Stir-Fried Ginger Beef

Marinade

2 Tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
5 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp peeled, grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chile pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin

Beef and stir-fry

1 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 lb top sirloin steak
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 Tbsp vegetable oil (preferably peanut)
1 Tbsp sesame oil (optional)
3-4 green onions, cut on a diagonal, 1/2-inch apart, including the greens
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2-3 hot chiles, preferably red serranos, seeded, sliced
1-inch nob of ginger, peeled, cut lengthwise into matchstick shapes
1/2 cup loosely packed, chopped cilantro


Chill the steak in the freezer for 30 minutes before you slice it, this will make it easier to cut in thin slices. Slice the steak first crosswise in 1/2-inch thick slices. The cut each slice lengthwise into strips.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients; the soy sauce, vinegar, grated ginger, honey, red chile flakes, and cumin. Mix the beef in with the marinade to coat and let it sit for at least 30 minutes, and up to 4 hours, in the fridge.

In a small bowl, mix the corn starch with 2 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry.

Heat the oil in a wok, or a large saut? pan, over high heat until it is nearly smoking. As the oil is heating up, pat the beef dry and separate it into small batches no larger than what can fit into the palm of your hand. Working in batches, saut? beef until just brown outside but rare inside, no more than 1 minute. Transfer beef to a bowl.

When all of the beef is cooked, put the chiles and garlic into the pan and stir-fry 30-45 seconds. Add the julienned ginger and cook for 30-45 seconds more. Add the beef back to the pan. Add the cornstarch slurry. Add the scallions and mix everything together. Cook for 1 minute.

Turn the heat off and mix in the cilantro. Serve at once with steamed white rice.

Peperonata

1/4 cup olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
2 yellow bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
2 orange or green bell peppers, seeded, sliced into 2 1/2 to 3-inch long strips
1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
4 garlic cloves, sliced thin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon sugar
4-5 Roma or other plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup fresh basil, leaves torn roughly
Lemon juice


Heat olive oil in a large saut? pan on medium high heat. When the oil is almost smoking, add the onions. Sprinkle with a little salt and saut? for 2-3 minutes, until the onions just begin to color.

Add the peppers and stir well to combine with the onions. Saut? for 4-5 minutes, stirring often. The peppers should be al dente?cooked, but with a little crunch left in them.

Add the garlic, and saut? another 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle a little more salt over everything and add the sugar and dried oregano. Cook 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, and cook just one minute further.

Turn off the heat and mix in the torn basil. Grind some black pepper over everything. Right before serving squeeze a little lemon juice over the dish.

Serves 4 to 6

Butterscotch Cookies

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon sized slices
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Sugar Dredging Mixture

1/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons sugar

Fleur de sel, Maldon, sea salt, or Kosher salt for sprinkling*

*Do not use fine grain table salt (aka: iodized salt) as the flavor will be way off and unpleasant.


Preheat oven to 375 F and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and set aside. Mix together the sugar dredging mixture in another bowl and set aside.

Place 10 tablespoons of butter into a thick-bottomed skillet over medium heat. The butter will foam a bit before subsiding. Once the butter takes on a tan color and begins to smell nutty take it off of the heat. Add the other two tablespoons of butter and mix it in until it melts. (See tutorial on how to brown butter.)

Pour the brown butter into a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Add the brown sugar and salt and mix. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla extract and mix together, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl at least once. Add the flour mixture in three increments being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom once or twice. Mix just until the flour is incorporated. The dough will be very thick.

Take 1/2 tablespoon sized pieces of dough (make sure the pieces of dough are all the same size) and gently roll them into ball shapes. Dredge them in the sugar dredging mixture until well-coated. Place on the baking sheet and sprinkle with a little bit of the sprinkling salt (be reserved with the salt as very little goes a long way).

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until the edges have browned a bit. Be careful not to over-bake. Allow to cool on the sheet for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Tastes best with a glass of milk for dipping.

Makes 4 dozen

Southwest Potatoes

5 tablespoons olive oil, or more as needed
2 tablespoons minced fresh jalape?o, or to taste
1 to 1 1/2 cups corn kernels, fresh or frozen
Salt and black pepper
2 pounds new potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 to 1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste
1 14-ounce can black beans, well drained
3/4 to 1 cup grated Cheddar or jack cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish


Put 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add jalape?o and corn, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; let sit for a moment. When corn begins to brown, shake pan to distribute for even browning. Remove corn.

Add remaining oil to pan. When hot, add potatoes. Cook, undisturbed, until they begin to brown around edges and release from pan, about 10 minutes. Continue, at least 15 more minutes, turning potatoes to brown all sides without stirring too often. Add oil if needed to prevent sticking, and lower heat if needed to prevent scorching. When potatoes are tender and golden, add chili powder, corn and beans.

Turn on broiler. Place rack about 4 inches below. Transfer potatoes to a baking dish, sprinkle with cheese and run under broiler until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Panade

6 tablespoons butter
2 leeks, white parts only, finely chopped (about 1? cups)
6 cups whole milk
Salt
4-6 slices day-old country bread, each 1 inch thick
1 small butternut squash (about 1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 bunch black kale or Swiss chard, center stems removed
1 head cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
1/2 pound fontina cheese, thinly sliced
Heavy cream, optional


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the leeks and saut? until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the milk, the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil and then remove from the heat.

Cover the bottom of a heavy, ovenproof 5-quart pot with 2 or more slices of the bread. Arrange the squash slices in an even layer on top of the bread and pour in 2 cups of the hot milk mixture. Top with 2 or 3 slices of bread and then with the kale. Arrange the cauliflower slices over the kale. Press down on the ingredients to compact them if they don?t quite fit into the pot.

Pour the remaining milk mixture over the top. Stop adding the milk when the level is almost to the rim. Season with salt. Cover the pot with a lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and arrange the cheese over the top. Return to the oven uncovered and bake until the liquid is absorbed and reduced and the cheese has melted and browned, 30 to 40 minutes. (When the panade has cooled, it should appear dry.) Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days. To reheat, cut the panade into wedges and put on individual ovenproof plates. Pour 1/4 cup cream over the top of each wedge and bake for 15 to 20 minutes in an oven preheated to 375. Serves 6.

Polenta with Borlotti

Tomato Sauce
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt
1 small carrot, peeled and shredded
One 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes or plum tomatoes
Freshly ground pepper

2 cups drained, cooked borlotti (cranberry) beans
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Polenta
4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup polenta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnishing
Freshly ground pepper


Make the sauce: In a small Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, the fennel, the garlic, 2 teaspoons of the oregano, the red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Saut? until the vegetables are soft and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the carrot and saut? for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, stirring to break them up with a wooden spoon. Add another pinch of salt. Reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered, at the barest simmer, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are reduced and beginning to separate from the oil, at least 2 hours or up to 3 hours. Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oregano and salt and pepper to taste. The sauce can be made up to this point 1 or 2 days ahead. Let cool and refrigerate.

Make the polenta: About 45 minutes before serving, bring the water to a boil in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the salt and, whisking continuously, slowly pour the polenta into the water in a thin stream. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring nearly constantly with a long-handled wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens, the grains soften, and the polenta begins to pull away from the sides of the pan, 40 to 45 minutes. Stir in the butter and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan, and season with pepper. Cover to keep warm.

Add the beans to the tomato sauce and warm them together over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the parsley about 5 minutes before serving.

Spoon the polenta into warmed shallow bowls and make a well in the center of each serving. Spoon the tomato sauce into the well. Garnish with Parmesan cheese.

If you want to include Italian sausage, cook it separately, slice it, and serve on top of the finished dish.

For a streamlined process, make the tomato sauce and the beans ahead and heat them together while you cook the polenta.