Two thousand nineteen was the year of Japanese soufflé pancakes. It was the year of empanadas, of biscuits, of salty caramel ice cream.

For that matter, it was also the year of Peking-Style Roast Turkey with Molasses Soy Glaze and Orange-Ginger Gravy, for those who wanted to make Thanksgiving a little exotic.

Every year, the Let's Eat section publishes hundreds of recipes, and each one is wonderful (more or less). But some stand out above the others, and those are the recipes we present here — from easy to difficult, from appetizers to dessert.

2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, orange peel, vanilla and salt. Whisk together by hand. Stir in the chopped pecans. Pour into the unbaked pie crust. Neatly arrange the perfect pecan halves on top of the filling. Bake until the filling is set and the pastry is nicely browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 652 calories; 38g fat; 12g saturated fat; 135mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 75g carbohydrate; 55g sugar; 3g fiber; 357mg sodium; 72mg calcium

Note: Set aside a bowl of ice water. When it comes time to use it, measure out ½ cup of the ice water, without the ice, and use that.

1. Place flour in freezer for at least 30 minutes. Cut butter into a dice, spread out on a plate, and refrigerate at least 30 minutes until cold.

2. Place cold flour, butter and salt in a large bowl. Work together with your fingers until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas. If the ingredients no longer feel cool during this process, refrigerate until they are chilled again. If your hands aren’t strong enough to work the butter, use a food processor until the largest pieces of butter are the size of peas.

3. Add ice water and mix with your hands just until you can press it together into a ball. Do not overwork the dough, which will make it tough. You do not want any dry or crumbly parts, but you do want to see streaks of butter.

4. Divide into 2 equal parts, flatten each into a thick disc, and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before using, or overnight. The dough can also be frozen at this point and thawed in the refrigerator before using.

Per serving (based on 16): 180 calories; 12g fat; 7g saturated fat; 30mg cholesterol; 2g protein; 16g carbohydrate; no sugar; 1g fiber; 147mg sodium; 7mg calcium

Japanese Souffle Pancake photographed on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

2. Heat milk and butter together in a saucepan over medium heat just until the butter melts. Place egg yolk in a medium bowl and whisk in just a few drops of the milk mixture at a time. Keep whisking and adding the milk mixture, gradually increasing the amount of milk mixture. Stir in the vanilla.

3. Beat the egg whites and cream of tartar together in another bowl until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

4. Stir the milk mixture into the flour mixture until just combined (it’s OK if there are a few lumps). Stir 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the flour-milk mixture, then gently fold in the remaining egg whites until just combined, taking care not to overmix.

6. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Coat with butter or nonstick cooking spray. Place the prepared ring molds in the middle of the skillet and fill each with ½ cup of batter, filling each ring mold about halfway.

7. Cover the skillet with the lid and cook until the batter is golden on the bottom — it should rise to the tops of the ring molds, be covered with bubbles and jiggle only slightly when shaken. Using a spatula and tongs, carefully flip the ring molds. Cover and cook until golden on the other side.

Per serving: 211 calories; 8g fat; 4g saturated fat; 109mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 26g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 1g fiber; 213mg sodium; 177mg calcium

The pimento dip at Juniper comes to the table hot and bubbling. Two cheeses, mayonnaise, smoked paprika, a touch of hot sauce and pickle juice make for a unique savory take on a southern classic dish. Photo credit: Pat Eby

• While Juniper uses a flavorful garlicky juice from the pickles they make in house, any pickle juice will do.

• The optional ¼ cup of cream cheese adds an extra creaminess and keeps the dip from separating, but it is not used in the Juniper recipe.

• The dip is baked and served in cast iron at Juniper, which helps it retain heat. You may use individual 6- or 8-ounce ramekins for this appetizer. Adjust the timing of the bake accordingly.

• The bread Juniper uses with this dip is similar to a pita or to the Indian bread naan. Choose your favorite breads or crackers here.

2. Rinse, then roast the red pepper, using your favorite method — oven roasted, broiled, flame roasted or charred on the grill — until the skin is evenly blistered. Place roasted pepper in a paper bag and let rest 10 minutes.

