Recipes to feed the stomach and soothe the soul

This page, will over time, contain some recipes which I have tried out and found interesting, exciting or just plain quick and simple. Many of them but not all are from the New York Times, particularly from Mark Bittman's column 'The Minimalist'. However for the moment I leave you with a couple of useful URL which contains over 5000 recipes and the first has a searchable index. Click here to go to the first. Another nice site with useful hints and recipes - the food lover's link to professional chefs - is here .

A Minimalist meal made in minimum time

Recipe: Marinated Olives

Time: 5 minutes, plus marinating time 2 cups assorted olives

2 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

1/2 lemon, cut in half and segmented like a grapefruit.

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl. Marinate for an hour or longer at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight if not using immediately. (Remove from the refrigerator an hour or two before serving.)

Yield: 4 servings.

Recipe: Chicken With Vinegar

Time: 40 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 3-pound chicken, cut up for sauteing

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup minced shallots or scallions

1 cup red wine or balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon butter, optional.

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Set a large ovenproof skillet, preferably with steep sides, over medium-high heat. Add oil, and wait a minute. When skillet is hot, place chicken in it, skin-side down. Cook for about 5 minutes or until nicely browned. Turn, and cook 3 minutes on the other side. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Place skillet in oven. Cook chicken 15 to 20 minutes or until it is just about done (juices will run clear). Remove chicken to an ovenproof platter, and place platter in oven. Turn off oven, and leave door slightly ajar.

3. Pour most but not all of cooking juices out of skillet. Place it over medium-high heat, and add shallots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 2 minutes. Add vinegar, and raise heat to high. Cook a minute or two or until vinegar smell subsides. Add 1/2 cup water and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until mixture thickens. Stir in butter, if you are using it.

4. Return chicken and any juices to skillet, and turn chicken in sauce. Serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Recipe: Fast Potato Gratin

Time: 40 minutes

2 pounds all-purpose potatoes, peeled

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon minced garlic, or a fine grating of nutmeg, optional

2 tablespoons butter

2 to 3 cups half-and-half or milk.

1. Slice potatoes thinly. Layer in a nonstick ovenproof skillet, sprinkling between layers with salt and pepper, and garlic or nutmeg, if you like. Dot with butter, then add enough half-and-half or milk to come about three-quarters of the way to the top. Heat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Place skillet on stove top over high heat, and bring potatoes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the level of liquid and potatoes drops. Put in oven, and cook until top is browned, about 10 minutes. Turn heat down to 300 degrees, and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more. Serve or keep warm in oven for up to 30 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Recipe: Chopped Salad With Vinaigrette

Time: 30 minutes 4 large leaves romaine, washed and chopped

1 small head radicchio, washed and chopped

1 small cucumber (peeled) or zucchini, diced

1 red pepper, stemmed, seeded, diced

1 yellow pepper, stemmed, seeded, diced

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 celery stalk, chopped

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup good vinegar, approximately

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

Salt and pepper.

Toss all vegetables together. Combine oil, vinegar, shallot and mustard, and beat with a fork or wire whisk or emulsify in a blender or with an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper, then taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing.

Yield: 4 servings.

Recipe: Chocolate Mousse

Time: 20 minutes, plus time to chill 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

3 eggs, separated

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract.

1. Place a double boiler or small saucepan over low heat, and melt butter and chocolate together. Just before chocolate finishes melting, remove pan from stove, and beat chocolate with a wooden spoon until smooth.

2. Transfer chocolate mixture to a bowl, and beat in egg yolks with a whisk. Place bowl in refrigerator.

3. Beat egg whites with half the sugar until they hold stiff peaks but are not dry. Set aside. Beat cream with the remaining sugar and vanilla until it holds soft peaks.

4. Stir a couple of spoonfuls of the whites into chocolate mixture to lighten it a bit, then fold in remaining whites thoroughly but gently. Fold in cream, and refrigerate until chilled. If you are in a hurry, divide mousse among six cups: it will chill much faster. Serve within a day or two of making it.

Yield: 4 servings.

Pasta Nicoise

Time: 30 minutes

1 head garlic, cloves separated but not peeled

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound rigatoni

1 pound tuna steak, 1 inch thick and cut in 1-inch cubes

1/2 cup haricots verts or other thin green beans, trimmed

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of half a lemon, or more if desired

Grated rind of half a lemon, optional

1 pound (about 6 medium) tomatoes, blanched, peeled and coarsely chopped

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves.

1. Place a large pot of water for pasta over high heat. Place a small saucepan of water over high heat. When small pan comes to a boil, add garlic and boil for 5 minutes. Cool, then peel. Place a large skillet over medium heat, warm the 3 tablespoons olive oil, and sauté garlic until golden and caramelized. Drain on paper towels, reserving oil in skillet; set skillet aside.

2. When large pot of water comes to a boil, lightly salt it and add rigatoni; cook to taste, 12 to 15 minutes. While pasta cooks, place the skillet over medium-high heat, and add tuna. When tuna is seared but still pink inside, transfer to a plate. Add the beans to the skillet. When beans are cooked, drain off the olive oil (leave beans in pan) and add the extra virgin olive oil, the juice of half a lemon and the lemon rind. Stir, and add tomatoes, garlic, tuna, anchovies, parsley and half the basil leaves. Season with salt and pepper and more lemon juice to taste, if desired. Keep warm.

