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Bachelor Chow

  1. Oct 17, 2005 #1

    enigma

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    So I've decided that I'd like to improve my cooking skills past my usual "brown meat. add water, milk, noodles, seasoning packet. simmer for 10 minutes". Being a forum filled with primarily college aged males, I'm sure I'm not the only member who can use a little help in this regard.

    Since there are so many people here who seem to know a thing or three about cooking, I'd like to ask for your favorite "Bachelor Chow" recipes.

    The requirements (and reasonings behind the reqs) for a meal to qualify are the following:

    1) Needs to be makeable in 30 minutes or less.
    -> I share a house with 4 other guys with limited kitchen space. If one of us monopolizes the kitchen for a long period of time around dinnertime, the other roomies get testy.

    2) Either needs to be makeable in small enough portions for one meal (preferable) or needs to store fairly well as leftovers.
    -> Being a bachelor, it's kinda self-explanatory. No need to feed a family here.

    3) Needs to be relatively easy to make.
    -> I suck in the kitchen. There... I said it. Oh... and I have a crappy electric stove. If you need to have the temperature at just the right degree for 37.4 seconds or you'll either not cook it through or burn the macadamias, it's not going to work out...

    4) Needs to be relatively to clean up.
    -> If it takes me longer to clean up than it does to eat the meal, I'll just make spaghetti instead.

    5) Needs to be relatively inexpensive
    -> Grad student pay sucks.

    6) Cooking directions need to be listed as if being told to a six-year old.
    -> Again... I suck in the kitchen. I have never fileted a fish, prepped a pork chop or done much else than brown ground beef. Baby steps, please :smile: What may seem trivial to you, I have probably never done nor seen done before.

    OK. I think that's a decent start for rules :tongue:

    Also, if I (or any other neophyte cooks) are doing something incorrectly, or can do something more efficiently, please say so.

    I'll get the ball rolling by listing a recipe one of my friends taught me that actually turned out fairly nicely.

    Lemon Herb Chicken with Artichoke Hearts
    Ingredients:
    Boneless, skinless chicken breast
    Flour
    Salt
    Pepper
    Olive Oil
    Lemon
    Garlic
    Thyme
    Sage
    Rosemary (The last three I got from the grocer's section in a fresh herb pack bundle labeled "Poultry mix"... I just chopped up the one that looked like bunches of leaves, and pulled the other two off of the sticks. If I did this wrong, someone tell me. Can someone tell me which herb is which, also? The quantities, I'm not sure of... I think it's basically just "to taste"... my friend winged it, so I did too)
    A small can of artichoke hearts
    I used a can of mushrooms also because I love mushrooms and put them in everything

    Directions
    Put some flour and a little bit of salt and pepper in a bowl. This will be to cover the chicken, so no need to go overboard.
    Take the chicken and cut the fatty pieces off and throw them away. I was cautioned to not do this on a wooden cutting board because the juice (with salmonilla) can seep in.
    Take the side of a pot and beat the chicken to flatten it out (I was told this was for even cooking)
    Cut the chicken into strips.
    Cut up the leafy herb. Use a different cutting board than you used for the chicken.
    Put a little bit of olive oil into a frying pan on high heat.
    Cover the chicken strips in the flour and put them into the pan to cook.
    The chicken is done when there is no pink on the inside (I think it's supposed to be 160F, but don't have a thermometer)
    Lower the temperature to medium heat (so you don't burn the herbs)
    Add a little bit more olive oil.
    Add the herbs and garlic. Cut a lemon in half, and squeeze the juice over the whole thing. Let simmer for 4 or five minutes.
    Add the artichoke hearts and mushrooms, and squeeze the other lemon half over it. Simmer for 2 or three more minutes.
    Viola!

    Green beans went well as a side dish with this.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 17, 2005 #2
    Stir Fries: (not authentic but good enough for grad school or really anyone in a time crunch or looking to use p the stuff in the crisper drawer):

    Saute onions and garlic for a few minutes
    Add any hard vegetables (broccoli, carrots, etc) continue sauteing
    Add protein (chicken, beef, tofu, or shrimp) continue sauteing
    Add soft veggies (squash, for example)
    Add pine nuts for crunch, and a few sauces like soy sauce or fish sauce

    Make rice separately

    Serve stir fry over rice.

