What’s for Dinner Tonight: Five-spice duck (or chicken or pork) with wild rice, kale

Have your sheet pans and casserole dishes collected dust yet? It’s been a long, hot summer, but I can feel my palate and my cooking instincts starting to make that transition to fall, especially with this rain we’ve been having.

This five-spice duck and rice dish comes from “Dinner’s in the Oven” by Rukmini Iyer. If you don’t like duck, you can substitute chicken breasts or pork chops. Contributed by David Loftus.

In the past few years, we’ve seen a number of sheet pan supper cookbooks, which help cooks get dinner on the table with recipes that call for cooking everything in a single dish or baking sheet. Rukmini Iyer’s “Dinner’s in the Oven: Simple One-Pan Meals” (Chronicle Books, $19.95) is a somewhat sophisticated spin on this concept with ingredients such as spelt and halloumi that you might not be able to find at everyday grocery stores just yet.

This five-spice duck dish is notable because the rice is baked in the same pan as the poultry and the kale. You could use any large-diced vegetable in this dish, and chicken or pork is a fine substitute if you can’t find duck. I usually roast vegetables at a much higher temperature than 350 degrees, but the lower temperature in this recipe ensures even cooking and, if you’re lucky, slightly crispy rice along the edge of the pan.

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Five-Spice Duck Breasts with Wild Rice, Kale and Ginger

This incredibly satisfying duck and wild rice dish, with its contrast of complementary textures and flavors, is easily scaled up if you’re cooking for more than two. If you don’t like duck, chicken breasts or pork loin work well, too.

— Rukmini Iyer

1 cup mixed basmati and wild rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 inches ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 star anise
1/2 bunch kale, destemmed, and roughly chopped
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 duck breasts (about 3/4 pound each)
2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 fresh red chile, thinly sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Mix the rice, water, ginger, garlic and 1 teaspoon of the sea salt in a roasting pan or large baking dish, and throw in the star anise. Mix the kale with the sesame oil, then scatter it over the rice.

Slash the skin on the duck breasts with a sharp knife, then rub them all over with the remaining 1 teaspoon sea salt and the five-spice powder. Place on top of the kale, cover the roasting pan tightly with foil, then transfer to the oven and roast for 40 minutes.

Remove the foil and cook uncovered for a further 10 minutes, to allow the kale to crisp up. Allow the duck breasts to rest for 5 minutes, then thinly slice and return the breasts to the roasting pan. Scatter over the red chile and scallions and serve. Serves 2.

— From “Dinner’s in the Oven: Simple One-Pan Meals” by Rukmini Iyer (Chronicle Books, $19.95)

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Recipe of the Week: ‘Waitress’-inspired chocolate mousse pie with a macadamia nut cookie crust

If you love pie, you’ve probably seen the 2007 movie “Waitress” about a baker, Jenna Hunterson, who starts her own pie shop to get out of a no-good relationship. The movie, starring Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion, was such a hit that it inspired a Broadway musical featuring songs from Sara Bareilles and now a cookbook featuring some of the fictional character’s best dishes.

All the pies in “Waitress” — in the movie, the Broadway musical and now cookbook– have whimsical names, such as this Life s A Rocky Road Macadamia Mousse Pies that are served in small jars. Contributed by Evan Sung

These mini pies are made from white chocolate macadamia nut cookies that are crumbled and pressed into the bottom of small jars. You could also make this in a traditional pie plate, but when you put pie in a jar, it can go anywhere, even in a school or work lunch box. You’ll end up with more cookies than you’ll need for the jar pies, which you can freeze, and you can also freeze the mini pies for a sweet treat later.

Life’s A Rocky Road Macadamia Mousse Pies

For the cookies:
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts
12 ounces white chocolate chips
For the crust:
10 White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies, crushed
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the white chocolate mousse filling:
3 cups heavy cream, cold, divided
12 ounces white chocolate chips
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
For the topping:
1/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
For the cookies: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl using a mixer, blend the sugars on medium speed. Add the salted butter and beat until fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until fully combined. Add the dry ingredients, macadamia nuts and white chocolate chips and mix just until combined.

