Mexican Rice

3 tablespoons oil
2 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice (450g)
3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock, or water + 1 bouillon cube (710 ml)
2 tablespoons tomato paste or 1 cup plain tomato sauce
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

First, heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a deep skillet set over medium-high heat. Add the rice and stir constantly until the rice begins to turn golden brown. The toastier your rice, the tastier it will be (information gleaned from my friend, via her grandma of course).

Next, add the chicken stock. The mixture will bubble up, and should be followed immediately by the tomato paste or tomato sauce, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, black pepper, and salt.

Bring to a boil, stirring the tomato paste to dissolve it if using, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Immediately turn the heat down to low and set a timer for 20 minutes.

During or when the rice is done cooking, you may want to check moisture levels. If you smell a hint of a burnt scent, your heat is too high! In this scenario, if the rice is cooked, remove from the heat. If it’s not cooked, lower the heat, and add water ½ cup at a time to continue the cooking process. If it’s too wet, leave the lid slightly ajar or off the pan entirely.

When the rice is done, fluff it with a fork and serve

Cambodian Beef Salad

?1 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and sliced about 1/8 inch thick (see note)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice, plus lime wedges to serve
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons peanut oil, preferably toasted, plus more to serve
1/2 small head red cabbage, finely shredded (about 4 cups)
1/2 English cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 jalapeño chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rings
4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped

In a medium bowl, toss the beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. In a large saucepan, stir together the fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, oil and 1/4 cup water.

Bring to a simmer over high, then add the beef and cook, stirring constantly, until the meat is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes; the beef will release liquid as it cooks. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cabbage, cucumber and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss the vegetables with your hands, rubbing in the salt, until they just begin to wilt. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to the bowl with the vegetables, then add the chili and scallions.

Add 1/4 cup of the beef cooking liquid and toss to combine. Taste and, if desired, toss in additional cooking liquid 1 tablespoon at a time until the salad is dressed to your liking. Transfer to a serving bowl, then top with the peanuts and drizzle with additional oil. Serve with lime wedges.

Mapo Tofu

1/2 cup oil (divided)
1-2 fresh Thai bird chili peppers (thinly sliced)
6-8 dried red chilies (roughly chopped)
1 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns (coarsely ground, plus 1/4 teaspoon for garnish at the end)
3 tablespoons ginger (finely minced)
3 tablespoons garlic (finely minced)
8 ounces ground pork (225g)
1-2 tablespoons spicy bean sauce (depending on your desired salt/spice levels)
2/3 cup low sodium chicken broth (or water)
1 pound silken tofu (450g, cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 scallion (finely chopped)

First, we toast the chilies. If you have homemade toasted chili oil, you can skip this step. Heat your wok or a small saucepan over low heat. Add 1/4 cup of the oil and throw in the fresh and dried peppers. Stir occasionally and heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes, ensuring that the peppers don’t burn. Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1/4 cup of oil in your wok over medium heat. Add your ground Sichuan peppercorns and stir occasionally for 30 seconds. Add the ginger. After 1 minute, add the garlic. Fry for another minute, and then turn up the heat to high and add the ground pork. Break up the meat and fry it until it’s cooked through.

Add the spicy bean sauce to the mixture and stir it in well. Add 2/3 cups of chicken broth to the wok and stir. Let this simmer for a minute or so. While that’s happening, ready your tofu and also put a ¼ cup of water in a small bowl with your cornstarch and mix until thoroughly combined.

Add the cornstarch mixture to your sauce and stir. Let it bubble away until the sauce starts to thicken. (If it gets too thick, splash in a little more water or chicken stock.)

Then add your chili oil from before—peppers and all! Stir the oil into the sauce, and add the tofu. Use your spatula to gently toss the tofu in the sauce. Let everything cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the sesame oil and sugar (if using) along with the scallions and stir until the scallions are just wilted.

Serve with a last sprinkle of Sichuan peppercorn powder as a garnish if desired.

Ginger Chicken

3 scallions (cut into 2-inch long pieces, with the white and green parts separated)
4 cloves garlic (cut in half)
6 slices ginger (1/4 inch thick)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (can substitute canola oil or avocado oil)
24 ounces boneless skinless chicken thighs (680g, cut into 1-inch chunks)
3 shallots (cut into quarters)
1/4 cup Shaoxing wine
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
2 teaspoons oyster sauce (optional)
1 tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

Using a cleaver, lightly smash the white parts of the scallions, the garlic, and the ginger (use a firmer hand on the ginger). This releases the flavors of the aromatics for a more flavorful dish.