3. Drain pasta well, and transfer to a large warm bowl. Add tuna mixture, and toss gently to mix. Garnish with remaining basil leaves, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Recipe: Tarragon Chicken

Time: 1 hour, plus 1/2 to 24 hours' marinating

1 3- to 4-pound chicken

3/8 cup chopped fresh tarragon

Juice and grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup olive oil

Malden salt or other flaky sea salt.

1. Butterfly chicken by placing it breast-side down and, using kitchen shears, cutting along both sides of backbone and through small rib bones. Discard backbone, and place chicken in a large plastic bag with zipper. Add 1/2 cup tarragon, the lemon juice and zest, and olive oil. Expel as much air as possible from bag, and make sure marinade coats chicken. Refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour and up to 24 hours

. 2. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place chicken in a roasting pan, spread flat, breast side up. Roast until skin is crisp and golden, 35 to 45 minutes.

3. Sprinkle with salt to taste, and cut into 8 serving pieces. Transfer to a platter, and garnish with remaining tarragon. Serve, if desired, with salad and roasted potatoes.

Yield: 4 servings.

Recipe: Pork Clay Pot

Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola

1/4 cup sugar

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1/4 cup chopped shallots

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 small chili, minced

11/2 pounds fatty pork, cut from shoulder, or about 2 pounds fatty pork chops, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes

2 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste

1 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste

4 hard-cooked eggs, peeled

Salt if necessary

Shredded scallion for garnish

Cooked white rice.

1. Put oil in a saucepan or clay pot large enough to comfortably accommodate pork; turn heat to medium. Add sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, until it dissolves and colors a bit, 3 or 4 minutes. Add garlic, shallots, ginger and chili and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots soften, about 5 minutes.

2. Add pork and raise heat to medium-high. Let it brown a little, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add  1/2 cup water, and fish sauce and black pepper. Bring to a boil, then adjust heat so mixture simmers steadily. Nestle eggs in mixture and cover pot. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until pork is tender, adding a little more water if mixture threatens to dry out.

3. Taste and adjust seasoning, then garnish with scallions and serve with rice.

Yield: 4 servings.

Baked Mustard-Herb Chicken Legs

Time: 45 min

4 leg-thigh chicken pieces, cut in 2, or 8 thighs

1 1/2 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs

2 teaspoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon or other herb

Salt and pepper to taste

6 tablespoons Dijon mustard.

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Trim excess skin and fat from chicken. Combine bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, tarragon and salt and pepper on a plate or waxed paper. Use a pastry brush to paint mustard lightly on chicken legs. Carefully coat chicken legs with bread crumb mixture.

2. Gently place chicken in a roasting pan and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until completely cooked. Serve hot or cold.

Yield: 4 servings.

Spicy Roasted Chicken Thighs

Time: 45 minutes

8 chicken thighs, with skin, pierced all over with a small knife

5 cloves garlic, peeled

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger root, peeled

1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded, or cayenne to taste

Juice and zest of 1 whole lemon

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander seeds or ground coriander.

1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Put chicken thighs in a bowl. Mince garlic, ginger and pepper. Toss with all remaining ingredients or put in a small food processor, and grind to a paste. (It is O.K. if the coriander seeds are not fully pulverized. They will add a little crunch.)

2. Rub mixture thoroughly into chicken. At this point, you can cover, and refrigerate for up to a day.

3. Put thighs, skin side up, in a roasting pan. Roast for 25 to 35 minutes or until done.

Yield: 4 servings.

Sautéed Chicken With Green Olives and White Wine

Time: 45 minutes

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 leg-thigh pieces chicken, cut in 2, or 8 thighs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups white wine

1 cup cracked green olives

1 lemon, thinly sliced, seeds removed

1/2 cup broken walnut pieces

1/4 cup coarsely chopped parsley leaves, for garnish.

1. Put oil in a deep skillet or casserole, preferably nonstick. Turn heat to medium-high. When oil is hot, add chicken, skin side down, and brown it well, rotating and turning pieces as necessary, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

2. With chicken skin side up, add wine and olives. Adjust heat so mixture simmers vigorously, 10 to 15 minutes.

3. When chicken is almost done, place sliced lemon on it, and cook 2 to 3 minutes more. Arrange chicken and lemon on a platter, and stir walnuts into sauce. Taste, and adjust seasoning, then spoon sauce over chicken. Sprinkle with parsley, and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Chicken Kebab, Turkish Style

Time: 45 minutes

2 large onions, peeled

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice of a lemon

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

3 bay leaves, crumbled

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 1/2 pounds boneless chicken thighs or legs, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks

Lemon wedges or ground sumac (available in Middle Eastern stores).

1. Start a charcoal or wood fire or heat a gas grill. The fire should be moderately hot and the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Mince one onion, and combine it in a large bowl with oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, bay leaves and marjoram or oregano. Taste, and adjust seasoning. Marinate chicken in this mixture for at least a few minutes or overnight in refrigerator.

2. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water to cover for a few minutes. Cut remaining onion into quarters, then separate it into large pieces. Thread chicken and onion alternately onto skewers, leaving a little space between pieces.

3. Grill, turning as each side browns, and brushing with remaining marinade, for about 12 to 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Serve with lemon wedges or sprinkle with a bit of sumac.

Yield: 4 servings.

