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Really Fast Dinners

mixmaster b

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Anything with Mrs. Dash. :raz:

Ok, ok, hiyayakko: chilled cubes of silken tofu, usually topped with scallions, bonito flakes and grated ginger or daikon. I try to prep the ginger and/or daikon far in advance because doing these things just doesn't lend itself to ten minutes. Not unless you're Jinmyo. :wink:


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I've done the omelettes and the cheese sandwiches. I've also done the pasta, but sometimes instead of annointing it with olive oil and a sprinking of parmesan, I instead give it a couple shots each of soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.

I've also gotten into making what could best be described as Low-brow Erzatz Takikomi-Gohan (thanks to torakris et al, for teaching me there was a for-real name for this dish that I kinda stumbled upon by accident). I sling some rice in my little cheapo rice cooker, along with a smattering of leftovers and/or pre-nuked frozen vegetables and various seasonings as my whim dictates. Not very gourmet, but it's quick (about 20 minutes for the cooker to cycle) and reasonably healthy.

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Southwest salad -- combine canned black beans (rinsed), canned corn or white or yellow hominey (rinsed), and canned diced tomatoes (drained) with some fresh cilantro and a vinaigrette dressing. Add chiles as desired.

Do you say these things to hurt me????? :wink:

Oh, right! This is a fast food thread.

Actaully that sounds very good.

An alternative, requiring a little bit of forethought, is to have the beans and hominy previously made and frozen. A little more hassle but justified by the superior flavor and texture over canned.

LOL! The real hominy is reserved for posole around my house! (This thread was supposed to be 10-minute meals. :wink:


"She sells shiso by the seashore."

My eGullet Foodblog: A Tropical Christmas in the Suburbs

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  • 6 months later...


I'm interested in your fave simple, fast dishes, either because they have few ingredients, simple techniques or fast cooking times, and that taste a whole lot more elegant than those limitations might suggest.

A friend reminded me today of the potato wrapped fish I made for her a few months ago. I understand the original version was from Paul Bocuse. My version is several slices of thinly sliced (ie by mandoline) starchy potato ( slightly overlapping) wrapped around a filet of mild fish. That is placed onto a hot oiled and buttered pan (overlapping bits down). (S & P liberally) When the tater has sealed together a bit, turn it over and chuck it into a mid-ish heat oven (350 + or -) until the fish is done. Serve with a lemon wedge, or deglaze with butter lemon juice and capers, for example.

Ok - this dish is really simple and really good - fish n' chips all in one go. The only difficulty is the requirement of a mandoline or similar V-slicer for the potato.

I'd love to hear other variations on the simple 'n quick but elegant theme.


Geoff Ruby

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One from Gordon Ramsey which I haven't tried but looks intriguing is just brocolli, water, salt & pepper. Simmer until tender and then blend until smooth. Serve with croutons & goat cheese.

Quick cooked pasta dishes can look very elegant, especially ones with seafood.

Salads, especially salads with cooked meats.

And theres always steak, the ultimate fast meal.

PS: I am a guy.

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Oh, and having the right items in your fridge or pantry can dramtically simplify meal prep. Stuff like herb oil, roasted garlic, onion or shallot confit, compound butters, fresh herbs, roasted peppers, duxelle (mushroom paste) etc. all add an elegant touch to any dish for very little effort.

One I like to make is 3 large tbsp of onion confit and 3 cubes of frozen, homemade beef stock per person, cover with boiling water and season to taste. Add in a splash of sherry vinegar and you have french onion soup in 15 minutes that tastes like it took all day to make.

PS: I am a guy.

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There are so many fish recipes that take almost no time. For example, making a soy based sauce (with ginger, green onions, etc) for either poaching, or for glazing broiled fish.

One of my favorite fast meals is halibut in green curry (this is from West Coast Seafood). Saute green onions, a tablespoon or two of green curry paste and some cut up green beans in the cream that rises to the top of the canned coconut milk for 5 minutes or so. Add the rest of the canned coconut milk and a little fish sauce if you like and reduce the mixture by half. Add a pound of cubed halibut and a couple diced romas and cook until done. Garnish with mint/cilantro/basil, whatever you like. Great over rice.

Edited by kiliki (log)
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Crab cakes with salad. Provided I have crab meat in the freezer, of course. Simple and quick to make and pan fry. Elegant enough for a summer lunch or dinner.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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A faster version of coq au vin - delicious, quick, and feels like something that cooked all day.

