1. The fewer trips around the kitchen, the better. Gather ingredients and tools in one large sweep, or as few as possible. (Don’t follow the Rachel Ray method of haphazardly stacking things though, unless you love cleaning unnecessary messes.)
2. The importance of prep. If you’re making one meal or fifty, having your ingredients prepped out before beginning is key. Don’t start sautéing onions without the next step measured and ready to go. Mise en place baby.
3. Even at home, around your family, don’t expect people to anticipate your moves. If you’re behind, have something hot or sharp, say it out loud. (I have learned this one the hard way.)
4. Quality matters. If you have fresh, organic, locally grown seasonal produce, you can taste it. Don’t steam, roast, grill or sauce it to death. Salt, pepper and a little fat (extra virgin olive oil or butter) is all you need.
5. Store and date items you’ve opened. If you open cheese, nuts, meat, whatever….label the date opened, and good through date if applicable. Keep a sharpie and masking tape in a drawer close by.
6. Use your senses. Even if it says it’s good through next Tuesday, take a whiff, taste, or look before committing.
7. Season and taste while you cook, and before you plate. If I am making a sauce, I will taste it at least 5 times, adjusting seasoning when necessary, before it hits the pasta.
8. When plating, even if it’s for your spouse on a Tuesday, think about presentation. Why not? Use height, textures and color to make your meals satisfy before they are even consumed!