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Instant lunch (half an hour to make and eat) for unexpected visitor. S


Anna N
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What do you keep in your pantry so that you could feed an unexpected visitor who has only a half hour to spare? And before anyone questions the characters of my friends, these are usually people who, in their lunch hour, have found an irresistible bargain and rushed over to bring it to me! Or are on their way elsewhere and rather than take time to eat deliver a gift of something or other. Today I found crackers and smoked oysters in the pantry but would love to have other ideas so that I can stock up and be ready.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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Not in the pantry exactly, but there's almost always some kind of chicken salad in the fridge. I try to make chicken stock every weekend, and I always toss in a few boneless, skinless chicken breasts to poach while I'm at it. Sometimes it's Mom's generic recipe, sometimes it's jazzed up in different ways, but there's always some kind of chix salad in the chill chest.

During the growing season, there's always various kinds of lettuces, etc., in the garden ready to be fresh-picked.

Nice, yummy chicken salad on a bed of lettuce, ready in a flash.

Was this what you had in mind?

K

eta: What nice friends you have!

Edited by Special K (log)
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Like JAZ, expanding the definition of pantry to include long-lasting fridge items:

Bread + butter + Maille Dijon mustard + Jarlsberg from Costco = grilled cheese sandwich

Or bread + butter + Costco tuna + chopped shallots (+ celery, sometimes) + Hellman's mayo + Maille Dijon mustard + dried dill + Jarlsberg from Costco = tuna melt

Or bagel + butter + farm eggs + Jarlsberg = cheese omelette (I buy a dozen bagels at a time, cut each in half, and freeze.)

Edited by Alex (log)

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Quality canned tuna is a godsend in this circumstance.

--olive oil packed tuna tossed either with canned (rinsed, drained) cannellini beans or chickpeas....press the oil out of the tuna & use it to make an herb-spiked vinaigrette. (dried herbs are fine). Serve on lettuce leaves or on thickly sliced, toasted country bread.

--tuna + chickpeas in a quick dressing made of tahini and lemon juice; stuff it into pita, pile it on romaine, serve it in bowls w/za'ater sprinkled on top. A bit of crumbled feta on top, and no one will leave your table complaining.

Udon noodles cook in 6-8 minutes once the water's boiling, and soba cook even faster; I often make quick lunches of noodles boiled in broth/stock with bits of whatever veg are in the fridge. Cook the noodles mostly done, then add sugar snap peas, snow peas, broccoli florets, baby spinach, carrot strips, etc. Remove from the heat and stir in a spoon of miso (and a little soy maybe). If you have a boiling or hot water dispenser or immersion teapot, the whole thing can be even faster.

Another option is a nice little omelette, filled with whatever's handy (cheese is the most common filling at my house). Some fresh fruit or simple salad, a little bread on the side, and it's a fine lunch. Takes just a minute or two to whip up, and if the person is a friend, he/she won't mind an omelet cut in half, shared between the two of you.

Edited by HungryC (log)
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My first pick would be the grilled cheese sandwich, already noted. Omit the mustard for me, please.

Ingredients for a 21st century ploughman's lunch would be next: several kinds of cheese, a few kinds of breads/crackers, olives, other jarred/containered goodies like sun-dried tomatoes, red peppers, etc. Any made salads on hand: cole slaw, bean salads...I always have a supply of these long-keeping salads on hand. Canned meats/fish which you might keep. Apples for dessert. Small dark chocolate pieces. This would be my go to lunch at a moment.

Edited by Darienne (log)

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Once again, not the pantry, but, I usually have some soup frozen and some sort of bread or pastry also frozen. I also like to freeze cooked jasmine rice and any extra curries I make, so usually, I can pull out a few portions of Korma or a tomato based curry and rice. Oh, and I have a selection of odds and ends of batches of raw cookie dough frozen -they can be sliced and baked off in about ten minutes while you're prepping the main meal.

I generally have carrots, celery, onions, and a few other salad greens on hand, plus olives, so, a salad is easy. If you have a loaf of frozen bread, a jar of tapenade, or homemade, would be nice.

I can also make drop cream biscuits from scratch really fast.

