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.

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.

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.

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.

Ricotta Dumplings with Peas and Asparagus

2 cups whole-milk ricotta
2 large eggs
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
1 large leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus, woody ends removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cups shelled fresh or frozen peas
3 cups pea shoots or leaves, thick stems removed
1/4 cup parsley or mint leaves, for serving
Parmesan or pecorino, for serving

Options: This dish is a truly excellent canvas for anything seasonal (asparagus and peas in the spring, cherry tomatoes in the summer, mushrooms in the fall, squash in the winter), so adjust as you like.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Combine ricotta and eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper and, using a large wooden or metal spoon, gently mix in the flour, taking care not to overmix (which could result in tough dumplings).

Meanwhile, heat butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add leeks and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks have softened completely and are starting to pick up some color, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add asparagus and peas to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook, tossing occasionally, until asparagus is just tender and bright green, 2 to 4 minutes, depending on its thickness. Remove from heat while you cook the dumplings.

When the water is at a nice steady boil, drop the ricotta mixture into the pot by the heaping spoonful. (The dumplings will expand in the water, so make them slightly smaller than you’d like them to end up.) Be careful not to crowd the pot; cook the dumplings in batches if need be.

Once the dumplings rise to the top, let them boil until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. (You can always pull one out and cut it in half to test its doneness; the texture will go from dense and doughy to light and pillowy.)

As the dumplings finish cooking, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to the skillet with the peas and asparagus. Once they’re all in there, give everything a quick toss over medium heat just to evenly coat the dumplings in the buttery sauce. Add pea shoots and toss just to wilt slightly.

Transfer to a large serving bowl or platter and top with parsley, cheese and more olive oil, if you like.

Pasta with Ricotta and Lemon

Kosher salt
1 pound short, ribbed pasta, like gemelli or penne
1 cup whole-milk ricotta (8 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino (2 ounces), plus more for serving
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest plus 1/4 cup lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
Black pepper
Red-pepper flakes, for serving
1/4 cup thinly sliced or torn basil leaves, for serving
Optional: To make it more filling, peas, asparagus or spinach (add in the last few minutes of the pasta boiling), or fresh arugula or watercress (stir in with the sauce in Step 3)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package instructions until al dente. Reserve 1 cup pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.

In the same pot, make the sauce: Add the ricotta, Parmesan, lemon zest and juice, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper and stir until well combined.

Add 1/2 cup pasta water to the sauce and stir until smooth. Add the pasta and continue to stir vigorously until the noodles are well coated. Add more pasta water as needed for a smooth sauce.

Divide the pasta among bowls and top with some of the sauce that’s pooled at the bottom of the pot. Garnish with grated Parmesan, black pepper, red-pepper flakes and basil, if using.

Asparagus with Pancetta and Leeks

4 ounces pancetta, cut into 3/8 inch to 1/4 inch dice
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound asparagus, woody ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces on the bias
1 1/4 cups leek, thinly sliced crosswise (white and pale green parts only)
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1 tablespoon Italian parsley, chopped (more to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large non-stick pan, sauté pancetta, stirring frequently, over medium heat, until crisp and lightly golden.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to pan. Add asparagus pieces and leek and sauté until asparagus is tender crisp, about 3-4 minutes.

Add garlic, lemon and orange zest, toasted pine nuts and parsley and sauté for about 1 minute, until fragrant. Season to taste with freshly ground pepper and salt and serve immediately.

Grilled Apricots (or Plums, Peaches, or Pears) with Burrata, Country Ham, and Arugula

1 1/4 pounds apricots, halved and pitted
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
5 ounces baby arugula
1/2 pound burrata cheese, shredded
4 ounces shaved country ham 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the apricots with oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over high heat, cut sides down, just until lightly charred, 5 minutes. Let cool.

In a bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the 1/4 cup of oil and season with salt and pepper. Gently toss in the apricots, radicchio and arugula. Transfer to a platter and top with the burrata, ham and vinegar. Serve.

