The Cook Your Meals the Lazy Way

Overview

In this new "Lazy Way" guide, Bowers proves that its doesn't have to take hours in the kitchen to get delicious meals on the table. From organizing a "speedy" kitchen to preparing quick-and-easy recipes, this guide shows how it's done.
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Overview

In this new "Lazy Way" guide, Bowers proves that its doesn't have to take hours in the kitchen to get delicious meals on the table. From organizing a "speedy" kitchen to preparing quick-and-easy recipes, this guide shows how it's done.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780028626444
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/1/1998
  • Series: Lazy Way Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 7.35 (w) x 9.05 (h) x 0.85 (d)

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Chapter One

Simply Stocked


This is not about organizing yourself and making lots of time-consuming (and always ultimately useless) lists, but about filling your kitchen with the right foods and equipment to ease your way. It's our own happiness and leisure that we busy cooks are concerned about.

    The heart of the lazy kitchen is a well-stocked pantry. If you keep basic supplies on hand all the time, you'll be able to pull together a quick and tasty—and healthy—meal, even if you haven't had time to shop the last few days for fresh vegetables and chicken.

    The bare necessities for the lazy kitchen are more elaborate than you might think. Make an effort to fill your shelves, fridge, and freezer with lots of dry goods, nonperishables, frozen fish and meat, and fruits and vegetables that keep well. This essentially means making one slightly longer, and a little more expensive than usual, trip to the supermarket to make sure you're well supplied with certain basics, and then shopping (hopefully!) only once a week for perishables such as bread, milk, and fruit.

    Warehouses and superstores such as Sam's, Costco, and BJ's are great places to stock up on bulk quantities of nonperishable staples such as olive oil and paper towels. If you have the storage space for the massive quantities you can buy at these stores, you'll save yourself a great deal of shopping time (as well as money). If you don't have access to one of these warehouses (or you don't want to buy a membership card, which can be pricey if you don't plan to use it regularly), buy extrasof supplies you use often. You should have more than one can of tomatoes in the cupboard, for example, and an extra jar of mayonnaise still sealed in the pantry for when the one in the fridge runs out.

    You can also buy bulk quantities of slightly more extravagant foods, often at lower prices than buying them individually, and further help yourself to make tasty meals with ease. If you have six cans of artichoke hearts in the cupboard, you're more likely to use one in a salad on a regular weeknight than if you only have one—and you're saving it for a special occasion!

    Stocking up and buying double (and triple) can add up to huge time savings for the busy cook. Of course, pantries will vary widely, according to individual tastes, but the foods listed as follows are for a wide variety of multiethnic, omnivorous eaters.

    The bare necessity ingredients that follow are items to almost always keep on hand. If you have these ingredients, you'll always be able to put together something to eat with ease, even if it's no more elaborate than macaroni-and-cheese or a peanut butter-and-jelly sandwich.

    First we'll examine what the well-stocked cupboard holds, followed by the refrigerator and freezer. Vegetables and fruits appear at the end as a whole separate category, whether kept in the fridge or out in a hanging basket or vegetable rack, or in a fruit bowl on the counter.


