Steakhouse Sirloin Tips

1/3 cup soy sauce (I used reduced-sodium)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon paprika (I reduced to about 2/3)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I reduced to 1/8)
1 (2 1/2-pound) beef flap meat*

*Flap meat is sold as whole steaks, strips, and pieces. For even pieces, buy a whole steak of uniform size and cut it up yourself.

Whisk soy sauce, oil, sugar, garlic, tomato paste, paprika, pepper, and cayenne together in bowl until sugar dissolves; transfer to zipper-lock bag. Pat beef dry with paper towels. Prick beef all over with fork and cut into 2 1/2-inch pieces. Add meat to bag with soy mixture and refrigerate for 2 to 24 hours, turning occasionally.

For a charcoal grill: Open bottom grill vents completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vents completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes.

Clean and oil cooking grate. Cook beef (covered if using gas) until charred and registers 130 to 135°F (for medium), 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer meat to platter, tent loosely with foil, and rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve.

Note: Author flipped the steaks at 4 minutes, and they were temperature ready at 8 minutes.

Sirloin Tips

2 pounds sirloin steak tips
1 tablespoon Teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon barbecue sauce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice from half a lemon
3 tablespoons Catalina dressing
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon coriander powder

Cut the beef into large pieces if they are not already cut into tips.

Mix all other ingredients in a bowl but only use half the oil, salt and pepper. Reserve the remainder for just before grilling.
In a zip lock bag, place tips and marinade and marinate overnight or at least six hours.

Prior to grilling, drain well and discard marinade. Dry the tips with paper towels.

Pre-heat grill to medium high.

Coat tips in remaining oil (2 tablespoons), salt (1/2 teaspoon) and pepper (1/4 teaspoon) and grill about two minutes on each side for medium rare. (Note: Cooking time may vary depending on the heat output of your grill and/or if you cook these in a grillpan on the stove.)

Garlic Butter Sirloin Tips

4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 pounds thick-cut New York strip steaks
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

Mince 4 garlic cloves. Transfer to a bowl and add 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Chop until you have 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, then transfer to a small bowl.

Cut 2 pounds New York strip steak into 1-inch cubes, then season them with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter in a large skillet over medium high-heat.

Add the steak cubes and sear until browned, flipping them halfway through, 6 to 8 minutes total.

Add the garlic and pepper and cook for 1 minute more.

Remove from the heat and garnish with the parsley.

Sirloin Tips with Peppers and Onions

3 lb sirloin steak cut into 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup Teriyaki or Soy sauce
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp olive oil plus additional for cooking
2 Tbsp chopped Italian parsley or cilantro
3 clove garlic minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp steak seasoning divided [i.e., Mesquite/Montreal/Chicago/ Kansas City your preference]
1 red bell pepper seeded and sliced
1 green bell pepper seeded and sliced
1 large sweet onion cut into thin wedges
Black pepper to taste

Rinse, pat dry and cut the sirloin steaks into 1-inch pieces.
Whisk together the sauce, brown sugar, olive oil, chopped parsley, 3 clove minced garlic and red pepper flakes. Place into a plastic storage bag and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To prepare, remove the sirloin tips from the marinade. Discard the marinade.

Heat a few drizzles of olive oil in a large cast iron or heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sirloin tips. Cook for 5-7 minutes until browned and to your preferred doneness. Season with 1 tsp of steak seasoning. Remove from the pan to a platter to rest.

Add the sliced bell peppers and onion wedges to the pan. Season with 1 tsp steak seasoning and black pepper to your taste. Add additional olive oil if needed. Cook for 5 minutes scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Cook until browned and crisp tender.

Add the sirloin beef tips back to the pan. Stir until heated through then serve.

Variations:

Use a fajita seasoning place of the steak seasoning for fajitas.

Use an Asian-style marinade:

3 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp minced shallot or red onion
1 Tbsp lime juice
3 cloves garlic minced
1 tsp minced ginger
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

North African Meatballs with Couscous and Tomato Sauce

FOR THE SAFFRON TOMATO SAUCE
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups finely diced onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
Large pinch saffron, crumbled
Salt and pepper
3 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water

FOR THE MEATBALLS
1 1/2 cups cubed day-old firm white bread
1 cup milk
1 pound ground beef or lamb
1 large egg, beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallion
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Olive oil or vegetable oil

FOR THE COUSCOUS (OPTIONAL)
1 cup giant couscous, m’hamsa, or medium couscous
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup golden raisins, soaked in hot water to soften, then drained
Salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Make the sauce: Heat oil over medium-high heat in a wide, heavy bottomed saucepan. Add onion and cook without browning until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato paste, cinnamon and saffron, and stir well to incorporate. Season generously with salt and pepper, and allow to sizzle for 1 minute more. Add broth and simmer gently for 5 minutes. May be made several hours in advance, up to a day.

