Dhaba Chicken Curry

3 onions, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of ground cloves
Pinch of ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 cup tomato sauce
Four 6-ounce chicken breast halves on the bone, skinned
Salt
1 cup water
Garam masala, for sprinkling
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

In a food processor, chop the onions. Add the garlic and ginger and process until they are finely chopped.

In a medium, enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the vegetable oil. Add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and cook over low heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the onion mixture and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add the turmeric and tomato sauce and simmer over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.

Season the chicken breasts with salt and add them to the casserole. Coat the chicken with the sauce. Add the water, cover and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, turning a few times, until the chicken is white throughout, about 10 minutes. Season the chicken curry with salt.

Transfer the chicken and sauce to a serving bowl. Sprinkle garam masala on top, garnish with the cilantro and serve.
Serve With

Basmati rice or naan.

Pasta alla Norma

1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into ¾-inch cubes
Kosher salt
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
12 ounces penne rigate or mezze rigatoni pasta
8 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 pints grape tomatoes
2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
2 ounces ricotta salata, shredded

Heat the oven to 475°F with a rack in the upper-middle position. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1½ teaspoons salt and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Spread in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet and roast until browned and tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt; cook until the pasta is al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.

While the eggplant roasts and the water heats, in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and 1½ teaspoons salt, then cover and cook, occasionally shaking the pan, until the tomatoes begin to release their liquid, about 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar, then use the back of a large spoon to crush the tomatoes. Cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring, until the mixture breaks down into a lightly thickened sauce, 8 to 9 minutes.

Peach Bread Pudding with Warm Brown Sugar Sauce

Bread Pudding:
1/2 a loaf of day-old unsliced bakery bread
3-4 peaches, peeled and sliced
3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
4 tsp white sugar, for topping

Brown Sugar Sauce:
1/4 cup salted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350° and grease 4 individual dishes or an 8×8-inch baking pan. Set on to a baking sheet and set aside.

Peel peaches and cut in to slices. Set aside.

Slice bread in to thin 3/4-inch slices or cube. If using slices, you’ll want your bread pieces to be about an inch higher than the height of your baking dish, so figure out how tall they should be and cut off the bottom of the slices to that height. (*You won’t need the part you cut off the bottom, but you can use them by cutting them in to cubes and making some croutons with them!). Then cut each of the trimmed slices in half from top to bottom to make two pieces. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup white sugar, cream, milk and vanilla.

Place your bread slices in to your baking dishes (or disby slightly overlapping them (crust side facing the side of the disand allowing them to tilt back a bit. If using cubes, place in your dish or dishes.

Place some peach slices in the gaps between the bread. Pour some of the egg mixture over the bread and in to the dishes, just until it reaches the top edge of the dish or until it nears but doesn’t cover the top of the bread.

Allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, then top up with remaining egg mixture, just until it reaches the edge of the dish again or near the top of the bread. You may not need it all.

Lightly brush the top of the bread with a bit of the egg mixture, then sprinkle a heaped 1 tsp. of white sugar over the top of each dish, especially on the top crust edge.

Place dishes on baking sheet (to catch any overflow!) in to preheated 350° oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden and set. (*You may want to check at 25-30 minutes in case it’s browning too quickly, in which case, just lay a sheet of aluminum foil over top while it finishes baking.

Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before eating. If not eating right away, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.

While puddings are baking, make the brown sugar sauce by melting butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, cream and a pinch of salt and stir to combine.

Allow to come to a boil, stirring regularly. Once it comes to a boil, cook another few minutes, stirring regularly, then remove from heat and pour in to a bowl or pitcher.

Cover and refrigerate if not using right away. Can be re-warmed in the microwave/saucepan to serve.

Serve puddings at warm, at room temperature or slightly re-warmed in the microwave, topped with warm brown sugar sauce (*You’ll want to place your small dishes on a plate, as the brown sugar sauce will most likely spill over the sides when poured on top).

Peaches and Cream Cake

2/3 cup white sugar (scant 2/3 cup)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp whole milk at room temperature
6-7 fresh peaches

Grease an 8 or 9-inch springform pan (if you don’t have a springform, use a regular round 8 or 9-inch cake pan, but note that you will not be able to remove in one piece from this type of pan). If you’d like to later remove the cake from the base, be sure to line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Sprinkle the inside of the greased pan with a bit of brown sugar. Wrap the outside of the springform pan in a piece of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 355° F.

