banner
Heim / Nachricht / Kochen für Komfort im Napa Valley: Napa-Koch Ken Morris verrät Rezepte zum Ausprobieren zu Hause
Nachricht

Kochen für Komfort im Napa Valley: Napa-Koch Ken Morris verrät Rezepte zum Ausprobieren zu Hause

Jun 05, 2024Jun 05, 2024

Ken Morris has been cooking for comfort for more than 30 years and learning in kitchens from Alaska to Thailand to Italy. He now cooks and writes from his kitchen in Napa. His column "Cooking For Comfort" runs on the Napa Valley Register Food page. Here is a collection of his most recent work.

Sure, I miss white peaches, summer squash and homegrown tomatoes, but the tradeoff is we get bushels of different apples right now.

There are two main divisions in the world of apples: those for eating and those for cooking. The main difference is sugar content, with cooking apples tending to be less sweet, a little more acidic and usually have a firm flesh that does not break down much when cooked.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

Locally, the Gravenstein apple is considered by many to be the best apple for cooking pies and tarts; there even is a fair every August in Sebastopol to celebrate this local apple. Nationally, Granny Smith is probably the best known but other folks like Jonathan, Braeburn and Honeycrisp.

While the best eating-out-of-hand apple (I write this, realizing everyone has their favorites) are Honeycrisp, Pink Lady and Fuji apples. In fact, I like Fuji so much I planted one Fuji tree, and I’m still enjoying apples from it into November.

A recent article in The New York Times by Melissa Clark says there are 2,500 varieties of apples in the United States alone. You may only find a few in the supermarket, but you can often find some unheard of, but tasty, varieties at the farmer’s market.

Here are three ways to cook with apples:

Chile Noreste

(Poblano Chiles Stuffed with Shrimp, Apples, and Almonds)

From "The Mexican Gourmet" by María Dolares Torres Yzábal and Shelton Wiseman

Serves 6

I love the combination of apples and pork. A little too much, since that’s all I do with apples for a savory dish, so I rummaged around for something different, which I found in The Mexican Gourmet. Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo had mentioned the book in one of his Internet posts and, trusting his judgment in all thing’s Mexican food, immediately ordered it, and was rewarded with a book stuffed with traditional recipes that go beyond what I’ve seen in a lot of Mexican cookbooks. The author notes she got the recipe from Roberto Santibañez of La Circunstancia Restaurant in Mexico City.

For the chiles:

1 pound small shrimp, cooked and diced

2 golden delicious (or other cooking) apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch cubes

½ cup blanched almonds (this is to remove the skin from the nut) coarsely chopped and toasted in the oven until golden

½ cup mayonnaise

6 poblano chiles roasted on all sides over an open flame or under the broiler Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap to cool. Remove as much of the blackened skin as possible (don’t place it under running water or you’ll lose a lot of the flavor) Make one slit running stem to tip and gently remove the seeds and veins.

For the vinaigrette:

1 cup mild olive oil (don’t use your best extra virgin olive oil)

1/3 cup raspberry vinegar

1 small piece of cooked red beet (it helps if you have leftover beets. You need just a ¼ of cooked beet)

6 fresh raspberries

Kosher salt and freshly ground black better to taste

For the filling: Mix the shrimp, apples, almonds and mayonnaise together in a bowl. Stuff the chiles with this filling and close the slit, overlapping slightly. Blend the vinaigrette ingredients in a blender until emulsified and smooth. You may need to add a little water.

To serve, cover the bottom of 6 salad plates with a pool of vinaigrette and lay one chile in the center of each plate, slit side down. Serve at room temperature.

Baked Apples with Ice Cream

Not every dish has to be complicated. I first started eating baked apples with ice cream when I was in the Boy Scouts, albeit roasted on a wood fire just with brown sugar. But we were smart enough to plan ahead (Be prepared is the motto of the Boy Scouts) and have vanilla ice cream packed in the cooler, ready for our first dinner, since it wouldn’t keep cool enough for the next day. This is a little more sophisticated with more and exotic spices, but you can use the spices you love more.

6 small, firm cooking apples (2 to 2½ pounds), halved lengthwise

¼cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing baking dish

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg

¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice

2½ tablespoons light brown sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

⅓ cup chopped pecans

Vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 375°F. Rub 1 tablespoon butter on bottom and sides of a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Scoop out and discard core and seeds from each apple half using a melon baller or teaspoon. Slice a very thin sliver from opposite side of apple so apple lays flat. Arrange the apples, cored sides up, snugly in prepared baking dish.

Melt remaining ¼ cup butter in small skillet over medium heat. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, and Chinese five-spice, and heat until fragrant and just beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Whisk in brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Spoon butter mixture evenly into hollows of apples. Use the back of spoon to spread a thin layer onto cut surfaces of apples.

Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven until apples start to soften, 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover dish, and scatter pecans over apples. Baste with juices from bottom of pan.

Increase oven temperature to 400°F and bake until apples are nicely browned and very tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Apple Crisp

Food52.com by Ella Quittner, Dec. 15, 2019

Chef Ella likes to use a mix of firm cooking apples for her crisp. The usual note for cooks is to peel the apples but she writes: “Leaving peels on the apples lends the fruit layer a beautifully rosy hue.” I’m always inclined to not peel apples unless it truly makes a difference in the dish and after baking the apples for 30 minutes or more, I’ve found I like having the skin on.

Crisp Topping:

⅔ cup whole raw almonds (leave the skins on)

1 cup all-purpose flour

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1¼ teaspoons kosher salt

2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cubed

1⅓ cups rolled oats

Apple Mixture:

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest

4 to 5 large cooking apples (about 2½ pounds)—a mix of juicy, firm varieties—cored, and cut into half-inch slices

Heat oven to 400°F. In the bowl of a food processor, blend almonds until the biggest pieces are the size of coarse grains of salt, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour, sugar, and salt, and pulse until integrated. Add the butter and pulse several times until it’s incorporated— the mixture should look like wet sand and hold together when pinched, with some unblended butter streaks visible throughout. Add the oats and pulse just to mix in, without chopping them much. Set in refrigerator to chill while you prepare the apples.

Whisk the lemon juice with the cornstarch, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add the apple slices and toss gently until the slices are evenly coated. Transfer to a 8x8-inch baking dish (no need to grease it), set on a sheet pan for insurance against any drips reaching your oven floor. You want about 1 inch of space between the apple slices and top of pan, so if you have too many apple slices, reserve the extras and broil as a snack later.

Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the apples, breaking into olive-sized clumps where needed, and transfer to oven. Bake for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until topping is crisp all over and browning in spots, and the apple mixture is bubbling up at the sides. The apple pieces should be tender and easily pierced with a fork. (Note: If spots begin browning too deeply before the apples become tender, you can turn the temperature down to 375°F.) Let cool about 15 minutes before serving. (You could also serve at room temperature if you prefer.)

The first glimpse we had that our recent trip to Mexico was not just about tacos and salsa was our welcome dinner at chef Rodolfo Castellanos’ Origen, considered one of the top restaurants in the city of Oaxaca.

We were presented with an impressive menu but Iliana, our trip leader, politely didn’t let us order but selected everything, making sure we received the best of what the restaurant offered. We were soon treated to a wave after wave of dishes, including a fish ceviche in a black sauce (recaudo negro) that some of the group would still talk about days after the dinner.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

Another pleasant memory was grilled beetroot salad topped with creamy ricotta and pickled mustard plant. Not what people in America think of when you say, “Let’s go out for Mexican.”

My wife and I, with 10 other Americans, were on a food tour called “Oaxaca: Tastes of Past & Present” presented by Atlas Obscura, an American-based online magazine and travel company. I had convinced Sharon that this would be the best way to revisit Oaxaca (I had taken some cooking classes there with a different chef in the 1990s) since we wouldn’t have to worry about making reservations for anything or driving.

Our leader was chef Iliana de la Vega, born and raised in Oaxaca, but with whom I wasn’t familiar when we committed to the trip almost a year ago. In June of this year, she won a James Beard award as Best Chef Texas with her restaurant in Austin called El Naranjo. Her daughter, Isabel Torrealba, assisted her.

To give us an idea of the creativity and wide use of local products, the next evening the itinerary called for appetizers at Restaurante Pitiona, led by chef José Manuel Baños. I thought we would sample a few different dishes and then we would find dinner on our own but, with Iliana ordering, we enjoyed an overload of tastes of sophisticated presentations that would have fit right in Manhattan.

One example is roasted pork belly in a pool of mole amarillo, accompanied by beans and sliced grilled nopal cactus. Oaxacans love their local chocolate and one dessert we sampled that night was served in what looked like a large cacao pod but turned out to be a ceramic bowl decorated with a brown finish, complete with a top that you removed to discover cocoa foam, ground chocolate with walnuts and chocolate sorbet.

One of the best known chefs in Mexico is Enrique Olvera, who runs Pujol in Mexico City, which was been named one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants for years. He was featured on Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” (Season 2, Episode 4).

In Oaxaca, he is a partner with chef Luis Arellano, who had cooked for him at Pujol, in the elegant restaurant Criollo. Seated in the open courtyard we enjoyed what the duo called modern takes on traditional Oaxacan cuisine.

The set menu changes daily, so you need to let go of your need to control the destiny of your dinner, but you are in capable hands. You can ask for vegetarian, pescatarian or other substitutions for each course. We enjoy six or seven plates (sorry, I lost count and forgot to photograph most of the plates as we became swept up in the presentation) but they are using traditional Oaxacan dishes and deconstructing them into different ways that wouldn’t be recognized by their grandmothers.

While the most memorable dishes came from restaurants reconfiguring Oaxacan foods, Iliana also made sure we had tasted the past, its traditional dishes, eating at a food stall inside the largest market, Mercado Benito Juárez, which seems to sell everything you’d ever need: fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, clothes, souvenirs, food and drink. We also visited Mercado Merced, where we sampled a traditional breakfast of chilaquiles (fried tortilla strips topped with a spicy tomato sauce and cheese).

As part of the visit to the past, we enjoyed lunch in Teotitlán del Valle, a town best known for its traditional wool, hand-woven rugs that are made with natural dyes. After we visited a rug weaver (sure, this might be a food tour but we visited all of the local arts, too) we enjoyed a Zapotec lunch — Zapotecs are an indigenous pre-Columbian group still very much alive in the valley — prepared by Reyna Mendoza Ruiz, of mole negro with chicken and rice.

Reyna also teaches the flavors of Zapotec in her own cooking classes, and we admired several metate (pre-Hispanic grinding stones made from volcanic rock for grain and seeds) along one wall, waiting for her next class. As with all the meals we enjoyed, the food was spicy, but not the mouth-numbing hot usually associated with Mexican food.

Oaxaca is one of Mexico’s greatest centers of corn-based cuisine so at one breakfast we focused on maize (what most people call corn) by visiting Itanoní, a small tortilla factory and restaurant in Oaxaca’s Reforma neighborhood.

Most of us went for tetelas, triangular, folded tortillas stuffed with your choice of meat, cheese, and vegetables. Everything appeared to be cooked on the large comal (griddle) in the front of the restaurant. Metal silos of corn, each labeled with the grower’s name and the variety, lined one wall of the rustic dining area.

Oaxaca is respected in Mexico for its cooking but also the production of mezcal, which is made from up to 50 different varieties of agave — in contrast to Tequila, which can only be distilled from blue agave in specific regions of Mexico. We were led through the process by Andrea Hagan, a Chicago native who came to Oaxaca while in school and fell in love with the city (and a handsome local).

She now runs her own tours of traditional cooking and crafts but specializes in mezcal experiences (mezcouting.com) since she and her partner also make mezcal.

While all agave has some sort of tall, spiky green leaves, it’s only the piña, the rounded stem that resembles a pineapple, that’s used to make the spirit. Once the piña is harvested, they are roasted overnight in a large pit covered with hot coals and topped with dirt and rocks.

This produces a smoky, almost scotch, flavor in mezcal. The hearts are then crushed and placed in a tank with some water and rely on natural yeast to ferment before being distilled. The producer we were visiting, Real Minero, bottles several single agave mezcals, much like a pinot noir producer creating separate Dijon or Pommard clone wines. While the alcohol is high (around 55%), which is the first sensation on the tongue, the different flavors from each agave species are pronounced, when tasted side by side.

After five days of tasting the incredible wealth of products available in Oaxaca, the group spent our last lunch together cooking. As we worked, Iliana provided a treasure trove of tips such as cumin is not used in Oaxaca as much as Tex-Mex or even northern Mexico.

More tips:

— Corn is not just a much loved food; Oaxacans believe it originated in the Oaxaca Valley.

— Use a light touch when you are toasting dry chilies, pressing down with a spatula to ensure the whole chile touches the hot, dry pan. Remove the chiles before well they start to smoke.

— Let the market tell you what to cook that evening; don’t buy things that are out of season.

Iliana also showed us how she cooks; the recipe is only in her head from a lifetime of making these recipes, and she talked us through each step in making Manchamantel, one of the seven moles of Oaxaca.

Mole is a sauce, usually of dried, ground chiles, enriched with seeds or nuts, brightened with herbs and spices. Not all moles have chocolate. She assured us it was more about learning the techniques (the grinding of spices and toasting the spices, the toasting and then rehydrating the chiles) than following a recipe. The wonderful results proved her point.

Manchamantel

(Tablecloth Stainer)

Iliana promised to forward written recipes of the dishes we did as soon as she could but not only is she running a restaurant in Austin, Texas, she is leading a series of tours.

In fact, the day that our tour ended with breakfast, she was greeting another tour that started that evening with dinner. But I wanted to share the mole we made, which is simpler than the better-known Mole Poblano so I’m using Chef Zarela Martinez’s recipe from her book, “The Food and Life of Oaxaca, Mexico.”

You can also eliminate the chicken and pork and add sautéed vegetables at the end to make it vegetarian, which is what Iliana did to accommodate the vegetarians in our group.

4 large ancho chiles, tops and seeds removed

10 guajillo chiles, tops and seeds removed

2/3 cups vegetable oil

10 unpeeled garlic cloves

1 large or 2 medium white onions

4 large ripe tomatoes

5 large tomatillos, with husks

1/3 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled

6 sprigs fresh thyme

3 bay leaves

One 1-inch piece canela. (Also sold as Ceylon cinnamon. (this is true cinnamon. Easy to identify by its soft, splintery texture and loose layers. Don’t use cassisa, which is a completely different spice that is rolled up into a tight, hard scroll.)

½ teaspoon cumin seeds

10 black peppercorns

One 3 ½ pound chicken, cut into serving pieces

1 pound baby back pork ribs, cut into separate ribs

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 ½ to 2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into large (1 ½ inch) chucks. About 1/3 small pineapple (yes, a real pineapple tastes better than the canned chunks)

2 large, firm green apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedges

Wash and thoroughly dry the chilies. In a heavy skillet, heat ¼ cup of the oil over medium heat until rippling (look for a slight wave movement on the surface). Fry the chiles, 3 or 4 at a time, turning several times with tongs, until they just start to puff, about 30 seconds. Quickly remove them to a bowl when done; do not let them burn. Cover the chilies with boiling water and let soak for at least 20 minutes while you prepare the vegetables.

Peel 2 of the garlic cloves and set aside. Using a griddle or a cast iron skillet, roast the 8 unpeeled garlic cloves. Set aside.

Roast the onion, tomatoes, and tomatillos individually in the same pans, setting it aside when done in a bowl. Drain the soaked chilies and place in a blender with a 1/ 2 cup of water.

Process to a smooth purée, about 3 minutes on high, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula. It may be necessary to add a little more water to facilitate blending (adding one tablespoon at a time) but be careful not to make the mixture soupy — it should be quite thick. With a wooden spoon or pusher, force the paste through a medium-mesh sieve (to remove any bits of skin: this makes it a smoother sauce) into a large bowl and set aside.

When the roasted garlic, onion, and tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel them over the bowl (to save the juice) and place in the blender (no need to clean from the chiles). Remove the husk from the tomatillos and add to the other vegetables. Process to a smooth purée, for about one minute. Add to the bowl with the chile purée, stirring well to combine.

Grind the dried oregano and thyme, bay leaves, canela, cumin and pepper corn together in an electric coffee, spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Set aside. Cut the reserved peeled garlic cloves into thick slices. In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until rippling. Drop the sliced garlic into the hot oil and cook just until fragrant and gold, one or two minutes. DO NOT allow to burn. Scoop out and discard the garlic, keeping the fragrant oil. Add the ground spices and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the puréed chile-tomato mixture and cook the sauce, covered, stirring occasionally, until the flavors blend, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, season the chicken pieces and pork ribs with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the remaining oil (about 1/3 cup) over medium-high heat until ripping. Brown the chicken well on all sides (about 3 minutes per side); remove and set aside. Brown the ribs on all sides. Discard all but about 3 tablespoons of fat from the pan; add the sauce mixture, stirring constantly to guard against splatter.

Stir in the pineapple chunks and ribs. Reduce the heat to low and simmer. Covered for 15 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan. Add the apple wedges and simmer, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.

Visiting the Benito Juárez Market in Oaxaca.

Andrea Hagan discusses how agave hearts become mezcal.

Cooking tortillas on a wood fire.

Iliana de la Vega and her daughter Isabel Torrealba with the ingredients for lunch they prepared.

Reyna Mendoza Ruiz serves Zapotec food to guests in Oaxaca.

Chef Iliana de la Vega cooking for “Oaxaca: Tastes of Past & Present.”

Whale sharks are under threat from commercial fishing and tourism, and numbers are dropping.

Ken Morris

When I think of summer, my first thought is tomatoes. Sure, I may have said that about peaches, and maybe sweet corn, but tomatoes just picked from your own vines give you a taste of summer that you can’t get from another fruit.

While my wife and I still lived in Alaska, I was visiting the North Bay on business, and I made reservations at what I read had amazing food just off the Sonoma Square: Babette’s, a restaurant run by chef Daniel Patterson and then-wife Elizabeth Ramsey.

Chef Patterson went on to become famous and develop the Daniel Patterson Group, which owns and operates Coi, Plum, Plum Bar, Haven and Alta CA, but at that time he was struggling to become known.

Wanting to see the whole range of what the chef could do, I selected the six- course menu (probably something I couldn’t finish nowadays but this was my younger self).

The first course was heirloom tomatoes with sel gris, green olive oil and watercress (yes, I do keep menus from memorable meals, don’t you?). Living in Alaska, I hadn’t had truly homegrown tomatoes in years and the first bite was a burst of flavor and the memory of eating the tomatoes I helped my dad grown in Indiana when they would be so ripe, they were just firm enough to slice at the table. You could never sell them in a grocery store; they’re too fragile for the bumping and handing. The slices were still warm from being just picked that day. That’s what a great tomato can do: form a pleasant food memory that’s stayed with me since Aug. 19, 1998.

Here are some ideas of what you can do with great tomatoes.

Pan con Tomate

Yes, before you write to complain, we did do this in 2000, but it’s such a great use of ripe tomatoes I wanted to remind folks. This is all about quality materials and almost no cooking, so always a good recipe to keep in mind. My wife and I saw (and ate) it everywhere during a trip to Barcelona, capital of the Catalonia region in the northeastern corner of Spain. You might also see it on the menu as pa amb tomàquet as it’s called in Catalan (a language distinct from Spanish). You need bread that has some strength and texture so you can rub the garlic and then the flesh of the tomato on the toasted side to form a quick topping.

Deli rolls or sourdough bread, halved the long way

Unpeeled whole garlic cloves, halved

2 large ripe tomatoes, halved

Extra-virgin olive oil

Flaky sea salt

Toast the bread slices; slightly charred bread from the grill is my favorite, but in Spain they are usually toasted in the oven until crispy and golden.

Rub the garlic clove cut-side-down all over the toasted interior of a slice of bread.

Take a tomato half and rub it flesh-side-down all over the toasted side of the bread until you get down to the skin. Toss the skin and enjoy the Pan con Tomate.

Drizzle the bread with olive oil. Sprinkle a pinch of salt and serve the slices while they’re still warm.

Gazpacho Sevillano

(Classis Gazpacho)

Serves 8

Adapted from "The New Spanish Table" by Anya von Bremzen

The Andalusia region, the southernmost area of Spain is home to what most Americans think of as Spain: flamenco, bullfighting and the Hispano-Moorish architectural style of buildings found in Cordoba, Granada and Seville. Andalusia is also famous as the hottest area of Europe with cities like Córdoba and Seville averaging above 97 °F in summer high temperatures. The late evening doesn’t provide any relief, staying at 95 °F until close to midnight. When my wife and I were in Seville we enjoyed its narrow walkways with white buildings that reflect the sun while high enough to keep the sidewalk always in the shade.

All this heat naturally leads to thinking of cold soups that you can drink for energy and to stay cool. This is the best known and a classic. There is no cooking, so it doesn’t heat up the kitchen, but needs great tomatoes, top quality extra virgin olive oil and sherry vinegar: three things that are in abundance in Andalusia.

2 cups cubed day-old country bread, crust removed

2 medium-size garlic cloves, minced

1 pinch of ground cumin

Kosher salt

3 pounds ripest, most flavorful tomatoes possible, seeded and chopped

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped

3 tablespoons chopped red onion

1/3 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil

½ cup chilled bottled water, or more as needed

3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or more to taste

Possible garnishes: finely diced cucumber, finely diced slightly-under ripe tomato, finely diced green bell pepper, croutons, slivered basil leaves.

Place the bread in a bowl, add cold tap water to cover and let soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain the bread and squeeze out the excess liquid.

Place the garlic, cumin and ½ teaspoon salt in a mortar, using the pestle to mash them to a paste. Place the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, onion, soaked bread and garlic paste in a large bowl to mix completely. Let stand for about 15 minutes.

Working in two batches, place the vegetable mixture in a food processor and process until smooth, adding half the olive oil to each batch. Once each batch is finished, puree it finely in a blender, then transfer it to a large mixing bowl.

When all the gazpacho has been pureed, whisk in the spring water and vinegar. It should the consistency of a smoothie. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and/or vinegar as necessary. Refrigerate the gazpacho, covered, until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve the soup in glass bowls or wineglasses with one or more garnishes.

Penne all’Arrabiata

(Penne, Angry Style)

Serves 4

My wife discovered this simply, yet tasty tomato sauce for penne pasta during our visit to Rome a few years ago. Once she tried it, she constantly looked for it on the menu and had it two or three more times during our trip. Of course, discover is not the right word when reference books say it was born in the 1940s as a result of Italy’s Libyan campaign and soldiers brought back hot, dried Arab peppers for a pasta sauce. The “Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink” says the recipe starts with pancetta browned in the pan but most recipes do not include it. Diane Seed, author of “The Top One Hundred Pasta Sauces” cookbook, claims the Roman version does not use pancetta, calling the sauce tangier and healthier that way.

Half a pound of penne pasta

3 tablespoons or more of olive oil

6 large ripe tomatoes, stem ends removed and cut into quarters (sure, you could use canned tomatoes, but you should take advantage of the summer tomatoes now)

1 small chili pepper or 1 teaspoon dried crushed hot pepper flakes

1 garlic clove, minced

Handful Italian parsley, chopped

Set a food mill over a medium bowl and run the tomatoes through a coarse disk. (This eliminates the usual skin and seed the tomatoes direction found in most recipes.) Place a medium pan of water on high heat for the pasta. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan with high sides. Add the whole chili pepper and sauté for a moment then add the garlic. Add the pureed tomatoes after about 30 seconds. (Don’t let the garlic brown.) and cook for about 15 minutes. The sauce should become red-orange.

As the sauce cooks, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until there is no chalkiness to the pasta but don’t over cook it to become too soft. Drain the paste (reserving a cup of the starchy hot water) and place it in the skillet with the sauce.

Toss the past with the sauce and add a little of the starchy water and keep tossing until the sauce has thickened. Traditionally, this is not served with parmesan cheese on top but it’s your kitchen, you make the food rules, right?

Tomato Tart

Besides a tart, I also make a tomato galette, a more rustic pie where you simply fold over the edge of the dough and bake it pizza stone, but this is a bit more elegant for guests. I think a butter crust topped with roasted tomatoes is a good use of your best tomatoes.

Tart Dough:

1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour

4 ½ ounces (125g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces

½ teaspoon salt

1 large egg

2-3 tablespoons chilled water

9 inch tart pan with a removable ring, butter the inside of the ring

Tomato Filling:

3 medium sized tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick

1 teaspoon kosher salt, separated

4 oz. goat cheese

¼ cup of fresh chopped basil (or oregano, thyme, or other herbs of your choice) Divided (you won’t use it all at the same time)

1 clove of garlic, minced

Freshly ground black pepper

Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture has a crumbly, cornmeal-like texture. Wisk the egg with two tablespoons of the chilled water and pulse the food processor again while adding the egg mixture until the dough holds together. If not coming together easily, add the additional tablespoon of chilled water. Form the dough into a flat disk, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough completely hydrate and relax in the refrigerator for an hour or more.

Preheat oven to 425°F. Roll the dough with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, adding additional flour only to keep it from sticking to the counter. Once the dough is about 10 ½ inches in diameter, lightly roll the dough around the rolling pin, then unroll into the tart pan, gently pressing dough into the bottom and sides. Trim the dough even with the rim of the tart pan by rolling the pin over the top of the pan. Use the excess dough to patch any holes in the tart. Spread an even layer of mustard over the bottom of the tart with a pastry brush and place in the refrigerator to let it sit a few minutes to dry.

Tart filling

Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper and place on a paper towel. Let the tomatoes sit for 10 minutes dabbing frequently to remove excess moisture.

Lay the goat cheese evenly over the dough. Season with chopped herbs, and minced garlic. Add a layer of sliced tomatoes over the sliced goat cheese. It is okay if the tomatoes overlap as they will shrink as the tart bakes. Fold the edges of the dough over the tomatoes overlapping and pleating the dough as needed. Season the top with salt, pepper, remaining herbs.

Place the tart on a baking sheet to make it easier to handle and to catch any drips. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until the crust turns golden brown. Remove the baking sheet and tart and place it on top of the stove to cool before serving warm or at room temperature.

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

A reveller lies in a puddle of squashed tomatoes during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

A reveller lies in a puddle of squashed tomatoes during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers lie in a puddle of squashed tomatoes during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Revellers throw tomatoes at each other during the annual "Tomatina", tomato fight fiesta in the village of Bunol near Valencia, Spain, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022. The tomato fight took place once again following a two-year suspension owing to the coronavirus pandemic. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)

Wonder why your produce goes bad before you can use it? Discover the optimal way to store 10 fruits and vegetables, with tips compiled by Pela.

Ken Morris

While appetizer, main course and dessert is the usual and expected pathway for a dinner party, I love making a few appetizers and adding a couple of cheeses (and somehow wine always appears), and suddenly you have a more interesting evening for your taste buds and your friends.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

The usual explanation for appetizers is to “excite the palate” and “stimulate your appetite,” but how many people show up for dinner and then have to be coaxed into eating by first eating something else? Sometimes it’s just a speed bump to keep guests busy, buying time so the host can pull together the rest of the meal.

I’m suggesting a few small items, all made in advance, so you can smoothly offer one or two dishes and then bring out a couple more that not only excite the palate but satisfy it, too.

Tapenade

(olive spread)

From Kathy Alex, "Cooking with Friends in France" cooking school

When my wife and I took a cooking class years ago at La Pitchoune, Julia Child's former retreat in the hills of Provence, this was one of the first and easiest items we learned to make. It combines items grown or gathered nearby and turns them into a spread. The key, besides having good ingredients, is anchovy fillets. This adds the bit of umami savoriness that pushes it beyond just being an olive dip.

Ken Morris

1 pound Niçoise olives, pitted

2 anchovy fillets

1 clove garlic, chopped

2 tablespoons capers, drained

3 tablespoons olive oil

Black pepper to taste

Water crackers or crostini (slices of toasted French bread) for serving

Place olives, anchovies, garlic and capers in food processor and process until pureed. Slowly add the olive oil while the processor is running. You may need a little more oil but add slowly. Taste and add pepper and pinch of salt, if necessary. Serve in a crock, surrounded by crackers/crostini or make them individually ahead of time.

Piquillo Peppers Stuffed with Cheese

8 servings

I love a lot of the foods of Spain but nothing tops piquillo peppers. If you have a jar of these in the cupboard, you have an instant Spanish tapa if unexpected guests stop by.

The peppers come from the village of Lodosa in the Navarra region of northern Spain. Named after its distinctive shape, piquillo means “little beak” in Spanish. These bright red peppers are handpicked in the fall, fire-roasted and peeled.

You can go fancy and make a quick sauce for the plate by running a couple of peppers in the food processor with a dash of sherry vinegar, but all you need is a thin slice of cheese that melts easily and piquillo peppers. Then bake them for a few minutes and you have a tasty hot tapa.

Once you try this you can replace the cheese with chopped tuna, precooked risotto, leftover cooked beef that’s been chopped up — just about anything tastes better warmed up in a piquillo pepper.

10 oz. Fontina cheese (yes, I know everyone else uses Manchego cheese to maintain the Spanish theme, but Fontina melts much quicker and easier. You can also shred the cheese and add Manchego to add a different flavor)

4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (plus more for garnish)

4 tablespoons fresh finely chopped basil (plus more for garnish)

12 oz. roasted piquillo peppers from a jar (about 24 peppers), drained

3 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

Equipment: One sheet pan covered with parchment paper

Preheat oven to 325°F. Shred the Fontina cheese into a small bowl and add chives and basil. Use a teaspoon to deliver a heap of the cheese mixture inside each pepper.

Slide into the oven for about 10 minutes but start checking at 5 minutes to see if the mixture has melted.

In the meantime, make a vinaigrette by slowly whisking the olive oil into the vinegar. When combined, add a good dash of salt and a couple of grinds of pepper.

When the peppers are hot and cheese mixture is oozing out, place on serving plate and drizzle the vinaigrette over the top. Finish with more finely chopped chives and basil spread over the red pepper. Serve warm with bread or crackers.

Baba Ghanoush

Serves 4 as a dip with other items

To make a good baba ghanoush, you must roast the eggplant over an open flame. I hold it is self-evident that that’s what outdoor gas grills are made for. If you have a gas burner on your stove, you can roast it there but, from personal experience, just know it will make a mess.

Lebanon claims the dish originated there but you see variations throughout the Middle East. It is a typical meze (starter) of the region, often served as a side to a main meal and as a dip for pita bread.

1 large eggplant

2 to 4 garlic cloves (depending on your love of garlic), chopped

5 tablespoons tahini (a smooth paste made from sesame seeds)

Juice of one lemon

Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

Place the eggplant directly on the grill of a gas grill or on the coals of a barbecue. Turn the eggplant often to evenly char the skin. Continue until the eggplant looks black on the outside and deflated.

Place the eggplant in a bowl and cover. Let cool until you can easily work with it. The skin will be black and flake off. Remove it but keep the flesh, which will be smoky. Save the eggplant juices collected in the bowl.

Add the flesh to a food processor and run until smooth. Add the juice in the bottom of the bowl, garlic and tahini, running until smooth.

As the machine runs add the juice of the lemon. If the mixture remains too thick, add water a tablespoon at a time. Finish with a sprinkle of salt and the cumin.

Muhammara Dip in Endive Leaves

Serves 8 with other dishes

Pomegranate molasses, which is available at Hudson Green and Goods in the Oxbow Public Market and Juju's Mediterranean Kitchen, 3375 Old California Way in Napa, but is also easily found on the internet, adds a unique touch of sweetness and sourness.

Clearly from the Middle East, this dip goes a step beyond hummus by combining walnuts and red peppers. Some recipes have less red pepper and more walnut but I like this mix; trouble is, I have this recipe that I appear to have cut and pasted from the internet years ago (before I was more careful of marking the author), but no mention of who wrote it or what book. I searched for it online and found a hundred variations but nothing matched completely. So, I apologize if you are the author of this great dip.

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted and let cool

1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers (not Piquillo peppers) in oil, drained and blotted dry

¼ cup panko bread crumbs

¼ teaspoon dried Aleppo chili (available at Whole Spice in the Oxbow Public Market)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 medium heads Belgian endive (you can omit it if you are serving it as a dip, but it does look striking this way)

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, sliced

Add the garlic to the walnuts in a food processor and run until ground. Add the red peppers, breadcrumbs, pepper flakes, lemon juice, molasses and cumin. Process until smooth. With the motor running, pour olive oil through the feed tube and process until smooth and creamy. If made ahead, cover and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before serving.

To serve: cut the bottom off each endive, separate the leaves, rinse and pat dry. Trim 16 leaves to make them 2 to 2 ½ inches long. Spoon some dip onto each leaf. There probably will be some dip left over. Garnish with the olives.

Gorgonzola Dolce Crostini with Grapes and Walnuts

Makes 30 crostini

Adapted from a recipe by Chef David Katz

This is a dessert crostini (thin slices of toasted bread, covered with a topping, a specialty of Tuscany). I learned this recipe years ago in a class at Napa Valle College’s Upper Valley Campus called “Antipasti for Wine Country Entertaining” taught by chef David Katz, who, last I heard, is at Panevino in St. Helena, making charcuterie. Gorgonzola Dolce Crostini is a soft, blue, buttery cheese made from pasteurized cow's milk. Flavors are not very assertive but sweet.

30 slices small sweet (not sourdough) baguette, about ¼ inch thick

Extra-virgin olive oil as needed

Kosher salt

¼ pound Gorgonzola Dolce cheese

¼ pound mascarpone cheese

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups walnut halves, toasted

½ pound large red seedless grapes, cut in half (or use slices of pear or fresh fig when in season)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the rounds of bread on a sheet pan and brush the top of each round with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and bake for 5 to 8 minutes, until golden on the edge.

Remove pan from oven and allow the crostini to cool. Place the Gorgonzola Dolce and mascarpone in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process the cheese to a smooth and even consistency.

Refrigerate the cheese in a covered container until use. To assemble, spread each of the crostini with cheese purée.

Sprinkle the cheese with coarsely ground black pepper. Nestle a half grape just off center, cut-side up. Shingle a half walnut against the grape, leaving some of the grape flesh exposed, and serve.

Diet. The Beatle has famously been a vegetarian since 1975, when he and his then-wife Linda converted to a meat-free diet. And after being away from home for a while, he likes to come back and make himself simple, healthy food. "If I go on tour and eat a lot of restaurant or hotel food, I come back, and it's like, yeah, broccoli! So, if I'm cooking, I'll be steaming vegetables, making some nice salad, that kind of stuff.” Exercise.His fitness regime is more unusual though...

Kids line up before moving on to their next adventure at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Sarita Dangol a camp educator, helps Emma Forner, 6, make a bracelet at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Camp educators Lauren McClaugherty and Jeff Freed talk to Frank Brol, 7, about chickens at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Tuesday.

Clyde Stephens, 6, eats a peach he pulled from a tree in the educational garden at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Kids swing on a tire swing as educators help other children at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

A child swings on a tree swing at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Frank Brol, 7, holds a chicken at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Kids sit and listen to different bird calls in the woods at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Elle Newberry, 10, maps the different bird calls she hears in the woods at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Outdoor education coordinator Jeff Freed helps kids identify different bird calls in the woods at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Isla Sakamoto, 8, holds a chicken while depositing a fresh egg into a carton at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Kids take a break from activities to enjoy snack time at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Sierra Lilla, 8, and Lilly Aaron, 7, check on the goats at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Two kids are seen in the educational garden at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Isla Sakamoto, 8, holds a chicken and an egg at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Clyde Stephens’s face is covered with dirt from working in the educational garden at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Sierra Lilla, 8, and Lilly Aaron, 7, check on a sheep at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Kids and camp educators are seen walking on the grounds of Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Kids play in a sand pit at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Two kids are seen exiting the educational garden at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

A child’s hands are stained red from eating berries from the educational garden at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

A scrub jay is seen sitting on a fence post at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Luke Hefner, 5, is seen playing on a structure at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

Camp educators and kids are seen walking on the grounds of Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa onThursday.

A child’s bird journal is seen on a table at Connolly Ranch Education Center in Napa on Thursday.

I grew up growing and eating lots of fresh sweet corn in the summer. Turns out, the rich soil of northern Indiana, where I spent my early years, combined with its hot, humid summers, is the perfect spot.

Most garden plants stop growing when temperatures rise above 85°F, but corn will continue to grow in very hot weather, which the Midwest is blessed with in the summer. So, when the temperature rises into the 90s, it seems like you can actually see the corn grow.

Sweet corn is called maize in most countries outside the U.S. It’s another one of those tasty plants that originated in Central and South America, was discovered by European explorers who transported it back to Europe, and then travelers brought it back to North America when Europeans settled there, where they were greeted with corn by the Native Americans.

Nowadays you can find seeds for sweet varieties such as Silver Queen, Ambrosia, and Peaches & Cream, but all that we could buy when I was growing up in the 1970s were packets simply labeled Sweet Corn. The seeds were a pale pink, proudly sprayed with a fungicide by Monsanto, but in those days that seemed like a good way to cut down on disease.

I do a lot of my corn cooking on the grill. When I was a Boy Scout — and I casually let it slip to my guests that I did earn a Cooking Merit Badge — we were taught to pull down the leaves covering the corn, remove the silk, then pull up the leaves, then soak the ear in water for a half hour before you put the ear on the grill and basically steam them.

Nowadays, I strip everything off the ear, rub it with a little sunflower oil or other high smoke temperature oil and put it directly on the grill. As long as you watch the ear and rotate it often, it will only pick up some nice grill marks and the kernels of corn will cook through. I have a plate ready with some room-temperature butter for its landing pad, rolling the cobs in the butter as I salt it. It’s simple and delicious.

We talked about this last year, but in case you misplaced your Summer Corn article from last June in the Napa Register, here are some tips for buying and preparing corn:

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

My plan this week is to make my corn dish a bit more sophisticated than simply grilled corn by serving it as part of a tartine. Tartines are the hip thing in lots of restaurants, notably the Tartine Bakery with locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seoul, South Korea.

A tartine is defined by Merriam-Webster.com as “a French term used to refer to a bread appetizer that has been buttered and covered with jam, honey, melted cheese or other similar ingredients.”

Of course, Americans have expanded that to layer just about anything on top of a nice piece of toast on which you add more ingredients so it becomes your main course.

Grilled Corn and Peach Tartine

Serves 2, but easy to scale up

This takes advantage of two of the ingredients I’ve seen recently at the farmer’s market that I love, white peaches and corn, and I usually have goat cheese in the refrigerator. You could add more items on top, but like pizza making, you only want to showcase a few items so you can actually taste what you made, instead of creating a potpourri where the flavors get lost.

1 tablespoon butter at room temperature

2 broad slices of sourdough bread

1 ear of sweet corn, shucked and silk removed

1 white peach, cut in half and pitted

Extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

1 ounce of goat cheese (yes, I probably use more because I love its tart taste)

Handful of basil leaves, rolled together and thinly sliced (chiffonade)

Heat your grill pan on high until very hot, then turn to medium (or bring your charcoal grill to white ash stage). Spread the butter on the sourdough pieces, then brown the bread and grill the corn and peach halves until the peaches start to caramelize and the corn has a nice char on each side, 5 minutes, depending on your grill.

Remove from heat and cut the corn off the cob and place in a large bowl. Slice the grilled peaches as thin as possible and mix with the corn. Add a tablespoon or more of the olive oil and season with salt and gently mix to combine.

Pile the corn and peach mixture onto the toasted sourdough bread. Top with knob of goat cheese and sprinkling of basil.

Corn, Avocado, and Radish Tartine

Serves 4

Adapted from “Serious Entertaining: Four Easy Summer Tartines” by J. Kenji López-Alt on the Serious Eats website, Aug. 30, 2018

Kenji (as everyone online seems to call him) is the author of The New York Times bestseller “The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science” (based on his Serious Eats column of the same name) and in March 2022 published “The Wok: Recipes and Techniques.” I love reading his columns and books because he uses the scientific method to improve recipes and to explain the science of cooking to people who have not attended a culinary college. He picked up his systematic technique while attending MIT, where he graduated with a degree in architecture.

4 slices of hearty bread, such as French pain au levain or sourdough

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

1 medium clove garlic split in half, and 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cups shucked corn kernels from about 2 ears corn

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2 teaspoons juice from 1 lime

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1 avocado

4 radishes, thinly sliced

Preheat broiler to high and adjust rack to 6 inches below element. Brush bread slices on all sides with 2 tablespoons olive oil and rub with split garlic clove on all surfaces. Season with salt and pepper. Place on a rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan and broil until golden brown and toasted on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and broil until second side is toasted, about 2 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium cast iron or non-stick skillet over high heat until shimmering. Add corn and cook without moving until well charred on first side, about 4 minutes. Flip and toss and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until well toasted on all sides, about 8 minutes total. Season to taste with salt and pepper and transfer to a medium bowl.

Add minced garlic, mayonnaise, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and lime juice. Add cilantro and scallions, reserving some for garnish. Toss corn to combine and season with more salt and pepper as desired.

Mash avocado with the back of a fork in a medium bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Spread bread with mashed avocado, top with corn and radishes, sprinkle with remaining cilantro and scallions, and serve.

Savory Roasted Corn & Mushroom Tartine

Serves 2

Adapted from Susan Cooks Vegan website, Feb. 26, 2020

You can take your bag to the farmers' market today and pick up just about everything for this tartine: fresh bread, onions, mushrooms, red peppers, and corn. Even the olive oil. I haven’t cooked from this website before, but she seems to offer some nice vegan dishes, if you’re looking for that sort of thing.

2 slices of ½ thick country-style whole grain bread

2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

¼ cup of diced onion (red or white)

½ cup of mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelles, cremini, button or trumpet, coarsely chopped

1/3 cup of corn kernels

¼ cup of red pepper, diced

Salt and pepper to season

Fresh basil to garnish

Heat a grill pan or a large skillet over medium heat. Drizzle bread with olive oil and place on one half of the grill or skillet to toast. Check toast after 3-4 minutes. When it's browned, flip over to cook the other side.

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the clear side of the grill or skillet. If you don’t have enough room, use a second skillet on a new element over medium heat. Add mushrooms cut side down to the hot pan. Do not touch or stir for 2-3 minutes. Add onions, stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Add corn and red pepper, stir, and cook for 2-3 minutes or until corn is cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Taste the mixture and season more if necessary. Remove the toast from the heat, placing the olive-oiled side up. Divide mushroom evenly onto toast slices. Garnish with fresh basil.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a whopping 70 percent of non-organic fruits and vegetables can be riddled with the residue of nearly 230 different pesticides.

Dr. Linda Shiue had been practicing as a primary care physician in San Francisco for a decade or more when she hit a wall: No matter what she did, her patients continued to be overweight, their cholesterol and blood pressure stayed high and they felt low. The prescriptions she wrote based on the best advice in medical journals didn’t solve the problems, leaving both her patients and her frustrated.

While Shiue has been practicing medicine in the Bay Area for more than 20 years, she grew up on Long Island, New York and graduated from Brown University. She ended up on the West Coast when she moved to San Francisco for her internal medicine residency at UCSF.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

Several years ago, she was introduced to Napa when her teenage daughter found a semester program for studio artmaking at the Oxbow School. They had never spent time in Napa until they visited the school, and Linda quickly made the decision to take the money she had saved for a home in San Francisco and purchase a home in the city of Napa. Today, she spends three days a week in San Francisco and the rest in Napa.

But back to her existential crisis: She had always loved to cook, so she was looking forward to a medical conference called Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives, co-sponsored by Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America. However, this went far beyond learning a new sauce for the salmon. The presenters dug down into the latest in nutrition science and translated it into how to help their patients.

You would naturally think doctors are at the head of the class in nutrition information, but nutritionfacts.org writes: “Medical students are still getting less than 20 hours of nutrition education over four years, and even most of that has limited clinical relevance. Thirty years ago, only 37% of medical schools had a single course in nutrition. According to the most recent national survey, that number has since dropped to 27%.”

Shiue walked away from the conference a changed doctor. Just a week later she taught her first cooking course, which she called “Cook Your Way to Better Health” at a Whole Foods in Los Altos and discovered she enjoyed teaching.

When Shiue met with patients, after discussing the results of lab tests and their blood pressure, she’d sometimes write them a prescription for kale chips: a humorous but clear message that their eating habits played a critical part in their health.

By stepping into the chef-teacher role and out of the doctor/patient hierarchy, the interaction became more casual, allowing her to have a much bigger impact on the patient’s lifestyle. To continue this journey, the next step was to become better at teaching cooking classes, and that meant professional culinary training.

She found a six-month program for professional culinary arts at San Francisco Cooking School, but she would need to go full time. When her employer didn’t buy into her taking off for that long, she switched to Kaiser Permanente, letting them know it would be a while before she arrived; well, actually, a year, allowing her to travel and then attend school for half a year.

While San Francisco Cooking School teaches classic French culinary techniques and recipes, the professional skills she picked up and how to teach them were what she needed.

Her combination of medical knowledge and professional cooking skills allowed her to become Kaiser’s first director of culinary medicine and in 2017 launch Thrive Kitchen, a hands-on cooking class for physicians and their patients to change their lives by cooking healthy meals at home.

The brochure listed the classes as Global Cuisine, which brought in the world of spices and herbs but was plant-forward. Shiue never mentioned the dishes were vegetarian and the results were so satisfying that most patients never noticed it.

In the meantime, she had become friends with Francis Lam, food journalist, cookbook editor, and now host of the radio show "The Splendid Table."

In those days he was food editor of Salon.com and hosted its weekly Kitchen Challenge, which was described as “your challenge is to create an eye-opening dish within our capricious themes and parameters.”

Shiue was one of only two participants who submitted a dish each week for an entire year. She thought the best way to get her message out about healthy eating was a book, so she asked his help in getting it published.

His answer: no. He later relented, asking, “How bad do you want to do it?” Meaning: “Do you want to do the extensive work of writing new recipes and organizing the photography and styling, all while still working full time as a physician?”

Her answer was she had to do it, some way, somehow. He led her to a book agent who handled health books, but who had never done a cookbook. But she knew how to catch the eye of an editor with a professional-looking book proposal, which Linda didn’t know how to do.

The book proposal did its job, leading to Linda signing a book deal, but she, not the book publisher, had to use her small advance to pay for the photographer and stylist.

With little money to spend and no history of writing books, she had to find a stylist and photographer willing to take a chance on her. Luckily, she had met a fellow culinary student at San Francisco Cooking School, Haley Hazell, who wanted to be a food stylist, but she needed experience.

Haley introduced her to a photographer, Michelle K. Min, who had never shot for a book before but was eager to break into the food publishing world. Linda started the project in 2018 and wrote the book in 2019. Their collaboration paid off when "Spicebox Kitchen" was published in March 2021, but they had the bad luck to have to promote it during the pandemic, which required Shiue to attend almost all virtual events.

With the name “Spicebox Kitchen” as the book’s title and “Vegetable-Forward” in the subtitle, it’s clear how the doctor will make your meals tasty and healthy.

In fact, after the introduction, in which she tells a little of her story of embracing plant-forward cooking (she does use seafood, eggs and dairy when needed in a recipe) she lays the ingredients for what you need as a full spicebox in the first chapter, alphabetically from allspice to za’atar, plus a selection of herbs.

She also covers the building blocks for a healthy meal, discussing greens, whole grains and legumes. And Shiue touches on the other ingredients you can add to your cooking for flavor and nutrition, from acorn squash to walnuts. There are even tips on how to shop.

Many of her patients haven’t cooked much, so there is the necessary discussion of cooking equipment and knife skills (I’ve seen up close that most folks don’t know how to use a knife), and Shiue even drills down to details about food topics such as the difference between “use by” and “best before” on packaged goods.

After being outfitted with knowledge and gear, you’re finally ready for recipes. She writes, “The best way I have found to make transitioning to eating more healthfully a joy is to bring in flavors from around the world.” Her own influences including growing up with parents from Taiwan, living in Singapore for a year, marrying a man from Trinidad and, of course, California cuisine after living here for two decades.

Recently, the book was awarded a Gold Nautilus Book Award in the category of Food, Cooking and Healthy Eating. The Nautilus Book Awards represent “Better Books for a Better World,” and its mission is “to celebrate and honor books that support conscious living & green values, high-level wellness, positive social change & social justice, and spiritual growth.”

Here is a taste of this delicious book.

Excerpted from "Spicebox Kitchen: Eat Well and Be Healthy with Globally Inspired, Vegetable-Forward Recipes" by Linda Shiue, MD, Hachette Go, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Endive Leaves with Harissa Carrot Yogurt

Makes about 36 leaves

Yogurt Dip

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

12 ounces carrots (3 to 5 carrots), peeled and grated coarsely

1/3 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon fine kosher salt

4 medium-size garlic cloves, peeled and minced

2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon harissa (if unavailable, use paprika and Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper to taste)

6 heads endive, carefully separated into leaves; choose the largest/crispest

Garnishes:

Pomegranate arils (The shiny red seeds inside the fruit are called arils)

Minced carrot greens, fresh parsley, or fresh mint

Flaky salt

Prepare the dip. Heat olive oil in a medium-size skillet over medium heat until shimmering.

Add carrots and cook, stirring frequently, for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they start to soften.

Add pistachios and salt, then cook for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until carrots start to brown.

Add garlic and cook for another minute, or until fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cook for 5 minutes.

Put yogurt in a medium-size bowl, then add the cooled carrot mixture and harissa. Stir together and adjust seasoning to taste.

To fill endive leaves: Hold each leaf in one hand, facing upward like a boat. Add a teaspoon-size dollop to bottom/root end (only) of each endive leaf. Arrange prettily on a platter, then garnish each filled leaf with a few pomegranate arils, minced herbs, a few chopped pistachios, and a pinch of salt.

Miso-Glazed Maitake Mushroom Burgers

Makes 4 burgers

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound maitake mushrooms, cleaned and divided into 4 clusters, or oyster mushrooms

6 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon miso thinned with 2 tablespoons water

4 soft burger buns, ideally potato or brioche

1 cup grated Swiss cheese

½ cup thinly sliced red onion

2 cups arugula

Melt butter in a medium-sized skillet over medium-high heat, then add mushrooms and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until golden and slightly crisped. Press down with a spatula to maximize browning.

Add scallions to pan and cook for a minute, until wilted and slightly charred.

Add salt and some black pepper to taste. Pour miso mixture over mushrooms and turn over until evenly coated and absorbed.

Toast buns, then assemble burger:

Place bottom half of each bun on a plate.

Sprinkle each with ¼ cup of grated Swiss cheese.

Place hot mushrooms and scallions on top of cheese layer.

Top with sliced red onion and arugula.

Cherry, Plum and Nectarine Clafoutis

Serves 6

Butter, for pan

8 ounces cherries, stemmed and pitted (if using frozen—but why would you? It’s cherry season right now--defrost and towel-dry before using)

1 firm-fleshed ripe plum

1 firm-fleshed ripe white nectarine

3 large eggs

½ cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Pinch of salt

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

½ cup all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cups whole milk

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)

Butter a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and preheat oven to 350° F.

Slice and arrange fruit in an even layer in prepared pie plate.

Whisk or blend together eggs and granulated sugar in a medium bowl; add ginger, salt, and vanilla; then flour; and last, milk, mixing until you have a smooth and airy batter.

Pour batter over prepared fruit. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until puffy and lightly browned and a knife inserted into center comes out clean.

Remove from oven, let cook on a wire rack, and serve just slightly warm or refrigerate and serve cool (it will be easier to slice when it cools).

Dust with confectioners’ sugar before serving, if desired.

German researchers say that switching from red meat to a fungi-based alternative once a week can help reduce deforestation.

There are roughly 9.7 million vegans in the United States today, up a staggering 3,000% from 2004, according to a 2020 study from Ipsos Retail Performance. These dietary changes have caught the attention of businesses and created a booming vegan market where even traditional meat industry giants have gotten into the faux meat game.

Sales of plant-based food in 2020 grew by 27%—twice as fast as food sales in general, according to data from SPINS for The Good Food Institute and Plant Based Foods Association. A full 57% of Americans say they buy plant-based alternatives to animal products.

People’s reasons for adopting a plant-based diet range from personal health to animal rights to environmental concerns related to factory farming. Thistle analyzed numerous academic studies published in peer-reviewed journals such as Frontiers in Nutrition and Nutrients to curate a list of 10 benefits of a plant-based diet.

Plant-based diets inherently focus on whole grains, beans, fresh produce, seeds, and nuts, but not everyone who eats plant-based diets eschews animal products entirely. As with all diets, it’s important to consider a person’s genetics, activity level, preexisting medical conditions, and any nutritional deficiencies or food allergies. In particular, those adopting plant-based diets are wise to make sure they’re getting sufficient levels of vitamins and minerals, from B12 to omega-3 fatty acids.

Keep reading to discover 10 benefits of plant-based diets.

Inflammation is caused by white blood cells fighting off invaders—whether foreign objects, such as a splinter; irritations, such as allergies; or pathogens, such as bacterial or viral infections. In the case of autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks healthy, normal tissue in the body. Overactive inflammatory response is widely considered by experts to contribute to chronic disorders including Type 2 diabetes or heart problems.

Acute, or short-term inflammation, comes on as localized pain, redness, loss of mobility, or swelling. The area may be hot to the touch, as in the case of a bee sting, and can last from a few hours to several days. Chronic inflammation can last months or years, and can come on as a hyper reaction to an external trigger, such as is the case with allergies; a mistaken reaction in which the immune system attacks healthy tissue, as with cancer or eczema; or long-term exposure to an irritant.

Diet and exercise have major effects on inflammation: Whereas obesity, smoking, lack of consistent sleep, and a diet heavy in added sugars and unhealthy fats can all increase inflammation in the body, nutrients found in fruits and vegetables have been shown to reduce inflammation.

A popularly cited 2018 analysis of the international food industry suggests that switching to a plant-based diet represents the largest single action a person can take to reduce their environmental impact. While those stats—such as the fact that the ecological footprint of livestock represents 18% of calories and 83% of farmland—are striking, they don’t take into consideration all the complexities of sustainable eating habits.

It is true that pound for pound, animal protein requires 100 times as much water as grain protein—and that the production of oat milk emits 80% fewer greenhouse gases and requires 60% less energy than cow’s milk. Still, switching to a plant-based diet doesn’t guarantee more eco-friendly food choices: Growing practices, treatment of workers, the distance food travels, packaging, and ingredient sourcing all contribute to how sustainable the food on your plate is—or isn’t.

Consumption of red meat and poultry has been linked to an increased risk of diabetes, in part because of the high volume of heme iron in those meats, according to findings in the Singapore Chinese Health Study published in 2017.

That research involved recruiting more than 63,000 adults between 45 and 74 from 1993 to 1998, and following their health progress for 11 years, in addition to studying the correlation between various kinds of meats and the volume of heme iron in each. Participants who consumed the highest levels of red meat and poultry showed a 23% and 15% increase in diabetes risk, respectively. Consuming fish and shellfish showed no perceptible association with diabetes risk.

Meanwhile, plant-based diets have been shown to not only protect Type 2 diabetics from developing kidney disease, but to help reverse Type 2 diabetes itself. Plant-based diets may also reduce mortality rates in individuals with chronic kidney disease.

