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.

Herbed Anasazi Beans

2 cups dried Anasazi beans
olive oil
1 bunch fresh oregano, stems removed, leaves chopped
6 cloves minced garlic
sea salt
fresh lemon juice
white balsamic vinegar
chile powder to taste

Rinse beans, cover with water and soak over night. Add more water, bring to boil and simmer until beans are tender. (Time will vary depending on how long the beans soaked, how many beans you have and your elevation. But I found these beans to cook very quickly, in about 25 minutes.) When beans are the desired tenderness, remove from heat and rinse. Let cool.

Meanwhile, saute garlic in oil until golden. Add garlic to beans and mix with olive oil (enough to give the beans a luscious texture), oregano, salt, a twist of fresh lemon and a sprinkle of white balsamic vinegar. Add chile and mix again (I used hot Kashmiri, but any will do).

Feel free to use different herbs. Rosemary is a wonderful accompaniment to beans such as these. Dunk the sprigs into boiled water for a moment to release the herb’s aroma. Chop and add to beans as you would the oregano.

Serve at room temperature. And think of the ancient ones

Minimalist Barbecue Sauce

1 generously heaped tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon hot sauce of your choice, such as Sriracha or Tabasco, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon Worcestershire or fish sauce, plus more to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk everything in a bowl, taste, add more of ingredients to taste, and seasoning as needed. More ketchup, for example, will make for a less intense sauce that’s closer to what you’d have in a bottle from a grocery store. The amount above makes 1/4 cup; scale it up as needed.

To make chicken skewers, cut 2 1/2 pounds of large, thick chicken breast cutlets into large chunks (about 1 to 2 inches). In a bowl, pour 1/4 cup of the sauce over it, just to thinly coat each piece. Thread them on skewers and grill on a very hot grill, rotating only when lightly charred underneath on each side, and continuing to rotate until they cooked evenly, about 7 to 10 minutes total, brushing occasionally with another tablespoon or so of sauce as they cook.

To make “fake baked beans”: Mince 1/4 of a onion and sauté slowly in 1 tablespoon of oil in the bottom of a medium saucepan, until soft. Add one 15-ounce can (1 3/4 cups) small white navy beans, drained and rinsed, plus the ingredients for one yield of the sauce above. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water and gently simmer the mixture together for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, adding more water if it gets to dry, and adjusting seasonings to taste.

Lime and Blistered Peanut Coleslaw

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

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

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

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

Roasted Tomato Salsa

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

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

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

Charred Corn and Peppers with Crema

3 cobs corn kernels cut off (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 poblano pepper diced
1/2 red sweet pepper diced
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Pickled Onions:
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 red onion sliced

Crema: (Optional)
2 Tbsp sour cream
Juice of 1/4 lime
Pinch cumin or cayenne (optional)
Pinch salt and freshly ground pepper

To serve:
Crumbled feta cheese
Chopped fresh cilantro

Do ahead: Make quick pickled onions by combining all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover and set on the counter for at least 1 hour before using. (Do way ahead! Make well ahead, cover and refrigerate. These will keep in the fridge for at least a week!)

Place skillet in cold oven. Preheat oven to 400 F., leaving the skillet in the preheating oven to heat. Allow skillet to stay in the oven 5-10 after oven is preheated.

Meanwhile, cut kernels off corn and combine in a bowl with the diced peppers. Drizzle with olive oil and season with a bit of salt and freshly ground pepper. Stir well to combine.

When skillet is good and hot, carefully remove from oven and add corn mixture. Quickly spread in an even layer and place in oven. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once half way through. Remove skillet and stir mixture. Turn oven on to broil and place under the broiler (about 6 inches from heat) and allow to broil until corn/peppers begin to char (about 5 minutes, but watch closely so it doesn’t burn). Remove from oven and allow to cool to warm.m

To serve, top with crumbled feta cheese, a scattering of pickled onions, chopped cilantro and a drizzle of crema, if desired.

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.

Cheddar Bay Biscuits (Red Lobster Biscuits)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

FOR THE TOPPING

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

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

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper, if using.

In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and butter. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Gently fold in cheese.

Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, scoop the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
For the topping, whisk together butter, parsley and garlic powder in a small bowl. Working one at a time, brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter mixture.

Serve immediately.

Bacon Cheddar Chive Biscuits

6 slices bacon, diced
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup unsalted butter, frozen
1 3/4 cups buttermilk

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

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, chives, baking powder, salt and baking soda.

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

Add buttermilk and stir using a rubber spatula until a soft dough forms.

Working on a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times until it comes together.

Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Cut out 10-12 rounds using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit or cookie cutter.