3. Remove, then cut the pepper vertically down one side and open it flat. The stem and seeds should pull away easily. Wipe away any loose seeds with a paper towel. Turn the pepper skin side up and work the blistered skin away from the flesh. Cut the roasted pepper in a ¼-inch dice and set aside.

4. Grate the cold cheddar cheeses using the large holes on a box grater or a food processor fitted with a grating disc. Toss the cheeses together in a mixing bowl. Add the diced red peppers and fold into the cheese.

5. In a separate mixing bowl, blend the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. If using the optional cream cheese, add it in this step.

8. Transfer the mixed dip into a 1-½ quart baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove and top with cornbread crumbs. Return to the oven and bake an additional 5 to 7 minutes.

Per serving: 198 calories; 18 fat; 8g saturated fat; 41mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 3g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 281mg sodium; 224mg calcium

Cheddar jalapeño chicken burgers with guacamole, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

2. Transfer the ground chicken to a medium bowl. Add the onion, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, cumin, paprika, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper. Using your hands, mix everything together. Make sure everything is evenly incorporated without overmixing the ground chicken.

3. Form the mixture into 4 (½-inch thick) patties. Cook burgers over medium heat until cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Serve each patty in a burger bun topped with sour cream and guacamole and any additional toppings needed.

Per serving: 597 calories; 32g fat; 10g saturated fat; 164mg cholesterol; 34g protein; 38g carbohydrate; 5g sugar; 7g fiber; 1,239mg sodium; 221mg calcium

Street food - fried sweet potato with brown sugar, on a stick. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

2. Carefully add the slices; the oil should immediately start to bubble. Turn slices occasionally until beginning to turn light brown. Sprinkle brown sugar over top and cook sweet potatoes, turning occasionally with tongs or a spoon.

3. Camote cue is done when the sweet potatoes are a golden brown all over and can easily be pierced with a fork or sharp knife. Remove from oil and allow to cool for a minute. Place 2 or 3 pieces on a skewer, and serve warm.

Per serving: 423 calories; 36g fat; 3g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 1g protein; 25g carbohydrate; 14g sugar; 2g fiber; 39mg sodium; 30mg calcium

24 ounces shredded cheese that easily melts, such as mozzarella or muenster, or a combination of cheeses

1. Cut empanada dough in half. Cover half with plastic wrap and return to refrigerator. Roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/8 inch. Use a bowl or similar implement to cut out 6 uniform circles of dough, ideally about 7 inches in diameter.

2. Place a few tablespoons of cheese on half of one circle, leaving a border of ½ inch. Brush water around the border. Fold half of circle over the filling and press to seal tightly. Crimp border or press with fork tines. Repeat process with remaining dough, including dough in refrigerator.

3. Pour oil into large pot over to a depth of a few inches. Heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. Carefully fry empanadas in small batches until golden brown, a few minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

Per serving: 674 calories; 37g fat; 14g saturated fat; 53mg cholesterol; 21g protein; 63g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 584mg sodium; 466mg calcium

In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Stir to combine. Cut in lard with pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles crumbs (alternatively, melt lard and stir it in). Add water, a little at a time, and stir together or use your impeccably clean hands to mix until dough just comes together; you may need to use less or more water. Knead briefly until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes. Both the dough and the uncooked empanadas can be frozen.

Per serving: 426 calories; 17g fat; 7g saturated fat; 16mg cholesterol; 8g protein; 58g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 2g fiber; 198mg sodium; 67mg calcium

Homemade Salty caramel ice cream, Wednesday, July 31, 2019. Photo by Hillary Levin hlevin@post-dispatch.com

Note: The total of 1¼ teaspoons of salt makes for a fairly salty ice cream. It's supposed to be salty, but if you want it to be less assertive you can add less than ¾ teaspoon in step 5.

1. Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry. Whisk the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout. Fill a large bowl with ice and water.

2. Heat the ⅔ cup of sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat. Stand over the pan with a heatproof spatula ready, but do not touch the sugar until there is a thin ring of melted and browning liquid sugar around the edge of the sugar. When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring them into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar. Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color, like an old penny.

3. When little bubbles begin to explode, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat. Immediately, but slowly, pour about ¼ cup of the cream and corn syrup mixture into the burning hot sugar. Be careful — it will pop and spit. Stir until it is incorporated, then add a bit more cream and stir, then continue until it is all in. Do not worry if the melted sugar seizes and solidifies.

4. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the rest of the milk and vanilla. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat, give the cornstarch slurry a quick stir, and gradually whisk in the slurry.

5. Bring back to a boil over medium-high heat and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. If any caramel flecks remain, pour the mixture through a sieve. Add the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt and the remaining 2 teaspoons sugar.

6. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. Pour the mixture into a 1-gallon resealable plastic bag and submerge the sealed bag in the ice bath. Let stand, adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.

7. Pour into ice cream-maker canister and freeze according to product instructions. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours.

Per serving: 275 calories; 18g fat; 11g saturated fat; 65mg cholesterol; 3g protein; 27g carbohydrate; 24g sugar; no fiber; 205mg sodium; 100mg calcium.

1. In a medium-sized bowl, beat together the butter, salt, 7 tablespoons of the sugar and vanilla extract until smooth. Add the flour and almond flour, stirring to make a cohesive dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour, or overnight.

3. Break off walnut-sized pieces of the dough, and roll them into short (about 2-inch) logs. Shape the logs into crescents, then gently press them to flatten them slightly. Place the cookies on the prepared sheets.

4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until they’re a light, golden brown. Remove them from the oven and let cool on the pan for 10 minutes.

5. While the cookies are cooling, process the remaining ¼ cup sugar and vanilla bean in a food processor or blender until the bean is thoroughly ground and the sugar is almost powdery. While the cookies are still warm, gently roll them in the vanilla sugar. Transfer them to a rack to cool completely.

Per cookie: 106 calories; 5g fat; 3g saturated fat; 11mg cholesterol; 2g protein; 9g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; no fiber; 30mg sodium; 2mg calcium

Bialys, on Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019, can be served with lox and cream cheese. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

1 large sweet yellow or white onion, peeled, finely minced and placed on a stack of paper towels to drain

Notes: This recipe must be started at least the night before you want to bake the bialys. These freeze particularly well.

1. Place the warm water and sugar in a large bowl and stir in yeast. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes, or until mixture foams.

2. Stir in all of the bread flour and ½ cup all-purpose flour. Mix until smooth and the consistency of pancake batter. Add another ½ cup all-purpose flour and mix. Continue adding more flour, a handful at a time, until dough becomes a mass that leaves the sides of the bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured counter, sprinkle dough with salt and a light dusting of flour. Add more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Knead until dough is soft and smooth and still a little bit sticky. Transfer dough to a large oiled bowl or divide between two oiled or nonstick-sprayed gallon-size plastic bags. Refrigerate dough overnight or for as long as 3 days.

4. Prepare onion topping at least 1 night before baking bialys. Transfer onions to a dry layer of paper towels, gather towels and squeeze out excess moisture over the sink. Transfer onions to a small bowl and mix with bread crumbs. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

5. Remove bowl of dough from refrigerator 30 minutes before you are ready to form bialys. Set aside. At the same time, remove onions from refrigerator and turn mixture out into center of 3 layers of paper towels. Once again, gather paper towels over the sink and twist to remove any accumulated moisture. Transfer mixture to a small dry bowl and set aside.

6. Lightly flour a large counter. Cut dough into 4 equal portions. Cover 3 portions with plastic wrap and sprinkle remaining portion lightly with flour. Roll into a 2-inch diameter rope. Cut rope into 4 equal pieces and gently roll each piece into a tight, round roll. Set rolls onto floured counter and repeat process with remaining dough. Lightly cover rolls with lightly oiled or sprayed plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.

7. Place a pizza stone on bottom rack of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees. (If not using a pizza stone, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.) If using a pizza stone, line a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet with parchment paper.

8. Uncovering 1 roll at a time, push and turn the floured end of a shot glass or a wooden tamper in the center of the roll. Pick up the roll and enlarge and thin out the center, making sure not to break through the dough. Carefully build up the sides of the roll without deflating them and place bialys onto prepared pizza peel or pans. Continue forming remaining bialys.

9. Drop a rounded teaspoon of onion mixture in center of each formed bialy. Lightly brush sides of bialys with water, a few at a time, and sprinkle with poppy seeds, if using. Lightly dust rolls with flour.

