Pantry ScramblesPosted: May 9, 2010
So the last few weeks have been a bit dodgy in our kitchen. I hit a slump as I started to prioritize uni work over spending too much time cooking because I had deadlines to meet. Also, I was living on the last legs of my monthly allowance and I was trying to stretch it out as far as possible so that meant I was doing some crafty cooking of everything that I had in the refrigerator and pantry and not buy anything else. It’s a good idea when you want to empty out your fridge too, I guess.
I suppose now I understand why people say they’re too busy to cook, but most people are busy at work and just lazy when they get home. I’m pretty much chasing a deadline that doesn’t live within the 9-5 work day, and I still cook because well, it’s still better than cheap fast food. This is probably cheaper, to be honest!
All I had in my freezer was a whole lot of prawns without their shells (from the load of Curry Laksa I made – but didn’t post up, but you gotta wait for this, it’s good). And as usual, we always always have a variety of pastas and canned chopped tomatoes in the pantry.
Serves 4 (or 3, depending on how hungry you are)
Prawns – about… well however many you think you need
Pasta – whatever you have on hand
2 carrots, grated
1 tsp sugar
Can of chopped tomatoes
Dried italian herbs
White wine (again, how much you think you need)
Dried chilli flakes
1. Marinade the prawns with a bit of soya sauce and sugar. Trust me when I say this helps make prawns crunchy. It’s a little Chinese cooking method that my mum taught me and the crunch in the prawns is always oh-so-good.
2. Get your pasta water boiling, salted, and chuck your pasta in for 10-11 minutes until al dente.
3. Heat a bit of oil up in a pan (I used a saucepan cos I’m a lazy shit when I’m busy). Chuck in garlic and onion and cook until onion is translucent and garlic is a little golden.
4. Chuck in the can of tomatoes and carrots, throw in a few dashes of cinnamon and dried italian herbs. Add in your chilli flakes (I don’t even measure this, I just shake the bottle over the pan – I seem to like sniffling over my meals). Then add your white wine. Bring to a gentle simmer.
5. Add in your prawns and watch it till it’s cooked. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Plate your cooked pasta in a bowl and ladle your sauce over. Sprinkle over with grated Parmesan. If you’re flash, you can do freshly grated but if you’re a student like me, you just get the el cheapo packet where it’s all grated.
EASY. Seriously. Probably took me 15 minutes in total to put together. And so, so good. I had leftovers for another 2 meals which was good cos I that’s what I’m talking about, stretching meals and money ;)
Then there’s this, which was made out of necessity because we ate out instead of eating the chicken I had already thawed so I had to marinate it overnight, and all out of ideas, I put in a bunch of random things and it turned out fantastic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make for a very good recipe.
Mix & Match Roast Chicken Drumsticks and Vegetables
Serves 2 or 4, depending on how hungry you are
4 carrots, cut at an angle into chunks
4 potatoes, large chunks
12 shallots (but I love shallots so you could go less), halved
Tsao Shing wine
Five spice powder
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Marinade the chicken drumsticks with soya sauce, honey, Tsao Shing wine, a few dashes of five spice powder and some white pepper. Amount? Hm! See this is why I don’t give out recipes based on things that I make on a whim. I’m guessing about 4 Tbsp soya sauce, 2 Tbsp honey, 3 Tbsp Tsao Shing wine. Approximation. Just go with how you feel, though. You’d usually know what feels too much or too little. Right? Right. Cover with clingfilm, chuck in fridge overnight.
2. Heat oven up to 200˚C. Prepare all your vegetables by peeling and chopping it up as mentioned above. Except the shallow. Leave the skin on for that. Place in a roasting tin, sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, glug some extra virgin olive oil over it and give the pan a good shake to coat everything up. If you’re feeling fancy or if you have it, chuck in a few sprigs of rosemary or thyme in there. It’d be good.
3. Place the chicken drumsticks in with the vegetables. The leftover marinade you see in your bowl? Just pour over the chicken and a little over the vegetables too.
4. Pop into the oven for 25-30 minutes. Eat while hot and enjoy.
One of my favourite things in the world is roasted vegetables. Vegetables with a bit of salt and pepper and olive oil and roasted in the oven for 15 minutes is just unbelievable. Simple, easy, healthy. Well I think it’s healthy!
And roasted shallots? God, I hope you’ve had them before. They’re so insanely good. Seriously. It’s all caramelized and soft and fragrant and tastes nothing like a shallot, just sweet and melts in your mouth. So bloody good. That’s why I always go overboard with the shallots because that’s the one thing I go crazy for amongst everything else.
So this is what I do when I’m trying to save money and living off the final few ingredients in my fridge. It’s pretty delicious too so I don’t really mind. I like the creativity involved, too. It’s almost like a mystery box but without the crazy obscure ingredients. I never, never resort to instant noodles. There’s something about instant noodles that makes you feel instantly disgusting and sinful. Not worth it!