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ina garten cook like a pro hero
Quentin Bacon/Cook Like a Pro

Queen Ina Garten’s new cookbook Cook Like a Pro is arming home cooks with brilliant little tricks that only chefs know. But first, it’s time to change your bad habits. Presenting, four common errors (and the quick fixes).

RELATED: PSA: Here’s the Most Common Thanksgiving Mistake, According to Ina Garten

1. Neglecting the Two Most Common Ingredients In Your Kitchen

Everyone has salt and pepper, but, according to Ina, they’re the two things you often skimp on (even though they’re cheap!). Salt ramps up flavor in both savory and sweet dishes. When she doesn’t know how much to add, Ina has a quick trick: “I’ll put a little of what I’m cooking into a small bowl, add some salt and see how it changes the flavor,” she said. Smart lady.

2. Using a Few Too Many Tablespoons of Flour

OK, this sounds like a “duh,” but Ina’s got a good point: Cooking is a science, not an art. In Ina’s words: “There are so many ways to measure ingredients and a few extra tablespoons of flour or too little can make all the difference between a good outcome and one that is disappointing.” To get it right every time, make sure you use dry measuring cups for dry ingredients and a glass measuring cup for wet ingredients. And pay attention to how the ingredients are worded: There’s a difference between “1 cup chopped pecans” (you chop before measuring) and “1 cup pecans, chopped” (you measure, then chop).

3. Not Knowing When Beef Tenderloin Is Perfectly Cooked

We get it, Ina Garten is perfect…and then there’s everyone else. Luckily, the Barefoot Contessa has some advice. Take your meat’s temperature with a meat thermomter and remove it from the heat a little before it’s done (when it hits 125°F for medium rare) so it doesn’t overcook. And when it comes to seafood, use a visual test: Fish will flake easily with a fork when it’s done.

4. Using Your Knives to Open FedEx Boxes

…Or worse, coffee cans. Don’t wash them in the dishwasher, or let them rattle around loose in a drawer. Bottom line: Caring for your knives makes prep work easier and so much more satisfying. 

RELATED: Our 3 Favorite Recipes from Ina Garten’s New Cookbook

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