10. Slide parchment paper-lined bialys off pizza peel or baking sheets onto baking stone or simply place baking sheet on oven rack. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, or until deep, golden brown.

11. Immediately transfer bialys to cooling racks and let cool at least 10 minutes before serving. If freezing bialys, let them cool completely before transferring to zip-lock freezer bags.

Per serving: 200 calories; 2 fat; 1g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 6g protein; 38g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 2g fiber; 443mg sodium; 36mg calcium

Chicken pinchitos with mixed spices as photographed on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019. Photo by Cristina M. Fletes, cfletes@post-dispatch.com.

1. Mix together the chicken cubes, lemon juice and spice mix in a medium bowl. Stir to coat the chicken thoroughly. Set aside for 30 minutes. If grilling, soak bamboo skewers in water 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, cut the pepper into rough squares about the same width as the cubed chicken. Use a vegetable peeler to peel 12 long strips of the zucchini.

3. Thread the food on 6 skewers, alternating pieces of chicken, pepper, ribbons of zucchini and cherry tomatoes.

4. Grill over direct heat, turning regularly, until chicken is cooked through, about 15 to 20 minutes. Alternatively, cook on a skillet with ½ tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat until chicken is cooked through.

Per serving: 167 calories; 3g fat; 1g saturated fat; 55mg cholesterol; 20g protein; 17g carbohydrate; 10g sugar; 4g fiber; 632mg sodium; 38mg calcium

Beef Wellington for Christmas Dinner, Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

1. For the duxelles: Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic and the leaves of 2 of the sprigs of thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the shallot-and-mushroom mixture, and sauté until most of the liquid it releases has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool. May be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

2. For the beef: Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-bottomed skillet lightly coated with olive oil.

3. Meanwhile, set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap at least a foot and a half in length. Shingle the prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the entire filet of beef. Using a rubber spatula, cover prosciutto evenly with a thin layer of duxelles, and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with leaves from the remaining 6 sprigs of thyme.

4. When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with mustard. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the duxelles-covered prosciutto, using the plastic wrap to tie it up tightly. Tuck in the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely encompass the beef. Twist ends of plastic to seal it completely and hold it in a log shape. Refrigerate 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.

6. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to form a rectangle large enough to completely encompass the beef (this is vital — if necessary, overlap 2 sheets and press them together). Remove plastic from beef and set meat in middle of the pastry. Fold the longer sides over the meat, brushing the edges with beaten egg to seal. Brush ends with beaten egg to seal, and fold over to completely seal the beef. Trim ends if necessary. Top with coarse sea salt. Place seam-side down on a baking sheet.

7. Brush the top of the pastry with egg, then make a few slits in the top of the pastry, using the tip of a paring knife, to allow steam to escape while cooking. Bake 35 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 to 130 degrees on a meat thermometer for medium rare, 135 to 140 degrees for medium, 140 to 145 degrees for medium well or 150 to 155 for well done.

Per serving (based on 8): 762 calories; 41g fat; 11g saturated fat; 194mg cholesterol; 64g protein; 33g carbohydrate; 3g sugar; 2g fiber; 1,779mg sodium; 68mg calcium

Note: This is best prepared in a cool kitchen, on a cool work surface, using light and assertive gestures to prevent overheating the dough. Don’t attempt it when the oven is on.

1. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Using a pastry blender or two knives, cut the butter into the flour, stopping when the mixture looks crumbly but fairly even, with the average piece of butter about the size of a large pea.

2. Turn out onto a clean and cool work surface and form a well in the center. Pour in the water and work it into the flour and butter mixture with a bench scraper or a wooden spoon. Knead lightly, just enough so that the dough comes together in a ball, and shape into a rough square. There should be little pieces of butter visible in the dough. If you have time, refrigerate 30 minutes. 

3. Flour your work surface lightly. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough in one direction into a rectangle about 20 inches long. Add more flour as needed to prevent sticking. Brush to remove excess flour and fold the dough in three, like a letter, so the top and bottom overlap, dusting again after the first fold.

