Saturday, November 15, 2014

Kitchen Intuition: Fried rice

Most of the time when I sit down to write this column, I just share what I’ve been cooking in my own kitchen lately. This week is no exception, and I’m also starting to notice a pattern, because this is yet another dish that’s cheap, easy and quick—and can also be a good way to clean out the refrigerator. In fact, fried rice comes out so much better if your rice is not fresh.
First, get all your ingredients ready to go. As Edward Lee in "Smoke and Pickles," advises, "To make fried rice the right way, be sure to get your skillet or wok screaming-hot, and work furiously through the recipe." You won’t have time to chop anything or dig around in the refrigerator once you’ve started, so lay it all out on the counter next to the stove before you turn it on. Here’s what you’ll need:

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Kitchen Intuition: Peanut sauce

I posted a picture of my lunch in the article I wrote last week: a bowl of couscous, sautéed greens and mushrooms topped with scallions, peanut sauce and sesame seeds. It was a meal that I threw together in 10 or 15 minutes, including the few moments I spent whipping up the sauce that topped the dish. That was some magic peanut sauce, the stuff of dreams. It was warm, creamy and packed with flavor.
There are so many things you can do with a good peanut sauce, and many of them basically amount to being an instant meal. Need a dinner in a hurry? Throw some soba noodles on the stove, and while the water is simmering, mix up a quick peanut sauce to pour over the noodles. Maybe chop a green onion to use as a topping, and then sprinkle it all with some sesame seeds. BAM. Dinner’s ready. When cooking up a strange medley of vegetables that need to be used up and you want something to bring them together, make a peanut sauce. It works for everything! It’s a salad dressing; a dip for raw vegetables or spring rolls; a condiment (try it in a sandwich or on fries!); or a sauce for anything from pasta, rice or potatoes to tempe, tofu, chicken, beef or fish. And kids love it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Kitchen Intuition: More yummy greens

Wow! The greens keep pouring in. My weekly CSA pickup finds me bringing home all kinds of greens: radish leaves; kale; chard; and collard, turnip and mustard greens. I’m happily scrambling to come up with new and delicious things to do with them every evening, when there are always greens on the menu somewhere. If you’re also feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, consider making squeezed greens, filling a frittata with greens, whipping up a quick pesto or soup, or putting your chopped and wilted greens on pasta. Also, if you’re into smoothies, you can run through a lot of greens in short order.

I’ve recently picked up a few new cookbooks that I’m really excited about, and although I’m still digging around in them, I thought I’d share a couple of discoveries I’ve made that might come in handy if you’re also looking for inspiration when it comes to greens. "Thug Kitchen" and Mark Bittman’s"How to Cook Everything Fast" both came out recently, and they each offer lots of recipes while also including many ideas for variations so that it’s easy to improvise. This way, the recipes become more like springboards that provide inspiration for a creative cook.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kitchen Intuition: Squeeze those greens

‘Tis the season for winter greens! My CSA share has been overflowing with them lately, and if you visit your local farmers market, you might notice that the summer tomatoes have mostly given over to all sorts of chard, collards and kale, along with mustard, radish and parsnip greens.

Since the weather is still warm, though, you might not be ready to give up on the summer salad quite yet. I’m certainly not, which is why I keep finding myself making a treat that is pretty much the most ridiculously delicious thing that you can whip up in five minutes or less.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Kitchen Intuition: Quick, cheap and delicious frittatas

The frittata is one of those magical dishes that can be whatever you need it to be. Breakfast, lunch or dinner; appetizer, entrée or side—the frittata can do it all. It’s a very quick and easy prep, and it can be different every time you make it, depending on what you have on hand. Do you need to clear the refrigerator of all the scraps and loose bits? This is your dish! It is also a cheap food that is packed with nutrition, and kids love it.

First, figure out what you want to have in your frittata. Just about anything will do, including leftovers. Throw in some carrots, greens, peppers, eggplant, onions, leeks, potatoes, beans, cabbage, asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, squash, cauliflower, frozen veggies, garlic, olives, ham, bacon, sausage, fish, cooked grains or pasta, or whatever else you think might be a tasty addition. You can use a lot or a little.

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