Credit…Nico Schinco for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne.
I nearly always end this newsletter with a dessert, as my sweet tooth demands, but sometimes you have to start off with a treat. And Jessie Sheehan’s Nutella brownies demand a spot right at the top.
Using only four ingredients — Nutella, flour, eggs, salt — and one bowl and a spatula for mixing, it’s a paragon of simplicity that delivers big. These brownies are chewy and creamy with a judicious hit of salt. They are Nutella made into hand food, more dignified than surreptitiously scarfing the chocolate hazelnut spread straight from the jar.
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OK, fine, you should probably eat dinner first. So while the brownies are in the oven, use your grill (or stovetop grill) to cook Yossy Arefi’s punchy, spicy harissa shrimp, a perfect weeknight recipe that takes 15 minutes from start to finish. The harissa does the heavy lifting, contributing heat from chiles along with fragrant spices like cumin and coriander (depending on the brand). Harissa pastes vary a lot, so it’s worth experimenting to find a brand you like.
Just as fuss-free and nearly as quick are Kay Chun’s Korean BBQ-style meatballs, which use Ritz cracker crumbs as a binder (though you can substitute bread crumbs if that’s what you’ve got). If you keep ground meat in the freezer and soy sauce in the cupboard, these make a terrific pantry meal.
You could also counterbalance your impending brownie blowout with some virtuous vegetables, and Yewande Komolafe’s roasted vegetables with cashew romesco are just the thing. The sauce, seasoned with smoked paprika, sherry vinegar and garlic, is an alchemical miracle that would help anything taste amazing. Save leftover sauce for tofu, fish, chicken or even fried eggs. It’s a vibrant lift that’s always gone too soon.
Speaking of gone too soon, exeunt summer tomatoes and eggplants, alas. But you can still make a big panful of fragrant, olive-oil-rich zaalouk before they disappear. Nargisse Benkabbou’s recipe for the traditional Moroccan cooked salad is a bit like baba ghanouj in texture, but with the bright sweetness and acidity of fresh tomatoes suffused throughout. Serve it with flatbread for dipping, or spread it on a sandwich for lucky lunchbox luggers all week long.
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A Quick Thaw
Say you’re hankering for meatballs, but your ground meat is a frozen block. Here’s my favorite method for a quick defrost: Unwrap the meat and place it in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag, squeezing out the air. (If it’s vacuum-packed, leave it as is.) Place your meat on a metal pan (aluminum is best) on the counter, then turn the meat block every 15 minutes. The metal conducts heat and really helps speed up defrosting.