Another cookbook I received as a Christmas gift this year was Urban Pantry: Tips and Recipes for a Thrifty, Sustainable & Seasonal Kitchen. Mack said the book had mostly positive reviews online, and after my initial read, I can see why.
Author Amy Pennigton provides her ideas on what should make up one’s pantry essentials, taking into consideration the limited space apartment dwellers face, and the needs of a home cook to be able to whip up fast, tasty suppers, or entertain at a moment’s notice. Recipes highlight her pantry staples, including several grain-based salads that are economical but inspired.
I think I will also eventually find her chapter on small-batch canning helpful, when I decide to travel down that path. Her recipes for pickles and fruit in particular seem creative and straightforward, perfect for an amateur like me.
In the last few weeks, I’ve tried two of Urban Pantry’s recipes, and enjoyed them both, which bodes well for the rest of the book!
Baked Eggs with Swiss Chard
A recipe for baked eggs with kale was a one-skillet dish if there ever was one! We substituted swiss chard for the kale, which cut down our cooking time a bit, but other than that, we stayed true to her recipe – sauteed onions and greens with garlic and red pepper flakes, eggs cracked into pockets made inside the greens, baked, then topped with crumbled bacon (from Irvings, of course!).
Baked eggs with swiss chard
I left the skillet in the oven a touch too long, so lost the yolky goodness that would have elevated the dish that much more. But still, served alongside some fresh ficelle loaves from Dauphine (my go-to bread as of late), it was almost like having breakfast for dinner!
The book came in handy when I was looking to spice up a beef stew I would be serving my family for dinner (with only a day’s notice, I was fortunate that I had several packages of First Natures Farms stew meat in the freezer, and given we would be out most of the day, the slow cooker was a lifesaver!).
I had never thought to make a gremolata before, but really, there wasn’t anything to it – citrus zest, parsley and garlic. It added a nice fresh finish to the stewed meat.
Beef stew with orange-parsley gremolata
But to accompany the stew, for a “pre-dinner nibble”, as Amy calls it, the onion-thyme tart was great. All it took was some caramelized onions, fresh thyme and thawed puff pastry. It was the first time I’d ever taken the time to really cook down the onions (about forty minutes), and by the end, I realized I should have started with larger onions! There was nearly not enough to spread around the tart.
Cut into squares, it was a buttery, slightly sweet way to start dinner, and is something I will make again!