1. Remember, y'all, it’s all about the prep. Take away the stress by doing the prep the night or day before. You'll look like a star.
2. The smaller the item, the higher the baking temperature. For example, I bake mini chocolate chip-toffee cookies at 500 degrees F for only 4 minutes. Perfect end result.
3. Store spices in a cool, dark place, not above your stove. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor.
4. Use a coarse Microplane to shave vegetables into salads or vinaigrettes. You can create an orange-fennel dressing by adding grated fennel and orange zest to a simple vinaigrette.
5. Always make stock in a large quantity and freeze it in plastic bags. That way, when you want to make a nice soup or boil veggies, you can simply pull the bag out of the freezer.
6. If you're cooking for someone important — whether it's your boss or a date — never try a new recipe and a new ingredient at the same time.
7. Cook pasta 1 minute less than the package instructions and cook it the rest of the way in the pan with sauce.
8. After making eggs sunny-side up, deglaze the pan with sherry vinegar, then drizzle the sauce on the eggs to add another dimension to the dish.
9. After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel sink for 30 seconds before washing them. It will remove the odor.
10. Brine, baby, brine! Ya gotta brine that poultry to really give it the super flavor.
11. Remember schmaltz? Your mom and grandmother probably used a lot of it in their home cooking. Schmaltz, or chicken fat, has a great flavor and richness; it has a deeper flavor than duck fat and can be used on nearly everything. I also love poaching fish in it.
12. If you find you need more oil in the pan when sautéing, add it in a stream along the edges of the pan so that by the time the oil reaches the ingredient being cooked, it will be heated.
13. When you deep-fry, hold each piece of food with long tongs as you add it to the oil. Hold it just below the oil's surface for five seconds before releasing it. This will seal the exterior and stop it from sticking to the pot or the other food.
14. For rich, creamy dressings made healthy, substitute half the mayo with Greek-style yogurt.
15. When chopping herbs, toss a little salt onto the cutting board; it will keep the herbs from flying around.
16. To make a great sandwich, spread the mayonnaise from corner to corner on the bread. People rush this step and just do a swoosh down the middle. Every bite should be flavorful. Now that's a sandwich!
17. If you keep it simple and buy ingredients at farmers' markets, the food can pretty much take care of itself. Do as little as possible to the food; consider leaving out an ingredient and relying on instinct.
18. Always season meat and fish evenly; sprinkle salt and pepper as though it's "snowing." This will avoid clumping or ending up with too much seasoning in some areas and none in others.
19. For best results when you're baking, leave butter and eggs at room temperature overnight.
20. Homemade vinaigrettes have fewer ingredients and taste better than bottled ones. No need to whisk them: Just put all the ingredients in a sealed container and shake.