Back in March, I subscribed to NYT Cooking out of laziness: sifting through Google and assorted blogs each week to get ideas for feeding my spouse and myself grew tiresome and the appeal of having so many saveable recipes in one place was shiny. As I wrote this piece, I realized with a bit of surprise that my level of comfort with modifying a recipe to my taste has recently increased, likely due to practice, and I share my modifications below. The shine has yet to wear off and the subscription has been completely satisfying.

If you aren’t able to view the recipes through the hyperlinks, please find them here.

All photos are from NYT Cooking.

New York Times photo

Kimchi Fried Rice

After being introduced to kimchi fried rice by a friend during my senior year at Calvin, this recipe was one of the first Google results I found, and running out of free views is the reason I subscribed to NYT Cooking in the first place. Experience has revealed that it is important to use rice that has been refrigerated for at least a few hours, preferably overnight, as hot, freshly cooked rice will become mushy when stirred into the wok.

I’ve cooked this with no meat, bacon, ham, and Spam, and yes, I did resist the notion of using Spam for a long time, only to discover that it resulted in my favorite version. Let’s not be snobs here.

New York Times photo

Broccoli-Walnut Pesto Pasta

What a delight this pasta is! I made it on a Sunday night for Monday’s lunch, and as walnuts aren’t my favorite, I intended to use pine nuts only to forget them until hours later when I was settling into bed. Such a whoops was not enough to draw me from my cozy nest back into the kitchen, so I experienced the dish as nut-free and still delicious.  

Reading the comment section under this recipe ahead of time saved me from destroying this lovely pasta with an obscene amount of salt. For an inconceivable reason, readers are instructed to boil 4 cups of broccoli in a saucepan of water with ¼ cup salt. I used 1 and a half tablespoons and it was perfect—the full ¼ cup would have been horrible. A pesto without cheese in it is not the pesto I need or desire in my life, so I added ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan to the food processor bowl before pouring in the olive oil.

New York Times photo

Leek, Turnip, and Rice Soup

A dud. A disGUSTing dud.

I shudder at the memory of this soup. The flavor wasn’t so awful at first taste, but it got worse with every spoonful and the texture was loathsome. I don’t like to waste food. Really, I don’t. It is telling, then, that upon choking down half a bowl of this vile pottage, I let out a small burp and was overcome by secondhand fumes. A guttural scream tore from my throat and before I really knew what I was doing I had lifted the pot from the stovetop, dumped it it into the sink, and flicked the garbage disposal switch.

New York Times photo

Cheesy White Bean-Tomato Bake

A divinely comforting dish for a cold winter night, best eaten on the couch with a loved one by your side, Netflix before your eyes, and a basket of toasted baguette slices on the coffee table.   

Tremendously easy to make, odds are you already have the key ingredients of canned white beans, tomato paste, and mozzarella cheese, and while delicious in its simplicity, it welcomes a multitude of additions. I’ve used Tuscan Herb olive oil to fry the garlic and added parmesan and red pepper flakes in the past; I intend to add Italian sausage and chopped fennel next time.  

New York Times photo

Butternut Squash Oat Muffins with Candied Ginger

A revelation. A heart song. An assurance that there is still good in the world. I twirled around  the kitchen after tasting one fresh from the oven with a bit of butter.

No modifications needed, just know that the candied ginger is essential and you should not proceed without it.

New York Times photo

Chickpea Vegetable Soup with Parmesan, Rosemary, and Lemon

This soup pleased me so much that I made it two weeks in a row. I had never used dried chickpeas before and was gleeful to find that my soaked-overnight chickpeas grew to more than double the size of canned ones.

I don’t abide bland food, so upon reading some comments complaining of that very crime, I used vegetable broth instead of water and added red pepper flakes, plus a bit of lemon juice at the end. As the recipe blurb indicates, the blend of rosemary, Parmesan, and lemon zest are key to this soup’s success, and a small taste of the cheese blend by itself made me gasp with joy.

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