August 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm , by Rachel Shippy
It’s the end of the summer, and it feels like back-to-school time for ALL of us, especially in terms of re-adopting our weeknight routines. Weeknight cooking can be a stressful addition to the schedule after 3 months of laid-back grilling and seasonal salad-making, but help is on the way! From the National Food Editor for the Associated Press, J.M. Hirsch, comes High Flavor, Low Labor: Reinventing Weeknight Cooking, a great cookbook for anyone trying to get food on the table quickly after a long workday – it not only helps you cut corners to save time, but it also helps you avoid the ruts we all fall into (ahem, that means you, boring grilled chicken!). J.M.’s eclectic recipes are largely driven by seasonings and bold ingredients in order to pack the most punch into minimal prep time. “I never have the luxury of planning dinner on weeknights,” says J.M. “so I end up using what I have in the pantry or refrigerator – that’s how real people cook.”
J.M.’s Tip Sheet:
1. Bold ‘Go-To’ Ingredients: prosciutto, parmesan, jalapeño, and balsamic vinegar. By adding just one of these items, your dish has already taken a bolder direction (away from boring!)
2. Incorporate Your Kids Into Shopping and Cooking: my son mixes seasonings based on what looks and smells good together which is how we should all approach seasoning (don’t over-think it!). Plus it keeps kids occupied…
3. Re-Purpose Your Spice Rack: One of my favorite African-influenced techniques is using cinnamon as a savory ingredient rather than in a dessert. Just a simple switch can lead you to a brand new dish.
4. Broaden Your Grocery Shopping Horizons: Next time you are at the grocery store, stroll down the international aisle – you’ll find a surprising amount of extremely affordable and very flavorful foods that you might not ordinarily cook with.
5. Build from the Pan Up: When experimenting with a new dish, start with some olive oil and chopped onion in a pan. Add your seasonings and let them start combining, or “blooming” which means drawing out their essential oils. Toss in a “blank canvas” ingredient like pasta, protein, or vegetables and see where the meal takes you…
High Flavor, Low Labor is on pre-sale now and will hit stores September 7th.
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