Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Easy Comfort Food

This is the time for easy recipes from the pantry. Even if you're new to cooking there are some simple recipes you can whip up like a pro. They're tasty , relying on what you have stocked up. Another plus?   They're not labor intensive so you can spend time home schooling or working from home.

This was the subject of Melissa Clark's article in today's New York Times Food section. She also has some recipes on The Times live blog if you'd like to visit. The dishes, some are riffs on old favorites, keep perishables in mind. Some do ask for fresh ingredients but that's only if you have them handy. Subs are also welcome too.One recipe is pasta with canned tuna, anchovies and capers. Ms. Clark recommends using a twirly kind of pasta like spaghetti, linguini, or the thicker, chewier bucatini but any will do.It's then sauteing the anchovies with oil and garlic. Capers give it a salty tang but you can also use canned olives if you don't have the first or don't like them. Another dish revolves around that perpetual pantry staple. It's dried red beans. Use salted water with enough salt in it that it tastes like a mouthful of the ocean. Another flavoring is  garlic cloves , along with a celery stalk - but you can use celery salt too.  Throw in a Parmesan rind or a hunk of smoked meat. Bacon would be good here or do as Ms Clark does, throw in keilbasa. The base can any grain from rice to polenta. There is also a soup recipe.It uses the sturdy stock of root veggies such as rutabegas, turnips, carrots and even radishes. Toss in any fragrant allium like onions and throw in some herbal sprigs. Add bay leaves and a base of cold water Add some greens such as kale or spinach along with the cubed and peeled root veggies. It's then pureed and garnished with anything from a drizzle of olive oil to red pepper flakes.

Sweet recipes are also represented here. Ms. Clark gives us the ultimate comfort treat - coffee cake. It could be your snack after a work session or breakfast with a big mug of coffee. The topping is the best part and the first part made.It's melted butter, rolled oats and flour, each a quarter cup. Add in brown sugar and cinnamon. You can toss in other spices such as cardamon and allspice for some zing. The batter is a simple one , enhanced with some kinds of fermented dairy product. You can employ anything from sour cream to creme fraiche however there's also milk or non dairy yogurt acidified with a tablespoon of lemon juice. Fruit can be added to the batter such as pineapple or fresh blueberries. For a subtler flavor grate in some lemon or orange. Oatmeal also gets an upgrade. It's baked in a casserole dish with some peanut or almond butter and some cinnamon. Serve with cream and some maple syrup or just with bananas.  There's another pantry dessert, this time by another Food section contributor, Margeaux Laskey. It's a made in a pan chocolate cake that's made from scratch with cocoa powder. It's an easy bake  little chefs will love making in one bowl. Add some chocolate chips and dust with powdered sugar.

The pantry is your best friend these days. Use it to come up with satisfying meals and treats. It'll get you cooking and baking amazing recipes you and your family will love.

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