Cook | Lazy expert gets smart about making it work

Shopping is my nemesis. If I lived on the Starship Enter-prise and could command ingredients to appear fully formed from my Synthe-sizer, I would be a very happy cook.

As it is, shopping is the last thing that happens in my household. First priority is getting the kids appropriately dressed (this is questionable) for day care and preschool. Then there’s work, followed by child pickup and the nightly negotiations (aka dinner).

You can have pasta after you eat your greens. You can have your greens after you take three bites of steak. You can have anything you want after I finish my wine.

Over time, I have become an expert lazy gourmet, cooking almost exclusively with nonperishable and semiperishable ingredients. Coconut milk is my BFF, as is any vegetable that will hold up for a week in my fridge. Broccoli and zucchini are good ones, as are hearty leafy greens. Protein is anything freezable. My favorite trick is the simultaneous defrostation-marination.

Keeping your culinary repertoire tied to what you have on hand is actually a very Jewish tradition. I’m thinking of quail and manna a la Exodus 16. Although in my house, our quail is a nice thick flank steak, and the manna looks a lot like collard greens.


18-Minute Asian Peppercorn Steak

Serves 4-6

1⁄3 cup soy sauce

1⁄3 cup red wine

3 Tbs. sherry vinegar

1 Tbs. corn oil

1 Tbs. sesame oil

1⁄4 tsp. all-spice

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, peeled and minced

1 Tbs. fresh garlic, minced

2-lb. flank steak, trimmed (frozen or fresh) lots of fresh ground black or green pepper

Combine all ingredients except pepper in a large sealable container or 1-gallon sealable bag. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 12 hours and up to 3 days in advance. Flip the meat every day if you are going the 3-day route. If you are using frozen flank steak, marinate until it completely thaws.

Prepare grill for high-heat cooking, or preheat broiler and arrange broiler tray

6 inches below heat source. Remove steak from marinade and season with generous amounts of pepper on both sides of meat. Grill or broil 5-6 minutes per side for medium.

Transfer steak to platter and let stand at least 10 minutes and up to one hour. Slice steak across grain into thin, diagonal slices. Serve with Gingered Coconut Greens or whatever else you like.


Gingered Coconut Greens

Serves 2

6 cups collard greens (1 bunch)

1 Tbs. corn oil

1 Tbs. fresh garlic, minced

1 Tbs. fresh ginger, peeled and minced

3⁄4 cup coconut milk

2 tsp. brown sugar

1⁄4 tsp. salt

fresh ground black pepper

1 tsp. sherry vinegar

Remove the central stem from the greens and coarsely chop the leaves. Heat corn oil in a large skillet or wok until hot but not smoking. Add garlic and ginger. Stir-fry until fragrant, not more than 1 minute. Add prepared greens, stir-fry to coat in ginger and garlic. When greens just begin to droop, add coconut milk, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until liquid is almost completely evaporated and greens are tender. Add sherry vinegar and turn off the heat.

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O Manischewitz Cook-Off, is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet” and works at Jewish LearningWorks. Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer. Her website is

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”