Sunday, November 11, 2007

You all know that, while I love to cook, I don't think it's the easiest thing in the world to do every day. I am always looking for easy recipes and techniques that cut my time in the kitchen. One of the favorites in this house is the concept of mise en place, which means "setting in place" in French. M and I prep ingredients - chopping or mincing, pre-measuring spices, opening cans, etc - before we begin to cook. Once everything is assembled (or at least enough is that we can get through the first steps of our recipe and have time to continue the prep while other things are cooking), we begin to cook. The fact that we don't have to pause to prep saves us time in the end. Not by chance, we also get a better product as the food that's cooking doesn't overcook while we mince those last few herbs. This idea is especially important when you're making something that cooks very quickly (like tonight's Pad Thai, the inspiration for this post). We even have a special set of condiment cups to put prepped ingredients in (ours are those metal cups that tarter sauce and catsup come in at restaurants, but there are much fancier ones available) so that we don't run out of small bowls. One of the best results of this practice is that I can't remember the last time one of us said, "What do you mean the spinach was supposed to be defrosted?"

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