South Indian-Style Meyer Lemon Pickles

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This dish is an amalgamation of influences. The spices are Indian. The lemons are Californian. The peppers are Mexican.

South Asian lemon and lime pickles are typically cooked in the sun, the flavors soaking up the rays and developing over time. They often contain a bit of oil, a counterpart to their lip-smacking acidity. But lemon season in California is in the middle of winter, where the sun isn’t strong enough to cook much. And I wanted an oil-less pickle. Something fresh, spicy and bright to complement a seafood curry.

Enter Meyer lemon pickles. If you’re lucky enough to have access to Meyer lemons, you’ll know that they’re sweeter and juicier than you’re average lemon. We have a tree full of them, and so I experimented until I had the perfect lemon pickle. I’ve made jar after jar of these: my family asks for them now, too (lemon pickles go just as well with Iranian khoresh as they do with South Asian curry).

You’ll have to wait at least a couple of months for this pickle to be ready to eat: the peels will soften (the tastiest part), the juices will rise, and the flavors will really develop over time. Make sure to make a couple of extra jars. They won’t last long.

South Indian style Meyer lemon pickle

Ingredients:

8 Meyer lemons plus 1/2 Meyer lemon
7 green chiles (preferably Serrano), halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon minced ginger
5 tablespoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon asafoetida (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric

1. Wash and dry the 8 lemons thoroughly. Cut off the tops and ends, quarter lengthwise, and then cut each quarter into halves or thirds along the length.

2. Place the lemons in a large bowl and toss with salt and turmeric.

3. In the meantime, toast the mustard seeds, fenugreek, and asafoetida (if using) in a small pan until lightly toasted. Let cool and grind to a powder.

4. Add the spice mixture, cayenne pepper, ginger, green pepper, and juice of remaining 1/2 lemon and mix thoroughly. Divide between cleaned and sterilized jars. Seal and refrigerate, mixing every two days for the first two weeks. Wait at least 2 months before eating.

Andouille and Cheddar Macaroni and Cheese

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Okay, so this photo isn’t the prettiest. The lighting is awful. But I’d be remiss to not share this recipe with you. Herein lies one of my favorite dishes of all time. This mac and cheese is decadent, complex, and will have you going for seconds thirds in no time. I’ve adapted it from a Food and Wine magazine recipe: I removed the cilantro and nutmeg from the original, upped the other herbs, and reduced the amount of fat here. But still: it’s cheesy, smoky, meaty, garlicy and satisfies all your carb-laden dreams. It’s time consuming and it’s unhealthy. But. It. Is. DELICIOUS.

You have been warned.

Andouille mac and cheese

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups 2% milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup flour
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon minced thyme
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded mild white cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
Salt
Black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
6 ounces andouille sausage, diced (or raw andouille sausage, crumbled)
3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, plus more for garnish
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 pound medium pasta shells
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Frank’s Red Hot)

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small saucepan, bring the milk and heavy cream to a simmer. Keep warm over very low heat.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over medium heat until bubbling, 1 minute. Add the garlic, thyme, and cayenne and whisk until the roux is lightly browned, 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warm milk and cream until the sauce is smooth and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat, whisking, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mild cheddar and 1/2 cup of the sharp cheddar. Season the cheese sauce with salt and black pepper.


3. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the panko and toast over moderately high heat, stirring, 
until lightly browned, 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Wipe out the skillet.

4. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the skillet. Add the sausage, bell pepper and onion and cook over moderate heat until the vegetables are lightly browned, 5 minutes. Stir in the 1/4 cup of sliced scallions and the chopped parsley.

5. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain well, then return the pasta to the pot. Stir in the cheese sauce and the andouille mixture. Season with hot sauce and salt and black pepper.

6. Spoon the pasta into a large oven-proof ceramic baking dish. Top with the remaining 1 cup of sharp cheddar and the toasted panko. Bake until piping hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes. Garnish with scallions and serve warm.

Musaengchae (Korean Radish Salad)

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Want something quick, healthy, and delicious to go with dinner? Musaengchae is your answer. This Korean radish dish is typically served as part of a banchan spread, but it goes just as well with rice and soup as part of a full meal, particularly in the winter. Crunchy, garlicy, and vinegary, it’s one of my favorite banchans. Best of all, you can make this well ahead of serving time. Don’t be put off by the amount of red pepper — it’s only mildly spicy.

