New York City is buzzing again, which means I’m balancing a mix of nights out at the theater with art and restaurant opening and check-ins with friends. Meanwhile, the autumn temperatures are vacillating between sudden brisk days and those so humid, it’s hard to believe it’s not summer. All this makes for an eclectic mix of meals, some that assuage my guilt for leaving my teen son home while I’m out, some that emphasize quickness so I can have both a homemade meal and make curtain call, and some that serve as the perfect antidote to one of those cold fall moments that makes you realize winter is nigh.
A quick-but-impressive fish dinner
You can make the herb butter that elevates these Fish Packets With Snap Peas, Tomatoes, and Herb Butter in advance. The rest comes together in under half an hour, making this a perfect meal to have whenever time is of the essence, as it will be when I take a friend visiting from California to see Topdog Underdog on Broadway. The meal calls for snap peas, but I will use whatever veggies I have on hand. The tomatoes add acidity, so I’ve got no plans to swap those out!
Weeknight problem solvers
A last minute invitation to something grand is great for me, but my household still has to eat. That’s when I will quickly whip up The Garlickiest Fried Rice, adding some tofu or a grilled pork chop.
If I have to go out two nights in a row, even to a work event, I will feel guilty about not providing my child with a home-cooked meal. Knowing how much he loves meatballs, the next day I will fix him these super easy but packed-full-of-flavor Sheet-Pan Meatballs With Charred Broccoli, made with ground chicken and glazed with a sweet-and-sour sauce, served over rice, his other love.
Stellar, versatile soups
Once the weather dips into the 50s, I make soup. In my house, soup has to multitask: it might need to serve as a starter before dinner, an after-school snack, or something I can warm up at lunch when I want to hunker down at my desk. I used to save this rich, velvety Stilton Cauliflower Soup for dinner parties, but it’s so delicious that I’ve decided to have it on the regular. I skip the cream and it’s still exceptional.
This time of year, I always want a lentil soup in the fridge. High in protein, warming and versatile, I never get bored of eating or making it. One I return to frequently is Christina Chaey’s Green Lentil Curry Soup. But this month, I am going to make Vishwesh Bhatt’s Everything Dal from his cookbook, I Am From Here, instead. The recipe caught my eye when I saw the dal was finished with crunchy potato chips (genius). I use chicken stock in lieu of water for added richness.
A cozy Sunday roast
At my house, we love the theoretically quiet of Sunday (give or take the roar a beautifully executed touchdown elicits) and the expectation is that it’s the one night, with rare reception, that everyone is home and anticipating a home-cooked meal. I typically roast a leg of lamb or a chicken. One dish on regular rotation is some variation of Anthony Bourdain’s Roast Chicken With Lemon and Butter. I am usually judicious with butter, electing for three tablespoons if a recipe calls for four. But here, I go all in and then some. It just helps crisp that skin. I use whatever herbs are on hand and add the zest of a lemon for that extra citrus boost.
Making the most of pantry staples
I stocked up on preserved lemons to make this Andy Baraghani buttered potato recipe, and these days, preserved lemon is the star of my pantry. Rachel Gujar’s Shrimp Pasta With Preserved Lemon pairs the salty, tangy lemon with pasta, another pantry constant for a quick, restaurant-worthy meal at home.
A luscious cocktail
I’m new to making my own cocktails and my plan to work my way through the Epicurious Interactive Cocktail Finder didn’t go as planned: I discovered the Mezcal Sour and didn’t see the need to investigate further. I’ll tire of it eventually, but for now, it’s my homemade go-to.
A gorgeous dessert for Thanksgiving
Thinking about Thanksgiving, I am leaning toward making both a sweet potato pie and a fruit tart. Judy Kim’s Pear Tart With Dulce de Leche Drizzle stopped me in my tracks with its beauty. I’ll add a little ginger to spice it up my way.