4. Give the dough a quarter of a turn, and repeat the rolling and folding steps. Repeat until you’ve rolled and folded a total of four times. You should get a neat rectangle or square pad of dough. If you find the dough becomes sticky at any point, refrigerate for 30 minutes to cool again.

5. Put the dough on a plate, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight before using. If the dough seems too stiff when you take it out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes before using.

Per serving: 246 calories; 19g fat; 12g saturated fat; 51mg cholesterol; 2g protein; 16g carbohydrate; no sugar; 1g fiber; 100mg sodium; 9mg calcium

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Add butter and rub in with fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually mix in 2 cups buttermilk; toss until dough just comes together in large clumps.

2. Gather dough into a ball. Pat out on floured work surface to ½-inch thickness. Sprinkle with a little flour and gently fold into thirds, like a letter. Brush off any excess flour. Turn the dough one-quarter turn, pat out into ½-inch thickness and fold again into thirds. Repeat the turning, the patting out and the folding once or twice more.

3. Pat out into ½-inch thickness. Using floured 2½-inch cutter, cut out biscuits. Gather dough scraps; press out to ½-inch thickness and cut into more biscuits. Repeat until all the dough is used.

4. Transfer biscuits to 2 large ungreased baking sheets. Brush tops of biscuits with additional buttermilk. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 18 minutes. Cool biscuits 10 minutes on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 141 calories; 5g fat; 3g saturated fat; 14mg cholesterol; 3g protein; 20g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 1g fiber; 223mg sodium; 94mg calcium

Peking Style Roast Turkey with Molasses-Soy Glaze, as seen on Friday, Nov. 8, 2019. Photo by Troy Stolt, tstolt@post-dispatch.com

1. Steam the turkey: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season the inside of the turkey with salt and pepper and tie the legs together. In the bottom of a large pot (16 quart or larger) fitted with a small rack or crumpled foil, bring 8 cups water to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and lower the turkey into the pot. Cover and steam for 30 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in ½ cup of the orange juice (reserve ¼ cup for later), soy sauce, molasses, vinegar and 5-spice powder. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and cook until the glaze is slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes.

3. Roast the turkey: In a large roasting pan, toss the scallions, celery and reserved orange peels with the oil and season with salt and pepper. Fit a roasting rack over the vegetables and place the turkey on top. Brush all over with the glaze, lower oven to 350 degrees and roast the turkey, basting every 20 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 165 degrees, about 2 hours. If the turkey is browning too quickly, tent with a piece of foil. Let the turkey rest about 20 minutes before carving.

4. Make the gravy: While the turkey is cooking, in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the turkey neck, gizzard and liver and cook until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes, flipping occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Lower the heat to medium and add the shallot, garlic, ginger, cloves, star anise and allspice; cook until the vegetables are softened, 2 to 3 minutes.

5. Add the broth and bring to a boil, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the stock is flavorful and slightly reduced, about 1 hour. Strain the broth into a large, clean saucepan and set aside on the stovetop to keep warm.

6. In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk to combine. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the butter mixture is browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the gravy is thickened, 15 to 20 minutes.

7. Once the turkey has been removed from the roasting pan, strain the drippings into the pot with the gravy, discarding the solids. Place the roasting pan over 2 burners over medium-high heat. Pour in the wine and orange juice and bring to a boil. Scrape up brown bits on the bottom of the pan, and cook until reduced, about 1 minute. Pour pan juices into the gravy. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the turkey.

Per serving: 1,117 calories; 53g fat; 21g saturated fat; 493mg cholesterol; 140g protein; 13g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; 1g fiber; 1,882mg sodium; 116mg calcium

Coconut lentil soup from the restaurant Turn, 3224 Locust, is photographed on Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2019. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

Notes: Green lentils may be found at Whole Foods in the bulk department, at Trader Joe’s in Brentwood and at Fresh Thyme on South Lindbergh Boulevard. They can also be called French or LePuy lentils. They are light green.

• Be sure to check the soup as it thickens. Stir occasionally so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. If needed, add more water to keep the right consistency.

1. Rinse the lentils in a fine strainer under cold water to remove dust. Place the lentils and water in a 3-quart pot and bring the water to a boil over medium heat.