Sea Bass Fillets With Mushroom Beurre Noisette

Adapted from Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Time: About 1 hour

7 tablespoons butter

8 ounces white mushrooms, washed and sliced

1½ tablespoons honeyy

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 hazelnuts

2 almonds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

½ tablespoon freshly ground black pepperr


10 pearl onions, peeled and halved

20 lima or peeled fava beans

4 sea bass, red snapper or other fillets, 6 ounces each

Pinch cayenne pepper

½ cup creaam

20 cherry tomatoes, halvedam

2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram or oregano.

1. Place 2 tablespoons of butter and mushrooms in skillet and turn heat to high. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, then drizzle with honey. When mushrooms brown, add lime juice, vinegar and soy sauce, and pour into small saucepan. Do not clean skillet.

2. Add 1 cup water to skillet and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, for about 1 minute. Pour into saucepan and simmer mixture over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes. Strain; reserve liquid and discard solids.

3. Meanwhile, combine nuts, coriander, sesame seeds and pepper in a small dry skillet. Turn heat to medium and toast mixture, shaking pan occasionally, until spices are fragrant, just a minute or two. Grind to powder in mortar and pestle or in a spice or coffee mill.

4. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt it. Add onions and cook about 5 minutes, or just until tender. Remove with slotted spoon. Add beans and cook for about 2 minutes, or just until tender. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside.

5. Put 3 tablespoons of butter in small saucepan over medium heat. Stir, scraping down the sides with rubber spatula, until butter foam subsides and butter turns nut brown. Immerse bottom of pan in bowl or pan of ice water to stop cooking (about 30 seconds), then keep warm over lowest possible heat.

6. Put nut and seed powder onto plate. Season fillets with salt and cayenne, and brush with cream on all sides. Dredge only flesh sides in spice mixture and set aside.

7. Put remaining 2 tablespoons butter in skillet large enough to hold fish in one layer (work in batches if needed and use a little more butter). Turn heat to medium-high. When butter melts, add fish and turn heat to high. Cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning once, until fish is cooked through.

8. Combine mushroom stock and browned butter and heat through; season to taste, then stir in onions, beans and tomatoes. Put fish fillets in individual bowls and surround with broth and vegetables. Garnish with marjoram and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Sesame-Crusted Fish With Butter and Ginger Sauce(a simpler version of the above!!)

Time: 15 minutes

1 cup sesame seeds

4 skinless fillets like black sea bass or red snapper, 6 ounces each

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger

2 tablespoons soy sauce.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Heat large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Put seeds on plate. Season fillets with salt and pepper and turn in seeds, patting to coat fillets as fully as possible with seeds. Add oil to skillet and when it shimmers add fillets.

2. Brown fish on 1 side for a couple of minutes, then brown on other side for a minute or two. Remove skillet from heat, transfer fish to plate (even if not done) and place plate in oven.

3. When skillet has cooled slightly, put over medium heat. Add butter, and when it melts add ginger. About 30 seconds later, add soy sauce and ¼ cup water and stir to blend. Return fillets to skillet, along with accumulated juices.

4. Turn heat to medium and cook fillets for a total of about 4 minutes, turning 3 or 4 times. (If the pan dries out, add 2 or 3 tablespoons water.) Fish should be done when a thin-bladed knife meets little resistance at fillet's thickest point. Serve pan juices over fish.

Yield: 4 servings.

Recipe: Suvir Saran's Tandoori-Style Lamb Chops

Time: 30 minutes plus 2 hours to drain yogurt and overnight refrigeration

3/4 cup plain yogurt

2 pounds rib lamb chops, cut 1 to 1\xbd inches thick

1 tablespoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground mace

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cardamom seed powder

1 tablespoon garam masala

1 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds, coarsely ground

8 medium garlic cloves, minced or ground to a paste

3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced or ground to paste

1 jalape\xf1o pepper, seeded and minced

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, minced

2 tablespoons green papaya paste (optional)

1/8 cup malt vinegar

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon spoon salt

2 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons melted butter.

1. Place yogurt in a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter and drain for 2 hours.

2. Cut three or four deep slashes in each chop. Mix yogurt and all remaining ingredients except the oil and melted butter in a nonplastic bowl large enough to hold chops. Add chops and toss to coat. Put chops with marinade in a large resealable plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.

3. Heat oven to 550 degrees or heat grill. Add oil to bag with chops, reseal and massage bag between your hands to mix oil. Remove chops from marinade.

4. If roasting in oven, put chops in a single layer on a rack in a foil-lined baking pan and roast: 12 minutes for medium rare, longer to taste. Remove from oven, let rest 5 minutes, then turn chops, drizzle with butter and roast 10 more minutes. If grilling, grill 5 minutes each side; let rest 5 minutes off grill, then brush with butter and grill 5 more minutes each side.

Yield: 4 servings.

The Minimalist's Curried Lamb Chops

Time: 30 minutes

1 tablespoon good curry powder, or to taste

Salt and pepper

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Juice of ½ lemon

1 cup sour cream

2 pounds rib lamb chops, cut 1 to 1 ½ inches thick.

1. Heat oven to 500 degrees. (Chops can also be grilled.) Mix all ingredients except chops in a bowl, then coat chops with this mixture.

2. Put chops on a flat pan or in a roasting pan and roast: 12 minutes for medium-rare, longer to taste. Let sit for about 5 minutes, then serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Suvir Saran's Fried Spinach Salad With Chaat Masala

Oil for frying

1 cup cornstarch

Salt and pepper

12 large spinach leaves, washed and stemmed

3 cups mung bean sprouts

½ teaspoon dried mint

1 cup peeled, seeded and minced tomato

1 teaspoon dried cumin

½ cup minced red onionn

¼ cup minced jalapeñr other fresh hot chilillies

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons chaat masala or to taste, plus a couple of pinches for sprinkling (see note).

