Good morning. We devoted this week’s Food section of The Times to the joys of holiday baking, with articles devoted to slice-and-bake cookies from Alison Roman, a roundup of the year’s best baking books, an examination of the strange and beautiful world of competitive cookie decorating and a look at the culture of holiday food swaps across the land.
I hope they’ll lead you to the kitchen this weekend. Maybe you’ll make Alison’s boss new recipe for chocolate-molasses cookies (above). Those are some adult cookies, kid. They’re rich and smoky: Lauren Bacall saying, “You remember things, don’t you” in “Dark Passage.” If you’re looking for sweetness and light, you won’t find them. Try Alison’s coconut shortbread cookies or her salted pistachio shortbread wedges instead.
For dinner tonight, will you try to cook without a recipe? It’s a good exercise, gets the mind working nicely and helps in the matter of kitchen confidence as well. Try a free-form pasta puttanesca: olive oil, garlic, anchovies, canned crushed tomatoes, pitted black olives, capers and red-pepper flakes, to serve over linguine or spaghetti or bucatini or whatever dried pasta you happen to have in the house. I like it with shells sometimes, for how the olives get lost in them.
It’s simple work: Sauté the anchovies and a lot of garlic in a lot of olive oil while your salted pasta water comes to a boil in a big pot. (How many anchovies? How many you got? I go minimum four, and same with cloves of garlic.) When the fish are melted and the garlic’s gone gold, add the tomatoes and stir everything together. Let that simmer a while, get a little thicker, then add the olives and capers and red-pepper flakes until it’s as fiery as you like. Taste for salt and pepper. Keep simmering and, when the pasta is done to your liking, taste again, then toss it with sauce and serve.
Now, it’s nothing to do with crème fraîche or Dover sole, but Kelefa Sanneh writing about boxing is a reminder of the long and storied history of New Yorker stylists engaging with the sweet science. Here he is on Saturday night’s Wilder-Fury fight in Los Angeles. (And here’s A.J. Liebling in the same magazine back in 1955, writing about Archie Moore and Rocky Marciano at Yankee Stadium.)
You might enjoy this comic-art history of the Caesar salad, by Jef Harmatz on Medium.
I’m, like, a judge on the America episode of this new cooking show on Netflix, “The Final Table”? I had fun with Dax Shepard and Colin Hanks, and we busted Andrew Knowlton’s chops and we ate a lot of turkey. See what you think.