Spread the canola oil around the perimeter of the wok, and heat it until it just starts smoking. Add the smashed ginger slices, and fry for 15 seconds.

Spread the chicken pieces in a single layer in the wok. Sear for 45 seconds. Flip them and fry the other side for another 30 seconds.

Add in the white parts of the scallions, garlic, and shallots. Continue to stir-fry over high heat, mixing everything together for another 30 seconds.

Add the Shaoxing wine, and stir-fry again for 20 seconds. Next, add in the chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, dark soy sauce, white pepper, and oyster sauce (optional, but it’ll give the dish a nice additional flavor!). Cover and continue to cook on high heat for 5 minutes.

Remove the cover, and cook for another 7 minutes to reduce the liquid. Mix in the green parts of the scallions, and then immediately stir in the cornstarch and water mixture to thicken the sauce. Add more cornstarch slurry if you like a thicker sauce.

Stir-Fry Sauce for Any Meat and Vegetable

1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or vegetable or mushroom stock; 350ml)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
1 tablespoon brown sugar (or granulated sugar)
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce (can sub gluten-free soy sauce or tamari)
1 1/2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce (or vegetarian or gluten-free oyster sauce)
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

In a jar with a tight lid (must hold 2 cups of liquid), combine all of the stir fry sauce ingredients together and shake well.

This sauce should keep for a few weeks in the refrigerator; all you need to do is measure and pour out what you need for your dish.

Makes enough sauce for about 3 dishes. Nutrition info is for one out of twelve servings of sauce, assuming that there are 4 servings per dish

HOW TO USE THIS STIR-FRY SAUCE:

1. MARINATE YOUR PROTEIN:

Marinate 12 ounces of sliced beef, chicken or pork with:

2 tablespoons water
A pinch or more of baking soda (for beef only)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch

2. PREPARE AROMATICS:

Mince 3 cloves of garlic, grate a teaspoon of ginger, and perhaps slice 1 or 2 scallions into 2-inch lengths.

3. SLICE VEGETABLES:

Prepare the vegetables ahead of time, slicing celery, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, and/or broccoli. Use whatever you like and make sure to cut the vegetables small/thinly enough so that they’ll cook quickly (i.e. a couple of minutes).

4. PREPARE YOUR THICKENER:

2 tablespoons water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

5. SEAR MEAT:

Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to your hot wok (it should be almost smoking). Add the meat, sear on both sides, and set aside.

HOW TO USE THIS STIR-FRY SAUCE:

1. MARINATE YOUR PROTEIN:

Marinate 12 ounces of sliced beef, chicken or pork with:

2 tablespoons water
A pinch or more of baking soda (for beef only)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2. PREPARE AROMATICS:

I like to cut my aromatics fresh, so I will mince 3 cloves of garlic, grate a teaspoon of ginger, and perhaps slice 1 or 2 scallions into 2-inch lengths if I have some.

3. SLICE VEGETABLES:

I’ll prepare the vegetables ahead of time, slicing celery, carrots, bell peppers, snow peas, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, and/or broccoli. Use whatever you like and make sure to cut the vegetables small/thinly enough so that they’ll cook quickly (i.e. a couple of minutes).

4. PREPARE YOUR THICKENER:

2 tablespoons water mixed with 2 tablespoons cornstarch.

5. SEAR MEAT:

Add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil to your hot wok (it should be almost smoking). Add the meat, sear on both sides, and set aside.

Searing Meat in Wok, thewoksoflife.com

6. ASSEMBLE STIR-FRY

Add another tablespoon of oil and add the garlic and ginger. (If you also sliced scallions, you can add the white parts of the scallion at this stage.)

After a few seconds, add the vegetables and stir fry for 1 minute or until just softened.

Add about 2/3 cup of stir fry sauce (more or less depending on how much sauce you like), and heat until simmering.

And add in the seared meat.

Bring to a boil and stir in the cornstarch slurry until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon (you may need a little more or a little less cornstarch slurry depending on how much sauce you added and how high your heat is). Add the green parts of your scallions (if using), and cook for another 15 to 20 seconds.

Serve over rice.

Daikon Radish with Ginger

1 pound daikon radish (about 450 g)
1 slice ginger
1 cup water or stock (235 ml)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce (16 g)
1/2 teaspoon salt (about 2 g, or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon sugar (about 1 g)
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 scallion (chopped)
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Cut the daikon into half-inch thick, bite-sized pieces. In a pot, add 1 slice ginger, 1 cup water or stock (235ml), 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (16 g), 1/2 teaspoon salt (2 g), 1/4 teaspoon sugar (1 g), 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper (a large pinch), and stir to combine. Add the daikon.

