Thu. Apr 22nd, 2021


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What Our Food Staff Cooked Last Month

9 min read

The consensus among the staff of the Food desk and NYT Cooking is that February lived up to its reputation, bringing with it a bitter cold for many of us and, for some, a lot of snow. But we cooked on, and we made dishes that comforted us. Some of the recipes we whipped up are old standbys, while others made their debut just a few weeks ago. We enjoyed putting them to the test in our kitchens, and we hope you will, too.

1. Braised White Beans and Greens With Parmesan

I’m a woman who wears a bracelet emblazoned with the word “BEANS.” I am a member of a bean subscription service. For me, beans are the ultimate comfort, and when I needed it, Lidey Heuck’s recipe for braised beans and greens was there. It’s warming in all the right ways, and if you have the time, it’s even more flavorful if you use dried beans. KRYSTEN CHAMBROT

Recipe: Braised White Beans and Greens With Parmesan

2. Cranberry Lemon Bars

I wanted to make something special for a friend who is going through a hard time. Genevieve Ko’s cranberry lemon bars had been on my to-try list for a while. This was the perfect excuse. I baked them in a 9-by-9-inch pan instead of a 9-by-13-inch pan because I wanted them to be thicker, but stuck to the recipe otherwise. They were excellent. MELISSA CLARK

Recipe: Cranberry Lemon Bars

3. Winter Squash and Wild Mushroom Curry

I made David Tanis’s winter squash curry on a night when I had leftover acorn squash on hand, along with some wild mushrooms that weren’t getting any younger. I’ll make it again before the winter squash disappears. BRETT ANDERSON

Recipe: Winter Squash and Wild Mushroom Curry

4. Asparagus Frittata With Burrata and Herb Pesto

David Tanis’s asparagus frittata with burrata and herb pesto makes such a delicious dinner or weekend brunch. (I love anything with burrata!) I usually make the herb pesto that’s featured in the recipe, but I’ve used store-bought when I didn’t have fresh herbs on hand and it tasted just as good. KIM GOUGENHEIM

Recipe: Asparagus Frittata With Burrata and Herb Pesto

5. Sheet-Pan Chicken With Roasted Plums and Onions

Our recent sheet-pan package inspired me to put mine to work, so I revisited Melissa Clark’s sheet-pan chicken with roasted plums recipe, which is a personal favorite. The recipe calls for two teaspoons of fennel seeds, but I prefer coriander with chicken, so I swapped out one teaspoon of the fennel for coriander seeds. Oh, and if plums aren’t available, peaches, nectarines and pluots are all great alternatives. GABRIELLA LEWIS

Recipe: Sheet-Pan Chicken With Roasted Plums and Onions

6. Steamed Mussels With Garlic and Parsley

In a moment of longing to be in a French bistro (in France, ideally), I made David Tanis’s steamed mussels with garlic and parsley and Melissa Clark’s baked French fries, which are the only good oven fries I’ve ever had. That moules frites moment, with a glass of extremely cold white wine, was a high point of the month. BECKY HUGHES

Recipes: Steamed Mussels With Garlic and Parsley | Baked French Fries

7. Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse With Fleur de Sel

This month, I made Melissa Clark’s bittersweet chocolate mousse (adapted from Hervé This), and I added whipped cream for serving. I was intrigued by the recipe and wanted something special for Valentine’s Day dessert. I was not disappointed. FLORENCE FABRICANT

Recipe: Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse With Fleur de Sel

8. Sausage Ragù

We are pasta fanatics at our house, and the pandemic has given me the opportunity to experiment with and refine a range of different sauces. Looking for a variation on a Bolognese theme, I found this recipe from Sara Jenkins and her mother, Nancy Harmon Jenkins, by way of Julia Moskin. I’m generally not capable of adhering to Genevieve Ko’s suggestion of following recipes exactly, but I did with this rich, luxurious sausage ragù and was amply rewarded. ERIC ASIMOV

