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What to Cook Right Now

Category: Food & Drink,Lifestyle

Good morning. When the children were little and the dog was barky and the nights seemed to last forever in fits of colic and long walks down chilly streets to calm them, the closest thing to respite we had was Peruvian chicken from the place two blocks away, rotisserie-cooked birds perfumed with wood smoke and sent home with small tubs of spicy cilantro sauce. We’d eat standing in a tiny kitchen or sitting on a couch, thrilling to the flavor, fingers stained with grease, as Dan Zanes kept everyone tiny copacetic for the moment, as the song went, from Albany to Buffalo.

I miss those days and that restaurant, but I can bring them back soon enough by cooking Melissa Clark’s recipe for Peruvian roasted chicken with spicy cilantro sauce (above) and flipping through old photographs, from when we still printed photographs. You don’t need to join me in my nostalgia trip, my dad-life sentimentality, but you ought to cook that chicken. Because that is one seriously delicious dish, and three cheers to Melissa for it. (I like these baked sweet potato fries on the side.)

But perhaps you’d prefer slow cooker creamy kale with fontina and bread crumbs? It’s like millennial Moosewood cookery, the sort of thing you’d serve in a yurt and be happy you did, before reading the internet before bed. Or pasta with green beans and almond gremolata? It relies on celery leaves as a secret ingredient! Or cold kimchi noodles? It’s a Monday in January. You don’t need to eat meat.

Thousands and thousands and thousands of other recipes you could cook tonight or this week or whenever you like are waiting for you on NYT Cooking. (Why, here’s a collection of casseroles to cook on cold nights now!) Go browse among them and see what strikes your fancy. (If you’re a subscriber, that is. Here’s how to become one if you’re not.) You can also find pictures of our food and musings about it on our Instagram, Facebook and Twitter feeds. And do write us for help if you run into trouble with the site or your cooking: cookingcare@nytimes.com.

Now, it’s maybe more to do with culture than it is with cooking, but a friend turned me on to Tom Holland’s genial popular history work, “Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic,” and this amazing sentence about the rise of Roman culinary culture: “Scallops, fatted hares, the vulvas of sows, all came suddenly and wildly into vogue, and all for the same reason: for in the softness of a flesh that threatened rapid putrescence yet still retained its succulence the Roman food snob took an ecstatic joy.” And there I was about to complain about oat milk and air fryers!

Do you follow @round.boys on Instagram? You’re welcome.

This is Bear Hands, featuring Ursula Rose, “Blue Lips.” (Hat-tip: Jon Pareles.)

Finally, John Dos Passos was born on this day in 1896, and that’s enough to bring out this passage from the beginning of “The 42nd Parallel” that I’ve always thought describes the writer’s life:

The young man walks by himself, fast but not fast enough, far but not far enough (faces slide out of sight, talk trails into tattered scraps, footsteps tap fainter in alleys); he must catch the last subway, the streetcar, the bus, run up the gangplanks of all the steamboats, register at all the hotels, work in the cities, answer the want ads, learn the trades, take up the jobs, live in all the boarding houses, sleep in all the beds. One bed is not enough, one job is not enough, one life is not enough. At night, head swimming with wants, he walks by himself alone.

Maybe the adventurous cook’s as well? Here’s hoping. I’ll see you on Wednesday.


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