INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: OCTOBER 2020

It’s been a while since I shared with you recipes that are super simple but tasty enough to justify being featured on a blog post.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1
EGGS WITH ZA’ATAR AND LEMON

This very simple “recipe” is from a wonderful cookbook called “Falastin.”  Gently boil as many eggs as you want, but just for 6 minutes. The idea is to get the yolk still pretty creamy. Now in a small bowl, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, and za’tar. Peel the eggs, and chop them coarsely, drizzle your little sauce and sprinkle salt on top. Amounts are totally flexible, I usually go with 2 eggs, 1 tablespoon olive oil and then improvise.  I don’t know how many times I’ve called this lunch, with Ak-Mak crackers or a slice of sourdough bread. So good!

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2
SMOKY CHICKPEAS

Inspiration for this recipe came from Steeped: Recipes Infused with Tea (I adore it). You will need some smoked tea (Lapsang Souchong), but it is totally worth it to get some and keep in your pantry, even if you don’t enjoy it as a regular tea. I use it in chocolate ganache and quite often in cooking. It gives the food a very nice, subtle smoky flavor.

Slice open one bag of smoked tea, mix its contents with some cumin, smoked paprika, and salt. Open a can of chickpeas, drain and rinse well. Add into a bowl, drizzle some grape seed oil all over it, add the dry spice mixture and mix.  Spread on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, and roast in a 400F oven for 25 minutes until golden brown.  Once again, amounts can be totally eye-balled, no need for precision here. Relax and have fun with it.

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3
AROMATIC BASMATI RICE

I found this gem of a recipe at Spice House website and made it four times in a row. That tells you how much we enjoyed it. It just turns a regular batch of rice into something special.  I made some adjustments to their recipe as I felt that the rice was turning out a bit too underdone for our taste.

AROMATIC BASMATI RICE
(adapted from Spice House)

1 cup Basmati rice, rinsed
1 Tablespoon grape seed oil (or another mild-flavored oil)
5 whole cardamom pods
2-3 whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick
salt to taste
2 cups cold water  

Add oil to a non-stick saucepan and place the pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the cardamon (you can lightly crush them if you want more flavor), cloves and cinnamon stick to saute briefly. When fragrant, add rice and salt. Saute a minute or so to coat the grains of rice with the flavored oil. Add water, but don’t put the lid on yet.

Once the water boils, turn the heat down and simmer uncovered for 7 minutes. Cover the pan, and let it cook on very gently heat for 7 more minutes. Turn the heat off and let the rice sit in the pan for 10 minutes before removing the spices and fluffing the rice for serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Make sure to count how many little spice pieces you add to the pan so you can be sure to remove them all, although they are pretty visible on the cooked rice later.  There is so much flavor in this recipe, I guarantee you will be hooked on it.

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INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4
BAKED SALMON WITH SOY-GINGER GLAZE

BAKED SALMON WITH SOY-GINGER GLAZE
(inspired by At Home with Natalie)

3 salmon filets
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 tsp sesame oil (do not add more, it is powerful stuff)
salt to taste
sesame seeds to sprinkle on top

Place the salmon filets (skin side down) over a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil leave at room temperature while you heat the oven to 350F and reduce the sauce for glazing.

Mix the soy sauce and mirin in a small non-stick saucepan, add the ginger, brown sugar and sesame oil. Simmer gently for a few minutes, until it starts to get a little thicker.   Brush the top of the filets with some of the glaze, season very lightly with salt, and place in the oven for 20 minutes. Reserve the rest of the glaze.

Remove the pan from the oven, brush with more glaze and sprinkle sesame seeds. Return to the oven, and cook until done to your liking. Serve immediately.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

We eat salmon every week, but usually the husband is the seafood cook in our house. I rarely venture into his department, but was tempted to try this very simple preparation. I know I’ll be making it regularly, the only key thing is to get the fish cooked to the exact point you want (which is easier to do with sous-vide, but sometimes it’s nice to simplify things further).  Probe the filet with a paring knife, and remove from the oven when it reaches your personal Nirvana level.

ONE YEAR AGO: Halloween Entremet Cake

TWO YEAR AGO: Pork with Prunes, Olives and Capers

THREE YEARS AGO: Kansas Corn Chowder

FOUR YEARS AGO: Impossibly Cute Bacon and Egg Cups

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pulling Under Pressure

SIX YEARS AGO: Cooking Sous-vide: Two takes on Chicken Thighs

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EIGHT YEARS AGO: On my desk

NINE YEARS AGO: A must-make veggie puree

TEN YEARS AGO: Vegetarian Lasagna

ELEVEN YEARS AGO:  Brazilian Pão de Queijo

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES THREE: MAY 2020

Staying safe in Corona virus time: read the guest blog post by Phillip Klebba here.

