101 Simple Meals
Description: “Poach shrimp and plunge into ice water. Serve with cocktail sauce: one cup ketchup, one tablespoon vinegar, three tablespoons melted butter and lots of horseradish.”
Notes: Okay, I draw the line at calling this a “substantial main course” as mentioned in the introduction to this article. It’s shrimp cocktail. It’s not a meal. On it’s own, it’s an appetizer; paired with bread and a salad, it’s maybe a meal.
Don’t get me wrong — it was good. Of course it’s good; it’s a shrimp cocktail. (And, I admit, I did not make the cocktail sauce. I bought it at Trader Joe’s and it was quite possibly the best I’ve ever had. The next time I go there, I’m picking up an extra bottle to send to my dad; that’s how good it was.)
Rating: Not really a meal, but still very good.
Description: “Chop prosciutto and crisp it in a skillet with olive oil; add chopped not-too-ripe figs. Serve over greens dressed with oil and vinegar; top all with crumbled blue cheese.”
Notes: At last! Here’s how I used those figs. I threw this together fairly late one night when we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner yet because it seemed the easiest to make (hence the wonky looking photo).
Wow, was this good. The figs, once cooked, were sweeter and had a velvety texture. (And really, is prosciutto ever not good?) And then, the figs paired with the blue cheese… brilliant.
Rating: The only meal I’ve made twice already, which is saying a lot.
Description: “Sauté shredded zucchini in olive oil, adding garlic and chopped herbs. Serve over pasta.”
Notes: I want to like zucchini. Really, I do.
I made this in the hopes I would come around on zucchini.
I did not.
The bland zucchini overwhelmed the garlic and herbs (and even the lemon and Parmesan cheese I added to try to doctor this up).
Rating: Not good. Not good at all.
Description: “Call it panini: Grilled cheese with prosciutto, tomatoes, thyme or basil leaves.”
Notes: Dude. It’s grilled cheese.
Rating: Good. Duh.
Description: “Egg in a hole, glorified: Tear a hole in a piece of bread and fry in butter. Crack an egg into the hole. Deglaze pan with a little sherry vinegar mixed with water, and more butter; pour over egg.”
Notes: Almost every time I stayed overnight at her house, my Nana would make me “an egg in a nest” (which should really be the proper name for this dish: you don’t get eggs from a hole ; you get them from a nest ) and I always loved it.
As an adult, I know differently, but as a kid, I thought she invented this dish herself, because no one else ever made it and I never heard anyone else ever mention it. Even to this day, part of me still thinks this dish as being something only my sister and I know about.
So, the added step of deglazing the pan with vinegar (in this case, I used white wine instead of sherry) seemed more than a little sacrilegious. But still, I made it as described.
Wow. That is one unphotogenic dish, eh? Yipes.
I still had my doubts about the vinegar deglazing. I took a tentative bite.
Then, I heard a great whooshing, vacuum-like sound and was left staring at this:
I ate the entire thing just standing there at the counter.
The vinegar was absolutely genius. It combines the remaining butter and eggy bits in the pan, and the heat mellows it out until almost all its sharp bite is gone. It’s amazing.
Last night, I cooked #14 from Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less.
Description: “Put a few slices of chopped prosciutto in a skillet with olive oil, a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a bit of butter; a minute later, toss in about half a cup bread crumbs and red chili flakes to taste. Serve over pasta with chopped parsley.”
Notes: I put the water on to boil for pasta… then, you know, just to kill a little time, I started looking at YouTube clips of David Tennant.
Next thing I know, the water’s boiling full tilt and I’m all googly-eyed, thinking about foxy 945-year-old Time Lords, while haphazardly chopping and throwing stuff into a frying pan. Anyway, it gets made, we eat it, and it’s fantastic.
I go to put the leftovers away and there it is: the bread crumbs. Evidently, I never did put ’em in. It was still really good; I just wonder how much better it would have been with the bread crumbs. I could blame David Tennant, but that would just be wrong.
Rating: Excellent (more or less).
I’ve decided to go through Summer Express: 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less and make as many of them as possible.
Here’s the first one I tried, #25.
Description: “Upscale tuna salad: good canned tuna (packed in olive oil), capers, dill or parsley, lemon juice but no mayo. Use to stuff a tomato or two.”
Notes: I may never make tuna salad any other way ever again. I didn’t find tuna in olive oil, only soybean oil; next time I’ll make more of an effort to find tuna in olive oil. Parsley was quite good, but I really wish I’d had dill instead. Stuffed tomatoes…? No thanks; I ate this on a bed of red leaf lettuce last night and again for lunch today on a baguette.