Good morning. I don’t like this season of “Pandemic.” The writing’s weak, and the plotlines keep shifting. Everything’s so dark! I’m working hard to find pleasure these days: a fudgy brownie one of my kids baked, a glass of malted milk with it; hot honey shrimp; dan dan noodles. Sometimes that works. (Other times only serendipity will do: a lone cardinal sighted on top of a tree in snowy woods, singing, “cheer, cheer, cheer.”)
But scrambled eggs can work wonders on the darkest mood. (So does seeing a snowy owl.) J. Kenji López-Alt unveiled a new magic trick for them the other day, for extra-creamy scrambled eggs (above). The recipe appears intricate — it involves using a starch slurry and cubed butter — but if you run through it once or twice, it could become second nature and maybe your new favorite breakfast.
And how about making your own spice blends? Melissa Clark made a strong argument for doing so this week, and I must say I have found great happiness in the grinding and mixing. It’s meditative, and meditative is what we need just now. She offers baseline instruction for five blends: five-spice powder; baharat; garam masala; za’atar; sweet baking spice. Make them a few times, and you’ll find yourself tweaking the blends to your own tastes and uses.
As for dinner tonight, I offer good spirits in the form of our weekly exercise in no-recipe cooking: this time, an improvisatory take on pasta with hot Italian sausage, artichoke hearts and brown butter. Set a pot of well-salted water to boil, then sauté some sausage links in a little oil to seize their skins tight. Take them out of the pan and cut them into coins. (The water’s boiling now, so get some pasta into it — I like it with cavatelli in honor of Frankies Spuntino in Brooklyn, which serves a similar dish.) Return the sausage coins to the pan with a big hunk of butter and toss them all around until everything’s crisp and the butter’s gone nutty. Now add a jar of artichoke hearts and toss. Drain off the pasta and put it into a warm bowl with the sauce. Mix well and serve with grated Parmesan. Turn that frown upside down.
And there are thousands and thousands more recipes to consider waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Go take a look and see what piques your interest. Save the recipes you want to cook. Rate the ones you’ve made. And leave notes on them, too, if you’ve come up with a cool hack or ingredient substitution that you want to remember or share with fellow subscribers.
(Subscriptions are necessary if you want to enjoy all that NYT Cooking has to offer. They support our journalism. I hope, if you haven’t already, that you will subscribe to NYT Cooking today.)
We’ll be standing by to help, should something go sideways in your cooking or our technology. Just write us at email@example.com. Someone will get back to you.
Now, it’s nothing to do with veal chops or Lawry’s seasoned salt, but here’s some newish fiction from Jhumpa Lahiri to read: “Casting Shadows,” in The New Yorker.
I enjoyed this Larry Wolff essay in The New York Review of Books about how gas illumination changed opera. Stick with me on this one!