Well, it is still winter, according to the calendar, so what better way to spend a damp and gloomy Sunday than in the kitchen whipping up something sweet or savoury —  or both. Here are some ideas from some of our favourite newspaper food sections.

Although we’ve had a great kick of spring already, not everyone has been similarly blessed. Noelle Carter of the Los Angeles Times had a hankering for something smoky recently, but the weather down there has been unusually wet and stormy so there’s not much happening in the way of outdoor grilling.  I know, I know, we here in the True North grill year round — sun, rain, sleet or snow. But those delicate Angelinos melt at the first sign of moisture. Their solution? Indoor smoked baby back ribs,  scallops, pork belly and game hens. Check out Carter’s recipes and methods for each.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has several suggestions for whiling away the afternoon by indulging  your sweet tooth. Think sweetened  condensed milk, not really a North American gourmet staple but beloved in South America and Asia for desserts and drinks. As kids in Holland, we had the sticky sweet stuff smeared as thickly as possible on bread. I stopped eating this a long time ago, but was reintroduced to SCM by a Mexican cook who used it to make a spectacular mango pudding (three good-sized, perfectly ripe, not-stringy mangoes, cubed; a can of condensed milk and a teaspoon or two of fresh lime juice whirled in a blender until smooth. Chill, serve with a splash of raspberry or other berry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream and wait for the applause).

Here, SCM is the base for coconut brigadeiros, Brazilian candies that owe their melt-in-your-mouth texture to SCM that’s cooked down until it’s thick and fudge-like. There are also dead-easy recipes for chocolate fudge and SCM ice cream.

Another NYT column I’ve recently discovered, New Staples, is in T, their online Sunday magazine. Merrill Stubbs, owner and founder of Food52, looks at great new ingredients  currently in vogue with creative cooks. Her column features vadouvan, a spice mixture I first heard about in San Francisco last fall (vadouvan is a fragrant mix of East and West, including dried onion or shallots and garlic  and “fenugreek, curry leaves and a host of warm spices that can include turmeric, cumin, cardamom, mustard seeds and cayenne”); using rendered beef fat for cooking; duck hearts on toast; and something called Buddha’s Hand, a highly aromatic, very unusual looking member of the citrus family.