Drop the batter by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely, leaving the oven on. (The cookies can also be made a day or two ahead of time and stored in an airtight container.) Set aside six to eight of the cookies for garnish.

For the crust: Crush ten of the cookies into crumbs. (You will have cookies left over for the cookie jar or to freeze.) Place the crushed cookies in a food processor and whir until finely ground, about 20 seconds. Add the melted unsalted butter and pulse until the mixture begins to clump together. Divide the crumb mixture equally among twelve 4-ounce mason jars with lids, pressing down into an even layer. Arrange the jars on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes. Let cool completely.

For the filling: While the crusts cool, bring 1 cup of the heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat. Place the white chocolate chips in a heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream and vanilla over the chips. Let stand for 2 minutes, then gently stir until smooth. Set aside to cool completely, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

In a large bowl using a handheld mixer, beat the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream on medium speed with the sugar with until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Gently stir 1 cup of the whipped cream into the cooled chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Fold in the macadamia nuts.

Spoon the mixture onto the cooled crusts, filling the jars almost to the top. Crumble the reserved six to eight white chocolate macadamia cookies and sprinkle them over the top of the filling. Divide the 1/4 cup macadamia nuts evenly among the jars as a topping. Cover and chill for 6 to 12 hours. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes 12 (4-ounce) pies.

— From “Sugar, Butter, Flour: The Waitress Pie Book” by Jenna Hunterson (Avery, $25)

What’s for Dinner Tonight: An easy basil-balsamic marinade for pork chops, chicken

If you like to get a head start on dinner by preparing batches of food on the weekend, you might already have a copy of “Fix, Freeze, Feast,” a book by Kati Neville and Lindsay Ahrens that came out about a decade ago to show cooks how to fill their freezer with ready-to-cook meals.

The recipe for these basil-balsamic pork chops includes instructions for freezing them in smaller quantities so you can make quick meals without the prep work. Contributed by Alexandra Grablewski

The authors are back with a second edition of “Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family; Stock Your Freezer with Ready-to-Cook Meals” (Storey, $18.95), which includes more than 150 recipes that are written to help you prepare parts of a meal before freezing so that it is easy to cook or assemble when it’s time to eat. This pork chop recipe exemplifies this basic but effective time-saving strategy.

The basil-balsamic marinade in this recipe can double as a salad dressing if you have extra — remember, don’t reuse the marinade that the pork has been sitting in. The authors suggest using leftover pork with leftover rice to make a quick stir-fry. Then you can wrap the pork and rice in a flour tortilla and add shredded cheddar cheese, black beans, chopped scallion and sour cream for yet another meal that started from the same original batch of loin chops.

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Basil-Balsamic Chops

The marinade in this recipe is also our best-loved salad dressing. Make an extra batch to serve over salad greens — you may never buy commercial dressing again. You may substitute 6 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves for the pork chops, and when it’s time to cook them, heat over a grill or in a broiler until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the chicken reads 165 degrees.

— Lindsay Ahrens

12 pork loin chops, boneless or bone-in (6 to 8 pounds)
1 cup olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
3 teaspoons dried basil
3 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/4 teaspoons black pepper
To pack it up: Three 1-gallon freezer bags, labeled

Divide chops evenly among freezer bags. In a medium bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, soy sauce and honey. Divide marinade evenly over chops. Into each bag, measure 1 teaspoon basil, 1 teaspoon garlic and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Seal and gently shake each bag to combine contents. Freeze. Food will stay at optimal quality for up to 3 months in freezer.

To cook: Completely thaw one freezer meal in refrigerator. Prepare on an outdoor grill or indoors under a broiler. If cooking outside, grill chops, turning occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of a chop reads 145 degrees. Discard remaining marinade.

If cooking in an oven, arrange chops on an ungreased broiler pan. Broil chops under high heat, 5 inches from heat source, turning frequently, for 15 to 18 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of a chop reads 145 degrees. Discard remaining marinade. Makes 3 freezer meals with 4 servings each.