Strawberry Summer Cake (Sheet Pan Variation)

9 tablespoons (125 grams) unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon fine sea or table salt
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) plus 3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (175 ml) milk, whole is preferred but all varieties have worked
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 ml) vanilla extract
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/4 cups (295 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) of the freshest, even a touch overripe, strawberries, hulled and halved

Heat your oven to 350°F (180°C).
Lightly coat the sides and corners of a 9×13-inch cake pan with butter or nonstick spray, and fit the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. In a large bowl, beat butter, salt, and 1 1/2 cups of the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, yolk, and vanilla and beat until combined. Add milk and mix until smooth. Sprinkle baking powder evenly over batter and beat into batter for 20 seconds longer than will seem necessary — this ensures it’s perfectly distributed. Scrape down the bowl. Add flour and beat or stir until just combined.

Spread batter in prepared pan. Arrange strawberries cut side down, as snugly as you can get them to fit. If you have extra, nudge them in anyway. Leave no strawberries behind. Sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar — it will seem like a lot but helps the strawberries get jammy and gives the cake a great texture.

Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out free of wet batter (gooey strawberries are a given and doesn’t mean it’s underbaked) — about 45 to 48 minutes. Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into squares and serve as is, or with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if you’re Deb.

Do ahead: Cake even better half- to a full day later, when the strawberries marry with better with the cake. I like to leave the cake uncovered at room temperature so it doesn’t get sticky on top.

Strawberry Summer Cake

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups (188 grams) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (200 grams) plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup (118 ml) milk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 pound (450 grams) strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 10-inch pie pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan. (This cake does not work in a standard 9-inch pie pan; it will overflow.)

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.

In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes. (Gooey strawberries on the tester are a given.) Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream.

Do ahead: Cake can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days, loosely covered, but good luck with that.

Notes:
The batter can be dropped to 2 tablespoons less sugar (i.e. 7/8 cup sugar instead of a whole one). But the sugar on top. It contributes to the berries turning into jam.

Sweet and Sour Beets

2 – 3 large beets, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup orange juice
2 cloves minced garlic
3 tbs Smoked Maple Syrup plus more to drizzle
2 tbs cider vinegar
1 whole star anise
Salt and pepper
1 tb butter
2 tbs chopped chives

Put the peeled, sliced beets in a wide, shallow pan and add the orange juice, garlic, maple syrup, vinegar, star anise and sprinkling of salt and pepper.

Turn on high to bring to a boil then lower to simmer and cover. Let the beets braise for 10 minutes or until tender, turning every so often to coat with the liquid.

When they are done, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a serving plate. Add a pat of butter to the remaining sauce, simmer until thickened and season to taste. Pour the sauce over the beets, sprinkle with the chives and then drizzle with a little extra Smoked maple if desired.

Beet, Arugula, Citrus, and Feta Salad with Ginger-Maple Vinaigrette

2 – 3 beets
Bunch of arugula
1 navel orange, peeled and sectioned
2 oz feta cheese

Vinaigrette
1 Tbsp Runamok Ginger Infused Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp walnut oil
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Prepare the beets by scrubbing off any dirt and trimming the tops and bottoms but leaving the rest of the skin on. Put them in boiling water for about ten minutes or until fork tender then remove from the water to cool. The skins should come off very easily at this point and once they are peeled, dice them into chunks and set aside.

Prepare the vinaigrette by whisking all of the ingredients together and tasting for salt and pepper.

Toss the arugula and beets in some vinaigrette and arrange on a plate. Top with bite-sized pieces of orange and a sprinkling of crumbled feta.

Bengali Phulkopir Aloo Dalna (Cauliflower, Potatoes, and Peas)

420 gms Cauliflower florets
280 gms potato boiled and cut to chunks
60 gms frozen green peas
3 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch of asafoetida/ hing
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp nigella seeds
4 green cardamom pods
1 dried mild red
1 heaped tsp ginger paste
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp caster sugar
Salt to taste
100 mls water
1/4 tsp garam masala powder

Heat the oil in a large sauce pan. Add the asafoetida along with all the whole spices. Fry for a minute on low heat. Add the ginger paste and fry for a few seconds.