Cover and bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 20 minutes until the daikon is folk tender, stirring occasionally.

Right before serving, add in the chopped scallion, and a few drops of sesame oil (optional). Mix well and serve!

Scallion Oil Noodles (Cong You Ban Mian)

1/3 cup oil
8 ounces scallions (225g, julienned)
3 tablespoons dark soy sauce
3 tablespoons light soy sauce
4 teaspoons sugar
1 pound Chinese white noodles (450g, cooked until al dente)
—-if you want to add the pork component, you’ll also need 1 cup ground pork, 3 more tablespoons oil, and an extra 1/2 cup of chopped scallion

Heat oil in your wok over medium heat, add the scallions, and let them fry slowly. Once they start to turn golden brown, remove the scallions from the oil and set aside.

To the oil, add both kinds of soy sauce and the sugar. Use low heat and cook the mixture for about two minutes, until it starts to bubble up.

If you want to add pork to your noodles, simply brown the ground pork over high heat with about 3 tablespoons oil. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped scallions, and season with a bit of salt.
This recipe serves six. Portion out the noodles into bowls, and start with a tablespoon of sauce (it really doesn’t take much!). You can keep adding a bit more until the saltiness is to your liking. If using the pork, add a spoonful of your crispy pork and scallion mixture to the top, along with a small handful of the reserved fried scallions.

Toss it all together and dig in.

Hot Oil Noodles (You Po Mian)

4 oz. dried wheat noodles
a handful of leafy greens (choy sum, spinach, or baby bok choy)
1 teaspoon light soy sauce
1 teaspoon dark soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese black vinegar
Crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Chopped scallion
Chopped cilantro
2 cloves garlic (minced)
2 1/2 tablespoons oil

Boil the noodles according to package directions until al dente. In the same pot, blanch the leafy greens until cooked through. Drain.

Add the cooked noodles and greens to a heatproof bowl, along with the light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, vinegar, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, scallion, cilantro, and minced garlic.

In a small pot, heat the oil until shimmering. Carefully pour the hot oil over the bowl of noodles, and mix everything together. Serve!

Chinese Handmade Noodles

300 grams bread flour (also known as strong flour or high-gluten flour, about 2 U.S. cups)
1/4 teaspoon salt (1.5g)
150 ml water (about 2/3 cup)

Add the bread flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment (or a large regular mixing bowl) and whisk together to incorporate.

Turn the mixer on low speed, and gradually add the water in two batches, giving the flour time to absorb the water with each addition. If doing this by hand, simply stir with your hands as you gradually add the water.

The mixture will eventually form a shaggy dough after 5 minutes of kneading. If the mixer fails to bring it all together, turn off the mixer and push the dough together with your hands.
Once the dough has formed a relatively cohesive ball (it will look lumpy), continue to knead by with the mixer for 10 minutes or by hand for 15 minutes. Avoid the temptation to add additional water, as this will affect the texture of your noodles.

Cover the dough with an overturned bowl, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. During this time, it will continue to absorb moisture, and become more pliable and elastic.

After the dough has rested, knead it a few more times to get any air bubbles out of it. Form into a ball and cut the ball in half.

On a floured surface, roll one half of the dough into a thin sheet, about 2mm thick––this will take time! Flour the surface of the sheet thoroughly, flip over, and thoroughly flour the other side.

Once floured, fold the dough so you have 4 layers. Slice the noodles with a sharp knife to your desired thickness. We decided to cut them about ?-inch thick. As you’re cutting the noodles, gently separate them out with your hands and toss them in flour so they don’t stick.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the noodles for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the thickness. Keep an eye on the noodles as they cook and taste them to determine when they’re cooked (there is a lot of variation depending on how thinly they were rolled and cut, so test in real time to determine when they’re cooked (there is a lot of variation depending on how thinly they were rolled and cut, so test in real time to determine when they’re done). Serve in soup or with sauce as desired!