2. While the lentils come to a boil, add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large 4- or 5-quart stockpot. Saute onion, garlic, celery and ginger over low heat until the vegetables are soft and very clear. Stir as needed. Don’t allow the vegetables to brown.

3. When the vegetables are soft and clear, add the lentils and their cooking water, coconut milk and shredded coconut. Stir together.

4. Cover the pot. Reduce heat to low and simmer the soup for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.

5. Season with coriander and white pepper. Taste, then add salt to taste. Continue simmering for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Make arugula oil: Place arugula leaves in a food processor and pulse to fine. Add ½ cup olive oil and blend.

7. To serve, divide soup into bowls and drizzle with arugula oil. Top with a handful of microgreens and serve immediately.

Per serving: 439 calories; 28g fat; 21g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 15g protein; 38g carbohydrate; 3g sugar; 8g fiber; 436mg sodium; 66mg calcium

The Rosemary & Red Wine Braised Pot Roast at Big Sky Cafe is one of the signature items on the Cafe’s menu. This customer favorite begins with local beef, naturally raised, red wine, red wine vinegar, onions, celery, carrots, rosemary and Granny Smith apples braised long and slow.

Notes: For this recipe, use the technique called mise en place, which means having all the ingredients cut, measured and ready to use before the cooking starts. Have pans, bowls and tools gathered as well. This recipe comes together fast once the cooking starts.

1. Adjust the oven rack to the lower third of the oven. Place the top rack high enough for the Dutch oven to clear. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Cut the chuck roast into large chunks. Don’t trim the fat, but remove any silver skin, a thin silvery membrane of connective tissue, from the pieces. Place chunks on a large baking sheet and let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Pour a small amount of kosher salt into the palm of your hand and sprinkle over the meat, turning it to sprinkle all sides.

3. Place a 5-quart Dutch oven on the stovetop over low heat to warm, then gradually increase to medium high, then to high. When the pan is hot, add meat chunks in batches and sear on all sides. Remove them to the baking sheet as the pieces finish searing and add more until all are seared. Set aside and let the meat rest as you cook the vegetables.

4. Add apples, carrots, celery and onions to the Dutch oven and cook until the onions are translucent and the others are lightly caramelized, turning as needed.

5. Mix tomato paste and honey together, then add to the pot and stir to coat the vegetables and apple mixture. Cook for about 4 minutes, turning the mix from the bottom to the top of the pot.

6. Deglaze the pan by adding the red wine and vinegar, dislodging any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the beef stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the liquid slightly. Turn off the heat.

8. Place in the preheated oven and bake for 3 hours total, checking at 2 hours for doneness. The meat should be fork tender and hold its shape. The vegetables, except for the carrots, will mostly melt away.

Per serving (based on 8): 384 calories; 18g fat; 8g saturated fat; 103mg cholesterol; 32g protein; 20g carbohydrate; 12g sugar; 4g fiber; 1,138mg sodium; 86mg calcium

Pork chops with gastrique, Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

1. Heat the honey in a small saucepan over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, until it becomes a noticeably deeper shade of brown. Add the vinegar and continue to cook, swirling the pan a few times, until the sauce has thickened to the consistency of thin maple syrup. Set aside and keep warm.

2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add slices of onion and apple, and sauté until onion is translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add pork chops and cook 3 minutes on one side, flip, and cook to your desired doneness; the time will depend on the thickness of the chops.

Per serving: 352 calories; 10g fat; 5g saturated fat; 87mg cholesterol; 26g protein; 37g carbohydrate; 36 sugar; no fiber; 78mg sodium; 24mg calcium

Recipe by Daniel Neman. Gastrique slightly adapted from a recipe adapted by David Lebovitz from a recipe by Bobby Flay.

Green hot sauce dresses up sunny-side-up eggs, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

Note: This mixture of peppers yields a very hot but very flavorful sauce. If you want it milder, use more poblano or Anaheim peppers and fewer jalapeños or serranos, while still keeping 1 total pound of peppers. If you want it hotter, use more jalapeños and fewer serranos, while still keeping 1 total pound of peppers.

1. Preheat broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place chiles on prepared baking sheet and poke holes in each one with a fork. Broil 10 inches from broiler until tops start to blacken, about 5 to 10 minutes. Flip and broil until tops start to blacken, another 5 to 10 minutes. Place in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap at least 15 minutes.