Peel peaches and cut flesh off sides, then cut in to chunks (don’t have to be too small). Set aside.

Melt the butter and let it cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In the meantime, whisk the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the vanilla and (coolemelted butter until combined. Add the milk and then the flour sifted with baking powder. Gently fold peaches into the batter.

Pour in to the prepared pan. (*You’ll know you have enough peaches if they poke above the batter when you pour it in the pan. If not, maybe add another). If you like, you can sprinkle the top with white sugar before baking for a sweet top crust.

Bake in preheated 355° oven for 50-55 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, refrigerate in the pan if you are making ahead. To eat right away, run a knife around the outside and remove the outer ring. Slice and serve cool, at room temperature or slightly re-warmed, garnished with a dusting of icing sugar or dress it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.

Peaches and Cream Crumble Cake

For the cake:
2 cups cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter cold and cut into 6-8 pieces
3 medium peaches peeled and cut into thin slices
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream 35%, table cream (18%) or half and half cream (10%)
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch salt

For the crumble topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
Icing/Confectioner’s Sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 360° F. and grease an 8-inch springform pan. If you want to easily remove the cake from the base to a serving platter easily, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, as well. Set on a baking sheet and set aside.

Make the cake: In a food processor, add the flour, sugar and baking powder. Pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is combined with the flour. You’ll end up with a very dry mixture, like sand almost.

Sprinkle about 3/4 of this mixture over the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Don’t press it down at all, but move it around a bit so it goes up the sides just a bit. Scatter the prepared peach slices over the crumbs (avoiding the sides), then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the top. Again, do not press down. Leave it as is. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

When cake base has baked 20 minutes, remove from oven and carefully pour the egg mixture over the top. Return cake to oven and cook for a further 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the crumble topping. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Add melted butter to the mixture, just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture comes together in large clumps. Place the bowl into the freezer until needed.

When the cake has baked for a further 25 minutes, remove from oven. (The egg mixture should have set somewhat so that the crumbs won’t sink into the cake. If it is too liquidy still, return to the oven for a few more minutes.) Evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top. Return to the oven and bake a further 25-30 minutes. Note that the cake will be sunken in the middle, even when it’s “done”. As long as it’s not jiggly and a tester inserted in the centre comes out with just crumbs (not liquid), it’s ready to take out of the oven. It should have bake about 70-75 total, including all 3 steps.

Allow to cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife around the outside and carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Allow to cool more before removing from the base.

Dust with powdered/icing sugar, if desired.

Skillet Peach and Blueberry Cake (with other fruit variations)

For the cake batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup butter softened
3/4 cup brown sugar packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup sour cream
1 peach peeled, pitted and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup fresh blueberries or a bit more, if you like
For the top of the cake:
2 peaches unpeeled and cut into thin slices
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Turbinado white or brown sugar, for sprinkling over-top

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the brown sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix in. Scrape down side of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture and mix until smooth and well combined.

Fold chunks of peach and 1/2 cup blueberries in to the batter, then spread the batter into a greased skillet (10-inch top diameter works well) or a 9-inch cake or springform pan. Arrange peach slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter, around the outside of the cake. Fill the centre with a mound of blueberries.

Bake in pre-heated 350 F. oven for 45-50 minutes, or until deep golden and a tester inserted near the centre comes out clean.

Pickled Peaches with Burrata

3 ripe peaches cut into thin slices
1/4 small red onion cut into thin slices
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups mixed greens Spring Mix, arugula, spinach etc.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 oz. burrata or fresh mozzarella cut or torn into pieces

In a large bowl, combine vinegar and sugar. Add red onion slices with a little salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Allow to stand at room temperature about 10 minutes.

Add peach slices and allow them to “pickle” for a bit as well. Let sit in vinegar from 1-5 minutes, depending on how pickled you’d like them. Somewhere around 3 minutes gives a nice blend of sweet and sour. Drain off pickling liquid, reserving the liquid.

Add greens to the bowl and drizzle with olive oil and about 2 Tbsp. of the reserved pickling liquid. Toss to combine.

Place salad on plates and place pieces of burrata on top. Season with salt and pepper.

