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Low Effort High Impact Dishes

I have always tried to find low effort high impact dishes like chocolate truffles as opposed to fudge. It is easier to make truffles than fudge and it is usually received far better.

Key Lime Pie is easy but always get rave reviews. Chicken Cacciatore is pretty low effort and is very popular.

Do you have any low effort high impact dishes? I would like to hear about them. Post a recipe or a link to a recipe if you like.

Thank you.

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  1. ceviche amigo. you chop really fresh stuff up and then soak it in an easily assembled liquid. endlessly customizable...

    1. Slow roasted pork shoulder. Very easy and always goes down a storm.

      4 Replies
      1. re: greedygirl

        Yep, people go nuts because of the intense porky flavor and tenderness. They don't realize how easy it is to make.

        Added bonus: dirt cheap.

        1. re: sbp

          Well that depends on where you live!

          1. re: greedygirl

            Where do you live that pork shoulder is not cheap?

            1. re: greedygirl

              If I buy at my supermarket, about $1.50/lb. At the local hispanic supermarket, $1/lb. This is on Long Island, NY - where cost of living is high. I call that cheap.

        2. Mussels: garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, canned tomatoes, white wine. Ridiculously simple, cheap even, and people love them.

          Scallops: if they're fresh and really dry they take no time at all to sear perfectly, make a sauce of butter, wine, citrus and herbs.

          Both of those take no more than 15 minutes, can be altered according to taste, and since a lot of people tend to be intimidated by cooking seafood, they have no idea how easy it is and are very impressed!

          1. Appetizer: buy Scallion Pancake appetizer at the Chinese restaurant. Tell them not to cut it into wedges. Spread each scallion pancake (warm) with cream cheese, then layer smoked salmon, then cut into wedges, and top each wedge with a little caviar.

            For dinner, it's expensive but steamed or baked lobster always wows people. (And right now there're a few stores with cheap lobster offerings for the Fathers' Day weekend.)

            Shrimp Fra Diavolo is a very fast affair, can be "dolled up" by the addition of the correct colors/textures of vegetables and all you otherwise have to do is cook up some fettucine. You can even grill the shrimp briefly and add 'em to a spicy tomato sauce made a-la-minute...

            Pop a huge beef roast (rib roast, round or even brisket) in the oven for 300 degrees for 5 minutes a pound. Dial your oven down as low as it'll go (160 for a rare roast). Let it sit there for at least 8, but better 10 hours. The product that comes out is pink all the way through, with a nice, dark outside. It's the best beef roast you'll ever have. (Thanks to the late Adelle Davis in her book "Let's Cook It Right.")

            2 Replies
            1. re: shaogo

              That sounds good. have you experimented at all with this? Like would it be just as good if I seared it, then put it in a slow oven? And would it come out well done if the lowest my oven goes is 185?

              1. re: shaogo

                YUM!!! Love your scallion pancake salmon, I'm going to do that very soon!!!

              2. Flatten skin on boneless chicken breasts. Put a dollop of chive&onion or garden vegetable cream cheese on the meat side and roll up, skin side out. Wrap a slice of bacon lengthwise around the chicken roll and bake at 350-400 until the skin and bacon are crispy. Some of the cheese will have run out and mixed with the meat juices to form a delicious sauce.

                1. I have found that braises are low effort and usually very popular. Osso bucco for example.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Hank Hanover

                    Everyone always loves braised short ribs.

                    Also, macaroni and cheese is always a crowd pleaser.

                  2. Fricos. Buy grated "real" parmesan (or aged gouda, etc..), put dollops on a silpat, cook at 400 until golden. Take out, cool.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sbp

                      I make these all the time and I can't tell you how many people have BEGGED me for the "recipe." Hilarious.

                    2. Cook some beets. Cube. Make rice in a rice cooker. About 15 minutes before rice is done (when most of the water is gone), gently put the cubed beets on top of the rice. When rice is done, gently fold in. The trick is you want the rice spackled with red. Looks really cool this way.

