These 31 recipes were our best of the year | Food and cooking |

2022-03-10 08:30:51 By : Mr. Soon Lee

Even during a pandemic, people have got to eat.

We spent the year 2021 cooking up a storm, and then eating what we cooked. All of it was good. Much of it was very good. And some of it was exceptional.

When we look back on the year, for auld lang syne, it is the exceptional food that we remember the most.  On a hot summer morning or a cold winter's eve, our minds float back to our fondest culinary memories of the year.

Such as the karaage. The tomato pie. The croissants. And so, so much more.

But really it was the croissants.

And the malted milk chocolate tart. And the strawberry tart. And the potato puffs. And the cream puffs.

Not to mention the croissants.

Almost too many to mention, in fact. And so it is with no inconsiderable pride that we present our favorite recipes of 2021.

Including the recipe for croissants. Seriously, check them out.

½ cup hazelnuts, toasted (60 grams, 2 ounces)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Rice Krispies cereal

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

For the dark satin ganache

10 ounces semisweet chocolate broken into small pieces

Note: The caramel must be made at least one day and up to a week before making the bars.

1. Make the caramel: Place the water, sugar and corn syrup in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir over medium-high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Bring to a boil, and wash down the sides of the pan with a natural bristle pastry brush dipped in water. Boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a medium golden color.

2. Take it off the heat and immediately add the butter; stir until it is melted. Pour in the cream all at once and stir. Don’t worry if some of the cream forms lumps. If possible, clip a candy or frying thermometer onto the side of the pan.

3. Return the heat to medium-high and bring to a hard boil. Cook to 242 degrees. Pour into a container. Do not stir at this point. Allow to cool to room temperature. Set aside for at least one day.

4. Make the hazelnut crunch: Line a 9-by-13-inch pan with parchment paper. Spray the paper and sides of the pan with a nonstick spray. Set aside.

5. Add the cooled, toasted hazelnuts to the bowl of a processor and process until fairly finely ground. Do not overprocess or you will make a paste. Remove to a large bowl and add the Rice Krispies cereal. Mix well and set aside.

6. Spray the back of a large spoon with nonstick spray, and set aside.

7. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave at half power. Pour it over the hazelnut/cereal mix and quickly mix all of it together with a large spoon or a gloved hand. Pour into the prepared pan and immediately smooth it with the back of the sprayed spoon or a gloved hand. If it sets up too quickly, place it in the oven on the lowest setting for a few minutes to loosen.

8. Add the caramel: Microwave the caramel or heat over a double boiler until spreadable. Do not stir any more than necessary. Pour it over the hazelnut crunch layer and spread evenly. Set aside.

9. Make the marshmallow: Sprinkle the gelatin over the ¼ cup cold water. Stir to moisten all of it; set aside.

10. Place the egg whites and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat to soft peaks on medium speed. Slowly add ¼ cup of the sugar and beat to stiff peaks.

11. As soon as you begin beating the egg whites, combine the ½ cup of water, the remaining ¾ cup of sugar and the corn syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, washing down the sides of the pan with a brush dipped in cold water. Boil to a temperature of 240 degrees.

12. If the egg whites are stiff before the sugar syrup comes to temperature, lower the speed of the mixer as low as possible and keep mixing the whites. Do not turn off the mixer.

13. As soon as the sugar syrup comes to temperature, slowly pour it into the mixer bowl. Try to pour the syrup between the bowl and the whisk so it goes directly into the whisk or bowl. Liquefy the gelatin in the microwave for a few seconds and pour it over the egg white mixture. Beat until cool and stiff.

14. If the caramel has hardened, heat the top of the caramel layer with a blow dryer so the marshmallow can adhere to it. Immediately pour the marshmallow over the caramel and smooth it out. Cool completely.

15. Make the ganache: Heat the cream, corn syrup and butter in a small saucepan until steaming hot but not boiling. Submerge the chocolate in the hot cream and let sit for a few minutes. Gently whisk until smooth; do not whisk too enthusiastically or you will have air bubbles in the ganache. Pour the ganache over the marshmallow and smooth it out. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight

16. To serve: Loosen the edges with a small flexible spatula and turn out onto a cake board. Turn right side up and cut 6 rows across and 4 rows down with a hot knife. The knife must be dipped into very hot water and quickly dried with a paper towel between each cut. Let the knife melt through the ganache, which will be cold and firm, and then cut straight down.

17. To store, keep in a closed container at a cool room temperature for a day or two. For longer storage, refrigerate.

Per serving: 314 calories; 15g fat; 9g saturated fat; 22mg cholesterol; 3g protein; 44g carbohydrate; 41g sugar; 1g fiber; 36mg sodium; 32mg calcium

Recipe from “Craving Cookies” by Helen S. Fletcher

1 quart (4 cups) very thinly sliced peeled yellow onions

12 slices toasted bread or crostini to fit in soup bowls

3 cups grated Comté, Gruyere or Swiss cheese

1. Thinly slice the onions and place in a large bowl. Toss to separate the rings and set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a 5-quart pot over medium low heat. Add the onions and salt.

3. Caramelize the onions very slowly over medium-low heat. It will take 30 to 50 minutes or more, stirring occasionally as needed.

4. As the onions cook they will release water, but if you notice sticking to the pan, add small amounts of water to prevent burning and release any flavorful pieces that develop on the bottom of the pan.

5. You want the onions to reach a deep brown — almost the “color of bourbon.” At that point they are fully caramelized.

6. Sprinkle the flour evenly over the cooking onions, stirring it in completely to evenly distribute the flour. You don’t want lumps in the flour before you add the stock next.

7. Pour 2 cups of stock over the onions, whisking as you go. Add the remaining 4 cups of stock in 2 cups at a time, whisking still to make sure no lumps are forming that need to be stirred down.

8. Bring the soup to a simmer and allow it to cook for 30 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, then stir in the sherry vinegar and ground pepper.

9. Turn the broiler on to medium high.

10. Portion the hot soup into 6 oven-proof bowls. Arrange 2 pieces of toasted bread on the surface. Top each bowl with ½ cup of grated cheese, taking care to cover the bread.

11. Place under the broiler to melt the cheese. Keep a good eye on this as it only takes 2 to 4 minutes depending on the broiler.

12. Garnish each bowl with chopped chives.

Per serving: 622 calories; 34g fat; 19g saturated fat; 97mg cholesterol; 29g protein; 50g carbohydrate; 11g sugar; 3g fiber; 1,225mg sodium; 660mg calcium

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water, about 75 degrees

3 cups bread flour (420 grams or scant 15 ounces)

¼ cup powdered buttermilk, see note

Note: If you can’t find powdered buttermilk, substitute whole buttermilk. Use 7⁄8 cup buttermilk and ¼ cup water in place of the water and dry buttermilk powder. Everything else remains the same.

1. Combine the water and oil. Set aside.

2. With the steel blade in place, add the flour, powdered buttermilk, instant yeast, sugar and salt to the bowl of a food processor. Process about 5 seconds to mix everything. With the machine running, pour the liquid down the feed tube; process until a ball forms. Continue processing for 30 seconds more to knead the dough. The dough should ride the blade and clean the bowl but remain soft.

