Good morning. Home cooks generally fall into one of two camps, I find: Chaos Muppets or Order Muppets. Those Chaos Muppets have their charms, and you may eat brilliantly at their tables, but dinner will always be late and thereâ€™ll be a phenomenal amount of cleanup in the kitchen afterward. Your Order Muppets, for their part, clean as they go. They follow plans closely. Theyâ€™re kind of uptight.
I aspire to chaos, myself. It seems fun! And I do often serve dinner later than Iâ€™d intended. But my belief in order is too strong to allow the mess to get out of hand. I imagine Chaos Muppets sometimes have a similar desire to be more like their opposite. And so I think we should all try to embrace that balance this week, edging our cooking closer to the precepts of the Muppet we are not.
For Order Muppets, then: no-recipe recipes that allow the cook to freestyle. And for Chaos Muppets, some semblance of organization and stability: a proper mise en place and an empty sheet pan for scraps while theyâ€™re slicing and dicing. Clean as you go? Itâ€™s a good way to live.
As for what to cook for dinner tonight? If thereâ€™s a more delicious way to elevate baked salmon (above) than topping it with maple syrup, mustard and a wee bit of mayonnaise, Iâ€™m unaware of it, though itâ€™s crucial to go heavy on the cilantro stems during cooking and the raw leaves for service. Another great tip from the recipe notes: Itâ€™s not that cooking salmon is difficult. Itâ€™s just that overcooking salmon is easy.
And hereâ€™s a plan for the rest of the week.
Iâ€™ve been messing around with tempeh lately, using the soy crumbles in place of ground beef or pork. Here, for tempeh tacos, a generous amount of seasoning reminds me of the filling for the hard-shell tacos I loved so much in middle school. Vegan cheese on top? You do you. I prefer Cheddar and a little sour cream.
I love this braised chicken with salami and olives, a Sicilian number out of New Orleans that Kim Severson prized out of the chef Donald Link, chicken cacciatore thatâ€™s far from Sullivan Street. â€œDouble the ingredients, halve the number of people you eat it with, then youâ€™ll have loads of it and wonâ€™t have to share,â€ one subscriber noted below the recipe. â€œAn absolute winner.â€
Naz Deravian has an ace new recipe for kalleh gonjeshki, a great cold-weather Iranian dish of meatballs and potatoes in tomato sauce that comes together in under an hour. Try it!
And then you can head into the weekend with a crispy Parmesan roast chicken with lemon, which I think would go very nicely with a bowl of spaghetti with olive oil and a little more Parm. Red-pepper flakes are an excellent addition to both.
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And you should read Jasmin Pittman Morrell on Erika Council, the biscuit Jedi, in the Bitter Southerner.
Who knows how I ended up reading it on my phone, but hereâ€™s Wendell Berry in the Threepenny Reviewâ€™s fall 2017 issue, â€œThe Art of Loading Brush.â€
Finally, hereâ€™s some music to cook with: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, â€œJust Coolinâ€™.â€ Enjoy that while youâ€™re cooking, and Iâ€™ll be back on Monday.