Shrimp with Tomatoes and Corn

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels (from 4 ears)
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon), plus wedges for serving (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 5 pieces
3 tablespoons chopped parsley or chives, or torn basil leaves

Pat the shrimp very dry and season with salt and pepper. In a large (12-inch) skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high. Add the shrimp and cook until pink and lightly golden in spots, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a plate.

Add the tomatoes to the skillet, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring just once or twice, until they start to blister in spots, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the corn, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring just once or twice, until the tomatoes burst and the corn is golden in spots, 3 to 4 minutes.

Add the garlic and red-pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until you smell garlic, about 1 minute.
Reduce heat to medium, and add the wine and lemon juice, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until nearly evaporated, then add the butter and stir until melted. Add the shrimp and its juices and stir until warmed through. (If the sauce breaks and looks greasy, add 1 or 2 teaspoons of water and stir until emulsified.)

Remove from heat, add the herbs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with extra lemon for squeezing over, if you like.

Thai Beef Salad (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. 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.

Extra Crunchy Fruit Crumble

FOR THE TOPPING:
1 1/2 cups/190 grams all-purpose flour
1/2 cup/50 grams rolled oats
1/3 cup/75 grams light or dark brown sugar
1/3 cup/65 grams granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, ginger or allspice, or use lemon zest
1/2 cup/115 grams unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled

FOR THE FILLING:
2 to 5 tablespoon light brown sugar (or granulated sugar), depending on the sweetness of the fruit
2 tablespoons cornstarch
8 cups mixed berries (fresh or frozen), or cubed peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots, or pitted sweet cherries (or a combination)
Ice cream or whipped cream, for serving

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Make the topping: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, oats, sugars, salt and spices. Stir in butter. Using your hands, squish mixture until coarse crumbs form. Some should be about 1/2-inch in size, some smaller.

Spread topping in one layer onto a rimmed baking sheet. (You don’t have to grease it first.) Bake until crumbs are solid when you gently poke them, and are fragrant, about 15 minutes. They won’t change appearance very much. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool while you make the filling. (Crumbs can be baked up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature.)
Prepare the filling: In a large bowl, whisk together sugar and cornstarch until well combined. Add fruit and gently toss to coat with the sugar mixture. Pour filling into an ungreased 2-quart gratin dish or 10-inch cake pan, mounding the fruit in the center.

Spoon crumbs over filling and place the crumble dish on a rimmed baking sheet to catch any overflowing juices. (You can use the same baking sheet you cooked the crumbs on.) Bake until filling bubbles energetically around the edges, about 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream, if you like. Crumble can be made up to 8 hours ahead and kept at room temperature, or warmed up briefly in a 350-degree oven.

Crispy Rice with Shrimp, Bacon, and Corn

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 pound peeled and deveined shrimp, patted very dry
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 strips bacon
3 ears corn
6 scallions
1 cup grape tomatoes, or 1 large chopped juicy tomato
4 cups cooked rice

Heat oil in large cast-iron skillet or other heavy skillet over high heat. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Add to the hot oil in a single layer and sear until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Turn heat down to medium-low and add the bacon in a single layer. Cook, turning to evenly brown, until crisp, about 10 minutes.

While the bacon browns, shuck the corn and cut off the kernels. You should end up with about 3 1/2 cups. Thinly slice the scallions and set aside some greens for garnish. Cut the tomatoes in half. (If the bacon is done cooking before you’re finished slicing, remove the pan from the heat for a moment.)
Drain the bacon on paper towels, leaving as much liquid as possible in the skillet. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the corn, scallions, and a pinch of salt to the skillet. Cook, stirring, until the scallions just wilt, about 1 minute.

Add the rice and stir until well-mixed and heated through, about 3 minutes. Press the rice evenly across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Let cook, without stirring, as the rice and corn begin to crackle, until you smell a toasty scent and the rice browns, about 5 minutes. You can lift up a section of rice to peek and see if a golden brown crust has developed.
Remove from the heat and divide the rice mixture among four bowls, scattering the tomatoes, shrimp and accumulated juices on top of each. (Alternatively, serve rice directly from the pan, with tomatoes and shrimp on top.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Crumble the bacon all over and garnish with the reserved scallions.

