Sichuan Dry Fried Green Beans

INGREDIENTS

Sauce

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Stir fry

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound (450 grams) green beans, tough ends removed
(Optional) 1/2 pound (220 grams) ground pork (*Footnote 1)
(Optional) 3 tablespoons Sichuan pickled mustard greens (Sui Mi Ya Cai) (*Footnote 2)
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
1 teaspoon whole Szechuan peppercorn
3 dried chili peppers (*Footnote 3)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger

Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Set aside. Dry the green beans thoroughly before cooking to prevent oil splatter.

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add the green beans and stir to coat well with oil. Spread the beans to prevent them from overlapping, as much as possible. Flip every 15 seconds or so. Cook and stir until the surface is mostly brown and withered, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn to medium heat if the pan starts to smoke too much. Remove the pan from the stove. Transfer the green beans to a plate and set aside. (*Footnote 4)

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the Sichuan peppercorns to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the peppercorns turn dark. Scoop out and save for later. (*Footnote 5)

Add the ground pork, Sichuan pickled mustard greens, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook and chop the pork to separate it into small pieces. When the surface of the pork turns golden, add the dried chili pepper, garlic, and ginger. Stir a few seconds to release the fragrance. Add back the green beans and pour the sauce over them. Cook and stir until the sauce is mostly absorbed, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Remove the pan from the stove and taste a green bean. If it’s not salty enough, add a pinch more salt, return the pan to the stove, and stir to mix well. Transfer everything to a plate.
Serve hot on top of rice as a main, or as a side.

NOTES

The purpose of ground pork is to add flavor, although I did use a bit more pork in this recipe to make the dish substantial enough to serve as a main. You can replace it with ground chicken or ground beef, or skip it altogether for a side dish. If you choose to skip the ground meat, I highly recommend you add 2 more tablespoons of the Sichuan pickled mustard greens to enhance the flavor. If you do not have Sichuan pickled mustard greens, adding a bit of chicken bouillon, 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans, or 1 tablespoon of fermented chili bean paste (Doubanjiang) will work too.

Sichuan pickled mustard greens add savory and sweetness to the dish, making it extra rich. You can double the pickles and skip the salt to make the dish extra fragrant. If you do not have pickled mustard greens, 2 tablespoons of fermented black beans, or 1 tablespoon of fermented chili bean paste (Doubanjiang) will work great, too.

The dried chili peppers add a fragrance and smokiness to the dish but not much in terms of heat. If you want the dish to be a bit spicy, break apart the chili peppers before adding them.
Alternatively, you could use a pair of tongs to remove charred beans and transfer them to a plate. This way, the beans will be browned more evenly without overcooking.

For the cooked Sichuan peppercorns, drain the oil with kitchen paper towel and ground them to powder. You can use them on the cooked green beans to add a zing or add to other dishes such as noodles etc.

Thai Watermelon Salad

3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons packed light palm sugar or brown sugar
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lime juice
2 Thai or Serrano chiles, minced with seeds intact for fun
1 tablespoon finely chopped kaffir lime leaf (remove the midrib)
1/3 cup (90 ml) dried shrimp, briefly rinsed to soften and finely chopped
1/2 cup (120ml) roasted, unsalted peanuts, chopped
A volleyball-size seedless watermelo

For the dressing, combine the garlic, sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice in a bowl, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the lime leaf, dried shrimp, and peanuts. Set aside for 15 minutes, then revisit the dressing for a taste test. Add extra lime juice, sugar, or fish sauce as needed to balance the flavors. Set aside or refrigerate for up to 3 days; return to room temperature before using.

Cut the watermelon into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Pile them into individual bowls, on a dramatic platter or in a shallow bowl. Top with the dressing and serve.

