Strawberry Buttermilk Cake (Variations with Other Fruits)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt 1/4 tsp less if you using salted butter
6 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb strawberries hulled and halved
Confectioners’/icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 F. with rack in middle of oven. Grease a 9-inch deep dish pie pan, 9-inch round baking pan or a 10-inch top diameter cast iron skillet. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes. Add the egg, buttermilk and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

Remove bowl from mixer and use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well, mixing in any stray flour. Spoon the batter in to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the strawberries in a randomly in a single layer on top, with the cut side down.

Bake the cake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 F. and continue baking for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool slightly, then serve warm, with a dusting of confectioners/icing sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you like.

Notes: Change it up with other fruits as they come in to season.

No buttermilk? Make your own by adding 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice to a scant 1/2 cup regular milk. Let stand for 10 minutes and use in this recipe.

Okra Stew

2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic
8 teaspoons olive oil
1 quart vegetable stock
5 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon freshly sliced ginger
4 cups chopped okra
Fresh chopped cilantro for garnishing
4-6 whole orange or yellow chili peppers (optional)

In a large pot, simmer the onions, garlic and olive oil on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent.

Add the vegetable stock and tomatoes. Stir to combine and let simmer for a few minutes.

Add the cinnamon sticks, ginger and okra.

Cook for 10 minutes, remove from heat and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with warm couscous and chopped chili peppers on the side, if you prefer a little heat. Serves four.

Serve with Sticky Cinnamon Couscous:

1 cup of whole-wheat couscous
4 teaspoons olive oil or ?1?4 cup ghee (for a richer version with healthy fats)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper

In a pot, add the vegetable stock, olive oil or ghee, and couscous. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, add cinnamon sticks and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat when most of the water is gone and the couscous is sticky and moist. Serves four.

Peanut Noodles

1 pound spaghetti or Chinese egg noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, plus more for garnish
1-inch piece fresh ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Asian chili paste or to taste (optional)
2 tablespoons light or dark light brown sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (may use natural peanut butter)
2 to 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (optional)
6 to 10 tablespoons hot water
Salt, as needed
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Cucumber slices
Carrot sticks
Red, orange or yellow bell pepper slices
Fresh cilantro or mint leaves

Cook the pasta according to package directions, and drain it well. If a cold dish is desired, rinse the pasta under cold running water to cool, and drain again.

Meanwhile, in a small pot over medium-low heat, heat the peanut oil. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic and, if desired, chili paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the brown sugar, peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar if desired and 6 tablespoons hot water. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture smooths out.

Remove from the heat. If necessary, add additional hot water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to achieve the desired consistency. Taste and add more soy sauce or salt, as needed.

Return the hot or cold noodles to the pot in which they were cooked, add the sesame oil and toss to coat. Add as much of the peanut sauce as desired and toss again to coat. Transfer to a serving bowl or individual plates and sprinkle with additional scallions, sesame seeds, cucumber, carrot, bell pepper and cilantro or mint. (May cover and refrigerate up to several hours.)

Note: You can toss raw, julienne carrots and bell peppers or steamed snow peas and broccoli with the noodles and peanut sauce. Leftover sauce can be refrigerated and served with cooked rice and raw or cooked vegetables.

Smoked Trout Rillettes

1/2 pound smoked salmon or trout, skin and bones removed
2 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of a lemon
2 tablespoons minced chives or parsley
About 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pickled mustard seeds or trout caviar (optional)

Break up the trout salmon and place in bowl, along with the sour cream, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and chives. Use a heavy fork to mash everything together. You want a rough spread, not a smooth pate. Add more butter if the rillettes look dry.

Add salt, pepper and horseradish to taste.

Cover the rillettes with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for an hour or so before serving. Spoon over some pickled mustard seeds or caviar when you serve.

Once made, pack the rillettes tightly into jars; try to get as many air pockets out as you can. Once packed, melt some butter over the top of the rillettes, cover and store in the fridge. It will keep for at least a week this way, and up to 2 weeks if you keep resealing the butter cap between each use. You can also freeze the finished rillettes for several months.