Corn and Coconut Salad

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 ears of corn, shucked
fine grain sea salt
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 cup / 1 1/2 oz / 40 g big coconut flakes, well toasted
1 cup / 3 oz / 85 g 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!).

Bhindi Masala

1 1lb okra/bhindi
3 tbsp oil
1 medium onion, sliced thinly or ? cup sliced onions
1 large tomato, chopped or ½ cup chopped tomatoes
2 green chilies, slit
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste or ½ inch ginger along with 3 to 4 medium garlic crushed to a paste in mortar-pestle
1/4 tsp turmeric powder/haldi
1/4 tsp red chili powder/lal mirch powder
1/2 tsp coriander powder/dhania powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder/jeera powder
1/2 tsp dry mango powder/amchur
1/4 tsp garam masala powder
1/2 tsp kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves, crushed
2 tbsp chopped coriander leaves/dhania patta
salt as required

Rinse the bhindi/okra in water. then wipe dry them with a kitchen towel or just allow to dry them naturally in a plate. (making sure they are completely dry eliminates the gelatinous texture of okra)

Slice off the crown and tip of each bhindi. then slice them vertically.
also slice 1 medium onion. chop 1 large tomato and slit 2 green chilies. crush the ginger and garlic in a mortar-pestle.

Heat 3 tbsp oil in a thick bottomed shallow frying pan. add the sliced onions.
saute them till they start turning light brown.

Add 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste and the green chilies. Saute till the raw aroma of ginger-garlic goes away.

Add the chopped tomatoes. stir well.

Add turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, cumin and dry mango powder. Mix the spices with the rest of the onion-tomato masala. Saute this mixture till the tomatoes become pulpy and you see oil releasing from the sides.

Add the chopped bhindi/okra, season with salt, and stir very well. Cover the pan with a tight fitting lid and cook on a low flame or simmer. Check after 4 to 5 minutes a couple of times. Continue to cook the bhindi fry on a low flame till the bhindi is done. You will have to check after every 4 to 5 minutes so that the bhindi does not get too browned or burnt. Stir every time when you check it. If the okra is becoming too browned or getting burnt, then sprinkle 1 to 1.5 tbsp water all over. stir, cover and continue to cook.

Once the bhindi is done, add garam masala powder and kasuri methi/dry fenugreek leaves, and cilantro, and stir well.

Roasted Asparagus With Buttered Almonds, Capers and Dill

1 1/3 pounds/600 grams asparagus, woody ends trimmed
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons/30 grams unsalted butter
Scant 1/4 cup/20 grams sliced (flaked) almonds
3 tablespoons/30 grams baby capers, patted dry on paper towels (kitchen paper)
1/4 to 1/2 cup/5 to 10 grams roughly chopped dill

Heat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit/220 degrees Celsius. Line a baking sheet (baking tray) with parchment paper.

In a large bowl or on a work surface, use your hands or tongs to toss the asparagus with 1 tablespoon oil, a generous pinch of salt and a good grind of pepper. Arrange asparagus in the paper-lined pan, spaced well apart, and roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until asparagus is soft and starting to brown in places, 8 to 12 minutes, depending on thickness. Remove from oven and set aside in the pan.

In a small or medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat until foamy. Add almonds and fry, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes (reduce heat as needed to prevent scorching). Pour almonds and butter evenly over asparagus.

Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan and heat over high heat. Once hot, add the capers and fry, stirring continuously, until they have opened up and become crisp, 1 to 2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove capers from the oil and sprinkle over the asparagus. Add dill. Using tongs or two spoons, mix gently to combine, transfer to a large plate and serve warm.

Penne with Roasted Eggplant, Chile, and Mint

1 and 1/2 pounds eggplant (about 4 medium), cut into 1-inch cubes
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more as needed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, more as needed
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, more as needed
1 very large ripe tomato, cored and diced (1 and 1/2 cups)
1/2 pound dried penne
3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
3 anchovy fillets
Large pinch chile flakes
2 tablespoons drained capers
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup torn basil leaves
2 tablespoons torn mint leaves
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On rimmed baking sheet, toss together eggplant, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread into one layer. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the eggplant is golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Place tomato in large bowl and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Bring large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook penne to al dente according to package instructions; drain well.

While pasta cooks, heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Stir in garlic, anchovies and chile flakes, and cook until golden and soft, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat and, using slotted spoon, transfer garlic to cutting board. Let garlic cool for a few minutes, then chop up and add back to the oil. Pour garlic-chile into bowl with tomatoes. Add eggplant and capers, and toss well.