Whole plant-based foods contain plenty of fiber, zero dietary cholesterol, and low amounts of saturated fats—a winning combination for heart health. Meanwhile, meat, cheese, and eggs come with cholesterol and saturated fats that, in excess, may create plaque buildup in a person’s arteries.

But it’s not enough to just avoid meat: For heart health on a plant-based diet, it’s important to steer away from processed foods, including white rice and white bread, which lack nutritional value and contain a high glycemic index. This increases your odds for spiking blood-sugar levels and increased appetite. Similarly, whole fruits are healthier than fruit juice, even 100% juice, which often loses nutrients and vitamins while being processed and contains high levels of sugar.

Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of plant-based diets—particularly a vegetarian or vegan diet combined with nuts, soy, and fiber—on cholesterol levels. Five observational studies, cited in a study published in 2009 in the American Journal of Cardiology, found lower blood concentrations of TC and LDL cholesterol in populations consuming plant-based diets.

A direct correlation was found between high intakes of fruit and vegetables and a significantly reduced risk of cognitive impairment and dementia, according to a report published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience in 2017. The key is likely in nutrients abundant in plant-based diets, including antioxidants, vitamins, and folate, that have been shown to have significant cognitive benefits.

Vegetarian and vegan diets have been shown to promote a healthy mix of beneficial bacteria promoting gut and overall health. A healthy gut biome promotes a high-functioning metabolism, strong immune system, healthy bowel movements, and appropriate levels of hormones that contribute to adequate appetite regulation.

Just 16 weeks of a healthy vegan diet focused on whole fruits and vegetables has been shown to cause a documented improvement in gut health, according to research led by Hana Kahleova, M.D., Ph.D., of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and presented in 2019 at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes in Barcelona.

Plants create an abundance of phytochemicals that help to protect cellular damage as well as being anti-inflammatory. A variety of long-term studies suggest that benefits like these from eating whole plant foods, as opposed to processed foods, may actually be able to prevent up to a third of all cancer cases. Most-studied have been plant-based diets’ capacity to help protect against breast, colorectal, gastrointestinal, and prostate cancers.

A growing number of professional athletes have turned to a whole-foods, plant-based diet to reach optimal performance. Colin Kaepernick, Venus Williams, United States soccer star Alex Morgan, professional surfer Tia Blanco, WNBA player and four-time Olympic gold medalist Diana Taurasi, and dozens more pros are all vegan.

Like the rest of us, dietary choices of athletes come with, at times, complex reasoning behind them. But there’s a lot of science backing up whole plants as a great choice for athleticism: Heart-healthy foods, such as whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts, are also largely plant-based. The anti-inflammatory principles and immune support of plants also benefit athletes in major ways. Tennis pro Venus Williams transitioned to a plant-based diet after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Sjögren’s syndrome and said a vegan diet allowed her to manage the disease without prescription medications.

Low-fat, high-fiber diets are proven to reduce inflammation, which is great news for those following a whole-foods, plant-based diet. Because of how effective plants are at reducing inflammation, plant-based diets have been shown to work wonders for those living with inflammatory types of arthritis.

In a 2015 study, published in Arthritis, researchers investigated the effect of a plant-based diet on osteoarthritis. Those adhering to a whole-foods, plant-based diet experienced significant drops in pain levels and jumps in motor function in just two weeks.

This story was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.

A simple stucco cottage sits high among oak trees and dry grass overlooking the Valley of the Moon in Sonoma. The small house is surrounded by a 535 acre preserve, with a long, winding, one-lane drive leading down to Highway 12.

The thousands of wine country visitors driving through the valley on Highway 12 each year on their way to a lavish wine tasting or luxurious meal don’t realize they are passing by the final home of one of the country’s best food writers, who had also lived in Napa Valley for several years.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

The New York Times Book Review says “In a properly run culture, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher would be recognized as one of the great writers this country has produced this century…”

The problem was, she wrote books about hunger and food before there was a Food Network, but the good news is you can now sign up to tour her Last House (as she candidly called it) and learn about her life.

In the forward of "The Gastronomical Me," published in 1943, she sums up the aim of the book, and of most of her writing: "People ask me: Why do you write about food, and eating and drinking? Why don't you write about the struggle for power and security, and about love, the way others do? They ask it accusingly, as if I were somehow gross, unfaithful to the honor of my craft."

"The easiest answer is to say that, like most humans, I am hungry. But there is more than that. It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it."

Almost 50 years later, that struggle to be taken seriously had not ended. Mary Francis said in an interview in 1990 that writing about food and hunger "caused serious writers and critics to dismiss me for many, many years. It was woman's stuff, a trifle."

Everyone knew her as Mary Frances; MFK Fisher was used so editors and readers wouldn’t reject a woman’s writings. Over a period of 60 years, starting with her first book “Serve It Forth” (“a book about eating, and about what to eat and about people who eat”) published in 1937, she wrote a steady stream of pieces for The New Yorker and other magazines, as well as 35 books of collected essays, including what many call the best English translation of Brillat-Savarin's book "The Physiology of Taste."

She also wrote a novel and a screenplay. For two years she worked in Hollywood for Paramount Studios, writing gags for Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, and Dorothy Lamour.

She also wrote a book for children and a series of travelogues that always seemed focused on food. W.H. Auden described her as “the best prose writer in America.”

Chef John Ash says, “If it hadn’t been for James Beard and Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher and Jacques Pepin, I don’t know where American cuisine would be today.”

For people not familiar with her writings, perhaps the closest writer nowadays to her style and sensitivity may be Stanley Tucci as he searches for Italy on TV and or ponders his life through food in a book. It’s about food, yes, but it's about feeling passionate about food and eating and the people.

Almost 20 years ago I had signed up for the email list of the Audubon Canyon Ranch, an environmental conservation and education organization. It owns four properties including the Bouverie Preserve, which includes the Last House, so I joined their email list just in case they ever offered public tours of Mary Frances’ house.

After hundreds of emails offering conservation tours, my patience and optimism were finally rewarded with an email saying they had begun offering tours once a month of the Last House. By the time I opened the email the first month was filled but my wife and I made it the second tour, held in May.

Born in Michigan but raised in Whittier, California, where her father ran the local newspaper, Mary Frances first gained her knowledge of food from the family cook.

She tried several colleges before marrying Alfred Fisher, in 1929 and they moved to Dijon, France, so he could complete his doctorate in literature. Her marriage to Mr. Fisher ended in divorce in 1937, allowing her to marry that same year the writer and painter Dilwyn Parrish, a cousin to the famous painter Maxfield Parrish.

Dilwyn suffered from Buerger's disease, a circulatory disease that causes blood clots, which resulted in the amputation of a leg and agonizing pain. He committed suicide in 1941. In 1993 "Stay Me, Oh Comfort Me: Journals and Stories 1933–1941" recounting her time with Parrish was posthumously published. She married and divorced twice after that and had two children. Her writing was not just a creative outlet but her source of income as a single mother.

Throughout most of her life she traveled often to France and lived in Switzerland with Dilwyn, collecting the stories she would weave into articles and books. She also came to love Northern California. She first moved to the Napa Valley in 1952 when she and her sister, Norah, rented houses on neighboring vineyards southwest of St. Helena, and later she purchased a three story Victorian with nine beds at 1467 Oak Ave. in St. Helena.

While a resident of St. Helena, she helped launch the Napa Wine Library and served on the board for a time. In 1961, she, along with James Beard and a group of vintners, began a drive for a home where the public could access the vast collection of wine materials. In 1963, they created the Napa Valley Wine Library Association. The Association continues today, and materials are housed in the St. Helena Public Library.

There was an overwhelming flow of visitors to her home in the Napa Valley (she wrote her friend Julie Child that part of the attraction was “this is the best restaurant and pub north of San Francisco”). When her daughters grew up and left to start their own lives, she told a friend “I think I must get the hell out of here or I’ll turn into a doomed slavey to my own image of hospitality…. “

She had become friends with David Pleydell-Bouverie, grandson of the fifth Earl of Radnor and now a transplanted London architect owning a large ranch in Sonoma’s Valley of the Moon. In 1971 he had built for her a cottage of her design, with just two main rooms, a spacious kitchen and a large room for writing that was also her bed room, with space for her 6,000 books and maybe one overnight guest at the ranch.

She slept and wrote in one room and cooked in the other room; she could spend hours in the generous bathroom, outfitted with both a shower stall and a relaxing tub.

Her house became a magnet for visitors from the culinary world, including Julia Child, Chuck Williams, James Beard, Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl and Jacques Pepin, and the literary world such as Maya Angelou, Herb Caen, Bill Moyers and Anne Lamott. Recently Pepin returned to the house for a lunch when he visited Sonoma to be honored at the Sonoma International Film Festival in March.

With the almost hidden road and locked gate protecting her from fans stopping by to meet her. Mary Frances was especially productive in the quiet cottage. She wrote 13 books during her 21 years at Last House

. Eventually, her vision dimmed, arthritis set in, and her voice dwindled to a whisper due to Parkinson's disease. She became bedridden in her last years but continued to dictate books to her secretary. Mary Frances was 83 years old when she passed away on June 22, 1992.

After her death, her personal items were dispersed to family and close friends. When David Bouverie died in 1994, ownership of the preserve was transferred to Audubon Canyon Ranch as a part of his estate.

A few years later the organization decided what a great idea it would be to offer tours of this historic literary home and they went back to those same people and asked for those items to be donated back. Many of those personal items were returned home.

When we took the tour, led by Susie Allen, M.F.K. Fisher Last House Program coordinator and events manager, we hovered over the Coronamatic typewriter she used, still holding a typed letter, photographed the distinctive rattan peacock chair that she had been photographed in and touched the kitchen’s original round dining table. The kitchen was simple with no blenders, food processors or toasters on the counter. Most the books on the shelves were not ones that Mary Frances had used when she lived there.

Restoration of Last House was under way in 2017 when the Nuns Fire destroyed several nearby ranch structures, but an oak tree seemed to protect the house. The project was paused again the next year after more wildfires and then the pandemic stopped the refurbishment completely in 2020. But finally, the one-bedroom house is open for tours by appointment.

The 90-minute tour gives visitors a glimpse into Mary Frances’ personal life, workspace, and provides the panoramic views she enjoyed. Each tour is open to 12 visitors. The cost of the tour is a suggested $25 donation per person or $20 donation for Audubon Canyon Ranch members, but no one is turned away. The money benefits the nonprofit organization’s programs and the continuing restoration and maintenance of Last House. For reservations visit https://www.egret.org/mfk-fishers-last-house.

Last House is not just a museum but as a space intended to host events in Mary Frances’ gracious style. The first major public event to be held there is a fundraiser for Last House featuring chef Alice Waters, which is planned for July 30 with a Mediterranean lunch.

And fans of Mary Frances should visit https://mfkfisher.com/, which includes more information about her and a handy list of her books in chorological order. You can also donate to the documentary in the works called “The Art of Eating: The Life and Appetites of M.F.K. Fisher.”

It’s one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Veuer’s Tony Spitz has the details.

In the midst of the noise of Russian shelling in the neighboring city of Severodonetsk, on the east Ukrainian front, believers of Orthodox Chu…

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare, but luckily super mom was there to save the day. Veuer’s Tony Spitz has the details.

In the Peruvian city of San Miguel, near the capital Lima, locals celebrated a unique environment friendly car race on Sunday. Buzz60's Trinit…

Authorities in the Moscow-controlled Ukrainian region of Kherson announced on May 23 the introduction of the rouble as an official currency al…

Go behind this centuries old noodle making technique that is turning making noodles into a show.

Jerry Huang's aquatic pets rarely feel like two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl because they get to go for regular strolls. In Taiwan's Taic…

An arcade game classic comes home, with a 21st-century twist. Skillshot FX digital pinball offers the all-ages fun of a retro favorite, reimag…

The impact of the Ukraine war extends far beyond the country’s borders as Russian forces have destroyed crops and blockaded ports along the Black Sea, affecting the food supply in Africa and the Middle East.

Cherries are the last fruit trees to bloom and the first to harvest, which is why we are seeing sweet cherries in the farmers market now. They belong to the genus Prunus, which includes plums, peaches, apricots and almonds.

All cultivated cherries come from two wild species: Prunus avium for sweet cherries, P. cerasus for sour. Sweet cherries have been mentioned in ancient Greek writings as early as 300 B.C and were probably cultivated in the Mediterranean before then.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

But, we’re here to talk about cooking so what’s the difference between sweet and sour cherries? In general, sweet cherries are eaten raw, usually as dessert or a snack. Sour cherries are also for dessert but need to be cooked and sweetened with sugar to make pies, cobblers, and jams.

Cherries contain plant compounds called anthocyanins and cyanidin which some studies have suggested have anti-inflammatory effects. They are also thought to reduce blood pressure due to their high polyphenol content but, all the studies I read online emphasize the word “may,” which I translate as “don’t bet your life on it.”

But the main thing is they are fresh, they are here, and they taste good, so let’s cook with them.

Grilled Pork Loin Chops With Balsamic Cherries

Serves 4

This is an easy recipe, and you can make the sauce more complicated, adding fresh minced ginger or other spices, but the goal is to let the cherries shine, so don’t go crazy, okay?

4 large center loin pork chops

Spanish Pimentón dulce (These are mild peppers that have been smoked, dried and ground up. I love the taste and use it a lot.)

½ cup balsamic vinegar

2 cups fresh pitted cherries, quartered

1 garlic clove, very finely minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 to 2 tablespoons honey to sweeten the cherries (optional but a good idea)

Simmer the balsamic vinegar with cherries, garlic, thyme and a dash of salt and pepper until it is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Stir occasionally to keep from sticking. Keep warm as you grill pork chops.

Season the pork chops with salt and rub them with the pimenton. Grill the chops until just slight pink in the center. An instant read thermometer (you did buy one, didn’t you?) should read around 140° F when inserted in the center, not touching the bone. Taste balsamic sauce for sweetness and salt. Add as necessary and serve sauce draped over the chops.

Pizza With Cherries, Prosciutto and Feta

Serves 4

Adapted from Country Living magazine article by Marian Cooper Cairns, June 21, 2016

I don’t live the “Country Living” lifestyle, but the magazine has a ton of recipes so when I searched for a pizza recipe with cherries, it came up quickly on my web search. Turns out lots of folks place cherries on pizza and I thought it was something new.

1 pound store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature (I do use my own pizza dough but it’s a two-day process with a lot of steps that would take the whole article to explain so, use store-bought or your own pizza dough recipe.)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for working dough and grill

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

3 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

6 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 1/3 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved

4 slices prosciutto, torn into strips

2 cups arugula

1/4 cup torn fresh basil

2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar (Yes, Champagne vinegar tastes much better than white vinegar, which I’m not even sure where it’s from. It’s always better to know the source of your food, even vinegar.)

Heat grill to medium-high set up for indirect grilling. With oiled hands, stretch dough into four (6 by 8-inch) ovals. Place on a baking sheet. Brush both sides of dough with 2 tablespoons oil, dividing evenly. Season with salt and pepper.

Clean and oil grill grates. Place as many pieces of dough as will fit onto grates, over indirect heat. Grill, covered, until grill marks appear, 1 to 2 minutes.

Turn dough and top with scallions, cheese, cherries, and prosciutto, dividing evenly. Grill, covered, until cheese melts and dough is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings, if necessary. Toss together arugula, basil, vinegar, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper. Top pizza with arugula mixture. Serve immediately.

Apricot and Cherry Clafoutis

Serves 10

Adapted from "Six California Kitchens" by Sally Schmitt

I first thought I’d do the whole article for savory dishes and not have cherries for dessert. But there is this great cherry dish in "Six California Kitchens" by Sally Schmitt, which I wrote about earlier, and I’m still cooking my way through the cookbook.

A clafoutis is originally from the Limousin region of France, a country dessert made by pouring batter over fresh fruit (traditionally cherries) and baking. Sour cherries are typically used but Sally only grew sweet ones, so she added apricots to add “some extra zing.”

If you want to use all sweet cherries, replacing the amount of apricots with cherries, it’s your clafoutis.

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 eggs

1 cup half-and-half or milk

¼ cup melted butter

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

2/3 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons butter

3 cups halved and pitted cherries

2 cups pitted and quartered apricots, preferably Blenheims

Brandy

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In the oven, warm a 10 inch deep-dish pie plate or a cast-iron skillet.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. In a large bowl, whisk together until smooth (or use blender) the egg, half-and-half, melted butter vanilla extract and salt. Add gradually, while whisking, the flour.

To the warmed pie plate add butter. Swirl the dish to melt the butter and scatter over the bottom of the dish the cherries and apricots. Drizzle with a splash of brandy.

Return the pie plate to the oven. When the fruit is hot, after about 15 minutes, pour the batter over it and sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake until puffy and set, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or dollop of whipped cream.

Locals in Tokyo, Japan, enjoyed a sunny day outside on March 26, as cherry blossoms trees bloomed.

Why is one dish deemed breakfast food while another is served only at lunch or dinner? We’re missing a lot of good flavors if we shove food into narrow categories of only served at breakfast or lunch or dinner. If I’m hungry, it doesn’t matter when a dish is traditionally served, I’ll scarf it down and ask for seconds.

Who dictated that eggs are only for breakfast? What about an omelet, Spain’s tortilla de patata (potato omelet), the North African shakshuka, the Israeli sabich, a savory soufflé, egg salad sandwich, quiche…? The list goes on and on of egg dishes that for generations have been served for dinner.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

In fact, there are so many dinner egg dishes that I’m going to limit myself to just one in this example of serving breakfast for dinner and offer a couple of other breakfast dishes that have pushed their way onto lunch and dinner menus.

Serves 2 as main course or 4 when accompanied by other dishes

Adapted from "Authentic Mexican" by Rick Bayless

I’ve seen this sold as breakfast in tiny kitchens in markets throughout Mexico but I like this version from Chef Rick Bayless’ first book, which he says he learned in Mexico City.

While chilaquiles is a simple recipe, I’m not awake enough to pull it off in the morning but by evening my motor functions are ready for a little spice. You can switch the tomato-chile sauce out for tomatillo sauce to make it chilaquiles verdes. Both sauces are great additions to other dishes.

Tomato-Chile Sauce

1 28-ounce can of good quality tomatoes, drained, cut in half, seeded, then roughly chopped

2 to 3 jalapeños, stemmed and roughly chopped ( If you want a mild sauce, cut in half and remove the seeds.)

½ small white onion, roughly chopped

1 large clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Add chopped tomatoes, jalapeños, onion and garlic to a blender. Process the mixture until pureed. Heat the lard/oil in a medium-large skillet. When it is hot enough for a drop of the mixture really sizzle, add it all at once and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, as the puree sears and cooks into a thicker, more orange-colored sauce. Season with salt and taste to see if more is needed. This can be made well in advance.

6 medium-thick, store-bought corn tortillas, left uncovered overnight or dried out in the oven at 350°F

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 ½ cups tomato-chile sauce from above

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup boneless, cooked chicken (use rotisserie chicken or I use leftovers from grilling chicken the night before)

¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

1/3 cup sour cream thinned with a little milk or cream to make it smooth

2 tablespoons crumbled Mexican queso fresco or queso añejo or feta (but you really should go the Mexican route for the full effect)

1 thin slice of white onion, broken into rings

Cut the tortillas into eights. If they feel moist, dry the pieces for a few minutes in a 350°F until feel leathery.

Pour the oil into a medium-size skillet set over medium-high heat. When hot enough to make a tortilla piece sizzle, add half the tortilla pieces. Turn them frequently until they are lightly browned and nearly crisp, then remove and drain on paper towels. Fry and drain the remaining tortilla pieces.

Reduce heat to medium-low and discard any oil that remains. Return the tortilla pieces to the skillet and add the sauce, broth, and optional chicken. Stir well to coat the tortillas, cover the skillet and simmer until the tortillas are soft but not mushy, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Scoop the mixture onto a warm serving platter.

Drizzle with the cream, sprinkle the cheese and decorate with onion rings. Serve immediately.

Serves 2 but easy to upsize

Sure, everybody makes avocado toast these days but take your taste buds to the next level with a tartine. This French term is used to describe any open-faced sandwich, but it makes your piece of avocado toast piled high with peppers and salmon sound more sophisticated.

2 ripe Hass avocados

1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

4 slices sourdough bread, toasted

1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers from a jar of roasted peppers

1 lime, cut in half

4 thin pieces of smoked salmon (sure you can add more)

Flaky sea salt optional

In a medium bowl, mash the avocados with the vinegar juice and a generous pinch of salt, leaving some chunky pieces. Divide the avocado among the bread slices, and top with peppers, drape the smoked salmon, squeeze of lime juice and a pinch of flaky sea salt. You could add a salad to make it a whole dinner. Or, make another tartine.

Serves 4

Adapted from Alison Roman in The New York Times

To my taste, there is no way someone could or should pull this off in the morning; even brunch would be pushing it. But if you plan ahead, this is a rewarding dinner. It’s also endlessly adaptable: Add sliced avocado, or swap in some smoked salmon to make Eggs Hemingway, or wilted spinach for the Canadian bacon to transform your dish into Eggs Florentine.

For the Hollandaise:

¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

3 large egg yolks

1 ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

¼ teaspoon cayenne or hot paprika, plus more to taste

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the poached eggs:

1 tablespoon white distilled vinegar

Kosher salt

8 large eggs

For the Benedict and assembly:

4 English muffins, split

8 slices Canadian bacon or thick-cut ham (or 8 slices regular, thick-cut bacon)

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

¼ cup chopped chives

2 tablespoons chopped dill, tarragon or parsley

Flaky sea salt

Coarsely ground black pepper

Make the Hollandaise: Melt butter in a small pot over medium heat until it’s foamy but not yet beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Place egg yolks and 2 teaspoons of water in a blender. Start blending, and, working very slowly, add the hot, melted butter until it’s all incorporated. (If it starts to get too thick to blend, add 1/2 teaspoon of water.) Add lemon juice and cayenne, though feel free to adjust the amounts to taste, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the Hollandaise to a small bowl, and place plastic wrap directly on the surface so it doesn’t form a skin. Set aside. (It will keep at room temperature while you work.)

Poach the eggs: Fill a medium pot with 3 inches of water. Add vinegar, season with salt and bring to a simmer. (Look for just a few bubbles; it should never boil.) Using the handle of a spoon or spatula, stir the water with a clockwise motion. Gently crack an egg into the center of the pot, letting the water swirl around it and allowing the white to envelop the yolk. Repeat with remaining eggs — you could probably do up to four at a time.

Check the eggs after 4 minutes: Use a slotted spoon to lift an egg out of the water, and feel the white for firmness. If it's not quite done, slide it back in for another minute or so. Let cook until the whites are just set, but the yolks are still completely runny for 4 to 5 minutes. Once eggs are perfectly poached, remove from the water, and let drain on a plate lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Set eggs aside.

Using a toaster, toaster oven, or regular oven, toast the English muffins until crisp and golden brown. Don’t be afraid to toast them thoroughly: They'll be covered in hollandaise and poached eggs and will need to be sturdy.

Cook Canadian bacon or ham (or bacon) in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown and just crisp at the edges, about 6 minutes.

Assemble the Benedict: Place eight halves of English muffin on a plate and butter them generously. Top each with a slice of Canadian bacon, ham or bacon, then a poached egg. Spoon Hollandaise sauce over and sprinkle with chives, dill, flaky sea salt and black pepper.

Join Feast for Sweet and Savory: Breakfast Focaccia

Don’t know what to cook tonight? Let the market tell you.

I love going to local markets when I travel. Since in most countries people shop from their street markets several times a week, they are buying the freshest vegetables to cook that night. Of course, another reason is most apartments don’t have room for a lot of food storage.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

When my wife and I stayed in Rome we were just around the corner from the Campo de Fiori, which has hosted a market for flowers and fruit and vegetable since 1869. After sunset, the area magically transforms into a spot perfect to meet friends, with plenty of restaurants and bars to fuel the crowd.

In Paris, we had an apartment in the third arrondissement on the Rue de Turbago, just a few blocks from the Marché des Enfants Rouges. This has been a covered market since1615 with produce, cheese and flower stalls. Yes, it was clear we were tourists as we slowly walked past each stall, looking like we had never seen a fresh artichoke before, but they figure tourists have to eat, too, so we might buy something.

The point is, not having a plan for dinner but looking to see what’s in season right now; it is the usual mode of shopping in Europe but we in America have come to rely on having just about every fruit and vegetable, every day of the year, on the shelf.

Here are three suggestions that call for vegetables that are now appearing in local markets but if the vendors have something else, go with that.

(Spring Vegetable Stew)

Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from "French Home Cooking" by the California Culinary Academy, written by Janet Fletcher and Hallie Donnelly Harron

A walk through any farmers market in France shows exactly what’s in season today: no avocados from Mexico or tomatoes from Chile. This recipe comes from the fertile region surrounding Paris but home cooks throughout the country practice la cuisine du marché (cooking from the market).

That also means this recipe is just a suggestion since what looks great in the farmers market when you go might be different. It’s better to select great ingredients and making it work instead of buying out-of-season vegetables, just to satisfy a recipe.

If you’re wondering about the producer of this one-of-a-series of informative cookbooks, the California Culinary Academy was a for-profit school, and an affiliate of Le Cordon Bleu; it moved around to a few locations in San Francisco. I remember eating a wonderful formal lunch in its restaurant when it was on Polk Street. Sadly, CCA sank under allegations that the school inflated job placement rates and a lawsuit.

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 shallots, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

6 boiling onions (small red, yellow or white onions, usually measuring about an inch or less in diameter, to be used whole) peeled.

4 ½ cups water (if you have vegetable stock, use that, but homemade chicken stock may overwhelm the flavors of the delicate vegetables)

6 ounces of small red potatoes, cut into ½-inch dice

12 finger-sized young carrots (They should have their green tops still attached to show they were freshly harvested.) Remove tops, leave whole

8 ounces baby yellow summer squash or zucchini, quartered lengthwise

8 ounces pencil-thin asparagus

5 ounces mushroom, quartered

¼ cups minced green onion

¼ cup minced parsley

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large, deep pan that will hold all the ingredients, over moderately low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add shallots and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes. Add boiling onions and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over moderately high heat, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer for 10 minutes.

Add potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add carrots and 1 cup of water and cook for 5 minutes. Add squash and 1 cup of water and cook for 5 minutes. Add asparagus and mushrooms, and cook until asparagus is tender-crisp, 5 to 8 minutes.

Raise heat to high. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and ½ cup of water. Bring to boil and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in green onion and parsley.

ey. Season with salt and pepper. Divide the mixture among 4 warm soup bowls.

(Fresh Fava Bean Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette)

Adapted from "Mediterranean Fresh" by Joyce Goldstein

Chef Goldstein is famous for her now-closed restaurant Square One, which was credited with popularizing Mediterranean food in the US. This book was born from the work she did for the Culinary Institute of America to develop a course “to show students that there is more to salads than the salad bar,” she says. She introduces this salad as a classic Mediterranean springtime salad from Spain. No doubt, the two-step shelling of fava beans takes some time, but you do get faster the more you do it.

3 cups shelled fresh fava beans (start with about 3 pounds in the pod)

½ cup sherry vinaigrette (see below)

1 large head of romaine lettuce, shredded

3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

2 spring onions, chopped (both white and green parts)

½ cups slivered Serrano ham

Prepare the vinaigrette

Cook the shelled fava beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh in cold water. Using the nail of the thumb, carefully cut then remove the outer peel from each bean. It may take a little time but you’ll get faster the more you do it. Place the peeled favas in a salad bowl. Dress them with half the vinaigrette and let them marinate for about 30 minutes. When ready to serve, toss the lettuce, mint and spring onions with the rest of the dressing and place on serving platter. Top with the favas and slivered ham.

Sherry vinaigrette:

¼ cup sherry vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to taste

Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. (Thrashing the oil in a food processor changes the taste of the oil, making it bitter.)

Adapted from "Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables" by Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg

Serves 2 but is easy to upscale

Pasta is amazingly adaptable to whatever is in season. Traditionally, this is a simple blend of eggs, pancetta and cheese for the sauce but Chef McFadden pushes this dish into the almost healthy category by adding English peas. This is a handy cookbook that matches the growing seasons more accurately by dividing them up into Spring, Early Summer, Midsummer, Late Summer, Fall, and Winter. He mentions in the headnote that you can swap out the peas with asparagus or thinly sliced sugar snap peas or add all of them.

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 ounces pancetta, cut into small dice (you can buy a 4-ounce package of already neatly diced pancetta at Trader Joe's. Just about any dish will welcome the extra ounce.)

Extra-virgin olive oil

8 ounces dried fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti

1 pound of English peas in their pods, then shelled, producing about 1 cup of fresh peas (Sure, you could buy the frozen peas at the supermarket but the goal here is to celebrate the first produce of spring, so please stay with me on this.)

3 scallions, trimmed (including cutting ½ inch off the green tops) thinly slice on an angle

1 small handful pea tendrils (optional but amps up the pea flavors.)

1 egg, whipped well with a fork in a little bowl (again, it helps to buy a farm-fresh egg)

½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I’m sure I don’t have to tell someone with your good taste not to use the already grated cheese in a can, yes?)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt until it tastes like the sea. (I know, I’m not sure what that tastes like, either, and I spent 5 years at sea in the Navy.)

Put the pancetta and a small glub of olive oil in a skill or Dutch oven that’s large enough to hold all the pasta. Cook until the pancetta is lightly browned but still slightly chewy, 9 to 12 minutes (or less if you’re using thinly sliced pancetta.) Season the pancetta very generously with pepper. Take the skillet off the heat, but don’t drain anything—you’ll use that fat!

When the water is at a boil, add the pasta and cook according to the package directions, until almost al dente (this is Italian for “to the tooth” meaning the proper degree of doneness for pasta or risotto; basically, somewhat chewy but not hard or mushy.)

When the pasta is almost ready, add the shelled peas to the pasta pot. Put the skillet back over medium heat and reheat the pancetta gently. With a ladle or a measuring cup, scoop out about 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.

Drain the pasta and peas. Whisk a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water into the fat and pancetta in the skillet, to make the bacon fat lighter and creamier by emulsifying it with water.

Pull the pan off the heat. Whisk some of that warm fat into the beaten egg to temper it (meaning to gently warm up the egg so that it doesn’t scramble when you add it to the hot skillet) then whisk the egg into the skillet.

Dump the pasta, peas, scallions, and pea tendrils (if using) into the skillet. Add both the cheeses and toss everything quickly and thoroughly to blend. Add a few more small splashes of the pasta water and keep tossing until the noodles are cloaked in a creamy sauce.

Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt or black pepper as needed. Serve right away. This dish does not wait.

The Napa Farmers Market had 27 farmers selling products on Saturday -- that's more farmers than the market has seen in at least a decade.

Jim Dawley of Houston, Texas husks corn at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday. Dawley was visiting family in Napa.

Vendor Princess Aisha Sibri gives Bailey Spears a sample of shea butter during the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday.

Gene Imprie enjoys some conversation with Agustin Lopez of R. Schletewitz Family Farm at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday.

Sisters Jaime, 3, and Jazzy Ballines, 7, sit together while enjoying some popcorn at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday.

Quinn Boyles, 3, shares her cookie with her grandmother, Cheryl Woods, at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday.

"Last Day for cut lavender" at the Napa Farmers Market, Sat. June 24, 2017.

Fresh cut sunflowers available for purchase at the Napa Farmers Market.

A stuffed dog greets customers at the Napa Valley Leathercraft booth during the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday.

Cameron Lovie poses with a succulent purchased at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday.

Vendor Princess Aisha Sibri poses with her shea butter.

The Burrata Toast available for $12 at Addictive Toast at the Napa Farmers Market.

Chicken and Waffle Cupcake available for $10 at Cacao Milk Bar at the Napa Farmers Market.

Carlos Islas with J&J Ramos Farms, Inc. attracts people to cherries and strawberries by calling out "Come get that yummy for your tummy" and "Don't be shy, come and try free samples."

Jesus Mendez purchases some produce from Yolanda Aguilar of Hamlow Ranches at the Napa Farmers Market on Saturday. Mendez said that he tries to come to the farmers market with his family as much as he can.

"It's always an adventure," he said. "Sometimes you find a nice corn -- nothing like a sweet, white corn for this kind of weather."

High demand for groceries combined with soaring freight costs and Omicron-related labor shortages are creating a new round of backlogs at processed food and fresh produce companies, leading to empty supermarket shelves at major retailers across the United States. Lisa Bernhard produced this report.

It’s always seemed odd to me that the brightest fruit appears in the dead of winter: Yes, I mean citrus in general and particularly Meyer lemons. They are at their peak of productivity now, just when we need something bright and cheerful in our meals. While walking my dog this past week I’ve come across more than one pile of Meyer or Eureka lemons in a box with a "FREE" sign stuck on the front.

As told by author Helena Attlee in “The Land Where Lemons Grow,” lemons first grew under taller trees in forests on the foothills of the Himalayas and were brought to the U.S. from Italy in the 1800s.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

Meyer lemons were introduced to the United States by agriculturist Frank Meyer, who was a special agent for the USDA sent to search China and acquire hardy crops. He discovered a small tree with bright yellow fruit in 1907, in a small village near Beijing that had a remarkable blend of flavor and less tart than the typical lemon.

What is now called Meyer lemon is a cross between mandarin orange and lemon, making them more fragrant and a touch sweeter than the Eurekas, the lemon usually sold in the supermarket. Read “The Food Explorer” by Daniel Stone to learn the story about Frank Meyer and the program’s founder, botanist David Fairchild.

I’ve turned into a die-hard Meyer lemon fan, planting what is now a prolific Meyer lemon tree in the backyard, and even when I run out, I buy Meyers at the store until they run out, too.

You may have encountered this classic topping, even if you didn’t know it had a formal name. This is a mixture of chopped garlic, lemon zest (the skin of the lemon without the white, bitter pith underneath) and Italian parsley.

I met my first gremolata in a class where we were making ossobuco, which are braised veal shanks, a specialty of the Lombardy region of Italy. And, we were taught, that of course ossobuco is always topped with gremolata and served with risotto alla Milanese. That’s what I love about food: You think you’re learning something simple, like gremolata, and next thing you know you’re making braised shanks.

1 medium bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (about ¾ cup chopped)

Zest from 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon. Used a zester to make this easy)

1 medium clove garlic, minced

Extra-virgin olive oil

Finely chop the parsley (thin stems are fine to include). On the cutting board, mix the parsley with the lemon zest and minced garlic, add a teaspoon or more olive oil and continue to chop everything until it is roughly mixed together. Scape into a small bowl to make it easier to serve.

This is a combination of several recipes I’ve seen but I credit John Mariani, author of “The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink” with the addition of anchovies. He doesn’t include it in the recipe for Ossobuco in his dictionary, but I found it online in an Ossobuco recipe he wrote later.

4 veal shanks, tightly tied (beef or lamb shanks also work)

Flour for dredging

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

2 anchovies, chopped

2 sprigs of fresh oregano

2 garlic cloves

1 piece fresh lemon peel, about 1 inch long

Kosher salt and fresh black pepper

1/2 cup dry white wine

1 14 ounce can chopped Italian-style tomatoes with juices

1 ½ cups chicken broth

In a bowl, dredge the shanks in flour and shake off excess. In a large casserole dish, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and, when hot, add the shanks. Brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Add onions to casserole dish and cook until golden, about 10 minutes. Add carrots, celery and anchovies, cook for 3 minutes. Add oregano, garlic, lemon peel, a dash of salt and pepper, white wine, tomatoes, chicken broth and shanks. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 1 hour or more.

Transfer the shanks to a bowl. Turn heat up to medium-high and boil sauce till reduced by about one-fourth and thickened about 15 minutes.

Transfer 1 1/2 cups of the sauce to a blender or food processor and puree. Return puree to casserole dish along with shanks and collected dripping. Adjust salt and pepper, heat for 5 to 10 minutes, and serve with risotto and gremolata on top.

Adapted from “The Lemon Book” by Ellen Jackson

Serves 4

Preserved lemons are a great way to be able to use the kiss of lemony acid year-round and I make a jar at least once a year. I had come down to just one last preserved lemon in the refrigerator, so I started hunting for a recipe that would be a good use of it. Where else to look but "The Lemon Cookbook."

I love these cookbooks that tightly focus on just one ingredient so when you want (or need) to use it you can see the whole kitchen table of possibilities, and not have to skim through several books or hours on the Internet. I served this spicy dish to warm up during the recent cold spell we suffered, afraid that my little collection of citrus trees might not survive it. They seem okay so far but we’ll see if more freezing temperatures come our way this year.

2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1 inch by 1 inch dice, removing as much fat as possible

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Sunflower oil or other high smoke oil

1 medium yellow onion, large dice

1 preserved lemon, skin only, rinsed, de-seeded, and chopped. Recipe to make them is below

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout (translates as "head of the shop" and implies a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. It is a North African spice blend available at Whole Spice in the Oxbow Market.)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon harissa, you can add more if you really like it hot ( I love the Tunisina Traditional Harissa from Les Moulins Mahjoub, available at Hudson Greens & Goods in the Oxbow Public Market at or online)

3 cups chicken stock (as always, it helps to have real chicken stock and not the stuff from a box)

2 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 325°F. Pat the meat dry with a paper towel (so it will brown, not stew in its own juice), and season well with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven with a lid, warm the oil over medium-high heat. Browning the beef in two batches, add the beef, and sear it for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Be careful not to crowd the pan. Remove the browned meat to a large bowl (to catch the accumulating juice) and sauté onions in the same pot, stirring frequently to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot. When the onion has softened, add lemon, garlic, Ras el Hanout, cumin, coriander, and harissa and stir often until aromatic. Return browned beef to pot along with juices in the bowl. Add stock, thyme, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste.

Cover pot and braise in the oven for about 2 hours, until meat is tender. Serve over warm rice or couscous and topped with chopped Italian parsley and cilantro leaves, if you like.

Preserved Lemons

Not only does this add a sophisticated splash of flavors and acid with just about anything you’re cooking, it’s a great use of lemons when you have a happy lemon tree loaded with fruit. I’ve seen recipes that add cinnamon sticks and coriander, black pepper, and other spices but I keep mine simple. Please note: It will take at least a month for the lemons to start being transformed by the lemon juice and salt, so you do have to plan ahead. Once converted, the lemons seem to keep forever, so I always have a jar of preserved lemons in my refrigerator, ready for adventure.

8 or more organic, unwaxed lemons. Wash thoroughly and dry.

Box of Kosher salt

1 quart glass jar with a lid that you can seal

Wash 4 to 5 lemons, then quarter each one lengthwise, but don’t cut all the way through. Take each one and pour salt into it and then slide it into the jar, jamming them together as close as possible. Pour more salt over the lemons, then juice the remaining four lemons, adding the juice to the jar. You may need more lemons to juice with the goal to cover the cut lemons completely with juice. Seal the jar and place it in the refrigerator, shaking occasional to distribute the salt over the lemons. In a month or two, the acid and salt will have transformed the skin of the lemons. I grow my lemons without pesticides but this seems to work for any type of lemon.

Servings 4

There are endless recipes for lemon-based desserts on the Internet, so if this doesn’t pull you in, try another lemon dessert, but this is an easy, tasty mix of lemon and ricotta.

9 ounces all-purpose flour

4 ounces sugar

4.5 ounces unsalted butter (yep, if you bake you gotta get an electronic scale)

1 whole medium egg at room temperature

1 medium egg yolk at room temperature

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 pinch salt

For filling:

12 ounces ricotta

5 ounces sugar

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

2 eggs

Place the flour, sugar, lemon zest, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix to combine. Add the butter cut into cubes. Mix the butter into the flour mixture with your hands (or using the paddle of a stand mixer). Once the mixture resembles bread crumbs, make a well in the center and add the yolk and the whole egg. Only mix with fingertips, otherwise too much kneading could alter the taste of the pastry. Mix to form a soft smooth ball. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Roll out the dough into ¼ inch thickness with the help of a rolling pin. Place in a greased 9-inch cake pan also attach the edges of the pastry to the cake pan. Remove the hanging pastry edges with the help of a sharp knife. You can cut them into thin strips and use them to decorate the crostata giving it a classy look. Prick the base of the pastry with the help of a fork.

For the filling, blend the eggs with the sugar. Add the lemon zest and the ricotta. Beat till fully combined. Leave to refrigerate for half an hour. In the meantime, preheat the oven at 350°F for 35 to 40 minutes Pour the filling into the pastry shell, place it on a sheet pan for easy handling and bake in the oven until light golden brown and firm.

If you are resolved to cook from home, these tips from experts should help. Buzz60’s Keri Lumm reports.

These shrimp and pesto bowls are delicious, healthy, pretty and take less than 30 minutes to prep. In other words, they’re basically the ultimate easy weeknight dinner.

After a long day of work sometimes you just need a comforting recipe that can feed the whole family in less than an hour. This meatloaf sheet pan dinner does just that.

Juicy chicken thighs are cooked in the same pan as baby potatoes and kale for a satisfying meal with the added bonus of minimal cleanup.

This works as a main course with warm crusty chunks of country bread. To drink? How about a merlot or a chilled beer? Enjoy.

Special occasions call for special meals, like those you might enjoy at some of the best steakhouses in America. Whether you’re looking to celebrate an anniversary, birthday or holiday, it’s actually pretty easy to cook a steakhouse-worthy meal at home.

Life has been less than sweet this past year. So, what could be better than a chocolate caramel dessert to cheer us up on this holiday of love?

Chocolate cream pie isn’t just a diner special; it’s the perfect dessert for any celebration. We love the added flair of chocolate curls on top, but a pretty dollop of whipped cream on each piece would look just as elegant.

.

Why would you ever eat at thistle? Because with a little work you’re rewarded with a great taste.

The most famous, or at least best tasting, flowering plant in the genus of thistle-like perennial plants is the artichoke. They are native to the Mediterranean region, so you can see why they grow well in Napa, plus the Middle East, northwestern Africa, and the Canary Islands. The ancient Greeks and Romans dined on artichokes, or at least on cardoons, which lands between the modern artichoke and the common thistle in both size and appearance.

I’ve grown Globe artichokes here in Napa (hang on, this is not turning into the Master Gardeners’ column) but with just a small back yard I had room for only one artichoke plant, so I treated it like an ornamental plant, not picking the blubs but allowing them to produce beautiful purple flowers. But when the buds are allowed to mature, they become fibrous and inedible.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

When you’re buying artichokes, and now is a good time to start buying them at the farmers market, there are a few things to look for: Artichokes should feel heavy when you pick them up. If they feel light, they're probably dried out from being stored too long.

Pick up the artichoke to make sure the leaves squeak. Again, if it’s been stored too long, they go dry. The leaves should be tightly closed with just a little separation, not loose, which happens as it ages. Their peak season is spring and fall so if a vendor has a notice this fall that says “frost kissed” that is considered a good sign by artichoke lovers.

So, now that you’ve bought it, the next questions, how do you cook and eat it? If this is your first time face-to-face with an artichoke, it’s not obvious what is edible and what to toss away. I’ve tried to make it clear by choosing these three recipes how to remove the excess and what to keep. If your learning style is more visual, there are plenty of YouTube videos that show you how to do it.

I know, I know, lots of people simply like to steam them, and then pull each leaf off, which has just a tiny amount of the heart attached, and dip that end into melted butter.

The first time I ate in a fine-dining restaurant was in college, when a friend of mine and I saved up and went as a treat. For some reason, we thought eating artichokes sounded sophisticated but when they were served, we saw others in the room pulling off the leaves, dipping them in a ramekin and scraping the ends with their teeth so we followed suite.

It seemed to be a waste of time and butter. Well, the only thing I really could taste was butter and I had a mess of leaves on the plate, making it hard finding the heart, which is edible and really what most people want out of this exercise. So, here are three ways to really enjoy an artichoke.

Serves 4

Adapted from The Los Angeles Times, May 31, 2006 article by Russ Parsons

1 lemon

4 medium artichokes

1 tablespoon salt

¼ pound wood chips (preferably oak or hickory)

Olive oil

Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice into a large saucepan with 6 cups of water. Add the lemon halves to the water.

Trim the artichokes to hearts, leaving the stems intact. Begin by holding the artichoke in your left hand with the stem facing toward you and the tip facing away. Slowly turn the artichoke against the sharp edge of the knife while making an abbreviated sawing motion. (It’s easier to control if you use the base of the knife rather than the tip.) You will begin to cut through the tough outer leaves; when you can discern the natural cone shape of the artichoke, adjust the knife to follow it.

Keep trimming just like this until you’ve cut away enough of the tough leaves so that you see only light green at the base. Cut away the top half-inch or so of the tip of the artichoke and dip the artichoke into the lemon water to keep the cut surfaces from discoloring.

With a paring knife, trim away the very tip of the stem, then peel the stem and base of the artichoke, going from the tip to where the base meets the leaves. You’ll have to do this at least five or six times to make it all the way around the artichoke. When you’re done, there should be no dark green tough spots left, only pale green and ivory.

Dip each artichoke in lemon water to prevent browning, then cut in half lengthwise. If there is a hairy choke in the center of the heart, remove it (a serrated grapefruit spoon is easiest; a teaspoon will work too). Put the cleaned halves in the lemon water and repeat for the remaining artichokes.

Add the salt to the soaking water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook just until the artichokes are tender at the heart, about 15 minutes. Remove the artichokes to a plate with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool and dry.

Place the wood chips in a bowl, cover with water and soak at least 30 minutes. Light a fire and when it is medium-hot (when you can hold your hand at grill level to a count of three), add the wood chips. Let them flame up and die down.

Brush the artichokes lightly with oil and place around the outside of the grill. Cover and cook for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove the lid, turn the artichokes and cook another 3 or 4 minutes, just until lightly bronzed on both sides. Watch carefully as they will go from golden to charred very quickly. Remove to a serving platter.

Mr. Parsons serves this with aioli, which, as he writes “is nothing more than raw garlic pounded with a little salt and a couple egg yolks into a sticky paste, with just enough olive oil beaten in to make it creamy.” I like the Judy Rodgers’ old fashion, hand-whisked version from her Zuni Café Cookbook, which she calls Lemon Mayonnaise.

Lemon Mayonnaise

Produces between ½ cup to ¾ cup.

Adapted from "The Zuni Café Cookbook" by Judy Rodgers

1 egg yolk

A few pinches of salt

½ to ¾ cup mild-tasting olive oil (don’t use the expensive, single varietal extra-virgin olive oil. Those flavors will get lost)

½ fresh lemon

Whisk the yolk with a pinch of salt. Whisk in a trickle of oil, then another, gradually increasing the flow to a stream, whisking constantly to maintain any emulsion. The sauce will begin to turn opaque and tacky.

Keep adding oil until the mayonnaise is a little firmer than you like, then add a long squeeze of lemon juice. Drop another pinch of salt on the lemon juice, then whisk again. Taste and whisk in more lemon, salt, or oil to taste.

(Fonds d’Arichauts Farcis)

Serves 6

Adapted from "Simple French Food" by Richard Olney

I’ve always loved Mr. Olney’s writing style of giving strongly opinionated directions as if he’s speaking to you but keeping them brief enough to fit on a single page. A self-taught cook, writer and painter, he was a contemporary of Julia Child and James Beard and friends with chef Alice Waters and writer James Baldwin. He also seemed to know every winemaker and famous restaurant in France, where he lived in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region. He wrote several cookbooks before he passed away but maybe is best known for editing the massive 27-volume series, “The Good Cook” for Time-Life.

Court bouillon

1 quart water

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

10 to 15 coriander seeds

1 teaspoon mixed herbs (thyme, savoy, oregano, marjoram)

1 bay leaf

Ingredients

8 large artichokes

Lemon halves (for rubbing the cut sides)

12 unpeeled garlic cloves

¼ cups rice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt, pepper

Lemon juice

Chopped parsley

Combine the elements of the court bouillon, bring to boil, and leave to simmer, covered, while turning (see directions in the first recipe for peeling and trimming) the artichoke bottoms, rubbing each with lemon the moment it is turned.

Add the bottoms and the garlic cloves to the court bouillon and simmer, covered, until the flesh is just tender, but still slightly firm (usually about 15 minutes but the time may, depending on the age and initial tenderness, varying from 10 to 30 to 40 minutes).

Remove the six most handsome specimens, put them aside on a plate to cool and leave the two others to cook another 10 minutes or so until very tender. Pour the contents of the saucepan into a sieve, collecting the court bouillon in another saucepan, bring back to boil, add the rice, and rook, covered at a simmer for about 40 minutes or until very soft. Drain well in a sieve.

Remove all the chokes, gently prying them loose with a teaspoon, squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins, and purée the two well-cooked bottoms, the rice, and the garlic together through a stainless steels sieve (they may, first, be put rapidly through the coarse blade of a food mill—once cooked and not permitted to remain in contact with the metal, the artichokes will not be altered).

Work the purée, using a wooden spoon, to a fine, firm, cream consistency, adding the olive oil, salt freshly ground paper, and a little at a time, the lemon juice until seasoned to your taste. Stuff the bottoms with this mixture, mounding it nearly with an inverter tablespoon; serve cold, but not chilled (fragments of pimento, stewed tomato, chopped parsley or black olive may lend a decorative note.)

(Carciofi alla Giudea)

Serves 6

Adapted from "The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink" by John Mariani

In Italy, artichokes are usually served boiled with a dipping sauce oil and lemon or stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs. Mr. Mariani writes that this recipe “is a Roman specialty associated with the former Jewish ghetto there.”

6 artichokes, trimmed as in other recipes above

1 lemon

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon pepper

2 cups olive oil

Lemon slice, for garnish

Clean the artichokes by removing the outer leaves and fibrous choke from the centers, leaving the tender leaves intact.

Slice off about one-third of the top of each artichoke. Rub the artichokes with lemon or place in lemon water to prevent discoloration.

In a small mixing bowl, combine the salt and pepper, then sprinkle the mixture on the artichokes, making sure the mixture goes between the leaves.

Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan and cook the artichokes, standing up, for about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with a few drops of cold water so that steam will cook the insides. (It is traditional to do this by placing one’s fist in cold water, then releasing the moisture over the artichokes.)

Remove the artichokes from the pan and set on a plate. Using tongs, carefully pick up the artichokes by their bottoms and place them, top down, into the hot oil until they are golden brown. Serve with slices of lemon.

Guests to the Oxbow Market this summer will be able to discover an oasis of Moroccan food across from the Ritual Coffee stand. Michelin-starred chef Mourad Lahlou, proprietor of acclaimed restaurants Aziza and Mourad in San Francisco says his new restaurant in the Oxbow, Moro Napa, will offer the food and spices reminiscent of food stalls at Jemaa el-Fnaa, a popular night market he frequented growing up in Marrakesh.

Jorge Velazquez, a native of Napa, former butcher at Charter Oak, and a personal friend of Chef Mourad, will run the kitchen with his guidance. In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle (yes, I did submit some thought-provoking questions to his representatives but chefs are busy trying to keep their restaurants afloat during a pandemic so no response by press time), he said he hasn’t finalized the menu, but it will focus on grilled meats served alongside flatbreads, fresh salads, wraps, and spreads, like those served at his casual restaurant Aziza.

“It’s food that people can enjoy multiple times a week,” he said. “I don’t want people to come just once a month.”

There have been lots of changes in Napa’s restaurant mix since the pandemic began. Paul Franson, who writes the informative NapaLife weekly newsletter, listed at least 20 restaurants that he knows have closed, but reports that plenty more are planning on opening.

The Oxbow Market has experienced its own upheavals, which will provide space for the new venture. Moro Napa will be located in the current home of C Casa, a taqueria that will be able to expand its offerings to include full plates by moving across the market into the larger space previously occupied by Todd Humphries’ Kitchen Door. The new Kitchen Door will reopen downtown in the First Street Napa complex across from Compline restaurant in early 2022.

Other chess moves at Oxbow Market include Fieldwork Brewery taking lock, stock, and (beer) barrels to the former Cru space at the northwest corner of the complex. This opened a space for another Michelin star chef, Christopher Kostow of The Restaurant at Meadowood (currently being rebuilt after burning down in the 2020 Glass Fire), and the casual Charter Oak, will soon open Loveski, with his wife, Martina Kostow. The restaurant is described as a Jew-ish deli. Nope, I don’t know what the fine line between Jewish and Jew-ish deli is, either, but I want to try it anyway.

But the big news to me is Napa Valley attracting an acclaimed chef from outside the valley bringing a cuisine we haven’t seen a lot. Chef Mourad immigrated to the United States when he was 17 years old, joining his brother, Khalid, eventually earning a BA and master’s degree in economics from San Francisco State University.

To earn money during school he got a job waiting tables at a Moroccan restaurant, Mamounia. He felt the restaurant didn’t deliver the flavors of his childhood so he eventually began cooking at home, relying on memories of his mother’s cooking and lessons from his grandfather at the market.

This led to him hosting Moroccan dinner parties at home and that success prompted his brother to suggest they should start a restaurant. Unlike most good cooks who are told by their friends that they should open a restaurant, they actually opened a successful restaurant, Kasbah, in San Rafael and when the lease ran out in five years, moved back to San Francisco, launching their new restaurant in the Outer Richmond as Aziza, named after their mother. In 2010, it became the first Moroccan restaurant in the U.S. to be awarded a Michelin Star. Mourad received a Michelin Star in 2015, its opening year.

What is Moroccan food? Gripping the western coast of North Africa, Morocco is a mysterious location for many. The only connection many have in the U.S. is they may have seen the 1942 movie "Casablanca" (shot completely in a California movie studio) or read the books by Paul Bowles.

If you’re an adventurous cook, you probably have a cookbook or two by Paula Wolfert, who travel extensively in Morocco, focusing her first cookbook there with “Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco” and wrapped up her writing career eight books later with “The Food of Morocco.”

Like many nations, Morocco is a rich blend of several cultures, starting with its indigenous population, the Berbers, which was invaded by a series of neighbors, including the ancient Romans and later, the Arabs. France and Spain fought over territory eventually Morocco a protectorate of France and it wasn’t until 1956 that it became the Kingdom of Morocco.

Beyond Mediterranean fruits and vegetables, spices are used extensively in Moroccan food, ranging from anise to caraway, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, coriander, fennel, fenugreek, nutmeg, turmeric, and sesame seeds. The goal is complexity, not heat. Morocco spreads between the Mediterranean and the Atlanta, so plenty of fish dishes along the coast but much of the area is mountainous and borders Algeria to the east, and Western Sahara to the south. The dish people are most familiar with is couscous, which are tiny steamed granules of semolina flour, traditionally served with a stew spooned on top.

While self-taught, Chef Mourad has attracted a lot of star power to his cooking. His cookbook, "Mourad: New Moroccan," published in 2011, is not a collection of classic Moroccan dishes but provides education on spices and techniques before laying out Moroccan recipes that he has adapted to U.S. ingredients and rethought to modernize it. The back of the book features glowing blurbs from famous chefs such as Thomas Keller, Jacques Pépin, José Andrés, Eric Riper, and the late Anthony Bourdain. There is so much praise, the publishers ran out of room on the back cover so they had to tuck Daniel Patterson, David Kinch, and Charles Phan reviews on the inside cover.

