Pesto all Trapanese (Sicilian Almond Pesto)

3 medium cloves garlic
Kosher salt
2 ounces toasted blanched almonds (60g; about 1/2 cup); see note
35 large basil leaves (about 4 sprigs, weighing 25g total)
2 to 4 mint leaves (optional)
3 1/2 ounces (100g) grated cheese, preferably a milder aged pecorino or a 50/50 mix of Pecorino Romano and Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving
1 pound (450g) plum tomatoes, peeled and seeded
1/4 cup (60ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
1 pound (450g) linguine

If Using a Mortar and Pestle: Crush the garlic in the mortar with a pinch of salt to form a paste. Add almonds and beat and crush into a rough paste. Work in basil leaves and mint (if using), pounding and crushing into tiny bits. Smash in cheese, followed by tomatoes and olive oil. The final sauce should be a rough paste. Season with salt.

If Using a Food Processor: Pulse garlic with almonds until roughly chopped. Add basil, mint (if using), cheese, tomatoes, and olive oil and process to a rough paste. Season with salt.

Transfer two-thirds of the sauce to a large heatproof serving bowl.

In a pot of salted boiling water, cook linguine until al dente. Transfer pasta to serving bowl, reserving some of the pasta-cooking water. Toss well, adding more olive oil and pasta-cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time each, until a creamy sauce forms that’s not dry but also not soupy. Season with salt, if needed. If the sauce gets too dry at any point, simply add more pasta-cooking water to loosen it.

Serve, spooning remaining sauce on top of each portion and adding more cheese as desired.

Caramelized Coconut Green Beans

Kosher salt
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen coconut chunks, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cracked black peppercorns
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 red Thai chiles, split lengthwise
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and cracked
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add green beans; cook until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Drain beans and rinse under cold water until chilled; pat dry with a paper towel.?

Melt coconut oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add coconut slices, and cook until browned on one side, about 4 minutes. Stir to loosen coconut; add garlic, mustard seeds, and peppercorns. Cook, stirring often, until mustard seeds pop, about 30 seconds. Stir in onion and chiles. Cook, stirring often, until onion and coconut are golden around edges, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add green beans to skillet, and fold to coat. Cook until green beans are heated through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a platter, and top with coriander seeds and flaky sea salt.

Thai Corn Salad

1 to 2 red Thai bird’s eye chiles (depending on your tolerance for heat), stemmed, seeded and cut into ½ -inch slices
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 ounces green beans, cut into
1-inch pieces (3/4 cup)
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, or more as needed
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 or 3 limes)
2 medium tomatoes, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
3 medium carrots, coarsely grated
2 1/2 cups cooked corn kernels (from 3 cobs; see NOTE)
1 3/4 cups roasted, unsalted cashews

Combine the chiles (to taste) and garlic in a gallon zip-top bag and zip it almost all the way closed, leaving an inch or two unzipped. Use a rolling pin to pound the chiles and garlic through the plastic and form a rough paste. Add the beans and pound briefly to crush them a little. Add the brown sugar, soy sauce and lime juice.

Add the tomatoes and pound briefly, just to flatten them. Stir in the carrots and corn; pound gently, just to help the flavors incorporate. Taste, and add more soy sauce as needed.

Transfer to a serving bowl, top with the cashews and serve right away.

NOTE: For an easy way to briefly cook corn that makes it easy to husk and de-silk, dip the three cobs, husks and all, in water (just to moisten them). Microwave on HIGH for 4 to 5 minutes, until very hot. Remove, let cool for a bit, then use a sharp knife to cut crosswise through the husk and cob an inch or two from the wide end (opposite from the end with the tassel of silk). Hold the silk end, and push the corn out. To cut off the kernels, let the cobs cool until easy to handle. Cut the cobs in half crosswise, stand each half on one end and cut off the kernels from each side.

Coconut Corn Salad

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ears of corn, shucked
fine grain sea salt
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 cup big coconut flakes, well toasted
1 cup sliced almonds, well toasted
3 tablespoons chopped red onions
big squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the corn, sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt and stir well, you want all the corn to be coated. Cook for just a minute, until the corn looses its raw edge, stir in half the thyme, and then transfer the corn to a large serving bowl.

Just before you’re ready to serve, add most of the coconut flakes, most of the almonds, the rest of the thyme, red onions, and citrus juice. Stir well. Taste, season with more salt, to taste, and serve topped with the remaining coconut and almonds (and another jolt of juice if needed!).