— From “Fix, Freeze, Feast: The Delicious, Money-Saving Way to Feed Your Family; Stock Your Freezer with Ready-to-Cook Meals” by Kati Neville and Lindsay Ahrens

What’s for Dinner Tonight: Fresh corn adds a summer spin to this (Instant Pot-friendly) clam chowder

You might not be the kind of person who eats chowder in the summer, but I am the kind of person who eats chowder in the summer, especially when there’s fresh corn on the cob involved.

This summer corn clam chowder includes bacon, potatoes, onions and green onions. If you’re making this in an Instant Pot or other multicooker, you can make the roux in a microwave. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I’ve been getting to know my Instant Pot for the past two weeks, and this recipe came from the booklet that comes with the popular countertop appliance.

Because it’s officially summer and I love fresh corn, I adjusted it to add kernels of corn and to make the roux in the microwave (more on that in a minute), and the result was a savory summer comfort food that we enjoyed on the summer solstice last night. I paired it with some Red Lobster Cheddar biscuits, which I love to make from their boxed mix that you can find in grocery stores.

When you’re cutting the kernels off the cob, use the back of the knife to also scrape all the corn milk/juice that you’ll find at the base of each kernel. All that corn flavor — and by all means, use a third or fourth ear if you really like corn — adds a sweetness to the stew.

Cutting corn off the cob is only the first step in extracting corn flavor. You can use the back of your knife to scrape out the corn juice along the cob. Contributed by Chris Dunn.

And for making the roux in the microwave. It sounds unconventional, but I learned this tip in a recent issue of Cook’s Illustrated, and it worked really well, especially for a multicooker recipe, where part of the point is to not have to cook on the stove.

Now, can you make this soup without an Instant Pot? Of course, you’ll just cook the potatoes in the clam juice at a simmer until they are soft and then add the roux, corn, milk, cream and clams to simmer a little longer.

Summer Corn and Clam Chowder

6 to 8 ounces bacon, chopped (about 1/2 package)
1 onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 cup white wine
2 medium potatoes, cubed
2 cups clam juice (or liquid from the packaged clams, plus water)
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
Kernels and juice from 2 ears of corn
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 (6-ounce) cans chopped clams, drained, with juice reserved
Green onions, chopped, for garnish

Place the bacon in the Instant Pot and turn on the Saute function to medium heat. Cook the bacon until it starts to release its fat. Add the onion, salt and pepper and continue cooking until the onions have softened and the bacon has left brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the wine to the pot and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Turn off the heat and add the diced potatoes, clam juice, bay leaf, thyme and cayenne pepper.

Close the Instant Pot and select the manual option to cook for 5 minutes of pressure time.

While the Instant Pot cooks, mix together the butter and flour in a small microwavable bowl to make the roux. Heat the mixture for 1 minute and 30 seconds, stir and then cook again for 45 seconds. Do this one or two more times until the flour starts to brown.

Once the Instant Pot has finished cooking, use quick release to let the steam out of the pressure cooker. Then take off the lid and add the roux, corn kernels and juice, milk, cream and clams.

Press cancel and then saute to bring the chowder to a simmer. The soup will thicken as it simmers, about 5 minutes. Serve with green onions.

— Adapted from a recipe by Laura Pzzaglia, hippressurecooking.com

 

 

 

Take a cue from a 10-year-old and put this kalamata olive relish on your burger

Who knew 8-year-olds could be such good cooks? That was my takeaway when I first started watching “MasterChef Junior” with my own children, who aren’t nearly as capable in the kitchen as these reality TV stars.

Italian Burgers with Kalamata Olive Relish

But now that the show is in its sixth season, I’m not surprised when one of the contestants, who are no older than 13, whips out pumpkin ravioli or a West Indian lobster curry. Last year, Clarkson Potter published a collection of recipes from these young home cooks, many of which are adult-level challenging. This burger, however, is one you could make with your kids, especially now that the weather is nice enough for grilling.

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Italian Burgers with Kalamata Olive Relish

Feel free to play around with substituting different kinds of sausage or meat in place of the sausage and beef. For instance, if you like the flavor of lamb, you could turn these into Mediterranean burgers by using a mixture of ground lamb and beef, and topping with feta instead of provolone. These are from Season 1 contestant Gavin Pola, who was 10 when he competed in 2013.

