AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Calibrating Simple DATE: 2/24/2010 12:46:00 AM ----- BODY:
After I write an exam for my freshman accounting class, I take the test myself. My goal is to finish in 20 minutes – a good gauge that it will take the students an hour. Similarly, when I’m cooking dinner, I know that I can accomplish in 20 minutes what will take the typical home-cook an hour. With 15 years of professional cooking under my belt, I chop faster, and can attend to several pans on the stovetop while doing other prep or clean-up.

I realize that what I define as “quick and easy,” may not be for others. I try to reconcile this difference when friends and family call or email for recipe suggestions.

Last weekend, I prepared hors d’oeuvres for a dinner party, and wanted to keep it simple since I knew the meal preparation would be more elaborate. As I started to write up my blog-post, I read noble pig’s post about a “quick and easy” appetizer: bacon-peach pinwheels. Though, they sound *delicious*, they did not seem “quick and easy” even to my standard. They require several components, some stove top cooking followed by some baking.

For me, quick and easy are recipes that require little or no cooking, and can be made with a few ingredients.

One of my favorites is cucumber slices topped with broiled eel or smoked salmon.

How do you define “quick and easy”?

Cucumber with Broiled Eel and Green Apple

1 English cucumber
1 package broiled eel (available at Japanese or Korean markets in the freezer section)
1 green apple
Radish and/or scallion to garnish.

1. Slice cucumber into ¼ inch rounds.
2. Slice eel filet in half lengthwise, and then into 1/2 inch strips.
3. Put eel pieces on a cookie sheet and warm in a 400F oven for 5 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, slice green apple
5. Top each cucumber slice with a slice of green apple and a piece of eel. Garnish with radish slices or scallions if desired.


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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) DATE:2/24/2010 01:34:00 PM Lately I've been taking Ina Garten's advice about appetizers: cook some, buy some. One of my favorites is still your recipe for Cuban canapes; it's easy, but not quick. I like appetizers that can be made ahead, like squares of frittata or marinated olives, and that do not require an army of friends to assemble. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger ~~louise~~ DATE:2/25/2010 12:24:00 AM Let's see, for me, quick and easy is, Aglio Olio. I adore spaghetti with garlic and oil for its ease of preparation, but most of all for the comfort it brings to mind. Plus, leftovers, if any, are garnished with lots and lots of Locatelli!!! (I know it's strange but I don't use cheese until the second day, why oh why, I don't know:) Thanks for sharing your quick and easy Cucumber with Broiled Eel & Green Apple. I LOVE eel and your way of preparing it makes it sound oh so good.

I think it's wonderful that you take the test you give your students:) So cool, Julia:) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anh DATE:2/25/2010 04:15:00 PM i am so borrowing this idea for my next party. Looks lovely. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Psychgrad DATE:2/28/2010 02:27:00 AM I find timing the length of an exam challenging. I should try the 20 minute rule.

I often find people referring to dishes as easy and feel a bit pathetic when I screw them up.

Quick and easy, for me, means not too many dishes and minimal chopping. I don't dislike chopping, but I'm not particularly quick at it. ----- --------