Southern Macaroni and Cheese

Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
2 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
4 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar (about 16 ounces)
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted
2 cups shredded Colby Jack (about 8 ounces)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add macaroni and cook according to package directions until a little under al dente, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a colander and rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk milk and eggs. Add cooked macaroni, 2 cups extra-sharp Cheddar, melted butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and stir until well combined.

Add half the macaroni mixture to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish in an even layer. Sprinkle 1 1/2 cups Colby Jack evenly on top. Spread the remaining macaroni mixture on top in an even layer. Cover with aluminum foil, transfer to the middle rack of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Carefully remove and discard the aluminum foil. Top the macaroni mixture with the remaining 2 cups Cheddar and ½ cup Colby Jack. Broil on top rack until cheese is browned in spots, 3 to 5 minutes. (The broiled cheese can go from golden to burnt fairly quickly, so keep a close eye on it.)

Remove from oven and let cool until the macaroni and cheese is fully set, 10 to 15 minutes. (The mixture may first appear jiggly, but it will firm up as it cools.) Serve warm.

Notes: Extra-sharp Cheddar adds tartness and a layer of Colby Jack creates a gooey, molten center. If you can’t find a Colby Jack blend, shredded mozzarella or a Mexican-style blend will work in its place.

Sheet Pan Vinegar Chicken with Olive Dressing

1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken parts
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
6 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups green Castelvetrano olives, crushed and pitted
2 garlic cloves, finely grated
1 cup parsley, tender leaves and stems, chopped

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with turmeric and 2 tablespoons olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Make sure chicken is skin-side up, then pour vinegar over and around chicken and place in the oven.

Bake chicken, without flipping, until cooked through and deeply browned all over, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine olives, garlic, parsley, the remaining 4 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Once chicken is cooked, remove baking sheet from the oven and transfer chicken to a large serving platter, leaving behind any of the juices and bits stuck to the pan.

Make sure the baking sheet is on a sturdy surface (the stovetop, a counter), then pour the olive mixture onto the sheet. Using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently scrape up all the bits the chicken left behind, letting the olive mixture mingle with the rendered fat and get increasingly saucy. Pour olive mixture over the chicken, then serve.

Note: Another viral one from the NYTimes

Creamy Chickpea Pasta with Spinach and Rosemary

Kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)
Black pepper
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 (6-ounce) bag baby spinach
12 ounces spaghetti or bucatini
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
Lemon wedges, for serving

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high.

In a wide, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Add the chickpeas, rosemary and Aleppo pepper, if using. Season generously with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas start to caramelize at their edges and pop, 5 to 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer about half the chickpeas to a bowl. Reserve for garnish.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallots and garlic to the skillet, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, about 3 minutes. Add the heavy cream and cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the spinach and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the pasta until a couple minutes short of al dente according to package instructions, about 5 minutes. Do not drain the pasta, but using tongs, transfer the pasta directly from the pot to the spinach and cream sauce. Add 1 cup pasta cooking water and the Parmesan, and cook over medium-high, stirring vigorously with the tongs, until the sauce is thickened and the noodles are al dente, about 2 minutes. Add a splash of pasta water to loosen sauce, if needed.

Transfer to bowls, and top with reserved chickpeas, rosemary and black pepper. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges for squeezing on top.

Note: this went viral from the NYTimes

Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

Kosher salt
1 pound short, ribbed pasta, like gemelli or penne
1 cup whole-milk ricotta (8 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino (2 ounces), plus more for serving
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
Black pepper
Red-pepper flakes, for serving
1/4 cup thinly sliced or torn basil leaves, for serving
Optional: To make it more filling, peas, asparagus or spinach (add in the last few minutes of the pasta boiling), or fresh arugula or watercress (stir in with the sauce in Step 3)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

In the same pot, make the sauce: Add the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and stir until well combined.

Add 1/2 cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth. Add the pasta and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth sauce.

