Mochi Waffles with Brown Butter Bananas

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I’m a sucker for anything made with mochiko flour. Hawaiian butter mochi, mochi ice cream, yaki mochi — I love it. This mochi waffle recipe, adapted from Bon Appetit, is a little chewy, a little sweet, and the perfect vehicle to soak up the delicious syrup from the brown butter bananas.

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 cups mochiko flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2 bananas, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  1. Whisk mochiko, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Whisk egg yolks, milk, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth. Melt 4 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat, then gradually add to egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly; reserve skillet. Add dry ingredients to bowl and whisk until smooth. Lightly whisk egg whites in a small bowl until foamy, then whisk into batter.
  2. Heat a waffle iron on high; lightly coat with nonstick spray. Pour 1/2 cup batter (or enough to cover surface) onto iron and cook until waffles are golden brown and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Repeat with remaining batter, coating iron with more nonstick spray as needed.
  3. Meanwhile, melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in reserved skillet over medium-high heat. Cook bananas, cut side down, undisturbed, until bananas are browned and butter is amber, about 3 minutes. Stir in maple syrup and remove from heat.
  4. Serve waffles topped with bananas and sauce.

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

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Okra is my favorite vegetable so naturally, I love gumbo. That silky, sumptuous texture that good gumbo has? It’s all okra, so unfairly maligned. Served over rice, I could eat this hearty stew all winter.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 pound andouille sausage, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 slices turkey bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3/4 to 1 cup flour, depending on how thick you want the gumbo to be
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 6 canned whole, peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 10 ounces okra, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Cooked white rice, for serving
  • Hot sauce and file powder, for serving
  1. Heat 1/4 cup oil in an 8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, season chicken with salt and pepper, and add chicken to pot. Cook, turning once, until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add sausage and turkey bacon and cook, stirring, until bacon is browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to plate with chicken.
  2. Add remaining oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until this mixture is the color of dark, reddish caramel and forms a roux, about 8 minutes. Add celery, onion, and bell pepper and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add thyme, cayenne, tomatoes, garlic, and bay leaf and cook for 3 minutes. Return chicken, sausage, and bacon to pot along with the okra and stock and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, okra is tender, and gumbo is thickened, about 30 minutes. Remove chicken from pot and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove and shred meat, then stir back into gumbo. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with rice, hot sauce, and file powder.

Za’atar Bread with Labneh

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: baking bread is not my strong suit. But this recipe? I couldn’t stop eating it. Adapted from my well-worn Baladi cookbook, this Palestinian bread is full of herby za’atar and is perfect dunked in tart, thick labneh. Serve this as a breakfast or even an appetizer. It’s well worth the effort.

Akkawi bread with labneh
Ingredients:
  • 2 envelopes of instant yeast (1/4 oz each)
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup za’atar
  • labneh, to serve
  1. Mix the yeast with the warm water and sugar until it bubbles, 5-10 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the salt. Add the yeast mixture to the flour and slowly drizzle in the vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of the olive oil. Mix the dough until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding a little more water if needed. Knead for 5-7 minutes; it won’t be as bouncy as regular bread dough because of the oil content. Leave to rest for 40 minutes.
  3. Make golf-ball-sized pieces of dough and set aside.
  4. Mix the za’atar with the remaining 1/4 of olive oil and rub each dough ball in the mixture until coated. Arrange the dough balls in a bundt pan, cover with a dish towel, and leave to rise for another 20 minutes. Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden and puffy. Serve with labneh.

Garlic-Butter Grilled Shrimp

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There’s something about the roasted garlic, bottled Italian dressing (please don’t judge) and lime juice that turns this grilled shrimp into a sublime dish. Call it alchemy. Call it anything you want, just know that it’s absolutely delicious.

Hawaiian style garlic butter shrimp
Ingredients:

For the roasted garlic butter:

  • 1/2 cup avocado oil
  • 1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup salted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

For the shrimp:

  • 1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pounds peeled tail-on large raw shrimp
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  1. Make the roasted garlic butter: Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Place oil and garlic in a small baking pan, cover with aluminum foil. Roast garlic in oven until soft and light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Let cool 45 minutes. Remove garlic from oil; place garlic in small bowl. (Reserve garlic oil for another use.) Add butter to bowl with garlic and smash with a fork until smooth. Stir in salt. Let butter mixture stand until ready to use.
  2. Make the shrimp: While garlic cools, stir together Italian dressing, mayonnaise, lime juice, and salt. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  3. Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high. Remove shrimp from marinade and discard marinade. Grill shrimp until cooked through, 2 minutes per side. Transfer shrimp to a large bowl and add roasted garlic butter, tossing until butter is melted and shrimp are coated. Sprinkle with green onions, parsley, and paprika; toss to combine. Transfer to a serving plate.

Spicy Tuna Rolls

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I don’t make sushi often, but whenever I do, I regret not making it at home more often. Sure, my rolls aren’t beautiful or symmetric, but they’re absolutely delicious. This take on spicy tuna rolls is one of my favorites.

Spicy tuna rolls
Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 teapoon sesame oil
  • 2/3 cup chopped raw sashimi-grade tuna
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded lettuce
  • 4 teaspoons minced green onion
  • 4 sheets nori
  • 2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted
  • 4 cups cooked and seasoned sushi rice
  • 4 thin strips carrot (each 7 inches long), blanched
  • 4 thin strips cucumber (each 7 inches long)
  • Soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger, for serving
  1. In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, chili garlic sauce, soy sauce, sesame oil, and tuna. In another small bowl, combine lettuce and green onion.
  2. Place a piece of nori, shiny side down, on a bamboo mat wrapped in plastic wrap. Spread nori evenly with 1 cup rice, leaving a 1/2-inch border at the top. Sprinkle 1/2 cup sesame seeds over rice. Spread 1/4 of tuna mixture lengthwise down center of nori. Sprinkle 1/4 of lettuce mixture over tuna. Place 1 strip of carrot along one side of tuna mixture and 1 strip of cucumber along the other side.
  3. Using mat to help you, roll sushi into a cylinder. Press mat around rolled sushi to seal the edges. Repeat to make three more rolls.
  4. Place sushi on a cutting board and slice each roll into 6 pieces. Serve with wasabi, soy sauce, and ginger.