                      If rice is too wet when you add the beets, it will be uniformly reddish/pink.

                      2 Replies
                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                          Wash them off (usually 2 or 3 at a time), give a little coating of oil, wrap the bunch in foil. Roast at 350 or so (if I'm cooking something else, I just toss in the oven, temp not critical). In 3 hours or so a knife should slide right through them (will look shriveled some), take them out, cool down and peel.

                      1. I like to make stuffed shrimp. Just take jumbo shrimp (8-12 count) and butterfly so that the tail faces up like a handle. My market sells easy peel ones in the seafood section, so this only takes a few minutes. Then I make a mixture similar to my crab cakes without the egg. I don't use a recipe, but approximate measures are this:for each pound of shrimp-1/2 pound of crabmeat, 2 tbsp. mayo, couple squirts mustard, 1/2 tsp. dry mustard, 1/2 tsp. Old Bay seasoning, squeeze lemon, 2 dashes hot sauce, dash worchestshire sauce, 1 tbsp. finely crushed panko crumbs. Mix together and put on flattened butterfly shrimp(seasoned w. sprinkle of sea salt), covering as much of the shrimp as
                        possible. Bake at 350 for 15 min until a crust forms on top. The juices taste great drizzled on top. Takes only 25 min. start to finish. To plate, place shrimp w/ tails facing center of plate. Place a steamed asparagus stalk between each shrimp and put a mixed green salad in the middle of the shrimp circle. Dress salad w/ a citrus vinagrette. You can make your own dressing, but I admin I can be lazy and just use a premade dressing. Makes a great presentation and guest always seem impressed.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: sherriberry

                          On America's Test Kitchen they made a neater job of stuffed shrimp than just simple butterflying, by adding a step, which was to cut all the way through in the "seam" for almost an inch. This formed a little bowl-shaped depression into which the stuffing was pressed. It stayed in place that way, whereas with just butterflying, it popped out of some of the shrimp. They still had the tail-up "handle".

                        2. Roast Cornish Game Hens with Figs and Prosciutto. Winner everytime, and super easy.

                          Brown game hen halves, skin side down, in olive oil in an oven proof pan; turn over. Throw some fresh figs (halved) around the hens, along with some thyme. Roast until done (timing escapes me now, but you roast at 425 degrees). While they are cooking, crisp up some prosciutto and break it up into pieces. When they are done, transfer then hens and figs to a platter, sprinkle with prosciutto, thyme and some lemon juice. If you have time, you can make a pan sauce with some white wine and stock, and thyme.

                          1. pistachio crusted pork loin. Season w/ salt & pepper and sear in hot pan. Remove from pan and rub w. 1/2 mustard and 1/2 mayo. Bake in oven until done.About 30 min for a 2lb loin. In the meantime, crush about 1 cup shelled pistachios. Remove from pan and roll in crushed nuts. Let rest and serve on platter w/ any leftover nuts. .I like to slice the loin and place on the platter. Serve w/mashed potatoes aned veg. Looks lovely and tastes even better.

                            1. I made this in honour of our local sockeye bonanza, really easy and it looks beautiful (I didn't make the potatoes):

                              1. Aside from whipped cream (seems nobody around here makes it lol) and it's variations...

                                "Bastardized risotto" using leftover chicken soup (in which among other things I use a big dried chile) and short grain rice. Cook rice in a fat until a few bits start to colour up, slowly add soup, stir and cook until soft, creamy, and tasty. Works best with leftover soup IMO.

                                1. Let's revive this thread!

                                  1. This was pulled from an earlier post on a different thread.

                                    Oven Barbecued Pork Tenderloin

                                    There is a difference between pork tenderloin and pork loin. Make sure you get a tenderloin. At my store, they usually come two at a time in a cryovac plastic bag. The two tenderloins probably won’t weigh more than 2.5 pounds.

                                    Trim the tenderloin of the silverskin and tie up the thinner tail. Here is a link to a video showing how to do that. http://video.about.com/southernfood/R...

