By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student
With enough time and skill, a person can make anything in the kitchen. And I mean anything—with training, practice, and time, anyone can build an amazing cake, brew a delicious beer, or braise some delicious ribs. Heck, Harvey Firestone invented vulcanized rubber in the kitchen. Rudi Dassler manufactured athletic shoes in his mother’s kitchen that would go on to race in the 1936 Olympics in German and eventually founded Adidas. A kitchen, some know-how, and time are an exciting combination.
But what about when you don’t have time? You know what I’m talking about. It might be a surprise phone call from the parents, a friend pops in in the morning, or a date that suddenly wants to come over for dinner—whatever the reason, everyone finds themselves in need of impressive food fast at one time or another. What do you do, especially if you’re one of those who also doesn’t bring much skill to the kitchen? What then?
Here are three go-to recipes that can get you out of a jam in a hurry. They’re not very specific about ingredients because I’m assuming you can’t get to the grocery store and need to make something from your pantry.
Baking Powder (if you don’t have this, that’s fine)
Liquid (milk, cider, beer, champagne, whatever is on hand)
This is for when you need a delicious breakfast for a friend or relative. Combine ½ cup of your liquid with 3 eggs (I don’t recommend using an ultrasweet soda as your liquid, but if that’s what you have on hand, it’ll do). In a separate bowl, combine one cup of the flour and the baking powder (one teaspoon if your liquid is carboned, two if it’s not). Then combine the two, but don’t overmix—it will be lumpy, don’t worry about it.
Heat up a pan or skillet on medium with some butter inside. Pour the batter over the hot butter and cook until you see little bubbles around the edge, then flip. Store them on a plate in your oven (turned off) to keep them warm.
Eggs are tricky, but this is a near foolproof way to cook them. Warm some butter in a pan the same way you did for the pancakes, and crack one or two eggs inside. Wait until the whites start to go solid, then pour two to three tablespoons of water around the edges of the whites and cover with a lid. This steams the eggs without getting brown on the edges. Once it’s cooked through, remove the lid, let the liquid boil away, and serve. I recommend serving the eggs on top of the pancakes so you don’t need syrup, but that’s entirely up to you.
About a cup (8 oz) of heavy whipping cream
Berries/fruit of your choice
This is a dessert in a hurry, and presentation is key. First, whip your cream, sugar, and vanilla to stiff peaks. If you’re using an electric mixer, be careful you don’t overwhip because the cream could break, giving you butter and buttermilk. If your fruit needs processed in any way (peel your apples, cut your peaches, etc.), that’s your next step.
Then take the nicest glasses in your cabinets—it could be your pint glasses, your wine glasses, your champagne flutes, that’s up to you—and layer the whipped cream and the fruit. If you have dessert chips (chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, etc.) they go nicely in here too. If you happen to have mint leaves, they make a nice garnish, but I recommend simply leaving the nicest piece of fruit on the top for some height and color.
A box of pasta (your choice)
Fresh Veggies (see below)
Lunch meat (see below)
Vinegar (red wine, white wine, balsamic, whatever your favorite is)
Mustard (the fancier the better)
Boil the pasta in water that you’ve salted to the point where it tastes like the ocean. As that’s boiling, cut your vegetables and lunch meat into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces (unless you’re in a REAL hurry, then you can compromise here to save time). The veg and meat you use is up to you. If all you have on hand is some peas and carrots, use those. I recommend a bit of broccoli if you have it, but any veg will do. The more colorful the better. For meat, I recommend big flavors like salami.
Once that is done, put about three tablespoons of vinegar in the bowl with a healthy squirt of your mustard (it should make a blob about as big around as a quarter). Whisk that together, then slowly drizzle about a cup of your oil into the vinegar/mustard while whisking vigorously. Now would be a good time to salt/pepper your dressing if you have it. Once that is done, you can toss your drained pasta, your veggies and meat, and your dressing. Give it a taste and add salt and pepper if you think it’s necessary. Refrigerate for as long as you can before you serve.
I hope this helps you out the next time you’re in a bind for a meal or a dessert that will impress. Tweet any of your own recipes to me and I’ll send them out in a later blog entry!