Tastes of Spring
Good morning. Some store-bought puff pastry, goat cheese, crème fraîche, asparagus, fresh tarragon, plenty of Parmesan and a sprinkle of red-pepper flakes — you don’t need much more than that and an hour to make Melissa Clark’s fantastic springtime tart (above). And I hope you will make it, tonight or sometime soon.
But I also understand if an hour’s labor is too much for a midweek evening, when you’ve already been cooking so much, and so often, that it’s come to feel like a chore. Try one of my no-recipe recipes instead, a prompt of a meal that you can fiddle as much or as little as you like to make it your own.
Take, for example, a dinner of seared scallops with parsley salad. You could make it in 10 minutes if you hustle, 20 if you take your time. Make a little salad of parsley, sliced shallot, a splash of olive oil, a lot of lemon juice, a sprinkle of salt. Then, take your scallops, fat and glistening, and pat them dry with a paper towel. Sear them hard in neutral oil so they get some color on one side, then flip them over and let them just warm through. I sometimes baste them with butter at that point. Serve with the salad. Maybe with toast? You’ll make the dinner you want to eat and without a real recipe either.
Of course, you don’t have to cook off the cuff. You could make this recipe for creamy vegan tofu noodles instead. But I’ll tell you what: If you do, I bet you’ll start riffing on it soon. You can use the same technique of blitzing tofu to make a vegan pasta sauce with nutritional yeast, or a ranch-ish dip with onion powder and fresh herbs. It’s a blank canvas. Get to it!
Other recipes you might be interested in right now: BLT pasta; Korean barbeque-style meatballs; a more-vegetable-than-egg frittata.
And I love this old Mark Bittman jam for salmon burgers, which I put on a brioche bun with raw red onion, lettuce and a big smear of mayonnaise cut through with lemon juice, lemon zest and plenty of hot sauce.
Or you could make crispy lamb with cumin, scallions and red chiles. You could make foragers soup. You could make a giant cinnamon roll scone and eat it in front of a screen, watching “Tyrant” on Hulu. It’s Wednesday night at what we all hope will be the tail end of a global pandemic. You can cook and eat what you want.
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Now, it’s nothing to do with chives or sand dabs, but you may recall my recommendation of Fredrik Backman’s novel “Beartown.” I somehow missed that it was turned into a series on HBO. No one looks the way I’d imagined them, which is always a peril with novels adapted for screens, and it’s a little slighter, too. Still, worth a look.
For Vox, Tove K. Danovich looked into the alarming story of how the French bulldog became America’s “it” dog and what that has meant for the breed.
Here’s Kyle Chayka on “TikTok and the Vibes Revival,” in The New Yorker.
Finally, new music to play us off: Weezer, “I Need Some of That,” which Jon Pareles used to anchor “The Playlist” in The Times this week. Let that rage and I’ll be back on Friday.
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