Lime and Blistered Peanut Coleslaw

1 1/2 cups unsalted raw peanuts
1/2 of a medium-large cabbage
1 basket of tiny cherry tomatoes, washed and quartered
1 jalapeno chile, seeded and diced
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon + fine-grain sea salt
honey, to taste

In a skillet or oven (350F) roast the peanuts for 5 to 10 minutes, shaking the pan once or twice along the way, until golden and blistered.

Cut the cabbage into two quarters and cut out the core. Using a knife shred each quarter into whisper thin slices. The key here is bite-sized and thin. If any pieces look like they might be awkwardly long, cut those in half. Combine the cabbage, tomatoes, jalapeno (opt), and cilantro in a bowl.

In a separate bowl combine the lime juice, olive oil, salt. Taste, and whisk in a teaspoon or two of honey if the lime is too strong for you. Add to the cabbage mixture and gently stir to combine. Just before serving fold in the peanuts (add them too earl and they lose some of their crunch). Taste and adjust the flavor with more salt if needed.

Roasted Tomato Salsa

2 pounds Roma tomatoes (or similar), cut in half lengthwise
1 medium white onion, cut into six wedges
1 large garlic clove, halved
a couple pinches of finely ground sea salt
2-3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium dried guajillo chile pepper, soaked in boiling water until softened, and then drained
1 -2 chipotles in adobo sauce (canned)
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Heat oven to 400F degrees. Now gently tossed the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and salt with the olive oil in a large bowl. After they are nicely coated arrange in a single layer, tomatoes cut-side facing up, across a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the tomatoes start to collapse and the onions begin to caramelize a bit. Remove from the oven.

Puree the chiles (both the guajillo and chipotles) with the roasted garlic and two roasted tomato halves. Chop the remaining tomatoes by hand (once they’ve cooled a bit). Chop and add the onions as well. Season with salt generously, and stir in the cilantro.

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.

Peach Bread Pudding with Warm Brown Sugar Sauce

Bread Pudding:
1/2 a loaf of day-old unsliced bakery bread
3-4 peaches, peeled and sliced
3 eggs
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla or vanilla bean paste
4 tsp white sugar, for topping

Brown Sugar Sauce:
1/4 cup salted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 350° and grease 4 individual dishes or an 8×8-inch baking pan. Set on to a baking sheet and set aside.

Peel peaches and cut in to slices. Set aside.

Slice bread in to thin 3/4-inch slices or cube. If using slices, you’ll want your bread pieces to be about an inch higher than the height of your baking dish, so figure out how tall they should be and cut off the bottom of the slices to that height. (*You won’t need the part you cut off the bottom, but you can use them by cutting them in to cubes and making some croutons with them!). Then cut each of the trimmed slices in half from top to bottom to make two pieces. Set aside.

In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, 1/2 cup white sugar, cream, milk and vanilla.

Place your bread slices in to your baking dishes (or disby slightly overlapping them (crust side facing the side of the disand allowing them to tilt back a bit. If using cubes, place in your dish or dishes.

Place some peach slices in the gaps between the bread. Pour some of the egg mixture over the bread and in to the dishes, just until it reaches the top edge of the dish or until it nears but doesn’t cover the top of the bread.

Allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes, then top up with remaining egg mixture, just until it reaches the edge of the dish again or near the top of the bread. You may not need it all.

Lightly brush the top of the bread with a bit of the egg mixture, then sprinkle a heaped 1 tsp. of white sugar over the top of each dish, especially on the top crust edge.

Place dishes on baking sheet (to catch any overflow!) in to preheated 350° oven and bake for about 35 minutes, or until golden and set. (*You may want to check at 25-30 minutes in case it’s browning too quickly, in which case, just lay a sheet of aluminum foil over top while it finishes baking.

Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before eating. If not eating right away, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then cover and refrigerate.

While puddings are baking, make the brown sugar sauce by melting butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, cream and a pinch of salt and stir to combine.

Allow to come to a boil, stirring regularly. Once it comes to a boil, cook another few minutes, stirring regularly, then remove from heat and pour in to a bowl or pitcher.

Cover and refrigerate if not using right away. Can be re-warmed in the microwave/saucepan to serve.

Serve puddings at warm, at room temperature or slightly re-warmed in the microwave, topped with warm brown sugar sauce (*You’ll want to place your small dishes on a plate, as the brown sugar sauce will most likely spill over the sides when poured on top).

