With autumn comes dishes with spicy cinnamon and warm nutmeg flavors, sturdy winter squashes sweetly cooked down, and hearty soups. I’m blissfully thinking of summer blueberries. It’s an unusual craving at this time of year, but blueberries’ tart and sweet flavor are available year-round in different forms other than fresh.
Dad’s recipes start with making broth by scratch before proceeding to the actual preparation of a dish. We have playful arguments about whether homemade or store-bought stock makes a difference in recipes. Of course he’s right, but when it comes to time, the quality of ingredients are sacrificed. As his nine-to-five working daughter, it is my duty to rewrite his recipes starting with organic, low-sodium store-bought broth (preferably from a box, instead of a can or powder to avoid a metallic and salty taste). Such changes encourages people to attempt Dad’s recipes. After all, most beginning cooks are intimidated at the thought of staying in a kitchen for a long length of time.
Here’s a typical weekday situation: A recipe calls for rice. There’s only 30 minutes for dinner. Healthy brown rice takes 45 minutes, and unhealthy white rice is 15 minutes to cook. When it comes to time, I’m guilty of choosing the latter. I have tricks for using grains in weekday meals, such as doubling the requested amount and storing the difference in the freezer, or cooking slow-cooking grains—such as barley and farro—on weekends.
One of my favorite healthy and quick-cooking grains is whole-wheat couscous. Quinoa is another favorite, but the rinsing process is time-consuming. My recent discovery is freekeh, a familiar grain in Arabic cuisines with a 15 to 20 minute cooking time.