I’ve been thinking a lot about my kids lately, just like I think about… every parent in America has. They are life itself, and specifically my life.
There were times when I wasn’t very hungry, and other times I tried my best to cook because it was nice to have a mind-blowing job. And then, just before the long weekendwhat I wanted was to bring children and family and friends together and enjoy the sun – a short breather from the wider world, and one that I can happily take.
There was, of course, food. There is always. The recipes below are quick and straightforward, and while I’m not suggesting they’ll make up for all the wrong things, I hope they’ll bring you some luck.
Tajín grilled chicken
Tajín is a Mexican seasoning made from dried, ground red peppers, sea salt and dehydrated lime juice. It’s great sprinkled over freshly cut fruits like mango and pineapple, or rimmed on an ice cold margarita. But it’s also an easy way to add chili and lime to your favorite grilled meats, rubs or sauces. In this dish, the lime in the Tajín offsets the sweetness of the agave syrup, while the red peppers complement the smoky flavor of the chipotles. Serve the chicken on its own or on toasted hamburger buns with a dash of mayonnaise, chopped grilled scallions, cilantro leaves and sliced jalapeños. This Tajín sauce also goes well with grilled sea bass, cod or salmon, or with shrimp skewers.
Through: Rick A Martinez
Total time: 35 minutes
Vegetable oil, for the grill
8 skinless chicken thighs (about 900g)
170 g light agave syrup or honey
120 ml fresh orange juice
1 tsp finely grated orange peel
3 chipotle peppers in adobo, finely chopped, plus 60 ml adobo sauce
6 cloves garlic, finely grated
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Tajin Classico
8 spring onions, root ends removed
Handful of coriander leaves and soft stems
1. Prepare a grill for medium, direct heat; clean the grids well and then brush them with vegetable oil. You can also heat a grill pan over medium heat and grease the pan with oil.
2. Place the chicken on a baking tray and sprinkle both sides generously with salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the agave syrup, orange juice, orange zest, chipotles, adobo, garlic, olive oil, and Tajín.
3. Brush both sides of the chicken with the Tajín sauce. Grill chicken, turning and basting often with Tajín sauce, until cooked through, charred but brick red and glazed, 7 to 9 minutes. Grill the scallions, turning occasionally, until lightly charred on all sides, about 5 minutes.
4. Serve the chicken with the grilled spring onions, sprinkled with coriander.
Hot sauce shrimp
So much more than a seasoning for your morning eggs, hot sauce can give a kick to dips, soups, marinades, sauces and more. Since most besides peppers also contain vinegar and salt, all the hot sauce it takes to make a silky sauce is fat. That’s the approach used in this super-quick recipe, which tastes like a cross between Buffalo chicken wings and chili shrimp. After sautéing some scallions in the skillet, the prawns are cooked until they are plump and pink, then both are mixed with butter and hot sauce until glossy. Because hot sauces vary widely in heat, start with a tablespoon and add more if you like. If it’s too spicy for you, add more butter or serve it with rice, crusty bread, beer, yogurt, or ranch dressing to reduce the heat.
Through: Ali Slagle
Total time: 10 minutes
680 g large shrimps, peeled and deveined or shelled
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 tbsp hot sauce, plus more to taste
2 tbsp neutral oil (such as vegetable or grapeseed oil), plus more if needed
6 spring onions, cleaned, white and green parts cut crosswise into 2cm wedges
1. Pat the shrimp dry and season with 1 teaspoon salt. Place the butter and hot sauce in a large bowl.
2. Heat the oil in a large (30 cm) cast iron skillet over high heat. Add the scallions and cook until soft and brown in spots, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the scallions to the bowl with the butter and hot sauce.
3. Add the shrimp to the pan in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, adding more oil if pan is dry. Flip and cook until completely opaque, 1 to 2 minutes more.
4. Add the shrimp and any juices to the butter, hot sauce and spring onions. Stir vigorously until the butter has melted and the shrimp are glossy. Taste and add more hot sauce and salt if needed.
Creamy, lemony pasta
This 15-minute pasta will let you control how much effort you put in: When you’ve had a day and need an easy, no-nonsense meal, make it as is and use kitchen scissors to cut your scallions. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, create a topping that adds texture, vibrant green color and more lemony flavor to the dish (see tip below). But don’t skimp on the yogurt: use a thick, strained whole-milk yogurt such as labneh, Greek, or skyr, which will give the finished dish an irresistibly rich and tangy flavor.
