April 10, 2013

Recipes to rescue a weary home cook

By ELLISE PIERCE McClatchy Newspapers

PARIS, TEXAS - The funny thing about being a food writer and cookbook author is that people think since I'm in the kitchen all day long, dinner must be a snap.

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Chopped steaks with grilled radicchio

McClatchy Newspapers

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Spinach stracciatella soup

McClatchy Newspapers

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Thing is, I'm not always in the kitchen. And when I am, I may be testing appetizers or desserts all day long for something I'm working on. That doesn't get me any closer to dinner than I would be if I worked in an office. In fact, I'm at a greater disadvantage because when my day is over, the last thing I want to do is cook.

But I can't just untie my apron and dash out to dinner any old time I decide I'm tired of being in the kitchen. It's expensive, for one thing, and going out also requires that an effort be made to spruce up one's appearance -- because let me tell you, it's not all Food Network gloss and shine in my cramped little kitchen, and I usually emerge at the end of the day looking like I've been to war with the oven (which I usually have, and I have the burn scars to prove it). I'm also likely to be decorated with bits of whatever I've been cooking.

All of that's to say that just like you, I'm wiped out at the end of the day, and I'm usually trying to figure out what I can make for dinner that will minimize my kitchen time.

I have some super-easy, go-to meals -- avocado smashed on toast with a drizzle of pistachio or hazelnut oil; scrambled eggs and chevre in a tortilla, splashed with Valentina sauce; a heap of baby spinach or arugula topped with a poached egg and Parmesan -- but even these get a bit boring after a while.

This year, I'm trying to mix it up. Make something new, something different, even when I'm tired and I just want to take off my cowgirl boots and sit in front of the TV and watch "Downton Abbey" reruns.

These recipes, fortunately, do not require the sort of time that will put off marathon Maggie Smith viewing, if you're like me and cannot watch just one. And no servants required, either. Less than a half-hour, almost all of these, from start to finish.


Servings: Four

1 small head of cauliflower, florets removed

About 2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

1 cup red quinoa

Handful of wild arugula

1 cup (9.25 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

For arugula pesto:

1 clove garlic, minced

4.5 ounces wild arugula

1/3 cup walnuts, toasted

¼ cup olive oil

Sea salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to broil and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil. Put cauliflower florets onto cookie sheet, add olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss. Place in oven and cook until florets begin to brown, about 15 minutes, then flip them and brown other sides, about 10 more minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

2. Cook quinoa: Put 2 cups of salted water onto boil, then add quinoa, stir, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook for 10 minutes, then turn off heat and let quinoa absorb the rest of the water. Let cool.

3. Make arugula pesto: Put garlic, arugula, walnuts, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse till combined.

4. To assemble the salad, put quinoa in a large bowl and add a handful of arugula, beans, roasted cauliflower and a tablespoon or two of pesto. Toss and serve.

(Continued on page 2)

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Chicken tinga, a quick spin on tacos

McClatchy Newspapers


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