In a press release, Steve Carlin, founder, and managing partner of Oxbow Public Market added, “Oxbow Public Market continues to evolve and add exciting new options to our market mix. Moro Napa is an example of that evolution, and our diversification. We couldn’t be happier for the Napa community that Chef Mourad has decided to join the market.” I just hope the Napa community will try a cuisine that they may not be familiar with and, at least for lunch or dinner, take that trip to the night market in Marrakesh.

Can’t wait to try his food? Here is a simple recipe from Chef Mourad’s book to get you started.

From "Mourad: New Moroccan" by Mourad Lahlou

Serves 6

Marinade

3 tablespoons sweet paprika

1 tablespoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped thyme

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Chicken:

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Vinaigrette:

1/4 cup finely diced preserved lemon rind

1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Marinade: Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Trim the chicken breasts of excess fat. Remove the tenders and reserve them for another use. Cut the meat into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Add the chicken to the marinade and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or as long as overnight.

Vinaigrette: Whisk all the ingredients together. Set aside.

Chicken: Soak 6 long wooden skewers in cold water for 30 minutes.

Lift several pieces of the chicken at a time from the marinade and squeeze them over the bowl to drain the extra marinade. Skewer the chicken, leaving 1/4 inch between the pieces to allow all sides of the chicken to cook evenly.

Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Place the skewers on the grill and cook for 2 to 3 minutes without moving them, to mark the chicken. Turn the skewers 90 degrees to mark with a crosshatch pattern and grill for another 1 minute. The marks should be well browned but not burnt. Turn the skewers over and cook for about 2 minutes to finish cooking the chicken.

Carefully remove the chicken from the skewers and place it in a bowl. Toss with a light coating of the vinaigrette, and serve the extra vinaigrette on the side.

Sure, I should have had this ready on February 1 to kick off the Chinese Lunar New Year but, at least I turned it in the first month of the Year of the Tiger, so that’s good luck, right?

I have several Chinese cookbooks and I’ve taken some introductory cooking classes, but I feel uncomfortable trying to teach someone else Chinese cooking when I don’t really have a grasp of it myself. But, throwing together a quick weeknight dinner using my wok is something I’ve done enough that I can pass along a few easy recipes that anyone can make.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

It all begins with a good wok. Yes, you can use a large nonstick pan or lots of people use their old cast iron skillet, but a wok is not a huge investment and with care, it will last forever. My current one I’ve had more than 20 years and you can see the nice patina that has built up as a naturally nonstick surface.

A brochure I picked up at The Wok Shop in San Francisco shares the aphorism: “Woks, like friendship, improve with age and care.” If you don’t have a wok, you can buy it online but there is an array of iron, carbon steel and even nonstick electric (but please, leave that one on the shelf.)

If you’re in the market for a wok or other wok-related cooking gear, it’s worth a trip to Chinatown and have someone talk you through what kind of stove you have (gas/electric/induction) and the type of cooking you want to do. Again, I’d recommend The Wok Shop, 718 Grant Ave. San Francisco.

Food writer Grace Young interviewed the owner, Tane Chan, for tips in her work “The Breath of a Wok.” Visit their wokshop.com for store hours, a map to the store and ideas on what to buy. If nothing else, visit the website for video directions on how to season your wok, depending on the type of stove you have, and how to maintain it.

Why not just use a large, nonstick pan? The wok is an amazing instrument that originally sat in a hole on a small stove, concentrating the heat to the round bottom and leaving the sloping sides cooler, so the cook can move the food to the hot section or push it up into the cooler sides.

The design also allows the cook to burn a small amount of wood to heat the stove with only a tiny amount of oil to cook dinner, important features in ancient China. To use a traditional wok on a modern stove, usually you’ll need a wok ring to support the sloping sides or buy a flat bottom wok that allows it rest on the cooking grate without support.

The first mistake many cooks make is they heat the wok and start adding the first ingredients, then try to measure something or cut up the protein or vegetables while the garlic and ginger are starting to burn. Stir-frying is about using high heat and ingredients cut in small portions so the cooking process is very quick: You must have everything measured and cut up, next to the wok and ready to add.

If you want to learn more, read Grace Young’s comprehensive book on the history, selection and using a wok, “The Breath of a Wok.” And, look for a new book that is scheduled to release this March, “The Wok: Recipes and Techniques” by J. Kenji López-Alt of Serious Eats food and drink website (a great source of information on equipment and a wonderful guide to recipes, ingredients…well, just about anything food related.)

Scallion and Ginger Lo Mein

Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal

Adapted from "The Breath of a Wok" by Grace Young

I know, I’ve endorsed this book already, but I’ve found it a great introduction and inspiration to using my wok. This is a classic Hong Kong-style dish but Ms. Young says, even though it clearly says lo mein and you’d assume you’d use lo mein noodles (often available in an Asian market or you may find dried or frozen ones in a supermarket) she says to use won ton noodles, which are thin like vermicelli, or use dried angel hair pasta.

1 teaspoon oyster sauce

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 ½ teaspoons salt

¼ teaspoon ground white pepper

12 ounces fresh won ton noodles (see note about alternatives)

1 ½ quarter boiling water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 scallions, finely shredded

3 tablespoons finely shredded ginger

In a shallow serving bowl combine the oyster sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, ½ teaspoon of salt and the white pepper. In a large pot bring 3 quarts water to a boil over high heat.

When the water comes to a rolling boil, add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and the noodles. Return to a rolling boil and boil according to the package instructions or 15 sections, just to al dente. Carefully pour out the hot water and add several changes of cold water, swishing the noodles to remove surface starch. Drain thoroughly in a colander. Pour the 1 ½ quarts of boiling water over the noodles and again drain thoroughly. Transfer to the serving bowl containing the oyster sauce mixture and combine.

Heat a 14-inch wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds of contact. Swirl in the vegetable oil (this means swirling the container as you add the oil so it covers the sides of the wok.)

Add the scallions and ginger and stir-fry 30 to 40 seconds or until the scallions are just wilted but still bright green. Spoon wok mixture over the noodles and pour in any remaining oil from the wok. Toss thoroughly to combine, then serve immediately.

Adapted from J. Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats

Serves 4 with other dishes

This classic dish originated in the Sichuan Province of south-western China and includes Sichuan peppercorns. The neighboring province of Guizhou, has a variant of Kung Pao chicken using ciba fermented chili paste instead of Sichuan peppercorns for its heat.

Lots of books and Internet sites offer a King Pao Chicken but leave out the Sichuan peppercorns, thinking their audience would never use them. If you have a wok, it’s worth buying Sichuan peppercorns at an Asian grocery or on line. I admit I often replace the roasted unsalted peanuts with cashews because I like cashews more (that’s the beauty of cooking for yourself.)

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat, and cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces

2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided

2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, divided (or dry sherry, if unavailable)

1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided

1/3 cup peanut oil

1 to 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns toasted in a hot skillet for 30 seconds until fragrant, divided (see note)

3 scallions, whites finely minced, and greens finely sliced, reserved separately

1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar (or distilled white vinegar if unavailable)

1 tablespoon Sichuan fermented chili-bean paste (or generic Asian chili-garlic sauce if unavailable)

2 teaspoons sugar

12 hot Chinese dry chili peppers, seeded (you may want to reduce if you’re not a fan of really spicy food)

2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 1/2 cup total)

Combine chicken, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons Shaoxing wine and 1 teaspoon cornstarch in a medium bowl and mix thoroughly. Allow to marinate in fridge for at least 30 minutes, and up to two hours.

Grind half of Sichuan peppercorns in mortar and pestle. Combine with scallion greens and reserve. Combine scallion whites, garlic, and ginger in small bowl.

Combine remaining soy sauce, remaining Shaoxing wine, remaining corn starch, black vinegar, chili-bean paste, and sugar in small bowl and mix until cornstarch is fully dissolved.

Set fine-meshed strainer over a small heat-proof bowl. Heat peanut oil in a wok over high heat until shimmering. Add remaining Sichuan peppercorns and dried chiles and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Drain in strainer. Pick out chiles and reserve the oil to use in the next steps. Discard peppercorns.

Return wok to high heat until smoking. Add 1/4 of the oil and immediately add half of the marinated chicken. Spread in even layer with spatula. Cook without moving for 1 minute, then cook, stirring and tossing constantly until barely cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer to a medium metal bowl.

Wipe out wok with paper towel, add another 1/4 of the oil, and repeat with remaining chicken.

Wipe out wok with paper towel, add another 1/4 cup of the oil, and cook leeks until charred in spots but still slightly crisp, about 1 minute. Add peanuts, reserved chiles, reserved chicken, and remaining oil to wok and push to side to make space in the center of the wok.

Add garlic/ginger mixture and cook, stirring mixture constantly until aromatic, about 15 seconds. Toss entire contents of wok together and add sauce. Cook, stirring and tossing constantly until chicken is coated in glossy layer of sauce. Stir in scallion greens and ground Sichuan pepper. Transfer to serving plate and serve immediately with steamed white rice.

Adapted from “Xi’an Famous Foods” cookbook by Jason Wang with Jessica K. Chou

Serves 2 but easy to scale up

This is from the cookbook from a small chain of Chinese restaurants in New York City. Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi Province in northwest China and famous as the starting point for the Silk Road, or really routes, between China and Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Europe.

And, it was the hometown of David Shi, who moved his family to America (first Michigan and then New York City) for more opportunities. He eventually started a tiny restaurant selling the food of his hometown, which became celebrated locally enough that Anthony Bourdain and his film crew visited and made them nationally famous. The owners served him this dish and guests began to ask for the dish that Bourdain loved. I was introduced to the book when it was chosen to be our next Cooks & Books cookbook (thanks, Betty Teller!) where each member of our group picks a recipe and makes it for the group. Yes, a book club that tastes as good as it sounds.

10 ounces boneless lamb leg (partially frozen to make it easy to slice thin)

1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch

2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 green onion, trimmed and chopped

1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced

1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoon Red Chili Powder (This is a homemade blend of 1 pound of dried Tianjin red chile peppers, cleaned and roasted in the oven in vegetable oil, then ground. Not up to that? Try red chili powder which is not authentic, but you may get your dinner on the table before midnight.)

½ medium red onion, sliced

1 longhorn pepper diagonally sliced (These are 6- to 9- inch fresh green chilies that are much larger than comparable varieties and have an unusual "curl" at the tip-so, the name "longhorn." I’ve read that they are similar to red Italian long hots.)

Carefully slice the lamb into 1/8-inch thick pieces (easier to cut if partially frozen). Place the sliced lamb into a large bowl along with the cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of the vegetable oil. Mix together with your hands. In a wok heat the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil over high heat for 1 minute. Add the green onions, ginger, and garlic and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the lamb and stir-fry for about 5 minutes.

When the meat turns an even brown color, turn the heat down to low, add the cumin, salt, and chili powder and stir to combine. Add the onions and longhorn pepper, stir to combine and serve.

At the restaurant, this is served mixed with Biang-Biang Noodles, which are handmade, and hand-ripped fresh wheat noodles, wide, thick, and chewy, which you can learn to make from the cookbook also. However, I did read on a food blog: “I have lived in China since 1996. I don't know anyone who makes their own noodles, either fresh or dried. So much easier (and cheaper) to buy them.” I did find some wide, flat Asian noodles online or try Pappardelle: the large, broad, flat noodles used in Italian cooking

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Napa Valley winery Heitz Cellar has filed a lawsuit against one of its cask suppliers, claiming the company sold them barrels that were faulty.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

The Most Popular Super Bowl Snacks, , According to Instacart. The Most Popular Super Bowl Snacks, , According to Instacart. Just in time for Super Bowl LVI, Instacart has released its second annual Snacktime Report. . The report uses Instacart's purchase history and Harris Poll survey data from over 2,000 American adults. . Fox News reports that besides revealing the most popular chips, dips and drinks in the U.S., the report also reveals some other interesting data. . 99% of Americans plan on eating chips while tuning in for the big game. . 99% of Americans plan on eating chips while tuning in for the big game. . Tortilla chips came out with a slight edge over potato chips, 76% to 70%, respectively. . Tortilla chips came out with a slight edge over potato chips, 76% to 70%, respectively. . When it comes to ordering wings, Maryland led the top 5 ahead of Mississippi, Connecticut, Georgia and New Jersey. 65% of those surveyed somewhat or strongly agreed that boneless wings are little more than glorified chicken nuggets. . According to the data, the great dip debate continues to divide the U.S. Guacamole was the number one dip in 17 states, while 19 other states were divided between cheese dips (9 states) and salsa (10 states). . Guacamole was the number one dip in 17 states, while 19 other states were divided between cheese dips (9 states) and salsa (10 states). . Guacamole was the number one dip in 17 states, while 19 other states were divided between cheese dips (9 states) and salsa (10 states). . As for beverages, the report only looked at the alcoholic variety, though according to Fox, the non- alcoholic category has exploded in recent years. . As for beverages, the report only looked at the alcoholic variety, though according to Fox, the non- alcoholic category has exploded in recent years. . According to the report, beer showed its superiority by taking eight out of the top 10 spots. . Fox reports that a number of hard seltzers and canned cocktails rounded out the list.

Comparing a can of ventresca tuna to a can of Charlie the Tuna is like comparing an Italian luxury car Maserati to a humble German Volkswagen. The first is impossibly silky smooth and refined, the second is pleasant enough but no excitement. Can they really be the same thing? Well, not really.

The Spanish are masters at picking — or catching — a product at its peak and immediately preserving it in a can. On a trip a few years ago, my wife and I saw high-end taverns in Madrid that only serve foods from cans, and we’re not talking SPAM.

The best example is bonito, (genus Sarda), a tuna-like schooling fish of the tuna and mackerel family, which migrates north off the coast of Spain. During the summer they fatten up for their return journey south. At the peak of their feeding, the tuna is line-caught, filleted by hand, boiled in seawater and canned in olive oil (which is good enough to use as a sauce).

This allows the fishermen to select only the best fish at the time they’re hauled on board, ensures other fish are not a by-catch, and doesn’t rely on nets that can damage the sea bottom.

Look for bonito del Norte (Northern Beauty) on the side of the can. This signals it is the rich white albacore tuna. A step up in quality and price is ventresca, the belly of the tuna. You’ll find this cut listed on the menu of Japanese restaurants as toro. The standard U.S. supermarket canned tuna in water is skipjack, recognizable by its pink/grey color.

Great canned tuna is the perfect product to stock your cupboard: It keeps forever, and you can pull it and the can opener out and plate an appetizer or simple meal in a moment.

The first question I get, after doing my sales pitch of how good this tuna is: where can I find it? Whole Foods and Oxbow Public Market both carry Ortiz Spanish Bonito del North and I have bought ventresca at Oxbow. Scroll through tienda.com for tuna, Piquillo peppers, and all things in Spanish food that can be captured in a can.

Or check the Italian online food market in New York City, gustiamo.com, for bluefin tuna caught in Sicily plus some other great, but expensive, foods.

One of the best ways to enjoy this tuna is to simply chop it up and stuff it into piquillo peppers (which is another example of great preserved food: usually in glass bottles). These are warm red, beak-shaped peppers with a roasted, sweet flavor from Spain. Heat them on a griddle or warm in an oven and serve as a tasty appetizer that all you had to do was open two containers.

If you want to get more sophisticated, this silky tuna tastes great when dressed up. Here are three ideas.

Serves 8 to 10 as a tapa, 4 to 6 as a side dish

Adapted from "The New Spanish Table" by Anya von Bremzen

How did the Russian Salad — which originated in that country but was first known as “Olivier Salad,” since it was invented in the 18th century by Lucien Olivier — become widely popular in Spain? No one is sure. Since its creation, different regions of Europe have developed their own variations but a few core ingredients remain: potatoes, eggs, carrots, pickles, onions, peas, and a mayonnaise-based dressing. Ms. Von Bremzen writes that it is very popular throughout Spain but found her favorite recipe at a tapas bar in Barcelona called Estrella de Plata.

3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut in half

1 large carrot, cut in half crosswise

1 small turnip, cut in halt

3 ounces green beans, trimmed

1 cup peas, cooked

6 ounces Spanish tuna packed in oil, drained, and flaked with a fork

2 roasted piquillo peppers, diced (Piquillo peppers are worth a whole article themselves)

3 hard-boiled eggs (2 finely chopped, 1 grated)

20 pimiento-stuffed green olives

7 best-quality oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped

1/3 cup mayonnaise (or more to taste)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

Make the salad: Place the potatoes, carrot, and turnip in a medium-size saucepan. Add water to cover by 2 inches, bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until all the vegetables feel tender when pierced with a skewer, about 15 minutes for the carrot and turnip, a bit longer for the potatoes.

As the vegetables become soft, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl. Take care not to overcook. Bring the water back to a boil, add the green beans, and cook until tender, about 5 minutes (they should be neither al dente nor overcooked). Drain the beans, blot them dry with paper towels and set them aside. Let the vegetables cool to room temperature.

Peel the potatoes, carrot, and turnip, then cut them into small dice and transfer to a mixing bowl. Cut the green beans into 3/4-inch lengths and add them to the bowl with the diced vegetables. Then add the peas, tuna, roasted peppers, and the 2 chopped eggs. Using a sturdy fork, mash the salad until it has a chunky-creamy consistency.

Make the dressing: Place the olives, anchovies, 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise, and 3 tablespoons water in a blender and process until a medium-fine paste forms.

Stir the olive mixture into the salad. Place the remaining mayonnaise and the lemon juice into a small bowl and whisk to mix, then stir into the salad. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you'd like the salad to be moister, add more mayo. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the salad stand for about 2 hours. (You can make the salad up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate it and let it come to room temperature before serving).

To serve, spoon the salad on a shallow serving dish and garnish with the grated egg.

Makes 8

Adapted from "Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition" by Gerald Hirigoyen with Lisa Weiss

This comes from the San Francisco restaurateur Gerald Hirigoyen, chef-owner of Piperade and the sadly closed Bocadillos. Pintxos (pronounced PEEN-chos) are tapas from Spain’s Basque country. As Chef Hirigoyen, who was born in that northern region next to France, writes in the headnotes to this recipe, “The beauty of many pintxos is that they can be prepared in an instant if you have a can opener and a well-stocked pantry.”

1 piquillo pepper

1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained

¼ cup pitted brined-cured black olives, such as Saracena, Amfissa or Niçoise

¼ cup Aioli (recipe below) or you could use prepared mayonnaise if you’re really in a hurry

8 diagonally cut baguette slices, about 5/8 inch thick

1 4 ½-ounce can tuna belly (ventresca packed in olive oil), drained and broken into 8 equal pieces

3 tablespoons rind from preserved lemons, sliced in very thin (1/8 inch or less) strips. You can buy these at specialty stores, online or make yourself

Aioli:

Makes about 1 cup

2 or 3 garlic cloves, skin removed and left whole

Kosher salt

1 whole egg

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more, to your taste)

1 cup olive oil or sunflower oil (I’ve found that the violence of the food processor makes the extra virgin oil taste bitter)

Chopped preserved lemon for garnish

With the side of a chef’s knife, crush the garlic cloves on a cutting board, and then sprinkle 1 tablespoon of salt over them. Then mince the garlic to a paste, scraping and spreading it a few times with the knife.

Transfer the garlic paste to a food processor and add the egg and lemon juice. Add about 2 tablespoons of the oil and process for 1 minute.

With the motor running, add the remaining oil in droplets until the mixture begins to emulsify. Then add the oil in a fine, steady stream until all of it has been incorporated and the mixture is the consistency of mayonnaise.

Taste and add more salt or lemon juice as needed. Transfer to a bowl to use. What you don’t use is great on sandwiches or salads, so it never goes to waste.

On a cutting board, finely chop together the piquillo pepper, capers, and olives. Transfer to a small bowl, add the aioli, and mix well.

To serve, mound the pepper mixture on the baguette slices, dividing it evenly. Top each mound with a piece of tuna and a little chopped preserved lemon.

It’s not just Spaniards who love bonito del Norte tuna, although I don’t know if this is recipe can be found in Italy. At least it combines Italian ingredients with the oily tuna and only takes a few minutes to throw together.

Penne pasta about ½ cup per person

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or more as needed

1 or 2 garlic cloves, minced

Cherry tomatoes – 8 to 10 per person, cut in half (Yes, you could use canned tomatoes, but the cherry size just works better)

Kosher salt

1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano

1 4-ounce can of Bonito del Norte tuna

Handful pitted black olives, cut in half

Cook the pasta following the manufacturer’s instructions. Once the pasta is boiled, drain, reserving a little of the cooking water to pour it into the pan.

Drizzle olive oil in a pan, and when it is hot, add the minced garlic. Just as the garlic begins to brown, add the tomatoes. Crush them a little with the spoon to release the juice. Add a dash of salt and oregano. Add a little of the pasta cooking water. (This is why you should never toss it out until you know if you need it or not.)

When the tomatoes have softened and juice is sizzling, add the tuna, a little of the oil from the can, and the sliced black olives. Mix well to integrate the flavors. Mix all the ingredients well and serve immediately.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit. Her neighbor, Tony Martinez, built the pantry for Zuniga.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit. After her HOA objected to the structure, she's faced with moving or closing the pantry.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit. After her HOA objected to the structure, she's faced with moving or closing the pantry.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit. Pictured here are neighbors Frances and Tony Martinez, with Rhonda and Jose Zuniga.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit. After her HOA objected to the structure, she's faced with moving or closing the pantry.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit. After her HOA objected to the structure, she's faced with moving or closing the pantry.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit. After her HOA objected to the structure, she's faced with moving or closing the pantry.

Rhonda Zuniga of 489 Canyon Creek Drive in American Canyon opened a free food pantry when COVID-19 hit. After her HOA objected to the structure, she's faced with moving or closing the pantry.

Former NFL teammates Michael Griffin and Brian Orakpo transitioned from the football field into teammates in business as Cupcake Guys. Sports Illustrated's Madelyn Burke spoke with Michael Griffin about how he set himself up for the next chapter of his life.

I have a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in my backyard, its limbs loaded down with lemons that should turn ripe in a few months but I’m in no hurry.

I have a jar of preserved lemons from last year’s harvest that captures the fruit’s sunny acid and lemony scent and I’ve been using them in 2021 to jazz up lots of Middle Eastern dishes.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

I use the Meyer lemons picked from my tree, which are more fragrant and a touch sweeter than Eureka lemons, but Eurekas are the typical lemons you’ll find in the supermarket, and they will work great for this transformative process.

1 clear glass quart jar with a lid

8 lemons (since you’ll eventual eat the rind, it pays to buy organic lemons)

Kosher salt

Wash the inside of the jar and lid with hot, soapy water, then dry. Juice 4 of the lemons. Cut an "x" through the stem end of the remaining 4 lemons most of the way through the lemon but it needs to remain connected.

Place a big pinch of salt in each lemon as you slide it into the jar, open end of the lemon up. They should fit tightly in the jar.

Slowly pour salt around the lemons most of the way up the lemons, add the lemon juice, and then a bit more salt. The lemons should be covered in juice and salt; if not, juice another lemon and add more salt.

Seal with the lid. Yes, I know this doesn’t sound scientific, but the goal is to completely cover the fresh lemons with salt and lemon juice and let them do their work. Lots of recipes add red chilies, rosemary, cloves and so on but they are not necessary and can cloud the pure flavors of preserved lemon that you want.

Some folks leave the jar on the kitchen counter to speed up the transformation, but I tuck them away in the back of the refrigerator and don’t even look at them for at least a month. The lemons will soften, become intensely flavored and, of course, a bit salty.

Moroccan Fish Tagine with Tomatoes, Olives, and Preserved Lemons

Serves 6

Adapted from "Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking" by Paula Wolfert

Emily Kaiser in "Unforgettable, The Bold Flavors of Paula Wolfert's Renegade Life" states that Ms. Wolfert introduced Americans to Moroccan preserved lemons with her first book, "Couscous," in 1973. They became one of her signatures, appearing in the pantry sections of several of her later books.

Paula Wolfert has been a dominant voice on Mediterranean food since her first book, and added to that knowledge with her two books on Morocco, plus another about dishes from the eastern Mediterranean, and an excellent book on the food of Southwest France.

One of her books focused on Mediterranean Clay Pot Cooking, and years ago I happened to run into her at the now-closed Bram Cookware on the Sonoma Square, which featured clay cookware from the Mediterranean and Middle East.

This recipe creates a chermoula, a bright, garlicky herb sauce from North Africa. Often used as a marinade or an accompaniment for grilled seafood, it’s great to boost the flavors of just about any mild dish. Ms. Wolfert uses a 12-inch Moroccan tagine to cook this dish, but also suggests a Spanish cazuela, a 3-quart flameware dish or even a La Chamba shallow baking dish.

Chermoula

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1 1/2 teaspoons crushed hot red pepper

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

4 wedges preserved lemons, rinsed, pulp and peel separated

3 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound monkfish fillet or thick slabs of halibut

1 large carrot, very thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, peeled and very thinly sliced

1 pound of red ripe tomatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

1 small green bell pepper, sliced into very thin rounds

2 dozen Moroccan red or picholine olives, rinsed and pitted

2 dried bay leaves, preferably Turkish

Sprigs fresh cilantro, for garnish

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and cook until toasted and fragrant, grind to a fine powder. Transfer cumin to a mortar or jar of a blender and add garlic, salt, paprika, hot pepper, parsley, cilantro, pulp of preserved lemon, and olive oil. Puree to make a charmoula, using a pestle or by blending to a smooth sauce.

Rinse fish and pat dry. If using monkfish, cut away grey membrane and divide the fish into 4 equal pieces. Rub half of the charmoula all over the fish; let stand for 1 hour at room temperature or up to 24 hours, refrigerated. Add 1/2 cup water to remaining charmoula, cover, and keep refrigerated.

About 1 ½ hours before serving, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread 2 tablespoons reserved charmoula over the bottom of a tagine: sprinkle with carrots and celery. Add half of the tomatoes and bell peppers; top with fish and drizzle with some of the charmoula. Add remaining tomatoes and bell peppers and spread remaining charmoula over top.

Chop preserved lemon peel and sprinkle around fish along with olives and bay leaves. Cover tagine tightly with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour.

Remove tagine from oven and pour liquid from dish into a small nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup; pour back over fish.

Increase oven temperature to 500° F. Baste fish with pan juices and bake, uncovered, in top third of oven until a crust has formed over the vegetables, about 10 minutes. Transfer tagine to a wooden surface or a folded kitchen towel to prevent cracking. Garnish with cilantro sprigs; serve warm or hot.

Spatchcocked Chicken with Preserved Lemon Marinade

Serves 4

Adapted from "Flavors of the Sun," by Christine Sahadi Whelan

I’ve been using preserved lemons for years, but I had to buy "Flavors of the Sun" cookbook to push me to go beyond chopping up a section of preserved lemon to making a preserved lemon puree that you could slip into just about any recipe to turn it up to 11. Sahadi is a famous spice store in New York City, and Christine is the fourth generation to work in the family business. Her goal is help nonprofessional cooks to enjoy using their wide range of Middle Eastern spices in simple, family-friendly recipes. Yes, of course, the goal is for us cooks to use more of their spices and foods so we’ll buy more, but, I’m happy to do that if it helps produce a great dish.

1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper, plus more for garnish

1 tablespoon Preserved Lemon Puree (recipe below)

4 or 5 sprigs fresh lemon thyme or Greek oregano, plus more for garnish

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Freshly ground black pepper

Fine sea salt

One 3 to 3 ½ pound chicken, backbone removed and flattened or 4 whole leg quarters

1 fresh lemon, cut in wedges, for serving

Combine the oil, Aleppo pepper, lemon puree, herbs, garlic and black pepper in a mixing bowl or sealable plastic bag. Adjust the salt, depending on your preserved lemons you may not need to add more.

Add the chicken and turn to coat with the marinade. Cover or seal and in bag and refrigerate overnight or let stand at room temperature for 30 to 40 minutes.

When ready to cook, heat a barbecue grill or ridged grill pan until very hot. Place the chicken on the grill, skin side down and place a heavy skillet on top. Weight the skillet with a few cans or a brick (I have a couple that I have washed and wrapped in aluminum foil in the garage, ready for duty) to ensure the chicken is well-pressed and will make contact with the grill grates. Grill for about 15 minutes or until the skin is crisp and nicely marked.

Turn the chicken, move it slightly away from the hottest part o the grill (or reduce the heat to medium if using a pan) and cover. Cook until done, another 15-20 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer registers 160° F. in the thickest part of the thigh. Transfer to your cutting board, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes before cutting into serving pieces and arranging on a platter. Garnish with herb sprigs, and Aleppo pepper and serve with lemon wedges.

Preserved lemon puree

If you don’t have your own preserved lemons on hand, they are easy to find in Middle Eastern stores, some supermarkets and plenty on the Internet.

Quarter 1 or 2 preserved lemons and pick out any seeds. Puree the pieces in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a tightly covered jar and use by the spoonful to season soups, stews, dressings, and potato salads. Ms. Whelan uses it in everything from vinaigrettes to risottos, dips for seafood and more. She says it will keep for 1 month, but I’ve always used up my supply by then.

Strozzapreti with Spinach and Preserved Lemon

Adapted from Philip Krajek in the September 2013 Bon Appétit

Given the love of lemons in Italy, you’d think preserved lemons would be a popular condiment there, but in a quick search of my Italian cookbooks, I didn’t see a mention. Strozzapreti, however, is famous in Italy. It translates as "priest-choker" or "priest-strangler" and is an elongated form of hand-rolled pasta found in the northern Italian regions of Emilia-Romagna, Tuscany, Marche and Umbria. Stories abound about its origin, but all suggest an anticlerical sentiment.

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided

1 garlic clove, crushed

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, divided

¾ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs but easy to find in the supermarket)

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

12oz. fresh strozzapreti (I replace it with Bucatini, a thick spaghetti-like pasta with a hole running through the center that we found everywhere we ate in Sicily. In Napa I buy it at Whole Foods and the Oxbow Market.)

2 bunches flat-leaf spinach, trimmed, large leaves torn in half (about 8 cups), divided

1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon (or more) thinly sliced preserved lemon peel

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat oil and 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat until butter is foaming. Add garlic and ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Add panko and cook, stirring often, until panko is golden brown, about 2 minutes. Mix in lemon zest and transfer panko to a paper towel–lined plate. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool; set aside. Wipe out skillet.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (about 5 minutes for fresh pasta). Drain. Meanwhile, heat remaining 6 tablespoons butter in same skillet over medium heat. Cook, swirling skillet occasionally, until butter is brown, about 3 minutes. Add 1 bunch spinach; cook, tossing, until wilted, about 1 minute.

Add pasta to skillet and toss to coat. Add lemon juice, preserved lemon peel, and remaining ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes and toss to combine, season with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice and preserved lemon peel, if desired. Add remaining spinach and toss until slightly wilted, about 1 minute.

Serve pasta topped with reserved panko.

Napa Valley winery Heitz Cellar has filed a lawsuit against one of its cask suppliers, claiming the company sold them barrels that were faulty.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

RGB version

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Making applesauce at home is extremely easy and can be done with just a few basic ingredients. To make homemade applesauce you will need the following ingredients: 4 apples that are peeled and chopped, one cup of water, one-quarter cup of white sugar, and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. You could also add other warming spices such as ginger, nutmeg, or cloves. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool before mashing it with a fork or potato masher. If you want your apple sauce to have a smooth texture, you can put it in a blender instead. You can also replace the sugar with maple syrup or honey to naturally sweeten your applesauce. To make your applesauce stand out, try adding a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Applesauce is a perfect autumnal snack and can be eaten with ice cream, oatmeal, and granola, among other things

When little rice grains are growing up they all want to become risotto. Why? Because it’s a simple rice dish but wrapped in creamy luxury.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

Sure, it sounds a bit like paella and pilaf, where the rice is also cooked in a bubbling liquid, often with other ingredients, depending on what is on hand. But there are a couple of important differences.

First, is the rice. Years ago, a friend of mine mentioned he tried to make risotto, but it never became creamy and thick like he had been served in a restaurant. I asked what kind of rice he was using. He shrugged, “You know, whatever I had on the shelf.”

Clearly, his parents had failed to have THAT talk with him: It was time for a heart-to-heart discussion about rice. First, there is brown rice, which had its outer hull removed but retains the bran layers, which give it a tan color and act as a barrier to heat and moisture, so it takes longer to cook. Then, there is white rice, which has its bran layers removed by the mill and it’s divided into three categories.

Long-grain: 3-4 times long as wide and when cook the grains are separate and fluffy (meaning, they don’t cling together).

Medium-grain: shorter and plumper than long grain. Grains are moist and tender when cooked and tend to cling together more than long grain. It has more amylopectin, which is starch that swells in hot water and forms a gel.

Short-grain: almost round in shape. Grains are moist and tender when cooked and cling together more than long-grain. It also has more amylopectin then long-grain rice.

To make a true risotto, the cook needs short-grain rice (see the note about short grain rice) that has been classified as superfino. The three that are usually found in the store are Arborio, which is the least expensive and more available; Cioalone Nano, which is starchier and makes a creamier risotto, but many professional chefs prefer Carnaroli, which has the highest starch content, firmer texture, and longer grain. It also takes the longest to cook.

Risotto can be as simple as rice, white wine, chicken stock and Parmesan cheese grated in just before serving. Once you’ve mastered that, you may want to start fashioning more complex risottos by adding whatever vegetable is fresh in the market or topping it with seafood or meat.

Tips for making risotto: While these are different dishes, the common denominators are you need high-starch rice and a heavy, wide pot. You’ll always need to toast the rice and whatever stock you use needs to be hot. Oh, and don’t use a metal spoon to continuously stir the rice, it will badly markup your pot. Use a wooden spoon or I’ve switched to silicone spoons that are made to take the heat. You can safely toss them into the dishwasher when you clean up.

People often ask about stirring the rice constantly: Do we really have to do it? When I took a course at CIA Greystone years ago, one of the dishes we learned was a classic risotto. We had one team make the rice, stirring almost constantly; the other team made the same recipe but finished it in the oven instead of stirring. And, just like a wine class, we served it blind and asked all of the students and staff to guess. Most voters picked the constantly stirred rice as the winner, so ignore the directions at your peril.

A bit of risotto history: While everyone associates wheat pasta with Italy, rice is also a much-loved starch. It was first brought to Sicily via Spain by its Muslim rulers in the 8th or 9th century. Sicily was ruled by the Arabs from 827 to 1061. From there, it made its way to the Po Valley in what became Northern Italy. By 1522 farmers in the Po Valley were using complex watering systems for rice cultivation, allowing it to become a major part of the northern Italian diet.

Serves 4

Legend has it this dish was first created sometime in the 16th century, during the construction of Milan’s Duomo (cathedral). Either the master glazier or his apprentice (depending on the story) regularly used saffron to stain the glass windows yellow, and they started adding it in the risotto. While a great story, the first printed recipe for Risotto alla Milanese appeared three centuries later in the 1829 cookbook "Nuovo Cuoco Milanese Economico." This saffron-flavored classic became a traditional accompaniment to ossobuco, wine-braised veal shanks.

4 cups chicken stock

Pinch of saffron threads

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 small yellow onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

Dash of salt

2 cups Carnaroli rice (but Arborio rice works great, if that is what you have)

½ cup dry white wine

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, brought to room temperature

½ cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Bring chicken stock to boil, add the saffron, then reduce heat to keep hot (but not boiling). Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy 4 quart saucepan. Add onions, garlic with salt and sauté briefly until soft and turning clear, but do not allow to brown.

Add rice and stir frequently until rice is opaque and glistening. Add the wine and cook, stirring constantly until the liquid is almost absorbed. Then begin adding the hot stock by half cup at a time, stirring steadily until the liquid is almost completely absorbed.

Taste a couple of rice grains to make sure they are cooked completely (they shouldn’t be chalky inside). If not done, add a splash of hot water and continue to stir.

When all the stock and water is absorbed, add the soft butter and grated cheese. Serve in warm bowls immediately. At the table I always grate a little more Parmigiano Reggiano on top.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Serves 4

Adapted from Jeanine Donofrio, Love & Lemons website

My wife and I had just purchased a hefty butternut squash from the farmers market and I was wondering what new dish I could make with it when I received the latest cheerful email newsletter from Love & Lemons. While her dishes are vegetarian, she doesn’t push eliminating meat and the great flavor makes you forget to ask about it. The same techniques highlighted in the introduction still apply; you’re simply adding another flavor and color to the tapestry.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (She stays away from butter but I used a mixture of butter and olive oil.)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cubed butternut squash, ¼-inch cubes

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon minced rosemary or sage

1 cup uncooked Arborio rice (again I like carnaroli rice but use what you have)

½ cup dry white wine

4 cups warmed vegetable broth

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, brought to room temperature (Ms. Donofrio did not add the traditional butter at the end of cooking but when I tested the recipe, I certainly did. Your call.)

Chopped parsley or small sage leaves, optional, for garnish

½ cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, optional, for serving

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, salt and several grinds of pepper, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the butternut squash and cook for 6 to 8 minutes.

Add the garlic, rosemary, and the rice. Stir and let cook for about 1 minute then add the wine. Stir and cook for 1 to 3 minutes, or until the wine cooks down.

Add the broth a half cup at a time and stir continuously to allow each addition of broth to be absorbed before adding the next. Cook until the butternut squash is tender, and the risotto is soft and creamy. Season to taste. Garnish with parsley or sage leaves and serve with grated cheese, if desired.

Serves 4

By Chef Jack Amon, Marx Bros. Café, Anchorage, Alaska

When I lived in Anchorage, I took several cooking courses taught by Chef Amon. The Marx Bros. Café was (and remains) one of the top-rated restaurants in the state so during the frantic summer season, the café was too busy to allow a bunch of amateurs to mess up the kitchen but when winter came, the flow of tourists froze up, too, so another way to attract customers was a series of cooking and wine classes each year.

4 cups of vegetable stock, homemade or from the store (Yes, I do use chicken stock and it tastes great.)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 leeks, white part only, washed and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

½ cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and chopped (These are not a critical addition, so if you want more mushroom taste, just leave out the tomatoes)

2 cups sliced wild mushrooms, your choice

2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in one cup of warm water

2 cups Arborio rice (Chef Amon uses Vialone Nano.)

1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary needles

2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

In a heavy pot bring stock to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and season to taste with salt and pepper.

In a heavy skillet over medium-high, heat the olive oil, then add the leeks, garlic, and carrots. Sauté gently until vegetables begin to soften, about 4-5 minutes.

Add the salt, sundried tomatoes (if using) and wild mushrooms and cook gently for an additional 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to soften. Remove the porcinis from the water, reserving the liquid. Coarsely chop the rehydrated porcinis and add to the skillet.

Add the rice and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until the rice is coated with oil and begins to glisten. Take care not to burn the mixture.

Add the wine, stirring constantly until most of the liquid is absorbed. Begin adding the hot stock, a half cup at a time. Stir almost constantly and allow the stock to be almost completely absorbed before adding more.

When all the stock is absorbed, add the rosemary and sage. Stir in the butter and Parmigiano. Serve immediately on warm plates, passing additional Parmigiano at the table. Chef Amon likes to garnish this dish with grilled red and yellow bell peppers and grilled Portobello mushrooms.

A look inside Tarts de Feybesse, a new enterprise from pastry chefs Paul and Monique Feybesse.

Napa Valley winery Heitz Cellar has filed a lawsuit against one of its cask suppliers, claiming the company sold them barrels that were faulty.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

The sun was already starting to go down and I still had no idea of what to make for dinner, which is kind of embarrassing if you write about food.

Ken Morris

One of the things I learned while I was in the Navy is not to panic if your ship is sinking and mine appeared to be taking on water.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. Special offer: $5 for your first 5 months!

So, I calmly checked my shelves to make sure I had an onion and garlic (check yes), which is the start to just about anything. The other items I needed were a well-stocked spice rack (check yes), plus plenty of leftovers (check yes). Yes, I had all the makings of soup, and I didn’t need to drive to the store.

I could have also made some vegetarian tacos because I had plenty of tortillas in the refrigerator ready to deploy, but gloomy skies and the chance of rain seemed to require hot soup.

I first describe the soup I scrounged up and then a couple of easy soups that you can also quickly put together.

Serves 4

We’re adding something, of course, but we’re consuming leftovers that you already have and paid for, so, really, this costs you almost nothing.

At the farmers market, I had bought a butternut squash that I split in half and roasted, serving half of the chunks with pork tenderloin. The day before I had roasted a bunch of carrots from the farmers market, massaging them with some salt, nutmeg and za’atar (there is a culinary herb of this name, but this is a Middle Eastern spice mixture of dried thyme, oregano, sumac, toasted sesame seeds and salt) to boast the flavor.

I also had half of a yellow onion leftover from making tacos a few days earlier. By combining all these previously cooked vegetables with stock and more seasoning I’m building flavors on top of flavors. Yes, it is like the Food Gods pointing the way for me to create a great soup.

3 tablespoons sunflower oil

1/2 half yellow onion, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ of a roasted butternut squash, maybe 2-3 cups (or you could use any hard winter squash or a couple of sweet potatoes and roast them ahead of time). I roasted it with nutmeg and plenty of salt and a little butter at the end

5-6 roasted carrots, cut into half-inch pieces (no, I didn’t peel them before they roasted, but I did clean them thoroughly. There is nutrition in the peel and by the time they are done cooking, no one can see the peel. Removing the peel is just a fashion statement.) I roasted these with salt, the same smoked paprika as below and za’atar.

3 cups or more of chicken stock or use water

1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (I’ve mentioned before my undying love for Pimentón from La Vera region)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 tablespoon or more of cider vinegar or Sherry vinegar

Kosher salt to taste

Heat oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté, stirring often for 3 minutes or until tender. Add garlic and stir until you can start to smell it warm up, and then add the cooked squash, carrots, and stock. Stir often as the mixture heats up. Then add paprika, curry powder, cider vinegar and a hefty pinch of salt. Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook about 20 minutes or until vegetables are starting to fall apart. Pour half of the soup into a blender and pulse until smooth and repeat until the soup is velvety. I use an immersion blender (basically a propeller on a stick with a motor and sometimes you see it listed as a stick blender) and keep moving it around until the soup is velvety smooth. Taste the soup and add more salt or a dash more vinegar to brighten the taste. You shouldn’t be able to taste either one; these are to simply brighten all the tastes in the pan. Serve in bowls with a few chopped chives or cilantro on top as contrast.

Serves 4

Italians are masters of making a simple dish tasty: of course, that’s born from a long history of the average citizen often not having much to eat. To break up that monotony, I often think that’s why there are so many feasts and festivals. Carol Field, who was known for her books on Italian baking, also wrote “Celebrating Italy,” which features foods from feasts and festivals throughout the country. The softbound book that I have clocks in at 530 pages of recipes with almost no artwork. As Ms. Field wrote, “every day, somewhere in the country, people were celebrating.”

In Italy, the citizens of Tuscany are known as mangiafagioli — “bean eaters” — because they consume so many dried beans of all kinds and I found this recipe (not sure from where: my filing system of tossing printouts and torn out pages into large files is a little shaky) when my wife and I were in Florence many years ago.

When I went online to see if there were better versions, I ran into recipes that called for red kidney beans, kale stems, pasta shells and Gouda, Asiago and mozzarella all dumped into the stockpot. It felt like they were trying to make something simple into a complex soup, when really this is just a few good ingredients.

I use Rancho Gordo beans, not that I am on their payroll, but because their beans are fresh. Like a great wine, they sell so well that certain types run out and you must wait until the next harvest to buy them. With beans in the supermarket, you don’t know how long they’ve been there, and you don’t know how long the beans sat in a warehouse before they shipped here. The older the beans, the more dried out and longer they need to cook. Sometimes they never really taste done.

1 ½ cups dried cannellini bean (yes, you could use canned but if you have fresh beans, it’s worth the effort)

½ hambone

3 cloves garlic, chopped, plus 2 whole garlic cloves

6 fresh sage leaves

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 celery stalks, finely chopped

4 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped

8 cups chicken stock or water

4 slices coarse country bread

Rinse, then soak the beans in water to cover for 12 hours. Drain and set aside. Combine the ham bone, chopped garlic, and sage in a deep saucepan. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and cook over low heat until the garlic is golden (but don’t let it get too brown or it will turn bitter.) Add the celery, tomatoes, beans and stock, then bring to a slow boil.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the beans are tender: about 2 hours but start tasting the beans before then to see if they have turned soft. Remove the ham bone and season the soup to taste with salt and pepper. Remove half of the beans and puree them or use an immersion blender to smooth most of the beans but leave some for texture.

While the soup is cooking toast the bread in an oven until golden. Rub the toast on one side with the whole garlic cloves and place one in each of the soup bowls, garlic side up. Drizzle the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil over the toast and then sprinkle with a little pepper. Pour the soup in the bowls and serve immediately.

Serves 10

I got the idea of this spicy soup, sort of a cioppino but without Dungeness crab meat, from a recipe card I picked up in Williams-Sonoma years ago. The seafood selection is up to you. More shrimp if you like, cutting back on the mussels, or you could add crab meat if you just happen to have some on hand. The halibut and shrimp could be from the frozen food section of your grocery, and not add the fresh mussels. As always, it’s your dish, make it the way you want it.

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound Spanish chorizo sausage, cut into ¼ inch rounds

1 yellow onion, finely chopped

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, core remove and thinly sliced crosswise

5 garlic cloves, minced

½ cup white wine

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Pinch of saffron threads

5 cups chicken stock

1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes

1 strip of orange zest strip, 2 inches long, 1 inch wide

1 ½ pounds halibut fillets, cut into strips 1 ½ inches thick

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debearded

Kosher salt

¼ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika

¼ cups minced fresh Italian parsley

10 crostini, toasted golden in the oven

Place a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat and warm the olive oil. Add the sausage and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a plate, leaving the oil in the pan. Add the onion, fennel and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in the wine and simmer until reduced to about 1 tablespoon, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and saffron threads.

Return the sausage to the pan. Add the stock, tomatoes and orange zest and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the halibut, stir gently, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the shrimp and mussels, stir gently, cover, and cook until the shrimp are opaque and the mussels open, about 3 minutes. Discard any mussels that did not open. Season with salt and paprika. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls, garnish with parsley and serve with the toasted crostini.

CMYK version

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Napa Valley winery Heitz Cellar has filed a lawsuit against one of its cask suppliers, claiming the company sold them barrels that were faulty.

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

There are times when we all crave comforts, and nothing hits the spot more than your favorite food. According to Business Insider, every country has its go-to comfort food. French onion soup is popular comfort food in France. Ramen noodles are a comfort food in Japan as well as the United States. Fish and chips is the comfort food of Great Britain. Sausage rolls are comfort food in Australia.

Food can influence your feelings so when daylight diminishes and you have to bring out your winter coat, you know that is a good time to make that great mood enhancer: stew.

But right about now you’re wondering, what is the difference between a soup and a stew? The short answer is: liquid. The National Soup Control Board may disagree with me here but in soup, the ingredients will be completely submerged in liquid, or could just be liquid, while in stews, the meat, fish, or vegetables are just barely covered. Maybe an easier way to look at it is a stew is much heartier and thicker than a soup. How much heartier and how thicker? That’s a judgment call.

I’ve picked out three stews from three distinct areas, hoping that at least one of them will speak to you to make. Everyone needs a good beef stew in their recipe collection and the classic dish below has been updated so that you don’t have to cook it three hours in the oven.

Or, maybe amp up your mood with Capsicum annum in New Mexico’s Carne Adovada, which I found translated both as marinated beef and pickled beef, but you get the idea: this is going to be spicy hot.

Finally, one of the best uses of over ripe tomatoes and day-old bread comes from Italy: not spicy, but very tasty.

Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from “Dinner in an Instant” by Melissa Clark

This classic beef dish from Burgundy was a peasant dish in the Middle Ages when most people only had access to the tough cuts of meat, so slow cooking was essential to turning it edible. Traditionally, it was cooked over a two-day period to tenderize the meat and increase the flavor. France’s “King of Chefs” Auguste Escoffier created a recipe in 1903 turning this humble food into an expensive dish in restaurants of Paris and London.

These slow-cooked dishes really aren’t designed for households in which everyone works outside the home. The answer used to be the Slow Cooker, where a dish would bubble all day and you’d return home to a wonderful smell of a cooked dinner. Now, the answer is the Instant Pot, which really is the pressure cooker your grandmother used to canned beans combined with electronics to turn it on and off automatically, and slowly and safely release the pressure. It’s not cooking in an Instant, no matter what it claims on the brochure, but it is quicker than baking it in your Dutch oven.

3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes and patted dry

2¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced

1 onion, finely chopped

5 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick coins (Ms. Clark only uses one carrot but I love cooked carrots, so I upped it by 4 carrots. As always, it’s your meal so add or subtract as you want.)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon tomato paste

2 cups dry red wine

1 large bay leaf

1 large sprig of fresh thyme

8 ounces pearl onions (about 2¾ cups)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 pinch sugar

8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved if large (about 3½ cups)

1 teaspoon cornstarch, if necessary

Chopped fresh parsley, for serving

Season the beef with 2 teaspoons of salt and pepper, and let it rest while you sauté the pancetta.

Using the sauté function, cook the pancetta in the pressure cooker until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is browned and crispy, 7 to 12 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve the fat in the pressure cooker. (I’ve found it easier and quicker to do it in a large skillet since the cooking surface of an Instant Pot is fairly small.)

Increase the heat to medium-high. Arrange a batch of the beef cubes in a single layer in the skillet), leaving space between the pieces. Cook until well browned on all sides, 8 to 12 minutes, transferring them to a plate as they brown. Repeat with the remaining beef.

Stir the onion and carrots into the skillet, and cook until they start to soften about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour, garlic, tomato paste, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Then stir in the wine, bay leaf, and thyme sprig, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the browned beef and half of the cooked pancetta, stir and transfer everything to the cooker. Cover and cook on high pressure for 20 minutes. Allow the pressure to release naturally.

Open the lid, turn on the sauté function, and cook until the sauce is thick, 7 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pearl onions and mushrooms. (I have to admit the pearl onions are hard to find unfrozen and I often don’t add them. But, if you love onions, you often can find them cleaned in supermarket frozen foods aisle.)

In a large skillet set over high heat, combine the pearl onions, butter, and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, and then cover and reduce the heat to medium; cook until the onions turn golden brown, 15 minutes.

Uncover, add the mushrooms, raise heat to high, and cook, tossing frequently, until all the vegetables are well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. If the stew is not thick enough, combine a teaspoon of the hot liquid with the cornstarch, mix thoroughly and add back to the stew to thicken.

To serve, scatter the onions and mushrooms and remaining cooked pancetta over the stew, and then top it with the parsley. I like to serve it on top of broad noodles or mashed potatoes.

Adapted somewhat from The Shed restaurant in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Serves 8-10 people

I have five New Mexico cookbooks. They each feature a Carne Adovada recipe, and each are different but share many of the same ingredients. If you go online, you’ll go blind reading through thousands of carne adovada recipes out there.

This simple to prepare but tasty stew comes from the need to preserve meat during the days before refrigeration. Meat from a freshly slaughtered hog in November would be packed into red chili and pickled. Later, a portion would be brought out as needed for a meal.

Nowadays, most cooks simply cook pork shoulder or pork chops in the sauce or maybe marinated a day in advance. I tried Carne Adovada in a few Santa Fe restaurants but really liked The Shed’s version the best. I didn’t find their recipe online, so I had to combine the versions I had in my Santa Fe cookbooks that I picked up over the years to make something close. If you ever eat at The Shed, ask them if they’ll share their recipe.

Serve carne adovada with flour tortillas, a simple salad, and some beans or rice, and you have yourself a deliciously hearty and spicy meal. It also makes great leftovers for next-day burritos or, my favorite, tamales.

16 dried, New Mexican red chile pods (I’ve also used ½ cup of powdered New Mexico red chile stirred into the 2 cups of water so if you don’t want to handle chiles, that’s an alternative.)

3 tablespoons salt

4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons Mexican oregano

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (not always used or appreciated in New Mexico chile recipes but I like the taste.)

5 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 2 inch squares

Plenty of flour tortillas

Use scissors to remove stems from the chile pods and split the pod in half to remove all the seeds. Heat a cast-iron skillet or I use a cast iron Comal (griddle) and heat a few of the chile pieces at a time. The skin should just turn color. Don’t burn them or the sauce will taste bitter and don’t ask how I know. Speaking of warnings, make sure you turn the exhaust fan to high or do this outdoors. The fumes can sting like tear gas.

Place the pods in a medium bowl and cover them with boiling water. Let them sit for 30 minutes. Drain the water from the chile pods, but reserve at least 2 cups of the water.

Place pod pieces in a food processor or blender. Add the salt, garlic, oregano, and cider vinegar. Cover the mixture with the reserved chile water. Blend well for about 2 minutes or until the skins disappear (yes, you will need to run it that long to really dissolve the chilies: most people run it only for a few seconds and that’s not enough time).

Place the cubed pork in a plastic sealable bag and add the sauce. Thoroughly coat the pork by squeezing the bag so the sauce reaches all the pieces. Refrigerate for 24 hours.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. Special offer: $1 for your first 6 months!

Preheat oven to 325º F. Place pork and sauce in a large baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 3 hours, check the meat and leave the cover off and cook for another or until meat is so tender you can shred it with a fork. Once cool enough to handle, you actually shred all the meat. Rewarm when ready to serve. Warm up a stack of flour tortillas and serve with a simple salad and some beans or rice. Leftovers are great in a burrito or tamale.

Zuni Cafe Pappa al Pomodoro

Adapted from “The Zuni Cafe Cookbook” by Judy Rodgers

This cookbook is packed with tips and ideas that Judy Rodgers picked up over her cooking career and this recipe is a good example. “Tomato 'Pap' is a friendly staple of Tuscan Cookery,” writes Ms. Rodgers. “It is a good, easy dish to make when you have too many ripe tomatoes, a half loaf of yesterday's bread, and not much else.”

Located on San Francisco’s Market Street, Zuni Café is famous now, thanks to her cooking and her cookbook. It was heartbreaking news to the food world when she passed away in 2013. The New York Times obituary called her “a chef whose San Francisco restaurant, Zuni Café, helped transform the way Americans think of food through its devotion to local, seasonal ingredients meticulously prepared.”

About 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes

About 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup diced yellow onions

Salt

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 leafy branch fresh basil

Sugar (optional)

1/4 pound day-old, chewy, peasant-style bread, most crust removed

Freshly cracked black pepper

Core the tomatoes and trim of blemishes or under-ripe shoulders. Blanch or blister over an open flame, and peel about half of them. Leave the skins on the remainder. (Aside from giving the pappa more flavor, the skins give this version its distinctive texture.) Coarsely chop the tomatoes into 1/4-inch bits, taking care to capture all the juices. Collect the tomatoes and juice in a bowl.

Warm about 1/4 cup of the olive oil in a 4-quart saucepan or 3-quart sauté pan over low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. Stirring a few times, cook over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes while the onions soften and sweat in their juices; they will become translucent and sweeter. Once they are tender, stir in the garlic. Cook for a few minutes longer, then add the tomatoes, juice and seeds and another healthy splash of oil. Raise the heat and bring to a simmer.

