Cake (and Brownie) Mix Waffles

For cake mix: Whisk together a box of your favorite flavor of cake mix with 1 cup of water or milk, 1/3 cup safflower oil, and 3 eggs. Heat up a waffle iron and spritz with cooking spray. Ladle in a spoonful or two of the batter and cook until the waffle is crisp. Stash the waffle in a 300 degree oven to stay warm while you make more.

For brownie mix: Dump the brownie mix (ghirardelli 20 ounce dark chocolate is recommended) into a large mixing bowl along with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Crack 3 eggs into the bowl, then pour in 1/3 cup grapeseed or canola oil and 5 tablespoons melted butter. Mix until well combined, then add a big splash of very fizzy seltzer.

At this point, you can heat the waffle iron and get down to business. Alternatively, you can jazz up the brownie waffle batter with some mix-ins. Classic brownie lovers may want to go with finely chopped walnuts, while chocoholics may opt for chopped chocolate. Peanut butter, butterscotch, and white chocolate chips also won’t disappoint. Whatever you choose, fold in about 1/2 cup of the mix-in into the batter.

Heat your waffle iron and grease it with cooking spray or melted butter. Cook waffles in whatever manner the waffle iron’s directions recommend.

Another (simpler) variation: eggs, water and oil as directed on the box
1 additional egg
1 box Ghirardelli Triple Chocolate brownie mix
Desired toppings

Whisk together eggs, water, and oil until combined. Add brownie mix and mix until just combined.
Pour into preheated waffle maker and bake for 3 minutes or as directed on your waffle maker.
Remove and enjoy topped with fruit, whipped cream, hot fudge, caramel sauce, or ice cream.

Simpler yet:
1 box (1 lb 3.8 oz) Betty Crocker Supreme walnut brownie mix
3 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Heat waffle maker. (Waffle makers without a nonstick coating may need to be brushed with vegetable oil or sprayed with cooking spray before batter for each waffle is added.) In large bowl, stir brownie mix, eggs and oil with whisk just until smooth.

Pour slightly less than 3/4 cup batter onto center of hot waffle maker. (Check manufacturer’s directions for recommended amount of batter.) Close lid of waffle maker. Bake about 5 minutes or until steaming stops. Carefully remove waffle. Repeat with remaining batter.

Beef Chow Fun

1/2 pound (226 grams) beef skirt, flank, sirloin, or tenderloin
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (*Footnote 1)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Stir fry

(Optional) 1 batch broccolini (or 1 small head broccoli), tough ends removed and chopped into bite sized pieces (or use broccoli with gai lan (Chinese broccoli), kale, or bok choy)
7 ounces (200 grams) dried rice noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 white onion, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
4 green onions, chopped
(Optional) 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Slice beef against the grain into 1/8-inch (1/3-cm) thick pieces or 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) strips, and transfer the pieces to a small bowl. Add the light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch. Use your hand to gently mix the beef and the added ingredients, until the beef is coated with a thin layer of the mixture. Let marinate for 15 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Combine all the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons water. Mix well and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the broccolini (or broccoli) until tender, 1 minute or so. Drain and set aside. Reserve the boiling water to cook the noodles.

Cook or soak the rice noodles according to the instructions until cooked through, but still a bit chewy inside. Rinse rice noodles with cold water and drain. To avoid sticky rice noodles during stir fry, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil to the drained noodles. Gently toss noodles by hand to separate and evenly coat them with a thin layer of oil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Spread the beef slices in the skillet in a single layer. Cook until the bottom side of the beef turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip the beef and cook the other side until browned, but the inside is still a bit pink, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer beef to a plate immediately.

In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and turn to medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and onion. Stir constantly until you can smell a strong fragrance, 15 seconds.
Toss the cooked noodles again and add them into the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil onto the noodles. Use a pair of tongs to toss the noodles with oil. If the noodles start to get sticky, swirl in 2 tablespoons water.

