Food Network Magazine released their 100 Greatest Cooking Tips (of all time!) list with tips from top chefs across the country. Here is an excerpt from that list, for Fat Flush-friendly kitchens everywhere!
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. Store spices in a cool, dark place, not above your stove. Humidity, light and heat will cause herbs and spices to lose their flavor.
3. 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.
4. After working with garlic, rub your hands vigorously on your stainless steel sink for 30 seconds before washing them. It will remove the odor.
5. For rich, creamy dressings made healthy, substitute half the mayo with Greek-style yogurt.
6. When chopping herbs, toss a little salt onto the cutting board; it will keep the herbs from flying around.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. When making meatballs or meatloaf, you need to know how the mixture tastes before you cook it. Make a little patty and fry it in a pan like a mini hamburger. Then you can taste it and adjust the seasoning.
10. Instead of placing a chicken on a roasting rack, cut thick slices of onion, put them in an oiled pan, then place the chicken on top. The onion will absorb the chicken juices. After roasting, let the chicken rest while you make a sauce with the onions by adding a little stock or water to the pan and cooking it for about 3 minutes on high heat.
11. Take the time to actually read recipes through before you begin.
12. Recipes are only a guideline, not the Bible. Feel comfortable replacing ingredients with similar ingredients that you like. If you like oregano but not thyme, use oregano.
13. Taste as you go!
14. For safety, put a wine cork on the tip of a knife before putting the knife in a drawer.
15. When you’re going to sauté garlic, slice it rather than mincing it — it’s less likely to burn that way.
16. Smash garlic cloves inside a resealable plastic bag with the back of a knife. That way, your cutting board and knife won’t smell.
17. To get nice, crispy caramelization on roasted vegetables, simulate the intense heat of an industrial oven: Bring your oven up as hot as it goes, then put an empty roasting or sheet pan inside for 10 to 15 minutes. Toss the vegetables — try carrots or Brussels sprouts — with olive oil, salt and pepper, and put them on the hot pan. This method will give you the high heat you need to caramelize the sugars in the vegetables quickly.
18. Marinating meat with citrus can give it a mealy texture. If you like citrus, a little squeeze of lemon or lime is always a good way to finish the dish instead.
19. Always use sharp knives. Not only is it safer but it will make your work much more efficient.
20. Rest, rest, rest! Always let your meat rest — especially off a hot grill!
21. Plunge vegetables in ice water after blanching (boiling) them so they maintain a bright color.
22. Don’t overcrowd the pan when you’re sautéing — it’ll make your food steam instead.
23. Buy fruit at its peak at a farmers’ market and freeze it in an airtight container so you can enjoy it year round.
24. Fresh basil keeps much better and longer at room temperature with the stems in water.
25. Season all of your food from start to finish. Seasoning in stages brings the most out of your ingredients and gives you the most flavor.
26. Taste what you make before you serve it. I’m amazed that people will follow a recipe but not taste the dish to see if it needs more salt, pepper or spices.
27. Season fish simply and cook it with respect. The flavor of the fish is what you want. When it comes off the grill or out of the oven or pan, finish it with a little squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Always. There is just something about lemon and fish that is heavenly.
28. If you’re cooking cauliflower, add a bit of milk to the water with salt to keep the cauliflower bright white. Shock it in cold water to stop the cooking and then serve.
29. When you grill, pull your steaks out of the refrigerator one hour ahead of time so they can come to room temperature.
30. When using fresh herbs such as cilantro or parsley, add whole stems to salads and sandwiches, and chop and stir leaves into salsas and guacamole.
31. To optimize the juice you get from a lemon or lime, roll it hard under your palm for a minute before juicing. (Or — never say I told you this — microwave it for 10 to 15 seconds.)
73. Have your mise en place ready: Do all of your cutting of vegetables and meat and make your sauces before you start cooking.
32. Shoes off, music on, favorite beverage in hand — enjoy your time in the kitchen.
33. Always buy the freshest garlic you can find; the fresher it is, the sweeter it will be. The best garlic has firm tissue-like skin and should not be bruised, sprouted, soft or shriveled. If you find cloves that have green shoots, discard the shoots — they will only add bitterness.
34. Keep flavored vinegars near the stove so you won’t always reach for the salt. Acid enhances flavor.
35. Don’t be too hard on yourself — mistakes make some of the best recipes! Keep it simple.
36. Prolong the lifespan of greens by wrapping them loosely in a damp paper towel and placing in a resealable plastic bag. That local arugula will last about four days longer.
37. Cook more often. Don’t study; just cook.
38. Make sure the handle of your sauté pan is turned away from you so you don’t hit it and knock it off the stove. It happens all the time.
39. Don’t dress the salad when having a big party. Leave it on the side and let the people do it themselves. I’ve had too many soggy salads because of this.
40. When cooking eggplant, I like to use the long, skinny, purple Japanese kind because you don’t have to salt it to pull out the bitter liquid like you do with the larger Italian variety.
41. Don’t be afraid to ask the butcher or fishmonger to see the products up close and to smell for freshness. Fish should never smell fishy.
See the full list of Food Network Magazine’s 100 Greatest Cooking Tips (of all time!).