What to Cook Right Now


Good morning. Everyone holding up where you stay? These are some tricky times! It’s important to remember that your good day may be a bad one for someone else. Your best bet, as ever, is empathy and a bias toward good will. My friend Julia has been cooking madly for others stuck in quarantine, leaving deli containers full of soup and stew at the doors of her neighbors. She’s spreading cheer where cheer is in short supply. I hope we can all follow her example this week: three-sisters stew, maybe, or lemony carrot and cauliflower soup.

It’s better served at home than delivered to someone else, but Melissa Clark’s new recipe for turkey chili and biscuits (above), a one-pot meal of real distinction, comes together in just an hour and might be just the thing to bring a smile. Or you could try Ali Slagle’s latest, a quick-braised chicken with greens that puts the lie to the idea that you always need to brown your meats before cooking them in liquid. (I might pair that with this potato and celery root gratin with caper brown butter, from the inimitable Yotam Ottolenghi.)

And for dessert? I do like this Earl Grey tea cake with dark chocolate and orange zest, a reader favorite. But this old-fashioned butterscotch pudding is also calling to me, a balm on a winter night.


Not that you really need a recipe to cook well. You could just follow a prompt instead, and cook what we call a no-recipe recipe.

Like, for example: puttanesca alla Norma? It’s a breeze if you have some leftover fried eggplant in the fridge or a can of the stuff in the pantry. Set a pot of salted water on the stove to boil. Swirl some olive oil into a deep pan set over medium heat and, when it shimmers, sauté a palmful of chopped garlic in it until it starts to turn gold. Add some anchovy, along with a can of chopped or whole tomatoes, and break it all up with a spoon.

After a few minutes, add a handful of capers, maybe another of chopped olives, a generous pinch of red-pepper flakes and whatever cooked eggplant you have available. Let that burble along, then salt to taste. Cook your favorite pasta shape until it’s just al dente, then drain and mix it into the sauce. I like a little Pecorino Romano on there at the end, and I serve the dish with warm Italian bread on the side. You’re welcome!


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Now, it’s a far cry from baked ziti and morning glory muffins, but I’ve been enjoying the dark Danish atmosphere of “The Chestnut Man” on Netflix.

With no winter fishing to distract us, my crew of sharpies spends its time stalking the snowy owls that work the same shoreline we fish in the summer. This weekend we found one, and my friend Brendan managed to snap an ace photograph.

I loved Becky Chambers’s “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet,” and if her “Record of a Spaceborn Few” isn’t quite as electric, it’s still a pleasant visit to space.

Finally, here’s new music from The Smile, a Radiohead spinoff, super angry and fast: “You Will Never Work in Television Again.” Enjoy that, and I’ll be back on Friday.

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