Good morning. I’ve been grooving on this Hetty McKinnon recipe lately, for spiced chickpea salad with tahini and pita chips (above), which, as my colleague Julia Moskin put it, “has all the fresh flavors of a great falafel sandwich — tahini, mint, paprika, cucumber, cumin, garlic — plus the crunch of pita and the satisfying heft of chickpeas.”
As Julia suggests, I make it even easier by not cooking the greens that are the salad’s base. I use fresh salad greens instead. And sometimes I go with toasted pita instead of proper pita chips. It’s a Wednesday a year into a pandemic that’s had us cooking at home far more often than many of us have cooked in our lives. We can take shortcuts, so long as we remain vigilant about keeping things delicious.
These lamb meatballs with spiced tomato sauce are likewise terrific: warm with cinnamon and orange, and tangy from a sprinkle of feta at the end. One of my kids pointed out the other day that I’ve been making that dish — a creation of the Los Angeles chef Suzanne Goin — for the better part of a decade. It never gets old.
(Neither does Craig Claiborne’s recipe for smothered chicken, which he learned from his mother during his youth in Mississippi in the 1930s. That’s a midweek meal of great comfort and heartiness, alongside some stovetop rice and, if you have the time, long-cooked collard greens.)
Have you made Genevieve Ko’s recipe for chile crisp dumplings yet? It’s a fine outline for a no-recipe recipe if you’ve grasped the technique for steaming and frying at once. I made a filling with ground pork and a ton of grated ginger, a whisper of rice wine, a dab of chile crisp and a lot of finely chopped scallions, then wrapped and pleated, steamed and fried. I put together a dipping sauce along the way: soy sauce with a splash of rice vinegar, a sprinkle of sugar, a whisper of chile oil, some sesame seeds and minced garlic. That’s a fine dinner as well.
You could make pressure cooker mushroom and wild rice soup tonight, or roasted chicken thighs with cauliflower and herby yogurt. You could poach eggs in red wine.
Or, if you’re looking for the sort of three-course repast you might have enjoyed serving to guests at a midweek dinner party back when we could do such things, you could follow David Tanis’s lead and join his power trio: mozzarella with charred radicchio and salsa verde to start, followed by rigatoni al forno with cauliflower and broccoli rabe for the main course and Italian almond cookies for dessert.
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Now, it’s nothing at all to do with ginger snaps or butterflied shrimp, but I’ve been getting into John Singleton’s “Snowfall,” a crime drama about the crack epidemic in Los Angeles that originally aired on FX; it’s streaming on Hulu.
Here are Talking Heads, “Life During Wartime,” live at the Mudd Club, in 1979.
Remember airplane reads, those books you could hammer through during a medium-haul flight across some portion of the continent? Phillip Margolin’s “A Matter of Life and Death” is just such a page-turner, the literary equivalent of a few hours bingeing “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Nothing wrong with that.