It's surprisingly rare for me to truly enjoy hosting someone through three daily meals, all cooked at home. It's very rare to share breakfast, lunch, and dinner all homemade with a guest, but that, my dear readers, was something I got the chance to do yesterday, and in the process I learned that it's really easy to cook 3 fast and delicious meals in a day (which is something I rarely do for myself as is). The, trick, it turns out, is to go for delicious yet simple. here was my action plan:
Late Breakfast - Herbed Scrambled eggs with fried parsnips and rutabaga
Late Lunch - Fried tofu with caramelized onions, rice, salad with a ginger vinaigrette
Late and small Dinner - Tomato rice soup
Here's the scoop:
Breakfast (10 minutes prep, 15 minutes cook)
For the root veggies, thinly slice up 2-3 parsnips (as thin as you can get it - circles or half moons depending on the size of your parsnip) and a quarter of a medium rutabaga (you can also use potatoes, sunchokes, celeriac or whatever root veg you have on hand). Thin slice an onion. Sautee, covered, with a lot of butter and rosemary (to smell), you can add a quarter cup of water if things are burning. Add a bunch of salt. It takes about 15 minutes. Serve with sour cream.
For the eggs, beat 4-6 eggs (for two people) with sage, thyme, oregano, and a bit of rosemary (a lot - it should smell well-herbed). Scramble.
Lunch (20 minutes prep, 25 minutes cook, with some overlap)
Drain tofu, cube it, and then cover with 2 parts soy sauce, 1 part rice vinegar, and 1 part sesame oil, plus a grated inch or so of ginger (frozen ginger grates really well) a minced clove of garlic, some chives (if you have them) and a pinch of red pepper. let it sit while you prep a basic green salad, set the rice cooking (enough rice for lunch, and dinner! remember tomato rice soup!), and dice an onion.
For the salad dressing (this is the best part, and really ties the meal together) grate about a half inch of ginger into a dressing that is one part neutral oil (olive is fine), one part sesame oil, one part rice vinegar, and one part (or more even) lime juice salt or tamari to taste. Stir really well and don't let anyone pour it in their salad without stirring it well enough.
throw the diced onion and the tofu (reserve some of the marinade or it will burn) into a hot pan with oil, and sautee for as long as it takes the rice to finish. this should be plenty of time for the onions to caramelize and the tofu to brown. While everything is cooking, you can prep dinner.
Dinner (10 minutes prep, simmer as long as you can)
The trick to dinner is that it has to cook for a long time, so prep it while you're doing lunch, or while your guest is checking voicemail/something of the sort. It's the easiest meal you're going to cook all day. Dice an onion, a carrot, garlic, and some celery or celeriac (I didn't have it so I skipped it) throw that into some chicken stock, add a can of tomatoes (I added a can of tomatoes and a can of sauce for extra yum and so I had plenty for leftovers) and sprinkle in some marjoram and a dash of thyme (if you have it) salt, and pepper, and simmer until you're ready to eat it (yes - like 5 hours - that's the trick, seriously). I simmered mine uncovered because it was so watery and it turned out perfect. Dump in the rice a bit before you're going to start and stir in a cup or more of sour cream, half and half, heavy cream (don't overdo it), milk, or whatever combination thereof you have on hand. Serve hot with bread. if you're going to skimp on the chicken stock and use veg stock, you should sautee the veg before cooking. If you don't think you can leave a pot of soup simmering while you run around town for an hour or two, you're too risk averse, and I recommend trying it (unless you have a dog that will want to know what's cooking).
And that, as they say, is that. Very simple.