Updated: Mar 8, 2022
Here are ten hot tips I put together for all you home cooks out there. I think they're worth adding to your repertoire. Happy hosting, everybody!
1. A lot of top chefs swear by this trick. If you don't have a citrus reamer or juicer, press down firmly and roll the fruit (e.g. lemon, lime) back and forth with the palm of your hand on your kitchen counter before slicing. This should yield more juice when you squeeze. I’ve heard of microwaving the fruit for a short while as well! but I've never tried it.
2. Keep your cooking knives sharpened. A dull knife is more dangerous than a sharp knife.
3. Learn how to properly cut up a whole chicken (here), and buy them whole whenever you can. It’s cheaper than buying parts, the freshly cut chicken pieces will be more flavorful, and you can make stock (or other recipes) with the pieces you don’t use right away. More on all that here.
4. Rely on your senses as you cook—for smell, color, texture, taste—not just the recipe. Always taste as you go.
5. Cold cookie dough performs better than warm. Take the time to chill it properly before portioning it out onto your sheet pans.
6. Pasta. Use lots of salt in your cooking water. Make sure your water is boiling before you add the pasta. Never rinse your pasta after cooking, the sauce won’t adhere to it as well. Alternatively, finish cooking the pasta in the sauce, with a bit of the reserved pasta-cooking water.
7. Invest in a “bench scraper” to scoop up and transfer chopped vegetables or other ingredients from cutting board to bowl or pot if you don’t have one already. (A “dough pastry scraper” also works).
8. If you find a recipe online that you like, be sure to read the comments and/or reviews. They may give you ideas for ingredient switch-ups or even point out a problem with the recipe that more than one person has encountered.
9. GARNISH. Chopped parsley, sprigs of herbs like rosemary or thyme, sliced pimento-stuffed olives, sliced maraschino cherries, marshmallows, pickled vegetables on skewers, and little accents of chopped red pimento. There are lots of ways to spruce up the look of a dish either on a platter or individually plated. Let your imagination run wild!
A ham with toothpicked cherries and pineapple slices? Now that's hospitality!
10. Last but not least, cook with others, and/or share meal preparation responsibilities. It’s easier on the schedule and the budget, and it’s great for the soul. Get into the party spirit!