Recipe: Sausage Ragù

9. Crispy Tofu With Cashews and Blistered Snap Peas

Last month, I cooked Yewande Komolafe’s crispy tofu with cashews and blistered snap peas, and it was easily one of the best tofu dishes I’ve ever made. First, there’s the sauce — ginger and coconut milk, deepened in flavor with molasses and soy sauce — which is good enough to sip from a spoon dipped directly into the pan. But really, she has a genius for unexpected touches, like adding cashews to that sauce, and tossing snap peas with scallions, mint, red-pepper flakes and rice vinegar to go with the main dish. EMILY WEINSTEIN

Recipe: Crispy Tofu With Cashews and Blistered Snap Peas

10. Kimbap

My periodic craving for Darun Kwak’s kimbap went unanswered for ages because my energy levels rarely match my ambitions these days. But I pulled it together last month, pairing her Korean rice rolls with Eric Kim’s gochujang-glazed eggplant and Korean potato salad. I cooked on autopilot, following the recipes without question, and each came out perfectly. ALEXA WEIBEL

Recipes: Kimbap | Gochujang-Glazed Eggplant With Fried Scallions | Gamja Salad With Cucumber, Carrot and Red Onion

11. Thit Heo Kho Trung (Pork and Eggs in Caramel Sauce)

For Lunar New Year, I made and froze batches of my dumplings as well as Andrea Nguyen’s savory-sweet braised pork so we could celebrate for the full two weeks without extra work in the kitchen. And for my new go-to weeknight meal, I made Kay Chun’s smoky tomato carbonara. She says, “Tomatoes are not traditional in carbonara, but they lend a bright tang to the dish.” And that brightness in a comforting pasta — that requires only six ingredients and 30 minutes — was what I really needed this past month. GENEVIEVE KO

Recipes: Chile Crisp Dumplings | Thit Heo Kho Trung (Pork and Eggs in Caramel Sauce) | Smoky Tomato Carbonara

12. Pecan Pie Brownies

The moment I heard that we were running a pecan pie brownies recipe from Melissa Clark, I knew I would be baking them that weekend. And bake them I did, covering the rich, chocolaty brownie batter with a topping that I believed to be the sole domain of Thanksgiving season. I’m delighted to say that with this recipe, pecan pie can now be enjoyed year-round. NIKITA RICHARDSON

Recipe: Pecan Pie Brownies

13. Jajangmyeon

February is always a reminder that I’m very single. So every year on Valentine’s Day, I make myself a bowl of jajangmyeon, a porky rhapsody of chewy black bean paste-covered noodles. In Korea, singles eat this dish on April 14, or Black Day — but for me, that day is Feb. 14. As Sam Sifton wrote in 2016, jajangmyeon is “a celebration of loneliness and sorrow.” And as a writer, I relish my loneliness and sorrow because the writing often comes out funnier. So if this is funny to you, then I must be miserable. ERIC KIM

Recipe: Jajangmyeon

14. Spicy Chorizo Pasta

I finally got around to making Ali Slagle’s spicy chorizo pasta after tracking down some Spanish chorizo. (For weeks, I’d been holding onto a package of orecchiette for this recipe.) Its zing was the perfect weeknight accompaniment to a second viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s latest. SARA BONISTEEL

Recipe: Spicy Chorizo Pasta

15. Extra-Creamy Scrambled Eggs

I made J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s scrambled eggs because I wanted to be able to show that no one needs to go through all of that just for eggs. But the joke’s on me! The cornstarch made those eggs so soft and beautiful. I actually said, “I was so wrong” out loud, even though I was alone in the kitchen. I tried it a second time by just heating some butter in a pan, sprinkling a good pinch of cornstarch into two eggs and cooking them like a normal person. They were just as good! KIM SEVERSON

