These and uncertain and scary times, even so, you and your loved ones still need to eat. And the act of preparing and serving a meal can bring great comfort to all. If you have a decently stocked pantry (see our essential grocery shopping list for a quarantine), you can make a wonderful meal out of a few basic ingredients.


Pancakes for 4

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp melted cooled butter
  • Veg. oil to cook
  1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat.
  2. In a bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat eggs into the milk and stir in t tbsp of melted butter.
  3. Gently stir this mixture into dry ingredients, mixing only enough to moisten flour; don’t worry about any lumps.
  4. If the batter seems too thick, add a little more milk.
  5. Place a bit of oil on your skillet, and when it shimmers, add a ladle of butter onto the skillet, making pancakes of any size you like. Flip pancakes after bubbles rise to the surface and bottoms is a bit brown, after 2 to 4 min.
  6. Cook until second side is lightly browned. Serve immediately with any topping of your like.


Dutch Baby for 3

  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup of flour
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  1. Preheat over to 220°C.
  2. Combine eggs, flour, milk, sugar and nutmeg in a blender until smooth.
  3. Place butter in a baking dish and place in the oven. As soon as the butter has melted, add the batter to the dish and return to the oven and bake for 20 min, until pancake is puffed and golden.
  4. Lower oven temperature to 150°C and bake another 5 min.
  5. Remove pancake from the oven, cut into wedges and serve at once topped with syrup, jams, sugar or cinnamon.


Muffins (12 pieces)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2  tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup blueberries/chocolate chip
  1. Preheat over to 220°C. Grease 12 muffin cups with a little bit of butter.
  2. Sift flour with salt, baking powder and sugar.
  3. Combine eggs, milk and melted butter. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Do not try to beat until smooth, that will make your muffins too tough.
  4. Sprinkle 3 tbsp of flour over blueberries, and turn to coat well. Stir into batter and mix just enough to combine.
  5. Fill muffin cups about two-thirds full, and sprinkle a bit of sugar on top.
  6. Bake 20-25 min, or until muffins are slightly brown and pull away from the sides of the tin.



Sardines toasts

  • 4 thick slices of crusty sourdough bread
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1 large ripe tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1 can of sardines, deboned
  • 1/4 of a small sweet red onion or 1 small shallot, sliced
  • Softened butter
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Olive oil for drizzling
  • Flaky sea salt or Fleur de sel
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves torn
  1. Toast the bread.
  2. While toasts are still warm, rub them with the garlic halves, then spread butter on each slice.
  3. Lay the tomato slices and salt them lightly.
  4. Top tomatoes with sardines and then onion slices. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with basil and serve immediately with a green salad.


Grilled cheese with apples

  • 5 tbsp of butter
  • 1 large Granny Smith cored and thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh rosemary chopped
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup apple butter
  • 8 slices country bread
  • 4 thick slices of red Cheddar
  1. Prepare your apple butter by reducing applesauce in a pot until it slightly caramelizes.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp butter, then add the apple slices, shallots, rosemary and a pinch of salt. Cook, tossing occasionally, until apples are golden and softened, 8 to 10 min, reducing the heat if the shallots seem to burn. Transfer mixture to a plate and set aside.
  3. Rinse and dry the pan, and set over medium heat. Melt 1 tbsp butter per number of sandwich. Spread one side of each bread slice with 1 tbsp of apple butter. Top 4 of the slices with the 4 pieces of Cheddar. Spread apple mixture over the other 4 slices of bread.
  4. Add one Cheddar-topped piece and one apple-topped piece to the pan, drizzle 2 tsp of water in the pan and cover. Cook until cheese is melted and bread is golden crisp, 5 to 7 min.
  5. Sandwich the two pieces together, cut in half and serve immediately.


Spaghetti with fried eggs for 3

  • 250g spaghetti
  • 6 tsp olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, lightly smashed and peeled
  • 4 eggs
  • Ground pepper
  • Freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Start cooking the pasta when the water boils, according to directions on the package.
  2. Prepare the sauce: Combine the garlic and 4 tsp of the oil in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the garlic, pressing it into the oil to release its flavor. It should barely color. Remove garlic from the pan and add the remaining oil.
  3. Fry the eggs gently in the oil, until the whites are just about set and the yolks still runny.
  4. Drain the pasta and toss with the eggs and oil, breaking up the whites. The eggs will finish cooking in the heat of the pasta.
  5. Season to taste and serve with the cheese.



One-pot rice and beans for 4

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1-3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 can black or pinto beans
  • Lime wedges and cilantro leaves for garnish
  1. In a large saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté till translucent, about 3 min. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the salt, rice and beans (including the liquid in the can). Stir to combine, then cover.
  3. Turn the heat down to the lowest, and let simmer for about 20 min. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  4. Season to taste, then garnish with lime and cilantro, as you wish.