Pick the leaves from the basil and set them aside, then push the stem into the sauce. Cook only long enough for the bits of tomato to collapse and release their skins, another 5 to 10 minutes. Watch the color of the sauce and stop the cooking just as it takes on the characteristic orange hue of cooked tomatoes. Taste for salt and for sweetness. If you find the sauce too acidic, add a pinch of sugar, but reserve final judgment until after you add the bread. You should have about 4 cups of sauce.

Remove the basil stem. Tear the basil leaves and add to the sauce. Tear the bread into fistfuls. Bring the sauce to a boil, add the bread, and stir just until it is saturated and submerged. Cover the pan with a tightly fitting lid, remove from the heat, and place in a very warm spot, or place over barely simmering water. Leave the bread to swell and soften for 15 minutes or so.

When you are ready to serve the pappa, give it a vigorous stir to break up the chunks of softened bread, taste again, and adjust for salt and sweetness.

Stir in a few more spoonfuls of olive oil to enrich the pappa and enhance its perfume. But don't over-stir the pappa once you've added the bread, lest you sacrifice its delightful lightness and pleasantly lumpy, irregular texture.

Offer cracked black pepper and extra-virgin olive oil with the pappa. Traditionally served by itself, the pappa is also great “as a side dish with roasted or grilled birds or with grilled lamb chops,” adds Ms. Rodgers.

Making applesauce at home is extremely easy and can be done with just a few basic ingredients. To make homemade applesauce you will need the following ingredients: 4 apples that are peeled and chopped, one cup of water, one-quarter cup of white sugar, and half a teaspoon of cinnamon. You could also add other warming spices such as ginger, nutmeg, or cloves. Combine the ingredients in a saucepan. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Allow the mixture to cool before mashing it with a fork or potato masher. If you want your apple sauce to have a smooth texture, you can put it in a blender instead. You can also replace the sugar with maple syrup or honey to naturally sweeten your applesauce. To make your applesauce stand out, try adding a tiny splash of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Applesauce is a perfect autumnal snack and can be eaten with ice cream, oatmeal, and granola, among other things

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Napa Valley winery Heitz Cellar has filed a lawsuit against one of its cask suppliers, claiming the company sold them barrels that were faulty.

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

“A roast chicken,” wrote the editors of the Poultry edition of the wonderful Time-Life Good Cooks series, “represents the best in home cooking.”

But, what if you’re not sure what to do with that pale, plucked bird you brought home from the grocery?

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. Special offer: $1 for your first 6 months!

Chicken is amazingly versatile so with just a slight change in cooking methods and altering a few of the aromatics (the plants, herbs and spices that impart fragrance and flavor to food) you can enjoy a completely different meal.

But, first, let’s talk about buying chickens. Most of the commercial, mass-produced chickens found at the grocery store were water-immersion chilled. This is where the carcasses are tumbled or pulled through a communal water bath supplemented with antimicrobials to inhibit microbial growth to lower the temperature to less than 40°F.

I’ve read reports that say on average, carcasses chilled using this system actually gained 5% of their prechilled weight. In effect, chickens are brined together in water and antimicrobials that are absorbed by osmosis. That’s why I always look for air-chilled chickens. Okay, with that suggestion, let’s get cooking.

(Chicken in a casserole dish)

Serves 4 with leftovers

Poulet En Cocotte (chicken in a casserole dish) is a classic Paris bistro dish. You can use any heavy, large dish with a lid but this method of cooking is so popular that the French cookware company Staub sells beautiful enameled cast iron pans with heavy lids that keep the steam from escaping called La Cocottes. (No, I don’t work for Staub but if they ask, I’d be happy to punch up their online copy for the English-speaking market).

This is a simple dish: chicken in a covered pot with chopped vegetables, cooked at a low temperature. But, instead of adding liquid to make a braise, no additional liquid is added so the meat cooks in its own juices. I’ve included a bit more liquid than a standard en cocotte so we can thicken the juice left behind to make a professional-grade sauce.

1 whole chicken, about 4-5 pounds

Kosher salt

Neutral cooking oil

2 tablespoons butter

2 onions, finely diced

2 celery ribs, finely diced

4 carrots, tip and top removed, cut into small rounds (Yes, I do leave the skin on. As long as you clean the carrots, the skin is nutritious and by the time it roasts for 2 hours, you can’t see the skin, anyway)

4-5 garlic cloves, skin removed, smashed

¼ cup chicken stock

¼ cup white wine (or you can use all stock or all wine)

A half bunch of fresh tarragon left on the stem

1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat the oven to 250°F. In the casserole, heat enough oil and butter to cover the bottom of the pan. Salt the chicken and then brown it, breast side down in the pan for 5 to 6 minutes. Flip the bird and brown the backside for another 5 minutes.

Once both sides are brown, remove the chicken to a plate and add all the chopped aromatics (you’ve got the traditional mirepoix mix of roughly 2 parts one to one part each of celery and carrots) to the casserole with a good dash of salt and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the vegetables have a nice, golden color, add stock/wine and stir again. Salt the chicken cavity, then stuff the tarragon bunch inside and place the chicken breast up on the vegetables.

If your casserole lid does not seal well, stretch foil across the top, then put the lid on and slide the vessel into the waiting hot oven. Cook for an hour and a half and check the breast with an instant-read thermometer. (You did buy one after the last problems with overcooked chicken, right?) Look for 165°F in the breast, about 175°F for the thigh.

Usually, this takes two hours but start checking every 15 minutes or so until you hit the temperature you want. At this point, you can simply cut up the chicken on the cutting board and serve with the cooked vegetables and juice. Or remove the chicken and strain the vegetables, thicken the sauce and make it a bit more professional.

If you want to make a sauce, remove the chicken to the cutting board. This is a moist bird, so it helps to have a cutting board with a juice groove to catch the runoff. Tent the chicken with foil as you make the sauce. Use a strainer to catch the vegetables and pour the juice off, capturing it so it can return to the casserole.

Mix the cornstarch with an equal amount of the hot liquid and stir until it’s a smooth blend. You may need to add more liquid, but it should form a light sauce so don’t overdo the liquid. Slowly pour the mixture back into the pan of juices while whisking vigorously. Let the mixture come to a boil and continue to stir often. It should thicken to a beautiful sauce.

While the sauce heats up, slice the chicken. Taste the sauce to see if you need to add salt or a splash of lemon juice or sherry vinegar if the sauce seems a little dull. I like to serve the dish in a pasta bowl, plating slices of chicken on top of the roasted vegetables and topping with the hot, thick sauce. Wow, I’m getting hungry just writing about it.

Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan

A fricassee is usually chicken that has been browned in butter and then stewed with vegetables, creating a thick, chunky stew. Ms. Hazan was a famous teacher and book author of classic Italian cooking. When she passed away in 2013, The New York Times wrote that she changed the way Americans cook Italian food by cooking and teaching the traditional food she grew up with in northern Italy, not the Italian-American food that had evolved when Italians migrated to the US.

She is also credited with popularizing balsamic vinegar, which comes from her home region, which she later regretted since it became overused and led to commercial-grade vinegars that imitate the traditional product.

Like many of her recipes, the ingredient list is short and depends on buying the best that you can find and paying attention as food cooks to know when to add ingredients and when the dish was done. As she told cookbook writer Dorothy Kalins, “I teach cooking. I do not teach recipes. I do not teach measuring.”

4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, each breast cut into 2 equal pieces)

2 tablespoons olive oil (not your best, most expensive stuff. The heat will kill any nuanced taste)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

4 2-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary

3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashed

Kosher Salt

Fresh-ground black pepper

1/3 cup dry white wine

Grated zest on 1 lemon zest

4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon

Thoroughly pat dry the chicken with paper towels.

Choose a lidded sauté pan large enough to accommodate the chicken pieces in a single layer without overlapping. (Most of Ms. Hazan dishes were cooked on the stove, not in the oven, so she could hear and see what was going on.)

Place oil and butter in the pan over medium-high heat. When the butter foam subsides, put in the chicken skin-side down. Brown the chicken well on both sides. Add the rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, turning the chicken from time to time, then remove the breast pieces and set on a plate.

Add the wine, and bring it to a brisk simmer of about 20 seconds. Then lower the heat to cook the chicken at a very low simmer. Place the lid on the pan, leaving it slightly ajar.

Cook for 40 minutes, then return the white meat to the pan and any accumulated juices. Occasionally turn all the pieces to ensure even cooking. Cook for at least 10 minutes more, until the thigh meat feels very tender when prodded with a fork.

While the chicken is cooking, check the liquid in the pan. If too low, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of water.

When the chicken is done, remove from heat and transfer the pieces to a warm serving platter, using a slotted spoon. Tip the pan and spoon off all but a little bit of the fat.

Add the lemon juice and zest to the pan and place over medium-low heat to deglaze the pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape lose any brown bits on the bottom and the sides of the pan. Pour the pan juices over the chicken and serve at once.

(Chicken Fricassee with Fresh Figs in Port Sauce)

Serves 6

Adapted from Roger Verge’s "Entertaining in the French Style"

I became familiar with Chef Verge when I took a week of cooking classes at Julia Child’s summer home near the French Riviera. Our instructor, Kathy Alex, had worked for him for a bit since he ran the nearby Moulin de Mougins, a famous restaurant near Cannes that attracted celebrity guests from the Cannes film festival.

He called his food Cuisine of the Sun, a variation of Provençal cuisine that focused on fresh, local ingredients, instead of the heavier, and traditional cuisine classique. No, we did not get to dine at his restaurant, since it was booked months in advance, but I settled for buying one of his cookbooks once we returned home.

Turns out entertaining in the French style requires serving several courses matched with appropriate wines, a specific table setting, and a flower arrangement, not to mention buying the food and cooking it. So, I’m afraid the coffee table cookbook remains more aspirational than well-used, but it does transport me back to Provence when I read its menus with extensive notes and lavish photos.

The restaurant was run by a series of people after Chef Verge retired but sadly he passed away in 2015 and the restaurant is no longer operating.

This is another fricassee, but as often happens with French recipes, the ingredient list is longer and more techniques are required. I picked this recipe because I have a ton of very ripe black figs and the last of my tomatoes are hanging on the vine.

12 very ripe black figs

1 ¼ cups port wine

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons coriander seeds

1 large ripe tomato

1 celery rib

3 garlic cloves

2 chickens, around 3 1/3 pounds each (this is on the small side for American grocery stores, so you may end up with one bird, a little over 4 pounds, but that still works)

Kosher salt

Freshly ground pepper

16 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons minced shallots

1 1/2 teaspoons powdered chicken bouillon (or 2 bouillon cubes, which is more prevalent in France)

1 ¼ cup rice (preferably long-grain, perfumed, such as basmati)

24 hours in advance: Place the figs in a jar with the port and 1 bay leaf. Cover and set aside to marinate on the counter. If you forgot to plan that far ahead, place the same ingredients in a sauté pan and bring it almost to a boil and simmer for about a half-hour.

Done in advance: Heat the coriander seeds in a small skillet and toast to dry over high heat. Tie the seeds in a square of cheesecloth and crush to a fine powder with a rolling pin. Halve the tomato and squeeze to extract the seeds. Dice the tomato and celery, Crush the garlic. Set aside the cubed tomato, garlic and chopped shallots (but do not combine). Cut each chicken into 6 pieces: 2 breasts with wings, 2 thighs, and 2 drumsticks. Season each piece with salt and pepper. Chop the chicken wing tips, necks and carcasses and reserve for the sauce.

When ready to cook: Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter over moderate heat in a large ovenproof casserole. Add chicken pieces and sauté over medium-high heat until lightly brown on all sides. Set them aside on a plate. Add carcasses, necks and wing ends to casserole and sauté over medium heat until browned. Add the shallots and sauté briefly.

Pour off any excess fat and return the casserole to the heat. Add the crushed coriander, 2 bay leaves, garlic, celery, and tomato. Pour half of the port from the marinating figs (about 2/3 cup) into the casserole. Arrange the chicken sections on top so that they are not completely covered by the port. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the remaining port into a small saucepan and reduce over medium heat until the syrup thickens slightly. Set the syrup aside.

After the chicken has simmered for half an hour, add 2/3 cup water and the bouillon cubes to the casserole. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes, stirring with a spoon to loosen the bit of meat that stuck to the bottom of the casserole. Remove the chicken pieces from the casserole. Arrange on a plate or in a bowl, cover, and set aside in a warm area. Pour the cooking liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a small saucepan. You should have about 2/3 cup of sauce. Return the chicken to the casserole and keep warm while you cook the rice. Cook the rice in salted water, following the cooking time given on the package.

Reheat the sauce over very low heat; do not let it reduce. Place the figs in the saucepan with the reduced port. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, being careful not to split or crush the figs but spoon the sauce over them.

When rice is ready to serve, place the chicken sections on a warm plate. Cut 9 tablespoons butter into small pieces and add one piece at a time to the sauce as you stir vigorously until it is almost ready to boil. Immediately take the sauce off the heat and spoon it over the chicken. Arrange the glazed figs around the chicken. Stir the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter into the rice until melted and serve with the chicken.

This halloween promises to be a bloody one! Buzz60’s Maria Mercedes Galuppo has the story.

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Napa Valley winery Heitz Cellar has filed a lawsuit against one of its cask suppliers, claiming the company sold them barrels that were faulty.

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

We passed into fall on Sept. 22, when the sun crossed the equator from north to south, dragging me against my will towards winter. And while some are already decorating for Halloween and planning on Christmas, this time of year has its own treats that should be enjoyed.

We’ve discussed in previous articles winter squashes, which develop a hard exterior so they last the winter, and they are in prime season right now, so we’ll cook a butternut squash soup.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. Special offer: $1 for your first 6 months!

Pork and fall apples are a classic pairing in France and, while dried mushroom are available year round, fall is the traditional time to search for wild mushrooms in the forest. If you’re a mycologist and unearth some mushrooms, or buy them fresh from the Farmers Market, you should use them in the pasta dish instead of the dried, with no need to soak ahead of time.

Butternut Squash and Saffron Soup with Caramelized Pistachios

Adapted from “Falastin: A Cookbook” by Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley

Serves 4-6

This recipe is already one of my wife’s favorites. The book is the next subject for the Cooks & Books group that I belong to where every two months members pick a recipe from one book to make and we gather to share the results and discuss the book.

These recipes are from Palestine. There is no letter “P” in the Arabic language, so the title represents the way they refer to themselves. Both authors have worked with the famed Israeli-born British chef Yotam Ottolenghi in his restaurants and producing his cookbooks, which are consistently excellent.

Sammi is Palestinian born in Old Jerusalem and now co-owner with Ottolengh of six delis and restaurants. Tara left a career in publishing to become a cook and luckily landed in the Ottolenghi empire, where she eventually focused on food writing.

Butternut squash, with its warm yellow/brown color when cooked, has always reminded me of the fall colors of where I grew up in Indiana. The book’s recipe also offers an herb oil to top the soup and pistachios, but I found the dish and one topping had more than enough tastes going on, so I skipped it.

For the soup:

2½ tablespoon olive oil

2 large onions, roughly chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice

1 large potato, peeled and chopped into ½-inch dice

1 teaspoon paprika

¼ teaspoon saffron threads

1 quart chicken broth (or use vegetable stock if you’re keeping this vegetarian)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the caramelized pistachios:

1 cup mixed pistachios and pumpkin seeds

1 teaspoon urfa chili flakes (a dried Turkish chili pepper; I used Aleppo chili flakes I had on hand, available from Whole Spices in the Oxbow Market, to stay in the Middle East flavor world)

2 teaspoons light corn syrup

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 tablespoon olive oil

¼ teaspoon flaky sea salt

Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

For the soup, pour the olive oil into a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions to the pot and cook for 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add in the squash, potato, paprika, saffron, vegetable broth, 2 tsp of salt, and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil. Decrease heat to low and simmer for 25 minutes, covered, or until vegetables are tender. Let cool for a few minutes, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth.

Meanwhile for the caramelized nuts, toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl, mixing until well combined. Pour onto the prepared baking sheet and spread into a single layer. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden, stirring halfway through. Remove from the oven to cool completely. Roughly chop the nuts or break into small pieces. Set aside until needed. Pour the soup into individual serving bowls. Top with the caramelized nuts. Serve immediately.

Pork with Red Wine, Orange Peel, and Apple-Thyme Chutney

Adapted from “The Cook and the Gardener” by Amanda Hesser

Serves 4-6

The recipe comes from Ms. Hesser’s first book, which was impressive enough that The New York Times quickly hired her as a food writer and she eventually food editor of The New York Times Magazine. Ms. Hesser became famous enough in the food world that she had a cameo as herself in the film "Julie & Julia."

She left the publication to become co-founder and CEO of Food52, with the goal to “bring cooks together from all over to exchange recipes and to support each other in the kitchen.” That didn’t pay well so they added Shops where, yes, you can shop for just about anything ranging from cooking appliances and home cleaning to outdoor stuff and gifts. And search a ton of free recipes.

But, back to the book, which follows a year of Ms. Hesser cooking at a château in Burgundy and how her life was bound to its gardener, Monsieur Milbert. She was dependent upon him to bring her what she needed each day, but he had the final say on what looked the best and delivered that to the kitchen. As you can image, this led to some conflict. It’s not only a cookbook but some tips on growing vegetables and fruits and a bit of history on some of the French dishes. This recipe comes from the book’s October chapter.

2 ½ pounds pork loin

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil

Marinade:

1 strip orange peel

8 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 carrot, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch dice

2 onions, roughly chopped

1 bottle full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon

Apple-Thyme Chutney:

3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 sprigs thyme

1 bay leaf

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons Calvados (This is brandy from Normandy made from apples: well worth having on hand.)

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

Coarse or kosher salt

Marinate the pork: Tie up the pork with kitchen twine. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. In a shallow dish large enough to fit the pork, spread the orange peel, thyme, bay leaves, carrot and onion over the base. Lay the pork on top and pour over the wine. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for eight to 12 hours, turning the pork from time to time.

Sometime while the pork marinates, make the chutney: In a small, heavy-based saucepan, combine the apple, thyme, bay leaf, sugar, Calvados, and apple cider vinegar. Simmer over low heat with the lid set slightly askew, stirring occasionally, for an hour to an hour and a half.

Toward the end, the chutney will begin sticking easily to the pan. Stir often, so it doesn’t burn. The apples should have collapsed, and the chutney should become thick as the liquids evaporate. It should be delicately sweet, with a sharp edge provided by the vinegar.

Season to taste, adding a pinch of salt if desired. Discard the thyme stems and leave the chutney in the pan until needed. The chutney can be made up to three days ahead, stored in the refrigerator, and rewarmed before serving.

Heat the oven to 450°F degrees.

Remove the pork from the marinade, reserving the marinade. Season the pork with salt and again with pepper. Spread the oil in the base of a heavy roasting pan large enough to fit the pork without too much spare room.

Lay the pork on top and roast it for 15 minutes, turning the pork often to color it well on all sides. Pour in 1 cup of the marinade, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue roasting for another 35 to 45 minutes. Baste the roast often, adding more marinade if necessary.

When an instant-read thermometer registers 150°F degrees, the pork is almost done. Remove the roasting pan from the oven, lift the pork to a cutting board (where it will continue cooking to its done temperature of 160°F degrees), and let it rest, covered with aluminum foil, for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, reheat the apple chutney and make a jus: Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to the chutney and warm over medium heat, stirring often to disperse the heat, for five to seven minutes. The chutney should be warm to the touch but not piping hot; apples hold heat well. Pile into a small bowl. You can leave the bay leaf in for color but warn people not to eat it. For the jus, pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the roasting pan. Then pour the remaining marinade into the roasting pan and place over high heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up any pan drippings. Reduce to a condensed jus, about ½-cup. Taste and adjust seasoning. Strain into a small bowl.

Carve the pork into ¼-inch slices and arrange them on a shallow serving platter. Pour over any juices that have accumulated on the cutting board. Serve, passing the jus and warm chutney separately. This dish is also great served cold, without the jus, for lunch.

Tagliatelle with Wild Mushroom Sauce

Adapted from “Celebrating Italy” by Carol Field

Serves 8

I like flipping through my Italian cookbooks when I’m trying to match a season since Napa Valley shares its Mediterranean climate and love of food. Fall, of course, is grape harvest in both locations but we also share a mushroom season and we’re even trying to create a truffle season here, too.

Ms. Field became an expert on Italian cooking, writing several popular books. For “Celebrating Italy, she traveled up and down the roads of Italy several times to catch regional festivals and foods by which Italians mark the passage of seasons. She found this recipe in the Langhe hills of Piedmont in northern Italy.

Sadly, Ms. Field passed away in 2017. This recipe originally featured making rich egg pasta by hand and then cut 1/32 inch wide by knife but I’m focusing on the sauce and simply using a good dried egg pasta from the store.

1 ½ ounces dried porcini mushrooms

¼ cup warm water

1 ½ tablespoons Marsala

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 onions, minced

Giblets of 1 chicken, sliced very thin (optional but adds an richness when used)

3 tablespoons minced Italian parsley (also called flat-leaf parsley)

2 springs fresh rosemary

2 fresh sage leaves, sliced thin

2 teaspoons tomato paste, preferably double concentrate

2 ½ tablespoons red wine

1 to 1 ½ cups meat broth

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

White truffle is optional

1 package of dried egg pasta

Soften the dried porcini in the water and Marsala 30 minutes. Drain the mushrooms by putting them in a sieve lined with paper towels or cheesecloth and save the liquid. Rinse the porcini well and finely slice them.

Melt the oil and butter together in a heavy sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook slowly until they are translucent. Add the chicken giblets and herbs and continue to cook until the giblets look cooked on the outside, 5 to 10 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste. Add the reserved mushroom water, red wine and 1 cup of meat broth; cover and cook over very low heat 30 to 35 minutes.

While the sauce cooks, start a large pan of water to boil. Follow the package directions on timing the pasta, waiting until the sauce is cooked before boiling the pasta. If it looks as if the sauce is getting too thick add more broth. Season with salt and pepper and toss with the pasta when ready. If you are lucky enough to have a white truffle, shave it over the top and serve immediately.

It’s apple cider season and we have the perfect cocktail for you just in time for your Thanksgiving celebrations. Buzz60’s Chloe Hurst has the story!

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

This seems to happen to me every year: a gardener has too many cabbages in his plot. And, since he knows I like to cook, he is doing me a favor by dropping off a huge cabbage head to my doorstep.

Often it appears late at night so I can’t tell him I already have a cabbage or two in my refrigerator. On top of that, it appears wrapped in newspaper, like a decapitated human head, which must be disconcerting to the newspaper delivery person early the next morning.

Sure, you can make coleslaw (which we will below) with cabbage but that’s the only thing, right? Actually, cabbage has been highly valued as a food since the ancient Egyptians, and the Greeks and Romans thought of it as health food. While cabbage may be good for you, most people don’t enjoy the smell of cooking cabbage since this releases sulfur compounds but a good exhaust fan can take care of some of the problems.

Assuming a cabbage ended up in your refrigerator, no matter who is responsible, what are you going to do with it? Coleslaw is the perfect side dish for just about any meat cooked on the grill or the slow cooker, so here is a basic recipe you can modify to your heart’s content once you’ve got the basics down.

Then we explore the wide range of the cabbage world, traveling from China to Italy, both countries sharing this common ingredient.

Serves 4 as a side dish

First, what is coleslaw? Traditionally, it is a side dish consisting predominantly of finely shredded raw cabbage with a salad dressing of either vinaigrette or mayonnaise.

But why, you ask, is it called this? The dish was initially created in the Netherlands. The Dutch koosla, means “cabbage salad.” Mayonnaise was created in the 18th century and quickly became a favorite dressing. Thanks to the fervent mixing of nationalities and foods in America, coleslaws today may include such unofficial combinations as curry, jicama, sweet onion, sesame oil, bok choy, and granny smith apples.

Serves 4 with leftovers (usually)

1 medium-sized cabbage (around 4 cups of raw, shredded)

1 large red pepper, top and bottom removed, seeds remove, cut into batons (narrow strips that are about ¼ inch thick)

½ fresh lemon, juiced

3 tablespoons of mayonnaise (add a little at a time. You may want to increase or reduce depending on how much cabbage and how creamy you want it)

Kosher salt to season

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more as needed

Add cabbage, red pepper and lemon juice and mix thoroughly in a medium bowl. Add most of the mayonnaise and mix until the dressing evenly coats the vegetables. This could take a minute of stirring but you don’t want any blobs in your slaw. Add a good sprinkling of salt and a hefty grind of black pepper and stir again to completely mix ingredients. Taste a couple of pieces of cabbage and adjust seasoning as necessary. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator as you prepare the rest of the meal. This is the perfect side for a simply grilled chicken thigh or pork tenderloin on the grill. Once you’ve made this you may feel moved to add some of the modern suggestions in the introductory paragraph.

Serves 4 as part of a multicourse meal

Adapted from "The Breath of a Wok" by Grace Young and Alan Richardson

This book is a great introduction to cooking with a wok, starting with how to select one and the seasoning and care of your wok. Then, it revs up the action with stir-frying tips and recipes before showing how you can use your wok to smoke chicken and fish, fry, braise, poach, steam and deep-fry.

Yes, you’d think it was one of those late-night commercials where they promise they can sell you the one pot to do everything. Except Ms. Young gives great examples of each cooking technique and pulls from her family for their favorite dishes, which explains why this is Cousin Kathy’s Lion Head. You’ll see this dish in other Chinese cookbooks using bok choy, which is sometimes listed in older books as Chinese cabbage. She also features local favorite, The Wok Shop in San Francisco’s Chinatown, in her section about acquiring a wok: this is a great place to shop for woks, cleavers, teapots, tools and a whole lot more.

8 dried shitake mushrooms

1 pound ground pork

¼ cup minced canned or peeled fresh water chestnuts

¼ cup minced bamboo shoots

½ cup minced scallions

6 teaspoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoons ground white pepper

½ cup homemade chicken broth

2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 pound Napa cabbage, cut crosswise into 2-inch-wide pieces

In a medium bowl soak the mushrooms in 1 cup of cold water for 30 minutes or until softened. Drain and squeeze dry, reserving the soaking liquid. Cut off and discard the stems (these are usually too woody to eat) and mince the caps.

In large bowl combine the ground pork, water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, scallions, 4 teaspoons of cornstarch, 1 tablespoon of rice wine, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, ½ teaspoon of sugar, salt, pepper and minced mushrooms.

Use your hands to mix thoroughly. Divide the mixture into 4 equal portions and shape into large meatballs.

In a small bowl combine the broth, remaining 1 tablespoon rice wine, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ½ teaspoon sugar, and ½ cup of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid. Set aside the sauce. In a separate small bowl combine the remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch with 1 tablespoon cold water and set aside.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok over high heat until a bead of water vaporizes within 1 to 2 seconds.

Swirl in the 2 teaspoons oil, add the meatballs, reduce the heat to medium and brown the meatballs on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and carefully transfer to a plate.

Swirl the remaining 1 tablespoon oil into the unwashed wok over high heat, add the cabbage, and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes or until the cabbage is slightly softened.

Stir in the broth mixture and swirl it into the wok and bring to a boil over high heat. Carefully return the meatballs to the wok. Cover, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer 20 minutes, turning the meatballs midway through cooking.

Check one meatball for doneness cut cutting down to the center. It should be cooked through, and the meat no longer pink.

Transfer the cabbage to a serving bowl and spoon the meatballs on top. Bring the sauce to boil over high heat. Stir the cornstarch mixture then swirl it into the wok and bring to a boil, stirring about 30 seconds or until the sauce slightly thickens. Pour over the meatballs and serve.

Adapted from "Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy" by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

Serves 6

Lidia is a tireless Italian-American chef, author, host of a series of PBS-TV cooking shows, plus she owns or partly owns several restaurants. Somehow, she finds time to write cookbooks (I counted 16, could be more). On her TV shows, she is the Italian grandmother I always wanted but, maybe because my gene pool traces back to the United Kingdom, I never had.

But, you’re thinking, stuffed cabbage rolls sound Germanic or Hungarian. Lidia explains this dish hails from the Lombardy region of Italy, which shares a border with Switzerland, where it is often cold and foggy but great soil to grow Savoy cabbages, named after the royal dynasty House of Savoy, which began in neighboring Piemonte.

For the pestata (a paste made from grinding ingredients) and stuffing:

2 cups milk

4 ounces dry country bread cubes (about 4 cups)

2 ounces pancetta, cut into pieces

1 large onion, cut into chunks

1 large carrot, cut into chunks

1 large stalk celery, cut in chunks

3 plump garlic cloves, peeled

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 pounds sweet Italian sausage (without fennel seeds); buy it loose or removed from casings and crumbled

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup dry white wine

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley

½ cup grated Grana Padano

For the cabbage rolls and sauce:

1 medium head Savoy cabbage (about 2 pounds)

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2½ teaspoons kosher salt

3 cups dry white wine

4 cups or so hot chicken, turkey or vegetable broth

You will need a food processor; a heavy-bottomed sauté pan or deep skillet with 4-inch sides, 13-inch diameter or wider, with a cover; a big pot for blanching the cabbage leaves.

To make the stuffing: Pour the milk over the bread chunks in a bowl, and let them soak for a few minutes until completely saturated.

Using a food processor, mince the pancetta, onion, carrot, celery, and garlic into a fine-textured pestata. You should have about 2 cups total.

Pour the 3 tablespoons of olive oil into the heavy pan and set over medium-high heat. Scrape in ½ cup of pestata, and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until it starts to dry and stick on the pan bottom.

Crumble the sausage into the skillet, and cook, stirring, until all the meat is sizzling and no longer pink about 5 minutes.

Season with 1 teaspoon salt and pour in the white wine. Bring to a boil and cook until the wine has evaporated completely. Remove from the heat, and immediately scrape the sausage into a large bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fill the big pot with water and bring to a boil. When the meat has cooled, squeeze the milk from the soaked bread (Lidia says to catch it in the bowl, and use it for another purpose but I don’t know what to do with used milk).

Crumble the softened bread over the sausage, and combine them with your hands, then work in the beaten egg, chopped parsley, and grated cheese, tossing all together into a loose stuffing.

To prepare the cabbage: Pull off and discard any bruised or torn outer leaves.

Cut out the core of the cabbage, and separate the largest leaves from the head, keeping them intact.

Lay each leaf flat, outside up, and with a sharp paring knife shave off the raised ridge of the rib at the leaf base. When you’ve trimmed 12 good-sized leaves (and a few extra) for the rolls, slice the remaining cluster of small inner leaves into shreds about ¼ inch wide.

Drop the big, trimmed leaves into the boiling water, and blanch them until soft and quite floppy, about 7 minutes. Cool them in a bowl of icy water; drain well, lay them on paper towels, and pat dry.

Return the big sauté pan to the stove (wipe out any browned bits), pour in the ¼ cup olive oil, and turn on medium-high heat. Stir in the remaining pestata, and cook until dried and sticking, about 4 minutes.

Toss in all the shredded cabbage and 2½ teaspoons salt, and cook, stirring, until the cabbage starts to wilt. Pour in the white wine, raise the heat to bring it to a boil, then lower heat and simmer the sauce for 10 minutes or so, to blend the flavors.

As the sauce simmers, make the cabbage rolls. Lay out each softened leaf with its shaved rib side down. Take about ⅓ cup stuffing in your fingers, form it into a plump log, and lay it on the leaf. Roll the bottom of the leaf over the filling, tuck the sides in, and roll up tightly the rest of the way.

When all the polpette (meatballs) are formed, lower the heat under the sauce and place each roll in the sauté pan, seam side down.

Pour in the stock, submerging the rolls, heat to a bubbling boil, and put on the pan lid. Set the pan in the oven to braise the rolls for an hour. Remove the lid, and push the rolls down in the sauce, which will have reduced.

Bake, uncovered, for another 30 minutes or so, until the sauce has reduced and thickened, and the tops of the rolls are nicely caramelized. Serve in a warm bowl with some of the sauce, accompanied by rice, potatoes or polenta.

Spending a hot day outside can take a lot of you. Lincoln Riddle spoke with an expert to find out what foods are best to replenish energy and recover after a long, hot day.

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

The average home cook is often afraid of cooking fish on the grill. Past episodes of trout skin stuck to the hot metal grate, expensive salmon falling into the coals, and delicate halibut transformed into blacked fish, without the help of Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun spices, makes it feel easier to bake your fish in the oven. But really, it’s not.

When I’ve attended some backyard barbeques, you can often see the major cause: the grills were left dirty from the last cookout with the forlorn hope that this cookout will clean them.

Not only can bits of food left on the grill impart a bitter ash taste to the current meal, but it also provides an anchor for raw protein to stick to the grate this cooking session.

You need to get in the habit of cleaning after you take the food off. The grill is still hot and easy to clean, and this prevents food pieces from getting caked onto the grates.

Clean the grates with rust-resistant stainless steel bristles (assuming you have a stainless steel grill grate. Use brass bristles for delicate ceramic or porcelain surfaces.) Look for brushes that have a long handle, so you don’t scorch your hands while scrubbing the hot grill.

The great advantage of grilling, besides imparting that smoky goodness to your fish, is the fishy smell that comes from frying seafood in the pan is left outside.

Here are three techniques to make fish on the grill easy. The first is simply a clean grill and high heat; another way to do it is to have something protect the fish, such as aromatic cedar plaques, or a third way is to slide firm fish onto skewers that makes it easy to flip the fish and not leave part of your dinner stuck on the grate.

Serves 4

Adapted from “How to Grill Tuna” by Stephanie Lyness in Cook’s Illustrated, May & June 1998

I used to love reading Cook’s Illustrated but eventually, I’d find myself skipping all the text about how they tried every variation on the way to their perfect recipe; I just wanted to cook.

So, I’ll save you the whole page of detective work that Ms. Lyness lays out and simply spill the beans: marinate tuna in extra-virgin olive oil and only cook it 1 ½ minutes for each side over high heat.

See, that wasn’t so hard to tell folks, was it? This technique is all about high heat and a clean grate. I know, you’ve heard that advice before, but still worth repeating.

4 tuna steaks 3/4 inch thick; about 8 ounces each

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt

(Chermoula is a pungent Moroccan herb sauce traditionally served with grilled fish)

2 ½ tablespoons juice from 1 fresh lemon

2 small garlic cloves, minced

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch watercress, washed, dried well and trimmed

1 cup Italian parsley leaves, washed and dried well

Place tuna and oil in gallon-sized zipper-lock plastic bag, sealing bag (I always place the bag in a bowl, just in case there is a leak) and refrigerate until fish had marinated fully; at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

When ready, start/light your grill and bring it up to very hot. Remove the tuna from the fridge and stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. To make vinaigrette whisk lemon juice, garlic, salt, cumin, paprika, cayenne, and cilantro in a small bowl. Add oil in slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until smooth; season with black pepper to taste.

When ready to grill, remove the tuna from bag and wipe off excess oil. Salt both sides of the fish and grill over direct heat until well seared and grill marks appear, about 1 ½ minutes. Flip over the steaks and grill the second side until fish is cooked to medium (opaque throughout, yet translucent at the very center when checked with the point of a sharp knife, about 1 ½ minutes more. Place watercress and parsley in medium bowl; drizzle with half the vinaigrette and toss to coat. Divide the dressed greens among four serving places (I like to use shallow bowls, so the salad doesn’t spread across a large plate); place a grilled tuna steak on each bed of greens, drizzle with a portion of remaining vinaigrette, and serve immediately.

Serves 6

This technique was a favorite when I lived in Alaska; every grocery store sold untreated cedar planks on a rack next to the fish counter. In Napa, Shackford’s Kitchen Store usually has them and they easy to order online. You must get untreated cedar with no preservatives or paint. Not only does the cedar protect the fish, but it also infuses it with a smoke cedar aroma. You could use your favorite dry rub for this recipe, but the brown sugar and hint of spice seem made for grilled salmon.

2 pounds salmon fillets, skin on, pin bones removed (I bought fish bone tweezers years ago since we eat lots of salmon but you can use clean pair of needle-nose pliers to pull the bones out; either way you do want to remove them before you cook the fish.)

2 cedar planks. Soak cedar planks for 2 hours in cold water

½ cup brown sugar

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (I love Pimentón from La Vera region)

2 tablespoons olive oil (may need more)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl combine brown sugar, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika and mix well. Spread olive oil over both sides of the fish, then salt it liberally on the flesh side.

Heat your grill to medium high, about 400°F. When the grill is hot, place the soaked planks on the grill until they start to smoke, about 3 minutes. Then flip them over.

Apply the brown sugar mixture on the flesh side only of the fish, lay it skin side down on the heated plank and close the lid.

Start checking the fish at 9 minutes (yes, you really need to buy a kitchen timer) to see if the layers of flesh are starting to flake. If not, it should be done around 10 minutes, but please don’t overcook your salmon. Let it rest for just a few minutes then serve with rice and a salad.

Serves 4

Adapted from recipes from "Gangivecchio’s Sicilian Kitchen"

When my wife and I ate our way through Sicily during a cooking tour we enjoyed in 2019, this swordfish dish seemed to appear on every menu. Of course, one reason was we kept to coastal towns, just a quick walk from the Tyrrhenian Sea. The other seemed to be a real appreciation for swordfish in Sicily, which we found in local markets under tents along the harbor. The key to the fish is slicing it 1/8 inch thick and 4 inches wide. The best, and easiest, route is to ask your fishmonger to do it. If that fails and you end up with large pieces, make the flesh firm by freezing them for half an hour and slicing them with a long, sharp knife.

12 1/8-inch-thick swordfish slices, 6 inches long and 4 inches wide

¼ cup currants, soaked in warm water then drained

Olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup fresh bread crumbs, plus extra for coating (Sicilians love bread crumbs and refer to it as the “poor man’s cheese,” a holdover from when the average worker couldn’t afford cheese.)

1/3 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley

¼ cup pine nuts

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

16-18 bay leaves, fresh or at least flexible enough to run a skewer through without falling apart

2 lemons, cut in half and seeded

In a bowl combine 3 tablespoons olive oil with the garlic and 1 cup of the breadcrumbs. Stir in the parsley, pine nuts and currants and season with salt and pepper. Turn onto a cutting board and chop everything finely. Add a little more olive oil, if necessary. The mixture should feel moist but not wet.

Arrange the 12 swordfish slices in a row in front of you and spoon the filling evenly across the top in equal portions. Press the mixture down lightly with your fingertips. Carefully roll up each piece of fish and rest it on the open seam end. If the rolls try to unroll, use a toothpick to temporarily keep them in place.

Place 3 rolls next to each other and slide a bay leaf in between and on the outsides of the rolls. It’s most stable if you use skewers with double prongs to ensure a secure grip, so no slipping when turning. Or you can use two single skewers for each three rolls. Force the metal skewers through the outer bay leaf and through the rolls and bay leaves, to the other end, adding a bay leaf to keep the rolls snugly on the two skewers.

Prepare the remaining involtinis in the same way. Brush them on each side lightly with olive oil and coat with breadcrumbs.

Grill about 4 minutes on each side. Let rest about 5 minutes before serving with half a lemon as the sauce.

Could jellyfish replace the fish in your fish and chips?

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

Kale used to be cool. TV shows would use it as code for young adults who are conspicuously health conscious. It was chopped in salads, steamed, sauteed, baked and even toasted into crisps. How did it reach this height?

Mari Uyehara says it all began on Oct. 24, 2007. “Melissa Clark, the author of the New York Times column A Good Appetite, had discovered a completely unfamiliar dish at the Brooklyn farm-to-table restaurant Franny’s, and her column that week, titled 'If It Sounds Bad, It’s Got to Be Good,' was devoted to trying to convince readers that this alien dish was actually delicious," Ms. Uyehara reported in her article posted on the TASTE website on Oct. 24, 2017.

This "bad" sounding dish was the work of Franny’s chef de cuisine at the time, Joshua McFadden, (who later wrote “Six Seasons” from which I’ve used a couple of his recipes in this column.) He was trying to create a Caesar salad, but the romaine lettuce didn’t look good. But, he had kale.

Ms. Uyehara points out that in Italy, lacinato kale (you might see it as cavolo nero, Tuscan kale, or dinosaur kale) is a braising green and not usually eaten raw in its country of origin.

So, Chef McFadden removed the ribs and cut the leaves into thin ribbons, then added olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, shredded Pecorino and chile flakes, and let the salad sit for five minutes so the acid of the lemon juice and moisture of the oil softened the tough leaves.

But, wait, there’s more! He then showered it with more cheese, olive oil and breadcrumbs when the salad was served. The New York Times writer called it “a veritable raw foods epiphany,” which she started to crave “the minute I left the restaurant.”

Kale salads soon started appearing at restaurants in New York and California, and suddenly it was everywhere, including McDonald's.

But the magic soon faded. Amanda Mull wrote in her Sep. 30, 2019, Atlantic article "The Saddest Leafy Green" that “After kale briefly overtook spinach as America’s favorite cooked green in mid-2014, Google’s measure of interest in kale has steadily declined.”

She reports that kale is currently at less than half the search popularity of its 2014 high. What happened to kale as king? Most likely, home cooks didn’t know how to prepare it, so their dishes didn’t turn out very tasty.

As Chef McFadden demonstrated in his first dish, kale is tough and needs to be sliced and the fibers broken down somewhat to be enjoyable. Or it needs to be cooked to soften it as Italians have done for centuries.

So, I’ll offer a salad to show you the massage method for raw leaves and then a couple of different ways to cook it to turn it back into that culinary delight that The New York Times first discovered.

Serves 4

Adapted from Love and Lemons website by Jeanine Donofrio

This is an attractive website with great food photography by a wife and husband team. Jeanine is a recipe developer and author of two bestselling cookbooks and is the voice of the website. They don’t make a big deal about the fact that all the recipes are vegetarian. The goal seems to convert the carnivores by offering them tasty dishes that just happen to forget to add meat.

Make the dressing ahead so it has time to chill in the fridge before adding to the salad

½ cup chopped roasted carrots, from 3/4 cup raw carrots

1/3 to ½ cup water

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

2 teaspoons minced ginger

¼ teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ cups roasted chickpeas These are cooked or canned chickpeas, dried, then mixed with extra-virgin olive oil and salt then roasted on a sheet pan at 425° for 20-30 minutes. You can add other spices (curry, nutmeg, etc.) while they are still hot.

1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small carrot, grated

1 small red beet, grated*

½ watermelon radish, very thinly sliced

1 avocado, cubed

2 tablespoons dried cranberries

¼ cup pepitas, toasted

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the dressing and roast the chickpeas:

Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the chickpeas with a drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle with pinches of salt and pepper. Place the carrot pieces for the dressing in their own corner on the baking sheet to roast alongside the chickpeas. Roast for 25 to minutes, or until the chickpeas are browned and crisp and the carrots are soft. Set the roasted chickpeas aside. Transfer the carrots to a blender and add the water, olive oil, rice vinegar, ginger, and salt. Blend the dressing until smooth and chill in the fridge until ready to use.

Place the kale leaves into a large bowl and drizzle with the lemon juice, ½ teaspoon of olive oil, and a few pinches of salt. Use your hands to massage the leaves until they become soft and wilted and reduce in the bowl by about half. Add the carrot, beet, watermelon radish, half of the cubed avocado, cranberries, pepitas, a few more good pinches of salt, and a few grinds of pepper, and toss. Drizzle generously with the carrot ginger dressing. Top with the remaining avocado, more dressing, the roasted chickpeas and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Season to taste and serve.

Serves 4-6 people

Adapted from "A Beautiful Plate" website by Laura Davidson

The start of fall seems like the right time for a comforting soup and this fragrant, vegan Thai coconut soup is an easy version of Tom Kha Gai (chicken galangal soup.)

Serve with fresh herbs, lime wedges, and sliced chiles if you want to bump up the heat.

2 stalks lemongrass

1 teaspoon raw virgin coconut oil

½ medium yellow onion thinly sliced

12 ounces cremini baby mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 (14-ounce) cans of full-fat coconut milk

1½ cups water or up to 3 cups for a lighter broth

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves minced

1 large, sweet potato chopped

1 jalapeno pepper stemmed and diced

1 small bunch cilantro (about ½ cup) stems diced and leaves chopped

2 limes, zest removed, and juiced

tamari or soy sauce, for seasoning (optional)

4 cups loosely packed kale chopped

2 cups cooked jasmine rice

½ cup fresh mint leaves

Sliced red chile peppers, serrano peppers, or sriracha sauce

Prepare the lemongrass by cutting off the root end and the tough upper stem of the stalks. Smash the stalks with the side of a wide chef's knife to loosen the layers. Pull off the thick outer layers and dice the inner, tender parts. This should yield about ¼ cup chopped lemongrass. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, mushrooms, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until softened.

Stir in the lemongrass, coconut milk, 1½ cups water, ginger, garlic, sweet potato, jalapeño, and cilantro stems. If you prefer a lighter broth, add up to 1½ cups more water.

Simmer over low heat for 20 minutes, or until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Add the lime zest and juice. Taste, then add an additional ½ teaspoon of salt, if desired, and tamari (or soy sauce), if using.

Add the chopped kale and simmer just until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the cilantro leaves just before serving. Serve over the warmed rice, with fresh mint, cilantro and chile peppers, if using, and tamari (or soy sauce) on the side.

Adapted from Matthew Accarrino’s recipe in Food & Wine, February 2017

Serves 4-6

I like making meatballs but had never made them with quinoa so this was a great recipe to keep the vegetarian theme going, even though I hadn’t planned it that way. The meatballs need to be fairly small, not those giant meatballs you get at some Italian-American restaurants. This seems like a lot of steps but you can do each section on a different day and bring the pieces together to cook when you’re ready.

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 tablespoons dry white wine

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons each finely chopped basil, parsley, scallion, and dill

2 large eggs

1/2 tablespoon whole milk

1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs (you can buy these at the store and have them available whenever you need breadcrumbs)

1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (not the grated stuff in a can), plus more for garnish

1/4 cup fine semolina

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 onion, finely chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 cup dry white wine

One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano), tomatoes chopped and juices reserved

Pinch each of dried oregano and crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons chopped basil, plus more for garnish

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 bunch of Tuscan kale (8 ounces), stemmed and chopped

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring, until toasted, about 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of water along with the wine and salt and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the quinoa is tender and the water is absorbed for about 20 minutes. Spread the quinoa onto a large rimmed baking sheet to cool, then transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the herbs. Set aside 1 cup of the quinoa pilaf.

Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the milk, olive oil, and 2/3 cup of water. Add the reserved 1 cup of quinoa pilaf along with the breadcrumbs, the 1 cup of Parmigiano, the semolina, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper and mix well.

Form the mixture into 26 1 1/2-inch meatballs, using about 1 tablespoon of the mixture for each. Transfer to the baking sheet. Bake the meatballs for 10 to 12 minutes, until browned on the bottoms, then turn and bake for 10 to 12 minutes longer, until browned all over.

In a medium enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the olive oil over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the wine and tomato juices and cook until the liquid is reduced by one-third, about 8 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, oregano, and crushed red pepper and simmer over moderately low heat for 20 minutes. Stir in the 3 tablespoons of chopped basil and season with salt and black pepper. Add the kale, cover, and cook over moderately low heat until it begins to wilt, about 5 minutes. Add the meatballs to the casserole and simmer until the kale is tender and the meatballs are heated through, 10 to 15 minutes

Spoon the quinoa pilaf into shallow bowls and top with the meatballs and sauce. Garnish with chopped basil and grated Parmigiano and serve.

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Napa County Landmarks has released its annual list of "10 threatened treasures" in Napa County — structures with historic value that are in ne…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Mediterranean Diet , Named Best Diet for 2021. The ranking was announced by 'U.S. News and World Report' on Monday. It is the fourth year in a row that the Mediterranean diet has won the gold medal for best diet. . We've convened a panel of 24 experts who live and breathe diet, weight loss and obesity, Angela Haupt, Managing Editor, 'U.S. News & World Report,' via CNN. The Mediterranean diet calls for the reduction or elimination of processed foods. It is made up of mainly whole foods including nuts, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils. The Mediterranean diet was also named the best plant-based diet. The DASH diet and the Flexitarian diet tied for silver in the best diet category

The official California state fruit is avocado (Persea Americana) but I’ve started a recall effort (which I hear is popular nowadays) to replace it with the fig.

Figs are inexorably tied to the history of California; they were brought to what became California by the Spanish who first planted them at the San Diego Mission in 1769. As they established a chain of missions reaching north along El Camino Reál, fig trees were so valued that they were planted at each site.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. Special offer: $1 for your first 6 months!

The Black Mission fig, California’s leading black fig, takes its name from this history. Today, 100 percent of the dried figs and 98 percent of the fresh figs grown commercially in the U.S. are from California. So, try topping that Mr. Avocado!

Figs are an easy ingredient for quick dishes that you really don’t need a recipe for such as Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese (cut open the fig and drop in some goat cheese) or a dessert such as Roasted Figs with Vanilla Ice Cream (slice some figs, sizzle them a few minutes on the grill or hot skillet until the juice caramelizes and served them in a bowl with your favorite vanilla ice cream). But here are some ideas that may take you into territory that you’ve not yet discovered.

Serves 6

Adapted from “Mourad: New Moroccan” by Mourad Lahlou

This is a dish that is deceptively simple, created by a chef skilled at creating complex flavors. You’ll also learn the restaurant tricks of crisping herbs in ice water and drawing a design with the crème fraiche, instead of just forming a round blob on the plate.

My wife and I ate at Mourad’s first San Francisco restaurant, Aziza, in the Richmond District (we were staying in downtown San Francisco for the weekend and luckily the 38 Geary bus runs past the restaurant’s front door). We loved the food but we’ve yet to make it to his Michelin-starred restaurant Mourad: San Francisco just south of Market Street, near the Museum of Modern Art. How is this Moroccan, you ask? Not sure, but I think that’s why Mourad included the word ‘New” in his title to cover any dishes that he makes featuring ingredients found in his native land.

1 cup crème Fraiche

Kosher salt

A small handful of small mint leaves

12 Black Mission Figs

12 Adriatic figs

3 cups arugula, any large stems removed

1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinaigrette (sure, you know how to make a vinaigrette, but this has some interesting changes to make it unique. Recipe below)

One 6 ounce piece honeycomb, cut into pieces

Extra virgin olive oil for finishing

Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper (Mourad recommends Tasmanian, which I’m not familiar with)

Red Wine Vinaigrette:

½ shallot, thinly sliced

1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon granulated sugar

¼ cup red wine vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put the shallot, garlic, salt, sugar, and vinegar in a plastic squeeze bottle or a jar. Shake hard and let sit at room temperature for 15 minutes to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the oil and shake to combine. If the vinaigrette is in a jar, strain out the shallots and garlic before serving. Mourad recommends the vinaigrette be used the day it is made but if you remove the shallots and garlic, it will keep for a few days; you just need to vigorously shake again before use.

Whisk the crème Fraiche with a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until it has the consistency of lightly whipped cream. Put the mint leaves in a bowl of ice water to crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Cut figs into rounds, wedges, or other shapes as you like. Spoon some crème Fraiche onto each serving plate, then drag the bottom of a spoon through it to form an elongated teardrop.

In a separate bowl, toss the arugula with just enough vinaigrette to coat and stack some leaves on each plate. Arrange the figs, mint leaves, and honeycomb on the plates. Drizzle a few drops of extra virgin olive oil over each fig and sprinkle with crunchy sea salt and black pepper.

Serve 6

Adapted from “Crazy Water Pickled Lemons” by Diana Henry

I have a couple of Diana Henry’s books (she’s written nine so far) and I find her writing a wonderful mix of paired-down recipes with usually a short list of ingredients that really deliver flavor. Plus, she tosses out such evocative chapter titles as Fruits of Longing (for figs, quinces, pomegranates and dates), Food From the Hearth (for flatbreads) and Heaven Scent (for flowers and flower waters). The rest of her writing is as enchanting as the foods of the Middle East, Mediterranean, and North Africa that the book is based on.

4 lbs. leg of lamb (boned weight)

Salt and pepper

Kitchen string (This is a string constructed for cooking; synthetic strings will melt, and dyed string will leak the color onto the food.)

For the stuffing:

1⁄2 tablespoon olive oil

1⁄2 large onion, finely chopped

2 3⁄4 ounces walnut pieces

2 1⁄4 ounces breadcrumbs

5 1⁄2 ounces goat's cheese

8 fresh figs, quartered

3 sprigs thyme, leaves only

1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Trim the lamb of excess fat. Open it out flat and season the inside with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pan and cook the onion until soft. Toast the walnuts in a dry pan until just turning brown. Break the goat's cheese into little nuggets.

Gently mix all the stuffing ingredients together, bind with the egg, and season with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing on the opened piece of lamb. Roll it up and tie it at intervals with kitchen string. Season the outside of the lamb with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 375 degrees F, and cook for another hour, then serve- the lamb will be pink.

Serves 6

Adapted from “À Table: Recipes for Cooking and Eating the French Way” by Rebekah Peppler,

I read a lot of food newsletters but one of my favorites is “Food Gal” by Carolyn Jung ([email protected]). I first started reading her stuff when she was food writer/editor for the San Jose Mercury News and she even contributed to the “Good Living” section of Gourmet magazine (which sadly is long gone.) Now, she’s well known enough that celebrated chefs will return her phone call, she receives tons of cookbooks and products that she picks through to promote a few and generally writes about anything food-related that she finds interesting. I was looking for an easy dessert that features figs and her last newsletter delivered the perfect recipe from a new cookbook directly to my inbox. A clafoutis, sometimes spelled clafouti, is a baked French dessert of fruit, traditionally black cherries but why not figs?

1 tablespoon unsalted European butter, melted (European style butter is between 82 and 85 percent butterfat. The USDA standard is 80 percent butterfat. Yes, you can taste the difference.)

1 1/2 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and halved

1 cup whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

3 large eggs

1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the bottom of a 12-inch baking dish with butter and add the figs in a single layer.

In a large bowl, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, eggs, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the vanilla, and fine sea salt until the sugar is dissolved. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Pour the mixture over the figs and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar. Bake until the top is puffed and browned and the custard is set, 60 to 75 minutes. Sprinkle with flaky salt and serve warm or at room temperature.

Brian Garcia of the National Weather Service discusses how the weather is impacting this year's wildfire season. Video courtesy of Napa County Facebook Live, Aug. 18, 2021

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

Everyone knows what a noodle is, right? And everyone knows what pasta is, right? And they are really the same thing, right? Well, I think it’s time we have that noodle and pasta talk that your parents should have given you years ago.

The National Pasta Association defines noodles as containing at least 5.5 percent egg solids, which is a scientific way of saying you must use eggs to make noodles. It’s not clear what they will do if you don’t.

Anyway, eggs allow noodles to be dense and they can be added to soups and casseroles without becoming a soggy mess. They can also be made from a variety of foods, ranging from wheat to buckwheat, mung beans, potato, acorn, and rice. These flours are milled finer than wheat used to make pasta.

The finely milled flours result in noodles that tend to be very soft when heated — no heavy chewing should be required.

As the main or supporting ingredient in many different types of dishes from all over the world, noodles can be served hot or cold, fried, served in soups, or boiled and served with a small amount of meat or vegetables.

On the other hand, pasta is traditionally made with durum wheat — the hardest of all wheats. Its high protein content and gluten strength make durum perfect for pasta and bread.

