As we write this, snowstorms are pummeling the Midwest and Northeast. Outside of The Takeout’s Chicago office, meteorologists predict as much as a foot of snow before this week’s blizzard ends. (That’s on top of the roughly 10 inches we’ve already received this year.) Fortunately, we’ve already made our last-minute grocery runs and stocked our pantries. The question is, what should we cook/bake/inhale to pass the time while we’re snowed in?
Ordinarily, I’d say soup or stew. However, I’ve been in aggressive soup mode for the last few months, and I need a break from broth. Enter Julia Turshen’s 2016 cookbook, Small Victories, which was a game-changer for my home cooking. I’ve returned to its unfussy recipes again and again, and this snowstorm is no exception. Tonight, I’m making Turshen’s ricotta and turkey meatballs and serving them over bucatini. The meatballs are hearty, filling, and wrapped in a very easy tomato sauce; plus, it’s one of those recipes that tastes even better after sitting in the fridge overnight. That’s good news for me, because my boyfriend is snowed in across town—so those six delicious servings are mine, all mine. —Lillian Stone
Okay, so... don’t make fun of me. I’ve never been a big baker. My strong suit is cooking, where the process of tossing shit together is a little more flexible than, say, trying to formulate the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies. For Christmas this past year, I gifted myself with a 5.5-quart enameled Dutch oven from Lodge. And I’ve finally discovered the magic of no-knead bread.
I knew it was an easy recipe, but I didn’t realize it was this easy. Making no-knead bread is so easy that it makes me kind of mad. You barely make a mess, even. I’ve simply been using Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe, published in the New York Times, which only requires flour, salt, water, and instant yeast. Then you use the Dutch oven as a baking vessel, and suddenly, you’ve made your own goddamn bread.
Yes, there is the waiting aspect, which does still annoy me a little, but when I’m staring out at the snow, waiting for the dough to get ready reminds me that I have nowhere to go, and to be patient. Then while the dough is proofing, I can cook something to eat with the bread. —Dennis Lee
As the snow piles, I have not set a single foot outside, and I am so grateful for that. Something about any type of cold, unpleasant weather (be it snow or rain) makes firing up my oven feel almost required. Depending on what ingredients I have on hand, my go-to bakes are a simple, buttery pound cake or banana bread with chocolate chips.
To truly immerse myself in the cozy vibes, I’ll grab a tablet of rich, delicious Abuelita hot chocolate to pair with a slice of baked goodness. The best part of both of these options is that the ingredients are simple and usually last in the pantry a while so I don’t have to worry about running to the grocery store in the bad weather. The other upside to baking in bad weather is that there are (usually) fewer people you have to please with the result of your baking. Maybe I like a little more banana in my bread or maybe an extra pound of butter makes its way into my mixing bowl. Also, chocolate chips make pretty much everything better, so if I want to go wild and toss those into my pound cake no one can stop me (insert evil laugh). These simple bakes leave room for creativity and comfort, and that’s exactly what the weather forecast calls for. —Angela L. Pagán