We’ve all experienced times where a meal has taken longer than anticipated to prepare. In fact, many consider time management to be the most stressful part of cooking. Some may even admit to being too tired to enjoy the meal after putting all that effort into it. Finding efficient ways to prepare meals cuts down on stress and makes cooking — not to mention eating! — more enjoyable. Here are a few tricks of the trade to make meal preparation go as smoothly as possible.
Tools of the trade
Your cooking utensils are an important part of your process. Make sure all of your utensils and cookware are ready to use. Dull knives, for example, can seriously slow down prep time. Also, you don’t want to prep an entire meal for your slow cooker only to discover that it’s shorted out. Pull out your cast iron cookware and check its condition. If it needs to be seasoned, take time to do so before you cook. Also, make sure that you have all of the utensils and cookware necessary for your recipe. This all goes a long way towards making meal prep go faster.
Make a list, check it twice
Another important part of the process is to check your recipe. Then, make a list of ingredients. Even if you’ve used the same recipe countless times, there’s always a chance that you could forget something. Running back and forth to the grocery store definitely makes the cooking process long and frustrating. You can even use your smartphone to make food shopping easier. For example, the ListEase app makes easy lists that can be accessed through your Apple Watch, too. The Grocery Pal app goes a step further, helping you compare prices and find those all-important sales at local supermarkets.
Pre-cut veggies are your friend
You may not have the time (or patience!) to chop up your veggies. Don’t be afraid to try pre-chopped veggies. They may be slightly more expensive, but it’s worth the time you’ll save. Plus, pre-cut onions save on time and tears.
Cook like a TV star
If you’re a fan of television cooking competitions, you’ve probably noticed that no matter the show, the contestants share one trick: making one trip to the refrigerator or pantry. When you pull out those pots and pans, grab a baking sheet or tray. Then, load it up with all of the ingredients you need. That way, you won’t have to keep rushing to the refrigerator and back while trying to keep your pasta pot from boiling over.
Cooking without all the hassle
Sometimes you want a nice, hot, healthy meal, but just don’t have time to prep and cook. Meal kits solve this problem. Because the daunting prep work is done for you, meal kits are fast, easy and tasty. Market Table offers a variety of healthy, delicious and unique meal kits. Plus, they can even help you pair your meal kit with the proper wine. Boost your efficiency level to a thousand and try a meal kit today!
Text by Amber Pope
“Cheese,” wrote Clifton Fadiman, “is milk’s leap toward immortality.” A cheese board celebrates this wondrous transformation — and is always the center of any celebration. Here’s how to make a cheese board that will make your guests cheer.
Be sure to include a variety of tastes, textures, and aromas. Martha Stewart’s excellent advice for choosing cheeses: Just eyeball it. If cheeses look different, they taste different. At Market Table, we pair rich Irish Tipperary Cheddar, creamy Stone Hollow Goat Cheese and sharp, crumbly Blue Cheese. Also, let the cheese sit a bit before serving. It’s best at room temperature.
A cheese plate is made great by a variety of tastes. Give your guests something salty to play off sweeter cheeses. At Market Table, we use cornichons. These pickles are made from gherkin cucumbers picked before they’re ripe, creating their very tart taste. Their crunch contrasts beautifully with soft cheeses. You can also pair cheese with salty counterpoints from the same region. Chef Michael Chiarello recommends matching Serrano Ham with mild-to-sharp Spanish Manchego.
What’s any meal without something a little sweet? We love the subtle addition of dried fruit and delicate Marcona almonds. Ina Garten suggests pairing green grapes, dried figs and apricots with strong cheeses like Roquefort and Sharp Cheddar. Seasonal fresh fruits offer an endless variety of pairings. For instance, stone fruits and apples make the perfect accompaniment to Brie. Mozzarella finds its match in peaches and nectarines. Ricotta and mango get along beautifully, especially with a pinch of salt and chili powder. If you’re feeling adventurous, try grilled pineapple and Blue Cheese.
Crackers and bread slices not only serve as the perfect vehicle for soft and spreadable cheeses. They’ll also provide the perfect compliment to their texture. Plus, different kinds of crackers create different taste combinations. For example, the sweetness of oat crackers pairs beautifully with creamy Goat Cheese. With crispy, thin water crackers, all attention goes to the cheese. Rachael Ray prefers crusty baguette slices and crunchy smoked almonds. Our personal favorite? Crostini, toasted or even grilled.
For Ree Drummond, TV’s Pioneer Woman, honey makes the perfect pairing for tart, acidic cheeses. If you’re lucky enough to know a beekeeper or live by a farmers market, try using a honeycomb. The honey has a bright, pure floral flavor. And, as a bonus, the comb creates an intriguing texture (we promise, it doesn’t taste like wax). If honey isn’t your thing, try chutney, equal parts sweet, tart, and savory. We’re especially fond of Alecia’s Peach Chutney, perfect for Pecorino Romano, and Tomato Chutney, especially flavorful with Fontina and Stilton. For a spicy twist, try sweet pepper jelly over Brie and Camembert.
Of course, in the stress of event-planning, you might not have time to put together the perfect cheese board. Market Table is here for you. Our catering menu features large and small cheese plates, heaped high with fine cheeses and sweet and salty accompaniments sure to please even the pickiest party guest.
An age-old staple, grits aren’t just simple food stuffs. They’ve become a symbol of the Southern United State’s history, traditions and hospitality. But if you are from anywhere else in the world, being served this strange entrée can cause confusion. Knowing how grits are made — and which dishes seem made for grits — will help you enjoy this down-home delight!
The History of Grits
Many think that grits come from the Southern gentry. Actually, grits are a Native American creation. Native Americans ground corn kernels using millstones. Then, they’d sift the finer parts. Any cornmeal too coarse to pass through the screen would be called grits.
How To Make Grits
Basically, grits come from the part inside of corn kernels called hominy. This hominy is then ground down and left to dry until it is a cornmeal-like consistency. Then, add six parts water and one part salt. Next, boil for twenty to forty-five minutes. And voila! You have grits. Salt, pepper and cheese are popular additions to this simple recipe. These days, you can also buy grits in instant packs. Or, you can even buy cans of quick-cook grits. For the best tasting grits, though, it’s best to stick with the traditional approach.
What To Serve With Grits
Grits are a Southern breakfast staple. Often, they’re served with sausages, eggs and country ham. Grits have also been used as a side dish during dinner. For example, shrimp and grits, a very popular South Carolina Lowcountry dish, creates a delicious combination of creamy and chewy.
Why Do Southerners Love Grits?
It’s true: grits, by themselves, are bland. But grits offer endless possibilities that rely on how far a cook wants to take them. Through creative use of spice and choice of entrée, grits’ taste and texture can serve to supplement a delicious dish morning, noon, or night. Market Table’s Pimento Cheese Grits make a scrumptious dinner side and a hearty breakfast dish. You can also use our pre-made grits to save some serious time when making Lowcountry classics like shrimp and grits — or, for the vegetarians, Grits with Seasonal Roasted Mushrooms.
Text by Jonathon Page