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For the olive relish:
1 cup kalamata olives, pitted
1 cup mayonnaise
Lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the burgers:
1 lb. mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1/2 pound ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 red onion, thickly sliced
4 slices provolone cheese
4 brioche buns, sliced in half
2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
Baby arugula

Make the olive relish: In a blender or food processor, combine the olives and mayonnaise and blend until smooth. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Make the burgers: In a large bowl, combine the sausage, ground beef, garlic and Italian seasoning. Form four patties that are slightly wider than the buns.

Heat a grill to medium or a grill pan over medium heat. Sear the patties, flipping once, until cooked through to your preference, about 4 minutes per side for medium or an internal temperature of 130 degrees. While the burgers cook, sear the red onion as well, if you like grilled onions, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Just before the burgers are finished cooking, place the sliced cheese on top and let melt. Toast the buns.

To serve, spread olive relish on one side of a toasted bun. Add the meat, grilled onion, tomato, arugula and finally the top bun. Serves 4.

— From “MasterChef Junior Cookbook: Bold Recipes and Essential Techniques to Inspire Young Cooks” (Clarkson Potter, $19.99)

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The surprisingly recent history of butter chicken (and how to make it at home)

Of all the curries you’ll find in Indian restaurants, the king of them all might be butter chicken, a dish that dates back to the 1950s.

As the story goes, just after 1947 — when England’s division of territory into India and Pakistan led to violence and mass displacement in the region — several men fled with their families to Delhi, where they opened a restaurant called Moti Mahal. That restaurant went on to become internationally famous, frequented by celebrities, presidents and world leaders who developed a taste for some of its signature dishes, including what is known globally as butter chicken, or murgh makhani.

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As with many famous restaurant dishes, this one was reportedly concocted by chance when a cook used tandoori chicken in a buttery tomato gravy. Cookbook author Anjum Anand shared her recipe for this velvety curry in her new book, “I Love India: Recipes and Stories from City to Coast, Morning to Midnight, and Past to Present” (Quadrille, $29.99). The original recipe in her book includes seasoning the chicken from scratch, but she suggests using a tandoori paste to save time and effort. She also notes that the sauce has a lot of tomatoes, so depending on how sweet or tart they are, you’ll need to adjust the sugar and salt accordingly. Serve with naan or paratha, another Indian flatbread.

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Classic Butter Chicken

For the chicken:
6 skinned, bone-in chicken pieces
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup tandoori paste (store-bought or homemade)
For the sauce:
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated ginger
8 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more if needed, divided
1 bay leaf
2 black cardamom pods
6 green cardamom pods
3/4-inch cinnamon stick
4 cloves
1 1/2 pounds vine tomatoes, blended to a fine purée
3 to 4 small green chilies, stalks removed, pierced with a knife
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried fenugreek leaves, finely crushed with your fingers
1 rounded teaspoon garam masala
1/3 cup cream, to taste

Slash each piece of chicken 3 times down to the bone at the thickest parts of the flesh. Place in a bowl and marinate in about half the lemon juice and half the salt for 30 minutes if possible. Coat in the tandoori paste and leave to marinate for as long as possible – preferably overnight, covered in the fridge – but at least for 3 to 4 hours.

Remove the chicken from the fridge 30 minutes or so before cooking. Heat grill to a medium-high heat, or if using the oven, heat the broiler and line a baking sheet with foil.

Place the chicken on the grill and cook, turning often and moving around to prevent burning and hot spots, until cooked through, about 18 minutes, turning often. Or place the chicken on the prepared baking sheet under the broiler, and cook until lightly charred on both sides and cooked through, which will take between 10 and 20 minutes, depending on your broiler.

To make the butter sauce: Blend together the ginger and garlic using a little water to help the blades turn; set aside.

Heat the oil and half the butter in a large nonstick saucepan over a medium-high heat and add the bay leaf and whole spices. Once they have sizzled for 15 seconds, add the ginger and garlic paste and cook until all the moisture has evaporated and the garlic smells cooked and looks grainy. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook down until the resulting paste releases oil, around 20 minutes.

