; bring to room temperature before grilling.

Burrata with Peaches and Tomatoes

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 large tomatoes cut into pieces
2 large peaches cut into pieces
6 ounces burrata cheese cut into pieces
3 tablespoons freshly chopped basil

To make the balsamic reduction, pour the balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, swirling the pan occasionally, until reduced to about half of the original amount, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the tomatoes and peaches on a platter or plate.

Top with burrata cheese chunks and basil.

Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the salad and serve.

Blueberry Muffins

These are the famous Jordan Marsh department store muffins.

1/2 cup (8 tablespoon/4 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup (4 ounces) milk
2 1/2 cups (12 1/2 ounces) blueberries, fresh preferred
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar, for topping

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin; or line the tin with papers, and grease the papers.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl and beating well after each addition.

Beat in the baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Add the flour alternately with the milk, beating gently just to combine. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl.

Mash 1/2 cup of the blueberries. Add the mashed and whole berries to the batter, stirring just to combine and distribute.
Scoop the batter by the heaping 1/4-cupful into the prepared muffin pan; a muffin scoop works well here.

Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon granulated sugar atop each muffin, if desired. It’s traditional — go for it!

Bake the muffins for about 30 minutes, until they’re light golden brown on top, and a toothpick inserted into the middle of one of the center muffins comes out clean.

Remove the muffins from the oven, loosen their edges from the pan, and after about 5 minutes transfer them to a rack to cool.

Yield: 12 muffins.

Can you use coarse white sparkling sugar instead of granulated sugar on top of the muffins? Sure; but they won’t be “true” Jordan Marsh muffins.

If you use frozen berries, don’t crush any of them. Rinse several times in cold water, then pat dry with paper towels before using; this will help prevent the muffins from baking up blue-green.

Room-temperature butter is easier to work with than ice-cold butter when preparing muffin batter. If possible, remove butter from the fridge an hour or so before starting the recipe.

Buttermilk Dressing

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Serrano chile, seeded and finely diced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt
Black pepper

Stir together the mayonnaise, sour cream, buttermilk, lime juice, garlic, Serrano pepper, cilantro, chives, and cayenne. Taste and add salt and pepper.

Remoulade Dressing

Ingredients for the remoulade dressing:
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Creole or grainy mustard
2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon prepared horseradish
1/4 teaspoon red pepper sauce, such as Tabasco
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 green onions, green part only, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley
Salt

Whisk ingredients and salt to taste.

Fried Green Tomatoes

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups corn meal
4 green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Oil, for frying
Buttermilk dressing, for serving

In a large plastic food-storage bag, mix together the flour, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne. Place the green tomato slices in the bag and shake until well coated.

Beat together the eggs with the buttermilk until well combined. Place the cornmeal on a plate.

Dip the flour-coated green tomatoes into the egg mixture then lightly dredge in the cornmeal. Place the cornmeal-coated tomatoes on a large plate or sheet. Repeat until all are done.

In a large heavy skillet heat 1/2 inch of oil on medium high to 350°F, about 5 minutes. If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the temperature by sticking a wooden spoon into the oil. If it bubbles around the spoon, it should be ready for frying. Line a large plate or sheet with paper towels.

Working in batches, slide the tomatoes into the hot oil and cook for 1 minute then turn and cook for another minute or until golden. Remove with a slotted spatula to drain on the paper-lined plate.

Lightly salt the fried green tomatoes, then serve warm with buttermilk dressing.

Tomato-Poached Fish With Chile Oil and Herbs

1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small shallot, thinly sliced into rings
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 pound small, sweet tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)
1 1/4 pounds fluke, halibut or cod, cut into 4 equal pieces
1 cup cilantro, tender leaves and stems
1/2 cup mint, tender leaves and stems
Limes, halved, for serving
Tortillas, toast or rice, for serving (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large skillet (use one with a lid) over medium-high heat.

Add garlic and shallots and cook, swirling the skillet constantly until they are starting to toast and turn light golden brown, 2 minutes or so.

Add red-pepper flakes and swirl to toast for a few seconds. Remove from heat and transfer all but 1 tablespoon of the chile oil to a small bowl.

Add tomatoes to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until they burst and start to become saucy and jammy, 5 to 8 minutes. Add fish sauce (if using) and 1 1/2 cups water, swirling to release any of the bits stuck on the bottom of the skillet.

Cook until the sauce is slightly thickened but still nice and brothy, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Season the fish with salt and pepper and gently lay the pieces in the brothy tomatoes. Cover the skillet and cook until the fish is opaque and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes (slightly longer for a thicker piece of fish, like halibut).

To serve, transfer fish and brothy tomatoes to a large shallow bowl (or divide among four bowls).

Drizzle with reserved bowl of chile oil, more olive oil and the crispy shallots and garlic.

Top with cilantro and mint, and serve with limes for squeezing over the top.

Serve with tortillas, toast or rice, if you like.

Pressure Cooker Grits with Cheese, Jalapeño, and Bacon

4 slices of bacon chopped
2 jalapeño peppers chopped with seeds removed
1 cup stone ground grits
3 cups water
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz sharp cheddar cheese shredded
2 oz cream cheese
Salt to taste

Add bacon to insert. Turn on Sauté function and select “Normal” heat. Allow bacon to sit undisturbed until it gets cooked on one side, about 8 minutes. Then stir your bacon pieces until all pieces are cooked. Remove from insert and place on a paper towel to drain.
Remove excess bacon grease from Instant Pot, leaving about 2 Tbsp.
Add chopped jalapeño to the insert and stir until softened, about 2 minutes.
Add grits and stir for about 10 seconds.
Add water and use wooden spoon to stir up any brown bacon bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Stir in heavy cream and salt.
Press Cancel on your instant Pot. Then select “Pressure Cook” and cook on High Pressure for 10 minutes. Once done, allow your Pressure Cooker to natural release for 10 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure.
Open lid and stir in cheddar cheese and cream cheese.
Allow grits to cool for 5 minutes.
Top with pieces of bacon. Enjoy!

Notes: Remeber 1:3:1. Use 1 part grits, 3 parts water or broth, and 1 part heavy cream to the pressure cooker cycle.
Allow grits to cool for at least 5 minutes once done pressure cooking. This will allow your grits to thicken up to a nice consistency.

Pressure Cooker Grits

2 tablespoons bacon grease or vegetable oil
1 cup stone ground grits
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups half-and-half or milk
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Add bacon grease or oil to inner pot of Instant Pot. Turn “Saute” mode on. Once hot, add grits and cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Add water, half-and-half, salt, and butter. Turn Instant Pot off, place lid on with valve in “sealing” position. Set to Pressure Cook on HIGH for 10 minutes.

Allow a 15 minute Natural Release and then manually release the remaining pressure. Remove lid and stir in cheese. Stir well. Grits will thicken up some as they cool slightly.

Note: Cooking time does not include time for Instant Pot to pressurize. This can take about 10 minutes.

Basic Stir-Fry Sauce

1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
In a jar with a tight lid (must hold 2 cups of liquid), combine all of the stir fry sauce ingredients together and shake well.

This sauce should keep for a few weeks in the fridge.

To use:

MARINATE YOUR PROTEIN

Marinate 12 ounces of sliced beef, chicken or pork with:

2 tablespoons water
A pinch or more of baking soda (for beef only)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch

PREPARE AROMATICS

Mince 3 cloves of garlic, grate a teaspoon of ginger, and perhaps slice 1 or 2 scallions into 2-inch lengths.

SLICE VEGETABLES

Prepare the vegetables ahead of time, slicing celery, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, and/or broccoli. Use whatever you like and make sure to cut the vegetables small/thinly enough so that they’ll cook quickly (i.e. a couple of minutes).

PREPARE YOUR THICKENER

2 tablespoons water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

SEAR MEAT

Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to your hot wok (it should be almost smoking). Add the meat, sear on both sides, and set aside.

ASSEMBLE STIR-FRY

Add another tablespoon of oil and add the garlic and ginger. (If you also sliced scallions, you can add the white parts of the scallion at this stage.)

After a few seconds, add the vegetables and stir fry for 1 minute or until just softened.

And add in the seared meat.

Bring to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon (you may need a little more or a little less cornstarch slurry depending on how much sauce you added and how high your heat is). Add the green parts of your scallions (if using), and cook for another 15 to 20 seconds.

Serve over rice.

Peach Streusel Muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons butter melted
2 tablespoons oil preferably pecan or grapeseed
2 large eggs beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups diced peaches

For the streusel:
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Pinch nutmeg
4 tablespoons butter melted
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 375°F and lightly grease a standard 12-cup muffin tin or line them with muffin cups.