Thai Spicy Chicken and Holy Basil Fried Rice

1/2 lb. boneless chicken, cut into small bite-size pieces
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3-4 shallots, thinly sliced (or substitute with a small onion)
2-3 cups young Asian broccoli
2 jalapeno, serrano or fresno hot chilli peppers
4 cups cold cooked leftover rice
3-4 Tbs. peanut oil
2 tsp. black soy sauce – the semi-sweet kind (or substitute with regular soy plus sugar)
2 Tbs. fish sauce (nahm bplah), or to desired saltiness
1+ cups basil leaves and flowers
Liberal sprinkling of powdered white pepper
1 lime, cut into four wedges

Prepare the ingredients where instructed above. For the Asian broccoli, cut the stem ends at a very slanted angle into thin strips about 1 1/2 inches long and the leafy portion in segments about the same length. Keep the stemy pieces separate from the leafy pieces.

Slice the chilli peppers into half circles or short slivers; do not remove the seeds if you wish a spicier fried rice (skip if you don’t want your fried rice to be spicy).

Crumble and break up the cold leftover rice so that the grains are no longer stuck together in big chunks. (If you do not have leftover rice, cook rice earlier in the day and cool completely before frying. Freshly cooked rice makes mushy fried rice if used when it is still warm.) Set aside.

Heat a wok over high heat until hot. Swirl in the oil to coat its surface and wait a few seconds for the oil to heat.

Add the chopped garlic, followed a few seconds later with the chicken. Stir-fry half a minute, or until the chicken begins to lose its raw pink color.

Toss in the sliced shallots and chillies. Stir and follow 15 seconds later with the broccoli stems. Stir-fry another 20 seconds before adding the leaves. Toss until leaves are partially wilted, then add the rice and toss well with all the ingredients in the wok.

Continue to stir-fry until the rice is well coated with the oil and has softened and begun to brown. Sprinkle evenly with some black soy sauce, enough to lightly color the grains. Stir some more, then sprinkle with fish sauce to the desired saltiness. Stir-fry until the broccoli is cooked to your liking, preferably still crisp and a vibrant green color.

Toss in the basil and stir quickly for a few seconds to wilt and mix in with the rice. Sprinkle with white pepper. Stir well and transfer to serving plate(s).

Serve with a wedge of fresh lime for each serving. Squeeze the juice over the rice, as desired, before eating. Serves 2-3 as a one-dish meal.

Thai Zucchini and Carrot Salad

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. fish sauce
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 red Thai chile, minced
3 large zucchini, julienned
1 large carrot, julienned
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/4 cup packed mint leaves
1/4 cup unsalted, dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

In a large bowl, whisk the lime juice with the fish sauce, oil, sugar, garlic, and chile. Add the zucchini, carrot, cilantro, mint, and peanuts, and toss to combine. Transfer the salad to a bowl to serve.

New-Fashioned Corn Pudding

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 large white or yellow onion, finely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the onions
2 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled, and minced
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon hot sauce
3 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 cobs)
3/4 cup grated sharp-as-possible cheddar
6 tablespoons cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Set a medium skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When it’s melted, add the onion and a pinch of salt. Sauté for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. Turn off the heat.

Add the garlic and mustard, and stir. Let cool while you tend to the rest of the recipe.

Heat the oven to 350° F. Butter a 9×9 inch baking dish (or other 1 1/2 quart–sized baking dish).

Combine the cream, buttermilk, eggs, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and hot sauce in a bowl or measuring cup. Whisk with a fork until smooth.

Combine the corn kernels, cheddar, cornmeal, and baking powder in another, larger bowl. Stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until combined.

Add the cooled onion mixture and stir. Add the liquid mixture and stir.

Pour into the prepared baking dish. Bake for about 45 minutes until the casserole has puffed up, is deeply browned along the edges, and browning on top. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Beets with Pecorino, Pecans, and Shishitos

2 pounds mixed small or medium beets (such as Chioggia, red, and/or golden), scrubbed
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
4 sprigs thyme
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
8 shishito peppers
1/3 cup pecans
1/4 small red onion, very thinly sliced
Hot chili sesame oil and grated Pecorino (for serving)

Preheat oven to 400°. Toss beets with 2 Tbsp. oil in a 13×9″ baking dish; season with salt. Add thyme and 1/4 cup water.

