Food & Wine
10 simple rules to cook everything faster
1. Start with heat
Before doing anything else, turn on the oven, crank up the grill, preheat a frying pan and set water to boil. Appliances, pots, pans and water take time to get hot. Boiling water is always my first move.
2. Don't dirty an extra dish
Use kitchen scissors to chop cooked or tender raw vegetables (especially greens) right in the bowl or pan.
3. Speed up your washing time
Put all the produce together in a colander and rinse under cold water. (If you have a large amount, wash in batches, putting what’s done on towels.) During downtime while cooking, wash vegetables used toward the end of a recipe. Rinse foods like carrots and cabbage after they’ve been trimmed or peeled.
4. Chop all at once
If a recipe calls for minced garlic, minced ginger and/or minced chillies at the same time, consolidate the job with my go-to technique: Peel the garlic and ginger, trim the chillies, and put them all in a pile. Then chop and mince them together using a rocking motion.
5. Cut before cooking
Big, thick pieces of food take longer to cook through than those cut small or sliced thin. I cut chicken cutlets in half so they cook faster; chop veggies accordingly.
6. Make use of your grater
Making a pureed vegetable soup? Grate your veggies instead of chopping them. If you cut them into chunks, they’ll take 20 minutes or more to soften. But grated, they’re ready in a flash.
7. Let your pots do double duty
When you sauté or simmer something moist – such as vegetables, beans, or sauces – lay a different food on top (especially a protein like fish, chicken, or eggs), cover with a lid, and let the steam naturally cook that upper layer. For instance, for a fast eggs Florentine, steam the eggs on top of the spinach rather than poaching them separately.
8. Use less liquid when braising
Submerge your braising ingredients in about two centimetres of liquid, cover the pot and cook, turning occasionally, adding a little liquid as necessary.
9. One sandwich is faster than four
Cut a baguette in half the long way, assemble one giant sandwich, then cut that into as many pieces as you like. (I’ve seen people do the opposite!)
10. Cut around the core
This method is a fast way to prep apples, pears, tomatoes, cabbage, peaches and capsicums: Slice downwards around the core, removing flesh in three or four pieces; then cut flesh into slices or wedges.
This article was first published for Reader's Digest.