Crispy Okra Salad

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Say hello to your new favorite summertime salad. I love okra, but I know a lot of folks don’t appreciate the, uh, texture. Because of how the okra is prepared here, there isn’t any of that viscosity usually associated with okra. Instead, you have perfectly crispy, salty, seasoned spears of okra. Kind of like the glorious spears of okra fries I enjoyed in London’s Dishoom last year.

Tossed with a bright, citrusy dressing and fresh vegetables, this is delicious on its own or paired with a heartier dish like chicken tikka masala.

Crispy okra salad

Ingredients:

1 1/4 teaspoons garam masala
1/4 teaspoon amchoor powder
Vegetable oil, for frying
1 pound okra, halved lengthwise and cut into long, thin strips
Salt
1 small shallot, halved and thinly sliced
1 tomato, sliced into thin strips
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)
2 tablespoons lemon juice

1. In a small bowl, mix the garam masala with the amchoor powder.

2. In a large skillet, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry the okra strips, stirring a few times, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fried okra to a paper towel–lined plate to drain. Sprinkle with some of the spice mixture and salt.

3. In a bowl, toss the fried okra with the shallot, tomato, cilantro and lemon juice. Season the salad with more of the spice mixture and salt and serve.

Roasted Chicken with Date Molasses

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I made this sheet pan-roasted chicken when I was craving something savory and sweet. Influenced by the flavors of Persian Gulf cooking, this dish makes genius use of date molasses, a popular syrup in southern Iran, as well as in other parts of the Middle East and North Africa.

Serve this with basmati rice and pickled vegetables for a vinegary contrast.

Roast chicken with date molasses

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 chicken, cut into pieces
1 cup walnuts
1 small onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled, plus 1 clove garlic, grated
3 teaspoons sumac
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/2 cup pitted dates, halved
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup olive or avocado oil
3 tablespoons date molasses

1. Make the dry rub: Place 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, and the turmeric in a small bowl and mix. Rub the chicken pieces with the dry rub and allow to rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours and up to 24 hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.

3. Make the wet rub: In a food processor, combine the walnuts, onion, 4 peeled garlic cloves, remaining teaspoon salt, remaining teaspoon pepper, sumac, thyme, sesame seeds, dates, lime juice, and 1/4 cup oil, and pulse until you have a grainy, chopped mixture. Rub the chicken pieces with the wet rub and push some under the skin. Arrange the chicken pieces on a baking sheet.

4. Cover loosely with foil and bake in the oven for 1 hour.

5. In a small saucepan, mix the ingredients remaining 1 clove grated garlic, the remaining 1/4 cup oil, the date molasses, and 1 tablespoon water. Bring to a simmer over low heat, turn off, and set aside to keep warm.

6. Uncover the foil from the chicken and continue to bake for another 20 minutes.

7. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, baste the chicken with the date molasses mixture, and serve.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Quiche

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Asparagus season is almost over in the Bay Area but I’m still finding ways to cook with it before the window closes. This asparagus and goat cheese quiche is a quick and easy way to showcase the seasonal bounty of Northern California: the asparagus is local and I picked up the goat cheese from a recent visit to Pennyroyal Farms in Mendocino County.

This quiche is perfect for breakfast or lunch, or better yet, packed up and served at a picnic.

Asparagus and goat cheese quiche

Ingredients:

1 pie crust
3 ounces diced pancetta
6 eggs
1/2 bunch (7 ounces) asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut on a diagonal into 1-to 1 1/2 in. pieces
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1. Follow instructions on pie crust to pre-bake crust on a baking sheet in the oven before adding filling ingredients, if needed.

2. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until very crisp, about 10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer pancetta to paper towels.

3. Whisk eggs in a large bowl to blend. Stir in asparagus, chives, the creme fraiche, salt, and pepper until blended. Fold in pancetta. Pour filling into crust and dot with goat cheese.

4. Bake at 400F degrees until filling is set in center when tart is gently shaken, 13 to 20 minutes. Let quiche cool about 10 minutes. With a knife, loosen crust from edge of pan. Carefully push quiche out and set on a platter. Cut into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Grilled Corn Salad with Honey-Lime Dressing

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It’s hot outside and you don’t want to turn on the stove, so you grill some chicken or steak or sausages instead. Why not grill your salad too? Add a couple cobs of corn and while they cook, chop up some avocados and voila: you’ve got a salad — and a delicious one at that.

Creamy, smoky, and bright with a citrus dressing, this salad hits all the right notes. Feel free to double the recipe — this one goes fast.

Grilled corn salad with honey-lime dressing

Ingredients:

3 ears of corn, husked
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
3 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
2 avocados, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cilantro leaves (optional)

1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Brush ears of corn with butter; season with salt and pepper. Grill, turning occasionally, until kernels are tender and charred in spots, 10–12 minutes. Let cool, then cut kernels from cobs.

2. Meanwhile, whisk lime juice, honey, chili garlic sauce, granulated garlic, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl to combine. Add corn, avocados, chile, and cilantro (if using) to vinaigrette and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.

Toasted Caramel Flan

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This is both the most delicious and the ugliest flan I’ve ever made. The texture is unbeatable: think the silkiest flan you’ve ever tasted, and then some. I didn’t do a good job unmolding the flan, hence the awful photo. But the recipe is too good to not share. You probably already have these ingredients at home, so why not make it now? Enjoy.

Toasted caramel flan

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups sugar
5 eggs, at room temperature
3 cups whole milk
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place a kitchen towel on a work surface and set a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie plate on towel to protect from the heat. Place sugar in a medium heavy stainless steel saucepan. Cook over medium until sugar becomes fragrant and begins to melt around edges of pan, about 6 minutes. Gently swirl pan to incorporate melted sugar. Continue swirling pan until all of the sugar is completely melted and has darkened to the color of dark brown sugar, about 10 minutes. Immediately pour melted sugar into prepared pie plate, coating the bottom evenly. Let stand until cool, about 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, fill a large, deep roasting pan with hot water to a depth of about 1 inch (enough so it will not overflow when flan dish is added). Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Add whole milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla bean seeds, and whisk until smooth. Add milk mixture to pie plate.

3. Set pie plate in the roasting pan and carefully place in the oven. Bake until edges are set and center retains a slight wiggle, about 50 minutes. Remove pie plate from water bath. Cool completely on towel, about 2 hours. Run a knife around edge of flan to loosen. When pan is rotated, flan should float in caramel. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface; chill at least 3 hours or preferably overnight.

5. Set pie plate in a shallow dish of hot water to soften caramel, about 2 minutes. Invert flan onto a large rimmed platter and serve.