1- Bread. Tips that have meant I bake every week. One, that as long as I have a packet of gluten in the cupboard I am free of the whims of bakers who may or may not sell me strong bread flour. Two, that dough can sit around in the fridge happily for days, and be pulled off to make a small bun or a flatbread in a few minutes. Three, that this method works beautifully and can be taken in many directions, and makes for a fast, easy way to avoid turning on the oven or having leftover pizza luring you into the kitchen for dangerous snacking.
2- Korean pancakes. Wonderful stuff, the sort of thing to be knocked up for a quick dinner for two or a starter for a bigger dinner.
3- Brownies- I didn´t know that all you need for a hard, crusty top is to beat the hell out of the eggs, which will form a sort of meringue on top. Also, that you can bake a few spoonfuls of the batter and so have a quick chocolate hit in no time.
4- Yogurt. Easy to make, much better than any store bought stuff and quite fascinating, in a science project kind of way.
5. Poached fruit- Sally Schneider´s trick: poach it in white wine sweetened with honey and aromatized with cinnamon or vanilla. Right now I´m on a wintry kick of dried apricots, prunes, and eating apples.
6- Stock- I´ve always tried to have some on hand, but since my baby eats real food, I couldn´t be without it. Throw some frozen chicken stock, a couple of florets of broccoli cut really small and a handful of pastina, and while Pía has her bath, her dinner cooks.
7- Peanut butter- an unsual ingredient in Spain, but one I´m learing to love. It can stand in for tahini in a batch of hummus (ok purists, leave me alone, it really can) and give oomph to one of my favourite second-breakfast treats: a flour tortilla smeared with a teaspoonful of peanut butter, filled with poached fruit and lightly warmed/toasted in a pan. Yogurt also very good here.
8- Knife skills.Learn how to keep your knives sharp, and it´s a world of difference. If you can chop quickly prep time is whittled away to nothing, and so are cooking times.
9- Cooking makes me happy- I used to have tons of time to lounge around in the kitchen. Now I have less, what with a job and a baby who has learnt to open drawers and bang doors, and is only weeks away from lighting matches, I dare say. But I still cook all I can, and any five minutes snatched to make a batch of dough, or throw some bones into a pot, or mix a jar of dressing to have on hand in the fridge are relaxing and make me feel in control (as if!).
If only shopping were so easy and adaptable...