Add the beef back into the skillet. Pour in the mixed sauce. Immediately use a pair of tongs to toss and mix everything.
Add the onion and green onion. Toss a few more times, until the sauce is absorbed by the noodles.

Add bean sprouts and cooked broccolini back into the skillet, swirl in the sesame oil (if using), and give it a final toss. Turn off heat and transfer everything to serving plates immediately.

Serve hot as a main.

NOTES

You can use regular soy sauce to replace all the light / dark soy sauce in this recipe. Note that the dish will come out with a lighter color if you do so.

Pressure Cooker Lemongrass Pumpkin Congee (Tinutuan)

1/2 cup (120 grams) long grain or short grain rice
8 cups water
1 stalk lemongrass (or 2 stalks if you like a very strong lemongrass flavor)
3 cups diced kabocha squash (the yield from half a kabocha squash)
1 cup sweet corn kernels
4 cups spinach
(Optional) 1 bunch of Thai basil leaves for garnish
Sambal and/or fried shallot for serving

Add rice and water to cover in a large bowl. Use your hand to gently swirl a few times to rinse, discard the water. Repeat 1 to 2 times. Drain rice and transfer into an Instant Pot. Add 8 cups water.

Cut the lemongrass into 2-inch (5-cm) stalks and pound them with the back of your knife, to bruise the stalks so they release more aroma. Add the lemongrass into the Instant Pot. Set the pressure to high and timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer is up, use quick release to reduce the pressure.
Add the diced pumpkin. Cover and cook on high pressure, for another 6 minutes. Use natural release to reduce pressure.

Add the sweet corn kernels and turn on the saute function until bringing to a boil. Cook with the lid two-thirds of the way covered for 3 to 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked through.
Add the spinach and continue cooking for a minute. Turn off the Instant pot.

Transfer the porridge into serving bowls. Serve hot with sambal and / or fried shallot.

Sichuan Chicken in Chili Oil (Kou Shui Ji)

3 tablespoon plain roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon red chili flakes or dried red chilis, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 a 1/2 cup oil
3 scallions, cut into large sections
4 slices ginger
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
1 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns

For Step 2:
2 chicken leg quarters, deboned with skin still on (try asking your butcher to do this for you)
2 scallions
2 slices ginger

For Step 3:
1 tablespoon sesame paste
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chicken stock

Put chopped peanuts, roasted sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and salt into a medium bowl and set it aside.

Heat your oil in pan over low heat, and add the scallions, ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon stick, and Sichuan peppercorns. Allow these aromatics to slowly infuse into the oil, until everything is kind of browned and wrinkly and fragrant. Discard the spices and pour the hot infused oil into the peanut mixture. Give everything a stir and cover the bowl with a plate to seal everything inside. Walk away and don’t come back until everything else is ready!

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil (there should be enough water to submerge the chicken) along with the ginger and scallion. Once it’s boiling, add the chicken (once it’s added the water will probably stop boiling because of the temperature change).

Bring the water to a boil again, and after a minute, cover the pot and immediately turn off the heat. Let it sit on the stove for 20 minutes to slowly poach the chicken.

In the meantime, prepare a small ice bath for chicken. After 20 minutes, take the chicken out of the pot and plunge it in the ice bath and let the chicken cool completely. Slice the chicken and place it on your serving plate.

Mix all of the Step 3 ingredients in a bowl. Now combine the mixture you just made with the peanut mixture you made in Step

Pour as much as you want over the chicken. Use about two thirds and save the rest for a cold noodle lunch the next day (a highly recommended action!).

Lemon Souffle

About 1 teaspoon unsalted butter for the dish
1 cup sugar, plus some for the dish
6 eggs, separated
1 tablespoon minced or grated lemon or orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice or Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
Pinch salt

Butter a 2-quart soufflé or other deep baking dish. Sprinkle the dish with sugar, invert it, and tap to remove excess sugar. Set aside and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk the egg yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar until light and very thick; the mixture will fall in a ribbon from the ends of the beaters when it is ready. Beat in the flavorings and set aside.

