As a trained chef, food stylist and cookbook writer, Rosie Reynold’s job often depends on getting great food ready as fast as possible.
“Over the years, I’ve developed ways to cook meals quickly without sacrificing taste, look and freshness,” says Rosie.
“Chefs and kitchen professionals have always used shortcuts to create great food. But home cooks have not always been allowed the same privilege and are often made to feel guilty about using certain tricks and ingredients.
“However, there are some things that I’ll always do when I’m cooking, which make my life easier and save me time.”
1 Gather everything you need before you start cooking such as equipment, ingredients and a clean dish towel.
2 Have a large bowl or a plastic bag nearby for food waste, to keep your workstation clean and clutter-free.
3 Fill the sink with hot soapy water to keep your hands clean and to speedily wash up bowls and equipment for quick reuse.
4 Make sure you have a clean cloth to hand for wiping, along with some paper towels for patting, drying and draining foods, which helps to cook them more quickly.
5 Start your cooking sessions by putting on the kettle. This will mean you can make up stock from cubes quickly, rinse out tins to add the liquid to sauces and stews, or get pasta on the boil much quicker.
6 Boiling something? Popping on a lid will speed up the cookingprocess.
7 Take your meat and eggs out of the fridge around 30 minutes before you want to start cooking or baking. Meat needs to be at room temperature before going in the oven, and it will prevent eggs curdling your cake mix or being undercooked if boiled.
8 Sharp knives will speed things up in the kitchen, a speed peeler will thinly and evenly slice, and a good pair of kitchen scissors will snip precisely.
9 Make dressing in the salad bowl you’re serving it in, then you won’t have an extra bowl to wash up.
10 Don’t spend time scrubbing pans. To wash away stuck-on grime, use a little laundry washing powder as the detergent breaks down grease effectively and quickly.
11 Make double of your favourite pasta sauces, eat half and freeze half in individual portions in freezer bags then pop into a sink of warm water to quickly defrost before cooking next time.
12 You can cook pasta in advance. Once cooked, cool under cold running water, drain and drizzle with a little oil then cover and chill until ready to use. It will then heat through in two to three minutes versus 10 minutes from scratch.
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13 Before you start cooking, read the recipe from beginning to end to help you get everything in order so you know what’s coming up.
14 Have everything prepped before you start cooking, such as slicing veg or whisking eggs or grating cheese. This will mean you can add things at the right time and prevent some ingredients being overcooked and others being undercooked
15 To prevent your chopping board wobbling around, use the tried and tested chef trick of a piece of folded damp kitchen towel under your board. It will help you chop faster.
16 Keep some handy longlife packaged food, such as pre-cooked rice, frozen mashed potato, instant noodles, your favourite chilli sauce and pickles, which you can turn into a quick snack or easy meal any time of day or night with a few odds and ends from the fridge.
17 Invest in some good food storage containers to help keep your fridge and freezer neat and tidy and your food at its best. It will save you wasting time when you’re looking for ingredients.
18Speed up cooking vegetables. Put them in the microwave with a drop of cold water, cover and cook in three minute intervals until done to your liking.
19 Use a food processor to
quickly chop veg and herbs instead of a knife.
20 A good microplane-style grater – long, with fine grating teeth – speeds up the time it takes to grate cheese and veg.