Good morning. I’m jazzed for David Tanis’s new recipes for an autumnal dinner (above), which bring us a simple, exquisite romaine salad with anchovy and lemon, a savory butternut squash pie and a dessert of red wine pears. I don’t know if it’s going to be on the docket tonight, but you could get a jump on the meal for Friday by making the pears so that they have plenty of time to absorb the syrup they’re cooked in, and maybe puff pastry, too, if you want to skip the store-bought stuff.
For this evening, especially if you’re getting started on Tanis’s menu, keep it uncomplicated. I like this mushroom pasta stir-fry for that, or our easiest lentil soup. Or you could join me in my weekly exercise in improvisatory cooking, following a prompt to cook what we call a no-recipe recipe, this week for pressure-cooker chicken congee.
It’s dead simple to make: rinsed rice in the cooker with water added at a ratio of around 1 part rice to 9 parts water, along with a handful of roughly chopped ginger, and some chicken legs or thighs or both. Cook on high pressure for 30 minutes, then let the steam release naturally. Open the top carefully and fish out the chicken. If everything seems too loose for you, keep cooking the rice with the top off the pot until it thickens while you shred the meat, then return it to the pot. Season with salt, and serve adorned with chopped scallions and some combination of roasted peanuts, fried shallots, fried garlic, soy sauce, fish sauce, chile crisp or XO sauce, as you like.
Alternatively, take a gander at this quick ragù with ricotta and lemon, or this vegan tantanmen with pan-fried tofu. Is tonight the one for skillet chicken with couscous, lemon and halloumi? You could always order in whatever delivery meal makes you happiest, and if you still feel the desire to cook, bake this one-bowl carrot cake after you eat.
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Now, it’s a long day’s travel from anything to do with pommes Anna or coconut brigadeiros, but I loved this look at negative book reviews The Times has published over the years, including pans for F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night” (“not the work of a wise and mature novelist”), Henry James’s “The Golden Bowl” (“a flutter of aimless conjecture”) and Robert McCloskey’s “Blueberries for Sal” (“slight”!).