1. Heat at least an inch of oil in a skillet or saucepan to about 375 degrees. Combine cornstarch in a bowl with salt and pepper and enough water to make a thin paste. One at a time, dip spinach leaves in paste and fry until very lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

2. Toss together all remaining ingredients; taste, adding salt and pepper.

3. Put a spinach leaf on each of 4 plates, then top with a bit of the mung bean mixture. Cover with another leaf and repeat once more. Finish with a pinch of chaat masala and serve, with any remaining filling spooned around the edges of each pile.

Yield: 4 servings.

Suvir Saran's Tandoori Shrimp

Time: About 30 minutes, plus 1 hour for draining yogurt and 2 hours (or overnight) for marinating shrimp

2 cups plain yogurt

1 tablespoon cumin seeds or 2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons peeled and minced fresh ginger

3 tablespoons minced garlic

3 tablespoons toasted chickpea flour (besan) or all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 teaspoon garam masala or curry powder

1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

12 colossal or very large shrimp (about 2 pounds), shelled


3 tablespoons butter, melted

1 lemon, halved.

1. Over a bowl in a cheesecloth-lined strainer or a coffee filter, drain yogurt for at least 1 hour (if longer, refrigerate).

2. If you're using whole cumin, toast the seeds in a dry frying pan over medium heat, shaking, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Grind 2 teaspoons of the cumin seeds to a powder in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle and set aside.

3. Stir together the ginger, garlic, flour, ground cumin, pepper, garam masala and turmeric in a bowl large enough to hold the shrimp. Stir in the lemon juice and then the drained yogurt, a bit at a time, stirring until smooth after each addition. Add the shrimp and toss to coat with the marinade. Refrigerate, covered, for at least 2 hours; overnight is fine.

4. Preheat the oven to 550 degrees, or as near that temperature as you can get it. (Or, if you are grilling, skip to step 5.) Put the shrimp in a single layer on a rack in a foil-lined baking pan, sprinkle with salt and roast 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let rest 15 minutes, then brush with the melted butter and roast another 10 minutes, until cooked through.

5. To grill prawns: When youre ready to cook, start a charcoal or gas grill; the fire should be very hot you should barely be able to hold your hand over the core of it and the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Grill the shrimp for 3 minutes on each side; let rest 15 minutes off the grill, then brush with the butter and grill 5 to 10 more minutes, until cooked through.

6. Arrange the shrimp on a platter, sprinkle with the reserved toasted cumin seeds and squeeze the lemon over. Serve hot.

Yield: 4 servings.

Mark Bittman's Stir-Fried Shrimp With Okra and Lime

Time: 15 minutes

1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined

Juice of 1/2 lime

1 tablespoon sugar


1 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound okra, trimmed and chopped or slivered

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Lime wedges for garnish.

1. Place the shrimp in a bowl with the juice, sugar and a pinch of salt. Toss to coat and marinate for 5 minutes.

2. Put the oil and butter in a non-stick skillet and turn the heat to high. When the butter foam subsides, add the shrimp and marinade and cook, stirring or tossing, until the shrimp is lightly browned, about 3 minutes (this will happen rapidly because the sugar will caramelize quickly).

3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a plate, then return the pan to the stove. Add the okra and cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisped. If it looks like the okra is going to crowd the pan youre working in, cook in batches.

4. Add about 1/2 cup water to the pan and, over high heat, scrape to loosen any browned bits. Add the cilantro to the pan, stir everything together briefly, then transfer the okra and cilantro to a serving platter. Top with the sauté shrimp and pour the pan sauce over all. Salt to taste, garnish with lime wedges and serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.

Sri Lankan Village Salad

1 small seedless cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/3 cup thinly sliced shallots

1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped

1 red cayenne chili, finely chopped

½ teaspoon fine sea salttp> ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepperrp> 2 tablespoons rice vinegar or fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons coconut milk.

1. Place the cucumber slices in a colander, sprinkle with the kosher salt and set aside for 30 minutes. Rinse gently and pat dry.

2. In a shallow bowl, combine the cucumber, shallots, chilies, sea salt and pepper. Gently toss in the vinegar and coconut milk. Serves 4.

Baked Goan Fish with Fresh Green-Chili Chutney

For the chutney:

2 cups cilantro, leaves and stems

6 green cayenne chilies, coarsely chopped (4-5 chilies can be substituted to reduce the heat)

8 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons minced ginger

1 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 tablespoons lime juice

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

For the fish:

One 1 ¾ - to 2-pound firm-fleshed fish, like pickerel, trout or red snapper, cleaned and scaled

¼ cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon fine sea salt.

1. For the chutney, place the cilantro, chilies, garlic and ginger in a food processor and process to a paste. Add the coconut and blend. Transfer to a bowl. Lightly crush the cumin seeds with a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder and then add to the chili mixture. Stir in the lime juice, sugar and salt. Add more salt to taste.

2. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash and dry the fish. On each side of the backbone, cut a deep slit down the length of the fish. Line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with foil and spread with 3 tablespoons of oil. Rub the fish with the lime juice and salt. Using ½ cup of chutney, stuff it into the slits and put the remainder in the cavity. Lay the fish on the foil. Pour the remaining oil over the top of the fish. Cover the fish with foil and crimp together the top and bottom pieces to make a packet.