Now add the chilli powder and turmeric powder along with the cauliflower florets. Mix well and sauté the florets for 2-3 minutes.

Add the sugar, season to taste and add water. Stir well and cook with a lid on for 10 minutes. Now stir and add the potato continue cooking for 5 minutes with a lid on.

Add the green peas and simmer for a minute. Turn the heat off and add garam masala. Stir well and serve warm with paratha or rice.

Asparagus, Pea, and Egg Masala

Oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Garlic – 2 cloves, finely chopped
Green chilies – 2, sliced
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Tomato – 1 large, chopped
Asparagus – 1/2 lb, cut into 1? long pieces
Green peas – 1/2 cup
Salt – to taste
Lime juice – 2 tsp
Cilantro leaves – a few stalks, roughly torn
Eggs – 4, large
How to:

Boil and peel the eggs and set aside.

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pan and add the cumin seeds. When they start to change color, throw in the onions, ginger, garlic and green chilies. Saute till onions are translucent, but not browned.

Add the turmeric, red chili, coriander, cumin and garam masala powders. Stir around for a few seconds till well combined.
Add the tomatoes and cook till they are broken down and mushy. Then add the asparagus and green peas. Sprinkle some water, add salt, cover and cook till vegetables are tender-crisp.

Open the lid, sprinkle some lime juice and cilantro leaves to garnish. Fold in the boiled egg halves. Serve hot with steamed rice or flatbreads like chapatis and rotis.

Tandoori/Tikka Gobi (Cauliflower Bites)

For the tandoori/tikka gobi,

Cauliflower – 1 large head, washed and cut into medium-sized florets
Yogurt – 1 1/2 cups (must be thick yogurt)
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp (reduce for a less spicy version)
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Amchoor or dry mango powder – 1/4 tsp (simply omit if you don’t have any)
Chickpea flour or besan – 2 tbsp
Lime – 1 small one, juiced
Cilantro leaves – a large handful, chopped
Salt – to taste
Oil – to brush while baking
For the spicy yogurt dip,

Leftover marinade from above – 1 cup
Water and salt – as needed
How to:

Tandoori/Tikka Cauliflower: In a large saucepan, bring some water to a boil. Season with a touch of salt, add cauliflower and cook on low heat for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow the cauliflower to remain submerged in the hot water for 8-10 minutes or till they are just tender. Drain completely and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly roast the chickpea flour in a hot skillet for 2-3 minutes, stirring all the while.

Take all the marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl (listed from yogurt to salt in the list above). Whisk well, ensuring there are no lumps. Taste and adjust seasoning. Add cauliflower to it and mix well to coat them thoroughly. Let it rest for at least half an hour. You may want to refrigerate it for any duration longer than that.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 deg.F and place a grilling rack over a rimmed baking tray. Arrange the cauliflower florets on it, shaking off excess marinade, and brush lightly with oil. Bake for 25-30 minutes or till cooked thoroughly.. You can also broil them at 450 deg.F for the last 1-2 minutes of baking for lightly charred edges.

Remove from oven and serve warm with lime wedges and your favorite dip.

Spicy yogurt dip: You will have at least a cup of leftover marinade from above. Cook this in a skillet over medium heat, till the raw smell goes away and it turns thick with a deep red-brown color. Add some water to it, whisk well and bring it to a boil. Simmer till it reaches a dip-like consistency. Check seasoning, you may want to add a pinch of salt or dash of lime juice to balance the flavors.

Cool this completely and serve with the tandoori or tikka cauliflower. This can be done on the stove-top while the cauliflower florets are baking and it cools down by the time it is ready to be served.

Green Bean Poriyal (with variations)

Oil – 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves – a few, roughly torn
Shallots – 2 tbsp, chopped (can also use red onions)
Whole dried red chilies – 3-4
Green beans – 1 lb, washed and diced into 1/4? pieces (very short!)
Shredded coconut – 1/4 cup
Salt – to taste

Heat oil in a deep skillet or pan. Add mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they start to sizzle and crackle, add the onions and red chilies. Saute till onions are lightly golden.