Beat the egg whites with the salt until they hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding the remaining 1/4 cup sugar, until they are very stiff but still glossy. Stir a good spoonful of them thoroughly into the egg yolk mixture to lighten it, then fold in the remaining whites, using a rubber spatula or your hand.

Transfer to the prepared soufflé dish(es) and bake until the center is nearly set, 25 to 35 minutes (15 to 25 minutes for individual soufflés). Serve immediately.

Garlic Lemongrass Chicken (or Fish, or Pork)

5 plump lemongrass stalks, inner bulb only, coarsely chopped
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1 large jalapeño, chopped
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs and breasts (or on pork tenderloin or any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as snapper, sea bass or halibut)

In a food processor, pulse the lemongrass until finely chopped. Add the scallions, garlic, jalapeño and sugar and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a steady stream and process to a fine paste. Season the paste with salt and pepper.

Using a small, sharp knife, make 1/2-inch-deep slashes into the chicken and rub the paste all over, working it into the slashes. Marinate the chicken for 15 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.

Light a grill. Brush the chicken with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill over a medium-hot fire, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Vermicelli and Nuoc Cham

5 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut lengthwise into 12 strips in all
1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lime juice (from about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 pound vermicelli
1 cup bean sprouts 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into thin slices
2/3 cup fresh mint, basil, or cilantro leaves, or any combination of the three
1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Heat the broiler or light the grill. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 cloves of the garlic, and the oil. Add the chicken, toss, and then thread each strip onto a wooden skewer. Broil or grill the chicken until just done, about 2 minutes per side.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 clove garlic with the red-pepper flakes, vinegar, lime juice, and water. Set this nuoc cham aside.

In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the vermicelli until just done, about 9 minutes. Add the bean sprouts during the last minute of cooking. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly.

Put the pasta and bean sprouts on a platter and top with the cucumber, herbs, and chicken skewers. Pour the nuoc cham over all and sprinkle with the peanuts.

Pressure Cooker Pandan Custard

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
3 eggs
1/3 cup sweetener of choice
3-4 drops pandan extract
Green food coloring (optional)

Blend together the eggs, milk, sweetener and the pandan extract, and pour it into a 6-inch heatproof bowl. Cover with foil.

Place 2 cups of water into your liner, place a trivet in the liner, and place your bowl onto the trivet.

Cook at high pressure for 30 minutes and let it release pressure naturally. A knife inserted into the custard should come out clean.

Cool in refrigerator until the custard is set.

Burmese Red Chili Oil

1 cup packed dried red chiles, soaked in lukewarm water for 20 minutes
1 cup peanut oil

Drain the chiles and remove and discard the stems. Put the chiles in a food processor and process to a coarse paste.

Pour the oil into a nonreactive pan and set over medium heat. Add the chile paste and bring to a bubbling boil, then remove from the heat and let stand until cooled to room temperature.

You can store the oil with the chiles in it, but in Burma the oil often is served on its own. For clear oil, drain the oil through a sieve into a clean, dry glass jar and seal with the lid. Store away from heat and light. You can keep the chiles in another glass jar for a spicy condiment, or discard them.

Pressure Cooker Indian Onion Masala

1/4 cup peanut oil (or other high smoke point )
2 cups onion, diced
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced ginger minced
1 green Serrano , jalapeño or thai chile minced (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoon garam masala
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup water

Turn your Instant Pot onto Sauté on high. When the display reads HOT, add oil.

When the oil is hot and shimmering, add in the ginger, garlic and green chili and sauté for 1-2 minutes.

Add in the onion and mix well. You’re going to sauté this for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice.

Add all the dry spices and mix well, being careful not to let them burn. Be sure to put the spices on top of the veggies rather than on the surface of the pan directly.

