Three Cheers for Melissa Clark

By Sam Sifton

Good morning. Back in March, when everyone was freaking out about having enough flour and beans to last through quarantine, Melissa Clark started writing From the Pantry, a series of articles meant to ease readers of The New York Times through the business of cooking more regularly and more flexibly, using what ingredients they had to hand. She did this every day, for weeks, then regularly thereafter, 60-odd recipes developed on the fly, a brilliant run of creativity.

We’re still caught in the pandemic, of course, but a lot has changed in the last six months. The chain of our food supply has improved, and shopping isn’t as difficult as it once was. Our lives in the kitchen aren’t as fraught. And so just as a Jack White solo rises and rises and rises and then drops back into the groove, Melissa’s stepping back into the band, where she’ll continue reporting and developing recipes as she did in the Before Times.

I’ll say this loudly: Melissa’s a hero, for what she did. And if you want to tell her so yourself, hit me at [email protected], and I’ll pass your words along.

Did she leave us with a final round of pantry recipes? Of course she did. Check out this beautiful corn polenta with baked eggs, chopped greens and blue cheese (above), totally adaptable. Give this colcannon with crispy leeks a try. A one-pan tuna and white bean casserole with a potato-chip topping? Oh, yes. Follow with a one-bowl chocolate mayonnaise cake for dessert. And absolutely this week you should make her simple roast chicken with greens, which yields an amazing stock when you’re done eating.

Other things to cook this week: Sue Li’s recipe for Taiwanese meefun; Millie Peartree’s ingenious sheet-pan shrimp boil; Lidey Heuck’s chopped salad with chickpeas, feta and avocado. I’d be up for chicken French real soon as well, for baked fish and chips, for lamb meatballs with spiced tomato sauce, for a foolproof tarte Tatin.

There are thousands and thousands more recipes like that awaiting you on NYT Cooking. Go browse the site and see what appeals. (You need a subscription to do so, of course. Subscriptions are what allow us to continue this work we so enjoy. If you haven’t already, I hope that you will subscribe today. Thanks.)

And as always, we stand ready to assist if you happen to find yourself in a jam, either with your cooking or our technology. Just write us: [email protected] I promise someone will get back to you.

Now, it’s nothing to do with stockpiled yeast or jars of Mediterranean tuna, but I followed up my run at Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels with her 2018 stand-alone “The Witch Elm,” and if it lacks the dark wit and speedy plotting of the series, it’s still a hell of a page-turner. I can’t wait for “The Searcher,” out next month.

Here’s Roxane Gay on Audre Lorde in The Paris Review. And Michael Schulman with John Cleese in The New Yorker.

Finally, Jon Caramanica turned me on to Tyler Childers, here with “Long Violent History,” and that’s worth listening to a couple of times. I’ll be back on Wednesday.

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