I was inspired by something I saw on Twitter this week (I know, strange): podcast host and author Linda Holmes wrote that, after a pandemic stretch of ordering in and PB&Js, she wanted to reset her relationship with her kitchen. She issued herself a cooking challenge, choosing eight recipes and making them over the course of one week. This made me realise that I, too, need a reboot.
Baking tray prawn boil
There is absolutely nothing like a prawn boil, but this flavourful recipe captures its essence by roasting the ingredients on a baking tray instead of simmering them in a pot of broth. Serve it on its own or tossed with pasta. The slight char brings out seafood’s sweetness, so for contrast, serve with tart lemons or a tangy cocktail sauce
By: Millie Peartree
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 50 minutes
For the roasted potatoes:
450g baby red or yellow potatoes, halved (or quartered, if large)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and black pepper
For the broiled corn:
4 ears fresh corn, husked, cut into 4 segments
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
For the broiled prawns:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp seafood seasoning, such as Old Bay or Cajun
1 tsp ground paprika
½ tsp ground cayenne, or to taste
½ tsp black pepper
900g peeled and deveined tail-on jumbo prawns, fresh or frozen and thawed, patted dry
1 lemon, cut into 8 wedges
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1. Heat oven to 220C. Place a rack in the centre of the oven.
2. Prepare the potatoes: in a large bowl, toss potatoes with oil and garlic until coated. Season with salt and pepper, then pour onto a large baking tray and set aside.
3. Prepare the corn: spread each piece of corn with some of the butter and set aside.
4. Prepare the prawns: in the same big bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, seafood or Cajun seasoning, paprika, cayenne and pepper. Add the prawns and stir to coat evenly. Set aside.
5. Bake the potatoes until golden brown and fork tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven, set the rack in the middle of the oven and switch oven to broil. Scatter the corn over the potatoes and broil 3 to 4 minutes, or until kernels begin to brown slightly.
6. Remove the pan from the oven, and flip the corn. Scatter prawns all over the pan and broil for 2 minutes, or until the prawns have curled and turned pink.
7. Turn the prawns, scatter the lemon wedges on top and broil 2 more minutes. Squeeze the lemon juice over everything and sprinkle with parsley, if using. Serve immediately, on its own or tossed with pasta.
Grilled za’atar chicken with garlic yoghurt and coriander
This garlicky, herby chicken is full-flavoured and very tender, thanks to its piquant yoghurt marinade. It’s flexible, too – marinate the meat for as little as a couple of hours, or as long as overnight. And the chicken is just as good cooked under the broiler as it is on the grill. You can serve this dish with almost anything, but it’s especially nice with pita or other flatbread and a big cucumber and tomato salad. And if you’re looking to substitute chicken breasts for the thighs, you can. Just watch them carefully; they’re likely to cook faster than the dark meat.
By: Melissa Clark
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Total time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time
6 garlic cloves, finely grated, pressed, or minced
2 lemons, zested
1 cup plain whole-milk yoghurt
¼ cup chopped fresh coriander, plus more sprigs for garnish
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
1½ tbsp za’atar, plus more for serving
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano or marjoram, plus more sprigs for garnish
1¾ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1kg boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1. In a large bowl or container, stir together 5 of the grated garlic cloves, half the lemon zest, ⅓ cup yoghurt, the coriander, oil, za’atar, oregano or marjoram, salt and black pepper. Add chicken and toss until well coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. When ready to cook, light the grill to medium or heat your broiler with the rack 7.5cm from the heat source. Remove chicken from bowl, shaking off any excess marinade, and grill or broil on one side until charred in spots, 5 to 8 minutes. Flip the chicken and grill or broil for another 5 to 8 minutes, until just cooked through.
3. While the chicken is cooking, place remaining ⅔ cup yoghurt in a small bowl. Stir in the reserve grated garlic clove and lemon zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut one zested lemon in half and set aside for serving (save the other zested lemon for another use).
4. To serve, place chicken on a serving platter and drizzle with olive oil and a large squeeze of the zested lemon. Top with coriander and oregano or marjoram sprigs and serve with yoghurt sauce.
Tip: If you’re broiling instead of grilling, you can line your baking tray with foil for easier clean up. Don’t use parchment paper, it may burn.
Cumin tofu stir-fry
Many people may not think of cumin as a traditional seasoning for Chinese food, but the earthy spice is found regularly in the cuisine of Xi’an, a city in northwest China that is the eastern origin of the ancient trade route known as the Silk Road. Cumin, chilli and Sichuan peppercorns are used generously, resulting in bold, not-for-the-faint-of-heart dishes that combine Chinese and Middle Eastern flavours. This recipe, which is adapted from To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon, is a vegan riff on the signature lamb dish at Xi’an Famous Foods, a restaurant chain in New York, that is made with chunks of meat dry-fried in a heavy cumin spice mix. This version features tofu and cauliflower.
