Dinspiration: 10 Dishes To Get You To 2020

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1. Egg in a Hole with Mushrooms

Heat a couple of tablespoons of butter in a skillet and add a cup of sliced mushrooms along with some salt, pepper, and about a teaspoon of dried oregano. Cook until the mushrooms give up their liquid and begin to brown; remove and set aside. Use a biscuit cutter (or a glass, or the lid of a jar) to make three-inch holes in the center of pieces of thickly sliced white bread. Heat an additional tablespoon or two of butter (more butter is better here), add all of the bread pieces to the pan, and cook for a minute until golden. Flip the bread and crack an egg into the holes of each slice, then cook until the whites are just set. Use a wide spatula to remove the bread from the pan. Season with salt and pepper and serve alongside the mushrooms and the center circles for dipping.

2. Cauliflower Soup

Cut a cauliflower into small florets, then boil them in salted water until tender, about five minutes. Drain, reserving the cooking water. Put the cauliflower into a blender with a bit of the cooking water and some cream or half-and-half and blend to a smooth puree; add sufficient stock to make six cups. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and garnish with chopped chives. (If truffle oil is your thing, feel free to substitute it for the olive oil.)

3. Quick Cassoulet

This version is far from strictly traditional, but it maintains the spirit of the original and takes less than 20 minutes. Cook a chopped onion, a couple of diced carrots and celery stalks, and some minced garlic in olive oil for a couple of minutes. Add a sliced smoked sausage and cook for about three minutes more, then add two or three cups of precooked or canned (drained) cannellini or other white beans and a cup or two of chopped-up canned tomatoes, along with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer until everything is warmed through and the vegetables are tender. Toss fresh breadcrumbs with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and toast until golden; serve on top of the cassoulet.

4. Avocado, Citrus and Radicchio Salad

Peel an orange and separate it into segments. Slice an avocado or two; cut a head of radicchio into quarter-inch-thick segments. Arrange the orange, avocado, and radicchio slices on a plate; drizzle with olive oil and any mild vinegar, like rice or Champagne. Season with salt and pepper, garnish with freshly chopped mint, and serve.

5. Pear, Bacon and Goat Cheese Sandwich

Fry a few slices of bacon until crisp. Smear slices of good bread with goat cheese and layer with thinly sliced pears and the bacon. Drizzle with a little balsamic vinegar and serve.

6. Tofu with Pineapple and Red Peppers

Chop half a pineapple and a large red pepper into half-inch pieces and cook for about three minutes in a bit of oil. Remove.Add more oil if necessary, followed by two cups of cubed firm tofu and a tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger; cook and stir about three minutes more. off heat, toss with a splash each of soy sauce and rice vinegar and some chopped scallions. Serve over rice.

7. Potato Cumin Curry

For more heat, add a freshly chopped chile along with the onions. Peel and cut four baking potatoes into half-inch pieces. In oil, cook a thinly sliced onion until just soft, about two minutes; add a couple of tablespoons of curry powder, a tablespoon of cumin, and a pinch of saffron. Add the potatoes and toss to coat with the spices. Then add a can of coconut milk; fill the can with water and add that, too. Bring the mixture to a steady bubble; cover and cook until the potatoes are almost tender, about eight minutes. Add a drained can of chickpeas. Combine well and continue cooking until the potatoes are tender and the beans are warmed through. Serve topped with freshly chopped cilantro.

8. Shrimp with Lemongrass

When you’re mincing lemongrass, peel off its outer few layers to get to the tender inner core. Cook a tablespoon of minced lemongrass in some vegetable oil; add minced garlic and a teaspoon or so of lime zest, then a pound or more of shrimp. Stir, then cook until the shrimp are no longer translucent, three to five minutes. Add some fish sauce to taste, then add some black pepper, and serve, sprinkled with cilantro.

9. Chicken Paprikash

In two tablespoons of butter, sear a pound of boneless, skinless chicken pieces, about a minute on each side. Add a thinly sliced large onion, two crushed garlic cloves, a teaspoon of minced ginger (or half a teaspoon of ground ginger), three tablespoons of Hungarian paprika, a bay leaf, and a couple of teaspoons of salt; cook for about three minutes. Add a cup of chicken broth and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat and continue cooking until the chicken is just done; stir in half a cup of sour cream and serve over buttered egg noodles.

10. Apricot-Braised Lamb Chops

In a food processor, make a paste from a handful of dried apricots, some lemon juice, a bit of onion, a teaspoon of ground coriander, and a clove of garlic. Salt and pepper not-too-thin lamb chops and sear them in olive oil for about two minutes on each side until browned; remove and set aside. Add the apricot mixture to the pan along with a splash of white wine and bring to a simmer. Put the chops back in the pan, cover, and braise for about five minutes—they should remain pink inside. Serve, drizzled with the braising liquid.

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