Make the meatballs: Put bread cubes and milk in a small bowl. Leave bread to soak until softened, about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry.

In a mixing bowl, put squeezed-out bread, ground meat and egg. Add salt, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, ginger, turmeric, paprika, cayenne, cloves, coriander and cumin. Mix well with hands to distribute seasoning. Add 2 tablespoons each of parsley, cilantro and scallion, and knead for a minute. May be prepared several hours in advance, up to a day.

With hands, roll mixture into small round balls about the size of a quarter. Dust balls lightly with flour. Heat a few tablespoons of oil, or a quarter-inch depth, over medium-high heat and fry meatballs until barely browned, about 2 minutes per side. Drain and blot on paper towel. Simmer meatballs in saffron-tomato sauce, covered, over medium heat for about 20 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, make the couscous, if desired: Cook according to package directions, fluff gently and stir in butter and raisins. Season with salt and cinnamon, and toss well.

Garnish meatballs with remaining parsley, cilantro and scallion. Serve with couscous and roasted tomatoes if desired.

Pork Meatballs With Ginger

2 tablespoons peeled and minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic (from about 3 large cloves)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup finely crushed Ritz crackers (12 crackers)
1 pound ground pork

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and use your hands to gently mix.

Shape the meat into 12 golf-ball-size rounds (about 2 inches in diameter) and arrange on a greased rimmed baking sheet.

Bake until golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Tip:
Leftover meatballs freeze well and can be reheated in the oven at 375 degrees until warmed through (about 20 minutes).

Goulash

2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 pound beef stewing meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups beef broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted, about 10 minutes. Stir in the paprika and caraway seeds and cook 1 minute more. In a bowl, toss the beef with the flour to coat well. Add the beef to the onion mixture. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.

Add 1/2 cup of the broth, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot. Gradually stir in the remaining broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer. Cover and cook until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Stir in the lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Serve over wide egg noodles.

Simple Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes (optional)
2 (28-ounce) cans whole or diced plum tomatoes
2 sprigs basil or 1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

In a large, straight-sided skillet over medium heat, warm the oil. Add garlic and cook until just lightly golden. Add chile flakes if desired and cook 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes and juices, basil or bay leaf, and salt and pepper.

Bring sauce to a simmer and cook until sauce is thick and tomatoes have mostly fallen apart, about 30 to 40 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to keep at a steady simmer. If using whole plum tomatoes, mash them up with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher to help them break down. Remove sauce from heat and discard basil or bay leaf.

Pesce all’Acqua Pazza

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Pinch of red-pepper flakes, plus more as needed
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled if desired, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
4 (6-ounce) fillets firm or medium-firm white fish, such as sea bass or sea bream (skin on or off)
Grilled or crusty bread, for serving

In a large skillet with high sides, combine the olive oil, garlic, fennel seeds and red-pepper flakes. Set over medium-low and cook, swirling occasionally, until sizzling and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add 2 1/2 cups water, the tomatoes and 2 teaspoons salt to the skillet. Bring to a boil over high, then cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until the tomatoes are softened and the water is bright red and tastes like tomato, 15 to 20 minutes.

Pat the fish dry and season with salt. Lay the fish into the tomato water, cover and cook until the fish is opaque and flakes easily, 4 to 8 minutes.

Taste the water and adjust seasonings with salt and red-pepper flakes. If the liquid has reduced so much that it resembles sauce, add a little water until it looks like tomatoes suspended in red-tinted water. Serve the fish and tomato water in shallow bowls, with a drizzle of olive oil and bread for dunking.

Old-Fashioned Beef Stew

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound beef stewing meat, trimmed and cut into inch cubes
5 teaspoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup red wine
3 1/2 cups beef broth, homemade or low-sodium canned
2 bay leaves
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt

Combine the flour and pepper in a bowl, add the beef and toss to coat well. Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil in a large pot. Add the beef a few pieces at a time; do not overcrowd. Cook, turning the pieces until beef is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch; add more oil as needed between batches.

Remove the beef from the pot and add the vinegar and wine. Cook over medium-high heat, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Add the beef, beef broth and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer.

Cover and cook, skimming broth from time to time, until the beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Add the onions and carrots and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Add the potatoes and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes more. Add broth or water if the stew is dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle among 4 bowls and serve.

