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What to Cook Right Now

Try a comforting, creamy orzo recipe from Melissa Clark and a wintry menu from David Tanis.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. Melissa Clark is in the newspaper we delivered to the vicinity of our subscribers’ front doors this morning, with a new recipe for what she’s calling brown-butter orzo with butternut squash (above). It’s a lovely, one-pot affair, rich and creamy and almost risottolike in consistency: Sweet and velvety squash takes well to a dollop of cooling ricotta against the heat of red-pepper flakes and a zip of lemon, a near-perfect rejoinder to the chill and damp of a December evening. Maybe you could give it a try tonight? Fortifying!

Some will be entertaining this week, drawing friends and family close in evenings of celebration in advance of the winter solstice, Christmas, the end of the year. David Tanis is ready for those with a lively menu of fennel and radicchio salad, followed by an ad-lib fish stew and a ruby grapefruit granita for dessert.

For myself, I’m thinking a tourtière, or a brisket and Guinness pie, to serve alongside a simple salad of watercress dressed in olive oil and a lot of lemon juice, with flaky sea salt. (Both can be fortified with a healthy cup of this amazing concoction the chef Fergus Henderson calls trotter gear, a gelatinous cross between stock and magic that’s made from pig’s feet, vegetables and Madeira. I know. It’s a lot. But make some for your next pot of beans and you’ll be a convert.)

Still, others will simply be trying to get a meal on the table against a backdrop of work and holiday drinks and children and the press of our current circumstances. For them, perhaps, this simple cold noodle salad with spicy peanut sauce, or maple-baked salmon, or a cheesy, spicy black bean bake. (Not your speed? Here are our most popular recipes of 2021.)

There are thousands and thousands more recipes to appeal to your specific interests and needs waiting on New York Times Cooking. You need a subscription to access them, it’s true, same as you need one for Netflix to watch “Unorthodox.”

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We are, in the meantime, here for you should anything go sideways while you’re cooking or using our site and app. Just write us at [email protected] and someone will get back to you.

Now, it’s a far cry from telling you to make fesenjoon or japchae, but you ought to read Michael Schulman’s profile, in The New Yorker, of Jeremy Strong, the actor who plays Kendall Roy on “Succession.”

The Times’s Jazmine Hughes will be at the wheel of a free virtual event on Thursday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. Eastern time, discussing how the pandemic is changing New York City’s cultural landscape. And she’s got a good crew lined up to do that: She’ll be joined by Laurie Anderson, Lynn Nottage and Sarah Schulman. RSVP here.

Vulture ranked the 101 best New York City movies. There is plenty to debate in that.

Finally, in case you missed it, here’s Bill Friskics-Warren’s obituary for Stonewall Jackson, the country-music star who spent six decades as a cast member of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. He died last week at 89. His biggest hit: “Waterloo.” Listen to that, and I’ll be back on Friday.

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