I like to cook “more from less” and “in no time.” So, let me share some secrets with you, and hopefully, you will become a kitchen magician soon.
Secret #1 - A Lid
First, you should become a friend with a … lid. Yes, cover most of your dishes during cooking with a lid, and get better results much quicker. For example, an omelet, prepared under the lid, will be ready faster than the one without a lid. A transparent lid will help you to see what's going on. An omelet will be puffer and it will look ready for a presentation. The lid helps to accumulate vapors and keeps heat from escaping; it helps your future meal to rise, to become softer, or simply cuts back on cooking time. So, remember the rule number 1: cover most of your dishes with a lid during cooking (don’t forget to adjust the flame—medium at the beginning and small later until done).
Secret #2 - Chop It Smaller
Now I am ready to tell you how to make more out of less. Rule number 2: chop it smaller! Fore example, let’s take a carrot. You can cut it in 3 pieces, but you could also use your grater or chop it finely. Just one carrot, one green pepper, one tomato, one green onion, a bit of garlic, and few greens —all finely chopped, could go a long way. Add a few drops of oil to a frying pan (medium flame), stir in finely chopped vegetables, and cook under the lid on a small flame until soft as you like. It will create a wonderful addition to your rice, pasta, or any other grain dish. Just mix it with steamed or boiled rise, pasta —and voila—your dish is ready! Want to add meat (or meat leftover)? Great! Just, chop it, throw it in together with the vegetables (same time if using a leftover, or longer if using row meat-smaller pieces will be ready faster, and bigger pieces will take longer;you can cut a piece to see if ready), than mix with the biggest ingredient—rice or pasta--- the dish can go to the table, and everyone is happy!
Secret #3 - Mix
Let’s discuss the magic word “Mix.” What could be mixed? A Million things! Remember the vegetable mix from the Secret #2? Combine it with rise - one. Combine it with pasta - two. Combine it with any other grain you like - three, four, five. Add it to potatoes - six. Mix it with the omelet batter - seven (again, don’t forget to use the lid while preparing your omelet). Result - a table full of different dishes.
a) Add to your vegetable mix(above) a few mushrooms(chopped of course), egg yolks from hard boiled-and-cut-in half eggs(take out yolks with a spoon gently not to break whites); spices, and fill the egg whites halves, cover with a bit of mayonnaise and beatify with a piece of parsley.
b) Not enough egg whites halves? Take a few tomatoes, cut them in half, take out flesh, and fill out with the remaining mix—look, you have a new dish!
c) Now you have some extra tomato flesh. Mix it with chopped olives and pour on your cracker/cheese canapé--beautiful, tasty, simple!
d) Don’t have cheese? Just put a bit of tomato/olive mix on your cracker or sliced French baguette.
e) Your baguette is not very fresh? Great! Slice and fry your baguette with oil and spices on both sides for seconds—and than place your tomato/olive mix on each piece—unforgettable taste!
f) No olives? Don’t cry—be creative! Just combine the tomato flesh with onion(row or fried), or greens, or a cucumber, or with a few drops of olive oil and some spices you have; or a bit of this and a bit of that—for variety, and create a variety plate: cracker/ tomato mix; baguette/tomato mix; slice of cucumber/tomato mix.
g) Or create a “high rise” canapé: cracker or baguette/few drops of mayo or mustard/cheese (if you have it)/slice of a cucumber/tomato mix—done!
Rule number 3: be creative and brave, use what you have, mix it artfully—you will get great varieties.
Rule number 4 - Manage your time wisely:
While boiling water for your rice or pasta, you can freely chop your vegetables or use your grater. While the rice or pasta is cooking, you can stir, fry, and cook your vegetables or vegetables/meat mix.When everything is ready, mix the prepared rice or pasta with the vegetables and cover with a lid until served. Don’t clean the frying pan yet—fry your baguette slices (if desired). This process helps to prepare food “in no time.”
And one more bonus for today: how to enhance the taste? Smell, while stirring and frying. The more taste in the smell, the more taste in the dish. Also, it prevents burning. A few drops of lemon will enhance all flavors dramatically! And don’t forget the main ingredient—your soul. The more soul you put in while cooking, the more happy smiles you will see around.
So, what we have learned so far?--To cut, to chop, to mix, to combine, and to cover with a lid while cooking. To use less for more, cooking creatively, effectively, and not wasteful; to love cooking. “Oh, we have nothing to eat today…”—is not about you any more...
Check my Home Cooking Tips often for new simple and effective secrets. Share them with your friends. And use these simple secrets. It does work!