Hello. How are you? There’s a lot of anger going around these days, pandemic-tired boredom, mid-grade depression. I think it’s more important than ever that we try to believe that people are primarily acting in a position of good faith rather than bad faith, and respond to the stimuli that the pandemic offers us as a result.
If you can bring that attitude into the kitchen, so much the better. The job there is simple: feed the people. And when we do, we can make their lives a little better, almost every time. It’s you and your family, of course. But it’s also the family who received the bean bags you put in the local community take-out pantry, or the neighbors for whom you baked a visitation cake or assembled a lasagna.
I got a letter the other day from a woman who has started leaving bags of cookies for the garbage collectors who run her house. They have become pandemic friends, greeting each other between the street and the kitchen window. They are happier now than they were before this happened. It’s not nothing.
What to cook Yossy Arefi’s Chocolate Pudding with Raspberry Cream (above) is a comforting dessert, especially following Pierre Franey’s classic recipe for a casserole of beef macaroni. But you can bring joy to the table just as easily with kimchi fried rice or baked sweet potatoes with black beans and cheddar cheese.
I also like this braised pork all’arrabbiata, always the mapo tofu, and lately this nice new dish from Yotam Ottolenghi: beans in brown butter with lemon and pesto.
Or you can cook without a recipe. It’s liberating just to scramble a prompt, to see what you come up with in your imagination. The other day I took my friend Mickey for a walk on the beach at Fort Tilden in Queens, and she described a dish she was cooking with chicken thighs, lemon and rosemary, roasted in the oven. and served with mashed potatoes and candied carrots. I thought it sounded good. I did it that night.
The close-up: Marinate the chicken thighs with lemon slices, minced garlic, a small sliced onion, a bunch of rosemary, a little olive oil, a spray of salt, a lemon juice . Then, make small mounds of onions, lemons and garlic on a baking sheet, and put the chicken thighs in them. Roast them in a 400 degree oven until the skin of the chicken is crisp and brown and the meat is cooked through. I served the chicken with mashed boiled potatoes with lots of butter, milk and lots of salt, and sautéed kale because I didn’t have carrots. I could do this a few times a month, I think. So good.
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Now this has nothing to do with flaxseed or oat milk, and maybe even a little soapy, but there are a few reasons you might enjoy the Danish crime series “Warrior” on Netflix. . The chief among them is actor Dar Salim, whom you may remember from “Borgen”.
I think you’ll like Mason Currey’s delightful interview with our very own Tejal Rao, on Substack.
Likewise, Stephanie Burt on Stan Lee, in The New Yorker.
Finally, Jon Pareles put me on Cherry Glazerr’s “Big Bang,” one of dozens of new songs by a baker that he and the rest of the Times’ pop music department analyzed late last week. . Listen to this and I’ll be back on Friday.