Add tomatoes and the water and deglaze your pot well, scraping up all the brown bits.

Close and cook at High Pressure for 15 minutes, allowing it to release pressure naturally.

Open up the pot and if it’s too watery, just sauté for bit it will thicken as it cools.

You’re now ready to cook with this immediately, put some in the fridge for a week or so, or in the freezer for several months (use 1-cup containers). This recipe made about 2.5 cups.

Punjabi Garam Masala

1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
3 cinnamon sticks broken up
3 bay leaves broken up

Place a small skillet over medium heat and add all the ingredients. Toast them until they’re fragrant but not browned, about 2 to 3 minutes. They will continue to cook for a while after you take them out of the pan, so if you’re in doubt, undercook them.

Transfer the spices to a plate or a paper towel to cool completely. Once cool, place the spices in a coffee or spice grinder. Grind until the spices form a medium-fine powder.
Stop the grinder several times and shake it so all the spices get under the blades and grind more evenly. When you’re finished, unplug the grinder. Holding the lid in place, turn the grinder upside down and shake the spice mixture into the lid.
Pour the garam masala into a small jar with a tight-fitting lid. Store in a cool, dry place for 3 to 4 weeks.

Pressure Cooker Beef Chili

2 1/2 lb Ground beef
1/2 large Onion (chopped)
8 cloves Garlic (minced)
2 15-oz can Diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 6-oz can Tomato paste
1 4-oz can Green chiles (with liquid)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Chili powder
2 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp Dried oregano
2 tsp Sea salt
1 tsp Black pepper
1 medium Bay leaf (optional)

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chopped onion for 5-7 minutes, until translucent (or increase the time to about 20 minutes if you like them caramelized). Add the garlic and cook for a minute or less, until fragrant.

Add the ground beef. Cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned.
Transfer the ground beef mixture into a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients, except bay leaf, and stir until combined. Place the bay leaf into the middle, if using.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. If you used a bay leaf, remove it before serving.

Instant Pot pressure cooker instructions

Select the “Sauté” setting on the pressure cooker (this part is done without the lid). Add the chopped onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, until translucent (or increase the time to about 20 minutes if you like them caramelized). Add the garlic and cook for a minute or less, until fragrant.

Add the ground beef. Cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned.
Add remaining ingredients, except bay leaf, to the Instant Pot and stir until combined. Place the bay leaf into the middle, if using.

Close the lid. Press “Keep Warm/Cancel” to stop the saute cycle. Select the “Meat/Stew” setting (35 minutes) to start pressure cooking.

Wait for the natural release if you can, or turn the valve to “vent” for quick release if you’re short on time. If you used a bay leaf, remove it before serving.

Hot Mulled Cider

1 gallon apple cider
3/4 cup dry white wine, such as Chardonnay
1/4 cup honey 2 quince—peeled, cored and finely chopped
One 4-inch rosemary sprig
Two 3- to 4-inch cinnamon sticks, broken
4 cloves
1 star anise
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Combine the cider, wine, honey, quince, rosemary, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and lemon zest in a large saucepan and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes. Strain the mulled cider and discard the solids. Serve the mulled cider warm.

Sweet Potatoes with Apple Butter

4 pounds sweet potatoes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup apple butter
Salt

Preheat the oven to 350°. Pierce the sweet potatoes all over with a fork and place on a large rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until very tender.

Peel the sweet potatoes and transfer to a large bowl. Mash with a potato masher until creamy, then mash in the butter and apple butter. Season with salt and serve.

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1/4 cup canola oil
2 1/4 pounds baby brussels sprouts or regular brussels sprouts halved lengthwise
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup Grade A pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon walnut oil

Heat the canola oil in a very large skillet until shimmering. Add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper, then cook over high heat without stirring until they are browned, about 2 minutes. Add the unsalted butter and brown sugar and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the brown sugar is melted. Add the maple syrup and cook, stirring occasionally, until the brussels sprouts are just crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cider vinegar. Add the chestnuts and walnut oil and cook until hot.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brussels sprouts and chestnuts to a bowl. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and serve.

