Welcome to What We’re Cooking This Week, a weekly love letter from our food editor Emma Laperruque, all about what the Food52 team is cooking and craving off-hours (yes, snacks included).
How are you? I’ve been trying to ask this as much as I can, whether it’s Slacking a coworker, or texting a friend, or chatting on the phone with my grandma, or yelling over the fence to my neighbor, “It’s nice to see you!” from six-plus feet away. Honestly, it’s nice to see anyone.
The other day, my husband and I and the couple who lives across from us were all wheeling our bicycle into the street at the same time. We waved as we put on our helmets. None of us had ridden in months, if not years, and the farther we got from home, the more people we saw doing the same thing. What’s up with that?
It’s not unlike how so many people are baking bread, and regrowing vegetables on the windowsill, and cooking and baking with whatever the heck they’ve got around. Maybe it’s because we’re trying to take more into our own hands, to regain some sort of control, to take joy wherever we can get it.
Below are seven recipes our staff is turning to these days. If one catches your eye but you’re missing an ingredient or three, ping me in the comment section and let’s figure it out. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I’m here to wobble on a bike alongside you.
“I’m making Gena Hamshaw’s spicy eggplant pasta tonight for dinner. I’ve been craving fresh vegetables all week,” Senior Editor Arati Menon said, but “all that remains is a giant eggplant. I love that this dish allows the eggplant to be the unmitigated star, and it sounds so hearty. Just what I need.”
Email Production Coordinator Cara Vaccaro is a VIR (Very Important Relative) at home: “I made Crock-Pot chicken soup for the family this past weekend. My dad and I are fennel-obsessed and my mom has COVID-19, so this was a no-brainer. Besides the usual fever and cough, she's also been lamenting about her loss of taste, and I was betting that between the ginger and chile crisp the flavor wouldn't be lost on her.”
Associate Editor Coral Lee whipped up a batch of crispy sheet-pan mujadara the other night. And if that isn’t enough to make you wish you lived with Coral, she tells me she “topped it with a fried egg and some coriander and cumin seeds popped in ghee!” Coral! In lieu of shallots, thinly sliced yellow or red onion will also work great.
If you have a chicken wedged in the back of the freezer like I do, look no further than this iconic (and Genius!) recipe from Barbara Kafka. “Her basic, flexible method appeals to me, especially now. No fussy trussing (I don’t even think I have twine right now) and it has a nifty formula for how long to cook your bird: about 10 minutes at high heat for every pound,” Test Kitchen Director Allison Buford told me. “If you want, stuff the bird with whatever squishy lemon, browning herbs, and sprouting garlic you have on hand, and it will still be delicious.”
My bar cart was out of bourbon for a shamefully long time but, now that this wrong has been made right, I have one thing on my mind: Jesse Szewczyk’s Rice Krispies treats with bourbon and brown butter. (Psst: If you are out of bourbon yourself, what else do you have? Whiskey or rum will work here, too.) They are a grown-up take on the childhood favorite or, as community member Anjalog put it, “This is no kiddie dessert! I'll never make regular Rice Krispies treats again.”
Assistant Buyer Jacob Parsons is baking cookies, as we all should be. “I chose these vegan chocolate chip cookies because the recipe didn't call for eggs or milk (very quarantine-fridge friendly), and was blown away by how good they were. Crisp on the edges, chewy in the middle, and with just enough technique that you feel like you're learning a cool new cookie trick.” And that you are! “This is going to be my new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, even when I don't have to plan grocery shopping trips two weeks at a time.”
“Maybe my subconscious was preparing me for Passover with all of the flour I've been using,” our data analyst Sarah Yaffa told me. “I just made this bread—super easy (even on the first try) and so delicious. Croutons for Caesar salad and toasted open-faced sandwiches were a great use of the bread leftovers.” Might I also recommend these bread dumplings to plop into chicken broth, along with whatever wilting vegetables are crying out for attention.
Odds are, you’re listening to and watching and reading sobering news all day, right? Same. So here are a few tweets that made me smile:
- A smart thing to do the next time you make toast.
- Why are Triscuits called Triscuits? An investigation.
- An accurate depiction of staying in touch through FaceTime.
What’s a feel-good something-something you stumbled upon recently? And what recipes are you cooking up or looking forward to?