Tamarind Spiced Cashews with Mint

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 teaspoon tomato paste
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind concentrate or paste
1 pound roasted unsalted cashews
70 grams unsweetened coconut flakes (about 1 cup)
Large pinch cayenne, plus more to taste
10 grams ground garam masala, preferably freshly toasted and ground (about 1 tablespoon)
8 grams coarse kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling (about 1 1/4 teaspoons)
Chopped fresh mint, for serving

Heat oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium pot, melt butter, honey, brown sugar, tomato paste and tamarind. Add nuts, coconut, cayenne, garam masala and salt and toss until coated. Spread on baking sheet.

Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mixture is toasted and sugars have begun to caramelize. Sprinkle nuts lightly with salt and let cool completely. Before serving, break up nuts and sprinkle with mint. (Nuts can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 weeks, but don’t add mint until serving.)

Italian Pantry Soup

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for garnish
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced fennel or celery
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1 large thyme sprig
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 quarts/12 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
2 pounds medium-size starchy potatoes, such as Yukon Golds or russets, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks (or beans or lentils)
8 ounces kale or chard, stems removed, leaves sliced across into 1/2-inch ribbons (about 4 cups total)
1/2 pound dried pennette, orecchiette or other small pasta
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or marjoram, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Other options: for example, more vegetables, like celery and carrot; some tomato, a little or a lot; bacon or pancetta or ham; or beef or chicken broth.

In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion, carrot and fennel, stir, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened and golden, 5 to 10 minutes.

Adjust the heat to prevent vegetables from browning or scorching.
Stir in bay leaf, thyme sprig, garlic, paprika and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add broth, potatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a brisk simmer. Cook until potatoes are cooked through but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Stir in kale and pasta and simmer another 10 minutes, or until greens are well cooked and pasta is done. (Soup can be made up to this point, without the pasta, cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and Parmesan. Drizzle each serving with a teaspoon of olive oil. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.

Classic Butter Chicken

The dish was created as a way to keep cooked/leftover tandoori chicken from drying out. In case you have not already made Tandoori Chicken (see related recipe), this recipe includes simple instructions for cooking the chicken. The result is not as good as if you make the proper Tandoori Chicken first, but it is simpler.

Serve with finely chopped cilantro, chopped green chile peppers, naan, rice and a good Indian chutney.

Make Ahead: The dish tastes even better after a day’s refrigeration; you may need to add a little cream or water to thin the sauce, which will thicken when once it’s chilled.

FOR THE CHICKEN
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken (white and/or dark meat), cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder (may substitute a combination of 2 teaspoons paprika and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup plain, full-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger root

FOR THE SAUCE
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 medium tomatoes, hulled and chopped
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons peeled minced fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon bright red chili powder, such as Kashmiri chili powder (may substitute a combination of chili powder and paprika; see headnote)
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons salted butter
1/3 cup heavy cream

For the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with cooking oil spray.

Combine the chicken meat with lime juice, chili powder, garam masala, salt, yogurt, garlic and ginger in a mixing bowl, then spread evenly over the baking sheet. Roast (middle rack) for 15 to 18 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked through.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and cook for 2 or 3 minutes, until softened. Stir in the tomato; cook for 10 to 12 minutes.

Use a spatula to press the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer back into the pot, or puree with an immersion (stick) blender right in the pot. Stir in the garlic, ginger, chile powder, garam masala and cumin until well blended, then add the chicken, stirring to coat it with sauce. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, just until heated through.

Just before serving, add the butter. Once it has melted, stir in the cream, until well incorporated. Immediately remove from the heat; serve warm.

Classic Tandoori Chicken

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (light and dark meat; see headnote)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder (may substitute a combination of 1/2 teaspoon each paprika and cayenne pepper; see headnote)
6 tablespoons plain, full-fat yogurt
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger root
2 teaspoons garam masala, or more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek, or more as needed
Vegetable oil, for basting

Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts in the thickest part of the chicken.

