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Perfect Roast Beef

This is prime rib (basically the Rolls Royce of roast beef), one of the crown jewels of the holiday season. For a less expensive take, get a 4- to 5-pound boneless rump roast and start checking on it about 40 minutes after you put it into the oven. This makes dynamite leftovers.

raspberries raspberry

Raspberry Fool

The easiest mousse you can make (and a nice excuse to eat copious amounts of whipped cream). This is a perfect treatment for raspberries, which require no cooking at all to be tender, but a fool can also be made with any soft, ripe (or frozen) fruit (most you won’t even need to strain after puréeing).

Pad Thai

Totally ubiquitous (and often underwhelming) in Thai restaurants, Pad Thai is a near universal crowd-pleaser that most of us don’t bother to make at home. The biggest hurdle (and it’s really just a matter of going shopping) is collecting the ingredients that you probably don’t have on hand, like rice stick noodles and tamarind paste.

Potato Pierogi

With all due respect to ravioli, and all of the other stuffed pastas/doughs that exist around the world, I’m partial to the pierogi. These dumplings are creamy and savory, cooked in butter and served with cooked onion and sour cream.

pierogi dumpling

Pierogi Wrappers

Potato “Nik”

I love crisp, crunchy potato pancakes (also known as latkes) but they’re a pain to cook one by one. Fortunately there’s potato nik, my grandmother’s clever solution with the mysterious, unexplained name. I figure one nik equals twenty latkes, and you can actually walk away from it for a few minutes while it cooks. Plus, it stays hot for a long time and is delicious warm or at room temperature.

Stuffed Butternut Squash

Fried Squid

While cooking squid I tried innumerable coatings. I have two conclusions to report: If you like cakey batter, make what amounts to a thick pancake batter. If you just want a little bit of crust (this is my preference), dredge lightly in flour; it doesn’t get any simpler or better.

Salt-Broiled Whole Fish

Best done with small fish—four 1-pound red snappers or black bass are ideal—this technique, among the world’s easiest and most reliable, can also be used with larger fish. But I wouldn’t go above a couple of pounds each, or cooking them through under the broiler will be tricky.

Stop Worrying About the Temperature of Your Food

At home, where our thermostat typically reads around 74° F, I’ve been thinking more about food that comes together at a rate that matches the given mood or moment. In an attempt to protect a sense of peace in the kitchen—less pressure, more pleasure—what I’ve found most appealing are meals with no fuss around the degree range at which they’re consumed. Things that can be done ahead while still existing as an expression of care and attention to detail.

Oranges and Cream Platter

This recipe is a tribute to creamsicles, which are perfect as they are, minus the brain freeze (in my experience, they’re pretty impossible to eat slowly). Topped with gingersnaps, mint, and whipped cream, fresh oranges that look more like twinkling stars feel like a familiar, refreshing dessert that’s not going to melt on you. It’s a fun one to serve family-style, and more than “still good” at room temperature.

Frittata with Anchovies and Fried Capers

If you’ve ever ignored the idea of reheating leftover pizza in favor of eating it straight from the fridge, this recipe is for you—not only in terms of temperature, but also taste. Anchovies, fried capers, and fresh basil are my preferred frittata toppings, but anything you’d put on a pizza is free game. Allow it time to cool after cooking, then enjoy warm, at room temperature (my favorite), or cold, straight from the fridge.

Shaved Cauliflower and Celery Slaw

Nothing in this recipe is shredded, but I still consider it a slaw. It’s creamy, crunchy, and tastes better the next day, all without getting too soggy. The cauliflower and celery are sliced thinly enough to get a mix of everything in each bite, and miniature tree shapes and thick ribbons only make things more fun. Plus, once it’s plated, it holds up well (and it’s equally enjoyable, if not ideal, at room temperature).

Spatchcocked Chicken with Garlic, Parsley, and Orange

Remove the backbone from a whole bird and it will lie flat, instantly doubling the surface area—and the flavor and crisping potential.

Coda alla Vaccinara (Stewed Beef Tail or Shank)

If you have an electric multi-cooker or stovetop pressure cooker, you can still follow the recipe as written—and you’ll save at least a couple of hours. Just release the pressure to open it and check the progress after about 1 hour in Step 3. Otherwise, the process is the same.

Torta di Porri (Leek Pie)

Somewhat more elegant than its more famous French cousin, which is featured in the variation. Good hot, perhaps even better warm or at room temperature, this is an ideal buffet or picnic preparation.

Frittata with Grains

Unlike their folded counterparts, frittatas can be loaded up with all kinds of cheeses and cooked foods. They’re so versatile—I make them for lunch, supper, and brunch, and for an appetizer, cut into small wedges or squares and served with toothpicks. You can go ahead and make them in advance, too—they’re just as good cold or at room temperature as they are warm.

Orange Beef

For Orange Beef we use a technique called “velveting,” a tenderizing step that entails marinating the meat in a cornstarch slurry and then frying it. This completely transforms a flavorful (but chewy) cut of beef, and pushed this recipe into full-on Chinese restaurant territory.