Chef and food writer Samin Nosrat didn't even consider a career in cooking until she ate at Berkeley's legendary Chez Panisse during college. She got a job as a food runner there and worked her way up, eventually impressing renowned chef Alice Waters who has called her "america's next great cooking teacher."
Last year, Nosrat's first cookbook, "Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat" became a bestseller and earned her a James Beard Award. It also inspired a critically-acclaimed Netflix series by the same name. the show explores what Nosrat considers to be the four vital elements of cooking: Salt Fat Acid and Heat.
Here are some of Nosrat's signature recipes:
Buttermilk-marinated roast chicken
3½- to 4-pound (about 1.5 kilograms) chicken
2 cups (475 ml) buttermilk
1. The day before you want to cook the chicken, remove the wingtips by cutting through the first wing joint with poultry shears or a sharp knife. Reserve for stock. Season the chicken generously with salt and let it sit for 30 minutes.
2. Stir 2 tablespoons of kosher salt or 4 teaspoons fine sea salt into the buttermilk to dissolve. Place the chicken in a gallon-size resealable plastic bag and pour in the buttermilk. If the chicken won't fit in a gallon-size bag, double up two plastic produce bags to prevent leakage and tie the bag with a piece of twine.
3. Seal it, squish the buttermilk all around the chicken, place on a rimmed plate, and refrigerate. If you're so inclined, over the next 24 hours you can turn the bag so every part of the chicken gets marinated, but that's not essential.
4. Pull the chicken from the fridge an hour before you plan to cook it. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C), with a rack set in the center position.
5. Remove the chicken from the plastic bag and scrape off as much buttermilk as you can without being obsessive. Tightly tie together the legs of the chicken with a piece of butcher's twine. Place the chicken in a 10-inch cast iron skillet or shallow roasting pan.
6. Slide the pan all the way to the back of the oven on the center rack. Rotate the pan so that the legs are pointing toward the rear left corner and the breast is pointing toward the center of the oven (the back corners tend to be the hottest spots in the oven, so this orientation protects the breast from overcooking before the legs are done). Pretty soon you should hear the chicken sizzling.
7. After about 20 minutes, when the chicken starts to brown, reduce the heat to 400°F and continue roasting for 10 minutes and then move the pan so the legs are facing the back right corner of the oven.
8. Continue cooking for another 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is brown all over and the juices run clear when you insert a knife down to the bone between the leg and the thigh. When the chicken's done, remove it to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving and serving.
Persian-ish Rice with tahdig
2 cups (390 grams) basmati rice
3 tablespoons plain yogurt
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons neutral-tasting oil
1. Place rice in a bowl and rinse with cold water. Swirl vigorously with your fingers to release the starch, and change the water at least five times, until it runs clear. Once the water runs clear, let rice soak for 30 minutes.
2. Fill a large stockpot with 4 quarts of water. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat.
3. Once the water comes to a boil, salt it heavily. The precise amount will vary depending on what kind of salt you're using, but it's about 6 tablespoons fine sea salt or a generous 1⁄2 cup kosher salt. The water should taste saltier than the saltiest seawater you've ever tasted. This is your big chance to get the rice seasoned from within, and it's only going to spend a few minutes in the salted water, so don't panic about oversalting your food. Drain the rice, then add it to the pot and stir.
4. Set a fine-mesh sieve or colander in the sink. Cook rice, stirring occasionally, until al dente, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain into the sieve, then rinse with cold water to keep rice from cooking further. Drain rice well and place in a large bowl.
5. Remove 1 heaping cup of the rice to a small bowl and combine it with the yogurt. Set a very well seasoned 10-inch cast iron pan or nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add butter and the oil. When butter melts, add rice-yogurt mixture and spread it out into a thin, even layer with a heatproof spatula.
6. Pile remaining rice into the pan, mounding it gently toward the center. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, gently dig 6 holes into the rice down to the bottom of the pot, which will be barely sizzling. Dig 5 of the holes about 2 inches from the sides of the pan, and put one in the center. (The holes will allow steam to escape from the bottom-most layer of rice and allow a crisp crust to form.) There should be enough oil in the pan that you can see it bubbling up the sides; add a little more oil along the edges of the rice if needed to see these bubbles.
7. Continue cooking rice over medium-high heat for 8 minutes, or until evenly browned along the edges, rotating the pan a half turn after 4 minutes to ensure even browning. Wrap a lid with a kitchen towel and cover pan. Turn the heat as low as it will go and continue cooking another 45 minutes, rotating the pan a quarter turn every 10 to 12 minutes. The rice is done when it's cooked completely through.
8. To unmold the rice, carefully run an offset spatula or butter knife along the edges of the pan to ensure that no part of the crust is sticking. Tip out any excess fat at the bottom of the pan into a bowl, gather your courage, and then carefully flip it onto a platter or cutting board. Serve immediately.
