Sriracha-Braised Brisket Sandwiches

1 5–6-pound brisket, first-cut, untrimmed
2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal or 1 tablespoon Morton kosher salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 large onion, peeled, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup Sriracha, plus more for serving
12 potato rolls, toasted

Remove brisket from its packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Lay brisket flat on your cutting board so that one of the longer sides is closest to you and layer of white fat is facing down. Take a close look at the meat itself—you’ll notice that there are long “grains” (thread-like muscle fibers) running left to right across length of brisket. You are going to “slice against the grain,” which means positioning your knife blade perpendicular to the direction of the fibers, into 2″-wide pieces. You do this so that when you go to shred the meat at the end, the fibers don’t stretch a mile long and they’re a manageable length for sandwiches.

Place brisket halves in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt, brown sugar, and cumin. Use your hands to really massage the meat and work in all the salt and spices so every little spot is coated. Get in there! Set brisket aside for a moment.

Mix onion, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire, ? cup Sriracha, and 1 cup water in a large Dutch oven or stockpot.

Using tongs, nestle brisket into pot so fattier sides are facing up and pieces fit together in a single layer. The meat should be barely submerged in liquid, so add a little more water if that’s not the case (depending on size of your pot).

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to achieve a very gentle simmer.

Cover pot and cook brisket, peeking inside occasionally to make sure heat isn’t too high or low—you want a couple of areas in the pot to be gently bubbling. If bubbles are roiling all over the place, reduce heat. If you see no bubbles at all, increase slightly. If liquid drops below top of meat, add a little more water to keep barely submerged.

After 2 hours, check meat for doneness. Poke a fork into a few pieces and twist the tines to see if the meat will easily separate into shreds. If not, that means it’s still tough. Keep cooking, checking again every 15 minutes or so. This could take up to an hour more.

Turn off heat and position lid so that it’s cracked open a bit. Let brisket cool until no longer steaming hot, about 30–40 minutes. Cover and chill overnight.

The next day, remove pot from refrigerator and uncover. There will be an layer of solidified orange fat on the surface (the color is from the Sriracha!). Using a fork, lift off fat in large pieces and discard.

Reheat brisket in pot over low until meat is warmed all the way through, 30–40 minutes. Transfer meat to a rimmed baking sheet. If meat is too hot to touch, let cool for a few minutes until you can handle it.

Using your fingers or 2 forks, separate muscle fibers into shreds and return to pot. Remove any pieces of fat and discard.

Return pot to low heat and bring liquid to a gentle simmer, tossing meat with tongs to encourage it to soak up juices. Add more Sriracha to taste.

Serve over toasted buns with even more Sriracha, if desired.

Caramel Chicken

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and thighs
Kosher salt
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
2 slices ¼”-thick slices peeled ginger
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Cooked white rice (for serving)

Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and, working in 2 batches, cook until golden brown and crisp, 6–8 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Add garlic to pot and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken. Pour off fat from pot.

Return pot to medium-high heat and add ½ cup water, scraping up browned bits. Add brown sugar; stir to dissolve, then cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and turns a deep amber color, about 4 minutes. Carefully add vinegar (it may bubble up; sugar will crystallize); stir to dissolve sugar.

Add ginger, broth, and soy sauce, then add chicken, skin side up, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Return chicken to pot; turn to coat. Top with scallions and serve with rice.

Low Country Hoppin’ John

Peas:

2 quarts Pork Stock or Chicken Stock
1 cup Anson Mills Sea Island Red Peas, soaked in a pot of water in the refrigerator overnight
1 1/2 cups medium dice onions
1 cup medium dice peeled carrots
1 1/2 cups medium dice celery
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 fresh bay leaf
10 thyme sprigs
1/2 jalapeño, chopped
Kosher salt

Rice:

4 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup Anson Mills Carolina Gold Rice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

Red Pea Gravy:

Reserved 1 cup cooked red peas
Reserved 2 cups cooking liquid from the peas
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Cider vinegar
Sliced chives or scallions for garnish

For the peas:

Bring the stock to a simmer in a small pot. Drain the peas and add to the stock, along with all of the remaining ingredients except the salt. Cook the peas, partially covered, over low heat until they are soft, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt. (The peas can be cooked ahead and refrigerated in their liquid for up to 3 days; reheat, covered, over low heat before proceeding.)

