Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz dry macaroni (1 2/3 cups measured in a 2 cup glass liquid measure. Note that this measure will only work for macaroni and probably not a larger pasta shape. Weighing is recommended.)

Cheese Sauce:
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk
7 oz Good aged white crumbly cheddar crumbled
3 oz Another variety orange sharp cheddar or cold-packed cheddar grated or crumbled
1/2 tsp kosher salt little less if using table salt
1/4 tsp regular chili powder
1/8 tsp garlic powder

Topping:
1/2 oz aged cheddar grated
1/4 tsp chipotle chili powder

Add water and a bit of salt to a large pot and place over high heat for the pasta. While it’s heating, prepare the cheese sauce.

For the cheese sauce: In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and continue to whisk and cook for about 2 minutes.

Very slowly add the milk, a little at a time, whisking constantly. Once all the milk has been added, cook, stirring frequently until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes. (Don’t rush this step. The mixture will not be thick, but will noticeably thicken after 8-10 minutes of cooking).

Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the cheese, salt, chili powder and garlic powder. Stir until the cheese is melted and all the ingredients are incorporated, about 3 minutes. (If the cheese isn’t melted completely after about 3 minutes, you can put the pan back on low heat and stir until it is melted). Set aside for a minute.

Preheat oven to 350F (175C) with rack in the centre of the oven. Oil or butter an 8-inch square baking dish, an 8-inch cast-iron skillet or individual baking dishes.

When the pasta water is boiling, add the macaroni and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directions indicate. (The noodles will finish cooking in the sauce in the oven). When the pasta is cooked, drain and immediately rinse well with cold water. Make sure your pasta is well drained.

Add the cooked pasta and to the cheese sauce and mix gently, but thoroughly. (It might look like too much sauce or too little pasta, but trust me, it will all be good in the end).

Spoon or ladle the mixture into a prepared baking dish or individual dishes. Sprinkle the top of each with a bit of additional grated sharp cheddar cheese (you don’t need a lot here, as there is plenty in the sauce), then sprinkle with the chipotle chili powder.

Bake in the preheated 350F (175C) oven uncovered for 20 to 25 minutes, until the sauce has bubbled up around the edges and the top has a nice golden crust. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Pork and Ricotta Meatball Noodle Soup

Meatballs:
1 cup fresh ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese grated, plus more for garnish
1 large egg
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 tsp nutmeg grated
1 tsp Kosher salt less if using fine salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup water
1 1/4 lbs ground pork

Soup:
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups chicken broth
1 3-by-1-by-1 inch piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 3 inches long, 1 inch wide and 1 inch thick
1 cup frozen peas thawed
2 cups baby spinach
For serving
Warm cooked egg noodles
Shaved, crumbled Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Start water boiling in a large pot for egg noodles.

In a large bowl, stir together the ricotta and 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano.

Add the egg, breadcrumbs, nutmeg, salt, pepper and water. Add the pork and stir to combine well. Form into 15-18 approx. two-inch diameter meatballs.

In a large pot (preferably non-stick), heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the meatballs and cook the bottom until well browned.

Using a spoon, gently flip the meatballs over and brown that side well. Again, using a spoon, flip the meatballs on their sides and brown all sides to seal the meatball well.

Pour in the broth and add the the piece of cheese. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer the broth very gently, stirring once or twice (so the Parmesan doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan), until the meatballs are cooked through and the broth is slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.

Stir in the thawed peas and spinach. Taste, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the peas are warmed through.

Meanwhile, cook egg noodles in boiling water per the package directions. Drain and keep warm.

Place some warm cooked egg noodles in the bottom of shallow bowls. Spoon the meatballs and broth over the egg noodles. Garnish with additional grated Parmigiano and serve.

Recipe Notes
As the meatballs are quite moist and soft, cooking them in a non-stick pan will make life easier. If you don’t have a larger non-stick pot, you can cook them off in a non-stick skillet, then move them to a larger pot to finish cooking the soup. A non-stick skillet will give you extra room for flipping, as well.

