Sheet Pan Ancho Flank Steak with Sweet Potatoes

1 (2-lb.) flank steak
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. ground cumin, divided
1 tablespoon plus
1 tsp. ancho chile powder, divided
4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 pound fresh tomatillos, husks removed
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

Flour tortillas, sour cream, fresh cilantro

Place flank steak in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Stir together lime juice, next 2 ingredients, 1 Tbsp. cumin, 1 Tbsp. ancho chile powder, and 2 tsp. kosher salt in a small bowl. Whisk in 1/4 cup olive oil, and pour over flank steak. Seal bag, and turn to coat. Chill 1 to 12 hours.

Place oven rack about 6 inches from top of oven. Preheat oven to 450°. Rinse tomatillos, and cut into quarters. Stir together sweet potatoes, red onion, tomatillos, and remaining 1 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. ancho chile powder, 2 tsp. salt, and 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl. Spread sweet potato mixture in an even layer in a heavy-duty aluminum foil-lined sheet pan.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and move sweet potato mixture to outer edges of pan. Place flank steak in center of pan. Increase oven temperature to broil.

Broil 6 minutes. Turn steak over, and broil 6 minutes more. (Stir vegetables if they begin to char.) Remove from oven, and let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak across the grain, and drizzle with pan drippings. Serve with sweet potato mixture, tortillas, sour cream, and fresh cilantro.

Sheet Pan Pork Chops with Squash and Potatoes

4 (1-inch-thick) frenched pork loin chops
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 medium yellow squash, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 large zucchini, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1/2 pound small red potatoes, quartered

Place pork chops in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Whisk lemon juice, oil, garlic, oregano, pepper, and 2 1/2 teaspoons salt; reserve 2 tablespoons marinade. Pour remaining marinade over pork, turning to coat. Chill 1 to 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Combine squash, zucchini, potatoes, and reserved marinade. Spread squash mixture in an even layer on a heavy-duty aluminum foil-lined rimmed sheet pan.

Remove pork from marinade, discarding marinade. Pat dry with paper towels, and place on top of squash mixture.

Bake 25 minutes. Increase temperature to broil, and broil until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 140°F, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to a serving platter, and cover with foil. Return pan to oven, and broil squash mixture until slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer squash mixture to a serving bowl; toss with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and serve with pork.

Sheet Pan Pork Chops with Apples and Brussels Sprouts

1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
4 (1-inch-thick) bone-in, center-cut pork chops
3 tablespoons plus 2 tsp. olive oil, divided
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Gala apple (8 to 9 oz.), cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 pound fresh Brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
Vegetable cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425°. Stir together first 5 ingredients, 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. rosemary, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper in a small bowl. Rub each pork chop with 1/2 tsp. olive oil; rub both sides of each pork chop with brown sugar mixture (about 2 tsp. on each chop).

Whisk together apple cider vinegar and remaining 2 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1 tsp. rosemary, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. black pepper in a small bowl; slowly whisk in remaining 3 Tbsp. olive oil until blended. Place apples, Brussels sprouts, and 1/4 cup vinegar mixture in a large bowl, and toss to coat.

Place pork chops in center of a lightly greased (with cooking spray) heavy-duty aluminum foil-lined sheet pan; place apple mixture around pork chops.

Bake at 425° for 12 minutes; turn pork chops over, and bake 10 to 14 minutes more or until a meat thermometer inserted in thickest portion registers 140°. Transfer pork chops to a serving platter, and cover with foil to keep warm. Stir apple mixture in sheet pan, and spread into an even layer.

Increase oven temperature to broil, and broil apple mixture 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and slightly charred. Transfer apple mixture to a medium bowl. Toss together apple mixture and remaining vinegar mixture. Season with kosher salt, and serve with pork chops.

Sheet Pan Pork Chops with Beets

1 pound baby beets, peeled and halved
2 teaspoon grated garlic (about 3 garlic cloves)
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
4 (12-oz.) bone-in pork loin chops
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, divided
3 cups finely shredded curly kale (stems removed)

Preheat broiler with oven rack about 10 inches from heat. Toss together beets, grated garlic, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Place on a large, lightly greased, aluminum foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Broil in preheated oven 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub pork chops with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Remove beets from oven, and nestle pork chops into beets. Return pan to oven. Bake until pork is just cooked through and beets are tender, about 15 minutes.

Whisk together sour cream, mustard, honey, 1 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a small bowl. Transfer cooked beets to a large bowl; add shredded kale and 2 tablespoons of the sour cream mixture, and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap, and let stand 5 minutes. Serve pork chops over vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 2 teaspoons thyme, and serve with remaining sour cream mixture.