To make the muffin batter, whisk together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.
In a separate bowl, stir together the melted butter, oil, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream until creamy, then add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring gently until well combined and a thick batter is formed. Fold in the peaches.

To make the streusel, stir together the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg until well combined. Stir in the butter and pecans until everything well combined.

Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter, then evenly top with streusel. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned on top and when a knife inserted into the muffin comes out clean. Serve warm.

Skillet Brownies

6 oz. good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
1-1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 large eggs
1 cup superfine sugar
1/3 cup ground hazelnuts or almonds
1/4 cup good-quality cocoa powder
Pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 350F. Place an oven rack in the lower third of the oven.

Microwave the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl until melted.

Using an handheld electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar to combine. Add the melted chocolate and mix gently to combine.

Grind the nuts, then fold in with the cocoa powder and salt.

Transfer to a 9-inch cast-iron skillet and bake for 25 minutes.

Torn Croutons

1-pound loaf day-old country or sourdough bread
1?3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, as needed

Heat oven to 400 degrees. For more teeth-friendly croutons, remove the crusts from the bread, then cut the loaf into inch-thick slices. Cut each slice into inch-wide strips. Working over a large bowl, tear each strip into inch-size pieces. Alternatively, you can tear croutons directly off the loaf, as long as you get somewhat evenly sized pieces.

Toss croutons with olive oil to coat them evenly, then spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Use a second sheet as needed to prevent crowding, which will entrap steam and keep the croutons from browning.

Toast croutons for about 18 to 22 minutes, checking them after 8 minutes. Rotate the pans, switch their oven positions, and use a metal spatula to turn and rotate the croutons so that they brown evenly. Once they begin to brown, check them every few minutes, continuing to turn and rotate. Some croutons might be done when others still need a few more minutes of baking, so remove them from the tray and let the rest finish cooking. Bake the croutons until they’re golden brown and crunchy on the outside, with just a tiny bit of chew on the inside.

Taste a crouton and adjust the seasoning with a light sprinkling of salt if needed. Let croutons cool in a single layer on the baking sheet. Use immediately or keep in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To refresh stale croutons, bake for 3 to 4 minutes at 400 degrees.

Tip
To make classic torn croutons, stir 2 cloves finely grated or pounded garlic into the olive oil before dressing the croutons. Toss with 1 tablespoon dried oregano and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes before toasting. To make cheesy torn croutons, toss the torn bread with the olive oil, then add 3 ounces (about 1 cup) very finely grated Parmesan and lots of coarsely ground black pepper to the bowl, and toss until combined. Toast as directed above.

Mast-o-Khiar (Persian Cucumber-Yogurt Salad)

1/4 cup black or golden raisins
3 Persian cucumbers (about 1/2 pound)
24 ounces Greek yogurt or labneh (3 cups)
2 tablespoons any combination of finely chopped fresh parsley, cilantro, basil, tarragon or dill
1 garlic clove, finely grated or pounded into a smooth paste with a pinch of salt
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground or crumbled dried rose petals (optional)
1 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon dried dill
3 tablespoons roughly chopped toasted walnut pieces

In a small bowl, submerge the raisins in boiling water to plump for 10 minutes, then drain well.

Remove alternating stripes of peel on cucumbers and trim ends. Dice cucumbers into 1/4-inch pieces and place in a large bowl with raisins, yogurt, fresh herbs, garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and, if using, half the rose petals. Using your fingers to break up any large pieces, gently grind the dried mint and dried dill into the bowl. Stir to combine and adjust seasoning with salt as needed.

Just before serving, stir in the walnuts and transfer to serving bowl. Garnish with remaining rose petals, if using. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

Sheveed Polo (Persian Dilled Rice)

1 large bunch dill, trimmed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons dried dill
2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Set aside 1/4 cup of the chopped fresh dill. In a bowl, combine the rest of the fresh dill with the dried dill.

Place the rice, butter and salt in a medium pot. Add 3 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Give it a stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 12 minutes. (It’s O.K. to lift the lid to check.)

Fold the dill mixture into the rice. Wrap the lid in a kitchen towel to catch the condensation, ensuring that the kitchen towel is secured up top so it doesn’t catch fire. Firmly place the lid back on the pot.
Cook until the rice is cooked through and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Gently fluff with a spoon, then transfer to a serving platter, scattering the reserved 1/4 cup fresh dill in between spoonfuls of rice.