Recently, lifehacker offered their list of dishes everyone must know how to make without a recipe. Currated by chefs and tastemakers, the list included some solid choices such as fresh marinara, an easy cocktail etc.
My friend Lauren shared her list yesterday, and I loved it. It is the list of a very well-rounded foodie. She listed dishes that call for a variety of techniques from roasting, baking to pickling. I’ll admit, I’ve never pickled anything. I think I’m just as well rounded of a foodie, I’m just not that into pickled stuff. Except onions -lately I’m obsessed with pickled onions, so I might give that a try.
Lauren’s list got me thinking, what are my “go-to” dishes that I can make without referencing a recipe?
Hummus is almost always a crowd pleaser. If your friends aren’t down with hummus, you would probably be best served finding new friends. It takes less than 10 minutes to whip up. It’s reasonably healthy and packed with flavor. You must have hummus in your “make from memory” arsenal.
I use this basil & walnut pesto recipe in several different recipes on my site. From pesto stuffed cherry tomatoes, pesto muffins and my favorite green eggs. With pesto comes great power – the power to jazz up just about anything. Once you know how to make a pesto, you can make lots of different variations using different herbs and ingredients. Cilantro pesto is another favorite of mine.
Fritatta is wonderful in that it allows you to make use of whatever you have on hand. It is ideal for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s easy enough to make for yourself at home to eat in your PJs in front of the TV, but smart enough to serve company.
Beer bread is magic. Beer bread is foolproof. Flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and a pint of your favorite brew – done. The yeast in the beer does all the leavening for you. You can add in whatever additional flavors you would like. The recipe linked above has sharp white cheddar and dill. I’ve made sweet beer breads with fresh berries and St. Arnold Lawnmower. Beer bread is ideal for those “oh no I need to bring something to a potluck” or “I really should bring ‘so-and-so’ a homemade treat to celebrate their baby/new home/promotion, but I’m sooo busy” kind of moments in life. We all have those moments.
It’s a good idea to have one dish up your sleeve that everyone in the family loves, is simple and inexpensive to fix, and good during a variety of seasons. In my family, that dish is chicken picatta. The recipe linked above is my Moms – I’ve eaten her’s too many times to count, and I’ve made it so often for myself that I know the recipe by heart.
Everyone should have one dessert recipe that they know by rote. Maybe it’s your favorite cheesecake, lemon bars, or oatmeal cookies. For me, it’s chocolate stout cake. I’ve made this cake over and over – I’ve made it in a bundt as pictured above. I’ve made it in a towering 3-layer cake with whipped ganache frosting, and I’ve made it as cupcakes. This cake is moist, dense and chocolatey. Best of all, it’s always turned out for me. It’s not finicky at all like some cake recipes can be. I know that I always have everything I need for this recipe on hand (except maybe a stout which I can pick up at a convenience store on the way home), and I’ve got the method of preparation down pat.
I’m curious – what are some of your go-to recipes that you know by heart?