I didn't grow up cooking. In fact, I didn't grow up knowing anyone who knew how to cook (sorry, mom). It wasn't until I married a chef that I started to take a real interest in the kitchen, and it wasn't until much more recently that I became interested in cooking myself. I have found that there are a whole bunch of secrets and tips that have made my time in the kitchen much more expeditious and far less anxiety-provoking. And please note: these tips are in no particular order so try and disregard the randomness of it.
My love affair with the Home Shopping Network is new, and somewhat dangerous, but finding this cook set was a real life changer. I have always had good nonstick pans, but these blow everything you've ever known out of the water. They are from Chef Ming Tsai, who is prolific on HSN, and when I watched him hawk his wares on an endless loop, I was intrigued but also somewhat skeptical. But he was frying, sautéing, roasting, and not only was it looking gorgeous, nothing was sticking! Nothing! It all just wiped out of the pan with a paper towel, thanks to the Thermolon coating, he said . And here's the thing: IT'S TRUE. As far as the actual cooking goes, the highly conductive aluminum construction ensures even heating across all surfaces and their stainless bases are perfect for super-efficient induction burners.
Cooking your chicken upright will ensure it’s crispy and juicy and cooked evenly. But without the help of a beer can to hold it up (see our recipe for Beer Can Chicken), it’s something of an impossibility. Unless, of course, you have this vertical roaster ($99) from two of our favorites, Staub USA and Food 52.
This is hands down the BEST site for hundreds of incredible foodie gifts, gift baskets, monthly food subscriptions and more, from mostly local, small batch makers. We're partial to the Marc Murphy Chef Kit ($146), but everything is great and so well done. The perfect secret for great housewarming and host or hostess gifts.
FROZEN SHRIMP AND OTHER SUPERMARKET FINDS
I admit that I am a supermarket snob. I tend to shy away from places like The Food Emporium, Gristede's or King Kullen in favor of Whole Foods or Freshdirect , unless I'm just shopping for paper goods or cleaning supplies. I have learned, though, that very often you can actually get what you need at the aforementioned "places like." In fact, most chefs I know will tell you that those places do such huge volume, that their meats and produce are very often fresher than their higher priced competitors. The biggest find, though, is frozen shrimp. Peeled, cleaned and frozen fresh, we use these in Marc's no-recipe recipe for Clams + Shrimp and I swear, they are better than fresh shrimp.
I discovered this site recently, and I have to admit that I'm so grateful I did. I have used a few of these meal delivery services in the past (they send you the raw ingredients, you cook it), and have been underwhelmed. But Chef'd is different in that all of the recipes are from actual chefs (Scott Conant and Alex Guarnascelli among them), and they are all so good. Each meal comes perfectly packed and prepped with a fantastic illustrated step by step instruction card. It has shaved hours off my shop, prep, cook routine and allows me to cook many recipes that would otherwise be outside my comfort zone.
First order of business is feet. Yes, feet. I don't know about you, but I'm not a fan of standing endlessly at the counter, and neither are my back or my feet. Or my legs. To the rescue: GelPro. These gel core mats are maybe not the BEST looking (there are enough patterns - 500+ - to find something that won't make you want to kill yourself design-wise), but they are ergonomically designed to absorb the shock of standing for sometimes on hours on end, and they are game-changer especially for anyone who prefers to not wear shoes at home. They also protect your floor from spills and are easily cleaned.
This Kitchen Secret comes from Select reader Tom Ramsey, who wrote in soon after we launched. Thanks, Tom!
Vinegar is one of your best friends in the kitchen. Most amateur cooks have no idea how much vinegar is used in professional kitchens. We add a bit of vinegar to almost every rich and savory dish. The little kick of acid provided by a splash of vinegar elevates the flawless and prevents them from being too dull after the first bite (a common concern among pros). The acid wakes up the taste buds and makes the dishes come into sharp focus. Buy lots of vinegars and experiment with them. Taste them on their own and add them sparingly to your tried-and-true favorites. A good starter kit would include sherry vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Asian rice vinegar, organic cider vinegar and white wine vinegar.
I know, I know, too much Marc Murphy. I swear - this is it. There is no recipe that doesn't call for salt and pepper, and I cannot tell you how much easier seasoning anything and everything is if you have a pre-made container full of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. We keep a ceramic container full on the the counter at all times, and to make life even easier, we sell the mix on mouth.com as well. But if you want to make it yourself, use kosher salt and black peppercorn (you can grind it in a cheap coffee miill, like any of these) and the ratio should be about 2/3 salt to 1/3 pepper.