Now you need to brown this paste over a gentle heat, stirring often, until it darkens considerably, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 1 generous cup water, bring to the boil, then pass through a sieve, trying to extract as much liquid and flavor from the tomatoes and spices as you can. Discard the very few, very dry solids. Set the sauce aside.

Cut or peel large chunks off the chicken pieces and reserve with any juices and charring that is still on the cooking foil.

Heat the remaining butter, throw in the green chilies and cook for 1 minute. Add the sauce, salt and a good splash of water and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chicken, with any juices and charring from the foil. Add the sugar, chili powder, paprika, fenugreek and garam masala. Simmer, stirring often, for 3 to 4 minutes, adding a little water if it is too thick. It should be lightly creamy. Take off the heat and stir in the cream, then taste and adjust with salt, sugar, cream or butter to taste as you need. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “I Love India: Recipes and Stories from City to Coast, Morning to Midnight, and Past to Present” by Anjum Anand (Quadrille, $29.99)

 

This homemade harissa paste from America’s Test Kitchen seasons everything

Just when you think there are no new recipes or cooking techniques, America’s Test Kitchen comes in with a surprise, like blooming spices for this harissa-rubbed lamb in the microwave.

Many Americans only cook lamb around Easter, but you can use any number of cooking techniques and spices to prepare a special meal any time of year. This version from America’s Test Kitchen is rubbed with the Middle Eastern spice mix harissa. Contributed by Daniel J. Van Ackere

This dish is from one of the company’s new books, “How to Roast Everything: A Game-Changing Guide to Building Flavor in Meat, Vegetables, and More” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35),” which shows how you can build flavor by roasting everything from chicken, beef and pork roasts to broccoli, potatoes and peaches.

After rubbing this boneless leg of lamb — or a pork or beef roast or even chicken breasts — with the homemade harissa paste, you’ll brown the outside of the lamb before finishing in the oven to a juicy medium-rare. I recently made harissa potatoes using a dried harissa mix, but you could find many uses in your kitchen for this oil-based harissa paste.

In another genius step, the editors then toss cauliflower florets with the pan drippings and roast them until they are tender and browned. When mixed with carrots, raisins, cilantro and toasted almonds, the cauliflower makes a side that’s perfectly paired with this North African-inspired lamb. If you can’t find Aleppo pepper, substitute 3/4 teaspoon paprika and 3/4 teaspoon finely chopped red pepper flakes.

Harissa-Rubbed Roast Boneless Leg of Lamb with Cauliflower Salad

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground dried Aleppo pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
Salt and pepper
1 (3 1/2‑ to 4‑pound) boneless half leg of lamb, trimmed and pounded to 3/4‑inch thickness
1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into 1‑inch florets
1/2 red onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1 tablespoon lemon juice, plus extra for seasoning

Combine 6 tablespoons oil, garlic, paprika, coriander, Aleppo pepper, cumin, caraway seeds and 1 teaspoon salt in bowl and microwave until bubbling and very fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring halfway through microwaving. Let cool to room temperature.

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Set V-rack in large roasting pan and spray with vegetable oil spray. Lay roast on cutting board with rough interior side (which was against bone) facing up and rub with 2 tablespoons spice paste. Roll roast and tie with kitchen twine at 1 1/2-inch intervals, then rub exterior with 1 tablespoon oil.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Brown lamb on all sides, about 8 minutes. Brush lamb all over with remaining spice paste and place fat side down in prepared V-rack. Roast until thickest part registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), flipping lamb halfway through roasting. Transfer lamb to carving board, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest while making salad.

Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees. Pour all but 3 tablespoons fat from pan; discard any charred drippings. Add cauliflower, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to pan and toss to coat. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until cauliflower is softened, about 5 minutes.

Remove foil and spread onion evenly over cauliflower. Roast until vegetables are tender and cauliflower is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting. Transfer vegetable mixture to serving bowl, add carrots, ­raisins, cilantro, almonds, and lemon juice and toss to combine. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Slice leg of lamb into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve with salad. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “How to Roast Everything: A Game-Changing Guide to Building Flavor in Meat, Vegetables, and More” (America’s Test Kitchen, $35)

Beer, pasta, cheese and bacon: This satisfying dinner has ’em all

Cheese, pasta, bacon and beer.

