Many busy people have adopted a strategy of doing a major cook up once or twice a week, and eating the food over several days after refrigerating and re-heating. This is a great solution for time-challenged people, because the meals are wholesome, home-cooked and prepared with love and devotion, with less overall effort than that required when cooking every day.
People can take the extra time and effort in preparing wonderful dishes knowing that what they produce can be re-heated and eaten over two or more days saving time and effort. This is far better than eating take away foods, quick, crude and unsatisfying meals or fast foods every night. Eating for several meals for two or more days justifies the extra effort and time to cook wonderful satisfying and healthy meals.
However, many meals are not suitable for re-heating or eating as leftovers. They don't keep well and they lose their flavor and importantly their texture when reheated. Fresh herbs become soggy, the textures become mushy, and the dishes become bland with the flavors of the individual ingredients lost and blended into an overcooked watery stew.
This article solves this problem by providing a collection of delicious cook once, eat twice, dishes that work well and are satisfying when eaten over two or more days. Many of the dishes taste better when reheated and have more developed, and enhances tastes and textures when eaten a second time.
► Soups - are ideal because they are cooked slowly over a long time. Reheating soups is not a [problem. Many soups taste better when reheated and eaten the second time.
► Slow Cooked Meat Dishes - Once again these dishes are ideal because they are cooked gently over a long period of time. Reheating and serving for a second meal is essentially an extension of that cooking time.
► Dried Beans, Peas and Pulses - These ingredients are robust and take a lot of cooking. They seldom break down when reheated.
► Beef and Pork Stews and Curries- These dishes work well provided to meat is not well cooked the first time. If the meat is 'fall-apart' or stringy and suitable for pulling, them the meat is likely to fall apart when cooked for the second time.
► Chicken, Fish and Seafood - Generally the flesh is too soft to be reheated. If it is perfect for the first serving, it will be overcooked for the second serving. Likewise for the opposite case where the chicken is underdone for the first serving. This can be partially solved by minimal heating the second time. Fish and scallops are generally unsuitable as it is too soft. Prawns and calamari are fine.
► Pasta and Rice - These ingredients are generally not suitable as they will be soft and overcooked the second time. But rice can be suitable if care is taken to heat only very briefly the second time. Dishes such as risotto and paella are good as meals to be cooked once and eaten twice.
► Fresh Herbs and Leafy Greens - will not work when cooked for a second time and they will lose their flavor and will fall apart. There is a simply solution to this, which involves only adding the herbs and leafy greens to the portion of the dish that is to be served the first time. Keep some of these ingredients aside to be added when the dish is reheated, means that they will retain their color and flavor in the dish when served for the second time.
For the Stock
To make the stock, remove the meat from the chicken. Then, place the bones,chicken meat, garlic, onion, peppercorns, bay leaf and crumbled stock cube in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring the pot to the boil and then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Strain off the stock, and simmer the barley in the stock for about 10 minutes. In a large saucepan, heat the oil and fry the garlic and onion for 4-5 minutes until softened. Add the leek, celery and carrot and cook gently over low heat for about 20-25 minutes, until the vegetables start to caramelise. Add the spices, cabbage bay leaves and silverbeet, season with salt and pepper and cook about 10 minutes. Then, add the beans, zucchini, barley and the stock, and simmer for 20 minutes. Then, add the reserved chicken, adjust the seasoning and amount of water, and the soup is ready to serve.
For the Tagine
For the dried fruits
For the Ras el hanout
Grind the following to a coarse powder
Slice the beef into large chunks, combine with the ras el hanout spice mix garlic and onion, and set aside for 60 minutes. Preheat your oven to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F). Heat the oil or ghee in a heavy casserole dish or deep pan to a high temperature. Add the meat and fry for 5 minutes to brown the meat and enliven the spices. Sprinkle on the pepper flakes, salt, pepper and saffron. Place the marrow bones on top of the meat, or dissolve stock cubes in a cup of water and pour over the meat. Add the cinnamon stick and pour in just enough water to barely cover the meat. Cook covered the oven for about 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is tender. Meanwhile, prepare the dried fruit by simmering the figs and apricots in just enough water to barely cover them. Add the prunes, sugar, rosewater and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Remove the casserole from the oven when the meat is cooked. Add the dried fruit mixture. Remove the marrow bones, adjust the seasoning and serve with couscous. This dish can be refrigerated and reheated the next day, when the flavors will have intensified.