3. Remove from the bowl. If it is slightly sticky (and it may be), knead by hand 5 or 6 times, then flatten into a disc ½ inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the edges are very firm about ½ inch in all the way around. If using a marble rolling pin, put that in the freezer also.

4. Meanwhile, cut each stick of butter in half lengthwise and then cut each of those pieces in half lengthwise. Then cut each of these lengths into 8 pieces. Place butter in freezer to keep hard.

5. Remove the dough from the freezer. Divide the disc into fourths and each fourth into 3 pieces. With the steel blade in the bowl, place 3 pieces of dough in the processor with ¼ of the butter. Process until the largest pieces of butter and dough are about the size of a pea. Turn out onto work surface. Repeat in quick succession 3 more times.

6. On a lightly floured surface, shape the mixture into a rectangle about 6 inches by 4 inches. Lightly flour the top of the dough and roll it into a rectangle about 18 inches by 6 inches, keeping the ends as square as possible and the sides as straight as possible. Use your hands to even it out and keep the butter from scooting out. Wipe the rolling pin frequently with paper towels and scrape the work surface with a pastry scraper or a knife to prevent the dough from sticking.

7. Brush the excess flour from the dough with a pastry or basting brush so the pastry will properly adhere. Fold into fourths by bringing the top and bottom ends of the dough to the center. Brush the excess flour off again, then fold in half. Turn the dough so the folded edge is to the left. This process of rolling, folding and turning the dough is called a “turn.”

8. Repeat rolling, folding and turning in this manner again and then once more for a total of 3 turns. Because the butter is frozen and the dough well chilled, it should be possible to complete all 3 turns without chilling the dough between turns. However, if necessary, place the dough on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer for 15 to 20 minutes, then proceed. With each turn the dough will become smoother but still with butter visible. If desired, the dough may be refrigerated between turns.

9. After the third turn, place the dough in a plastic bag and put in the freezer for about 30 minutes before shaping. If the dough is not to be used immediately, remove from the freezer after 30 minutes and refrigerate up to 3 days before using. Or the dough may be frozen after completion for 3 to 4 months. In this case, defrost 24 hours in the refrigerator before using.

10. Fill a 9-by-13-inch pan half way with the hottest tap water available. Place on the bottom of the oven or the lowest shelf possible. Place an oven rack in the upper third of the oven. Close the door.

11. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half. Return half the dough to the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, dent the dough with a rolling pin several times to make it easier to roll. Roll the dough into an 8-by-24-inch rectangle. If it is difficult to get it to 24 inches, roll to at least 18 inches.

12. Cut into 4 equal pieces. Cut each of these rectangles in half on the diagonal. Each piece will have one square and two pointed corners. Pull the square corner gently to the side to even up the triangle somewhat. Roll it up lengthwise, stretching the dough gently to lengthen it more once the initial roll is started. Place on the prepared baking sheet and tuck the “tail” corner well underneath. Bend the ends down and in toward the center to form the crescent shape. Cover the rolls with a towel and repeat the process with the other half of the dough. Place the trays in the oven and let proof until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

13. Remove the trays from the oven and remove the water. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating, brush the croissant with the beaten egg. Nestle each pan into another pan of the same size and bake in the upper third of the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch.

14. To make ahead: Freeze after baked and completely cooled. To serve, place directly from the freezer onto baking sheets and heat in a preheated 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes.

Per serving: 230 calories; 14g fat; 9g saturated fat; 44mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 21g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 239mg sodium; 25mg calcium

Recipe by Helen S. Fletcher,

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus ¾ cup or more for drizzling and brushing

3 eggplants cut into ¼-inch thick slices

3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1. Preheat the broiler. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper (spreading a little butter on the inside of the loaf pan will help it to stay in place). Place the bell peppers on a cookie sheet, drizzle with oil and roast, turning frequently, until charred and blackened all over. Remove from the oven, place in a plastic bag and seal the top. Do not turn off the broiler. Brush the eggplant slices with oil, place in a single layer on the baking sheet and broil until golden brown on both sides; this will require a few batches.

3. When the bell peppers are cool enough to handle, peel, seed and chop the flesh. Make a layer of eggplant slices in the prepared pan. Grate ½ cup of the Emmentaler and slice the remainder. Stir the grated Emmentaler, chopped bell peppers and a little basil into the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Arrange a layer of Emmentaler slices on top of the eggplant and spoon in some of the egg mixture. Continue making alternate layers until all the ingredients are used, ending with the egg mixture.

4. Place the loaf pan in a roasting pan, add boiling water to come about halfway up the sides and bake 1 hour.

5. Meanwhile, put the tomatoes, the 2 tablespoons of oil and garlic in a small pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 20 minutes. Remove and discard the garlic.

6. Remove the terrine from the oven, unmold onto a warm serving dish, discarding the parchment paper, and serve with the tomato sauce.

Per serving: 482 calories; 40g fat; 9g saturated fat; 108mg cholesterol; 14g protein; 24g carbohydrate; 13g sugar; 11g fiber; 120mg sodium; 298mg calcium

Recipe from “The Silver Spoon”

4 quarter-sized slices of ginger (peeling is not necessary)

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or Indian chili powder, optional, see note

1 (3½-pound) chicken, cut into serving pieces

Note: Indian chili powder, which is often spelled chilli, is available at international markets

1. In a blender or food processor, mix together yogurt, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt, optional cayenne or Indian chili powder and cinnamon until smooth. Cut 2 or 3 slashes at least 1-inch deep into each chicken piece except wings. Coat chicken with marinade mixture in a bowl, cover and refrigerate 4 to 24 hours.

3. Prepare a grill with a lid for indirect heat.

4. When grill is hot (425 degrees, if using a kamado grill) put chicken on grate, skin-side up. Cover and cook 50 minutes without opening grill. Remove wings, close grill and cook 10 minutes more.

Per serving (based on 4): 596 calories; 30g fat; 8g saturated fat; 670mg cholesterol; 73g protein; 5g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 846mg sodium; 71mg calcium

4 steaks (sirloin, T-bone, ribeye, New York strip or skirt)

¼ cup dry mustard, such as Colman’s

1. Place steaks on a platter and sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the dry mustard over them. Pat the steaks with the flat part of a fork to spread the mustard evenly. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Worcestershire sauce, then squeeze half the lime juice over them. Pat the steaks with the fork. Season generously with salt and pepper.

2. Turn the steaks over and repeat on the other side. Let the steaks marinate for 15 to 20 minutes while you preheat the grill.

3. Set up the grill for direct grilling, and preheat to high.

4. Brush and oil the grill grate. Place the steaks on the hot grate and grill, turning with tongs, until cooked to taste, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Do not rotate the steaks, or you will knock off the mustard mixture. Transfer to a platter and let rest 3 minutes.

5. Slice the steaks thinly on the diagonal, as you would for London broil. Let the slices marinate in the meat juices for a minute or two, then serve.

Per serving: 808 calories; 55g fat; 24g saturated fat; 182mg cholesterol; 71g protein; 7g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 960mg sodium; 55mg calcium

Recipe from “The Barbecue! Bible” by Steven Raichlen

1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together ½ cup of the powdered sugar, the butter, the salt and 1½ teaspoons of the vanilla extract. Add the flour, stirring just enough to make a cohesive dough. Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until you’re ready to use it.