It can also contain additions of mashed vegetables such as cooked spinach, which turn it green, or squid ink, which turn it black (I got past the pasta looking like squirming black eels in my bowl but I didn’t enjoy the taste).

Beyond the many types of solid pasta shapes, there are lots of tube shapes and some, such as ravioli, have a filling of meat or vegetable stuffed inside a sheet of dough made of wheat and eggs.

So, we’re back to being confused about what is pasta and what is a noddle.

Unlike noodles, pasta shapes have distinct names and are often served with specific types of sauces. When cooking pasta, the goal is to serve it al dente, (to the teeth), neither crunchy nor too soft, but a firm texture when bitten.

There often is confusion between pasta and noodles. The one I see most often online is “Thai vermicelli noodles” when vermicelli is Italian for “little worms” and refers to pasta (durum wheat and water) shaped into very thin strands, much thinner than spaghetti. What they really mean is rice noodles, which we’ll cook below.

Dishes traditionally made with noodles but replaced by pasta taste disappointingly different. And, vice versa.

Serves 6

Adapted from "The Fiddlehead Cookbooks," Nancy and John DeCherney, Deborah Marshall, Susan Brook

This is not a traditional dish from an Asian country, but Asian ingredients used to make a tasty vegetarian dish. This was a favorite from The Fiddlehead Restaurant in Juneau, Alaska, which sadly closed but it’s like a step back into Southeast Alaska to flip through the cookbook. Alaska is a rough mix of nationalities and races and lots of interesting stories how people ended up in the Last Frontier, and that includes recipes, too.

1 pound soba (buckwheat noodles)

2 tablespoons cooking oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced, cut stem to tip

1 medium red pepper, top and seeds removed, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, tops removed, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced on the diagonal

2 medium zucchinis, tops removed, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced on the diagonal

½ small head broccoli, florets removed and thinly sliced

1 cup of hot peanut sauce (below) You may want to use less if you’re not fond of spicy food

½ to ¾ cup coconut milk

8 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish

½ cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped, for garnish

½ cup peanut butter, chunky or creamy

½ cup sesame oil

2 tablespoons soy sauce (Fiddlehead always used tamari sauce, which is made with 100 percent soybeans and is totally wheat-free, unlike soy sauce, which is made from a combination of soybeans, wheat, and salt)

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely minced

1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions

1 tablespoon oriental hot oil (sometimes listed just as Chili Oil or Hot Chili Oil on the label)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer set on high, whip together peanut butter, sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, green onions, hot oil and cilantro until creamy. Transfer to a small container and cover tightly. It will store up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Spicy noodles: Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add buckwheat soba and cook as directed on package. Drain, rinse with warm water, drain again. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in wok or large fry pan over high heat until very hot. Add vegetables and stir to coat evenly with oil. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Cover wok and cook for another 2 minutes. Vegetables should have softened but still a bit crisp. Add 1 cup peanut sauce and ½ cup coconut milk. Stir to combine, then add noodles. Using spaghetti tongs or a large fork, mix everything well. If it seems dry, add additional coconut milk. As soon as mixture is quite hot, transfer to large serving dish or individual bowls. Sprinkle green onions and chopped peanuts over the mixture and serve at once.

Serves 4

Adapted from "Merriman’s Hawai’i" by Peter Merriman and Melanie Merriman

It’s not coincidence that my first two recipes are from the United States’ two non-contiguous states. Hawaii also seems to attract a confusing mix of different nationalities (Native Hawaiian, Philippine, Chinese, Japanese, Koreans…not to mention Protestant Reform missionaries) and the food crashes together, causing ingredients to insert themselves into a different nationality’s dish. The noodles here are long, thin, and translucent, made from mung bean starch. Chef Merriman points out that they are lighter and more fragile than wheat or rice noodles and they are gluten-free.

12 colossal shrimp (U-8) peeled and deveined

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 (4-ounce) packages bean thread (made from mung beans) noodles

3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

¾ bottled sweet chili sauce

½ medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into ¼ inch pieces

3 ounces snow peas or sugar snap peas, diagonally cut in half

½ red onion, thinly sliced

1 carrot, julienned

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

½ cup roasted, unsalted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped

Add shrimp to 2 quarts boiling water, add 1 tablespoon salt and cook for 2 minutes, or until pink. Cool, peel and cut each shrimp into 3 or 4 pieces. Place noodles in a large bowl and add enough boiling water to cover. Let sit for 15 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water. You can use scissors to cut noodles into shorter lengths for easier serving.

Add sesame oil and remaining salt to the drained noodles and toss. Add sweet chili sauce and toss again until well coated. Add cucumber, peas, onion, carrots, and shrimp and again toss.

Divide among 4 large bowls and top with cilantro and macadamia nuts.

Serves 2-3 but easy to double

Adapted from article by Darlene Schmidt on The Spruce Eats website

This is not pad Thai, the famous Thai dish that everyone makes, but an easier dish that uses a noodle made from rice. The Spruce Eats website has more than 16,000 recipes, so you’re bound to find something you like and you can sign up for their email list that sends you a steady stream of recipes and links.

For the Marinade:

2 teaspoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 to 1 1/2 cups bite-sized chicken pieces

For the Noodles:

8 ounces rice noodles (usually called Thai Rice Noodle or Rice Stick on the package)

3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 piece thumb-size galangal (this is in the same family as ginger but has kind of a mild piney, citrus-tinged flavor and is denser) or use ginger) sliced into matchstick-like pieces)

1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup chicken stock

1 bell pepper (orange or green), sliced into thin strips

2 to 3 cups fresh bean sprouts

2 green onions, sliced thin

Handful fresh cilantro

2 1/2 tablespoons oil

For the Stir-Fry Sauce:

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (Dark soy sauce is thicker and less salty than regular soy sauce but has a richer flavor and darker color)

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon lime juice

1/4 cup chicken stock

1 to 2 teaspoons chili sauce (or 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste)

Half of a fresh lime to finish

Mix cornstarch with soy sauce until well combined. Marinate the chicken in the cornstarch-soy sauce mixture, coating all sides as you boil the noodles. Set aside.

Gently boil rice noodles 5 to 10 minutes just until noodles are soft enough to eat but still firm and a little bit crunchy (they will finish cooking later). Drain and briefly rinse with cold water to keep from sticking. Drain and set aside.

For the stir fry sauce: In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, dark soy sauce, fish sauce, 1 teaspoon sugar, lime juice, 1/4 cup stock, and chili sauce. Stir well to dissolve sugar. Set aside.

Heat a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil and swirl around to cover the cooking area; then add the garlic, galangal or ginger, chicken (together with the marinade), mushrooms, and a few tablespoons of stock. Stir-fry 5 minutes.

When pan becomes dry, add a little more chicken stock, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Add pepper and stir-fry another 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved noodles plus stir-fry sauce. Using two utensils, lift and turn the noodles or use a tossing motion like they toss a salad on the TV chef shows. Keep the heat turned up. Stir-fry in this way until the sauce is well distributed throughout the noodles (1 to 2 minutes). Add bean sprouts, continuing to stir-fry another minute. Remove from heat and taste-test for salt and flavor, adding 1 tablespoon more fish sauce or soy sauce if not salty or flavorful enough. If too salty, add another squeeze of lime juice.

To serve, lift noodles out of the wok or frying pan and mound in a bowl or serving platter. Sprinkle with the sliced green onion and chopped cilantro. A wedge of fresh lime squeezed over the dish just before eating adds to the deliciousness.

There are times when we all crave comforts, and nothing hits the spot more than your favorite food. According to Business Insider, every country has its go-to comfort food. French onion soup is popular comfort food in France. Ramen noodles are a comfort food in Japan as well as the United States. Fish and chips is the comfort food of Great Britain. Sausage rolls are comfort food in Australia.

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

A revised Napa County list of possible rural sites for apartments, condominiums or townhouses includes a small corner of Skyline Wilderness Pa…

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Pesto is traditionally thought of as a sauce rich with basil crushed by hand in a mortar and pestle that can only be served with hot pasta. But, the word means “pounded," and once you open yourself to all the possibilities of what you can pound, just about anything can be run through the food processor to fashion a pesto.

A form of pesto dates back to the ancient Romans, according to John Mariani in "The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink." But, the first mention of pesto in print was 1848 in a Florentine cookbook.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register. Special offer: $1 for your first 3 months!

The sauce is attributed to Genoa in the Liguria region of Italy from the classic dish of trenette al pesto, a fettuccine-like pasta with green beans and potatoes. Cooks there say pesto was invented as a vehicle for the magically scented Genovese basil, grown on the Italian Riviera, and dismiss basil from other regions as just not the same.

Italian-born Marcella Hanzan remains one of the best-known Italian cookbook authors in the US, famous for having strong opinions about what is right and what is wrong in Italian dishes. Her "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking," first published in 1973 and later updated and reprinted in 1992, is still a standard for strictly traditional Italian cookery (none of that substitution of ingredients that many books suggest).

When she passed away in 2013, The New York Times’ headline proclaimed she “Changed the Way Americans Cook Italian Food.” As you’d expect, she had definite ideas on what is pesto and how to use it. We’ll use her recipe as the basis of what pesto should be, and then we’ll overlook her warnings and apply the pesto method to other foods.

Serves 6

From "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" by Marcella Hazan

Ms. Hazan writes, “Genoese cooks insist that if it isn’t made in a mortar with a pestle, it isn’t pesto.” She gives the classic mortar and pestle method but also includes the food processor method, giving her blessing since it is “nearly effortless and very satisfactory.”

2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons pine nuts

2 garlic cloves, chopped fine before putting into the processor

Salt

To complete the sauce by hand:

½ cup fresh grated Parmigian-Reggiano cheese

2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese

3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature

1 ½ pounds pasta (She adds later that spaghetti is perfect with pesto and so are potato gnocchi but that’s the only foods she lists.)

Briefly soak and wash the basil in cold water, and gently pat it thoroughly dry with paper towels. Put the basil, olive oil, pine nuts, chopped garlic and an ample pinch of salt in the processor bowl, and process to a uniform, creamy consistency. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in the two grated cheeses by hand. Ms. Hazan says it is worth the slight effort to do it by hand to obtain the notably superior texture it produces. When the cheese has been evenly amalgamated with the other ingredients, mix in the softened butter, distributing it uniformly into the sauce. When spooning the pesto over the pasta, dilute it slightly with a tablespoon or two of the hot water in which the pasta was cooked.

Makes 2 cups

In her introduction to pesto, Ms. Hanzan writes “…as long as you have fresh basil, and use no substitute for basil, you can make rather wonderful pesto anywhere.” But, if, like me, you were born in Indiana, instead of some quaint Italian town, you can create lots of different sauces by pounding, or, to be honest, I’m using the food processor.

Sun-dried tomatoes became popular in the 1980s, or at least that’s when I started seeing it in salads, topping fish, and of course, as an appetizer. It may be old-fashioned now, but I still love the taste and how easy it is to offer a taste of summer in the middle of winter.

1 cup sundried tomatoes, drained from its oil in a wire scoop (I’ve tried it with dried sundried tomatoes that are rehydrated in boiling water but I like the taste and consistency of the ones packed in oil)

2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon capers, drained

2 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped

4-5 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Juice of one half of a fresh lemon

Extra virgin olive oil (amount depends on the sun-dried tomatoes and how much oil they retain)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 baguette, slice at an angle, and browned under the broiler

Add everything except olive oil and baguette to the food processor and pulse several times until ingredients become coarsely chopped and somewhat smooth.

Then let the machine run as you pour in a thin stream of olive oil, then allowing it to completely mix, Add a dash of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper, then another thin stream of oil, repeating until the mixture looks completely smooth (Sure, if you like it coarser, stop after the first splash of oil).

Taste the mixture and add a bit more lemon juice to brighten it but you shouldn’t be able to taste the lemon in the mixture. It helps to make the dish a few hours ahead to allow all of the flavors to meld better. Either serve it in a bowl with bread knives to spread the pesto on the bread or you can spread it on the toasts and top with basil sliced thin in a chiffonade.

Serves 4

Adapted from "Get Saucy" by Grace Parisi

For this recipe, you can use a pesto made of just about any herb or even the Sundried Tomato Pesto from above. The goal here is to provide flavor to a bland piece of meat. I have mint planted in a planter (it will take over the garden if not corralled, I found out when I moved here) and always have a bunch of Italian parsley on hand from the Farmers Market, so this one is easy to put together. My wife loves mint jelly when we have a rack of lamb, which I don’t understand, so a compromise is to serve this mint pesto with that, also.

½ cup blanched whole almonds

1 large clove of garlic, smashed

Kosher salt

½ cup fresh mint leaves

¼ cup fresh parsley leaves

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ fresh lemon, zested (Yes, do this before you cut the lemon in half)

½ fresh lemon juice

Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 350°F. Spread almonds on rimmed rack and toast until golden and becoming fragrant, about 10 minutes (but check often). Transfer to a plate to cool, then add them to a food processor and pulse several times to coarsely chop. Add the garlic, a big pinch of salt, mint, and parsley, and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Then, while the machine is running, add the oil in a thin stream and run until it is a coarse paste. Add lemon zest and half the juice and a few turns of the pepper mill and pulse again. Taste to decide if you need more lemon juice, salt or oil.

4 bone-in chicken breast halves

1 recipe of Mint and Almond Pesto from above

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

½ fresh lemon

½ cup chicken broth

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Make a pocket under the sin of each chicken breast by slipping a finger under the skin at the point where the wing was attached and separate the skin from the breast, leaving it attached around the edges.

Divide the pesto into fourths and use a spoon to slip the pesto under the skin and gently press it to spread it out to cover much of the breast meat.

Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Flip over the chicken and move the pan to the hot oven and cook for about 15 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

Spoon off any excess fat from the skillet and set it over medium heat. Add the lemon juice and broth and cook, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until reduced to ¼ cup, about 5 minutes, then add the butter and stir until it is incorporated.

Pour back any juice accumulated to the pan, stir again, and divide the sauce over the four breast halves.

Again we’re proving you’re not limited to Genoese basil to create pesto. This recipe combines ingredients used in several Mexican dishes: pumpkin seeds and green chilies, to make a Baja-style fish taco.

2 tablespoons shelled raw pumpkin seeds

3 large Poblano green chiles, easy to find in any Mexican grocery store

Vegetable oil

4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 garlic clove, outer skin removed and smashed

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons or more extra-virgin olive oil

½ freshly cut lime

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

4 6-ounce skinless mahi-mahi fillets, about 1-inch thick

12 6-inch corn tortillas

Chopped cilantro for finishing

Toast the pumpkin seeds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan frequently to prevent burning, just until the seeds are lightly browned and beginning to pop. Empty them into a small container to cool.

Roast the chiles over a gas flame or under a broiler until blistered all over. Transfer them to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool to loosen the skin. When cool, scrape the skin off with a case knife or the back of your paring knife, remove the core and seeds, then pat dry with a paper towel.

In a food processor combine the pumpkin seeds, green onions, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, and lime juice and process until finely chopped.

Add the green chiles, salt and pepper, ground coriander, and cumin, and pulse to a coarse puree. If you want it smoother, add a little more olive oil and run until smooth.

Grill the mahi-mahi fillets or other firm white fish for about 4 minutes a side. Add a spoonful of pesto to a tortilla, top with a mahi-mahi fillet, and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.

Research shows that diet and mental health are linked.

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

If there is one fruit that signals summer has arrived, its fresh, ripe peaches. Yes, I know Hollywood movies like to use watermelon as an unspoken indicator of a hot, lazy summer, but peaches are part of my summer fantasy, so we’re sticking to peaches, okay?

Everyone has their favorite variety, and some people like to debate about white versus yellow peaches, but as a cook, the first thing you want to know: is it a clingstone or freestone?

We’re talking about how easy is it to remove the pit (or stone) from the flesh. If you’re eating them out of hand, it doesn’t matter but if you’re planning on slicing up several for a meal or hundreds for canning, you want freestone where you can cut around the perimeter of the peach, turn the halves in opposite direction and they neatly separate and you can use your fingernail to easily pop out the stone.

The second thing to ask, where did it grow? To taste great, a peach has to ripen on a tree, not in a truck. If a peach was shipped from a long distance from a refrigerated warehouse, it may look like it is ripe but it will be tasteless and not have that wonderful juice running down your hand. But, if you’re talking to the same farmer who just picked it and brought it to his or her stall at the farmers market, you know it didn’t ripen in cold storage.

Let’s look at a few ways to enjoy your wonderful fruit. Grilling caramelizes the sugars in the peach and adds a nice, smoky note; you can toss together a fresh salsa or cook it down to form a wonderful glaze. Oh, you can even serve it as dessert.

Adapted from Food & Wine magazine July 2012, by Linton Hopkins

Grilling fruit is a great way to make an easy dessert but surprise your guests with charred peaches for a wonderful summer lunch.

¼ cup mayonnaise

¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup buttermilk

2 tablespoons chopped mint

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

2 tablespoons snipped chives

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Kosher Salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 pound thick-sliced bacon

¼ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 pounds Vidalia or other sweet onions (but honestly, yellow onions are great grilled, too), cut into 1-inch-thick slabs

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing

4 large ripe peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedges

Preheat the oven to 325°. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with sour cream, buttermilk, mint, parsley, chives, and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bacon slices on the sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with brown sugar and cayenne. Bake for about 25 minutes, until caramelized (the bacon will crisp as it cools). Let cool, then cut the bacon into bite-size pieces.

Meanwhile, light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until softened and browned 10 minutes. Separate the onions into rings, then brush the peaches with olive oil and grill over moderately high heat until tender, 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

In a large bowl, toss the onions with the peaches and bacon. Add the buttermilk dressing and toss to coat. Serve right away.

Serves 4

Sure, you can pair this salsa with anything bland, such as boneless chicken breast or cod fillet, but pork tenderloin is crying out for help. In France, the classic combination is pork with apples or prunes. This is in the same ballpark but the peaches make it sing summer, instead of the autumnal apples or prunes.

2 pork tenderloins, silver skin removed (This is the thin membrane of white connective tissue found on one side of tenderloin. Starting in the middle, run a sharp boning knife under this tough membrane in one direction until you slice it off, then hold onto the loose end and run the knife the other way along the membrane to remove it completely).

Kosher Salt

¼ cup Smoked Spanish Paprika (look for Pimenton de la Vera at spice shops or on some supermarket shelves.)

Brine

2 cups water

¼ cup kosher salt

¼ cup brown sugar

1 cup apple cider vinegar

Boil the water, then add the salt and sugar and stir until dissolved. Let cool to room temperature and add cider vinegar and chill for at least an hour so the mixture is cold. Pour brine into a sealable freezer bag. Slide in the two tenderloins and return to the refrigerator. Brine between 2 to 4 hours (I know more is often thought of as better, but overnight is too long, and yes I did try that. Once.)

Peach salsa

1 cup your favorite peaches, diced (I leave the skin on but it bothers some folks so your call)

1 quarter of a red onion, diced

3 scallions, finely diced

1 red pepper, core, seeds and veins removed and cut into a dice

½ bunch of cilantro leaves, finely diced

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

Juice from half of a fresh lime

Mix everything together except for the salt and lime. First, add most of the salt and lime, then taste. Add the remainder if needed. If too salty at the end, you can add another diced peach to adjust the taste.

When you’re ready to cook, set your grill with a really hot side and a medium side (or simply turn it down to medium if on a gas grill).

Remove the tenderloins from the brine, drying them and rubbing them with sunflower or other neutral oil and salting both sides of each tenderloin, and dust with smoked paprika.

Lay the tenderloins on the hot side at a 45-degree angle across the grill grates. Time it for 4 minutes (darn right I do have a kitchen timer by the grill). Flip and time it again for 4 minutes.

Move to a less hot area or turn down a burner on your grill and repeat for another 4 minutes, making sure all parts of the tenderloin are browned on the grill. This can take 15 minutes total, depending on the size of the tenderloin and the heat of the grill. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 135°F.

Remove from the grill and place on a warm plate and cover with aluminum foil and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. The final temperature should read between 145°F to 150°F. Slice the tenderloin and serve the pieces overlapping, topped by a large spoonful of peach salsa. Goes great with white rice, mashed potatoes or roasted sweet potatoes from the grill.

Serves 4-5

Adapted from “Deep Run Roots: Stories & Recipes from My Corner of the South,” by Vivian Howard

I had never heard of Vivian Howard until her first book was selected for a dinner as part of a Cooks & Books group that I belong to where the host selects a cookbook and everyone picks a recipe to make and brings it to the meeting. Yes, it’s the best-eating series of meetings I’ve ever attended. I bought the book and enjoyed it enough that I started watching her PBS series “A Chef’s Life” that follows her and her family in Deep Run, North Carolina, through five seasons, usually focusing on one ingredient at a time. You end up feeling like she’s your friend and you’re hearing the ups and downs of running a restaurant, meeting colorful locals from the area, and did I mention she and her husband, Ben, are also raising twins?

Sweet and spicy is a classic food combination. This glaze makes about 5 cups or way more than you need for this easy weeknight meal. Leftover glaze can be used to spice up any chicken or pork, following the same directions as below or just serve as a warm sauce under the protein on the plate.

For the glaze:

3 cups chopped peaches (about 4 to 5 medium peaches)

1 pound jalapeños, stemmed and seeded

½ onion, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

1 ¼ cups cider vinegar

2 ¼ cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon salt

12 to 14 chicken wings or 10 drumsticks

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon salt

⅔ cup jalapeño peach glaze

Make the glaze: Combine peaches, jalapeños, onion, and ginger in the bowl of the food processor (It helps to combine everything in one large bowl and run just a portion through the processor at one time). Pulse until everything is shredded and juicy, but not fully pureed.

Transfer the chunky mess to a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven and add the vinegar, sugar, and salt. Over medium heat, bring it up to a boil, skimming the foam that finds its way to the top as often as you can. Less foam boiled down into the sauce means a more pristine clear glaze. Cook the sauce at a medium simmer for about 30 minutes. It should thicken slightly but not appear to be darkening in color. After 30 minutes, test the viscosity by pouring a little on a chilled plate and sliding that plate into the fridge for 5 minutes. If it runs like heavy cream when you tilt the plate, cook it longer. If it pools in a drip like loose honey, it’s ready.

Cook the chicken: Preheat your oven to 400°F (you can also use your grill but the glaze will also glaze your grill grate) and let the chicken come to room temperature. Toss it with oil and salt and spread the chicken in a single layer onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for easy cleaning. Make sure the pieces are not touching one another so they will brown evenly.

Slide the tray onto the middle rack of your oven and roast undisturbed for 10 minutes. Take the chicken out of the oven. Stir the pieces around in the pan and cook an additional 10 minutes. Take them out again, pour off any fat that has accumulated, and toss them with the sauce. Put the tray back in the oven and let them roast an additional 15 minutes. They should be caramelized in places and shiny in others.

Let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that you want to enjoy peaches for dessert but you really don’t want all the work of making a pie crust, chilling it, and then baking it blind, and so on. Let me introduce you to the wonderful world of compote. This is a great technique for just about any fruit.

3-4 fresh peaches, pitted and diced (again, purists will remove the skin, others leave it on)

½ cup brown sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ cup water

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 12-14 minutes, being sure to stir occasionally. Sauce will gradually thicken and become syrup-like. Remove from heat and allow it to cool, then chill the compote in the refrigerator to make it a refreshing dessert all by itself. Or serve room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Every four years the Olympics unite the world’s nations in sport, but the pandemic postponed the event in 2020. The games then seemed set for this summer but not without controversy. As host country Japan continues to deal with the ravages of COVID-19, protests against holding the Olympics are mounting. Tara Kirk Sell, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, joined Cheddar to talk about her own Olympic experience and why she is calling for the games to go on as scheduled. She noted what she considered were successful mitigation efforts learned over the course of the pandemic, including the ability to test, contact trace, and distribute vaccines as reasons to allow the event to proceed.

Nick Montelli bagged this 3 pointer at the close of A zone.

Mike Crane caught this king salmon on a summer trip to Alaska.

Natalie Murray traveled to Lake of the Woods in Canada with her father and landed this beautiful Northern Pike.

Brandon Abernathy of Rod Down Guide Service bagged this D zone four pointer.

Malia Gianelli of Napa had a successful day fishing in San Diego aboard the Polaris Supreme, reeling in this 175-pound blue fin tuna.

Pam and Chris Rubio of Rutherford landed this picture-perfect striped marlin while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas.

During the St. Helena High School Fishing Club’s latest outing, SHHS junior Dakota Laurent shows the 42-inch leopard shark he caught and released.

The St. Helena High School Fishing Club had a successful day on San Pablo Bay aboard the Predator. Club members include, from left, Luis Galeano, Dakota Laurent, Jenna Bauer, Crystal Nunez, Jessica Wiig, Brandon Burgess and Kai Blasingame.

Ray Sisemore of Napa fished Pyramid Lake and landed this 10-pound Lahotan cutthroat trout.

Mike Griffin of St. Helena caught a vermillion and a canary on the New Sea Angler out of Bodega Bay. The trip was sponsored by AZ Foundation for American Legion Post 199 in St. Helena.

Napa's Tom LeMasters landed this stunning brown trout while fishing the Missouri River in Montana with some college friends.

St. Helena's Gianna Chiarello bagged her first A Zone buck on closing weekend in the Napa Valley.

Landing this 190-pound big eye tuna out of Fort Bragg were, from left, Mark Haberger, Dan Douma, Dave Douma and Mike Mansuy.

Enjoying a successful goose hunt in Stettler, Alberta, Canada with Boss Guide Service were, from left, Alan Epps, Joe Ryba , Brent Randol, Mark Eslinger, Jeff Conwell and Kenny Taylor.

Fishing recently on the Stampede Reservoir near Truckee proved very successful for Rutherford's Chris Rubio and St. Helena's Frank Emmolo.

Brian Long, who lives near Lake Berryessa, shows the 20-pound California halibut he caught on the North Bar west of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Jack Schrette caught this rainbow trout on the Ogden River in Utah.

Abagail Frye from Napa bagged her first A zone Blacktail while hunting with brother Gracin in the Napa Valley.

Tom Schrette landed this pre-spawn kokanee salmon while fishing with his son Jack, of Napa, on the Ogden River in Utah.

Tom Dudenhoeffer of Sweeney’s Sports fished solo on his 17-foot Boston Whaler and won an epic battle with this 182-pound big eye tuna.

Arthur Spencer of Pope Valley traveled to Thorne Bay in Alaska, where he landed this 10-pound silver salmon.

Bob Fisher of Wombat Charters caught and released this 5-pound striper in the Napa River.

St. Helena's Duane Hoff, far right, traveled with his father, third from right, and two friends caught limits of king salmon off Sitka, Alaska.

Eric Titus and Bill Larkin show some catches while striper fishing in the Delta.

Despite a slow salmon bite last week, Matt Swartley caught his 50-pound limit aboard the Salty Lady.

Robin Chester of Napa caught this prize-winning shad in a recent tournament on the Sacramento River.

St. Helena's Kate and Steve Spadarotta made their annual fishing trip to Montana where Kate, left, landed the 18-inch rainbow trout their fishing guide is holding here.

Tammy and Jeff Luke of Napa fished with Dennis Grossi of Grossi Guide Service and landed these stripers in the Napa River.

Jeff Conwell of St. Helena recently caught this 75-pound Pacific halibut off Ketchikan, Alaska.

JR Coleman of St. Helena impressed the crew on The Salty Lady with his 70-pound limit. A good day of fishing was had by all.

Noreen Fetzer, owner of Daisy Boutique in St. Helena, enjoyed some time away fishing the New Fork River in Montana with Rendezvous Anglers.

While fishing on the Outerlimits with his uncle, Tom Carpenter of St. Helena, Spencer Handly caught this robust 25-pound salmon.

St. Helena brothers Dante and Giuilano Particelli recently drifted the lower Sacramento River and landed this beautiful rainbow trout.

Russell Wilms of Pope Valley landed this chum salmon on a recent fishing trip with his family in southeast Alaska.

Longtime Napa High friend Kathy Cabrera and her brother, Robert, were joined by Eric Mulholland as they fished with Captain Mike Rescino and deckhand Larry, left, of the Lovely Martha for limits of king salmon to 25 pounds.

Ann Halliday of Napa fished with Big Sky Anglers on the upper Yellowstone River in Montana and landing this whopping 5-pound cutthroat.

Salvador Ramos, fishing with the Salty Lady Fishing Club, won the jackpot with these two 16-pound Chinook salmon.

Stephen Parry of Napa, while fishing the White River in Arkansas, caught this beautiful 22-inch-long rainbow trout.

St. Helena's Will Smithers caught this colorful cutthroat trout in the Bitterroot River on a recent trip to Montana.

Stefano Particelli, left, and cousin Michele Hanna, both of St. Helena, fished the Pit River in late June and landed this fat native rainbow trout.

Jimmy Davis of St. Helena fished a local farm pond with his family and landed this 3-pound largemouth bass.

Mike Landis landed this beautiful brown trout while fishing the Big Hole River in Montana.

Courtney Shifflett drifted flies on the upper Sacramento River and caught and released this 2-pound rainbow trout.

John Thompson spent Father’s Day Weekend fishing for trout in Lake Berryessa and landed this Eagle Lake rainbow.

Sunny skies and halibut limits made for a great day on the bay for Liesl Wolf Heinemann, left, and Brent Randol aboard The Chasin Crustacean last week.

Paul Steinauer fished the American River with Kiene's Fly Shop and landed this beautiful shad.

Mark Gholson of Napa caught this 20-pound catfish while fishing with Captain Steve Fishing Charters at Clear Lake.

The first outing for the Salty Lady Fishing Club was a successful day, with limits of king salmon for the anglers and crew.

American Canyon's Lucas Bennett had a big day on the Salty Lady with grandfather Sal Ramos as he landed the biggest fish of the day, a 15-pound king salmon.

Brandon Hardwick landed this nice Lake Berryessa largemouth fishing with Zoe and Brian Long.

Zoe Long, a St. Helena High graduate. recently landed a nice, white crappie while shore fishing at Lake Berryessa.

Former St. Helena High baseball head coach Darrell Quirici and sons Jeff, Alex and Greg drifted the upper Sacramento River for rainbow trout and Jeff landed this 3-pound beauty.

Sue Anderson of Duckhorn Winery limited on stripers on April 13.

Kenny Taylor with a nice 5-pound Sacramento River striper.

Napa's Matt Estes went to Oregon for a bachelor party in mid-March and the group fished with Andrew Serda of Serdafied Guide Service on the Umpqua River, where Estes caught and released this native steelhead.

Lisa Kubon holds up king salmon she caught at Lake Berryessa with guide Brandon Abernathy of Rod Down Guide Service. Those who are going are advised to get there early. The launch wait at Markley Cove has been as long as two hours due to only one ramp being open.

Oliver Graziani caught this 5½-pound rainbow trout while fishing Collins Lake with his family, including great uncle Ray Graziani of Napa and mother Liz Graziani, a teacher in Calistoga.

Napa’s Niles Fennikoh, fishing in the annual “Al’s Ark Fishing Tournament” in the Napa Marsh, used a splittail to land this beautiful 20-pound striper.

Jenna Bauer, president of the St. Helena High School fishing club, landed this nice largemouth bass in a local farm pond.

Napa's Kelly Sprott poses with his limit of pheasants after hunting Hastings Island with his friend, Greg Hanson, and his black lab, Annie.

St. Helena's Pat Fetzer, right, had a bucket list trip with some high school friends to Patagonia. Contrary to popular belief, it's not just an overstuffed jacket. Here is one of the many rainbows he caught while fly fishing on the Collon Cura River.

Jesse Gambina of St. Helena recently fished the Napa River sloughs with Billy Wilcoxson and landed this 17-pound striped bass using a live split tail.

Napa angler Jeff Matlock displays his 7.39-pound Lake Berryessa largemouth bass.

Matt Tollefson, 13, poses with a one day’s tuna catch in Costa Rica.

Bob Davis holds up his 8.5-pound Delta bass.

St. Helena angler Jasper Dewyer holds up his 3-pound vineyard pond bass.

Brandon Kim holds up the 24-pound King salmon he caught on the last day of salmon season Nov. 5 off Rocky Point out the Golden Gate.

BRAGGING RIGHTS: Napa’s Cheryl Schuh holds up a 29-inch, 8-pound striped bass that she said put up a good fight before being promptly released back into the Napa River slough on Sept. 26.

BRAGGING RIGHTS: Napa’s Nancy Richardson displays the 19-inch, 3.07-pound grayling that was her second catch of the day, July 14, on the Maraine River in Bristol Bay at Katmai National Park in Alaska.

BRAGGING RIGHTS: Napa's Conor McKeown, left, and dad Ed McKeown fished at Clear Lake with guide Bob Myskey on Aug. 3 and caught more than 45 bass, including Conor's 4.5-pounder.

Showing off the Clear Lake largemouth bass they caught last week are, from left, Alex Ryan, Matt Novak and Bill Ryan.

Scott Snowden caught this handsome 19-inch wild cut bow trout on Idaho's Henry's Lake.

Thumbs up for Anders Hemmerlin, left, and his cousin, Zachery, as they check out Anders’ Bullard’s Bar bass.

Grant Ingalls caught this big Green River brown trout on a hopper dropper.

Steve Spadarotto looks on as his guide shows us a big Madison River brown trout.

Master chef Anne Vercelli holds up her limit of Lake Sonoma bass on Monday.

Scott Muelrath, right, put a fly hook into this 75-pound Belize tarpon.

Napa angler Ed Lieberman shows a couple of his 2021 king salmon.

Woody Davis holds up his 30-pound Spud Point Chinook salmon while Matt Hardin, left, and Captain David Harbets look on.

Queen Joann Snowden used an original fly, a Snodun created by her royal husband in 1990, to fool this year’s 16-inch rainbow trout during their 36th wedding anniversary trip back to Hot Creek Ranch.

Napa's Lynn Splendid Light holds up the 107-pound bluefin tuna she caught June 20 in deep water off Mexico during a 2½-day Father's Day fishing excursion with husband Clayton Light and daughter Gianna Light. It took 50 minutes to reel in the fish.

Brent Randol, one of St. Helena’s “A” Team anglers, led the way to 100 big Clear Lake bass caught and released last week.

Frank Emmolo displays his 18-pound Donner Lake mackinaw.

Soren Bloch and Lars Kronmark show two more fish Saturday, with San Francisco as a backdrop.

Halibuts were up for St. Helena's Eric Titus, Lars Kronmark and J.R. Coleman on Saturday on the San Francisco Bay.

Sonoma County’s Dan Solomon smiles at a couple of his top catch of Clear Lake bass.

Napa angler Sarah Bayersdorfer with one of her nice snook from Indian River, Florida.

Jack Ryan holds up the Indian River jack fish he caught in Florida.

Cody Montana holds up the second of two sturgeon he caught the morning of Nov. 21 in the Napa River -- just 10 minutes after the first one, and 10 pounds heavier.

Steve Sherwin caught this monster 40-pound halibut at the Golden Gate.

Jack Ingalls holds up his big fly-caught steelie from the Feather River.

Matthew Hoogendoorn of Hidden Valley Lake caught this dorado in the Sea of Cortez off Cabo San Lucas on Dec. 10, 2019 while celebrating his mother-in-law’s birthday. “We ate it that night at Niksan sushi restaurant,” he said. “I had the opportunity to get on the restaurant owner’s boat. We had two skippers assisting us. But I was in the chair, reel in hand, getting leverage, and reeled this bad boy in along with others. We proceeded to bring the fish to the restaurant using our ice chests, and that evening the restaurant prepared the dorados we caught and a couple of bonitos. Of course, others in the restaurant got to enjoy the catch as well, as it was the restaurant owner’s boat and fuel. One of the funnest days I’ve had.”

Ryan Janos displays his 29-inch Napa River striped bass.

Jeff Bayless holds up two of the 25 largemouth bass he caught on Clear Lake.

Cody Montana caught 14 albacore for three people 22 miles out of Fort Bragg on Sept. 15, targeting 60-62 degree water at the temperature break. The bite switched off at 11 a.m. and trolled till 2 p.m. All fish were 25-35 pounds except for one peanut, and he caught one more while reeling.

Donk Newman poses with the yelloweye rockfish he caught off southeast Alaska on July 10.

Napa angler Courtney Helmer displays her nice, big Bodega Bay king salmon.

Napa angler Greg Clefisch displays his massive 28-pound Wisconsin musky.

St. Helena teen angler Liesl Wolf Heinemann went over to Bodega Bay to catch this silver bullet.

What’s new about a new potato? A true new potato is harvested before it reaches maturity, so the season can run from the spring to early summer. The skin will be easy to flake off with your thumbnail and they will be small, like the size of large marbles (but does anyone play marbles or even know what they look like anymore?) Another way to size them would be about the width of your thumb's first joint.

But why should you care about the size and age of your potatoes? Like just corn, peas, and some other vegetables, a potato’s sugars begin converting into starch as soon as it’s picked. If you’re buying fresh potatoes, as at the Napa Farmers Market, they will be low in starch and almost sweet. They’ll also be firmer and moister than potatoes that have been stored.

When you get them home from the market, don't refrigerate them. Store them in a cool, dark place (I have a basket inside my kitchen cabinet just for potatoes). And, take advantage of those flavors in a day or two; they don’t last forever. New potatoes are best when they are steamed or boiled. This is not the classic Russet potato, which is better for baking or frying.

Serves 4 with a meal

Adapted from "The New Basics Cookbook" by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

When I first started to learn to cook, "The New Basics Cookbook" was a top seller, written by the same duo who first ran a gourmet food shop in New York City called The Silver Palate and had already written Silver Palate Cookbook and Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook.

I read it from front to back like it was a thrilling novel since it was packed with not only great recipes but shared their tips from entertaining, such as describing the different variety of olives to serve, where to stack dinner plates for the buffet table (at the start) and even the best dinner table to encourage conversation (a round table). Menus and snappy culinary quotes are sprinkled throughout the book. It’s still a great source of ideas when I can’t think of what to serve for a dinner party.

This recipe takes advantage of the freshness of new potatoes by not roasting them but simply steaming them and tossing them with a little butter.

12 very small new potatoes, skin scrubbed but left on

1 cup water

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (yes, I do add a little extra but one tablespoon will work fine)

Kosher salt

Black pepper, freshly ground

1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley or fresh dill

Place the potatoes and water in a saucepan and bring o a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally to make sure the potatoes are cooked in water and don’t burn on the side of the pan. Cook until the potatoes are tender, around 30 minutes. You should be able to pass a sharp knife tip through the potato without resistance. Drain the potatoes and return to a hot saucepan. Shake it over low heat to remove the remaining moisture, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter, a dash of salt, several grinds of pepper, and parsley, and toss well. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl for passing among guests.

Serves 6 with a meal

Adapted from "A Passion for Potatoes" by Lydie Marshall

While this sounds like an elaborate French technique, confit is an ancient way of preserving meat (not usually vegetables) where it is salted and slowly cooked in its own fat. For this recipe, it indicates that we are using the technique of combining salt, fat, and heat to produce something wonderful from potatoes.

I’ve had a passion for potatoes for a long time. How do I know? I’ve had the book "A Passion for Potatoes" by Lydie Marshall since it was published in 1992 (It even has a forward by New Yorker columnist Calvin Trillin, which is not that odd since he wrote several books focusing on food including, "American Fried"; "Alice, Let's Eat"; and "Third Helpings"). Ms. Marshall’s passion for potatoes ranges from appetizers to main courses and even desserts, which I haven’t felt pressure to cook yet.

¼ cup olive oil (not the expensive kind)

2 ½ pounds new potatoes, scrubbed but skin left on

1 ½ teaspoons salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 ½ to 2 cups rich chicken broth (ideally this is homemade)

In a large skillet, heat the oil. Once hot, add the potatoes and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Sprinkle and salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Pour in 1 cup of broth, lower the heat, and cook the potatoes, partially covered, until the broth is totally evaporated. Run a sharp knife through a few potatoes to see if there is any resistance. If there is, add more broth and continue braising until tender. Keep warm until ready to serve your meal.

Serves 4 as a light meal

1 pound new potatoes

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved on the bias

1 pound thin asparagus, tough stems trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces

1 to 2 heads butter lettuce (depending on their size) leaves separated, large ones torn into 2-inch pieces (about 12 ounces)

4 large fresh eggs (fresh is very important in poaching eggs)

2 teaspoons white vinegar

1/4 cup snipped fresh chives (from 1 bunch), for garnish

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

3 tablespoons Sherry vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cover potatoes with 2 inches of water in a pot and bring to a boil; add salt. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. While whisking, slowly add the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.

When the potatoes are cooked, remove with a slotted spoon. Add snap peas and asparagus to a pot, and boil until slightly tender but still crisp, about 2 minutes; drain.

Slice potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick rounds while the potatoes are still warm. Divide lettuce and vegetables among 4 plates. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Poaching eggs: Add enough water in a deep pan so it will completely cover the four eggs when they are added. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 2 teaspoons white vinegar and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat.

Meanwhile, crack 1 very fresh cold large egg into a custard cup or small ramekin. Carefully drop the egg into the top portion of the pan. Use a spoon to keep the most transparent white around the yoke from spreading out in the pan.

Add each egg the same way, working your way from the 12 o’clock position to the 3 o’clock position, then the 6 o’clock position followed by the 9 o’clock position. The water should be simmering but not bubbling.

After 3 minutes check the egg at the 12 o’clock position. The white should have formed around the yolk but the yolk will still move when you gently push it with your spatula. Use a slotted spoon to retrieve the eggs and working in the order you slid them into the water, place one on each plate of new potatoes on lettuce.

Season with salt and pepper; sprinkle with chives. When you slice into the egg it should mingle and form its own sauce on the plate. I always serve with toasted bread to dip into the sauce.

Learn how to make Chicken SAloo Curry with our Chef Smita Deo.

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

Editor's note: Check the Register's Friday Wine section to find out what wines Dan the Wine Man Dawson chooses to serve with Ken Morris' hamburger recipes.

Officially, summer begins on the summer solstice, which this year is June 20. But, really, summer begins on Memorial Day, which falls on Monday, May 31, when you are pretty much required to grill your main meal outside. But, are you ready?

Especially if you have not been grilling much over the winter and spring, you have to have a plan. I’m offering you three ways to turn out a beautiful burger so people won’t know you haven’t even looked at your grill since Thanksgiving (yes, we cook the turkey outside on the grill, but that’s another story.)

Makes 6 burgers

Too many cooks feel you have to jazz up hamburger. They seem to think that if you don’t add garlic powder, brown sugar, pimento, and who knows what, that you’re not really a grill master but just some poor ignoramus without any imagination. Not true.

In this case, you have to embrace the dictum of famed German architect Mies van der Rohe: “Less is more.” The fewer ingredients you toss into the bowl with the ground beef, the better your burger will turn out.

And, I can see the raised hands out there; but why is it called hamburger? The name comes from the seaport town of Hamburg, Germany, where scholars think sailors in the 19th century brought back the idea of raw, shredded beef by trading with the Baltic provinces of Russia, home to Beef Tartare. All it took was someone hungry with a fire, a pan, and raw, shredded beef to produce what is now one of America’s favorite foods.

But enough philosophy and history, let’s get cooking.

2 ¼ pounds of ground beef, 20% fat. We’re shooting for 6 ounces for each burger but this doesn’t have to be exact. You do need the 20% to create a tasty burger, not a dried-out hockey puck.

Extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, your choice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 hamburger buns

Optional toppings:

6 thin slices Cheddar cheese

Butter lettuce leaves

Sliced tomatoes, but only when they are fresh and ripe

Sliced dill pickles

Ketchup (I know, some people choose mustard and/or mayonnaise but this is my burger)

Divide the meat into 6 equal portions (you can use a bench knife or even a case knife. This doesn’t have to be exact).

Wet your hands in cold water or I use latex gloves that I have a box of handy for when I handle hot chiles.

The goal is to keep the meat cold, making it easier to form each portion into a round patty. Press down with your flat hand or place the meatballs between two sheets of wax paper on a tortilla press and flatten completely into a 5- to 6-inch-wide disk.

It needs to be a bit wider than you want the final product since the meat will shrink back when it cooks. You’re aiming for 6 ounces in weight and 3/4-inch thick.

Use your thumb to make an indention in the center, again because the meat shrinks and will puff up in the center.

Place all the burgers on a sheet pan or tray, salt both sides of the meat (by salting early, it can move into the interior of the burger), loosely cover with wax paper or plastic wrap, and let the burgers rest for a half-hour or so.

Pre-heat the grill to hot and then vigorously clean your grates (not to suggest your grates are not clean, but mistakes can be made).

When ready to cook, sprinkle both sides with a bit more salt, slide onto the grill, brush the top with olive oil/butter on top, and don’t touch them for 4 minutes. I also replace the grill top to even the heat.

By the end of 4 minutes, they should have nice grill marks on them and easily release them from the grill. Flip over, brush again with oil/butter on top and again don’t touch them or smash down on the patties; that will only squeeze out the moisture onto the bottom of the grill.

This is when I also toast the hamburger buns and if you’re making a cheeseburger, now is the time to drape the burgers with cheese. Keep an eye out for flair-ups because you will have to move the burger if it’s getting burnt.

The buns, patties and cheese should be done at about the same time. Remove the buns first and then place a patty between each bun. Add a grind of black pepper to each burger and all you have to do is choose your toppings.

Serves 6

Adapted from "Big Small Plates," by Cindy Pawlcyn

Some folks find lamb too “lamb-y,” tasting a bit too strong because their palate was brought up on grain-fed beef. Local chef Cindy Pawlcyn feels your pain and brings Southeast Asian flavors into the mix to make this lip-smacking tasty meal. You could just make the lamb burgers, but it’s well worth your time to whip together the vinaigrette and the herb salad and enjoy this trip to Vietnam.

4 tablespoons light brown sugar

3 teaspoons water

2 tablespoon tamarind paste (may substitute lime juice but it’s worth the effort to find)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

6 tablespoons olive oil

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ tablespoons oyster sauce

½ Serrano or jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced (or use the entire pepper, if you really like heat)

2 tablespoons chopped mint

2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves

½ medium sweet onion, minced

Juice of ½ lime

1 ½ pounds ground lamb

2 scallions, white and light green parts, cut into 1 1/2-inch-long strips

1 Thai or serrano chile pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips

1/2 bunch basil, small leaves only (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 bunch cilantro, leaves only

1/3 cup mint, leaves only

½ bunch chives, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

1 bunch watercress, leaves only

For the vinaigrette: In a small pan over medium heat, combine the brown sugar and water and heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Add the tamarind and soy sauce and stir until smooth. Remove from heat, then whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.

For the burgers: In a large bowl, combine the garlic, oyster sauce, chili pepper, mint, cilantro, onion, and lime juice. Add the lamb and mix, making sure everything is well combined. Using your hands (see hamburger discussion about keeping the meat cool), form 6 burgers no thicker than 3/4 inch.

Preheat the gas grill, or if using a charcoal grill, start the charcoal briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. Grill or broil the burgers about 1 1/2 minutes per side for rare, 2 minutes for medium. You really don’t want lamb well done.

For the salad: Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and toss with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat.

To serve, place one burger on each plate with the salad piled alongside and an extra drizzle of vinaigrette overall.

Makes 4 burgers

I’ve been eating at Gott’s for so long that I remember when they only had one lonely outpost in St. Helena called Taylor’s Refresher ("Since 1949" according to the sign.) The Taylor family decided to lease out the property and the Gotts ran it as Taylor’s Automatic Refresher starting in 1999.

In 2006 Taylor's received the James Beard Foundation Award designating them as one of America's Classics. The Gott family thought it made good business sense to change the name to their own when they planned to expand, which they did, renaming the property as Gott's Roadside in 2010.

I remember one year, famed wine critic Robert Parker heavily praised their food in The Wine Advocate (at that time he was the owner and primary writer) which he enjoyed on one of his tasting visits to the Napa Valley. Of course, every winery owner read that and the next time Parker came back to the valley to taste wine, they all tried to hire the Gotts to prepare their lunch when Parker was tasting their wines, hoping on enticing him to spend more time with them.

I know what you’re thinking: if they are so famous, why are you not featuring their burger? Because I can’t remember the last time I ate a Gotts burger. But, late at night, I sometimes dream of their grilled ahi burger. That’s what I order every time I go there.

Please note that they maintain the raw interior of the ahi burger, just kissing the grates long enough for that grill flavor, and I highly recommend that you don’t treat an expensive piece of fish like ground beef.

2 green onions

4 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoon sherry vinegar

3 tablespoon soy sauce

2 teaspoon hoisin sauce

2 teaspoon sambal sauce

Fresh ginger - 1" piece peeled and rough chopped

2 tablespoon pickled ginger

2 teaspoon honey

2 tablespoon light sesame oil

2 tablespoon lime juice

4 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil

1 garlic clove, rough chopped

Red wine vinegar

1 cup julienned napa cabbage

1/2 cup julienned red cabbage

1/2 cup julienned carrots

Ginger wasabi mayo:

1 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder

1 teaspoon water

1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice

1 tablespoon chopped pickled ginger

1/2 cup mayonnaise

4 5 oz. fresh ahi steaks, cut 1/2-inch thick

4 burger buns

Soy sauce, for marinating

Oil, for brushing marinated ahi

Asian Vinaigrette: Place all ingredients in a blender, pulse to combine.

Slaw: Toss slaw with 1/4 c dressing, reserve remainder for another use.

Ginger Wasabi Mayo: Mix wasabi powder with water and lime juice until it forms a paste. whisk in all other ingredients.

Ahi Burger:

Build a hot charcoal fire, or set the gas grill on medium-high. Set ahi steaks in a shallow pan with enough soy sauce to cover halfway, marinate 2 ½ minutes, turn over, marinate another 2 ½ minutes, remove to a plate, and brush lightly with oil.

Meanwhile, toast split buns and set aside on plates.

Spread 1 tablespoon ginger-wasabi mayo on each bun surface. Spread 1/4 cup slaw on each bun surface.

Place ahi over hot coals, after 45 seconds, turn 90 degrees to get some nice grill marks, wait 45 more seconds, then turn over and grill for one more minute. Take ahi off grill, place between dressed buns, and serve immediately.

Americans are planning to have a normal summer. Buzz60’s Keri Lumm shares the results of a new study conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Medline Remedy Dermatology Series.

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

Editor's note: Typically Ken Morris' column, Cooking for Comfort, runs on the Tuesday Food pages, and Dan Dawson, Dan the Wine Man, come up with pairings for Ken's recipes on Friday's wine. This week, since the Napa Valley's food-and-wine duo chose a wine first, we thought it would be sensible to run them together. Ken will return to the Food pages on May 25.

"Rosés can be served with anything,” Julia Child wrote in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." But she did add, “but are usually reserved for cold dishes, pâtés, eggs, and pork."

Given that rosé ranges from light wines made from Grenache to a hefty rosé crafted from Syrah on the darker side, that’s a bit dismissive of a category of wine, but I’ll let Dan the Wine Man explain the how and why there are so many styles, made from different varietals. This time, we’re picking a wine (or in this case, a style of wine) and working our way back to crafting a dish that will be a good match.

The first thing I think of when I hear rosé is summer days, lunch on our deck protected from the sun by a roof of wisteria. And, it always triggers thoughts of travel since usually when my wife and I travel, it’s to a country known for its food and wines.

So, I’m picking three countries that not only offer great food, they produce beautiful rosés. The first stop is Spain.

(Meatballs in Salsa)

Albondigas en Salsa (Meatballs in Salsa)

Serves 8 as a tapa

Adapted from "The New Spanish Table" by Anya von Bremzen

These saucy meatballs are typically served in small earthenware cazuelas in Madrid. A glass of chilled Rosado (the light to medium-bodied Spanish rosé) during the blazing hot summers in Spain is a refreshing accompaniment to tapas.

2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed

1/3 cup whole milk

1 pound ground pork (this needs some fat in the mix so it won’t dry out)

½ pound ground beef (yep, see the note for ground pork)

¼ cup grated yellow onion, plus 1 large onion, chopped for the sauce

2 large eggs, beaten

1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the sauce

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 to 3 gratings of fresh nutmeg (you may want more)

2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish (this is just an approximation to give you the sense to add a little but not a lot)

3 tablespoons olive oil

Sauce

1 medium-size carrot, diced

¾ teaspoon Spanish sweet paprika (look for Dulce on the can) This is not the same as Hungarian paprika.

4-5 canned peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped, plus ¼ of their juice from the can

3 tablespoons brandy

1 cup dry white wine

1 ¼ cups chicken stock, maybe more if needed

All-purpose flour for dusting the meatballs

Place the bread and milk in a small bowl and let soak for 5 minutes. Drain, squeeze out the excess liquid, and finely crumble the bread. Place the bread, pork, beef, grated onion, eggs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, and parsley in a large bowl. Gently knead the meatball mixture with your hands until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined, but do not over knead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 40 minutes while you make the sauce.

For the sauce: heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and carrot, cooking until the vegetables are soft and very lightly browned, about 7 minutes.

Add the paprika and stir for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and their juice, and the brandy, increase the heat to high and cook until the liquid is reduced slightly about 1 minute.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the wine and chicken stock, partially cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are very tender, some 30 to 40 minutes.

Once done, the sauce can be prepared 1 day ahead and chilled at this point.

Using a slotted spoon, remove 1 cup of the solids from the sauce and transfer to a blender along with 1 cup of the liquid. Puree the mixture by pulsing the blender until fine. Stir this mixture back into the sauce and add a little more chicken stock if it seems too thick. Keep the sauce warm while you finish the meatballs.

For the meatballs: Spread a thin layer of flour on a large plate. Wet your hands, then break off a piece of the meatball mixture and shape it into a ball the size of a large walnut (you can use an ice cream scoop to help you shape the balls and keeping the mixture cool at the same time). Roll the meatball in the flour, shaking off the excess, then gently roll it between cupped hands to give it shape.

Repeat with the rest of the meatball mixture, placing the floured meatballs on a dry baking sheet.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet, over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and brown all over, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the browned meatballs to a bowl. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet and cook the remaining meatballs.

Once the meatballs are cooked, add 1/3 cup water to the skillet and cook for about 1 minute on medium-high heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge the brown bits. Stir this liquid into the sauce.

Return the meatballs and any accumulated juices to the pan, along with the sauce and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook until the meatballs are completely heated, 5 to 7 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes or so. Sprinkle with the parsley just before serving. People love to use wooden toothpicks to stab a meatball and roll it in the sauce and it helps to have small appetizer plates ready so guests can hold it under the meatball as they eat. And don’t forget the crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Italian caponatina (or caponata).

Adapted from "The Dictionary of Italian Food and Drink" by John Mariani

Serves 6

My wife and I enjoyed a cooking journey to Sicily in 2019 led by Julie Logue-Riordan of Cooking with Julie. We spent most of our time eating, drinking, and cooking in Trapani on the western coast of Sicily, finishing the trip in the capital city of Palermo. One of the items every restaurant seemed to offer was Caponatina, a dish made of cooked eggplant, onion, celery, tomatoes and vinegar, and various other vegetables, depending on the cook. I later read that its name really is Caponata but in Palermo, they use the diminutive, Caponatina. Look for "Rosato" on the drinks menu in Italy to find the restaurant’s rosés.

