Writer Deanna Fox is the founder of Albany Cooking School and a food journalist with clients all around the world, as well as being a regular guest on WAMC’s “Food Friday” and WNYC-TV’s “Let’s Eat!”. We checked in on how Deanna is doing during quarantine and asked if she could give us some tips in the kitchen, because we’re just plain old running out of ideas. Want more? Check out her wonderful cooking videos — one of our favorite diversions.
The myopic focus for my professional life is on how, why and what we eat. I cook. I teach people how to do the same. I interview the people who feed us and try to distill their insights into bite-sized morsels of meaning and context. And when I’m not working, I’m still cooking and baking. What happens in the kitchen is my sole source of sustenance. And even for me, I often fail at conjuring the kitchen muse.
I have a few back-pocket meals I can create from the staples I keep in my kitchen. Below are the recipes (or rather, non-recipes) for a few of them. Use them to build from and improve upon, using whatever is available in your own kitchen to make something out of what feels like nothing. Each recipe is designed to serve at least one person, but some can be stretched for leftovers. Have your own struggle meal that becomes a go-to in your kitchen? Please share your recipe in the comments!
White Beans on Toast
Dice half of an onion to a pan with one tablespoon of butter or oil. (If you have celery and/or a carrot, dice them and add about 1/4 cup to the onion.) Add a pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat until the onion has just softened, then add one minced garlic clove. Cook until the garlic becomes fragrant. Add in half of a can (about 1/2 cup) of drained white beans and 1/4 cup of water or stock to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat, or until much of the liquid is cooked off and the beans are warmed through. Mash the beans and vegetables together slightly with the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over toasted bread.
Optional: Add rosemary, thyme, parsley or grated cheese to the beans towards the end of cooking.
Eggs in Purgatory
Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes to a skillet and warm over medium heat. Once the tomatoes are warm, add 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning and stir to combine. Make four wells in the tomatoes and crack 1 egg into each well. Cover the skillet and cook until the eggs have reached their desired texture (completely firm, or still a little runny. Your choice). Serve warm.
Optional: Serve over toasted bread with grated cheese.
Chicken and Dumplings
If starting with raw chicken, dice about 2 cups worth of chicken breast or thighs and brown in a pot over medium heat with a pinch each of salt and pepper and 2 tablespoons of butter or oil. When the chicken is browned, remove it from the pan. To the pan over medium heat, brown one diced onion, plus about a cup of diced carrot and celery, if you have it. (You can also use about a cup of frozen mixed vegetables, if you prefer.) Add the chicken back into the pan once the onion has softened. (You can skip the browning process and just add leftover cooked or rotisserie chicken here.) Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour over the vegetables and chicken and cook for one minute. Add poultry seasoning, rosemary, thyme, parsley if you have it, about 1 teaspoon of seasoning in total. Add 3 cups of water or stock and stir to combine with the flour. Cover the pan and allow to simmer for about 15 minutes while you make the dumplings.
To make the dumplings, combine 1/2 cup of flour with 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder and a punch of salt. Stir together in a bowl, then add 1 tablespoon of butter (shortening or oil can work, too) and press it into the flour mixture to make coarse crumbs. Add 1/4 cup of milk (water can work, too) and stir to make a sticky dough. Drop dollops of this dough into the chicken pot and then cover, cooking for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm.
Sweet potato and bean hash
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add half of a chopped onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onion has softened. Add 1 tablespoon taco seasoning (more or less to taste), 1 clove of minced garlic, and 1 large diced sweet potato, scrubbed clean but not peeled. Place in the oven and cook until the sweet potatoes are fork tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add 1 can of drained and rinsed white beans. Season with salt and pepper. Serve warm.
Optional: Top with salsa or shredded cheese when serving. Add leftover chicken before placing in the oven.
Tomato and white bean soup
Heat a pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add half of a chopped onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the onion has softened. Add 2 cloves of minced garlic. Turn heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant. Add 1 can of crushed tomatoes, 1 can of drained and rinsed white beans, 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning, and 2 cups of stock. Turn heat back up to medium-high, allow the soup to come to a simmer, and then reduce the heat back to medium. Simmer for 10 minutes before serving.
Optional: Add 2 cups of chopped hardy greens to the pan while the onions cook, and top with cheese if desired.
ENJOY! Don’t forget to tag @upstatecreative in your photos to get reposted!