“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”
― Laurie Colwin
Hungarian csipetke is a cross between a noodle and a dumpling. They can be cooked directly in soup or stew broth, or in plain water, and are a great accompaniment for beef goulash or any dish rich with pan juices or gravy.
Csipetke is one of the fastest styles of homemade noodles to prepare, and their name comes from the way they are formed. Pinches of dough, about the size of a dime, are rolled into a ball, flattened, and dropped into rapidly boiling water, cooked until tender.
While csipetke might look like nokedli, the Hungarian equivalent of German spaetzle, nokedli begin with a batter which is forced through a colander, sieve, or noodle grater. Csipetke, on the other hand, is made with a dough that can be rolled between the fingers.
A csipetke variation calls for rolling the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness and cutting into 1 to 2 inch pieces and curling them into a cylinder in the palm of the hand or on a csiga board. The cooking time may need to be increased.
Variations on this staple chicken and rice casserole, an easy one-pot meal, can be found throughout Spain and Latin America. The first step is to brown the cut-up chicken well on all sides. Saute the onions, garlic, green peppers and diced ham; then add the tomatoes, saffron, bay leaf and chicken broth. When the mixture comes to a boil, the rice, capers, olives and chicken are added. The dish cooks, covered tightly, in 20 minutes. To get the most authentic flavor, use high-quality saffron threads.
Traditional accompaniments for jerk chicken are savory rice with crowder peas or red beans, plantains, sweet potatoes or yams, and a fried corn bread called festival. I had the idea to make my rice with coconut milk and fresh spring peas, which may not please purists, but it's delicious.
This is a truly glorious one-pot weeknight meal. Feel free to experiment with the garnish, adding dried cranberries, hazelnuts, pine nuts or your own favorites. Ghee adds a nuttiness to the dish, but if you cannot find it, you can make it with unsalted butter using the chef Asha Gomez's method. Simply melt the butter in a pot over low heat. Let it simmer until it foams and sputters. Once the sputtering stops and the milk solids in the pot turn a khaki color, remove it from the heat and skim off the foam with a spoon. Strain remaining butter into a container, leaving behind any solids in the pot. Ghee keeps for up to six months in the refrigerator.
Butter chicken is a great, ever-evolving, cross-continental dish found in Delhi, London, New York, Perth and most points in between. In its purest form, it is yogurt-and-spice-marinated chicken dressed in a velvety red bath comprising butter, onions, ginger and tomatoes scented with garam masala, cumin and turmeric, with a cinnamon tang. This version was adapted from Amandeep Sharma, a young kitchen hand at the restaurant Attica, in Melbourne, Australia, who used to make it for staff meal. It is wildly luxurious. Serve with basmati rice and mango chutney, with papadums or naan if you can find them, with extra rice if you cannot.
This Bangladeshi-style chicken korma, named for my mother, Amu, is gently spiced and enriched with yogurt instead of cream or nuts, resulting in a light and bright sauce. This style of braising adds very little liquid, allowing the chicken to stew in its own juices. For full flavor, cook the korma until the fat breaks out of the sauce and pools on the surface. Keep it traditional and serve with paratha or rice, or pull the meat off the bones and pile between mayo-slathered white bread to make a chicken korma sandwich — and, of course, cut on a diagonal.
Homestyle Bangladeshi chicken korma is likely more aromatic, flavorful, and deeply chicken-flavored than the heavy, creamy versions served in Indian restaurants. This recipe, adapted from Shama Mubdi, is also incredibly easy to make: You just stir everything together in a pot and turn on the heat. A last-minute addition of butter-fried onions adds sweet complexity. Serve with basmati rice and salad or South Asian pickles
Ubiquitous throughout Latin America and beyond, this dish can be as simple or as complex as your ingredients allow. The key is to layer flavor, adding dimension as you go. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are preferred, but bone-in will also work well. (Chicken breasts lack the same amount of fat and flavor, so they are not recommended here.) Watch the rice carefully as it cooks, absorbing the liquid, as pots and stoves vary greatly. If it starts to smell a little burned, reduce the heat, toss and put the lid on the pot. But don’t worry, as this aroma can be part of creating the coveted pegao, a layer of toasted rice that develops on the bottom of the pan and sticks to it, similar to Persian tahdig, Spanish socarrat or Senegalese xoon.
Those who believe the best part of the Thanksgiving turkey is the day-after sandwiches with leftover cranberry sauce will welcome this recipe. It teams the relatively unappreciated drumsticks with the rarely used fresh cranberries to produce a dish of uncommon complexity.
This recipe uses canned white beans in place of chicken for a quick and totally vegetarian riff on classic coq au vin. Mushrooms, red wine, Cognac and a splash of balsamic vinegar stirred in just before serving help this dish develop an impressive depth of flavor in just a short time. The quality of your vegetable broth makes a big difference here; use an organic or other good-quality brand for best results.
Suzanne Goin, the chef and owner of a number of Los Angeles restaurants, published a recipe for this surprisingly light concoction of onions, rice, cream and Gruyere in her invaluable 2005 cookbook, "Sunday Suppers at Lucques." Years later, Mark Bittman and I served it as part of a feast menu we cooked up for the Sunday Times Magazine. It is a marvelous accompaniment to roast chicken.