During social isolation we have more time to devote to meal preparation, things that take hours to materialize at the table don’t need to be reserved to the weekend. But I always welcome simple things with a smile. The first one comes from Nadiya’s show Time to Eat, which I binge watched from first to last episode, enjoying every second of it. The second would be breakfast for most people, but my first meal of the day is lunch, so that’s when I’ve been enjoying it (often). Lastly, the third is a tribute to a UK ingredient that can be not only hard to find, but quite pricey for us Americans, clotted cream. I finally made it from scratch, and if you are into that sort of ingredient, I have one word for you: WOW.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

TORTILLA EGG ROLLS

TORTILLA EGG ROLLS
(adapted from Nadiya’s Time to Eat)

for one person….

1 egg
salt, pepper, spices to taste
1 tortilla (I used corn, she used flour)
olive oil
goodies to taste (I used leftover roasted butternut squash)

Crack the egg into a bowl, season with salt pepper and any spices you feel like. Whisk well.  Put a small frying pan over a medium heat, and drizzle in two teaspoons of oil.  Pour the egg  mixture into the hot oil, making sure it is hot enough to sear it quickly.

Scatter your goodies over the egg, put the tortilla on top, pressing it gently with a spatula to glue nicely to the egg mixture underneath it. Cook for 30 seconds, then flip it all gently and cook on the other side (tortilla down) for another 30 seconds.

Take the pan off the heat and put the tortilla/egg on a plate. Roll the whole thing when it is cool enough to touch, slice and….

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Corn tortillas are a little harder to roll, but I prefer them because they are lighter and in my opinion more flavorful.  I sometimes warm it up for a couple of seconds in the microwave before adding on top of the egg to make it slightly more pliable, but it’s not mandatory. Nothing wrong keeping it simple… You can add mushrooms, olives, peppers, sliced leftover meat, and make them a little bigger by using a larger flour tortilla. The method is simple and so easy to adapt to your needs, I hope you’ll give it a try.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

Orange – Yogurt – Tahini Bowl

Cut orange in segments. I used blood oranges for this version, but any juicy orange will work. Place fruit in a serving bowl.  Top with a nice dollop of yogurt, drizzle tahini all over it. A touch of maple syrup, and your favorite granola.  Close your eyes as you eat it. It is dreamy. I called it lunch many times in the recent past. Tahini and yogurt. Who could tell? I used bananas instead of oranges and also a mixture of oranges and strawberries. Everything works. Refreshing, light but satisfying because tahini packs quite a bit of energy.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

CLOTTED CREAM

Hardest part of this “recipe?” Finding non-ultra-pasteurized heavy cream. I was lucky to find ONE little container at the grocery store and jumped on it with so much enthusiasm I almost lost my mask. Once you find that, follow this super simple procedure: pour it in a baking dish so that the level is not higher than 1 inch. Place carefully inside a low oven (mine was set at 170 F and I confirmed with oven thermometer to be pretty stable).  Leave it there for 12 hours.  Come back to this view….

Let it come to room temperature, and place it in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. Carefully scoop out the clotted cream and transfer to a container for storage. If you like it softer, add a bit of the liquid left underneath. That liquid, by the way,  will work as milk in any type of baking, or as a nice addition to your coffee or tea.

Clotted cream is pure culinary gold, and so easy to make, essentially no hands-on work. Perfect over scones, pancakes, waffles. You will find plenty of ways to enjoy it, I’m sure. Even as a simple spread over bread or crackers. With a touch of jam if you are so inclined.

I heard that clotted cream can also be prepared in a crock pot. I intend to try that next time I score some of the appropriate heavy cream. The preparation sous-vide is also available in many sites in the internet, but I found the method a bit too convoluted and potentially messy. This was super easy and I highly recommend you give it a try.

ONE YEAR AGO: Ispahan Macarons

TWO YEAR AGO: Smokin’ Hot Meatloaf and Homemade Ketchup

THREE YEARS AGO: Banana Bread with Espresso Glaze

FOUR YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooker Carnitas & Paleo Planet Cookbook Review

FIVE YEARS AGO: The Making of a Nobel Reception

SIX YEARS AGO: Fennel Soup with Almonds and Mint 

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Green Curry Pork Tenderloin

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Farfalle with Zucchini and Ricotta

NINE YEARS AGO: Slow-baked Salmon with Lemon and Thyme

TEN YEARS AGO: Hoisin Explosion Chicken

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE: CRUNCHY ASPARAGUS

For a few years I’ve been blogging on recipes that are almost too simple to call as such (see them all here), but tasty enough to sit side by side in a blog with more elaborate concoctions. Normally I like to wait until I have several “incredibly simple” items to share in a single post, but spring is almost here, asparagus season is knocking at the door, and this recipe was too good to keep it a secret for much longer. I made it three times in two weeks. The delicate crunch on these babies? I am seriously in love.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE CRUNCHY ASPARAGUS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

a bunch of asparagus, tough ends removed
olive oil
lemon juice
salt & pepper
Herbes de Provence
1/3 cup almond meal

Heat oven to 425 F.