Place biscuits onto the prepared baking sheet; place in the freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove biscuits from freezer. Place into oven and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve warm.

Chicken Fajitas

1 teaspoon pure chile powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 whole skinless, boneless chicken breast (about 1 pound), cut into 1/2-inch strips
1 green bell pepper—cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
8 flour tortillas, warmed in the microwave
Shredded lettuce, shredded cheddar cheese, salsa and sour cream, for serving

In a resealable plastic bag, combine the chile powder with the salt, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, cornstarch, water and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken, bell pepper and onion, seal and knead gently to coat. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet until shimmering. Empty the contents of the bag into the skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are crisp-tender and the chicken is cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the lime juice.

Transfer the chicken and vegetables to a large bowl and serve with the warmed tortillas, lettuce, cheese, salsa, sour cream and lime wedges.

Rajas Con Creama (Roasted Poblanos with Cream)

1 1/4 pounds fresh poblano chiles (about 3 large)
Generous 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/2 medium white onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Generous 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium garlic clove, finely chopped
1/2 cup Mexican crema or crème fraîche
Generous 1 tablespoon finely chopped epazote leaves, or 1?2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano

?Turn two stove-top burners to high and roast the poblano chiles on the racks of the burners (or directly on the element of an electric stove), turning frequently with tongs, until they are blistered and charred all over, 4 to 6 minutes. Put the poblanos in a bowl and cover with a plate to sweat for 15 to 20 minutes.

?Rub off the skin from the roasted poblanos with a paper towel or your fingers (do notrun the poblanos under water), then cut them open lengthwise. Cut out the stems, seed pods, and veins, and lay the chiles flat. Wipe the chiles clean of seeds, discard the seeds, and slice the chiles into long 1/4-inch-thick strips.

?Heat the oil in a medium pan over medium heat until the oil shimmers, then add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and the pepper, and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cook for a minute, then add the poblanos along with the remaining 1?4 teaspoon of salt. Cook for 3 minutes or so, then add the crema and epazote.

?Let it come to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the crema thickens slightly and coats the poblanos, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
?
Serve alongside 8 warm corn tortillas and top with crumbled queso fresco and smoky tomato salsa.

Macaroni and Cheese with Crispy Topping

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
1 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 pound Colby cheese, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound elbow macaroni
3/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350°. Generously butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Melt 3 tablespoons of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook over moderate heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the half-and-half and cook over moderate heat, whisking constantly until thickened, about 3 minutes. Add one-half of the Cheddar and Colby cheeses and cook over low heat, stirring, until melted. Stir in the mustard, nutmeg and cayenne; season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the elbow macaroni in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente. Drain very well. Return the macaroni to the pot. Add the cheese sauce and the remaining cheese and stir until combined. Spread the macaroni in the prepared baking dish.

Garlic and Cilantro Soup with Chickpeas (Acorda a Alentejana)

2 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, roughly chopped
1/2 ounce Parmesan cheese, finely grated (¼ cup), plus more to serve
1 jalapeño chili, stemmed and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika, divided, plus more to serve
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
5 ounces rustic bread (such as ciabatta), sliced ½ inch thick and torn into bite-size pieces (about 2 cups)
8 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
2 15 1/2 -ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 soft-cooked eggs, peeled (see note)

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, Parmesan, jalapeño, lemon zest and juice, 1/2 teaspoon of the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Process until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping the sides as needed. With the machine running, add 1/2 cup of the oil and process to a pesto-like consistency, 30 to 45 seconds. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss the bread with the remaining ¼ cup oil and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon paprika. Toast in a large Dutch oven over medium, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, return the bread to the bowl, leaving excess oil in the pot; set the croutons aside.

Set the Dutch oven over medium and add the garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth and chickpeas and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in the pureed cilantro mixture, then taste and season with salt and pepper. Divide the croutons among 4 serving bowls. Ladle in the soup and top each with 1 egg. Sprinkle with additional paprika and Parmesan.

Tip: Don’t skimp on the olive oil in this soup. The croutons absorb oil as they toast and the broth takes on a rich, creamy texture when the pesto is stirred in.

Italian Pantry Soup

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for garnish
2 cups diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced fennel or celery
Salt and pepper
1 bay leaf
1 large thyme sprig
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 quarts/12 cups chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
2 pounds medium-size starchy potatoes, such as Yukon Golds or russets, peeled and cut in 1-inch chunks (or beans or lentils)
8 ounces kale or chard, stems removed, leaves sliced across into 1/2-inch ribbons (about 4 cups total)
1/2 pound dried pennette, orecchiette or other small pasta
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary or marjoram, for garnish
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Other options: for example, more vegetables, like celery and carrot; some tomato, a little or a lot; bacon or pancetta or ham; or beef or chicken broth.