Grilled Potato Salad with Creme Fraiche and Dill

5 medium red, white or yellow fleshed potatoes, washed but not peeled
2 Tbsp. olive oil for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 c Creme Fraiche
1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
1 Tbsp. water
2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

Prepare the dressing by combining the creme fraiche and grainy mustard in a bowl. Add a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Now, add just enough water to thin the mixture so that it can drop from a spoon, about 1 Tbsp. or a bit more, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Prepare the potatoes by cutting lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices, discarding the rounded outside slices. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add the potato slices and boil until just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain, then remove the slices to an even layer on a baking sheet. Brush top side of the potato slices with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat BBQ or grill pan to high heat. Place slices on the grill, oiled side down and cook until lightly charred, on the underside, about 5 minutes. Before flipping, brush the top side of the potatoes with more oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Flip potatoes and cook the other side until lightly charred, a further 5 minutes.

Remove potatoes to a cutting board. Slice in half lengthwise and toss into a serving bowl or skillet. Sprinkle with a bit more salt and pepper. Drizzle with creme fraiche dressing and garnish with chopped fresh dill.

Charred Corn and Peppers with Crema

3 cobs corn kernels cut off (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 poblano pepper diced
1/2 red sweet pepper diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pickled Onions:
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 red onion sliced

Crema: (Optional)
2 Tbsp sour cream
Juice of 1/4 lime
Pinch cumin or cayenne (optional)
Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper

To serve:
Crumbled feta cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro

Do ahead: Make quick pickled onions by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and set on the counter for at least 1 hour before using. (Do way ahead! Make well ahead, cover and refrigerate. These will keep in the fridge for at least a week!)

Place skillet in cold oven. Preheat oven to 400 F., leaving the skillet in the preheating oven to heat. Allow skillet to stay in the oven 5-10 after oven is preheated.

Meanwhile, cut kernels off corn and combine in a bowl with the diced peppers. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir well to combine.

When skillet is good and hot, carefully remove from oven and add corn mixture. Quickly spread in an even layer and place in oven. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once half way through. Remove skillet and stir mixture. Turn oven on to broil and place under the broiler (about 6 inches from heat) and allow to broil until corn/peppers begin to char (about 5 minutes, but watch closely so it doesn’t burn). Remove from oven and allow to cool to warm.m

To serve, top with crumbled feta cheese, a scattering of pickled onions, chopped cilantro and a drizzle of crema, if desired.

Peach Raspberry Almond Cake

Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups + 1 1/2 Tbsp self-raising flour
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt omit if you used salted butter
2 ripe but firm peaches cut into 12 large wedges (peeled or not, as you like)
3 1/2 oz. fresh raspberries
1/4 cup flaked almonds

Garnish:
Icing/Confectioners’ sugar

Line a 7×11-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. (Alternately, you could use a 9×9-inch baking pan. As cake will be a bit thinner, expect baking time to be a bit less, so adjust accordingly.)

Preheat oven to 355 F.

Prepare your peach wedges by cutting 6 generous wedges from each peach and set aside.

On the stovetop, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla and eggs and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the flour, ground almonds and salt.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Lay the peach slices on top 3 wide and 4 long, so that each finished piece of cake with have a full peach slice on top. Scatter the raspberries over-top, then sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, then loosely cover top with a piece of aluminum foil. Bake a further 15-20 minutes, or until a tested comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack.
.
When mostly cooled, cut into 12 squares, dividing the cake into thirds from the short end and quarters along the longer side.

Enjoy slightly warm or allow to cool completely. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

Peach Crisp Buttermilk Biscuits

Topping:
1/4 cup large-flake, old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp butter melted

Biscuits:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt (3/4 tsp if using salted butter)
1/4 cup butter cold and cut in to 8 pieces
3/4 cup + buttermilk * cold and well shaken
Milk or cream for brushing tops

Filling:
2 medium firm, ripe peaches peeled and diced
1 Tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Glaze (Optional):
1 cup icing/confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp + milk

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Prepare topping mixture by combining all ingredients and stirring until moistened. Set aside. Peel and dice peaches and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together well the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add cold butter chunks to flour mixture. Using your fingertips, rub the butter in to the flour mixture until you have coarse crumbs with butter pieces no larger than a pea. Add about 2/3 of the cold buttermilk and using a fork, stir in to mixture until flour. Add more buttermilk, AS NEEDED, until the flour is just evenly moistened (but not wet).

Turn dough out on to floured surface. Gather the dough in to a mound and fold it over on to itself 2 or 3 times, until dough is one moist piece. Form in to a ball. Using a floured hand, press dough down until you have an even 1/2-inch thick piece of dough. Scatter diced peaches over 1/2 of the dough. Dust flour and cinnamon over-top of peaches. Fold the other 1/2 of the dough over the 1/2 with the peaches and press down lightly.

