Blog Archive

Friday, November 4, 2011

What's the Real Deal on Cooking Times?

I love to cook and rarely use short cuts so I love reviewing recipes online. Last night I went online to search out a recipe using Italian sausage. I actually didn't have Italian sausage but as it was a chicken, feta & spinach sausage I thought it would be easier to find a recipe being more generic. Without too much time spent in perusing, I did come across a recipe that looked quite interesting.

The directions said 10 minutes prep time and 35 minutes to cook. I think those times would have worked if I had cooking assistants, but not on my own. It's like watching Rachel Ray's 30 minute meals. The show is broadcast in 30 minutes, but you don't see the extra cutting, simmering, mixing that goes on during the commercials. If she didn't have a staff I don't the meals could be done in a full 30 minutes.

So I would like to have recipes include not only the level of difficulty but the time frames for that level in real time. It could go something like this...

Chop onions and toss into hot skillet:

expert 2 minutes. Be a speed demon with that chef's knife and saute the onions in a flash on your high BTU stove top.

beginner: 10 minutes. Get out the skillet and turn on the heat. If you have a gas stove it will heat up quickly so you may want to wait until the onions are chopped. If you have an electric range, turn on the heat right away as you have extra time to get the food ready. Now get out a sharp knife cut the onion in quarters, throw it into the mini chopper and let it chop till tiny pieces.

This way you'll know how long it will really take to do the cooking and your family and friends won't be getting grumbly since they're hungry. I didn't want that tonight as both my husband and I would be coming in late and would be famished. To prevent that from happening, I did some pre-cooking in the morning before I went out for my appointments. The pre-cooking involved cutting and chopping onions and bell peppers and sauteing them with the sausage.

I now have an electric stove. There wasn't an option for a gas stove in this house as it is all electric so I am learning to cook in a new way. The bad part about electric stoves is the heat up time is a bit longer. The good part is you can turn it off sooner and it will stay warm. I'm having better luck figuring out the end warming time than the turn on time.

The waiting for the skillet to heat took longer which meant the prep time took longer. I did get it done in time before I left but I still had to do more reheating and then cooking later in the evening. The real start to finish time ended up being about one hour. This wasn't too bad as the evening time only took 25 minutes which gave me some time to decompress as the food was in the simmer stage.

So to all you cookbook writers - how about doing translations for the everyday cook? Provide real times for the cooking of Julia Child, The Joy of Cooking or even any of the Rachel Ray recipes. And while you're at it give some ideas for everyday substitutions that can be used.

Here's a starting example...If you don't have bread crumbs, toast a couple of slices of bread. Then cut or tear them to pieces and run them in mini chopper until they are at a crumb stage. If you don't have a shaker with Italian seasoning, get out a package of dry Italian salad mix and add half to the crumbs. It will make 1 cup at a price that is probably 1/10 the cost of the name brand purchased bread crumbs.

No comments:

Post a Comment