Eggplant and hemp seed salad

The eggplant in this warm, substantial salad is used two ways; puréed into a baba ghannouj-like spread, and roasted then glazed with kvass, Russia's barely alcoholic beverage made from fermented brown bread.  Chefs Ivan and Sergey Berezutskiy, who brew their own, say kvass gives the dish an extra umami boost, but a comparable replacement can be made by adding a drop of apple cider vinegar to a dark, malty beer.



  • 6 medium-small eggplants (2 3⁄4 lb.)
  • 3 medium vine-ripe tomatoes (14 oz.)
  • 1⁄2 medium white onion
  • 4 1⁄2 cups (34 oz.) kvass or flat, malty dark beer
  • 3⁄4 tsp. soy sauce
  • 3 cloves garlic, slightly crushed
  • One 1-inch piece peeled ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 small hot chile, such as a Thai variety, seeded
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄3 cup hemp seeds
  • 16 small wedges or thin slices soft, lightly aged goat cheese such as Bûcheron or Chabichou (12 oz.)
  • 1⁄2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large handfuls fresh spinach (about 2 cups)
  • Pickled ramps or fresh sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)



1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Wrap 2 of the eggplant, 1 tomato, and the onion individually in foil and roast until soft, 45 minutes to an hour.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, add the kvass, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, and chile; cook over high heat until reduced to a third of the volume, about 25 minutes. Remove and let cool.

3. In a separate medium saucepan, add the cream; cook over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat.

4. Take the vegetables from the oven and discard the foil. Once cool enough to handle, skin the eggplant and tomato. Coarsely chop the roasted vegetables.

5. Transfer roasted vegetables to a blender and season with 3⁄4 teaspoon salt and 1⁄4 teaspoon pepper; blend until smooth. Remove and strain through a fine sieve, stirring and pressing with a spatula.

6. In a spice grinder or small food processor, add three-quarters of the hemp seeds; process until finely ground and flourlike. Transfer to the pot with the cream and stir in the remaining whole hemp seeds and 3⁄4 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove and let cool.

7. Let cheese come to room temperature. Meanwhile, cut remaining eggplant lengthwise in 1⁄2-inch-thick slices and transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Brush both sides with olive oil and season with salt; roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

8. Retrieve the eggplant and brush the top of each slice with a teaspoon of the prepared kvass sauce.

9. Cut each remaining tomato into 6 wedges, and transfer to a second parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast until the tomatoes are just warmed through, about 5 minutes.

10. On a serving platter or 8 individual plates, spread eggplant purée in a thin layer. Scatter eggplant slices, tomatoes, and cheese on top. Dip spinach leaves into the hemp sauce and arrange on top of the vegetables. Spoon on some more hemp sauce, garnish as desired, and serve.

Potato tortilla w/ham and cheese

In Basque country, this egg-based tortilla is sometimes sliced through the middle like a sandwich roll and layered with cured ham and sheep's milk cheese. If cutting horizontally through the thin, delicate tortilla seems too troublesome, the ham and cheese are just as delicious served on the side.


Serves:  8-10  |  Time:  ~ 50 minutes


  • 2⁄3 cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 1⁄2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 lb. large Yukon Gold potatoes (about 6 large potatoes), peeled and sliced 1⁄8 inch thick
  • 2 large red bell peppers, thinly sliced (3 1⁄2 cups)
  • 1⁄4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 large eggs
  • 8-10 thin slices firm sheep's milk cheese, such as Ossau-Iraty or Manchego (optional)
  • 8-10 thin slices jambon de Bayonne, serrano ham, or prosciutto (optional)



1. In a large ovenproof nonstick or cast-iron skillet, warm 1⁄3 cup oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the potatoes, bell peppers, another 1⁄3 cup oil, 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and the black pepper and cook until the oil begins to simmer. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender and lightly browned in places, about 20 minutes.

2. Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Meanwhile, rinse out the skillet; dry and place back on the stove.

3. Preheat the oven to 450°. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy; season with 3⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt. Add the beaten eggs to the vegetables and stir gently to combine.

4. In the skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the egg-vegetable mixture and cook, stirring a little at first to let more of the egg touch the surface of the pan, until the eggs begin to set on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Spread the vegetables into an even layer at the top, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the tortilla, shaking the skillet occasionally to prevent the eggs from sticking, until the eggs are halfway cooked, about 5 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the top of tortilla is just set, 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat to broil and cook until the top is beginning to lightly brown in places and the tortilla seems fully set when the pan is shaken, 2-4 minutes. Remove the skillet and quickly place a large ovenproof plate over the top. Carefully invert or slide the tortilla onto the plate and either enjoy immediately with the ham and cheese on the side, or let cool slightly in order to stuff the tortilla.

5. If stuffing, use a long serrated knife to slice the cooled tortilla horizontally in half. Gently and carefully pull back half of the top piece, then cover the bottom half of the tortilla with a layer of cheese, followed by a layer of ham. Sandwich the ham and cheese with the top half of the tortilla. Repeat on the remaining side. Cut into wedges and serve.

Braised Pork with Sesame and Pumpkin seed sauce

This obscure regional dish can be tracked down only in the agricultural valley town of Almolonga in Guatemala. Adapted from a village native, Francisca Siquaná de Cotoc (who insists that a food processor could never achieve the same texture as grinding seeds by hand), this recipe is meat-focused, but its creamy, nutty sauce would pair well with any cooked vegetable. The level of spice will vary depending on the type of dried chiles used.


