Friday, January 18, 2008

The Kitchen Cabinet

Espousing food philosophy is all well and good, but you also have to actually get dinner on the table in order to have a family meal. These are things I always have on hand to help whip up a quick meal.

From the Kitchen Cabinet, with links to some of my favorite brands:
  • Pasta. Angel Hair, especially, because the kids love it and it only takes 5 minutes (Preheat the water and cover it, until you are nearly ready for the pasta. That way you can time the sauce and the pasta being finished close to the same time.)
  • Best bottled sauce you can get or canned tomatoes
  • Newman’s Own Salad Dressing. For salad obviously, but also can be a quick marinade with added garlic, lemon, or extra vinegar.
  • Near-East Rice Dishes. Some of these have a lot of sodium, but they are fool-proof. If your family like rices, try a rice cooker. We like Kokuhou Rose Japanese Rice, which we can get in Chinatown.
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Spices. Have the standards on hand in dried form: tarragon, basil, thyme, parsley, and whatever else you like. Buy one fresh herb a week if possible and use it to liven up different dishes during the week.
  • Some jars of specialty foods. For example, capers, artichoke hearts, or olives can be thrown into almost any sauce or a marinade to add flavor. Just be careful not to combine too much, especially if you're new to this. Try one special item at a time.
Learn how to make 2-3 quick pasta sauces with your staples. I whip something up with ham, peas, Parmesan cheese, and milk that is a close cousin to Linguine Alfredo and is always a hit. Or chicken breasts, or thin pork chops can be marinated for 15-20 minutes while the rice cooks or the pasta water boils, and then quickly sauteed or grilled. Having some easy fall-back recipes and supplies can help you get dinner on the table on even the craziest nights.

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