Monday, November 14, 2011

Those in between Holiday Meals: Fast with Few ingredients

I personally have no need for more holiday entertaining recipes. I have so many already and can access pretty much anything I feel like trying on reliable web sites like, BBC food, and so on.  What I think we all could use more of is really quick recipes for those meals that fall in-between holiday meals.  The day before you are hosting Christmas dinner you spend the entire day in the kitchen prepping and pre-cooking what you can and then you finally sit down for a moment to re-group and rest and you realize you have to have something on the table in 30 minutes because although tomorrow's dinner is in the bag the present one is not.  It seems unfair to have cooked so much and not have a meal on hand for right now!

I believe a lot of take out is ordered during the holidays especially by those who have children.  Without them it feels okay to just have a bowl of cereal and skip dinner. So if you live far away from any acceptable take-out like we do here are 5 recipes that require very little work are quick with few ingredients:

Angel hair,  Garlic Cloves and Romano Pecorino Cheese with White Balsamic Vinegar (4 ingredients plus salt and pepper)

Heat olive oil in a saute pan and add halved peeled cloves of garlic (6-8 whole cloves per person), saute over medium heat until golden on all sides.  Remove from pan and reserve.  Add the cooked angel hair to the pan (about 100g/3oz. per person), do in 2 batches if serving four.  Let the pasta crisp in oil for 1 minute and then turn over.  Continue until heated through. Divide pasta among plates, add cooked cloves to pasta, and serve with grated Romano and lots of pepper.

Foie gras and Arugula 
(2 ingredients plus salt and pepper)

Lightly  mark one side of the foie gras with a paring knife.  Season foie gras with salt and pepper. Sear foie gras over medium high heat on both sides for 25-30 seconds per side.  Carefully remove the foie gras from pan. Place a generous handful of arugula in each dish and place foie gras on top (marked side up).  Drizzle each salad with the fat from pan. Cryo-vacued individual foie gras pieces are readily available, and usually come in about 30 to 60 g pieces.  This simple salad my idea of a perfect lunch: buttery foie gras, peppery arugula and a dry glass of white.  If you had on hand a few fresh raspberries throw them on top.

Poached egg, crouton and spinach salad 
(4 ingredients plus salt and pepper)

Fill a medium saucepan with water and add a generous splash of vinegar. Bring the water to a simmer and then turn down to low.  Crack a large egg into a small bowl.  Slide the egg into the water and poach for 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and press slotted spoon containing poached egg briefly to a clean dish towel to absorb moisture.  Add a  generous handful of baby spinach to a plate. Sprinkle plate with ½ cup of store bought or homemade croutons (i.e. Caesar croutons). Lay the poached egg over top and serve immediately.  The yolk acts as the dressing and the croutons add crunch.  Optional:  Sprinkle the salad with sauteed bacon pieces.

Omelet with left over Vegetables and Cheddar 
(4 ingredients plus olive oil, salt and pepper)

Omelet: add 2 large eggs to a bowl and beat them with a fork.  Season with salt and pepper and add a dash of milk or cream if you like. Grate 2 tablespoons worth of old or medium cheddar.  Heat some olive oil in a saute pan on medium high heat. When the pan is quite hot, but not smoking, turn the heat to low, and quickly add the eggs.  Tilt the pan towards you and with a spatula continue to push the egg that runs down back to the center until it starts to set and then stop.  Right away add a handful of left over vegetables such as: asparagus, roast potatoes or beans diced or thinly sliced and sprinkle with the cheese.  Carefully fold the omelet over the filling and let cook for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and serve. Repeat with remaining eggs.  Do you have some salsa on hand?  Great serve it with the omelets.

Cheats Chicken Noodle Soup 
(9 ingredients plus salt and pepper)

Saute in a large saucepan 3 carrots, 3 ribs of celery and one medium yellow onion (all roughly chopped) in olive oil for 5 minutes until softened. Add 2 liters of quality chicken stock and bring to a boil. Optional: add a pinch of dried thyme and/or savory. Reduce heat to a simmer and add 6-8 skinless chicken drumsticks.  Simmer the soup, partially covered, for 30 minutes until chicken is cooked.  Remove the drumsticks and return the flesh to the pot. Season to taste.  Add ½ cup of cooked tubettini or other small soup pasta (such as orzo), to each bowl and ladle the soup over top.  Serve soup with crusty bread and a little cheese. Pasta can be kept cooked for up to three days in the fridge. Always keep the soup and pasta separate until serving so that the pasta does not become mushy.

Crudités (Cut Vegetables with Dip)

A great way to round out a calorific meal, or just repair some thoughtlessly unhealthy eating, have on a hand during the holidays, a large plate of assorted cut vegetables and a dip like hummus.  Take the vegetables out at every meal. Be sure to put them back in the fridge tightly covered, and not let them linger for longer than the meal at the table.  The vegetables should hold up for about 3 days if not forgotten. Serve small amounts of hummus dip in small bowls any time the veg comes out, and especially if you decide to use dips containing dairy.  Discard remaining dip if there is any and serve a fresh one when the veg comes out gain.

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