What to Cook This Weekend

A word of caution: Practice your holiday recipes before the holiday itself.

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By Sam Sifton

Good morning. I follow all kinds of rules in the kitchen. Set out all your ingredients first. Clean as you go. Don’t fry barefoot. But maybe the most important is: Don’t cook a holiday dish for the first time on the holiday itself. A recipe is like a piece of sheet music. Even if you follow every note perfectly, you may not hear the song that you want. It’s worth it to practice before you perform.

Take Passover, for instance, which gets underway on the evening of April 15. Let’s say you read Kayla Stewart’s article in The Times about Black American Jews bringing their full identity to the holiday, and it makes you want to cook the accompanying recipes for West African-inspired brisket; kachumbari, a tomato and onion relish; or matzo-fried chicken for your Seder.

Or maybe you surf around our collection of Passover recipes and decide you’d like to try sweet and sour stuffed grape leaves or Provençal haroseth. And maybe this almond cake with cardamom and pistachio for dessert? Or classic matzo brei? A matzo lasagna?

Don’t cook any of those for the first time on the holiday, in front of guests. Try them out this weekend instead, and your Passover meal will be better for it.

Other recipes to consider cooking this weekend: butterflied leg of lamb with lemon salsa verde (a good test run for Easter!); sheet-pan jerk salmon; eggplant Parmesan pasta (above: No frying! No layering!). And should there be softies at your fish market, as there were at mine the other day, do consider this awesome recipe for soft-shell crab toast.

There are thousands and thousands more recipes to cook awaiting you on New York Times Cooking. It’s true that you need a subscription to access them. Subscriptions support our work and allow it to continue. Please, if you haven’t already, subscribe today. Thank you.

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Now, it’s nothing to do with peaches or cream, but I want to alert you to this Fatima Syed story in The Narwhal, about piping plovers in Ontario and how argumentative people can be about what a beach should look like.

You should read Hannah Gold on David Wojnarowicz, in The Paris Review, in advance of looking at the images in a new gallery show of Wojnarowicz’s correspondence with Jean Pierre Delage, at PPOW in New York. (Arthur Lubow wrote about the show for The Times.)

I’m excited for Margo Jefferson’s new book, “Constructing a Nervous System,” out next week. “There’s no escaping the primal stuff of memory and experience,” she writes. “Dramatize it, analyze it, amend it accidentally, remake it intentionally. Call it temperamental autobiography.”

Finally, here’s my periodic reminder that you don’t always need a recipe to make great food. For instance, I had an amazing kale salad at Houseman in New York recently, and when I asked the chef Ned Baldwin for the recipe, he told me it was a no-recipe recipe.

“Can be curly kale or Tuscan, kinda whatever you find at the store,” he wrote in an email. “The rest of the salad is lots (like lots and lots) of scallions, cilantro, lime, ricotta salata and a moderate amount of chopped pickled serrano peppers (the pickling helps spread the heat more evenly via the pickling liquid). Add some salt, massage lustily, wait a few minutes and finish with more grated ricotta salata.”

I’m definitely making that this weekend, too. See you on Sunday.

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