In a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add onion, carrot and fennel, stir, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened and golden, 5 to 10 minutes.

Adjust the heat to prevent vegetables from browning or scorching.
Stir in bay leaf, thyme sprig, garlic, paprika and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Add broth, potatoes and a large pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a brisk simmer. Cook until potatoes are cooked through but still firm, 12 to 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Stir in kale and pasta and simmer another 10 minutes, or until greens are well cooked and pasta is done. (Soup can be made up to this point, without the pasta, cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.)

Ladle soup into bowls, and sprinkle with chopped rosemary and Parmesan. Drizzle each serving with a teaspoon of olive oil. Pass extra Parmesan at the table.

Pressure Cooker Pernil Asado

MARINADE:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic (from about 1 medium head)
Leaves from 8 to 10 stems fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh sour orange juice (from about 2 medium; may substitute a 50-50 blend of fresh lemon juice and fresh grapefruit juice)
1/4 cup packed fresh oregano leaves
1/4 cup water, or more as needed
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup vegetable oil

PORK:
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
One 4-pound, bone-in pork shoulder

For the marinade: Combine the garlic, cilantro, citrus juices, oregano and water in a blender; puree to form a smooth, thick liquid. With the motor running, add the oils in a slow, steady stream until evenly incorporated.

For the pork: Combine the salt, oregano and pepper in a small bowl.

Rinse the pork with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Use a sharp knife to cut the skin and/or fat cap on your pork shoulder in a crosshatch pattern, leaving about an inch of space between the cuts. Be sure to slice through the layer of fat below the skin, but not into the meat itself.

Rub the pork all over with the salt mixture, then place in a gallon-size zip-top bag. Add the marinade, pushing it into the nooks and crannies and pressing out as much air as possible, and seal. Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for 12 to 24 hours.

Let the pork sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Reserve the marinade.

Place the pork shoulder fat-cap side up in a Dutch oven or other large, heavy-bottomed pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add 3/4 cup of the marinade and the water. Cover and roast (middle rack) for 3 to 5 hours, until the meat is fork-tender. Use tongs or large forks to flip the roast every hour or so, and use some of the marinade mixture to baste the meat. Add a tablespoon of water or two if the pan is dry. Finish cooking for last hour with fat-cap side up.

To help crisp the fat cap on top of the pork and further brown the meat, uncover the pot and increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place the meat in a large bowl or on a large cutting board with a channel that can catch the juices. Use two forks to shred the roast pork into bite-size pieces. Add 1/2 cup of the pan juices (or as much as you like), and stir to incorporate.

VARIATION: To make the pernil in an Instant Pot, ask the butcher to remove the bone from pork shoulder and cut the meat into four equal pieces; reserve the bone. Follow the marinating directions above.

Remove the shoulder from the marinade and shake dry; reserve the marinade.

Add 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil to the Instant Pot. Set to SAUTE on high heat; add the hunks of meat and sear them on all sides, about 3 minutes per piece, in batches, then transfer them to a plate.

Add 1 cup of the reserved marinade to the Instant Pot. Use a wooden spoon to scrape away any blackened bits. Turn off the heat.

Arrange the hunks of pork around in the pot, then baste with the reserved marinade.

Add the bone, cover and cook at high pressure for 80 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.

Transfer the meat to a cutting board. Cook the marinade over medium heat until slightly reduced; skim fat and season, as needed.

Add the pork and shred it with forks.

Crisp the pork under the broiler, if desired.

Blender Tomato Soup

1/3 cup olive oil
1 clove ga1/2 cup chopped onion
1 slice white or whole-wheat bread (crusts removed), torn into 1-inch pieces
28 ounces canned, no-salt-added whole peeled tomatoes, plus their juices
1 cup no-salt-added vegetable broth
1 teaspoon seasoning blend, such as Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Combine the oil, garlic, onion, bread pieces, the tomatoes and their juices, the broth and seasoning blend in a blender; begin to blend on low, then gradually increase to high until pureed and smooth.

Pour into a medium saucepan; cook over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring a few times. Taste, and season with salt and pepper, as needed.

Serve warm.

Melting Potatoes

2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted melted butter
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (chopped fresh rosemary is also fine)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 to 4 smashed garlic cloves

Heat your oven to 500°F with the rack in upper-middle position. The hot oven gives the potatoes their deep golden color and crispy exterior, so don’t cheat this part.

Peel potatoes and slice them into 1-inch thick rounds. This is likely thicker than you think, and it may feel unnatural. But we’re not going for crispy potato chips here. We want hefty, decadent slabs of potato.