Divide the pasta among bowls and top with some of the sauce that’s pooled at the bottom of the pot. Garnish with grated Parmesan, black pepper, red-pepper flakes and basil, if using.

Turmeric-Coconut Rice with Greens (or Vegetables)

2 cups long-grain rice, such as jasmine or basmati
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tablespoon white or black sesame seeds
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 scallion, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more as needed
1 (14-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
Pinch of saffron (optional)
Kosher salt
1 medium bunch kale, spinach or Swiss chard (or anything that steams in 10 minutes, such as frozen peas or edamame, green beans, broccoli, grated carrots or sliced fennel)
1 lime

While a meal all on its own, this rice would also be great accompanied by tofu, white fish, chicken thighs or stewed black beans. Prepared as written, this dish has a relatively pure, mild flavor, so if you want more oomph, add more turmeric and saffron and season with plenty of salt and pepper as you cook.

Korean Cheese Buldak (Fire Chicken)

1/4 cup gochugaru (Korean red-pepper flakes)
2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean red-pepper paste)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 (1-inch) piece ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into ¾-inch cubes
2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or peanut
4 ounces sliced Korean rice cakes (optional)
6 to 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella, thinly sliced
2 scallions, sliced, for garnish

Combine the gochugaru, gochujang, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and black pepper in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the chicken and stir until it is well coated.

If you’re using the rice cakes, swirl the oil into a large, oven-safe skillet set over medium-high heat and wait for it to shimmer. Add the rice cakes and cook, turning the cakes often, until they are a little crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the rice cakes to a small bowl and set aside. If you’re not using rice cakes, simply swirl the oil into the pan and move along to the next step.

Add the chicken mixture to the pan along with ¼ cup water. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring in the rice cakes halfway through, if using. Meanwhile, heat the broiler in your oven.

Remove the chicken from the heat. Cover the pan with the sliced mozzarella, then slide the pan under the broiler. Cook until the cheese has melted and browned in spots, about 2 minutes. Remove from the oven, and sprinkle with scallions. Serve immediately, with rice.

Quick Chicken Vindaloo

To start:
1 1/2 lb. chicken breast boneless, skinless, cut into 3/4″ cubes
2 Tbsp cooking oil divided
1 small onion finely diced
4 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp ginger paste or 1 tsp grated fresh ginger

Spice Mix:
1 1/2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp coriander
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
1 1/2 tsp white or brown sugar
3/4 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fine salt
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes plus more, to taste, for more heat or omit for no heat

To finish:
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 Tbsp vinegar white, white wine or red wine vinegar
2 cups water or chicken broth or a mixture of both

To serve:
Chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leafed parsley

Prepare the spice mix by combining all the spices in a small bowl. Set aside.

In a large saucepan with a lid, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Add cubed chicken and cook until you don’t see any raw spots, 3-4 minutes. Remove from pot to a plate.

Add 1 Tbsp more oil to the pot. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring, until quite soft and starting to brown lightly, about 4-5 minutes. (I like to add a splash of water to the pot about half way through cooking onions, which loosens any brown bits on the bottom of the pan and flavours the onions).

Add the garlic and ginger to the pot and cook, stirring, another 30-45 seconds. Add the prepared spice mix to the pot and cook, stirring, for 45 seconds – 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste to the pot and stir to combine.

Add the vinegar and water or chicken stock to the pot and stir.

Return the chicken to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and cover the pot with a lid.

Allow the curry to simmer covered for about 20 minutes, for the flavours to blend and the chicken to cook through. Remove the lid and simmer another further 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to thicken the sauce.

Taste sauce and add salt as needed (it probably will need some to bring out all the flavours).

Serve garnished with chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, with basmati rice and Naan bread, if you like.

Note: ou’d like a smoother sauce (better for dipping!) and you don’t mind an extra step, place your chopped onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor and process into a paste. Use in the recipe the same as the chopped onions, except cook for a bit less time.