2 medium eggplants (approximately 2 to 2 ½ pounds) cut into 1-inch pieces

Olive oil for frying (I use sunflower oil and save the good stuff for finishing the dish)

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

½ cup chopped celery

1 14.5- ounce can of peeled and diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons capers (nope, I don’t rinse them)

1 tablespoon sugar

½ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup green olives

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the cubed eggplant into a colander and sprinkle with salt, tossing to make sure salt is evenly dispersed. Let drain for an hour, then pat dry with paper towels.

Heat 1 inch deep of sunflower/ olive oil in a deep-frying pan to 360°F and fry the eggplant until brown and crisp. Drain and set aside.

Remove the leftover oil (don’t throw it away) and in the same frying pan heat ¼ cup of the just used oil with the extra virgin olive oil.

Add the onion and celery and sauté until golden brown. Add the tomatoes, bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Stir in the capers, sugar, vinegar and olives. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper and cook for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving. Some cooks recommend waiting until the next day to serve to allow the flavors to marry.

Salade Niçoise, a favorite of southern France, is one of Ken Morris' picks to serve with rosé wine.

Serves 6

This more from memory and producing something like a Salade Niçoise for years, but I did order a Salade Niçoise when we were in Nice, France. Their salad was better, or at least it seemed to taste better, outdoors under a sun umbrella just a short distance from the Mediterranean. In France, rosé is actually called a rosé.

Dressing

¼ cup Sherry

1 shallot, minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (you may want to throttle back on this but I like a hint of mustardy heat)

1 clove garlic, minced

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup minced fresh tarragon

Salad

12 ounces haricot verts or Blue Lake green beans, tops and tails trimmed (I’ve also used pencil-thin asparagus if they look better than the beans)

1 ½ pounds yellow potatoes, unpeeled

4 hard-boiled eggs, shell removed and quartered

½ cup niçoise olives pits removed

¼ cup capers, drained (I like the brine myself but lots of chefs demand that you must rinse them: your call)

Handful of chives

1 3.95-ounce tin of white tuna in olive oil (Spain produces the best canned products. Look for Bonito Del Norte (Northern White Tuna), considered the highest quality, due to its extremely white meat, taste, and texture. Ventresca on the label indicates it is the fattest part of the tuna belly and more expensive)

2 heads of butter or red oak lettuce, torn into large pieces that are easy to fork

Make the dressing:

Mix the Sherry, shallot, Dijon mustard, garlic, a hefty pinch of kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper with a whisk in a large bowl.

When the mixture is smooth, add the olive oil a tablespoon at a time as you continue to whisk until all the oil is incorporated and the mixture looks smooth. Use a leaf of the lettuce to dip into the dressing to taste for salt and if you need to add a dollop more of oil. Add the tarragon at the end. Set a couple of tablespoons aside in a small bowl.

Slice the potatoes in half, dropping them into a bowl filled with enough water to cover them all comfortably.

Heat a large pot until it is lightly boiling, add a good pinch of salt and cook beans for 3 to 4 minutes, just until they are bright green. Immediately scoop them up with a strainer and slide them into a waiting bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. Once chilled, scoop them out of the water and onto a towel and dry.

Using the same pot you used for the bean, add the potato halves and boil them for 15 to 20 minutes, checking often until you can easily pass a sharp knife through the center of a potato, checking several to ensure all are done.

Drain the potatoes and immediately add them to the waiting bowl of dressing, gently stirring the potatoes so they all can absorb the dressing.

On a large platter, lay down the lettuce to cover the bottom, group the potatoes on one side of the plater, with the broken up tuna, beans, and olives each grouped together, instead of the usual tossed salad.

If you have room, you can also group the sliced hard-boiled eggs or arrange them along the top or side of the platter. Run a line of dressing over the top and scatter the capers and chives.

I believe the City of Nice requires all Salade Niçoise to be served with French bread. It’s much more impressive to present the composed salad on a platter than to serve small, individual plates.

Gin & Juice hitmaker Snoop Dogg is "thinking pink" after launching a new rosé wine line.

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

Signe cartoon Pipeline hacking

CMYK version

CMYK version

Commercial salmon fishing is just beginning in California, after being delayed to allow more salmon to return to rivers to reproduce.

Salmon is the perfect main course to focus on for Cooking for Comfort since people who usually don’t eat fish still enjoy salmon, which is why you usually see it on a restaurant menu.

Is it because the Golden State Salmon Association does such a great job promoting it? I’m sure they do a grand job, but it’s deeper than that.

I did a bit of digging online to see why so many seem to love salmon. Several postings refer to salmon’s great taste and that it’s healthy for you (packed with omega-3 fatty acids, rich in high-quality protein). The other take is salmon is so dense and fatty, it’s more like chicken or pork than fish.

Until I lived in Alaska, I don’t think I had tasted King Salmon, but once you try it straight from the river, you’re ruined for the previously frozen fillets.

I’m not employed by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Council when I say the salmon there have arduous upstream swims to return to where it was born. This battle requires enormous exertion so the salmon have to pack on huge reserves of built-up fat for fuel and insulation before they start the migration.

This is true to a lesser degree to all salmon (okay, not the farm-raised salmon but that’s why there is a tremendous difference in texture and taste). By the way, despite what I read online, finfish farming is NOT allowed in Alaska, so all salmon there are harvested in the wild, pristine waters of Alaska.

Let’s take a look at three different ways to cook the same fish. This versatility is one more reason people love to cook salmon.

Serves 4

Adapted from "Salmon: A Cookbook" by Diane Morgan

For seafood, I’ve always thought high heat and a short cooking time was king until I tried this slow roasting technique. The first time I followed the recipe, I didn’t think the salmon was done, although I had meticulously timed it. The salmon was smooth and silky, without the crust I was used to from high heat. Sure, you may miss the scorched flesh on the edges of the fish from a grill, but this is a good technique to know to cook fish.

Kosher salt

1 cup tightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

3 tablespoons water, plus ¼ cup

4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin and pin bones removed

2 tablespoons olive oil

Pimentón Dulce or Spanish sweet paprika

½ cup unsalted butter (one stick of butter)

1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic

Fill a 2-quart saucepan two-thirds full of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the boiling water and then add the cup of parsley. Cook just until tender and bright green, about 1 ½ minutes. Drain the parsley in a strainer and run cold water over the parsley until it is cool. Squeeze the parsley with your hands to remove the excess water. Place the parsley in a blender, add the 3 tablespoons of water and blend until puréed. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 250°F. Arrange the salmon on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Rub each fillet with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and Spanish sweet paprika, which gives a hint of smoke to the salmon. Place the baking sheet in the oven and set a timer for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring ¼ cup of water to boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cut the ½ cup of butter into 4 pieces and whisk the butter into the water, one piece at a time. Stir in parsley purée, the minced garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and a couple of grinds of the pepper mill. Taste and adjust season, then keep warm.

At around 20 minutes, this is where the magic happens. When salmon is cooked gently at such a low temperature the fish looks underdone because the flesh is still pink and vivid. But, you should see a little of the albumin start to form on the sides of the fish. This is a protein that coagulates when you subject the salmon to heat. If you’re not feeling comfortable that it looks under-cooked, you can check with an instant-read thermometer that should read between 125°F to 130°F when inserted in the center of the fillet.

To serve, place white rice or mashed potatoes in the center of a warmed plate, top with a piece of salmon and drizzle a spoon of the parsley sauce around each plate. Top with a little minced parsley and serve.

Serves 6

Adapted from Chef Philippe Boulot, Heathman Hotel, Portland, Oregon

When I lived in Alaska I was invited at the last moment to fly out to Riversong Lodge, run by Kirsten and Carl Dixon, a place truly out in the wilderness and known for great food. Kirsten had brought in Chef Philippe Boulot from the elegant Heathman Hotel in Portland for a culinary weekend and had a couple of spaces to fill.

The only way to get there is by floatplane and I raced to the seaplane base on Lake Hood to catch the flight taking supplies and some of the other participants. The lodge rests on Lake Creek, a famous Alaskan river offering all five species of Pacific salmon (so you can see how this fits into this story.)

The few Alaskans in the group had all cooked plenty of salmon but Chef Philippe introduced us to an unusual pesto that blankets the salmon, adding flavor to the already rich king salmon. He said that the bacon keeps the pesto from drying out during cooking. Save this for when you start entertaining again.

1/3 cup fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs

2 strips lean bacon, coarsely chopped (Bacon is not cooked. Chef wants some fat to flow from it.)

3 tablespoons pine nuts

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

2 small garlic cloves

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 6-ounce skinless king salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick, pin bones removed

Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a food processor, combine the basil, bread crumbs, bacon, pine nuts, Parmesan, and garlic, finely chopping (you’ll probably need to push the ingredients down a couple of times).

Once everything is minced, keep the machine running as you add the extra-virgin olive oil in a steady stream until smooth. Season with a sprinkle of salt and a dash of pepper. Spread a rounded tablespoon of the pesto evenly on the skinned side of each salmon fillet.

Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large nonstick skillet. Add 3 of the salmon fillets, pesto side down and cook over moderately high heat until the pesto is browned 1 to 2 minutes.

Carefully move the fillets (this is when a good fish spatula and a long spatula come in handy) to the ready sheet pan, placing the pesto side up. Repeat with the remaining 3 fillets. Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked through. Set each fillet on the center of a warmed plate, pesto side up.

Chef Philippe serves his surrounded by wilted spinach but I like the visual element of serving it on finely mashed potatoes or white rice, along with lemon wedges.

Serves 4

When my wife and I lived in Alaska (I know what you’re thinking: Geez, another Last Frontier story?) we ate a lot of salmon. In those days, Anchorage had daily nonstop flights to South Korea and Japan, and Koreans and Japanese lived and ran exceptional restaurants in the state’s largest city. I’m not sure where this recipe came from but it has Japanese ingredients that I love.

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

2 tablespoons white miso paste (miso is fermented soybean paste that varies by the number of soybeans, salt and the length of aging)

2 tablespoons mirin (a low-alcohol, sweet wine made from glutinous rice)

1 tablespoon tamari (a Japanese condiment similar to but thicker than soy sauce, made from soybeans. the biggest difference is that tamari is made without wheat, while soy sauce typically contains wheat (up to 50 percent of its total content).

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 ½ pounds salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions, pin bones removed

2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions cut on the bias (45° angle)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat outdoor grill to high.

Toast sesame seeds in a small dry skillet over low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant, around 3 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whisk miso, mirin, tamari, and ginger in a small bowl until smooth. Place salmon fillets skin-side down on a casserole or pie dish and brush with the miso mixture.

When the grill is very hot (for gas I grill at high so the surfaced is browned but the center is still moist) place the fillets on the grate, skin side down, and close the lid. This is my patented no-flip fish cooking.

Time the cooking, looking to pull the fillets off at around 7 to 8 minutes. The fish should be easy to separate and albumin will start to form on the sides of the fish. This is a protein that coagulates when you subject the salmon to heat.

Transfer the salmon to a warm plate and garnish with the sesame seeds, scallions, and cilantro. I think you are required to serve with brown rice so it qualifies as a healthy meal.

Warmer weather often means eating outside for fun. Here are some tips from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to keep your food safe.

No Top Chef level skills are needed to make this comforting, classic and oh-so-easy soup.

The recipe may not be authentic, but it fits the bill for midweek dish packed with flavor.

You’ll find you need an ovenproof deep skillet or frying pan and a medium bowl. That’s all.

Pizza pinwheels are a perfect option if you're struggling with dinner ideas and want to put something on the table fast.

In this healthy roasted potato recipe, the potato wedges are first parboiled until just tender to release their starches before baking.

This retro recipe group needs to make a comeback. The best place to start? With a dessert chocolate fondue recipe, of course.

Chocolate and peanut butter seem to have a natural affinity for each other. These brownies combine the best attributes of both to create a fudgy peanut butter taste.

Banana bread is a simple dessert you can make using ingredients that you probably already have in your kitchen pantry.

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

Editor’s note: Check the Napa Valley Register’s Friday Wine section for Dan Dawson’s recommendations of wines to go with Ken’s recipes, even Kung Pao Shrimp.

When is a shrimp really a prawn and is there a difference? Restaurant menus often list shrimp in the title when they serve smaller crustaceans, like “shrimp stir fry,” while prawns are usually highlighted when the shellfish is big, as in “grilled jumbo prawns.” But when the crustacean arrives on the plate, they seem to be the same. Don’t fall for it. You should know there really is a difference.

Yes, they do belong to the same family, Decapod Crustacea. This means they both are 10-footed (deca) animals protected by hard exoskeletons, but the many types of shrimp fall under the sub-order Pleocyemata, while the prawn species belong to the Dendrobranchiata sub-order.

Let’s get scientific, just for a moment. One difference is shrimp have plate-like gills and a set of claws on their front two pairs of legs, while prawns have branching gills and claws on three sets of their legs, with the front pair being noticeably larger.

Side by side, you can also see shrimp have three distinct segments of their bodies, with the middle segment overlapping the front and rear portion. Prawns, without that body segmentation, have straighter bodies than shrimp.

But the main thing that cooks care about is shrimp live exclusively in salty seawater, where they move by swimming. Prawns, on the other hand, spend their lives crawling along the floors of fresh or brackish water. That means unseasoned shrimp have a slightly saltier, savory taste. Prawns, because of their freshwater lifestyle, seem to have a sweeter, unsalted, taste.

But, before you dip your shrimp or prawn into the cocktail sauce, you need to devein it. The thin, dark thread you see along the back of the shrimp carries body wastes and sand so that has to go.

An easy way to remove the shell is to place the shrimp on the cutting board with the legs facing you. Slip a thumb under the legs on either side of the shrimp, so the thumbs are pointing towards each other. Then, slide the thumbs towards each other as you roll the hands forward. Most of the shell will come loose and then flip the shrimp back to the original position and repeat.

If you work more visually then search YouTube for FudeHouse’s video, “The Fastest, Easiest Way to Peel and Devein Shrimp.” To remove the vein, you can slice along back with a sharp knife and then lift out the offending vein or use a thin skewer and slide it under the vein near the tail. Slowly lift up on the skewer and pull the vein out, leaving only a small hole in the flesh.

Here are three distinct ways to enjoy shrimp.

Shrimp and Crab Stuffed Avocado with Cilantro-Caper Mayonnaise

Adapted from “Big Small Plates” by Cindy Pawlcyn with Pablo Jacinto and Erasto Jacinto

I first cooked from this book as part of the Cooks & Books cooking group that I belong to. Anne Baker, now famous for her Annie the Baker cookies sold around the valley, had been a pastry chef for Cindy Pawlcyn at Mustards Grill before Annie developed her pretty much world-famous cookie.

When the book came out, Annie picked it for her selection and each of us selected a recipe to cook for dinner. The best news was Cindy Pawlcyn liked the idea so much that she invited the whole group to her home to cook with her. So, yes, I am name-dropping here but it’s so rare that I get to do that, so just enjoy it.

Right up front, I have to admit the original recipe also calls for about 2 cups of cooked octopus. The only octopus I like are those swimming at the Monterey Aquarium. I just don’t enjoy the texture. So, no octopus for you but if you enjoy it, fold it into the recipe.

Serves 6.

1 pound 4 ounces shrimp, cooked in their shells (this adds to the flavor)

8 ounces fresh crab meat

Cilantro-caper mayonnaise

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, dried on a paper towel and then minced

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon salt

Lime vinaigrette

1 fresh lime, juiced

Pinch of kosher salt

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

3 avocados

3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce

2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

2 limes cut into wedges for garnish

Peel and devein the shrimp, then coarsely chop them up. Put them into a medium bowl with the crab. Cover and chill until needed.

For the Cilantro-Caper Mayonnaise, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Keep chilled until needed.

To make the vinaigrette: combine the lime juice, salt, and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil in a steady stream until it is well emulsified.

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise and twist into two parts. Remove pits by striking them with the heel of your chef’s knife. Twist to remove the pit, then push the pit free with your fingers from behind the blade (in other words, don’t reach around the blade). I simply peel off the skin of each half but Cindy uses a big spoon to scoop out the avocado halves as neatly as you can, being careful to keep them intact. Coat with lime juice to keep the halves from turning brown.

Place the lettuce in a bowl and dress with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly. Divide the lettuce among 6 bowls and top each bed of lettuce with an avocado half. Combine the seafood with the tomatoes and just enough mayonnaise to coat lightly, then mix gently. Divide the seafood salad equally by scooping into each avocado half. Dollop a small amount of the remaining mayonnaise on top and drizzle a bit of vinaigrette among the plates and serve with wedges of lime on the side.

Kung Pao Shrimp with Cashews

Yes, this is a variation of the classic Szechuan Kung pao chicken that you’ve probably had as take-out. This is much better. Shrimp replace chicken, and cashews are used in place of traditional peanuts. Here is a tip I will pass along at no extra charge: be sure your exhaust fan is set on high when you char the chiles. And, not that you would ever do something so stupid, don’t take a big whiff of the charring chile fumes. As in all stir-frying, this dish cooks very quickly so have everything cut and on hand before you heat up your wok. You won’t have time to do prep work once you begin cooking.

Serves 4.

1 cup jumbo raw cashews

1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil

2 tablespoons sunflower oil (or peanut or corn oil, something with a high smoke temperature)

½ teaspoon salt

3-4 small, dried red chilies

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, seeds and white ribs removed, cut into long, ¼ inch sticks

1 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, and patted dry

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spread cashews in a single layer on a half sheet pan. Roast until golden brown (about 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove the cashews from the pan so they won’t continue to cook and let cool in a bowl.

In a small bowl combine soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sesame oil. Set aside. Preheat wok (or large sauté pan) over high heat until hot, make sure the exhaust fan is on high, then pour in peanut oil. Immediately add salt and chilies, and stir fry for about 15 seconds, until the chilies are charred. Add ginger and garlic, stir fry until fragrant and slightly brown, about 15 seconds.

Add bell pepper and stir fry until pepper develops some brown and black spots. Add shrimp and stir fry, moving often until shrimp are pink and feel firm to the touch, about 2 minutes. Add reserved sauce mixture, stir-frying until sauce thickens to a glaze, about 30 seconds. Remove wok from the heat and gently stir in reserved roasted cashews. Serve immediately over rice.

Ulapalakua Beef and Shrimp Kabobs

Adapted from “Merriman’s Hawai’i” by Peter Merriman and Melanie P. Merriman

I love the cooking of Pete Merriman at his various restaurants in Hawaii. The recipe is named for the Ulapalakua Ranch, one of the largest on Maui. This combines shrimp and beef but, unlike a lot of backyard cooks, he keeps the shrimp and beef on separate skewers since they require different cooking times. As he points out in his book, you can make these small for a quick appetizer or make larger kabobs and serve them over rice for dinner.

Makes 12 kabobs, 6 shrimp and 6 beef.

Dipping sauce:

2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Shrimp and beef kabobs:

16-20 uncooked, peeled, deveined shrimp

1 1/2 lb. boneless New York strip steak, cut into 1-in cubes

1/4 c brown sugar

1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 in. cubes

1 sweet onion, cut into 1-in. squares

1-2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-in. squares

Vegetable oil

18 bamboo skewers, presoaked in water

Presoak the bamboo skewers. Set aside. Prepare beef and shrimp: Place shrimp and cubed beef into separate shallow bowls or pie plates. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, black pepper and kosher salt. Sprinkle half the seasoning over the shrimp and toss to coat: sprinkle the remaining half over beef and toss to coat.

Assemble the kabobs by alternating pineapple, onion, and peppers with either shrimp or beef. When threading shrimp, push the point of the skewer through the back and then through the tail so each shrimp lies flat and cooks more evenly.

Heat the grill, then oil it or coat it with cooking spray. Grill kabobs for 3-7 minutes per side (you want nice grill marks without overcooking). Shrimp are done when they turn pink. Beef can be cooked to a degree of doneness (but let’s not get carried away: a little pink inside means it still has some moisture, which is what you want.)

Note: To oil your grill, place a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a bowl. Crumple a paper towel, pick up with tongs, dip in the oil and wipe the grill.

CHECK OUT THE WEEK IN CARTOONS

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

WATCH NOW: HOW TO MAKE RAWA PRAWNS FRY WITH SMITA DEO

Learn how to make Rava Prawns Fry with our chef Smita Deo.

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Editor’s note: Check the Napa Valley Register’s On Wine section for April 2 to read Dan Dawson’s wine recommendations for these artichoke recipes.

If you’ve ever been to an Italian open market in the spring, you’ll spot different types of artichokes neatly piled high on a table: mostly long, narrow purple artichokes, called Violetto, and the round, dark Green Globe artichokes typically found in California. Usually, at least one merchant will be seated, nonchalantly welding a large knife, cutting off the tops, and trimming the tough, inedible green leaves and stems for those looking for ready-to-cook items.

I’ve grown artichokes as ornamental plants in my garden and if you let the bulb mature that you usually pick to eat, it transforms into a beautiful flower, revealing that it is part of the thistle family, Cynara scolymus.

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

The Globe artichoke that is the most popular to grow in California is considered an improved form of the wild cardoon and a native of the Mediterranean. Its birthplace is lost in time; some suggest it originated in North Africa while others say Sicily, according to “The Oxford Companion to Food,” where the artichoke “…is first mentioned as being brought from Naples to Florence in 1466.”

Sometimes you can find soft, baby artichokes that you can cook and eat whole, but I think the real skill in cooking artichokes is removing the tough leaves to expose the heart, and you’ll need to work quickly because the exposed flesh quickly oxidizes, turning it an unsightly gray.

First, prepare a large bowl of cold water that is acidified with the juice of a couple of lemons and if you don’t want your hands smelling like a bitter artichoke, pull on some rubber gloves.

Trim off the stem to about 2 inches or so, then use your fingers to snap off the tough outer leaves until you reach the pale yellow flesh of the heart.

Cut off the top third of the artichoke, looking for a natural indention that separates the heart from the top leaves. Then use a sharp paring knife to “turn” the artichoke, peeling off the remains of the tough green leaves.

For most uses, you can split the heart in half to expose the remaining choke (yes, you will choke on this nasty bit of thistle if you eat it.) If you need to keep the artichoke whole to stuff, use a melon baller scoop or small spoon to scrape out the fuzzy choke and immediately drop the cleaned artichoke heart into the bowl of acidulated water. If you need visual inspiration on how to clean an artichoke, look on YouTube for “Jacques Pepin preps an artichoke.”

What to do with the artichoke after all the work to clean them? I love artichokes in my famous artichoke dip and on my garden pizza but use the marinated artichokes from a jar and save the ones you just cleaned for the recipes below, where you can appreciate their fresh, delicate flavor.

Carciofi Ripieni (Stuffed Artichokes)Serves 6 as an appetizer

This classic recipe from Sicily uses the whole artichoke, with the choke removed, giving you a tasty cooking vessel.

12 large fresh artichokes, cleaned (see above) and the stems removed so it can sit flat

6 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half

Filling

2 cups of dried bread crumbs (I use panko bread crumbs that you can buy in the supermarket but this comes from the days when Sicilians used everything, including old bread)

1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley

1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, may need more to pour on top

Parmesan cheese for finishing

Combine the filling ingredients. Add olive oil a little at a time. It should be moist but not wet. Press the filling equally into the empty center of each artichoke. Top with a half garlic clove pressed into the filling.

Place the stuffed artichokes into a saucepan that just allows them to gently touch each other. Pour olive oil over the tops of each artichoke and pour cold water into the pan (not over the artichokes) so the water rises about one inch up the sides of the artichoke but not over the top.

Cover the pan and slowly bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. You should be able to easily run a sharp skewer through the artichoke heart. You can move the artichokes to a serving platter and serve at room temperature. Or, just before serving, grate Parmesan cheese on top of each artichoke and run under the broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown the cheese and warm the dish.

Braised Artichokes with Leeks and Peas

Adapted from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison

Serves 4 to 6

Years ago I attended a two-day cooking course taught by Chef Patricia Quintana, who had published several books on Mexican cuisine and in those days was called the Julia Child of Mexico. We stayed at Rancho Manzana, a beautiful bed & breakfast with a professional kitchen in the tiny New Mexico community of Chimayo, outside of Santa Fe. As the group broke into groups to work, I realized several professional chefs from the area had taken off the day to work with Chef Quintana.

One of the chefs I recognized from her books was Deborah Madison, who had cooked at Chez Panisse and the famed vegetarian restaurant Greens Restaurant in Fort Mason, San Francisco, before opening a café in Santa Fe and going on to consulting, teaching and writing over the years. Even among other professional chefs, she brought a broad knowledge and experience that made other cooks pay attention to her remarks.

4 large artichokes 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil 1/4 cup diced shallot 2 leeks, including an inch of the greens, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds 2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1-inch wedges, joined at the root end 1/2 cup white wine 2 1/2 to 3 cups homemade vegetable stock or water 1 teaspoon sea salt 12 ounces yellow-fleshed or new red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters 1/2 cup or less crème fraîche 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 cup shelled peas or fava beans 3 tablespoons chopped fennel greens or parsley Freshly milled pepper

Trim the artichokes as described above. Cut the trimmed artichoke into quarters and remove the fuzzy chokes with a paring knife. Slice into sixths, and set them aside in a bowl of acidulated water (water and lemon juice) until ready to cook.

Melt the butter in a wide soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and leeks and cook, stirring frequently, without browning for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine, raise the heat, and simmer for 2 minutes.

Drain the artichokes and add them to the pan with the fennel and stock. Season with 1 teaspoon sea salt, then press a piece of crumpled parchment or wax paper directly over the vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil, then simmer, covered, until the artichokes are tender, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, steam the potatoes until tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

When the artichokes and fennel are tender, remove them with a slotted spoon to a dish. Whisk enough crème fraîche and the mustard into the broth and boil briskly to make a thin sauce, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the peas and cook until tender, then return the vegetables and potatoes to the broth. Add the chopped fennel greens, season with pepper, and serve.

Anginares a la Polita

(Artichokes in the style of the City — referring to Constantinople)

Adapted from “A Mediterranean Feast” by Clifford A. Wright

This Greek recipe dates back to the days of the great Greek Byzantine city of Constantinople, today’s Istanbul. Usually served on the Greek Easter table, this is a classic spring vegetable dish.

6 scallions, white and light green part parts, chopped 12 small white onions, 1 inch in diameter, peeled ½ pound baby carrots ¼ pound small new potatoes (about the size of a big marble. Quarter them if they are larger) 10 medium-sized fresh artichoke hearts (see the introduction on peeling down to the hearts) 1 lemon 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup water ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil Kosher salt 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Line a lightly oiled wide saucepan with the scallions. Arrange the onions, carrots, potatoes, and artichoke hearts over the scallions. Dissolve the flour in the water and the juice of a lemon. Pour the water and olive oil over the vegetables so they are barely covered. Season with salt and sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the dill over the top. Bring to boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until the vegetables are tender about 1 ½ hours. There should be little liquid left. Remove the vegetables with a slotted ladle to a serving platter and serve at remove temperature. Garnish with the remaining tablespoon of dill.

WATCH NOW: FRENCH TASTERS SAVOUR FINE WINE THAT ORBITED THE EARTH

Researchers in Bordeaux are analysing a dozen bottles of a 5,000-euro bottles of Chateau Petrus Pomerol wine that spent a year in space. The precious liquid – along with 320 snippets of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapevines – returned to Earth in January after a sojourn aboard the International Space Station.

CHECK OUT THE WEEK IN CARTOONS

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

When you are cooking for comfort, one of the things you’re trying to deliver is “deliciousness.” And one of the easiest ways of producing those flavors is with mushrooms.

I know what you are thinking: “But humans can only taste four things: sweet, sour, salt and bitter, so how can we pursue deliciousness?”

Support local news coverage and the people who report it by subscribing to the Napa Valley Register.

In 1908 a Japanese scientist, Dr. Kikunae Ikeda, discovered umami, which is monosodium glutamate, as the fifth taste, but western culture was slow to acknowledge it. It wasn’t until 2002 that scientists identified umami taste receptors on the human tongue. Umami means “essence of deliciousness” in Japanese, and its taste is often described as the meaty, savory deliciousness that deepens the flavor.

Foods such as aged cheeses, cured meats, tomatoes, seaweeds and mushrooms are high in glutamate (umami). Cooking with ingredients rich in glutamate seem to deepen and round out the flavors in any dish. While it may not always make sense to add aged cheese or cured meats to a dish, mushrooms are an easy way to add deliciousness.

Cultivated mushrooms, such as button, cremini and portabella, are available year-round but during the winter and early spring is a great time to look for mushrooms far beyond the plain white button. You’ll discover more diverse offerings in the supermarkets now and we’re lucky to have Far West Fungi each week at the Napa Farmer’s Market.

There are whole books describing the hundreds of varieties of edible mushrooms in the world so in this article we’re simply looking at cooking a few of them. Regardless of your plans for your mushrooms, life becomes easier when you cut off the stems. Often the stems are woody and may hide dirt but more important, the now-stemless mushroom bottom gives you a solid base to slice it into quarters or thinly, as needed.

When you’re shopping for mushrooms, look for those that appear healthy; they should feel firm and not have spots that signal decay. Don’t be afraid to look under the hood: the fragile gills under the cap often start to turn before the rest of the mushroom. The bottom of the stem can be a little dry or soft, since we’re cutting it off.

At home, store them in a paper bag in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. Fresh mushrooms will last a few days, if purchased in good shape.

To wash or not to wash, that is the question. For years I’ve read that mushrooms are like sponges so never wash them: they’ll adsorb water and take forever to cook and lose their flavor. The folks at seriouseats.com have done the research and found that mushrooms do absorb water but only about 1/2 teaspoons of water per pound. But, most mushrooms you find in stores are clean and only need a quick brush to clean. If you do need to wash them, dry them using a salad spinner just before cooking. Storing mushrooms wet will lead to bad things happening very quickly. Here are three ways to enjoy those umami-packed fungi.

Mushroom Risotto

Serves 6

I’ve often seen food writers post “Yes, you can make risotto without all the stirring—just pop it in the oven” as part of their ‘let’s make this as easy as possible so we can go back to the computer’ cooking. But, what’s wrong with a little work to turn out a beautiful dish?

Years ago, back when the CIA Greystone offered weeklong courses for food professionals, I attended a week of basic cooking skills, with the uninspiring title of “Ingredients, Flavor Dynamics and Techniques of Evaluation. “ You can see why it was not picked up by the Food Network for a season. But, it did a great job of helping us basic cooks get a better grasp of the food and techniques that everyone needs to understand.

One of the lessons had half the class make a risotto the traditional way of almost no-stop stirring of the rice while hot stock was added; the other put the rice into a dish with sauteed garlic and onion, topped with hot stock and slid it into the oven. At the end of the class, the instructor presented the dishes blind (no indication of which was which). She enjoyed the guessing so much that she also invited a few of the chef-instructors to weigh in. The overwhelming majority of the voters picked the constantly stirred rice. So, I’m sticking with that method.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ yellow onion, chopped finely 8 ounces assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced (see the note above) Kosher salt to taste 2 cups Arborio rice (or try Carnaroli rice, it has great flavor and turns creamy while each grain of rice maintains its shape.) 6 ½ cups hot chicken broth 4 ounces goat cheese brought to room temperature 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram leaves, chopped

Heat a large, wide saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and heat until the foam subsides. Sauté the onion until softened. Add the mushrooms and sauté until softened. Season with salt. Stir in the Arborio rice and cook to coat evenly with the butter, about 30 seconds. Add approximately 1 cup of the broth and stir until the broth has been absorbed. Add another 2 cups of the broth and stir until the broth has been absorbed. Add the last of the broth to the rice. Taste a few grains to see if they are done. It should not taste chalky. If necessary, add a little hot water to keep cooking and taste again in a few minutes. Just before serving, stir in the goat cheese and fresh herbs.

Goat Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms with Bread Crumbs

Serves 8 as an appetizer

Adapted from Gabe Thompson, Food & Wine magazine website

Melted cheese and sautéed mushrooms on a toasted slice of baguette is a great appetizer, but this goes one step above that by using the mushroom as the container to intensify the mushroom and cheese taste. Serve this as an appetizer or with a salad as an easy dinner for two to four people.

24 large cremini mushrooms (about 1 1/2 pounds), stems removed

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus one 3-inch sprig of rosemary

Kosher salt

3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

6 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 24 pieces while cold

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a bowl, toss the mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of the oil and the rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mushrooms to a baking sheet, rounded side up. Roast for about 30 minutes, until tender and browned around the edges. Let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

In a skillet, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Add the rosemary sprig and cook over moderately high heat until the leaves are crisp, 30 seconds. Drain on paper towels, then strip off the leaves. Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the rosemary oil and reserve it for another use. Add the bread crumbs to the skillet and toast over moderate heat until golden and crisp, about 2 minutes. Stir in the fried rosemary leaves and season with salt and pepper.

Gently press a piece of goat cheese in the center of each mushroom, sprinkle with the flavored bread crumbs and serve. Chicken Marsala and Mushrooms

Adapted from Daniel Gritzer at seriouseats.com.

There are a million Chicken Marsala recipes in the world, so why this one? As often on seriouseats.com, they offer a couple of tricks to upgrade your experience. One is adding the gelatin, producing a glaze that you’d expect from a restaurant sauce. The other is bumping up the essence of deliciousness with another umami source: soy sauce.

1 1/4 cups Marsala wine ( a fortified wine from Italy. The complexity really adds to the dish, so don’t use a dry table wine)

3/4 cup homemade chicken stock or store-bought broth

1 packet unflavored gelatin, such as Knox (2 1/2 teaspoons)

4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, (a boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced horizontally into two even pieces. Then pounded between two sheets of plastic until the chicken is about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick )

Kosher salt

About 1 cup all-purpose flour for dredging

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed

10 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced

4 medium shallots, minced

2 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves

3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Sherry vinegar, to taste

Minced fresh parsley, for garnish

Combine Marsala and stock in a mixing bowl and sprinkle gelatin all over the surface. Set aside.

Season chicken cutlets all over with salt. Pour a roughly 1/2-inch layer of flour into a wide, shallow bowl. Dredge each cutlet in flour, tap off excess, and transfer to a clean plate.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches if necessary, add chicken and cook, turning once, until browned on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Using a slotted spatula, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Add mushrooms to the skillet (do not drain remaining oil) and cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms have released their juices and browned well, about 10 minutes. Add shallots, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring, until shallots are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add more oil if the pan seems too dry at any point.

Pour the Marsala mixture into the pan, making sure to scrape in all of the gelatin. Bring to a boil, whisking and scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until liquids are reduced by about three-quarters.

Add butter and soy sauce and whisk constantly until emulsified and the sauce takes on the consistency of heavy cream. Season with salt. Taste sauce and adjust with a small amount of sherry vinegar, as needed.

Return chicken cutlets to pan, swirling to bathe them in the sauce and warm them through. If the sauce begins to break at any point, swirl in a splash of water to bring it back together. Transfer to a warmed serving plate, spooning sauce all over the chicken. Garnish with parsley and serve.

CHECK OUT THE WEEK IN CARTOONS

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

RGB version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

WATCH NOW: MAKE CHEESE-STUFFED MUSHROOMS

Learn how to make Cheese Stuffed Mushroom with our chef Varun Inamdar.

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

What is the one item in your kitchen that you can use to cook an entire meal? No, not the Instant Pot. If you’ve ever used it or the slow-cooking Crock-Pot, you know you often have to use another wide pan to brown meat or reduce the sauce before everything is thrown in a pot and left to cook. I’m nominating the trusty, aluminum sheet pan as the single best kitchen utensil that allows you to feed the whole family and dirty only one pan.

If you’re in a cooking store or online, you may see it listed as half sheet pan, but you’re not being short-changed: you’ll get the 13-inch-by-18-inch pan that fits perfectly in your oven. Full sheet pans are 26 by 18 inches, which is too big to fit in home ovens, but are made for the standard commercial oven. And don’t be confused about cookie sheets: Baking sheets have rolled edges, which keeps your food from sliding off, cookie sheets do not.

There are several books stuffed with ideas for this cooking method; “Sheet Pan Suppers: 120 Recipes for Simple, Surprising, Hands-Off Meals Straight from the Oven” by Molly Gilbert; or “Sheet Pan: Delicious Recipes for Hands-Off Meals” by Kate McMillan.

And, if you only want your chicken cooked on a 13 inch by 18-inch pan? Don’t worry, there is: “Sheet Pan Chicken: 50 Simple and Satisfying Ways to Cook Dinner [A Cookbook]” by Cathy Erway.

Even if you’ve gone to the Keto Diet side, there is “The Keto Sheet Pan Cookbook: Super Easy Dinners, Desserts, and More!” by Sarah Anne Jones. The point is, if you’ve not yet embraced the Sheet Pan, you’ve got lots of options.

Sheet Pan Salmon

Serves 4

As I’ve confessed before, I spent 13 years in Alaska. I always thought I should have gotten a job writing for the Alaska Seafood Council: they could have paid me in Alaskan seafood and I would have been happy. The mortgage company may not have been as understanding. The Seafood Council did produce several well-thought-out cooking brochures, including a Mexican theme one by Chef Rick Bayless, which just happened to feature Alaska seafood. This recipe is not one of them, since they never embraced the one-pan cooking technique that I am revealing to you. If only they had hired me to write the brochures, they could have been included in this column.

3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño 1/4 teaspoon lime zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 1 small garlic clove, grated 1 1/4 pounds peeled and deveined raw large shrimp 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips 1 orange bell pepper, sliced into strips 1 cup sliced poblano chile, sliced into strips 1 cup thinly sliced red onion 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves 2 limes, cut into wedges

Stir together sour cream, chopped cilantro, jalapeño, lime zest and juice, garlic, and ¼ teaspoon salt in a bowl.

Place oven racks in the center and upper third positions of the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss together bell peppers, poblano, onion, oil, chili powder, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and coriander on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Place shrimp in a single layer next to the vegetables and slide the rack onto the middle rack of the oven; roast until shrimp are cooked through, 9 to 10 minutes. Transfer shrimp to a plate, stir the vegetable mixture on a baking sheet. Cover shrimp with foil to keep warm.

Switch the oven to Broil. Grill the sheet pan of vegetables on the upper oven rack until slightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes, and set aside.

Spoon shrimp and vegetables evenly onto warm tortillas; top with sour cream mixture. Sprinkle with cilantro leaves; serve with lime wedges.

Harissa-Roasted Chicken with Sweet Peppers

Serves 6

Adapted from “Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner” by Janet Fletcher

I know your first question: isn’t yogurt supposed to be nonfat, have fruit in the bottom of the cup and eaten only by people who are trying to diet? I once thought like you, until my wife and I were on a trip to Istanbul, seeing the history and tasting the wonderful food from this ancient city. Our Turkish hotel laid out a large spread in the dining room each morning for breakfast but the only milk product in sight was plain yogurt.

Not a yogurt fan, I reluctantly mixed it with the granola, gave a hesitant taste and quickly thought, ‘Hey, this is pretty good. They should market this stuff.” Turns out what I didn’t like was the nonfat, no flavor yogurt that was usually offered in the US. When I came home, I started buying plain, whole milk yogurt and we’ve been together ever since.

Full disclosure, the author, Janet Fletcher, and I belong to a gastronomic group that used to gather every two months, everyone creating a dish from a cookbook selected by the host for that meeting. Unfortunately, we have not had the pleasure of our joint cooking since March but we’re hopeful for 2021.

½ cup plain whole-milk European-style yogurt

½ cup coarse harissa paste (Janet recommends the Les Mouline Mahjoub brand, which I’ve found in Hudson’s Green & Goods in the Oxbow Market and online. We found we use a little less than ½ cup but taste your paste to get a feel for how hot you want it.)

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Kosher salt

6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs. Janet uses skin on but the entire tasting panel (my wife and I) enjoy them without the skin, which gets too flabby for us after marinating.

2 large red bell peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced

2 large yellow bell peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced

1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1/3 cup vegetable oil

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, harissa, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken and use a rubber spatula to coat the chicken all over with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours.

When you’re reading to start cooking, remove the chicken from the refrigerator, position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat it to 425°F. Toss the sliced peppers and onions together with the vegetable oil on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

Season with salt and arrange vegetables as a single layer bed for the chicken. Top with the chicken pieces and scrape out all the marinade onto the chicken and let it flow onto the vegetables.

Bake until the chicken is well browned on top and reaches 165°F internally, checking with an instant-read thermometer. The vegetables should be tender by this time but good to check.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Using tongs, toss the vegetables in the drippings and sauce from the chicken and then place on the platter with the chicken and serve immediately.

WHAT COMFORT FOOD IS ENJOYED AROUND THE WORLD?

There are times when we all crave comforts, and nothing hits the spot more than your favorite food. According to Business Insider, every country has its go-to comfort food. French onion soup is popular comfort food in France. Ramen noodles are a comfort food in Japan as well as the United States. Fish and chips is the comfort food of Great Britain. Sausage rolls are comfort food in Australia.

CHECK OUT THE WEEK IN CARTOONS

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

The definition of cooking for comfort when I was growing up was the casserole. A dish that was easy to make, fed several people and contained in only one dish to make it easy to transport and to clean up. There are millions of casserole recipes, from church cookbooks sold as fundraisers, Betty Crocker recipes on the back of the box, Country Living magazine, Southern Living magazine, every newspaper reprinted the winners from county fairs and family favorites passed from mother to daughter.

But after World War II, why was there an outpouring of casseroles made with soup from a can or dessert from a box? As Laura Shapiro explains in her book “Something From the Oven: Reinventing Dinner in 1950s America,” at the end of the war, packaged food companies realized they had to convince domestic consumers to purchase their wartime products or close shop.

As a result, during the late 1940s and early ’50s, a new crop of ideas about eating was thrust upon the public as the industry tried to “persuade millions of Americans to develop a lasting taste for meals that were a lot like field rations,” writes Shapiro. This resulted in a lot of foods in encased in Jello, the Lipton onion soup mix treated like an exotic spice and dishes such as tuna casserole topped by crushed potato chips. Well, the potato chip topping sounds good, but you get my point.

I’m not here to complain. As I’ve written before, growing up in 1960s northern Indiana, it fed me at school functions, Boy Scout awards night, church dinners, after-funeral receptions, and welcomed new neighbors and I still managed to maintain a normal height and weight gain for a boy, so I did all right.

But, I keep thinking of a verse I learned from my church-going days when I was growing up: “When I was a child, I spake as a child…but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

And that’s what I’m suggesting for this week’s recipes. Let’s toss the childish casseroles we may have gulped down when we were young and instead create some adult food: stuff that doesn’t have dehydrated mixes or ingredients we can’t even spell. Presenting a tasty dish that feeds a lot of folks in one dish is a noble goal, so here are three ideas.

A Real Mac and Cheese

Servings: 6-8

Adapted from Nagi at recietineats.com

Sure, sure, you’ve eaten thousands of Mac and Cheeses but how many were constructed of basically just that: Macaroni and Cheese? I’m not here to bash the Big Mac and Cheese conglomerate that sells millions of boxes in supermarkets, but just read the ingredients on the back of the box. It’s a long list of multiple-syllable scientific words, most of them preservatives.

There are thousands of Best Mac and Cheese Ever! recipes on the Internet and in books. I haven’t tried them all, but this is pretty good (which is what someone from the Midwest says when they mean “Great!”).

Showing how universal this dish is, this recipe is from Nagi, a woman born in Japan but now living in Australia. Her website is recipetineats.com. Designed to teach basic, good cooking, the website includes loads of details for each recipe about how to cook it, how long, what cut of meat, and a long list of tips. You can do that when you’re posting on an Internet site and have unlimited pages.

Macaroni:

8 oz macaroni (I think you are required to use elbow pasta but I have seen other, less scrumptious, cooks use farfalle, fusilli and even penne pasta) 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Topping:

2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter 1/4 teaspoon salt

Sauce:

4 tablespoon unsalted butter 1/3 cup all purpose flour 3 cups whole milk, warmed 2 cups freshly shredded gruyere or fontina cheese (And, always grate your own: Store-bought shredded cheese have anti-caking agents that don’t melt well and give the sauce a slightly powdery texture) 1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese (Nagi used fresh mozzarella but my wife and I thought the dish needed a bit more flavor, so I swapped out the bland cheese for cheddar cheese) 3/4 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon dry mustard

Grease a 7.5 inch by 10-inch baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook following packet directions minus 1 minute. Drain, return pasta to pot, add butter and toss until melted. Set aside to cool while making the sauce. For the topping, melt the butter in a small pan and toss the panko breadcrumbs so every crumb is damp with the butter. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large saucepan (I used my large Le Creuset pot) melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly with a whisk, for 1 minute. Add about 1 cup of the warm milk and mix to dissolve the paste into the milk. Then add remaining milk and mix until lump-free. Mix in salt and dry mustard.

Cook, whisking regularly, for 5 to 8 minutes until thickened to a cream consistency. That’s when the sauce coats the back of a wooden spoon and you can draw a path in the sauce with your finger. Turn off heat, add cheese and stir — cheese doesn’t need to melt.

Pour pasta into the sauce and stir quickly until all the pasta is coated with the sauce, then pour into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumb topping. Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly golden. Switch the oven to broil to finish the browning if needed. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and simple green salad.

Alison Roman’s Very Good Lasagna

Serves 6-10

From “Nothing Fancy” by Alison Roman. I didn’t adapt this recipe. I just cut and pasted it from the Today Show, which also loves it.

I was prepared to hate Alison Roman. Here she is, young, attractive, a YouTube star, writing for The New York Times Cooking section before starting her own newsletter, and did I mention producing two best-selling cookbooks? But, I put aside my petty jealousy and purchased her most recent book, “Nothing Fancy,” and I immediately liked her conversational, nonchalant way of describing her dishes, and the ones I’ve cooked so far work as written, which doesn’t always happen in cookbooks.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

6 anchovy fillets (optional, but you should use)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons tomato paste

One 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes

One 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1½ pounds fresh mozzarella, grated or shredded

16 ounces (2 cups) whole-milk ricotta

1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan, plus more as desired

1/4 cup heavy cream

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 pound dried lasagna noodles (not the no-boil variety)

Olive oil, for drizzling

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and anchovies and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is totally softened and translucent (without letting it brown), 8-10 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring, until the tomato paste has turned a deeper brick red color, about 2 minutes.

Using your hands, crush the whole tomatoes into smaller, bite-sized pieces and add them and the crushed tomatoes to the pot, stirring to scrape up any bits from the bottom. Fill one of the tomato cans halfway with water and add it to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato sauce has thickened, and flavors have come together, 35-45 minutes. You want it to be as thick as tomato sauce from a jar — any looser and the lasagna will be too wet to cut into nice pieces.

Preheat the oven to 425°F and set a large pot of salted water to boil.

Set aside 1 cup mozzarella. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining mozzarella, ricotta, Parmesan, and cream; season with salt and pepper.

Cook the lasagna noodles in boiling water until just softened (before al dente), 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and separate any noodles that are trying to stick together, drizzling them with a bit of olive oil to prevent them from sticking further.

Spoon a bit of sauce on the bottom of a 3-quart baking dish and top with a layer of noodles, avoiding any heavy overlap (some overlap is fine and inevitable). Top with about 1¼ cups of sauce and dollop one-fourth of the cheese mixture over.

Top with another layer of noodles and repeat three more times, ending with the last of the noodles (depending on the size of the noodle/shape of the baking dish, you may have a few extra noodles) and the last of the sauce. Top with the reserved 1 cup mozzarella and more Parmesan, if you like.

Cover loosely with aluminum foil and place the baking dish on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet (to prevent any overflow from burning on the bottom of your oven). Bake until the pasta is completely tender and cooked through and the sauce is bubbling up around the edges, 25-30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake until the lasagna is golden brown on top with frilly, crispy edges and corners, another 35-45 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating.

Chicken Tamale Pie

Serves 6

Adapted from “Chicken” by James McNair

This dish is more in the traditional casserole mode, with some of the cooking already done for you, thanks to canned vegetables and a rotisserie chicken, and you just add items together and heat them up. Local cookbook author James McNair credits a friend of his who entertained Richard Nixon during the early days of his political career in California, calling it President’s Pie, as it was one of Mr. Nixon’s favorites. And, in this context, “pie” is a fancy word for casserole. Mr. McNair boosts the flavor by adding the almost-mandatory cheese topping.

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 medium-sized onion, diced

1 ½ Tablespoon chili powder, plus 1 canned chipotles chile with sauce if you enjoy a bit more heat

1 can (28 oz.) crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes

1 can (14.5 oz.) cream-style corn

4 teaspoon salt

1 cup whole milk

½ cup yellow cornmeal, medium ground

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup pitted ripe olives, cut in half

2 cups coarsely chopped, cooked chicken (this is a great use for leftovers from a chicken dinner or pick up a rotisserie chicken at the market)

1 cup freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese, mixed with

1 cup freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese

Grease a 7.5 inch by 10-inch deep baking dish

Heat oil in a 3 quart or larger saucepan and sauté the onion for a few minutes, until it is translucent, then add the chili powder and stir for a couple more minutes, until you can smell the chilies. Add the salt, corn and tomatoes and cook over medium heat another 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, cornmeal, and eggs; add to the tomato mixture and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, until thick, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the olives and chicken, making sure every piece gets coated.

Pour mixture into the prepared ovenproof dish. Top with the cheeses and bake until the pie is firm and the cheese is crusty, 35 – 45 minutes. Serve piping hot.

WATCH NOW: WHAT COMFORT FOOD IS ENJOYED AROUND THE WORLD?

There are times when we all crave comforts, and nothing hits the spot more than your favorite food. According to Business Insider, every country has its go-to comfort food. French onion soup is popular comfort food in France. Ramen noodles are a comfort food in Japan as well as the United States. Fish and chips is the comfort food of Great Britain. Sausage rolls are comfort food in Australia.

CHECK OUT THE WEEK IN CARTOONS

Signe cartoon Impeachment Champ

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

Signe cartoon Well regulated militia

Signe cartoon Abortion Viagra

CMYK version

CMYK version

Plastic seems to be everywhere nowadays, and based on existing research on the greater San Francisco Bay, it is highly likely that the Napa Ri…

What is Napa County doing as another wildfire season approaches?

The first-grade class Rebecca Lacau first met last August was unlike any she had taught in more than a decade at Willow Elementary School.

The Napa Valley Register offers an in-depth look at the big races on the June 2022 ballot.

Five years after the Napa City Council voted to end red-light camera traffic enforcement in Napa, the council unanimously supported a plan to …

Going Upstage: Napa native takes over longtime local staging business with big plans.

A perfect storm of ride-share services, a global pandemic, wildfire risk and shifts in clientele have resulted in rising prices and limited av…

A Morimoto Asia, serving pan-Asian foods, will open in the former Basalt space at the corner of Third and Main streets in Napa. No opening dat…

One proposal for a future Highway 29 in American Canyon adds two lanes, while another adds six roundabouts. People have the chance to comment.

Jack Cakebread, one of the pioneers who who lead the transformation of the Napa Valley in the 1970s, died on April 26.

Winter shifts the cooking menu of grilling and salads to heavier foods, such as stews and long-cooked braises but in the market, there is one bright spot: lemons.

If you do a Google search of best lemon recipes, the first thousand or so entries are desserts. But, when I was in Italy I discovered lemons a constant in savory dishes there.

When my wife and I stayed in Positano, a cliffside village just barely clutching onto southern Italy’s Amalfi Coast, we enjoyed seeing the huge local lemons, which were the result of local farmers crossing local lemons with bitter oranges until they produced orange-sized lemons called Sfusato d’Amalfi.

The fruit was grown to provide vitamin C to prevent scurvy on long sea voyages and by the 19th century, the lemon had transformed the previously unproductive rural landscape along the Amalfi coast into a major economic creator.

But, it’s not just these unique lemons that are part of the Italian cuisine. Helena Attlee’s “The Land Where Lemons Grow” unfolds the citrus’ long voyage from its home in the Himalayas to southern Italy, and its spreading out through the country, appearing in ancient Roman and Renaissance cookbooks and it is still important today.

Locally, the Meyer lemon is so ubiquitous that some think that it originated in California but all citrus species that we eat today were first cultivated in Asia. At the turn of the 20th century, America’s US Department of Agriculture had an Office of Seed and Plant Introduction staffed with a team of botanists sending explorers to areas unknown to the Western world to find “plants of economic value.”

The program’s founder, botanist David Fairchild, had been responsible for the introduction of avocados, mangoes, and dates, and with hundreds of other crops to the US. Read “The Food Explorer” by Daniel Stone to discover this little-known culinary hero. Having recently married, Fairchild decided he had traveled enough and hired Frank Meyer as a special agent for the USDA to search China and acquire hardy crops.

Meyer is credited with 2,500 plant introductions, such as alfalfa, drought-hardy small grains, including sorghum, and many varieties of citrus, including a small tree with bright yellow fruit that he discovered in 1907, in a small village near Beijing.

A man told him the fruit was only ornamental, but Meyer cut a lemon to taste it, finding it sweeter than a lemon but more tart than an orange. Meyer sent cuttings back to the US where it was first grown in Chico, California, and eventually the other citrus hubs of Florida and Texas but its thin skin made it difficult to ship.

It was a century before Meyer lemons became popular in the United States, after being rediscovered by chefs such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse during the rise of California cuisine, starting in the 1970s. It gained an even larger audience when Martha Stewart began featuring them in some of her recipes. For all of these recipes, I use Meyer lemons since I have a prolific Meyer lemon tree in my backyard.

Adapted from “Tanina’s Kitchen Diary” by Tanina Vanacore

Serves 4

During our trip to Positano, Italy we discovered Casa e Bottega, a little cafe and homeware boutique owned by Tanina Vanacore, We immediately liked the open, Mediterranean coast feel. The light food and beach atmosphere was so enjoyable that we ate there twice and purchased a slim booklet of Tanina’s recipes to remind us of our trip. This is a good example of the straightforward cooking of the Amalfi Coast and how cooks there use lemon and orange, instead of vinegar, to provide a pleasing acidity.

500 grams (just over a pound) of boiled potatoes, skin removed

1 small celery stick, minced

Grated zest of organic lemon (make sure the skin is clean)

Kosher salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

500 grams (just over a pound) of steamed shrimp

3 oranges, peeled, seeds removed and sections chopped

2 small fennel bulbs, core removed and finely chopped

4 handfuls of salad. Choose a colorful mixture of radicchio, arugula, endive, mizuna, kale, or mustard.

Lemon, cut into quarters

Mash the cooked potatoes roughly with a potato masher or fork. Mix with the celery, add a dash of salt and pepper and all of the lemon zest.

Mix the salad with olive oil and add a sprinkling of salt and pepper. The oil should just flavor the greens, not overwhelmed (delete) them.

Distribute the greens to four chilled plates. Place the potato mixture into a small pastry cutter disk (you can free form the flan if you don’t have a disk) forming a small potato flan on each salad.

Add the chopped oranges and fennel around the flan and place the steamed shrimp on top of the flan. Sprinkle each flan and salad with lemon and a dash more salt.

