New Year’s Cooking Resolutions – New York Times
If sticking to resolutions were as easy as making them, perfection would be possible, and the self-improvement section of the library would become a cobweb city. However, self-reflection can be a useful exercise at the beginning of the new year. What better place to start than in the kitchen, where you have to spend at least some time every day?
Consider a gentler approach to decision-making: Try to become a little better at something, rather than changing your habits wholesale. Maybe you want to incorporate Meatless Mondays into your weekly routine, or maybe you’re determined to bake Christmas cookies for your loved ones this year. Maybe, just maybe, this is the year you finally learn how to cook.
Whatever your goals, we have recipes to get you closer to them. Try these in 2024, and by this time next year, we’re sure you’ll be impressed by how much you’ve come in cooking.
Few dishes embody the possibility of meatless dining quite like Melissa Clark’s five-star red lentil soup, the most-reviewed recipe in the entire New York Times cooking database. He expertly delivers on the promise of any good vegetarian recipe: he respects the cook’s time. It turns simple staples and vibrant, fresh ingredients like lime juice and cilantro into something surprisingly complex. And it won’t leave you wandering into the kitchen looking for something more substantial to eat next.
recipe: Red lentil soup
Quinoa and broccoli spoon salad
For beginners, deciding to eat more plant-based meals may seem like resigning yourself to a future of lukewarm salads. Don’t let this myth deter you. Sahla El Waily’s Quinoa and Broccoli Spoon Salad is proof that salads can be delicious, crunchy, and balanced without a topping of grilled chicken on top. The unexpected mix of flavors and textures here – raw broccoli, crunchy nuts, dried and fresh fruit, micro grains, and salty cheese – only gets better when it’s ready, and is perfect for packed lunches when you get back into the post-holiday routine.
recipe: Quinoa and broccoli spoon salad
Sheet pan paneer tikka
The gateway to more regular meat-free cooking for some people may be cheese. Soft cheeses, like the versatile South Asian paneer, soak up a delicious marinade of yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, and a handful of other spices in this wonderful recipe from Zainab Shah (although you could just as easily use cubed tofu). Bouncy cheese bites, which don’t melt even when roasted over high heat, cook alongside vegetables for a satisfying meal in less than 30 minutes.
True beginners should look no further than this three-ingredient recipe from Melissa Clark. The emphasis is strictly on technique, making a straightforward quesadilla more texturally attractive without much effort. “A nice, easy way to make a quesadilla sing even more than usual,” wrote one New York Times Cooking reviewer. “Honestly, I’m a little disappointed because I didn’t think of this myself before!”
recipe: Quesadilla with crispy edges
Jeeran Bab (rice with eggs)
This Eric Kim recipe relies on two important cooking pillars: frying eggs and making a simple sauce to cover white rice. It was developed for those who cook for one person, whether they are college freshmen or empty nesters. With just five ingredients, the dish creates little mess and can serve as a canvas for whatever else you have on hand, like sliced avocado, scallions, or even baking seasoning.
recipe: Jeeran Bab (rice with eggs)
Grilled salmon with mustard and lemon
Once you feel comfortable at the stove, it’s time to move on to the grill. Melissa Clark’s 15-minute recipe for skin-on salmon fillets with Dijon mustard and olive oil is so foolproof, it deserves to become your favorite fish preparation recipe. “What kind of magic is this?” “I followed the recipe to the letter and it came out perfect,” wrote one New York Times Cooking reviewer.
recipe: Grilled salmon with mustard and lemon
For the aspiring baker
Rice Krispie Treats
Scott Loach’s recipe includes two valuable lessons for new bakers: the importance of salt in any baked goods, and the depth that browned butter can provide. To balance the sweetness of all that sticky marshmallow, you need more salt than you think (1¼ teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt, or five grams of any coarse or table salt); Otherwise, your desserts will taste of one flavour. Simply browning butter—slowly cooking the water and then caramelizing the milk solids—adds a nutty warmth that will have you adding browned butter to any cookies or brownies you make in the future.
recipe: Rice Krispie Treats
Adapted from Marty Buckley’s “Basque Country” cookbook, this recipe is a testament to the idea that less is more. Using fewer ingredients, fewer tools, and fewer tricky tricks results in a stunning dessert that will convince those you’re feeding — and maybe even yourself — that you’re a good baker. This type of cheesecake spares you the water bath, and is instead baked at a higher temperature than the classic New York method, creating a glazed surface that, at first, puffs up like a soufflé, then sinks in on itself and takes on a warm flavor reminiscent of a fire-roasted marshmallow.
Gluten-free, with just six ingredients and restaurant-caliber flavor, this recipe from Genevieve Coe is packed with smart tips for beginners. Despite the notion that chocolate bars are always best for baking, Genevieve uses chocolate chips, which contain less cocoa butter but more cocoa solids than their chocolate bar counterparts, and thus have more chocolate flavor when baked into a cake. They serve double duty in this one-pot dessert, helping bind together minimal ingredients in the absence of flour.
recipe: Chocolate cake without flour
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