One of the great joys of my job is that there are people in my life who commandeer me when I see them and tell me what they’ve made from my columns. My favorite interactions are with my doctor, whom I love, and who has taken care of me for many years. Yesterday, in the exam room during an appointment, she took out her phone, opened the an article, and began scrolling as she gave me the rundown on recipes:
Blistered green beans with pistachios: “This is the only way to make string beans.”
Dutch baby: “It didn’t work with oat milk, but it’s still good.”
Broccoli salad with garlic and sesame: “This? Delicious.”
In return, I serve as a private recipe concierge and steer her toward dishes I think she’ll like. A handful of those are below, along with a few of her own picks.
Salmon with anchovy-garlic butter
By: Melissa Clark
Minced anchovies and garlic add a complex salinity to seared salmon, enriching and deepening its flavour. To get the most out of them, the anchovies and garlic are mashed into softened butter, which is used in two ways: as a cooking medium and as a sauce. Used to cook the salmon, the butter browns and the anchovies and garlic caramelise, turning sweet. When stirred into the pan sauce, the raw garlic and anchovies give an intense bite that’s mitigated by the creaminess of the butter. It’s a quickly made, weeknight-friendly dish that’s far more nuanced than the usual seared salmon – but no harder to prepare.
Total time: 25 minutes
3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
4 anchovy fillets, minced
1 fat garlic clove, minced (or 2 small ones)
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 (170-225g) skin-on salmon fillets
2 tbsp drained capers, patted dry
Fresh chopped parsley, for serving
1. Heat oven to 200C degrees. In a small bowl, mash together butter, anchovies, garlic, salt and pepper.
2. In a large ovenproof frying pan, melt about half the anchovy butter. Add fish, skin side down. Cook for 3 minutes over high heat to brown the skin, spooning some pan drippings over the top of the fish as it cooks. Add caps to bottom of pan and transfer to oven. Roast until fish is just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes.
3. Remove pan from oven and add remaining anchovy butter to pan to melt. Place salmon on plates and spoon buttery pan sauce over the top. Squeeze the lemon half over the salmon and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve.
Silken tofu with spicy soy dressing
By: Hetty McKinnon
This recipe is inspired by the many cold silken tofu dishes from east Asia, like Japanese hiyayakko and Chinese liangban tofu. This no-cook dish is a handy one to have up your sleeve, especially for warm evenings when the desire to cook is nonexistent. Silky soft tofu is draped in a punchy soy dressing, creating a lively dish with little effort. The tofu is ideally served cold, but 10 minutes at room temperature can take the edge off. Make it your own with other fresh herbs such as Thai basil, mint or shiso leaves, or add crunch with fried shallots or roasted peanuts. A salty, fermented element like kimchi, pickled radish or ja choi, also known as zha cai, a Sichuan pickled mustard root, would work well, too. One block of silken tofu is usually enough to feed two people, but for a more substantial meal, serve it with hot rice or noodles to create a pleasing contrast of temperatures.
Total time: 5 minutes
For the spicy soy dressing:
¼ cup (60ml) soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp chilli oil
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
1 spring onion, green and white pieces, thinly sliced
For the tofu:
2 (400g) silken tofu blocks, cold
1 spring onion, green and white parts, thinly sliced
Handful of coriander leaves
1. Make the dressing: combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, chilli oil, sugar, sesame seeds and spring onion in a small bowl. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Carefully drain the liquid from the package of tofu, and gently tip the block onto a kitchen towel (try to keep the block in one piece, if possible, but don’t worry if it falls apart; it will still taste great) . Pat with another clean kitchen towel, removing as much liquid as possible. Transfer the blocks to one large plate or two smaller plates, and spoon the soy dressing over the top until the tofu is completely covered. Top with spring onions and coriander leaves, and eat on its own or with rice or noodles on the side.
spring barley soup
By: Ali Slagle
This soup is as cozy as mushroom-barley soup and as vibrant as spring. Chewy barley, crisp asparagus and peas lay in a broth bolstered by umami-rich soy sauce and miso. Hits of fresh ginger and vinegar enliven the mix. Feel free to swap in other vegetables that catch your eye: add leeks and hearty greens with the barley, and quicker-cooking vegetables like sliced turnips or snap peas with the asparagus. Thinly slicing the asparagus makes it easier to eat with a spoon, but cut them larger if you prefer it. For more protein, add cubed soft or firm tofu to bowls, or stir a beaten egg into the pot as you would for hot and sour soup.
