Meatloaf

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
Salt
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 pound ground chuck
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground veal
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried basil
1 pinch cayenne
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons ketchup, plus more for glazing
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or whipped cream cheese)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten

Heat the oven to 350°F.

In a medium sauté pan, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has begun to soften and lightly caramelize, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and continue to cook until both the onion and garlic are soft and golden brown (be careful not to burn the garlic), about another 5 minutes. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients except for the eggs. Add a few good pinches of salt. Then mix it with two forks, combining thoroughly but not overmixing.

Gently stir in the eggs and the browned onions and garlic, mixing just until combined.

Gently shape the mixture into a rough football and nestle it snugly into a loaf pan, patting it down so the top is fairly flat. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes, then brush the top lightly with ketchup and return to the oven for 10 to 20 more minutes. The meatloaf is done when the internal temperature reaches about 145°F.

Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Meatballs and Sauce

FOR THE MEATBALLS
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for your hands
1 small onion, cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
8 slices white/country bread, preferably crusts removed, torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk
2 pounds ground veal
2 pounds 80/20 ground beef
1 pound ground pork shoulder (butt)
8 ounces finely chopped or ground prosciutto
1 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese, preferably homemade (see related recipe)
6 large eggs
2 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 1/2 cups finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 cups “00” flour, for dusting

FOR THE SAUCE
28 ounces canned whole San Marzano tomatoes
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
A few fresh basil leaves (optional)

For the meatballs: Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, stir in the onion, garlic, dried oregano and crushed red pepper flakes. Cook just until the onion and garlic have softened but not browned; transfer to a very large mixing bowl.

Combine the bread pieces and milk in a medium bowl; let the mixture sit for a few minutes so the milk is completely absorbed.

Add to the large bowl the ground veal, ground beef, ground pork shoulder, prosciutto, pecorino-Romano, ricotta, eggs, Parmigiano-Reggiano, parsley, kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper and the soaked bread pieces; use your clean hands to blend the mixture until well incorporated.

Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the “00” flour in a wide, shallow bowl.

Grease your hands with a little oil. Form the meatball mixture into 65 meatballs of equal size (shell-on walnuts). Coat each one lightly with “00” flour, dividing them between two parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheets. Roast on the upper and lower racks for 10 to 14 minutes, rotating the baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the meatballs are browned and cooked through. Discard any remaining flour.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Use a food mill to puree the tomatoes. Discard the seeds; reserve the can juices for another use, if desired.

Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the garlic, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and dried oregano. Cook just until the garlic starts to brown, then stir in the tomato puree. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, then taste, and season lightly with kosher or sea salt and cracked black pepper. Stir in 6 to 8 basil leaves, if desired. Turn off the heat. Transfer 30 of the meatballs to the saucepan, turning them until coated. Cool and reserve the remaining meatballs for another use.

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.

Muussels: Mussels with Tomato and Garlic Broth

1/4 cup olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 cups drained canned tomatoes in thick puree, chopped (from one 28-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
4 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Salt, if needed

Garlic Toast (optional)

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, tomatoes, thyme, and red-pepper flakes. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Discard any mussels that have broken shells or that don’t clamp shut when tapped. Add the mussels to the pot. Cover; bring to a boil. Cook, shaking the pot occasionally, just until the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Remove the open mussels. Continue to boil, uncovering the pot as necessary to remove the mussels as soon as their shells open. Discard any that do not open.

Stir the black pepper into the broth. Taste the broth and, if needed, add salt. Ladle the broth over the mussels and serve with the garlic toast.

Meatloaf

1 cup chopped celery
1 onion, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
2 pounds ground beef sirloin
1/2 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 egg
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups Heinz chili sauce
3 slices bacon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. In a heavy skillet over medium heat, saute the celery and onion in the butter until soft, about 5 minutes. Scrape into a large mixing bowl and cool.