Add pasta to bowl with eggplant and tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste, and drizzle generously with oil. Toss in herbs and serve warm or at room temperature.

Cucumber Salad with Roasted Peanuts and Chili

6 Persian cucumbers (about 1 pound), cut lengthwise into thin spears, then cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
Kosher salt
1/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
3 tablespoons natural unsalted peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 small garlic clove, grated
Chile oil, store-bought or homemade, for serving (optional)

Toss cucumbers with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a colander. Set aside to drain.
Chop peanuts, cilantro and red-pepper flakes together until very fine. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Add up to 1 tablespoon water, if needed to thin mixture. Transfer salted cucumbers to the bowl with dressing and toss to coat.

Leek Risotto With Asparagus

FOR THE RISOTTO
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 large leek, cleaned and chopped (1 cup)
1 cup white arborio rice
3/4 cup dry white wine, such as chardonnay
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces grated pecorino-Romano cheese(3/4 cup), plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, for garnish

FOR THE ASPARAGUS
8 ounces thin asparagus stalks, washed and dried; tough ends trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, for serving
For the risotto: Combine the broth and water in a medium saucepan over medium heat. (You’ll gradually add this to the rice as it cooks.)

Switch gears for a moment to the asparagus: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the baking sheet. Drizzle it with the oil and season with the salt and a few grinds of black pepper, then toss it all together with your hands until evenly coated. Pop it in the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, until fork-tender. Let the asparagus cool on the pan.

Meanwhile, let’s get that risotto going: Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped leek and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until softened. Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes, until the rice is starting to turn light brown. Pour in the wine (enjoy that pleasant sizzle!) and cook until that liquid is absorbed, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes.

Now, here’s where you’ll start adding the hot liquid. Stir in one ladleful, along with the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is fully absorbed, then add the next ladleful. Continue this way for about 12 minutes, adding the liquid and stirring it in, and then start tasting. You’re looking for grains that are creamy but have just a little bit of a bite in the center.

When the risotto is done, reduce the heat to low and add one more ladle of broth, the cheese and a few grinds of black pepper. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes until you’ve got a thick and creamy risotto. (You may have just a little bit of unused broth left over: That’s okay. Save it for reheating leftovers.)

To serve, ladle the warm risotto onto plates. Use the lemon wedges to spritz the roasted asparagus with juice, then top each portion of the risotto with roasted asparagus. Garnish with the chopped parsley and additional cheese. Oh, and enjoy with the rest of the bottle of white wine.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Modern Pasta Alla Norma

Kosher salt
10 ounces mezzi rigatoni or rigatoni
1 1/2 pounds eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Black pepper
3 ounces prosciutto, roughly chopped into 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced into rings
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 fresno or serrano chile, seeded, if you like, and thinly sliced into rings
1 1/2 pounds Sun Gold, cherry or grape tomatoes
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes and their juices
4 ounces fresh mozzarella, finely chopped
1 cup roughly chopped fresh herbs, such as basil and mint
Flaky salt, for serving (optional)

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. On a large rimmed sheet pan, toss the eggplant with ¼ cup olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Spread everything evenly in one layer and roast until golden, 25 to 30 minutes, flipping halfway through to ensure even browning.

While the eggplant roasts, make your sauce: In a deep, 12-inch skillet, heat the remaining olive oil over medium. Add the prosciutto and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to crisp and brown in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from skillet and place on a paper towel-lined plate.

Add the shallot, garlic and chile to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallot has softened and the garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and cook until they start to burst, pressing the tomatoes gently down with the back of a spatula or wooden spoon to help them along, 5 to 7 minutes. You want some of them to collapse and some to maintain their structure. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices and season with salt and pepper. Simmer while the eggplant finishes roasting, about 15 minutes more. If the sauce appears dry, add ¼ cup pasta water.

While you’re making the sauce, bring a large pot of well-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 pasta.

When the eggplant is done, add it to the tomato sauce and stir to combine. Add the pasta and toss until everything is well coated with sauce, adding more pasta water if needed. Stir in the mozzarella and toss until it begins to melt.

Serve in the skillet or in bowls and top each portion with crispy prosciutto and fresh herbs. Season with flaky salt, if using.