Chickpea pasta with spinach for 4

  • Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 can chickpeas rinsed and drained
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp red-pepper flakes
  • Black pepper
  • 1 large shallot finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 150 to 200 g of baby spinach leaves (or the equivalent frozen)
  • 350g spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, in a wide, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add chickpeas, rosemary and pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas start to caramelize at their edges and pop, about 7 min. With a slotted spoon, transfer half the chickpeas to a bowl and reserve for garnish.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallots and garlic and season. Cook, stirring, until shallots are softened, about 3 min.
  4. Add the heavy cream and cook until slightly thickened, about 4-5 min. Turn off the heat, stir in the spinach leaves and season to taste.
  5. Boil the pasta over medium heat according to package instructions, but 1 minute short of Al dente.
  6. Do not drain the pasta but using tongs, transfer the pasta to the spinach and cream sauce. Add 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and the Parmesan and cook over medium heat, stirring vigorously, until the sauce is thicker, and the noodles are Al dente, about 2 minutes. Add a couple spoons of pasta water to the sauce to loosen it if needed.
  7. Transfer to bowl and top with the reserved chickpeas, rosemary and black pepper. Serve immediately with lemon wedges to squeeze on top.


Frozen veggies stir-fry for 6

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp peanut butter
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 bag 450g frozen mixed veggies
  1. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic powder and peanut butter in a small bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat, stir in the frozen veggies and cook until tender, about 7 min. Remove from heat and fold in soy sauce mixture.
  3. Serve with white rice.


Pasta salad for 8

  • 450g fusilli pasta, or any other short cut pasta
  • 1 cup basil pesto
  • 400g white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 150g sun-dried tomatoes drained and chopped roughly
  • 2 cups fresh arugula
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil chopped
  • 2 tbsp pine nuts
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the pasta until Al dente, according to pack instructions. Drain and rinse with cold water and set aside into a large salad bowl.
  2. Add the basil pesto to the pasta and stir until pasta is well-coated.
  3. Gently stir in the white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Garnish with fresh basil and pin nuts to serve. Best if served chilled.



Rice Krispies treats

  • 6 tbsp salted butter
  • 280g marshmallows
  • 3 cups Rice Krispies or any other crisp rice cereal
  • 3 cups mini-pretzels broken into pieces
  • 85g dark, semisweet chocolate, chopped, or in chips
  • Flaky sea salt or Fleur de sel
  1. Line your baking sheet with wax paper and oil it.
  2. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over low heat, add the marshmallows and stir with a spatula until smooth and melted, about 3 min.
  3. Remove from the heat, add the cereal and pretzels and stir gently until evenly coated.
  4. Immediately scrape the mixture out of the pan into the baking sheet, and using a spatula, press the mixture to evenly cover the bottom of the sheet, working quickly, while still warm.
  5. Sprinkle the chocolate on top, it will slightly melt.
  6. Press the whole mixture into a flat, even layer and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes.
  7. Let cool at room temperature on a rack. When cooled, cut into squares and serve.
  8. Keep them into an airtight container.


Pan-baked almond tart for 4

  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar, according to personal taste
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds + more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Sugar for garnish
  1. Heat your oven to 200°C.
  2. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, ground almonds, cream, sliced almonds, lemon zest and juice. Mix well.
  3. Melt butter into an oven-proof skillet over low heat. When foam has disappeared, add almond mixture to the pan, tilting the pan to distribute evenly the batter. Cook this tart on the stovetop until edges just begin to set, then put pan in the oven to finish cooking, for about 10-15 min.
  4. When tart is done, put it under the broiler for 1 min to golden the top.
  5. Sprinkle with sugar and sliced almonds and serve warm.


Banana bread for 4

  • 4 large Somali bananas, or 6 small Lebanese type, very ripe
  • 1-1/2 cup flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 big tsp of baking soda (bicarbonate)
  • 1 drop of vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp or dark rum
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the bananas coarsely with a fork and beat the melted butter in with a large whisk. The batter should not be smooth.
  3. Add the egg, and mix well, then add the sugar, and then the flour together with the baking soda.
  4. Finally add the vanilla, and finish with the rum. The batter should have small lumps of banana pieces.
  5. Grease a baking pan for loaf with butter and line with wax paper. Pour the batter in, and sprinkle sugar on top to caramelize slightly.
  6. Put in the oven and bake for about 25-30 min. Check if cooked through with a knife, it should come out clean. If not, cover in foil paper and leave another 10 min.
  7. Try adding chocolate chips to this batter before popping in the oven…


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