Get your kitchen ready for the holidays
What you need to know:
- Preps. The festive season has kicked in but before you start on your recipes, you ought to stock your kitchen, writes A. Kadumukasa Kironde II.
In order for today’s Ugandan middle class housewife to keep up with their hectic lifestyle, fast food has sadly become the norm. Notwithstanding, fast food does not have to mean poor quality fare. Next Sunday, we shall bring you several recipes that can be cooked and ready to serve within 30 minutes; by mixing fresh food with a combination of canned, dried or frozen food in tasty and innovative ways. One would be surprised at the wonderful and professional dishes that can be conjured up and produced to the amazement of friends and family without having to toil all day.
A well-stocked pantry and freezer are essential where speed is of the essence, as are using fast cooking methods and of course one must have a well-organised kitchen.
Start off with a shopping list which should include pantry staples and fresh produce. Good raw ingredients are essential and require less preparation and not as much seasoning.
Buy fish fillets and meat that is prepared for cooking.
To enliven pasta and rice dishes, keep in a stock of pesto and other flavored sauces. Fresh produce should include root vegetables, green and salad ingredients.
Simple ingredients such as pasta, vegetables and cheese enlivened with fresh herbs make a quick and simple lunch or supper dish. Buy specific cuts of meat and chicken which makes it easier for cooking.
Storage of foods
When storing foods, separate sweet and savoury ingredients, save for those that are used for both such as flour, eggs and sugar. Ingredients that are used frequently which include onions, garlic, ginger, olive oil and fruit make an attractive display in the kitchen providing that you have the space.
All ingredients should be used up and replenished regularly. Spices and dry herbs should be bought in small quantities since they are prone to losing flavour after several months while on the shelves, as for nuts, these become rancid if kept too long. Remember to check regularly and discard any foods that have gone past their sell-by dates.
A few good saucepans in various sizes and with tight fitting lids are a must -have and we always recommend heavy based and non-stick pans. A large non-stick frying pan is invaluable to the quick cook. The food cooks faster when spread over a wide surface area.
A wok is an essential tool for stir frying, cooking food quickly and evenly in the minimum of oil, without any loss of nutrients.
Besides being great for stir frying, a wok also doubles as a steamer (though somewhat limited) and by the way, choose a heavy, non-stick wok for ease of cooking and save time washing up.
Speaking of a steamer, this is another kitchen item that is extremely useful and practical and can also be used for warming food. We suggest that you purchase one that has multi-level-compartments and you will also find it handy for keeping warm cooked food such as rice, stews (in a container).
Last but not least, nowadays, we find a slow cooker to be an indispensable and versatile equipment to have in any kitchen and with some experimenting and tweaking, one can adapt stews and casseroles using same.
A slow cooker, also known as a crock-pot, is a countertop electrical cooking appliance that is used to gently simmer at a lower temperature than other cooking methods viz. baking, boiling and frying. Using a slow cooker facilitates unattended cooking for several hours of dishes that would otherwise be boiled.
For efficiency, sharp knives save time and effort and are by far safer than ones that are blunt. Use a food processor to take the hard work out of grating, blending, shredding and mixing and remember that for speed and efficiency, keep your equipment handy and close by and, in particular, those labour saving gadgets that are most frequently used.
When chopping vegetables, cut them to the same size for speedy cooking. Start vegetables that take longer to cook first so that all the vegetables are ready at the same time.
Freeze extra grated cheese or breadcrumbs that can be used later when they are needed. Stock the freezer with bread and frozen vegetables such as peas, beans, cauliflower, broccoli which do not require long cooking.
All ingredients should be used up and replenished regularly. Spices and dry herbs should be bought in small quantities since they are prone to losing flavour after several months while on the shelves, as for nuts, these become rancid if kept too long.