2. Wearing gloves (seriously — wear the gloves), remove the skins, the stems and many seeds as possible. Place in a food processor or blender along with the vinegar, salt, lime juice and honey. Process until smooth, about 1 minute.

Per serving: 21 calories; 1g fat; no saturated fat; no cholesterol; no protein; 3g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 1g fiber; 119mg sodium; 99mg calcium

1. Set a large sieve over a deep bowl. Dampen 2 layers of cheesecloth with water and line the sieve with the cheesecloth.

2. Pour the milk and cream into a stainless-steel or enameled pot. Stir in the salt. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. Allow the mixture to stand for 1 minute until it curdles. It will separate into thick parts (the curds) and milky parts (the whey).

3. Pour the mixture into the prepared sieve and allow it to drain into the bowl for 20 to 25 minutes, occasionally discarding the liquid that collects in the bowl. The longer you let the mixture drain, the thicker it will be. Transfer the ricotta to a bowl, discarding the cheesecloth and any remaining whey. Use immediately or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 4 or 5 days.

Per serving: 342 calories; 29g fat; 17g saturated fat; 86mg cholesterol; 15g protein; 7g carbohydrate; 7g sugar; no fiber; 357mg sodium; 182mg calcium

Foul mudammas and homemade pita, Wednesday, May 8, 2019. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

1. Drain and rinse beans. Remove skins by gently pinching the beans; the skins will slide right off. Discard skins.

2. Put 1 tablespoon of the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. When it begins to shimmer, add onion. Sauté until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Stir in beans, cumin, tahini, the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and water. Cover and simmer until beans are heated through, about 7 minutes. If pan starts to get dry, add a little more water.

3. Add lemon juice and cook uncovered 1 minute. Taste and season liberally with salt and pepper. Remove crushed garlic clove, if possible. Serve topped with diced tomato and chopped parsley, with pita to scoop it all up.

Per serving (not including pita): 162 calories; 9g fat; 1g saturated fat; no cholesterol; 7g protein; 15g carbohydrate; 1g sugar; 4g fiber; 1,037mg sodium; 42mg calcium

2. Pierce the eggplants a few times with a knife and put on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until dark and completely soft, about 1 hour, flipping halfway through. Let rest until cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Add the lamb, onion, garlic and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is softened and the meat is browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano and cinnamon. Cover and simmer until the sauce is silky an the meat is tender, about 50 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (The meat can be cooked 1 day ahead, and the flavor will improve. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Reheat before proceeding).

4. Scoop the eggplant flesh into a blender or food processor, discarding the skin. Process until finely puréed.

5. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Stir in the flour and cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring with a spatula, until foamy. Add the puréed eggplant, then stir the milk in slowly. Cook until thickened, a few more minutes. Remove from heat and fold in the kasseri or provolone. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (You can prepare the eggplant sauce up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate, and reheat before serving).

6. Scoop the sauce onto plates, top with meat and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges to squeeze and bulgur on the side.

Per serving: 582 calories; 30g fat; 10g saturated fat; 129mg cholesterol; 46g protein; 37g carbohydrate; 16g sugar; 14g fiber; 938mg sodium; 285mg calcium

Note: If you have the time, place the 1 1/3 cups of flour for the pastry in the freezer for 30 minutes or so before using. If you have strong fingers, also place the 2 tablespoons of diced butter in the freezer at the same time.

1. For the pastry, mix the flour and salt together in a bowl. Rub in the 2 tablespoons of chilled butter, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Gradually add just enough ice water (about 4 to 6 tablespoons) to form a dough. Do not use too much water.

2. Roll out the dough to a rectangle on a lightly floured work surface. Grate half of the frozen butter over the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Fold down the top third and fold up the bottom third as if folding a letter.

3. Turn the folded dough 90 degrees and roll it out into a rectangle again. Repeat the process, grating the remaining frozen butter and fold as before. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

4. Roll and fold the pastry twice more, each time wrapping the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerating for 30 minutes.

5. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to a rectangle measuring 8 by 12 inches. Starting from the short side, roll the pastry into a tight log. Cut the log into 12 equal discs.