3. Bake for 30 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of the fish. The fish is done when the thickest part yields a little to the touch or the flesh flakes with a fork. To serve, lift sections of the top fillet off the bone; when the first side is finished, flip over the fish to serve the second fillet. Serve warm or at room temperature with the pan juices and additional chutney.

Moroccan Leg of Lamb With Mint Dressing

Time: 2 hours, plus 4 hours for marinating

1 9-to-11-pound bone-in leg of lamb, trimmed of fat and membrane

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup fruity-tasting olive oil

1/3 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons minced garlic

1 tablespoon harissa (Moroccan chili paste), more for serving

1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, toasted and crushed

½ teaspoon ground cumin

Mint dressing (see recipe).

1. Score meaty side of lamb in a diamond pattern of ¼-inch-deep cuts about 1½ inches apart. Season with salt and pepper, and place scored-side up in a large roasting pan.

2. In a small bowl, whisk olive oil with lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, harissa, coriander seeds and cumin. Pour marinade over lamb and massage into crevices. Cover pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate 2½ hours or overnight. Remove from refrigerator 1½ hours before cooking to return lamb to room temperature; in last 15 minutes, heat oven to 450 degrees.

3. Remove foil from pan and place pan on middle oven rack; turn heat down to 350 degrees. Roast, basting lamb with pan juices every ½ hour, until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat reads 130 degrees, about 1¾ hours total. Remove from oven, tent loosely with foil, and let rest 15 minutes before carving. Serve with harissa and mint dressing.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings.

Mint Dressing

Time: 5 minutes

2 cups tightly packed mint leaves, washed and dried

2 tablespoons chopped shallots

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

½ cup fruity-tasting olive oil

1 small clove garlic, minced

½ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste.

In a food processor, combine mint, shallots, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and salt until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Yield: 1 cup.

No-Knead Bread

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours rising

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting

¼ teaspoon instant yeast

1¼ teaspoons salt

Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.

1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.

Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Zappa Family Spaghetti Sauce

Time: 3 hours

Salt and pepper

1 pound pork spareribs, neck bones or pork chops

1 pound beef chuck roast, blade steak or brisket

3 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup chopped onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 bay leaf

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, preferably Italian

1 28-ounce can tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped

4 small or 2 large pickled peperoncini

Cooked meatballs (see recipe)

1 pound dried spaghetti for serving

Grated Parmesan for serving.

1. Sprinkle salt and pepper all over pork and beef. Place large pot over medium-high heat; when hot, add olive oil and brown meat. (Or cook meat in same pot used for meatballs, browning in the leftover fat.) Remove meat to a platter. Turning heat under pot to medium, add onions, and cook 3 minutes, stirring. Add garlic, and cook 2 minutes longer. Add tomato paste, and stir: cook until it absorbs fat in pan. Add oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, kosher salt and bay leaf, stirring to combine.

2. Add cans of tomatoes and tomato sauce, then 4 1/2 cups water. Stir in sugar, parsley and peperoncini. Return meats to pot with their juices. Bring sauce to a gentle boil. Turn heat down to a simmer, partly cover and leave sauce to simmer 21/2 hours or more, stirring regularly.

3. About 20 minutes before serving, add meatballs to pot. Boil spaghetti according to package directions. Drain, return spaghetti to pan and add 3 cups sauce. Toss pasta in pan for a minute to coat with sauce, and place on a large platter. Pour 2 more cups sauce over pasta. Place meat and meatballs on pasta, slicing large pieces. Serve with bowls of remaining sauce and Parmesan.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

Italian Meatballs

Time: 20 minutes

2 pounds ground beef

1 cup fresh bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan

1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh basil

1 heaping tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 eggs

3 tablespoons olive oil.

1. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except olive oil by hand, using a light touch. Take a portion of meat in hand, and roll between palms to form a ball that is firmly packed but not compressed. Repeat, making each meatball about 2 inches in diameter.

2. In a large, heavy pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. When it shimmers, add meatballs in batches. Do not crowd. Brown well on bottoms before turning, or meatballs will break apart. Continue cooking until browned all over. Remove meatballs to a plate as each batch is finished. Let meatballs cool slightly; cover and refrigerate until needed.

Yield: About 16 meatballs.

Recipe: Supernatural Brownies

Adapted from Chocolate: From Simple Cookies to Extravagant Showstoppers, by Nick Malgieri (Morrow Cookbooks, 1998)

Time: About 1 hour

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) butter, more for pan and parchment paper

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate

4 eggs

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup dark brown sugar, such as muscovado

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup flour

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or 3/4 cup whole walnuts, optional.

1. Butter a 13-by-9-inch baking pan and line with buttered parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In top of a double boiler set over barely simmering water, or on low power in a microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Cool slightly. In a large bowl or mixer, whisk eggs. Whisk in salt, sugars and vanilla.

2. Whisk in chocolate mixture. Fold in flour just until combined. If using chopped walnuts, stir them in. Pour batter into prepared pan. If using whole walnuts, arrange on top of batter. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until shiny and beginning to crack on top. Cool in pan on rack.

Yield: 15 large or 24 small brownies.

Note: For best flavor, bake 1 day before serving, let cool and store, tightly wrapped.

1939: Ceylon Curry of Oysters

This recipe appeared in The Times in an article by Charlotte Hughes. In Hughess original recipe, she called for three bay leaves; I used only one. And since chilies are now commonly available, I used a serrano rather than the sweet green pepper that Hughes suggested.