Cauliflower Curry

1 onion, chopped
3 small plum tomatoes
3 large garlic cloves
One 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 head of cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), cut into florets
1 long Indian green chile or Thai bird chile, sliced, plus more for serving
Kosher salt
Pepper

Steamed basmati rice, plain yogurt, and lime pickle, for serving

In a food processor, pulse the onion, tomatoes, garlic, and ginger until a paste forms. In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil. Add the onion paste, and cook over moderately high heat, stirring often, until the paste is thickened, about 10 minutes.

Add the garam masala and turmeric, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cauliflower, chile, and 2 cups of water. Season generously with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until the cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes.

Serve with rice, yogurt, lime pickle, and sliced chiles.

Stir-fried Green Beans with Pork and Chilies

2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as peanut, sunflower or grapeseed, plus more if needed
1 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 ounces green beans, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
2 red chiles, seeded or not, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, lightly cracked with a mortar and pestle or with the side of a knife
1/4 cup cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped, plus more for serving
3 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar, plus more for serving
4 teaspoons soy sauce, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Cooked white rice or rice noodles, for serving
Sliced tomato, for serving (optional)

Heat a 12-inch skillet or wok over medium-high heat for 1 minute, then add the oil and let heat for another 30 seconds — it should be hot but not smoking. Stir in pork and 3/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, breaking up meat with a spoon, until browned and crisp, 6 to 9 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Return pan to heat and add more oil if it looks dry. Stir in green beans, cook until they are crisp, tender and bright green, 1 to 3 minutes. Stir in chiles, ginger, garlic, coriander seeds and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute longer.

Return pork to skillet, along with chopped cilantro, vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Stir briefly to combine, then scrape into a serving platter.

Sprinkle more vinegar and soy sauce on top to taste, then top with more chopped cilantro. Serve with rice, and sliced tomato, if you like.

Maple Bacon Cheddar Biscuits

8 slices bacon, diced
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, frozen
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Drain excess fat; transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined plate.

In a large bowl, combine bacon, flour, cheese, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

Grate butter using the large holes of a box grater. Stir into the flour mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk together buttermilk and 4 tablespoons maple syrup. Add to the flour mixture and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.

Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut out 12 rounds using a 2 to 2 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter. Place biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet; place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Remove biscuits from freezer. Place into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

In a small bowl, whisk together remaining 2 tablespoons maple syrup and butter.

Serve biscuits warm, brushed with the maple-butter mixture.

Roasted Cauliflower, Paneer, and Lentil Salad

For the salad:
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup black lentils
1 small head cauliflower (about 1 pound)
1 10-ounce block paneer, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups total)
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced

For the cilantro-oil dressing:
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup tightly packed, fresh cilantro leaves
1 Serrano chile, seeded, if desired
Juice of 1 lime, about 1/4 cup
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Heat the oven to 425 degrees. Rinse the lentils in a fine-mesh strainer under cold running water and pick out any stones or imperfect beans. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add enough water to cover by about 1 inch. Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, turn the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until tender but not mushy, 25 to 60 minutes. The cooking time will vary depending on how old the lentils are, so check them every 5 minutes after the first half hour. When they have reached desired doneness, drain through a fine-mesh strainer and set on a clean kitchen towel to absorb any remaining liquid.

While the lentils are cooking, roast the cauliflower and paneer: Cut the cauliflower into bite-size florets and transfer to a roasting or sheet pan. Add the paneer. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil, mixing to coat evenly. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the florets and paneer are crispy on the outside and feel tender when pierced with a skewer or knife, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse at medium-high speed until smooth and paste-like.

When the cauliflower and paneer are done, transfer to a large bowl and gently stir in the drained lentils and scallions. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Drizzle with 1/2 to 1/3 cup of the dressing, to taste, and serve warm or at room temperature. (Store the leftover salad and dressing in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to four days. Shake the dressing before using.)