By: Hetty McKinnon | Adapted by: Margaux Laskey
Makes: 4 servings
Total time: 25 minutes, plus 20-30 minutes’ marinating time
For the marinated tofu:
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry, mirin or white wine)
½ tsp salt
1 (400g) package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into 2cm cubes
3 tbsp potato starch or cornstarch
For the spice mix:
2 tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp gochugaru (Korean red chilli flakes), red-pepper flakes or Sichuan chilli flakes
½ tsp granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
For the stir-fry:
Vegetable or other neutral oil
1 onion, finely sliced
1 (1.5-2.5cm) red chili, such as serrano (or jalapeno), sliced diagonally (seeds removed if you like less heat)
1 (2.5cm) piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
300g cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
Big handful of coriander leaves
1 tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
Rice, for serving
1. Prepare the marinated tofu: combine the tamari or soy sauce, shaoxing rice wine and salt in a bowl. Add the tofu cubes and toss to coat. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, make the spice mix: combine cumin, gochugaru, sugar and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Drain the tofu. Place the potato starch or cornstarch in an even layer on a plate, add the marinated tofu cubes and turn gently to coat.
4. Heat a large frying pan over high for 3 minutes. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil and add a tofu cube. If the oil sizzles, it’s hot enough. Add all the tofu cubes, being careful of spattering, arranging them in one layer and separating them from one another. Reduce the heat to medium and allow the tofu to cook, undisturbed, for 1 to 2 minutes, until the bottom is golden. Flip the tofu and cook until golden on all sides. Transfer the tofu to a plate lined with paper towels. Wipe out the pan.
5. Add a little more oil to the pan, toss in the onion, chilli, ginger and garlic, and stir-fry for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the cauliflower, season with salt and stir-fry for 4 to 6 minutes, until the cauliflower is just tender (add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water, if needed, to help move it along, while still keeping the dish dry). Add the tofu, along with the spice mix, and stir to combine. Take the pan off the heat.
6. Taste and season with a touch of salt, if needed. Top with the coriander and sesame seeds, then toss everything together, and serve with rice.
Skirt steak bulgogi
Neobiani, a dish of broad, thin slices of beef tenderised with shallow slits from a knife, was a feature of royal court cuisine during the Joseon dynasty in Korea (1392 to 1910) and a predecessor to today’s beloved bulgogi of very thinly sliced marinated grilled meat. This variation borrows from neobani, but doesn’t require knife skills: well-marbled skirt steak is pounded thin and marinated in a tenderising sweet purée of Asian pear, onion, soy sauce and maple syrup. Bulgogi, which means “fire meat”, is best with the flame-licked char from a grill, but a hot frying or griddle pan on the stovetop would work in a pinch.
By: Eric Kim
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Total time: 30 minutes, plus marinating
900g skirt steak, cut into 10cm-long pieces
1 medium Asian pear or Fuji apple (about 225g), peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup chopped yellow onion, plus 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1.5cm-thick rounds
10 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 (5cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
30ml soy sauce
80g maple syrup
2 tbsp sugar
Salt and black pepper
2 bunches spring onions
Neutral oil, such as vegetable or canola, for grilling
Steamed white rice, for serving
1. On a large cutting board, pound the steak until it is ⅓cm thick using a meat mallet or heavy frying pan. Transfer to a large bowl.
2. In a food processor or blender, blitz the pear, chopped onion, the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, maple syrup, sugar, ½ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Pour the wet mixture over the steak, cover tightly and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
3. When ready to cook, prepare a charcoal grill for direct high-heat cooking, or heat a gas grill to high. On a baking tray, coat the sliced onions and the spring onions with 1 tablespoon oil and season with salt and pepper.
4. Carefully grease the grill grate: use tongs to grip a wadded paper towel dipped in oil and then rub the grates with the oiled towel. Wipe off any marinade clinging to the steaks and place the steaks on the hot, greased grate, along with the onion rounds and spring onions. Grill the steak until charred and caramelised at the edges, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Grill the onions and spring onions until charred but still crisp, 1 to 2 minutes per side. If using a gas grill, close the lid between flips. Discard any remaining marinade (see tip for stovetop method).
5. Arrange the steaks on a large platter, and top with the grilled onions and spring onions. Serve family-style with steamed rice.
Tip: Alternatively, you can cook the steaks and onions on the stovetop in batches in a lightly oiled large frying pan or grill pan over medium-high heat. Sear the steaks until charred and caramelised at the edges, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Cook the onions and spring onions next, until charred but still crunchy, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Discard any remaining marinade.
Orecchiette with corn, jalapeño, feta and basil
Sweet, peak season corn is at the heart of this flavourful and simple-to-make summer pasta. The jalapeño offers a pleasant kick, and the feta cheese tossed in at the end melts slightly, giving the sauce a silky texture. It’s worth seeking out orecchiette here, as it nicely catches the corn kernels, creating perfect bites. If you can’t find it, fusilli or farfalle would work in its place. Serve with a bright, simple salad alongside and fresh fruit for dessert.
By: Colu Henry
Makes: 4 servings
Total time: 30 minutes
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 jalapeño, finely chopped
5 ears corn, shucked and kernels removed (about 600-700g kernels)
225g crumbled feta cheese
½ cup torn basil leaves, plus more for serving
Flaky salt, for serving (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until it is just short of al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta cooking water.
2. While pasta cooks, make the sauce: in a 30cm frying pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add jalapeño, and cook until softened, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add corn, and cook until it begins to brown in spots, about 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt. Add ¼ cup of pasta water and bring to simmer and cook until reduced by half, about 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add pasta to the frying pan, tossing to coat with sauce. Add feta cheese and an additional ¼ cup of pasta water, tossing until pasta is slick and glossy with sauce. If needed, add in another ¼ cup pasta water. Stir in basil. Transfer to a large bowl and scatter with remaining basil. Season with flaky salt, if desired.
© The New York Times