Cook Without a Script – The New York Times

What to Cook

Cook Without a Script

Credit…Johnny Miller for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Laurie Ellen Pellicano.

Good morning. I commuted home from work for the last time one year ago today, a muted St. Patrick’s Day in Manhattan, the subways lightly populated — pretty late in the game to be out there. Did I make corned beef that night? Probably not. As I remember it, I made a huge grocery list. I executed on it in the morning and didn’t really leave the house for a month after that.

This year’s a little different. We’re still in the woods — still worried, still cautious — but we’re generally not so freaked out now that some of us can’t, for instance, celebrate the patron saint of Ireland. We have a huge number of recipes for that. I might take some time in the afternoon to make this chocolate stout cake with coffee glaze (above), a Guinness-spiked batter that’s malty and delicious below its topping. I might make colcannon and eat it with Irish lamb stew.

On the other hand, I might not. I spent yesterday hawking our new cookbook, “No-Recipe Recipes” (amazingly enough, here I am on “Good Morning America”), and I have a powerful urge to cook without a script.

I’m thinking freestyle chirashi sushi this week: super-fresh yellowfin tuna, maybe with some salmon roe and slivered chilled cucumber for texture and variety, over a bowl of rice. It’s key to deploya sharp knife for the tuna, which you’ll cut against the grain, and to use a careful hand with the rice. For that, make short-grain sushi rice, then dampen it with a mixture of rice vinegar, mirin, a sprinkle of sugar and salt. Set up that mixture separately, so it’s slightly sweet, slightly acidic. Then fold it into your cooked rice by tablespoon, tasting as you go, so that you flavor the grains without getting everything wet.

A mound of warm, seasoned rice in a bowl, topped with artfully draped slices of tuna, the cucumber slivers, a few dollops of salmon roe? You’ll eat that meal once a month for a year, I bet.

Other things to cook tonight or someday soon: this classic saag paneer; a cheesy, spicy black bean bake, a chickpea salad with fresh herbs and scallions; midnight pasta with garlic, anchovies, capers and red-pepper flakes.

I could see my way to cooking this Indian-spiced tomato and egg casserole, for sure, and I love this rigatoni with white Bolognese, which forever reminds me of late nights and Lambrusco at Osteria Morini in Manhattan, what seems like forever ago.

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Now, it’s nothing to do with bruschetta or lox, but here’s a beautiful read: Joan Acocella on Graham Greene in The New Yorker.

You might be interested in this oral history of the soundtrack to “Freaks and Geeks,” in Consequence of Sound.

I think you’ll definitely like this tremendous live recording of Curtis Mayfield playing “Move On Up” way back in the day.

Finally, I’m late to “Killing Eve,” but is there anything better than Konstantin’s laugh? Here’s a minute straight of that, and I think I’ll watch that video daily, forever. I’ll be back on Friday.