  • 4 lb. trimmed boneless pork shoulder, cut into 3-inch chunks
  • 10 medium tomatoes (2 1⁄2 lb.)
  • 1 medium white onion, quartered
  • 1 tbsp. plus 1⁄4 tsp. kosher salt, or more to taste
  • 3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sesame seeds (4 oz.)
  • 3⁄4 cup pumpkin seeds (4 oz.)
  • 7 black peppercorns
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 dried guajillo chiles, or another dried red mild to medium-heat chile, stemmed and seeded
  • Cooked rice or corn tamales, for serving



1.  In a large pot, add the pork, tomatoes, and onion and just enough water to cover (about 10 cups); stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until the tomatoes are soft and the skins are peeling off, 20 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the tomatoes to a large bowl; discard the skins. Continue cooking the meat uncovered at a low simmer until tender, about 1 hour and 40 minutes more.

2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet or griddle, add the sesame and pumpkin seeds, peppercorns, garlic, and chiles; cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat until toasted, 10–12 minutes. Remove to a medium bowl.

3.  Using a metate (stone grinder), stone mortar and pestle, or food processor, grind the seed mixture into a thick, powdery paste with a few small chunks remaining. Add the cooked tomatoes, working in batches as needed, and 1⁄4 teaspoon salt; process well until the mixture has the texture of a thick, creamy sauce. (Sauce can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

4.  When ready to serve, add the sauce and meat to a large pot over medium heat. Cook until the meat is heated through, adding a few tablespoons of water as needed to thin the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Serve with rice or corn tamales, with the extra sauce ladled on top.

Scallops w/Zucchini Ravioli


This dish is made perfect with a well balanced tomato broth by draining slightly cooked tomatoes in cheesecloth.  This light base is the canvas for scallops and feta stuffed zucchini.  


Prep time:  10 mins  | Cook time:  70 mins | Total time:  80 minutes  | Serves: 6


4 1/2 lb tomatoes, stems removed and reserved, 3 sprigs of fresh thyme, sea salt

2 medium zucchini, peeled & sliced into 1/4 inch rounds, 2 cups basil leaves, 24 small leaves for garnish, 1/2 cup EVOO, 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano, 1/2 cup crumbled feta, 24 sea scallops, pea shoots, 1 tbsp butter, sea salt. 


1. Using a paring knife score a 1" X in the bottoms of each tomato and cook until skins are loose and soft.  Remove to a large bowl and cool slightly; peel away skins and drain the water from pot and place back on stove

2. Quarter the tomatoes, reserving the juices.  Use a melon baller, scoop out their seeds; reserve seeds and transfer the remaining tomato flesh to a blender

3. Blend tomatoes until chunky and return them to the empty pot and add thyme, tomato stems, a pinch of salt and cook over medium heat until simmering (7 mins)

4. Set a fine strainer over a heatproof bowl and line it with 2 layers of cheesecloth.  Add tomato mixture and let rest, stirring the pulp occasionally until the tomato water has drained (30 minutes)

5. Prepare zucchini - preheat oven to 350 and in a food processor add basil, 1/2 cup EVOO, Parmigiano, walnuts, 1/8 teaspoon salt, black pepper, process it until it becomes a thick paste.  Transfer to a medium bowl and add the feta and stir well 

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and brush with EVOO.   Add half the zucchini slices in a single layer, then top each with a 1/2 teaspoon of the feta mixture. Place additional zucchini slices atop each and press down lightly to seal the zucchini. Roast 5 minutes and flip each zucchini 2 minutes more and season with salt.

7. In a small pan over medium heat, add tomato water and a pinch of salt and warm

8. Make scallops - season scallops lightly with salt in a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter.  Add EVOO and once hot carefully add the scallops.  Cook until golden brown on each side and remove from heat

9. To serve, place 1/2 cup of tomato water in each soup bowl and add 3-4 zucchini ravioli and 3-4 scallops to each bowl.  Season the reserved tomato seeds with salt and distribute them to each bowl and add a few basil leaves and pea shoots and serve.

Italy Meets Japan in this Risotto


This risotto is a fusion of Japanese and Italian ingredients.  Italian Carnaroli rice is mixed with coconut milk powder and spiced with Togarashi.  If you haven't had Togarashi you're in for a treat.  It's a peppery Japanese condiment containing red chili peppers, black pepper, sesame seeds, mandarin orange peel and nori seaweed flakes.


Prep time:  15 mins Cook time:  45 mins Total time:  1 hour Serves: 2


• 1 package togarashi risotto • 8 cups vegetable or chicken broth • 1 Tbsp. evoo • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided • 4 cloves garlic, minced • 1 Tbsp. ginger, minced • 1 cup shallots, minced • ⅓ bottle prosecco (or dry white wine) • salt and pepper to taste • 1 bunch green onion, diced to garnish


1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepot - keep aside on low to add to risotto

2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and 3 tbsp. butter over medium heat

3. Add garlic, ginger and shallots and cook until translucent, about 1-2 minutes

4. Add the package of togarashi risotto & stir for a minute, allowing the ingredients to coat the rice

5. Pour in the prosecco and allow to cook down until you can no longer smell the alcohol

6. Now, start adding the broth 1 ladle at a time, stirring gently and allowing the rice to absorb the liquid

7. Repeat for 25-30 minutes, or until the rice has reached the desired creaminess

8. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper if desired

9. Stir in a little more broth, add 1 Tbsp. of unsalted butter, stir and remove from heat

10. If you prepared shrimp/chicken to add in, add to the risotto now

11. Serve immediately garnished with green onion.

 Notes:  Add shrimp or chicken; season, cook and set aside first.

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