I’ve been asked – a lot, by my 20/30 something kids, nieces, nephews and their friends, to put together some simple recipes with a few ingredients that can be made in 30 minutes, give or take a few. It must take little effort and it must come together easily, be nutritious and delicious. Tall order I thought! Remember, my training was classical French – read butter – need I say more?!

So it’s taken me a while to put together some ideas, but I’m now ready to launch this series. These recipes are really for anyone who wants to make a quick and tasty meal. I will always provide – at the end of the recipe a “Substitutions and Alterations” section giving you some ideas as to how you can change the meal – substitute ingredients etc. These will mostly be one dish meals – protein with a side. It may be meat, fish or vegetarian based, but always with the same premise. Feedback is important if there is something that you would like to see or learn to make, send me an email and I will either blog it or respond directly to you.  I will keep the ingredients simple, but will also – on occasion, ramp up the variety.  You will also get tips on cooking, easy clean up and cooking things you should know.  I will try and send this out once a week under the heading – “Fast and Easy – 30 Minute Meals!” These recipes are meant for two people but can easily be scaled up for more. The presumption is that you will have in your pantry some staple spices such as:

• cumin powder
• coriander powder
• bay leaves – fresh or dried
• cayenne powder
• garlic powder
• brown mustard seed
• dried herbs such as rosemary, thyme (but not the powder), basil, oregano and any pre-mixed spices such as
• za’atar
• harissa
• peri peri
• lemon pepper etc. or any other herbs/spices you like!

You don’t need to buy any of these in large quantities – it’s only a bargain if you use it. So start experimenting with the spice mixes at the bulk stores and pick up small quantities of what you want to try. When you find the ones you like, then you can buy a larger quantity from the spice section of your grocers – or stick with the bulk stores – your choice!  You will always need olive oil, salt and pepper for all the dishes so that goes without saying.  Get used to experimenting with spices.  Start off with a little, taste – probably needs more, add some more – taste again.  You get the idea!

You will also need some basic kitchen tools like:
• a heavy rimmed baking tray – preferably non-stick
• parchment paper
• cooking spray
• olive oil
• a digital instant read thermometer
• a permanent marker and
• medium and large freezer bags

I will add more to this list as I give you additional recipes, but I can assure you, everything I ask you to buy will be used multiple times. I’m not into gadgets unless they make your life simpler and they have multiple uses, not just one purpose. Most of the recipes will require the baking sheet as the tool of choice – less to clean up if you follow the advice given. So take your phone and this blog to the grocery store – most have a housewares section, and pick up whatever items you don’t have in your kitchen and pantry.

So before we start with the first recipe, I want you to tell your friends, colleagues, sons and daughters that are living on their own, about this blog and have them subscribe (on the first page of my website) for my weekly recipe feature. Good food and good nutrition are critical for all of us, these recipes provide this. We need to eat in more and eat out less.  The first recipe will be out tomorrow.  As always – enjoy these recipes!

Some points to ponder as you wait for this meal to cook:
• Where are the hot spots in your oven? Look for where the food is darkest when cooked
• Find the ideal level to place your trays by using the upper, middle and lower racks of the oven as you cook the meals
• Test marinades by tasting before adding them to your protein or sides – adjust and experiment until you like the taste of the marinade – I call this TST – taste, season and taste again, watch for this acronym in future recipes
• Watch for the salt content in spice mixes – if the first ingredient listed is salt – don’t buy it or don’t add additional salt
• Buy spices from the country of origin – Indian spices from an Indian distributor i.e. Suraj brand, Mexican from a Mexican distributor – still available at your grocery store in the spice or international sections
• Clean as you go – always have a bowl for kitchen scraps handy when cooking

Top Row – Cumin, Coriander, Cayenne, Brown Mustard Seeds, Garlic Powder.  Bottom Row – Dried Rosemary, Basil, Thyme, Bay leaves