Monday, November 8, 2010

UnRecipe: Wasabi Two-Step

Consider it a kitchen lesson inspired by ballroom dancing. But without the B-list actors and questionable celeb wannabes. To avoid the temptation of a burger-and-fries run, but stave off the evils of mealtime boredom, I'll make a few things during the week for meals, just like anyone else. But I don't want to be stuck in the prep time vortex on days where there's just not enough time. Introducing... The Wasabi Two-Step -- no line dancing required. It's basic common sense time management: pick one slow-cook, large quantity, leftover-friendly dish for days that are short on fuss time and one quick-cook, minimal prep, smaller portion meal that's enjoyed freshly cooked. It's the slow-slow-quick-quick-slow of getting jiggy with dinnertime.

Chili and Rice is my BFF (Island style, yo) - Photo by Wasabi Prime

No duh, Wasabi -- did it take a rocket scientist to figure that one out? Hell, no! Brain surgeon, maybe. Very possibly an astrophysicist was involved. My last quick-slow cook week involved getting a slow cooker of chili going while I made a simple eat-it-now dinner of trout and garden greens. The chili was the basic UnRecipe of: chunks of beef, canned tomatoes, chopped onions, sausage and black beans. I throw together a mix of seasonings that I have never measured, so it's different every time (I know, bad recipe developer, bad, bad, bad!). There is no method to this madness, just throw it into the crucible that is the almighty crock pot and let it do its thing for a few hours, letting the cooking vessel do all the real work. That's how you get to be the master of your kitchen domain. Delegate to the robot army of appliances and hope they don't overthrow you in a high-voltage political coup.
One of the best things about chili and stews is the fact that it just gets better the longer it sits. It just ages like a fine, meaty wine. I'll make a chili a whole day in advance of when I want to eat it, just so it has more time to just soak in its own flavors, even in the chill of the fridge. Plus chili is one of those monthly go-to's that I still rely on, as my mother did the same. We'd have it at least once every two weeks, since it was so simple to make and it kept our family fed for several days. Poured over rice, of course -- a Hawaii favorite. I know it may seem weird, but just try it and you'll be a convert to chili and rice.
Summertime fish dish - Photos by Wasabi Prime

I know I'm not fooling anyone -- I clearly made this trout dish during the earlier part of summer, as witnessed by the fresh sugar snap peas. And I'm clearly backlogged on my food photos and posts! This was during the heyday of the Wasabi Garden's pea patch, where I was pulling handfuls of pods every day. Never a bad problem to have. I seared some trout filets we had from a friend's fishing trip, seasoned with some garden pesto, and deglazed the pan with some white wine, butter and sauteed whatever seasonal vegetables I had on hand -- peas, late spring onions, anything green. A dish like this felt very of-the-moment, as we were using things that were at their peak, no real plan in mind, just use what's there. Not that seared fish in a wine and butter sauce couldn't be done at any time of the year, but it was a nice way to work with the ingredients at-hand and enjoy them at their seasonal peak.

What about you? What are your favorite ways to balance time and get a meal on the table?

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  1. Yeah, this is always an issue for me on weeknights, with kids who need to be eating dinner just a few minutes after I get home from work. One strategy that sometimes works for me is to not just *serve* leftovers, but transform them. For example, mujadara one day, then turn that into a lentil and rice soup the next day.

  2. Yum, this chili looks delicious!! It’s one of the best things to look forward to during the winter! You should really consider submitting this to Recipe4Living’s Champion Chili Contest It looks delicious!


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