With no end in sight for self-quarantine yet, if you haven't started putting all that extra time at home to good use by teaching yourself a cooking skill or two, it's not too late to start.
This week, we're sharing a few tried-and-tested resources and tips from Inlander food editor Chey Scott and news writer/home chef Daniel Walters. Bon appetit!
BUDGET FRIENDLY & EASYI've long followed Beth Moncel's Budget Bytes cooking blog; it's a go-to for recipes both wallet-friendly and full of flavor. Most are based around pantry staples, and the instructions are fairly straightforward, making for great weeknight dinners for two (plus leftovers for lunch the next day) or to feed the whole family. Since launching Budget Bytes in 2009 to share her frugal cooking journey, Moncel has published a cookbook and a Budget Bytes app. All recipes are free to access, but there's also a fairly new subscription meal plan offering recipes and shopping lists for everything you'll need for a month's worth of meals; each bundle is $12.
The Budget Bytes team recently published "15 Pantry Recipes for Emergency Preparedness," rounding up — you guessed it — recipes that source shelf-stable and freezer-friendly ingredients. The post even includes a handy, printable shopping list and meal plan for the recipes included, like "Poor Man's Burrito Bowls," a curried red lentil and pumpkin soup, homemade chili and one of my favorite Budget Bytes recipes: "Easy Rosemary Garlic White Bean Soup." Whenever I cook this, I make sure to grab a country loaf from Central Food (the Kendall Yards restaurant is still baking fresh bread for pickup) to go with this hearty and satisfying soup.
Find it all at budgetbytes.com. (CHEY SCOTT)
GIVE YOUR RAMEN A KIMCHI UPGRADEOf all the instant noodle snacks in the world, ramen is by far the top. But after 12 weeks of eating ramen, it can get a little old. Here's a cheap way to upgrade your ramen with a Korean flair, with just a bit of kimchi and an egg.
First, wash your hands, because everyone's doing that now.
Then grab one or two handfuls of kimchi and squeeze out as much red brine from the kimchi as possible over a mesh strainer into a bowl. Pour the brine into a glass measuring cup and fill the rest of the measuring cup with water until you hit the 2-cup mark. Chop the ramen into smaller pieces. Grab a saucepan and saute your kimchi bits on medium-high in a bit of cooking oil for a few minutes, and then transfer it to the bowl. Pour the kimchi-water mix into the empty saucepan and follow your traditional ramen cooking instructions, including adding the seasoning packet. Mix in the kimchi during the last 20 seconds of cooking and then drizzle a beaten egg over the ramen a second after you turn off the heat, egg drop soup-style.
Wanna really impress yourself? Stir in some silky soft tofu as the ramen is cooking to turn the dish into a poor man's soondubu jjigae. It's the perfect vegan recipe, except for the egg and the kimchi and sometimes the ramen. (DANIEL WALTERS)
TEACH YOURSELF TO COOK AT HOMEWith grocery stores open but dine-in restaurants closed, it's a better time than ever to learn how to cook. Fortunately, the internet is crammed full of awesome cooking blogs and recipe sites. As I've taught myself how to cook over this past decade, here are my go-tos:
BEGINNER LEVEL: allrecipes.com
Strengths: You'll find plenty of recipes where "a can of mushroom soup" is one of three ingredients. Recipes are often quick and easy; perfect for parents trying to cook for cranky kids or beginning cooks wanting to build their confidence.
Weaknesses: The democratic nature of allrecipes.com means that many are sort of, well, bad. Also, most of the user-submitted photos of dishes are very, very ugly, sapping your appetite instead of whetting it.
Recommended recipe: Peppered Shrimp Alfredo
INTERMEDIATE: New York Times Cooking
Strengths: I find the Times' recipes tend to have a lot of generosity built in — you can make a lot of mistakes and still end up with a great dish. It hits that ideal sweet spot: Easy enough for the average cook to make, fancy enough to impress almost anyone.
Weaknesses: Most of these great recipes are stuck behind the New York Times' cooking section's pricey paywall. Also, there's usually at least one snooty ingredient with a name like "Etruscan Griffin Shavings" you'll either have to leave out or find a less pretentious substitute.
Recommended recipe: Lamb Tagine
EXPERT: Serious Eats
Strengths: Want a 26-ingredient mole poblano recipe? This is the site for you. Best of all, unlike most sites, seriouseats.com often explains in depth why they're recommending you use certain techniques or add certain ingredients, making you a better cook. Don't miss the button that allows you to see photographs of what each step looks like if you do it right.
Weaknesses: A lot of these recipes are time-consuming, best saved for those who love to cook for cooking's sake (like me!). The food-lab-focused experimentation means that a lot of recipes rely on extra steps and unorthodox techniques that can make it easier to screw up.
Recommended recipe: Crispy Potato, Chorizo and Green Chili Hash with Avocado and Eggs (DANIEL WALTERS) ♦