Throughout #31DaysintheKitchen, I’m going to talk about some of the people I’ve learned from, either through watching a lot of the Food Network or watching my family cook together.
First – and this post could only be a list with at least one GIF, y’all – is Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.
- Cooking is more fun when your friends come over.
- Keep it simple. Simple ingredients make amazing dishes. Especially Ina’s favorite ingredient, good vanilla.
- Know what you like. Example: Ina is one of those weirdos who thinks cilantro tastes like soap. (I don’t get it. Cilantro forever.) So her guacamole recipe doesn’t have cilantro. But with this and most other recipes, you can add what you like and leave out what you don’t. I mean, don’t leave out anything that would seriously mess up the recipe, but if it’s like guacamole, go for it. I don’t make guac with tomatoes because I think tomatoes are gross. But for you tomato people, go for it.
- Ice cream scoops. Ina reminds us of this trick in almost every episode. Scoop muffin, cupcake or cookie batter with one of those fancy ice cream scoops. Genius. Everything will look the same!
- Everything looks better on white plates. It shows off the food, of course. And I love a clean kitchen.
- Kitchen fashion. Pop those collars, Ina.
- Use good kitchen tools, and have what you actually need on hand. (Which, for me, translated into finally buying a donut pan instead of Googling “how to make baked donuts without a donut pan.”)
- Store bought really is fine.
- Combine homemade and store-bought. One of Ina’s suggestions for dinner parties is always to serve something store-bought. Either serve easy store-bought appetizers (like cheese and bread, etc) and make the rest or make everything else and buy dessert. Basically, don’t make everything, or you will not have any fun at your dinner party. (Or, as Ina says, your guests won’t have any more fun if you make or buy the food.)
- Chocolate and coffee. Ina is always putting instant coffee in chocolate batter. She says it brings out the flavor of the chocolate and you don’t taste the coffee. Brilliant. She also advocates for just drinking coffee and eating chocolate.
She’s a wise woman, people.