Musaengchae (Korean radish salad)

Ingredients:

1 pound Korean radish (or daikon)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons gochugaru (Korean hot pepper flakes)
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 green onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1. Peel the radish and cut it into thin matchsticks. You should have about 3 cups of radish. Place radish matchsticks into a large bowl, add salt and mix by hand. Set aside for 5 minutes.

2. Squeeze out excess water from the radish and drain. Add garlic, green onion, vinegar, gochugaru, and sugar and mix by hand. Add sesame seeds and mix once more.

3. Let rest for at least half an hour and up to 5 hours. Transfer to a serving plate and serve room temperature or cold.

Ale, Cheese, and Potato Pie

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Please keep scrolling if you’re following a gluten-free, dairy-free, or low-fat diet. This dish is not healthy. In fact, it’s probably the least healthy dish that I’ve ever cooked.

But it tastes oh-so-good. Gooey cheese and savory potatoes are encased in buttery puff pastry for a cold weather treat. Heavy cream binds it all together. This dish isn’t for the faint of heart. Speaking of your heart, maybe exercise for a week or two to burn the calories off of this one. Trust me, it’s worth it.

Ale, cheese, and potato pie

Ingredients:

Two 14-ounce packages butter puff pastry, chilled
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
salt
pepper
3/4 cup ale beer
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 egg yolks, plus 1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each puff pastry sheet to a 10-by-14-inch rectangle. Stack the pastry sheets 
on a sheet with a piece of parchment paper between them. Refrigerate until chilled.

2. In a large pot, cover the potatoes with 1 inch of water. Add salt, bring to a boil and cook over high heat until the potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and cool under running water. Pat the potatoes dry, then peel and quarter. Gently crush with a wooden spoon.

3. In a medium saucepan, boil the ale over high heat until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and 
cook, whisking, until reduced to 3/4 cup, about 5 minutes. Add the cheese and cook over medium heat, stirring 
constantly, until the sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg yolks, Worcestershire and mustard. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and let cool. Carefully stir in the crushed potatoes and season again with salt and pepper.


4. Arrange 1 chilled puff pastry sheet on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with some of the beaten egg. Spread the potato filling on top, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Top with the second sheet of puff pastry and press the edges together to seal; crimp decoratively. Brush the top of the pie with more of the beaten egg and cut a few slits for venting. Refrigerate until firm, at least 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the pie for 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, rotate the baking sheet and bake until the pastry is browned and the filling is bubbling, 25 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Sri Lankan Lamb (or Mutton) Curry

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The flight from San Francisco to Toronto is only four hours but each time we land, I’m hungry. I’m dreaming of curry, you see. (Doesn’t everyone?)

My mother-in-law always has a meal for us when we arrive in the evening — we can hardly wait to put away our luggage before sitting down for a meal of parripu, rice, and always some sort of curry. Sometimes fish, sometimes mutton, sometimes lamb. I love them all and as I learn to cook Sri Lankan food, lamb curry has become one of my go-tos, albeit with a few Iranian touches. I cook my basmati rice Persian-style and serve the curry with tahdig and vinegary torshi on the side.

I cannot overemphasize how worth it is to make your own curry powder here. It only takes a few minutes and the flavor is superior to store-bought. Marinate your meat overnight, cook the next day, and voila. This fiery curry tastes even better the next day. You can follow this same recipe and use mutton instead of lamb, if you prefer.

Sri Lankan lamb curry

Ingredients:

2 pounds lamb or mutton, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons roasted curry powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
2-inch piece ginger, minced
2 green chiles, sliced
2-inch stalk lemongrass
2-inch cinnamon stick
1 or 2 sprigs curry leaves
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste

1. Lightly prick meat with a fork to tenderize.

2. Slightly toast the curry powder in a pan for 3 minutes, until fragrant but not burning. Remove from heat and mix with meat, cayenne powder, paprika, and vinegar and marinate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.

3. Heat oil in a large pot. Saute onions, garlic, ginger, chiles, lemongrass, cinnamon stick, and curry leaves until onions are translucent.

4. Add marinated meat and saute for a few minutes until browned.

5. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30 minutes.

6. Add coconut milk, salt, and tomato paste and simmer over low heat, uncovered, for an additional 30 minutes. Serve warm with rice.