Peaches and Cream Cake

2/3 cup white sugar (scant 2/3 cup)
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup melted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp whole milk at room temperature
6-7 fresh peaches

Grease an 8 or 9-inch springform pan (if you don’t have a springform, use a regular round 8 or 9-inch cake pan, but note that you will not be able to remove in one piece from this type of pan). If you’d like to later remove the cake from the base, be sure to line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Sprinkle the inside of the greased pan with a bit of brown sugar. Wrap the outside of the springform pan in a piece of aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 355° F.

Peel peaches and cut flesh off sides, then cut in to chunks (don’t have to be too small). Set aside.

Melt the butter and let it cool. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. Set aside.

In the meantime, whisk the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Add the vanilla and (coolemelted butter until combined. Add the milk and then the flour sifted with baking powder. Gently fold peaches into the batter.

Pour in to the prepared pan. (*You’ll know you have enough peaches if they poke above the batter when you pour it in the pan. If not, maybe add another). If you like, you can sprinkle the top with white sugar before baking for a sweet top crust.

Bake in preheated 355° oven for 50-55 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely in the pan. Once cooled, refrigerate in the pan if you are making ahead. To eat right away, run a knife around the outside and remove the outer ring. Slice and serve cool, at room temperature or slightly re-warmed, garnished with a dusting of icing sugar or dress it up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of sweetened whipped cream.

Peaches and Cream Crumble Cake

For the cake:
2 cups cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups white sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter cold and cut into 6-8 pieces
3 medium peaches peeled and cut into thin slices
2 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream 35%, table cream (18%) or half and half cream (10%)
1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Pinch salt

For the crumble topping:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter melted
Icing/Confectioner’s Sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 360° F. and grease an 8-inch springform pan. If you want to easily remove the cake from the base to a serving platter easily, line the bottom with a round of parchment paper, as well. Set on a baking sheet and set aside.

Make the cake: In a food processor, add the flour, sugar and baking powder. Pulse a couple of times to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the butter is combined with the flour. You’ll end up with a very dry mixture, like sand almost.

Sprinkle about 3/4 of this mixture over the bottom of the prepared springform pan. Don’t press it down at all, but move it around a bit so it goes up the sides just a bit. Scatter the prepared peach slices over the crumbs (avoiding the sides), then sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture evenly over the top. Again, do not press down. Leave it as is. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, sour cream, brown sugar, vanilla and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

When cake base has baked 20 minutes, remove from oven and carefully pour the egg mixture over the top. Return cake to oven and cook for a further 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the crumble topping. In a small bowl, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Add melted butter to the mixture, just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture comes together in large clumps. Place the bowl into the freezer until needed.

When the cake has baked for a further 25 minutes, remove from oven. (The egg mixture should have set somewhat so that the crumbs won’t sink into the cake. If it is too liquidy still, return to the oven for a few more minutes.) Evenly sprinkle the crumb mixture over the top. Return to the oven and bake a further 25-30 minutes. Note that the cake will be sunken in the middle, even when it’s “done”. As long as it’s not jiggly and a tester inserted in the centre comes out with just crumbs (not liquid), it’s ready to take out of the oven. It should have bake about 70-75 total, including all 3 steps.

Allow to cool in the pan, on a cooling rack, for 10-15 minutes. Run a knife around the outside and carefully remove the outer ring of the springform pan. Allow to cool more before removing from the base.

Dust with powdered/icing sugar, if desired.

Skillet Peach and Blueberry Cake (with other fruit variations)

For the cake batter:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
Pinch nutmeg
1/2 cup butter softened
3/4 cup brown sugar packed
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2/3 cup sour cream
1 peach peeled, pitted and cut into large chunks
1/2 cup fresh blueberries or a bit more, if you like
For the top of the cake:
2 peaches unpeeled and cut into thin slices
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
Turbinado white or brown sugar, for sprinkling over-top

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter with the brown sugar until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix in. Scrape down side of bowl as needed. Add flour mixture and mix until smooth and well combined.

Fold chunks of peach and 1/2 cup blueberries in to the batter, then spread the batter into a greased skillet (10-inch top diameter works well) or a 9-inch cake or springform pan. Arrange peach slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter, around the outside of the cake. Fill the centre with a mound of blueberries.

Bake in pre-heated 350 F. oven for 45-50 minutes, or until deep golden and a tester inserted near the centre comes out clean.

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.

Peach Raspberry Almond Cake

Cake:
1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups + 1 1/2 Tbsp self-raising flour
1/3 cup + 1 Tbsp ground almonds
1/4 tsp salt omit if you used salted butter
2 ripe but firm peaches cut into 12 large wedges (peeled or not, as you like)
3 1/2 oz. fresh raspberries
1/4 cup flaked almonds

Garnish:
Icing/Confectioners’ sugar

Line a 7×11-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside. (Alternately, you could use a 9×9-inch baking pan. As cake will be a bit thinner, expect baking time to be a bit less, so adjust accordingly.)