    ~~~~~~~~~

    Second suggestion: Crockpots are good for easy meals - Stews, barbecued pork, ckicken chili (or any chili) -- Basically they let you chuck the ingredients in the morning (15 minutes) and have dinner ready when you get home and don't feel like making anything.

    Both of these are adaptable wrt ingredients etc.
     
  4. Oct 18, 2005 #3

    ZapperZ

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    OK, here we go. First of all, do not judge the taste of the final product based on any possible ingredients that you may not like. I'm saying this because this recipe for one of my favorite simple pasta dish has anchovies. Let me just say that I HATE anchovies. However, when it is chopped into small pieces and it is cooked, it falls apart (some cooks say it "melts" away), leaving you with a rather pleasent taste without the strong fishy flavor. So I want you to trust me on this.

    Secondly, even if this thing is simple and possibly cheap (depends on how much of the optional part you include), it is relatively HEALTHY! There's no reason to sacrific such things just because you need something quick.

    Thirdly, it forces you to explore possible new ingredients that you may not have tried! :)

    This is for more than 1 person, but whatever is left over, you can keep in the refrigerator for a meal the next day.

    1. 1/2 lb pasta. I prefer linguini. Each of those packets of dry pasta is 1 lb. So 1/2 lb is about half of the amount. Don't have to measure accurately, just grab a bundle that's about half of the amount in the packet.

    2. A big pot of salted water to cook the pasta. It's OK to use too much, but not OK to use too little water. You want to make sure the pot is large enough to hold the pasta.

    3. 1 medium-sized onions, diced.

    4. 3 cloves of garlic, diced into small pieces.

    5. 3 slivers of anchovies, chopped into small pieces.

    6. A teaspoon (more or less) of red pepper flakes (the type you sprinkle on pizza).

    7. One of these greens: turnip tops, spinach, broccoli raub (or rapini). I would say use 3/4 of a bundle, but I can't tell how large of a bundle they would sell these things where you live. Cut up the greens into maybe 1 inch in length (if you're using spinach, leave it whole). Use even the stems except for the very bottom part. Wash thoroughly and drain, but don't worry about excess water sticking to the greens. Now, you may end up with a large pile of greens and you're thinking, this is too much. Don't worry. It isn't too much, and it will cook down. Again, trust me on this!

    Optional:

    8. Pitted green olives or capers.

    9. Extra virgin olive oil

    10. Very good parmegian cheese (NOT the one that comes out of the green box!). But the one in wedges, and then grate this right before serving.

    11. Fresh basil - about 5 or 6 large leaves, sliced into strips.

    OK, here's what you do.

    1. Add about 1 table spoon of salt to the water, and start the fire. It will take a while for it to boil. But in the mean time, start the prep work for the ingredients. Depending on how fast you work, by the time you're done with the preparation, the water will start boiling.

    2. When the water starts boiling, put a large saute pan on the stove and let it start to heat up. In the mean time, add pasta to the boiling water. If your pan isn't wide or deep enough to get the pasta completely submerge in the water, push in slowly and gently (i.e. it is getting softer slowly) until the pasta is completely under water. Stir gently during the first 30 seconds to a minute. This is the trick to not have sticky pasta at the end. After the 30 seconds or so, stop, and let it cook by itself with occassional stirring if you want to.

    3. By the time you finished doing the initial pasta stirring, the pan should be hot. Add cooking oil - olive oil of you have it (oh, a couple of table spoons will do).

    4. Dump in the chopped onions and the pepper flakes. Saute the mixture for about a minute. You want the onions to go soft and translucent.

    5. Add the garlic. Saute for about 30 seconds. You don't want the garlic to burn or turn dark brown.

    6. Add the anchovies. Stir for another 30 seconds. (this is also where you add either the olives or the capers).

    [Hint: if at any point you think you had the stove too hot and the ingredients are starting to cook to fast, i.e. getting burn, just add a bit of the water from the pasta pot to your pan. It will slow down the cooking process a bit and give you a bit more time]

    7. Add the greens. Again, you may think it is way too much, but it will cook down. Just add them slowly, stir it around by coating the greens with the ingredients that you have sauteed, and continue to add the greens till you have everything in. As the greens becomes hot and get coated by the oil, etc., it will cook down and becomes more managable. Once the greens begins to cook down and wilt, lower the stove (medium you have such a setting).