Each of these words solicits joy in the hearts of food lovers, but what happens when you combine them? That’s the idea behind this dish from Lori Rice, author of a new food-and-beer cookbook called “Food on Tap: Cooking with Craft Beer” (Countryman Press, $24.95).

Beer pairs well with lots of pasta and bacon dishes, but this beer-pasta-bacon-cheese meal inspiration comes from Lori Rice’s new cookbook, “Food on Tap.” Contributed by Lori Rice.

Even without the beer, this dish would be a winner. It instructs you how to make a cheese sauce using the leftover pasta water, whose starch helps hold the sauce together without watering it down. If you do want to use beer, Rice suggests a pale ale like Sierra Nevada Brewing Company Pale Ale, Oskar Blues Brewery Dale’s Pale Ale or Deschutes Brewery Mirror Pond Pale Ale. A less hoppy British pale ale works in this recipe, too.

Cheesy Shrimp and Bacon Pale Ale Pasta with Green Peas

The light pale ale cheese sauce in this recipe delicately coats the pasta for a meal that’s hearty but not too heavy. Feel free to serve this meal with a pint of pale ale.

16 ounces pasta
4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
1 pound 40/50 count medium raw shrimp, cleaned and tails removed
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
4 ounces pale ale
2 ounces sharp Cheddar, shredded
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 cup fresh or thawed green peas

Fill a large pot with water for your pasta. Turn to high and heat to boiling while you begin the pasta sauce.

For the pasta sauce, cook the bacon over medium-high heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, until the fat renders and the bacon begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Continue to cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until it reaches your desired crispness. Add the shrimp and cook until opaque, about 2 more minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon and shrimp to a bowl, leaving the bacon grease behind.

Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to package directions while you finish the sauce.

Return the pot with bacon grease to medium-high heat and add the onion. Cook until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk it into a dry paste. Reduce the heat to low. Continue to whisk as you pour in the pale ale. It will thicken into a paste as it simmers, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cheese, salt and pepper until the cheese melts. Increase the heat to medium-low if the cheese slows its melting.

Drain the pasta, but reserve the pasta water. Add the hot pasta to the sauce with 1/2 cup of the pasta water. Toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. If the sauce seems thick, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup more pasta water.

Stir in the peas. Transfer an equal amount of pasta to each serving bowl. Top with shrimp and bacon and toss gently in the bowls before serving. Leftovers will keep for up to two days in the refrigerator. Serves 4 to 6.

— From “Food on Tap: Cooking with Craft Beer” by Lori Rice (Countryman Press, $24.95)

In a hurry this week? Here’s a pumpkin-spiced French toast to slow you down

The biggest food week of the year is here, but you might already be feeling overwhelmed.

Cooking breakfast for guests who are staying in your house can be a tricky affair. When you’re busy trying to make sure their stay is enjoyable, deciding which meals to make can be one of the more challenging pieces of the puzzle.

This pumpkin challah french toast bake would make a great Thanksgiving or Black Friday breakfast. Contributed by Andrew Purcell

This week would be a good time to pull out those egg casseroles you might make at Easter or Christmas. But if you’re looking for a sweet dish to serve a small group at breakfast, check out this French toast bake from “Adventures in Slow Cooking: 120 Slow-Cooker Recipes for People Who Love Food” by Sarah DiGregorio (William Morrow Cookbooks, $24.99).

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She uses challah, but you could use any kind of bread. I wouldn’t skip the pumpkin, though, because it adds moisture to what is essentially a bread pudding. Many slow cookers heat a little unevenly, so DiGregorio explains how to avoid accidentally burning one side of the dish by adding a foil collar around the base of the insert.

Pumpkin Challah French Toast Bake

This is basically a pumpkin pie breakfast bread pudding. It will not look pretty coming out of the slow cooker — don’t worry, a dusting of powdered sugar and a sprinkling of pecans do wonders.