IN THE CUPBOARD AND PANTRY


Bare Necessities


Bread (a loaf of bakery sourdough and a loaf of moist, bran-filled brown at my house; you may only eat one or the other, but consider also keeping some sandwich rolls or buns on hand for casual suppers)
Coffee and/or tea (you may prefer to store your coffee in the freezer to keep it fresh longer)
Flour (unbleached all-purpose for general cooking, but also possibly a stoneground whole wheat for breads)
Sugar (brown and white)
Baking soda
Baking powder
Cornstarch
Rice (plain white is always useful; brown has lots of extra fiber and vitamins, but remember that it takes much longer to cook)
Pasta (a long thin type such as spaghetti or fettuccine; a short type such as shells or rotini; and a package of super-quick cooking angel hair, also called capellini, for very busy nights)
Olive oil (extra virgin for all dressings and sauces and to drizzle over salads or brush on bruschetta or roasted vegetables; you may want to keep some cheaper, less virgin oil on hand for general cooking)
Cooking oil (canola, corn, or other poly- or monoun-saturated oil; I prefer olive oil for nearly everything, but sometimes you need a completely flavorless oil like one of these, for stir-frying or quick breads)
Vinegar (red wine vinegar for most cooking and sauces; white or cider vinegar for cooking and domestic uses such as cleaning the coffee maker)
Canned tomatoes (whole and crushed)
Canned beans (black, kidney, cannellini, pinto)
Spices (cinnamon, chili powder, cumin, curry powder, nutmeg)
Dried herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme)
Soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Tuna (the chunk light kind packed in water is best for sandwiches; the more expensive white albacore type makes a luxurious salad)
Peanut butter
Stock cubes (beef, chicken, vegetable)
Breakfast cereal


Useful Extras


Rolled oats (not only for breakfast but for adding to quick breads and making toppings for fruit crisps)
Cocoa
Honey
Raisins
Chocolate chips
Nuts, chopped or whole (almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pecans)
Tomato paste
Canned soups (at least one can of cream of mushroom and/or cream of celery for a quick tuna casserole)
Canned vegetables (such as good quality peas, green beans, corn; not to be relied on as your main source of vegetables but there for the occasional casserole or side dish)
Sun-dried tomatoes (the oil-packed ones save time hydrating, but can add an oily flavor to some dishes; it's not impossible to find soft ones packed in a canister without oil.)
Canned broth (for most cooking purposes, a stock cube is fine for the busy cook; but a good quality, low-sodium chicken broth makes a fine base for a quick soup and beef broth becomes an elegant last-minute consommé when you lace it with sherry)
Powdered milk
UHT Milk (for emergency use in your morning coffee)
Instant mashed potatoes (absolutely not to be eaten as mashed potatoes but really good for topping shepherd's pie and thickening soups in a pinch)
Hot sauce
Cornmeal
Spices (allspice, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, cloves, coriander, pumpkin pie spice, star anise)
Dried herbs (sage, tarragon, marjoram, lemon thyme)
Molasses (for gingerbread)
Vanilla (real vanilla essence, not synthetic, for the best flavor in your quick baked goods)
Popcorn (either regular kernels or microwave)


Treat Yourself


Packaged cookies
Cake mix
Container of cake frosting
Brownie mix
Dried mushrooms (such as shiitake or porcini)
Sesame oil
Canned garbanzo beans (great for hummus and salads)
Chinese noodles
Basmati rice
Arborio rice
Canned good-quality chili
Commercial spaghetti sauce (look for one without added sugar for the best flavor)
Canned chipotles in adobo
Canned sardines
Anchovy paste (for Caesar salad dressing)
Coconut milk
Marshmallows
Spices (saffron, garam masala, Chinese 5-spice powder)
Pine nuts (much cheaper to buy in bulk from a gourmet store than to buy a tiny little pre-packaged can or jar)


IN THE REFRIGERATOR


This is the first place you look to see if there's anything to eat in the house, and it's dismaying to find little besides mustard and a withered carrot, so keep your fridge well-but-vigilantly stocked. In my experience, foods in the refrigerator always keep fresh a little longer than experts say they will. Common sense will tell you when a refrigerated food is past its prime, but items such as marmalade, pickles, and even yogurt, can last much longer than we like to even think about! Even so, if you're not going through your bare necessities at the rate you expect, cut back on buying, and toss out all the old stuff periodically.


