What to Buy and Cook During the Coronavirus

 

Although I had chosen a nice appetizer to feature on my blog this week, I realized that what most of my friends and colleagues were talking about was what to stock up on for cooking during these challenging times when the Covid19 seems to be advancing  across our country. I’ve made multiple trips to grocery stores in my small New England town, each time picking up additional items.  So, this week, I’d  thought I share my list as well a couple of recipes for dishes made with pantry staples.

Here are two simple recipes to assemble from easy-to-have on hand ingredients. Emergency Red Beans and Rice is my go to dish not just for emergencies (like New England snowstorm weather), but through much of the year as well. And, Broccoli Soup with Curried Creme Fraiche takes less than 45 minutes to prepare and when paired with crusty bread and a salad is hearty enough to be a main course.  Oh, and here are some of the items I’ve been packing into my shopping bags.

FOR THE FREEZER

Risotto, Pasta, and Savory Tarts- Trader Joe’s prepared risottos-either their asparagus risotto or their mushroom risotto (the small bags  will feed two modestly)– are easy to use straight from the freezer. I top each serving with 2 or 3 sautéed sea scallops for some protein, and sprinkle everything with Parmesan cheese.  Trader’s Joe’s Alsatian tart (a thin crusted tart topped with Gruyère, caramelized onions, and ham) is always in my freezer.  There are no cooking directions on the package–cook at 400 degrees on a baking sheet 15 to 20 minutes until hot and crust is crispy.  Most supermarkets sell stuffed ravioli, which can easily be frozen. Buy your fave combo, and then cook and top with melted butter and grated cheese such as Parmigiano, Fontina, or Pecorino.

Frozen Fish–  Although I typically take pride in buying fresh seafood, I’ve bought Whole Foods 1 1/2 pd bag of frozen sea scallops for the next few weeks. I can take out 4 to 6 or whatever amount of shellfish I need, and then put the bag back in the freezer. I haven’t bought them, but I am eyeing a package of six medium-sized salmon fillets that WF also offers.

Frozen Vegetables–Available in most stores, everywhere.  I’ve purchased lima beans, peas, corn, sweet potato fries, and might make another run for some edamame beans.

Ice creams–I’ve got several pints of my spouse’s favorite frozen yogurt ice cream and popsicles which he also loves.

FOR PANTRY AND CUPBOARDS

Rice and more-  I purchased both long grain basmati plus arborio rice (for making risottos), couscous, and dry pasta (spaghetti, penne, and farfalle, for example).

Dried and canned beans– I’ve got cans of red beans, black beans, garbanzos, and cannellini, and am going back to the store for green lentils and dried white beans (both good for soups).

Tomatoes–I’ve stocked cans of diced tomatoes for soups, chilies, and stews, and several cans of San Marzano tomatoes for making Marcella Hazan’s  3- ingredient tomato sauce (28 oz Marzanos, 2 onions, peeled and halved, and 5 tbsp butter!)

Stocks or broths–  Chicken stock, regular or reduced sodium. I love Swanson’s.

Popcorn–for popping and Skinny Pop for eating out of the bag.

Crispy Crackers (in case you run out of bread) to serve with cheese and soups.

Individual water bottles–I’ve read we all need to be drinking lots of water to help reduce the chance of the virus. One whole shelf of an extra refrigerator in my garage is piled high with small water bottles.

FOR THE FRIDGE

Cheeses (they hold up well for a long time). I have Gouda, blue, Gruyère, white cheddar, and a couple of specialty cheeses I picked up at Whole Foods.

Eggs- They last a long time in the fridge, and you can serve them for breakfast or turn them into an omelet for dinner!

Bacon and other smoked meats–  These keep nicely in the refrigerator, and seem to make everything taste better. Good quality sliced ham plus prosciutto and local bacon  are all in my meat drawer.

Fresh vegetables-  Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and carrots  all hold up well under refrigeration, and add color and texture to dishes.

Yogurt, crème fraiIche, and/or sour cream- Yogurt is good any time of the day. And, like  crème fraîche or sour cream, it make a nice addition to or topping for soups or chlil.

ON THE COUNTER FOODS

Fresh fruits – Apples, such as Granny Smiths seem to have a week or more counter life, and Mandarins (They don’t last as long at our house since they are usually eaten quickly!) are always refreshing.

Nuts such as peanuts, walnuts, almonds, or cashews are good for snacking and cooking.

Kind Bars- I’m crazy about the dark chocolate, nuts, and sea salt variety!


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