Herbed White Bean Stew with Sausage

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1 pound sweet Italian sausage, sliced 3/4-inch thick
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 medium carrots, finely diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound dried great Northern beans, rinsed and picked through
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
2 thyme sprigs
1 large rosemary sprig
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste

Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high. Add the sausage and brown until cooked through, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel.

Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, 8 cups water, salt, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently until the beans are tender, about 2 hours, adding more water if needed to make sure the beans remain submerged.

When beans are tender, return the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning. Ladle into warm bowls and serve drizzled with more vinegar and olive oil.

Angel Corn Casserole

Ingredients send grocery list
2 (16-ounce) bags frozen corn (or about 4 1/2 to 5 cups fresh corn kernels)
2 large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons snipped fresh chives, plus more for optional garnish
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup plus a heaping 1/3 cup crumbled Ritz crackers, divided
Salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter a large 9×13-inch casserole dish.
If using frozen corn, steam and drain the kernels. If using fresh, scrape kernels off the cob.

Beat the egg, cream, and brown sugar in a large bowl until just blended. Stir in chives and nutmeg. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in corn kernels.

Combine 1 cup of the crumbled Ritz crackers with 6 tablespoons of the melted butter. Add to the corn mixture. Stir until combined. Pour into the casserole dish.

Toss remaining cracker crumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons melted butter.

Sprinkle buttered crumbs over the top of the pudding.

Bake uncovered until golden brown and slightly firm to the touch, about 45 minutes.

Optional: Garnish with more snipped fresh chives.

Turmeric-Roasted Cauliflower with Pistachio Gremolata

1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-sized florets
2 tablespoons finely grated fresh turmeric (from about three 3-inch pieces), or 1 teaspoon ground (or as needed to fully coat the florets)
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt, to taste
6 to 8 dates, such as Medjool, pitted and halved (or quartered if large)
1 large lemon (finely grated zest plus juice)
1/3 cup shelled pistachios, raw and unsalted are ideal but roasted work too
1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1/2 teaspoon Aleppo pepper, or to taste

Heat oven to 425°F.

Toss the cauliflower with the turmeric and olive oil on a sheet pan, season with salt, and arrange in a single, even layer. Roast for 15 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven.

Add the dates, toss everything together, and redistribute in a single, even layer. Continue roasting until the cauliflower is nicely browned and tender, and the dates and little bits of grated turmeric are starting to caramelize, about 10 minutes more.

Remove pan from oven, and squeeze half a lemon (zest it first—you’ll need it for the gremolata in Step 3!) over the whole dish; add more lemon juice and salt, to taste.

Meanwhile, to make the pistachio gremolata: Toast the pistachios in a small skillet over medium heat, until they’re fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat, and when cool enough, chop them into fine yet irregular pieces with a knife.

In a small bowl, toss together the pistachios, lemon zest, parsley, pomegranate arils, and Aleppo pepper; season with a pinch of salt.
Arrange the cauliflower and dates on a large serving platter, and scatter the pistachio gremolata over the top. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Smacked Zucchini Salad With Chile Oil & Black Vinegar

4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon chile crisp (or chile oil with its sediment)
2 teaspoons black vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 large garlic clove, Microplaned or minced
2 zucchinis (totaling at about 12 ounces)
1 pinch kosher or flaky salt (if needed)

Combine the soy sauce, chile crisp, black vinegar, sugar, and garlic in a medium bowl, and stir to combine.

Lay the zucchinis on a cutting board and smack with a rolling pin until they split, like a dropped watermelon at the grocery store. Now chop the smacked zucchinis into bite-size pieces with a knife. Add the zucchini to the bowl with the dressing and toss.

Taste and adjust as needed. Maybe you want the salt, or not. Maybe you want more soy sauce, or chile crisp, or vinegar, or sugar, or garlic. Adjust until it tastes very, very good to you. The longer it sits, the softer the zucchini will get, and the saucier.

Classic Reuben

For the Russian Dressing:
2 1/2 tablespoons (35ml) mayonnaise
2 tablespoons (30ml) sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoons (20ml) ketchup
1 tablespoon (15ml) dill pickle relish
1 tablespoon (15ml) fresh juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon (5ml) grated horseradish from a jar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Sandwiches:
1 pound (500g) sliced corned beef (see note)
1/2 pound (225g) sauerkraut
8 slices Jewish rye bread
5 tablespoons (70g) unsalted butter, softened
8 slices Swiss cheese

For the Russian Dressing: In a medium bowl, stir together mayonnaise, sour cream, ketchup, relish, lemon juice, and horseradish. Season dressing with salt and pepper and set aside.

