My mom bought two copies of the New York Times Cookbook a few years ago, one for me and one for her. I’ve probably only made two recipes from it since then, but I lugged it to bed for months to read the headnotes, which are universally fascinating.

there's a couch in the kitchen
cats steam and speed
tofu browning

Where would I be without takeout-style sesame noodles? The last time we made it was at the West Point Inn, and we carried the pre-made sauce in an empty jar of B-12 vitamins up Mt. Tam, in one of our backpacks. I had splurged on a packet of Hodo Soy seasoned baked tofu, which slices into these perfectly dense and creamy ribbons.

jut mt tam

Tonight we ate it with a pickled cucumber salad and braised tofu. I find myself saying what my dad always did when I was a kid: “There isn’t anyone in [Hartford] eating this well tonight.” You’re supposed to toss the cucumbers with the pasta and sesame sauce, but it’s easier just to eat them on the side. I’m not that good with my tongs. I forgot the chopped peanuts for the top of the noodles. Don’t forget the peanuts.

welcome to hartford

Takeout-style Sesame Noodles
this is the recipe

It’s so good that I double the sauce and use 16 oz. dried pasta instead of the 16 oz. fresh. (They recommend that you chop the garlic and ginger by hand, presumably because you live in nyc and have no counter space for a Cuisinart, but just throw everything in the hopper and be done with it.) I like the dish best with the “optional” sichuan peppercorns.

Pickled Cucumber Salad
This was just cukes, sweet onion rings, and a dressing of one part sugar, two parts rice vinegar, and some salt and pepper.

Braised Tofu
I fried 1 cm slices of tofu on each side, then added braising liquid (1/4 C broth, 1/4 C Annie’s Shiitake Dressing, plus some soy sauce). It’s not the perfect braising liquid–a little underseasoned and oily–but I’m currently on a vegan semi-homemade mission, so I’ll keep tinkering with the idea.