Chef Tim Says...

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Chef Tim Says....

Quick and Easy Does It

People ask me all the time what I eat day to day. "Do you cook every night?" is a frequent question. I do eat out but mostly I cook, partly because I love being in the kitchen but also to create recipes and do research for As a result, it’s not very common for me to cook the same dish twice in the Harlan household. As with most of us, however, there are evenings when I just don’t have the time to cook and need to make something quick and easy.

Even though it’s rare to have the same recipe twice at my house, there are a few recipes that I particularly love that are quick and easy when I am tired or pinched for time.

Risottos are so simple and they’re quick and elegant. Two of my favorites are a leek risotto and one made with butternut squash (acorn squash works well too):

Leek Risotto with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

Butternut Squash Risotto

Near the top of my list is Barbecue Shrimp. This is pretty quick and easy to toss together and fantastic served with Romano Grits. Barbecue sauce, in general, can be the foundation of a quick and easy meal. This Barbecue Pork Tenderloin recipe is so simple that it'll take you all of 20 minutes active time to cook and everything can be kept in your fridge. Frozen pork or even chicken breasts work well, too. Move them from the freezer to the refrigerator in the morning to defrost, and by the time you get home you'll have a quick meal using your favorite sauce.

I like my own Barbecue Sauce, but there's a lot of bottled sauces on the market. Making the right choice can be a challenge because of the amount of added sugar and salt. If you do use a packaged sauce, look for a lower amount of sugar (around 10 grams per serving) and less sodium (under 300 mg for two tablespoons). The folks at Organicville sent some sauce for review recently that is pretty darn delicious. It's organic, gluten-free and all natural. There's no high fructose corn syrup and not too much sugar. Best of all it only has 200 mg of sodium.

I wrote last week about making a quick and easy Mediterranean topping that goes on almost anything – fish, chicken, beef or pork. We have this at least a couple of times a month.

Steak au Poivre is another meal that you can keep on hand. It's so quick and easy but your family will never believe that it took only a few minutes for you to make. Serve with a baked sweet potato and you're good to go.

Last but not least is Taco Salad. Crazy, I know, but I am a sucker for taco salad. My mom made a version of this she called “Tacas” when I was a kid and we had it about once a week or so. It's quick and easy and amazingly delicious.

Here's a list of quick and simple meals for your weekly menus to add to your list:

Cajun Cheeseburger
Sloppy Joes
Asian Beef with Broccoli
Roasted Salmon with Red Thai Curry
Saffron Salmon Risotto
Fish Enchiladas
Indian Shrimp Curry
Pasta Carbonara

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
Dr. Gourmet
May 11, 2009