Gratin Dauphinois | Potato Gratin

Potato gratin, a classic gratin dauphinois, or scalloped potatoes

I love this side dish for being so simple to make, yet extremely attractive. Similar to lasagna or moussaka, potato gratin should be cooked in advance, refrigerated to set, removed from the pan, sliced to portions while cold, and reheated before serving. If all steps are done in that order, a humble potato makes an eye-catching side dish, a beautiful element of any plated dinner.

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Bloody Butcher Red Cornbread

Bloody Butcher Cornbread with Roasted Peppers and Spanish Sweet Paprika

If you ever made a good Southern-style cornbread, you most likely came across Mark Bittman’s recipe, which was featured and adopted by many online sources. James Brown shared his adaptation during the workshop at his mill. Obviously, James’ cornbread was made with his heirloom corn, yellow and red, and was wonderful. I skipped yellow corn and added some diced roasted peppers and Spanish sweet smoked paprika.

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Oaxacan Green Corn Cakes with Green Chilies

Corn Cakes with Green Chilies

“The Corn Mother from whom we receive our nourishment is thus an entity like Mother Earth, and so closely are they united that they are virtually synonymous. Because we build its flesh into our own, corn is also our body. But corn is also spirit, for it was divinely created, so we are also offering spiritual thanks to the Creator.” — Book of the Hopi

I started with Nopi’s soufflé corn cakes recipe and … changed it to make them greener and gluten-free. I also walked away from the Mediterranian flavors. Oaxacan Green corn flour, miso-glazed shishito peppers, and Roth’s Moody Blue (American smoked blue cheese) made a wonderful contribution to a complex flavor and color of the cakes.

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Flowering Leeks | 韭菜 | jiǔ cài

Blanched and Seasoned Flowering Leeks

Years ago, I discovered foraged ramps in the U.S. though available only matured, expensive, and very difficult to find. Unfortunately, matured ramps cannot substitute cheremsha, which is ramp sprouts from Kavkaz mountains. But flowering leeks can! Cooked the same way, I consider succulent stems of flowering leeks the second best. The recipe below is exactly how we prepared ramp sprouts in our family — simple and delicious. It works for the flowering leeks to the letter.

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Of Love and Hate: Brussels Sprouts

Brussel Sprouts with Cranberries, Barberries, and Smoked Blue Cheese

We kids feared many things in those days – werewolves, dentists, North Koreans, Sunday School — but they all paled in comparison with Brussels sprouts. — Dave Barry
I feel sorry for all people who were served poorly cooked Brussels in the childhood and now miss the beauty of these tiny cabbages every season. How do YOU like your Brussels?

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Buckwheat | Basic Recipe

Buckwheat

Cooking roasted buckwheat is easy. You need 2 parts of liquid for 1 part of buckwheat seeds. Bring water to boiling, add buckwheat, season with salt and sugar, lower heat to minimum, cover with lid, and set a timer for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat, add butter and cover with lid for another 5 minutes. Fluff and serve.

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Smoked Basmati

Smoked Basmati with Eggplants

Smoking grains with Camerons stovetop smoker is a no-brainer. Cook them to 80-90% of doneness, season, add some fat, and finish by smoking with wood chips of your choice. But if the introduction to smoked grains made you curious, you might want to try this recipe with Middle Eastern flavors. You can start without the Mandi spice mix or replace it with another Arabian mix you like and have handy.

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My Hawaii: Smoked Potatoes

Smoked Potatoes

The Canoe House’s smoked potatoes were so good that we nearly leaked the serving bowl. I asked our waiter about the cooking method. He said they are cooked and mashed first and then placed into a continuously running smoker at the back of the restaurant. The level of smokiness was as delicate as a reminder of a campfire and charcoal roasted potatoes from my childhood. There was just enough butter and seasoning to emphasize natural flavors of potato. The texture was a combination of creamy fluffiness and chewable morsels. No wonder I wanted to recreate these smoked potatoes at home!

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