Recipes for The Diva of Grilled Cheese and Thai-American Noodles.

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Makes 1 sandwich

Leeks, scallions and/or shallots

1 onion (any color)

1 clove garlic, minced

¼ pound cheddar cheese

2 slices sturdy sourdough bread



1. Gather a group of shallots, leeks, scallions and an onion (red, yellow or white) — as many members of the allium family as you have on hand — and chop them into a small heap. Add a minced clove of garlic. Grate a few generous handfuls of the best cheddar you can afford, set a little aside, and gently combine the rest with the onion mixture.

2. Butter one side of thickly sliced bread and heap as much of the mixture as possible between the slices, butter side in. Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise on the outside of the bread (this will keep it from scorching on the griddle). Press the reserved grated cheese to the outside of the bread, where it will create a wonderfully crisp and shaggy crust, giving your sandwich an entirely new dimension.

3. Fry on a heated griddle or in a skillet about four minutes a side, until the cheese is softly melted.

— From “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life,” by Ruth Reichl (Random House, $35).


1 (8-oz.) package very thin rice vermicelli (sometimes called rice sticks)

½ pound shrimp

4 scallions

3 cloves garlic

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup Asian fish sauce

¼ cup white vinegar

2 limes

½ cup peanuts

½ pound ground pork

2 eggs

Pinch red chili flakes

Peanut oil, for frying

Sriracha sauce and cilantro, for serving

1. Soak the rice noodles in hot water for about 10 minutes, or until they go limp. Drain and set aside.

2. Prepare your mise en place: Peel the shrimp and dry them well. If they’re big, cut them in half. Dice the whites of the scallions, and slice the green parts into confetti. Smash the cloves of garlic. Mix the sugar with the fish sauce and the white vinegar. Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime. Put the peanuts into a plastic bag and hit it with something heavy — a rolling pin works well — until the peanuts are crushed.

3. Assemble all of this next to the stove, along with the ground pork, the eggs and some crushed red chili flakes.

4. Working quickly, heat a large wok and film it with peanut oil until it shimmers. Add the shrimp, toss them just until they’re no longer transparent, and turn them onto a platter. Add a bit more oil to the wok, toss in the garlic, and stir; add the whites of the scallions, the chili flakes and then the pork, stirring until it’s no longer red. Throw in the drained noodles, give a couple more stirs, and pour in the fish sauce mixture.

5. Cook, at high heat, about seven minutes, until the noodles have absorbed all the liquid. Push them aside and crack one egg into the bottom of the wok, breaking the yolk and tilting so that it forms a sheet. When it has set, mix it into the noodles, breaking the sheet into little pieces as you go, then repeat with the other egg. Toss it all about, add the shrimp and scallion greens, and toss once again. Turn onto a platter and top with crushed peanuts.

6. Serve with lime wedges, fresh cilantro and Sriracha sauce. Serves 4.

— From “My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes that Saved My Life,” by Ruth Reichl (Random House, $35).