For the Sandwiches: Preheat oven to 350°F. Lay a sheet of aluminum foil on a rimmed baking sheet and place corned beef in the center. Bring foil edges up to form walls, then add 2 tablespoons (30ml) water to corned beef. Seal package well and transfer to oven to heat corned beef, 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sauerkraut with 3 tablespoons (45ml) water and set over medium heat until warmed through, about 4 minutes; keep warm.

Brush 1 side of each slice of bread with butter. Heat a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Working in batches, add bread, butter side down, and toast until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a clean baking sheet, untoasted side up.

Spread Russian dressing generously all over untoasted side of each bread slice. Mound corned beef, making sure to let any excess moisture drip off first, on half of bread slices. Mound sauerkraut on top of corned beef, making sure to let any excess moisture drip off of it first. Lay half of cheese slices over sauerkraut and the other half on the remaining Russian-dressed bread slices.

Transfer to oven and cook until cheese is fully melted, about 3 minutes. Close sandwiches and serve right away.

Corned Beef Hash

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice (about 4 cups)
1/2 pound fully cooked corned beef (about 1 pound raw, simmered for 3 hours until fork-tender), shredded into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, cut into medium dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 poblano chile, cut into medium dice (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons ketchup or chili sauce (for spicier hash)
1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Frank’s)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs

Melt the butter in a 12-inch heavy-bottomed nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until the foaming -subsides. Add the potatoes and cook, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until they are tender and light golden brown, about 12 minutes total. Add the cooked corned beef, onion, and poblano, and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add the ketchup or chili sauce and hot sauce, stir to combine, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, gently pack the potatoes and hash into the pan, creating a smooth top. Raise the heat to high and cook undisturbed until the bottom layer is deep brown, about 3 minutes. Using the spatula, lift the browned bits from the bottom of the pan and stir into the upper layers. Repack the skillet and repeat three or four times, until the entire skillet is full of well-browned potatoes, about 10 minutes total. Reduce the heat to low.

Make four indentations in the surface of the hash and break an egg into each one. Season with salt and pepper, cover the pan, and cook until the eggs are barely set, about 5 minutes. Bring the skillet to a trivet on the table, and serve immediately.

Corned Beef Brisket, Potatoes, Cabbage, and Carrots

1 whole flat or point cut beef brisket, trimmed, about 2250 grams/5 pounds
100 grams/3 1/2 ounces (about 3/4 cup) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
10 grams/.325 ounces (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) of pink salt or 7.5 grams/.25 ounces (about 2 teaspoons) saltpeter
30 grams/1 ounce (about 2 tablespoons) packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
2 tablespoons yellow mustard seeds
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon allspice berries
6 whole cloves
1 tablespoon ground ginger
6 bay leaves, roughly torn

2 pounds carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and roughly diced
1 whole head white or green cabbage, cut into 6 to 8 wedges (2 to 3 pounds total)

8 days before serving, combine salt, saltpeter (or pink salt), and brown sugar in a small bowl and whisk until homogenous. Rub evenly over every surface of brisket. Combine peppercorns, mustard, coriander, allspice, cloves, ginger, and bay leaves and sprinkle evenly over both sides of beef, pressing spices gently into the meat until they stick. Seal the beef in a vacuum sealed bag or a zipper-lock bag with all of the air pressed out of it. Place in coldest part of refrigerator and let rest for 7 days, flipping once a day.

To Cook in a Sous-Vide Cooker: The day before serving, remove the beef from the bag and carefully rinse off all spices under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Re-seal in a vacuum bag and cook at 180° until tender, about 10 hours. Proceed to step 4.

To Cook in a Dutch Oven: The day before serving, remove the beef from the bag and carefully rinse off all spices under cold running water. Pat dry with paper towels. Preheat oven to 200°F. Place brisket in large Durch oven, cover with water by several inches, and bring to a simmer over high heat. Remove from heat, cover with lid slightly ajar, place in oven, and cook until completely tender, about 10 hours. Proceed to step 4.

Once beef is cooked, transfer to an airtight container along with cooking liquid (if cooked in a water oven, just store it in its vacuum bag). Let rest at least overnight, and up to 3 days.

