Kim's Six Go-To Kitchen Favorites
Alexandria, Va.: Over baked ziti last night my husband commented that he is impressed with the wide variety of dishes that I cook for us (we're newlyweds). He said his mom only had about seven recipes that she made over and over again. I told him I agreed -- my mom had about 10 recipes that were recycled, but those 10 recipes were the most delicious food I will ever taste. (Nothing's better than a mom's cooking).
I told him the reason I cook such a variety of dishes for him is simply because I'm looking for MY 10 favorite recipes that I can then cook over and over again in my sleep -- the ones that my kids will later say were the best food they'll ever have. So far, I've only discovered one of those recipes -- I'm still searching for the other nine.
So I'm curious. What's your favorite go-to, I'm-too-tired-to-crack-open-more-than-four-ingredients, recipe?
I love this reader's question. Even with all the recipe testing and kitchen experimentation, I too have a stable of recipes that I can cook over and again in my sleep, recipes that both Mister MA and I never tire of (and eventually, that he'll learn to imitate and master, she says crossing her fingers).
I've got at least a dozen of these gems up my sleeve, but the following six are pretty darn close to your four ingredients-requirement and all but one will put dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes. Here, in alphabetical order, are some of my kitchen favorites:
Chile shrimp: This one, from Mark Bittman, is what Mister MA requests when he's having a bad day and needs the culinary equivalent of a bear hug. Usually I double the amounts of the sauce because I love lapping it up with rice the next day.
Total cooking time: About 27 minutes.
Fried rice is probably the leading contender in the dish-that-I-can-make-in-my-sleep category. We eat a lot of rice at Casa MA and if I've got leftover grains in the fridge, there's a good chance of that fried rice will be happening. One Saturday morning earlier this month, I whipped up a batch for breakfast and threw in leftover pineapple chunks which got even sweeter in the wok.
Total cooking time: About 19 minutes.
If you've got a blender or food processor and seven minutes to spare, you can make your very own hummus. On sultry summer eves, this is about all I want to eat, particularly when those best-when-raw summer vegetables are at their peak. And if friends drop by unannounced, this is the snack you whip up while your sweetie is mixing cocktails. Hummus recipe details.
Total cooking time: That's right, seven minutes.
A pot of red lentils, which are practically self-pureeing, is what soothes my soul after a day of concrete jungling. Don't worry if you don't have all the ingredients on hand, but I highly recommend the cumin seeds that are paired up with the sauteed onions; they take the dish to another level, and you'll thank me one day. I also love this dish for its portable, next-day lunch-ability. Your co-workers will be envious of your high-protein, low cal lunch.
Total cooking time: 35 minutes.
The secret is definitely in the sauce with this Viet-grilled chicken from cookbook author Andrea Nguyen. I don't know how I ever lived without this incredibly easy and uber-flavorful marinade that turns grilled chicken (and zucchini) into otherworldly morsels. Do double the amounts of the marinade and save half for dipping at the table. You won't regret it.
Total cooking time: About an hour, including grilling or roasting at 400 degrees.
At first, I was making this Mustardy Vinaigrette with tatsoi, as cookbook author Elizabeth Schneider suggests, but then I started playing with other quick-wilting greens, such as baby kale, chard and spinach, all of which are excellent seasonal stand-ins. This super-quick skillet vinaigrette is genius, turning greens into elegant restaurant-quality masterpieces.
Total cooking time: About 12 minutes.
Now it's your turn. What's your ultimate, can't-live-without, do-it-in-your-sleep dish for generations to come? Share with the class, please!
The last word from yesterday's chat:
For the reader with the burned pot syndrome: Fill the pan with water and bring to a boil. Then add dishwasher detergent (the granules) - I think it's Cascade. Sprinkle the bottom with the Cascade and slowly stir getting all the charred stuff off. Works EVERYTIME and my pans come out as clean as when I bought them.
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