Combine the lime juice and salt in a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken pieces; add the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Uncover; add the chile powder, yogurt, garlic, ginger, garam masala and fenugreek, tossing well to coat and distribute evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees (or hotter)

Thread the chicken pieces onto skewers, season with a little more garam masala or fenugreek, if desired. Roast (middle rack) for 5 to 6 minutes. Baste with a little oil and continue roasting for 3 to 4 minutes.

Check if the chicken is done by cutting into one of the larger pieces. If it is still pink in the middle, roast for another 3 to 5 minutes and check again.

Pressure Cooker Pernil Asado

MARINADE:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic (from about 1 medium head)
Leaves from 8 to 10 stems fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh sour orange juice (from about 2 medium; may substitute a 50-50 blend of fresh lemon juice and fresh grapefruit juice)
1/4 cup packed fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup water, or more as needed
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup vegetable oil

PORK:
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
One 4-pound, bone-in pork shoulder

For the marinade: Combine the garlic, cilantro, citrus juices, oregano and water in a blender; puree to form a smooth, thick liquid. With the motor running, add the oils in a slow, steady stream until evenly incorporated.

For the pork: Combine the salt, oregano and pepper in a small bowl.

Rinse the pork with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to cut the skin and/or fat cap on your pork shoulder in a crosshatch pattern, leaving about an inch of space between the cuts. Be sure to slice through the layer of fat below the skin, but not into the meat itself.

Rub the pork all over with the salt mixture, then place in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Add the marinade, pushing it into the nooks and crannies and pressing out as much air as possible, and seal. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 12 to 24 hours.

Let the pork sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Reserve the marinade.

Place the pork shoulder fat-cap side up in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 3/4 cup of the marinade and the water. Cover and roast (middle rack) for 3 to 5 hours, until the meat is fork-tender. Use tongs or large forks to flip the roast every hour or so, and use some of the marinade mixture to baste the meat. Add a tablespoon of water or two if the pan is dry. Finish cooking for last hour with fat-cap side up.

To help crisp the fat cap on top of the pork and further brown the meat, uncover the pot and increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the meat in a large bowl or on a large cutting board with a channel that can catch the juices. Use two forks to shred the roast pork into bite-size pieces. Add 1/2 cup of the pan juices (or as much as you like), and stir to incorporate.

VARIATION: To make the pernil in an Instant Pot, ask the butcher to remove the bone from pork shoulder and cut the meat into four equal pieces; reserve the bone. Follow the marinating directions above.

Remove the shoulder from the marinade and shake dry; reserve the marinade.

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to the Instant Pot. Set to SAUTE on high heat; add the hunks of meat and sear them on all sides, about 3 minutes per piece, in batches, then transfer them to a plate.

Add 1 cup of the reserved marinade to the Instant Pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape away any blackened bits. Turn off the heat.

Arrange the hunks of pork around in the pot, then baste with the reserved marinade.

Add the bone, cover and cook at high pressure for 80 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Cook the marinade over medium heat until slightly reduced; skim fat and season, as needed.

Add the pork and shred it with forks.

Crisp the pork under the broiler, if desired.

Blender Tomato Soup

1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove ga1/2 cup chopped onion
1 slice white or whole-wheat bread (crusts removed), torn into 1-inch pieces
28 ounces canned, no-salt-added whole peeled tomatoes, plus their juices
1 cup no-salt-added vegetable broth
1 teaspoon seasoning blend, such as Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the oil, garlic, onion, bread pieces, the tomatoes and their juices, the broth and seasoning blend in a blender; begin to blend on low, then gradually increase to high until pureed and smooth.

Pour into a medium saucepan; cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring a few times. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, as needed.

Serve warm.

Meatballs and Sauce

FOR THE MEATBALLS
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for your hands
1 small onion, cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 slices white/country bread, preferably crusts removed, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
2 pounds ground veal
2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
1 pound ground pork shoulder (butt)
8 ounces finely chopped or ground prosciutto
1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese, preferably homemade (see related recipe)
6 large eggs
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups “00” flour, for dusting

FOR THE SAUCE
28 ounces canned whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
A few fresh basil leaves (optional)

For the meatballs: Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion, garlic, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook just until the onion and garlic have softened but not browned; transfer to a very large mixing bowl.