La Jiao Jiang (Hot Chili Sauce)

1 pound hot red chili peppers (Fresno, red jalapeño, cayenne, Thai, etc., or a mix of all of them)
1 red bell pepper (to tame heat, if needed)
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar (5% acidity)
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Cut hot chili peppers into smallish chunks, including green caps (but not stems).

Chop in a food processor to a chunky paste. Taste to determine heat. If it is too hot, add bell pepper a chunk at a time to lower the heat level. Continue to process to your desired heat level and consistency.

Mix in the vinegar and salt.

Put in a glass pint jar, attach top loosely, and let sit for a day at room temperature to develop the flavor.

Seal tightly and refrigerate up to several weeks.

Chinese Tea Eggs

12 large eggs

Marinade
4 tablespoons light soy sauce or soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce or soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 black tea bags or 2 tablespoons black tea leaves
2 1/2 cups water

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a small pot. Cook over medium heat until bringing to a boil. Turn to medium-low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the pot from your stove and let cool completely. Once done, remove and discard the tea bags.

To boil the eggs, heat a pot of water (enough to cover all the eggs) over high heat until boiling. Turn to low heat. Carefully place the eggs in the pot using a ladle, to prevent the eggs from cracking.

Boil 5 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, 7 minutes for medium eggs, or 10 minutes for hard-boiled eggs.

While cooking the eggs, prepare an ice bath by combining ice and tap water in a big bowl.

Once the eggs are cooked, immediately transfer them to the ice bath to cool for 2 to 3 minutes. If you don’t have ice on hand, simply run cool tap water over the eggs for a couple minutes until they cool down.

Gently crack the eggs using the back of a spoon. You want to make sure the egg shells are cracked enough so the marinade will reach the interior, without cracking the eggs apart (especially if you made soft boiled eggs). If you’re in a hurry, you can also peel the eggs and marinate them peeled. The eggs will be ready in 12 hours this way.

Transfer the eggs to a quart-size ziplock bag, then carefully pour in the marinade along with the dry ingredients. Marinate overnight for peeled eggs, or 24 hours for cracked “marble” eggs. You can store the eggs in the marinade for 4 to 5 days in the fridge.

Peel the eggs and enjoy them cold or at room temperature!

Recipe Note: the recipe uses a quart-size ziplock bag to marinate the eggs, so you won’t need as much marinating liquid. Double the amount of marinade if you’re planning to marinate the eggs in a container

Chicken Fajitas

1 teaspoon pure chile powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 green bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
8 flour tortillas, warmed in the microwave
Shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream, for serving

In a resealable plastic bag, combine the chile powder with the salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cornstarch, water and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken, bell pepper and onion, seal and knead gently to coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet until shimmering. Empty the contents of the bag into the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.

Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large bowl and serve with the warmed tortillas, lettuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream and lime wedges.

Spicy Chinese Chicken Salad

2 tablespoons sesame paste
2 tablespoons chili oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar or lime juice
2 teaspoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 cooked rotisserie chicken, de-boned and shredded
8 oz. mixed salad greens
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1/2 cup mint leaves
Instructions

In a medium bowl, stir together the sesame paste, chili oil, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, garlic, scallions, and sesame seeds.

Add the chicken to a serving bowl, and spoon on some of the dressing.

Toss with the salad greens and herbs, and serve with any additional dressing on the side.

Quick Thai (or Holy) Basil Chicken (Gai Pad Krapow)

3 to 4 tablespoons oil
3 Thai bird or holland chilies, de-seeded (if desired) and thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound ground chicken
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
1 bunch holy or Thai basil leaves

In a wok over high heat, add the oil, chilies, shallots and garlic, and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the chicken into small bits.

Add the sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Stir-fry for another minute and deglaze the pan with the broth. Because your pan is over high heat, the liquid should cook off very quickly. Add the basil, and stir-fry until wilted. Serve over rice.

