Sara’s Weeknight Meals: Season 01

Episode 106: Shop and Serve

If the convenience of a meal’s preparation is your prime consideration, this week’s show is for you. The sheer number of time-saving, pre-prepped ingredients in today’s supermarkets is amazing. In truth, it was a new world to me when I started developing the recipes for the book. As a trained chef, I tend to make everything from scratch and had never paid attention to the prepared ingredients available today. I was a little worried that the recipes were too simple to be all that tasty, but was delighted to find that they are delicious and are some of the quickest you will find in Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals.

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Tips and Ingredients

Tips. Pick up some already prepared carrot and celery sticks from the produce section of your supermarket to add to the platter of wings; include a small bowl of prepared blue cheese dressing, if you have some on hand.

To easily remove the seeds from a jalapeno, hold the pepper by the stem and cut the sides away from the core. The seeds will stay attached to the central core leaving you seed-free pepper pieces to chop.

My recipe for Creole Spice Mix, Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals, page 20, is a good choice here; keep some on hand to use on meat, fish, and poultry as well. Or, make up a big batch and give it for gifts.

Nothing beats the flavor of homemade stock. See Sara’s Secrets for Weeknight Meals, page 32, or Episode 103 on this web site for my recipe. I like to put some on to simmer on a weekend and let it mind itself while I am doing other things around the house. Once finished, I package it and keep it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it for up to a few months.

In New Orleans and most of Louisiana the Holy Trinity in the kitchen is equal parts chopped onion, bell pepper, and celery. You can vary it a bit by using leeks, shallots, scallions, or garlic for the onion and celeriac for the celery as long as all the essential flavors are there.

Next time you are in the supermarket take a look at the salad bar and at the pre-prepped vegetables in the produce section to see if any of the ready-to-use items there can help you get dinner on the table faster.

girlsatthegrill.com. Go to “store” and then to “grilling and kitchen tools”

My aprons and fitted chef’s jackets are made by Crooked Brook, for more information, go to Episode 105.

Ingredients. Hominy is dried white or yellow corn kernels from which the hull and germ have been removed either mechanically or by soaking the corn in slaked lime or lye. It is sold canned or dried (when it is dried and ground, it is called grits.) Keep a few cans in your pantry to serve as an alternative to rice, pasta, or potatoes.

Pickled Okra is a yummy addition to salads and sandwiches and good for eating right out of the jar as well as the perfect garnish for any hot and spicy Louisiana specialty. You can find them in most supermarkets or order them on line from Bryant Preserving in Alma, Arkansas.

Tomatillas belong to the same family as tomatoes and cape gooseberries and are used to lend a lemony flavor to salads, sauces, and salsas. In the market, select firm ones with a tight husk and store them in the refrigerator in a paper bag. To use them, remove the husk, rinse off the waxy coating from the skin and slice or chop them as directed in the recipe.

A nutcase scientist in Texas has been breeding jalapenos to lose their heat. I don’t understand this; I mean who needs a little green pepper? Unfortunately this scientist has been somewhat successful. So now when I go to the supermarket I buy twice as many chiles as the recipe calls for. I cut one open and taste a little bit to see if it is kicking. If it has no heat I go to the next pepper, if it has some but not a lot of heat I will throw some of its seeds and ribs into the recipe as well (most of the heat in a chile is in the seed pod, seeds, and ribs).

Chipotles are smoked jalapenos. You can buy them dried and soak them to rehydrate them or buy them canned in adobo, a tomato-based sauce. Either adds a delicious smoky flavor and quite a bit of heat to a dish.


Thanks to

Sara's Weeknight Meals is produced by Silver Plume Productions and WETA Washington, DC, and distributed by American Public Television (APT) to public broadcasting stations nationwide. Corporate funding is provided by Best Buy, Gallo and King Arthur Flour. |