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Friday, October 8, 2010

Foody Friday: You have ten minutes

During my recent visit to my grandparents my grandpa, who turns 80 today, informed me that he is now the designated family chef. After 79 years he discovered a talent for creating quick, healthy meals that have pleased my aunt and grandma to death (grandma is relieved to finally be off cooking duty, but my aunt still makes Sunday dinner). "I don't let it stress me out," he told me. "I spend ten to thirty minutes max." He shared his recipe for pilaf, but with all due respect, grandpa, my pilaf is pretty special, too.
I like the idea of ten minute meals, though. Sometimes when I work until 6, then go for a run when I get home, I don't want to wait an hour for dinner. I usually have it on the table in 30 minutes, but if I only have ten here are a few stand-bys:

1. Thai Curry: As long as you have rice ready that you can microwave, this is a ten-minute meal. When I make rice, I make a huge pot and eat leftovers all week.
- Minced garlic
- 1 chicken breast or a few pork chops. Or omit for a vegetarian dish
- 1 bag frozen green beans, whole, or stirfry - allowed to defrost in the fridge all day OR 1 lb fresh green beans, rinse (I don't trim them).
- 2 TBS Thai red or green curry in a jar
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1/2 a bunch of scallions
- 1 can light coconut milk
- salt and sugar to taste
Throw garlic in a pan and start heating while you roughly chop chicken or pork. Add to pan; stir. When half-cooked add curry and stir-fry or green beans. Cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Meanwhile, chop scallions. Add scallions, lime, and coconut milk and heat thoroughly. The vegetables should remain slightly crisp. Add salt and /or sugar if needed. Serve in a bowl with a scoop of heated rice.

2. Ham and cheese baked potatoes

- Baking potatoes
- good quality ham
- provolone or gruyere cheese
- Fresh spinach
- Thyme, sage, pepper
Scrub potatoes, prick, and begin to cook in the microwave (6 to 10 minutes depending on size of potato). Meanwhile, roughly dice ham and heat in a cast iron skillet with some water. The best way to cook ham is to allow it to get completely dry and start sticking to the pan, then add small amounts of water to deglaze the pan. I repeat this several times. Turn off pan. Throw in several handfuls of fresh spinach and allow to wilt. Season. You can stir the cheese in here, but I usually layer it separately on the potatoes to prevent messy cheesy dishes. Slit and fluff potatoes and top.

3. Fish tacos / bean burritos

- white fish fillets or canned or leftover pintos (I despise canned).
- tortillas
- lettuce, tomato, scallions, cheese, sour cream or yogurt, salsa
- If it's fish tacos I add cilantro, a squirt of lime, and avocado
This is simple. Throw fish in a pan to cook - or re-heat beans - as you chop veggies. Heat tortillas; roll; enjoy.
To roll tortillas so they don't fall apart, fold two ends in about 1", then fold over one side to cover the filling. Roll tightly. Traditional burritos leave one end open instead of tucking both ends.

4. Pizza
- this requires some planning. Like rice,when I make pizza dough, I make a lot. It is very easy to make pizza dough from scratch, and I make mine 75 - 100% whole wheat. I also add some chopped herbs to the dough. YUM. After kneading a big batch, I'll make my pizza, but the rest of the dough I divide into pizza-sized portions and freeze in ziploc bags (don't vacuum seal: you will need extra room so the dough can rise later).
The night before you want pizza, just throw a bag of dough into the refrigerator. When you get home for dinner, stretch and shape the dough, then top as usual. I usually put cornmeal under the crust.
- Tomato sauce
- Minced garlic
- Mozzeralla, feta, parmesan
- Thinly, thinly, thinly sliced peppers, tomatoes, onions, olives, mushrooms, spinach, whatever.
Top dough with garlic and tomato sauce. If you are using fresh tomatoes, add them here. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning before you add cheese and toppings. Bake at 450 F for ten minutes. Tip: If surface of pizza looks wet, it's from the veggies- blot with a towel and cook for another minute or two. Let pizza sit for a few minutes before slicing.

5. The obvious.
If I find myself staring into a nearly empty refrigerator, I usually saute whatever vegetables I have on hand, add some leftover beans for protein, season well, and top with feta cheese. I particularly like to add a little red wine vinegar during cooking; it adds a little tang and some sweetness as it caramelizes.

Now. I would love if you would share any of your fast dinners with me! I'd love to change my menu up! If you have ten minutes, what do you make for dinner?

1 comment:

  1. If I only have 10 minute, I go for a spinach, tomato, and feta omelet.