Good morning. The next two weeks will be strange even by the standards of 2020, with the nation slowing into its annual end-of-year daydream, everyone taking stock of what happened and preparing for the new year, even as the fire hose of news continues to flow. Some will travel, no doubt. But many will simply hunker down to watch screens or read books or listen to music as we did in the early days of the pandemic, during the first lockdown, staying safe at home.
We know the drill now. We can stare at a Christmas tree for a long time, stare out the window, stare up at the night sky. We see more than we used to, before.
And of course we’ll cook. We’ll cook with what we have, with what we can manage, substituting ingredients along the way. (We can show you how to do that.) There’s a real joy in doing so, in transforming ingredients (Spam, rice, carrots) into something delicious (kimbap). There’s comfort in it, too.
Tonight, I’m thinking, would be a good one for this excellent fast hummus recipe (above), especially topped with Jerusalem grill.
On Monday, I’d like to suggest crisp gnocchi with brussels sprouts and brown butter. If your sprouts are as gigantic as some are becoming (following the lead of Cousin Shallot, who used to be reliably small and now often is not), quarter them before cooking.
Tuesday night, if you’d like to follow my lead: vinegar chicken with crushed olive dressing. “Perfect,” wrote one subscriber below the recipe. “Suggest not tampering with it. If you don’t like the ingredients, find another recipe before un-creating this one.” Spicy!
I like this roasted salmon with jalapeño, honey and lime for a midweek meal, with stovetop rice.
On Christmas Eve, I generally eat a tourtiere from M. Wells in Queens. I buy two — they’re sold frozen — so I can have one later in the winter, when I’m feeling most bleak. But sometimes, and maybe this year, I will make my own, a cover-band tribute to the original. Will you join me?
Others will celebrate the Feast of the Seven Fishes, though that may be a bit much for this year’s generally smaller gatherings. Maybe combine the two ideas, for a Feast of the Seven Fishes pie? Or, if a feast is simply not in the cards, here’s a collection of great recipes for small, though festive, holiday celebrations.
Then for Christmas, if you’re not getting Chinese takeout, you might follow my lead and make pernil, with arroz con gandules and fried sweet plantains. I’m not making our recipe for the pork, though. I’m using one I got from my friend Gilbert Cruz, the culture editor of The Times. He got it from his mom and it calls for marinating the meat for over a day in garlic and sazón, then rising at 3 a.m. to start the cooking: 200 degrees, all day, covered in foil, before a blast of heat at the end for a few hours to crisp the skin. I play it right, I might run into Mr. Claus.
There are thousands more recipes to cook this week and over the holidays waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Go browse them, see what appeals. You can save the recipes you want to cook, then rate the ones you’ve made. You can leave notes on them, too, if you made a hack or substitution and want to remember it, or if you want to tell your fellow subscribers about it.
Yes, you need to be a subscriber to do all that. Subscriptions support our work and allow it to continue. Please, if you haven’t already, I hope you will subscribe to NYT Cooking today. (And if you have? This is a good time of year to buy a gift subscription.) Thank you.
We in turn will be standing by to help, if anything goes wrong in your kitchen or with our technology. Just write: [email protected] Someone will get back to you, I promise.
Now, it’s a long country mile from tapenade and sherry vinegar, but do take a minute to remember the extraordinary Ann Reinking, who died last week. Here she is with Erzsebet Foldi in “All That Jazz,” with “Everything Old Is New Again.”
I missed it over the summer, but I enjoyed Bryan Schatz and Patrick Hutchison in Outside, on their hapless, hilarious cabin build in the Cascades in 2018.
It’s intricate, long and maybe we’ve talked enough about Dickens at this point, but there are some terrific details in David Trotter’s essay on John Mullan’s “The Artful Dickens: Tricks and Ploys of the Great Novelist,” in the London Review of Books. It’s like auditing a college course.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” was released on this day in 1946. It’s streaming on Amazon, among other places. Maybe watch that?
Finally, I managed to botch the last night of Hanukkah this year, putting it in my last newsletter on Friday night. It was of course Thursday night. Apologies and I’ll be back on Wednesday.
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