Greetings from "The Husband in the Kitchen"!
Amateur Cooking for Two
Around our domicile, the Husband—c’est moi--has evolved into the role of head chef. While the wife sometimes takes over to prepare her specialties or give the husband a break, he’s most often the one at the sink and the stove, bringing old favorites and new recipes to life.
We will present all recipes for two diners, since that’s how we prepare them. We have no doubt that you can deal with multiples if you want to cook for more (leftovers, anyone?).
Actually, this culinary adventure got underway at our house about 10 years ago, when we decided to do more home cooking and less eating out and ordering in. Over time, we found lots of favorites dishes that we put into regular rotation (from our current go-to sources, The New York Times Cooking, friends, and some we sorta made up ourselves). The Husband also began to look for efficiencies in preparation that would make tackling a recipe the second, third, or fourth time easier.
About those efficiencies…
In looking through countless recipes in all formats, from many, many, many sources, he has found that the presentation of recipes could use improvement. The second time you prepare a recipe, you benefit from the knowledge gained in the first attempt. What if some of that information was imparted to you in the recipe, making the first cook less chaotic—like:
What kitchen tools are needed?
How much of the prep work should be done up front?
What prep work can be done while something else is cooking?
Why the need to scroll back and forth between cooking steps and ingredient list to figure out what to do? A typical example:
Ingredients might list 2 cups onion, finely diced. Cooking instructions tell you to add the half the onion. Half of what? You have to look back to see how much “half” is. And how is it prepared? UGH! Especially if you’re cooking from a digital presentation of the menu.
A different approach…
One of our goals in sharing these favorite recipes is to rethink this “normal” approach to recipes and make them more accessible and user-friendly. To that end, we’ll always give you the source of the recipe, our interpretation and introduce it this way:
Summary: Servings, time to cook, our own “Fill-O-Meter,” leftover potential, tasting notes from the Wife, my main and most appreciative audience.
Tools: What implements you’ll need
Ingredients: List with quantities
Pre-Cooking Prep Essentials: What items do you really need to prep before you dive into the cooking. This is for your protection and so you don’t burn the meal to a charred smoking hulk while you slice and dice.
Cooking Process: Prep details will be integrated into the cooking steps. I’ll annotate the cooking with everything I’ve learned (and can remember).
Our food guide
Plan a weekly dinner menu. “What’s that?” you say. “You plan your evening meals for the whole week?” Yes, we do! It sounds daunting, but it means not having to forage every night for what’s for dinner. It also helps minimize food waste (you know, that stuff lurking in the back of your fridge).
Note: If you do plan ahead, make a weekly list so each day you know what’s for dinner and what to defrost ahead of time. Nothing quite like trying to cook a frozen chicken!
Aim to try a new recipe each week. This keeps the menu rotation interesting and expands the range of cuisine and ingredients.
Strive for variety of dinner meals…We don't avoid red meat, but don't use it too often either; we shoot for a mix of poultry, seafood and vegetarian fare.
Find your culinary style. Ours is a mix of “Slow Food” and “Peasant Cooking”—i.e., meals that are home-cooked with fresh local ingredients, in small quantities (I’m usually cooking for two), using basic, available, and inexpensive ingredients (with splurges every now and then).
Use added sweeteners sparingly (sugar, honey, agave, etc.). We don’t use any, preferring fruits (dried dates, raisins, etc.) for a bit of sweetening if the flavor works with the recipe. Recipes that call for sweeteners can be cooked without and generally don’t suffer—the natural sweetness of the ingredients is often sufficient. Use store bought items with no-added sugar, like tomato sauces and nut butters. These are plentiful nowadays—there are lots of quality ones. (For specific recipes, I’ll note when we’ve proceeded without sugar, and the sugar free products we like.)
Modify recipes to taste and when possible, use up what’s in the fridge. If a recipe is familiar , we’ll change it up from the first attempt. Otherwise, we stick close to the original instructions until it’s familiar. (For specific recipes, my modifications to ingredients as well as quantities will be noted).
Use fresh herbs/spices as available. Quantities must be tripled from dried amounts, but it’s well worth it. Grow them in your yard, on your windowsill—wherever—or just buy them at the grocery/farmer’ market.
We’d like to commit to presenting a new recipe each week, but as you all know, a week has a way of slipping past. Plus remember, The Husband in the Kitchen is an offshoot of “Our Domicile Daily (published weekly, no promises).” ‘Nuff said.
It’s our pleasure to share some of our favorite recipes with you. If you care to share some of yours - please send them along! And let us know what your experience is if you try one of our featured recipes!