Good morning. A few years ago, on assignment for The Times, Francis Lam went to Sunset Park, Brooklyn, to learn to make maqluba (above), a feat of Palestinian culinary engineering in which chicken and fried vegetables are cooked in deep layers of spiced rice and noodles, and then served maqluba, the Arabic word for upside down.
It’s a project recipe, yes, but perfect for a Sunday, and I urge you to make it tonight if you’ve got enough people in your pod to support a feast. (You might try it with lamb. Vegetarians can omit the chicken, adding eggplant in its place.) There’s something deeply satisfying about a savory layer cake at the center of the table, a communal meal at a time when we’re not, so many of us, communing really that much at all.
But if that’s too much — there’s just the four of you, just the two of you, just you and the stove — try Yewande Komolafe’s lentil and orzo stew with roasted eggplant instead, rich and comforting and good for leftover lunches in coming days.
Tuesday, I’m thinking, might be nice for roasted sausages with grapes and onions, or for this roasted squash salad I learned in the kitchen of Houseman, a restaurant in downtown New York. Roasted something, anyway: This time of year, at least where I stay, the oven becomes a kind of hearth, welcoming and warm.
For Thursday, spicy clam pasta with bacon, peas and basil, though I won’t make it with a single can of baby clams as the recipe suggests, but with two cans of chopped clams, or a pint of fresh chopped clams if there are any at the store. I like a lot of clams in my spicy clam pasta.
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Now, here’s a delight: Tejal Rao writing about the smells of Los Angeles, “the glorious, artificial vanilla sweetness of a commercial bakery, and then, with absolutely no warning: the high stink of garlicky cured meat, of woody mint that’s gone to flower, of the swelling ember at the end of a joint.”
Smells are central to Tejal’s work as a restaurant critic, and to her work developing recipes, too. They’re central to my work as well, and to all of us who cook. If we can, I think we should pause to inhale and in so doing reflect on the world that surrounds us: the low tidal salt funk I can smell from my front door; the warm, nutty comfort of the butter my daughter is melting in the kitchen; the fragrant lemon scent of the oil I use to polish my dining room table. Tell me what it smells like, where you stay: [email protected].
It’s a long way from almond flour and rum-plumped raisins, but here’s live Joni Mitchell, “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.”
Finally, though I’m a little late to it, please take time to read Sandra E. Garcia’s story in T Magazine about the enduring Black beachfront communities of Sag Harbor, on Long Island in New York. That’s a great read. I’ll be back on Monday.