Kitchen Shrink: Cooking made easy with six-ingredient (or less) recipes


There are those of us who live to cook and those who cook to live. One of my girlfriends falls into the latter category.

I can’t altogether blame her. After grocery shopping, cleaning the house, going to the gym, playing mah-jongg, running errands all day, then chauffeuring the kids to piano lessons, tennis, soccer, math tutoring, dance, swimming ... and back home for marathon homework--pheew--who wants to do anything other than put a frozen dinner in the microwave?

While there’s nothing wrong with taking a little help from your grocer’s freezer, it’s nice to have a home-cooked meal--especially if it doesn’t include 300 steps and list of ingredients that would stump even the Thomas Keller types.

My GF asked me for some simple-six-ingredients-or-less-slam-bam-ready-in-minutes-ma’am assorted recipes. I share them with you here. My only rule is that water and dried seasonings are a gimme.

Winging It Apricot Chicken

  • 1 frying chicken cut into 8 pieces
  • 6 ounces of apricot preserves
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of olive or grape seed oil
  • One tablespoon of ginger powder, and salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.In a small saucepan simmer the apricot preserves, orange and lemon juices, ginger powder and soy sauce for about 10 minutes.Set aside.Season the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.Heat the oil in a skillet and saute the chicken until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish, and pour the apricot mixture over the chicken.Bake uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown.Serve with Jasmine rice or Israeli couscous. Whichever is easier!Express Eggplant Caviar

  • 1 large eggplant
  • 2 Persian cucumbers, diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 Roma tomato, diced
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt, white and black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F and place the eggplant on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Pierce with a fork and bake until tender. Cool the eggplant and scoop out the flesh. Puree in a food processor and blend in the remaining ingredients. Serve with pita chips or Middle Eastern flat bread.Grilled Scallops and Snap Peas in a Snap

  • 10 large, wild-caught scallops
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 pound of snap peas
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • Japanese panko breadcrumbs
  • Sea salt, cayenne pepper and garlic powder to taste

In a mixing bowl, combine the juice, wine and seasonings. Toss the snap peas and scallops in the mixture. Arrange in a baking dish, top the scallops with the breadcrumbs and broil until tender and slightly brown.Quickie Shrimp Skewers

  • 12 raw, jumbo, wild shrimp, peeled
  • 12 whole mushrooms, crimini or button white
  • 1 red pepper, cut in squares
  • 1 red onion, cut in chunks
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt, garlic powder and cayenne pepper to taste

Marinate the shrimps and veggies in the juice, oil and seasonings for one hour. Alternate the shrimp and vegetables on steel or bamboo skewers. Grill until the shrimp are firm and the vegetables tender. Serve over whole-wheat couscous or saffron-flavored basmati rice.As Easy as Pie Asian Salmon Cakes

  • 1 pound of fresh (or canned) skinless salmon filet (wild caught preferred)
  • 1 teaspoon of grape seed, sesame or olive oil, and extra for grilling
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of wasabi mustard
  • 2 scallions, finely sliced
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place the salmon in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the oil, juice, mustard, scallions, salt and pepper, and pulse again until blended well. Add the breadcrumbs until the mixture becomes a firm texture for forming patties. Mold into the patty size of your choice (about 1/3 pound each).Grill, pan fry or bake the cakes on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet for about 5 minutes on each side until done.Garnish with daikon radish slices, scallions, wasabi mustard or teriyaki sauce, and serve on a sesame bun with a side of Asian slaw.Five-Minute Marinara

  • 1 28-ounce can of diced or plum tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • A handful of fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and saute the garlic until soft. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve over your favorite pasta, fish or chicken dish.