Cover with foil and roast beets until a paring knife slips easily through flesh, 60–75 minutes. Let cool slightly, then rub skins from beets with paper towels; cut into 1″ pieces. Toss in a large bowl with vinegar and 2 Tbsp. oil; season with salt.

Meanwhile, place peppers on one side of a rimmed baking sheet and pecans on the other side and roast, tossing nuts once, until peppers start to blister and pecans are slightly darkened and fragrant, 6–8 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop.

Toss peppers, pecans, and onion with beets; season with salt. Drizzle with chili oil and top with Pecorino.

Do Ahead: Beets can be roasted 3 days ahead. Cover and chill.

Roasted Hot and Sweet Peppers

3 pounds sweet red peppers (such as bell or Aztec), quartered lengthwise, seeds removed
1/2 pound red chiles (such as cayenne, Fresno, or jalapeño), halved lengthwise, seeds removed if desired
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup olive oil
Pinch of sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 300°. Toss sweet peppers, chiles, garlic, oil, and sugar in a large baking dish; season with salt and black pepper.

Roast peppers and chiles, tossing every 30 minutes or so, until they are completely softened and starting to caramelize in spots, 2–2 ½ hours. Let cool, then add vinegar and toss to combine.

Do Ahead: Peppers and chiles can be roasted 1 week ahead. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Roasted Red Peppers with Cherry Tomatoes and Ricotta

4 red bell peppers, halved, seeds and ribs removed
6 oil-packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup basil leaves, divided
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup fresh ricotta
1/4 cup pitted small black and/or green olives
Flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 375°. Place bell peppers, skin side down, in a shallow baking dish and top with anchovies and garlic. Tear 1/4 cup basil leaves over top, season with kosher salt and black pepper, and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. oil. Bake until peppers are tender but still hold their shape and are slightly charred around edges, 35–45 minutes. Let cool.

Meanwhile, blend remaining 3/4 cup basil and remaining ? cup oil in a blender until smooth; season basil oil with kosher salt and black pepper.

Arrange bell peppers on a platter. Top with tomatoes, ricotta, olives, and more basil, then drizzle with basil oil and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Sour Cream and Balsmic Whipped Sweet Potatoes

3 to 4 pounds sweet potatoes (4 to 5 medium potatoes), baked and peeled
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Mash the still-warm sweet potatoes until smooth in a large bowl. Add the brown sugar, sour cream, vinegar, and salt. Stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Make ahead: The sweet potatoes can be baked up to 5 days in advance and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Peel and mash the potatoes, then reheat over medium-low heat on the stovetop when ready to finish and serve.

Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Pasta with Eggplant

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Corn Chowder

1 quart good chicken stock
1 stalk fresh lemongrass, chopped
3 ears fresh corn
1 sweet red pepper, seeded & chopped to size of corn kernels
1 small onion chopped to size of corn kernels
Salt & pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon heavy cream

Combine lemongrass and stock, simmer 20 minutes (until the stock is well-flavored). Strain the stock and reserve, discarding the lemongrass.

Cut kernels from cobs, then scrape the cobs with the edge of a knife to extract all the milky fluid from the base of the kernels. Add corn (and liquid from the cobs), red pepper, and onions to stock, simmer until vegetables are tender.

Add cream and parsley, adjust seasoning, and serve, garnished with a sprig of Italian parsley.

Sweet Corn Cacio e Pepe

For the Corn Stock:
6 medium corncobs, husked
6 cups water
5 black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig

For the Pasta:

Kosher salt, to taste
1 pound dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 cups corn stock
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Reserved corn kernels
1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

Make the corn stock: Slice off the kernels from the corncobs, reserving the kernels for later. Place the cobs in a medium saucepan with the remaining stock ingredients. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 1½ cups, 1 hour. Strain, discarding the solids.

Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until very al dente, 6 minutes, then drain.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep skillet, toast the pepper over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the corn stock, butter and corn kernels, and bring to a simmer.

Add the pasta to the pan and cook, stirring constantly, until the pasta is fully cooked and the sauce has reduced slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the cheeses and continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheeses have melted and the pasta is fully coated in the sauce, 1 minute more. Divide between bowls and serve immediately.