Pepperoni Pasta With Lemon and Garlic

Salt
1 pound medium pasta shells or orecchiette
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
6 ounces pepperoni, thinly sliced, then coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fennel seeds, cracked with a mortar and pestle or the side of a chef’s knife
Pinch of red-pepper flakes (optional)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 small lemon, zested (if your lemon is very large, just zest half of it)
3/4 cup torn fresh basil or parsley leaves and tender stems, plus more for garnish
Grated Parmesan, for serving (optional)

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook, according to package directions, until about 2 minutes shy of al dente so that the pasta can finish cooking in the sauce. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, in a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium. Add pepperoni and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisped and brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

If the pan looks dry, drizzle in a little more oil. Add garlic, fennel seeds, red-pepper flakes (if using) and a large pinch of salt, and cook until garlic is lightly golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook until it darkens, about 1 minute.

Add the drained pasta, lemon zest and 3/4 cup of the reserved pasta water to the skillet. Stir until the pasta is al dente and well coated with the sauce. Add more pasta water, if needed, until the sauce is glossy and the pasta is cooked to taste.

Cut the zested lemon in half and squeeze some juice into the pasta. Stir in herbs and taste, adding more lemon juice and salt, if needed. Cut the remaining half lemon into wedges and serve it alongside the pasta, which should be garnished with more herbs and a drizzle of oil, and sprinkled with Parmesan, if you like.

Dressed Up Ramen with Ground Beef

2 (3.5-ounce) packages instant ramen noodles, flavor packets discarded
1/3 cup beef stock
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Sriracha, or more, to taste
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup diced sweet onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

In a large pot of boiling water, cook ramen noodles until tender, about 3-4 minutes; rinse with cold water and drain well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together beef stock, oyster sauce, rice wine vinegar and Sriracha.

Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add ground beef and onion, and cook until beef has browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat.

Stir in garlic and ginger until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in beef stock mixture, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Stir in ramen noodles until heated through and evenly coated in sauce, about 1-2 minutes.

Serve immediately, garnished with green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.

Jia Jiang Noodles

1 cup ground pork
2 tablespoons rice wine
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cucumber, peeled and cored
4 green onions
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ounce fresh root ginger, shredded
1 tablespoon yellow bean paste
7 ounces dry wheat noodles
Salt, to taste

Mix the pork with the rice wine, soy sauce, cornstarch and sugar, then cover and set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Slice the cucumber into fine juliennes. Cut the green onions on a sharp diagonal into similarly thin strips. Set aside, covered with dampened kitchen paper so that the strips keep their crispness.

Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. Add the onion, garlic and ginger, and fry vigorously for 45 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the yellow bean paste and fry for 20 seconds, then add the pork and stir-fry for 2 minutes.

Add 1 cup water and cook for 1 minute more, or until the liquid thickens into a light sauce. Season with salt to taste.

Cook the noodles in boiling water according to the packet instructions. Drain well and divide between serving bowls.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and pour it over the noodles.

Arrange the sliced scallions and cucumber in small mounds next to the noodles and serve immediately.

Cook’s Tip: In other regions, lamb or beef would be used instead of pork, but the vegetables remain the same.

Eggplant Ravaiya

1 cup roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon jaggery (unrefined cane sugar), or cane or turbinado sugar
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder or 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1/2 teaspoon minced Serrano chile (if you like less heat, you can remove the seeds and pith)
Pinch asafetida (optional)
1 teaspoon chickpea flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 baby eggplants (see note)

Put all ingredients except for the olive oil and eggplants in a food processor, and pulse until the peanuts are ground. Add oil and pulse to combine; the mixture will resemble damp sand. Set aside.

Cut a crosshatch in the bottom of the eggplant about three-quarters of the way up the fruit, leaving the stem intact. (In other words, you’re making a deep plus-sign shape in the bulbous part of the fruit, so you can stuff it with the peanut filling.) Repeat with the remaining eggplants.

Stuff each eggplant with a little of the peanut mixture, just enough to fill the hole. You should have some peanut mixture left over.

Place the stuffed eggplants on their sides in a single layer on the bottom of a large pot or saucepan with a lid. The eggplants can overlap a little, but ideally they will all fit on the bottom of the pot. Dollop the leftover peanut mixture on top of and around the eggplants, and add 1 cup of water. Turn heat to medium and cover the pot. Let the eggplant cook at a simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the eggplants are just tender when you poke them at the stem end with the tip of a knife.

Taste the sauce for salt, and serve hot with basmati rice or Indian flatbreads.

