What are your basic go-to dishes?

Jamie Oliver has a new series on Channel4 in the UK (which we can watch here in Switzerland on cable and satellite) called Jamie's Ministry Of Food. The premise of the show is as follows:

  • People in the UK don't know how to cook basic home meals, and many live on unhealthy takeaway (takeout) food and junk food like crisps (chips).
  • If you teach these people to cook, they will better their lives.
  • Jamie teaches a group of people in Rotherham, a mainly blue-collar town in the north of England, the basic recipes. The people he teaches are then expected to teach their friends and acquaintances the same recipes, who in turn will teach their friends, and on and on, spreading the joy of cooking.
  • Jamie also wants to revive the concept of a Ministry of Food (see Supersizers Go WWII episode) to educate the masses about nutrition and cooking.

The activism aspects aside, the base concept of teaching people who don't know how to cook a basic set of reliable recipes is not a bad one I think. The recipes available on the Ministry of Food site are okay overall I think, but are not exactly what I'd choose. It is very Brit-centric, not surprisingly, but also includes some jarring choices like chicken breast panfried with Parmesan cheese and expensive proscuitto (Parma ham). On the TV show itself the accompaniment was asparagus, a very seasonal and rather pricey vegetable. It looks delicious, and pretty easy - but economical? I'm not sure. (Chicken breast is quite expensive around here too, though I'm not sure if that's the case in the UK too.)

While I do like to 'cook fancy' quite often, I have a core set of recipes that I fall back on for everyday, no-think, inexpensive dinners. Most of them aren't written down anywhere - they are just in my head - and most of them aren't that Japanese, though some are.

I'll be writing about them in an upcoming post, but in the meantime I'd like to ask you: What are your go-to everyday, preferably inexpensive, dishes? Are there a couple that you fall back on time and time again?

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