Drain the peas, reserving their cooking liquid, and measure out 1 cup peas and 2 cups liquid for the gravy; return the rest of the peas and liquid to the pot and keep warm.

Meanwhile, for the rice:

About 45 minutes before the peas are cooked, preheat the oven to 300°F.

Bring the water, salt, and cayenne pepper to a boil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium, add the rice, stir once, and bring to a simmer. Simmer gently, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes.

Drain the rice in a sieve and rinse under cold water. Spread the rice out on a rimmed baking sheet. Dry the rice in the oven, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Scatter the butter evenly over the rice and continue to dry it, stirring every few minutes, for about 5 minutes longer. All excess moisture should have evaporated and the grains should be dry and separate.

For the gravy:

Put the 1 cup peas, 2 cups cooking liquid, and the butter in a blender and blend on high until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add cider vinegar to taste.

(The gravy can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept in a covered container in the refrigerator; reheat, covered, over the lowest possible heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.)

To complete:

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the peas to a large serving bowl. Add the rice and carefully toss the rice and peas together. Pour the gravy over them, sprinkle with chives or scallions, and serve.

Turkey a la King

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups turkey or chicken stock, low-sodium if store-bought
1 1/2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup frozen peas
2 tablespoons dry sherry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Finely chopped parsley

Make a roux. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. When it begins to foam, sprinkle the flour over it, and whisk to combine, then continue whisking until it begins to turn the color of straw, approximately 7-10 minutes.

Slowly add 1 cup of the turkey stock to this mixture, and stir to combine. Add more stock to thin the sauce. Keep warm.

Add the turkey, then the warm sauce and cream, and stir to combine. Add the peas, then cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is hot and has thickened slightly, approximately 7-10 minutes.

Stir in the sherry, adjust seasonings and serve over biscuits or toast, rice or buttered noodles, garnished with the parsley.

Basic Chana Masala

Soak 160 grams who,e chickpeas overnight.
Boil until soft. Set aside.
Mash 300 grams tomato in a mixer. Set aside.
Heat 5 teaspoons ghee. Saute a medium sized chopoed onion and 1 teaspoon chopped green chili until brown.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger paste and 1 teaspoon garlic paste. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add tomato puree and pinch of tumeric. Saute until cooked through.
Add cooked chickpeas, 2 teaspoons channa masala, salt to taste, and about 200 mL water to get desired consistency. Simmer 5 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and julienned ginger.
Serve hot with rice.

Basic Chana Dal Masala

Boil 200 grams chana dal in 800 mL water until tender. Set aside.
Fry 80 grams chopped onions in 40 grams oil until tender.
Add 100 grams chopped tomatoes and 15 grams chana dal masala. Stir for 4-5 minutes until it becomes paste.
Take 1 part of tge boiled dal and add to paste. Mix well, then add remaining dal.
Check seasonings, then simmer for five minutes.
Serve with rice or roti.

Roasted Lemongrass Chicken

5 tablespoons canola oil or vegetable oil (divided)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar, divided
2 shallots, peeled
3 garlic cloves
2 fresh lemongrass stalks, cut into pieces
1 lime, zested
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a food processor, add 3 tablespoons oil, the fish sauce, oyster sauce, pepper flakes, sugar, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, and lime zest. Process until smooth. Add to a bowl, along with the chicken, and toss to coat the chicken in the marinade. Cover, transfer to the fridge, and marinate for 1-4 hours.

Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Reserving the marinade, add chicken to the skillet skin side down. Cook for 4 minutes. Turn the chicken, add the reserved marinade to the skillet, and transfer to the oven. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.

Brush the oil and marinade in the bottom of the pan on top of the chicken. Serve with lime wedges and chopped Th

Beef Chow Fun

1/2 pound (226 grams) beef skirt, flank, sirloin, or tenderloin
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (*Footnote 1)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Stir fry

(Optional) 1 batch broccolini (or 1 small head broccoli), tough ends removed and chopped into bite sized pieces (or use broccoli with gai lan (Chinese broccoli), kale, or bok choy)
7 ounces (200 grams) dried rice noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 white onion, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
4 green onions, chopped
(Optional) 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Slice beef against the grain into 1/8-inch (1/3-cm) thick pieces or 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) strips, and transfer the pieces to a small bowl. Add the light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch. Use your hand to gently mix the beef and the added ingredients, until the beef is coated with a thin layer of the mixture. Let marinate for 15 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Combine all the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons water. Mix well and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the broccolini (or broccoli) until tender, 1 minute or so. Drain and set aside. Reserve the boiling water to cook the noodles.

Cook or soak the rice noodles according to the instructions until cooked through, but still a bit chewy inside. Rinse rice noodles with cold water and drain. To avoid sticky rice noodles during stir fry, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil to the drained noodles. Gently toss noodles by hand to separate and evenly coat them with a thin layer of oil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Spread the beef slices in the skillet in a single layer. Cook until the bottom side of the beef turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip the beef and cook the other side until browned, but the inside is still a bit pink, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer beef to a plate immediately.

In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and turn to medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and onion. Stir constantly until you can smell a strong fragrance, 15 seconds.
Toss the cooked noodles again and add them into the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil onto the noodles. Use a pair of tongs to toss the noodles with oil. If the noodles start to get sticky, swirl in 2 tablespoons water.

Add the beef back into the skillet. Pour in the mixed sauce. Immediately use a pair of tongs to toss and mix everything.
Add the onion and green onion. Toss a few more times, until the sauce is absorbed by the noodles.

Add bean sprouts and cooked broccolini back into the skillet, swirl in the sesame oil (if using), and give it a final toss. Turn off heat and transfer everything to serving plates immediately.

Serve hot as a main.

NOTES

You can use regular soy sauce to replace all the light / dark soy sauce in this recipe. Note that the dish will come out with a lighter color if you do so.

Pressure Cooker Lemongrass Pumpkin Congee (Tinutuan)

1/2 cup (120 grams) long grain or short grain rice
8 cups water
1 stalk lemongrass (or 2 stalks if you like a very strong lemongrass flavor)
3 cups diced kabocha squash (the yield from half a kabocha squash)
1 cup sweet corn kernels
4 cups spinach
(Optional) 1 bunch of Thai basil leaves for garnish
Sambal and/or fried shallot for serving

Add rice and water to cover in a large bowl. Use your hand to gently swirl a few times to rinse, discard the water. Repeat 1 to 2 times. Drain rice and transfer into an Instant Pot. Add 8 cups water.

Cut the lemongrass into 2-inch (5-cm) stalks and pound them with the back of your knife, to bruise the stalks so they release more aroma. Add the lemongrass into the Instant Pot. Set the pressure to high and timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer is up, use quick release to reduce the pressure.
Add the diced pumpkin. Cover and cook on high pressure, for another 6 minutes. Use natural release to reduce pressure.

Add the sweet corn kernels and turn on the saute function until bringing to a boil. Cook with the lid two-thirds of the way covered for 3 to 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked through.
Add the spinach and continue cooking for a minute. Turn off the Instant pot.

Transfer the porridge into serving bowls. Serve hot with sambal and / or fried shallot.

