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What to Cook This Week

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 there’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. They’re kind of uptight.

I aspire to chaos, myself. It seems fun! And I do often serve dinner later than I’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 they’re slicing and dicing. Clean as you go? It’s a good way to live.

As for what to cook for dinner tonight? If there’s a more delicious way to elevate baked salmon (above) than topping it with maple syrup, mustard and a wee bit of mayonnaise, I’m unaware of it, though it’s crucial to go heavy on the cilantro stems during cooking and the raw leaves for service. Another great tip from the recipe notes: It’s not that cooking salmon is difficult. It’s just that overcooking salmon is easy.

And here’s a plan for the rest of the week.

I’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 that’s far from Sullivan Street. “Double the ingredients, halve the number of people you eat it with, then you’ll have loads of it and won’t have to share,” one subscriber noted below the recipe. “An absolute winner.”

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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Now, it’s nothing to do with moose steaks or lobster roe, but sticking with social media for a moment, you really should be following Lost in History, on Instagram.

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 here’s Wendell Berry in the Threepenny Review’s fall 2017 issue, “The Art of Loading Brush.”

Finally, here’s some music to cook with: Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, “Just Coolin’.” Enjoy that while you’re cooking, and I’ll be back on Monday.



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