By Sam Sifton
Good morning. Even before the pandemic ended dinner parties (remember them?), I had a complicated relationship with appetizers, nibbles, nuts and cheeses, any consumption that precedes a meal. I don’t like the idea of cooking for any great period of time — assembling a braise, making noodles, overthinking a salad, preparing a dessert — so that a guest can arrive in my home, eat a quarter-pound of salted cashews and then pick at dinner a half-hour later. It’s churlish of me, I know, but there you have it. I want you seated at the table hungry, and I will feed you in response.
But Dorie Greenspan’s bringing me around. She has a lovely piece in The Times today about the savory little quick breads called cakes salés that she discovered at a Picard shop in Paris, and which she has reverse engineered into a recipe (above) so that we can enjoy them at home. Cakes salés go beautifully with an aperitif of white wine, are super easy to make and are endlessly adaptable in terms of mix-ins and seasonings. Eating a slice or two before dinner, warm from the oven, reminds me of what it was like to eat in a good restaurant, bustling, loud and crowded. I don’t have guests now, but if I did, I’d urge them to eat their cake salé. I’d push it on them with a few cheeses, some olives, maybe even nuts. Change is good.
Make one today, why don’t you, in advance of something like this chicken paillard with Parmesan bread crumbs? Jennifer Steinhauer, the Washington reporter and cookbook writer who brought us the recipe, serves the cutlets on top of a pile of torn escarole, making it meal and salad in one. You don’t need a starch. You had the cake salé!
For Monday’s dinner, consider this baked rice with white beans, leeks and lemon. (Here’s a good tip from a number of subscribers: To cook the rice, use stock in place of plain water.)
On Tuesday night: caramelized shallot pasta. Odds are, you’ll be making that all the time.
I like this roasted cauliflower salad with halloumi and lemon for Wednesday night, but I also understand that Wednesday nights can be hard. There’s no shame in a midweek omelet. Indeed, a midweek omelet can be the very best omelet there is.
Korean barbecue-style meatballs on Thursday, please, with steamed rice and kimchi.
And then you can end the week as you maybe haven’t in years, with baked Buffalo wings and a platter of nachos. Put some beers in the freezer for a half-hour before dinner, so they’re flecked with ice when you eat. Bring on the Super Bowl!
There are thousands and thousands more recipes to cook this week waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Click on over and see what you find. Then save the recipes you like and rate the ones you’ve cooked. You can leave notes on them, too, if you’ve learned a trick or two that you’d like to remember or share with others.
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Now, it’s a country mile from fried chicken and salade Lyonnaise, but David Marchese has an interview in The Times with Tyler Blevins, the video-game star known as Ninja, and it’s really fascinating, even if you don’t follow video games and have never heard of Twitch. Give it a read.
This is the Weather Station, “Robber.”
When I was listening to Brian Reed’s S-Town podcast, I kept wondering about the tools John B. McLemore used in his workshop to fix old clocks. So I thrilled to this story in National Geographic, about the tools used by the antiquarian horologist Brittany Nicole Cox. Niche content!
Finally, do read John Seabrook in The New Yorker on the future of office work in a post-pandemic world. It’s not going to look like the office work so many of us left back in March. I’ll be back on Monday.
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