The day of: transfer cooking liquid to a large saucepan or Dutch oven along with carrots, potatoes, and cabbage. Top up with water until vegetables are submerged. Slice beef thinly against the grain and fan slices out in large skillet. Add 1 cup of liquid from pot to skillet and place skillet on top of pot. Cover skillet. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until vegetables are completely tender and beef is heated through, about 45 minutes. Serve immediately with hot mustard.

Greek Lentil Soup

1 pound lentils, rinsed and picked over
10 cups vegetable broth or water
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 medium potatoes (1 1/4 pounds), scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch dice
10 ounces baby spinach, chopped
1 small butternut squash (1 pound), peeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3 cups)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, with leaves, sliced
3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more to taste
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
2 lemons

In a large soup pot over medium-high heat, combine the lentils, stock or water, jalapeño, coriander, cumin, oregano and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.

Add the potatoes, spinach and butternut squash, re-cover and cook another 15 to 20 minutes, until the potatoes and squash are tender.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook, stirring, until it starts to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the celery and garlic and cook, stirring often, until they soften, 3 minutes. Add the mixture to the soup, deglazing the skillet with a little soup liquid and adding the deglaze contents back to the soup pot. Add the salt and pepper, taste, and add more if needed. Pick out and discard the bay leaves.

Thinly slice one of the lemons and cut the other into wedges. Just before serving, stir the lemon juice into the soup. Serve the soup hot, with a lemon slice floating atop each bowl. Pass lemon wedges at the table.

Thai Basil Chicken (Or Beef) with Noodles or Rice

OR THE SAUCE
1/3 cup fish sauce (nam pla)
1/3 cup water or low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Thai chili sauce, or more to taste
1 teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon finely minced ginger root

FOR THE CHICKEN (or beef)
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 to 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Ground white pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
1 cup packed Thai basil leaves
2 to 3 Thai chile pepper (may substitute 1 small jalapeño chile pepper), stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced

For the sauce: Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

For the chicken: In a medium bowl, combine the egg whites, cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of the oil and the white pepper. Add the chicken and mix well; set aside.

Heat a wok or skillet over high heat. Add the remaining 1/4 to 1/2 cup oil and add the chicken mixture; stir-fry for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and stir-fry for a few minutes; the onion will not soften thoroughly. Add the sauce, stir for 1 minute and turn off the heat. Add the basil and chili pepper, stirring to combine. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

This makes plenty of sauce and can be served with noodles.

Oi Muchim (Korean Marinated Cucumbers)

ngredients
4 Persian cucumbers (about 10 1/2 ounces; 300g), sliced crosswise 1/2 inch thick
1 tablespoon (8g) coarse ground gochugaru (Korean chili flakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons (6g) kosher salt
1 teaspoon (5g) sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) unseasoned rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon (5ml) fish sauce
1 medium garlic clove (5g), very finely minced or grated
3 tablespoons (45ml) toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon (10g) toasted sesame seeds

In a medium bowl, combine cucumbers, gochugaru, salt, and sugar. Using clean hands, massage cucumbers, squeezing and tossing them with seasoning, until cucumber is well-coated on all sides and begins to release liquid and color of gochugaru brightens to vibrant orange-red, about 1 minute.

Transfer cucumbers to a colander, then set colander inside bowl used to season cucumbers. Cut a round of parchment paper large enough to cover surface of cucumbers, and place over cucumbers. Then place a weight on top of parchment to press down on cucumbers (canned goods, a cast iron skillet, a mixing bowl filled with water, or a Chef’s Press all make for good weights). Set aside to drain for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl, whisk together rice wine vinegar, fish sauce, and garlic. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in sesame oil until emulsified.

Once cucumbers have drained, remove weight and discard parchment paper. Using clean hands, squeeze cucumbers to get rid of excess moisture, then transfer to bowl with dressing; discard accumulated cucumber liquid. Toss cucumbers with dressing until well-coated all over, about 30 seconds. Add sesame seeds and toss to combine. Divide between small individual serving bowls and serve, or transfer to airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Winter Vegetable Stew

3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1/2 onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, smashed
1 bulb fennel, chopped
1 bunch kale, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 leeks, chopped
1 large carrot, diced small
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 small napa cabbage, sliced thin
2 to 3 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Cassoulet beans with some broth

In a large pot, heat the olive over medium heat until shimmering, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, fennel, kale, leeks, and carrot. Salt lightly and stir. Allow them to cook for about 10 minutes until they’re soft but not quite done. Add the cabbage and cook for another 5 minutes.