2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil

4 small shallots, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

½ serrano or Thai chili, seeded and minced

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 large pinch turmeric

1 cinnamon stick

3 cloves

1 bay leaf

1 cup coconut milk


12 oysters, shucked, liquor reserved

Juice of ½ lemon.

1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the shallots, garlic and chili, and sauté until softened and starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the curry powder, turmeric, cinnamon stick, cloves and bay leaf and cook for 1 minute.

2. Reduce heat to low and add the coconut milk and ½ teaspoon salt. Simmer for 3 minutes. Add the oysters and their liquor; simmer until the oysters are just firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add lemon juice and salt to taste. Serve over rice the rice in the fish recipe that follows would go well or on hoppers (see the recipe below).

Serves 2.

2007: Steamed Wild Striped Bass With Coconut Rice and Apple-Banana Chutney

By Cyril Renaud, chef at Fleur de Sel in New York

4 6-ounce pieces wild striped bass

5 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and pepper

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 pinches ground cinnamon

4 pinches ground cloves

2 cups basmati rice

4 cups rice milk

2 tablespoons coconut cream (or coconut milk)

3 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut

2 bay leaves

¼ serrano chili, seeded and minced, more if desired

2 tablespoons thinly sliced chives

2 tablespoons butter

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon curry powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

2 cups diced (1/4 -inch) tart apple

½ banana, diced (1/4 -inch).

1. Cut 4 to 6 shallow slits into the skin side of each fish fillet. Place 4 large squares of plastic wrap on a flat surface and sprinkle the center of each with ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Lay a piece of fish, skin-side up, on each square. Top each with another ½ tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the garlic among the fish, pressing into the slits. Sprinkle each piece with a pinch of cinnamon and cloves. Loosely wrap the fish in the plastic and refrigerate.

2. In a large pan with a lid, combine the rice, rice milk, coconut cream, shredded coconut, bay leaves, chili and 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon regular salt). Let sit for 30 minutes, then cover the pan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 17 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chives.

3. Meanwhile, to make the chutney, add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the butter to a sauté pan. Place over medium heat and, when hot, add the onion, curry powder and turmeric. Cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the apple and banana and cook 2 minutes longer, until the apple is soft around the edges but still crisp. Transfer the chutney to a serving bowl.

4. Fill a saucepan large enough to hold a steamer basket with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer. Place the wrapped fish in the basket. Lower the basket into the pan and cover. Steam the fish for 5 minutes, turn the pieces and steam until just cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

5. To serve, remove the plastic from the fish. Spread the rice on a large platter, top with the fish and its cooking juices and serve with the chutney on the side. Serves 4.

Egg Hoppers

1 1/2 cups rice flour

1/4 teaspoon yeast

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup coconut milk

Coconut oil or vegetable oil, for frying

10 to 12 eggs, at room temperature.

1. In a large bowl, stir the rice flour, yeast, sugar, salt, coconut milk and 6 tablespoons water. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours. 2. Stir the batter. It should have the consistency of paint. If needed, add water to thin it. Place an 8-inch wok or a crepe pan over medium-high heat. Using paper towels or a brush, carefully and lightly swab the surface of the pan with oil; there should be a very thin film. Using a ladle, pour about 3 tablespoons of batter in the center of the pan, and then quickly tilt and turn the pan so the batter spreads across the surface and up the sides of the pan. The hopper should be as thin as paper on the edges and no thicker than cardboard in the center. Crack an egg in the center, cover the pan and cook until the white of the egg is just cooked through and the hopper is crisp and browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes. Loosen the hopper using a knife and slide onto a platter. Repeat with the remaining batter (hoppers may also be made without the egg). Serves 6.

James Beard's Pound Cake

1 pound (4 sticks) butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan

1 teaspoon baking powder


8 large eggs, separated

1 ¾ cups sugar

2 tablespoons Cognac

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a tube pan. Sift the flour onto waxed paper and then spoon it gently back into the sifter, adding the baking powder and a good pinch of salt. Sift the mixture twice more, each time spooning it lightly into the sifter.

2. Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks and then gradually beat in 1 cup of the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Transfer to a bowl.

3. Fit the electric mixer with a paddle attachment and cream the butter until light and fluffy. Beat in the remaining ¾ cup sugar until fluffy. Beat in the egg yolks until light and lemon-colored and then add the Cognac and zest.

4. Gradually fold the sifted flour mixture into the butter-egg mixture. Fold in the beaten egg whites just until the batter is smooth. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the oven for 1 hour or until a toothpick pierced in the center comes up clean. Makes 1 cake. This and previous recipes adapted from Beard on Food.

Poulet Sauté à lEstragon

8 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 broiler chickens (about 3 ½ -pounds each), cleaned and quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 shallots, finely chopped

1 cup dry white wine

4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon or 2 tablespoons dried tarragon.

1. In a large, deep, heavy saucepan fitted with a lid, melt the butter in the oil. When hot, add the chicken pieces, skin side down and in batches if necessary, and brown; then turn and brown the second side, about 10 minutes total. Salt and pepper them well.

2. Return all chicken pieces to the pan. Add the shallots, lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer in the juices very slowly, until the chicken is no longer pink inside, 15 to 20 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat slightly and add the wine and tarragon. Turn the chicken pieces in the juices, cook briskly for 3 to 4 minutes more and turn the pieces again. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 6 to 8.

oSome Microwave Recipes (yes!!)