Ideas for Egg Lunches: Burmese Golden Curry

5 duck eggs (or large chicken eggs)
6 tablespoons peanut oil
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
2 onions, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
3 thai chilis, thinly sliced (optional)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (1/2 inch) piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 tomatoes, puréed in food processor
1 tablespoon fish sauce (optional)
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
1/2 bunch cilantro , chopped
Salt

Place the duck eggs in a pot, cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as the water boils, remove the pot from the heat and let stand 12 minutes. Remove the eggs from the pot and peel them under cold water.

Heat the oil in a pan over medium/high heat. Add the shallots and fry for about 6 to 8 minutes or until light brown. Transfer them to a plate lined with paper towel and sprinkle with salt.
Add the duck eggs into the hot oil, then lower the heat. Fry them for 4 minutes, regularly turning them to brown them all around. Take them out of the pan and transfer them to a plate.
Add the onions, turmeric, paprika, chili, garlic and ginger to the pan and fry for a 5 minutes, then stir in the puréed tomatoes, tamarind concentrate, fish sauce and brown sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes to reduce.

Cut the eggs in half and carefully place them back into the pan. Pour some of the mixture over the eggs, making sure that they are coated generously and simmer for another 2 minutes.

Finish by sprinkling the fried shallots and roughly chopped cilantro on top of the eggs.

Lap Khmer (Cambodian Laab)

3/4 lb beef tenderloin, sliced ??very thinly
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 teaspoons chopped fresh lemongrass
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon pahok (fish paste)
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 small red onion, very finely sliced
1/3 lb yardlong beans (or green beans), cut very finely
1/2 lb soybean sprouts
2 tablespoons rice, toasted and ground
1 tablespoon chopped mint
1 tablespoon chopped basil
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
2 small red hot peppers, chopped

Drain the meat by pressing it to get rid of all its water and its blood. Set aside.

Heat a small skillet. When it is hot, add the oil, garlic and lemongrass, mix well and add water and pahok (fish paste).
Leave the pan on medium heat and cook for 2 minutes after reaching the boiling point. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Place the raw beef in a large bowl. Pour the fresh lime juice over the beef. Mix well and set aside for 10 minutes.

Add the fish sauce, sugar, and onion and mix well.

Add the beans and the soy sprouts and mix well.

Add the pahok and mix well.

Add the toasted rice powder and herbs, and mix well.

Garnish with chopped red hot pepper before serving.

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.

Chinese Pork Fried Rice

2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil) (*Footnote 1)
1 lbs (450 g) ground pork
3 tablespoons oyster sauce , separated
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 green onions , chopped
3 cloves garlic , minced
3 eggs , beaten
1 cup mixed vegetables (carrots, peas, corn)
3 cups leftover steamed rice
Salt to taste
2 teaspoons sesame oil

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the ground pork. Stir and cook until browned, 2 minutes.

Add the green onion, garlic, and 2 tablespoons oyster sauce. Stir and cook for 1 minute.

Add the rice. Cook and stir to mix everything together. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oyster sauce and soy sauce. Stir to mix the sauce with the other ingredients.

Add the mixed vegetables. Stir everything together and cook until the vegetables defrost, 1 minute or so.

Move everything to one side of the pan. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the other side of the pan. Add the beaten eggs. Let the bottom set for a couple seconds. Then scramble the eggs and use your spatula to cut them into small pieces. Then mix the eggs with the other ingredients.

Taste the rice and add salt to adjust the seasoning, if needed, then mix well again. If you like slightly crispy rice, let the rice sit on the hot pan for 20 to 30 without stirring.

Add the sesame oil and mix everything again. Transfer the fried rice onto serving plates.

Serve hot as a main or side dish.

