German expat on her love for fast cars and collection of Ferraris
If abiding by resolutions were as easy as setting them, perfection would be attainable and the self-improvement section of the bookstore would be cobweb city. Still, self-reflection can be a rewarding exercise at the beginning of a new year. What better place to start than in the kitchen, where you have to spend at least a little bit of time each day?
Consider a gentler approach to resolution-making: Try to become just a little bit better at something, rather than change your habits wholesale. Perhaps you’d like to incorporate Meatless Mondays into your weekly routine, or maybe you’re resolving to bake the birthday cakes for your loved ones this year. Maybe, just maybe, this is the year you finally learn how to cook.
No matter what your goals, we have recipes to bring you closer to them. Give these a try in 2024, and, by this time next year, we’re certain you’ll be impressed by how far your cooking has come.
FOR THE NEW VEGETARIAN
Red Lentil Soup by Melissa Clark
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 45 minutes
This is a lentil soup that defies expectations of what lentil soup can be. Based on a Turkish lentil soup, mercimek corbasi, it is light, spicy and a bold red colour (no murky brown here): a revelatory dish that takes less than an hour to make. The cooking is painless. Sauté onion and garlic in oil, then stir in tomato paste, cumin and chile powder and cook a few minutes more to intensify flavour. Add broth, water, red lentils (which cook faster than their green or black counterparts) and diced carrot, and simmer for 30 minutes. Purée half the mixture and return it to the pot for a soup that strikes the balance between chunky and pleasingly smooth. A hit of lemon juice adds an up note that offsets the deep cumin and chile flavours.
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of chili powder or ground cayenne, plus more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.
3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partly cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.
4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup, then add it back to pot. The soup should be somewhat chunky.
5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder, if desired.
FOR THE BEGINNER COOK
Gyeran Bap (Egg Rice) by Eric Kim
Yield: 1 serving
Total time: 10 minutes
Gyeran bap is a lifesaving Korean pantry meal of fried eggs stirred into steamed white rice. In this version, the eggs fry and puff up slightly in a shallow bath of browned butter. Soy sauce, which reduces in the pan, seasons the rice, as does a final smattering of salty gim, or roasted seaweed. A dribble of sesame oil lends comforting nuttiness, and runny yolks act as a makeshift sauce for the rice, slicking each grain with eggy gold. (You can cook the eggs to your preferred doneness, of course.) This dinner-for-one can be scaled up to serve more: Just double, triple or quadruple all of the ingredient amounts, using a larger skillet or repeating the steps in a small one.
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 cup steamed white rice, preferably short- or medium-grain
1 (5-gram) packet roasted, salted seaweed, such as gim (optional)
1. Melt the butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until the melted butter starts to darken in colour from yellow to light brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
2. Crack in the eggs and drizzle the soy sauce and sesame oil on top, cooking until the whites puff up slightly around the edges of the pan and the translucent parts around the yolks start to turn opaque, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Watch that the soy sauce doesn’t burn, removing the pan from the heat if necessary.
3. Scoop the rice into a medium bowl and top with the fried eggs, including all of the buttery soy sauce drippings from the pan. Crush the seaweed directly over the eggs, piling it high. This will seem like a lot of seaweed, but it will wilt as you mix everything together with a spoon, which you should do to disperse the ingredients before eating.
FOR THE ASPIRING BAKER
Flourless Chocolate Cake by Genevieve KO
Yield: 8 to 12 servings
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Crackly on top and fudgy yet tender in the centre, this cake tastes like a complex restaurant dessert, but comes together effortlessly in one bowl. Chocolate chips save you the messy step of chopping chocolate bars and deliver deep flavour along with cocoa powder. If you don’t have a springform pan, a regular cake pan lined with foil all around makes it easy to lift out the delicate cake, which melts in your mouth when served warm or at room temperature. Refrigerated or frozen leftovers take on a candylike chewiness, but a quick zap in the microwave will return it to just-baked softness. Slices are delicious on their own or with any creamy toppings.
3/4 cup/168 grams unsalted butter, cut up, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup/173 grams bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup/50 grams unsweetened natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup/150 grams sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Whipped cream or ice cream, for serving (optional)
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan, or press a large sheet of foil into the bottom and up the sides of an 8-inch round cake pan, smoothing the sides, and generously butter the foil.
2. Bring a few inches of water in a large saucepan to a simmer over medium heat. Set a large heatproof bowl over the saucepan and add the chocolate. When the chips look soft and melty, stir gently until smooth. Turn off the heat, and add the butter to the bowl. Stir gently until melted and smooth. Add the cocoa powder and stir until smooth, then take the bowl off the saucepan.
3. Stir in the sugar until incorporated, then add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.
4. Bake until crackly and dry on top, and a toothpick inserted 2 inches from the edge comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the centre should come out with some crumbs attached.
5. Cool in the pan on a rack, then remove the sides of the springform pan or lift the cake out of the cake pan using the foil overhang. You can slice and serve warm or at room temperature. Or, to cut very neat slices, freeze the cooled cake until firm. Slice and warm up in the microwave or oven, if preferred. Serve the cake with whipped cream or ice cream, if you’d like. The cake can be wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 3 days, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
These recipes originally appeared in The New York Times
German expat on her love for fast cars and collection of Ferraris
Your sleeping space should be a sanctuary, designed to let you cut yourself off from the world and enjoy a few quiet hours of peace and rejuvenation
A family enterprise with a long legacy, it believes in staying ahead of the curve
What does it take to become the UAE's most recognisable face in cricket broadcasting? Dubai-based presenter Priya Jethani on the perks and perils of a job that has little room for imperfection
Meet the pharma queen
For British expat Anya Johnson, “Team Lamborghini” trumps “Team Ferrari”
Six distinctive ways to make the day special for your loved one