2. On a piece of parchment or waxed paper, roll the dough into a 9-by-12-inch rectangle. In a small bowl, mix together the egg white and water. In a different small bowl, mix together the granulated sugar and cinnamon. Brush the dough with the egg white glaze. Sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon mixture.

3. Starting with the long edge, roll the dough into a log, sealing the edge. Wrap in plastic wrap or parchment and freeze until firm.

4. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. grease 2 baking sheets or line with parchment paper. Remove the dough from the freezer and unwrap it. With a sharp knife, gently cut it into ½-inch slices. Transfer slices to the prepared baking sheets.

5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until they’re a light golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool.

6. When cookies are completely cool, sift the remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar into a medium-size bowl. Whisk the cream into the sugar to make a smooth glaze. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla. If not using immediately, cover with plastic wrap until ready to use, to prevent a crust from forming.

7. Drizzle or brush cookies with glaze.

Per serving: 120 calories; 6g fat; 4g saturated fat; 15mg cholesterol; 1g protein; 16g carbohydrate; 10g sugar; no fiber; 52mg sodium; 3mg calcium

Recipe from “The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion”

1 (28-ounce) can top-quality whole tomatoes, such as from San Marzano, Italy

1 packet (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast

18 ounces all-purpose flour (about 3½ cups)

½ cup plus 1 tablespoon corn oil, plus additional for oiling the bowl

Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping and garnish

1. Set a strainer above a bowl. Crush the tomatoes by hand and add to the strainer; do not add the juice in the can. Allow to drain at least 45 minutes. Position an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Meanwhile, make the dough for the crust.

2. Mix sugar, yeast and 11 ounces room temperature water (about 80 degrees) in a bowl and let bloom for 15 minutes. Combine flour, 2 teaspoons of the salt and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Once yeast has bloomed, add to dry ingredients along with corn oil. Gently combine with a rubber spatula until a rough ball is formed.

3. Knead on low speed with the dough hook for 90 seconds. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise about 6 hours. Punch down and let dough settle for 15 more minutes.

4. Coat bottom and sides of a 12-inch cake pan, Chicago-style pizza pan or cast-iron skillet with melted butter. Using your hands, spread out about three-quarters of the dough across the bottom and up the sides of the pan (save the remainder for another use). The dough will probably slide down the sides, but keep trying.

5. Cover entire bottom in mozzarella, all the way up to the edge. Add whatever toppings you choose.

6. In a bowl, combine drained, crushed tomatoes with oregano, garlic powder, the remaining ½ teaspoon salt and pepper. Spread tomatoes across top of pizza to the edge. Sprinkle evenly with grated Parmesan.

7. Bake, rotating halfway through, until golden around the edge, about 25 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then either gently lift pizza out of pan or just cut your slice out of the pan like a pie.

Per serving: 1,021 calories; 50g fat; 16g saturated fat; 64mg cholesterol; 35g protein; 108g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 5g fiber; 1,813mg sodium; 670mg calcium

Adapted from a recipe by Jeff Mauro, via the Food Network

Yield: 2 side servings or 1 main dish

6 ounces (2 cups) rotini pasta, cooked al dente

3 ½ ounces shredded or finely cubed gjetost cheese

Generous pinch of red pepper flakes (about ¹⁄8 teaspoon)

Generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Notes: For the test we used dried pasta. Six ounces of the dried pasta cooked measured 2 cups of cooked pasta. As a rule of thumb, pasta doubles in both size and weight when cooked so adjust the recipe accordingly to adjust the servings.

• We cooked the pasta ahead of time because the sauce comes together rather fast. We drained and held it in a fine mesh strainer until just before adding it to the sauce. We kept a pot of water to steam it when the time came to add the noodles to the sauce.

• The gjetost cheese came in an 8-ounce prepackaged cube labeled Ski Queen in the Whole Foods cheese section.

• We cut the cheese in ¼-inch cubes to get a good melt. Grating is an option, but cheese stuck to the four-sided grater on the largest holes, and cubing it small seemed easier.

1. Cook, drain and hold the pasta in a fine mesh strainer in a warm place. (See notes.)

2. Grate on the largest holes of a four-sided grater or chop gjetost cheese into small cubes, about ¼-inch.

3. Add heavy cream to a 1- or 1 ½-quart pot and heat over medium-low heat until bubbles circle the edge of the pan. Add cheese in 3 additions, whisking constantly. Raise the heat to medium and continue whisking until all the cheese is melted and smooth. It will be a light brown color.

4. Warm the noodles over a pot of steaming water in the mesh strainer.

5. Continue whisking until the mixture is a medium dark caramel color. If it is too light it won’t have the correct sweetness. If it is too dark, it could burn so watch carefully. The process on an electric stove took about 12 minutes.

6. Remove the sauce from the heat. Add pepper flakes, salt to taste and ground pepper.

7. Add noodles, stir and serve.

Per serving (based on 2): 591 calories; 37g fat; 23g saturated fat; 114mg cholesterol; 12g protein; 54g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 2g fiber; 393 mg sodium; 251mg calcium

Yellow Rice With Potato and Cumin

1 small boiling potato, boiled, cooled, peeled and cut into ¹⁄³-inch dice

1. Put the rice into a large bowl and cover with water by several inches. Stir the rice with a spoon or your clean hand until the water becomes cloudy. Drain the water through a strainer to catch any falling rice, and repeat 2 or 3 more times until the water is largely clear. Drain. Soak the rice in water to cover generously and leave for 30 minutes. Drain thoroughly.

2. Heat the oil in a small, heavy pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the cumin seeds and let them sizzle for 10 seconds. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until it starts to brown. Add the potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until it too is lightly browned. Add the rice, turmeric and salt.

3. Turn heat to medium and stir the rice around gently for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover tightly, turn heat to very low and cook for 25 minutes.

Per serving: 210 calories; 11g fat; 8g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 2g protein; 27g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 438mg sodium; 9mg calcium

Recipe adapted from “Madhur Jaffrey’s Spice Kitchen” by Madhur Jaffrey

Dark Chocolate-Chile Ice Cream, a recipe with peppers, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Photo by Hillary Levin,

1 large dried pasilla negro chile, stemmed, seeded and (if you wish) deveined

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70%), chopped into small pieces

2 tablespoons Kahlúa, or other coffee liqueur

Note: The base can be made several days ahead and refrigerated, covered. The finished ice cream is best served within a day or two of being frozen.

1. Make the chile infusion: In a small skillet heated over medium, toast the chile by pressing it flat against the skillet with a metal spatula until it is very aromatic, around 10 seconds or longer per side. Place in a small saucepan, add the half-and-half, and heat over medium until steaming but not boiling.

2. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes, then pour into a blender jar and process until the chile is smooth. Press the mixture through a medium-mesh strainer back into the saucepan.

3. Set up a double boiler: Set up a 4-quart saucepan with 1 inch of water. Choose a 3-quart stainless steel bowl that you can nestle into the pan without touching the water. Bring the pot of water to a boil over high heat while you’re preparing the custard base. Do not heat the water with the stainless steel bowl over it.