Sichuan Chicken in Chili Oil (Kou Shui Ji)

3 tablespoon plain roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1 tablespoon roasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon red chili flakes or dried red chilis, seeded and chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 a 1/2 cup oil
3 scallions, cut into large sections
4 slices ginger
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 star anise
1 small cinnamon stick
1 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns

For Step 2:
2 chicken leg quarters, deboned with skin still on (try asking your butcher to do this for you)
2 scallions
2 slices ginger

For Step 3:
1 tablespoon sesame paste
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 tablespoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chicken stock

Put chopped peanuts, roasted sesame seeds, red pepper flakes and salt into a medium bowl and set it aside.

Heat your oil in pan over low heat, and add the scallions, ginger, garlic, star anise, cinnamon stick, and Sichuan peppercorns. Allow these aromatics to slowly infuse into the oil, until everything is kind of browned and wrinkly and fragrant. Discard the spices and pour the hot infused oil into the peanut mixture. Give everything a stir and cover the bowl with a plate to seal everything inside. Walk away and don’t come back until everything else is ready!

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil (there should be enough water to submerge the chicken) along with the ginger and scallion. Once it’s boiling, add the chicken (once it’s added the water will probably stop boiling because of the temperature change).

Bring the water to a boil again, and after a minute, cover the pot and immediately turn off the heat. Let it sit on the stove for 20 minutes to slowly poach the chicken.

In the meantime, prepare a small ice bath for chicken. After 20 minutes, take the chicken out of the pot and plunge it in the ice bath and let the chicken cool completely. Slice the chicken and place it on your serving plate.

Mix all of the Step 3 ingredients in a bowl. Now combine the mixture you just made with the peanut mixture you made in Step

Pour as much as you want over the chicken. Use about two thirds and save the rest for a cold noodle lunch the next day (a highly recommended action!).

Garlic Lemongrass Chicken (or Fish, or Pork)

5 plump lemongrass stalks, inner bulb only, coarsely chopped
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1 large jalapeño, chopped
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs and breasts (or on pork tenderloin or any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as snapper, sea bass or halibut)

In a food processor, pulse the lemongrass until finely chopped. Add the scallions, garlic, jalapeño and sugar and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a steady stream and process to a fine paste. Season the paste with salt and pepper.

Using a small, sharp knife, make 1/2-inch-deep slashes into the chicken and rub the paste all over, working it into the slashes. Marinate the chicken for 15 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.

Light a grill. Brush the chicken with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill over a medium-hot fire, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Vermicelli and Nuoc Cham

5 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut lengthwise into 12 strips in all
1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lime juice (from about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 pound vermicelli
1 cup bean sprouts 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into thin slices
2/3 cup fresh mint, basil, or cilantro leaves, or any combination of the three
1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Heat the broiler or light the grill. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 cloves of the garlic, and the oil. Add the chicken, toss, and then thread each strip onto a wooden skewer. Broil or grill the chicken until just done, about 2 minutes per side.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 clove garlic with the red-pepper flakes, vinegar, lime juice, and water. Set this nuoc cham aside.

In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the vermicelli until just done, about 9 minutes. Add the bean sprouts during the last minute of cooking. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly.

Put the pasta and bean sprouts on a platter and top with the cucumber, herbs, and chicken skewers. Pour the nuoc cham over all and sprinkle with the peanuts.

Pressure Cooker Beef Chili

2 1/2 lb Ground beef
1/2 large Onion (chopped)
8 cloves Garlic (minced)
2 15-oz can Diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 6-oz can Tomato paste
1 4-oz can Green chiles (with liquid)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Chili powder
2 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp Dried oregano
2 tsp Sea salt
1 tsp Black pepper
1 medium Bay leaf (optional)

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chopped onion for 5-7 minutes, until translucent (or increase the time to about 20 minutes if you like them caramelized). Add the garlic and cook for a minute or less, until fragrant.

Add the ground beef. Cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned.
Transfer the ground beef mixture into a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients, except bay leaf, and stir until combined. Place the bay leaf into the middle, if using.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. If you used a bay leaf, remove it before serving.