9. And if for any reason your rice doesn't slip out in one piece, do what every Persian grandmother since the beginning of time has done: scoop out the rice, chip out the tahdig in pieces with a spoon or metal spatula, and pretend you meant to do it this way. No one will be the wiser.
Butternut squash and brussels sprouts in agrodolce
1 large butternut squash (2 pounds), peeled, halved lengthwise, seeds discarded
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts, trimmed, outer leaves removed
1⁄2 red onion, thinly sliced
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
3⁄4 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 garlic clove, finely grated or pounded with a pinch of salt 16 fresh mint leaves
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Slice each half of the squash crosswise into 1⁄2-inch thick crescents and place in a large bowl. Toss with enough olive oil to coat, about 3 tablespoons. Season with salt and place in a single layer on a baking sheet
2. Halve the Brussels sprouts through the stems, then toss in the same large bowl, adding more olive oil as needed to coat. Season with salt and place in a single layer on a second baking sheet.
3. Place the squash and sprouts into the preheated oven and cook until tender and caramelized, about 26 to 30 minutes. Check on the vegetables after about 12 minutes. Rotate the pans and switch their positions to ensure even browning.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, toss the sliced onion and vinegar and allow to sit for 20 minutes to macerate. In another small bowl, stir together another 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, sugar, chili flakes, and garlic, and a pinch of salt.
5. When the roasted vegetables are brown on the outside and completely tender when pierced with a knife, remove them from the oven. The sprouts might cook a little more quickly than the squash. Combine the vegetables in a big bowl.
6. Stir the macerated onions and their vinegar into the olive oil mixture, then pour half of the marinade over the vegetables. Toss to combine, taste, and add more salt and marinade as needed. Garnish with torn mint leaves and serve warm or at room temperature.
Mixed chicories with persimmons
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
2 pounds mixed chicories, such as radicchio, Radicchio di Treviso, Palla Rossa, and
frisee, torn into 1-inch pieces (18 cups)
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
3 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. Make the dressing: Gradually whisk oil into vinegar in a small bowl. Season with salt.
2. Make the salad: Toss chicories, walnuts, persimmons, and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl.
3. Add vinaigrette, and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Lori's chocolate midnight cake with vanilla whipped cream
1⁄2 cup (2 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
1 1⁄2 cups) sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt or 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 3⁄4 cups (9 1⁄4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1⁄2 cup neutral-tasting oil
11⁄2 cups boiling water or freshly brewed strong coffee
2 large eggs at room temperature, lightly whisked
2 cups Vanilla Cream (see below)
Vanilla Cream Ingredients
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
11⁄2 teaspoons granulated sugar
Scraped seeds from 1⁄4 vanilla bean or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Chill a large, deep metal bowl (or the bowl of your standing mixer) and the whisk (or whisk attachment) in the freezer for at least 20 minutes before you begin. When the bowl is chilled, prepare the cream with the vanilla bean, then add the sugar.
2. I prefer to whip cream by hand because it gives me more control, so I'm less likely to overwhip it and end up with butter. If you'd like to use a mixer, run it at a low speed. Whisk until the first soft peaks appear. If using a machine, switch to a handheld whisk and continue to whisk until all the liquid cream has been incorporated and the texture of the cream is uniformly soft and billowy. Taste and adjust sweetness and avoring as desired. Keep chilled until serving.
3. Cover and refrigerate leftovers for up to 2 days. Use a whisk to bring deflated cream back to soft peaks as needed.
Buttermilk panna cotta with citrus compote
1 1⁄4 cups heavy cream
7 tablespoons (3 ounces) sugar
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt or 1⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt 11⁄2 teaspoons unflavored
1⁄2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 3⁄4 cups buttermilk
Blood orange supremes (or if not available orange or grapefruit supremes)
1. Using a pastry brush or your fingers, lightly coat the inside of six 6-ounce ramekins, small bowls, or cups with oil.
2. Place the cream, sugar, and salt in a small saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan, and add the bean as well. Place 1 tablespoon cold water in a small bowl, then gently sprinkle the gelatin atop. Let sit for5 minutes to dissolve.
3. Heat the cream gently over a medium flame, stirring until the sugar dissolves and steam starts to rise from the cream, about 4 minutes (don't let the cream simmer-it'll deactivate the gelatin if it gets too hot). Reduce the heat to very low, add the gelatin, and stir to combine until all the gelatin dissolves, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the buttermilk. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup with a spout.
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared ramekins, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours or overnight. To unmold, dip the ramekins into a dish of hot water, and then invert the custards onto plates. Garnish with citrus compote. Add sugar and fresh lemon juice to blood orange to taste, then let sit for about 30
minutes to macerate