6. If the dish isn’t quite right, it might need acid.
Ever followed a recipe to a T only to taste it and find it’s missing a certain je ne sais quoi? It probably just needs a hit of acid. “Sometimes you taste something delicious,” the Contessa said in 2010, “but a little hit of lemon juice or lemon zest or vinegar will just sort of wake it up.” She’s even known to keep a bowl of citrus on her counter as a reminder. (Adding that to our grocery list ASAP.)
7. The best cooks keep things simple.
“Pick five recipes that are really simple, then do variations on those five recipes,” Garten told Bon Appétit in 2014. In other words, don’t overcomplicate things. If you can roast a chicken, you can roast a turkey—it’s all about understanding the basic methods.
8. At the end of the day, store-bought really Is fine.
She might be known to casually host the likes of Mel Brooks and Taylor Swift like it’s NBD, but really, Ina is just like us. (Kind of.) She’s not a professionally trained chef, just a home cook who loves to entertain (and who happens to have a TV show). She relies on store-bought staples (like vanilla ice cream) when she knows no one will be able to tell the difference, and she makes the rest from scratch. Seriously: How easy is that?