Also, many quick pastas are exceedingly yummy and full of intense, different flavors - carbonara comes to mind...

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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Here is my go to got to eat Now.....boneless chicken, flour S&P and pan fry in oil with a minced clove of garlic till just about done remove to a dish...add 1/2 cup or so each of chicken stock and white wine simmer a few min. I add a corn starch slurry a nice lump of butter and a handfull of chopped parsley and return the chicken to the pan. Usually served over rice with steamed broccoli. You could of course sautee some onions too and garnish with some roasted peppers or sundried tomatoes or capers or.....


The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers


Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

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One of the things that defines a simple, fast dish for me is one that doesn't require any advance planning or thawing something.

Pasta with a simple tomato sauce. Frittata (get it going while you get out of your work clothes.

Fried or poached eggs on toast, with a little salad, can be elegant, nourishing and ultra fast. Ditto with pasta with butter and parm.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Honestly, one of my favorites is fettucine tossed with olive oil, nuts, red pepper flake, garlic, and parmesan cheese.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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I'll add another that my wife loooooooves. Tuna and white bean salad. A few slices of thinly sliced red onion. A can of white beans (we prefer smaller ones). A couple tins of tuna packed in oil. S & P. A good glug of good olive oil. Mix. Total time - less than five minutes. Serve on a leaf of lettuce if you want to get schmaltzy. Or add a bit of mint.

I'm not sure that this is elegant, but it sure is easy, fast, and tastes good. You do need good tuna and EVO and a liberal amount of S&P though - the beans are pretty bland. Soaking the onion in water and squeezing a few times can tame the onion a bit too - although I tend to like it with a bit of bite.

And all the pastas suggested meet my criteria. Actually, a good store bought stuffed pasta tossed with an herb, maybe some tomatoes, a veg or two, a bit of pasta water and EVO can be magnificent. And take only a couple minutes longer than it takes to get the water to boil.

Keep 'em coming!

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Super-Easy Roast Chicken

This takes only a few minutes of simple prep. and cooks itself, yet is the perfect combination. One secret is leaving the peels on the onions and garlic, which adds flavor, keeps the outsides from burning and makes them easy to peel.

3-4 lb. whole chicken

2 medium onions, unpeeled

1 large sprig fresh rosemary or 2 tsp. dried

1 head garlic, unpeeled

1/2 stick butter

salt, pepper and seasoned salt (Spike, Lawrey's, Prudhomme, etc.)

approximately 1/4 cup dry vermouth

1. Preheat the oven to 425.

2. Remove the neck and giblets from the chicken. Pull the skin off the neck and cut the skin in half. Put neck-skin sleeves on the wingtips and put the chicken breast down in a 10" or 12" all-metal skillet or a small roasting pan.

3. Put the rosemary in the cavity. Slice off the top 1/2" of the garlic head and put the trimmings in the cavity. Scatter the garlic head, onions, neck and giblets except the liver around the chicken.

4. Cut the butter into thick pats and balance it all over the chicken and giblets, reserving a good pat for the garlic head. Generously put on salt, pepper and seasoned salt.

5. Roast for 3/4 hour, turn the chicken breast-up, tuck in the liver and roast for 15-30 minutes until done (the skin is well browned and the legs wiggle easily).

6. Remove the chicken, onions and garlic head to a platter, pouring the rosemary-laden cavity juices into the pan, and let rest 15 minutes. HOLD THE PAN HANDLE WITH A POT HOLDER and pour off most of the fat from the pan, add sufficient vermouth and cook on the stove, scraping up the fond with a wooden spoon, adding at the end any juices that collect around the chicken. (If you use fresh rosemary, put it in the pan and bruise it thoroughly as you stir.)

7. Squeeze the onions out of their skins. Cut into quarters. Break the garlic head into 3 or 4 pieces and squeeze out the cloves.

Save the fat, substituting it for butter to make Pepperidge Farm stuffing (I like the cornbread) -- a 3-minute process. Assuage your conscience with a bunch of grapes for dessert.

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Honestly, one of my favorites is fettucine tossed with olive oil, nuts, red pepper flake, garlic, and parmesan cheese.

Many quick and easy variations on this theme. While the water boils and the pasta cooks, saute garlic, onion, tomato, olive, salami, peppers, i.e. whatever there's a bit of in the fridge. Hit the hot pasta with olive oil, parmesan and black pepper, dump in the saute, done.

