Go off script and make a no-recipe dinner: steak, potatoes and salad, or a cheesy omelet.
By Sam Sifton
Good morning. I know I spend a lot of time telling you about recipes, about how you have to cook this incredible tangy pork noodle salad with lime and lots of herbs (above), or this bonkers good blueberry cornmeal shortbread tart. Recipes are what this newsletter is all about. Recipes are the program here, pure and simple.
But really, at this point in the pandemic, having perhaps cooked more and more often and more regularly than you have at any point in your life, do you really need a recipe, every time? Couldn’t I just say to you, “Hanger steak, green salad, oven fries”?
Don’t you basically know what to do with that? I’ll even prompt you, no-recipe recipe style.
Make the potatoes first. Cube a few, toss them in oil, anoint them with salt and pepper, maybe some rosemary, and get them into a hot oven on a sheet pan. Then cook the steak. Salt the meat aggressively and sear both sides hard in a screaming-hot cast iron pan, until it is just beginning its ascent into the realm of medium-rare. Then turn off the heat, tilt the pan and add to it a few squares of cold butter and a couple of garlic cloves; baste the steak with the browning butter for a minute or so, before tonging it onto a cutting board to rest. Make the salad, the greens tossed in a vinaigrette of olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of mayonnaise or mustard, and seasoning as you like — I like herbes de Provence.
The potatoes are done now, crisp and golden, so slide them onto a platter. Slice the steak against the grain and on the bias, and arrange the slices on top of the potatoes, drizzling with any juices remaining on the board. Serve with the salad and send a picture of the whole shebang to me: [email protected] I meant to take one myself last night, but we got to eating before I remembered to shoot a frame. That’s Sunday dinner!
On Monday, this time of year, I bet you can locate some stellar heirloom tomatoes. Here’s a real recipe if you can, for an heirloom tomato tart. “All the best flavors of pizza and quiche rolled into one,” one reader noted. “My whole family loved it, including my youngest, who is a very picky eater.”
For the Tuesday repast, how about this Spanish-style shrimp with garlic, perfect with crusty bread to mop up the sauce? (And I might grill or roast some leeks or scallions to go with.)
Eggs for dinner on Wednesday? You don’t need a recipe there, either. I came across some marvelously runny stracciatella di bufala at the market the other day and slashed it with olive oil, then folded a bunch of it into an omelet that I served with baby arugula tossed in red-wine vinaigrette. You could do the same with another runny cheese — or omit it entirely. These aren’t precise instructions I’m selling, but a simple idea that you can make your own, same as the steak and potatoes.
On Thursday night, how about this lovely BLT pasta?
And then on Friday you can round out the week with a skillet chicken with black beans, rice and chiles.
There are thousands and thousands more recipes you might cook this week waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. (It’s true that you need a subscription to access them. But it’s a fair trade: Subscriptions make our work possible. Will you please, if you haven’t already, subscribe today?) We’ll be standing by to help if something goes wrong along the way. Just write: [email protected] Someone will get back you.
Now, it’s nothing to do with Swiss chard or pickled herring, but you’ve got to read Jennifer Senior’s spellbinding article in The Atlantic about one family’s two-decade search for meaning in the wake of their son’s death in the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Check out the photographer Widline Cadet’s show, “Se Sou Ou Mwen Mete Espwa m” (“I Put All My Hopes On You”), at the Deli Gallery in New York if you can. Her website has more images for you, either way.
I also quite liked, in The Times, Max Rubin’s profile of Dave Raymond, the sports mascot whisperer, who brought Gritty into the world.
Finally, here’s Oscar Peterson, “C Jam Blues,” live in Denmark, 1964. Wow! Listen to that, cook something delicious and I’ll be back on Monday.
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