Toss the rounds with butter, herbs, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a 13-by-9 inch metal baking dish and arrange in a single layer. Don’t use a glass pan, which can burst under such high heat.

Bake for 15 minutes, flip the potatoes, then bake 15 minutes more. Remove the dish from the oven and add stock and garlic. Return to the oven until most of the stock is absorbed, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a serving platter and pour the remaining liquid in the pan overtop. Serve warm to very lucky friends.

Rafanata

2 peeled russet potatoes
Olive oil
6 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons horseradish
Salt and pepper

Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, then toss intge potatoes. Cook the potatoes for 10 minutes, then fish them out of the water and turn off the heat. Let the potatoes cool a bit, then move them to a cutting board. Slice the potatoes very thinly (think less than 1/4-inch).

Heat a large skillet with plenty of olive oil over medium high heat. Fry the potato slices until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Depending on how large your pan is, you may need to fry the potatoes in shifts. When the potatoes are golden brown, turn them out onto a plate lined with paper towels. Wipe out the skillet and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat eggs with water, Parmesan cheese, and horseradish. Season the mixture with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and black pepper. Drop the fried potato slices into the egg mixture and stir until fully incorporated.

Heat 2 tablespoons more olive oil in the skillet over medium, then pour in the egg and potato mixture. Let the mixture cook for at least 5 minutes before checking underneath to make sure it’s cooking. Now, with confidence, flip the rafanata out onto a plate so the cooked side is exposed (the best way to do this is to place a large dinner plate over the pan, then flip the pan, catching the rafanata). Slide the rafanata back into the pan, cooked side up, and cook for another 3-5 minutes.

Slide the rafanata out onto a serving plate and slice into wedges. Serve with sour cream, mustard, or solo.

Steak au Poivre

4 (6- to 8-ounce; 170 to 225g) boneless medallion steaks, such as filet mignon
Kosher salt
1 ounce (30g) whole black peppercorns, plus more as needed, divided
3 tablespoons (45ml) vegetable oil
1 tablespoon (15g) unsalted butter
2 thyme sprigs
1 medium clove garlic
1/2 large shallot (about 1 1/2 ounces; 40g), minced
2 tablespoons (30ml) brandy or cognac
3/4 cup (175ml) homemade chicken stock or store-bought low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup (175ml) heavy cream or 6 tablespoons (90ml) crème fraîche (see note)
1 teaspoon (5ml) Dijon mustard

Season steaks all over with kosher salt. Set on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet and allow to air-dry, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, crack peppercorns into rough halves and quarters. You can use a pepper mill set to its coarsest setting (though not all pepper mills will crack coarsely enough); a mortar and pestle (though some peppercorns will jump out as you try to crush them); or, perhaps best, a large mallet, meat pounder, or skillet to crush them (wrap the peppercorns in a clean kitchen towel first to contain them).

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Spread cracked peppercorns on a plate or in another shallow dish and firmly press one side of each steak into the pepper to encrust it in an even layer. Set each steak aside, peppercorn side up. Reserve any remaining cracked peppercorns. (Exactly how much pepper adheres will depend on the dimensions of the steaks. You should have some pepper remaining, but if not, you can crack more to completely coat one side of each steak.)

In a large stainless steel or cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add steaks, peppercorn side down, and cook until peppercorns are well toasted, about 3 minutes. Carefully turn steaks, trying not to break the peppercorn crust. Add butter, thyme, and garlic and cook, basting steaks with a spoon, until steaks are well seared on the second side. Remove from heat.

Transfer steaks to a rimmed baking sheet. Using an instant-read thermometer, check the internal temperature of the steaks; if they’ve reached 125°F (52°C), they’re ready to be served medium-rare. If they haven’t reached their final doneness temperature (which will depend heavily on the dimensions of the steaks), transfer to oven and continue cooking until the correct internal temperature is reached. Either way, allow steaks to rest for 5 minutes once the final doneness temperature is reached.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from skillet and discard garlic and thyme. Add shallot and any reserved cracked peppercorns, return to medium heat, and cook, stirring, until shallot is tender, about 2 minutes.

Add brandy or cognac. (To prevent an unexpected flare-up if working over gas, you can turn off the burner, add the alcohol, then reignite the burner.) Cook until raw alcohol smell has burned off and brandy has almost completely evaporated.

Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer, stirring and scraping up any browned bits. Whisk in cream or crème fraîche, then simmer, stirring often, until sauce has reduced enough to glaze a spoon. Whisk in mustard. Season with salt.

Arrange steaks on plates and pour sauce on top. Serve with French fries, mashed potatoes, or other sides of your liking.