Instant Pot pressure cooker instructions

Select the “Sauté” setting on the pressure cooker (this part is done without the lid). Add the chopped onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, until translucent (or increase the time to about 20 minutes if you like them caramelized). Add the garlic and cook for a minute or less, until fragrant.

Add the ground beef. Cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned.
Add remaining ingredients, except bay leaf, to the Instant Pot and stir until combined. Place the bay leaf into the middle, if using.

Close the lid. Press “Keep Warm/Cancel” to stop the saute cycle. Select the “Meat/Stew” setting (35 minutes) to start pressure cooking.

Wait for the natural release if you can, or turn the valve to “vent” for quick release if you’re short on time. If you used a bay leaf, remove it before serving.

Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Chicken)

2 tablespoon cooking oil
2/3 lb. (300g) boneless chicken, cut into strips
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 fresh Thai chilies peppers, cut lengthwise finely
1 1/2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon sweet soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
20 sweet basil leaves
1/3 cup water
Cooked Rice

Heat the oil in a wok until almost smoking. Add the garlic and chilli peppers and stir-fry quickly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink.

Add fish sauce, sweet soy sauce and sugar and stir to mix. Add basil leaves, stock or water and bring to boil. Serve over rice.

Pasta e Fagioli

170g dried borlotti
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
A sprig of fresh rosemary
300-500g fresh tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
180g fresh egg pasta, cut into small, misshapen squares or 220g dried small pasta, or broken tagliatelle

If you are using dried beans, soak them for 12 hours or overnight. Drain, cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 3 inches/10cm above the beans and cook at a simmer until tender, which usually takes about an hour and a half. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid.
If you are using fresh beans, pod them, then cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 10cm above the beans. Bring to a very gentle boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans are tender. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid. If you are using tinned beans, drain and rinse them.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep sauté pan or casserole, warm the olive oil over a low flame, add the peeled and gently crushed garlic cloves and rosemary, then fry them gently until fragrant. If desired, you can remove the garlic at this point. Peel the tomatoes, if you like, then roughly chop them and add them to the pan. Raise the heat just a little and cook the tomatoes for 10 minutes, or until soft and saucy. Add the beans and a couple generous ladlefuls of bean cooking water, then let the pan bubble away for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt. At this point you may like to blend half the soup for a creamier consistency.

Add another couple of ladlefuls of bean cooking water and then the pasta. Continue cooking, stirring attentively until the pasta is tender. You may need to add a little more bean cooking water. Serve immediately.

Pasta e Piselli

1.3kg peas in their pods, or 350g frozen
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A small knob of butter or 50g pancetta or guanciale, diced
3 large or 6 small spring onions, chopped
A celery stalk, chopped
A sprig of mint
Salt
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
A parmesan rind
300g fresh egg pasta or 200g dried pasta
Pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated

If the peas are in their pods, pod them and set aside. Warm the olive oil in a large pan and fry the pancetta, onion, celery and mint with a pinch of salt, until soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato puree, if using, then add the peas, stir and cook for a few minutes.

Add 1.3 litres of cold water and the parmesan rind. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Once the peas are tender, remove the mint, add another small pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring regularly, until the pasta is al dente. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes, stir in 2 tbsp grated cheese, taste and check for salt (it shouldn’t need it). Divide between bowls and serve, handing round more cheese for those who want it.