When the onions are cool enough to handle, add the meats, parsley, sour cream, bread crumbs, thyme, marjoram and salt and pepper to the bowl. Whisk the egg with the Worcestershire sauce and add to the mixture. Using a wooden spoon or your hands, combine the mixture and mold into the shape of a loaf.

Place the meatloaf in the prepared pan. Top with the chili sauce and bacon slices. Bake until firm and nicely browned, about 1 hour.

Basic Crepes

2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk (10 fluid ounces; 280ml)
1 cup flour (5 ounces; 140g)
1 tablespoon melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil (1/2 ounce; 15ml), plus more for cooking
Pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon (8g) sugar, if making sweet crepes
1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs, such as parsley, tarragon, chervil, or chives (optional; for savory crepes)

For the Batter: Combine eggs, milk, flour, melted butter or oil, salt, and sugar (if using) in a blender. Start blender on low speed and increase to high. Blend until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add herbs (if using) and pulse to combine. (Alternatively, you can combine the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk vigorously until smooth.)

To Cook: Heat a 10-inch nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Lightly grease with oil or butter, using a paper towel to wipe out the excess.

Hold the pan’s handle in one hand and pour in 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60ml) batter, swirling and tilting pan immediately to spread batter in a thin, even layer over bottom of pan.

Let cook until top looks dry, about 20 seconds. Using a thin metal or nylon spatula, lift one edge of crepe. Grab that edge with the fingers of both hands and flip crepe. Cook on second side for 10 seconds, then transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining batter. Fill crepes as desired (such as with butter, sugar, and lemon juice; with butter and jam; with ham, cheese, and eggs; or with spinach and feta) and serve. Crepes can also be made ahead and stored, unfilled and wrapped in plastic, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a nonstick pan to 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.

Garlic Herb Cheese Bombs

2 cans (7.5 oz. each) refrigerated biscuits
4 oz. Mozzarella cheese, cut into 20 cubes
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Some fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
A tiny pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Open the biscuit cans and separate the biscuits. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Wrap the cheese bombs by placing one cube of the cheese in the center of each biscuit. Carefully wrap the biscuit dough around the cheese, pinch the biscuit to close and seal tight. Place the seam part down and arrange the biscuits so they are at least 1-inch apart. Bake for 10 minutes or until the surfface turn golden brown.

While the biscuits are baked in the oven, mix the butter, garlic powder, salt, and parsley leaves together. Set aside.

Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush with the butter mixture immediately. Serve warm.

Sweeney Potatoes

2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted, plus more butter for the pan
1 cup sour cream
1/4 to 1/2 cup whole milk
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 1/2 cups freshly grated sharp Cheddar cheese (about 8 ounces)
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Put potatoes in a large heavy-bottomed pot and cover with cold water. Set on stove over high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow potatoes to simmer until they have just started to soften, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine cream cheese, melted butter and sour cream in a large bowl and stir to combine. Add enough milk so that the mixture is creamy but not soupy. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Add potatoes to bowl and stir gently to combine.

Generously grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Tip half the potatoes into the dish and spread to the edges, then scatter half the grated cheese over the top. Add remaining potatoes and spread to the edges, then top with remaining cheese.

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.

Maple-Roasted Brussels Sprouts

1/4 cup canola oil
2 1/4 pounds baby brussels sprouts or regular brussels sprouts halved lengthwise
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup Grade A pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 cup vacuum-packed roasted chestnuts, coarsely chopped (6 ounces)
1 tablespoon walnut oil

Heat the canola oil in a very large skillet until shimmering. Add the brussels sprouts and season with salt and pepper, then cook over high heat without stirring until they are browned, about 2 minutes. Add the unsalted butter and brown sugar and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the brown sugar is melted. Add the maple syrup and cook, stirring occasionally, until the brussels sprouts are just crisp-tender, about 7 minutes. Stir in the cider vinegar. Add the chestnuts and walnut oil and cook until hot.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the brussels sprouts and chestnuts to a bowl. Boil the cooking liquid over high heat until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour the sauce over the brussels sprouts and serve.