You can use your Chinese handmade noodles in any noodle soup or sauced noodle dish of choice! Here are some ideas:

15-Minute Hot Oil Noodles (our pick for something quick and easy, and what is pictured in the prepared photos in this post!)
10-Minute Sesame Noodles
Scallion Oil Noodles
Dan Dan Noodles
Hot Pot Sauce Noodles
Lao Gan Ma Noodles
Steamed Noodles and Green Beans
Big Plate Chicken with Noodles
Beijing Fried Sauce Noodles (Zha Jiang Mian)
Taiwanese Beef Noodle Soup
Yang Chun Noodle Soup
Spicy Beef Noodle Soup

Chinese Hot Mustard

1 tablespoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1 1/2 teaspoon hot water
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar optional

Mix the dry ingredients together in a small bowl until evenly combined. Add water and stir well until a liquid paste forms and all dry ingredients are absorbed. Next, add oil and vinegar and stir well until evenly combined.

Let your Chinese hot mustard rest for 10 minutes covered, and re-stir to ensure the dry ingredients have fully absorbed. At this point, taste your Chinese Hot Mustard and adjust it to your own preferences.

Add a little more water or oil if you like a thinner in consistency. Add more vinegar if you like it a tad tart. Omit the vinegar altogether if you like it spicier, since vinegar makes your mustard a bit mellower in flavor. Add more white pepper and/or mustard powder if you like it spicier.

NOTE: Since Chinese mustard is so easy to make, we like to make in small amounts to have it fresh every time. Feel free to multiply the ingredients proportionally to make larger batches.

Magic Bars (Seven-Layer Bars, Hello Dollies)

10 tablespoons butter cut into pieces
2 cups crushed graham crackers
1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butterscotch morsels optional
1 cup coarsely chopped nuts such as almonds, pecans, or walnuts
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Center the oven rack; preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9×9 square baking dish with parchment paper.

Put the butter in a medium-size glass bowl. Microwave on “high” until the butter is just melted. Stir, with a fork, the crushed graham crackers into the butter. Spread the mixture evenly in the baking pan, pressing it down firmly with knuckles. Layer the crust evenly with the chocolate chips, butterscotch morsels, nuts, and coconut. Then drizzle the sweetened condensed milk evenly all over the top.

Bake in the preheated oven until the chocolate melts and the coconut begins to toast — about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least one hour. Unmold and cut into 30 squares or “bars.” Enjoy this sweet treat with coffee or hot chocolate. Refrigerate leftover bars for up to 5 days.

Maple Pecan Caramel Corn

3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed or sunflower
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 cup toasted pecans (see Tip)
1/2 cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon baking soda

Heat oven to 300 degrees, and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.

In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil and 3 popcorn kernels over medium-high with lid on top. When kernels pop, add remaining kernels to pot, lower heat to medium-low, and crack the lid open a sliver, facing away from you, to release steam. (Alternatively, you could cover the pot with a mesh deep-frying screen, or an upside-down colander or strainer.) Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, until the popping stops.

Transfer popcorn to a heatproof bowl, discarding any unpopped kernels. Add nuts to bowl.

In a medium pot, bring maple syrup, butter and brown sugar to a boil. Cook, stirring constantly, until butter and sugar have melted (the mixture should be foamy). Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 240 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from heat, and stir in salt, vanilla and baking soda. (Mixture may bubble up.)

Immediately pour hot syrup over popcorn mixture, and use a spatula to mix it well. Scrape popcorn onto prepared baking sheet in one layer. Bake, rotating the pan after 15 minutes, for 25 to 35 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when you can remove a piece of the popcorn, and after letting it cool for about a minute, it’s crisp when you bite into it. Taste and sprinkle lightly with more salt if you like. Let cool before serving.

Tip: To toast pecans, spread them in one layer on a baking pan and bake at 350 degrees until they darken slightly at the edges and look golden inside if you break one in half, 8 to 13 minutes. Stir the nuts once or twice as they bake for even cooking.

Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Chili-Lemon Vinaigrette

2 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes or small (1- to 1 1/2-inch) Yukon Gold potatoes
4 medium garlic cloves, peeled
3 rosemary sprigs
Kosher salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small jalapeño or Fresno chili, stemmed and sliced into thin rings
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Heat the oven to 500°F with a rack in the middle position. In a large pot over high, bring 2 quarts water to boil. Add the potatoes, garlic, rosemary and 1 cup salt, then cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the largest potato meets no resistance, 18 to 22 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon transfer the potatoes to a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet; place the garlic in a small bowl; remove and discard the rosemary. Let the potatoes cool for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, using a fork, mash the garlic to a paste, then stir in the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of oil, followed by the chilies; set aside.

