Italian Bean Soup with Orange and Fennel

Ingredients

  • 1 medium bulb fennel or 2 leeks leek, diced 1/2 inch (~1 cup)
  • 1 medium onion, diced 1/2 inch (~1 cup)
  • 2-3 ribs celery, diced 1/2 inch (~1 cup)
  • 2-3 carrots, diced 1/2 inch (~1 cup)
  • 3 ounces bacon, chopped fine, optional
  • 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp grated orange zest
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3 anchovy fillets, minced to paste (about 1 tsp)
  • 1 (28-oz) can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 cup dried beans + 4 smashed garlic gloves + 1/2 roughly chopped onion
  • 1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 inches by 2 inches, optional
  1. Mix 1 cup rinsed dry beans in 6 cups of water, 4 smashed garlic gloves, 1/2 a roughly sliced onion, 1 bay leaf, and some chicken broth powder in Instant Pot. Turn on high pressure cook for 20-25 minutes, depending on size of beans. Allow natural release for 15 minutes, then manual release. Remove bay leaf, but do not drain.
  2. If using bacon, add chopped bacon to big soup pot and sautee until onion releases.
  3. Add fennel/leek and onion in a big soup pot and sautee until softened, 5 mins.
  4. Add carrot and celery, sautee 5-10 more minutes until softened.
  5. Add minced garlic, fennel, oregano, pepper flakes, orange zest and anchovies and sautee 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  6. Pour in diced tomatoes, and parmesan rind, if using. Bring to a boil.
  7. Add beans and bean cooking liquid until you feel there is enough liquid. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer and cover for 20-30 minutes until flavors meld.

Gingerbread cake

  • 150 g/3 oz butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 dl / 6 oz / 0.8 cup sugar
  • 1 dl / 472 oz / 0.6 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 dl /6 oz / 1.6 cups plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 dl / 6.7 fl. oz / 0.8 cup sour cream, double cream or buttermilk
  • 4 dl / 3.8 oz / 1 cup marmalade

Heat the oven to 175 C/350F. Grease and dust with breadcrumbs a midsize sponge cake dish. Melt the rest of the butter and let cool slightly. In a bowl, whisk the and the sugar and dark brown sugar until porous, using an electric mixer if you have one handy.

Mix the dry ingredients. Blend them into the egg mixture together with the sour cream / double cream / buttermilk and marmalade until smooth. Tip into the cake dish. Bake in the lower oven for 50-65 minutes until it feels dry. Tent with foil for the final minutes if needed.

Potato Gratin

For steeping cream

  • 2 ¼ cups half-and-half
  • 2 medium cloves garlic (8g), smashed
  • 2 small shallots (110g total), quartered
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons (6g) whole black peppercorns
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons table salt

In a small saucepan, combine cream, milk, garlic, shallots, nutmeg, thyme, peppercorns, and salt. Bring to a boil, then remove from heat, cover, and let steep for 1 hour.

  • 2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8-inch thick or less
  1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub bottom and sides of 5- to 6-cup gratin dish or shallow baking dish with a garlic clove. Once garlic in dish has dried, about 2 minutes, spread dish with half the butter.
  2. Bring steeped half-and-half and potatoes to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally with wooden spoon (liquid will just barely cover potatoes). Reduce heat and simmer until liquid thickens, about 2 minutes.
  3. Pour potato mixture into prepared dish; shake dish or use fork to distribute potatoes evenly. Gently press down potatoes until submerged in liquid; dot with remaining butter.
  4. Bake until top is golden brown (basting once or twice during first 45 minutes) about 1 hour 15 minutes.
  5. For a more pronounced crust, sprinkle three tablespoons of heavy cream or grated Gruyère cheese on top of the potatoes after forty-five minutes of baking. Let rest 5 minutes and serve.