4. Cook the base: Reheat the half-and-half mixture just until it begins to steam. Spread the chocolate into a thin layer over the bottom of a bowl, and add the salt. Pour the warm chile-infused mixture over the chocolate and stir until the chocolate has begun to melt. In the stainless-steel bowl (for the double boiler) whisk together the sugar and egg yolks until thoroughly combined, then whisk in the chocolate mixture.

5. Reduce the temperature under the pot of boiling water to maintain a gentle simmer. Set the bowl of custard base over the simmering water and whisk frequently, scraping down the sides of the bowl regularly with a rubber spatula, until the mixture thickens noticeably, about 5 minutes. The custard is sufficiently cooked when it reaches 180 degrees — dip a wooden spoon into it and run your finger through the custard on the spoon, the line will hold clearly when done. 6. Cool the base: Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Nestle the custard into the ice and whisk regularly until completely cool. Refrigerate if not using immediately.

7. Finish the base, freeze the ice cream: Stir the heavy cream, vanilla and Kahlúa into the base. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions. Scrape into a freezer container and freeze for several hours to firm.

Per serving (based on 6): 357 calories; 21g fat; 12g saturated fat; 157mg cholesterol; 6g protein; 36g carbohydrate; 30g sugar; 2g fiber; 164mg sodium; 95mg calcium

Adapted from “Fiesta at Rick’s” by Rick Bayless and Deann Groen Bayless

Homemade Hot Pepper Jelly, a recipe with peppers, Wednesday, July 14, 2021. Photo by Hillary Levin,

1½ cup finely chopped and seeded red bell pepper

1 cup finely chopped and seeded yellow bell pepper

1¼ cup finely chopped and seeded green bell pepper

¼ cup finely chopped and seeded jalapeño

1. Sterilize canning jars and lids in boiling water.

2. Place red, yellow and green bell peppers and jalapeño in a large saucepan over high heat. Add apple cider vinegar and pectin. Stirring constantly, bring to a rolling boil.

3. Stir in sugar and return to a rolling boil for 1 minute.

4. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam from top.

5. Ladle jelly evenly into sterile jars, filling to ¼ inch from top of jar. Cover with flat lids and screw on screw bands tight.

6. Place jars into canner with hot water that is not boiling. Water should completely cover jar. Cook on high heat to reach a boil. Process for 5 minutes.

8. When jars are completely cooled, check seals by pressing centers of lids with finger. If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.

Per serving: 88 calories; no fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 23g carbohydrate; 21g sugar; 1g fiber; 3mg sodium; 2mg calcium

A slice of Tomato Pie pictured on Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Photo by Colter Peterson,

6 ounces (about 1½ cups) aged extra-sharp cheddar cheese, grated

¼ cup thinly sliced fresh chives

1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust, your favorite

2. Cut tomatoes into ½-inch-thick slices. Place about 7 or 8 slices (enough to cover top of pie) on a baking sheet lined with paper towels, and sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Cover with additional paper towels, and reserve.

3. Arrange remaining tomatoes in a single layer on a lightly greased wire rack set on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the salt. Bake until wilted and slightly dried out, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely, about 1 hour.

4. Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over medium-high until fat is beginning to render, 4 to 5 minutes. Add chopped shallots, and cook until bacon is crisp and shallots are caramelized, 6 to 7 more minutes. Stir in garlic; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon mixture to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Cool 20 minutes.

5. Stir together cheese, mayonnaise, basil, chives, Dijon and egg until combined. Sprinkle with pepper to taste and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Fold in bacon mixture.

6. Gently spread a third of cheese mixture into pie crust; layer with half of the roasted tomato slices in slightly overlapping pattern. Spread another third of cheese mixture on top of tomato slices. Repeat with remaining roasted tomato slices and cheese mixture. Top with reserved sliced fresh tomatoes, pressing filling gently into crust. Shield edges of pie with aluminum foil.

7. Bake in preheated oven until filling is set, 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let stand 1 hour before serving. Sprinkle with basil and chives.

Per serving: 440 calories; 34g fat; 11g saturated fat; 64mg cholesterol; 11g protein; 23g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 3g fiber; 840mg sodium; 183mg calcium

Adapted from a recipe by

This Greens and Grains salad is a hearty meal in a bowl. The combination of textures and tastes from three grains, roasted corn and red peppers, tomatoes, avocado, cotija cheese and crispy tortilla strips with a lime vinaigrette works so well, plus it’s big enough to share with a friend or two. Photo by Pat Eby

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

Salt and pepper to taste

¹⁄³ cup cooked wheat berries, chilled

¹⁄³ cup mix of white and wild rice, chilled

9 cherry tomatoes, assorted colors, cut in half crosswise

½ ripe avocado, sliced or diced

3 tablespoons cotija cheese, crumbled or shredded

{!--RecipeListStop--} Notes: Wheat berries are available at better grocers and at health food stores. We used Bob’s Red Mill organic hard red spring wheat berries for the test.

• The cotija cheese is a Mexican cheese made from cows milk. It is very flavorful cheese that grates or crumbles easily.

• Tortilla strips for salads are available commercially or cooks may slice then bake or fry their own from corn tortillas.

• Refrigerate remaining lime vinaigrette dressing and use within a week. It is good on fruit salads as well as on greens.

1. To make the dressing, whisk lime juice, honey, garlic, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper together by hand, or emulsify the dressing using a blender or food processor following manufacturer’s directions.

2. Place the mixed greens in a salad bowl.

3. Neatly arrange the quinoa, wheat berries, rice , roasted corn, roasted peppers and tomatoes around the top of the salad.

4. Place the diced avocado in the center. Add tortilla strips.

5. Top with cotija cheese shreds.

Per serving (based on 3): 554 calories; 41g fat; 6g saturated fat; 8mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 44g carbohydrate; 11g sugar; 7g fiber; 952mg sodium; 100mg calcium

Red Wine-Braised Flank Steak with Roasted Peppers, Onions and Gruyère, Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Photo by Hillary Levin,

1 medium carrot, cut into large dice

½ white onion, cut into large dice

1 large red onion, sliced crosswise into ¾-inch wheels

2. Choose an ovenproof skillet (with a lid) or Dutch oven large enough to fit the meat in snugly but still lie flat. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil to the skillet over high heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the meat and cook for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until deep brown in color. Remove the meat and set aside.

3. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the carrot, onion and garlic, and sauté until the vegetables start to brown but are still firm. Return the meat to the pan, and add enough red wine to come ¾ of the way up the side of the meat.

4. Add the thyme and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cover and transfer to the oven. Braise the meat for 2½ hours, checking occasionally to make sure the liquid does not dry out (if it does, add more wine). The meat should be very tender and soft enough to pull apart with a fork. Transfer to a plate to rest and cool.

5. While the meat cooks, roast the red pepper over a high flame, turning occasionally with tongs, until charred all over. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and rest 20 minutes. Rub off the charred parts with your fingers (some charred parts are fine) and slice pepper into strips. If you do not have a gas stove, place pepper on a foil-covered baking sheet and place in the 350-degree oven, turning occasionally, until soft and wrinkled all over, about 45 to 55 minutes. Remove and, when cool enough to touch, slice pepper into strips.

6. Brush the red onion with the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. In a skillet over high heat, grill the onion — without separating into individual rings — until charred on the outside and slightly cooked on the inside. Place in a bowl and separate into rings. Add the peppers, olive oil, sherry vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon salt, and mix well.

