What to Cook Right Now

Good morning. That sourdough starter in the back of the fridge that you haven’t used since the heady days early in the pandemic, when all you could do was bake more sourdough bread? It’s fine! It might have some gross, dark liquid on top of it, yes. They call that “hooch.” Just pour it off and get some fresh flour and water into the container. Within a day or so you’ll be back in business and ready to set up morning waffles or English muffins (above), an evening pizza, or lunchtime sourdough no-knead bread.

The starter’s a metaphor. Things are generally more salvageable than they appear! It’s the middle of the week and maybe you’re exhausted, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat takeout that’s not as good as you want it to be. This simple skillet broccoli spaghetti from Ali Slagle will prove that plain, as will her gnocchi with hot and sweet peppers, her spring soba with tinned fish, her caramelized zucchini pasta, and her pasta with chopped pesto and peas.

You could make fish Milanese from Kay Chun’s recipe, the fish breaded and fried, then served with peppery arugula, creamy avocado and a lemony brown butter and caper sauce. You could make Dawn Perry’s retro delight, four-cheese French bread pizza, or Genevieve Ko’s maple-baked salmon.

Melissa Clark’s wine-braised chicken with mushrooms and leeks is another midweek winner, as is Alexa Weibel’s lemony pea and spinach soup.

Or, if you’re still wobbling because life is difficult and you spent all last weekend cooking and the idea of more cooking fills you with dread? Consider a meal of popcorn and Sancerre. Tomorrow will be easier. Restarting a starter takes time.

There are thousands and thousands more recipes to make right now waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. (Find more inspiration on our on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube accounts.) You do, yes, need a subscription to access the recipes and to use our features and tools. Subscriptions support our work and allow it to continue. I hope you will, if you have not already, consider subscribing today. Thank you.

We are in turn standing by, in case anything goes wrong with our technology. Just reach out to us at cookingcare@nytimes.com, and someone will get back to you. Or you can write to me: foodeditor@nytimes.com. I read every letter sent.

Now, it’s a far cry from rendered duck fat or the scent of a toasted cranberry muffin, but I liked this history of the tow truck, by Andrew Sheldon in AAA Magazine.

Shall we go to Lapland next, way up at the top of Finland? “Arctic Circle,” on Amazon Prime, is cold and dark, with an incredible landscape.

Also in the investigative vein, I’m making my way through Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch novels, about a game warden for the state of Maine who runs into a lot of crime.

Housekeeping: In Monday’s newsletter, I managed to mangle the spelling of Maud Newton’s last name, rendering it as a Connecticut town instead. Apologies. Do read her new book, “Ancestor Trouble.

Finally, there’s a new Phoebe Bridgers track to listen to, “Sidelines.” It led me down a rabbit hole where I discovered this terrific live recording of Bridgers playing Gillian Welch’s “Everything Is Free” in Amsterdam in 2018. Listen to both of those, and I’ll be back on Friday with more.

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