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My first pick would be the grilled cheese sandwich, already noted. Omit the mustard for me, please.

Could I talk you into some caramelized onions? (Also a good sort-of staple, as you can make a large batch and store it in the fridge for a while.)

I mentioned Jarlsberg because that's what we have around most of the time, living as we do just a few minutes from a Costco, but we often have other cheeses. Cave-aged Gruyère makes a killer, if expensive, sandwich.

I usually don't eat pasta for lunch, so I probably wouldn't think of offering it, but it's a great pantry item; we usually have several varieties hanging around. A few ideas: 1) goat cheese (also from Costco), sun-dried tomatoes, and spinach or arugula; 2) heated olive oil, garlic, and anchovies, with parsley and black pepper (an augmented aglio e olio); 3) #2 with flaked canned tuna and lemon zest/juice; 4) Ruth Reich's spaghetti carbonara.

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"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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Returning to *pantry* items / dried goods: Why not something like this? I think the base items are just fine, just get the better quality ones if one wishes. One of the best IMO are the Myojo Chukazanmai varieties - which also come in nama ramen types ("fresh", usually kept in the refrigerated sections of the groceries) other than the glossy paper pouch sealed dry types (which will have a pack of dry seasoning and a pouch of liquid soup stock inside the main pack).

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Thank you for all your suggestions. I should have added that though I bake a couple of times a week, i give all my bread and bread-like items away! I try hard not to keep anything like bread in the house as I have trouble enough with my weight! I was also out of cheese when my last visitor showed up. Soup is almost always in my freezer in the winter. What I shall do is take your suggestions and draw up a list of instant lunches, stock up on needed items, adapt those ideas that call for bread, and hope that the next time a visitor shows up I won't draw a complete blank.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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If you're a baker, the freezer is your friend. A 1 lb loaf of sourdough will keep, well wrapped, in the freezer for 3-4 months. Defrost in the oven for about 20 minutes at 325-350, and it will be as good as new. I am also a baker, and I freeze all sorts of loaves, muffins, etc. It is nice to be able to produce a few pieces of focaccia, a slab of ciabatta, or some brioches at a moment's notice and with a few minutes reheating.

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We always have a variety of cheeses in the fridge plus bread in the freezer plus home made chutney, cornichons & tomatoes.

A favourite is baguette sliced thinly across the loaf with some Dijon mustard (just a smear) a slice of garlic sausage & then on top of that a slice of cantal (cheddar works well too) & topped with a sprinkle of herbs de province. Pop these on a tray under the broiler & they're done as soon as the cheese has melted.

This being France there's always a glass of wine around.

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Hmmm...I could probably live with a smear of mustard. DH would enjoy it.

I gather that you are saying that you find that artisan bread freezes and thaws nicely. And also the garlic sausage too? We live 45 minutes from the nearest grocery store, so there is no popping out for fresh stuff.

I think I like this thread. Quick serving of food has always been a problem for me and I'm not an easy short order cook. In fact, Ed makes the grilled cheese sandwiches usually.

We do have frozen home-cooked foods in the freezer, but as Anna says, they would take just too long to ready for eating.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I had an unexpected visitor recently an prepared Trader Joe's Masala Burgers on a wheat roll. The burgers cook through pretty quickly and slicing a roll takes no time. Add some condiments and maybe some greens, tomato, onion - whatever you like - and you're good to go. And they don't take long to eat, cleanup is a snap.

I liked the idea so much that I'm going to make some of my own burgers and freeze 'em for my own quick meals.

 ... Shel


 

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You can technically do this with all pantry items, though I'd probably go frozen on the pesto for better flavor. Anyway: Pasta with pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts. Serve with a salad if you have fresh vegetables of some kind, and it basically takes as long as the pasta takes to cook - just toast the pine nuts while the pasta is getting going, chop the sun-dried tomatoes, then toss everything together so the heat of the pasta warms the tomatoes and pesto.

Also tasty with fresh tomatoes in addition or instead of the sun-dried, if it's the time of year when you can get good tomatoes. I usually serve it with cheese, but it's not strictly necessary unless your pesto is particularly bland. I do prefer the sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil for this - the fully dried ones are quite leathery and don't really get a good chance to rehydrate at all.