7. Strain the liquid the meat was cooked in into a bowl. With two forks, separate the meat into chunky strings and roughly cut them crosswise into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Combine the meat with the juices, and coat well.

8. Slice the ciabatta rolls in half. Place 1 slice of cheese on each bottom and top half. Arrange the meat on the bottom halves and peppers on the top halves, and place all the roll pieces in the 350-degree oven. Cook until the cheese is melted. Place the top halves on the bottom halves, cut in half and serve.

Per serving: 883 calories; 44g fat; 23g saturated fat; 130mg cholesterol; 51g protein; 50g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 4g fiber; 2,075mg sodium; 635mg calcium

Adapted from “’Wichcraft” by Tom Colicchio and Sisha Ortúzar

Summer Salad of Watermelon, Feta Cheese and Mint, Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Photo by Hillary Levin,

4 cups watermelon, cut off the rind and into 1-inch pieces, seeded

4 green onions, cut crosswise into very thin slices, both green and white parts

8 large mint leaves, sliced very thin

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1 cup (4 ouncers) feta cheese, crumbled, divided

1. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, green onions, chives, lemon zest and half of the mint leaves. Pour the oil and lemon juice over, and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, and toss again. Sprinkle ¾ cup of the cheese over the salad; toss very gently to distribute.

2. Refrigerate until serving time. To serve, portion among 6 plates and top with the remaining cheese and mint. Drizzle very lightly with oil and serve immediately.

Per serving: 140 calories; 10g fat; 4g saturated fat; 22mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 1g fiber; 624mg sodium; 134mg calcium

Recipe by Paula Lambert in “Cooking with Les Dames D’Escoffier”

2 cups gluten-free whole rolled oats

3 cups cooked black beans or 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans drained and rinsed

1 ripe avocado, peeled, stone removed and mashed

1 ½ tablespoons steak seasoning (such as Penzey’s Mitchell Street Steak Seasoning)

¾ teaspoon barbecue seasoning (such as Penzey’s Barbecue of the Americas Seasoning)

Heavy pinch of sea salt

Generous grind of black pepper

Notes: Adding the flax seeds to water creates a “flax egg,” which is one of the binders in the burgers. The oats and mashed beans also act as binders to hold the burgers together.

• Don’t be tempted to add more chopped vegetables to the mix as they will not hold together as well.

• Dugan uses the avocado in this recipe as the oil for the burgers.

1. Combine the flax seeds and water in a small bowl, stir, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes until it thickens.

2. Heat a nonstick skillet stovetop over medium-high heat, add onion, reduce heat to medium and stir onions often. If the onions begin to stick, add a tablespoon of water to the skillet. When they begin to caramelize and turn brown, transfer to a plate and set aside.

3. Add the oats to a food process and pulse 3 times. Add beans, onion and flax mixture. Pulse a few times until integrated, but not pasty or smooth. You want to see some oats and beans intact.

4. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add tomato paste, mashed avocado and spices.

5. Mix well, using your hands. The mix will be thick and almost tough. Taste, then adjust spices if needed.

6. Cover the bowl and refrigerate at least 2 to 3 hours or overnight.

7. To make the patties, divide the mix and 2 ½-inches in diameter and ¾ –inch thick.

8. Carefully push a small divot in the center of each burger, which helps the burgers warm through in cooking.

9. Cook the burgers one of three ways:

• In the oven: Preheat oven to 375 degrees, line a baking sheet with parchment paper and space out the burgers. Cook for 22 minutes.

• On the stovetop: Preheat a large nonstick skillet, add the burgers and cook 4 to 6 minutes each side. Add a small amount of water if they stick

• On the grill: Preheat the grill and oil the grill grate. Grill 5 to 7 minutes on each side.

10. Serve with your favorite condiments and burger fixings.

Per serving: 244 calories; 6g fat; 1g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 10g protein; 38g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; 12g fiber; 653mg sodium; 66mg calcium

Dough for 10-inch tart (store-bought or your favorite recipe)

3 pints firm, fresh, red, ripe strawberries, hulled, rinsed and drained

¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted, see note

Note: To toast almonds, place in a skillet over medium heat. Stir and toss frequently until almond slices become a golden brown; they burn easily, so remove to a plate as soon as any of the slices becomes a dark brown, even if others are not yet golden.

2. Roll out dough into a 10-inch tart pan; trim any excess. Prick all over with a fork. Place a piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil inside the crust and weigh down with pie weights, dry beans or uncooked rice. Bake 20 minutes. Remove parchment or foil and pie weights, return to oven and bake 10 more minutes or until golden brown (cover rim with foil if it begins to burn). Remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

3. Heat the milk in a small saucepan until small bubbles form around the edge. Remove from heat and cover to keep hot.

4. Put the sugar and yolks in a mixing bowl or mixer and beat with a wire whisk or whisk attachment until the mixture is a golden yellow and forms a ribbon — when the whisk is lifted from the mixture, the excess will fall back onto the surface in what briefly resembles a ribbon. Using the whisk, stir in the cornstarch.

5. Slowly pour the hot milk into the egg-and-sugar mixture, beating constantly with the whisk. Return the mixture to the saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly with the whisk. Cook for 1 minute, stirring vigorously. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. If not using immediately, cover the surface with plastic wrap to keep a skin from forming.

6. Spoon the crème patissière (the egg-sugar-milk mixture) into the tart shell and smooth it over. Arrange the strawberries, bottom-side down, close together and symmetrically over the crème patissière.

7. Spoon the marmalade into a saucepan and add the water. Cook, stirring, until the marmalade is thinned. Put it through a strainer.

8. When the marmalade is cooled but still liquid, brush the berries with it. Sprinkle the almonds all over. Cut into wedges to serve.

Per serving (based on 8): 407 calories; 18g fat; 8g saturated fat; 95mg cholesterol; 6g protein; 60g carbohydrate; 34g sugar; 4g fiber; 181mg sodium; 92mg calcium

Adapted from “Craig Claiborne’s the New New York Times Cook Book” by Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey

1 pound lentils, rinsed and sorted

1 small white or yellow onion, about 2 ½-inches in diameter, peeled and cut in a small dice

3 celery stalks (one with leaves attached) diced in cut in small dice

8 ounces of baby carrots left whole or 2 large peeled carrots cut in large pieces

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced

3 tablespoons chicken or vegetable soup base

Salt to taste if needed

1 to 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

8 tablespoons Greek tzatziki or sour cream for garnish (optional)

Notes: This recipe uses regular brown lentils. Lentils are quick cooking and don’t require any soaking.

• We used a premium tomato paste for this recipe made from San Marzano tomatoes to stand up to the many herbs and seasonings in this soup.

• This recipe makes a lot of soup and requires a 7.5- or 8-quart pot to make. It can easily be cut in half, however, to make a smaller batch.

1. Place the lentils in a large mixing bowl and cover with water, then swish a hand through the water. Discard any chaff that rises to the surface. Drain the water and repeat. Set aside.

2. Warm a 7- or 8-quart heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat then add olive oil. Warm the oil for a few minutes, then add the onions, celery and carrots. Stir, then cook over medium to medium high heat for 5 minutes.

