Umami arugula salad

Balsamic vinaigrette + anchovies + arugula = quick and tasty side salad.
Balsamic vinaigrette + anchovies + wilted arugula + pine nuts + boiled egg = awesome entree.

In a small bowl, mix up a salt-free balsamic vinaigrette: half tsp sugar, 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or better yet, leftover oil from a tin of anchovies), a few drops of balsamic vinegar, a squirt of mustard, and a dash of garlic powder. I also like a bit of black pepper and/or lots of paprika with this.

Then add a single anchovy fillet and mash or shred until it is mostly dissolved into the dressing. This may take a couple of minutes, but once that’s done just toss into the salad and you’re reading to serve it with a chunk of crusty white bread, or topped with a fried egg.

Another option to make this a more substantial warm meal is to add a chopped hard-boiled egg or two, and to up the amount of salad by wilting it slightly. First boil the egg in a small saucepan (bring water to boil, add egg gently with spoon, cover, turn off the heat but leave on the hob, done in 12mins). When it’s done, peel and chop the egg before setting it aside in your serving bowl. Then dry the pan, add the olive oil and anchovies, and combine while warming on low-medium heat (the heat will help the anchovies break down faster). Then mix in the rest of the dressing ingredients before tossing in the arugula, egg, and toasted pine nuts and stirring until the leaves are partially wilted.


Five-minute flourless chocolate-ginger cake

One bowl, three ingredients, five minutes, and a microwave will make you this wonderfully rich and awesomely lazy Christmassy cake. Here’s how:

1. Fill a microwaveable mug (or small bowl) about a quarter or a third of the way with sweetened dark chocolate chips or chunks. (This is a very rich cake, so do not go overboard with the chocolate!)  Melt in the microwave in 15-second increments, stirring at every interval. (You MUST stir every 15-30 seconds or so, or there will be burnt chocolate and/or a mug explosion — don’t ask me how I know.)
2. When all the chocolate is melted, crack one egg into the bowl and stir until the white, yolk, and chocolate combine. You should get a thick, glossy, brownie batter-like mixture.
3. Squeeze in pressed ginger (I used a tube from Gourmet Garden), to taste — I used about 3-4 large squirts, or about a tablespoon worth. You could probably also substitute ground ginger here. Ground nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves and/or allspice would also work well if you have them on hand. Mix well!
4. Make sure the batter is level as far as possible. Then pop the mug back in the microwave, checking at 30s, 1m, and in 15s intervals thereafter, until the cake is set.


Savoury instant oatmeal

Oatmeal is typically thought of as a sweetish breakfast food, but this “recipe” turns it into a textured, savoury porridge that’s healthier than grits and faster than congee, and can also be used as a base for a comforting, cold-weather afternoon or evening meal. And you can make it in less than three minutes!

1. Pour instant oats into a microwaveable bowl.
2. Instead of water or milk, cover with chicken or vegetable broth. (If you don’t have broth on hand, you can also use a mix of stock and water, miso and water, or marmite/vegemite and water.)
3. Microwave for a minute or so until oats are cooked, adding more broth if needed.
4. Flavour with sesame oil, soy sauce, garlic/onion powder, and pepper to taste.
5. Optional: top with scallions, a fried egg, shredded chicken, mushrooms, fermented tofu, etc.

Laziest black bean dip

Spoon leftover canned black beans into a small microwaveable bowl. I say ‘spoon’, but what I really mean is that you should use a fork to minimise the transfer of the black goop that canned black beans live and swim in. You don’t need to rinse.

Add: shredded cheese (I used a thick slice of gouda), cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and/or other spices.

Microwave for around 45 seconds, or until beans are warm and soft and cheese is mostly melted. Mash beans using fork. Taste and spice further if necessary. The end.