The Gonzo Gourmet turns one today and to celebrate, I wanted to share with you my 10 favorite recipes; essential recipes, you might say. Again and again I hear people say they can’t cook, or they hate to cook, or they don’t have time to cook. My blog is dedicated to those people: the everyday cook.
My 10 essential recipes range from savory to sweet, salad to steak, fast to mildly time consuming, but they all share one thing in common: they’re easy. Yes, even the chicken pot pie, which has multiple steps, is easy in the sense that anyone can make it. And that’s what’s important to me, knowing that I’m sharing recipes and techniques that empower my friends, family and readers to feel confident in the kitchen. This is just a peek into my recipe collection, there’s more to come in the year ahead. Please join me!
Veggie Frittata. This recipe is quintessential Mark Bittman: fast, easy, healthy. The point of this recipe is to use whatever vegetables you have on hand, and use lots of them; eggs play second fiddle in this dish. Endlessly, easily adaptable, and perfect for the vegetarian on your guest list.
Spinach Salad. This is a beautifully light, refreshing salad. You could add some salmon or grilled chicken to create a main course. Play around with different cheeses and even some nuts to add a little extra crunch.
Perfect Roast Chicken. If you think roast chicken is a challenge, you’re not alone. I did, too, until I tried Ina Garten’s take on Glamor magazine’s engagement chicken. This is so easy it’s almost ridiculous. And while the chicken roasts, you can do something unheard of at a dinner party: converse with your guests.
Chicken Pot Pie. I wanted to recreate the sheer joy, if not the actual taste, of that childhood meal, with a crust that could be drenched in gravy and still retain a crunch, vegetables that stood on their own but melded well together, and chicken that added a savory layer of its own. I also wanted it to be easy.
Turkey Chili. If you think you can’t cook, start with this recipe. Yes, it relies heavily on canned beans but the point of this chili is to get dinner on the table, fast. Oh, and did I mention it’s a crowd pleaser, freezes well and requires virtually no skill?
Steakhouse Steaks. Using filet mignon or New York strip steaks, this method is so simple yet results in steakhouse perfection every time. The secret is a cast iron skillet, which can be had for less than the price of the meat if you’re extravagant. Considering what it costs to eat out these days, why not give this one a go?
Gonzo Girl Pasta (Pasta with Parsley & Garlic). On any given night at our house, my daughter will request this, a spicy, garlicy pasta. To say her adoration of this dish defies all odds is putting it mildly; this is a girl for whom mac and cheese on a day in, day out basis poses no problems. It’s perfect for days when she hasn’t really eaten much, primarily because I can feel she’s getting her fill, what with the omega-3 fortified pasta, the antioxidants found in the parsley and the garlic, and the healthy fat provided by the olive oil.
Split Pea Soup. This version of split pea soup, inspired by the California Pizza Kitchen recipe, skips the pork and adds texture with barley, making this a hearty treat for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. It also freezes well, making it an ideal light lunch or after-school snack.
Chocolate Congo Bars. This is a family recipe, passed down from my grandmother to my mother to me. In my grandmother’s time she used shortening; I use unsalted butter. But the end result is the same: a kitchen that smells of chocolate and a family dessert that’s as classic as they come.
Spiced Bar Nuts with Rosemary. My all-time favorite cocktail snack, this last recipe honors my love of all things salt or snack related. I could easily skip dinner and nosh on these all night long.
Here’s to another great year – cheers! – and thank you to everyone who reads this blog, tries the recipes and provides comments and feedback. I love cooking with you!