3. Add minced garlic and cook 1 additional minute.

4. Add rinsed lentils and stir.

5. Add 16 cups of cold water and then stir in the remaining ingredients — soup base, parsley, bay leaves, white pepper, garlic powder, cumin and tomato paste.

6. Bring the pot to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, then turn heat down to a simmer and cook uncovered for 45 minutes until the soup reduces and thickens.

7. Taste, add salt if needed, then stir in red wine vinegar.

8. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with a dollop of Greek tzatziki or sour cream if desired.

Per serving: 224 calories; 8g fat; 1g saturated fat; 2mg cholesterol; 11g protein; 30g carbohydrate; 3g sugar; 6g fiber; 60mg sodium; 51mg calcium

Karaage (Japanese fried chicken), one of Dan Neman's favorite recipes for chicken, Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Photo by Hillary Levin,

1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut crosswise into 1- to 1½-inch strips, see notes

1 quart peanut or vegetable oil, for frying

Note: Do not use chicken breasts, which will dry out during the frying.

1. Combine soy sauce, sake, ginger, garlic, sugar and salt in medium bowl. Add chicken and toss to combine. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. While chicken is marinating, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set wire rack in second rimmed baking sheet and line rack with triple layer of paper towels. Place cornstarch in wide bowl.

2. Lift chicken from marinade, 1 piece at a time, allowing excess marinade to drip back into bowl but leaving any garlic or ginger bits on chicken. Coat chicken with cornstarch, shake off excess and place on parchment-lined sheet. Reserve marinade.

3. Add oil to large Dutch oven until it measures about ¾ inch deep and heat over medium-high heat to 375 degrees. While oil heats, check chicken pieces for white patches of dry cornstarch. Dip back of spoon in reserved marinade and gently press onto dry spots to lightly moisten.

4. Using tongs, add half of chicken, 1 piece at a time, to oil in single layer. Cook, adjusting burner if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 300 and 325 degrees, until chicken is golden brown and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Using spider skimmer or slotted spoon, transfer chicken to paper towel-lined rack. Return oil to 325 degrees and repeat with remaining chicken. Serve with lemon wedges (the lemon adds an important flavor note).

5. For even better results, fry a second time at least 1 or 2 hours, and as long as 24 hours, after frying the first time. Keep refrigerated before frying a second time.

Per serving (based on 6): 423 calories; 23g fat; 4g saturated fat; 107mg cholesterol; 23g protein; 27g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; no fiber; 375mg sodium; 12mg calcium

Adapted from “The Chicken Bible” by America’s Test Chicken

Rao's Famous Lemon Chicken, one of Dan Neman's favorite recipes for chicken, Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

Photo by Hillary Levin,

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place racks in top and bottom thirds of oven.

2. Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate if not using within several hours. Whisk or shake vigorously before using.

3. Season chicken halves with salt and pepper, place on 2 baking sheets and roast 30 minutes, turning once. Cook longer if using larger chickens.

4. Remove chicken from oven and preheat broiler. With a very sharp knife, cut each half into 6 pieces (leg, thigh, wing, 3 small breast pieces). Pour sauce over chicken and toss to coat well. If necessary, divide sauce in half and do this in 2 batches.

5. Broil 1 pan of chicken for 3 minutes. Turn each piece and broil for an additional minute. Keep that chicken warm while repeating with the other pan.

6. Place chicken on serving platter or individual plates. Pour sauce into a heavy saucepan. Stir in parsley and place over high heat for 1 minute. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with lots of crusty bread to absorb the sauce.

Per serving (based on 6): 410 calories; 23g fat; 5g saturated fat; 187mg cholesterol; 46g protein; 6g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; no fiber; 234mg sodium; 32mg calcium

Recipe from “Rao’s Cookbook” by Frank Pellegrino

Photo by Hillary Levin,

3 tablespoons peanut or corn oil

2 pounds beef or lamb stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry

2 celery ribs, cut into chunks

1 bell pepper, cut into chunks

1. Heat oil in a skillet or wok over high heat and stir-fry ginger and garlic 10 seconds; add meat and stir-fry 5 minutes to brown on all sides. Add soy sauce, wine, curry powder and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer 1 hour.

2. Add carrots, onions, celery and potatoes. Continue cooking 20 minutes. Add bell pepper and cook 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch with 2 tablespoons water and stir into mixture to thicken. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Per serving: 316 calories; 12g fat; 3g saturated fat; 74mg cholesterol; 29g protein; 22g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 6g fiber; 568mg sodium; 52mg calcium

Adapted from “Regional Cooking of China” by Maggie Gin

1 quantity of Basic Pâte à Choux Recipe (find it at, with sugar

1½ cups whipping cream or 1 cup heavy cream diluted with ½ cup whole milk

2 to 3 tablespoons superfine sugar, see note

Note: To make superfine sugar, mix granulated sugar in a blender on medium or high for 10 seconds.

2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pipe or spoon round, egg-sized pieces of choux dough onto it, spaced well apart. Put in oven, turn temperature down to 400 and bake 20 minutes, until golden and well-risen. If not yet done after 20 minutes, turn off heat but keep in oven until golden and well-risen. Cool on wire racks.

3. Meanwhile, make Chantilly cream: Make sure the cream and milk (if using) are very cold. Place in a mixing bowl and mix with a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, with a mixer or by hand with a whisk until cream has soft peaks. Do not overmix. Lightly fold in sugar and vanilla. Chill until needed.

4. Slice cooled choux buns in half horizontally. Pipe or spoon Chantilly cream onto bottom of each one and gently cover with top. Place a few pieces of sliced almond on top of each one and dust with powdered sugar. Puffs can be kept in refrigerator for several hours.

Per serving: 201 calories; 16g fat; 2g saturated fat; 87mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 11g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; < 1g fiber; 67mg sodium; 47mg calcium

Adapted from a recipe by Ginette Mathiot in “The Art of French Baking”

2 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, about 6 ounces each, washed

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

About 3 cups canola oil, for deep frying

1. Put the potatoes in a pot with cold water to cover, add ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 40 minutes, until very tender; be sure the potatoes are always covered with water during cooking. Drain the potatoes.

2. When they are cool enough to handle, peel the potatoes, cut into chunks and push through a food mill or ricer.

3. Combine the milk, ¼ teaspoon salt, the pepper and the butter in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the flour all at once, working the mixture with a wooden spoon until it forms a ball. Return to the stove and cook for 30 seconds over low heat, stirring the mixture, which will become a shiny, homogenous mass. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 5 minutes.

4. Add the eggs to the dough one at a time, beating well with a whisk after each addition, then stir in the potatoes (you could also put the dough in a food processor and, with the motor running, add the eggs; process for 15 to 20 seconds, then combine in a bowl with the mashed potatoes).

6. Heat 1½ to 2 inches of oil in a deep 10- to 12-inch skillet to 350 degrees. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the dough at a time into the oil, pushing it out of the spoon with your finger; cook 10 to 15 pieces at a time. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turning the puffs in the oil to brown them evenly on all sides.

7. As soon as the first batch is done, remove with a slotted spoon to a tray lined with paper towels. Keep hot in oven while you cook the remaining puffs. Sprinkle lightly with salt and serve. Puffs will lose their crispness if they sit too long.

