Steel shares the secrets of feeding your family home-cooked food after a hard day’s work.
Tanya Steel: I think that, you know, I’m a very typical working mom. I commute. I get home at 6:30. I have . . . As soon as I open the door my kids say, “Hi mom! What’s for dinner?” You know they’re starving. And I will say at Epicurious our traffic spikes at 4:00 p.m. when people are actually really looking for what to make that night. So I’ve written a whole cookbook about this subject. It’s really kind of difficult. I know it’s so much easier to throw a frozen pizza in the oven than it is to make something really fast and fresh, but there are a lot of things that you can do. And one of the things to do is to really be organized, and to shop on the weekend for the week, and to use the fresh food on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday so by Thursday you’re kind of . . . you’re starting to hit the bottom of the barrel. And Friday is whatever you can use, whatever you can get. But I do recommend doing things like on Sundays, I always make a big batch of pasta and leave it in the refrigerator unsauced; so that say Tuesday I come home, I take the unsauced pasta which is very al dente so that when you’re reheating it, it will be the perfect texture . . . and I throw on whatever I have – mozzarella, you know meat balls, mozzarella balls, and grape tomatoes and basil, and that’s dinner. And that can be done in about three minutes. Similarly with chicken, sometimes I’ll sauté chicken on Sundays and have that ready and just finish it off. I think the best thing to do as a working parent is to really kind of think the way that chefs think, which is that you have a …. You have things kind of ready so all you have to do when you actually come home, and you’re exhausted, and you just wanna feed everyone and they’re starving, is to throw things . . . just heat them up and things that take a very quick time to cook. Wok cooking is a great thing. It’s incredibly fast. Anything that requires sautéing is a very good thing to do, but I will say that organization is key for feeding your family kind of in a healthy and wholesome way every day. And that Sunday should be a day when people take advantage not just to rest, but to actually prepare for the week. One thing I always do is I . . . depending on the season I will make things like a butternut squash soup on Sunday and a spinach pie. So I’ve got kind of with the chicken and with the pasta, I’ve got four days worth of meals right there. And they’re all fresh, and they’re all very healthy and they’re wholesome. So I think it’s really important to feed your family well, but not to put too much onus on you coming home and making this three course dinner because nobody has the time or energy to do it. You do need to kind of speed cook when you come home.
Recorded on: 1/17/08