Quarantine Cooking: Three Quick and Easy Recipes
Virtual greetings, friends. These are strange and grievous days. Humanity faces the threat of COVID-19, and our weapon is isolation. Many are fighting to save lives while risking their own, and the rest of us are entrusted with the responsibility of staying home. Trips to the grocery store are limited, and though takeout is thankfully still an option, there are many, many meals to be made in the kitchen. The good news is that we are all connected digitally, and never have there been so many live cooking demos or shared pantry meal ideas on social media. While I love to cook, there are days when I just honestly need to get other things done, and I prefer to make whatever is quick and delicious.
Enter these essential recipes. They are quick and easy, and will likely become new favorites in your culinary repertoire. Oh, and if you don’t have a culinary repertoire, you’re about to. Don’t be afraid to own it.
Buttermilk biscuits: a substitute for the bread you couldn’t find on your last grocery run. You don’t need to be a bread maker to pull these off. Pasta with roasted tomatoes and basil sauce for a truly delicious dinner that can be thrown together in a matter of minutes. And chocolate cake. Because even at home, birthdays aren’t cancelled, holidays aren’t cancelled, and in my opinion, being able to make a good cake is a life skill.
Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook and makes 8-10 biscuits.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tbsp baking powder (¾ Tbsp if you’re at high altitude)
- ¼ tsp baking soda (scant ¼ tsp at high altitude)
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅓ cup butter, softened
- 1 cup buttermilk plus a bit more, if necessary (add a Tbsp of lemon juice to a cup of milk if you don’t have buttermilk on hand)
- Preheat your oven to 450F. Set a large baking sheet nearby.
- Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a medium size bowl. Whisk these dry ingredients together. Then add the softened butter, and using a pastry blender or a fork, cut the butter into the flour mixture. Just keep mashing away until the butter is broken into pea-sized or smaller bits and is well incorporated into the flour.
- Now, pour in your cup of buttermilk, and using a fork, begin to gently mix it all together. You’re going for a shaggy dough that will yield tender biscuits, so you want to avoid over-mixing it. Add an additional tablespoon or two of buttermilk if you have some flour mixture that just won’t mix in. It’s better to err on the side of a wet dough, than a crumbling, dry dough.
- Dust a clean countertop with flour, and turn the dough out onto it. Flour the top of the dough, and gently pat it into a ½ -inch thick round. Using a 2.0’ to 2.5” biscuit cutter, cut out as many biscuits as you can and transfer them to a baking sheet. If you don’t have a biscuit cutter, use the mouth of a juice glass or a canning jar. Take the remaining scraps and gently combine, and then pat out again, and cut more biscuits. Repeat one more time, if necessary. Use the last scraps to hand-form the last biscuit.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until just golden on top.
- Serve warm with butter, or stash in the breadbox for PBJs.
Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil Sauce
Recipe adapted from The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater and serves 4-6.
- 1 lb. spaghetti, linguini, or any favorite pasta shape
- 2.5 – 3 lbs. of fresh cherry or grape-sized tomatoes
- 3-4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- Coarse sea salt
- A big handful or two of fresh basil leaves, torn
- Parmesan cheese
- Optional: Italian sausage, cooked and drained
- Turn on your broiler, with the oven rack set about 5-6 inches away from the broiler.
- Add tomatoes and garlic to a large pyrex or baking dish (9×13” or larger) and drizzle with about ⅓ cup olive oil.
- Generously salt tomatoes and garlic and roll them around to coat with the oil.
- Broil for about 5 minutes: tomatoes should begin to burst and show some blackened spots. Stir or shake them around, and continue to broil for another 5 minutes and stir. Do not let the black spots cause you to panic, they’ll add great flavor! Give them another 5 minutes until the majority of the tomatoes are burst and have blackened spots.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta in generously salted water until al dente. If you want sausage, cook it in a pan on the stove over medium heat while the tomatoes broil.
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven, and VERY CAREFULLY, use a potato masher or a fork to ever-so-gently crush the tomatoes and release their juices. Take it from me, hot tomato juice is not something you want on your face or your arms, so just use caution as you crush them. Add salt to taste, if needed.
- Scoop the pasta from the boiling water and add directly to the pan of broiled tomatoes. The pasta water that clings to the pasta will help create a silky sauce. Gently fold together with most of the basil leaves (add sausage if you’re including it). Add another drizzle of olive oil, and the remaining basil leaves and serve with Parmesan cheese.
Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
Adapted from the “One-Bowl Chocolate Cake” recipe from Better Homes & Gardens Magazine, April 2004: “Healing, Giving, Baking”. Serves 8.
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup good quality unsweetened fair trade cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda (if you’re at high altitude, measure it and shake a bit out…so you are using a scant 1/2 tsp.)
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder (again, if at high altitude, use a scant 1/4 tsp.)
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 3/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 egg
- ½ cup heavy cream (optional)
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and lightly dust a (9″ x 1.5″ or 8″x 8″x 2″) cake pan with cocoa powder.
- In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine well. Add milk, olive oil, and vanilla. Beat with whisk attachment on medium-low speed until just combined, then beat on high for 2 minutes. Add the egg, and beat on high for another 2 minutes. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out clean (I start checking it around 25 minutes). Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from the pan by inverting onto the rack and giving the bottom of the pan a good smack. Then invert the cake onto your hand, and slide it right side up onto the rack (this avoids those mean rack lines on the top of your cake). Cool thoroughly on the rack.
- While the cake is cooling, pour the chocolate chips into a small bowl. Bring the cream just to simmer in a small pot over medium heat, then pour over the chocolate chips, and let it sit for one minute. Whisk the chocolate and the hot cream together. Transfer to your refrigerator and whisk every 10-15 minutes. As it cools, it will thicken and become a silky ganache frosting. After about 30-45 minutes, it will be thick but still very spreadable. Transfer the cooled cake to a plate or pedestal. Scoop the ganache onto the top of the cake and using a spatula or an icing knife, spread the ganache over the top of the cake, letting it spill over the edges a bit. Slice and serve!
Looking for more recipes?
I’ll be writing more soon on my upcoming cooking blog, thecoppermariposa.com – stay tuned!
Meet Stephanie Kunstle
Stephanie is a Colorado native who loves spending time in the kitchen and who’s always had a hunger to explore the world. “Traveling has shaped my views on so many things,” says Stephanie, “It is definitely a foundation for my connection and passion for the work that Noonday creates for our Artisan Partners.”