Per serving (based on 6): 645 calories; 62g fat; 8g saturated fat; 77mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 22g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 2g fiber; 425mg sodium; 47mg calcium

Recipe from “Essential Pepin” by Jacques Pepin

1 pound red-skinned potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Pinch of crushed red pepper

2. Combine potatoes, olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper flakes in a mixing bowl. Toss to coat well.

3. Spread the potatoes in a single, even layer on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and lightly golden, 20 to 35 minutes, depending on the size of the pieces. Serve immediately.

Per serving (based on 4): 147 calories; 7g fat; 1g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 2g protein; 20g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 3g fiber; 312mg sodium; 28mg calcium

Recipe from “White Dog Café Cookbook” by Judy Wicks and Kevin Von Klause

Louie’s charred eggplant dip, garnished with pickled vegetables, parsley, red pepper flakes and chili oil, served with Louie’s hearth bread. 

Yield: 3½ cups dip; serving size ½ cup

2 ¼ pounds eggplant (2 large or 3 small American/globe eggplants)

1 cup plus 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon grated black lime (see notes)

½ cup loosely packed mint leaves

½ cup loosely packed basil leaves

¼ cup pickled seasonal vegetables (optional)

¼ cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (optional)

Notes: This recipe uses the common purple eggplants known as globe eggplants or American eggplants.

• Black limes, or preserved limes, are popular in Mediterranean cooking and are available at international grocers. For the recipe, we grated half a whole black lime using a handheld microplane rasp grater. It can also be found online, already grated.

• Because this recipe makes a lot of dip, we chose to use finishing salt with each serving rather than salt the entire batch.

• At Louie, the charred eggplant dip is served garnished with chili oil, pickled vegetables and parsley. It is served with Louie’s freshly baked hearth breads.

1. Wash eggplants. Split eggplants in half lengthwise and trim leaves from the top.

2. To prepare eggplants in the oven: Set one rack to 6-inches under the broiler. Set a rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat broiler to high.

3. Place halves cut side up on a sheet pan. Measure 4 tablespoons of oil into a small dish. Brush the tops with oil. Place pan under the broiler until the tops are blackened. For the test, we timed it at 10 minutes total, rotating the sheet halfway through.

4. Turn off the broiler and set oven to 325 degrees. Bake eggplants 25 to 30 minutes until the back of the eggplant is soft to the touch.

5. To grill: Measure 4 tablespoons of oil into a small dish. Brush the tops with oil. Place halves grill side down and cook slowly until the tops are completely black and the back of the eggplant is soft to the touch.

6. Remove eggplant from the oven or grill and place in a plastic container with a lid. Close the lid and allow the eggplant to steam for 30 minutes.

7. Using a spoon, very carefully scrape the flesh out and discard the skin.

8. Place the scraped eggplant in a large mixing bowl. Add lemon juice, black lime, garlic, mint and basil leaves. Stir to mix.

9. Add one-fourth of the eggplant mixture to a standard blender. Pour in ¼ cup of the remaining oil. Pulse two or three times on the puree setting, then turn the blender on and time it to run for 1 full minute. The mixture should be very smooth.

10. Remove the pureed eggplant to a bowl, then repeat the process three more times. Stir each batch into the bowl.

11. Taste, then add salt or the finishing salt of your choice to taste. Garnish with pickled vegetables, chili oil and parsley, if using.

12. Store covered in the refrigerator up to 4 days.

Per (½ cup) serving: 370 calories; 38g fat; 5g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 2g protein; 11g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 5g fiber; 337mg sodium; 28mg calcium

This recipe for pan-seared trout incorporates flavors and textures beautifully -- the flaky trout, a slightly smoky pear vinaigrette, bright tomatoes, spinach, and the sharp tang of goat cheese all work in concert to make a memorable dish. Photo by Pat Eby

For the smoked pear vinaigrette dressing:

1 pear peeled, cut in half, cored and smoked outside on the smoker

1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped

Pinch of fresh cracked pepper

1 trout, cleaned and deboned, skin on

Salt and pepper to taste

2 cups loosely packed baby spinach leaves

8 cherry tomatoes cut in half lengthwise

2 to 4 tablespoons smoked pear vinaigrette dressing

• The pear vinaigrette dressing may be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

• If smoking the pear in a smoker isn’t an option, roast the pear in an oven-proof dish in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes until the pear is browned and easily pierced with a knife. It will not impart the smoky flavor, but it works well.

• Big Sky uses sustainably farm-raised trout and LaClare Goat Cheese for this recipe. Rainbow trout, farm raised and deboned, are available most days at Bob’s Seafood. Call ahead to make sure the trout are available.

• Chef Weiss suggests giving the fish a quick rinse under cold water, then patting it dry with a paper towel before cooking. “It helps crisp the skin,” he says.

• A hot pan is essential for this dish. Weiss says heat until it “just about hits the smoke point of your olive oil.” We used a cast-iron skillet for this dish which worked quite well.

• This dish comes together very quickly. Have the spinach leaves measured out. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise and hold just before cooking the trout.

1. Make the dressing by placing smoked pear, the shallot, honey, cider vinegar, salt and pepper in a blender and pulse until well blended. With the motor running, slowly add olive oil to the pear puree until the dressing is emulsified. You will only use 2 to 4 tablespoons for the one serving of trout. Store remaining dressing, covered, in the refrigerator.

3. Heat an oven-proof skillet on high heat on the stove top with 1 tablespoon olive oil swirled in it.

4. When the pan is scorching hot, place the trout skin side down, season with salt and pepper and quickly sear it. The skin will be crispy.

5. Using a fish spatula, flip the trout, then place in the 400-degree oven while you set up the plate.

6. Toss the spinach leaves with 1 to 2 tablespoons of dressing, arrange the leaves on a large dinner plate in a circle big enough to hold the trout fillets.

7. Place the cooked trout on top of the spinach. Scatter with halved tomatoes and pinches of goat cheese. Drizzle with 1 to 2 more tablespoons of pear vinaigrette in a zig-zag or circular pattern across the top.

Per serving: 768 calories; 57g fat; 14g saturated fat; 113mg cholesterol; 44g protein; 24g carbohydrate; 16g sugar; 5g fiber; 612mg sodium; 256mg calcium

Malted Milk Chocolate Tart, photographed on Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, is a sweet Valentine's Day dessert prepared by Dan Neman. Photo by Christian Gooden,

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided

2½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, plus ½ teaspoon for dusting, optional

10 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

2 ounces 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

2½ cups heavy whipping cream, divided

¼ cup plus 3 tablespoons malted milk powder, such as Ovaltine (yellow label, not chocolate-flavored), divided

1. For the crust: Place the butter and ¹⁄³ cup of the sugar in a mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula; if any lumps of hard butter are still visible, beat for another minute until completely blended. Add the yolk and beat well. Scrape down the bowl.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and 2½ tablespoons of the cocoa powder. Add to the butter mixture all at once. Mix at the lowest speed and blend just until the dough comes together; some of the clumps will still be medium and small. The dough should look moist and have a dark, uniform color. Scrape down the bowl, mixing by hand with the spatula if there are patches of flour or unincorporated butter. If the dough is too sticky, chill 15 minutes before continuing.