Sriracha-Braised Brisket Sandwiches

1 5–6-pound brisket, first-cut, untrimmed
2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal or 1 tablespoon Morton kosher salt
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 large onion, peeled, thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup Sriracha, plus more for serving
12 potato rolls, toasted

Remove brisket from its packaging and pat dry with paper towels. Lay brisket flat on your cutting board so that one of the longer sides is closest to you and layer of white fat is facing down. Take a close look at the meat itself—you’ll notice that there are long “grains” (thread-like muscle fibers) running left to right across length of brisket. You are going to “slice against the grain,” which means positioning your knife blade perpendicular to the direction of the fibers, into 2″-wide pieces. You do this so that when you go to shred the meat at the end, the fibers don’t stretch a mile long and they’re a manageable length for sandwiches.

Place brisket halves in a large bowl and sprinkle with salt, brown sugar, and cumin. Use your hands to really massage the meat and work in all the salt and spices so every little spot is coated. Get in there! Set brisket aside for a moment.

Mix onion, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire, ? cup Sriracha, and 1 cup water in a large Dutch oven or stockpot.

Using tongs, nestle brisket into pot so fattier sides are facing up and pieces fit together in a single layer. The meat should be barely submerged in liquid, so add a little more water if that’s not the case (depending on size of your pot).

Bring to a simmer over medium heat, then reduce heat to achieve a very gentle simmer.

Cover pot and cook brisket, peeking inside occasionally to make sure heat isn’t too high or low—you want a couple of areas in the pot to be gently bubbling. If bubbles are roiling all over the place, reduce heat. If you see no bubbles at all, increase slightly. If liquid drops below top of meat, add a little more water to keep barely submerged.

After 2 hours, check meat for doneness. Poke a fork into a few pieces and twist the tines to see if the meat will easily separate into shreds. If not, that means it’s still tough. Keep cooking, checking again every 15 minutes or so. This could take up to an hour more.

Turn off heat and position lid so that it’s cracked open a bit. Let brisket cool until no longer steaming hot, about 30–40 minutes. Cover and chill overnight.

The next day, remove pot from refrigerator and uncover. There will be an layer of solidified orange fat on the surface (the color is from the Sriracha!). Using a fork, lift off fat in large pieces and discard.

Reheat brisket in pot over low until meat is warmed all the way through, 30–40 minutes. Transfer meat to a rimmed baking sheet. If meat is too hot to touch, let cool for a few minutes until you can handle it.

Using your fingers or 2 forks, separate muscle fibers into shreds and return to pot. Remove any pieces of fat and discard.

Return pot to low heat and bring liquid to a gentle simmer, tossing meat with tongs to encourage it to soak up juices. Add more Sriracha to taste.

Serve over toasted buns with even more Sriracha, if desired.

Caramel Chicken

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken legs and thighs
Kosher salt
8 garlic cloves, peeled
1/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup (or more) unseasoned rice vinegar
2 slices ¼”-thick slices peeled ginger
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
Cooked white rice (for serving)

Heat oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and, working in 2 batches, cook until golden brown and crisp, 6–8 minutes per side; transfer to a plate. Add garlic to pot and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes; transfer to plate with chicken. Pour off fat from pot.

Return pot to medium-high heat and add ½ cup water, scraping up browned bits. Add brown sugar; stir to dissolve, then cook, stirring, until mixture thickens and turns a deep amber color, about 4 minutes. Carefully add vinegar (it may bubble up; sugar will crystallize); stir to dissolve sugar.

Add ginger, broth, and soy sauce, then add chicken, skin side up, and garlic. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer gently until chicken is cooked through, 20–25 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate.

Bring cooking liquid to a boil and cook until thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes. Return chicken to pot; turn to coat. Top with scallions and serve with rice.

Miso Glazed Root Vegetables

1 pound carrots, scrubbed and cut into large chunks
8 medium beets, peeled cut into thin wedges
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
(you could also use parsnips, turnips, radishes, butternut squash, acorn squash, or pumpkin––whatever the fall harvest has in store)
Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tablespoons miso paste
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 scallion, chopped (optional)
Instructions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Spread the vegetables out on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Roast the veggies in the oven for 45 minutes, until crisp on the outside.
In the final 10 minutes of roasting time, make the glaze. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes. Whisk in the miso paste, mirin, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer and bubble for 2 minutes.

Pour over the vegetables, toss, and arrange on a platter. Garnish with scallions if desired. Serve!