Trim the lamb meat and cut into 2 cm (1 inch) square pieces. Place the lamb in a saucepan and just cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then drain the lamb, discarding the water. Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan or Dutch oven and fry the garlic and onion until soft (about 10 minutes). Add the wine and gently simmer the mixture until the liquid level is reduced to about on third the original volume. Cook the beans in a separate pot of boiling water for 15-20 minutes until half cooked through, then drain and set aside. You don't want the beans to be overcooked, especially if the dish is to be reheated. Add the bay leaves, tomatoes, marjoram sprigs and the lamb and simmer until the meat begins to soften (about 60 minutes). Add the half-cooked beans and cook for about 20-30 minutes, until all the ingredients have softened and sauce has thickened. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve with a sprinkle of marjoram leaves.
For the vegetables and herbs
Cook the vegetables and herbs by heating the oil to moderate temperature in a cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven and frying the ingredients until they start to soften and brown. Trim the excess fat from the meat and discard. Add the garlic, rosemary and season with salt and pepper. Add the lamb and sauté over moderate heat to brown the meat (10-15 minutes). Add the tomato, wine, salt and pepper, cover the pan and gently simmer for about 90-120 minutes, until lamb is tender. This dish can be reheated after refrigerating and removing any fat that has congealed on top.
Lightly cover the chicken pieces with flour, dusting off any excess. Brown the pieces of chicken in batches by frying in a pan of hot olive oil. Season all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper, set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy casserole dish or Dutch oven and fry the onions until golden brown and tender. Add the garlic and fry briefly. Add the mushrooms, soaked porcini mushrooms, wine, chicken and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper. Add dried herbs, soy sauce and spices to suit your taste. Cover with a lid and cook on a low heat for 90-100 minutes, or until the chicken is just cooked in the center. Add extra liquid if needed.
For the Spice paste
Make the spice paste by pounding all the spice ingredients together in a mortar with a pestle to a fine paste. Or grind in a spice mill or blender. Fry the spice paste, cinnamon, tomatoes, lime leaves and salt, briefly in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add 1 liter (1 pint) of water and bring to the boil over a medium heat, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 90-100 minutes. Add the chicken pieces, stir and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the sauce is reduced and starts to thicken. Add the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water, adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper and serve with basil leaves.
Rinse the beans and add them to the slow cooker. Dissolve the soup mix, chilli powder and pepper in a little water and add to the slow cooker. Pour in the rest of the water to the slow cooker and stir in the jalapenos. Cover the cooker with a lid and cook on moderate high for 5-6 hours, turning once. Pull the meat apart when cooked, and serve the dish with cous cous and a fresh green salad.
For the green curry paste
For the Curry
Fry the coriander seeds, peppercorns, cumin seeds in a dry pan. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, and grind to a fine powder. Add to the bowl of a food processor or blender and add shrimp paste and remaining spice mix ingredients. Pulse to a smooth paste. Add the thick coconut cream, pulse a couple of times and then transfer the mixture to a saucepan and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Add the fish sauce, palm sugar, and shredded kaffir lime leaves to the pan. Add the remaining coconut cream, bamboo shoots, beans and the chicken. Simmer for 15-25 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked in the center. Stir in the Thai basil and serve hot.
Put the onions, potatoes and mushrooms in the crock pot, add the beef, bacon, beef stock and red wine. Add some water so that all the ingredients are just covered. Cook on a low setting for 8-10 hours, or until the beef is tender and stringy.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Heat the oil in a heavy pan over moderate heat. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and fry for a few minutes. Then, add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-8 minutes until the onions have browned and caramelized. Next, add the beans and cook for about 5 minutes and then add the rest of the ingredients. Transfer the mixture to an oven proof casserole or Dutch oven, with lid, and bake for 60-75 minutes, until the haricot beans have softened a little. Do not overcook, as the dish will be mushy when reheated.