    8. Go back to the pasta. Stir. Check if it is done. Fish out one, and bite into it. What you want is a pasta that is cooked through, but not over cooked. There should still be some resistance to your tooth (al dente), but it shouldn't feel crunchy.

    9. If it is done, reserve a couple of cups of the pasta water. Then drain the pasta. Again, don't worry about draining it thoroughly.

    10. Add the pasta to the saute mixture. Pour about 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Add about 1 teaspoon (or to taste) freshly ground black pepper.

    11. Toss the pasta with the ingredients in the pan. You may need to use two cooking utensils to do this. Just do it slowly till you have the pasta well coated. Add more pasta water if it is becoming too dry. But this is not a pasta dish with a watery sauce, so don't go overboard.

    12. Once the pasta is well mixed, turn off the stove. If you have extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle about a table spoon over the pasta. If you have parmegian cheese, grate about a table spoon over the pasta. Also add the fresh basil if you have it. Toss again to mix the new ingredients with the pasta well.

    13. Serve and eat!

    Note that I didn't ask you to add salt to the dish. The anchovies is already salty, and so is the pasta water. However, if you wish, you may add salt (and pepper) later if you think it needed it, so adjust to taste.

    You can always add meat to this. Before you start, take a boneless chicken breast, salt and pepper it (maybe a sprinking of paprika), and then saute it till it's cooked. Set it aside while you do the pasta dish. When you have the pasta served, slice the cooked chicken breast and lay it on top of the pasta. Voila, you have saute'ed pasta with chicken!

    Zz.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2005
  5. Oct 18, 2005 #4

    Evo

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    Sounds yummy Zz!! I'm going to have to try it.

    enigma, I have a pork chop recipe I will add here later.
     
  6. Oct 18, 2005 #5
    during my undergrad and grad student days, my favourite kitchen tool was the slow cooker. Make big meals (which you can share with roomies or hog all to yourself, as you wish) or smallish ones, depending on the size of slow cooker you get (get two, a big one and small one if you want...they're dirt cheap). Cooking in one couldn't be easier, and they don't take up much space. At the simplest, cut up the ingredients, throw them in, turn it on and when you come back from classes 5 or 6 hours later, dinner's ready! The more complex ones might require you to brown a few ingredients first before tossing them in.

    a trip to the book store ought to yield more than a few good books full of different slow cooker recipies (they're not just for soups and stews you know).

    To help improve your cooking skills, I recommend getting Alton Brown's I'm Just Here for the Food. Lots of reasonably simple recipies, and tells you the hows and why of different cooking methods.

    This is one of my 'comfort food' recipies. It's very easily adaptable and you can add whatever other flavours you like to it.

    1-2 lb Chicken legs and/or thighs (I prefer thighs)
    1 can mushroom soup
    1 med onion
    1/2 Tbsp Emeril's essence
    1/2 tsp cayenne if you want to spice things up

    Season chicken with salt, pepper and essence. Brown chicken on both sides.
    Throw into a deep dished pan (cake pan or something similar) or into the slow cooker.
    Slice onions and brown. Toss into pan or slow cooker.
    Mix mushroom soup with 1/2 can water and pour over chicken.
    Throw into a 350F oven for 45 minutes. If using a slow cooker, turn slow cooker to low and cook for 3-4 hours. Use a thermometer to make sure the internal temp of the chicken is at least 165F. If it isn't, cook a little while longer.
    Serve over rice.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2005
  7. Oct 18, 2005 #6

    ZapperZ

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    Let me know how it turns out. I perfer turnip tops or broccoli raub for this dish. There's a slight bitterness in these greens, especially the broccoli raub, which I like in this dish - I suppose I'm getting more bitter as I get older. :)

    You can also play around with the flavor a bit with this dish. While you're saute'ing the onions, you can also add 1 tablespoon of dried oregano. This will add another layer of flavor to the dish. In fact, this dish is extremely flexible and you can be as creative as you want. Add diced tomatoes, shrimp, cooked turkey meat, etc.... I've even added cubed leftover pot roast to it. It's one way to use up leftovers but without the boring same-old-thing again.

    Zz.
     
  8. Oct 18, 2005 #7
    Keep an eye out for a copy of "The 60 Minute Gourmet" . Has some excellent recipes, especially the Cornish game hen bon femme. Lost my copy some years ago,siiigh.
     
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