Bare Necessities


Milk
Eggs
Butter or margarine
Cheese (at least Cheddar and Parmesan)
Mayonnaise
Mustard (Dijon and yellow or spicy brown)
Ketchup
Grape or strawberry jelly (for peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, of course)


Useful Extras


Orange (or other fruit) juice
Soda or sparkling water
Buttermilk (I like to have buttermilk on hand for quick breads and biscuits, but it may not have any part in your kitchen repertoire. It will keep for a long time if you do buy it; if you don't, you can substitute plain yogurt for any recipe that calls for buttermilk.)
Cottage or ricotta cheese
Sour cream
Plain yogurt
Salsa


Treat Yourself


Fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, rosemary, sage, flat-leaf parsley)
Fresh pasta (don't bother with fresh spaghetti or fettuccine, but fresh ravioli or tortellini is a treat)
Chicken broth in resealable boxes (this recent introduction to the market means fresher, tastier chicken broth to splash into quick sauces or soups, rather than using stock cubes or canned)
Cream (the high fat content means it can keep for weeks, and even just a splash in a sauce or soup makes a real difference in flavor and texture)
Pickled jalapenos (for making homemade salsa)
Olives (not canned or bottled but real cured olives from a deli or gourmet shop, either green or black)
Pesto
Chutney (if you cook or eat much Indian food, a fruit chutney such as pear or mango is an indispensable condiment for a plate of hot curry; but chutney is also great on cheese and meat sandwiches)
Miso paste (for super-quick miso soup)
Tahini (the sesame paste necessary for hummus, it will keep for a very long time; if in doubt, sniff to see if you detect a rancid smell)


IN THE FREEZER


In general, I prefer to keep and prepare food that is as fresh as possible, instead of making an entire meal directly from the freezer. But there's no denying that a well-stocked freezer is an absolute requirement for the busy kitchen. You can keep meat frozen and thaw it in the microwave for a quick dinner (or take it out in the morning to thaw on the counter). Fish fillets can go in the oven or the sauté pan with ice crystals still clinging to them. The freezer holds emergency bread for those mornings when you're out of fresh bread—two frozen slices into the toaster and you're ready for breakfast.


Bare Necessities


Ice
Bread
Fish fillets
Chicken breasts
Hamburger (in 1- or ½-pound packs)
Steak or pork chops (same number of chops as family members per pack)
Peas
Corn
Spinach


Useful Extras


Frozen pancakes and waffles
Shrimp (for fried rice)
Lima beans or other frozen vegetables (frozen limas are far better than canned or dried)
Bread dough (available ready-made in the freezer section; perfect for fast, almost-homemade loaves and sweet rolls)
Pita bread
Tortillas (flour and corn)


Treat Yourself


Crab claws
Ravioli (buy fresh and freeze, or buy frozen)
Ice cream
Cake layers (unfrosted layers made and frozen by you, or a good quality baked and frosted cake for those times you forget a birthday)
Danish pastry (for a leisurely Saturday morning)
Raspberries


IN THE VEGETABLE BASKET


You should keep these long-storing vegetables on hand (these lists do not include seasonal vegetables such as corn-on-the-cob, fresh tomatoes, summer squash, fresh spinach, asparagus, varieties of lettuce, etc.). The following vegetables are available year-round; as long as you have them, you'll always have something to eat in the house. Most of these do not have to be stored in the refrigerator (unless noted), but can be kept on the counter, in hanging baskets, in a vegetable drawer, or in a plastic vegetable rack (the ones on wheels are very handy).


Bare Necessities


Potatoes
Onions
Garlic
Lettuce (in the fridge and not iceberg; say hello to romaine, Bibb, mesclun, or red for a change)
Cucumber (in the fridge)
Carrots (in the fridge)


Useful Extras


Celery (in the fridge; even when it's limp, it's usable for cooking)
Peppers (refrigerate; green and/or red)
Ginger
Sweet potatoes
Cabbage (can go in the refrigerator, especially after it's been cut)


Treat Yourself


Celeriac (also called celery root; like a big brown turnip, combined with a mild nutty celery. Great when boiled and mashed into potatoes or shredded for salads.)
Jerusalem artichokes (a nutty tuber with a mildly artichoke-like flavor)
Artichokes (can go in fridge)
Cardoons (these artichoke flavored stalks are very popular in Italy and are showing up more and more in U.S. markets)


IN THE FRUIT BOWL


The minimal fruit bowl should contain the following Bare Necessity fruits that stay fresh and edible for many days, even weeks. Softer fruits, listed under Useful Extras, require a little more attention and can't be expected to stay fresh for weeks. Last are pricier seasonal fruits, listed under Treat Yourself, which should be stored in the refrigerator and preferably eaten the same day.