Sichuan Roasted Chili Eggplant (Liang Ban Qie Zi)

1 pound small Asian eggplant
1/2 pound mildly spicy green chilies (er jing tiao, large jalapeno, poblano)
1 tablespoon minced (not pureed) garlic (about 4 medium cloves)
4 tablespoons white rice vinegar
6 tablespoons canola or rapeseed oil
6 tablespoons Chinese light soy sauce
3 tablespoons green Sichuan pepper oil (qing hua jiao or teng jiao oil)
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon Maggi seasoning sauce
1 tablespoon chili oil (don’t include flakes)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced
handful cilantro, chopped

Bring water to a boil in a steamer. Cut the eggplant in half horizontally, place in a bowl and carefully place bowl into steamer when water begins to boil. Steam for about 20 minutes. You want the eggplant to be luxuriously soft and creamy. Remove from steamer and let cool, then cut each piece in half vertically and into large bite-size pieces.

While eggplant is steaming, roast the green chilies. This can be done directly over a stovetop fire, in a hot, dry pan or under a broiler. Turn the chilies so that all of the skin gets charred and the chili blackens almost entirely, as larger chilies will need to cook that long to be roasted. Put blackened chilies in a plastic bag and let them sweat for a few minutes so the skin will be easier to remove. When cool, peel the skin off, remove the seeds and dice the chilies into small cubes.

In a bowl or large mixing cup add the garlic and white rice vinegar and let the garlic soak for a few minutes to tame the heat. Then add the other sauce ingredients: oil, soy sauce, Sichuan pepper oil, oyster sauce, Maggi seasoning, chili oil and sugar. Whisk ingredients together until well blended and emulsified. Add diced green chilies to the sauce.

Arrange eggplant pieces in a shallow serving bowl and pour the green chili sauce over them. Garnish with green onion and cilantro. Serve at room temperature.

Chicken with Nam Prik Pao

1 1/2 pounds chicken breast, sliced into ¼-inch thick pieces
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 tablespoons oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 Thai bird chilies, thinly sliced (optional)
1 red bell pepper, de-seeded and thinly sliced
5 scallions, sliced at an angle into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons Thai Chili Sauce (Namprik Pao)
1 tablespoon fish sauce

Add the chicken to a bowl, along with the 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 1 tablespoon oil. Mix well and set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat until smoking. Add 2 tablespoons of oil, and the chicken. Stir-fry the chicken for 1-2 minutes, until well-seared.

Add the garlic, chilies (if using), bell pepper, scallions, chili sauce, and fish sauce. Stir-fry for another 2 minutes.

Serve with steamed jasmine rice.

Miso-Marinated Skirt Steak

3 tablespoons red miso
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut crosswise into 5- to 6-inch pieces, patted dry
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
5 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

In a medium bowl, whisk together the miso, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic until the sugar dissolves. Measure 2 teaspoons of the mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Add the steak to the remaining mixture, turn to coat and let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to the reserved 2 teaspoons, add the vinegar and 3 teaspoons of the oil. Stir to combine and set aside. Remove the steak from the bowl and pat dry with paper towels.

In a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil until beginning to smoke. Add half of the steak in a single layer and cook without disturbing until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Flip the pieces and cook until the second sides are well browned and the center of the thickest piece reaches 125°F for medium-rare or 130°F for medium, another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter, then repeat with the remaining steak, using the fat in the pan. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Stir any accumulated juices on the platter into the reserved miso mixture. Cut the steak against the grain on the bias into thin slices and return to the platter. Serve with the miso sauce.

Dry-Fried Sichuan Beef

3 tablespoons oil
12 ounces flank steak, cut into ? inch thick strips
5 slices ginger, julienned
1 heaping tablespoon spicy bean sauce
1-2 stalks celery, julienned
1 small carrot, julienned
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
¾ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn
A pinch of chili flakes (optional)
2 scallions, julienned

Heat the wok over high heat until it starts to smoke.

Add 1 tablespoon oil, and coat the wok before adding the beef. Immediately spread the beef in a single layer. (This step will prevent the beef from sticking to your wok.)

Brown the beef until the liquid cooks off and the meat is well-seared. This step should take about 2-3 minutes.

Remove the beef from the wok, and set aside.

Turn the heat down to low, and add 2 tablespoons of oil to the wok.

Crisp the ginger, and add the spicy bean sauce. Cook for about a minute until the oil turns red, adjusting the heat as needed to avoid burning.