Combine the bread pieces and milk in a medium bowl; let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the milk is completely absorbed.

Add to the large bowl the ground veal, ground beef, ground pork shoulder, prosciutto, pecorino-Romano, ricotta, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and the soaked bread pieces; use your clean hands to blend the mixture until well incorporated.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the “00” flour in a wide, shallow bowl.

Grease your hands with a little oil. Form the meatball mixture into 65 meatballs of equal size (shell-on walnuts). Coat each one lightly with “00” flour, dividing them between two parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheets. Roast on the upper and lower racks for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the meatballs are browned and cooked through. Discard any remaining flour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Use a food mill to puree the tomatoes. Discard the seeds; reserve the can juices for another use, if desired.

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano. Cook just until the garlic starts to brown, then stir in the tomato puree. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, then taste, and season lightly with kosher or sea salt and cracked black pepper. Stir in 6 to 8 basil leaves, if desired. Turn off the heat. Transfer 30 of the meatballs to the saucepan, turning them until coated. Cool and reserve the remaining meatballs for another use.

Creamy Greek Chicken Noodle Soup

1 large carrot
1/2 small onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken broth
1 cup thin dried egg noodles (sometimes called soup noodles)
1 lemon
2 large eggs
One 4-to-6-ounce chunk cooked boneless, skinless turkey breast (may substitute cooked chicken)
Handful fresh dill

Cut the carrot and onion into small dice; piling them together is okay.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the vegetables. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes or until the carrots have softened.

Increase the heat to medium-high; add the broth and bring to a boil, then stir in the noodles. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until the noodles are almost done (al dente), then reduce the heat to low. Taste, and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Cut the lemon in half. Squeeze the juice, without any seeds, into a medium heatproof bowl. Whisk in the eggs until the mixture is smooth and well blended. Gradually ladle about 1/2 cup of the broth mixture into the egg-lemon mixture, whisking to incorporate and temper it. (It’s okay if a few noodles sneak in.) Gradually ladle in another 1/2 cup. Remove the saucepan from the heat.

Drizzle the tempered egg-lemon mixture into the saucepan of broth and noodles, whisking constantly for 2 minutes. The soup should come together and look creamy.

Shred the turkey or cut it into bite-size chunks. Finely chop the dill. Add both to the soup. Taste, and add a final pinch each of salt and pepper as needed.

Divide among individual bowls. Serve warm.

Orange Chicken Salad

For the salad:
4 cups leaf lettuce chopped
2 cups cooked chicken sliced or diced (about 2 small breasts)
2 slices cooked bacon diced
1 cup fresh raspberries
2 fresh oranges peeled and cut into segments (supremed)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/3 cup goat cheese crumbles

For the salad dressing:
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp honey
Pinch fresh minced ginger
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Prepare salad dressing by combining all ingredients in a small bowl or jar. Whisk or shake to combine. Set aside.

Line a salad bowl with the chopped lettuce. Top with chicken, bacon, raspberries, oranges, walnuts and goat cheese crumbles. Drizzle with salad dressing. Toss to coat. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie

8 ounces unsalted butter (2 sticks; 225g), soft but cool, about 65°F (18°C), plus more for greasing skillet
4 1/2 ounces white sugar (2/3 cup; 125g)
8 ounces light brown sugar (1 cup, gently packed; 225g)
1 ounce malted milk powder (about 1/4 cup; 25g); see note
1/2 ounce vanilla extract (1 tablespoon; 15g)
2 teaspoons (8g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use about half as much by volume or the same weight
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 large egg (about 1 3/4 ounces; 50g), straight from the fridge
12 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal (2 3/4 cups, spooned; 355g)
12 ounces assorted dark, milk, or white chocolate (not commercial chips), roughly chopped (about 2 cups; 395g)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 400°F (200°C).

Combine butter, white sugar, brown sugar, malted milk powder, vanilla, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and nutmeg in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low to moisten, then increase to medium and beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

With mixer running, add egg and continue beating only until smooth.