Tip
It’s best to use baby eggplants (about 4 inches long) shaped like teardrops. The chef Niven Patel uses an Indian variety, but this shape is also grown in Italy and elsewhere, so you can find it at farmers’ markets and some supermarkets too. Or use long skinny Japanese eggplants, and cut them into about 4-inch pieces, then make two slits in each piece as you would for a whole teardrop eggplant. They will break down a bit more but will still taste good.

More-Vegetable-Than-Egg Frittata

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion, sliced (optional)
Salt and black pepper
4 to 6 cups of any chopped or sliced raw or barely cooked vegetables
1/4 cup fresh basil or parsley leaves, or 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or mint leaves, or any other herb
2 or 3 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

Put olive oil in a skillet (preferably nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron) and turn heat to medium. When fat is hot, add onion, if using, and cook, sprinkling with salt and pepper, until it is soft, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add vegetables, raise heat and cook, stirring occasionally until they soften, from a couple of minutes for greens to 15 minutes for sliced potatoes. Adjust heat so vegetables brown a little without scorching. (With precooked vegetables, just add them to onions and stir before proceeding.)

When vegetables are nearly done, turn heat to low and add herb. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender.

Meanwhile, beat eggs with some salt and pepper, along with cheese if you are using it. Pour over vegetables, distributing them evenly. Cook, undisturbed, until eggs are barely set, 10 minutes or so; run pan under broiler for a minute or 2 if top does not set.

Cut frittata into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Chili Pork

1 kg (2 pounds) pork belly or shoulder
20 g ginger (roughly chopped)
10 g garlic (sliced)
300 g onions (3-cm squares)
25 g green chillies (slit)
60 g tomatoes (diced)
20 g vegetable oil
2–3 pcs star anise
25 g soy sauce (½ light, ½ dark)
23 g salt

Place the pork in a pressure cooker, along with ginger, garlic, 50g onions, 2 green chillies, 2 star anise, 18 g salt, and 350 g water. Boil the pork in the pressure cooker on medium heat for 45 minutes. Transfer the pork to a plate and chill it in the fridge for about 30 minutes, to enable clean slicing later on. Once chilled, slice the pork about 5 mm wide.
Heat vegetable oil in a wok on high heat. Add the star anise, sliced pork, and half the green chillies. Toss or stir until fat renders from the pork. This should take about 4 to 5 minutes.
Then add the onion squares and fry for about 6 minutes until they are softened. Add the tomatoes and green chillies and fry for another 2 minutes.
Finally, add the soy sauce and salt. Toss to combine. You may garnish with some green onions if you like, but this is optional.

Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew

1/2 cup roughly chopped Italian parsley leaves and tender stems
2 teaspoons lemon zest (from 1 large lemon)
2 (10-ounce) containers cherry or grape tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons and more for drizzling (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
3 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
2 (15-ounce) cans white beans (such as butter or cannellini), rinsed
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth, or water
Flaky salt, for serving (optional)
Toasted bread, for serving

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, gently toss together the parsley and lemon zest with your hands until well combined; set aside.

In a large baking dish or on a sheet pan, toss the tomatoes with 1/4 cup oil and thyme; season well with salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes until they have collapsed and begin to turn golden around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes.

When the tomatoes are almost done roasting, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large (12-inch), deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium. Add the onion, garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook until the onion is softened and the garlic is fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes.

Stir in the rinsed beans and broth and bring to a simmer. With the back of a spoon or spatula, gently smash about 1/2 cup of the beans so they slightly thicken the broth. If you want a thicker stew, crush some more of the beans. Season with salt and pepper.
When the tomatoes are finished roasting, add them directly to the stew along with any juices that have been released. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes more so the flavors become friendly; season to taste with salt.

Ladle into shallow bowls. Top each serving with some of the lemon-parsley mixture and drizzle with some more olive oil, and season with flaky salt, if you like. Serve with toasted bread.

Reader ideas:

Add sage and swiss chard.

Add tomato paste for a richer flavor and red color (as was shown in tbe picture).

Add sausage.

Creamy Braised White Beans

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
1 cup whole milk
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, with their liquid
1 (15-ounce) can white beans, such as cannellini or Great Northern, drained and rinsed
1 thyme sprig, 2 sage leaves or 1 bay leaf
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg, allspice or garam masala
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 slices crusty bread or thick toast
Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
Aleppo pepper or red-pepper flakes, for serving

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, cut side down, and cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the milk, chickpeas and their liquid, white beans, thyme and nutmeg and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper. When the mixture begins to bubble around the edges of the pan (you don’t want it to come to a full boil), reduce the heat to low and let it simmer, stirring occasionally, until it has thickened and tastes great to you, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Use a fork to remove the garlic halves from the beans. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then use the fork to remove the cloves from the skins. Spread the cloves on bread or toast.
If you would like the beans to be more stew-like, mash some of the beans using a potato masher or the back of a spoon. Serve beans and milk in bowls. Garnish as you wish, with a drizzle of oil, a sprinkle of Parmesan and a pinch of Aleppo pepper and black pepper. Serve with the bread alongside for dipping.

