Ruminations and recipes from a small kitchen in a big city.


Fast Food #2: the Four Minute Meal.

I used to have competitions with friends and family to get a meal on the table the fastest. There had to be cooking involved. Two minute noodles and similar did not qualify.

For one of these cooking races I served up pasta carbonara in just under four minutes.

Here's how I broke the Four Minute Meal.

Fill the kettle and put it on. Elapsed time, ten seconds.

While the kettle came to the boil - one and a half minutes - I took two rashers of bacon, two eggs, a pack of parmesan and some parsley from the fridge and a pack of gnocchi, a bottle of olive oil and a garlic clove from the cupboard. Elapsed time, forty-five seconds.

I opened the gnocchi. Elapsed time, forty-nine seconds.

I sliced the bacon into small pieces and threw them into a pan with a splash of olive oil, and lit the stove. One minute twenty.

I chopped the parsley. One minute thirty. The light in the kettle went off and the button clicked up. I poured the boiling water into another pot on the stove over a high heat and tipped gnocchi into the pot - carefully. If you burn yourself you're disqualified.

I grabbed a plate and some cutlery out of the cupboard and set them on the table. One minute forty-five.

The bacon was done by the time the gnocchi floated to the top of the water. Two minutes thirty.

I drained the gnocchi and tossed it into the bacon pan and stirred it around. Two minutes fifty. I cracked the eggs in and stirred around again, adding the parmesan. Three minutes twenty.

Gnocchi carbonara into the bowl, parsley on top, more parmesan. Three minutes forty-five. World record.


Fast food #1: world's quickest soup.

Tortellini in brodo.

Heat 1.5 litres of stock, or use your favourite canned, bottled or packaged stock. Chicken, beef, vegetable; doesn't really matter. It's just flavour. And salt.

To the stock, add half a kilogram of ricotta tortellini, a cupful of finely shredded silverbeet, a cup of peas and a tablespoon of pesto (blitz basil, walnuts, parmesan, garlic and olive oil or use a jar from the supermarket).

Ready when tortellini and peas are done. Serve with more pesto, a shower of parmesan cheese, and some sliced hardcrust bread.