Reduce speed to low and add flour all at once, followed by chopped chocolate, then mix to form a stiff dough.

Generously butter a 10-inch cast iron skillet, then fill with cookie dough and press into an even layer.

Bake until puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes. Cool until crumb is set, about 45 minutes, before serving.

Enjoy warm or cover with foil and store up to 3 days at room temperature.

Melting Potatoes

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted melted butter
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (chopped fresh rosemary is also fine)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 to 4 smashed garlic cloves

Heat your oven to 500°F with the rack in upper-middle position. The hot oven gives the potatoes their deep golden color and crispy exterior, so don’t cheat this part.

Peel potatoes and slice them into 1-inch thick rounds. This is likely thicker than you think, and it may feel unnatural. But we’re not going for crispy potato chips here. We want hefty, decadent slabs of potato.

Toss the rounds with butter, herbs, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a 13-by-9 inch metal baking dish and arrange in a single layer. Don’t use a glass pan, which can burst under such high heat.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip the potatoes, then bake 15 minutes more. Remove the dish from the oven and add stock and garlic. Return to the oven until most of the stock is absorbed, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter and pour the remaining liquid in the pan overtop. Serve warm to very lucky friends.

Rafanata

2 peeled russet potatoes
Olive oil
6 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons horseradish
Salt and pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, then toss intge potatoes. Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes, then fish them out of the water and turn off the heat. Let the potatoes cool a bit, then move them to a cutting board. Slice the potatoes very thinly (think less than 1/4-inch).

Heat a large skillet with plenty of olive oil over medium high heat. Fry the potato slices until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Depending on how large your pan is, you may need to fry the potatoes in shifts. When the potatoes are golden brown, turn them out onto a plate lined with paper towels. Wipe out the skillet and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with water, Parmesan cheese, and horseradish. Season the mixture with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper. Drop the fried potato slices into the egg mixture and stir until fully incorporated.

Heat 2 tablespoons more olive oil in the skillet over medium, then pour in the egg and potato mixture. Let the mixture cook for at least 5 minutes before checking underneath to make sure it’s cooking. Now, with confidence, flip the rafanata out onto a plate so the cooked side is exposed (the best way to do this is to place a large dinner plate over the pan, then flip the pan, catching the rafanata). Slide the rafanata back into the pan, cooked side up, and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Slide the rafanata out onto a serving plate and slice into wedges. Serve with sour cream, mustard, or solo.

Sesame Ginger Pork Meatball Soup with Bok Choy

Meatballs:
1 egg
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs can use regular
1 clove garlic minced
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
3/4-1 lb ground pork

Soup broth:
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp sesame oil
4 small carrots diced
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
1/4 cup soy sauce
1-2 tsp Asian Chili Garlic Sauce to taste

To finish soup:
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 cups thinly sliced bok choy leaves
2 green onions thinly sliced, divided

Preheat oven to 400F (205C). Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or greased foil. Set aside.

Prepare meatballs: Beat egg in a large bowl. Stir in panko, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Add ground pork and stir to incorporate seasonings into pork. Shape meatballs using a rounded 1 tsp measuring spoon. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until juices run clear and the meatballs are browned in spots. Remove from oven and set aside. *You can make ahead and refrigerate for up to 1 day or freeze for longer.

Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add sesame oil and carrots and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until carrots are softened. Add ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add broth, water, soy sauce and chili garlic sauce. Bring to a boil over high heat, them reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until the carrots are tender.

Add meatballs, rice vinegar and 1/2 of the green onions to soup and allow to cook until meatballs are heated through. Turn off heat under soup. Stir in bok choy until just wilted. Serve garnished with remaining green onion.

Chicken Meatball Noodle Soup

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 cups chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1 sprig rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

FOR THE CHICKEN MEATBALLS

1 pound ground chicken
1/3 cup Panko
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, Panko, Parmesan, oregano, basil, parsley, garlic powder and red pepper flakes, if using; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 3/4-to-1-inch meatballs, forming about 25-30 meatballs.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add meatballs, in batches, and cook until all sides are browned, about 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the stockpot. Add garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Whisk in chicken stock and bay leaves; bring to a boil. Stir in orzo, rosemary and meatballs; reduce heat and simmer until orzo is tender and meatballs are cooked through, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and parsley; season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve immediately.