Add water to barely cover the mixture, about 5 or 6 cups, depending on the pot you’re using and the state of the vegetables. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce to a gentle simmer over medium to medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes until vegetables are cooked through.

Add the beans and adjust the salt. Add a generous amount of pepper and bring back to a simmer.

Ladle into large bowls and drizzle each serving with extra-virgin olive oil.

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
2 cups (10 ounces) diced onion, 1 large
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
4 cups (16 ounces) cauliflower florets, 1 medium
2 cups (16 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1/2 cup dark beer, such as Guinness
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups (8 ounces) grated sharp cheddar cheese

In a 5-quart stock pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and ½ teaspoon salt, stir and cook until the onion turns slightly golden, about 10 minutes. Add the cauliflower, stir everything together to coat with the oil, cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low so the liquid is just simmering. Cover the pot and cook until the cauliflower is fork-tender, 7 to 10 minutes.

While the cauliflower cooks, in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, melt the butter until foaming. Sprinkle the flour over the melted butter and whisk until smooth, forming a roux. Reduce the heat and continue to whisk until the roux turns golden brown, about 7 minutes. Add the warmed milk in a stream, whisking until thick and smooth. Add the beer, whisking until smooth, and bring to a simmer, warming just until the bubbles have dispersed, 2 to 3 minutes.

Using a rubber spatula, scrape the beer sauce into the soup and stir until smooth. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, the thyme, Worcestershire, mustard, black pepper and cheese. Stir and heat until a silky cheese soup surrounds the cauliflower, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve hot.

Pork Chops and Cabbage with Mustard Cream Sauce

4 thin center-cut boneless pork chops (about 1 pound total)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup finely diced onion (about 1/2 large onion) is
4 cups rough chopped green cabbage (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, or to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Pat the pork chops dry and season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the chops and cook until browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Turn the chops and cook until browned on the other side, about 3 minutes. (If the chops are browning too quickly, lower the heat.) Transfer the chops to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add the onion to the skillet and stir, cooking until the onion is softened and nearly translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cabbage and cook until the cabbage is tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Add the butter, if using, and toss to coat the cabbage. (If the chops are lean, butter will enhance the flavor.) Transfer the cabbage mixture to a serving platter and cover to keep warm.

Lower the heat to medium. Add the cream and mustard to the skillet and stir until the mustard is fully incorporated, about 1 minute. Add the lemon juice and white pepper; stir to combine

Add the chops back to the skillet. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 5 minutes, basting the chops with the sauce.

Place the chops on top of the cabbage on the serving platter. Drizzle the chops and cabbage with the remaining sauce, garnish with the parsley and serve.

Cucumber Salad with Mustard Oil

1/2 cup (2 oz; 60g) raw hazelnuts or peanuts, skinned
2 English cucumbers (25 oz; 700g)
2 tablespoons (30ml) mustard oil
2 tablespoons (30ml) lime juice, from 1 lime
2 teaspoons (1/8 oz; 4g) red pepper flakes
Kosher salt

In a small dry saucepan, toast hazelnuts over medium-high heat, until they just start to brown and become fragrant, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately transfer to mortar and crush with pestle to form coarse powder. (Alternatively, use a spice grinder.)

Trim and discard ends of cucumbers. Cut each cucumber in half lengthwise and then into thin slices. Place sliced cucumbers in a medium mixing bowl.

Using a whisk or fork, thoroughly mix mustard oil and lime juice in small bowl and pour over cucumbers. Add toasted hazelnuts and pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Season to taste with salt. Serve immediately.

Classic Cauliflower Cheese

1 medium to large cauliflower
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
Cheese Sauce:
4 Tbsp butter salted or unsalted
3-4 Tbsp all purpose flour *see Notes
1 cup milk at least 2% b.f.
1 cup whipping cream 35% b.f. ** see Notes
2 cups aged cheddar cheese grated, well packed
Pinch nutmeg grated or powdered
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425F.

Prepare and roast the cauliflower: Remove the stem leaves and core from the cauliflower and break off the florets into large chunks. (Not sure how to cut the cauliflower? Try my easy method details in the Cook’s Noes above). If you like, you can cut away most of the stalks and just use the florets or use it stalks and all. Cut the florets into bite-sized pieces, but not too small.

