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
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!
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