Archive for the ‘Quick and Easy’ tag
Last week’s Food52 contest was for “Your Best Pasta with Seafood”. I entered my pasta with smoked salmon, cream and dill, but I didn’t make the cut. The winner was LastNight’sDinner, who submitted a recipe for Linguine with sardines, fennel, and tomato. She describes it as “pantry meal” because the majority of the ingredients are things that you can always keep on hand, and this dish can be thrown together in 10 minutes. It packs a lot of flavor, uses sustainable seafood, and it definitely deserved to win! Here is a link to the post on Food52. The only thing I did differently was to add some parmesan cheese (because that always makes pasta better!)
Every once in a while you just need to have a good steak. In the summertime you can always throw a few on the grill, but in the winter the idea doesn’t usually come up as frequently. I have started cooking petite filets in a cast iron skillet, searing them on the outside before finishing them under the broiler. For those of you in New York and CT, Fairway sells them in 2-packs, which is perfect. They come out with a little crust, very juicy and tender, and they cook in less than 10 minutes. Throw in some sauteed brussel sprouts with some cayenne and parmesan, and you’ve got a quick, easy meal that doesn’t have to wait for a special occasion or an outdoor grill.
Every once in a while you need to have a meal ready on short notice, and you want something relatively healthy and definitely tasty. Seared tuna is a great way to go in this situation. Almost zero prep time, 5 minutes in a pan, and you have dinner. Throw some sauteed vegetables with miso butter (cribbed from Momofuku, of course) in there and you’ve got a meal that looks like it came from a high-end restaurant right in front of you, in 10 minutes. All you need is a good source for fresh tuna, of course:
It has been a long time since I have contributed to Food52, and I’ve felt like a total slacker. But this week’s contest was for “Your Best Seafood Pasta”, and anyone who reads this blog with any frequency knows that I cook lots of seafood, and lots of pasta, so I had to work up something great to submit to this contest. What I decided to do was a twist on a traditional recipe that I’ve been cooking for years (the first iteration of this dish was when I was back in High School in Arizona, and my Mom would have leftover salmon, and my favorite dish in the world was fettuccine alfredo).
See, this dish is GOOD FOR YOU, because it has peas and salmon in it! Nevermind the cream, butter, and pasta. It’s totally healthy. Or something…
Yesterday I went to the beach to watch the sunset, and it happened to be low tide. I had planned to make a big pot of red sauce with spaghetti for dinner, but as I walked out onto the flats I saw the telltale marks of a clam bed, and within 5 minutes I had a dozen steamers. Dinner plans changed from a red sauce to a white wine and butter sauce with clams.
Back in the winter of 2000, I had the opportunity to live and teach scuba diving on a tiny island off the East Coast of Thailand called Koh Tao. Koh Tao is the furthest North in a small island chain in the Gulf of Thailand, consisting of Koh Saumui (anyone seen Meet the Parents?), Koh Phangan, and Koh Tao (translated, it means Turtle Island). It was, to put it mildly, paradise. My beachfront, private bungalow was $5/night, and the food was incredible. This may be one of the reasons that I don’t cook Thai food very often…because there is absolutely no way that I could begin to replicate the dishes that I ate over the course of that winter, and I most times don’t even want to attempt it.
That being said, I have no problem making a spicy Thai peanut sauce. Why? Because while I was there I never once ate a spicy peanut sauce. I want to say that it’s an American adaptation to Thai food, because while they cooked with peanuts quite often on Koh Tao, they were always left whole and cooked into a dish, or crumbled on top of pad Thai. Peanut butter was not a staple on the island, so I feel no compunction about cooking this meal. And while it certainly can’t be called “authentic”, it had a lot of the flavors that I remember, and was, in short, delicious. And it’s super easy, and quick.
Quesadillas are one of my favorite snack foods, because I almost always have the ingredients around to throw one together. Flour tortillas keep forever in the fridge, and if you have cheese, some vegetables, leftover chicken or beef of any kind, salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, or any combination thereof, you probably have enough things to whip up a great quesadilla.
This past weekend at the Cape I woke up early and decided to make some pancakes. Unfortunately I didn’t have any milk at the house, but we did have a large tub of sour cream. Remembering vaguely a recipe for sour cream pancakes, I did a quick search online and found a wonderful-looking recipe from Smitten Kitchen for sour cream pancakes. I had to give them a shot.
It’s summertime, so grilling season is upon us. This recipe harkens back to my days as my fraternity’s “Grillmeister”. It was handed down to me by the presiding Grillmeister, a Southern gentleman named Ben Patch. Ben taught me many things, including how to make my own barbecue sauce from scratch. Being appointed as Grillmeister gave me the perfect opportunity to elevate the fraternity barbecue from burgers and dogs to something more interesting. During the two years of my tenure, I cooked whole sides of marinated swordfish, grilled New Zealand mussels, smoked pork shoulders cooked in pits dug in the front yard (with considerable help and inspiration provided by Mr. David Weiss, who is a frequent reader of this blog, and a great cook himself), roasted Thanksgiving turkey on a tripod, and every manner of side dish we could think of. These grilled stuffed tomatoes have become a favorite, because they are so incredibly easy, and the “wow” factor is a great bang for your buck in terms of prep time. Over the years I’ve realized that if you have an oven at your disposal (which I did not in college) it’s easier to make these in muffin tins and bake them. If you’re grilling them it can be tricky to keep them from falling over, so you need to make little tinfoil “life preservers” to keep them standing upright. Roll a 1-ft long piece of tinfoil into a cylinder and form a ring. Place the ring on the grill and the tomato on the ring, and proceed from there.
This week marks week 52 of the Food52 competition. I’ve only been a part of it for about 20 weeks, but it’s been an incredible experience. I’ve had a lot of fun, cooked some great food that I never would have cooked otherwise, and met a lot of wonderful people through the site (not to mention, of course, winning two competitions…?!) Congratulations to all the winners, and also to Amanda and Merrill for a job well done! I look forward to year two of Food52!
Yesterday for a neighborhood BBQ I decided to incorporate both Food52 themes into the dinner: your best cucumber, and your best use of lemon, thyme, and the grill. Luckily I am up on the Cape and I actually have access to a grill, so I had to give it a shot. This chicken dish was born out of my fear and loathing of dry chicken cooked on the grill, so I pounded it thin, stuffed it with spinach that I had previously sauteed with garlic, pancetta, and lemon juice, marinated it in oil, thyme, lemon, and pepper, and grilled it quickly on both sides until cooked through. The dish is finished with a summery gremolata of…what else? Lemon zest and thyme! It was a big hit with the neighbors.