Place the cauliflower in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter onto a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until tender (test with a knife) and golden in spots. Remove from the oven, set aside and REDUCE THE OVEN TEMPERATURE TO 400F.
Prepare the cheese sauce: Measure out your milk and cream in a 2-cup measuring cup and set aside. Grate your cheese and have ready.

In a large saucepan (you’ll be adding the cauliflower to it later, so make sure it’s big enough), melt the butter oven medium heat.

Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly for 2-3 minutes, or as long as you feel you can without letting it scorch.

Reduce the heat under the pan to medium-low. Pour in a small amount of the cream/milk and whisk until a smooth paste forms.

Add the remaining milk a bit at a time and whisk until smooth, until all the milk has been added. Cook sauce over medium-low heat and whisking regularly, until the sauce noticeably thickens.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the grated cheese. Let stand without stirring for about 2 minutes, then stir together. The cheese should have all melted in to the sauce. If by chance it hasn’t, you can return the pot to the burner over low heat to finish the melting.

Add the nutmeg and stir in. Taste the sauce and add salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed.

Add the roasted cauliflower to the pot with the cheese sauce and stir to completely coat the cauliflower. Spoon the cauliflower cheese mixture into a baking dish large enough to hold it all. Place the baking dish onto a baking sheet (to catch any bubble overs).

Place into the preheated 400F and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until bubbly and deep golden on top. Let stand a few minutes before serving, to allow the sauce to set up a bit.

Notes: If using heavy cream, you should be good with 3 Tbsp of flour. If using a lighter cream, whole milk or you’re using cream, but want a thicker sauce, go with the 4 Tbsp of flour.
** Heavy whipping cream will produce the best results, but if you prefer, you could use a lighter cream, such as table cream (18% b.f) or half and half cream (10% b.f.)

Roast the cauliflower just until tender with just a few golden spots. Test it with a knife to be sure it’s tender, then remove. You don’t want to roast all of the moisture out of it.

Add the milk/cream mixture in small increments (a scant 1/4 cup-ish at a time), to ensure a smooth sauce.

Be sure to properly season your dish, starting with seasoning the cauliflower before roasting and ending with tasting and seasoning the cheese sauce at the end of cooking it on the stove-top, to really bring out the flavours.

Turning off the heat under your pot (or removing it from the burner if you have an electric stovetop) immediately after adding the cheese helps to ensure a smooth and creamy sauce, as the cheese is allowed to melt slowly from the residual heat in the sauce.

Fish-Fragrant Eggplant

1 pound 5 ounces (600g) eggplants (1–2 large)
Salt
Cooking oil, for deep-frying
1 1/2 tablespoons Sichuan chile bean paste
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
10 tablespoons (150ml) hot stock or water
4 teaspoons superfine sugar
1 teaspoon Chinese light soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon potato starch, mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
1 tablespoon Chinkiang vinegar
6 tablespoons thinly sliced scallion greens

Cut the eggplants into batons about 3/4 inch (2cm) thick and 2 3/4 inches (7cm) long. Sprinkle with salt, mix well and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant, drain well and pat dry with paper towels. Heat the deep-frying oil to around 390°F (200°C) (hot enough to sizzle vigorously around a test piece of eggplant). Add the eggplant, in two or three batches, and deep-fry for about 3 minutes, until tender and a little golden. Drain well on paper towels and set aside.

Carefully pour off all but 3 tablespoons oil from the wok and return to medium heat. Add the chile bean paste and stir-fry until the oil is red and fragrant: take care not to burn the paste (move the wok away from the burner if you think it might be overheating). Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until they smell delicious.

Tip in the stock or water, sugar and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then add the eggplant, nudging the batons gently into the sauce so they do not break apart. Simmer for a minute or so to allow the eggplant to absorb the flavors.

Give the potato starch mixture a stir and add it gradually, in about three stages, adding just enough to thicken the sauce to a luxurious gravy (you probably won’t need it all). Tip in the vinegar and all but 1 tablespoon of the scallion greens, then stir for a few seconds to fuse the flavors.

Turn out onto a serving dish, scatter over the remaining scallion greens and serve.

Lemon Custards with Strawberries

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spicy Corn and Coconut Soup

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Gnocchi

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

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

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

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

Sweet Potatoes with Tahini Butter

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

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

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

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

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