One of the benefits of shelter-in-place for those of us who enjoy cooking has been more time to indulge. It has also forced creativity, since we can’t hit up the grocery store whenever, especially for that one odd ingredient. My gracious husband has done all our shopping (so grateful!), which means I’ve written careful lists and also relinquished control.
We’ve had fun with it. Each of the following recipes we made for the first time during quarantine, and have made more than once since—family approved and then some!
The first time I made this, a delightful friend offered to trade me hummus for sauvignon blanc—easy decision!
The second time I reached out to a Lebanese friend whose hummus was the best I’d ever tasted. She taught me tricks. One: to remove the skins and make the creamiest hummus, you can boil cooked garbanzos (either cooked from dried or canned) with a little bit of baking soda until the skins disintegrate, then give them a good wash before mixing; you can also peel by hand, or toss them roughly in a wire-mesh strainer, but her method is easier.
Secondly, add an excessive amount of lemon juice; since this recipe calls for two cans of garbanzos, she recommends adding juice from four to six lemons. On my own, I discovered that we like way more garlic than called for, at least four to six cloves (my friend advises crushing the garlic before adding to the mixer), and I topped my finished product with lemon-infused olive oil and ground paprika. The recipe makes a lot, perfect to share with a friend.
I wanted to do something different with potatoes. I found this recipe from The Wanderlust Kitchen and decided to riff with what I had and also make it easier on myself. In the end my potatoes were Indian-spiced, not “Bombay.”
I combined 1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsps dried ground mustard, and 2 tsps curry powder in a large bowl. I cubed all the potatoes, no peeling. I tossed the potatoes with the spices and put them on a roasting pan, lightly sprayed with oil, and roasted them at 450 for 20-25 minutes.
My son, who couldn’t wait for them to cool, declared them “phenomenal.” That first batch was for dinner. I made them again and tossed with a breakfast hash. I’m making them this evening for our at-home Memorial Day BBQ; I will boil cubed potatoes briefly before tossing with spices and my husband will finish them on the grill.
My eldest son loves pad Thai, but it typically has egg and shrimp in it. Someone recommended this recipe from Minimalist Baker and I realized that, though I rarely stock tamarind paste, we had recently ordered out Indian food which came with several small containers of, you guessed it, tamarind!
My tweaks: I doubled the sauce, subbing less maple syrup than the recipe calls for coconut sugar. Since I was also making Thai spring rolls (next recipe), I wanted to make one sauce that could be used for both + more for serving. I baked the tofu on a lightly sprayed roasting pan at 400 for about 15-20 minutes, and added some extra veggies, shredded carrots and edamame.
The next time I made it I doubled everything. Note to self: keep tamarind in stock.
Thai Spring Rolls
You’re watching more TV than normal, too, right? We caught Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode when he made Thai shrimp spring rolls. Marinated tofu makes for an easy substitution. On his next shopping trip, Guy bought all the ingredients. This made for a fun date night (first try) and family project (second try). It’s also an easy way to get kids to eat veggies!
Before baking tofu for the Pad Thai, I cut off eight thin slices and poured a little sauce over them, marinating while I prepped other ingredients. We didn’t have cilantro and didn’t miss it. The second time we also added some microgreens.
So far in quarantine, I’ve mostly stayed away from baking except for the occasional quick bread. Sourdough starter seems WAY too much work, I’m lazy that way.
Last week, though… I never thought I’d say this, but I got tired of reading, and I couldn’t stomach one more TV show, and two out of four of us were on evening Zoom meetings. And I’d been eager to try my pal The Creative Resource’s new cookie recipe. Especially because she included vegan adaptations—she loves me so.
Except…quarantine. I didn’t have granola, and definitely not cacao and cashew butter granola, the exact reason she created this cookie recipe, for Kellogg’s no less; she blows my socks off in amazement, landing a food photo shoot for one of the nation’s leading food corporations.
I took stock of our pantry. I had granola bars and stale multigrain cereal. I had a couple of mostly-used-up jars of nut butters in the fridge. I pulsed granola bars and multigrain cereal in the food processor and subbed for the amount of prepared granola. I subbed some nut butter for plant-based butter. Vegan, I subbed flax egg for actual egg (I hadn’t tried this in a cookie recipe before—so glad to know it works!). I added a little canola oil because my dough was too dry, likely due to my nut/plant butter substitution.
Her cookies may be better, but these turned out so dang good. I mean, with granola and cereal, they might even be breakfast fair, we won’t judge (don’t judge: we may have had them for breakfast. More than once).Cover image by Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay