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This past weekend was the first of football season, and–I can’t believe I’m about to type this–I am so excited for its arrival. In the past few years, I have increasingly looked forward to doing just about nothing on Sundays. These days give me an opportunity to cook (and usually drink) all day; it is on this day I experiment with new dishes, or test popular ones I’ve made in seasons past.

One of these recipes is Rice Krispies Treats. I usually keep them traditional, but top them with a spiced chocolate ganache for something a bit more refined. To kickoff the season, this time I stirred in speculoos spread–a flavor that hints at the impending end of summer and transition to the cooler months. So as I prepare to say goodbye to tomatoes, mai tais, and the faint tan I actually achieved this year, I seek solace in Football Sundays.

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Makes 12-15 pieces

4 Tbsp butter
1 10-oz bag mini marshmallows
2/3 speculoos spread
pinch kosher salt
6 cups Rice Krispies or puffed rice cereal
3 Tbsp millet, toasted

1. In a large pot, melt butter and add marshmallows.
2. Once marshmallows are melted, stir in speculoos spread and salt.
3. Add cereal and millet and stir until evenly coated with speculoos mixture.
4. Pour into a 13 x 9 x 2-inch greased pan and press down evenly.
5. Let sit for at least 2 hours before cutting.

Notes: Of course this is delicious–they’re Rice Krispies Treats, for crying out loud. Speculoos was subtle but prominent enough to make them special. Next time: more millet!

I originally made this soup for 300 people and with loads of butter. The curry flavor was subtle yet present enough to make people wonder why this soup was different from the previous version. Wanting to adapt this recipe to make it vegan and guiltless–yet still rich and satisfying–I swapped the butter for extra-virgin olive oil. By emulsifying it in at the end of the cooking process, the soup thickened and became creamy–much like a vinaigrette behaves once the oil has been added.

1/4 cup plus 3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, medium dice
4 stalks celery, medium dice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp ground coriander
2 28-oz cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand

1. Heat 3 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium heat.
2. Add onion and celery, season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, curry powder, and coriander and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
4. Add tomatoes, pour in 3 1/2 cups water, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes.
5. Puree soup until smooth, while gradually pouring in the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil.
6. Adjust seasoning to taste.

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Notes: Could use a bit more coriander, and perhaps some cumin for some smokiness.

1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices bacon, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, small dice
4 medium carrots, small dice
5 medium stalks celery, small dice
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups green lentils
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock or water would also work)
Soft goat cheese, at room temperature, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss cauliflower florets with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet.
2. Roast cauliflower for 15 minutes until dark brown in spots, stirring halfway. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F and roast for another 15 minutes to finish cooking through. Set aside.
3. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
4. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Add lentils and stock to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are cooked through. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
7. Spoon lentils into bowls and top with roasted cauliflower. Top with goat’s cheese, if desired.

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Man-o-Meter*: 8/10
Man Comment: “There’s bacon in it.”

*A new tool in which my S.S. rates each dish based on its appeal to the general male audience. He is a Midwestern, salt-of-the-earth type, and is easy to please while, at the same time, provides polite feedback. Though not a chef or cook, but an eater of most everything (less mushrooms, calamari, raw onions, and offal), his opinions matter because, well, they do to me (awWwWwWw).

Another dish that’s “just an idea” and follows no particular recipe. I should really work on that. But I promise: just throw this stuff together in any ratio you prefer and it will come out just as lovely as you are.

Tuscan kale, rough chop
Lemon juice
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pomegranate seeds
Almonds, toasted, chopped
Cauliflower, pickled

Massage the kale with lemon juice, oil, salt, and black pepper. Garnish with pomegranate, almonds, and cauliflower (I made my own, but feel free to purchase, or pick through jarred giardiniera). Great as a starter or side dish, but also enjoyed in copious amounts to qualify as an entree.

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I know, I know–I need to be focusing on recording ingredient quantities, but this one really doesn’t need much more than a list of ingredients. Crunchy raw vegetables are highlighted by a tart lemon vinaigrette, and the whole thing is soothed by creamy, gooey burrata. I love summer.

snap or snow peas, julienne
celery, thinly sliced on a bias
lemon vinaigrette (lemon juice, minced garlic or shallots, evoo, kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper)
burrata
freshly ground black pepper

Toss the snap or snow peas and celery with the vinaigrette and plate. Tear burrata and arrange on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with more vinaigrette and garnish with black pepper. Consume ferociously and with fervor, either as a starter, a side, or main dish.

snap peas and celery with burrata