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Ten Things to Cook During Carmageddon

Bibimbap Plating by Lisa Gilliam
Bibimbap Plating by Lisa Gilliam
Susan Park

You either planned ahead or you didn't for feeding yourself during carmageddon. If you're a planner, this weekend is perfect for making dishes that take all day or even two days. If you're not a planner, well, clean out your pantry and refrigerator to scrounge for ingredients. Regardless, if you live near the 405, you've probably resigned yourself to staying home this weekend. Unless you really planned ahead and left town.

It's a good weekend for preparing dishes that take a long time or trying to figure out what to prepare with ingredients at hand. Ten suggestions for cooking this weekend after the jump.

1. No-knead bread. It's an easy recipe, but the 12-18 hour resting time means you have to block out a certain number of hours to baby sit the dough until it's ready. No, you don't have to literally watch it during 6 hour window, but you'll have to be in the vicinity when it's ready for shaping.

Susan Park's Croissant Dough
Susan Park's Croissant Dough
Susan Park

2. Croissants. Note the recipe calls for chilling the dough for an hour in between folds, then chilling for at least 8 hours, no more than 18 hours before baking. This is a recipe that will own you for two days.

3. Cassoulet. The ingredient list is insane and the method is protracted over three days. That means you have to start soaking the beans this evening for a Sunday cassoulet dinner. Think of it has a figurative weekend getaway to Toulouse, France.

4. Birria. Yeah, we're shilling our own recipe. But hanging out with your friends outdoors with an 18 pack of beer will probably be more fun than watching bread dough rise, butter chill, or turning on the oven for cassoulet.

Baby Carrots
Baby Carrots
Susan Park

5. Cook baby carrots. Real baby carrots, not the supermarket plastic wrapped ones that are actually carved from big horse carrots. If you shop at farmers' markets, you've seen those pretty bundles of baby carrots covered with grit that's not easy to wash off. And if you've ever tried peeling them, you know that they are prone to breaking or you end up with a little whittled stick of carrot. Baby carrots should be scraped clean with a paring knife. Take a paring knife and gently scrape off the skin and pockets of grit. This is a fine dining technique that takes a long time, but the results are worth it: perfectly intact and clean baby carrots.

 

6. Make preserves. If you live in the valley, there has to be a fruit or citrus tree somewhere near you or even on your block or your own backyard.

Hailey Berger, Student Plating
Hailey Berger, Student Plating
Susan Park

7. Spanish tortilla. All you need are onions, potatoes and eggs for this Spanish take on omelettes or fritatta. If you don't have potatoes and onions, substitute any number of vegetables such as roasted peppers, peas, or sauteed zucchini.

8. Pasta. Say you have vegetables but no eggs. Remember, not all pastas have to be drowned in tomato sauce and oozing with cheese or call for expensive, specialty ingredients. A simple pasta dish such as penne with zucchini and basil, provides a happy medium between red sauce Italian and uber-chic Mozza Italian.

9. Bibimbap or fried rice. Both dishes are great ways to use up leftover or random vegetables. Bibimbap is made from freshly cooked rice and fried rice is made from leftover cold rice. Be creative about substituting vegetables and proteins for what you have on hand. Mark Bittman's recipe would work fine with beef, pork or shrimp.

10. Hummus. If you don't have any of the above ingredients or anything else that can possibly substitute, surely you have at least a can of beans thinking you'll use them "just in case". Hummus made from canned chick peas is more economical than buying pre-made tubs and it can taste better than the industrial gummy spackle that often passes for hummus. The trick is to rinse canned chick peas thoroughly in cold water; you'll notice a lot of slimy liquid washing away. Peeling chickpeas will also help produce a lighter, creamier hummus.

Gently rub a handful of chickpeas between the palms of your hands to remove as much as skin as you can, repeat with remaining chickpeas. Puree the chick peas with finely minced garlic, fresh lemon juice and olive oil until very smooth. The ratio for a 16 ounce can of chickpeas is approximately 2 cloves of garlic, 2-3 tablespoons of lemon juice, ¼ cup of olive oil and salt to taste. If you have tahini, add 3 tablespoons. If not, just omit it, it will taste good anyway. If you don't have chick peas, fava beans or white beans also make tasty dips. Eat with bread and you have a complete protein dish that will tide you over during carpocalypse.

Farid Zadi is the Dean of Culinary Arts at Ecole de Cuisine. You can follow him on twitter or join him on Facebook.

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