Good morning. I love a good bagel debate, love arguing chewiness, size, the slickness of a crust. I love someone explaining the logic behind a cinnamon raisin bagel with cream cheese and lox, discussing the merits of toasting or not toasting, making a passionate case for flagels, asking, “New York or Montreal?” (I grew up with New York bagels, watched them grow slack and airy and over-large. Now, I prefer what you get in Montreal.) Bagel consideration is important work.
So is making your own (above). Claire Saffitz, working with the incredible team at NYT Cooking, has put together this invaluable guide to making bagels (and an accompanying YouTube video) that not only demystifies the process but makes it possible for home cooks, even beginning home cooks, to master the craft. Today’s a good day to lose yourself in that activity, and to bake off a dozen or so shiny rounds for breakfast tomorrow and throughout the week. (Slice and freeze for later use!)
And for dinner? If there’s time, give Melissa Clark’s new recipe for polenta lasagna a spin. But if there isn’t because you got in the weeds with the bagels, ate up the clock, feel too tired to make a proper meal? Fish out that instant ramen I’m always telling you to stock in the pantry, and then scour the refrigerator for stuff to make it perfect instant ramen.
For Wednesday, I’m thinking you could put together this kale salad with cranberries, pecans and blue cheese, although, of course, you don’t need to use those ingredients. Some sturdy greens, some dried fruit, some nuts, some cheese, some acidity: you’re good. Sometimes I add bread crumbs. Other times, a roast chicken.
Thousands and thousands more recipes to cook this week are waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Go browse our virtual aisles and see what strikes your fancy. You can save the recipes you like. You should rate the recipes you’ve cooked. And if you’ve come up with a recipe hack or ingredient substitution, feel free to leave notes on the recipe, either for yourself or for your fellow subscribers.
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Now, it’s a long sail from persimmons and Stilton, but I can’t get this haunting book review by Andrew O’Hagan in the London Review of Books out of my head. It’s about “Sea State,” by Tabitha Lasley, an accounting of her time spent amid North Sea oil riggers as a reporter in way too deep.
On a more uplifting note, the poet Amanda Gorman had quite a week, reading at the inauguration of President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Vice President Kamala Harris. Do read another of her poems, “In This Place (An American Lyric),” from 2017.
And here’s an amazing yarn by Eddy Portnoy in Smithsonian Magazine, on the life and death of a Yiddish puppet theater.
Finally, listen to (and watch!) Otis Rush, “I Can’t Quit You Baby.” That’s how I’d like to make bagels. I’ll be back on Monday.