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.

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 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.

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.

Miso-Marinated Skirt Steak

3 tablespoons red miso
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, trimmed and cut crosswise into 5- to 6-inch pieces, patted dry
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
5 teaspoons grapeseed or other neutral oil, divided

In a medium bowl, whisk together the miso, soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger and garlic until the sugar dissolves. Measure 2 teaspoons of the mixture into a small bowl and set aside. Add the steak to the remaining mixture, turn to coat and let marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, to the reserved 2 teaspoons, add the vinegar and 3 teaspoons of the oil. Stir to combine and set aside. Remove the steak from the bowl and pat dry with paper towels.

In a heavy-bottomed 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil until beginning to smoke. Add half of the steak in a single layer and cook without disturbing until well browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
Flip the pieces and cook until the second sides are well browned and the center of the thickest piece reaches 125°F for medium-rare or 130°F for medium, another 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter, then repeat with the remaining steak, using the fat in the pan. Tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Stir any accumulated juices on the platter into the reserved miso mixture. Cut the steak against the grain on the bias into thin slices and return to the platter. Serve with the miso sauce.

Avgolemono (Chicken Soup with Rice)

4 cups homemade chicken stock or low-sodium broth
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups cooked white rice, warmed
2 large egg yolks
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 rotisserie chicken, meat pulled from the bones and coarsely shredded (1 pound)
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

In a large saucepan, season the stock with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer.

Transfer 1 cup of the hot stock to a blender.

Add 1/2 cup of the rice, the egg yolks and the lemon juice and puree until smooth.

Stir the puree into the simmering stock along with the chicken and the remaining 1 1/2 cups of rice and simmer until thickened slightly, 10 minutes.
Stir in the dill and serve.

Rajas Con Creama (Roasted Poblanos with Cream)

1 1/4 pounds fresh poblano chiles (about 3 large)
Generous 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup Mexican crema or crème fraîche
Generous 1 tablespoon finely chopped epazote leaves, or 1?2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

?Turn two stove-top burners to high and roast the poblano chiles on the racks of the burners (or directly on the element of an electric stove), turning frequently with tongs, until they are blistered and charred all over, 4 to 6 minutes. Put the poblanos in a bowl and cover with a plate to sweat for 15 to 20 minutes.

?Rub off the skin from the roasted poblanos with a paper towel or your fingers (do notrun the poblanos under water), then cut them open lengthwise. Cut out the stems, seed pods, and veins, and lay the chiles flat. Wipe the chiles clean of seeds, discard the seeds, and slice the chiles into long 1/4-inch-thick strips.

?Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers, then add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the poblanos along with the remaining 1?4 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 3 minutes or so, then add the crema and epazote.

?Let it come to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the crema thickens slightly and coats the poblanos, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
?
Serve alongside 8 warm corn tortillas and top with crumbled queso fresco and smoky tomato salsa.

Meatloaf

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
Salt
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1 pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons ketchup, plus more for glazing
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or whipped cream cheese)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Heat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has begun to soften and lightly caramelize, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and continue to cook until both the onion and garlic are soft and golden brown (be careful not to burn the garlic), about another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients except for the eggs. Add a few good pinches of salt. Then mix it with two forks, combining thoroughly but not overmixing.

Gently stir in the eggs and the browned onions and garlic, mixing just until combined.

Gently shape the mixture into a rough football and nestle it snugly into a loaf pan, patting it down so the top is fairly flat. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes, then brush the top lightly with ketchup and return to the oven for 10 to 20 more minutes. The meatloaf is done when the internal temperature reaches about 145°F.

Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Blender Tomato Soup

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

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

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

Serve warm.

Melting Potatoes

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

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

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

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

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

Rafanata

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steak au Poivre

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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