Mix enough olive oil and lemon juice (half and half) to give enough liquid to coat the asparagus well.  Add salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence to the mixture, eye-balling is totally fine.

Place the asparagus on a tray, pour the seasoned olive oil mixture over them, and move to coat well.

Place the almond meal in a separate tray, drop the asparagus coated in olive oil over it, move gently to make the almond meal stick to the surface.

Arrange them on a single layer on a baking dish covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Roast for 12 minutes, shaking them a bit halfway through.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  Really hard to imagine a simpler recipe. Well, of course, you can omit the almond meal coating and still get excellent roasted asparagus that way. But this very minor additional step sends this side dish to a whole other level of deliciousness.

Change things around by using other spices, although you risk masking the flavor of the veggie itself. Still, if you are in the mood for it, add cayenne, smoked paprika, sumac (oh, that would be great), play with the whole concept and make it yours. Whatever you do, do not omit the lemon juice.

ONE YEAR AGO: A Sourdough Quartet

TWO YEARS AGO: When bad things happen to good people

THREE YEARS AGO: Sweet Potato “Hummus”

FOUR YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Crust Pizza

FIVE YEARS AGO: Silky Rutabaga Puree

SIX YEARS AGO: Bon Bon Chicken: Light and Spectacular

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Red Wine Sourdough Bread with Cranberries

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Award-Winning Sourdough Baguettes

NINE YEARS AGO: Country Rye (Tartine)

TEN YEARS AGO: Penne a la Vechia Bettola

 

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: DECEMBER 2019

In case you’ve missed my big announcement:
4 days to showtime!

It is a bit hard to believe but my last Incredibly Simple post was 7 months ago, back in May. Better late than never, here I am to share with you four non-recipes that are a regular rotation in our kitchen.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

FRIED EGG IN CARAMELIZED CREAM
(from Food52)

1 or 2 eggs
heavy cream to coat a non-stick pan
salt and pepper

Pour the cream in the skillet. Break the egg(s) and place them gently over the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat to medium and let the cream come to a boil.

When the eggs are almost fully set, remove from heat and cover with a lid for a couple of minutes (this will finish the egg  cooking to a perfect texture)

Sprinkle more salt and pepper if so desired, and serve over your favorite side dish.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

BREAD CRUMBS

I used to make bread crumbs in the food processor. I thought I was so virtuous and clever. Until I got a particularly hard baguette that refused to cooperate with the efforts of my Cuisinart.

First picture shows the “crumbs” made in the processor. The other two show a before and after using the Vitamix, pulverized in less than 30 seconds!  I am so in love with it, will never use any other method. I apologize if this is common knowledge but I decided to share just in case someone was living in the same cave I’ve been living, as far as bread crumbs are concerned.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

AIR-FRIED CROUTONS

Cut bread into crouton size. Place in bowl. Spray with olive oil or drizzle a little oil all over and mix well. Season with Herbes de Provence, a touch of salt and pepper.

Place in air-fryer set at the highest temperature for 5 to 8 minutes, shaking the basket a couple of times if you remember to do that (no big deal if you just leave them there unattended).

The croutons will have perfect texture and just the right amount of oil.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

RICE WITH TAHDIG
(adapted from several sources)

We love rice, particularly Persian-style, with that delicious crust called tahdig. Most recipes are pretty involved, but I got this shortcut method that works surprisingly well. My apologies if I abuse a very traditional recipe, but let this be a profession of my love for it, and the desire to have it as quickly as possible at the dinner table.

white rice, cooked, about 2 cups
2 Tablespoons full-fat yogurt
pinch of saffron
pinch of salt
drizzle of olive oil

Mix the yogurt with the saffron and salt. Add to the cooked rice. If rice was in the fridge, warm it in the microwave for just a minute to bring it closer to room temperature before adding the yogurt.

Drizzle olive oil on a 10 inch non-stick skillet. Place over medium-high heat, when the oil starts to get nice and hot, spoon the rice/yogurt mixture in a layer covering the bottom of the pan. Place a towel on top, close the lid. Keep it on low-heat for 20 minutes, check to see if it is golden underneath, increase the heat to medium-high until it gets to the color and crust you enjoy.

You might have to make the recipe once or twice until you get it just right.