Sweet Patatas Bravas

2 pounds sweet potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt (I use Morton’s)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 large garlic clove (or 2 small), minced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel the sweet potatoes and chop into large (roughly 1 1/2-inch) chunks. Add to a naked, rimmed sheet tray, then toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the salt. Roast—stirring the potatoes halfway through—until they’re just tender and beginning to brown, about 24 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the tomato paste, sherry vinegar, hot sauce, and smoked paprika in a bowl.

In another bowl, mix the mayonnaise, garlic, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. (Both sauces can be prepared days in advance, then refrigerated!)

When the potatoes are done, let them hang out for about 10 minutes. Drizzle with the tomato dressing and gently toss. Transfer to a platter and zigzag with the garlicky mayo. Serve warm.

Basic Chana Masala

Soak 160 grams who,e chickpeas overnight.
Boil until soft. Set aside.
Mash 300 grams tomato in a mixer. Set aside.
Heat 5 teaspoons ghee. Saute a medium sized chopoed onion and 1 teaspoon chopped green chili until brown.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger paste and 1 teaspoon garlic paste. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
Add tomato puree and pinch of tumeric. Saute until cooked through.
Add cooked chickpeas, 2 teaspoons channa masala, salt to taste, and about 200 mL water to get desired consistency. Simmer 5 minutes.
Garnish with cilantro and julienned ginger.
Serve hot with rice.

Basic Chana Dal Masala

Boil 200 grams chana dal in 800 mL water until tender. Set aside.
Fry 80 grams chopped onions in 40 grams oil until tender.
Add 100 grams chopped tomatoes and 15 grams chana dal masala. Stir for 4-5 minutes until it becomes paste.
Take 1 part of tge boiled dal and add to paste. Mix well, then add remaining dal.
Check seasonings, then simmer for five minutes.
Serve with rice or roti.

Beef Chow Fun

1/2 pound (226 grams) beef skirt, flank, sirloin, or tenderloin
1 tablespoon light soy sauce (*Footnote 1)
1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
2 tablespoons light soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar

Stir fry

(Optional) 1 batch broccolini (or 1 small head broccoli), tough ends removed and chopped into bite sized pieces (or use broccoli with gai lan (Chinese broccoli), kale, or bok choy)
7 ounces (200 grams) dried rice noodles
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 white onion, sliced
1 cup bean sprouts
4 green onions, chopped
(Optional) 2 teaspoons sesame oil

Slice beef against the grain into 1/8-inch (1/3-cm) thick pieces or 1/4-inch (1/2-cm) strips, and transfer the pieces to a small bowl. Add the light soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and cornstarch. Use your hand to gently mix the beef and the added ingredients, until the beef is coated with a thin layer of the mixture. Let marinate for 15 minutes while preparing the rest of the ingredients.

Combine all the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons water. Mix well and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the broccolini (or broccoli) until tender, 1 minute or so. Drain and set aside. Reserve the boiling water to cook the noodles.

Cook or soak the rice noodles according to the instructions until cooked through, but still a bit chewy inside. Rinse rice noodles with cold water and drain. To avoid sticky rice noodles during stir fry, add 1 teaspoon sesame oil to the drained noodles. Gently toss noodles by hand to separate and evenly coat them with a thin layer of oil.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Spread the beef slices in the skillet in a single layer. Cook until the bottom side of the beef turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip the beef and cook the other side until browned, but the inside is still a bit pink, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Transfer beef to a plate immediately.

In the same skillet, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and turn to medium heat. Add garlic, ginger, and onion. Stir constantly until you can smell a strong fragrance, 15 seconds.
Toss the cooked noodles again and add them into the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil onto the noodles. Use a pair of tongs to toss the noodles with oil. If the noodles start to get sticky, swirl in 2 tablespoons water.

Add the beef back into the skillet. Pour in the mixed sauce. Immediately use a pair of tongs to toss and mix everything.
Add the onion and green onion. Toss a few more times, until the sauce is absorbed by the noodles.

Add bean sprouts and cooked broccolini back into the skillet, swirl in the sesame oil (if using), and give it a final toss. Turn off heat and transfer everything to serving plates immediately.

Serve hot as a main.

NOTES

You can use regular soy sauce to replace all the light / dark soy sauce in this recipe. Note that the dish will come out with a lighter color if you do so.

Pressure Cooker Lemongrass Pumpkin Congee (Tinutuan)

1/2 cup (120 grams) long grain or short grain rice
8 cups water
1 stalk lemongrass (or 2 stalks if you like a very strong lemongrass flavor)
3 cups diced kabocha squash (the yield from half a kabocha squash)
1 cup sweet corn kernels
4 cups spinach
(Optional) 1 bunch of Thai basil leaves for garnish
Sambal and/or fried shallot for serving

Add rice and water to cover in a large bowl. Use your hand to gently swirl a few times to rinse, discard the water. Repeat 1 to 2 times. Drain rice and transfer into an Instant Pot. Add 8 cups water.