Steak au Poivre

4 (6- to 8-ounce; 170 to 225g) boneless medallion steaks, such as filet mignon
Kosher salt
1 ounce (30g) whole black peppercorns, plus more as needed, divided
3 tablespoons (45ml) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
2 thyme sprigs
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 large shallot (about 1 1/2 ounces; 40g), minced
2 tablespoons (30ml) brandy or cognac
3/4 cup (175ml) homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup (175ml) heavy cream or 6 tablespoons (90ml) crème fraîche (see note)
1 teaspoon (5ml) Dijon mustard

Season steaks all over with kosher salt. Set on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and allow to air-dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack peppercorns into rough halves and quarters. You can use a pepper mill set to its coarsest setting (though not all pepper mills will crack coarsely enough); a mortar and pestle (though some peppercorns will jump out as you try to crush them); or, perhaps best, a large mallet, meat pounder, or skillet to crush them (wrap the peppercorns in a clean kitchen towel first to contain them).

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread cracked peppercorns on a plate or in another shallow dish and firmly press one side of each steak into the pepper to encrust it in an even layer. Set each steak aside, peppercorn side up. Reserve any remaining cracked peppercorns. (Exactly how much pepper adheres will depend on the dimensions of the steaks. You should have some pepper remaining, but if not, you can crack more to completely coat one side of each steak.)

In a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add steaks, peppercorn side down, and cook until peppercorns are well toasted, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn steaks, trying not to break the peppercorn crust. Add butter, thyme, and garlic and cook, basting steaks with a spoon, until steaks are well seared on the second side. Remove from heat.

Transfer steaks to a rimmed baking sheet. Using an instant-read thermometer, check the internal temperature of the steaks; if they’ve reached 125°F (52°C), they’re ready to be served medium-rare. If they haven’t reached their final doneness temperature (which will depend heavily on the dimensions of the steaks), transfer to oven and continue cooking until the correct internal temperature is reached. Either way, allow steaks to rest for 5 minutes once the final doneness temperature is reached.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet and discard garlic and thyme. Add shallot and any reserved cracked peppercorns, return to medium heat, and cook, stirring, until shallot is tender, about 2 minutes.

Add brandy or cognac. (To prevent an unexpected flare-up if working over gas, you can turn off the burner, add the alcohol, then reignite the burner.) Cook until raw alcohol smell has burned off and brandy has almost completely evaporated.

Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in cream or crème fraîche, then simmer, stirring often, until sauce has reduced enough to glaze a spoon. Whisk in mustard. Season with salt.

Arrange steaks on plates and pour sauce on top. Serve with French fries, mashed potatoes, or other sides of your liking.

Muussels: Mussels with Tomato and Garlic Broth

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cups drained canned tomatoes in thick puree, chopped (from one 28-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Salt, if needed

Garlic Toast (optional)

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, tomatoes, thyme, and red-pepper flakes. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Discard any mussels that have broken shells or that don’t clamp shut when tapped. Add the mussels to the pot. Cover; bring to a boil. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, just until the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Remove the open mussels. Continue to boil, uncovering the pot as necessary to remove the mussels as soon as their shells open. Discard any that do not open.

Stir the black pepper into the broth. Taste the broth and, if needed, add salt. Ladle the broth over the mussels and serve with the garlic toast.

Doro Wat (Ethiopian Chicken Stew)

2 1/2 to 3 lbs chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces, or 3 chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons niter kibbeh, if you have it (ethiopian spiced butter), or regular butter
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups yellow onions finely minced to a chunky puree in food processor
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely minced ginger
1/4 cup berbere (see recipe here) (or you can buy it HERE)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup Tej (Ethiopian honey wine), if you have it, or white wine mixed with 1 teaspoon honey
1 cup chicken stock
4 hard-boiled eggs, pierced all over with fork about ¼ inch deep

Place the chicken pieces in a bowl and pour lemon juice over. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the niter kibbeh or butter along with the olive oil in a Dutch oven. Add the onions and saute, covered, over low heat for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic, ginger, and 1 tablespoon butter and continue to saute, covered, for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the berbere and the 2 remaining tablespoons of butter and saute, covered, over low heat for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken, broth, salt and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Adjust the seasonings, adding more berbere according to heat preference. Add the boiled eggs and simmer on low heat, covered, for another 15 minutes.