Steamed Chocolate Pudding

8 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces, plus 2 tablespoons, softened

8 ounces semisweet chocolate

1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs

Ice cream or sweetened whipped cream for serving, optional.

1. Use softened butter to grease a 4-cup bowl (Corningware works well). Grind chocolate in a food processor, then add cold butter and sugar; process until combined. Add remaining ingredients and process until smooth.

2. Pour into bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and cook on high for 4 to 5 minutes, or until just set. Remove, pierce plastic with tip of a sharp knife, and cover with a heavy plate; let rest for 10 minutes.

3. Unmold onto a serving plate and serve warm or cold, with ice cream or whipped cream if desired.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings.

South Indian Eggplant Curry

Time: 15 minutes

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon chickpea flour

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

Dash of asafetida

3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

1 tablespoon grated ginger

1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

2 teaspoons tamarind paste

1 large or 2 medium eggplant

Chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish.

1. In a bowl, mix oil, chickpea flour, turmeric and asafetida. Heat on high for 90 seconds, stopping to stir halfway through. In another bowl, heat coconut on high for 90 seconds, stirring halfway through. Add coconut, ginger, salt and tamarind to chickpea mixture.

2. Rinse and dry eggplant, trim off ends, and cut into 1-inch slices. Score one side of each slice in several places. Spread and press spice mixture into gashes, then put eggplant into a dish. Partly cover (waxed paper works) and heat on high for 6 minutes. Uncover and cook on high for 2 or 3 minutes, until very soft. Garnish with cilantro. Serve hot or warm.

Yield: 4 or more servings.

Roasted Shrimp with Herb Sauce

Makes 4 servings

Time: 30 minutes

2 cloves garlic, peeled

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

6 scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped

1 cup parsley (thin stems are okay; discard thick ones)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 pounds shrimp, in the 20 to 30 per pound range, peeled

1/3 cup shrimp, fish, or chicken stock, white wine, or water

1. Preheat the oven to 500dgF. Combine the garlic and oil in the container of a food processor and blend until smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary. Add the scallions and parsley and pulse until the mixture is minced. Toss with the shrimp, salt, pepper, and chilis.

2. Put the shrimp in a roasting pan that will accommodate them comfortably. Add the liquid and put the pan in the oven. Roast, stirring once, until the mixture is bubbly and hot, and the shrimp all pink, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup (Curry Mee)

Time: 45 minutes

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 small onion, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon minced lemon grass or pale green cilantro roots

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dark red chili paste, such as sambal, more for serving

3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast meat, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces

3 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Malaysian, Thai or Vietnamese

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup half-and-half

4 cups chicken stock

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste

About 12 kaffir lime leaves or curry leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)

8 ounces dried thin rice noodles (bun or vermicelli), or other Asian noodles such as udon or lai fun

Salt to taste

1 cup bean sprouts

3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

2 scallions, cut into thin rings

2 shallots, thinly sliced and deep fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)

Quartered limes for serving.

1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and lemon grass and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary. Add garlic and chili paste and stir until fragrant. Raise heat, add chicken and stir-fry one minute. Add curry powder and paprika and stir to coat. Then add coconut milk, half-and-half, chicken stock, turmeric, fish sauce, sugar and lime or curry leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 7 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cook rice noodles in boiling water according to package directions (about 4 minutes). Rinse and drain.

3. Taste broth and adjust seasonings with salt and sugar. Divide noodles into large soup bowls. Bring broth to a boil, then ladle over noodles. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions and fried shallots, if using. Pass limes and sambal at the table.

Yield: 4 main-course servings.

Note: To make this rich soup more substantial, boiled potatoes are sometimes added to the simmering broth and cooked until very soft.

Soto Ayam (Indonesian Chicken Soup With Noodles and Aromatics)

Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

1 free-range chicken, about 3 pounds, quartered

2 stalks fresh lemon grass, bruised with the handle of a heavy knife and tied in a knot

6 kaffir lime leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

1 1/2 tablespoons coriander seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

5 shallots, peeled and halved

3 cloves garlic, peeled

2 teaspoons finely minced fresh turmeric, or 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 tablespoons finely minced ginger

3 tablespoons peanut oil

4 ounces glass noodles or thin dried rice noodles, called vermicelli, bihun or bun

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped celery leaves, mint, Thai basil or cilantro leaves

2 shallots, thinly sliced and fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)

Quartered limes and chili paste (such as sambal) for serving

Cooked white rice (optional).

1. Place chicken in a medium pot with lemon grass, lime leaves (if using), salt and 2 quarts water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Skim off any foam and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer until chicken is tender, about 45 minutes, skimming as needed to make a clear broth. Remove chicken pieces from broth and set aside. Remove and discard lemon grass and lime leaves; reserve stock in pot. When chicken is cool enough to handle, discard skin and bones and shred meat into bite-size pieces.

2. Meanwhile, combine peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a small food processor. Pulse until ground. Add halved shallots, garlic, turmeric and ginger and pulse to a thick paste. (Add a little water if needed.)

3. Heat peanut oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. When very hot, add spice paste and cook, stirring until paste is cooked and beginning to separate from the oil, about 5 minutes.