Cut the lemongrass into 2-inch (5-cm) stalks and pound them with the back of your knife, to bruise the stalks so they release more aroma. Add the lemongrass into the Instant Pot. Set the pressure to high and timer for 15 minutes. Once the timer is up, use quick release to reduce the pressure.
Add the diced pumpkin. Cover and cook on high pressure, for another 6 minutes. Use natural release to reduce pressure.

Add the sweet corn kernels and turn on the saute function until bringing to a boil. Cook with the lid two-thirds of the way covered for 3 to 5 minutes, until the corn is cooked through.
Add the spinach and continue cooking for a minute. Turn off the Instant pot.

Transfer the porridge into serving bowls. Serve hot with sambal and / or fried shallot.

Garlic Lemongrass Chicken (or Fish, or Pork)

5 plump lemongrass stalks, inner bulb only, coarsely chopped
3 scallions, white and light green parts only, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1 large jalapeño, chopped
Pinch of sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil, plus more for brushing
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs and breasts (or on pork tenderloin or any firm, white-fleshed fish, such as snapper, sea bass or halibut)

In a food processor, pulse the lemongrass until finely chopped. Add the scallions, garlic, jalapeño and sugar and pulse until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the 1/4 cup of vegetable oil in a steady stream and process to a fine paste. Season the paste with salt and pepper.

Using a small, sharp knife, make 1/2-inch-deep slashes into the chicken and rub the paste all over, working it into the slashes. Marinate the chicken for 15 minutes at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.

Light a grill. Brush the chicken with oil, season with salt and pepper and grill over a medium-hot fire, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, about 15 minutes.

Vietnamese Grilled Chicken with Vermicelli and Nuoc Cham

5 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3), cut lengthwise into 12 strips in all
1/2 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
1 teaspoon wine vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lime juice (from about 2 limes)
2 tablespoons water
1/2 pound vermicelli
1 cup bean sprouts 1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into thin slices
2/3 cup fresh mint, basil, or cilantro leaves, or any combination of the three
1/3 cup chopped peanuts

Heat the broiler or light the grill. In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of the fish sauce, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, 2 cloves of the garlic, and the oil. Add the chicken, toss, and then thread each strip onto a wooden skewer. Broil or grill the chicken until just done, about 2 minutes per side.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining 4 tablespoons fish sauce, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 clove garlic with the red-pepper flakes, vinegar, lime juice, and water. Set this nuoc cham aside.

In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the vermicelli until just done, about 9 minutes. Add the bean sprouts during the last minute of cooking. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain thoroughly.

Put the pasta and bean sprouts on a platter and top with the cucumber, herbs, and chicken skewers. Pour the nuoc cham over all and sprinkle with the peanuts.

Pressure Cooker Beef Chili

2 1/2 lb Ground beef
1/2 large Onion (chopped)
8 cloves Garlic (minced)
2 15-oz can Diced tomatoes (with liquid)
1 6-oz can Tomato paste
1 4-oz can Green chiles (with liquid)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Chili powder
2 tbsp Cumin
1 tbsp Dried oregano
2 tsp Sea salt
1 tsp Black pepper
1 medium Bay leaf (optional)

In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chopped onion for 5-7 minutes, until translucent (or increase the time to about 20 minutes if you like them caramelized). Add the garlic and cook for a minute or less, until fragrant.

Add the ground beef. Cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned.
Transfer the ground beef mixture into a slow cooker. Add remaining ingredients, except bay leaf, and stir until combined. Place the bay leaf into the middle, if using.
Cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. If you used a bay leaf, remove it before serving.

Instant Pot pressure cooker instructions

Select the “Sauté” setting on the pressure cooker (this part is done without the lid). Add the chopped onion and cook for 5-7 minutes, until translucent (or increase the time to about 20 minutes if you like them caramelized). Add the garlic and cook for a minute or less, until fragrant.

Add the ground beef. Cook for 8-10 minutes, breaking apart with a spatula, until browned.
Add remaining ingredients, except bay leaf, to the Instant Pot and stir until combined. Place the bay leaf into the middle, if using.

Close the lid. Press “Keep Warm/Cancel” to stop the saute cycle. Select the “Meat/Stew” setting (35 minutes) to start pressure cooking.