After the potatoes have cooled slightly carefully remove the rack from the baking sheet. Wipe away any moisture on the baking sheet and place the potatoes in an even layer directly on the sheet. Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup or ramekin, press down on each potato so it is slightly flattened and splits open but remains intact. Brush the tops of the potatoes with the remaining 4 tablespoons oil.

Roast the potatoes without moving them until browned and crisp, 35 to 40 minutes. Using a wide metal spatula, transfer to a serving platter, then sprinkle with the parsley and drizzle with vinaigrette.

Grilled Flank Steak with Worcestershire Butter

FOR THE STEAK:
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, finely grated or mashed to a paste
1 jalapeño, minced
2 tablespoons minced chives, plus more for serving
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more as needed
3 ripe plum tomatoes
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
Handful of torn fresh basil, plus more for serving

FOR THE WORCESTERSHIRE BUTTER:
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, grated or mashed to a paste
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Season steak all over with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. In a bowl or resealable bag, combine thyme, garlic, jalapeño, chives, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and lemon juice. Add meat and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours and up to overnight.

Prepare the Worcestershire butter: In a bowl, mash together the butter, thyme, chives, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper.

Spoon the butter onto a piece of parchment paper or plastic wrap, form into a log and wrap well. Chill for at least 2 hours before using.

Light the grill or heat the broiler, arranging the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Grill tomatoes, or broil them on a rimmed baking pan, turning them, until charred on all sides, about 2 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board to cool.

Brush off any pieces of marinade clinging to the steak, pat steak dry and coat it lightly with oil. Grill or broil steak until it reaches desired doneness, 3 to 5 minutes per side for medium-rare (125 degrees).

Transfer steak to a cutting board. Slice butter into coins and place them on the steak to melt slightly. Let steak rest for 5 minutes while you prepare the tomatoes.

Roughly chop tomatoes and place in a bowl with scallions, basil, a pinch of salt and pepper, a drizzle of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice. Toss well, adding more salt or lemon juice, or both, to taste.

Slice the steak thinly, across the grain, and serve with the charred tomato mixture spooned on top. Garnish with more chives and torn basil, if you like.

Lemon Custards with Strawberries

FOR THE CUSTARDS:
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from 1 to 2 lemons)
Pinch of fine sea salt
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 to 3 lemons)

FOR THE STRAWBERRY TOPPING:
1 cup sliced strawberries
1 to 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

In a medium saucepan, combine cream, sugar, lemon zest and salt over medium-high heat. Bring to simmer, stirring frequently to dissolve sugar. Simmer vigorously until mixture thickens slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Let sit until mixture has cooled slightly and a skin forms on top, about 20 minutes.

Stir mixture, then strain through fine-mesh strainer into a measuring cup with a spout; discard zest. Pour mixture evenly into six 6-ounce ramekins or small bowls.

Refrigerate, uncovered, until set, at least 3 hours.

As the custards chill, prepare the strawberry topping: Toss strawberries and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Let fruit macerate at room temperature for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until the sugar is dissolved.

To serve, top each lemon custard with some strawberry topping and grind black pepper on top.

Overnight Oats

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup dried fruit, cut into small pieces, if needed
1 tablespoon chia, flax, poppy or sesame seeds
1 cup milk or unsweetened dairy alternative, such as almond or oat milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Maple syrup, honey or brown sugar (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped or sliced nuts, toasted, if desired

Mix oats, dried fruit, seeds, milk and salt in a pint jar or 2-cup airtight resealable container. Seal tightly and refrigerate for at least 5 hours or up to 5 days.

Uncover, stir well, and taste. If you prefer more sweetness, stir in some sweetener. Top with the nuts just before eating.

Tip: The soaked oat mixture will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Spicy Corn and Coconut Soup

5 ears yellow or bicolor corn (or 5 cups frozen corn kernels)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 serrano chile (or other chile), minced
2 small red potatoes (6 to 8 ounces total), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or 2 1/2 cups of hot water whisked with 1 1/2 teaspoons jarred bouillon)
1 (15-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
1 tablespoon lime juice (from 1/2 lime)
Kosher salt, to season
Torn cilantro leaves, toasted coconut flakes, chopped roasted peanuts, crispy fried shallots, lime wedges and more sliced Serrano chiles, to serve (optional)

Cut the corn kernels off the cobs and transfer to a bowl. Using the back of a butter knife, scrape the cobs so that all of the milky juices collect in the bowl and the cobs look completely dry, like wrung-out sponges. Set aside. (If using frozen kernels, skip this step.)