Total time: 45 minutes
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil, coconut oil or olive oil
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
150g pearl barley
1 tbsp soy sauce, plus more to taste
1 bunch asparagus (about 450g), tough ends trimmed, stalks thinly sliced ½cm thick, tips left whole
140g fresh or frozen shelled peas, edamame or fava beans
3 tbsp yellow or white miso
1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
1 (2.5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated (about 1 tbsp)
1. In a large pot or casserole dish, add the oil and garlic, and heat over medium. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and softened but not browned, 2 to 4 minutes. Add 6 cups of water, the barley and 2 teaspoons soy sauce. Bring to a boil over high, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until the barley is tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
2. Add the asparagus and peas, and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove pot from heat.
3. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, stir a spoonful of the soup into the miso until dissolved. Pour into the pot, along with the rice vinegar, ginger and remaining 1 teaspoon soy sauce; stir to combine. Taste for salt level and adjust with more soy sauce (leftovers will keep for up to 2 days; rewarm over low heat, thin with water, and add vinegar and soy sauce to taste).
By: Kay Chun
Pasta amatriciana is a traditional Italian dish that features a sauce of guanciale (salt-cured pork jowl), tomato, pecorino romano and chillies. Some variations include onion and white wine. The final product tastes much more complex than the ingredient list would suggest: this simple pantry meal delivers deep flavours, as the bright, tangy tomato base balances the rich pork, and a mix of dried peppers adds layers of subtle heat. Guanciale can be found in Italian specialty shops or online, but pancetta is a good alternative. Bucatini is a thicker pasta with a hollow center that captures the thick sauce, but spaghetti delivers equally tasty results.
Total time: 25 minutes
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
115g guanciale or pancetta, chopped into cubes
1 (800g) tin whole tomatoes, crushed with your hands in a bowl
½ tsp black pepper, plus more to taste
½ tsp red pepper flakes
450g dried bucatini
70g grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for garnish
1. In a large (30cm) frying pan, heat olive oil over medium. Add guanciale and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. To the frying pan, add tomatoes, black pepper and red-pepper flakes, and season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally and smashing tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon, until tomatoes have broken down and sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook pasta according to package directions until just shy of al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain.
3. Add pasta, tomato sauce and ½ cup of pasta cooking water back to the large pasta pot and stir vigorously over medium-high heat until pasta is evenly coated in the sauce, about 1 minute (add more pasta water if sauce is dry. ) Remove from heat, stir in the cheese and season to taste with salt.
4. Divide pasta among bowls and garnish with more cheese and black pepper.
Chicken schnitzel with pan-roasted grapes
By: Lidey Heuck
No matter how you spin it, making schnitzel is a bit of a process. But by starting with thinly sliced chicken breasts, or chicken cutlets, this recipe removes the most time-consuming step – pounding the chicken – and makes schnitzel more doable on a weeknight. The contrast in temperatures and textures from the pan-roasted grapes and tangy sour cream make for perfectly balanced bites. Serve with a simple green salad with a lemony vinaigrette.
Total time: 20 minutes
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups seedless red grapes, washed and dried (about 340g)
1½ tbsp plus 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
salt and black pepper
180g sour cream
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
6g all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
180g panko breadcrumbs
4 chicken breasts (about 450g total), pounded or sliced to about 1.5cm thickness
¼ cup (60ml) plus 2 tbsp grapeseed, canola or safflower oil
1. Heat oil in a large (30cm) sautéed pan over medium. Add the grapes, 1½ tablespoons rosemary, the vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt and a pinch of black pepper. Cook for 5 to 7 minutes, tossing often and smashing down some of the grapes with the back of a wooden spoon as they begin to soften. Transfer the grapes and their juices to a small dish. Wipe out the pan with a damp paper towel and set aside. In another small bowl, combine the sour cream, 2 teaspoons lemon juice (reserve the zest for serving), and ½ teaspoon salt.
2. Place the flour in a shallow bowl or rimmed plate. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and mustard until smooth. In a third bowl, mix the panko with the remaining 1 teaspoon minced rosemary, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
3. Pat dry the chicken with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Working one at a time, dip the chicken breasts into the flour, shaking off any excess, then into the egg mixture, and finally, the panko mixture. Place the prepared breasts on a plate until ready to cook (at this point, the chicken breasts may be covered and stored in the refrigerator for several hours before cooking).
4. Heat the grapeseed oil in the sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (it should sizzle if you drop a breadcrumb into the pan), place two breasts, evenly spaced, in the pan and cook for 1½ to 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown and just cooked through. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil to the pan and repeat the process with the other two breasts.
5. Transfer the chicken to a serving platter, spoon the grapes on top and sprinkle the lemon zest over the chicken. Serve with the lemon-sour cream on the side.
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