So there you have it, four super simple recipes for you to choose from.  Fried egg is my favorite kind of lunch, and since I have no cholesterol issues, I can fry it in heavy cream without feeling too guilty. Obviously, I don’t do it on a daily basis. The tahdig is definitely a weekly thing. If I want to cook it from scratch, I bring a large amount of salted water to a rolling boil, pour 1 cup of rice in the pot, cook it stirring every once in a while for 12 minutes. Drain, and proceed with the recipe. It turns out a little better in terms of texture than using pre-cooked rice from the fridge. It does add another 15 minutes or so to the preparation, but it’s worth it.

ONE YEAR AGO: White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Cake

TWO YEAR AGO: Panettone Time!

THREE YEARS AGO: Pistachio Creme Brulee

FOUR YEARS AGO: Fast and Furious Bison Chili

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, December 2014

SIX YEARS AGO: Braised Fennel with Saffron and Tomato

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Revenge of the Two Derelicts

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Grilling Ribbons

NINE YEARS AGO: Peppery Cashew Crunch

TEN YEARS AGO: Baked Shrimp and Feta Pasta

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE TIMES FOUR: MAY 2019

Once again I offer you a small collection of non-recipes, so simple that I wonder whether they are blog-worthy. The first two use the air-fryer, but you could make them both in a regular oven. It will just take a little longer, and maybe the texture will not be quite the same.  The second two call for preserved lemons, an ingredient that is worth experimenting with. You can make your own, or buy a bottle, which is what I did.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #1

AIR-FRIED TORTILLA CHIPS

Excellent use for tortillas that are getting past their prime, and wave at you when you open the fridge… “Please, do something about us laying here in this lousy bag. We are not getting any younger…”

Grab a pair of scissors, cut each tortilla in four wedges, each wedge in two. That will make 8 pretty good size chips from each corn tortilla. Spray olive oil, sprinkle with your favorite spices (I like to use a combination of smoked paprika, cumin, and a very light touch of cayenne pepper).  Season with salt. Put in the air-fryer set as high as it will go (mine goes to 390F). Fry them until golden brown and crispy, shaking the basket every few minutes. They should be ready in 8 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen absorbent paper, and serve while still warm, but they are great at room temperature, getting a bit harder then. Amazing how much better they are than those you can buy in bags. If you only need a small amount, the air-fryer is definitely your best option. A very efficient way to exercise portion control: don’t make a massive amount!

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #2

AIR-FRIED ARTICHOKE HEARTS

You might be surprised to learn that I found this recipe in a vegan forum. I do have a pretty open mind when it comes to cooking, and vegan recipes can be quite creative and intriguing. Members of the forum were raving about it.  Grab a bottle of oil-packed artichoke hearts. If you can only find those that come in a brine type solution, no worries. Simply drain the liquid well, dry them a bit, and coat them with a nice layer of olive oil.  Place them in the air fryer basket, set to high. Fry until they get golden the way you like. Some bits will threaten to get charred. Those are good bits, embrace them.

I can only advise you to get more than one bottle going. These fried morsels are addictive, they shrink, and you will regret not frying a few more. Plus, leftovers are fantastic added to pasta, couscous, as pizza topping. You need these in your life.  I imagine you can do them equally well broiling in a regular oven. Simple. But so very tasty…

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #3

ROASTED VEGGIES WITH PRESERVED LEMONS

For this “non-recipe” I got a bag of those rainbow carrots, and cut them quarters lengthwise, then in sticks. Did the same with some zucchini. Added all veggies to a bowl, drizzled olive oil, salt and pepper. Grabbed 4 slices of preserved lemons, diced them (they are so soft they more or less melt as you cut them), added to the bowl, mixing gently.

Placed in a roasting pan and into a 425F oven.  Thirty minutes later, they were ready to be enjoyed!  Very nice lemony flavor, perfect side dish for a busy weeknight.  Probably doable in the air-fryer also, but I was hoping for a bigger batch, with leftovers in mind.

INCREDIBLY SIMPLE #4

GRILLED CHICKEN BREASTS WITH PRESERVED LEMON MARINADE

Get a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, slice them in half to make them thinner, and pound them slightly.  Now get about 6 thin slices of preserved lemons and add to a small food processor with a few tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, and a couple of teaspoons of agave nectar.  Process into a paste. Add to the chicken breasts inside a plastic bag, leave to marinade a few hours or overnight. Remove the meat from the marinade, grill about 5 minutes per side.

Pure citric flavor, that will also tenderize the meat slightly. It will be moist and flavorful, a combination not always easy with chicken breasts. This preparation reminds me of the whole-lemon marinade I blogged about in the past.

I hope you enjoyed my little collection of quick and easy recipes, they tend to become part of our regular rotation, in fact preserved lemons will have a permanent spot in our fridge. Right there next to the rose harissa…

ONE YEAR AGO: French Style Baguettes

TWO YEARS AGO: Sad Times

THREE YEARS AGO: Slow-Cooker Carnitas Lettuce Wraps and Paleo Planet Review