Thai Pork Fried Rice

1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon white sugar
4 cups cooked and chilled jasmine rice
1 tablespoon peanut or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
4 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced, reserved separately
1 large shallot, minced (4 tablespoons)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sliced cucumber and lime wedges, to serve

In a bowl, stir together the fish sauce, soy sauce, water and sugar. Set aside. Use your hands to break up the rice so no clumps remain. Set aside.

Heat a wok over medium-high until a drop of water evaporates within 1 to 2 seconds of contact, about 3 minutes. Swirl in the oil, then pour in the eggs. Cook, stirring, until just set. Transfer the eggs to a plate. Add the pancetta to the wok and cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the plate with the eggs.

Return the wok to medium-high until just smoking. Add the scallion whites, shallot and garlic, then, using a metal spatula, stir-fry until softened, about 1 minute. Add the rice and stir-fry until heated through, about 2 minutes.

Stir the fish sauce mixture to recombine, then pour in a thin stream along the sides of the wok. Stir-fry until well mixed. Stir in the pancetta, egg (breaking up the egg) and cilantro. Transfer to a large platter and sprinkle with scallion greens. Serve with cucumber and lime wedges.

Broiled Potatoes with Lemon and Halloumi

2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound (450g) Yukon Gold potatoes, sliced 1/8 inch thick
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (60ml) fresh lemon juice, from about 1 lemon, plus zest of 1 lemon
8 ounces (225g) halloumi cheese, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dried oregano

Preheat broiler and set top oven rack about 6 inches from broiler element. Add olive oil to a 12-inch cast iron skillet and spread evenly all over.

Add potatoes, shingling the slices around the pan in a single circular layer. Season with salt and pepper.

Broil until the potatoes have puffed up slightly, mostly cooked through, and browned on top, about 7 minutes.

Pour lemon juice all over potatoes and sprinkle zest on top. Add halloumi cheese in an even layer on top and broil until cheese is golden brown all over and potatoes are fully cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Sprinkle oregano on top and serve.

Apple Cheddar Drop Biscuits

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup shredded extra-old Cheddar cheese
1 cup grated cored peeled apple
2 Tbsp chopped fresh green onion or parsley (optional)
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 425° F.

In large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces. Stir in Cheddar, apple and green onions. Using a fork, stir in milk to form a ragged dough.

Drop by 1/4 cup mounds, 1 1/2 inches apart, onto parchment paper–lined rimless baking sheet. Bake in 425° oven until lightly browned, 13 to 15 minutes.

Moroccan Meatballs

1/3 cup pimento-stuffed green olives, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
4 tablespoons (½ stick) salted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
10 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup panko
1 pound 90 percent lean ground beef
1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, divided
2 large eggs, cracked into a small bowl

In a small bowl, stir together the olives and lemon zest; set aside.

In a blender, puree the tomatoes with their juice until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a 12-inch skillet over medium, melt the butter. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and pepper flakes, then cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove from the heat. Transfer 1/2 cup of the onion mixture to a large bowl and set aside.

Return the skillet to medium and add the broth and tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cover and cook until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Remove from the heat.

While the sauce simmers, stir the panko and 1/2 cup water into the reserved onion mixture. Let stand until the panko softens, about 5 minutes, then use your hands to mash to a smooth paste.

Add the beef, 1/2 cup of cilantro, and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with your hands. Divide into 16 (2-tablespoon) portions, rolling them into smooth balls. Place on a plate, cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Return the sauce to medium and bring to a simmer. Add the meatballs in a single layer, then spoon sauce over each. Cover, reduce to low and cook for 15 minutes. Flip each meatball, then continue to cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened and meatballs are cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Push the meatballs to the sides of the skillet. Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper.

Gently pour the eggs into the center, cover and cook over medium-low until the egg whites are barely set and yolks are still runny, 4 to 5 minutes.

Off heat, sprinkle the olive mixture and remaining ½ cup cilantro over the tagine.

Tip: Don’t use ground beef less than 90 percent lean or the sauce will be greasy. Also, don’t overcook the eggs; the yolks should remain runny so they mix with the sauce.

