Posts in Ali's Recipes
Bring It! on the Today Show

I started my career as a Page at NBC - yes, if you've seen 30 Rock it's just like Kenneth the Page, but with a little bit more real work involved! So I was so thrilled to get to have a little bit of a homecoming and share two of the recipes from Bring It! on The Today Show this week. 

We wanted two pastas perfect for summer entertaining so we did the Red Wine Pasta and the Pesto Vinaigrette Pasta

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Shrimp Butter is Your New Best Friend

So few things in life can make almost anything better. But I think shrimp butter really can. It is basically a sauce that can be made easily but elevate any type of dish. Spread it on toast in the morning or make a fancy-seeming pasta at night for guests. Make a tomato sandwich spread with shrimp butter or put it in a bowl of rice and take it to the next level. There are very few things that shrimp butter can't do. And you know what makes it even better? It takes less than 10 minutes to make.

I grew up with variations on shrimp butter since in the Lowcountry of South Carolina there are few things more prevalent than shrimp. But I also saw a version in Normandy that knocked my socks off. So this aims to be the in-between - a Southern staple but that still tries to be as light and bright as possible.

This is also great in the freezer - keep it on hand and then whip it out when you have guests. Trust me, no one will think you didn't plan ahead.

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The Easiest Blueberry Jam Ever

So if you follow me on social media you might have noticed in the last week that I was in Rhode Island and was mildly obsessed with blueberry picking. It's one of my favorite activities because it's a soothing task that somehow also yields pounds upon pounds of blueberries - how could that not be a winning combo? 

I made a ton of pies and pancakes and just about a million handfuls of blueberries on their own, but of course when you pick tons of fruit there is nothing better than jam. 

Now, you all know I love to make things as simple as humanly possible because I'm incredibly lazy. But jam is one of those things I have never understood the insanity around. Everyone wants to make it more complicated. Pectin! Canning machines! Special ingredients! I say screw all of that and make it as easy as possible.

This recipe is my classic because it takes the least amount of work and ingredients but still tastes like a glorious batch of summer. Blueberries are perfect for this kind of jam because they get jammy pretty naturally. If you do want a slightly less cooked version you can add pectin. But if you're like me and you don't make a ton of jam at home then this is a simple solution that will suddenly make you feel like a home cooking superstar. The truth is that great in-season fruit makes excellent jam without much else, so don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

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The Sweet, Salty, Crunchy Steak

Sometimes one recipe leads to another. In testing out last week's bhel puri recipe I started to imagine another place where that sweet, salty and crunchy combo can balance out: a steak. Why not add a bit of sweetness and tartness with some tamarind? And instead of rice puffs why not just let rice krispies do the trick and add a bit of crunch to the otherwise heaviness of a steak?

This recipe has only four ingredients but they work some serious magic. Tamarind adds the perfect compliment to brighten up everyone's favorite meat and the drizzle of crunch on top makes it irresistible. 

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The Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies That Will Make You Forget Nutella

So I try to not eat any processed food in my house but sometimes it is hard. There are some products that are so delicious they defy explanation. I feel like nutella fits into that category. It's an ooey gooey spread that can add delight and flavor to almost anything. But it's also a long way from eating something 'real'. So I set out to find an alternative.

Really it's pretty simple if you're just looking for the flavors. Just combine hazelnuts and good chocolate. Easy peasy. The vehicle is really only needed so far as to keep it together. Sure, the ooey gooey is a great option but what about just a plain ole cakey cookie? 

Enter the Hazelnut Chocolate Cookies. They are addictive, not too sweet, and a crumbly texture that makes them hard to put down. Instead of trying to liquefy everything it leans into the texture of both the hazelnuts and the chocolate. You're tasting both so fully rather than hiding behind a whole lot of processing. 

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A Sweet Twist on a Corn and Black Bean Salad

I'm such a sucker for this time of year. I was walking around the farmers market on Saturday as though it was the perfect day. Local strawberries are finally out, the weather is beautiful, and my son didn't knock anything over.

So I think one of the best kinds of items is highlighting that freshness without overdoing it. This salad just tastes like the sweet early start of summer. I love a corn and black bean salad but I feel like it's one of those items stuck in a rut - why do they always have to have cilantro and red pepper? I wanted something to change it up.

I like using rice vinegar because it adds a bit of sweetness that marries well with the corn. The rest of it is like a deconstructed pesto - you have the basil and the pine nuts but all the textures are coming through. And it uses one of my favorite strategies for corn, which is grilling it on the stove. Nothing makes summer feel more present than a little bit of char on a piece of corn. 

It is simple but still special. It's hearty enough to eat as a meal and will hold up as a side if needed. Get ready for a whole lot of summer content coming your way. 

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Tonight's Dinner is Orzo with Chicken and Olive Sprinkle

Some ingredients are just back-pocket game changers that you should always have around. Dehydrated olives may not sound like a necessity, but they can add a punch of flavor to almost anything. Don't be concerned with people who claim they don't like olives, it's not the same flavor. In the way that miso paste or soy sauce can add a depth of umami to a dish, so too can a bit of dehydrated olives just sprinkled on top. On pasta, on meat, even on a salad this little dust can do wonders.

And it's not a difficult task - it's really just about sticking them in an oven and remembering to take them out. You can make a giant batch and then seal them in a jar, always at the ready for an infusion of oomph. 

This recipe takes something lovable but basic - chicken and pasta - and makes it feel like a sophisticated dish. It takes the ordinary and makes it addictive. But with the combination of the olives and the flavor of the chicken skin, you're basically unstoppable. 

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Turn Your Notions Upside-down With This Smoked Salmon Tart

I grew up with smoked salmon on a bagel. In Charleston there was always one place that served a decent bagel. And since moving to New York a decade ago it's been a staple no matter what. There's something about the combination of bread, cream cheese and the fatty perfection of lox. 

But it is also somewhat of a cooking cop out. When I want to ignore actually doing anything I will buy some good smoked salmon from Russ and Daughters, order a dozen bagels from my favorite spot (Bagels on the Square in my neighborhood) and stick out a brunch that requires pretty minimal effort. It is so delicious but feels a little bit cheap. 

I was in Austin recently at the Lake Austin spa teaching a class about Bring It! and they had this poached egg dish with salmon and cumin. It was such a delight to see smoked salmon with a bit of spice to it. And it immediately made me want to change up my own lox routine.

So the smoked salmon tart was born. It has all the ingredients of a typical bagel but with little twists- the light puff pastry replaces the bagel; a dash of that cumin gives it a little bit of depth; and some time in the oven makes it a warming treat. And the truth is that it is almost as easy as a regular bagel would be. 

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