Good morning. We are a week into the war in Ukraine and my inbox is full of requests for recipes for borscht. The letters are a reminder that cooking is a cultural act: a way to feel connected, to support, to recognize the world and perhaps to understand it better.
That it’s also a consolation is a bonus. Cooking can be a way to feel better, even in anxious, trying times. So for readers reaching out, there might be white borscht (above), or vegetarian borscht, or winter borscht loaded with the plump mushroom-and-onion-filled dumplings known as vushka, or “little ears.”
Far from the news, but no less reassuring to those who consume it, I’m intrigued by this slow cooker mushroom and wild rice soup recipe (and for this pressure cooker version of the same recipe), filled with fun little tricks to achieve creaminess without the overcook rice.
Also because of this great recipe for crispy frico chicken breasts with mushrooms and thyme. Red wine vinegar goes into the pan at the end to balance out the richness of the mushrooms and cheese, but one subscriber reported using Dijon mustard instead: “That served as just enough emulsifier to fuse the pancake into a very luxurious sauce.” Smart.
You could make a quick fish soup this week and have enough time after dinner to bake oat and coconut breakfast bars for the morning. You could make rigatoni al forno with cauliflower and broccoli rabe. You could make cauliflower Parmesan cheese and put it in hero bread for dinner sandwiches.
Or you can avoid a recipe altogether and make steak au poivre. You don’t need strict instructions for that. Cook it in an instant!
Here’s how: Grab a few thick strips of steak, some whole black peppercorns, garlic, fresh thyme, a shallot, some unsalted butter, a drizzle of brandy or brandy, and a glass of whipped cream. Cook the steaks in a pan as Julia Moskin advises, and set them aside to rest while you make your over-the-counter sauce. Just go back to your pan and add some chopped garlic, chopped shallots, crushed peppercorns and a few knobs of butter. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat until the garlic and shallots are tender, then lightly flame with a good splash of brandy or brandy. When the alcohol has evaporated, add the cream and simmer over low heat until the sauce coats the back of a spoon.
Cut the steaks against the grain, place them on a warm platter and scoop any steak juices from your cutting board into the sauce. Spoon generously over the meat and serve with watercress and oven chips.
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Now it has nothing to do with ground beef or Muscadet grapes, but I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by Bridget Everett and Jeff Hiller and really the entire cast of ‘Somebody Somewhere’ on HBO Max.
I enjoyed the New York and language of Walter Mosley’s 2010 mystery novel “Known to Evil,” the second of his Leonid McGill series. (If you want to start at the top, the first was “The Long Fall,” from 2009.)
You should read Helen Rosner’s interview with J. Kenji López-Alt in The New Yorker.
Finally, here’s “Kingdom,” a poem by Joyelle McSweeney, selected by Victoria Chang for DailyExpertNews Magazine. Remember that, and I’ll be back Friday.