By Sam Sifton
Good morning. Gabrielle Hamilton is in The Times this week with a terrific recipe for an Alsatian onion tart (above) she learned from the chef André Soltner, who served it at his Manhattan restaurant, Lutèce, for more than 30 years. Gabrielle cooked the dish with Soltner before the pandemic started, at a February lunch celebrating the 20th year of her own restaurant in Manhattan, Prune.
Gabrielle’s recipe is slightly different from the one Soltner published with Seymour Britchky in “The Lutèce Cookbook.” That’s partly because the original assumes some skills and experience in the kitchen that mortals may not have, and principally because, as Gabrielle writes, “I like recipes to be written the same way you would give driving directions to your house to people whom you really want to arrive.” What that means, among other things: She calls for a blind-baked crust, which may be a game-saver for those of us who don’t bake for money.
The tart is a dispatch from the reign of butter and cream, heady with nutmeg, simple and elegant. I hope you’ll make it this weekend and find in it the soulful happiness of Soltner’s childhood (he himself learned the recipe from his aunt) and Gabrielle’s joy at bringing it to life.
That’s not all you should cook this weekend, of course. I think it’d be nice, as well, to make these baked apple cider doughnuts, or perhaps these fried apple pies.
And with Thanksgiving plans in flux for so many, it might be worth it to test out some new recipes for side dishes that might in other years upset the orthodoxy of your family’s meal — these brussels sprouts with pickled shallots and labneh, say, or this French onion macaroni and cheese. (Pair either one of those with Soltner’s recipe for roast chicken, which Molly O’Neill shepherded into The Times in 1991, and you’ll have a very nice meal.)
I’d also like to make, just because it’s so delicious, the galbijjim Peter Cho taught me to make, after I thrilled to it at Han Oak, the restaurant in Portland, Ore., that he runs with his family. You may prefer Yotam Ottolenghi’s butternut squash and fondue pie with pickled red chiles. Or these awesome fish cakes that Joan Nathan learned about in Nova Scotia and brought to us years ago. I like those with Gabrielle’s tartar sauce, and a big glass of Screech.
Thousands and thousands more recipes to think about cooking this weekend are waiting for you on NYT Cooking. Go window shop, see what you think. Save the recipes you want to make and then rate the ones you’ve made. And you can leave notes on recipes, if you’d like to remind yourself of a hack or substitution, or would like to tell your fellow subscribers about it.
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Now, to return to Thanksgiving for a moment, please do take a look at the results of Eric Asimov’s annual holiday wine panel, which awards bragging rights to the person on it who brings the best Thanksgiving wines, white and red.
While you’re at it, will you sign up to join me, Melissa Clark, Priya Krishna, Kim Severson and Vaughn Vreeland on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at 6 p.m. Eastern, for a live online event: “How to Cook Thanksgiving During a Pandemic”? We’ll welcome Tanya Holland of Brown Sugar Kitchen as she prepares a new side dish for the holiday, then talk about the challenges the holiday presents this year and answer your most pressing questions about turkeys, fixings, safety and more. Should be fun.
Finally, it’s nothing to do with Nebbiolo or halibut, but do read Chris Sweeney’s profile in Audubon of Roxie Laybourne, the world’s first forensic ornithologist. It’s amazing: “The methods she developed for feather identification would be used to prosecute murderers, bust poachers and inform conservation efforts. Most importantly, her work would entirely reshape our understanding of the threat birds and airplanes pose to one another — a threat that continues to hang over every airplane in the sky today.” I’ll see you on Sunday.
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