Tip
You can reheat leftovers the next day over low heat; the sauce will have thickened, but the beans will still be delicious.

Reader ideas:

Add bacon, pancetta, or sausage.

Add basil pesto and sundried tomato pesto before serving.

Add kale, rainbow chard, or arugula.

Add some lemon.

Takeout-Style Sesame Noodles

1 pound noodles, frozen or fresh (use less if using dried or this won’t be enough sauce)
2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus a splash
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
2 tablespoons Chinese sesame paste (not tahini)
1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons chile-garlic paste, chile crisp or chile oil, or to taste
Half a cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 1/8-inch by 1/8-inch by 2-inch sticks
1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add noodles and cook until barely tender, about 5 minutes. They should retain a hint of chewiness. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and toss with a splash of sesame oil.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons sesame oil, the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame paste, peanut butter, sugar, ginger, garlic and chili-garlic paste.

Pour the sauce over the noodles and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl, and garnish with cucumber and peanuts.

Tip
The Chinese sesame paste called for here is made of toasted sesame seeds; it is not the same as tahini, the Middle Eastern paste made of plain, untoasted sesame. But you could use tahini in a pinch. You need only add a little toasted sesame oil to compensate for flavor, and perhaps some peanut butter to keep the sauce emulsified.

Reader ideas:

Skip the noodles altogether and put the delicious sauce on veggies and tofu.

Make 50 percent more sauce and serve with choice of condiments: cshredded duck or chicken, tofu, cucumber, sweet red pepper, hot pepper, scallion, jicama, and so on. Keep them all about the same size with shredding or julienne.

Garnish with cucumber but also a large mound of fresh beans sprouts, grilled chicken or tofu, cherry tomatoes, black radishes, snow peas & anything else that comes to hand.

In cold weather, add the dressed noodles to a bowl of hot soup stock flavored with garlic, sliced coins of fresh ginger, dried shrimp to chase away the blues and the sniffles of dark cold winter days.

Add broccoli, carrots, red peppers, scallions, peapods, bean sprouts, etc.

Add chicken or shrimp.

Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee’s The Chinese Cookbook for 2 to 4 servings, from 4 ounces of fine egg noodles, calls for: 1/4 cup sesame paste 3 T brewed tea or water 2 T hot oil (Optional, but if you want spicy, it’s got to be there) 3 T light soy sauce (that is, the regular kind) 3 T red wine vinegar 2 tsp sugar salt 1/4 tsp MSG (optional) [this recipe dates from 1972!] 1/4 cup peanut oil 2 T chopped garlic 1 T sesame oil.

BLT Pasta

1 pound paccheri pasta or other tubelike shape, such as penne or rigatoni
8 ounces bacon, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 pound cherry tomatoes, halved
Kosher salt and black pepper
5 ounces baby arugula
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano, plus more for serving
Flaky salt, for serving (optional)

Bring a large pot of well-salted water (2 heaping tablespoons kosher salt to about 7 quarts water) to a boil. Add pasta and cook until it is just under al dente, 1 minute less than package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and drain the pasta.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Place the bacon in a large skillet and cook over medium-low heat until crisp, stirring occasionally to make sure it does not burn, about 8 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels.

Turn heat to medium and add the tomatoes to the skillet, tossing them to coat in the bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper. As the moisture from the tomatoes releases, scrape any browned bits that have accumulated at the bottom of the pan (add a few tablespoons of the pasta water if you need to) and continue to cook until the tomatoes begin to fall apart, about 5 to 7 minutes more. Add half the cooked bacon back to the skillet and toss to combine.

Increase the heat to medium-high and add the pasta directly to the skillet tossing to coat with the sauce. Add the arugula and 1/4 cup of the pasta water and carefully toss (you’ll have a very full pan) until the arugula wilts. Add the cheese and an additional 1/4 cup pasta water and toss together until the cheese emulsifies and the pasta is glossy with sauce. If needed, add another 1/4 cup pasta water to loosen the sauce.

Serve in bowls and top with remaining bacon. Pass the grated Pecorino Romano at the table and season with flaky salt, if desired.