Serve hot with injera or rice.

Ethiopian Beef Tibs

5 tablespoons niter kibbeh, or plain unsalted butter
2 medium onions, chopped medium (about 2 cups)
3 inch knob ginger, minced, about 2 tablespoons
6 medium cloves garlic, minced, about 2 tablespoons
2 tablespoons berbere (see note)
Kosher salt
1 pound beef sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes, trimmed of excess fat and connective tissue
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice, to taste

Melt niter kibbeh or butter in a heavy saucepan on medium heat, then add onions, ginger, garlic, and berbere. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are dark, ruddy, and golden, about 30 minutes. Onions should be at a low sizzle during cooking process. Adjust heat accordingly. Transfer to food processor and blend until not quite a purée. Return to saucepan, season to taste with salt, and keep warm.

Season beef on all sides generously with kosher salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch cast iron or stainless steel skillet over high heat high until lightly smoking. Add beef in a single layer, leaving plenty of open space in the pan (brown in batches if you don’t have a large enough skillet). Cook without moving until well-seared on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip meat cubes with tongs and cook on second side until well seared. Continue to cook meat, stirring and flipping occasionally until desired level of doneness is reached. For rare meat, transfer to saucepan immediately. For medium, cook an additional one to two minutes before transferring to saucepan. For well done, cook up to five more minutes before transferring to saucepan.

Toss beef with warm sauce, stir in lemon juice, and serve immediately.

Key Wat (Ethiopian Beef Stew)

1 lb beef cut into 1 inch cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoon olive oil separated
1 small onion diced
2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon berbere (less if you’re sensitive to spice)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1-2 teaspoon sugar
2 cups beef stock or 2 cups water and a beef bullion

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
Season the beef with the salt and pepper.

Brown the beef in batches in the Dutch oven, removing to a plate to catch its juices.

Without cleaning the Dutch oven, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onions and cook until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

Add the tomato paste, berbere seasoning, and sugar to the onions and garlic.
Cook until a thick paste forms, about 3 minutes. Add the beef stock and beef and bring it to a boil.

Reduce the heat to medium-low to simmer.

Simmer the beef for at least an hour, up to two.

Remove the beef from the cooking liquid and shred it by pulling the chunks apart with two forks.

Add the beef back to the stock mixture and simmer for another 15 minutes.

Niter Kibbeh (Ethiopian Spiced Butter)

1 pound of unsalted butter
1 small onion, minced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
2 inches of ginger, peeled and sliced thin
2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon, or 1 teaspoon ground
8 crushed cardamom pods, or 1/2 teaspoon ground
1 teaspoon of fenugreek, whole or ground
1 teaspoon of coriander, whole or ground
2 cloves, or 1/8 teaspoon ground
2 bay leaves

In a saucepan, slowly melt the butter on low heat. Meanwhile, toast the spices. If grinding, toast beforehand.

Add all the spices to the butter, and reduce the heat to a bare simmer. Keep an eye on the pot every few minutes to make sure it’s not boiling as the water evaporates. The milk solids will rise to the surface of the pot as the water cooks out.

Let the butter simmer, with just a few bubbles popping through, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Like a good stock, longer cooking is better, but it needs to be gentle so the milk solids don’t burn. If they do, the niter kibbeh will be irreparably bitter.

When the solids have turned a pleasant brown and plenty of time has past, line a mesh strainer with a cheesecloth or paper towel and place it over a small storage container. Strain the butter well, making sure there are no milk solids or spices in the final product. Your niter kibbeh will last for months in the refrigerator. The larger a batch you make, the less butter you’ll lose to straining.