— Sarah DiGregorio

1 challah loaf (10 to 12 ounces), cut into 1- to 2-inch chunks (about 9 cups)
6 large eggs
1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon finely grated nutmeg
Kosher salt
Powdered sugar, for topping
1 cup pecans, toasted and chopped, for topping
Pure maple syrup, for serving

If the bread is not already stale, heat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the bread pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until they are very dry and crisp, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a 5- to 7-quart slow cooker: Fold a large piece of foil into a 3-inch-by-12-inch strip and press it against the side of the insert that runs the hottest, using the foil like a collar or a shield. The hot spot is probably the wall of the insert farthest from the control panel. This will keep that side of the French toast from scorching or cooking too quickly. If your slow cooker runs very hot and tends to overbrown on all sides, line the other side with a foil collar as well.

Then line the entire insert with a piece of parchment, making sure the parchment comes up at least 2 inches on all sides. This is to prevent sticking and also to make it easier to reach in and remove the French toast. (You’re using 1 piece of parchment so that the egg mixture doesn’t run between 2 layers of parchment when you pour it in.)

Whisk together the eggs, pumpkin, granulated sugar, half-and-half, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Put the bread into the prepared cooker. Pour the egg mixture all over the bread, keeping all the liquid contained in the parchment liner and making sure all the bread gets moistened, pressing the bread down into the liquid if necessary. Cover and cook until the custard is just set: on high for 2 hours 30 minutes, on low for 4 hours, or on high for 1 hour 30 minutes followed by warm for 7 hours. Serves 6 to 8.

— From “Adventures in Slow Cooking: 120 Slow-Cooker Recipes for People Who Love Food” by Sarah DiGregorio (William Morrow Cookbooks, $24.99)

Cozy weeknight recipe: Spanish-style gigante beans with almonds, sweet roast peppers

No matter if you call them butter beans or lima beans, those large, creamy beans you’ll find in cans or dried at the grocery store are a hearty legume that should be part of your cooking catalog.

Lima beans, also known as butter beans, pair well with almonds, roasted red peppers, smoked paprika and tomatoes in this Spanish-style legume stew that’s perfect for a cold fall or winter day. Contributed by the Meredith Corporation

In Spain, you’ll find them simmered in a savory broth that’s just begging for the company of a fresh baguette. Even though I spent time in Spain, I’m not convinced you’d miss 1/4 teaspoon of saffron, so feel free to leave it out. The almonds, however, add a complementary texture to the beans. But don’t feel like you have to spend the extra money on marcona almonds; plain almonds are fine.

RELATED: Three warming soups that you can make in 30 minutes

Marcona almonds are a common bar snack in Spain, but you can also use them in soups and stews to add texture and nutritional heft. Contributed by @PincasPhoto on Flickr

Spanish-Style Gigante Beans

To speed up prep for this recipe, use canned beans instead of dried ones. Just rinse and drain four 16-ounce cans butter beans and stir in to the tomato mixture as directed . Use 2 cups fresh water instead of the 2 cups bean cooking liquid.

1 lb. dried gigante or large butter beans (lima beans)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 pints grape tomatoes
1 cup jarred roasted red sweet peppers, chopped
2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. saffron threads, crushed
2 bay leaves
2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup marcona almonds or salted roasted almonds, chopped
For the garnish (optional):
1 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced

Rinse beans. In an oven-safe 4-quart pot combine beans and 8 cups water. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand, covered, 1 hour. (Or place beans and water in pot. Cover and let soak in the refrigerator overnight.) Drain beans; rinse and return to pot. Add fresh water to cover beans by 1 inch. Cover and bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 45 minutes or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Drain beans in a colander, reserving 2 cups of the cooking liquid. Set beans and liquid aside.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until tender. Add the next five ingredients (through bay leaves). Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until tomatoes start to break down, stirring occasionally. Stir in beans, salt and the reserved liquid. Bring to boiling. Move to oven and bake, uncovered, 45 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Top with almonds and, if desired, a parsley garnish. To make it, combine parsley, olive oil and garlic in a small bowl. Mash with the back of a spoon. Serves 6.

— From “Better Homes & Gardens Wonder Pot: One-Pot Meals from Slow Cookers, Dutch Ovens, Skillets, and Casseroles” from the Meredith Corporation (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $19.99)