Hello, NYT cooks! I’m taking over this newsletter from Tejal Rao, and somehow we will get through the last gasp of summer together. (Sam Sifton will return after Labor Day.)
And what a summer it has been: waiting on a 40-yard-long line for farmstand tomatoes, staying locked inside my car during a drive-in showing of “The Seven Year Itch,” and watching a gloved, masked fisherman place a box of lobsters at the end of the dock while I waited at a safe distance.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I found plenty of solace from strange moments, like those, in cooking. Looking forward to homemade chocolate-chip cookies at night got me into the kitchen, and through a lot of hard days. Six months in, the prospect of a cookie — or even a whole sleeve of Thin Mints — isn’t quite enough.
So why do I still get excited about new recipes? I haven’t had time to make popsicles for years, but last week I thrilled to the possibilities of Samantha Seneviratne’s yogurt and jam pops (above). (I miss my favorite Pinkberry cups.) I won’t be serving the pla goong that Francis Lam picked up at the Thai Consulate in New York any time soon, since my only chile-loving child just left for a (covid-induced) gap year. But in my mind, I tasted its red bird chiles, lime juice, mint leaves and fish sauce. Today, I might only have the energy for yet another dinner of basic BLTs (here’s a recipe for a less basic one) and boiled corn. But spotting our new succotash from Vallery Lomas brought me back to the rhythms of a normal summer. (So did my recent reporting on pizza farms.)
What I’m saying is: Even when you’re not up to cooking — and that is fine, in fact go ahead and have cereal for dinner tonight — there is still pleasure in recipes. It’s not much of a leap from cereal to making Genevieve Ko’s crunchy, sweet-salty new version of Rice Krispies Treats, or rediscovering the pleasures of a margarita made from scratch.
Should you happen to encounter a cool evening — they are coming — this Ottolenghi baked chicken with rice and fragrant spices is one of my all-time favorites, and this vegan version of Cantonese corn rice from Hetty McKinnon scratches the same itch. It would also be a good time to start mastering the art of reading Scandinavian thrillers. (This guide our Books section published recently helped me get started.) Or to watch “I May Destroy You,” now that it’s bingeable.
I hope my conviction that recipes can cheer and comfort will hold true for you, too. Of course, they also need to be well-written, beautifully shot, and supported by a great story — that’s what we aim for every day at NYT Cooking. You can access all of them with a subscription, which also gives you our recipe collections, cooking guides, and the ability to use your Recipe Box like a champion. (We’re standing by to teach you how. Confused? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org, and someone will get back to you.)