Braised Spiced Romano Beans with Yogurt and Mint

1/4 cup [60 ml] Greek-style yogurt
Juice of 1 lime
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 yellow onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ground black lime, plus more for sprinkling (or use lime juice)
1 tsp coriander seeds toasted and ground
1 tsp fennel seeds, toasted and ground
2 cups Pomodoro Sauce
1 cup Vegetable Stock or Chicken Stock, plus more as needed
1 lb [455 g] romano beans, stem end trimmed
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup [7 g] mint leaves

In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, lime juice, and 2 Tbsp of the olive oil. Add water, 1 tsp at a time, so the mixture is thick but pourable. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a deep, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 1 Tbsp olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and garlic and cook until just starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the black lime, coriander seeds, and fennel seeds and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the pomodoro sauce and stock and bring to a simmer. Stir in the romano beans, coating with the sauce, and bring back to a simmer. Season with salt, turn the heat to medium-low, and cook at a slow, steady simmer until the beans soften and darken in color, 15 to 20 minutes. If needed, add more stock, 1 Tbsp at a time, to keep the pan from drying out.

Remove from the heat and add the vinegar. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if desired.

Transfer to a serving platter and drizzle with the lime yogurt. Scatter the mint leaves over all, sprinkle with a bit more ground black lime, and serve warm or at room temperature.

Braised Corn with Chili, Lime, and Feta

6 ears corn, shucked
Kosher salt
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium-hot green or red chiles, preferably Fresno, minced
1 shallot, minced
21/2 oz [70 g] feta cheese, crumbled
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup [7 g] fresh cilantro leaves

Using a knife, shave the corn kernels off the cobs into a medium bowl and set aside.

Working over a small bowl, scrape the cobs with the back of the knife to extract the milk. Set aside the milk. Cut the scraped cobs into 2-in [5-cm] pieces.

In a 1-gl [3.8-L] saucepan over high heat, combine the cob pieces with cold filtered water to cover and season with salt. Bring to a boil, cover the pan, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer until the stock becomes cloudy and is deliciously corn scented, 20 to 30 minutes. Strain and discard the cobs. Set aside 1/2 cup [120 ml] of this corn stock and reserve the rest for another use.

In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the chiles and shallot and cook until tender, but not browned, about 3 minutes.

Add the corn kernels and season with salt. Add the corn stock, the milk from the corn cobs, and half the feta cheese and cook until the liquid has reduced slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with additional salt and stir in the lime juice. Remove from the heat and stir in half the cilantro leaves.

Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkle with the remaining feta cheese and cilantro leaves, and serve warm.

Stewed Okra and Peppers

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound okra, cut into 1/2-inch-wide rings
Sea salt
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 cup julienned red bell pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted
2 cups peeled and diced roma tomatoes
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is shimmery-hot, add the okra and a pinch of sea salt and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, until the okra develops some color.

Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic. Cook for 1 minute, until aromatic, and then add the shallots and bell peppers. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, or until the shallots become translucent.

Season with a generous pinch of sea salt and add the bay leaf, toasted cumin seeds, and tomatoes. Cook for 15 minutes, until the tomatoes soften.

Remove the bay leaf, add the lemon zest and juice, and adjust the seasoning with more sea salt if needed. Serve warm.

This is a side that loves to be pushed against some steamed rice, eaten with gusto, and washed down with a very cold beer.

Grilled Okra

2 pounds okra, cut in half lengthwise
Sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Get your grill lit and hot. If you use charcoal, make sure you burn it down to nice hot embers.

Place the cut okra in a mixing bowl and season it well with sea salt. Add the olive oil and toss to combine. Place the okra on the grill, cut side down, perpendicular to the direction of the grates. Grill for 3 minutes, or until slightly charred. Turn the okra over and cook for 3 more minutes, until it is nicely charred and a little softer, but not really soft.

Return the okra to the mixing bowl and add the lemon zest, lemon juice, and parsley. Toss to combine, and serve.