Toasted Bread and Chicken Salad with Roasted Lemon-Shallot Vinaigrette

Adapted from “The Lemon Cookbook’ by Ellen Jackson

Serves 6

Sometimes I think all recipes are just variations on someone else’s recipes. This recipe is inspired by the famous roasted chicken and bread salad served at San Francisco’s Zuni Café. By the way, if you have the outdoor grill going, it is always a good idea to split a lemon and roast it on the open fire, you can always use it as a marinade or to make a salad dressing.

Vinaigrette

1 lemon, halved

8 ounces shallots, peeled, halved if large

3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled

¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided

4 springs fresh thyme, divided

2 ½ tsp. kosher salt, divided

Juice of 1 lemon

Chicken salad

One loaf peasant-style rustic bread, roughly torn into 1-inch pieces

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

4 cups of leftover roast chicken (or purchased from the market)

3 Tbsp. currants, plumped in warm water for 10 minutes and drained

4 cups lightly packed peppery greens, such as arugula, watercress or small mustard greens

To make the vinaigrette, preheat the oven to 400°F. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon halves with the shallots, garlic, ¼ cup of olive oil, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 teaspoon of salt and then transfer them to a baking dish.

Place the lemon, cut side down and distribute everything in a single layer. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast, stirring occasionally, until the shallots are soft and caramelized, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove the pan and set aside to cool.

Increase the oven to 425°F. Toss the bread with the 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange the bread on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast for 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden brown and still slightly chewy. Leave the oven on.

As the bread is toasting, seed and coarsely chop the pulp from the roasted lemon halves, discarding the peel. Trim the root ends from the shallots and peel the garlic.

Add everything to a blender, along with the remaining 1½ teaspoons of salt, the lemon juice and any juices left in the baking dish.

Blend until smooth and keep the blender running to slowly drizzle the remaining ½ cup of oil until the mixture is emulsified.

Coarsely chop the thyme leaves from the remaining sprig and add them to the blender. Pulse again to combine, then taste and then season with salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the chicken with just enough vinaigrette to moisten it. Add the toasted bread and more vinaigrette, until everything is lightly toasted.

Spread everything in the bowl in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the oven just long enough to warm through, about 5 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and slide the bread and chicken into a serving bowl or platter, along with the currants and greens. Toss well to combine, adding more vinaigrette or salt as needed.

Lemon Risotto

Serves 4

Adapted from “Cooking A to Z” by Jane Horn and Janet Fletcher

Again, I’m turning to the Italians, because of their wonderful food that showcases lemons. This is from a book I purchased some 30 years ago when I was learning how to cook and I still find it useful. Of course, if you have some extra asparagus or shrimp that are already cooked, you can add one of them at the end. Don’t overwhelm the great tastes of rice and cheese that you worked so hard to create with too much stuff).

2 Tbsp. plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 small onion, minced

1 lemon, rind grated

1 ½ cups Arborio rice (If you can find Carnaroli rice, this has great flavor and turns creamy while each grain of rice maintains its shape.)

5 cups chicken stock, heated and next to risotto pan for easy transferring

¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a heavy wide saucepan over moderately low heat. Add olive oil, then onion and lemon, rice, and sauté slowly for 5 minutes until it turns translucent.

Add rice and stir to coat each grain with oil. Turn up heat to high and toast, stirring for 30 seconds. It should start to quietly crackle.

Immediately add ½ cup of the hot stock and reduce heat to medium-low. Stir constantly until stock is absorbed. Keep adding more stock, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly adding more only when the previous quantity has been absorbed.

When all the stock is absorbed, stir in ¼ cup lemon juice. Rice should be tender (you’ll need to use a spoon to remove a few grains to cool enough to taste). This usually takes me around 20 minutes. If not tender, add a little warm water bit by bit until rice is tender but still firm.

Stir in Parmesan and remaining butter. Continue to cook briefly to blend and melt the cheese. Season to taste with salt (adding black pepper makes it look like black flecks from the chimney have landed in your creamy white risotto but it’s a personal decision).

Add remaining lemon juice and serve immediately in warm bowls (this really helps the rice from not turning gummy by not landing on a cold surface when you serve)

Not only does this add a sophisticated splash of flavors and acid with just about anything you’re cooking, it’s a great use of lemons when you have a happy lemon tree loaded with fruit. I’ve seen recipes that add cinnamon sticks and coriander, black pepper and other spices but I keep mine simple.

Please note: it will take at least a month for the lemons to start being transformed by the lemon juice and salt, so you do have to plan ahead. Once converted, the lemons seem to keep forever, so I always have a jar of preserved lemons in my refrigerator, ready for adventure.

8 or more organic, unwaxed lemons

Box of Kosher salt

1-quart glass jar with a lid that you can seal

Wash 4 to 5 lemons, then quarter each one lengthwise but don’t cut all the way through. Take each one and pour salt into it and then slide into the jar, jamming them together as close as possible.

Pour more salt over the lemons, then juice the remaining four lemons, adding the juice to the jar. You may need more lemons to juice with the goal to cover the cut lemons completely with juice.

Seal the jar and place it in the refrigerator, shaking occasionally to distribute the salt over the lemons. In a month or two, the acid and salt will have transformed the skin of the lemons. I use my Meyer lemons but any thin skinned lemon will work.

Spiced Chicken on Melting Onions with Preserved Lemon

Serves 4

Adapted from “Crazy Water Pickled Lemons” by Diana Henry

Paula Wolfert is the better known expert in Middle Eastern food (“The Food of Morocco” is a good example) but I love Diana Henry’s informal, chatty instructions in her several books. This is a slightly revised Moroccan tajine, and Diana only specifies a shallow, ovenproof pan, but if you’ve got a tajine and you preserved your lemons, now is the time to flaunt them.

1 chicken, cut into serving pieces is how I do it but Diane makes it easy by listing the protein as 4 chicken breast joints, skin on and partly boned

2 Tbsp. olive oil

3 onions, halved and sliced into half-moons

½ tsp. ground turmeric

1 cup (8 ounces) chicken stock

½ tsp. saffron threads

3 ounces green olives

For the marinade:

½ preserved lemon

6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp. ground ginger

½ tsp. each of ground cumin, paprika and cayenne

4 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. lemon oil from the preserved lemons (You can buy these on well-stocked supermarkets or Middle Eastern groceries, but it’s easy to make them. See above.)

Kosher salt and pepper

A good handful of flat-leaf parsley or coriander, roughly chopped

For the marinade, remove the flesh from the inside of the lemon and chop it up, retaining the outer rind to use in the sauce. Mix the flesh with all the other marinade ingredients. Rub the marinade all over the chicken, spooning some marinade just under the skin if you can. Cover and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. Turn the pieces every so often.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a shallow, ovenproof pan. Add the chicken and quickly cook the outside until nice and golden. Put the chicken aside.

In the same pan, start to cook the onions. When they are softening and beginning to turn translucent, add the turmeric and continue to cook stirring, for another minute.

Bring the stock or water up to the boil and dissolve the saffron in it. Add this to the pan, along with the chicken pieces and any juices that have come out of them. It will look as if you don’t have much liquid, but this is all it needs – the chicken will continue to get nice and golden on top while the sauce makes itself underneath. Cook in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Cut the lemon rind into fine strips and add it to the dish with the olives 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time. (You’ll need to rinse the olives if they are in brine, but if they’re in olive oil just drain them.) Scatter with parsley or coriander. Diane recommends serving with rice, couscous or flatbread.

WATCH NOW: MASSIVE HOLIDAY FOOD LINES REVEAL DEEP ECONOMIC TOLL OF PANDEMIC

"Plenty of room."This was the scene in Dallas recently as regional food banks and other community groups distributed Thanksgiving food supplies to 25,000 families in a single day. And this was the traffic jam of people in need, lining up for help. In the time of COVID-19, this isn't just a story of holiday giving and good will. Liana Solis of the North Texas Food Bank says its about surging economic displacement and distress during the pandemic. "Yes, the lines that we're seeing are heart-breaking. I mean, it's amazing just to see the amount of people that need help. And that's all over the nation. That's not just in Dallas," said Solis.Indeed, this is now a routine scene in communities near Detroit. Here the aid group Forgotten Harvest says many regional jobs lost to the pandemic haven't returned and families need food support to avoid going hungry."It's like lines, they're like two miles long. And this is becoming a weekly occurrence," said Forgotten Harvest's CEO, Kirk Mayes.Since March alone, the North Texas Food Bank has distributed nearly 75 million pounds of food to more than 100,000 families, with demand spiking by 50 percent or more during the pandemic. Much of the provisions being distributed, including at this food line in South Florida, are being paid for through the federal Cares Act. It allocated $200 million for emergency food and shelter during the pandemic. But funding ends next month and regional food banks are worried."You know, we're definitely bracing to see what we're calling 'the commodity cliff,'" said Sari Vatski, CEO of Feeding South Florida. "Right now we're receiving in-bound food from USDA and a few streams. And come Dec. 31, that's going away." But the procession of people needing help may not.Said Solis of the North Texas Food Bank: "This is something that no one could have expected, no one saw coming. And so, once we saw people that were losing their jobs, that were losing childcare or that were just losing resources they needed to survive, it really started the need to reach out for help. So we're not only serving people that already need food assistance but people who have never needed food assistance in their life."

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK IN CARTOONS

Signe cartoon TOON26 Thanksgiving Superspreaders

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

CMYK version

Signe cartoon TOON24 Trump lawsuit

CMYK version

CMYK version

CMYK version

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

RGB version

Jack Ohman, Sacramento Bee

For once, advertising created a slogan that is actually true: “The incredible, edible egg.”

The Good Cook‘s volume “Eggs and Cheese” that was published by the editors of Time-Life Books (long out of print but look for the whole series of cookbooks in thrift stores) lists whole chapters on the magic of eggs: Fried, Poached, Hard-boiled, Baked, Scrambled, Omelets; Custards, Puddings and Soufflés; Pies and Quiches, Fondues and Rarebits. Just reading the index makes you hungry.

Wild bird eggs were eaten by the earliest hunter-gathers but as early as 2,500 B.C. humans began domesticating fowls to ensure a predictable egg supply, so as you can imagine, by now, there is an almost endless number of eggs dishes.

Eggs are so essential to professional cooking that legends say that they are the reason the upright, white hats worn by chefs known as La Toques have 100 pleats. Ruth Edwards in her book “A Pageant of Hats, Ancient and Modern” wrote: “It was regarded as natural that any chef, worthy of the name, could cook an egg at least one hundred ways.”

You might be thinking, “What’s all the fuss about? It’s just an egg.” Michael Ruhlman begs to differ.

Ruhlman, author of more than 25 books and co-author with Thomas Keller on several cookbooks, publishes his own cooking podcast, appeared on “The Next Iron Chef” and several Anthony Bourdain TV episodes chose to write an entire book called: ”Egg: a Culinary Exploration of the World’s Most Versatile Ingredient.”

In the introduction he calls it ”the greatest of all our foods” and writes, “containing all of the nutrients required to create life, eggs give our bodies a powerful combination of proteins, amino acids, fatty acids, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, a package unmatched by any other single food.”

And, no, he doesn’t work for the American Egg Board.

When most Americans think of eggs, they think of sunny-side-up eggs, maybe a western omelet or poached eggs blanketed with hollandaise sauce: in other words, breakfast.

But, other parts of the world rely on them for lunch and dinner. San Sebastián, just over the French border in Spain, is famous for its Old Town streets lined with tapas bars. When my wife and I were there on the nightly tapas crawl (just to be clear, we were not crawling: that’s just what they called going from one bar to another, each with a different specialty) I came to love tortilla de patatas (potato tortilla). In Spain “tortilla” means “flat cake.”

Anya von Bremzen, the author of “The New Spanish Table,” writes, “What would happen to Spanish cuisine if the egg suddenly disappeared? The idea is too shocking to even consider, as there are times when the entire Spanish diet seems to revolve around yolks and whites.” She wrote a whole chapter of egg dishes but claims tortilla de patatas, as the country’s egg masterpiece.

Note: for all three recipes, famed TV chef Alton Brown says he never cracks eggs directly into a pan — always cracks them into a cup or ramekin. This eliminates adding any shell from the broken egg and for a poached dish you use the cup to gently slide the egg out into the waiting bath. And, if the yoke breaks you haven’t ruined the entire dish.

Here is my version, It serves 2 as a light main dish. We sometimes make a salad and have crusty bread on hand.

1 medium-size cooked Yukon Gold potato (I always make extra when I roast a chicken on a bed of potatoes: they absorb that wonderful fat and juice dripping down)

2 Tbsp. or more extra-virgin olive oil

½ small white onion, peeled, diced into ¼ inches

Kosher salt

4 large, fresh eggs (this is when you want to use those eggs from the Farmers Market)

2 Tbsp. milk (or cream, if you have that on hand)

Turn on the broiler oven.

Heat olive oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet with a metal handle over medium-high heat until very hot. Reduce heat to medium-low and add onion and a dash of salt. Stir occasionally until they start to soften. Add diced potatoes and dash of salt and cook until everything starts to brown. About 10 minutes.

While the vegetables cook, place the eggs, milk and a couple of pinches of salt in a large mixing bowl and beat until combined. When potatoes are crispy, gently stir eggs into the potato mixture and integrate everything.

Reduce heat and begin shaking the skillet, running a thin spatula around the edge so that some of the egg runs under. Keep cooking until the top and center is still a little wet but not liquid, 6-8 minutes.

If you are feeling Spanish, you place a rimless plate slightly larger than your skillet and, using oven mitts, quickly flip the tortilla into the plate, slide it back on the skillet, cook until firm and then flip again to brown the first side,

If you’re like me and don’t like dropping your dinner on the stove, simply slide the skillet under the hot broiler and wait around 5 minutes or so, checking to see when the top browns. Make sure you use a thick oven mitt to remove the pan and let it cool on top of the stove for a few minutes.

The tortilla should now be completely free of the pan. Slide it onto a cutting board, slice into wedges and serve warm or at room temperature.

Shakshuka originated in Tunisia but it has found a home in Israel and in the many Israeli/Middle Eastern cookbooks that have flooded the market lately. Even “My Paris Kitchen” by David Lebovitz has a version. The reason is, it tastes so good! So far, this is my favorite. You’re simply poaching eggs in a spicy tomato sauce instead of water. There are lots of variations often with potatoes included in the winter and eggplants in the summer.

Adapted from “Jerusalem: a Cookbook” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Serves 2 to 4

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. harissa (I like the spread from Les Moulins Mahjoub)

2 Tbsp. tomato paste

2 large red pepper, cut into ¼ dice

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

4 large eggs

Salt

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the harissa, tomato paste, peppers, garlic, cumin and a pinch of salt. Stir over medium heat for about 8 minutes to soften the pepper.

Add the tomatoes, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for a further 10 minutes until you have a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning.

Make an indention in the sauce with a large spoon then gentle break an egg and slip it into the indention. Continue with the other eggs. Cover the pan and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until the eggs are somewhat set but yolk is still runny. Remove from heat for a couple of moments before spooning an egg and surrounding sauce into individual plates.

Serve with crusty bread to dip in the sauce.

France also has a love affair with eggs but it never seems to serve them in the morning. The omelet (omelette in France) is a masterpiece fashioned in the “less is more” philosophy: just a few perfect ingredients, quickly cooked.

Elizabeth David was an English author of cookbooks who, after World War II, helped convince the English that is was okay to think about cooking as a serious subject. “An Omelette and a Glass of Wine” is a collection of articles David originally wrote for different publications that pull together some of her best writing on food and cooking. In the title article, she gives the omelet recipe from a favorite restaurant when she lived in the ancient city of Avignon in southern France. There are a million recipes for an omelet but search YouTube for Jacques Pépin and Omelet to enjoy an expert talking you through every motion of cooking one.

Adapted from “An Omelette and A Glass of Wine” by Elizabeth David

Serves one

1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese

3 eggs

Black pepper (some people use white pepper with eggs but others hate the taste: your call)

½ oz unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. Gruyère cheese, diced

1 Tbsp. heavy cream

Beat parmesan with eggs and a little pepper.

Warm the pan a minute over the fire. Put in butter. Turn up the flame. When the butter bubbles and is about to change color, pour in the egg mixture.

Add Gruyère and cream. Tip the pan towards you, easing some of the mixture from the far edge into the middle. Then tip the pan away from you again, filling the empty space with some of the still-liquid eggs. By the time you have done this twice, the Gruyère will have started to melt and your omelet is ready.

Fold it over in thirds with a fork and slide it on to the warmed omelet dish. Serve it instantly.

And, yes, she did enjoy a glass of Alsatian Traminer or a Meursault wine with it.

Watch now: How to Organize Your Kitchen So Cooking is a Breeze

We had squeezed ourselves into one corner of a tavern and started out slow, ordering just a couple of dishes. You didn’t need the menu: the kitchen’s entire offerings were displayed on platters at different heights on the counter.

After seeing several of the locals all enjoying the prawn dish, we chose it and something we thought looked like tuna. While we were eating well in Spain, we didn’t have to be fluent in Spanish. We’d just point and add “Por favor.” When we were ready to move on, the barman added up the toothpicks in front of us and let us know the bill.

We were in the Old Town of San Sebastián just over the French border in Spain’s Basque country. Here, tapas are known as pintxos (the Basque word means “to skewer”), and locals call the tradition of going from one tapas bar to the next “ir de tapeo.”

In Madrid, we heard it called “the art of eating standing up.” Of course, the art of tapas goes beyond the food itself. It’s the fun conversation among a group of friends all talking over each other; it’s the age-old, family-run bars that have been serving up local favorites for generations.

My wife and I have visited Spain three times and always enjoyed the early evening stroll from one beautiful restaurant or tavern to the next, ordering a few small plates of tapas.

Back in Napa, we appreciated having Zuzu and more recently La Taberna for their small plates with big flavors.

At home, tapas make great appetizers for a more formal meal or become the whole meal with just a little work. Here are just four ideas; there are lots of books about tapas that will trigger your creativity. One of the best is “Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain: A Cookbook” by Penelope Casas. Look for the revised edition.

What to serve with your tapas? You might think the automatic go-to drink would be a glass of well-chilled sherry from Spain but mostly what I saw was beer in a Caña glass, the smallest pour, typically the size of a brandy glass, but lots of cava in Barcelona, which borders the cava sparkling wine region of the Penedès.

Banderillas

Serves 4 as a tapa

These easy-to-make tapas get their name from the toothpicks, which remind Spaniards of the barbed darts used during a bullfight. Yes, I know that’s not an animal welfare friendly name, but the Spanish seem to have much more evocative titles for their food than Americans: we would probably call this a Vertical Ham and Cheese and Sausage Sandwich.

Ingredients

1 French-style baguettes

½ pound Manchego cheese

¼ pound Serrano jamón (cured ham) (unless you’re experienced at thinly slicing a hunk of dried ham, buy it already sliced)

1 pound Spanish chorizo sausage (Spanish chorizo is a firm, dry sausage where Mexican chorizo is fresh and soft, not cured sausage. It also has different spices than Spanish Chorizo).

1 box round toothpicks (or some stores sell more fancy wooden picks topped with little flags or balls on them, if you want more of a visual impression)

Slice the crusty baguette, making the slices about a ¹⁄³-inch thick.

Slice the Manchego cheese, approximately 1/8–¼-inch thick. Slicing the cheese thinly can be tricky because it is dry and crumbly. You´ll need small pieces to place one on each piece of bread.

Cut the thinly sliced jamón into pieces small enough to fit on the top of the baguette slices.

Slice the Spanish chorizo into pieces about ¼-inch thick (another option is to lightly fry the chorizo pieces in a dry pan)

Place the baguette slices on the platter. Place one piece of the chorizo, one piece of cheese and top with a piece of ham and skewer with a toothpick for each bread slice. The Instituto de Turismo de España pretty much requires you to serve this with a Rioja or Ribera red wine from Spain.

Stuffed Piquillo Peppers

Serves 4 to 6 as as a tapa

We often serve this dish as a lone appetizer but don’t have the command of the language to call it by its Spanish title of “Pimientos de Piquillo Rellenos de Queso.”

8-9 ounces Gruyère, or your favorite melting cheese, chilled

14-16 whole piquillo pepers (Traditionally grown in Northern Spain near the town of Lodosa. Its name is Spanish for “little beak.” Local stores sometimes carry them, The Spanish Table, both in Mill Valley and Berkeley, stocks them, and online) Roasted red peppers just will not taste the same after you become addicted to these.

¹³ cup extra virgin olive oil

Handful of thinly sliced basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a half baking sheet with parchment paper. Carefully (so you don’t tear them) ease out the peppers from their jar and evenly lay them out on the parchment. Remove the cheese from the refrigerator (it’s easier to cut when cold) and slice pieces of the cheese so each stick is about three-quarters the size of the pepper and stuff each pepper.

Slide the tray of piquillos into the oven and warm just until the cheese is oozing out, about 15 minutes. Remove the tray and let the piquillos and cheese finish melding together. Us a thin spatula to transfer the peppers to a large white serving platter and drizzle a bit of olive oil over them and sprinkle with your just sliced basil leaves. Serve while still warm.

By the way, you can stuff piquillos with just about anything: goat cheese, tuna fish, flaked cooked fish, sautéed ground pork…for a quick appetizer or simple main dish.

Gambas Ajillo

Serves 2-4 as a tapa

This is a classic prawn dish packed full of the rich flavors of garlic, olive oil and a hint of brandy, finished off with a dusting of freshly chopped parsley.

Ingredients

1 pound prawns, head on 4 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika 1 tsp. red pepper flakes 2-3 oz. of Cognac or Sherry ¼ cup virgin olive oil Fresh lemon Italian parsley, finely chopped

Peel prawns, leaving the heads on. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and red pepper for about one minute. Raise the heat to high and add the shrimp, lemon juice, cognac and paprika. Stir well, then sauté, stirring briskly until the shrimp turn pink and curl – about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer shrimp with oil and sauce to a warm plate or serve right from the pan. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with fresh bread. It makes you think you are in Spain, especially if you serve the shrimp in a small clay cazuela.

Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)

Serves 6

Adapted from “The Taste of Spain” by Xavier Domingo

Tortilla means omelet in Spain, not the similar shaped but flat bread of Mexico. This is a classical tapa found in just about every bar and restaurant in Spain and is usually served at room temperature, making it great for entertaining.

Ingredients

¾ cup neutral olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 small waxy potato (around ¾ pound/750 grams), peeled and sliced very thinly Kosher salt 8 eggs

Heat the oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet. Add the onions and cook over medium-high heat for roughly 5 minutes, until tender. Add the potatoes, season with salt, and cook over low heat for around 40 minutes, until the potatoes are tender, shaking the pan from time to time to prevent the potatoes from sticking. Drain the potatoes in a sieve, reserving 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and season with salt. Add the cooked potatoes, mixing well.

Heat reserved oil in the same skillet until it is very hot. Add the egg mixture, lower heat and cook for 5 minutes. Place a plate on top of the skillet, flip the omelet and cook on the other side another 5 minutes. This can be served hot or at room temperature.

Watch now: Napa’s Salvation Army feeds those in need during COVID-19, wildfires

Sweet potatoes grow best in the long days of sunlight and warm temperatures of summer that we just passed. While they are generally available year around, the peak season falls from late October through December.

But, the real question is a sweet potato the same thing as a yam?

In a grocery store you’ll see that the sweet potato skin color ranges from white to yellow, orange and more. Sweet potato varieties are classified as either “firm,” when they remain mealy and relative firm when cooked or “soft” when the cooked flesh becomes soft and moist. The flesh of the soft ones is usually orange while the firm sweet potatoes are white or yellow. It is the “soft” varieties that are often labeled as yams.

Why are sweet potatoes mistakenly called yams? The Library of Congress has even been asked this critical question and their response is: “In the United States, firm varieties of sweet potatoes were produced before soft varieties. When soft varieties were first grown commercially, there was a need to differentiate between the two. African slaves had already been calling the ‘soft’ sweet potatoes ‘yams’ because they resembled the yams in Africa. Thus, ‘soft’ sweet potatoes were referred to as ‘yams’ to distinguish them from the ‘firm’ varieties.”

And, another thing that adds to its inferiority complex is a sweet potato is not a potato. Botanically speaking, it is Ipomoea batatas belonging to the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae, while a potato is Solanum tuberosum, from the nightshade family. A yam, by the way, is in the genus of Diocorea and all yams have to be cooked before eating in order to destroy the bitter, toxic substance that they contain. So, you don’t see them sold at the local grocery store, despite some bins of sweet potatoes erroneously labeled “yams.”

Given all of this confusion on its name and its identity, you can see why TV chef Alton Brown was compelled to devote an entire show to the sweet potato in his show “Good Eats” in the Season 7, Episode 2 called “Potato, My Sweet.” In this episode, Alton (or AB if you know him well) is pursued by a theatrical agent for the sweet potato who tries to persuade AB to show the orange root as the star that it is, instead of a side dish. Spoiler alert: AB is won over by the end of the program.

Sweet Potato Crostini

with Figs

Makes 30 crostini.

I love crostini, which is much like a bruschetta, except traditionally crostini is thinner and brushed with olive oil. Of course, in the US, we expropriated the name to mean just about anything served on a thin slice of a baguette. So, why not spread a crostini with sweet potato and top it with figs, especially, if you are like me, and you have a Black Mission fig tree in your back yard?

Ingredients:

1 large baguette, sliced into roughly thirty ¼-inch rounds Sweet potato spread: 1 pound orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice (about 3 cups) 1 ½ tablespoons honey 1 tablespoon olive oil ½ teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves ½ teaspoon orange zest ½ teaspoon salt

For the figs:

A large handful of fresh figs, sliced into quarters.

Or, if you’re using dried figs:

½ cup dry red wine ¼ cup fresh orange juice (from 1 orange) 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 1 cup sliced dried figs (about 4 ounces)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.Toast the baguette slices until slight brown, about 12 minutes. Set aside to cool but leave oven on.

Make the sweet potato spread: spread the sweet potato cubes on a lined half sheet pan and roast until fork tender, about 30 minutes.

In a medium sauce pan, combine the honey, olive oil, and rosemary and warm them over low heat. Add the cooked sweet potatoes and mash the mixture to a paste. Add the salt and set aside to cool.

If using dried figs: In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the wine, orange juice, and brown sugar and heat until just boiling. Add the figs to rehydrate them, cover, and set aside for 5 minutes and drain the figs.

To assemble the crostini: Spread the crostini with the sweet potato mixture, top with one or two sliced figs, and serve.

Sweet Potatoes with Tahini

Serves 6 as a side dish.

This started out as a way of improving the classic side dish of roasted sweet potatoes, but with the addition of lettuce, sliced tomatoes, chopped green onions and some roasted nuts, this could become a whole dinner.

Basic Tahini Sauce

½ cup tahini ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 6 tablespoons water, plus more as needed 1 small garlic clove, grated or pressed ½ teaspoon sea salt Sweet potatoes 8 small sweet potatoes (about 3 lb. total), scrubbed, halved lengthwise ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided Kosher salt Flaky sea salt 1 lime, cut into wedges

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425°. Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with ¼ cup oil, and season with kosher salt. Turn to coat. Arrange cut side down and roast until tender (the tip of a knife should slide easily into flesh) and cut sides are browned, 25–30 minutes.

While potatoes are roasting, make tahini sauce

Arrange sweet potatoes on a platter and spread tahini sauce. Sprinkle with sea salt and spoon. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Dinner Salad with Radicchio and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4.

As Alton Brown proved in his “Good Eats” show, sweet potatoes can take a starring role in dinner. But, it does need a good support cast, which we have in firm lettuce, a spicy dressing and never hurts to add some eggs on top of just about anything.

Cashew Dressing

½ cup salted, roasted cashews ¼ cup vegetable oil 3 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes ¾ tsp. fish sauce ¾ tsp. honey 1 garlic clove Kosher salt

Blend cashews, oil, vinegar, red pepper flakes, fish sauce, honey, garlic, and ¹⁄³ cup warm water in a blender until very creamy, smooth, and pourable. Taste dressing and season with salt.

Salad

4 small sweet potatoes (about 1½ lb. total), scrubbed, halved lengthwise. I like the ‘soft’ orange sweet potatoes but you could pull this off with the firm, white ones. 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt 4 large eggs 2 heads of radicchio (about 1 lb. total), quartered, cores removed, leaves separated 1 small fennel bulb, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced lengthwise 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar Flaky sea salt ½ cup crushed salted, roasted cashews ½ cup cilantro leaves with tender stems

Place a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 425°. Place sweet potatoes on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and season with kosher salt; turn to coat. Arrange cut side down; roast until tender and cut sides are browned, 20–25 minutes. Let cool.

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Carefully lower eggs into water and cook 9 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let cool. Remove eggs from ice water, pat dry, and peel.

Toss radicchio, fennel, and vinegar in a large bowl; season with sea salt. Drizzle ½ cup dressing down sides of bowl. Use a tong or your hands, fold salad, working from the bottom out toward the sides of the bowl, until evenly coated in dressing.

Transfer salad to a platter. Tear sweet potatoes and eggs into 1½” pieces and nestle into salad. Season with sea salt. Drizzle more dressing over and top with cashews and cilantro. Serve with remaining dressing alongside.

I grew up watching professional football on Sunday afternoons with my father and brother; occasionally we heated up some popcorn when we really wanted to celebrate the experience.

It wasn’t until I was in the Navy that I learned the fine art of football game “snacks.” The first ship I served on was home ported in the Bay Area. The executive officer (the second in command, referred to as the XO) was single and had a huge apartment in Alameda.

He thought the officers should get to know each other over activities outside of work but reserved Sundays for church and family (if you weren’t on duty aboard the ship).

However, Monday Night Football seemed designed for bonding. Most of the unmarried officers showed up at his house on Monday evenings throughout the football season, with an occasional married department head joining, who had heard good things about the spread of food.

But, these snacks shouldn’t be reserved just for watching some extremely wealthy athletes trying to cause concussions to other extremely wealthy athletes in a different color jersey. This year you may have heard about the presidential race and when the debates are on, these will definitely help you get through them.

The XO’s Super Nachos

Serves 8 or more (easy to double if you have a large family gathering)

All of the snacks the junior officers brought were from the supermarket: bags of chips and tubs of salsa; we plundered the frozen food section of the supermarket to find pigs in a blanket and potstickers. We’d order a pu pu platter (a sampling that usually included chicken wings, egg rolls, coconut shrimp, and teriyaki chicken on skewers) that reminded us of our port calls to Hawaii and the Philippines.

The XO always tried to locate a beer from the hometown of one of the teams, and on the coffee table in front of the coach was the XO’s super nachos.

This may not be the exact recipe (he passed away several years ago so I can’t confirm) but in my mind it’s pretty close.

Ingredients

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (you don’t need your finest, extra virgin olive oil here)

½ yellow onion, diced

2 lb. ground beef (don’t buy that extra lean ground beef and think you’re saving calories: this is not a dish for skimping: fat is flavor)

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

1 can 14.5-ounce pinto beans

½ cup beer

1 bag of sturdy tortilla chips

1 ½ cup grated cheddar cheese

1 ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese

1 12-ounce container of fresh pico de gallo (if your Mexican grandmother passed down her recipe for fresh salsa, make that, or pick up a container of fresh—not from a can—salsa from the refrigerator section of your favorite grocery store)

½ bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

1 ripe avocado, pitted and diced

Optional: Sour cream and 1 whole jalapeño, diced finely

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add the vegetable oil and the onion. Cook it until starting to soften, then add the ground beef. Cook the meat, stirring it often, until it’s totally browned. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin, crushed red pepper, salt, and stir to combine. Add the beans and beer and stir. Reduce the heat to low and simmer while you prepare the other ingredients.

To build the nachos, place a layer of tortilla chips on a platter or plate. Top with a layer of the beef/bean mixture, then all but 1/4 cup of the cheddar cheese. Add another layer of chips, another layer of the beef/bean mixture, and the Monterey Jack cheese. Add a final small layer of chips, then a small layer of beef and beans, then a final sprinkling of cheddar.

Microwave in 45 second increments until the cheese is melted and bubbly. (You may also place the platter into a 325 degree oven if it’s heatproof. Just leave it in until the cheese is melted.) Immediately sprinkle on the chopped cilantro, diced avocado and spoons of pico de gallo.

I don’t think the finished dish needs it but others like to add dollops of sour cream and diced jalapeño; have them to the side with remaining pico de gallo to add.

Asian Meatballs with Dipping Sauce

Adapted from “Hors d’Oeuvres” by Victoria Blashford-Snell and Eric Treuille

Makes 20 balls

Can you throw a Game day party and not have meatballs? I think the NFL commissioner would rule against that call. Long time readers of this column will remember we did a whole story on meatballs on April 28, but this is a different recipe set in Asia that is a bit simpler.

Sauce

Juice of 1 lime 1 Tablespoon sugar 2 Tablespoon fish sauce 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely minced 1 garlic clove, finely minced 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger Meatballs 7 oz. ground pork 1 oz. shallots, finely minced 2 garlic gloves, finely minced 1 teaspoon brown sugar ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 Tablespoon finely minced cilantro 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger 2 Tablespoon fish sauce Vegetable or sunflower oil for frying Garnish 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Mix all the ingredients together for the sauce with 2 tablespoons of water and taste for seasoning. Place the meatball ingredients into a large blow. Mix well and pinch off a small amount for testing. Heat the frying pan with 2 tablespoons of oil and fry the sample on both sides for 2 minutes or until cooked through. Taste to check flavor and add more fish sauce or salt. Use a small ice cream scoop to help you control portions or simply pinch off and roll remainder of the mixture into small balls.

Gently fry the balls on all sides to cook through. You can keep them warm in a low oven until ready to serve. Serve with toothpicks and scattered with torn cilantro and the sauce to the side.

Guacamole

Yes, you can buy tubs of guacamole at the supermarket but you have to wonder what is keeping the avocado from turning brown for months. I’m all for convenience but this is so easy to make, you deserve to enjoy fresh guacamole with some crispy tortilla chips.

2 ripe avocados

Half of a white onion, finely diced

2 serrano chilies, finely diced

1 Roma tomato, seeded and finely diced

2-3 sprigs of cilantro, finely chopped

1 lime, cut in half

Kosher salt

Plenty of salty tortilla chips

Cut the avocados in half, remove the pits and scoop out the flesh into a small bowl. Mash with a fork (no need to buy a special avocado masher).

Combine the avocado with onion, chilies, tomato and cilantro and mix thoroughly. Squeeze half a lime into the mash, add salt and mix again. Taste and adjust with more lime juice and salt. If you’re not serving immediately, place a piece of plastic food wrap directly on the surface of the mash to prevent air from reaching the avocado and turning it brown. Serve with fresh tortilla chips.

Hummus

I bought hummus for years until I actually read a recipe and wondered what I had been thinking. Anyone can make a great hummus. When you read Middle Eastern cookbooks, they always start with cooking chickpeas for hours. On a good day, I’m happy to do that but when I’m trying to bring together a party, suddenly a can of chickpeas looks like a good idea.

1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas

½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste that is often called for in Middle Eastern cooking. Always good to have on hand.)

1 clove garlic

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt

Extra virgin olive oil

Cayenne pepper

Drain canned chickpeas and reserve the liquid. Purée all the ingredients in a food processor until very smooth (this can take a few minutes) adding the reserved liquid as needed to make the chickpeas smooth. You’re shooting for medium-thick paste. Season with salt and then taste to see if you need more lemon juice or salt. Transfer the hummus to a shallow bowl, make slight well in the center and fill with good olive oil and sprinkle with the cayenne. Serve with pita bread and raw vegetables for dipping.

Pancetta and Mushroom Bruschetta

Adapted from Chef Kevin Simonson

Serves 6 and easy to double, if needed

Back when I worked for Chalone Wine Group (sadly sold and disassembled years ago) one of our wineries was Acacia Vineyard and I always invited a few writers each year to Acacia’s annual wine club single vineyard tasting. Mushrooms are a classic match with Pinot Noir and Acacia’s chef, Kevin Simonson, now Chef/Owner at Crossroad Chicken Mobile Catering, offered this one year. This is a great appetizer for anytime you’re entertaining, not just for a football game.

2 oz. dried mushrooms (Kevin prefers Black Trumpet or Porcini mushrooms)

1 baguette

1 yellow onion, thinly diced

4 oz. pancetta, ¼ dice

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 pound fresh Button mushrooms, halved

2 garlic gloves, minced

1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated

Preheat oven to 300°F. Soak dried mushroom for 30 minutes n twice the amount of warm water needed to cover completely. Strain the rehydrated mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and chop the mushrooms. Slice baguette into ¼ rounds and spread on a sheet pan in an even layer. Toast in pre-heated oven until they begin to brown. Let cool.

In a 2-quart saucepan on medium-high heat caramelize onions with pancetta in the olive oil until lightly browned, about 10 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Add button mushrooms to the onion mixture. Continue to cook until mushrooms release their liquid and keep cooking until liquid is almost gone. Add garlic, thyme, rehydrated mushrooms and reserved mushroom liquid.

Cook on high heat for another 10 to 20 minutes or until liquid is reduced so that it just coats the mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add half of the cheese to mushroom mixture and spread on the toasted bread rounds. Top with remaining cheese and serve with your best Pinot Noir.

Watch now: Simple snacks Michelin chefs make at home

I had just turned on my computer and was scrolling through Facebook as I wondered what I should write about this week when a beautiful shot of winter squashes magically appeared, posted by the Napa Farmers Market. Sure, that could have been a lucky coincidence but I viewed it more as a pretty direct message from San Pasqual, the Patron Saint of kitchens and cooking: start typing about winter squash.

But, how is winter squash different from butternut squash? Basically, there are two types of squashes: Winter squash is actually a warm weather crop but can be stored through the winter. They tend to have hard, thick skin and it includes butternut (yes, it was a trick question) pumpkin, acorn, and spaghetti squash. Summer squash, also grown during the warm months, is soft-skinned and doesn’t store for very long. This includes zucchini, pattypan and crookneck.

While many place squash in the vegetable bin, remember an earlier column where we discussed how, botanically speaking, a fruit is a seed-bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant? This is how a scientist describes a squash, so you can see why they will not be featured in the next “The Bachelor.”

Squash is one of the oldest known crops, cultivated at least 10,000 years ago by some estimates of sites in Mexico. Because of their hard skins, the thinking goes, winter squashes served as containers. The seeds and flesh later became an important part of the pre-Columbian Indian diet in both South and North America. Today, hundreds of types of squashes are cultivated around the world.

These are just a few examples of good winter squash eating.

Butternut

Squash Soup Serves 4

Fall feels like the perfect time to enjoy winter squash soup. This is a basic recipe that you can use to craft any delicious soup; just replace the squash with almost any vegetable or fruit.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled and cubed

4 cups chicken broth

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

To finish: heavy whipping cream and sage leaves that have been crisped by sautéing them in butter.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir until tender. Add garlic; cook one minute longer.

Stir in squash, broth, salt and ginger; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, 10-15 minutes or until squash is tender. Puree soup using an immersion blender (That’s the easiest way or let cool and puree soup in batches in a blender, then return to pan). Add cream; cook and stir until heated through (Dairy products with higher fat content, such as whipping cream and heavy cream, are less prone to curdling. Restaurants use heavy cream for making soups because, unlike milk, it can be boiled without curdling). If desired, top with additional heavy whipping cream and crispy sage.

Risotto with Roasted Winter Squash

Serves 4 to 6

Adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe in The New York Times

I enjoy the richness of risotto in the fall and winter and the addition of winter squash transforms this rice dish into a true autumn treat.

Ingredients

1 pound winter squash (about 1/2 of a good-size squash such as butternut, banana or hubbard) peeled, seeded and cut in 1/2 inch dice

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

7 to 8 cups chicken stock, as needed

1 small or 1/2 medium yellow onion

2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed

Kosher salt to taste

1 ½ cups Arborio, or Carnaroli rice if you have it on hand

½ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc

1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 to 1/2 cup), or more to taste

3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Cover a baking sheet with foil. Toss the squash with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and spread on the baking sheet in an even layer. Place in the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes, (start stirring the last 10 minutes so it doesn’t burn), until tender and caramelized. Remove from the heat.

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan next to where your soup pan will be.

Heat the remaining oil over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick frying pan or a wide saucepan and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until the onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes, and add one third of the squash, the garlic, and about 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the onion is tender and the garlic fragrant, about 1 minute, and add the rice. Cook, stirring, until the grains of rice are separate.

Stir in the wine and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. The wine should bubble, but not too quickly. When the wine has just about evaporated, stir in a ladleful or two of the simmering stock, enough to just cover the rice and squash. The stock should bubble slowly. Cook, stirring often, until it is just about absorbed. Add the sage and another ladleful of the stock, and continue to cook in this fashion, not too fast and not too slowly, adding more stock when the rice is almost dry, for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked al dente. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Add the remaining roasted squash and another 1/2 cup of stock to the rice. Stir in the Parmesan and parsley, and immediately remove from the heat. Add freshly ground pepper, taste one last time and adjust salt. The rice should be creamy. Serve at once.

Pumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells

Serves 8

Stuff pasta shells is an easy way to feed a lot of people and it looks elegant on a pool of roasted tomato sauce.

Ingredients

24 jumbo pasta shells

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

22 oz. fat-free ricotta

1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree

2 1/2 oz. Pecorino Romano

1 large egg white

2 clove garlic

1 cup fresh basil

1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

3 cups store-bought tomato sauce or your own

Cook pasta shells according to package instructions; drain. Transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Set aside and let cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together ricotta, pumpkin, 3/4 cup Pecorino Romano, and remaining ingredients, except tomato sauce.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread sauce in bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Fill each pasta shell with about 3 tablespoons ricotta-pumpkin mixture and arrange in pan. Cover pan with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil, sprinkle shells with remaining pecorino, and bake for 15 minutes more. Serve with the shells in a little of the tomato sauce.

Watch now: Fascinating fall facts you probably didn’t know

With the first official day of fall upon us, the season of pumpkins, flannel and colorful leaves has finally arrived. In honor of its arrival, here are seven facts about fall that you may not have known.

Ken Morris has been cooking for comfort for more than 30 years and learning in kitchens from Alaska to Thailand to Italy. He now cooks and writes from his kitchen in Napa. Email [email protected].

Americans have always had to rely on the kindness of strangers for pears: there are no native varieties here. The pear originated in the Caucasus, a region between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, as did its cousin the apple. Botanically, both belong to Rosaceae: the rose family.

The stranger who introduced the pear to North America was the Massachusetts Company, which brought pear seeds from England in 1629. Pears, like apples, do not breed true from seed, meaning the offspring can be quite different from their parents. As a result, American pears became even more diverse then their European ancestors.

Sure, apples are considered the star of autumn fruit, but pears are also one of the season’s important gifts. While you can find them in the supermarket almost all year, pears hit their peak in fall. Choose pears that are almost ripe, with no bruises or stains, and let them ripen for two to three days safely at home. Without their wonderful ability to continue ripening, pears would be almost impossible to sell in the market, since a ripe pear becomes soft and easily damaged in handling.

Here are a few ways to enjoy one of fall’s greatest gifts.

Pears with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto

We have two recipes of pears paired with different types of cheeses just because they taste so good.

2 pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett, each cut into 8 wedges

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup arugula

3 ounces blue cheese, cut into small pieces

6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in half lengthwise

In a large bowl, toss the pears and lemon juice. Layer a slice of pear, an arugula leaf, and a piece of cheese on a piece of prosciutto and roll up.

Pear Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola

4 handfuls salad greens, washed and dried 2 pears, washed, cored and sliced into eighths 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese 1 cup roasted walnut halves 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil or walnut if you have on hand

Divide the lettuce onto four chilled plates and top with sliced pears and currants or raisins.

Crumble the cheese evenly over the salads and top with walnut halves.

In a small bowl combine the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and olive oil. Whisk together and season with salt and fresh-ground black pepper to taste. Drizzle half over the salads and serve the rest on the side.

Roast Chicken with Pears

Serves 4

Chefs often match fruit with pork but chicken also benefits from the sweetness of roasted pears. You could roast a whole chicken but removing the backbone allows it to cook faster without drying out.

3 garlic cloves 1 large orange 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger 2 teaspoons fine sea salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 4-pound whole chicken, patted dry, spatchcocked (see below)

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling 4 ripe Bartlett, Anjou or other pears, quartered, seeds removed Sherry vinegar, for serving Flaky sea salt, for serving ½ cup parsley leaves, coarsely chopped, for serving

To spatchcock a chicken, cut down both sides of the backbone from tail to head and remove, lay the chicken bony side down and press on the breast until the breast bone cracks so it can lay flat. Remove wing tips, just the first joint, so they won’t burn.

Peel two of the garlic cloves, and finely grate or mash to a paste. Grate 1 teaspoon zest from the orange (reserve orange and remaining garlic clove for serving). In a small bowl, combine garlic and zest with 1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger, salt and pepper.

Rub garlic/ginger mixture all over underneath the skin by carefully running a finger between the skin and flesh by the neck cavity and sliding down towards the tail, opening it up as much as possible without breaking the skin. Chill uncovered in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken on a 13-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet or shallow pan. Drizzle chicken lightly with oil, and roast for 30 minutes.

Remove baking sheet from oven and carefully arrange pears cut-side down, on the hot pan. Continue to roast until chicken is cooked through, another 10 to 20 minutes.

Transfer chicken to a cutting board to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Roast pears another 5 to 10 minutes, if necessary, until they are caramelized and tender.

Cut the white pith off the orange, then cut out orange segments into bite-size pieces. Finely grate or mash the remaining garlic clove.

To serve, transfer pears and chicken to a platter. In the pan with chicken juices, toss orange segments, remaining garlic clove, and a drizzle of sherry vinegar; taste and season with flaky sea salt, if needed. Spoon oranges and pan juices over chicken and fruit on platter, and top with chopped parsley and more flaky sea salt.

Torta de Pere

(pear cake)

Adapted from Chef Elena Mattei

Serves 4

Several years ago I took a two-day cooking class at Cucina con Vista, a cooking school held in a farmhouse in the hills outside Florence, Italy. Here, Chef Elena Mattei teaches what she calls “grandmother’s cooking,” classic dishes without a hint of modernization in sight, such as crostini alla fiorentina con fegatini (Florentine-style chicken liver pâté on toast). Or, my wife’s favorite, a simple pear cake.

300 grams (16.6 oz.) all-purpose flour

200 grams (7.1 oz.) sugar

200 grams (7.1 oz.) grapeseed oil

2/3 teaspoon baking powder

1 kilo (2.2 pounds) firm pears, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes

Sugar

Anise seed

Square cake pan (7 ½ inches by 7 ½ inches) lined with parchment paper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix the flour, sugar, grapeseed oil and baking powder. Once well combined, add pears and mix well with your hands. Pour into lined cake pan, cover top with a mix of sugar and anise seeds.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until the dough doesn’t adhere to a toothpick inserted in a couple of spots in the cake and let cool. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Watch now: Simple snacks Michelin chefs make at home

Ken Morris shares recipes for three Mexican soups, "the tip of the iceberg," he writes. "Yes, I know there are no icebergs currently residing in Mexico."

Oranges and lemons and Ken Morris' recipes make an inspiring mix for winter or spring.