Using a 2-inch cutter, cut rounds from the dough and place on to parchment lined baking sheet, allowing several inches between each biscuit. Take scraps of dough and re-form in to a 1-inch thick piece and cut more. You should get about 6 biscuits. Brush tops of biscuits with a bit of milk or cream. Divide prepared topping mixture evenly on top of biscuits. Sweep away any that falls on the parchment (so it doesn’t burn).

Bake in preheated 425F. oven for 15-17 minutes or until lightly golden and just cooked through. Remove from oven, then remove biscuits from baking sheet on to a cooling rack. Allow to cool slightly, to enjoy warm or cool completely and store in an airtight container.

If you’d like to add the sweet glaze, combine the icing sugar and milk until you have a just pourable consistency. You may need to add more milk. Place a baking sheet under your cooling rack to catch the drips and pour your glaze over-top of the biscuits.

**Make your own buttermilk by adding 2 tsp vinegar or lemon juice to a 3/4 cup milk and allow to stand 5 minutes.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits (Red Lobster Biscuits)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

FOR THE TOPPING

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper, if using.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and butter. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Gently fold in cheese.

Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, scoop the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
For the topping, whisk together butter, parsley and garlic powder in a small bowl. Working one at a time, brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter mixture.

Serve immediately.

Bacon Cheddar Chive Biscuits

6 slices bacon, diced
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, frozen
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Drain excess fat; transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

In a large bowl, combine bacon, flour, cheese, chives, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Grate butter using the large holes of a box grater. Stir into the flour mixture.

Add buttermilk and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.

Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut out 10-12 rounds using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter.

Place biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet; place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove biscuits from freezer. Place into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm.

Feta Dill Biscuits

4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup unsalted butter, frozen
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

In a large bowl, combine flour, feta, parsley, dill, basil, green onions, lemon zest, baking powder, salt, baking soda and pepper.

Grate butter using the large holes of a box grater. Stir into the flour mixture.

Add buttermilk and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.
Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut out 10-12 rounds using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter. Place biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet; place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove biscuits from freezer. Place into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm.

Lowcountry Shrimp and Grits

CHEESE GRITS
4 1/2 cup water
1 cup stoneground grits
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons butter 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste

SHRIMP
3 bacon strips, chopped
Peanut oil, as needed
1 pound extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tablespoons flour
4 ounces sliced mushroom (1 1/4 cups)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, or to taste
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for garnish

Grits:

Bring 4 1/2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat. Whisk in the grits and salt, reduce heat to low, and cook at a gently simmer for 35 to 40 minutes or until the grits are thick, stirring occasionally. Stir more often as the grits thicken.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the cheddar, parmesan, butter, pepper, and Tabasco, and stir until smooth. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep warm over very low heat.

Shrimp:

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook the bacon for 6 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Transfer with a slotted spoon to drain on paper towels and leave the fat in the skillet. If there is less than 1 1/2 tablespoons of bacon fat, make up the difference with peanut oil.

Toss the shrimp with the flour until lightly coated, shaking off any excess. In the skillet with the reserved fat, cook the shrimp over medium-high heat for 1 minute or until they begin to turn pink.

Add the mushrooms and bacon and cook for 1 minute. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds (do not let the garlic brown). Stir in the hot sauce, lemon juice, and scallions and remove from the heat.

Divide the grits among 4 shallow bowls and top with the shrimp mixture. Garnish with additional scallions and serve at once.

Cheese Grits

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup old-fashioned grits
4 ounces extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (1 1/2 cups)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken broth to a boil.

Add the garlic and slowly stir in the grits.

Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook, stirring frequently, until the grits are tender, 20 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the cheese, butter and cream.

Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Bowl

Marinade:
1/4 cup stirred coconut milk (You will use the rest of a 14 oz./400 ml can in the stock flavouring below)
3 Tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
2 Tbsp sambal oelek
8 skin-on/bone-in chicken thighs

Stock:
2 cups Chicken stock
5 cloves garlic, peeled and quartered
2 pieces large carrots, cut in to 4 pieces
1 large onion, peeled and quartered
1-inch piece fresh ginger, thinly sliced

Stock flavouring:
2 Tbsp soy sauce
5 tsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar
1 cup stirred coconut milk (or remainder of 14oz/400ml can)

To serve:
8 oz rice noodles
2 cups thinly sliced English cucumber
1/2 cup fresh cilantro (or flat parsley) leaves
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped peanuts, salted or unsalted
slices fresh lime
Sambal oelek

Marinate the chicken: In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup coconut milk, lemongrass and sambal oelek and stir to combine. Remove the skin from the chicken thighs and discard. (Use a paper towel to grab an edge and pull off). Place thighs in a large plastic storage bag and pour in marinade, tossing to coat chicken. Seal and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 8 hours).