6. Place 1 disc into a cup of 12-cup muffin pan, swirl-side up. Using lightly wet fingers, carefully press the pastry up the sides with your fingers, working from the center outward, until the pastry reaches the top. Avoid tearing the dough on the bottom. Repeat with the remaining pastry discs. Chill for 20 minutes.

7. For the custard, pour the milk into a pan and whisk in the flour. Add the strips of lemon zest and the cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, whisking continuously. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until thick. Remove from the heat.

8. Dissolve sugar in ¾ cup of water in a small pan over medium heat. Increase the heat and boil until mixture reaches 223 to 235 degrees (if you don’t have a candy thermometer, it is the right temperature when a drop placed in a glass of water forms a thread). Gradually whisk the boiling syrup into the milk mixture.

9. Put the egg yolks in a large bowl and strain the milk mixture over the top, whisking to combine. Cover the surface with plastic wrap and allow to cool.

10. Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Pour the custard into the pastry cases, leaving a slight gap at the top (you will have enough custard for 2 batches). Bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until the pastry is golden and crisp and the custard is bubbling with tiny brown spots. Cool the tarts in the pan for 5 minutes, then gently transfer to a wire rack to cool almost completely.

11. These are best served the day they are cooked, preferably still a little warm from the oven. If desired, sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar and cinnamon.

Per serving: 282 calories; 10g fat; 5g saturated fat; 126mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 46g carbohydrate; 33g sugar; 1g fiber; 213mg sodium; 55mg calcium

Potato, leek, and bacon soup at YaYa's Euro Bistro in Chesterfield, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019. Photo by Hillary Levin, hlevin@post-dispatch.com

• The potatoes may be peeled or unpeeled. Peeled potatoes will yield lighter colored, smoother soup.

• There are several recipes for making chive oil online, or it may be bought at a specialty oil store.

• The toppings can be varied according to personal taste. Use different infused or flavored olives oils for the swirl, such as basil, rosemary or garlic, and different fresh herbs if desired.

• If using a conventional blender, fill the blender to half, vent the top, and cover with a clean dishtowel to prevent splatters.

1. To clean the trimmed leek, run cold water in the sink or in a basin large enough to hold it and swish it around. Remove the nubby roots at the bottom, leaving the end intact. Slice in half lengthwise from the root plate to the top. Swirl the leek in the water to dislodge any sand or grit. Fan the leaves, change the water and repeat until no grit remains.

2. Once cleaned, shake it out, place on the cutting board and smooth it back together. Trim the root end, then slice the leek across into 3/8-inch strips. Toss to disperse the water and place in a small bowl.

3. Heat a 4- or 5 quart heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the butter and reduce heat to medium low. Add leeks and minced garlic. Stir to coat with butter, then reduce heat to low and cook until translucent and soft, about 10 to 12 minutes.

4. Cut the russet potatoes in a small dice, add to the pot with the cooked leeks, then add salt and cold water. Cover and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Remove from heat.

6. Remove one cup of hot soup to a small bowl. Slowly add the cream to the hot soup, stirring constantly. Whisk this tempered cream into the soup pot with the rest of the pureed soup.

Per serving: 208 calories; 12g fat; 5g saturated fat; 21mg cholesterol; 4g protein; 23g carbohydrate; 2g sugar; 2g fiber; 938mg sodium; 40mg calcium

Joyce's famous pasta salad includes artichoke hearts, black olives, pimentos, Parmesan, red onion, salami, and garbanzo beans mixed into tri-color rotini pasta. The salad is finished with poppyseed dressing and refrigerated for one day before serving.

• The Volpi salami was cut from the roll in a half-inch piece at the butcher counter for this test, which yielded a scant cup of cubed pieces.

2. When the pasta has cooled, place the pimentos, red onion, black olives, artichoke hearts, salami, spinach and garbanzo beans into a large mixing bowl. Stir together, lifting the spoon, to incorporate all ingredients equally.

5. Serve the following day. If the dressing absorbed too much the night before, add in more dressing.

Per serving (based on 18): 153 calories; 6g fat; 1g saturated fat; 5mg cholesterol; 5g protein; 20g carbohydrate; 4g sugar; 2g fiber; 227mg sodium; 57mg calcium

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