Lockdown specials: Cooking with few ingredients

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You know you’re not alone in your kitchen worries in this lockdown when even celebrity chefs are posting the meals they’re making at home with very limited ingredients.

For instance, there’s Netflix’s “Ugly Delicious” presenter and Momofuku founder David Chang with his leftover spaghetti made with chicken bouillon, pan-fried and baked in the oven.

Martha Stewart also shared an “easy” one-pot pasta dish with the “few ingredients you probably already have on hand”: spaghetti, onion, garlic, tomatoes, chili flakes and basil.

Three-Michelin-star Le Bernardin chef and co-owner Eric Ripert also posted the recipe for Super Easy Tortellini Meat Sauce, including step-by-step videos on Instagram.

When you’re under enforced quarantine and unable to go on a grocery run, you’re forced to be creative—and frugal—with what little resources you have in your fridge and cupboard. Because who knows when you can restock them?

Take, for instance, those cans of corned beef you managed to grab from the supermarket before the lockdown. I’d like to believe that we’re not yet at that point where we’re eating foods straight out of the can. While it’s convenient to just nuke or sauté your corned beef before serving, this is an opportunity to try new dishes with it.

Canned corned beef can be your shortcut beef nilaga. I’ve been making this long before this lockdown because it’s quick and comforting, especially when I’m craving soup: Just add veggies like cabbage and potatoes.

This past week, I tried adding dried egg noodles (elbow macaroni or broken spaghetti noodles will also do—again, make do with what you have) and it instantly transformed into beef noodle soup. If you keep beef, chicken, fish or veggie stock, even better; otherwise, those instant bouillons work just fine. (The dried spices in your cupboard will also come in handy at this time.)

For chef Ripert’s meat sauce (@ericripert) or any other pasta sauce that calls for ground beef, corned beef can be your best friend at this time; it’s an easy fresh meat substitute.

If you have bacon, pancetta or lardon lying around in your freezer, it can also add a lot of flavor to your vegetable dishes in the absence of other ingredients. For the leftover cabbage from my beef soup—because, again, nothing should go to waste—I simply sautéed diced bacon with onions and garlic and added chopped carrots and tomatoes, and voila—a nutritious side dish. You can use whatever veggies you have.

I’m also sharing here the recipe of a comfort chicken dish (just because I made it this week and I hope it inspires you, too). It calls for overnight marination, but hey, time is what we all have right now. I promise it’s so good, the wait will be worth it. I always keep fresh peeled ginger in my freezer for dishes like this.

The measurements here are approximates, so you can adjust to taste.

Also, here’s a foolproof recipe for low-sugar banana walnut bread with dark chocolate chips, to go with your morning coffee, because we could all use a little something sweet.

Let’s start cooking!

 

Lockdown Corned Beef Noodle Soup

Lockdown Corned Beef Noodle Soup

1 210-g can corned beef

700 ml water or beef stock

1 small onion, sliced

½ small cabbage, shredded

50 g dried egg or pasta noodles

1 tsp beef bouillon paste (or 1 cube; omit if using stock)

Salt and pepper to taste

Boil water with onion and bouillon in a soup pot, about 3 minutes. Add corned beef and simmer for 5 minutes. Add noodles and cook according to package directions. Add cabbage and cover for 1 minute. Season to taste. Serves 2-3.

 

Sticky Chicken
Sticky Chicken

Sticky Chicken

6 pc chicken thighs

1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger

1 Tbsp crushed garlic

2 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp coco sugar or regular brown sugar

2 Tbsp liquid aminos or low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp mirin (optional)

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt, adjust to taste

1 tsp ground black pepper

Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and adjust to taste.

Place chicken thighs in a Ziplock bag and pour marinade into the bag. Make sure the chicken pieces are coated evenly with marinade. Leave in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready, preheat oven to 350°F. Transfer chicken thighs to a baking dish, single layer. Reserve the marinade. Bake chicken for 35-40 minutes, or until the juices run clear.

In a saucepan, simmer marinade until thickened or reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Spoon sauce over baked chicken thighs before serving.

 

Low-Sugar Banana Walnut Bread
Low-Sugar Banana Walnut Bread

Low-Sugar Banana Walnut Chocolate Chip Bread

4 overripe bananas, mashed

1 egg

4 Tbsp coco sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

1 1/2 c all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 c toasted walnuts

1/2 c dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350*F. Generously grease a loaf pan and set aside.

In a bowl, combine mashed bananas, egg, sugar, vanilla and butter.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the banana mixture and combine. Add chocolate chips and walnuts and mix.

Pour dough into a loaf pan. Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes. Turn over bread onto a cooling rack and cool completely, about 20-30 minutes, before slicing.

What about you—what have you been cooking?

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