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds trimmed beef flatiron steak or chuck, cut into 8 pieces
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig
One 5-ounce piece of pancetta
15 pearl or small cipollini onions, peeled
15 cremini mushrooms
15 baby carrots, peeled
Sugar
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the meat in the casserole in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 8 minutes. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the meat with it. Add the wine, bay leaves and thyme, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Cover the casserole and transfer it to the oven. Cook the stew for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is flavorful.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cover the pancetta with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain the pancetta and slice it 1/2 inch thick, then cut the slices into 1-inch-wide lardons.

In a large skillet, combine the pancetta, pearl onions, mushrooms and carrots. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 cup of water and a large pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until almost all of the water has evaporated, 15 minutes. Uncover and cook over high heat, tossing, until the vegetables are tender and nicely browned, about 4 minutes.

To serve, stir some of the vegetables and lardons into the stew and scatter the rest on top as a garnish. Top with a little chopped parsley and serve.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

1 head cauliflower
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons light sour cream
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
freshly ground black pepper
snipped chives

Separate the cauliflower into florets and chop the core finely.
Bring about 2 cups of water to a simmer in a pot, then add the cauliflower. Cover and turn the heat to medium. Cook the cauliflower for 12-15 minutes or until very tender.

Drain and discard all of the water (the drier the cauliflower is, the better) and add the milk, butter, sour cream, salt and pepper and mash with a masher until it looks like mashed potatoes. Top with chives.

Variation:

1 medium head cauliflower
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/8 teaspoon straight chicken base or bullion (may substitute 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh or dry chives, for garnish
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Set a stockpot of water to boil over high heat.

Clean and cut cauliflower into small pieces. Cook in boiling water for about 6 minutes, or until well done. Drain well; do not let cool and pat cooked cauliflower very dry between several layers of paper towels.

In a bowl with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, puree the hot cauliflower with the cream cheese, Parmesan, garlic, chicken base, and pepper until almost smooth.

Garnish with chives, and serve hot with pats of butter.

Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Chicken)

2 tablespoon cooking oil
2/3 lb. (300g) boneless chicken, cut into strips
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 fresh Thai chilies peppers, cut lengthwise finely
1 1/2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon sweet soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
20 sweet basil leaves
1/3 cup water
Cooked Rice

Heat the oil in a wok until almost smoking. Add the garlic and chilli peppers and stir-fry quickly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink.

Add fish sauce, sweet soy sauce and sugar and stir to mix. Add basil leaves, stock or water and bring to boil. Serve over rice.

Sichuan Chili Oil

1 1/2 cups oil (ideally a vegetable, peanut, or grapeseed oil)
5 star anise
1 cinnamon stick, preferably cassia cinnamon
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns
3/4 cup Asian crushed red pepper flakes (Sichuan chili flakes are the best)
1 – 1½ teaspoons salt (to taste)

Heat the oil, star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and Sichuan peppercorns in a small saucepan over medium high heat. When the oil starts to bubble slightly, turn the heat down to medium.

Let the oil cook for 30 minutes like this. If you start to see that slight bubbling die down, periodically turn the heat back up to medium-high, then back down to medium if it gets too hot.

When the oil is done cooking, the seeds and pods should be darker in color, but not blackened (that means they burned, which results in subpar chili oil). Let the oil cool for 5 minutes. In a separate heat-proof bowl, measure out the crushed red pepper flakes and salt.

Remove the aromatics from the oil using a fine mesh strainer. Slowly pour the oil over the chili flakes, and stir well. When completely cooled, transfer to a jar, and store in the refrigerator. The oil will keep for up to 6 months when stored this way (always remember to use a clean spoon to dip into the jar!)