                                    This is optional but I recommend tying your tenderloin with string to maintain its round shape. Here is a link describing that process. http://allrecipes.com//HowTo/tying-ro...

                                    Put your tenderloin(s) in a zip lock bag and pour in 6-7 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of brown sugar. As you close the zipper, squeeze out as much of the air as possible. Roll the tenderloin around to distribute the soy sauce and to dissolve the sugar. Put the bag in the refrigerator and let soak for 45 minutes to an hour. This process is called brining. It puts water and flavor inside the meat. I highly recommend it for pork or chicken. You can brine with salt too. Here is a link describing the science of brining.

                                    After 1 hour rinse and pat dry the tenderloin. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Sear tenderloin in a med high stainless steel frypan with a little oil for 3 minutes on each side.

                                    Put the tenderloin in a 350 degree oven until it reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees as monitored by a digital temperature probe. If you don’t have a probe, you can bake it for about 15 minutes.

                                    At this point, put your favorite barbecue sauce on the tenderloin and continue baking to 150 degrees or about 5 more minutes. Take the tenderloin out of the oven and wrap in aluminum foil to rest for 10 minutes.

                                    Slice in ¼ inch slices and serve.

                                    You could serve any kind of rice with this. Even Zatarains yellow rice mix in a box. A nice salad would go nicely. Some bbq beans. We will pretend you made them form scratch rather than buying a can of Bush’s.

                                    1. - pavlova
                                      - steamed mussels
                                      - miso-glazed fish
                                      - pasta carbonara
                                      - fish in parchment
                                      - cheesecake
                                      - gougeres
                                      - sweet or savory napoleons with store-bought puff pastry
                                      - *moist & tender* simple roast chicken

                                      1. Swiss Steak


                                        round steak (≈ 2 1/2 pounds)
                                        1 tsp garlic powder
                                        Salt and pepper
                                        All-purpose flour, for dusting
                                        1/3 cup vegetable oil
                                        2 cloves garlic, crushed
                                        3 (14-1/2 oz) can diced tomatoes
                                        2 medium onion, cut into strips
                                        2 medium bell pepper, cut into strips


                                        Cut steak into serving-size pieces. Season, to taste, with garlic powder and salt and pepper. Dust meat with flour.

                                        Brown both sides of meat in vegetable oil. Transfer to Dutch oven.

                                        Combine garlic, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, and 1 tomato-can measure of water. Pour over steak and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 to 3 hours.

                                        Season, to taste.

                                        You can cook this in a slow-cooker. Low heat on a slow cooker is about 200 degrees F and high heat on a slow cooker is about 300 degrees F. Use Kitchen Bouquet to darken.

                                        Note: to ensure tenderness, it is necessary to have the butcher run the round steak through a cuber or you can use a 48 blade tenderizer.

                                          1. Gravlax and confit de canard. Both involve only a few minutes of preparation (albeit days of curing and/or hours of slow cooking, but virtually no added effort during that time) and tend to blow away dinner guests when you say you made them yourself.

                                            1. Turkey on the weber BBQ
                                              Use the indirect method, meaning split the briquets into 2 piles, one on each side of the bbq (25 briquets per side) with a drip pan in the middle. Every hour you add 6-8 briquets to each side. I start mine in a separate container so they don't have to waste time getting started.
                                              I brine my turkey then I pat it dry and let it sit in the refrigerator with no cover for an hour or even two to dry out. I put oil all over the bird then I add salt and pepper. I usually throw a couple of orange halves in the cavity. Start with the turkey breast side down. Half way through, flip it. That's it and I didn't start brining until a couple of years ago. Takes about 2.5 hours for a 12 pound bird. 12 pounds seems about as big as a standard Weber kettle can take.

                                              1. Pomegranate-glazed duck breast
                                                Risotto Milanese
                                                Roast Chicken
                                                Grilled lamb chops or rack with homemade mint sauce
                                                Homemade stuffed pasta
                                                Braised Pork Belly
                                                Seared foie gras