fEAsting, meal planning, organising, rEArranging, trEAsure

Easy steps to organised cooking…

Believe it or not there is a term that incorporates organising with cooking.  If you saw the state of my kitchen at times after a baking session you would not think this possible.  The term I refer to is ‘Mise en place’ – quite simply it is French for ‘put in place’ a trained chef would refer to it as prepping.  

I like to call it Blue Peter cooking if you can remember that far back (and no you do not need any empty Fairy liquid bottles).  Every ingredient is pre weighed or prepared and then placed into something like a glass Pyrex bowl.  If you want to refresh your memory just take a look at this brilliant clip (wait for the trailer to finish) and note the bowls of ingredients all ready to go.  I think I might even make those cute mini Dalek cakes!

Having quite a tiny kitchen I adopted this method a while ago and it has much improved the way I keep myself and the kitchen organised whilst cooking and baking. 

Firstly I read through the recipe and collect all the ingredients together. 

mise en place 4

Then I weigh and pre-prepare everything and place into little bowls such as these cuties I found recently in Waitrose…

Pyrex Bowls

Now you might think that this method increases the washing up load with all those little bowls (and you would be right to some extent) however, I find that having one ingredient per bowl isn’t necessary as you can generally combine many of the ingredients. 

For instance when making a cake all the dry ingredients can be put together,

Mise en place 5

or with something like Nutloaf I combine the nuts and breadcrumbs and similarly with veg soup I would combine any veg added at the same stage of cooking.

mise en place 3

 

…then have a good clean up before launching into the mixing and cooking.

 

I don’t weigh out the olive oil for cooking but I do get the bottle out of the cupboard and have it ready together with all the utensils I am going to need.  Before I begin I would also check I have the right baking dish and prepare that too.

The bonus of this method is you don’t come across those little surprises halfway through a recipe when you discover that the only egg you thought you had has been eaten for breakfast that morning and too late to abandon the recipe you end up dashing to the local shop or next door.

The tendency is always to rush into the mixing and cooking but I find organising myself this way I avoid burning one thing in the pan whilst I am hurriedly preparing something else or forgetting an ingredient altogether.  I can remember many times trying to add that pinch of salt or herbs to a rolled up ball of pastry having forgotten to include it when it was just at the crumb stage!  

I noticed that the ‘forgotten’ ingredient happened quite regularly on the Bake Off – and who, I would like to know, does all their clearing up?

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13 thoughts on “Easy steps to organised cooking…”

  1. When I first started reading this, I thought it sounded a bit fanatical, and then I realised, it’s almost exactly what I do. I think stir-frying quickly teaches you to have everything ready before you start, if nothing else. And I always keep a washing-up bowl on the go while I’m cooking, it doesn’t take much doing at all to keep on top of the pre-dinner crockery, or at least so I find.

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  2. I don’t weigh and measure things into individual bowls (don’t have enough bowls, too much of a tightwad to buy more) but I do get all the ingredients out and group them together when I’m doing a batch cook. It really does help doesn’t it? I find it gets me into the cooking mindset too somehow.

    Like Anny, I keep a bowl of hot soapy water on the go too so it feels like the washing up does itself rather than finding the kitchen looking like a bombsite by the end of it all.

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  3. I enjoy cooking in a methodical way. If I am cooking a stir fry I usually cut up all the vegetables and put them in piles on a large plate. I like to cook stage by stage so I don’t miss anything out. I did a City & Guilds Certificate in Cookery at college many years ago. We had to have all the food mis-en-place, tidy up as we worked and wash and dry up at the end! With regards to your question about if I am selling the grumpy fairies, I am not quite sure yet, but if I do I will let you know. x

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  4. My cookery teacher at school complained that I was used all the work surfaces when cooking and I don’t think I have changed! This sounds a good idea, it is so easy to forget something I will try it!
    Sarah x

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  5. Every time I am in the kitchen I think back to my “Domestic Science” days at school. To this day I remember losing points when I didn’t remove the tops and bottoms off the carrots BEFORE peeling them!
    (On another note – all emulsion purchased ready for Monday…………not sure about the bedroom colour! Arrrgggggh!

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  6. Before I cook or bake, I gather the ingredients together, make sure I have everything, and have enough of them. Since our cookbooks don’t use weights, I just measure cups and teaspoons as I go. It would be possible to estimate I had half a cup of flour and find out I only had a third of a cup, though – so the mise en place way is better!

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