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Another one that makes a good side:

peel, seed, and cube a winter squash (I use butternut). Steam for about 20 minutes until just tender through in a steamer appliance, or steamer basket.

While they are steaming, cube small and cook some bacon reserving everything in the skillet. When the squash is finished, get the bacon and grease good and hot and use it to saute some color on the squash.

Finish with nutmeg black pepper.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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A couple of favorites:

- Roast Chicken with Sherry (from Penelope Casas's The Food and Wine of Spain

Just cut up a chicken into serving pieces and all of the ingredients for the basting liquid are added at the same time. A little basting is all you need after that.

- Figs stuffed w/goat cheese and wrapped in proscuitto

Very each to make and easy to cook. Hold on the proscuitto with a tooth pick, put in a baking dish and bake for 2 minutes until the ham has gotten a little crisp.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Stir fry! A million options out there, and you can usually whip up something good and quick with what you have in your fridge and pantry. You can also easily convert many a stir fry into a good chow mein very easily.

If you can't get quality chow mein noodles, a quick and very dirty way to go is to use those cheap ramen noodles, break them in half and bake them at about 375 degrees until golden brown, then break them up.

Also... Ma Po Tofu is a great quick and easy meal. This thread has some great recipes and recommendations!


"Live every moment as if your hair were on fire" Zen Proverb

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Excellent thread! I'm getting ideas all over the place here...

My contribution: Broiled salmon. Slap a salmon fillet on a piece of tinfoil (skin side down, and no oil on the tinfoi -- you want the skin to stick), drizzle S&P and olive oil on it and broil it on a low rack in the oven for 12-15 min, depending on the thickness of your fillet as well as your oven. If your oven is uh, hot-tempered (and your fillets are thick), you should spend 5-10 on 400 bake, and then 10 or so on full-temperature broil, to cook it through, and get some nice brownage on the top.

You can now lift the fillet off the tinfoil, leaving the skin behind (of course, if you like the skin, you can just add some olive oil to the tinfoil before placing the salmon there).

The beauty of this simple dish, is that it's so easy to make it into something more... I've got orange zest in the freezer (it keeps amazingly well), and adding that to the S&P, and some grated ginger, and swapping the ordinary S&P out for some sea salt and green peppercorn -- voila, you've got something entirely different. And even if it isn't as simple as the initial recipe, it's still a fairly trivial meal to prep.

I love the idea of really, really simple meals -- stripping it down to the bare essentials... Then, you can try to build something else from it. Very cool.

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I'll add another that my wife loooooooves.  Tuna and white bean salad. A few slices of thinly sliced red onion. A can of white beans (we prefer smaller ones). A couple tins of tuna packed in oil. S & P. A good glug of good olive oil. Mix. Total time - less than five minutes. Serve on a leaf of lettuce if you want to get schmaltzy. Or add a bit of mint.

I do this for work lunches and you're right, it is great! You must use Ortiz tuna though. The "normal" tinned stuff just doesn't lift the dish to the same level.

You can do any variation on these theme, using different beans or veggie combinations. Some pepper flakes add zing.

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Soul/Snapper Fillet with Cream Corn [7 minutes]


-Take some filets, salt and white pepper and rub into fish, set aside

-Ziploc bag: combine cornstarch and cayenne

-Toss fish into the bag and shake!

-Heat a pan to medium high heat, add some oil to coat pan

-Throw the fish in and sear on both sides

-if you have a skillet I tend to like to turn off the stove at this point and pour in a can of creamed corn and let it heat up while the pan cools down

-Serve with rice

This sucker takes like 7 minutes assuming the fish is defrosted :)

Linguine with Brocollini and Proscuitto [20 minutes]


Learned this one in class

- Chop brocolli/brocollini

- Boil water in a pot (lots of water)

- Add salt after water boils (1Tbsp per serving of pasta)

- Throw Brocolli into water and simmer until knife tender

- Take out brocolli and reserve

- Throw in your pasta [Good quality linguine]

- In the meantime melt Tbsp butter and 4Tbsp olive oil in a pan

- Add proscuitto and pine nuts and brown them

- Add garlic (1 clove should do)

- Add reserved brocolli

- Add Salt

- When the Linguine is Al Dente, remove and throw it into the pan

- Toss all together

- Serve

Really good and you get to really taste the pasta with the simple sauce.

"There are two things every chef needs in the kitchen: fish sauce and duck fat" - Tony Minichiello

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