By Ayesha Curry
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Enjoy family-friendly recipes that are ready in no time, when you've got no time, from New York Times bestselling author, online phenomenon, and TV star Ayesha Curry.
- Mushroom Tacos with Avocado Crema
- Hot Honey Chicken Sandwiches
- Crab Bucatini
- Sheet Pan Pork Chops
- Guava Ginger Ice Cream
- Spicy Margaritas, and more
MY FULL PLATE
Food truly has enormous power. It feeds both the body and the soul. It’s a vessel for communication, love, and happiness, and sets the foundation for beautiful, strong relationships of all kinds.
When I began writing my first cookbook, The Seasoned Life, life was so different. I was a mom of two girls, I’d truly just begun my career, and I was 26 years old. I was never sleepy, never had too much to do, and always had the flexibility to cook whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, without time constraints.
Mealtime to us these days definitely still looks like pouring a generous glass of wine while I cook, but the logistics are slightly different. I mean, we blinked and suddenly there were three children! That’s six legs, six arms, three heads, sixty fingers and toes (by the grace of God), and three very different personalities (who Stephen and I both love equally).
I also began my journey as an entrepreneur, started my business Sweet July, and opened three International Smoke restaurant locations in two years! Needless to say, chaos did ensue. But it’s the beautiful kind of chaos that—if you replayed it in slow motion and put a string quartet behind it—could have the gravitas to coerce all people into having three bambinos.
In the midst of all of that, I still have this desire to nurture my family through food. That precious time together is not something I ever want to fall to the bottom of life’s to-do list. But these days, I need recipes that are still full of life and flavor but take a fraction of the time to make. I’ve tried to give you that throughout this book. You’ll notice some dishes take 10 minutes, while others take 30—and nothing is ever longer than an hour (major key). I want to be able to make a delicious meal for my family with enough time to actually enjoy sitting around the dinner table together.
The world was my oyster the first time around. This time, there are no pearls—or horseradish to slurp down, for that matter (ha!). Just an innate need and desire to feed my family delicious, fresh food as often as I can.
Realistically, this means focusing on dinner most days, along with a nice stiff drink for the hubs and me. I honestly don’t have a ton of hacks for getting elaborate breakfasts on the table in no time. With our lives these days, that just doesn’t happen—and I want to keep it real with you all. But when dinner rolls around, I can drop a few gems on how to get the meal on the table quickly while keeping it all interesting and delicious for when you do get those magical moments to gather.
My hope is that these recipes inspire you to cook with your spouse, friends, children, and loved ones more often. The kitchen is a space for infinite possibilities and a creative outlet that doesn’t require too much outsourcing. I hope that through this you create gorgeous memories and moments, and that your relationships grow and grow.
Cheers to a world of possibility and a kitchen packed with flavor. We all have full plates, but these recipes will make mealtime feel worthwhile.
Let’s get cooking!
THE FULL PLATE PANTRY
There are some universal truths about cooking for your family: It shouldn’t take a long time (none of the recipes in this book take more than an hour, and many take under 30 minutes). It shouldn’t make a ton of dishes (a lot of the meals in here are of the one-pot variety). And, with the exception of a few special-occasion dishes, the recipes shouldn’t require lots of expensive or hard-to-find ingredients.
A well-stocked pantry saves you time (fewer trips to the grocery store!) and makes it easier to cook a quick, delicious dinner for your family on the fly. I always keep the basics on hand, including canola and olive oils, flour and sugar, canned beans and tomatoes, dried pasta, rice, and spices—adding them to the shopping list when I’ve reached the last can or the bottom of the bag. If you’re able, buy more than you need for a single recipe when you’re out shopping. Purchase oil in big jugs and flour in 10-pound bags instead of 5 pounders (Costco is great for this). I get the 4-pound boxes of Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which is what we used when developing all these recipes. Many stores will give you a discount if you buy a whole case. If you have the storage space, buying in bulk is a great way to ensure you’ll always have favorite ingredients on hand.
Beyond the basics, every chef’s pantry should be tailored to what they like to cook and eat. If you like things spicy, for example, you might have a collection of hot sauces and chili pastes. If you’re cooking a lot of Italian, you might stock up on tinned anchovies, tomato paste, and big hunks of Parmesan cheese (which keeps, refrigerated, for months). Here are some of the less-common ingredients I like to keep on hand to make the recipes in this book.
Spicy stuff: Many of my recipes have a little kick, so I always have a variety of spicy ingredients on hand, including sweet chili sauce (I like Mae Ploy brand), hot sauce (I like Crystal and Tapatío), chipotles in adobo sauce, and my favorite, sambal oelek, an Indonesian paste made from crushed raw chilies, vinegar, and salt.
Sweet stuff: I like to introduce a touch of sweetness to my recipes (both desserts and main courses), so I always stock honey, brown sugar (light or dark), and maple syrup, in addition to regular granulated sugar. There are a lot of crave-worthy recipes in the book that combine salty, spicy, and sweet, like the Hot Honey Chicken Sandwiches (here).