Pasta with Eggplant

2 large aubergines
Olive or groundnut oil, for frying
1kg fresh tomatoes or 500g passata
2 garlic cloves
A small handful of basil
1 tsp sugar (if you need it)
500g pasta, such as spaghetti, rigatoni, casarecce, mezze maniche or penne
200g salted ricotta, grated
Salt

Peel strips of skin from the aubergines so they are striped, then cut them into 5mm slices. If you’re going to salt them, do it now; otherwise just dry them with a clean tea towel. Heat about 5cm oil in a frying pan and fry the slices, turning them halfway, until they are golden brown on both sides, then drain on kitchen paper. Set aside, near the stove so they keep warmish.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of water to the boil. If using fresh tomatoes, peel by plunging them into boiling water for 1 minute, then lift them out with a slotted spoon and cool under cold water, at which point the skins should slip away. Keep the hot water for cooking the pasta later. Roughly chop the tomatoes, removing the seeds if you wish (I don’t).

Crush the garlic cloves with the back of a knife, so they split, but remain whole. Warm some more oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Once fragrant and lightly golden, remove from the pan, add the tomatoes (or passata) and cook until they collapse into a sauce. You can pass the tomatoes through a food mill back into the pan or, if you’re happy with the texture, simply tear in most of the basil, add the sugar if you think the sauce is too sharp, and a good pinch of salt.

Bring the pan of tomato water back to the boil, add salt, stir well and add the pasta. Cook it until al dente, then drain. Mix the pasta with the sauce and a handful of ricotta. Divide between bowls, top with several slices of aubergine, plus a little more salted ricotta and a couple more basil leaves. Pass around the remaining aubergine slices and cheese, so that people can help themselves.

Sicilian Chicken in Breadcrumbs

4 medium-sized chicken breasts
Plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
100g seasoned breadcrumbs (fine and dry, or craggy and fresh)
Butter and olive oil, for frying
Peperonata, lemons, marinated aubergines and bread rolls for serving

Open up the chicken breasts, then, using a sharp knife or scissors, cut them into thick strips the size of fat thumbs. Dip the chicken in flour, then the egg, then dredge in the crumbs.

Warm a nut of butter and about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat. Once the butter is foaming gently, lay the chicken in the pan. Fry for a good few minutes until a golden crust has formed on one side, then turn and cook the other side. Add a bit more butter to the pan if it looks dry.

Serve hot, with peperonata, lemons, marinated aubergines and bread rolls.

Braised Chick Peas with Tomatoes and Almond Pesto

500g chickpeas, soaked in cold water for 24 hours, or 2 x 400g tins
2 bay leaves
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
6 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped parsley
500g fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper

For the pesto
50g blanched almonds
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 garlic cloves

1 Drain the soaked or tinned chickpeas, put in a heavy-based pan and cover with 2 litres of cold water. Add the bay leaves and garlic, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the chickpeas are very tender. Pull from the heat, add salt to taste, and leave to cool in the cooking liquid.

2 Warm the oil and fry the onion until soft. Add 1 tbsp chopped parsley and the tomatoes. Simmer, crushing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon. Cook until saucy. Dilute with a ladleful of chickpea broth, then add the chickpeas, leaving some broth remaining. Simmer for 10 minutes.

3 Make the pesto by pounding/blending the almonds, pine nuts and garlic into a paste. Stir into the chickpeas. Cook for another 10 minutes, adding more broth if you want. Stir in the last of the parsley. Serve with bread and cheese.

Paste e Ceci

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (from one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup (2 ounces or 55 grams) uncooked ditalini pasta (or another small shape; I use annelini)
2 cups (275 ml) boiling water

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (estimate 1 per serving)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Salt and red pepper flakes

In a medium-large heavy-bottomed pot or deep saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until it shimmers.

Add 2 smashed cloves of garlic and cook, stirring until it becomes lightly, barely browned but very fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, and pepper and cook them with the garlic for 30 seconds or so.

Add the chickpeas, pasta, and boiling water. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is cooked and a lot of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning and ladle into bowls.

Make finishing oil: Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauce- or frying pan over medium-low heat with remaining clove of garlic, rosemary, a pinch or two of salt and pepper flakes, until sizzling; pull it off the heat as soon as the garlic is going to start taking on color. Drizzle this over bowls of pasta e ceci and eat it right away.