This warming, savory, hearty baked rice casserole was originally meant to be an Indian-style biriyani, but my larder was stocked with Gallic ingredients: mushrooms, thyme, garlic, parsley. I switched gears, heading in a French direction. It’s a great dish for feeding a crowd and also reheats beautifully, so it’s worth making the entire batch. Serve with a crisp green salad, juicy wilted spinach or mustard greens, or all-season frozen peas.
This risotto recipe, low impact enough for a weeknight but sufficiently elegant for a dinner party, derives its earthiness from rehydrated dried porcini. Soaking the mushrooms takes the greatest amount of time — once they’re ready, they’re drained, chopped and added to arborio rice, cooked al dente in dry white wine and some chicken stock. Butter and cheese add creaminess, while sage adds an herby bite.
Coconut milk adds richness and a gentle creamy sweetness to this hearty pork stew, while garam masala, cumin, and cayenne add fragrance and a jolt of spice. Because yellow split peas are cooked along with the pork, you don’t necessarily need to serve this over another starch, making it a warming one-pot meal. However, a side of rice will tame the heat if you’re looking for a slightly mellower meal. And if you want to cool this down even further, substitute mild chiles for the hot ones called for in the garlic coconut oil.
According to Dr. Adalberto Peña de los Santos, the director of the International Nacho Festival, in Piedras Negras, Mexico, there are three timeless nacho essentials: crispy corn tortilla chips, mounds of melted cheese and at least one chile. If you want to go big, here are some unofficial guidelines: Nacho toppings should be good enough to stand on their own, the nachos should be saucy (maybe even messy) and they should be so delicious together that you can’t have just one bite. In this recipe, nachos take a vegetarian turn, with buttery pinto beans, tender carrots or sweet potatoes (or both), and a tomato-and-tomatillo salsa. Melty cheese, Mexican crema and chopped onion and cilantro take it over the top.
This spicy, saucy chicken takes almost no time to prep in the morning and only 5 minutes to finish before eating. At its simplest, the recipe is a meal-in-a-bowl stew, and the toppings are key to making it feel special. You could serve the chicken over rice or a whole grain, or use it as a taco or enchilada filling (use a slotted spoon to serve the chicken, if it is very saucy). You can also add 1 cup of frozen or fresh corn, or a drained 15-ounce can of black beans or pinto beans; just add them at the end along with the fresh cilantro and scallions. The level of heat in jarred salsas can vary, so taste yours first to ensure it is to your liking. If you want more spice, leave some of the jalapeño seeds in, or use hot canned green chiles instead of mild ones.
This tangy, mildly spicy white-bean chili is as warming and comforting as a traditional chili, but in a lighter, brighter form. Plenty of green chiles — fresh and canned — provide kick while creamy white beans mellow it all out. To decrease the heat level, remove and discard the seeds from the jalapeño before you mince it. A large handful of chopped cilantro added at the end brings freshness, but if you don’t care for cilantro, pass it at the table along with the other toppings or omit it entirely. Continuing the spirit of customizing your chili, you can make this in the slow cooker or on the stovetop. Use 3 cups chicken stock in the slow cooker and 4 cups on the stovetop, where liquid is more likely to evaporate.
In India, you’re just as likely to have biryani as a lunchtime delivery at the office as you are to see it as a stunning centerpiece at a wedding feast. The dish is pervasive, with many modern interpretations and regional permutations rooted in Muslim communities of the subcontinent. Hyderabad is famous for its style of biryani, which traditionally involves a layer of raw meat and gravy that cooks the rice as it steams in a tightly sealed pot. This Sindhi-style biryani is the one I make for special Sunday lunches and parties. With multiple layers of parcooked rice, fresh herbs, caramelized onion, saffron-infused milk and braised lamb, it’s a project, but a rewarding one. Two tips: Meat on the bone isn’t a rule, but it’s consistently better than meat off the bone. Potatoes are welcome; add a pound of small boiled potatoes to the cooked meat if you want to stretch the pot and feed a few extra people.
This version of tortilla soup arises from a dish served at the Rose Garden restaurant in Anthony, Texas. We’ve streamlined the original recipe, using chicken legs as the base of the stock, pulling off the meat when it’s tender, and adding couple of beef bones to give the broth extra depth. Laila Santana, whose mother, Dalila Garcia, owns the Rose Garden, told us the recipe lends itself to improvisation. That it does, so feel free to tweak it to your tastes.
Fresh ginger along with plenty of earthy spices like turmeric and coriander add complexity to this otherwise unassuming lentil soup. The dish is perfect for a weeknight as the legumes here cook fairly quickly. Pairing the lentils with bold, warming spices gives them a big boost of flavor in a short amount of time. To make the soup feel extra special, toast coconut flakes for a crunchy topping, and put out bowls of roughly chopped cilantro, thinly sliced scallions and lime wedges, so guests can top their soup as they please. If you’re feeling ambitious, a topping of fried shallots seasoned with flaky salt would also be nice.