If you like to bake you could possibly also use the freezer and keep some pizza dough on hand (possibly rolled out and part-baked? I'm not sure the best way to handle that part of it so you wouldn't have to wait a long time for it to defrost, never experimented) and then just throw together some kind of flat bread/pizza type thing. That can be quite flexible in terms of toppings, so you'd be able to make use of whatever great things you have on hand and probably come up with something that was quite nice.

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I gather that you are saying that you find that artisan bread freezes and thaws nicely. And also the garlic sausage too? We live 45 minutes from the nearest grocery store, so there is no popping out for fresh stuff.

Yes, the bread freezes very well, just wrap it in some cling film. It also thaws very quickly. The Garlic Sausage does not freeze well, but keeps for a long time in the fridge, wrap in foil. (In our house this is moot point as it never lasts long enough to be a problem.)

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With an olive and just a couple of common household ingredients you can serve up a wholesome and satisfying Martini...

or...

Cannellini beans, lemon juice, olive oil and garlic in a paste is good with crudités or maybe crackers.

You could make antipasti if you have tomatoes, mushrooms and garlic or some mozzarella or anchovies or vegetables in oil.

Frozen fish fillets cook very quickly under the grill or even in the microwave. You can also microwave or steam fresh or frozen vegetables in a few minutes to go with them. Fish other than tuna, such as sardines, salmon, crab and crayfish also come in oil or water.

Pitta in packets keep for a very long time if you feel happy about having them in the house, and you can get hummus, baba ganoush, olives, dolma, foul medammes and pickles jarred or tinned. Also feta in oil or brine.

Tofu and miso are also very long-lasting; you could do noodles with them or a soup with nori, and you can get jars of red, yellow and black bean sauce for noodles as well, and bamboo shoots and water chestnuts in tins, and you could add frozen shrimp and soy sauce/oil or sesame seeds to a stir-fry.

Tortellini and ravioli seem to come in long-life packets as well. They only take a few minutes to boil, and you can have them with pesto, butter or parmesan or in broth.

Cous-cous is ready very quickly. You could serve it with some dried fruit and nuts as a side or to make a salad bigger.

You can do tomato or pea soup in ten minutes if you have tinned tomatoes/frozen peas, some oil and an onion or garlic, plus a blender. Just saute the onion/garlic, boil the peas if that's what you're using, blend everything and heat. Tomato is good with some chilli and/or herbs, or you could add a tin of beans.

A Niçoise salad could happen with eggs, green beans (frozen), olives (jarred) and tuna (tinned), as long as you had fresh tomatoes.

Frittata is another eggy possibility.

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Linguini and white clam sauce, western (Denver) omlettes, omlettes with damn near any filling, including jam or jelly, creamed chipped beef on toast, maybe, cottage cheese and fruit (fresh or canned), even cold cereal, if it's a REALLY good friend! ;) lol!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Couple of coworkers came by to finish off a rush report due. There was no time to go out for lunch, and there are no good take-out places around my house.

I had to make something quick for the three of us.

These three dishes I think took less than 15 minutes total prep time.

dcarch

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It takes me about 25 minutes or more to cook a pot of rice - about 10 minutes for the water to drop to just below the level of the rice, on gentle heat, then 15 minutes (covered pot) on low heat to complete the cooking...and usually I leave it to stand (covered) after switching off the heat for 5-10 minutes before I even pop off the cover. I could force the process and trim the time all around by quite a bit, but I run the real risk of getting what is known in Cantonese as "sang kuat fan", or rice that still has a hard, uncooked center in each grain.

(For that matter, I find the preferred "al dente" rice in risotto to sometimes be perilously close to "sang kuat fan" - meaning NOT what I would look for in my rice)

Edited by huiray (log)
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Pastas (I usually have 5 or 6 varieties), beans, canned fish (tuna, sardines, herrings, anchovies, etc.), tomatoes, chicken stock, artichokes, olives, olive oils, vinegars are always in the pantry. And a hunk of parmesan is always around. Easy enough to whip up a nice pasta dish.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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