'Tis the season for complicated cooking.
Even those who are hard-pressed to set a trepidatious toe inside the kitchen during the rest of the year can often be found following pages of instructions to make outstanding rib roasts, Martha Stewart-esque sugar cookies, and Thomas Keller-worthy roast birds. There are a lot of foods that take a lot of work and fuss and today's column is dedicated to none of those.
Between school, work, parties, trips, shopping and our other myriad early-winter social commitments, we are busy people. We still have to eat and eat well, though, so any recipe that takes both the guesswork and the time commitment out of the mix is more than welcome this time of year.
Furthermore, as many of us have nearly emptied our wallets over widgets and doodads and hoosiewhatsies that are dearly desired by our children or other loved ones, the food had best be economical. The taste buds still, as ever, need to be pleased. In other words, the food must be fast, cheap and delicious. A tall order, you say? No way, José.
Simple, satisfying, inexpensive and beautiful is as easy as not overdoing it. I'm not being flip, I'm serious. When you buy a fresh ingredient you don't need to do very much to it to make it a feast for the eyes, body and a balm (not a homophonic bomb) to the budget.
It goes without saying -- although I'll say it all the same -- that making the food at home instead of succumbing to the siren song of take-out is not only all of the aforementioned wonderful things, but is also better for you, to boot. Ultimate control of all of the potential dietary nasties (in the form of whatever you try to avoid: salt, fat, sugar, salty fat, fatty sugar, etc.) lies with the chef: you.