Tiburón -Shark- Žralok

Tiburón -Shark- Žralok: Writing Cooking Traveling

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Recipes for the Ungodly Hours

This morning I woke up at 6 am and made soup. No, I wasn't particularly craving soup for breakfast, in fact I had a breakfast engagement at 8:30 in the city. So why on earth, you may ask, was I watching dawn light creep up over the cemetery trees while chopping onions and boiling squash?

I was making my lunch.

Since I lived in Spain with a mind for finances and the love of vegetables and cooking, I've been an early morning/late night cooker out of necessily. I've just as readily come home at 8:30pm and pulled out the chopping board when others would've pulled out the take out menu. I'm not trying to build myself up as some supernaturally powerful, sleep-dreprived home cook who hates herself. It's not like I'm baking a wedding cake before R gets up just for kicks.

My budget is, how should I say, limited, at best, and my ability to manage it is, let's see, um, inept. Because I like to cook and because I overbuy at the supermarket, I'm often forced, for lack of a better word, to put my pots and pans into high gear. Often I end up producing an inordinate amount of dishes to wash for only two people eating, but that's on the good nights-- when I get home early, make that quiche crust, boil those presoaked beans, or dice that half dozen vegetables. Usually I get home and my brain can't really process more information than chop onion, heat olive oil, add tomatoes... now what? And sometimes it one of those week when I fell asleep before I could make my lunch, there are no leftovers to pack, and I forgot to factor in the ConEd-Time Warner-National Grid bills before I bought those new gloves, that new hat, and that knife skills classes. So I have not choice but to make myself something for lunch, usually the morning of. And, sadly, PBJs have never quite cut it for me. Then again a I'm not going to try to make Cassoulet at 5 am on a Wednesday.

So for those days when I'm half-awake and armed with a chef's knife, I have a handful of simple, quick recipes for quick meals that are hot and/ or reheatable. Here are three of my more effective ones, which can be made at any time, one under an hour and two under half an hour.

Black Bean and Squash Soup

** This is why this dish is wonderful: its a filling lunch or dinner and its ready in under an hour, mostly unattended. The starchy, salty beans are balanced by the sweetness of the squash. The spices soften the flavor while also filling it out, making it almost earthy. The vinegar is almost imperceptible but gives it a nice kick. I made it this morning and had all of it.


- 1 can of black beans with liquid or 1 cup dried black beans, soaked overnight
- 1/2 butternut squash (can also use calabaza, acorn, or any other sweet squash), peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1 inch squares
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 leeks, chopped, or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp coriander
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil

In a pot or crockpot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and leeks or garlic and cook stirring until softened. Add oregano and allow to cook for another minute or so. Toss in the squash, cumin, and coriander. mixing all elements together. Cook for a few minutes, then add beans, salt and pepper, stir together. Pour chicken broth, stir in vinegar, and bring to a boil. When bubbling, cover and lower the heat. Simmer for half and hour to 40 minutes or until beans and squash are soft and squash is fragrant.


** This is a Libyan breakfast served throughout the Middle East. I made it for the first time with julienned green and red pepper and with cayenne rather than jalapeño. It was a recipe from a North African cookbook I own which, along with my half-Libyan friend Eissa and my friend Sam's Tunisian husband, opened my mind to what is now my new favorite food: North African food. Its spicy, flavorful, filling, from eggs in spicy tomato sauce to stuffed peppers to tangine, as of now anything that contains cumin, paprika, cayenne, or allspice is good in my book. This recipe is my favorite.


- 1 small onion, chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded, cored, and chopped or cayenne to taste
- 1 can diced tomatoes with liquid
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 4 eggs
- 2-4 slices of bread, toasted
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat olive oil in a skillet or pan with a lid. Add onions and jalapeño and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, paprika, and cumin and cook for a few more minutes until fragrant. Add tomatoes and water, stir, and bring to a soft boil. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, until sauce is slightly thick then stir in parsley. When ready, use a spoon to open 4 spaces in the sauce and crack an egg into each one. Cover and cook eggs until whites are set but yolk is still runny. Serve eggs with sauce over bread.

Curried Egg Salad

** I made this for our plane ride to Puerto Rico last week and they worked out really nicely. My favorite chutney to use with this is Beth Farm's Spicy Tomato Chutney available at the Union Square Farmer's Market. Its far tastier and more interesting than a regular egg salad or cold cuts sandwich and very filling. Probably my favorite sandwich.


- 2 pieces of bread, toasted (rye bread is particularly good for this)
- 2 eggs, hard boiled
- 1 tsp curry
- 1/2 tsp tumeric
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 1/4 onion, chopped
- 1 tbsp mayo
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tomato, sliced, preferably roma (optional)
- Several leaves of spinach (optional)
- Chutney (recommended)

Spread chutney on one piece of bread. Crack hardboiled eggs and remove skin, crush the whites and yolk together with a fork. Add mayo, onion, and spices until it becomes a paste. Spread over bread without chutney. On top of egg salad, arrange tomato slices and spinach. Close the sandwich, wrap up, and get to work.

All pictures are from internet, not mine.


  1. Oh my God Dre, I could not have found your blog at a better time! I myself have to force myself to prepare meals late at night and I've been trying to find quick, simple and cheap recepies! Yay!

    except I don't think I'll be making that shakshuka any time soon. I'm kind of bored of it haha! But that's what happens when you have that every week for a year!

    PS. Did I take that photo @ Mamafukus?

  2. Hahahaha, that's awesome. Yeah, I can imagine it gets old after a while, but I love it. The photo was from when we went but I think that may have been Avi's handy work. Check out my blog roll (ie the list of blogs at the bottom), smittenkitchen.com has a great array of recipes both simple and complex, savory and sweet.

  3. natural vitamin sources is to eat garlic to taste great, even better than the antibiotics he is my miracle swine flu.sarımsak hapı zayıflama

  4. I'll eventually get to try them all! Keep writing on food, it's fascinating :-)