Vietnamese Corn and Coconut Soup (Che Bap)

Coconut sauce:
1 cup coconut milk
2 pinches of salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

3 cups water
1/4 cup sweet rice, rinsed and drained, or small tapioca pearls (about 1/8 inch in diameter)
3 ears of corn, or 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen sweet corn
1/3 cup coconut milk
5 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large or 5 medium pandan leaves, rinsed and tied into a knot, optional (see the photo below)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To make the coconut sauce, combine the coconut milk, salt, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat and bring to a near-simmer, lowering the heat if the coconut milk spits or pops. Give the cornstarch mixture a good stir and add it to the sauce, mixing well. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, or until the sauce thickens; then remove from the heat.

Let the sauce cool, uncovered, to concentrate the flavors before serving. It will keep in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Before using, reheat gently over low heat.

For the corn soup, put the water in a saucepan and it to a boil over high heat. Add the rice, stirring to prevent them from sticking together. Boil, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, or until the rice is nearly cooked. If using the tapioca pearls, it will take 12 to 14 minutes for them to turn halfway clear; look for a tiny white dot in the center of each pearl. The water will seem slightly thick and viscous.

Meanwhile, if you are using, cut the kernels off the cob. If you are using frozen corn, thaw it for about 20 minutes. You should have 3 generous cups. Regardless of the corn used, use a processor to render it into a coarse texture.

When the rice (or tapioca pearl) is ready, add the coconut milk, sugar, salt, and pandan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the mixture comes to a near boil, add the corn. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the corn is cooked and the flavors are blended. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla. Allow the soup to cool for about 15 minutes. The resulting sweet soup will be thickish, like Italian risotto. Taste and adjust with more sugar and salt, if necessary. (The soup may be prepared up to 2 days in advance, tightly covered, and refrigerated. Warm over low heat, adding a splash of water to thin and prevent scorching, before serving.)

To serve, ladle the soup into small bowls and top with the coconut sauce

Thai Turmeric Grilled Chicken (Kai Yang Khamin)

1 teaspoon white peppercorns or ground white pepper
1 teaspoon coriander seeds or ground coriander
1 packed tablespoon light or dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
5 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro stems
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 1/3 to 1 1/2 pounds (600 to 675g) boneless chicken thighs (with or without skin)
1 lime, quartered (optional)

Grind the peppercorns and coriander seeds in a small food processor to a coarse texture. Add the sugar to grind it a little finer. Visible bits remaining are okay. Add the turmeric, garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, and oyster sauce. Process into a relatively smooth marinade.

Transfer to a bowl. Add the chicken and use your fingers to rub the marinade into the chicken, getting some under the skin if you kept it on the chicken. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

About 30 minutes before heating, remove the chicken from the fridge and let sit at room temperature to remove the chill.
Heat a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal fire, leaving one side free of coals. The grill is ready when you can hold your hand 6 inches (15 cm) over the grill for 4 to 5 seconds.

Cook the chicken for 12 to 15 minutes, turning frequently, until cooked through. Check for doneness by nicking with the tip of a knife. Transfer to a plate and serve with lime wedges.

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.

Vietnames Pomelo Salad (Goi Buoi Tom Thit)

1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (240 g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 ounces (120 g) boneless skinless chicken breast or boneless pork chop
1 medium pomelo, or 1/2 large pomelo
1 carrot, peeled and cut into fine shreds
1/4 cup mint leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, leafy tops only
1/4 cup chopped unsalted, roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons Crispy Caramelized Shallot (hanh phi, optional)

Dressing

2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped and mashed, or put through a press
1 red Thai chile or 1/2 Fresno chile, chopped

Put the salt in a small saucepan and fill 2/3 with water. Bring to a boil and then add the shrimp. As soon as they’ve curled up, remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.

