Speed cooking

Tips and tricks to cook faster with half the fuss.

Speed cooking is the technique to spend less time in the kitchen.

If you are in a hurry, and you will be more than once, staring at the pan won't make it cook your food faster. You will save much time with good planning, organization and a handful of speed cooking tricks.

Organization

Save trips to the kitchen: Do you need to walk miles between kitchen and dining room when you lay the table? Prepare everything you need beforehand and set it inside a basket with handles. You will avoid unnecessary trips and there is no risk of glasses or plates slipping, as there would be if using a tray.

A place for everything: Have a place for everything and keep things always in the same place. You will save time wasted otherwise searching for tools and ingredients.

Preheat: Preheat the oven while you prepare the dough for your cake. Heat up the water for steaming or boiling while you wash the vegetables. Do the same with the oil for fries and heat it up while you peel the potatoes.

Do the preparation work: Prepare all the ingredients you will need before you start cooking. Peel, wash and chop everything in advance. There is no magic in the kitchen without some labor intensive knife skills before.

Do it faster

Speed muffins: If you mix all the ingredients in a large jug or pitcher, pouring the batter into the muffin tins is a breeze, easy to control and you will have less to clear.

Speed dinner idea: Since angel hair pasta cooks in half the time or less than thicker pasta shapes, it is the ideal staple food when you need to improvise.

Another one: cous-cous cooks even faster than angel hair pasta.

Potatoes

Cook faster: Pierce potatoes with a skewer before boiling, roasting or adding to a casserole. Poatoes will cook faster this way.

Roast potatoes: Boil them for 10 minutes in water with salt before roasting them. This will cut oven time substantially.

Baked or grilled potatoes: Pierce them through the middle with a metal skewer. The metal will deliver heat straight to the core and they will cook faster.

Pressure cooker

Let off steam faster: To release steam faster, place the pressure cooker on a damp cloth and run water on top of the lid, without touching the valve, please.

Water

watched kettle: The watched kettle never boils... just add salt and put the lid, the water will reach the boiling point much faster.

Casserole shortcut ideas

Anything goes with a casserole, whether it's cooking a fresh meal or using up leftovers. It's fun to experiment with different casserole recipes, adapting them to personal taste. Cheap cuts of meat are ideal for casseroles as they need slow cooking to tenderize and bring out the flavor. Poultry, fish and vegetables all benefit from this cooking method.

Beef Stroganoff is a classic dish, made from ground beef. A quick version uses a can of cream of mushroom soup and egg noodles. Corned beef casserole is an inexpensive meal, using canned corned beef, egg noodles, cheese and a can of cream of chicken soup.

Casserole cooking brings out the flavor of root vegetables. Carrots and swede go well with sweet potatoes and squash. Peppers and mushrooms are also suited to this sort of cooking. Corn and broccoli casserole can be made with a can of condensed corn soup, cheddar cheese, milk and broccoli. Broccoli cheese casserole uses onion, broccoli, rice, cheese and a can of cream of chicken soup.

There are several ways of including chicken and turkey into casserole recipes. One of the most useful ways of using turkey leftovers after Thanksgiving is turkey casserole with egg noodles, peas, sweet red peppers, milk and a can of condensed celery soup. The turkey should be cut into cubes and margarine and bread crumbs are required for the topping.

Seafood is also very tasty in casseroles. Tuna casserole is a popular dish with numerous versions. For something more unusual, Crab Casserole uses Snow Crab with rice, peppers, onions, cheddar, mushrooms and a can of shrimp soup. A quick Italian inspired dish involves sausage, zucchini and spaghetti sauce.