Next, add the celery, carrot, and cooked beef. Turn the heat up to high, and stir to mix well.

Immediately add the Shaoxing wine, sugar, light soy sauce, sesame oil, ground Sichuan peppercorn, chili flakes (optional), and the scallions.

Stir quickly for about a minute and mix everything well.

Transfer to a dish and serve with plenty of rice! You’ll need it.

Avgolemono (Chicken Soup with Rice)

4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked white rice, warmed
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from the bones and coarsely shredded (1 pound)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

In a large saucepan, season the stock with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Transfer 1 cup of the hot stock to a blender.

Add 1/2 cup of the rice, the egg yolks and the lemon juice and puree until smooth.

Stir the puree into the simmering stock along with the chicken and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of rice and simmer until thickened slightly, 10 minutes.
Stir in the dill and serve.

Shrimp and Grits

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups milk
3 cups water
1 cup grits
1 1/2 cups cheddar cheese, finely grated
8 ounces bacon, chopped
20 medium to large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup scallion, chopped
Salt and pepper

Add the butter and olive oil to a saucepan set over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Turn the heat to high and pour in the milk and water. Bring to a boil and slowly whisk in the grits. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 to 20 minutes. When done, dump in the cheese and stir until it is melted. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Add the bacon to a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook until golden browned and crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels. Pour out all but 3 tablespoons of the oil.

Set the skillet back over medium-high heat and when nearly smoking, add the shrimp. Cook until pink, about 1 1/2 minutes per side.

Scoop some of the cheese grits into a bowl and top with the shrimp, chopped bacon, and scallions. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cilantro-Mint Chutney

2 cups loosely-packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup loosely-packed fresh mint leaves
1 jalapeno pepper seeded
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
3 to 4 cloves garlic peeled
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 – 2 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pureé until smooth. Taste for seasonings and add more salt if desired.

Rajas Con Creama (Roasted Poblanos with Cream)

1 1/4 pounds fresh poblano chiles (about 3 large)
Generous 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup Mexican crema or crème fraîche
Generous 1 tablespoon finely chopped epazote leaves, or 1?2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

?Turn two stove-top burners to high and roast the poblano chiles on the racks of the burners (or directly on the element of an electric stove), turning frequently with tongs, until they are blistered and charred all over, 4 to 6 minutes. Put the poblanos in a bowl and cover with a plate to sweat for 15 to 20 minutes.

?Rub off the skin from the roasted poblanos with a paper towel or your fingers (do notrun the poblanos under water), then cut them open lengthwise. Cut out the stems, seed pods, and veins, and lay the chiles flat. Wipe the chiles clean of seeds, discard the seeds, and slice the chiles into long 1/4-inch-thick strips.

?Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers, then add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the poblanos along with the remaining 1?4 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 3 minutes or so, then add the crema and epazote.

?Let it come to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the crema thickens slightly and coats the poblanos, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
?
Serve alongside 8 warm corn tortillas and top with crumbled queso fresco and smoky tomato salsa.

Pressure Cooker Spicy Cauliflower Soup

2 cups cauliflower florets cut into 3″-4″ pieces
1.5 cups water
1 large onion cut into thick, 2″ pieces
1 cup carrots, turnips, or potatoes cut into thick 2″ pieces
1 cup canned tomatoes
2.5 cups water
1-1.5 tsp Sambhar powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp turmeric

Pour all ingredients into the inner liner of your pressure cooker and stir well.

Cook on LOW pressure for 3 minutes. Let the pot sit undisturbed for 10 minutes and then release all remaining pressure.

Open the pot, stir to mix and serve.

Coconut Pandan Chia Seed Pudding

Ingredients
1/2 cup chia seeds
1.5 cups hot water
14 ounce full fat coconut milk canned
1/2 teaspoon Pandan extract
1/3 cup sweetener or sugar

Mix the hot water in with the chia seeds. Using hot water causes the chia seeds to absorb the water and swell much faster than tap water–which means your pudding will be done sooner and you can eat sooner!

I mean, that’s really the only thing you need to know. Other than that, mix everything together, and let it chill.

The chia will make it gel and set into a pudding, and coconut milk will make it creamy, and the pandan will make it delicious.