Preheat oven to 355 F.

Prepare your peach wedges by cutting 6 generous wedges from each peach and set aside.

On the stovetop, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla and eggs and beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in the flour, ground almonds and salt.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan. Lay the peach slices on top 3 wide and 4 long, so that each finished piece of cake with have a full peach slice on top. Scatter the raspberries over-top, then sprinkle with flaked almonds.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, then loosely cover top with a piece of aluminum foil. Bake a further 15-20 minutes, or until a tested comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then lift out onto a cooling rack.
.
When mostly cooled, cut into 12 squares, dividing the cake into thirds from the short end and quarters along the longer side.

Enjoy slightly warm or allow to cool completely. Serve dusted with icing sugar.

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.

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.

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.

Strawberry Buttermilk Cake (Variations with Other Fruits)

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt 1/4 tsp less if you using salted butter
6 Tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 lb strawberries hulled and halved
Confectioners’/icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 F. with rack in middle of oven. Grease a 9-inch deep dish pie pan, 9-inch round baking pan or a 10-inch top diameter cast iron skillet. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl with an electric mixer or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 3-5 minutes. Add the egg, buttermilk and vanilla and mix until blended, about 1 minute. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until combined.

Remove bowl from mixer and use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl well, mixing in any stray flour. Spoon the batter in to the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the strawberries in a randomly in a single layer on top, with the cut side down.

Bake the cake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 325 F. and continue baking for 50-60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool slightly, then serve warm, with a dusting of confectioners/icing sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you like.

Notes: Change it up with other fruits as they come in to season.

No buttermilk? Make your own by adding 1 1/2 tsp lemon juice to a scant 1/2 cup regular milk. Let stand for 10 minutes and use in this recipe.

Okra Stew

2 medium red onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic
8 teaspoons olive oil
1 quart vegetable stock
5 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon freshly sliced ginger
4 cups chopped okra
Fresh chopped cilantro for garnishing
4-6 whole orange or yellow chili peppers (optional)

In a large pot, simmer the onions, garlic and olive oil on medium heat for 10 minutes, or until onions are translucent.

Add the vegetable stock and tomatoes. Stir to combine and let simmer for a few minutes.

Add the cinnamon sticks, ginger and okra.

Cook for 10 minutes, remove from heat and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with warm couscous and chopped chili peppers on the side, if you prefer a little heat. Serves four.

Serve with Sticky Cinnamon Couscous:

1 cup of whole-wheat couscous
4 teaspoons olive oil or ?1?4 cup ghee (for a richer version with healthy fats)
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cups vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper

In a pot, add the vegetable stock, olive oil or ghee, and couscous. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, add cinnamon sticks and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat when most of the water is gone and the couscous is sticky and moist. Serves four.

Smoked Trout Rillettes

1/2 pound smoked salmon or trout, skin and bones removed
2 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Finely grated zest of a lemon
2 tablespoons minced chives or parsley
About 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish, or to taste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Pickled mustard seeds or trout caviar (optional)

Break up the trout salmon and place in bowl, along with the sour cream, butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and chives. Use a heavy fork to mash everything together. You want a rough spread, not a smooth pate. Add more butter if the rillettes look dry.

Add salt, pepper and horseradish to taste.

Cover the rillettes with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for an hour or so before serving. Spoon over some pickled mustard seeds or caviar when you serve.

Once made, pack the rillettes tightly into jars; try to get as many air pockets out as you can. Once packed, melt some butter over the top of the rillettes, cover and store in the fridge. It will keep for at least a week this way, and up to 2 weeks if you keep resealing the butter cap between each use. You can also freeze the finished rillettes for several months.

Quick Thai (or Holy) Basil Chicken (Gai Pad Krapow)

3 to 4 tablespoons oil
3 Thai bird or holland chilies, de-seeded (if desired) and thinly sliced
3 shallots, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1 pound ground chicken
2 teaspoons sugar or honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/3 cup low sodium chicken broth or water
1 bunch holy or Thai basil leaves

In a wok over high heat, add the oil, chilies, shallots and garlic, and fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes, breaking up the chicken into small bits.

Add the sugar, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Stir-fry for another minute and deglaze the pan with the broth. Because your pan is over high heat, the liquid should cook off very quickly. Add the basil, and stir-fry until wilted. Serve over rice.