What if a skillet was the only pan you had for cooking dinner? Would you be stuck with scrambled eggs every night? Or maybe fried chicken. Could you come up with something creative and non-boring?
Ha! You don’t have to! Prolific cookbook author Christopher Kimball has done it for you. “The World in a Skillet” (Voracious Pub., $35.00 hard cover) helps you take a 12-inch skillet and use it to make 125 different meals from around the globe.
The book is divided into chapters based on the time it takes to prepare each dish – an hour or less, 45 minutes or less, and 30 minutes or less. It also includes chapters on skillet-based side dishes that you can prepare at the same time.
Try Moroccan-Spiced Fish with Chickpeas (30 minutes), Spiced Couscous with Butternut Squash and Pistachios (30 minutes), Peking-Style Shredded Pork Stir-Fry (45 minutes), or Pan-Roasted Cauliflower with Tomato Chutney (45 minutes).
Then how about Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Apple and Cherry Mostarda (50 minutes), Green Chili and Corn Quesadillas (35 minutes), Farfalle with Tomatoes, Peas and Pecorino (40 minutes), or Rhodes-Style Chickpea Fritters (55 minutes)?
And if you still want an egg dish, there’s Eggs Fried in Parmesan Breadcrumbs with Wilted Spinach (20 minutes), and Shakshuka with White Beans and Dill. Substitutions are easy. For my shakshuka, for example, I used chickpeas and basil because that’s what I had on hand.
I love dishes from around the world because they expand my cooking repertoire. And why not? There’s more to life than burgers and fried chicken.
Is there any difference between a skillet and a frying pan? Some chefs say no. Others say that a skillet is a bit deeper than a frying pan (about 2 inches or more), and it comes with a cover.
However you name your pan, these recipes work best with a deeper one.
Parking lot party
Cruise Coffee Cafe is my favorite place to get my caffeine fix. It’s the great little place at the Scotts Valley Metro station, 246 Kings Village, Scotts Valley – just past the Post Office. What’s so great? First of all, the coffee is excellent, and so are the chilled “refreshers” and the hot chocolate. Not to mention the chai latte.
The pastries and noshes are fresh and top-quality. No factory-baked muffins here! It’s also family owned, and they contribute to the community. That’s important. And they have friendly staff and plenty of outdoor seating. Plus craft supplies for the kids, and special treats for the doggies. What’s not to like?
If you’ve never been to Cruise Coffee Cafe, this weekend is your big chance. On Sunday, they’re holding a First Anniversary Parking Lot Party from noon until 3 p.m. A special menu features ribs and chicken, plus there’s a car show and live music.
While you’re enjoying yourself, order a special tri-tip tray for Father’s Day later this month. Dad deserves it! And say hello to Erin, the owner. She’ll be the one buzzing around making everyone happy.
Over-the-counter kitchen lighting can be expensive to install. But boy, is it useful! Ceiling lights just cast shadows on your workspace. Not good.
But bless his heart, Gary found the perfect lights that require no fancy installation. Just stick a couple of provided magnets under the kitchen cabinets, attach the magnetic light bar, and you’re good to go.
He bought LED light bars operated with rechargeable batteries and motion sensors. They stay off during the day unless you turn them on manually. But you can also set them to turn on at night whenever you come within a few feet. To recharge, just use a USB cord.
Now I can walk through the kitchen at night, and these lights come on and off automatically. Brilliant! (Pun intended.) You can find different models online or at local home goods stores for about $25 and up, depending on the features.
Gary may be Mr. Microwave when it comes to cooking. But he certainly finds cool gadgets to upgrade the kitchen. (See my last column in which I describe the retrofit cabinet drawers.)
TIP OF THE WEEK
Evenly portion out cupcake or muffin batter by using a trigger-release ice cream scoop. They all will bake the same size.
RECIPE OF THE WEEK
I’ve made some version of this dish several times for a quick dinner. But this one includes beans – a nice protein addition to the eggs. I’ve made this with chickpeas instead of white beans, and I left out the chilies in deference to Gary, who doesn’t like them. Serve with hot crusty bread to sop up the sauce.
SHAKSHUKA WITH WHITE BEANS AND DILL
Serves 4-6 in 30 minutes
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 or 2 jalapeno chilies, stemmed, seeded, thinly sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, lightly crushed
Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
15-ounce can cannellini or great northern beans, rinsed, drained
1/4 cup capers, drained
6 large eggs
1/4 cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped
1. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high flame, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion, jalapenos, garlic, cumin, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
2. Stir in the tomatoes with juices, the beans, and the capers. Bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until a spatula drawn through the center leaves a trail, about 7-9 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
3. Reduce heat to medium-low. Use the back of a large spoon to create 6 evenly spaced wells in the sauce, each about 2 inches wide and deep enough that the bottom of the pan is visible.
4. Crack an egg into each well, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook until the whites are set and opaque, and the yolks are still runny, about 5 to 8 minutes. Rotate the skillet about halfway through for even cooking. (My note: Cook a bit longer for firmer yolks.)
5. Off heat, sprinkle with the dill, and drizzle with additional oil. Serve hot.
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