3. Scrape the dough clumps into a 9- or 9½-inch tart pan. Use the heel of your hand to press the dough into an even layer across the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Press from the center of the pan upward, building up some extra dough where the bottom meets the side. Using your thumbs, press this excess up the sides of the pan to form the walls, making sure the dough is level with the pan at the rim. Make sure there are no cracks or thin spots. Reserve any small bits of leftover dough. Chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or 30 minutes in the freezer.

4. Bake the shell: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and position an oven rack in the center. Bake the tart shell for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, close the oven door, and check for cracks. Repair any cracks with a bit of the reserved dough. Bake 15 to 17 minutes longer; place on a rack to cool completely.

5. Prepare the filling: Combine the milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup of the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from the heat and whisk in ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons of the malted milk powder until dissolved. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolates and let the mixture sit for 1 minute, then whisk the blend until completely combined. Pour into the cooled tart crust. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until the filling is set and firm.

6. Finish the tart: Use a stand mixer with a whisk attachment or a hand-held mixer to whip the remaining 1½ cups cream, the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and the remaining 1 tablespoon malted milk powder to medium peaks (whipping it to stiff peaks will turn it grainy; if this happens, stir in a tablespoon or two of extra cream until it smooths out). Transfer the whipped cream to a pastry bag (or plastic bag with a small hole in one corner) fitted with a tip of your choice and pipe the whipped cream across the tart. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

7. To serve, use a fine-mesh sieve to dust the top with the remaining ½ teaspoon of cocoa powder, if desired. Cut the tart with a thin, sharp knife that has been warmed in hot water and wiped dry. The tart may be kept in a refrigerator for 3 days, however the whipped cream may start to break down.

Per serving (based on 10): 451 calories; 32g fat; 20g saturated fat; 84mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 38g carbohydrate; 24g sugar; 2g fiber; 35mg sodium; 88mg calcium

From “The Art & Soul of Baking” by Cindy Mushet

Sweetie Pie's Macaroni and Cheese pictured in St. Louis on Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Photo by Colter Peterson,

½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces

½ pound Velveeta, cut into small chunks

8 ounces Colby-Jack cheese (or 4 ounces Colby and 4 ounces Monterey Jack), shredded

4 ounces sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1 cup shredded American or mild Cheddar cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook pasta according to package directions, just until al dente. (Do not overcook.) Drain well; place in a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.

2. In the pasta pot, combine whole milk, evaporated milk and eggs; whisk in salt to taste, pepper and sugar, mixing until thoroughly combined. Pour milk mixture over macaroni.

3. Add butter, Velveeta, Colby-Jack and sharp Cheddar cheeses. Stir well. Sprinkle the top with American or mild Cheddar cheese.

4. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Per serving: 510 calories; 34g fat; 21g saturated fat; 140mg cholesterol; 23g protein; 28g carbohydrate; 8g sugar; 1g fiber; 670mg sodium; 440mg calcium.

Recipe adapted for home kitchens by the Post-Dispatch.

This hearty, flavor-rich dish is well worth the time it takes to prep and cook it. The house fills with fragrant cooking aromas three days in a row as this slow-braised sauce takes shape. The handmade garganelli pasta and Grana Padano cheese are available at Pastaria Deli and wine located within the Clayton restaurant. Photo by Pat Eby

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 pound boneless beef short ribs

1 pound fresh garganelli or fresh or dried pasta of your choice

1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, cut in half lengthwise

1 to 2 tablespoons finely grated Grana Padano cheese

Notes: This recipe takes 3 days to complete. The short ribs are seared and marinated overnight on day 1; braised on day 2; and shredded and cooked in sauce on day 3.

• For the test we ordered boneless beef short ribs from Bolyard’s Meat & Provisions in Maplewood.

• For this recipe, seek out the tomato puree, which has a thicker consistency and a deeper flavor than tomato sauce. For the test, we used the Red Gold brand, which was available at Schnucks.

• Mascarpone cheese adds a lush mouthfeel and richness to this beefy sauce. It is commonly available in supermarkets. Ricotta is considered a substitute, but as a drier cheese it lacks the mouthfeel and tartness of mascarpone.

• Bright green Castelvetrano olives, from Sicily, have a meaty flesh and a buttery mouthfeel. They can be found at better grocers.

• Grana Padano cheese is an aged cow’s milk hard cheese available at Pastaria Deli & Wine in Clayton.

• Although any pasta may be used with this dish, penne is considered a good substitute for garganelli, which is rolled and ridged crosswise. Freshly made garganelli is available at Pastaria Deli & Wine in Clayton.

1. Day 1: Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Preheat a Dutch oven on medium low for 5 to 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium high, add the oil, and heat until a drop of water skitters on the surface. Raise heat to high, add prepared short ribs and sear well on all sides. Transfer the meat to a container or bowl large enough to hold the beef and the bottle of wine. Pour the wine over the beef. Cover, then refrigerate overnight.

2. Day 2: Preheat the oven to 350. Transfer the beef to a braising dish. Pour the wine marinade into a 4-quart saucepan. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add the red wine vinegar. Pour liquid over the beef, cover with foil, and braise for 3 ½ hours. Allow the braised beef to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate overnight, uncovered.

3. Day 3: Remove the beef from the braising liquid and shred by hand. Set aside.

4. Bring the braising liquid to a full boil, reduce heat to maintain a low boil, stirring occasionally until the liquid reduces by about half.

5. Stir in the orange juice and the tomato puree. Break the mascarpone into 4 or 6 clumps and stir in until it dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer until it reaches a nice saucy consistency.

6. Cook and hold the pasta.

7. Add the shredded beef, chopped parsley and olives to the sauce. Stir in your favorite cooked pasta shape, then garnish with the orange zest and Grana Padano.

Per serving: 1,080 calories; 35g fat; 15g saturated fat; 127mg cholesterol; 47g protein; 112g carbohydrate; 15g sugar; 7g fiber; 539mg sodium; 156mg calcium

Roast pork loin with maple glaze as photographed on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. Photo by Laurie Skrivan,

1 (3-pound) boneless pork loin roast

2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as canola

1. Place a rack in the bottom ¹⁄³ of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.

2. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a 12-inch skillet until just smoking. Brown the roast well on all sides, about 10 minutes. Do not clean skillet. Transfer roast to a 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Cook about 50 to 70 minutes, flipping roast over halfway through cooking. Go on to Steps 3 and 4 while the meat roasts.

3. While the meat cooks in the oven, pour fat out of the skillet. Return to medium-high heat and add syrup, cinnamon, cloves and cayenne pepper, scraping up any browned bits stuck to skillet. Simmer until slightly thickened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.

4. With about 20 to 30 minutes left to cook, brush the glaze over the roast or simply roll the roast over in the glaze. Pour the rest of the glaze over the meat and return to oven. If the glaze in the pan begins to dry out and burn, simply stir in ¼ cup hot water. Meat is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 140 to 145 degrees.

Per serving: 455 calories; 20g fat; 4g saturated fat; 99mg cholesterol; 37g protein; 35g carbohydrate; 33g sugar; no fiber; 101mg sodium; 95mg calcium

Recipe from “The America’s Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook” by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen

• To print this recipe, click here and then click the printer icon

Daniel Neman is a food writer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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