Recipes Beginner Cooks Really Need

Even for more experienced cooks who think nothing of whipping up a pot of birria de resthese straightforward recipes are packed with smart tips and nuggets of kitchen wisdom to bookmark. For example: Pressing down on a quesadilla in a pan will produce with what Nikita calls a “halo of crispy-crunchies” around the edges. Did you know that you can use the fat in a can of coconut milk to sauté the vegetables in a vegetable tofu curry?

And don’t miss the perfectly simple French toast, roasted mixed vegetables, cheesy eggs on toast and broiled salmon with mustard and lemon.

For those who are beyond the beginner stage, here’s a no-recipe recipe for fried eggs and garlicky peas that I’ve been making: Shuck a bunch of peas, or use frozen peas. Throw them in a pan with some butter, sliced garlic and a couple of minced anchovies if you like, and let everything bubble until the peas turn bright green. Stir in a big handful of chopped herbs, and serve with fried eggs and a dollop of yogurt. Grab a chunk of bread, and it’s dinner in under 15 minutes.

And for the occasional cooks who are restaurant regulars: Our critic Pete Wells has returned to awarding stars in restaurant reviews this week, visiting La Piraña Lechonera in the South Bronx for roast pork and revelry. He writes that La Piraña “packs more joy into two days than most restaurants manage in a full week.”

And now for something completely different … vampires! Not the fanged, bloodsucking kind, but rather the criminal masterminds creeping over belle epoque Parisian rooftops in Louis Feuillade’s 1915 silent serial, The vampires. You can watch that on the Criterion Channel.

We couldn’t get enough of this outrageous vamp in our house, featuring the inimitable Musidora as Irma Vep. The director Olivier Assayas was inspired to revive her not once, but twice: in his 1996 movie, “Irma Vep,” starring the great Maggie Cheung (also on Criterion), and in the new HBO series starring Alicia Vikander. Very emo, as my teenager says, in the best possible way.

Think it’s easy to revive a classic manor? Check out this piece in The Times about the renewal of Hopwood Hall, a centuries-old historic English estate that had fallen into disrepair until an American stepped in to rebuild his ancestral home, right down to its medieval rivets.

Myself, I would have begun with the kitchen. But like Nikita said, we all have to start somewhere.

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