Cooking a hotel room
Ive been stuck in a hotel room for a couple of weeks and Im tired of eating out. Im looking for some simple easy to prepare recipes (Im not a great cook) that I can make in my hotel kitchen without stinking or smoking up my room?
I like to eat everything and I have access to a grocery store and a whole foods.
Another problem is that my equipment:
2 Burner Electric Stove
2 Sauce Pans (1 small & 1 medium)
1 Medium Saute Pan
Microwaveable and stovetop safe bowls
Some sort of plastic stove top dish for grilling?
1 Serrated knife and some butter knives
I'm in a cold climate if that gives anyone some inspiration. Any help is appreciated.
You can do anything but deep-fry and bake with that fairly extensive list of equipment...I'm not kidding. You have more equipment than most dorm rooms & graduate student apartments!
With a saute pan, you can make veal piccata (sides of steamed asparagus or wilted spinach), chicken marsala, or any permutation of sauteed-protein-with-a-deglazed-pan-wine-sauce. Thanks to those saucepans, you can have pasta and various sauces: Whole foods sells several premade sauces (pesto, etc) that are tasty, as well as good fresh pasta. What about really good grilled cheese? Buy the most interesting bread you can find & a complementary cheese...nice with field greens or steamed veggies...purchase prepared veggies in steamable bags (BirdsEye is one brand) for quick prep in the microwave.
Seafood is also your friend; shrimp cook quickly...try sauteeing them with garlic, ginger, and fresh lemon juice. Sauteed salmon, grouper, or quickly seared tuna are also good options, and leftovers are often good the next day served cold over salad greens.
I know that it is heresy to "bake" a potato in a microwave but when I used to travel A LOT for business I always found baked potato with toppings to be the best comfort food. So my suggestion is "baking' a potato in the microwave and topping with good chedder cheese, creamed spinach (bought frozen and thawed in the microwave)or any other toppings that strike your fancy.
I always cook asparagus and artichokes in the microwave. If you have plastic wrap, you're in business!
For steamed asparagus, snap the stalks where they want to break - that is, hold each end and bend until the stalk snaps. Then place the spears on a big plate, sprinkle with a teaspoon or two of water, and cover with plastic wrap. Cook on high for about one or two minutes. (The time varies depending on the power of the microwave, the thickness of the asparagus, and how done you like it. Basically, when I start smelling asparagus, I stop and test a spear.) To serve, sprinkle with salt. You could also drizzle on some fancy extra-virgin olive oil, if you have any.
For a steamed artichoke, cut off the stem flush with the base of the artichoke (more or less), wash it and shake off the excess water (but not too hard, and don't let it dry - you want the water that clings to the leaves). Then wrap in plastic wrap and microwave for 5-7 minutes. (Again, the time varies - test for doneness by poking the base of the artichoke with a forkl when it's done, the fork will go in easily). Serve with a dip made from Hellmann's mayonnaise and lemon juice - amounts to taste (I like mine really lemony).
And don't forget bagged, prewashed salad greens! A salad, an artichoke, and an omelette would be a perfect hotel-room dinner for me.
Stove top grilled sandwiches, make in the saute pan and be careful not to burn. Combine cheese, veggies, meat, or whatever and press down on them to make a budget panini-grilled cheese hybrid.
Buy the fresh pasta (the kind that cooks in 1-3 minutes) and jarred sauce. Saute onions, garlic, or whatever and add jarred sauce, don't know if this is considered too odoriferous.
You could poach chicken breasts (or whatever meat you like), cool it a bit, shred and add to quesadillas, bagged salads, sandwiches, etc.
Hope this helps.
I will bet that that plastic grill is really a rack for cooking bacon in the microwave and in the interests of not srinking up a hotee room you do not put it on a buner when it is hot.
Go to the nearest TJ Maxx or the like and buy yourself an inexpensive cast iron skillet, most supermarkets have them too. You won't need any more than an 8" or 10". Plan on traveling with it in the future, people take them camping and hiking so carrying it in your luggage cannot be too bad and it will get better with age. In it you can cook pan fried steaks and chops and burgers plus eggs for breakfast and just about anything else you can think up, sauasges for spaghetti it is endless. But with that and your 2 saucepans only lack of imagination will limit your cooking possiblities. Oh and you might want to pick up a decent knife and a case for it. It will of course have to go into checked luggage. But it will serve you well. I have a traveling case for my knives and they go where I go.
A cast iron pan seems quite impractical for this situation. First, the need for seasoning (even with a preseasoned one, which cost 2-3X as much as plain). Second, you might not want to (I wouldn't) carry it in your luggage unless you are driving to your destination. It's just too heavy, and you would obviously be forced to check your luggage even if you otherwise would not.
Personally, I have never seen a cast iron skillet in a supermarket or a TJMaxx (only nonstick), but have found that almost all independent, Ace, or TruValue-type hardware stores carry a full complement of inexpensive kitchenware (including cast iron skillets), if you want to increase your options cheaply.