Best Baked Sweet Potatoes

Orange or red skinned sweet potato with yellow flesh, 8-12 oz each, uniform in size, prickled lightly 3 times with a fork

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Place potatoes on large plate and microwave until potatoes yield to gentle pressure and centers register 200 degrees, 6 to 9 minutes, flipping potatoes every 3 minutes.
  2. Set wire rack in aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet and spray rack with vegetable oil spray. Using tongs, transfer potatoes to prepared rack and bake for 1 hour (exteriors of potatoes will be lightly browned and potatoes will feel very soft when squeezed).
  3. Slit each potato lengthwise; using clean dish towel, hold ends and squeeze slightly to push flesh up and out. Transfer potatoes to serving platter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Chinese-style Ribs

  • 1 (6-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • cup honey
  • ¾ cup hoisin sauce
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
  • teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 5 – 6 pounds pork spareribs (2 racks, 2 1/2- to 3-pounds each), preferably St. Louis-style, cut into individual ribs
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  1. Pulse ginger and garlic in food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Sautee on low in a Dutch oven while adding remaining ingredients. Whisk together remaining seasoning ingredients with 1/2 cup water, add to pot. Add ribs and stir to coat (ribs will not be fully submerged). Bring to simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 1¼ hours, stirring occasionally.
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Using tongs, transfer ribs to large bowl. Strain braising liquid through fine-mesh strainer set over large container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Let cooking liquid settle for 10 minutes. Using wide, shallow spoon, skim fat from surface and discard.
  3. Return braising liquid to pot and add sesame oil. Bring to boil over high heat and cook until syrupy and reduced to 2½ cups, 16 to 20 minutes.
  4. Set wire rack in aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet and pour ½ cup water into sheet. Transfer half of ribs to pot with braising liquid and toss to coat. Arrange ribs, bone sides up, on prepared rack, letting excess glaze drip off. Roast until edges of ribs start to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes. Flip ribs and continue to roast until second side starts to caramelize, 5 to 7 minutes longer. Transfer ribs to serving platter; repeat process with remaining ribs. Serve.

TO MAKE AHEAD: At end of step 3, refrigerate ribs and glaze separately, covered, for up to 2 days. When ready to serve, bring glaze and half of ribs to simmer in Dutch oven over medium heat, then proceed with step

Pad Kra Pao

  • 1 pound eggplant, preferably long Asian eggplants, 1/2″ diced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ lb. minced pork
  • 1 cup Asian basil leaves, roughly chopped
  1. Salt the eggplant generously and leave in a colander to sweat for 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse and drain on a clean kitchen towel.
  2. Stir/mash minced garlic, minced ginger, chiles with 1/4 tsp salt in a small bowl. In another small bowl, mix together the fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large, heavy skillet or wok over high heat, until a drop of water evaporates immediately upon contact. Add 1-2 Tbsp oil, turn the heat down to medium-high, and add the garlic paste. Stir-fry for 30 seconds, and add the meat. Stir-fry until the meat is cooked through and no traces of pink remain. Transfer from the pan or wok to a plate or bowl.
  4. Add 2-3 Tbsp of oil to the pan. Add the eggplant. Cook, stirring, until the eggplant is lightly browned and almost cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Stir the meat back into the pan, and add the fish and soy sauce mixture. Add 1/4-1/2 cup chicken broth, cover the wok or pan, turn the heat down to medium and steam for 2 minutes. Uncover, and stir in the basil leaves. Stir for 30 seconds to a minute, remove from the heat and serve with white rice.

Peach ice cream

3 large ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, chopped
1/2 cups sugar
1.5 cups heavy cream
0.5 cups 1% or 2% milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cook peaches in a covered saucepan on medium heat for about 10 minutes or until soft and not watery. Add sugar and salt. Let mixture cool to room temperature. Purée mixture in blender with remaining ingredients (leave some chunks if desired).

Whisk mixture with heavy cream and milk. Chill the mixture overnight, then churn for 20 minutes.