Good morning. Greetings from the middle of a strange holiday weekend. It was meant to be, for some of us, the end not just of unofficial summer but of many of the protocols meant to keep us safe from the coronavirus — a time to return to commuting, perhaps to an office, to the rhythms of what passed for normal life back in 2019. Until it wasn’t. We’re still masking, still anxious about breakthroughs, still unsure what’s going to happen with the children’s schooling, still worried about the future, still unsettled in the present.
Labor Day Weekend is a reset, generally. This year, the button will not click.
We can try, though. Cooking helps. It sharpens the senses, provides a focus for a few hours. It allows for the possibilities of fellowship and its fruits: laughter and togetherness. So, mixed grill today or tomorrow? Sweet and salty grilled pork with citrus and herbs (above)? Spicy corn on the cob with miso butter and chives? I like these grilled summer vegetables with tahini dressing as well. Any one of them could bring joy into these days muddled by uncertainty.
You could always make spaghetti and clams. I had a game-changing rendition of the dish with friends, a no-recipe summer feast: steamed clams served alongside their liquor, with mounds of spaghetti dressed in oil, a bowl of diced cherry tomatoes marinated in oil and vinegar, lots of fresh Parmesan and plenty of crusty bread. Dress each dish of pasta as you like: a few clams, a big splash of broth, a spoonful of the tomatoes, a liberal dusting of cheese. Eat that with a salad and you could close your eyes and find yourself on a porch above Vineyard Sound.
So that’s today, or tomorrow. On Monday or Tuesday night, you might avail yourself of our collection of recipes for Rosh Hashana, and make among other things matzo ball soup, braised brisket and kugel, with an apple cake for dessert.
Or you could take a run at Kay Chun’s terrific new recipe for sheet-pan salmon and eggplant with an easy XO sauce. The sauce, a quick take on the classic Chinese condiment, comes together while the eggplant roasts, and then infuses everything with a metric ton of rich, aromatic seafood intensity. Just add a bowl of perfect stovetop rice.
For Wednesday’s meal, I’m looking at Alexa Weibel’s new recipe for grilled portobellos with chive butter. The mushrooms are sliced so they pick up more char and the edges crisp, then bathed in compound butter. (You could make them in a broiler, of course.) Maybe with pita and hummus? Or kale tabbouleh?
On Thursday, I think you could start the day with these weekday breakfast burritos from Yewande Komolafe, then take a pass on lunch and make Melissa Clark’s lemony pasta with chickpeas and parsley for dinner.
And on Friday, take a run at Sarah DiGregorio’s recipe for slow-cooker chicken tinga tacos. It’s a simple, family-friendly meal to ring out the week.
Many thousands more recipes to make this week are waiting for you on New York Times Cooking. You do need a subscription to access them, yes. That’s how this whole enterprise works: Subscriptions support our work and allow it to continue. I hope, if you haven’t already done so, that you will subscribe today.
And we are standing by to help, in case anything goes strangely in your kitchen or with our technology. Just write us: email@example.com. Someone will get back to you. Or you can write to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I can’t respond to every letter, but I read every one sent.
Lee (Scratch) Perry died a week ago in Lucca, Jamaica, at the age of 85. Jon Pareles wrote his obituary for The Times, and you should read it while listening to these dubs from the early 1970s, “Skanking With The Upsetter.”
And if you’ve picked up a late invitation to a beach hang on Monday and need a read for your towel or chair, catch up on Jean Hanff Korelitz’s ingenious page-turner, “The Plot.”