Dry spices: The MVPs of my dried-spice rack include curry powder (I like Betapac brand), sweet and smoked paprika, cumin (whole and ground), onion and garlic powders, and herbes de Provence.
Bottles, jars, and cans: Red wine, apple cider, balsamic, and rice wine vinegar; Dijon mustard and mayonnaise; canned tomatoes and tomato paste; canned beans; canned (or boxed) chicken stock; full-fat coconut milk; and jars of marinara (I like Rao’s brand) and roasted red peppers all have permanent spots in my pantry. I often use hoisin sauce, light soy sauce, and coconut aminos (a gluten-free, slightly sweeter alternative to soy sauce, made from the aged sap of coconut blossoms), even in non-Asian recipes.
Fridge and freezer: Though the contents of my refrigerator and freezer vary from week to week, I always have the following things on hand: lemons, limes, and oranges; garlic; ginger; Parmesan cheese; frozen shrimp; and unsalted butter.
PANCAKE-BATTERED COCONUT SHRIMP
SERVES 4 as an appetizer or snack
When Stephen and I were dating, there was nothing he loved more than a Red Baron pizza and going to the local Outback Steakhouse. I remember his order like it was yesterday: Caesar Salad, 6-ounce Victoria’s Filet Mignon, Aussie Cheese Fries, and the occasional No Rules Parmesan Pasta. I, on the other hand, always opted for the Coconut Shrimp, which I have always had a soft spot for in my heart.
This is my version of that nostalgic bite. I use pancake mix for the batter, then stir in some coconut. The shrimp, dipped in the batter and fried until golden brown, are even better than the ones that inspired this recipe. If you’d like, you can make a dipping sauce by stirring together a bit of maple syrup (pancakes and syrup—get it?) and some sriracha.
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup Krusteaz pancake mix
1½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
½ cup dark ale
1 large egg
1 pound extra large shrimp (about 20), peeled and deveined with tails still intact
Pour a 1-inch depth of canola oil into a medium heavy-bottomed pot and heat over medium-high heat until it registers 360°F on a deep-frying thermometer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set aside.
WHILE THE OIL HEATS, PREPARE THE BATTER SETUP: In one large bowl, put ¼ cup of the pancake mix. In another large bowl, combine the remaining ¾ cup pancake mix, ½ cup of the coconut, the ale, egg, and ½ teaspoon salt and stir until well combined. Place the remaining 1 cup coconut in a medium bowl or rimmed plate.
Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, add to the bowl with the dry pancake mix, and toss to coat. One at a time, holding each shrimp by its tail, dip it into the batter, letting any excess drip off, then dredge in the coconut, pressing and rolling gently to coat well. Transfer to a plate.
In a few batches, fry the coated shrimp in the hot oil, turning once, until golden brown, about 2 minutes total. With a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the fried shrimp to the paper towel–lined baking sheet and season right away with a little salt. Skim the oil to remove any bits of batter, and repeat with the remaining shrimp until they have all been fried. Serve hot.
CRISPY SWEET CHILI CHICKPEAS
SERVES 4 as a snack
This is the snack to make when you’re short on time and ingredients but want something a little spicy, salty, and crispy. They are made with pantry staples and will satisfy any guest because they are vegan, gluten-free, and extremely crave-able.
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and thoroughly rinsed
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (such as Mae Ploy brand)
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spread the drained chickpeas on a clean kitchen towel in a single layer and let dry for 10 minutes (the drier the chickpeas, the crispier they’ll get).
Combine the chickpeas, olive oil, and kosher salt in a bowl and toss to coat. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and spread in a single layer. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown, dry, and crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, 20 to 30 minutes.
While still hot, toss the chickpeas with the chili sauce and lemon zest and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. Serve warm.
BACON & JALAPEÑO HUSH PUPPIES
MAKES ABOUT 2 dozen hush puppies
Lord knows, I love a hush puppy. Though it sounds like a cute little pet, it’s not. It just so happens to be the best fried food accompaniment since the almighty French fry. I hadn’t tried one of these delicious morsels until I moved to North Carolina as a teenager. Give me some ribs, coleslaw, sweet tea, and some cookout hush puppies and I’m good to go.
To keep them light and fluffy, I use self-rising flour and self-rising cornmeal, and also a gentle hand when mixing in the bacon, cheese, and jalapeño. If you don’t want to buy a whole bag of self-rising flour to get the ½ cup you need, make your own by combining ½ cup all-purpose flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder. And keep an eye on the oil temperature when you are frying: too cold, and the fritters will soak up oil.
You’re going to love these. Eat them alone or with a yummy protein like fried chicken. Nom nom nom.
Canola oil, for frying
1 cup self-rising cornmeal
½ cup self-rising flour (see headnote)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
½ cup crumbled cooked bacon (from about 4 slices)
2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño chile
2 tablespoons minced shallot
¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (optional)
Heat a 2-inch depth of canola oil in a large pot or deep fryer until it registers 350°F on a deep-frying thermometer.
