We all have our best intentions when it comes to cooking but often reality gets in the way of our hopes and dreams. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my friends about how to make every day cooking a reality and what it really boils down to is a lack of time. We can cook anything, really, if only we had an extra hour to devote to the task in the kitchen. Which made me think about ways to speed up the cooking, or tricks to have dinner on the table quickly. Here are the four short cuts that work for me. Come and cook with us!
The first option is to cook in double batches. Yes, it might take you a little longer to bake two trays of lasagna, but you can freeze one and have a ready-made dinner at your finger tips. Dishes that lend themselves to freezing are hearty soups, stews, baked pasta dishes such as lasagnas, meatballs, or a hearty bolognese sauce for a quick pasta dish.
The second solution is to add a slow cooker to your kitchen arsenal. This is a particularly appealing way to cook during the colder fall and winter months when coming home to the delicious smell of a home-cooked-meal may bring you back to your childhood when it was (probably) someone else’s duty to cook. Dishes that go well in the slow cooker are stews, curries, hearty soups, and a tasty chili-con-carne.
The third possibility is to get a pressure cooker. I know that it is not a commonly-used kitchen appliance in the US, but everyone in my home has one and we all use it religiously (and safely). You can buy pressure cookers that you plug in or that you put on the stove. Most of my heartier vegetables such as potatoes and beets, and all my beans and legumes are cooked this way. My friend Anna sent me this delicious “bollito misto”, aka mixed boiled meat one-pot-dish as an example of how a pressure cooker can be used to speed you up in the kitchen.
Last, but not least, I always have a few items in my fridge (see our Shopping List of Basics) that allow me to whip up a quick meal: cheese for quesadillas or grilled cheese sandwiches, a batch of boiled potatoes to roast and serve with a sunny-side-egg, eggs in general that you can turn into savory crepes or serve poached, a (bpa-free) can of crushed tomatoes to turn into a sugo alla puttanesca, a bowl of grains (such as quinoa, millet or barley) to mix into a salad, some dosas or burritos to turn into vegetable wraps (served with plenty of oregano vinaigrette), some sausages to make a quick stir-fry.
I know it’s not always easy to make your meal at home and we hope we provided some inspiration to skip the take-away down the road and instead use one of our four options – whether cooking more, cooking slower, cooking faster or being a little creative to make something with what you have in the fridge – to cook your meal at home. Come and cook with us!