Once chicken has marinated, remove chicken from marinade (you can discard marinade), and place chicken in a large pot or Dutch oven on the stove-top. Add the stock ingredients – the chicken stock, garlic, carrots, onion and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low (just enough to maintain a slow simmer), COVER and allow to barely for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, checking once in a while to make sure it’s just barely simmering, until chicken falls apart easily.

SLOW COOKER INSTRUCTIONS: Place chicken and stock ingredients in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for about 7 hours. Proceed as detailed below.

Remove chicken from stock and set aside. Strain remaining broth, discarding the solids and returning the clear broth to the pot. Add the stock flavouring ingredients – the soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Keep stock warm over low heat.

Remove meat from chicken and discard bones. Shred chicken in to bite-sized pieces. Set aside.

To serve: Divide noodles between serving bowls. Arrange sections on top of chicken, cucumber slices and peanuts. Garnish with green onion and cilantro. Pour 1/2 cup of the stock over-top of each bowl. Garnish with fresh lime slices and a dollop of Sambal Oelek in the middle for a little heat, if you’d like.

Vietnamese Meatball Lettuce Wraps

3 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided
1 pound ground pork
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus sprigs, to serve
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
6 scallions, white and light green parts minced, dark green parts thinly sliced
5 tablespoons fish sauce, divided
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons white sugar, divided
1/2 cup lime juice
1-2 serrano chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled and shredded (1 cup)
Lettuce leaves, to serve

Coat a large plate with 1 teaspoon of the oil; set aside. In a medium bowl, combine the pork, 3 tablespoons water, cilantro, pepper, minced scallions, 2 tablespoons of the fish sauce and the 2 teaspoons sugar.

Mix vigorously with a rubber spatula until thoroughly combined, 20 to 30 seconds. The mixture will be soft and sticky. With lightly moistened hands, form the mixture into 20 balls and place them on the prepared plate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the lime juice, the 3 remaining tablespoons fish sauce, the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and the chilies until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.

Line another plate with paper towels. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil until beginning to smoke. Add the meatballs and cook undisturbed until the bottoms are golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a spatula, turn each meatball and continue to cook, adjusting the heat as needed and occasionally turning the meatballs, until golden brown all over, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the prepared plate, tent with foil and let rest 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, toss the shredded carrots with 2 tablespoons of the lime juice sauce. Serve the meatballs with the carrots, cilantro sprigs, sliced scallions and lettuce leaves for wrapping. The remaining sauce can be spooned onto the wraps.

Thai Skirt Steak with Tomatoes (Yam Neua)

1 large shallot, sliced into very thin rings (about 1/3 cup)
3 tablespoons lime juice from 2 limes
4 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 2 to 3 pieces
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups (about 7 ounces) red or yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus cilantro sprigs for garnish (optional)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint

In a large bowl, combine the shallots and lime juice and let sit for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons of sugar, the salt, and white pepper.
Pat the steak dry with paper towels, then rub all over with the sugar-salt mixture.

Prepare a grill for very high heat. For a charcoal grill, spread a full chimney of hot coals evenly over half of the grill bed. For a gas grill, set all burners to an even, high flame. Heat the grill until hot, about 5 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.

Meanwhile, add the fish sauce, pepper flakes, and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar to the shallot-lime juice mixture and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Thinly slice the steak against the grain, then transfer to the bowl along with any accumulated juices.

Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and mint and fold to combine.

Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired, and serve.

Grill the steak (directly over the coals, if using a charcoal grill) until charred all over and cooked to desired doneness, 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare (depending on the thickness of the steak). Transfer the steak to a carving board and let rest for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the fish sauce, pepper flakes, and remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar to the shallot-lime juice mixture and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Thinly slice the steak against the grain, then transfer to the bowl along with any accumulated juices.

Add the tomatoes, cilantro, and mint and fold to combine.

Transfer to a platter, garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired, and serve.

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.