These are the days when I rely on a few quick and easy recipes that don't require many ingredients, don't require much time, and are so simple that I can prepare them in full-on zombie mode. These are the days when I'm in the mood for a quickie (that's what she said).
The beauty of these recipes is that they're not only delicious, but they look and taste like they required a good deal of time and effort to prepare, so they're great to keep up your sleeves for those instances when you have unexpected houseguests!
Garlic and Chile Shrimp
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 red chili peppers, sliced (Fresno chilis work well in this dish)
1 pound raw medium-sized shrimp, peeled (16/20s work best)
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over low-medium heat. Add the bay leaf, garlic, and chilis, and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until the garlic and chilis become fragrant.
While the garlic and chilis are cooking, pat the shrimp dry on paper towels. Once the garlic and chilis become fragrant, increase the heat to medium-high, then add the shrimps. Stir-fry the shrimp for 3-4 minutes, or until they’ve curled and turned opaque.
Serve hot with a bit of the cooking oil drizzled over them.
1 cup hard cider*, plus more to thin the pate
1 cup chicken liver pate, brought to room temperature
Crushed potato crisps
Preheat the oven to 400. Place the sliced leek in a shallow baking dish, then place the apples skin-side down in the dish. Carefully pour in the hard cider, making sure that it doesn’t splash into the hollowed part of the apples. Bake for approximately 15 minutes.
While the apples are baking, thin the pate with a splash of hard cider until it reaches the consistency of frosting. Use the thinned pate to fill a pastry bag, or alternatively, a plastic baggie. If using the plastic baggie method, simply snip off the corner seam, as shown below:
After the apples have baked, use the pastry bag/plastic baggie to fill the apples with the pate. Once the apples are equally filled, sprinkle each with a pinch or two of the crushed potato crisps, then slice with a sharp knife and layer on individual plates. Spoon a bit of the cooked leeks on the plate next to the stuffed apple slices, and serve with glasses of hard cider.
* Magners is a popular and easy to find hard cider brand, but many small breweries are beginning to produce hard ciders - these are often worth the search!
Grilled Nectarines with Lemongrass Mint Balsamic Glaze
2 nectarines, halved
¼ c. Boston Olive Oil Co. Lemongrass & Mint White Balsamic Vinegar
3 T. powdered sugar, plus more to garnish.
Heat a grill or grill pan. Place the nectarine halves, cut side down, on the grill, and cook until lines have formed on the flesh. Set aside to cool.
In the meantime, whisk the vinegar and powdered sugar together to make the glaze. Set aside.
Once the grilled nectarines are cool enough to touch, slice lengthwise and arrange on individual plates. Drizzle with the glaze, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.
4 haddock fillets, approx 8 oz. each
2 oz. butter (approx half a stick), sliced into pats
Juice of 1 lemon
1 T. salt-packed capers, rinsed and drained
Chive- or shallot-based seasoning, such as Penzey’s Fox Point
Salt & pepper
Preheat the oven to 375. In the meantime, place the haddock fillets skin-side down in a baking dish lined with tinfoil. Place a few pats of butter on each fillet, then squeeze the lemon juice over the fillets. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
Once the fish is cooked, place each fillet on a plate, drizzle with a few spoonfuls of the liquid, sprinkle with the seasonings, and serve.
Blistered Poblano Peppers
2 poblano peppers, sliced into strips*
1 T. lime juice
Kosher salt or sea salt
Lime wedges, to garnish
Heat a large, preferably cast-iron pan over high heat. The pan is hot enough when a drop of water dances across the surface of the pan rather than sizzling. Once the pan is hot enough, add the peppers in an even layer (depending on the size of your pan, you may have to do this in batches, as each pepper slice should touch the bottom of the pan).
Cook the peppers for a minute or two – you’ll hear the peppers begin to “pop,” and there may be a bit of smoke. Toss the peppers – you should see dark blisters on the skin. Once these blisters form, stir-fry them for another 2-3 minutes, or until they are softened, but retain a crunch.
Immediately after cooking the peppers, transfer them to a large bowl. Sprinkle the lime juice and a few pinches of salt over the peppers, and toss a few times. Serve on individual plates with lime wedges.
*Poblanos are one of the milder chili peppers, but they’re still hot enough to sting like hell if you stick your fingers in your eyes. I learned that the hard way when I took my contacts out after making these. Don’t be an idiot like me and assume that because they don’t taste hot, they won’t burn you.