Rosemary, Lemon and Pepper Focaccia

There is probably no hors d’oeuvres more universally loved than focaccia: really good chewy pizza dough baked with flavorings that excite the appetite.

Focaccia is easy to make, the possible flavorings infinite. My all-time favorite is this Rosemary, Lemon and Pepper Focaccia I learned from Kevin Taylor when he was chef of Zenith American Grill in Denver years ago.

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To Maximize Ramps, Make Ramp Butter

We’ll be heading to the wild ramp supper in West Virginia this weekend to celebrate one of the first wild foods of spring. On the way, we’re stopping to see a friend who may not be able to go to the supper. We’re packing a frozen block of ramp butter in our bag to leave with him in case. It’s one of the best ways we know to make the most of a small amount of ramps,

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Iron-Skillet Smoked Salmon

One of my most pleasurable challenges in the kitchen has been to cook like a farmer in a city apartment, curing hams, aging cheese, making butter, and best of all, smoking food. Hungering for the flavor of wood smoke but having no fireplace, years ago I devised a way of smoking in an iron skillet. The spectacular results belie its ease: it requires no special equipment and can be easily improvised.

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Super-Quick Sweet or Savory Citrus Jams (After Mario Batali)

At Mario Batali’s restaurant Babbo, I had a simple, astonishing dish: a whole roasted fish served with Lemon Oregano Jam. The jam was a marvel, at once sweet, bitter and herbal in perfect balance, an inspired match for the fish. I decoded Mario’s brilliant recipe, extracting an essential formula into which I plugged different citrus fruit and flavorings, to take it from savory to dazzling sweet and back.

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The Ultimate Roast Duck

Many years ago, I learned a brilliant, virtually effortless method for roasting duck from Mindy Heiferling, an inspired cook. Five hours of roasting in a low oven renders out the fat and makes the flesh tender enough to eat with a spoon, the skin crackling and crisp. Recently, I revisited the recipe and found myself…

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Crispy Saffron Noodle Cake

Like many cooks, I’d used saffron for years without knowing that it is the dried stigmas from a certain crocus or why it is the most costly spice in the world. After I went to Spain and witnessed the saffron harvest for myself, the backstory made dishes like this Crispy Saffron Noodle Cake all the more wonderful.

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Big Macaroni (Baked Penne with Wild Mushroom Ragu)

Wine writer Anthony Giglio’s Sicilian mother-in-law calls my rustic casserole of baked pasta layered with Wild Mushroom Ragu and ricotta salata “the Big Macaroni”. It IS…the delectable sum of 3 parts: pasta + ragu + cheese. You can make the ragu days ahead and use it for a million quick delicious dishes. And you can assemble the Big Macaroni the day before and bake when ready to feed your guests. They will die for its crispy chewy top and molten interior.

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