Bare Necessities


Apples
Oranges
Grapefruit
Lemons (keep longer in the fridge)


Useful Extras


Bananas
Kiwi fruit
Grapes
Pears


Treat Yourself


Raspberries
Strawberries
Blackberries
Blueberries


    Keeping the pantry stocked should be the most work the busy cook has to do in the kitchen. If you put in the little bit of effort to keep your cupboards and fridge full, then you'll neither be wracking your brain as you stare into empty shelves, nor will you have to work up a sweat to put together a fast and flavorful meal.


Getting Time on Your Side

The Old Way The Lazy Way
Staring into
refrigerator trying
to figure out what
to make for dinner
15 minutes 1 ½ minutes
Making a list
for weekly shopping
trip for perishables
and stocking up
20 minutes
(just before
leaving)
2 seconds
(when you run
out of something)
Putting together a
romantic birthday
dinner for someone
special
3 hours 30 minutes
(you've got fresh
pasta and frozen
cake layers in
the freezer!)
Making stock 2 hours 3 minutes
(with stock cube)
Making mashed potato
topping for
shepherd's pie
1 hour 5 minutes
Length of time a
container of plain
yogurt will stay
usable in the fridge
1 week 4 weeks
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Table of Contents

COOK DOESN'T HAVE TO BE A 4-LETTER WORD XII
Part 1 The Painless Pantry 1
CHAPTER 1: SIMPLY STOCKED 3
CHAPTER 2: THE EPICURE'S EXERTION-FREE EQUIPMENT 19
Part 2 The Gourmet Express: Tips 33
CHAPTER 3: EASY REACH: ORGANIZING THE SPEEDY KITCHEN 35
CHAPTER 4: PHENOMENALLY FAST FOOD! SHORTCUTS AND TIPS 47
CHAPTER 5: DRIP-DRY: TIPS FOR QUICK CLEANUP 61
Part 3 Flash in the Pan: Recipes for Simple and Delicious
Meals 73
CHAPTER 6: BREAKFAST TREATS THAT LAST ALL WEEK 75
CHAPTER 7: QUICK-TO-MAKE QUICK BITES: APPETIZERS AND SNACKS 89
CHAPTER 8: STRESS-FREE SOUPS: FROM SIMPLE BROTHS TO HEARTY
STEWS 105
CHAPTER 9: READY-IN-MINUTES RED MEAT 129
CHAPTER 10: CHICKEN ON THE RUN: CLUCKING GOOD CHICKEN RECIPES 147
CHAPTER 11: FLYING FISH 163
CHAPTER 12: JUST THROW IT ALL IN: ONE-DISH MEALS 177
CHAPTER 13: MEATLESS IN MINUTES: PASTA AND VEGETARIAN DISHES
ON THE DOUBLE 195
CHAPTER 14: IT'S EASY BEING GREEN: VEGGIES, SALADS, AND SIDES 213
CHAPTER15: SWEETLY SIMPLE: DESSERTS 235
CHAPTER 16: THE QUICKEST QUICK BREADS 257
CHAPTER 17: HASSLE-FREE HOLIDAYS AND ENTERTAINING 267
Part 4 More Lazy Stuff 291
A HOW TO GET SOMEONE ELSE TO DO IT 293
B IF YOU REALLY WANT MORE, READ THESE 297
C IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT IT MEANS, LOOK HERE 299
D IT'S TIME FOR YOUR REWARD 307
E SWAPS AND SUBSTITUTIONS 309
WHERE TO FIND WHAT YOU'RE LOOKING FOR 313
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