4. Add cooked spice paste and chicken meat to stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.

5. Cook noodles according to package directions.

6. Turn off heat under soup and stir in lime juice. Taste for salt.

7. To serve, divide noodles in large soup bowls. Ladle chicken pieces and soup on top and sprinkle with celery leaves or herbs, and fried shallots, if using. Pass lime and sambal at the table.

8. Eat from soup bowl, or serve a scoop of rice on a side plate, sprinkled with more shallots, and put a mouthful of noodles and chicken on rice. Combine on a spoon, dab with sambal, and eat.

Yield: 4 servings.

Simple Chocolate Cake (Nigella Lawson)

1 1/2 cups flour (200 gm)

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp bicarb of soda

2 tsp high quality vanilla essence

2/3 cup sour cream (this is the mystery ingredient!)

175 gm softened unsalted butter

1/3 cup cocoa

2 eggs

1. Blend everything together in a food processor or by hand. Put in for 30 minutes in a pre-heated 180 deg oven. And you are done!

To make the frosting

175 semi sweet chocolate

75 gm butter

1 tsp corn syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup sour cream

2 1/2 cup icing sugar

Mix into a smooth paste over a low flame and spread over the cake.

Chocolate Souffle (from the minimalist)

Time: About 45 minutes

About 1 tablespoon butter for dish

1/3 cup sugar, plus some for dish

3 eggs, separated

2 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, melted

Pinch salt

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 2-cup or one 4-cup soufflé or other deep baking dish(es). Sprinkle each with sugar, invert it and tap to remove excess sugar.

2. Beat egg yolks with all but 1 tablespoon sugar until very light and very thick; mixture will fall in a ribbon from beaters when it is ready. Mix in the melted chocolate until well combined; set aside.

3. Wash beaters well, then beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until whites hold soft peaks; continue to beat, gradually adding remaining tablespoon sugar, until they are very stiff and glossy. Stir a good spoonful of whites thoroughly into egg yolk mixture to lighten it; then fold in remaining whites, using a rubber spatula. Transfer to prepared soufflé dish(es); at this point you can cover and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

4. Bake until center is nearly set, 20 minutes for individual soufflés and 25 to 35 minutes for a single large soufflé. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2 servings.

The Art of Bread Making (from Craig Ponsford)

Basic Bakers' Math in percentages::

Flour 100%, Water 60% (can be increased to 65%), Salt 2%, Yeast (fresh) 1%:

These are the basic proportions for French style bread (straight dough). If you use mostly whole wheat flour, water can go upto 80%.

The most important part is to make the pre-ferment. Take 33% of above flour, add tiny amount of yeast (say 1/10 gram !) and 33% of the water. Mix and keep for 24 hours at around 25 degrees. Higher temperatures will ruin the yeast.

After 24 hours (max 28 hrs), make a dough with the rest of the flour, the water and yeast and mix this with the pre-ferment. Leave to rise for 2 hours. As gluten develops, you might want to do a folding over of the dough twice from two different directions. However do not knead -- remember there is no need to knead contrary to what older books have told you. You probably won't need to fold more than one or twice during this 24 hours and only if you see that the dough has relaxed. Cut it up to fit into bread pans, wait another 1 hour, bake at 225 degree (very hot) oven for 45 minutes. To prevent the outer crust from drying out before the inside cooks, put a pan of water in the oven. And you are done.

Points to remember: Stick to above measures, no approximation with cups. The yeast is fresh yeast. You can also use dry yeast (contrary to popular belief, there is no difference in taste) but then 1 gm fresh = .33 gm dry is the conversion. Do not dissolve yeast in water, use directly, there is no need to 'activate' yeast anymore nowadays.

Here then is an actual recipe:

Flour 500 gm

Water 325 gm (=325 ml)

Salt 10 gm

Yeast 5 gm

Pre-ferment (sponge): Mix 165 gm flour with 90 gm water and a tiny amount (say 3 grains) of yeast, mix, leave for 24 hours.

Next day mix the remaining 335 gm flour with the 235 gm water and the salt and remaining yeast and mix it with the sponge. Preferably the water should be around 20 degrees, again not warm, contrary to popular belief. Let it rise for 2 hours, (fold it as explained above if necessary) cut it and place it in different bread pans, wait another hour, bake at 225 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Some tips:

1. You can use a nixture of grains but then typically it will need more water. Whole wheat usually needs almost 80%. Flour in India is usually very weak so you may need less - you will have to experiment with this.

2. The above ratio of 100% flour and 60% water refers to the absorbent part of the dough. If you add other ingredients like cracked wheat, lentils (use partly cooked, 'al dente') this is not part of the calculation of 100:60 ratio.

3. Remember : punching dough down, kneading repeatedly, activating yeast by dissolving in warm water are not necessary anymore.

4. Avoid the oven temperature dropping when you open the door to put in the dough. Best to heat it to very high, shove in the dough and after 10 minutes bring it down to 225 degrees. A plate of water (explained above) helps.

Have fun, experiment and enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and Figs

Time: 30 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 to 8 ounces bacon, chopped

1 pound Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed

1 cup dried figs, stemmed and quartered

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, or more to taste.

1. Put a large skillet over medium heat and add oil, then bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it starts to crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, put sprouts through feed tube of a food processor equipped with a slicing attachment and shred. (You can also do this with a mandoline or a knife).

3. Add sprouts, figs and 1/4 cup water to pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper, turn heat to medium, and cook, undisturbed, until sprouts and figs are nearly tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Turn heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until any remaining water evaporates, another 5 to 10 minutes. Add vinegar, taste, adjust seasoning and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.