Desperate, desperate nights. Nights when dinner seems impossible but everyone's hungry. Half the family wants to go out and the other half thinks that it's a crazy idea. Rifling through the cupboards and rummaging through the freezer. Can you make dinner out of frozen corn and that jar of black bean garlic sauce you bought at the Asian market? No? Are you sure?
This seems to be every night at our house, especially since I went back to work. I kept thinking that I would magically figure out how to work AND provide my family with meals and clean clothes but I still haven't gotten the hang of it. Pete Wells, editor of the New York Times Dining section wrote a wonderful piece about a similar inability to magically make meals happen every, single night at home.
I can't believe it's true — I love to cook but I don't want to cook because I'm too tired.
More after the jump
That's when I turn to Nancy Silverton's invaluable book, A Twist of the Wrist: Quick Flavorful Meals with Ingredients from Jars, Cans, Bags, and Boxes (Alfred A. Knopf, 2007). I wrote about this book way, way back when it first came out (and liked it), and then I've let it do set dressing duty in my kitchen ever since.
I need that book NOW though. I didn't need it then, although I laughingly thought I did. Silverton, former owner of the celebrated La Brea Bakery and owner of Mozza in L.A. along with Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich, both wrote her own recipes and enlisted the help of fellow chefs for this collection of recipes that not only pass muster but are actually quick.
After thoroughly ransacking the kitchen the other night, I discovered that I had the ingredients for Skillet Chilaquiles on p.104. For a mother of children who beg to go to Chipotle every night, this was a lifesaver.
Here's a link to a recipe for them by Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes. You read her site all the time, don't you? Because she's amazing. Substitute tortilla chips, use jarred salsa mixed with chicken broth (I like Swanson's), and top with a fried egg to get a version of Silverton's recipe — but better yet, go out and BUY Silverton's book. It's jam-packed with 137 other recipes that'll save you when your family starts to descend upon you with knives and forks, ready to eat anything.