Return the water to a boil and add the chicken or pork chop. When bubbles form at the rim, turn off the heat, cover and let sit for 20 minutes to cook the flesh. Remove and set aside to cool. (If you’re using the Vietnamese sausage, skip this step because it’s already cooked.)

Cut the shrimp in the diagonal into large pieces that will blend well with the pomelo and other ingredients. Hand shred the chicken or cut the pork into julienne. Set aside.

If the pomelo is big, halve it lengthwise and save one half for another day. Cut off the ends of the pomelo, then cut off the skin and pith to reveal the pinkish flesh underneath. Pry the pomelo open and split into two parts. Use your fingers and as needed, a knife and scissors, to peel away the flesh from the skin. Work segment by segment, and separate the flesh into bite-size pieces. Deposit the flesh in a bowl as you work.

5. For the dressing, combine fish sauce, lime juice, water, sugar, garlic and chile in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.

6. Right before serving, add the shrimp, chicken (or pork), carrot, mint, cilantro, peanuts and fried shallot to the pomelo. Toss with your fingers or tongs to combine well. Add the dressing and toss. Taste and adjust the flavors, as needed. Transfer to a plate or shallow bowl, leaving any liquid behind and serve.

Vietnamese Grapefruit Salad (Goi Buoi)

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
8 ounces large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 medium oroblanco grapefruit
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 to 1 teaspoon chile garlic sauce, homemade or storebought
2 to 3 tablespoons coarsely grated carrot (use the largest hole on a box grater)
1/2 to 3/4 cup thinly sliced red and/or green cabbage
1/3 cup chopped or hand-torn mint leaves
1/4 cup chopped unsalted, roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons purchased fried onions or homemade Crispy Caramelized Shallot (hanh phi, optional)

Put the salt in a small saucepan and fill 2/3 with water. Bring to a boil and then add the shrimp. As soon as they’ve curled up, remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
Cut the shrimp in the diagonal into large pieces that will blend well with the grapefruit and other ingredients. Set aside.

Peel the oroblanco, separate in half. Working on one segment at a time, use a paring knife to help you remove the skin to reveal the supreme. When done with the entire grapefruit, separate each supreme into its vesicles (they’ll come apart as singles or small clusters). Let your fingertips do the separation and allow the vesicles drop into a bowl as you work. Cover and refrigerate up to 4 hours, if not using right away.

For the dressing, combine fish sauce, lime juice, water, sugar, garlic and chile in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar.
Right before serving, add the shrimp, carrot, cabbage, mint, peanuts and fried onions (or shallot) to the grapefruit. Gently toss with your fingers. Add the dressing and gently combine. Taste and adjust the flavors, as needed. Transfer to a plate or shallow bowl, leaving any liquid behind and serve.

Thai Satay (Chicken, Beef, or Pork)

1 1/2 lb. boneless chicken breast, beef, or pork
1 tsp. whole coriander seeds
1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
1 tsp. ground turmeric
3-4 shallots, peeled and sliced thin crosswise
1 stalk fresh lemon grass, sliced thin crosswise
1/4 inch piece of fresh galangal
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1/2 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. sugar
20 bamboo skewers
2 Tbsp. cooking oil, canola or peanut

Slice meat into long thin slices, approximately 1/4″ thick and 2″ in length. Pat dry with paper towels.

Dry roast coriander seeds for a minute or two in a wok over medium heat to roast lightly, stirring often.

Grind the coriander seeds in a mortar and pestle or electric coffee grinder (reserved for spices).

Combine all the spices with the shallot, lemon grass, galangal and garlic together in a bowl.

Add meat to the marinade and mix well to cover meat. Allow to marinate for at least an hour or up to overnight.

Before cooking, soak bamboo skewers in water for at least 10 minutes, so that they will not burn.

Skewer 2 to 3 pieces of meat onto each stick. Grill over a hot fire until cooked through. Baste with cooking oil after turning.

Serve with rice and a cucumber salad.