Cut Down on Cooking Time

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“I wish I could prepare food faster,” says a friend. She rarely cooked before the pandemic. Instead, she ate in restaurants or brought takeout food home.

But once the pandemic began in March 2020, she realized it was safer to eat at home. With some trepidation, she taught herself to cook. Much to her surprise, she likes cooking but is frustrated by how long it takes to get food on the table.
“I just spend too much time in the kitchen,” she says.
While cooking is often a juggling act, it doesn’t have to eat up hours every day. Here are several tips, some of which I’ve learned from chefs, on how to save time while creating delicious food:
Layer cooking prep. Start one dish and, as it simmers, roasts or bakes, begin another recipe.
Break down recipes. Chop vegetables or measure out ingredients earlier in the day or the night before. This reduces the cooking time at the end.
Serve foods that are fast and easy, such as tomato salad, with recipes that take a lot of time, such as coq au vin.
Cut up twice as much salad as needed. Serve half the first night. Layer the remaining half between paper towels and refrigerate the rest in a plastic bag.
Double recipes. Roast two chickens or prepare two casseroles. Eat one, and freeze one.
Buy peeled garlic.
Selectively buy prepared food. If you like the roasted vegetables or winterberry salad at a particular store, then serve them with recipes you make at home.
Start collecting recipes that call for five or fewer ingredients (not including salt and nonstick spray) and no more than three fuss-free steps. That’s the best time saver of all.
Heirloom Tomato and Fresh Herb Salad | Pareve
Serves 4-6
3 medium-large heirloom tomatoes in different colors (red, green, orange or yellow)
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling
Kosher salt to taste
2 tablespoons of any of these fresh herbs: dill, basil, parsley or cilantro, chopped finely
Slice the tomatoes and arrange them on an attractive platter, overlapping different colors.
Drizzle them with the oil and vinegar. Sprinkle them with salt and one of the herbs. Serve immediately.
Maple-Roasted Acorn Squash | Pareve or Dairy
Serves 6
Nonstick vegetable spray
3 small acorn squash
Kosher salt to taste
6 teaspoons sweet butter, optional
6 tablespoons maple syrup, preferably Grade A Amber
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an ovenproof pan, such as Pyrex, with nonstick spray.
The hardest part of this recipe is cutting the squash in half. With a sturdy and sharp chef’s knife, start cutting along one of the squash’s vertical indentations. The knife will not glide through, so give its handle a series of short pushes until the squash is in two pieces.
With a spoon, remove the seeds from the squash. Sprinkle the cavities with salt. Place a teaspoon of butter, if using, inside each cavity. Drizzle a tablespoon of maple syrup into each cavity and on the sides of the acorn squash.
Roast for 75 minutes, or until the flesh is softened when tested with a knife. Serve immediately.
Veggie-smothered Salmon | Pareve
Serves 4
Recipe by Marcia Slaminsky
Nonstick vegetable spray
1½ pounds salmon fillet
Kosher salt to taste
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 celery stalks, peeled and cut into pieces the size of the cherry tomato halves
1 shallot, sliced and separated into rings
Olive oil for drizzling
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a 7-inch-by-11-inch ovenproof pan, such as Pyrex, with nonstick spray.
Sprinkle both sides of the salmon with the salt and garlic powder. Place the fish in the prepared pan, skin side down. Arrange the tomatoes, celery and onion over the top along the sides of the salmon. Drizzle it with olive oil and sprinkle it with more salt.
Roast the fish for 35 minutes, until the salmon is pink in the center and the tomatoes are softened. Serve immediately.
Super-Fast, Super-Good Chocolate Mousse | Dairy
Serves 4
8-ounce container of heavy or light cream
⅛ teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon sugar
5 tablespoons Nutella
Place the heavy cream in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla and sugar.
Using an electric mixer, beat the ingredients at medium speed until the cream starts to thicken. Then beat it on high speed, stopping every minute or so to make sure the cream doesn’t turn to butter. The whipped cream is ready when you stop the mixer, lift the beaters and there are soft peaks.
Dot the surface with tablespoons of Nutella, and gently mix it with a rubber or silicone spatula until the Nutella is incorporated into the whipped cream.
Move it to an attractive bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator to chill for at least 30 minutes. Serve it within 3 hours.


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