In a large bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Fold in the bacon, jalapeño, shallot, and cheddar (if using), being careful not to overmix.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set nearby. When the oil is hot, in batches of about 8 hush puppies, use a spoon or small scoop to scoop up batter and carefully drop into the hot oil. Fry, turning as needed and pressing each fritter into the oil to submerge it, until golden brown on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. Use a spider or slotted spoon to remove the hush puppies from the oil and transfer to the lined baking sheet to drain. Repeat until all the batter has been used, letting the oil return to temperature between batches.
MUSHROOM TACOS with Avocado Crema
MAKES 8 tacos, serving 4
I developed this recipe for my sweet niece Snoh, a vegan. While the tacos aren’t completely vegan as-is, they can be with an uber-simple swap of coconut or cashew yogurt for the Greek yogurt, and they can be gluten-free if you use tamari in place of soy, and corn tortillas instead of flour. I know Snoh will love these tacos for years to come.
Mushrooms are a great meat-free alternative when making tacos, and while I call for portobellos (for their meaty texture), you can use virtually any kind here. So whether you are vegetarian, vegan, or simply want to eat a little less meat, this recipe is for you. The crema is delicious and has a little kick from jalapeño, but that can be modified if you’re not into a bit of heat.
MUSHROOMS AND MARINADE
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1½ teaspoons light soy sauce
Pinch red pepper flakes
6 portobello mushroom caps, sliced into ⅓-inch slices
1 Hass avocado, pitted and peeled
¼ cup Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1½ teaspoons minced, seeded jalapeño chile
Juice of ½ lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
8 corn or flour tortillas, warmed, for serving
MARINATE THE MUSHROOMS: In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, soy sauce, and red pepper flakes. Add the mushroom slices and toss to coat; let sit for at least 10 minutes, or up to 30 minutes.
MAKE THE AVOCADO CREMA: Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Transfer to a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushroom slices and cook, turning as needed, until they have released their moisture and are beginning to brown and shrink, 8 to 9 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To serve, pile some of the mushrooms onto the warmed tortillas and top with spoonfuls of avocado crema.
To warm your tortillas, quickly grill over an open gas flame on its lowest setting for 30 to 40 seconds per side. Wrap in a towel to keep warm until serving.
SERVES 4 as a first course, 6 to 10 as a snack or appetizer
This recipe was one of the first I developed for this book! I whipped it up for my first cocktail-tasting night and everyone loved it. Not a trace of it was left.
I’m at the point in life where at least one of my friends or family is pregnant at any given time, so it’s nice to have this ceviche-like alternative to satiate their cravings, because it doesn’t have raw fish! (Ceviche is typically made with raw fish that is “cooked” by the acid in citrus juice. Though the acidic marinade gives the seafood a cooked texture, it may not kill all of the bacteria. My recipe uses cooked shrimp—along with fresh mango, chile, lime, and cilantro—so it’s okay for anyone to eat.)
The “ceviche” is perfect for watching games, a pre-dinner gathering, a light lunch, or in my case, an epic house party. Try it as a snack or first course with tortilla chips, spooned onto endive spears, or spooned into avocado halves.
Juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or light soy sauce)
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound large (31 to 40 count) cooked shrimp
1 large mango, pitted, peeled, and finely diced (about 1¼ cups)
½ red onion, finely diced (about ½ cup)
1 serrano chile, seeded and finely diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
Tortilla chips or endive leaves, for serving
In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, coconut aminos, and honey. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.
Cut the shrimp into bite-size pieces and transfer to a serving bowl; add the mango, red onion, chile, and cilantro and stir to combine.
Toss the lime mixture into the bowl with the shrimp and stir until all ingredients are well coated. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Serve immediately, with tortilla chips or endive leaves.
SMOKED SALMON DIP
- With her new cookbook, The Full Plate, due out this fall, the mother of three, 31, hopes to help fellow caretakers find new, innovative ways to bring their families joy with efficient meals that still taste amazing.—People
- [The Full Plate] provides clever twists on nostalgic favorites, and each recipe is mercifully easy. Her headnotes are also encouraging and playful enough to convince a home cook of any level to pick up a pan.—Epicurious
- The Full Plate is a simple read packed with something for the entire family. It motivates me to create memories in the kitchen with my loved ones. I hope it does for you too—Cuisine Noir
A Chowhound "Cookbook We're Most Excited for This Fall"
Ayesha Curry, cookbook author, TV personality, and entrepreneur has added a second cookbook to her portfolio. “The Full Plate,” the follow-up to her beloved debut, “The Seasoned Life,” shares how she cooks for her family. The 100 recipes included in the book are specifically designed to be on the table in less than an hour, geared toward busy families who still aim to eat healthfully.—Chowhound
- In [her] new cookbook, [Curry] keeps prep time to a minimum — no elaborate techniques, just what's needed to make a great meal — and fret time even shorter, assuring readers not to worry if they don’t have an ingredient. Instead, she encourages them to have fun, make substitutions, and rediscover their creativity."—Romper
- On Sale
- Sep 22, 2020
- Page Count
- 256 pages