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add shallots, garlic, ginger and chile, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until soft and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Add corn kernels and juices to the pot, and sauté until the corn is softer and brighter, about 3 minutes more.

Add potato pieces, and stir to coat, 1 to 2 minutes.

Now, pour in the vegetable broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender all the way through.

Use an immersion blender to roughly purée the soup, so that it’s creamy with some kernels of corn, chunks of potato, and chile flecks remaining. (Alternatively, ladle about half of the soup into a blender, blend until smooth, and return to the pot.) Season with lime juice and salt, and mix to combine. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with toppings of your choice.

Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Gnocchi

1 pound brussels sprouts
1 lemon
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1 (18-ounce) package shelf-stable or refrigerated potato gnocchi
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, sliced into 6 pieces
1/2 teaspoon honey
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving

Trim and halve the brussels sprouts. Using a vegetable peeler, peel thick strips of lemon zest, then coarsely chop. (You should have about 2 teaspoons chopped zest.)

In a large (preferably 12-inch) skillet, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high. Add the brussels sprouts, season with ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, then arrange the brussels sprouts in an even layer, cut-side down. Scatter the lemon zest over the top and cook, undisturbed, until the brussels sprouts are well browned underneath, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the red-pepper flakes, stir and cook until the brussels sprouts are crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high. Break up any gnocchi that are stuck together, add them to the pan and cook, covered and undisturbed, until golden brown on one side, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the butter and honey, season with salt and a generous amount of black pepper, and cook, stirring, until the butter is golden, nutty smelling and foaming, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the brussels sprouts until warmed through. Serve with grated Parmesan.

Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes of any color (about 4 medium), washed
6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), at room temperature
1/4 cup well-stirred tahini
2 to 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, plus lime wedges, for serving
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 clove garlic, finely grated or pounded smooth with a pinch of salt
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons white sesame seeds
Flaky sea salt, for serving

Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a medium pot fitted with a steamer basket or footed colander. Place sweet potatoes in the steamer. Cover, reduce heat to medium and steam until potatoes are completely tender, 35 to 40 minutes. (Use a skewer or paring knife to check for doneness; the potatoes should be soft all the way through.)

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk butter, tahini, lime juice, soy sauce, sesame oil and garlic until smooth. It might seem as if the butter and liquids will never fully combine, but they will — just keep stirring! Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper and more lime juice as needed.

Set a small pan over medium heat. Toast the sesame seeds, swirling the pan continuously, until seeds are golden. They’ll give off some oil and start to clump together, so if needed, stir with a wooden spoon to keep them moving so that they toast evenly. They’ll turn a nice deep-golden shade just as they dry off a bit, about 4 minutes. Transfer seeds to a small bowl to prevent them from overcooking.

When the sweet potatoes are tender, use tongs to transfer them to a large plate or platter. When they are just cool enough to handle, split potatoes in half lengthwise, and season with flaky salt. Spread tahini butter generously onto the flesh, and top with sesame seeds. Serve immediately with lime wedges.

Ricotta Dumplings with Peas and Asparagus

2 cups whole-milk ricotta
2 large eggs
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
3 cups pea shoots or leaves, thick stems removed
1/4 cup parsley or mint leaves, for serving
Parmesan or pecorino, for serving

Options: This dish is a truly excellent canvas for anything seasonal (asparagus and peas in the spring, cherry tomatoes in the summer, mushrooms in the fall, squash in the winter), so adjust as you like.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Combine ricotta and eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and, using a large wooden or metal spoon, gently mix in the flour, taking care not to overmix (which could result in tough dumplings).

Meanwhile, heat butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks have softened completely and are starting to pick up some color, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add asparagus and peas to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until asparagus is just tender and bright green, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on its thickness. Remove from heat while you cook the dumplings.

When the water is at a nice steady boil, drop the ricotta mixture into the pot by the heaping spoonful. (The dumplings will expand in the water, so make them slightly smaller than you’d like them to end up.) Be careful not to crowd the pot; cook the dumplings in batches if need be.

Once the dumplings rise to the top, let them boil until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. (You can always pull one out and cut it in half to test its doneness; the texture will go from dense and doughy to light and pillowy.)

As the dumplings finish cooking, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the skillet with the peas and asparagus. Once they’re all in there, give everything a quick toss over medium heat just to evenly coat the dumplings in the buttery sauce. Add pea shoots and toss just to wilt slightly.

Transfer to a large serving bowl or platter and top with parsley, cheese and more olive oil, if you like.