Chile NoresteFor the chiles:1 pound small shrimp, cooked and diced2 golden delicious (or other cooking) apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch cubes½ cup blanched almonds (this is to remove the skin from the nut) coarsely chopped and toasted in the oven until golden½ cup mayonnaise6 poblano chiles roasted on all sides over an open flame or under the broiler For the vinaigrette:1 cup mild olive oil (don’t use your best extra virgin olive oil)1/3 cup raspberry vinegar1 small piece of cooked red beet (it helps if you have leftover beets. You need just a ¼ of cooked beet)6 fresh raspberriesKosher salt and freshly ground black better to tasteBaked Apples with Ice Cream6 small, firm cooking apples (2 to 2½ pounds), halved lengthwise¼cup unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon for greasing baking dish¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon¼ teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg¼ teaspoon Chinese five-spice2½ tablespoons light brown sugar1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice¼ teaspoon kosher salt⅓ cup chopped pecansVanilla ice cream for servingApple CrispCrisp Topping:⅔ cup whole raw almonds (leave the skins on)1 cup all-purpose flour¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar1¼ teaspoons kosher salt2 sticks (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cubed1⅓ cups rolled oatsApple Mixture:2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice2 teaspoons cornstarch1 tablespoon light brown sugar1 teaspoon ground cinnamon1 teaspoon ground ginger¼ teaspoon kosher salt1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest4 to 5 large cooking apples (about 2½ pounds)—a mix of juicy, firm varieties—cored, and cut into half-inch slicesManchamantel4 large ancho chiles, tops and seeds removed10 guajillo chiles, tops and seeds removed2/3 cups vegetable oil10 unpeeled garlic cloves1 large or 2 medium white onions4 large ripe tomatoes5 large tomatillos, with husks1/3 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano, crumbled6 sprigs fresh thyme3 bay leavesOne 1-inch piece canela½ teaspoon cumin seeds10 black peppercornsOne 3 ½ pound chicken, cut into serving pieces1 pound baby back pork ribs, cut into separate ribsSalt and freshly ground black pepper1 ½ to 2 cups fresh pineapple, cut into large (1 ½ inch) chucks. About 1/3 small pineapple (yes, a real pineapple tastes better than the canned chunks)2 large, firm green apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 8 wedgesPan con TomateDeli rolls or sourdough bread, halved the long wayUnpeeled whole garlic cloves, halved2 large ripe tomatoes, halvedExtra-virgin olive oilFlaky sea saltGazpacho Sevillano(Classis Gazpacho)2 cups cubed day-old country bread, crust removed2 medium-size garlic cloves, minced1 pinch of ground cuminKosher salt3 pounds ripest, most flavorful tomatoes possible, seeded and chopped1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded and chopped3 tablespoons chopped red onion1/3 cup fragrant extra-virgin olive oil½ cup chilled bottled water, or more as needed3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, or more to tastePossible garnishes: finely diced cucumber, finely diced slightly-under ripe tomato, finely diced green bell pepper, croutons, slivered basil leaves.Penne all’Arrabiata(Penne, Angry Style)Half a pound of penne pasta3 tablespoons or more of olive oil6 large ripe tomatoes, stem ends removed and cut into quarters (sure, you could use canned tomatoes, but you should take advantage of the summer tomatoes now)1 small chili pepper or 1 teaspoon dried crushed hot pepper flakes1 garlic clove, mincedHandful Italian parsley, choppedTomato TartTart Dough:1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour4 ½ ounces (125g) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into small pieces½ teaspoon salt1 large egg2-3 tablespoons chilled water9 inch tart pan with a removable ring, butter the inside of the ringTomato Filling:3 medium sized tomatoes, sliced ½ inch thick1 teaspoon kosher salt, separated4 oz. goat cheese¼ cup of fresh chopped basil (or oregano, thyme, or other herbs of your choice) Divided (you won’t use it all at the same time)1 clove of garlic, mincedFreshly ground black pepperTapenade(olive spread)1 pound Niçoise olives, pitted2 anchovy fillets1 clove garlic, chopped2 tablespoons capers, drained3 tablespoons olive oilBlack pepper to tasteWater crackers or crostini (slices of toasted French bread) for servingPiquillo Peppers Stuffed with Cheese10 oz. Fontina cheese4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives (plus more for garnish)4 tablespoons fresh finely chopped basil (plus more for garnish)12 oz. roasted piquillo peppers from a jar (about 24 peppers), drained3 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oilKosher saltFreshly ground pepperEquipment: One sheet pan covered with parchment paperBaba Ghanoush1 large eggplant2 to 4 garlic cloves (depending on your love of garlic), chopped5 tablespoons tahini (a smooth paste made from sesame seeds)Juice of one lemonKosher salt¼ teaspoon ground cuminMuhammara Dip in Endive Leaves2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced½ cup chopped walnuts, toasted and let cool1 7-ounce jar roasted red peppers (not Piquillo peppers) in oil, drained and blotted dry¼ cup panko bread crumbs¼ teaspoon dried Aleppo chili (available at Whole Spice in the Oxbow Public Market)1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses¼ teaspoon ground cumin2 tablespoons olive oil3 medium heads Belgian endive½ cup pitted Kalamata olives, slicedGorgonzola Dolce Crostini with Grapes and Walnuts30 slices small sweet (not sourdough) baguette, about ¼ inch thickExtra-virgin olive oil as neededKosher salt¼ pound Gorgonzola Dolce cheese¼ pound mascarpone cheeseFreshly ground black pepper2 cups walnut halves, toasted½ pound large red seedless grapes, cut in half (or use slices of pear or fresh fig when in season)Grilled Corn and Peach Tartine1 tablespoon butter at room temperature2 broad slices of sourdough bread1 ear of sweet corn, shucked and silk removed1 white peach, cut in half and pittedExtra-virgin olive oilKosher salt1 ounce of goat cheese (yes, I probably use more because I love its tart taste)Handful of basil leaves, rolled together and thinly sliced (chiffonade)Corn, Avocado, and Radish Tartine4 slices of hearty bread, such as French pain au levain or sourdough4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided1 medium clove garlic split in half, and 1 medium clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper3 cups shucked corn kernels from about 2 ears corn1/4 cup mayonnaise2 teaspoons juice from 1 lime1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves4 scallions, thinly sliced1 avocado4 radishes, thinly slicedSavory Roasted Corn & Mushroom Tartine2 slices of ½ thick country-style whole grain bread2-3 tablespoons of olive oil¼ cup of diced onion (red or white)½ cup of mixed mushrooms, such as chanterelles, cremini, button or trumpet, coarsely chopped1/3 cup of corn kernels¼ cup of red pepper, dicedSalt and pepper to seasonFresh basil to garnishEndive Leaves with Harissa Carrot YogurtYogurt Dip¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil12 ounces carrots (3 to 5 carrots), peeled and grated coarsely1/3 cup unsalted pistachios, chopped, plus more for garnish1 teaspoon fine kosher salt4 medium-size garlic cloves, peeled and minced2 cups plain Greek yogurt1 teaspoon harissa (if unavailable, use paprika and Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper to taste)6 heads endive, carefully separated into leaves; choose the largest/crispestGarnishes:Pomegranate arils (The shiny red seeds inside the fruit are called arils)Minced carrot greens, fresh parsley, or fresh mintFlaky saltMiso-Glazed Maitake Mushroom Burgers2 tablespoons unsalted butter1 pound maitake mushrooms, cleaned and divided into 4 clusters, or oyster mushrooms6 scallions, cut into 2-inch lengthsSalt and freshly ground black pepper1 tablespoon miso thinned with 2 tablespoons water4 soft burger buns, ideally potato or brioche1 cup grated Swiss cheese½ cup thinly sliced red onion2 cups arugulaCherry, Plum and Nectarine ClafoutisButter, for pan8 ounces cherries, stemmed and pitted (if using frozen—but why would you? It’s cherry season right now--defrost and towel-dry before using)1 firm-fleshed ripe plum1 firm-fleshed ripe white nectarine3 large eggs½ cup granulated sugar1 teaspoon ground gingerPinch of salt2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract½ cup all-purpose flour1 ¼ cups whole milkConfectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)Grilled Pork Loin Chops With Balsamic Cherries4 large center loin pork chopsSpanish Pimentón dulce½ cup balsamic vinegar2 cups fresh pitted cherries, quartered1 garlic clove, very finely minced1 teaspoon fresh thyme, choppedKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper1 to 2 tablespoons honey to sweeten the cherries (optional but a good idea)Pizza With Cherries, Prosciutto and Feta1 pound store-bought pizza dough, at room temperature3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for working dough and grillKosher saltFreshly ground black pepper3 scallions, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces6 oz. fresh goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)1 1/3 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved4 slices prosciutto, torn into strips2 cups arugula1/4 cup torn fresh basil2 teaspoons Champagne vinegarApricot and Cherry Clafoutis2 tablespoons sugar1 teaspoon ground cinnamon3 eggs1 cup half-and-half or milk¼ cup melted butter1 teaspoon vanilla extract½ teaspoon salt2/3 cup all-purpose flour2 Tablespoons butter3 cups halved and pitted cherries2 cups pitted and quartered apricots, preferably BlenheimsBrandyTomato-Chile Sauce1 28-ounce can of good quality tomatoes, drained, cut in half, seeded, then roughly chopped2 to 3 jalapeños, stemmed and roughly chopped½ small white onion, roughly chopped1 large clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped1 tablespoon lard or vegetable oil½ teaspoon kosher salt6 medium-thick, store-bought corn tortillas, left uncovered overnight or dried out in the oven at 350°F1/3 cup vegetable oil1 ½ cups tomato-chile sauce from above1 cup chicken broth½ cup boneless, cooked chicken¼ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste1/3 cup sour cream thinned with a little milk or cream to make it smoot2 tablespoons crumbled Mexican queso fresco or queso añejo or feta1 thin slice of white onion, broken into rings2 ripe Hass avocados1/2 tsp. sherry vinegarKosher salt1 tablespoon fresh lime juice4 slices sourdough bread, toasted1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers from a jar of roasted peppers1 lime, cut in half4 thin pieces of smoked salmon (sure you can add more)Flaky sea salt optionalFor the Hollandaise:¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter3 large egg yolks1 ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste¼ teaspoon cayenne or hot paprika, plus more to taste Kosher salt and freshly ground pepperFor the poached eggs:1 tablespoon white distilled vinegarKosher salt8 large eggsFor the Benedict and assembly:4 English muffins, split8 slices Canadian bacon or thick-cut ham (or 8 slices regular, thick-cut bacon)2 tablespoons unsalted butter¼ cup chopped chives2 tablespoons chopped dill, tarragon or parsleyFlaky sea saltCoarsely ground black pepper(Spring Vegetable Stew)4 tablespoons unsalted butter2 shallots, minced2 cloves garlic, minced6 boiling onions (small red, yellow or white onions, usually measuring about an inch or less in diameter, to be used whole) peeled.4 ½ cups water (if you have vegetable stock, use that, but homemade chicken stock may overwhelm the flavors of the delicate vegetables)6 ounces of small red potatoes, cut into ½-inch dice12 finger-sized young carrots (They should have their green tops still attached to show they were freshly harvested.) Remove tops, leave whole8 ounces baby yellow summer squash or zucchini, quartered lengthwise8 ounces pencil-thin asparagus5 ounces mushroom, quartered¼ cups minced green onion¼ cup minced parsleyKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper(Fresh Fava Bean Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette)3 cups shelled fresh fava beans (start with about 3 pounds in the pod)½ cup sherry vinaigrette (see below)1 large head of romaine lettuce, shredded3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint2 spring onions, chopped (both white and green parts)½ cups slivered Serrano hamSherry vinaigrette:¼ cup sherry vinegar1 clove garlic, mincedSea salt and freshly ground black pepper½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to tasteKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper3 ounces pancetta, cut into small dice (you can buy a 4-ounce package of already neatly diced pancetta at Trader Joe's. Just about any dish will welcome the extra ounce.)Extra-virgin olive oil8 ounces dried fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti1 pound of English peas in their pods, then shelled, producing about 1 cup of fresh peas (Sure, you could buy the frozen peas at the supermarket but the goal here is to celebrate the first produce of spring, so please stay with me on this.)3 scallions, trimmed (including cutting ½ inch off the green tops) thinly slice on an angle1 small handful pea tendrils (optional but amps up the pea flavors.)1 egg, whipped well with a fork in a little bowl (again, it helps to buy a farm-fresh egg)½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I’m sure I don’t have to tell someone with your good taste not to use the already grated cheese in a can, yes?)1 medium bunch of fresh flat-leaf parsley (about ¾ cup chopped)Zest from 1 medium lemon (about 1 tablespoon. Used a zester to make this easy)1 medium clove garlic, mincedExtra-virgin olive oil4 veal shanks, tightly tied (beef or lamb shanks also work)Flour for dredging4 tablespoons unsalted butter1 large onion, chopped2 carrots, finely chopped2 celery stalks, finely chopped2 anchovies, chopped2 sprigs of fresh oregano2 garlic cloves1 piece fresh lemon peel, about 1 inch longKosher salt and fresh black pepper1/2 cup dry white wine1 14 ounce can chopped Italian-style tomatoes with juices1 ½ cups chicken brothBraised Beef with Preserved Lemons and Harissa2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 1 inch by 1 inch dice, removing as much fat as possibleKosher salt and freshly ground black pepperSunflower oil or other high smoke oil1 medium yellow onion, large dice1 preserved lemon, skin only, rinsed, de-seeded, and chopped. Recipe to make them is below3 cloves garlic, chopped1 1/2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout (translates as "head of the shop" and implies a mixture of the best spices the seller has to offer. It is a North African spice blend available at Whole Spice in the Oxbow Market.)1 teaspoon ground cumin1 teaspoon ground coriander1 tablespoon harissa, you can add more if you really like it hot ( I love the Tunisina Traditional Harissa from Les Moulins Mahjoub, available at Hudson Greens & Goods in the Oxbow Public Market at or online)3 cups chicken stock (as always, it helps to have real chicken stock and not the stuff from a box)2 sprigs of fresh thyme2 bay leavesPreserved Lemons8 or more organic, unwaxed lemons. Wash thoroughly and dry.Box of Kosher salt1 quart glass jar with a lid that you can seal9 ounces all-purpose flour4 ounces sugar4.5 ounces unsalted butter (yep, if you bake you gotta get an electronic scale)1 whole medium egg at room temperature1 medium egg yolk at room temperature1 tablespoon lemon zest1 pinch saltFor filling:12 ounces ricotta5 ounces sugar1 Tablespoon lemon zest2 eggs1 lemon4 medium artichokes1 tablespoon salt¼ pound wood chips (preferably oak or hickory)Olive oilLemon Mayonnaise1 egg yolkA few pinches of salt½ to ¾ cup mild-tasting olive oil (don’t use the expensive, single varietal extra-virgin olive oil. Those flavors will get lost) ½ fresh lemon(Fonds d’Arichauts Farcis)Court bouillon1 quart water3 tablespoons olive oilSalt10 to 15 coriander seeds1 teaspoon mixed herbs (thyme, savoy, oregano, marjoram)1 bay leafIngredients8 large artichokesLemon halves (for rubbing the cut sides)12 unpeeled garlic cloves¼ cups rice2 tablespoons olive oilSalt, pepperLemon juiceChopped parsley(Carciofi alla Giudea)6 artichokes, trimmed as in other recipes above1 lemon2 tablespoons salt1 tablespoon pepper2 cups olive oilLemon slice, for garnishMarinade3 tablespoons sweet paprika1 tablespoon ground cumin3/4 teaspoon ground ginger1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic3 tablespoons coarsely chopped thyme1 1/2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley1 tablespoon coarsely chopped cilantro1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oilChicken:6 boneless, skinless chicken breastsKosher salt and freshly ground black pepperVinaigrette:1/4 cup finely diced preserved lemon rind 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley1 tablespoon fresh lime juiceScallion and Ginger Lo Mein1 teaspoon oyster sauce1 teaspoon sesame oil1 teaspoon soy sauce1 ½ teaspoons salt¼ teaspoon ground white pepper12 ounces fresh won ton noodles (see note about alternatives)1 ½ quarter boiling water2 tablespoons vegetable oil6 scallions, finely shredded3 tablespoons finely shredded gingerKung Pao ChickenAdapted from J. Kenji López-Alt, Serious Eats 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat, and cut into 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces2 tablespoons soy sauce, divided2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine, divided (or dry sherry, if unavailable)1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided1/3 cup peanut oil1 to 2 tablespoons Sichuan peppercorns toasted in a hot skillet for 30 seconds until fragrant, divided (see note)3 scallions, whites finely minced, and greens finely sliced, reserved separately1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts2 cloves minced garlic1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger1 tablespoon Chinese black vinegar (or distilled white vinegar if unavailable)1 tablespoon Sichuan fermented chili-bean paste (or generic Asian chili-garlic sauce if unavailable)2 teaspoons sugar12 hot Chinese dry chili peppers, seeded (you may want to reduce if you’re not a fan of really spicy food)2 small leeks, white and light green parts only, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 1/2 cup total)Spicy Cumin Lamb10 ounces boneless lamb leg (partially frozen to make it easy to slice thin)1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided1 green onion, trimmed and chopped1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin1 teaspoon salt1 ½ teaspoon Red Chili Powder½ medium red onion, sliced1 longhorn pepper diagonally sliced3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut in half1 large carrot, cut in half crosswise1 small turnip, cut in halt3 ounces green beans, trimmed1 cup peas, cooked6 ounces Spanish tuna packed in oil, drained, and flaked with a fork2 roasted piquillo peppers, diced (Piquillo peppers are worth a whole article themselves)3 hard-boiled eggs (2 finely chopped, 1 grated)20 pimiento-stuffed green olives7 best-quality oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained and chopped1/3 cup mayonnaise (or more to taste)2 tablespoons fresh lemon juiceKosher salt & freshly ground black pepper1 piquillo pepper1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained¼ cup pitted brined-cured black olives, such as Saracena, Amfissa or Niçoise¼ cup Aioli (recipe below) or you could use prepared mayonnaise if you’re really in a hurry8 diagonally cut baguette slices, about 5/8 inch thick1 4 ½-ounce can tuna belly (ventresca packed in olive oil), drained and broken into 8 equal pieces3 tablespoons rind from preserved lemons, sliced in very thin (1/8 inch or less) strips. You can buy these at specialty stores, online or make yourselfAioli:2 or 3 garlic cloves, skin removed and left wholeKosher salt1 whole egg1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more, to your taste)1 cup olive oil or sunflower oil (I’ve found that the violence of the food processor makes the extra virgin oil taste bitter)Chopped preserved lemon for garnishPenne pasta about ½ cup per person¼ cup extra virgin olive oil or more as needed1 or 2 garlic cloves, mincedCherry tomatoes – 8 to 10 per person, cut in half (Yes, you could use canned tomatoes, but the cherry size just works better)Kosher salt1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano1 4-ounce can of Bonito del Norte tunaHandful pitted black olives, cut in half1 clear glass quart jar with a lid8 lemons (since you’ll eventual eat the rind, it pays to buy organic lemons)Kosher saltMoroccan Fish Tagine with Tomatoes, Olives, and Preserved LemonsChermoula2 teaspoons cumin seeds3 cloves garlic1 teaspoon coarse salt1 tablespoon sweet paprika1 1/2 teaspoons crushed hot red pepper2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro4 wedges preserved lemons, rinsed, pulp and peel separated3 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil1 pound monkfish fillet or thick slabs of halibut1 large carrot, very thinly sliced2 ribs celery, peeled and very thinly sliced1 pound of red ripe tomatoes, peeled and thinly sliced1 small green bell pepper, sliced into very thin rounds2 dozen Moroccan red or picholine olives, rinsed and pitted2 dried bay leaves, preferably TurkishSprigs fresh cilantro, for garnishSpatchcocked Chicken with Preserved Lemon Marinade1 cup extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper, plus more for garnish1 tablespoon Preserved Lemon Puree (recipe below)4 or 5 sprigs fresh lemon thyme or Greek oregano, plus more for garnish1 teaspoon minced garlicFreshly ground black pepperFine sea salt One 3 to 3 ½ pound chicken, backbone removed and flattened or 4 whole leg quarters1 fresh lemon, cut in wedges, for servingPreserved lemon pureeStrozzapreti with Spinach and Preserved Lemon8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, divided1 garlic clove, crushed½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, divided¾ cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs but easy to find in the supermarket)1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zestKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper12oz. fresh strozzapreti2 bunches flat-leaf spinach, trimmed, large leaves torn in half (about 8 cups), divided1 tablespoon (or more) fresh lemon juice1 tablespoon (or more) thinly sliced preserved lemon peel2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil4 cups chicken stockPinch of saffron threads4 tablespoons unsalted butter1 small yellow onion, finely diced2 garlic cloves, finely dicedDash of salt2 cups Carnaroli rice (but Arborio rice works great, if that is what you have)½ cup dry white wine4 tablespoons unsalted butter, brought to room temperature½ cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 medium yellow onion, chopped1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to tasteFreshly ground black pepper2 cups cubed butternut squash, ¼-inch cubes2 garlic cloves, finely chopped1 teaspoon minced rosemary or sage1 cup uncooked Arborio rice½ cup dry white wine4 cups warmed vegetable broth4 tablespoons unsalted butter, brought to room temperatureChopped parsley or small sage leaves, optional, for garnish4 cups of vegetable stock, homemade or from the storeKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil2 leeks, white part only, washed and thinly sliced2 garlic cloves, minced1 carrot, peeled and finely diced1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste½ cup sundried tomatoes, rehydrated and chopped2 cups sliced wild mushrooms, your choice2 ounce dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in one cup of warm water2 cups Arborio rice1 cup dry white wine2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary needles2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature¼ cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese3 tablespoons sunflower oil1/2 half yellow onion, minced2 garlic cloves, minced½ of a roasted butternut squash, maybe 2-3 cups (or you could use any hard winter squash or a couple of sweet potatoes and roast them ahead of time). I roasted it with nutmeg and plenty of salt and a little butter at the end5-6 roasted carrots, cut into half-inch pieces (no, I didn’t peel them before they roasted, but I did clean them thoroughly. There is nutrition in the peel and by the time they are done cooking, no one can see the peel. Removing the peel is just a fashion statement.) I roasted these with salt, the same smoked paprika as below and za’atar.3 cups or more of chicken stock or use water1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (I’ve mentioned before my undying love for Pimentón from La Vera region)1 teaspoon curry powder1 tablespoon or more of cider vinegar or Sherry vinegarKosher salt to taste1 ½ cups dried cannellini bean (yes, you could use canned but if you have fresh beans, it’s worth the effort)½ hambone3 cloves garlic, chopped, plus 2 whole garlic cloves6 fresh sage leaves6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil2 celery stalks, finely chopped4 plum tomatoes, peeled and chopped8 cups chicken stock or water4 slices coarse country breadSpicy Seafood Soup¼ cup extra virgin olive oil1 pound Spanish chorizo sausage, cut into ¼ inch rounds1 yellow onion, finely chopped2 fennel bulbs, trimmed, core remove and thinly sliced crosswise5 garlic cloves, minced½ cup white wine1 tablespoon tomato pastePinch of saffron threads5 cups chicken stock1 28-oz. can of crushed tomatoes1 strip of orange zest strip, 2 inches long, 1 inch wide1 ½ pounds halibut fillets, cut into strips 1 ½ inches thick1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined1 pound mussels, scrubbed and debeardedKosher salt¼ teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika¼ cups minced fresh Italian parsley10 crostini, toasted golden in the oven3 pounds boneless beef chuck, cut into 2-inch cubes and patted dry2¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed4 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced1 onion, finely chopped5 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch-thick coins (Ms. Clark only uses one carrot but I love cooked carrots, so I upped it by 4 carrots. As always, it’s your meal so add or subtract as you want.)2 tablespoons all-purpose flour2 cloves garlic, minced1 teaspoon tomato paste2 cups dry red wine1 large bay leaf1 large sprig of fresh thyme8 ounces pearl onions (about 2¾ cups)1 tablespoon unsalted butter1 pinch sugar8 ounces cremini mushrooms, halved if large (about 3½ cups)1 teaspoon cornstarch, if necessaryChopped fresh parsley, for serving16 dried, New Mexican red chile pods (I’ve also used ½ cup of powdered New Mexico red chile stirred into the 2 cups of water so if you don’t want to handle chiles, that’s an alternative.)3 tablespoons salt4 cloves garlic2 tablespoons Mexican oregano2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar (not always used or appreciated in New Mexico chile recipes but I like the taste.)5 pounds boneless pork shoulder cut into 2 inch squaresPlenty of flour tortillasZuni Cafe Pappa al PomodoroAbout 2 pounds very ripe tomatoesAbout 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil1 cup diced yellow onionsSalt3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped1 leafy branch fresh basilSugar (optional)1/4 pound day-old, chewy, peasant-style bread, most crust removedFreshly cracked black pepperChicken En Cocotte(Chicken in a casserole dish)1 whole chicken, about 4-5 poundsKosher saltNeutral cooking oil2 tablespoons butter2 onions, finely diced2 celery ribs, finely diced4 carrots, tip and top removed, cut into small rounds (Yes, I do leave the skin on. As long as you clean the carrots, the skin is nutritious and by the time it roasts for 2 hours, you can’t see the skin, anyway)4-5 garlic cloves, skin removed, smashed¼ cup chicken stock¼ cup white wine (or you can use all stock or all wine)A half bunch of fresh tarragon left on the stem1 teaspoon cornstarchFricasseed Chicken with Rosemary and Lemon Juice4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces (2 legs, 2 thighs, each breast cut into 2 equal pieces)2 tablespoons olive oil (not your best, most expensive stuff. The heat will kill any nuanced taste)1 tablespoon unsalted butter4 2-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary3 garlic cloves, peeled and lightly smashedKosher SaltFresh-ground black pepper1/3 cup dry white wineGrated zest on 1 lemon zest4 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon(Chicken Fricassee with Fresh Figs in Port Sauce)12 very ripe black figs1 ¼ cups port wine3 bay leaves2 teaspoons coriander seeds1 large ripe tomato1 celery rib3 garlic cloves2 chickens, around 3 1/3 pounds each (this is on the small side for American grocery stores, so you may end up with one bird, a little over 4 pounds, but that still works)Kosher saltFreshly ground pepper16 tablespoons butter3 tablespoons minced shallots1 1/2 teaspoons powdered chicken bouillon (or 2 bouillon cubes, which is more prevalent in France)1 ¼ cup rice (preferably long-grain, perfumed, such as basmati)Butternut Squash and Saffron Soup with Caramelized PistachiosFor the soup:2½ tablespoon olive oil2 large onions, roughly chopped5 garlic cloves, minced2 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice1 large potato, peeled and chopped into ½-inch dice1 teaspoon paprika¼ teaspoon saffron threads1 quart chicken broth (or use vegetable stock if you’re keeping this vegetarian)Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to tasteFor the caramelized pistachios:1 cup mixed pistachios and pumpkin seeds1 teaspoon urfa chili flakes2 teaspoons light corn syrup2 teaspoons maple syrup1 tablespoon olive oil¼ teaspoon flaky sea saltPork with Red Wine, Orange Peel, and Apple-Thyme Chutney2 ½ pounds pork loinFreshly ground black pepper2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oilMarinade:1 strip orange peel8 sprigs thyme2 bay leaves1 carrot, trimmed, peeled, and cut into 1-inch dice2 onions, roughly chopped1 bottle full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet SauvignonApple-Thyme Chutney:3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch cubes3 sprigs thyme1 bay leaf¼ cup sugar2 tablespoons Calvados (This is brandy from Normandy made from apples: well worth having on hand.)2 tablespoons apple cider vinegarCoarse or kosher saltTagliatelle with Wild Mushroom Sauce1 ½ ounces dried porcini mushrooms¼ cup warm water1 ½ tablespoons Marsala3 tablespoons olive oil2 tablespoons unsalted butter2 onions, mincedGiblets of 1 chicken, sliced very thin (optional but adds an richness when used)3 tablespoons minced Italian parsley (also called flat-leaf parsley)2 springs fresh rosemary2 fresh sage leaves, sliced thin2 teaspoons tomato paste, preferably double concentrate2 ½ tablespoons red wine1 to 1 ½ cups meat brothKosher salt and fresh ground black pepperWhite truffle is optional1 package of dried egg pasta1 medium-sized cabbage (around 4 cups of raw, shredded)1 large red pepper, top and bottom removed, seeds remove, cut into batons (narrow strips that are about ¼ inch thick)½ fresh lemon, juiced3 tablespoons of mayonnaise (add a little at a time. You may want to increase or reduce depending on how much cabbage and how creamy you want it)Kosher salt to season½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper or more as needed8 dried shitake mushrooms1 pound ground pork¼ cup minced canned or peeled fresh water chestnuts¼ cup minced bamboo shoots½ cup minced scallions6 teaspoons cornstarch2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice wine or dry sherry3 tablespoons soy sauce1 teaspoon sugar½ teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoons ground white pepper½ cup homemade chicken broth2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoons vegetable oil1 pound Napa cabbage, cut crosswise into 2-inch-wide piecesFor the pestata (a paste made from grinding ingredients) and stuffing:2 cups milk4 ounces dry country bread cubes (about 4 cups)2 ounces pancetta, cut into pieces1 large onion, cut into chunks1 large carrot, cut into chunks1 large stalk celery, cut in chunks3 plump garlic cloves, peeled3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil2 pounds sweet Italian sausage (without fennel seeds); buy it loose or removed from casings and crumbled1 teaspoon kosher salt1 cup dry white wine1 large egg, lightly beaten1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley½ cup grated Grana PadanoFor the cabbage rolls and sauce:1 medium head Savoy cabbage (about 2 pounds)¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil2½ teaspoons kosher salt3 cups dry white wine4 cups or so hot chicken, turkey or vegetable brothGrilled Tuna with Watercress-Parsley Salad and Chermoula Vinaigrette4 tuna steaks 3/4 inch thick; about 8 ounces each3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilKosher salt2 ½ tablespoons juice from 1 fresh lemon2 small garlic cloves, minced½ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon ground cumin¼ teaspoon paprika1/8 teaspoon cayenne2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves½ cup extra-virgin olive oilFreshly ground black pepper1 bunch watercress, washed, dried well and trimmed1 cup Italian parsley leaves, washed and dried wellCedar-Planked Salmon2 pounds salmon fillets, skin on, pin bones removed2 cedar planks. Soak cedar planks for 2 hours in cold water½ cup brown sugar2 tablespoons Dijon mustard1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika2 tablespoons olive oil (may need more)1 teaspoon kosher salt½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper12 1/8-inch-thick swordfish slices, 6 inches long and 4 inches wide¼ cup currants, soaked in warm water then drainedOlive oil4 garlic cloves, minced1 cup fresh bread crumbs, plus extra for coating (Sicilians love bread crumbs and refer to it as the “poor man’s cheese,” a holdover from when the average worker couldn’t afford cheese.)1/3 cup freshly chopped Italian parsley¼ cup pine nutsKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper16-18 bay leaves, fresh or at least flexible enough to run a skewer through without falling apart2 lemons, cut in half and seeded½ cup chopped roasted carrots, from 3/4 cup raw carrots1/3 to ½ cup water¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil2 tablespoons rice vinegar2 teaspoons minced ginger¼ teaspoon sea salt1 ½ cups roasted chickpeas1 bunch curly kale, stems removed, leaves torn1 teaspoon lemon juice½ teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil1 small carrot, grated1 small red beet, grated*½ watermelon radish, very thinly sliced1 avocado, cubed2 tablespoons dried cranberries¼ cup pepitas, toasted1 teaspoon sesame seedsSea salt and freshly ground black pepper2 stalks lemongrass1 teaspoon raw virgin coconut oil½ medium yellow onion thinly sliced12 ounces cremini baby mushrooms, stemmed and sliced1 teaspoon kosher salt2 (14-ounce) cans of full-fat coconut milk1½ cups water or up to 3 cups for a lighter broth1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger2 garlic cloves minced1 large, sweet potato chopped1 jalapeno pepper stemmed and diced1 small bunch cilantro (about ½ cup) stems diced and leaves chopped2 limes, zest removed, and juicedtamari or soy sauce, for seasoning (optional)4 cups loosely packed kale chopped2 cups cooked jasmine rice½ cup fresh mint leavesSliced red chile peppers, serrano peppers, or sriracha sauce1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1/2 onion, finely chopped1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained2 tablespoons dry white wine1 teaspoon kosher salt2 tablespoons each finely chopped basil, parsley, scallion, and dill2 large eggs1/2 tablespoon whole milk1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 cup plus 2 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs (you can buy these at the store and have them available whenever you need breadcrumbs)1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (not the grated stuff in a can), plus more for garnish1/4 cup fine semolina1 teaspoon onion powder1 teaspoon garlic powder1/2 teaspoon kosher salt1/2 teaspoon pepper2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1/2 onion, finely chopped5 garlic cloves, minced3/4 cup dry white wineOne 28-ounce can whole tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzano), tomatoes chopped and juices reservedPinch each of dried oregano and crushed red pepper3 tablespoons chopped basil, plus more for garnishKosher saltFreshly ground black pepper1 bunch of Tuscan kale (8 ounces), stemmed and chopped1 cup crème FraicheKosher saltA small handful of small mint leaves12 Black Mission Figs12 Adriatic figs3 cups arugula, any large stems removed1 tablespoon Red Wine Vinaigrette (sure, you know how to make a vinaigrette, but this has some interesting changes to make it unique. Recipe below)One 6 ounce piece honeycomb, cut into piecesExtra virgin olive oil for finishingSea Salt and freshly ground black pepper (Mourad recommends Tasmanian, which I’m not familiar with)Red Wine Vinaigrette:½ shallot, thinly sliced1 garlic clove, thinly sliced1 tablespoon kosher salt½ teaspoon granulated sugar¼ cup red wine vinegar1 cup extra virgin olive oil4 lbs. leg of lamb (boned weight)Salt and pepperKitchen stringFor the stuffing:1⁄2 tablespoon olive oil1⁄2 large onion, finely chopped2 3⁄4 ounces walnut pieces2 1⁄4 ounces breadcrumbs5 1⁄2 ounces goat's cheese8 fresh figs, quartered3 sprigs thyme, leaves only1 egg, beaten1 tablespoon unsalted European butter, melted1 1/2 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and halved1 cup whole milk1/4 cup heavy cream3 large eggs1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar1 teaspoon vanilla extract1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt1/2 cup all-purpose flourFlaky sea salt1 pound soba (buckwheat noodles)2 tablespoons cooking oil1 large onion, thinly sliced, cut stem to tip1 medium red pepper, top and seeds removed, thinly sliced2 medium carrots, tops removed, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced on the diagonal2 medium zucchinis, tops removed, cut in half lengthwise, then thinly sliced on the diagonal½ small head broccoli, florets removed and thinly sliced1 cup of hot peanut sauce (below) You may want to use less if you’re not fond of spicy food½ to ¾ cup coconut milk8 green onions, thinly sliced for garnish½ cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped, for garnishHot Peanut Sauce½ cup peanut butter, chunky or creamy½ cup sesame oil2 tablespoons soy saucetablespoons rice wine vinegar1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely minced1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions1 tablespoon oriental hot oil (sometimes listed just as Chili Oil or Hot Chili Oil on the label)1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantroBean Thread Noodles and Sweet Chili Shrimp12 colossal shrimp (U-8) peeled and deveined1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt2 (4-ounce) packages bean thread (made from mung beans) noodles3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil¾ bottled sweet chili sauce½ medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced into ¼ inch pieces3 ounces snow peas or sugar snap peas, diagonally cut in half½ red onion, thinly sliced1 carrot, julienned½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, roughly chopped½ cup roasted, unsalted macadamia nuts, roughly choppedThai Fried Rice NoodlesFor the Marinade:2 teaspoons cornstarch3 tablespoons soy sauce1 to 1 1/2 cups bite-sized chicken piecesFor the Noodles:8 ounces rice noodles (usually called Thai Rice Noodle or Rice Stick on the package)3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced1 piece thumb-size galangal (this is in the same family as ginger but has kind of a mild piney, citrus-tinged flavor and is denser) or use ginger) sliced into matchstick-like pieces)1 cup fresh shiitake mushrooms, sliced1/2 cup chicken stock1 bell pepper (orange or green), sliced into thin strips2 to 3 cups fresh bean sprouts2 green onions, sliced thinHandful fresh cilantro2 1/2 tablespoons oilFor the Stir-Fry Sauce:2 tablespoons soy sauce1 teaspoon dark soy sauce (Dark soy sauce is thicker and less salty than regular soy sauce but has a richer flavor and darker color)1 tablespoon fish sauce1 teaspoon sugar1 tablespoon lime juice1/4 cup chicken stock1 to 2 teaspoons chili sauce (or 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste)Half of a fresh lime to finish2 cups tightly packed fresh basil leaves½ cup extra virgin olive oil3 tablespoons pine nuts2 garlic cloves, chopped fine before putting into the processorSaltTo complete the sauce by hand:½ cup fresh grated Parmigian-Reggiano cheese2 tablespoons freshly grated Romano cheese3 tablespoons butter, softened to room temperature1 ½ pounds pasta1 cup sundried tomatoes, drained from its oil in a wire scoop2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped1 tablespoon capers, drained2 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped4-5 fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauceJuice of one half of a fresh lemonExtra virgin olive oilKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper1 baguette, slice at an angle, and browned under the broiler½ cup blanched whole almonds1 large clove of garlic, smashedKosher salt½ cup fresh mint leaves¼ cup fresh parsley leaves¼ cup extra virgin olive oil½ fresh lemon, zested (Yes, do this before you cut the lemon in half)½ fresh lemon juiceFreshly ground black pepper4 bone-in chicken breast halves1 recipe of Mint and Almond Pesto from aboveKosher salt and freshly ground pepper1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil½ fresh lemon½ cup chicken broth1 tablespoon butter2 tablespoons shelled raw pumpkin seeds3 large Poblano green chiles, easy to find in any Mexican grocery storeVegetable oil4 green onions, cut into 1-inch pieces1 garlic clove, outer skin removed and smashed2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves2 tablespoons or more extra-virgin olive oil½ freshly cut limeKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper½ teaspoon ground coriander½ teaspoon ground cumin4 6-ounce skinless mahi-mahi fillets, about 1-inch thick12 6-inch corn tortillasChopped cilantro for finishingGrilled Peach, Onion and Bacon Salad with Buttermilk Dressing¼ cup mayonnaise¼ cup sour cream¼ cup buttermilk2 tablespoons chopped mint2 tablespoons chopped parsley2 tablespoons snipped chives1 teaspoon apple cider vinegarKosher SaltFreshly ground pepper1 pound thick-sliced bacon¼ cup brown sugar½ teaspoon cayenne pepper3 pounds Vidalia or other sweet onions (but honestly, yellow onions are great grilled, too), cut into 1-inch-thick slabsExtra-virgin olive oil, for brushing4 large ripe peaches, cut into 1/2-inch wedgesPork Tenderloin with Peach Salsa2pork tenderloins, silver skin removedKosher Salt¼ cup Smoked Spanish PaprikaBrine2 cups water¼ cup kosher salt¼ cup brown sugar1 cup apple cider vinegarPeach salsa1 cup your favorite peaches, diced (I leave the skin on but it bothers some folks so your call)1 quarter of a red onion, diced3 scallions, finely diced1 red pepper, core, seeds and veins removed and cut into a dice½ bunch of cilantro leaves, finely diced½ teaspoon Kosher saltJuice from half of a fresh limeJalapeño Peach ChickenFor the glaze:3 cups chopped peaches (about 4 to 5 medium peaches)1 pound jalapeños, stemmed and seeded½ onion, roughly chopped2 tablespoons ginger, peeled and roughly chopped1 ¼ cups cider vinegar2 ¼ cups granulated sugar1 teaspoon salt12 to 14 chicken wings or 10 drumsticks1 tablespoon vegetable oil1 tablespoon salt⅔ cup jalapeño peach glazePeach Compote3-4 fresh peaches, pitted and diced (again, purists will remove the skin, others leave it on)½ cup brown sugar½ teaspoon vanilla extract¼ cup waterBRAGGING RIGHTS:12 very small new potatoes, skin scrubbed but left on1 cup water1 tablespoon unsalted butter (yes, I do add a little extra but one tablespoon will work fine)Kosher saltBlack pepper, freshly ground1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley or fresh dill¼ cup olive oil (not the expensive kind)2 ½ pounds new potatoes, scrubbed but skin left on1 ½ teaspoons saltFreshly ground pepper1 ½ to 2 cups rich chicken broth (ideally this is homemade)g1 pound new potatoesKosher salt and freshly ground pepper8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved on the bias1 pound thin asparagus, tough stems trimmed, cut into 2-inch pieces1 to 2 heads butter lettuce (depending on their size) leaves separated, large ones torn into 2-inch pieces (about 12 ounces)4 large fresh eggs (fresh is very important in poaching eggs)2 teaspoons white vinegar1/4 cup snipped fresh chives (from 1 bunch), for garnish1 teaspoon Dijon mustard1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic3 tablespoons Sherry vinegarKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil2 ¼ pounds of ground beef, 20% fat.Extra virgin olive oil or melted butter, your choiceKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper6 hamburger bunsOptional toppings:6 thin slices Cheddar cheeseButter lettuce leavesSliced tomatoes, but only when they are fresh and ripeSliced dill picklesKetchup4 tablespoons light brown sugar3 teaspoons water2 tablespoon tamarind paste (may substitute lime juice but it’s worth the effort to find)1 tablespoon soy sauce6 tablespoons olive oil5 cloves garlic, minced1 ½ tablespoons oyster sauce½ Serrano or jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and minced (or use the entire pepper, if you really like heat)2 tablespoons chopped mint2 tablespoons minced cilantro leaves½ medium sweet onion, mincedJuice of ½ lime1 ½ pounds ground lamb2 scallions, white and light green parts, cut into 1 1/2-inch-long strips1 Thai or serrano chile pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips1/2 bunch basil, small leaves only (about 1/2 cup)1/4 bunch cilantro, leaves only1/3 cup mint, leaves only½ bunch chives, cut into 1/2-inch pieces1 bunch watercress, leaves only2 green onions4 tablespoon rice wine vinegar2 tablespoon sherry vinegar3 tablespoon soy sauce2 teaspoon hoisin sauce2 teaspoon sambal sauceFresh ginger - 1" piece peeled and rough chopped2 tablespoon pickled ginger2 teaspoon honey2 tablespoon light sesame oil2 tablespoon lime juice4 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil1 garlic clove, rough choppedRed wine vinegar1 cup julienned napa cabbage1/2 cup julienned red cabbage1/2 cup julienned carrotsGinger wasabi mayo:1 1/2 teaspoon wasabi powder1 teaspoon water1 1/2 teaspoon lime juice1 tablespoon chopped pickled ginger1/2 cup mayonnaise4 5 oz. fresh ahi steaks, cut 1/2-inch thick4 burger bunsSoy sauce, for marinatingOil, for brushing marinated ahi(Meatballs in Salsa)2 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed1/3 cup whole milk1 pound ground pork (this needs some fat in the mix so it won’t dry out)½ pound ground beef (yep, see the note for ground pork)¼ cup grated yellow onion, plus 1 large onion, chopped for the sauce2 large eggs, beaten1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the sauce1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper2 to 3 gratings of fresh nutmeg (you may want more)2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus more for garnish (this is just an approximation to give you the sense to add a little but not a lot)3 tablespoons olive oilSauce1 medium-size carrot, diced¾ teaspoon Spanish sweet paprika (look for Dulce on the can) This is not the same as Hungarian paprika.4-5 canned peeled tomatoes, drained and chopped, plus ¼ of their juice from the can3 tablespoons brandy1 cup dry white wine1 ¼ cups chicken stock, maybe more if neededAll-purpose flour for dusting the meatballs2 medium eggplants (approximately 2 to 2 ½ pounds) cut into 1-inch piecesOlive oil for frying (I use sunflower oil and save the good stuff for finishing the dish)¼ cup extra virgin olive oil1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped½ cup chopped celery1 14.5- ounce can of peeled and diced tomatoes2 tablespoons capers (nope, I don’t rinse them)1 tablespoon sugar½ cup red wine vinegar½ cup green olivesKosher salt and freshly ground pepperDressing¼ cup Sherry1 shallot, minced1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (you may want to throttle back on this but I like a hint of mustardy heat)1 clove garlic, mincedKosher saltFreshly ground black pepper¾ cup extra virgin olive oil¼ cup minced fresh tarragonSalad12 ounces haricot verts or Blue Lake green beans, tops and tails trimmed (I’ve also used pencil-thin asparagus if they look better than the beans)1 ½ pounds yellow potatoes, unpeeled4 hard-boiled eggs, shell removed and quartered½ cup niçoise olives pits removed¼ cup capers, drained (I like the brine myself but lots of chefs demand that you must rinse them: your call)Handful of chives1 3.95-ounce tin of white tuna in olive oil2 heads of butter or red oak lettuce, torn into large pieces that are easy to forkKosher salt1 cup tightly packed fresh Italian parsley leaves, plus 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley3 tablespoons water, plus ¼ cup4 6-ounce salmon fillets, skin and pin bones removed2 tablespoons olive oilPimentón Dulce or Spanish sweet paprika½ cup unsalted butter (one stick of butter)1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic1/3 cup fresh basil leaves1/3 cup panko bread crumbs2 strips lean bacon, coarsely chopped3 tablespoons pine nuts3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese2 small garlic cloves3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oilKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper6 6-ounce skinless king salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick, pin bones removedLemon wedges, for serving1 tablespoon sesame seeds2 tablespoons white miso paste (miso is fermented soybean paste that varies by the number of soybeans, salt and the length of aging)2 tablespoons mirin (a low-alcohol, sweet wine made from glutinous rice)1 tablespoon tamari (a Japanese condiment similar to but thicker than soy sauce, made from soybeans. the biggest difference is that tamari is made without wheat, while soy sauce typically contains wheat (up to 50 percent of its total content).1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger1 ½ pounds salmon fillet, cut into 4 portions, pin bones removed2 tablespoons thinly sliced scallions cut on the bias (45° angle)2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantroShrimp and Crab Stuffed Avocado with Cilantro-Caper Mayonnaise1 pound 4 ounces shrimp, cooked in their shells (this adds to the flavor)8 ounces fresh crab meatCilantro-caper mayonnaise1 cup mayonnaise2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, dried on a paper towel and then minced1 clove garlic, minced¼ teaspoon saltLime vinaigrette1 fresh lime, juicedPinch of kosher saltPinch of freshly ground black pepper3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil3 avocados3 cups shredded iceberg lettuce2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved2 limes cut into wedges for garnishKung Pao Shrimp with Cashews1 cup jumbo raw cashews1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce2 tablespoons red wine vinegar2 teaspoons sugar1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil2 tablespoons sunflower oil (or peanut or corn oil, something with a high smoke temperature)½ teaspoon salt3-4 small, dried red chilies2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger2 cloves garlic, minced1 red bell pepper, seeds and white ribs removed, cut into long, ¼ inch sticks1 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, and patted dryUlapalakua Beef and Shrimp KabobsDipping sauce:2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root1/2 cup brown sugar1/2 cup soy sauce1/4 cup rice wine vinegar2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil2 tablespoons scallions, green parts only, thinly slicedShrimp and beef kabobs:16-20 uncooked, peeled, deveined shrimp1 1/2 lb. boneless New York strip steak, cut into 1-in cubes1/4 c brown sugar1 tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper1 tablespoon kosher salt1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2 in. cubes1 sweet onion, cut into 1-in. squares1-2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-in. squaresVegetable oil18 bamboo skewers, presoaked in waterCarciofi Ripieni(Stuffed Artichokes)12 large fresh artichokes, cleaned (see above) and the stems removed so it can sit flat6 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in halfFilling2 cups of dried bread crumbs (I use panko bread crumbs that you can buy in the supermarket but this comes from the days when Sicilians used everything, including old bread)1 tablespoon chopped Italian parsley1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan cheese½ teaspoon Kosher salt1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, may need more to pour on topParmesan cheese for finishingBraised Artichokes with Leeks and PeasAdapted from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison4 large artichokes 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil 1/4 cup diced shallot 2 leeks, including an inch of the greens, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds 2 fennel bulbs, cut into 1-inch wedges, joined at the root end 1/2 cup white wine 2 1/2 to 3 cups homemade vegetable stock or water 1 teaspoon sea salt 12 ounces yellow-fleshed or new red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into quarters 1/2 cup or less crème fraîche 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 cup shelled peas or fava beans 3 tablespoons chopped fennel greens or parsley Freshly milled pepperAnginares a la Polita(Artichokes in the style of the City — referring to Constantinople)Adapted from “A Mediterranean Feast” by Clifford A. Wright6 scallions, white and light green part parts, chopped 12 small white onions, 1 inch in diameter, peeled ½ pound baby carrots ¼ pound small new potatoes (about the size of a big marble. Quarter them if they are larger) 10 medium-sized fresh artichoke hearts (see the introduction on peeling down to the hearts) 1 lemon 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour 1 cup water ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil Kosher salt 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dillMushroom Risotto6 tablespoons unsalted butter ½ yellow onion, chopped finely 8 ounces assorted fresh mushrooms, sliced (see the note above) Kosher salt to taste 2 cups Arborio rice (or try Carnaroli rice, it has great flavor and turns creamy while each grain of rice maintains its shape.) 6 ½ cups hot chicken broth 4 ounces goat cheese brought to room temperature 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped 1 teaspoon fresh marjoram leaves, choppedGoat Cheese-Stuffed Mushrooms with Bread Crumbs24 large cremini mushrooms (about 1 1/2 pounds), stems removed1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, plus one 3-inch sprig of rosemaryKosher salt3 tablespoons panko bread crumbs6 ounces fresh goat cheese, cut into 24 pieces while coldChicken Marsala and Mushrooms1 1/4 cups Marsala wine ( a fortified wine from Italy. The complexity really adds to the dish, so don’t use a dry table wine)3/4 cup homemade chicken stock or store-bought broth1 packet unflavored gelatin, such as Knox (2 1/2 teaspoons)4 boneless, skinless chicken cutlets, (a boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced horizontally into two even pieces. Then pounded between two sheets of plastic until the chicken is about 1/2 to 1/4 inch thick )Kosher saltAbout 1 cup all-purpose flour for dredging1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more if needed10 ounces cremini mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced4 medium shallots, minced2 medium cloves garlic, minced1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes1 teaspoon soy sauceSherry vinegar, to tasteMinced fresh parsley, for garnish3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro 1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño 1/4 teaspoon lime zest plus 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice 1 small garlic clove, grated 1 1/4 pounds peeled and deveined raw large shrimp 1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips 1 orange bell pepper, sliced into strips 1 cup sliced poblano chile, sliced into strips 1 cup thinly sliced red onion 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 8 (6-inch) corn or flour tortillas 1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves 2 limes, cut into wedges½ cup plain whole-milk European-style yogurt½ cup coarse harissa paste (Janet recommends the Les Mouline Mahjoub brand, which I’ve found in Hudson’s Green & Goods in the Oxbow Market and online. We found we use a little less than ½ cup but taste your paste to get a feel for how hot you want it.)1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juiceKosher salt6 bone-in skinless chicken thighs. Janet uses skin on but the entire tasting panel (my wife and I) enjoy them without the skin, which gets too flabby for us after marinating.2 large red bell peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced2 large yellow bell peppers, halved, seeded and thinly sliced1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced1/3 cup vegetable oil:8 oz macaroni (I think you are required to use elbow pasta but I have seen other, less scrumptious, cooks use farfalle, fusilli and even penne pasta) 1 tablespoon unsalted butter2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter 1/4 teaspoon salt:4 tablespoon unsalted butter 1/3 cup all purpose flour 3 cups whole milk, warmed 2 cups freshly shredded gruyere or fontina cheese (And, always grate your own: Store-bought shredded cheese have anti-caking agents that don’t melt well and give the sauce a slightly powdery texture) 1 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese (Nagi used fresh mozzarella but my wife and I thought the dish needed a bit more flavor, so I swapped out the bland cheese for cheddar cheese) 3/4 teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon dry mustardAlison Roman’s Very Good Lasagna2 tablespoons olive oil1 large yellow onion, finely chopped4 cloves garlic, finely chopped6 anchovy fillets (optional, but you should use)Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper2 tablespoons tomato pasteOne 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoesOne 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes1½ pounds fresh mozzarella, grated or shredded16 ounces (2 cups) whole-milk ricotta1 cup coarsely grated Parmesan, plus more as desired1/4 cup heavy creamKosher salt and freshly ground black pepper1 pound dried lasagna noodles (not the no-boil variety)Olive oil, for drizzlingChicken Tamale Pie1/3 cup vegetable oil1 medium-sized onion, diced1 ½ Tablespoon chili powder, plus 1 canned chipotles chile with sauce if you enjoy a bit more heat1 can (28 oz.) crushed, fire-roasted tomatoes1 can (14.5 oz.) cream-style corn4 teaspoon salt1 cup whole milk½ cup yellow cornmeal, medium ground3 large eggs, lightly beaten1 cup pitted ripe olives, cut in half2 cups coarsely chopped, cooked chicken (this is a great use for leftovers from a chicken dinner or pick up a rotisserie chicken at the market)1 cup freshly shredded Monterey Jack cheese, mixed with1 cup freshly shredded sharp Cheddar cheese500 grams (just over a pound) of boiled potatoes, skin removed1 small celery stick, mincedGrated zest of organic lemon (make sure the skin is clean)Kosher salt and pepper to taste¼ cup extra virgin olive oil500 grams (just over a pound) of steamed shrimp3 oranges, peeled, seeds removed and sections chopped2 small fennel bulbs, core removed and finely chopped4 handfuls of salad. Choose a colorful mixture of radicchio, arugula, endive, mizuna, kale, or mustard.Lemon, cut into quartersToasted Bread and Chicken Salad with Roasted Lemon-Shallot VinaigretteVinaigrette1 lemon, halved8 ounces shallots, peeled, halved if large3 large garlic cloves, unpeeled¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided4 springs fresh thyme, divided2 ½ tsp. kosher salt, dividedJuice of 1 lemonChicken saladOne loaf peasant-style rustic bread, roughly torn into 1-inch pieces3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oilFreshly ground black pepper4 cups of leftover roast chicken (or purchased from the market)3 Tbsp. currants, plumped in warm water for 10 minutes and drained4 cups lightly packed peppery greens, such as arugula, watercress or small mustard greensLemon Risotto2 Tbsp. plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil1 small onion, minced1 lemon, rind grated1 ½ cups Arborio rice8 or more organic, unwaxed lemonsBox of Kosher salt1-quart glass jar with a lid that you can sealSpiced Chicken on Melting Onions with Preserved Lemon1 chicken, cut into serving pieces is how I do it but Diane makes it easy by listing the protein as 4 chicken breast joints, skin on and partly boned2 Tbsp. olive oil3 onions, halved and sliced into half-moons½ tsp. ground turmeric1 cup (8 ounces) chicken stock½ tsp. saffron threads3 ounces green olivesFor the marinade:½ preserved lemon6 garlic cloves, crushed1 tsp. ground ginger½ tsp. each of ground cumin, paprika and cayenne4 Tbsp. olive oil2 Tbsp. lemon oil from the preserved lemonsKosher salt and pepperA good handful of flat-leaf parsley or coriander, roughly chopped1 medium-size cooked Yukon Gold potato2 Tbsp. or more extra-virgin olive oil½ small white onion, peeled, diced into ¼ inchesKosher salt4 large, fresh eggs (this is when you want to use those eggs from the Farmers Market)2 Tbsp. milk (or cream, if you have that on hand)2 Tbsp. olive oil2 Tbsp. harissa (I like the spread from Les Moulins Mahjoub)2 Tbsp. tomato paste2 large red pepper, cut into ¼ dice4 cloves garlic, minced1 tsp. ground cumin1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes4 large eggsSalt1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese3 eggsBlack pepper (some people use white pepper with eggs but others hate the taste: your call)½ oz unsalted butter1 Tbsp. Gruyère cheese, diced1 Tbsp. heavy creamBeat parmesan with eggs and a little pepper.Banderillas1 French-style baguettes½pound Manchego cheese¼pound Serrano jamón (cured ham1 pound Spanish chorizo sausage1 box round toothpicks (Stuffed Piquillo Peppers8-9 ounces Gruyère, or your favorite melting cheese, chilled14-16 whole piquillo pepers¹³cup extra virgin olive oilHandful of thinly sliced basil leavesGambas Ajillo1 pound prawns, head on 4 cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp. sweet Spanish paprika 1 tsp. red pepper flakes 2-3 oz. of Cognac or Sherry¼cup virgin olive oil Fresh lemon Italian parsley, finely choppedTortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)¾ cup neutral olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 small waxy potato (around ¾ pound/750 grams), peeled and sliced very thinly Kosher salt 8 eggsSweet Potato Crostiniwith Figs1 large baguette, sliced into roughly thirty-inch rounds Sweet potato spread: 1 pound orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into-inch dice (about 3 cups) 1tablespoons honey 1 tablespoon olive oilteaspoon minced fresh rosemary leavesteaspoon orange zestteaspoon saltA large handful of fresh figs, sliced into quarters.cup dry red winecup fresh orange juice (from 1 orange) 1 tablespoon light brown sugar 1 cup sliced dried figs (about 4 ounces)Sweet Potatoes with TahiniBasic Tahini Sauce½ cup tahini ¼ cup fresh lemon juice 6 tablespoons water, plus more as needed 1 small garlic clove, grated or pressed ½ teaspoon sea salt Sweet potatoes8 small sweet potatoes (about 3 lb. total), scrubbed, halved lengthwise½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided Kosher salt Flaky sea salt 1 lime, cut into wedgesDinner Salad with Radicchio and Roasted Sweet PotatoesCashew Dressing½ cup salted, roasted cashews ¼ cup vegetable oil 3 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar ¾ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes ¾ tsp. fish sauce ¾ tsp. honey 1 garlic clove Kosher saltSalad4 small sweet potatoes (about 1½ lb. total), scrubbed, halved lengthwise. I like the ‘soft’ orange sweet potatoes but you could pull this off with the firm, white ones. 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt 4 large eggs 2 heads of radicchio (about 1 lb. total), quartered, cores removed, leaves separated 1 small fennel bulb, quartered lengthwise, thinly sliced lengthwise 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar Flaky sea salt ½ cup crushed salted, roasted cashews ½ cup cilantro leaves with tender stemsThe XO’s Super Nachos1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (you don’t need your finest, extra virgin olive oil here)½ yellow onion, diced2 lb. ground beef (don’t buy that extra lean ground beef and think you’re saving calories: this is not a dish for skimping: fat is flavor)½ teaspoon chili powder½ teaspoon paprika½ teaspoon ground cumin¼teaspoon crushed red pepper½ teaspoon Kosher salt1 can 14.5-ounce pinto beans½ cup beer1 bag of sturdy tortilla chips1 ½ cup grated cheddar cheese1 ½ cup Monterey Jack cheese1 12-ounce container of fresh pico de gallo (if your Mexican grandmother passed down her recipe for fresh salsa, make that, or pick up a container of fresh—not from a can—salsa from the refrigerator section of your favorite grocery store)½ bunch cilantro leaves, chopped1 ripe avocado, pitted and dicedOptional: Sour cream and 1 whole jalapeño, diced finelyAsian Meatballs with Dipping SauceJuice of 1 lime 1 Tablespoon sugar 2 Tablespoon fish sauce 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and finely minced 1 garlic clove, finely minced 1 Tablespoon fresh ginger Meatballs 7 oz. ground pork 1 oz. shallots, finely minced 2 garlic gloves, finely minced 1 teaspoon brown sugar ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 Tablespoon finely minced cilantro 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger 2 Tablespoon fish sauce Vegetable or sunflower oil for frying Garnish 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh cilantroGuacamole2 ripe avocadosHalf of a white onion, finely diced2 serrano chilies, finely diced1 Roma tomato, seeded and finely diced2-3 sprigs of cilantro, finely chopped1 lime, cut in halfKosher saltPlenty of salty tortilla chipsHummus1 15.5-oz. can chickpeas½ cup tahini (sesame seed paste that is often called for in Middle Eastern cooking. Always good to have on hand.)1 clove garlic1/3 cup fresh lemon juiceKosher saltExtra virgin olive oilCayenne pepperPancetta and Mushroom Bruschetta1 baguette1 yellow onion, thinly diced4 oz. pancetta, ¼ dice2 Tablespoons olive oil1 pound fresh Button mushrooms, halved2 garlic gloves, minced1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, choppedKosher salt and freshly ground pepper3 oz. Parmesan cheese, gratedButternutSquash Soup1 tablespoon olive oil1 large onion, chopped3 garlic cloves, minced1 medium butternut squash (about 3 pounds), peeled and cubed4 cups chicken broth3/4 teaspoon salt1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger1/2 cup heavy whipping creamTo finish: heavy whipping cream and sage leaves that have been crisped by sautéing them in butter.Risotto with Roasted Winter Squash1 pound winter squash (about 1/2 of a good-size squash such as butternut, banana or hubbard) peeled, seeded and cut in 1/2 inch dice2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil7 to 8 cups chicken stock, as needed1 small or 1/2 medium yellow onion2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressedKosher salt to taste1 ½ cups Arborio, or Carnaroli rice if you have it on hand½ cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage1 to 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated (1/4 to 1/2 cup), or more to taste3 to 4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsleyPumpkin-Ricotta Stuffed Shells24 jumbo pasta shells1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil22 oz. fat-free ricotta1 15 ounce can pumpkin puree2 1/2 oz. Pecorino Romano1 large egg white2 clove garlic1 cup fresh basil1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh sage1 tsp. salt1 tsp. freshly ground pepper3 cups store-bought tomato sauce or your ownPears with Blue Cheese and Prosciutto2 pears, such as Bosc or Bartlett, each cut into 8 wedges2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice1 cup arugula3 ounces blue cheese, cut into small pieces6 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, cut in half lengthwisePear Salad with Walnuts and Gorgonzola4 handfuls salad greens, washed and dried 2 pears, washed, cored and sliced into eighths 1/2 cup dried currants or raisins 2 ounces Gorgonzola cheese 1 cup roasted walnut halves 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons rice vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil or walnut if you have on handRoast Chicken with Pears3 garlic cloves 1 large orange 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger 2 teaspoons fine sea salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 4-pound whole chicken, patted dry, spatchcocked (see below)Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling 4 ripe Bartlett, Anjou or other pears, quartered, seeds removed Sherry vinegar, for serving Flaky sea salt, for serving ½ cup parsley leaves, coarsely chopped, for serving(pear cake)Serves 4300 grams (16.6 oz.) all-purpose flour200 grams (7.1 oz.) sugar200 grams (7.1 oz.) grapeseed oil2/3 teaspoon baking powder1 kilo (2.2 pounds) firm pears, peeled, seeded and cut into cubesSugarAnise seed