As much as one needs to be frugal with the food one has spent a large amount of money on, I also like to be frugal with my time. Getting the most out of my time spent on shopping trips, running errands and time in the kitchen. For that reason I tend to get ahead by doing little extra things which will save me time and effort when I’m at my laziest (i.e. any time in the morning before 9am). Small tasks which can be done while a pot is simmering, but don’t actually feel like extra effort.
Making stock (or bone broth) in the pressure cooker is a great one. Unlike making in a big pot, there’s no need to skim off scum, or watch that it doesn’t boil over. Also, the cooking is done in about 30 mins, and 15 mins to cool/ release pressure, so the messy tasks are done while you’re still in ‘cooking’ mode and not 4 hours+ later when you’ve sat down with a bottle of vino watching TV, and now really can’t be arsed to deal with a heavy pot of hot, greasy stuff – animal fat is a bugger to clean up, and the pot and lid is normally caked with burned bits of scum (might just be the way I do it!). I’ve found that using the pressure cooker you get a clearer stock and the result is more consistent, probably because you use less water as it all stays in the pot, so less need for straining and reducing to get the desired colour and flavour. I also like to think that the pressurised container, kept sealed after cooking, is quite a sterile environment so I don’t mind leaving it outside (unopened) overnight if I have left it a bit late to cool and freeze batches. Will share my method another time.
Back to the topic. So last night I made zoodles (zucchini- noodles) to have with some leftover ragu. I make these all the time now, and it’s a better alternative to the spaghetti squash recommended by a lot of the US blogs – when was the last time you saw spaghetti squash in a UK supermarket?? Simply take a firm courgette (or a zucchini if you prefer) and julienne it with a speed peeler. Some people suggest steaming them, or zapping it in the microwave, to heat up but I prefer them just raw, with a hot sauce poured over. Keeps a nice texture and saves washing up another pot. I do stirfry them if I’m using them to replace egg noodles – treat them gently, like fresh egg noodles, and they take on a nice bit of colour and flavour. Not too long tho, or they just go soggy as the water is driven out.
You can buy these tools in most kitchen shops now; Kuhn Rikon make a pretty sturdy looking version. It’s just a variation on the y-shaped speed peelers. Mine was part of a set gifted to me by my Mother in law in SA (thanks Ma!) and tbh, when I first got it I was a bit sceptical about how much we’d use it. I assumed it would just make a mushy mess, but this thing is razor sharp – as I have found when (stoopidly) peeling things into my palm or washing the dishes. Back to the zoodles. So, nifty gadget and impressive looking veg. Only problem is that you end up with funny shaped bits of courgette left.
Rather than compost them, I chop it into equal-sized pieces and store in a little tub. Conveniently 1 courgette gives me enough zoodles for 1 dinner, and the left over bits are enough for a frittata for 1 🙂 The result is a rather tasty breakie, with no knives required in the morning. Just toss the veg into the pan, TV chef style and add eggs. Voila!