Then add the chopped green beans and stir fry for a minute or so. Sprinkle some water and salt, reduce heat to low, cook and cover till beans are just cooked.

Open the lid, fold in the shredded or grated coconut and saute for a few more seconds to make sure there is no residual water in the pan.

Remove from heat and serve hot along with rice and sambar or dal.

Notes:

You can add 1/2 tbsp of urad dal (or dehusked black lentils) along with the mustard seeds and fry them till they just begin to change color. You can also add a pinch of turmeric and coriander powders along with the salt, but we actually prefer to have thoran without it.

You can cook vegetables like carrots, beetroot, cabbage, long beans and gourds the same way. You can also try combinations like carrots-beans, cabbage-carrots-beans or asparagus-green peas. Try it for yourself and see!

Sambar with Kohlrabi

1 large or 4 small kohlrabi, skin removed and chopped into cubes (~1 cup), leaves chopped
1 cup masoor dal (red lentil)
6 cups water
2 tablespoons sambar powder (MTR brand is good if you don’t have homemade)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
2 tablespoons frozen fresh coconut (optional)
salt to taste

For tempering oil:
2 tablespoons oil or ghee (clarified butter)
pinch of asafetida or hing
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
4 fresh curry leaves (fresh or dried)
1 dried red chili (broken into pieces by hand)
1/2 red onion

Wash masoor dal until water is clear, drain and set aside.

Add drained lentil and 6 cups of water to pot. Bring to a boil under medium/high heat and then leave at medium heat. Ladle out any foam that comes to the surface. Once foam stops, add turmeric and kohlrabi pieces and mix up. The dal and vegetables take about 30 minutes to cook. The lentils should be fallen apart and the kohlrabi should be soft. At this point, add in the kohlrabi leaves.

Add sambar powder and mix well. Simmer for 5 minutes. Should get a golden-like residue forming on the surface. Add salt to your taste, tamarind and coconut and mix well. Make sure the tamarind is completely dissolved. You can also at this time, add more water depending on your preference of thickness. Cook for a few more minutes. Turn off heat.

In a separate small pan, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee or oil and put in asafetida and black mustard seeds. Wait for the seeds to pop a bit. To help this happen, you can put a lid over the pan. Once its popped for a few seconds, turn the heat down a little and put the curry leaves and broken up chilis. Coat the leaves and chili with the oil and fry for a few seconds. Add in the chopped onions and fry for 10 minutes on low heat. The onions should be translucent and give off a nice fragrance. Pour this mixture over the lentils and vegetables and mix well.

You can serve with rice and some yogurt on the side.

Red Currant Chitranna

1 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup red currants, few more for garnish
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon oil + 1 tablespoon oil
1/4 cup raw peanuts
pinch hing (asafoetida)
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 dried red chili, broken in two (alternative is chopped green chilis which adds more spice)
4 fresh curry leaves
juice of 1 lemon
handful frozen fresh grated coconut, thawed
cilantro for garnish
salt

Cook the rice in a rice cooker or on stove with water and turmeric mixed in. To make the rice not stick I sometimes add a little oil. Set cooked rice aside.

In a small pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil and put in peanuts under medium heat. Fry peanuts until they are fragrant and turn golden brown. Put peanuts aside. (They will get crunchier as they sit out.)

In a wok, heat 1 tablespoon of oil under medium heat. To test the oil is hot put in a couple mustard seeds and they should start sizzling. Then add the rest of the mustard seeds and hing. Shake up the pot and cover (this is so the mustard seeds don’t pop out of the pan and burn you!) Once they pop for a few seconds, add the dried red chili and curry leaves (rub leaves between your hands a little before putting in pan to release oils). Coat them with oil and fry for a few seconds. Add the rice into the wok and mix well. Fry for a few minutes.

Turn the heat off and mix in the lemon juice and coconut. Gently mix in the peanuts, red currants and salt to your taste. Garnish with cilantro, few more currants and serve with yogurt raita.