Recipe: Extra-Creamy Scrambled Eggs

16. Taco Seasoning

We love a taco night in my house and Sam Sifton’s taco seasoning is my go-to. My partner eats meat and I don’t, so I used the mix to season Impossible “meat.” We topped our tacos with the usual accouterments along with red onions soaked in lime juice as per Melissa Clark’s instructions for her vegetarian skillet chili. The result? Tasty and satisfying meat-free tacos for both of us. A win-win! KASIA PILAT

Recipes: Taco Seasoning| Vegetarian Skillet Chili

17. Birria Ramen

I had a lot of birria leftover in the fridge and freezer from my reporting on birria in Los Angeles, so I made an astonishing amount of birria ramen as well as birria tacos. I also simmered dried beans in leftover pints of consomé broth, then added some ripped up chard to wilt in the pot near the end of cooking. I had that with fresh herbs on top and some warm tortillas. TEJAL RAO

Recipes: Birria de Res | Birria Ramen | Birria Tacos

18. Baked Tofu With Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Lime Rice

I made Yewande Komolafe’s baked tofu with peanut sauce and coconut-lime rice because I make that dish at least once every month. It’s easy elegance, every time. I also made my portobello patty melts because I hadn’t made them in at least a year. Imagine a greasy, delicious diner burger that doesn’t leave you feeling as if you’ve done damage to yourself. SAM SIFTON

Recipes: Baked Tofu With Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Lime Rice| Portobello Patty Melts

19. Chocolate Lava Cake for Two

Inspired by the ramekin discourse in the comments of this Instagram post, I made Yossy Arefi’s chocolate lava cake for two. I divided the batter between two five-ounce ramekins, and reduced the cooking time to 10 minutes. They were a luxurious, but incredibly easy, treat. And because my sweet tooth is truly insatiable, I also made Eric Kim’s incredible soft sugar cookies with raspberry frosting, a.k.a., grocery store cookies or Lofthouse Cookies. The revelation that I could make these iconic cookies at home rocked my world. I housed all 15 cookies by myself in four days. TANYA SICHYNSKY

Recipes: Chocolate Lava Cake for Two | Soft Sugar Cookies With Raspberry Frosting

20. Sheet-Pan Sausages With Caramelized Shallots and Apples

After scoring some lamb links at the Greenmarket, I made Lidey Heuck’s sheet-pan sausages with caramelized shallots and apples. I’m glad I heeded the reader notes that recommended waiting longer to throw in the shallots and apples, which may have otherwise charred. Stuffed into a bun, this mustardy mix tasted like a ballpark frank with a graduate degree. PATRICK FARRELL

Recipe: Sheet-Pan Sausages With Caramelized Shallots and Apples

21. Olive Oil Cake

I have always preferred cake with no frosting or glaze, so this month I made Samantha Seneviratne’s olive oil cake. I substituted oranges for lemons and as it baked in the oven, the aroma was a bouquet of warm citrus goodness. I recommend eating half the cake after it’s out the oven and it’s cooled slightly, and freezing the other half for later. YEWANDE KOMOLAFE

Recipe: Olive Oil Cake

22. Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

For Mardi Gras, I made Paul Prudhomme’s chicken and sausage gumbo, but I used boneless chicken thighs instead of bone-in chicken pieces and skipped the filé powder because I didn’t have it on hand. Also, Erin Jeanne McDowell’s sky-high small-batch buttermilk biscuits appeared on our dinner table at least four times this month. (They’re a fun kid project.) They are so flaky and so easy — no rolling out necessary. Just pat, cut and bake. MARGAUX LASKEY

Recipes: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo | Small-Batch Buttermilk Biscuits

23. Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake

Yotam Ottolenghi’s blueberry, almond and lemon cake gave me a great excuse to eat cake for breakfast and briefly transported me to some hopeful, warmer days ahead — very welcome in a month where the sun only seemed to shine for a few hours (total!). It’s great as is, but I like to toast the almond flour and add a teaspoon of almond extract to really enhance the cake’s nuttiness. VAUGHN VREELAND

Recipe: Blueberry, Almond and Lemon Cake

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