Another version:

4 tablespoons crushed Chinese or Korean chili flakes
2 teaspoons five spice powder
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1 teaspoon ground Sichuan peppercorn
(optional) 2 whole star anise
2 bay leaves
1 cup vegetable oil (or grapeseed oil)
(optional) 1 piece thinly sliced ginger

Combine chili flakes, five spice powder, sesame seeds, star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, and bay leaves in a heatproof ceramic bowl that can hold at least 2 cups liquid. Place the bowl on a heat resistant coaster.

Heat oil in a wok (or a skillet) over medium-high heat. Add ginger. When the ginger starts to wither and turns golden brown, immediately turn off the heat. The oil should reach 370 degrees F (190 C) and no higher than 400 F (200 C) if read with an instant thermometer.

Carefully pour oil or use a ladle to transfer oil into the bowl of mixed spices. The oil will bubble for a few seconds and cook the spices. While the the oil is bubbling, use a metal spoon to stir gently to mix the spices, so they’ll cook thoroughly.

When the oil cools down a bit, scoop out and discard the star anise and bay leaf.

The oil is now ready to use! Its flavor will mature if you let it rest for a day, allowing the spices to infuse into the oil.

The oil can be stored covered at room temperature for two weeks, or up to six months in the fridge in an airtight container.

One more:

First, you’ll need a ton of chilies and Sichuan peppercorns. For the former, just about any kind (and level of heat) will do; just make sure they’re roughly ground and you have a lot—at least half a pound. For the latter, you want at least 1/2 cup of the freshest you can find (many shops sell them online).

This is the most important step: Infusing the oil. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, simmer 1 1/2 quarts canola oil with a whole head of garlic, a 3-inch nub of ginger, and a host of dried spices: star anise, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, black and green cardamom. You want the garlic and ginger just fizzing over low heat, making sure neither browns or burns, for at least 2 hours, until the oil is deeply fragrant.

In a large steel mixing bowl, add the ground chilies, the Sichuan peppercorns, 1 tablespoon of salt, and 2 tablespoons of soy sauce. Stir to combine.

When the infused oil is ready, turn the heat up to high, and when the ginger and garlic are furiously fizzing, pour the oil through a sieve into the dried chili mixture. And, uh, be careful!

Chefs in Sichuan say that if the oil foams up, that’s a good sign.

When it’s cooled down a bit, pour the chili oil into jars: Large if you’re keeping this for yourself, smaller if you want to give as gifts. (This stuff makes a good gift!)

While it’s pretty good right now, it will taste even better a few days from now. Plus, it’ll keep pretty much forever, especially if you put it in the fridge.

To make a sauce for boiled dumplings: a good heaping spoonful or two with a ton of black vinegar.

Pasta e Fagioli

170g dried borlotti
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
A sprig of fresh rosemary
300-500g fresh tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
180g fresh egg pasta, cut into small, misshapen squares or 220g dried small pasta, or broken tagliatelle

If you are using dried beans, soak them for 12 hours or overnight. Drain, cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 3 inches/10cm above the beans and cook at a simmer until tender, which usually takes about an hour and a half. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid.
If you are using fresh beans, pod them, then cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 10cm above the beans. Bring to a very gentle boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans are tender. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid. If you are using tinned beans, drain and rinse them.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep sauté pan or casserole, warm the olive oil over a low flame, add the peeled and gently crushed garlic cloves and rosemary, then fry them gently until fragrant. If desired, you can remove the garlic at this point. Peel the tomatoes, if you like, then roughly chop them and add them to the pan. Raise the heat just a little and cook the tomatoes for 10 minutes, or until soft and saucy. Add the beans and a couple generous ladlefuls of bean cooking water, then let the pan bubble away for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt. At this point you may like to blend half the soup for a creamier consistency.

Add another couple of ladlefuls of bean cooking water and then the pasta. Continue cooking, stirring attentively until the pasta is tender. You may need to add a little more bean cooking water. Serve immediately.