Beef Stew in Red Wine Sauce

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds trimmed beef flatiron steak or chuck, cut into 8 pieces
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
One 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine
2 bay leaves
1 thyme sprig
One 5-ounce piece of pancetta
15 pearl or small cipollini onions, peeled
15 cremini mushrooms
15 baby carrots, peeled
Sugar
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, melt the butter in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the meat in the casserole in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 8 minutes. Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 5 minutes. Add the flour and stir to coat the meat with it. Add the wine, bay leaves and thyme, season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot.

Cover the casserole and transfer it to the oven. Cook the stew for 1 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is flavorful.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, cover the pancetta with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain the pancetta and slice it 1/2 inch thick, then cut the slices into 1-inch-wide lardons.

In a large skillet, combine the pancetta, pearl onions, mushrooms and carrots. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 cup of water and a large pinch each of sugar, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until almost all of the water has evaporated, 15 minutes. Uncover and cook over high heat, tossing, until the vegetables are tender and nicely browned, about 4 minutes.

To serve, stir some of the vegetables and lardons into the stew and scatter the rest on top as a garnish. Top with a little chopped parsley and serve.

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.

Pasticcini di Mandor (Italian Soft Almond Cookies)

Makes 12-16 biscuits

350g ground almonds
150–200g icing sugar, plus more for dusting
Zest of 1-2 unwaxed lemons
2 medium eggs

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4 and line a baking tray with baking parchment.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground almonds, icing sugar, lemon zest and eggs to form a soft, slightly sticky dough.

Dust your hands with icing sugar, and scoop out a walnut-sized ball of dough. Then gently roll it between your palms. You can also roll it on the work surface as long as it is dusted with icing sugar. Repeat. Put the balls on the baking tray and make an indentation in the centre of each.

As they bake, the biscuits will crack gently. For soft and marzipan-like biscuits bake for 11-12 minutes, for a firmer, chewier biscuit 14-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. They will keep in an airtight tin for a month.

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 e Piselli

1.3kg peas in their pods, or 350g frozen
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
A small knob of butter or 50g pancetta or guanciale, diced
3 large or 6 small spring onions, chopped
A celery stalk, chopped
A sprig of mint
Salt
1 tbsp tomato puree (optional)
A parmesan rind
300g fresh egg pasta or 200g dried pasta
Pecorino or parmesan cheese, grated

If the peas are in their pods, pod them and set aside. Warm the olive oil in a large pan and fry the pancetta, onion, celery and mint with a pinch of salt, until soft and translucent. Stir in the tomato puree, if using, then add the peas, stir and cook for a few minutes.

Add 1.3 litres of cold water and the parmesan rind. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.

Once the peas are tender, remove the mint, add another small pinch of salt and the pasta. Cook, stirring regularly, until the pasta is al dente. Leave to sit for a couple of minutes, stir in 2 tbsp grated cheese, taste and check for salt (it shouldn’t need it). Divide between bowls and serve, handing round more cheese for those who want it.

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.

Paste e Ceci

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes, to taste
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (from one 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
1/2 cup (2 ounces or 55 grams) uncooked ditalini pasta (or another small shape; I use annelini)
2 cups (275 ml) boiling water

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (estimate 1 per serving)
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
Salt and red pepper flakes

In a medium-large heavy-bottomed pot or deep saute pan, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil until it shimmers.

Add 2 smashed cloves of garlic and cook, stirring until it becomes lightly, barely browned but very fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, and pepper and cook them with the garlic for 30 seconds or so.

Add the chickpeas, pasta, and boiling water. Stir to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, lower the heat, and simmer until the pasta is cooked and a lot of the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning and ladle into bowls.

Make finishing oil: Heat 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small sauce- or frying pan over medium-low heat with remaining clove of garlic, rosemary, a pinch or two of salt and pepper flakes, until sizzling; pull it off the heat as soon as the garlic is going to start taking on color. Drizzle this over bowls of pasta e ceci and eat it right away.