Two events converge. First: there is terrible weather in much of the country. Second: Mark Bittman is giving up his Minimalist cooking column in the New York Times.
The first event means that you don't want to go out. It may be DANGEROUS to go out. Therefore, cooking dinner from the pantry is in order. The second event means that there's a Minimalist Nostalgia Fest going on at the New York Times.
Here's one of my favorite Minimalist columns: it features Arthur Schwartz aka The Cooking Maven and pantry cooking.
Here's something I make all the time.
SPAGHETTI WITH FRIED EGGS
Time: 20 minutes
1/2 pound thin spaghetti
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or lard
2 large cloves garlic, lightly smashed and peeled
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese, optional.
1. Bring a pot of salted water to the boil. Start the sauce in the next step, and start cooking the pasta when the water boils.
2. Combine garlic and 4 tablespoons of the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil occasionally to release its flavor; it should barely color on both sides. Remove the garlic, and add the remaining oil.
3. Fry the eggs gently in the oil, until the whites are just about set and the yolks still quite runny. Drain the pasta, and toss with the eggs and oil, breaking up the whites as you do. (The eggs will finish cooking in the heat of the pasta.) Season to taste, and serve immediately, with cheese if you like.
Yield: 2 or 3 servings.
Here's something I'm going to make. This takes ingredients that are probably in everyone's cupboards.
LINGUINE WITH TOMATO 'FILLETS'
Time: 20 minutes
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, or about 2 pounds peeled fresh tomatoes
Salt to taste
1 pound linguine or spaghetti
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
Red pepper flakes to taste
3 tablespoons minced basil or parsley.
1. Cut tomatoes into strips, discarding seeds and juice; place in a strainer to drain while you bring a pot of salted water to the boil for the pasta. Start the sauce in the next step, and start cooking pasta when water boils.
2. Combine tomatoes, oil, garlic, salt and pepper in a 10-inch skillet, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook briskly for about 5 minutes (8 minutes for fresh tomatoes), stirring occasionally. The tomatoes should remain in pieces, and there should be no liquid remaining in the pan other than the oil.
3. Toss the pasta with the sauce and the basil or parsley, and serve immediately.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
And here are my favorite cookbooks by Bittman and Schwartz.