Wait for the natural release if you can, or turn the valve to “vent” for quick release if you’re short on time. If you used a bay leaf, remove it before serving.

Pad Kee Mao (Drunken Chicken)

2 tablespoon cooking oil
2/3 lb. (300g) boneless chicken, cut into strips
1 teaspoon minced garlic
6 fresh Thai chilies peppers, cut lengthwise finely
1 1/2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon sweet soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
20 sweet basil leaves
1/3 cup water
Cooked Rice

Heat the oil in a wok until almost smoking. Add the garlic and chilli peppers and stir-fry quickly until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and stir-fry until no longer pink.

Add fish sauce, sweet soy sauce and sugar and stir to mix. Add basil leaves, stock or water and bring to boil. Serve over rice.

Pasta e Fagioli

170g dried borlotti
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
A sprig of fresh rosemary
300-500g fresh tomatoes
Salt and black pepper
180g fresh egg pasta, cut into small, misshapen squares or 220g dried small pasta, or broken tagliatelle

If you are using dried beans, soak them for 12 hours or overnight. Drain, cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 3 inches/10cm above the beans and cook at a simmer until tender, which usually takes about an hour and a half. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid.
If you are using fresh beans, pod them, then cover them with enough cold water that it comes at least 10cm above the beans. Bring to a very gentle boil and then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the beans are tender. Leave the beans to cool in their cooking liquid. If you are using tinned beans, drain and rinse them.

Meanwhile, in a large, deep sauté pan or casserole, warm the olive oil over a low flame, add the peeled and gently crushed garlic cloves and rosemary, then fry them gently until fragrant. If desired, you can remove the garlic at this point. Peel the tomatoes, if you like, then roughly chop them and add them to the pan. Raise the heat just a little and cook the tomatoes for 10 minutes, or until soft and saucy. Add the beans and a couple generous ladlefuls of bean cooking water, then let the pan bubble away for another 10-15 minutes. Season with salt. At this point you may like to blend half the soup for a creamier consistency.

Add another couple of ladlefuls of bean cooking water and then the pasta. Continue cooking, stirring attentively until the pasta is tender. You may need to add a little more bean cooking water. Serve immediately.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

2 slices of day-old bread (about 50g), crusts removed
A little milk
500g minced beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten
A small garlic clove
A sprig of parsley
Salt and black pepper

For the sauce
750g ripe, fresh tomatoes
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1–2 garlic cloves, peeled or crushed
A pinch of red chilli flakes (optional)
A tin of peeled plum tomatoes, chopped roughly in the tin
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
Salt

Rip the bread and soak in a little milk until soft, and easily crumbled. Squeeze out excess milk. Put the crumbs in a large bowl along with the beef and lightly beaten eggs.

Peel and chop the garlic very finely along with the parsley, salt and pepper. Add to the meat, then use your hands to mix everything together.

Divide the mixture into 12 meatballs: if the mixture is very sticky, flour your hands lightly. Let the meatballs rest.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Peel the fresh tomatoes by plunging them first in boiling water, then in cold, at which point the skins should slip off. Then chop them roughly.

Peel the garlic and crush for a milder flavour or finely chop for stronger. Put 4 tbsp of the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan or cassarole and cook the garlic gently over a low heat until it is fragrant. At this point you can remove the whole garlic if you wish.

Add the chopped tomatoes and chilli. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the final 2 tbsp oil and the tinned tomatoes. Add 1 tbsp tomato puree if you feel it needs it. Cook for 20–40 minutes, or until the sauce is rich and thick.

Drop the meatballs in the sauce, making sure they are submerged. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and poach for 15 minutes, by which time the meatballs should be cooked through but still tender.

Beef Braised In Chianti

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1kg stewing or braising beef – chuck, flank or neck, cut into large chunks of about 5cm
3 garlic cloves, peeled but whole
1 bottle red wine, ideally chianti
Salt
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns, plus a few extra just in case

To serve
Bread or buttery mashed potato

Warm the olive oil in a heavy-based casserole or stockpot, then brown the meat in batches over a medium heat. Return all the meat to the pan, add the peeled but whole garlic cloves, the red wine and a pinch of salt. Use a pestle and mortar to pound the peppercorns until fine, then add that to the pan.

Bring the pan almost to a boil, then cover and reduce to a simmer for 2-2½ hours or until the meat is very tender but still holding its shape. If you like, remove the lid for the last 45 minutes to reduce the sauce. If you want it reduced further, remove the meat and boil the sauce until slightly thickened, then return the meat to the pan.

Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. Ideally allow to rest for a few hours – better still, overnight – then reheat gently.

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.