Through: Yasmin Fahr
Total time: 15 minutes
450 g short-curled pasta, such as cavatappi, fusilli or farfalle
1 large lemon, grated and squeezed (about 1 tbsp zest and 3 tbsp juice)
About 70g grated Parmesan cheese, plus more if needed
60 g labneh or other thick, strained whole milk yogurt, such as Greek or skyr, drained if necessary
2 spring onions, green and white parts, sliced
1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, reduce the heat to low and cook until just al dente, 2 to 3 minutes less than package instructions. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta and return to the pan on the stove over medium heat.
2. Stir in a cup of the pasta water, half of the lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and a few times black pepper and stir vigorously until a silky sauce is formed. If necessary, add a tablespoon of water to make a creamier sauce if it looks dry. Stir in labneh, remaining lemon juice, lemon zest, and scallions until creamy and combined, about 1 minute more. Season with salt if necessary. Finish with another meal of pepper and serve immediately.
Tip: To make the lemony scallion topping, combine 4 sliced scallions with a handful of coriander leaves and stems roughly chopped or torn, the juice of half a lemon and a pinch of salt. Serve over the finished pasta.
Hot dogs with pico de gallo
Tanya Sichynsky tops salty, spicy grilled hot dogs with clear pico de gallo. Combining those two elements of fully loaded Mexican hot dogs, these are easy to cook for a crowd. You can prepare the pico de gallo early in the day and store in an airtight container until ready to pile on top of the hot dogs, split to rock the fresh filling. Keep the grill temperature moderate. Too hot, and the hot dogs — and sandwiches — will burn and dry out. Too cool, and they won’t smoke.
Recipe from: Tanya Sichynsky
Edited by: Genevieve Ko
Total time: 30 minutes
For the pico de gallo†
2 ripe but firm tomatoes (450 g), cored, seeded and diced
½ small white onion (115 g), finely chopped
2 jalapeños (85g), stemless, seeded (if desired) and finely chopped
Handful of coriander leaves and soft stalks, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh lime juice, plus more to taste
For the hot dogs†
4 hot dogs
4 hot dog buns
2 tbsp mayonnaise (optional)
1. Prepare an outdoor charcoal grill or gas barbecue over medium heat. You should be able to hold your hand 6 inches above the coals for 7-9 seconds before it gets too hot. Or heat a grill pan on the stovetop to medium.
2. Make the pico de gallo by combining the tomatoes, onion, jalapeños, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl. Season with salt and mix well. Taste and add more lime juice and salt if needed.
3. Butterfly the hot dogs: Cut them in half lengthwise without cutting all the way through the skin, then open them so they lie flat. Place on the grill, cut side down, and cook until grill marks appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Turn the hot dogs over and cook, skin side down, until the skin darkens, 2 to 4 minutes.
4. In the meantime, open the hot dog buns and spread the mayonnaise on the cut sides if necessary. Grill, cut side down, until broiled, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and grill until lightly broiled, about 1 minute.
5. Place the grilled hot dogs in the toasted buns, cut side up, and stack the pico de gallo in the butterfly opening. Serve immediately, with any leftover pico de gallo on the side.
One-pan rice and beans
Not only is rice with beans worshiped all over the world, it even has its own Wikipedia page. This deeply flavored version is inspired by these comforting traditions and the desire to wash as little as possible: the rice cooks with the beans and the starchy liquid they’re canned in. As the two ingredients cook together, the beans spread and fall onto the rice. For an extra kick, saute chopped jalapeño with the onions or add ¼ cup salsa with the stock.
Through: Ali Slagle
Total time: 30 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
415 ml chicken or vegetable stock or water
1 tsp salt
210G long grain rice
1 (440 g) can black or pinto beans
Lime wedges or coriander leaves, for garnish (optional)
1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or frying pan with a tight-fitting lid over medium heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil.
2. Add the salt, rice and beans (including the liquid). Just stir to combine and cover.
3. Turn the heat as low as possible and then simmer undisturbed for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 4 minutes, then stir with a fork.
4. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with lime or coriander as desired.
The New York Times